Thursday, August 28, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

I'm back. Did you miss me? I missed you. It was probably good for me to have an internet diet though; the computers at the college library started being harder to access once students showed up for school, acting like the resources were theirs or something. The temerity, I tell you. I have a lot of catching up to do with all of you, but am looking forward to doing a fair amount of that this weekend. Let the gluttony of blog-reading begin. Yum.

Since returning home I've been having a good time scaring the bejesus out of my new roommate by entering, or just occupying rooms he expects to be empty. I don't think he's especially skittish (though given the creakiness of our floors, I do wonder about his hearing), I think he just got used to having the place to himself for the last three weeks. I offered to wear a bell around my neck, but he didn't think that would be necessary. His cat is even more freaked out by me thus far, and has yet to let me get near her. Yesterday I began to wonder if she'd somehow gotten out of the apartment, since I couldn't find her anywhere. Fortunately she came running the minute Laird got home, so I didn't have to ask any awkward questions ("so, does kitty like to jump out open windows?"). She doesn't have a name, by the way. Laird (and his sister, who is co-owner) don't see the point in naming an animal that will never learn its name. I find this droll. I name EVERYTHING. I name things that just LOOK like animals, such as Bob, my drinky bird. I named my computer (Herm), simply because he occasionally exhibits behavior that suggests free will, or at least some strongly held opinions (we get along well though, don't we Herm? Right? RIGHT?). I come from a family whose members regularly name their cars. This is yet another thing that causes my brother-in-law to roll his eyes, though I'm pretty sure I heard him refer their new car by name (Sterling) at least once this past month. We'll see how long it is before I've named her.

Anyway, kitty is under my sole care this weekend as my roommate and his sister are visiting family in PA. I hope my feeding her for the next three days will inspire some good will. Seems like it can't hurt. Maybe she'll even have told mer her name before the weekend is through. If a name presents itself, Laird doesn't need to know, right? To be fair, I don't think he'll object, he just won't see the point. Right now the only thing springing to mind is 'Wussy Cat' but I realize this is based on insufficient evidence. Dogs tend to love me; occasionally one that was scared of strangers saw no need to change his/her policy on my behalf, but I've never had a dog actively dislike me (knock wood). Cats usually like me too, or remain largely indifferent if that is their tendency, but on at least one occasion (my sister's previous cat) I've had one take a passionate dislike to me. Hissing, spitting, running from the room at my approach, vomiting hairballs right outside my bedroom door (Mary believed this was not an accident, but a formal protest), these were some of the ways she registered her hatred of me. Okay, she didn't really like most people -Mary only half-jokingly opined that she was autistic- but everyone agreed she seemed to have special hatred for me. My family believed it was because I am at least half canine. It tells you something about my family that even my parents say this about my possible heritage, and neither of them means it as an insult. I think I've mentioned before that Dad was partly raised by an English Sheepdog, so if I'm a dog boy, I'm second generation. I have no reason to assume Kitty will take a dislike to me, but for now I'm giving her lots of space, and letting her make the first move. Laird says she's having a good time hunting bugs, an activity I fully support. Glad somebody wants to do it.

Changing subjects drastically, in my previous entry I said I'd share some photos from the 50th anniversary party. To my surprise, some of mine actually are in focus, but even so none really tell you anything interesting about the event. Pictures of people you've never heard of (and who might prefer I not post their images on the interweb) standing around in random groupings in one of the blandest rooms on the planet, yeah I think I'll spare you that. But here is one my brother-in-law Tony took, and I think it's rather nice.

From left to right: Mom, Dad, my new Uncle Paul, his wife, my Aunt Caroline, Uncle Costas and Aunt Evelyn. The three women are sisters. After losing her first husband to prostate cancer, Caroline married Paul in 2006. That's why I say he's 'new'. Judging from the direction most of them are looking, they're listening to a toast being made by one of Dad's two friends/co-workers from The American Friends Service Committee. Those two toasts, a lovely speech from Mary, and equally lovely ones from both Mom and Dad made up the impromptu 'program' that happened. Dad had asked me in a previous email if Mary and I would act as mistress/master of ceremony, should any ceremony had look like it was going to happen. I did not interpret this to mean he wanted me to plan a ceremony, which, I now fully acknowledge, was probably fairly thick of me. When I got to Indiana I learned he had said nothing about this to Mary (who had been much more privy to the planning of the event, for obvious reasons), and since there seemed to be no ceremony forming, I thought no more about it. Midway through the event he sidled up to me and asked if there was anything scheduled, ending by saying that it was fine with him if there wasn't, we could just keep doing what we were doing, which was mingling and chatting. As you may recall, Mom began to lose her nerve about this occasion this Spring and was now hoping that if it happened at all, it be as modest and unassuming as possible. A ceremony, therefore, seemed like the last thing she would want. Dad seemed to be okay with that too... but a few minutes later Mary came up to tell me that he'd just asked her the same question. This made clear to us both that despite his comment to the contrary, Dad very much DID want something to happen. So we sat everyone down at the tables, and while I frantically thought of something to say, Mary told the story of when Mom and Dad met. As you can imagine, each of them tells a slightly different version; Mary told Dad's, which is as follows:

They were at a Young Friends of North America Conference, I believe it was in 1956. Dad saw Mom approaching, attended as she generally was at the time with an entourage of adoring young men. He learned she was from What Cheer, Iowa and told her he had first heard of that town from a friend who had made his singing debut at the opera house there. Dad had assumed, until that very moment, that his friend had made the name of the town up as joke. At this, Mom harumphed, turned on her heel, left with her entourage... and refused to speak to Dad for the rest of the conference. (Mom's version differs in ways I can't fully recall, but have to do with what Dad actually said, how she reacted, and just how many men were attending her at the time. Dad usually claims it was fifteen or twenty; Mom says it was two, and she can name them. It's only fair to admit that Dad is a wee bit fond of hyperbole. I come by it honestly).

Mary didn't tell this part, but fortunately the following summer, they not only met again, but were responsible for running the conference, Mom as director, Dad as clerk. No, I don't really know that entailed exactly, but at the very least it meant they spent some concentrated time working on a project together, and not just any project, but one involving Quakers, which Dad once said is like trying to take 50 kangaroos for a walk. Seems like a pretty good way to test for compatibility, no? Clearly something got kindled, which led to a regular correspondence between them the next year. They got engaged by mail. This trip I asked Mom how many days they had actually been in one an other's physical presence when they got married. "About four," she said. I offer this as partial explanation for why I might have been more trusting of email romance than proved prudent. I will say that both Mom and Dad write fantastic letters.

Mary finished by talking about the example they had provided for a strong, healthy marriage, which she was glad to get to put to the test once her beloved showed up. At this point she got choked up, and couldn't speak for several seconds. Very touching, and what's more, it rendered anything I might have added as anti-climactic, so I was off the hook. Mary has always been great at rising to an occasion. I think I have some modest skills that way too, but they pale next to hers.

Dad's friends from the AFSC passed on their good wishes, and shared the same from many others who hadn't been able to attend, Dad teasingly acknowledged (with some truth, I think) that many of the out of town folks had come because they realized this was the only way they were going to get to know travel-shy Margie, and Mom responded by saying why leave Eden when you live there? Both expressed their gratitude for every one's love and good wishes... and that was the program. Dad told Mary later that it had been 'just perfect,' so it all turned out well.

Dinner that night for the out of towners and a few locals was, as I said, a more raucous affair, but fun in its own way too. I don't know if this was part of Mom's reasoning too, but I realized after it was all over that maybe the bulk of attendees have a lower tolerance for raucous than do the Lacey clan. Certainly dancing would have been of little interest to most of them, so it's just as well that part got the kibosh. I don't think Mom ever really enjoyed having a lot of people making a fuss all at once over her, but as long as she was able to chat with a handful of loved ones, she had a good time. Since that was most of what happened, it all worked out well. As I said in my previous entry, lots of relationships got renewed and celebrated throughout the day, not just Mom's and Dad's marriage. It's easy to forget, but that's a large part of why celebrations like this are so much fun.


Birdie said...

I had a glimpse of the raucous side of the Lacey clan. Those others don't know what they're missing.

We call all of our cats by name, and they come—well, when it behooves them to do so. We don't call them "kitty" at all, so they have no idea what they are. Except in charge.

dantallion said...

That renewal of relationships is such a wonderful thing. I'm glad it worked out so well.

And welcome back!

dpaste said...

I name my cats and most have been cognizant of their names, but for some reason, even though I've named them, I don't call my current two by their names, just "little boy" and "little girl," even though they'll turn a year old in about a month's time.

Glad the party was a success. My folks will be reaching their 50th in about four years.

Greg said...

I had a car named Grizabella once. I'm afraid to name my computer, though. It might give him just the swelled terminal he needs to fully take over. I do feel bad he's become color-blind, though.

Sounds like the Lacey Event was a rousing success! Love the story of their first meetings.

So glad to hear you are safely home. Good luck getting acquainted with le chat. Hope that goes well...

Java said...

I've never heard of such a thing, not naming one's cat. I certainly understand that said cat will only respond to a summons on her own terms, name or no name. That's not the point.

I love the impromptu ceremony at your parents' party. It sounds as though Mary did just right, not too much, not too little. And you stood by and provided moral support, right?

Glad you're home again. I missed you.

Butch said...

I had a car in high school I painted the name of it on the back fender. "Road Runner," named after the infamous "Beep-Beep." Of course, that was the thing to do when I was growning up.

My experience with not naming animals is only done if they are going to be harvested in the fall. It makes it easier if they do not become a pet. But in our culture, cats are safe from that fate. It would still be better if the cat had a name and yes, they do learn what their name is just like a dog does, in my opinion.

Welcome back by the way. ;-)

Brian said...

I'm in agreement with Butch, above - not naming an animal means you plan to eat it. I'd be wary the next time the cat disappears.

The party sounds like it went great! I'm glad your folks had a good time.