Wednesday, November 21, 2007

You can get anything you want . . .

Okay, Christmas gifts to be distributed at Michigan Thanksgiving:
  • 3 pair of heavy socks in Dan's ever-useful pattern - check!

  • 4 nose warmers for the little kids, along with finger puppets and treats - check!

  • knitting calendar, craft show bag, junk food "study kit," and wine thingee for other gifts - check!


  • sugar-free bumbleberry pie: in work at my wonderful baking neighbor's house, to be picked up tonight.

  • rice and cranberry salad: test run successful, ingredients for double batch ready to go tonight.

  • sausage for munchies: purchased & loaded

Laundry: yeah, yeah . . . tonight, I promise. Right after church.

Packing: see Laundry, above.

Change oil on the car: oh, crap. Okay, at lunch break today?

This song is called "Alice's Restaurant." It's about Alice, and the restaurant, but "Alice's Restaurant" is not the name of the restaurant, that's just the name of the song. That's why I call the song "Alice's Restaurant."

Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago... two years ago, on Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant. But Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the church nearby the restaurant, in the bell tower with her husband Ray and Facha, the dog. And livin' in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of room downstairs where the pews used to be, and havin' all that room (seein' as how they took out all the pews), they decided that they didn't have to take out their garbage for a long time. We got up here and found all the garbage in there and we decided that it'd be a friendly gesture for us to take the garbage down to the city dump. So we took the half-a-ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW microbus, took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction, and headed on toward the city dump. Well, we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across the dump sayin', "This dump is closed on Thanksgiving," and we'd never heard of a dump closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes, we drove off into the sunset lookin' for another place to put the garbage. We didn't find one till we came to a side road, and off the side of the side road was another fifteen-foot cliff, and at the bottom of the cliff was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile was better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up, we decided to throw ours down. That's what we did.

Drove back to the church, had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, went to sleep, and didn't get up until the next morning, when we got a phone call from Officer Obie. He said, "Kid, we found your name on a envelope at the bottom of a half a ton of garbage and I just wanted to know if you had any information about it." And I said, "Yes sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie. I put that envelope under that garbage." After speakin' to Obie for about forty-five minutes on the telephone, we finally arrived at the truth of the matter and he said that we had to go down and pick up the garbage, and also had to go down and speak to him at the Police Officer Station. So we got in the red VW microbus with the shovels and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the Police Officer Station.
Now, friends, there was only one of two things that Obie could've done at the Police Officer Station, and the first was that he could've given us a medal for bein' so brave and honest on the telephone (which wasn't very likely, and we didn't expect it), and the other thing was that he could've bawled us out and told us never to be seen drivin' garbage around in the vicinity again, which is what we expected.

But when we got to the Police Officer Station, there was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon, and we was both immediately arrested, handcuffed, and I said, "Obie, I can't pick up the garbage with these here handcuffs on." He said: "Shut up kid, and get in the back of the patrol car." And that's what we did . . . sat in the back of the patrol car, and drove to the quote scene of the crime unquote.

I wanna tell you 'bout the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where this is happenin'. They got three stop signs, two police officers, and one police car, but when we got to the scene of the crime, there was five police officers and three police cars, bein' the biggest crime of the last fifty years and everybody wanted to get in the newspaper story about it.
And they was usin' up all kinds of cop equipment that they had hangin' around the Police Officer Station. They was takin' plaster tire tracks, footprints, dog-smellin' prints and they took twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explainin' what each one was, to be used as evidence against us. Took pictures of the approach, the getaway, the northwest corner, the southwest corner . . . and that's not to mention the aerial photography!

After the ordeal, we went back to the jail. Obie said he was gonna put us in a cell.
He said: "Kid, I'm gonna put you in a cell. I want your wallet and your belt."I said, "Obie, I can understand your wantin' my wallet, so I don't have any money to spend in the cell, but what do you want my belt for?" and he said, "Kid, we don't want any hangin's." I said, "Obie, did you think I was gonna hang myself for litterin'?" Obie said he was makin' sure, and, friends, Obie was, 'cause he took out the toilet seat so I couldn't hit myself over the head and drown, and he took out the toilet paper so I couldn't bend the bars, roll the toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape. Obie was makin' sure.

It was about four or five hours later that Alice--(remember Alice? There's a song about Alice.)--Alice came by and, with a few nasty words to Obie on the side, bailed us out of jail, and we went back to the church, had another Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, and didn't get up until the next morning, when we all had to go to court. We walked in, sat down, Obie came in with the twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, sat down. Man came in, said, "All rise!" We all stood up, and Obie stood up with the twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy pictures, and the judge walked in, sat down, with a seein' eye dog and he sat down. We sat down.

Obie looked at the seein' eye dog . . . then at the twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one . . . and looked at the seein' eye dog . . . and then at the twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each on and began to cry. Because Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American blind justice, and there wasn't nothin' he could do about it, and the judge wasn't gonna look at the twenty-seven 8 by 10 colored glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explainin' what each one was, to be used as evidence against us. And we was fined fifty dollars and had to pick up the garbage... in the snow.

But that's not what I'm here to tell you about.

I'm here to talk about the draft.

They got a buildin' down in New York City called Whitehall Street, where you walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected and selected! I went down and got my physical examination one day, and I walked in, sat down (got good and drunk the night before, so I looked and felt my best when I went in that morning, 'cause I wanted to look like the All-American Kid from New York City. I wanted to feel like . . . I wanted to be the All-American Kid from New York), and I walked in, sat down, I was hung down, brung down, hung up and all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly things. And I walked in, I sat down, they gave me a piece of paper that said: "Kid, see the psychiatrist in room 604."

I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I wanna kill. I wanna kill! I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth! Eat dead, burnt bodies! I mean: Kill. Kill!" And I started jumpin' up and down, yellin' "KILL! KILL!" and he started jumpin' up and down with me, and we was both jumpin' up and down, yellin', "KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL!" and the sergeant came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said "You're our boy". Didn't feel too good about it. Proceeded down the hall, gettin' more injections, inspections, detections, neglections, and all kinds of stuff that they was doin' to me at the thing there, and I was there for two hours... three hours... four hours... I was there for a long time goin' through all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly things, and I was just havin' a tough time there, and they was inspectin', injectin', every single part of me, and they was leavin' no part untouched!

Proceeded through, and I finally came to see the very last man. I walked in, sat down, after a whole big thing there. I walked up, and I said, "What do you want?" He said, "Kid, we only got one question: Have you ever been arrested?" And I proceeded to tell him the story of Alice's Restaurant Massacree with full orchestration and five-part harmony and stuff like that, and other phenomenon.

He stopped me right there and said, "Kid, have you ever been to court?" And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one . . .

He stopped me right there and said, "Kid, I want you to go over and sit down on that bench that says 'Group W'." And I walked over to the bench there, and there's... Group W is where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after committin' your special crime. There was all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly-lookin' people on the bench there . . . there was mother-rapers . . . father-stabbers . . . father-rapers! FATHER-RAPERS sittin' right there on the bench next to me! And they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible and crime fightin' guys were sittin' there on the bench, and the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one . . . the meanest father-raper of them all . . . was comin' over to me, and he was mean and ugly and nasty and horrible and all kinds of things, and he sat down next to me. He said, "Kid, what'd you get?" I said, "I didn't get nothin'. I had to pay fifty dollars and pick up the garbage." He said, "What were you arrested for, kid?" and I said, "Litterin'"' . . . . And they all moved away from me on the bench there, with the hairy eyeball and all kinds of mean, nasty things, till I said, "And creatin' a nuisance . . . " And they all came back, shook my hand, and we had a great time on the bench talkin' about crime, mother-stabbin', father-rapin', . . . all kinds of groovy things that we was talkin' about on the bench, and everything was fine.

We was smokin' cigarettes and all kinds of things, until the sergeant came over, had some paper in his hand, held it up and said:


And he talked for forty-five minutes and nobody understood a word that he said.
But we had fun
fillin' out the forms and playin' with the pencils on the bench there.
I filled out the Massacree with the four-part harmony. Wrote it down there just like it was and everything was fine. And I put down my pencil, and I turned over the piece of paper, and there . . . on the other side . . . in the middle of the other side . . . away from everything else on the other side . . . in parentheses . . . capital letters . . . quotated . . . read the following words:

"Kid, have you rehabilitated yourself?"

I went over to the sergeant. Said, "Sergeant, you got a lot of god-damned gall to ask me if I've rehabilitated myself! I mean . . . I mean . . . I mean that you send . . . I'm sittin' here on the bench . . . I mean I'm sittin' here on the Group W bench, 'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough to join the army, burn women, kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug."
He looked at me and said, "Kid, we don't like your kind! We're gonna send your fingerprints off to Washington"!

And, friends, somewhere in Washington, enshrined in some little folder, is a study in black and white of my fingerprints. And the only reason I'm singin' you the song now is 'cause you may know somebody in a similar situation. Or you may be in a similar situation, and if you're in a situation like that, there's only one thing you can do: Walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in, say, "Shrink, . . . you can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant", and walk out.

You know, if one person, just one person, does it, they may think he's really sick and they won't take him. And if two people do it, in harmony, they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them. And if three people do it! Can you imagine three people walkin' in, singin' a bar of "Alice's Restaurant" and walkin' out? They may think it's an organization! And can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day . . . walkin' in, singin' a bar of "Alice's Restaurant" and walkin' out? Friends, they may think it's a MOVEMENT, and that's what it is: THE ALICE'S RESTAURANT ANTI-MASSACREE MOVEMENT! . . . and all you gotta do to join is to sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar. With feelin'.

You can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant

You can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant

Walk right in, it's around the back

Just a half a mile from the railroad track

You can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant

Monday, November 12, 2007


I'm a very bad, probably very boring blogger. It's not that I haven't thought about my blog growing stale over the last couple of weeks. It's just that I haven't thought of anything really worthy of imortalization on screen.

Lessee . . . Dad came to visit. Which means we survived the panic clean beforehand, even though my 19 year old vaccuum cleaner tried to committ hari-kari, and Lucas decided that while he was happy to give up his bed for his grandfather and sleep on the couch, he thought it would be pretentious to act so out of character as to clean his room. "I'm a teenage boy, and Grandpa knows this, Mom." End result: Rick installed a new closet bar, a new bookcase and a new hamper in there. I installed a new bedding set & pillow, vacc'd, shoveled, and did my best to wash the windows. (That western light really shows off the cat nose prints in the evening. I kept telling myself that Dad would only be seeing morning light in there, anyway.)

Also, had my fifth, yes, fifth root canal last Friday. I started getting nervous when I did the inital exam. The dentist took one look at my x-rays and said, "We're going to be getting to know each other." Oh, good. But he's a nice guy, and even though an infection in the bone below the [dead] nerve kept me popping pills for a few days, it worked out in the end. And the nitrous didn't hurt either - although Rick was nagging me to sneak an extra shot of it into a bottle for his car.

And then I replaced my winter jacket, since it was starting to get cold and my old berber fleece job was really looking worn and thin. I picked out a standard looking parka with a fur trim collar, and thought it was adequate and (at $80 on sale) within my budget. It was nice when I got out of swimming class on Monday to feel the soft fur against my face. But on Sunday, Tasha noticed that it was really nice fur - too nice. So we checked the label, and discovered that it was real!! Ewwwww . . . . I should have checked, but it never occurred to me that such a reasonably priced jacket would have genuine dead animal attached.

Now, don't get me wrong. I wear leather and wool, eat eggs and dairy, and serve meat to my family without a qualm. But fur has just too much baggage associated with it, and it's something I can easily do without. And it's kind of disgusting, in my humble opinion. Like I said, "dead animal." But this is the great part - I called Kohls and explained the issue, and they took back my week-old jacket with no tags and gave me a full refund. Cool. And then I found another jacket, with very nice fake fur around the collar, for $20 less - which gave me the opportunity to participate in their clearance rack and take home a neat lace-print skirt, which I'm wearing proudly today. So, a win all around. (And it was really nice of Kohls to work with my quirky value set and take the jacket back like that.)

Um, what else? I'm knitting like crazy to finish Christmas projects in time for the big Thanksgiving family gathering in Michigan. Still to go: about 1/2 of the final sock, and some nose warmers for the little guys. (Curious? Check and check the pattern archive for "nose warmers." They're a hoot!)

So that's the major developments, more or less. Just another day in the life. (Or a couple of weeks, actually. Again, sorry about that.) And since every blog entry should have a photo or two, and since I really don't have anything pertinent to show, I'm going to resort to that famous standard of blogs everywhere: cat pictures. Enjoy.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Victory Garden

There used to be this show on Public TV, back when I was a kid, called "The Victory Garden." I don't remember much about it, other than this old coot who grew absolutely enormous tomatoes. It was usually a pretty clear signal that it was time to turn the dial (back in those pre-clicker days) and find something more interesting. Say, UnderDog.

Then last spring a couple of teens from the church brought me a proposal for a community garden. It was great! They'd researched possible crops, and growing techniques, and rounded up a team of their friends to share the labor, and were all ready to build this garden and do something really neat for the community. The church had been making noises for years about how great it would be do to something like this, if only we had a team of people interested in taking charge of it. So I figured, Bingo! We made plans to rent a sod cutter and buy some seeds, and I went to the church council with the plans. Council thought it was just great, too, and I told the girls that we were ready to get started. Somehow, we started to call it the Victory Garden. Aside from the guy with the huge tomatoes, I seem to remember this was something people did in World War II, planting a garden in their yard to increase production for the war effort. So now we're making war on hunger - get it?

But then human nature crept in. Council wanted the Administration Committee to bless the project too, since it did involve "buildings and grounds" and there had been some previous squabbling about who among the church committees were in charge of "buildings and grounds." Admin was worried that a garden wouldn't look nice, and then someone felt they'd been insulted, and then nothing happened at all for weeks and weeks, then someone thought the whole thing had been approved ("Didn't we tell you?"), and then someone else said that they needed to consider it for another month or so . . . . And then we were way past spring, into the drought part of summer, and the original team of teens had thrown up their hands in disgust and walked away. A completely justified move, in my opinion. But the battle lines had changed in our little war, and I thought it profoundly depressing.

But I'm stubborn. (You knew that about me, right?) So even when it became clear that 2007 was not going to be a gardening year, I hated to give up the whole thing. And when a couple of others on Council took up the banner and marched forward again, I fell into step. So two weeks ago Council and Admin sat down at the same table to work some things out, and we all agreed that we are going to do this garden. We made an announcement in church, and showed the landscaping plan off to a few people, and started to get enthusiastic responses. Scott Haefs had run a sod cutter before, and was willing to take charge of that effort. Steve Klock knows a lot about planting sustainable landscapes through his work at the DNR. Kurt K. (whose last name I solemnly pledge to learn soon) has a source for a couple of donated 100 gallon rain barrels and is designing a soaker system for the garden.

I'm still a little intimidated by the amount of work involved. I mean, I'm going to have to figure out exactly how this should all be organized - who will work each garden plot, the logistics of getting food delivered once it has been grown and harvested, etc., etc., etc. And frankly, I'm not much of a gardener.

Also, I'm starting to shy away from the "Victory Garden" name. I don't want to battle other people to make this happen. I want it to be a place of sunshine and harmony and common goals.

But doesn't it look nice, with the sun shining on the newly turned sod?

Monday, October 15, 2007

On the merits of recreation

Rick is a classic over-commiter. For the 20 years or so I've known him, he's always had half a dozen things going on the side, whether it be painting a car for a friend or building a set of cabinets for a kitchen re-model. Even when he was out of the country, doing temporary duty in Greece for 6 weeks, he took along materials to build me a beautiful dresser-style jewelery box in his spare time. And for years he had "disciples" who would show up in the driveway each weekend to work on their vehicles and benefit from his guidance.

But in the last several years, he's been working too hard. He turned the various decks and cabinetry work into a part-time business, and spent all his spare time pushing to finish this project or that one. I've tried to distract him at times for the sake of his own sanity, encouraging him to go to a race or putter with a project of his own. But most of the time he has put himself under too much pressure and feels the need to keep slaving on the crisis of the moment.

Back when the kids were little, Rick was bit by the RC aircraft bug. He had a wonderful time designing and building a plane for himself, before descovering that his creation was not particularly stable in the air and not suitable for a novice flyer. And then he bought a trainer aircraft and found a friend with a "buddy box" who could link up two different radios, allowing one person to take control in an emergency while the other was learning to fly. But that was back in Savannah, and when we moved away from the friend with the buddy box, the plane when on the shelf (and eventually out the door).

Anyway, it turns out that the gas station just down the highway from our house has a whole RC shop in the back, and the owner has arranged for a spot where RC aircraft can be flown on the weekend. This was enough to inspire Rick to buy a new kit and start construction on a new aircraft 4 or 5 years ago . . . but again, he got overcommitted in other directions, and the interest got put on the back shelf (along with his partially completed airplane).

Well, now it's his birthday. I have been nagging him again that birthday gift money should be spent on something you wouldn't normally buy for yourself, something special that will bring you joy. And for once, he took me seriously. He pulled his half-finished aircraft off the shelf, and went out and bought some stuff to finish it. He's started talking about how Jay from work has a buddy box, and maybe he can get back to the challenge of learning how to fly. He asked for a 4 channel control radio as his birthday gift from me and the kids, and then looked like a kid in a candy store when he actually got it.

Okay, so a few chores around the house might be delayed, and some income might be diverted. But it's high time that Rick did something just for the pure fun of it. He's excited and inspired. And I'm good with that.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Blue Day

Did you ever have one of those days where it's kind of a struggle to do what you're supposed to be doing? Where you feel kind of bummed out, but with no clear idea why? Where you keep losing your train of thought, and staring out the window, and all you really want to do is go hide somewhere away from the world with some mindless entertainment and a box of bonbons?

Yeah, I'm having one of those.

Monday, October 8, 2007


The Dodge County Fair (and many others, I'm told) have a competition every year, where contenders pick out the best heifer calf they can find, register their choice, and raise it.

Once the animal has reached maturity, they show it at the fair and get judged on how well they estimated it's future potential.
Of course, in Dodge County they have the extra fun of having all the kids showing the animals dress up in formal wear, so aside from the grooming and relative conformation of the heifer, you can decide whether you like that blue sparkly dress better, or the the pink pouffy one.

Anyway, so it's my birthday. I have reached an age that I clearly recall being "old" when my parents claimed it. My left knee does something which my doc calls crepitus and I call percussion; but a friend cheerfully points out that at least I haven't progressed to syncopation.

When I was a kid in the 70's, I wanted to be a marine biologist, just like Belinda Montgomery in Man from Atlantis. In th e 80's I was going to be a career military member, just because they were so durned honest and direct and honorable and all. In the 90's I finally finished my business degree and was going to take over the business world, show everyone how brilliant I really was, and earn myself a fat salary and a corner office somewhere.

These days, I have a decent office with a window. I don't have a secretary anymore, and some days I even perform a couple of administrative functions for the greater good of the company. I'm not rich, and seem to have a gift for never having quite as much money available as I'd planned a use for. I vary from "chubby" to "really needing to do something about this." I don't know if I've lived up to my potential, per se. Anyone (including myself) who predicted great things for me might not be impressed with the reality.

But maybe I don't need to be the show-stopper. Life is good, and maybe it's okay to just be part of the herd.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Okay, here are the contenders.

Once again we were really pushing the daylight, and I think it shows a bit in the color of the images. But seriously, what do you think?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

For My Next Trick . . .

I like doing portraits. Usually they're a lot of fun, and it's a chance to goof around with my camera and sometimes even get paid for it. And I've done quite a few sessions with Tasha, for confirmation or her birthday or whatever.

But now Lucas is a high school senior, and about to turn 18. Big events, which should be marked by a decent formal portrait. And I just can't seem to get one that reflects the right tone, has the right color, and generally satisfies me. Here's my first attempt:

Not bad. I like the color and the expression - but then I noticed the part where the refraction of his glasses makes a hole in his forehead. And so, I took him out to the park again last night to try again. I'll post those pictures shortly, but - what do you think? Am I being too picky?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It was wonderful

I couldn't have asked for better. The weather was perfect, the mosquitoes cooperated by staying away, Red the pig performed her role admirably, and everyone got along great.

Okay, now details:

Al Michales donated the use of his brand new stock trailer to pick up Red the pig from our neighbor's friend George, who raised her and then sold her to us at a really ridiculously low price. (I'd recommend George to anyone. Just ask me for his number.) Anyway, so there's this big red stock trailer in our yard, with a very nervous pig inside. Dan and Rick are pacing around because, obviously, we need the pig dead before we can roast her.

Dan has butchered his own sheep in the past and had figured doing a pig couldn't be too difficult. But he wanted an especially sharp knife of a particular shape, and somehow his weapon of choice didn't make it into his luggage when he left Maine. He started planning out what it would take to make one according to his design (by which impulse you can tell he has an engineering degree), but Rick went out and simply bought an appropriate blade (by which you can tell that he works with engineers).

Next, there was the question of shooting the pig. She was still in Al's brand new stock trailer, and obviously they didn't want to start shooting the trailer up. But we'd all been to the fair enough to know that if we let her out, she probably wouldn't just stand still and "smile for the camera." Finally someone had the idea of taking her over to Al's farm. He has stock fencing and all that already in place for his cattle, and he offered to let them process her there and bury the offal with his back hoe. (Have I mentioned how incredibly generous these people are?) I did not attend the actual event, because I am squeamish and have no interest in the details; but I understand that in spite of all their preparations, Red did indeed make a break for it, got through a gap in the stock fence, and turned a simple butcher job turned into a pig hunt. But things got sorted out in the end, more or less according to plan.

Meanwhile, the tent and tables had been delivered and set up, as well as the pig roaster and the port-a-john. Racer's Hall got us the two pony kegs at wholesale cost (Thank you!), and I hit-up my connections at the Port Washington Farmer's Market for rolls, flowers, and a big jar of Mango Jam for Dan (his favorite). Mom got there mid-morning, and I set her and Tasha to work sorting 3 bunches of flowers into vases for 9 tables.

The cousins got there about lunch time, which really got the party started early. It's hard not to feel festive when you've got a pile of little people bouncing around and looking excited. I feel so very honored that the whole Fremont Huisjen crew, plus the Worths & Gees, made the long trip around the lake just for our little gig. And Dale and Susie and their gang were on their way from Ypsilanti, but blew a radiator in central Michigan and had to limp on home again. (You were missed!)

By 3:00 or so all the relatives were on site, and there was a definite team of guys working on the pig. Lucas potted up some begonias in a half-round pot and hung it on the cross at the chapel, which added the perfect touch. Sybil was starting to fret about how many senior citizens would park their cars on her property and be taxied down to the chapel. And for comic relief, we all had a good time watching the toad that hopped into the tent and settled down to watch the show.

By 5:00 we had a pretty good crowd of 60 - 70, including kids. Gary H. was having a wonderful time directing cars and trying to collect parking fees, while a swarm of little kids swung on the rope and generally cavorted around the Grandmother Oak. We decided it was time to take our walk.

We wandered down the east path, with Rick and me hand in hand leading the way. (I had to drag him past the pig, which he thought he'd better check one more time.) Meanwhile, Sybil had loaded several elderly attendees in her car and was giving them the nickle tour as she drove down the west path to the chapel. She was in her glory, having so many people come to admire Meadow Valley, and I swear she was just glowing. But then again, I was in a pretty wonderful mood myself and it may have reflected on others.

RaeAnn did an absolutely wonderful job with the ceremony itself. There were vows, and stories about the early times in our marriage, and a recognition of the work as well as the joys of marriage. Sybil asked me later why Rick kept looking away from me during some of the "mushy" moments? I explained that he was right on the verge of crying the whole time and trying to hold it in.

That's about it. We kissed a bit, then walked back and had a party. There were plenty of potables (thanks, Dad!), an over-abundance of food, and a general atmosphere of pleasant camaraderie. The Kohler guys made a great showing, and after dinner hung out at the fire pit for quite a while. Several of Luc's and Tasha's friends came later in the evening and had a good time goofing around in the dark with the glow necklaces I'd stashed. Babies were cuddled, friends were hugged, and all was well.