Orange Blossom Special

Mary Rowell is 50.

My friend Mary Rowell turns 50 this year. We celebrated last night in her yard/garage/barn in Craftsbury, Vermont where we all live some of the time. It poured down rain outside, and the light was terrible — too poor for video. But this didn’t hinder the audio a bit, as you will hear if you click below. You might just set her going and kick back and close your eyes, but for those of you who cannot tolerate TV without pictures I have tossed in a few stills. The music — provided by friends and neighbors (any guest, really, who brought or borrowed an instrument) — was awesome:

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In the giardino degli aranci

The smell of oranges!“In the giardino degli aranci.” Zoë pronounced it slowly and deliberately, her gaze inward, her head bobbing to count off each syllable. Then she looked up and smiled. Our chorus erupted around her. Oh! Oh! we cried. So perfect! So romantic!

She extended her left hand; the ring is a black pearl, set in a tiny frond of white gold.

Oh, Dylan! Oh, Zoë! Oh!, everybody went nuts. Continue reading

Wild Life

Chippy In The WallPeople drive SO FAST along this stretch of road...

Last Thursday night I was visiting my folks up the hill as I often do when I am home. We were having a bit of a glass-o’ and waiting around for the 8 o’clock re-run of Jon Stewart when I remarked to my dad that he sounded a little whistly and was he all right?

Of course I’m all right, he wheezed, and then my mom who is hawk-eyed on the question of his health asked my resident aunt the retired physician to have a look, and she listened with her stethescope and then all of sudden calls were ricocheting up and down New England to my brother the doctor, my sister-in-law, the vacationing doctor, my dad’s actual doctor and his partner who was taking his call that night. One thing led to another and by the same time Friday he had ping-ponged from the middle of the Northeast Kingdom where he lives to a clinic on our east coast (near St. J) and back across to the Big Hospital at Burlington, 80 miles away on our left coast where he has been ensconced ever since, hooked up to monitors and drips and what-not, under treatment forĀ atrial fibrillation.

But I’m not worried about him. He’s got little metal radio-pickups pasted to his chest and four people in front of a bank of monitors down the hall watching every breath he draws, counting every beat of his heart and measuring everything that goes into or comes out of his body. He’s being attended to beautifully, and progressing — albeit slowly. But then he’s 85; his sprinting days are probably behind him.

I’m worried about my mom. She came home for one night (Friday) then packed a bag and headed back over to camp out in his room. Of course I don’t mean literally camping out; he has a roommate so she has to leave at a certain time at night and go to a local hotel.

The local hotel is GREAT, by the way. They offer a HUGE discount (about 60% off) on room rates to relatives of hopital patients, and they run a wonderful little shuttle van from 7 in the AM to Midnight, that takes you over to the hospital and brings you back whenever you want to go visit. WHen she checked in, the concierge asked for my dad’s name also, and always refers to him as “Mr. [vermonter]” when he asks about his progress every morning and night, and even added him to his sunday prayers, which means a lot to my mom.

She spends the day with my dad, and then goes back to the hotel, where she is by herself in the dark. So she gets very lonesome and very worried. At one point we thought he’d be coming home today. For a night or two or three, she’s fine. But now they say not til tomorrow at the earliest — and probably not til Thursday really. And that’s a lot for my mom to manage. She’s almost 80 herself, after all. So I think I am going to go over this afternoon after I do the horse chores and just hang out with her tonight til she falls asleep.

I’ll be right back

The voyage makes the crew.Dr Thomas Hargrove was kidnapped by the Columbian rebel group FARC and held for ransom for eleven months. Almost from the moment he was taken, a group of people — his wife, his brother, his neighbor, his children, his neighbor’s children — galvanized around his rescue. Twice, ransom sums were raised and rendered. One day, for no clear reason, the FARC released him. He walked home to Calli. He walked in on his wife, who was on the phone with his brother. Walked in on the neighbor who was firing up the barbecue to cook some t-bone steaks she’d bought and put away for him — not because she expected him there, but because the ritual of preparing a meal for him consoled her. Continue reading