Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Twist of Fate

Alas! The irony of it all. Last night Jean called. She is nice, but not a close friend. She is the director of the Kent State Fashion Museum. She was not calling to arrest me for wearing bad clothes. Two years ago, Cynthia helped to design a lace exhibit for the museum, and through Cynthia, Jean had commissioned John to build her a fabulous dry stone wall for her garden.

She was calling to let him know that her spinach and lettuce were boltintg. Whatever picture that makes in your mind, think again. She thought that we might like to come out and pick our fill of those fine greens. I volunteered to do this, since both John and Cynthia were working today, and bolting greens must be picked before they get clean away.

So I went out this morning and picked a bunch of gorgeous bright and dark green greens. I came home and washed them and spun them in my salad spinner. Then I fished out a few of those fine plastic bags that you use in the supermarket to put your produce in, which I save for this very event, and lo! and behold! THERE WERE NO TWIST TIES IN THE HELL DRAWER!!

I knew this would happen.

Here is a picture of the Great Wall.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


So Emily has returned to Germany for a while. She'll be back, mit kinder, in about 6 weeks for the fantastic, phenomenal Harper Hootenanny down in Dayton in August. Since the older, geezer branch of the family kept talking about a reunion and never doing anything about it, a number of the next generation, a group of cousins, decided to get down and do it. Terry was on of the ring leaders and he and Emily and Jill got busy and put this thing together. Instead of dithering abut dates and locations, they decided to set both and whoever shows up will show up. Terry will be there in spirit, of course. and we'll raise a glass or two of lemonade, Maker's Mark , and chocolate milk to his memory. I hope that a lot of the far-flung family members will make it. Many of us were together in Indianapolis for Terry's memorial service and celebratory party, of course. Emily was the only Burnell present for the party, which she said was perfect.

When she returned to Kent, there was shopping, lots of phone calling and friend visiting and some good meals. The Euro is so strong and the dollar so weak, that she couldn't resist a few sales. I took her up to Aurora Farms, a large discount center full of major stores featuring good buys. When she comes back in August, I am sure her older daughter will have a fine time there. If shopping is genetic, I know whose DNA is loaded. Unfortunately, Dada will be staying home to supervise the remodeling of their apartment. There'll be a lot of Skyping.

Our farmers' market is up and running. There are a surprising number of fresh produce stands already: lettuces, beans, strawberries. There are also more vendors than ever before, with flowers, baked goods, coffee, soap, honey and maple syrup. There's live music - acoustic folk and soft rock. It's a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning, with a stop at the Backerei for croissants and a good coffee afterwards. The Backerei, which has an umlaut over the "a", is a bakery started by a former high school German teacher. We encourage people to patronize his place because it's one of those small shops which give a pathetic downtown like Kent's a little lift amongst the bars. Last year Emily sent him a cap from Erding, which he wears proudly every day. He works hard and his chocolate croissants are a wonder.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Across the pond, an owl calls.

Summoned by the piper

We begin to gather on the bank.

The silence is broken

By the thumping of the oarlocks

As his two sons row out

To the center of the still water.

The minister speaks words of comfort

And the wife, too young to be a widow,

Sits with his parents and his brothers

To watch the solemn young men in the boat

Lower onto the silken surface

The small reed vessel in which

The ashes of their father lie.

We hold our lighted candles and our breaths

As they ignite this Viking symbol

To carry his mortal being away from this world

And leave his spirit with us forever.

We watch the little pyre boat

Move slowly across the pond

While the piper plays the song

That so defines our fallen warrior.

The flames go out and the little bundle of reeds

Sinks into the now dark water.

The owl does not call again,

And from us are only the sounds of sighs and sorrow.

Soon, up on the hill

Another fire blooms, and we

Gather there to tell each other stories.

All we favorite aunts, uncles, and cousins

Claim our parts in his life.

(We all insist we are his favorite, as he is ours.)

Old and new friends, colleagues, his beloved fraternity brothers,,

Neighbors, make us laugh with stories of him

That had made them laugh when he was with them.

Their stories are as warm as the bonfire

Which dims now with the

Rising of the brilliant full moon.

One favorite cousin says that

He expects a new star to shoot across the sky tonight.

We embrace each other

And leave this special place, for now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Terry G.- In Memorium

Yesterday the Harper tribe - the immediate family of Lee Ann, Dale and Jace, brothers David and Tim, parents Ed and Joan, and the extended family of aunts, uncle and 25 cousins -lost a bright and shining son, brother, nephew and cousin , Terry Guenveur Harper. He had fought a brave fight against a cruel brain cancer. He was full of life and intelligence and wit and grace, handsome as all get out and loved by many. He called himself Favorite Nephew and Favorite Cousin to all of us, and he was.

He wrote his own obituary on his blog which he started two years ago, right after his diagnosis. He writes with humor, insight and no bitterness about his experiences with this terrible disease. He was a seeker after the truth and handled all the procedures with aplomb and his unfailing wit. I would read the posts and laugh, and assure myself that he was going to beat this thing. I think we all truly believed that he would.

Our family and his many friends will celebrate his life and mourn his death this week-end. There is an unmendable hole in the fabric of our lives, but we are so very glad that he was in this world with us.