Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Close Encounters of a Human Kind (1) updated 12/08

18 days since we last blogged! And on a trip that offers adventures every day, we are so very far behind. If we still have an attentive audience, please forgive us. Peter and I are tucked away in a the comfort of "City Lights", a neat little internet cafe in downtown Charleston, South Carolina ... such a looooonnnng way from New Bedford, where we last blogged. By day, we are exploring, by night we should be blogging, ... but it is the rare place we park that offers wireless internet.

Peter says, "Enough excuses .. get on with it." So, here's the deal. There are so many people to thank for their hospitality that this has to be our first priority. The tales of New York, Philadelphia, Ocean City, Williamsburg, Jamestown, Monticello, Nashville, Ashville will have to await their own day. Let us instead introduce you to the wonderful people who have filled many of our days since we wrote "Reunions". So, allow us to introduce ...

Peter and Dotsie Banker Shaw on a famous Rhode Island Wharf (clue - check picture)

My relationship with "Dotsie Banker" harkens way back to the days that she and my sister 'Eloise' were members of my mother's Girl Scout troupe. Her family, close friends of my parents through "Wilmette Congregational Church", often welcomed us into their home, and her mother assured my safe delivery through high school by tutoring me in Algebra and French.

was there with me in Washington last spring, when Eloise was so sick. This allowed me to be seen by her as something more than her friend's kid sister and to invite us to stop in Barrington RI on our great retirement treck. Peter and Dotsie so wonderfully welcomed us into their cozy new retirement home, where we enjoyed the style of warm hospitality that her parents always provided.

"Thank you, Peter and Dotsie , for this very special reunion. We loved gathering at your table and the wonderful day that you chauffeured us around Newport. It's fun to feel like true peers (a gift of shared retirement) and we will continue to enjoy your mother's recipe for
sugarless chocolate syrup."

Here is the next family who opened their home and their lives to us ...

Meet Virginia and Allen Boyce

Virginia is the first cousin of Peter and was born the same day (she in the AM and he in the PM) They live in Clarksburg, New Jersey, and among many involvements, have together managed a blueberry farm. Their farm house is so old, that if it could talk, it would tell you about the day after General George Washington had crossed the Delaware in a surprise attack on hired British forces at Trenton, New Jersey. It was Christmas morning and the"Hessians" were caught off guard after a Christmas Eve of partying. Having had their stonghold captured, these troops retreated, rading and pillaging all the way to the Thames river. The big cabinet in this old farmhouse still bears the marks where the Hessians tried to smash it. (circa 1770's)

Virginia is a retired teacher and an avid quilter. I hope to entice her to our Waterloo County Quilt fair someday. In the meantime, check out Peter under his cousin's quilt!

Remember how the sheep and goats will be separated? So with goats and the cats. Meet Virginia and Allen's current family ...

This picture is for Isobel, another cat lover, who is currently
sleeping with our cat "Trader" while we are gone.

This is Virginia and Allen's real daughter (as opposed to goats and cats) pictured above with husband, John, and children Kayla and Jackson. "Yes, Virginia, we were able to connect, outside 'Build A Bear' in Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday, November 24th .. and they are all terrific. So great to be with Bonnie after so many years and to meet her great family, the Famolaris. Thanks to all of you."

And, if you think only my sister could have a childhood friend named "Dotsie" .. you are mistaken. "Dotsy Griggs Wilbern Roarty (names that almost track her full life) is my childhood friend and she too was present with me in Washington during my sister's illness. So, for the first time we were able to "Connect the Dotsies"!

Since Grade 4 we've been connected at the hip

Outside Baltimore with Dotsy's Son, Danny, daughter-in-law Susan,
and first grandchild, Ginger. This is the wedding I flew in to take
two years ago.

Not only was it one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever had the privilege of conducting, it was under girded by a most amazing story involving the love of Susan for her sister, Amy, wife of Danny's best friend, Parker. Because of serious complications due to diabetes, Amy was for a time unable to bear children. After some years in Spain, Susan returned home and announced that' she would be the 'host' (ess) for her sister's child (invetro fertilization), a saga that introduced Danny to Susan. Below meet all the players in this tale of love ...

(left to right) Parker, husband of Amy and best friend to Danny; Amy and her youngest (her own successful birth); Jim Butcher, Amy and Susan's father, and Jeannie, their mother; in front are the 'twins', a niece and nephew birthed by Susan; Susan and Ginger, Danny and Grandma 'Dots''.

Grandpa Jim Butcher is a renown artist of phenomenal versatility. He and Peter really hit it off, especially as Jim is a lover and collector of old cars.

This is Jim, welcoming us into his studio.

a more traditional style and subject

A piece of commercial art - Jim always uses
the faces of members of the family.
This is the face of his father.

more family members in a prehistoric state

what member of the family could this be?

Jim showing us a yet unfinished piece

admiring portraits

this one is of his late father-in-law

And this is his beloved mother-in-law, 'Mimes', Grandmother
to a large brood and the superlative "hostess with the mostest".
After having taken us all out to dinner the night before,
she was joined by us for Sunday service (Nov. 4th) at
"Christ our King Presbyterian Church",
founded by Eugene Pederson, well known preacher and author
of the biblical paraphrase. "The Message."

Danny and Susan and to all of your family who so graciously hosted this 3 day reunion, "Thank you. You guys are the best. " And before bidding complete farewell, we had another wonderful 'close encounter of a human kind' .. this time with past Parkminster member and one of the original "Baltimore Babes", Irma Mason. "How great, Irma, to make it happen in your busy nursing schedule. Thank you. Thank you."

And now, on to Ocean City, Maryland ...

Friday, November 9, 2007

Capelin Islands (3)

On to the famed Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
When whaling reached its apex and Nantucket Harbour could
no longer handle the volume of ships, New Bedford became the Whaling Capital.

Sperm whale that came to the museum from a ship
that sadly collided with it.

a port picture displaying thousands of tons of whale oil ...

... for these kinds of products. Exposure to this time in human history
is a brutal reminder of the way humanity has devalued the Creation
in each age (remember the buffaloes), by misinterpreting the biblical m
to have "dominion" with wholesale

"Scrimshaw" - a whaler's free time craft

The Mariner's Home - a place away from home - still a hospice today

A seamen's tabernacle

The home of Captain William Rotch, Jr.
Another amazing New Bedford home

And another ...

The "Thomas Morgan", One of the few remaining whalers - Mystic Seaport, Connecticut

hoisting the mainsail bar - while singing a sea shanty to keep us in time

See the raised bar?

Thus endeth our reflections upon the Whaling Era

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Capelin Islands (2)

Here we are making the fast 25 mile trip in the 'Cat'
from Hyannis across the very rough waters of Nantucket Sound.

Pulling into the harbour. Nantucket is both
the name of the island and the chief city.

Being met by some of the locals. Life on the island has hardened them a bit.
You can tell from the signs below just what this place has been al
l about.

Yes, 'Nantucket', the tiny island that for more than a century, was the headquarters of the world's oil business and the inspiration for Melville's "Moby Dick" (based on the tragedy of the whale ship "Essex", the story of which is a New York Times bestseller and which we are currently reading out loud to each other: "In the Heart of the Sea," by Nathaniel Philbrick)

Beginning to explore the back streets of this
scenic & historic town

On the walking tour through the captains homes
and the characteristic the cobbled streets

See the widow walk on top? Nantucket spawned
the feminist movement, as women were left for months and years at a t
to manage civic affairs. The first woman astronomer,
artists, and so many others.

Recently there was an exhibit here, entitled "the gutsy gals of Nantucket".

We all know that Nantucket has also been the context of countless
limericks. We never did meet the "man from Nantucket", though his presence
was chronicled on many T-shirts.

We did, however, encounter his bizarre counterpart ...
the ill-fated old gal from Nantucket, with a bust to heavy to lug it. So to help
her poor spine, when not in recline, she toted each jug in a bucket.

(Sorry) .. on to the tip of the Cape at Provincetown, to do some of our own

pulling out of harbour - pictures celebrating the legacy of Portuguese mothers of sailors - so many Portuguese and Cape Verdians became whalers /fishermen on these shores.

Scooting out past the point to the "Stellwater banks". This area was declared a national heritage habitat through the political advocacy of Gerry Studds, a congressional
candidate, whose campaign Elizabeth helped with back in 1970 (?)

"Thar she blows!"

We had the joy of encountering 7 sperm whales, including two first time mothers and their calves. All of them are known personally by today's professional whaler watchers.

Here's an underwater view!

Dramamine assured this mariner a comfortable voyage, though
leaving him a bit subdued. Relaxing on a hallowed out log.

Tim - this pic is for you!