Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sports Report: Pros Are Back

Katja with Roger et al.

Dear George,

The pros have been in town for the last two weeks and we’ve been infected with our annual bout of tennis fever. It’s always amazing, but this year was especially significant because they upgraded the women’s tournament to a world-class event. Venus and Serena Williams were out with injuries, but the rest of the top-ranking women played the tournament, as did virtually all of the top-ranked men (Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, etc.). Thanks to gift seats from our tennis pals Paula D and Tom J, we got to see a lot of good matches.

Maria Sharapova serving to Clijsters

The women’s final was on Sunday, Aug. 15, and featured two players that we’ve followed for a long time, Maria Sharapova and Kim Clijsters. Katja was rooting for Sharapova who we’d watched win Wimbledon in 2004 and the US Open in 2006. She’s an imposing 6 feet 2 inches tall and hits with corresponding power. A former world No. 1, Sharapova had shoulder surgery two years ago, and her ranking fell to No. 126. so there’s a lot of drama attached to her ongoing comeback. Kim Clijsters too has a newsworthy history. Also a former No. 1 ranked player, Clijsters retired in 2007 to start a family. She began her comeback last year and promptly became the first mom to win a Grand Slam tournament. Sharapova dominated the first set and was on the verge of winning the match when the rain clouds began moving in. She had three match points in a row, but just as Clijsters managed to bring the score back to deuce, the rain started falling and the match was suspended. We thought that was lousy luck. All Sharapova had needed was one more point. We browsed around in the merchandise tent for a while, but, as the rain continued, we decided to go home, confident that the match was all but over. They started again 73 minutes later, and we watched the rest on TV. Wouldn’t you know, Clijsters came back to win the second set and then close out the match in the third.

Rain shuts down the match

On Thursday we went out to see our hero Roger Federer play Russian Dennis Istomin. Though Istomin had a strong serve and forehand, Federer was looking smooth, relaxed, and in command throughout the first set. At 5-2, Istomin twisted his ankle, and that was the end of that. We were disappointed not to see more Federer, but we were also happy to shift over to the grandstand court to watch Lleyton Hewitt and Robin Soderling. Hewitt’s one of my favorite players. He’s relatively small for a pro player (5-11) and depends more on speed, excellent groundstrokes, and consistency than sheer power. He was ranked No. 1 at age 20, the youngest ever to be so, and is a former US Open and Wimbledon titlist. At age 29 and unseeded, Hewitt is still a dangerous competitor. Soderling’s from Sweden and is an up and coming superstar, ranked 5th in the world. It was a really close match and was finally settled late in the third set when Hewitt made an unforced error and had his serve broken. It was a reminder how closely matched these players are and how outcomes can hinge on a point or two.

Center court

We came back the next night to watch Russian Nicolai Davydenko vs. Argentinian David Ferrer. Davydenko’s No. 6 in the world; Ferrer, No. 10. Davydenko reminded me of a James Bond villain – tall, balding, gaunt, nonexpressive, with overwhelming power and machine-like precision. He looked scary. Ferrer, by default, played the James Bond role, and he looked the part – handsome, cleancut. They both hit the ball harder than one could imagine possible. At first it looked like Davydenko was going to destroy Ferrer, but the latter hung in and began to turn it around. This match too went three sets, and, due to a couple of shaky errors by Ferrer near the end, Davydenko triumphed. (Thus ending any analogy to James Bond.)

At the lemonade stand

Katja bought a hat and some jewelry, plus three lemonades and some pizza. I took a bunch of photographs, and, between the two of us, a good time was had by all. We watched the finals on TV. Roger Federer won it all, his first tournament title since the Australian Open in January. We cheered. We were happy that he had his breakthrough in Cincinnati.



Friday, August 20, 2010

The Best Doctor in Town

Dear George,

I’ve had three doctors in the past three years, and they just keep getting better and better. The first was Dr. Mordred. I actually started with him in the 1970s. He was young and enthusiastic, and we were told that he was at the cutting edge. Katja got along with him famously and learned everything about his children, wife, and his own medical history. I didn’t learn a single thing, but he did seem competent to me. He asked me once if I were suffering depression, but I said no, that’s just my normal character structure. Another time, when I complained about my weight, he asked me if I ate sweets. I said no, I never ate any sweets at all. Then I added that I did eat a pint of ice cream every day. Dr. Mordred asked if I didn’t think that ice cream was a sweet, and I said no, citing my father’s instruction that ice cream is a dairy product. In the last few years, when Dr. Mordred was probably in his eighties, he wasn’t quite as sharp. He’d have me make an appointment at least once every six months, and each time he would question me for forty-five minutes about my entire family history, writing things down in my voluminous case file. I was uncertain why he was getting the same detailed information every time, and I thought perhaps he was testing my memory. Later I speculated that his patients were mostly dead, and so he had a lot more time to give to me.

One day, completely out of the blue, I got a form letter saying that Dr. Mordred had retired to spend more time with his family and that I had a new doctor, Dr. Gipperling. I made an appointment soon after and went to see him. He was about forty years younger than Dr. Mordred and presumably more cutting edge. Instead of a pencil and pad, he carried a laptop computer and, after we shook hands, he spent the next ten minutes reading information on the computer. He did comment that Dr. Mordred had kept very disorganized records. He asked absolutely nothing about me – no marriage, no job, no family history, no future plans, nothing. Maybe he had all the pertinent info in his laptop. He did take my blood pressure and listened to my heart and said I should come back in six months. I did have two or three more appointments with Gipperling, with most of our interaction mediated by the laptop computer. I would estimate that he spoke about 100 words in total, and I said about 150, all in response to his occasional questions. This might sound like criticism, but actually I got along excellently with Dr. Gipperling and much preferred my appointments with him, compared to the voluminous talking I’d had to do with Dr. Mordred.

After a year and a half I got another form letter from the medical practice. It was brief and simply said that Dr. Gipperling was no longer associated with the firm. I had been referred to Dr. Sweetpotatoes. The letter also mentioned that Dr. Sweetpotatoes had been identified as one of the top doctors in the region. This was pleasing, on the one hand, but also sort of intimidating. What would this top doctor be like? I usually get my blood checked every six months to check for side effects of medication, so I went in a month later for this purpose. The nurse called me two days later to say that my test results were just fine, so I didn’t need to talk to Dr. Sweetpotatoes. Later I needed a refill for my cholesterol pills. I called that in, and the nurse called back and said that Dr. Sweetpotatoes would send a new prescription, but there was no need to meet him at that time. A few months later I needed a blood pressure medication refill, and they took care of that by phone but didn’t mention my seeing the doctor. Finally, last week, I decided I would like to get a new sleeping pill prescription. I called that in, and the nurse said Dr. Sweetpotatoes would probably approve it, but he would call me if he had any questions. The next day I got a call from the pharmacy, saying that my prescription was ready. No questions needed.

The upshot of all this is that I just love Dr. Sweetpotatoes and understand why he’s regarded as one of the best doctors in town. In my mind, he’s probably the very best. In fact, part of me thinks there might not really be a Dr. Sweetpotatoes. Perhaps he’s just a fictional creation of the office staff who have found it profitable to fulfill every request that his patients make. Or maybe “Dr. Sweetpotatoes” is just an alias for Dr. Gipperling who didn’t really leave the practice after all, but just decided that he can no longer tolerate any kind of face to face contact with his patients. Whatever the case, I can’t remember ever being so pleased with a doctor. Dr. Sweetpotatoes and I get along so well that I doubt if I’ll ever need to meet him till I’m lying on my deathbed (and maybe not even then).



G-Mail Comments

-Phyllis SS (8-23): Really? A Dr. Sweetpotatoes?

-JML (8-23): Am I gonna have to come up there and accompany you guys to actual doctor appointments. Geez!

-Gayle CL (8-22): Hi. Very good... And .. I missed seeing u at the wedding...it was so great to everyone . The wedding was perfect Chris and Karrie were perfect.... U and ur family were in my heart. And. Peter was totally there in spirit. So was Steven and Georgie.....you ll see the pix soon.. I'll send u some soon... Keep writing.. Lots of love. G

-Jennifer M (8-21): Very funny entry. Except for the part that I think that Dr. Sweetpotatoes ought to meet you and talk to you sometime! :-)

-Donna D (8-21): love your choice of names...this sweetpotatoe doc is definitely your kind of doc!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


[All photos by JML & KKB]

Dear George,

Our daughter-in-law K and son J are the most adventurous people we know, and we have always enjoyed vicarious experiences through them. Recently, though, they topped it all off by going on an amazing two-week journey to China to receive their new adopted son, L. V, their two-year-old daughter, went along to meet her new brother, and K’s dad Ted went too. K and J were great about sending pictures and keeping us informed electronically. K maintained a blog for family and friends (“Journey to L**”), and J sent regular e-mails. The following is a description of their trip drawn entirely from their accounts.

According to K, L was found wrapped in a blanket inside a basket at the Children’s Hospital in Taiyuan, China, in October 2008. He was missing part of his left foot, and J and K speculate that his original birth family did not know if he would ever walk and how they would take care of him. J and K learned about L in November 2009, and they have been going through bureaucratic paperwork to adopt him for months and months. They finally got travel approval in July of this year and set out on July 29 with V and Ted.

The group arrived in Taiyuan on Sunday, August 1st. K reports that from the outset V got lots of attention in public situations from the Chinese people, especially when she started saying “hello” and “thank you” in Mandarin. They went to Civil Affairs on Monday morning, and two nannies from the orphanage brought L in. K said he was screaming and crying, and it was pretty heartbreaking. J noted at the time, “We know that this is going to be a long grieving process for L**, and that we won’t be able to win him over in a matter of hours or days or even weeks…” K worried at the time whether they would ever see him smile, but happily a couple of hours later he and V were running around the hotel room, playing hide and seek, and laughing together. J observed that L walks pretty well, though his foot will need medical attention.

K described Tuesday as a difficult grieving day for L, though he had already developed a firm attachment to J, sitting on J’s hip or laying on his chest while wailing. J, K, and Ted took the children to the park and once again drew a great crowd. On Wednesday L was doing better, and K wrote that they were “really getting to see his spunky, funny personality.” According to J, V was terrific with her new brother -- whenever, he started crying, she would go up to him, offer a hug or kiss, and say “okay, okay.” K reports that L “also busted out some dance moves to the traditional Chinese music in the (hotel) lobby which was adorable.” They drew a crowd of about 60 at the park, where many young ladies wanted their picture taken with Grandpa Ted (who mumbled, “I’m not exactly George Clooney but whatever”). K reports that two-year-old V was in a wonderful mood all this time, well-behaved, charming, and full of glee. K adds, who wouldn’t be, when you get everything you want and your many fans squeal with delight at your every move.

On Thursday the family flew to Guangzhou near Hong Kong and stayed at the White Swan Hotel. The White Swan was filled with American and European families who were adopting babies from China. L took K by the hand for the first time to go and explore things, and K said that she burst into tears. J and K note that they were surprised to be just about the smallest family there, having met many parents with 6 to 12 children. K was impressed (sort of) when they received a box from the Mattel corporation labeled “Welcome Home, Barbie” and containing a Barbie doll with her tiny Chinese baby. V screamed, “BAAARRRBIE!”, much to her parents’ dismay. V and L were getting along terrifically by this time. K reports, ‘He thinks she’s hilarious (who doesn’t?) and imitates her a lot, then she repeats what he says in Chinese back to him…They LOVE to roughhouse and frequently I think I have the two wildest, rough-and-tumble kids at the White Swan!”

On Friday the 13th the family left at 5:45 a.m. from Guangzhou to Beijing, then to San Francisco, and, after an overnight stay in SF, back home to New Orleans. K wrote, “I am really looking forward to being in my own house and getting into a routine, but it’s sad to be leaving and taking L** away from the only country he’s ever lived in.” We got a call from J upon their arrival, and the children did well on the trip. J and K look forward to settling in at home and becoming a new family. They are such great parents that we know they’ll all thrive. We can’t wait to see our grandkids together.



G-Mail Comments

-Phyllis SS (8-23): Dave. L and V sound so funny together. How lovely. I wonder why on earth the chinese ladies wanted their picture taken with K's father?

-Gayle C (8-17): David, How beautiful is that. What a trip and what an experience. I hope I get to see the children and the family ..... Soon.... Give my love to all. G

-Vicki L (8-17): Dear David, Again, my best congratulations ever. You've raised an exceptional child - truly - and the two of them are like superheroes. And now you have two grandchildren - the saga is epic! I know, of course, that there'll be hard times but the love flowing throughout this quest has been, in its own right, an incredible gift to the world. L** is so beautiful, and V** and her parents have a depth of optimism, faith and generosity that serves to inspire us all. And a happy 50th anniversary to you both! August 28th. I was so proud to be a part of your ceremony and to see you married. I still am - you've been very important anchors in my life and I always hold a deep appreciation for your commitment to one another throughout all these decades - it's meant a lot to me. I hope you have a really fun celebration. Will keep you posted on the wedding event some time after recovery. Love, Sis

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Photo Trip: The Brookville Flea Market

Dear George,

My flea market pal Phyllis and I went on an expedition to Brookville, Indiana, last Wednesday morning. White’s Flea Market has been in business there since 1968. The flea market is held every Wednesday on their 260 acre farm and draws up to 400 vendors and 6000 customers in the peak summer season. If urban shopping malls did this well, the recession would end in a day. It takes 45 minutes to get there. We set out at 7 a.m., and even with what seems like an early start the parking lot was jammed when we arrived. The flea market is actually a minor side operation to the White family’s main business of real estate and property auctions ($10 million per year). After the market closes around noon they hold a livestock auction on the grounds.

I mention all of this because Brookville is one of my favorite trip destinations. The flea market is unlike anything in Cincinnati, and, for an urban-dweller, it’s like visiting a faraway place, rooted in the past. This is rural Indiana farm country, and there are few commercial vendors. A lot of the merchandise is what you might expect from farm or small town households, e.g., tools, tires, household items of all sorts, antiques, toys, knicknacks, CDs, produce, puppies, ducks, and chickens. Phyllis looks for vintage jewelry, and I look for old postcards or photographs. We always have good luck. There are lots of rifles and hunting equipment, also lots of knives. You can get rocks, seashells, and deer antlers. Occasionally you’ll run across esoteric memorabilia like Ku Klux Klan documents, Nazi swastikas, or confederate flags. Amish families sell cheese and baked goods. There are a couple of African vendors, though the crowd, like the population of Franklin County, is at least 99% white. I’m sure there’s some proportion of Cincinnatians who drive out on Wednesday morning, but mostly you hear southern Indiana drawls. You feel like you’ve found the inner heartland of America.

I’ve put some photos below which give you a sense of the flea market scene. I found taking public photos difficult. There were dozens of individuals whose image I would have liked to capture, but I was reluctant to ask them directly and nervous about eliciting negative reactions, so I relied on quick, unobtrusive shots from a distance. Though less than ideal, the pictures will give you some feel for the Brookville Flea.



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hunting for Apparitions

Dear George,

I had a lousy time falling asleep last night. I’d spent much of the afternoon photographing apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Burnet Woods, and my heart was still pounding. I got the inspiration for this project several months ago when I posted some photos of a stump in a neighbor’s yard and astute blog reader Linda C commented that some of them looked like the Virgin Mary. When I checked back, I found she was absolutely right, and it reminded me of my childhood days in Menominee. My family was sort of laissez faire about religion, so I got most of my religious upbringing from my peers. When I was in sixth grade some of my Washington Grade School friends recruited me to go to Sunday School at the Presbyterian Church. The main thing I remember was having to compose a prayer each week. I thought mine were pretty good, but the teacher, Miss Kobotnick, almost never called on me. Once in a while we would go to mass at St. John’s with the O’Hara children, and we learned how to do the various rituals. The best time was when somebody was going to be having confession. Sometimes they would reveal their indiscretions to us, sometimes not, but it was always a topic of great curiosity. We’d also spend some time looking around for apparitions of the Virgin Mary in the forest. Usually we would poke fun of the so-called apparitions that our playmates would find, but, now and then, we’d agree that we might have found something supernatural. When all of this came back to me, I did a Google search and discovered that people have documented a wide array of Marian apparitions: in the grease on a frying pan, in the newly washed office building window, on the side of a church fountain, on the stomach of a baby turtle, etc. So I decided I should do this too. I’m glad to report that apparitions of Mary are still there to be found, as these photos taken in Burnet Woods and our Clifton neighborhood will attest.

I’d say Mary is dressed in black in this tree trunk image because she is in a state of mourning. She is apparently talking to her husband Joseph.

To me, this looks like Mary holding her infant to her breast.

Mary appears to be very dressed up. Maybe she is going to Herod’s court.

Mary seems in obvious grief. I think those are two cherubic angels are looking up at her.

This is not an apparition, but rather a message that I found in the woods when I was looking for an apparition. I hope this person gets in touch with his or her inner Mary.

This could be Mary in the Garden of Gethsemane.

I discovered this amazing image on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in our kitchen. After documenting it with a photo, I ate it.

I showed these images with Katja to be sure of the plausibility of my interpretations, but she gave me no support at all. She said she had a lot of tasks for me to do around the house that would be more useful than looking for apparitions. I would never say anything critical about Katja, although she did seem a little lacking in imagination. The way I see it, it’s a lot more interesting to search for apparitions than it would be to clean up the attic.



G-Mail Comments

-Linda C (8-11): David I am so impressed. The pictures of the stumps were good but I was a little disappointed that you did not see all of the designs I had seen, but now I so impressed and even taken aback by the virgin Mary sightings. They are far more realistic than any other collection I have ever seen, if you decide to loan them to a museum be careful, in fact I recommend a legal document forbidding the museum from ever ever giving out your name , with a large amount of money being granted you if your name is leaked . I can guarantee the Jesus people would make your life a living hell and nothing kind or heavenly about how they would treat you. Still now that you have two grandchildren to get through princeton you might want to make some money. Didn't god strike oral Roberts and his big hands dead? So there might be an opportunity to make some hard cash if you are willing to exhibit them yourself and charge money to see them. I don't see myself being in a position to help with our grandchidren's education but I could certainly do some pr on the project and help the money flow in. Sincerely a grandparent in crime

-Jennifer M (8-11): Definitely visions of Mary! :-)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Marriage: No Easy Business

Katja Exits the Antioch Student Union in her Wedding Gown

Dear George,

Katja and I recently attended the wedding of a friend’s son at a suburban Methodist Church. The minister didn’t pull any punches. He started right off telling the couple that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Then he told them how difficult marriage is and how much work it requires. He must have gone over that five times, adding in a personal anecdote each time. By the time he was done, the bride and groom looked a little glum. They finally brightened up when he pronounced them husband and wife. I didn’t know quite what to think, but I finally decided it’s probably best to go into these things with one’s eyes open.

Katja and Dave Open Their Wedding Presents

Katja and I got married in the Quaker chapel on Antioch College’s campus in Yellow Springs on August 28, fifty years ago this month. Our nondenominational minister, whose name, believe it or not, was Howard Johnson, wasn’t as confrontational as the Methodist minister we saw recently, perhaps because the divorce rate wasn’t sky-high yet. Nonetheless, getting married was still a turbulent process. Katja and I had had a terrible senior year of college, undergoing what seemed like a never-ending onslaught of academic, personal, family, and whatever other categories of calamities college students might face. By year’s end we were clinging together for survival, and we desperately looked forward to our upcoming wedding as the start of a new life. Though excited beyond reason, we still had some family tension to contend with. Though we’d been together as a couple for several years, Katja’s parents, Helen and Buck, remained dubious. This was some mix of concerns about Jewish-gentile intermarriage, the mismatch of Katja’s extroversion and my excessive shyness, and a basic deep-rooted reluctance to let go of their oldest child. Our two sets of parents apparently hashed some of this out before the wedding because my father took Katja and me aside and told us very grimly that members of our family never have and never will divorce. While we agreed fully, it still made a big impression on us. (Nowadays I think my father’s speech helps explain why we are celebrating our fiftieth anniversary this year.)

Steve, Vicki, Doris, and Peter – Dressed for the Occasion

The families arrived in Yellow Springs the day before the ceremony, and my parents, Vic and Doris, treated everyone to a rehearsal dinner at the King Cole restaurant in Dayton. The King Cole was Dayton’s top-ranked restaurant, and Katja and I held romantic memories about it for many years after. Our younger siblings – Ami and David from Katja’s family, and Steve, Peter, and Vicki from mine – were excited to be there, had fun meeting one another, and did the customary joking and fooling around. Handsome Steven was the best man, and beautiful Ami was the maid of honor. My folks drank quite a bit at the King Cole, as they normally did, and Katja’s drank very little, as they normally did, and the parents eyed one another one another warily.

Antioch students were nontraditional, and the campus norm was to compose one’s own unique wedding ceremony. Howard Johnson gave us a binder with dozens of ceremonies from previous years, and we snickered as we read them. Katja unilaterally decided that was the writer in our new family. She gave me a couple of suggestions, then left me on my own at the typewriter. I stayed up almost the entire night before the wedding, struggling to draft and redraft a ceremony. It never really came together, and I suddenly appreciated the reasons for tradition and religious ritual.

The Mothers: Doris and Helen

On the day of the wedding I was sweating nonstop and went to the local drugstore, asking the pharmacist for a pill which would eliminate perspiration. He said there wasn’t such a pill, and he counseled me to try to be mentally strong. I returned to the Antioch Inn where our parents were staying. By mistake, I walked into the bathroom between adjoining suites, not realizing that my mother-in-law was in the midst of using it. Even though sedated with Valium, she screamed at the top of her voice, and I had a dreadful feeling that things were rapidly going downhill.

Katja in her Gown

The wedding itself proceeded without a glitch. Katja looked very beautiful in her gown, and I wore my new suit that we’d bought. It was a pretty small wedding. We’d stayed in Yellow Springs to work for the summer, but nearly all of our friends had left campus in June. Katja’s teachers from the French Department and mine from Psychology were there, as well as a couple of close friends and all our family members. Mrs. Boren, one of my parents’ acquaintances in her 80’s, had been driven down 600 miles for the occasion, much to everyone’s amazement. We treated her like she was the queen. The minister read my amateurishly written ceremony with utmost seriousness, and he even pronounced a passage in Hebrew with a perfect accent that he’d acquired in his seminary training. We exchanged the $19 gold wedding rings that we’d bought from a street vendor in Dayton the month before, stepped on a crystal goblet, and suddenly we were a married couple.

Katja, Vicki, and David Cutting the Cake

Our reception was in the conference room at the Antioch Inn. At Howard Johnson’s recommendation, Katja and I had refrained from kissing at the altar, and Katja’s mother expressed her disappointment. I gave Katja a good kiss at the beginning of the reception, but it didn’t really remedy our omission (which seemed like a bad omen). We had a total budget of $50 for the reception, and, after we had paid the room rental and a waiter’s salary, we had just enough to purchase a white wedding cake, a bowl of punch, and one bottle of champagne which we poured into very small plastic cups. Our family members were in a good mood though. Katja’s mom said she’d never seen her so happy, so, she decided, this must be the right thing after all. My favorite Psychology professor, who I revered, took me aside and showed me a photo in his wallet of his bikini-clad girlfriend who he spent time with when his wife wasn’t around. As a brand new husband of less than an hour, I was taken aback.

The Wedding Party: Dave, Howard Johnson, Katja, Steve, Ami, Buck

I’d been working as a research assistant at Wright Patterson Air Force Base for the summer, and I arranged to take Monday off for our honeymoon. I had found a downtown hotel in Dayton which offered the best rate available, and we drove there after the reception. The hotel was old and had seen better days, but Katja was thought it was distinguished and elegant. Nowadays she remembers it being the Hilton, but it definitely wasn’t. We were both ecstatic to be married, and, after many travails, we felt a huge amount of relief. We spent one more week in our tiny, non-air-conditioned apartment in Yellow Springs, gave away our cat to a neighbor, and left for Ann Arbor for grad school. It was the beginning of many life adventures.



G-Mail Comments

-Vicki L (8-10: Hi Dvd, What a treat! You two were (and are) so beautiful. It's so great to have pictures and a narrative around an event that my shy 13 year old self could only vaguely comprehend.I do remember thinking Katja was the most sophisticated person I'd ever met; and while I was somewhat attuned to the inter-family tensions, I had no real understanding of the dynamics or the cultural differences. The two of you were so supportive and such anchors for me as a young Freshman at the U of M. I remember Katja helping me with my French homework (when

she worked at Faber's Fabrics) - it was like having an honest to goodness older sister. What times. Thank you again for refreshing our history. Love, V

-Linda C (8-9): Beautiful in every way!

-Donna D (8-9): Great pictures david. what bliss!

-Phyllis SS (8-9): Dave, What a lovely account of your wedding - a real love note to Katja. pss

-Jennifer M (8-8): This is sweet and funny. :-)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Happy Times: 1990 Family Reunion

L Family Farm, Birch Creek, MI

Dear George,

Our son J has always said that the happiest times he’s seen in my adult life were when I’ve been with my siblings at family reunions in Menominee. Our parents started arranging these yearly get-togethers in the early 1970’s, and we continued this tradition even after their deaths. I was paging through a photo album the other day and ran across the pictures below from our get-together at Farm in 1990, twenty years ago this summer. They brought back happy memories, though they elicit sorrow as well since we have suffered the heartbreaking family losses of my brothers Steven and Peter and my brother-in-law George since that time. Moreover, this was the last reunion our father hosted before he moved to Cincinnati to the Alzheimer center. We didn’t anticipate this happening at the time, and this final reunion with our dad at Farm turned out to be a noteworthy occasion.

In adulthood our family’s always been spread all over the country, so getting everybody together to Menominee at the same time each year was a monumental undertaking. Here are Peter (New Jersey), myself (Cincinnati), and Vicki and George (Santa Cruz).

Vic was thrilled and exuberant whenever his children and grandchildren came home. Here he is expressing his enthusiasm, to Vicki and J’s amusement.

The farmhouse has always been a soothing place with its white-washed walls, low ceilings, and attractive furnishings. My mom renovated the organ, sandpapering and polishing every square inch over a period of months.

We joked around a lot when together, and reunions were nonstop laughter. Pictured here: Dave, J, and George on the living room couch, having folded paper cranes following George’s instructions.

Abra (left) and Jessica were the youngest grandchildren, and they brought a special twinkle to their grandfather’s eye.

Steve was the life of the party in our family. Here he is holding court in the kitchen of a friend’s house in town where some of our group were staying.

Farm is full of mysteries and delights, much of it a product of our dad’s artwork. It looks like Katja has been meditating at the Medicine Wheel. Brady is taking a rest.

Though he did submit to them willingly, Peter described Vicki’s massages as heartless torture. Vicki seems to be enjoying herself in spite of Peter’s pain.

George was the first person up each morning, and he started the day off with his yoga routine.

At the 1990 reunion, my dad insisted that we hold a lottery which would determine the winner of his thirty-year-old Triumph sportscar which had been stored, inoperable, in his garage for years (and which the winner was required to take home with them). Each of his four offspring drew a number from a hat, and here is Vic ready to reveal the outcome. Aside from the grandchildren, all the adult offspring viewed with horror the prospect that they themselves might be the “winner”.

Fortunately for everyone else, Steve picked the (un)lucky number. His kids Jennifer and Jason seem genuinely pleased, but it’s hard to tell whether Steven is smiling or grimacing. He recruited his close friend, Peter Johnson, to get the car in running condition, and they drove it all the way from Menominee to Seattle.

As occurred each year, Vic treated the family to dinner at the Waterfront, our favorite Menominee restaurant. Most enjoyed a whiskey Manhattan on the rocks and a whitefish dinner. From the left: J, Peter, Jennifer, Steve, Jason, Dave, and Kiera O.

Departures were always hard. Here Jason hugs his cousins Abra and Jessica.

I’d have to agree with J. These were most happy times.



G-Mail Comments

-Donna D (8-7): beautiful david. you are most fortunate to have such good memories.

-Phyllis SS (8-6): Dave, What happened to the Triumph? Pss

-DCL to PSS (8-6): It did get back to Seattle, but then my brother Steve disposed of it (as I recall, to his kids’ chagrin).