Archive for May, 2008

Denver on Sunday

Christ on the Mountain, Light of the World — these are not typical Catholic parish names. Typical would be a saint name, and most typical would be a parish named for Mary.  Light of the World is just a few blocks from my parents’ home, but due to some poor parish management skills at LOTW, the family parish has become Christ on the Mountain.  COTM is a utilitarian stucco structure with a bell tower funded by a cell phone company and a sanctuary that is a general purpose room furnished with comfortable 2-person folding seats and no kneelers.  There’s no associated school, but the parish is quite socially active. 

After Mass and breakfast, my sister came to mow the lawn and I weeded in the rocked area.  Landscaping in the Denver area includes a lot of rocked areas to reduce the need for lawn watering.  Rocks are laid over weedblocker fabric.  Over the years the rocks accumulate dust, leaves, and other organic debris, and there’s enough dirt (and punctures in the landscape fabric) for weeds to grow.  Mom and Dad need to have the rocking re-done in a year ot two, because there’s plenty of dirt for the weeds to use.

This is where I worked the most.  There are two varieties of iris blooming, one a sherbert orange and one that is yellow and white. 

Peonies are about to bloom and a shrub I have not identified. I held back on pulling some things out because I can’t tell whether they are weeds.  The pink flowers below are an example.  They are tiny, but I cut a bunch of then for a small table bouquet.

 At about 6:30 this Monday morning the phone rang.  It was a cousin calling my Mom to chat about some photos she’d sent him.  I don’t expect I will soon lose the panic reaction and the flashbacks I get to being awakened from a deep sleep by a phone ringing. 


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Today we had a ‘graduation’ party at ESL school, with certificates of completion for all of the students and some snacks.  Afterwards I went home and finished packing and mowed the lawn.  Then friend Robin gave me a ride to the Metro, which I rode to National Airport.  Now I am in Denver for yet another graduation.

In the gardens at Maryland, the Memorial Day poppies are blooming.  Here are several blooming, along with sage and the white iris.

These poppies remind me of the paper poppies the VFW used to sell.  Theirs were not the crepe paper ones but were shiny red paper with beady fringe for the centers.  Kind of like this only fake:

I wonder why we don’t sell — and wear — poppies anymore?  Did the symbol wear out?  I suppose it was the Vietnam War.  War just lost it’s patriotic popularity once we started having the stupid ones.  And who would by poppies to associate themselves with that?

I took one or two photos at National Airport, but truthfully, it is such an ugly place.  Denver’s airport looks like a really big circus tent, which is somewhat interesting.  Here is an architectural detail – tent poles.

Perhaps it isn’t fair to compare airports to train stations.  It seems like even a small station at New Haven was build with care and beauty.  Airports, not so much.

My plane arrived half an hour early, which was fine — the screaming 2 year old in the row behind was losing her voice.  Yvonne picked me up and we drove into Denver to see this amazing sunset in the mountains.

Happily, I found the little hot spot on Mom and Dad’s kitchen table to blog to night!  We’re going to 8AM Mass tomorrow morning, and it is getting late.

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Tomorrow is graduation day for ESL at the Shrine of St Jude.  We will have exams, certificates of completion, and treats.  I’m bringing cookies from the freezer left over from the reception after John’s memorial Mass — and some doughnuts, probably.  I used a template from MSWord on line and they’re quite nice looking.

After classes, I will head home and gather my suitcase and rolling back pack and hit the road.  Well, first hit the Metro and then hit the air — flying to another graduation, this one a high school graduation, another niece, in Colorado.  I will be staying with Mom and Dad:

At the house they bought last year:

I was last in Colorado with John in November.  This was our “Christmas letter” picture, taken at my sister’s lovely house:

I’ll be away 11 days.  My friend Robin will feed Mr Odin.  I will knit, read, write, work (a little) for Westat, and a few other things.  And take pictures.  Colorado is a wicked-pretty place.


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The Amtrak 171 Regional train was 15 minutes late, and one of the conductors was loud, rude and bossy (what’s with that?  A new marketing strategy?) Why (oh why) didn’t I take the Acela?  The Amtrak web site wouldn’t allow me to book a trip on the Acela. 

Other than that, lovely trip, reading, knitting, photographing, and making my packing list for the trip to Colorado next weekend.  New Haven’s Union Station has a pretty nice ceiling and very nice spherical light fixtures:

There’s so much graffiti along the tracks.  Is it for me the traveler?  So strange and unreadable — contentless messages to the uninvolved passerby.

Odin was quite excited to see me come home, making delighted cat noises for a good 15 minutes and keeping me in view most of the evening.  He’s showing me his wonderful white belly right now and wrowing at me.  (This isn’t a request for a belly rub;  it is a request for admiration and some eye contact.)  He is an interesting cat to live with.  He doesn’t really need a lot, food, water, shelter, and some, but not too much, attention.  And he needs his space and his privacy, thanks much.



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Rebecca, my brother’s oldest daughter, graduated from Stonehill College today.  It was a bright and sunny day, and we are very proud of her.  The graduation started with a march of the grads from the hill that named the college.

There were quite a few grads — 600ish.  We arrived at 8:30 and sat until about 12:15.  It was warm and quite sunny.  I used sunscreen and did not get a burn.  Knitting was done for part of the time.  Afterwards, there was a good deal of hanging about, so I took some pictures at a nearby pond.

It would have been a difficult slog for Mom and Dad, and a very difficult slog for John.  There was a lot of walking, a lot of sitting on uncomfortable chairs, sun and heat and boisterous crowds.  I was really glad to be there!

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My experience with train travel is limited.  Until the route was closed, I took the train home from college in the late 60’s.  And I took the train from Boston to New Haven once, to visit my brother and sister-in-law and that would be in the middle 80’s.   And John and I took the train from New Haven to New York and back for Paul and Hung-sam’s wedding. 


My niece Becky is graduating from college tomorrow, and I am taking the train to Boston for the ceremony.  Before John’s final illness, we planned to drive to Boston today, after ESL classes were over.  John liked long car trips.  We made many drives to Connecticut and Minnesota to visit family.  We drove to Florida and to Newfoundland.  We went out on Sunday afternoons for drives.  I will miss those long car trips and the weekend drives. 


I suppose, to be evenhanded, I should note that on the other hand, John would not have been able to take a 7 hour train ride comfortably, or contemplate transatlantic travel, or plan on taking a trip to the Holy Land next year.  


I couldn’t imagine safely driving 10+ hours to Boston alone. And when you figure in the cost of gas, food and tolls, the train is cheaper.  I elected to go business class, so I have a tray table, all kinds of leg room, a guaranteed seat, and an electrical plug for my computer, phone, and camera.  I knit on the cable scarf (a WIP/UFO – is there a difference?), I read the Discover magazine, I took photos, I studied Welsh vocabulary, and wrote for the blog.  (This will be published when I reach an open network connection – possibly at the hotel tonight.)  I examined the sensation of being alone.  I avoided public weeping.


I’m on the Amtrak Regional 168, which I boarded at Union Station in Washington, DC.  Here are some photos of (parts of) Union Station.  I am especially moved by architectural detail — patterns in the ceiling, patterns on the floors, and the windows. 

The photo above is the pattern in the main hall ceiling.

This ceiling in the secondary hall echos the first, with a very quilterly pattern.

The floor, simple and grounding, polished marble.

There’s some classy statuary, too. These guys remind me of Darth Vadar.  (Taken from the rear [of the statues] overlooking the restaurant.) 



Here’s a sweet little detail from on of the buildings along the tracks.  I imagine these old building once new and someone’s pride of accomplishment.



Photos from a moving train are tricky to do, and the light got worse as we head north but the graffiti art along the tracks was amazing, and the colors are inspiring.  Tomorrow, maybe some photos from that.

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Early Memorial

This morning I woke up to this:

Memorial Day poppies, a little bit early.   And also this:

I’ll have to ask Mom the name of this old fashioned white iris — somehow I think it might be German.  I moved it to the front sidewalk bed about 18 months ago, but it didn’t bloom last year.

And I woke up to the sounds being made by this man who has a jackhammer:


I have trouble sleeping and staying asleep, so I can’t say I was delighted to hear this racket.  Oh well.  Neighbors making home improvements — there IS and upside.

I think I might be developing TMJ along with the sinus problems.  I wonder whether other widows experience this?


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