We spent the past weekend visiting people we hadn't seen in a long, long time. On Thursday afternoon we left Blackberry at the kennel and drove to University Park, Pennsylvania, where my brother-in-law is a professor at Penn State and his wife has just retired from a demanding job in social work. We were greeted by their whacko golden retriever, Myka, who entertained us by discovering again and again and yet AGAIN her own tail which was of the utmost fascination to her. Bob served us a delicious dinner that included a grown up version of the old favorite green bean casserole; his featured fresh beans from his garden, cremini mushrooms, and goat cheese, topped with the famous french fried onion rings. Golly, it was delicious! The meal was topped off by Pat's yummy chocolate chip cookies.
After breakfast on Friday we continued on our way to Kent, Ohio, our destination. We'd lived there from August of 1971 until July of 1975 and again just two towns further east, Cuyahoga Falls, from July of 1980 until September of 1982. We stayed with our dear friend Roberta, and spent time both with her and with her sweet husband Lloyd, who is presently residing in a residential care facility following a mysterious febrile seizure several months ago that left him weak and debilitated. Lloyd has been an important figure in my life, and not only because he baptized all of our children. It was hard to see him so weak, but the essential parts of the man -- the terrific smile, the captivating laugh, the reflective mind, all are still functioning just fine, and we spent several hours together during the two days we were in Kent.
On Saturday evening, we went out to dinner with our friend Guenveur; I first met her when we were in a training class to serve as volunteers at a help line/suicide prevention center, and she proved to be a dear friend and role model over many years. Guenveur's an artist, and a couple of years ago she did a series of paintings about the Amish area of Ohio. When she posted them on her blog, I was just smitten. I especially liked the one of the Amish people gathered under a tree and was delighted when she said I could have it and I might also choose another from the series. I picked the group of Amish men at the auction. When we got together this weekend, I got to see the entire series up close and personal, and brought home my two. Guenveur's the kind of person that even when several years have passed between visits, you just pick up right where you left off. We had a nice meal together and when we took her home, her son was there and we spent time with him. I hadn't known her husband who had died too young, and hadn't seen son John in decades. We visited for a while and I had the distinct feeling that John is much like his father: thoughtful, calm, committed, reflective, inquisitive. It was hard to say good night, but we had to because . . .
. . . we got up at 4:30 on Sunday morning!
Another friend, Bob, serves a congregation in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, not terribly far out of our way traveling home. We wanted to attend his church and we arrived just in time. After the service Bob, his wife Dawn (a spectacular quilter and all-round good person) and their youngest daughter went out to lunch with us. It was wonderful to spend time catching up and learning about each others' families.
We got home late in the afternoon and picked up one very enthusiastic springer spaniel who hasn't left Joe's side since.