Jul 17

Visiting the middletown*

Wrapped up the week and then hopped in the car and turned north. And I drove through clouds and rain for about two hours.

Here’s my before view:

And after the rain, when I was off the highways and moving between now-flooded country roads, this is the after view:

I met up with The Yankee and her friend, Anne, at a pizza joint. And then we drove over to a hotel near Muncie. She’s doing the Ironman 70.3 tomorrow. I’ll be schlepping some of the gear and trying to stay in the shade. But the ladies will have a great race. Anne’s husband Bill and I will be grilling hamburgers. So it should be a nice Saturday all the way around.

*Middletown was the name given to Muncie in a series of 1920s sociological studies. The name was meant to disguise the city — the people there eventually figured it out — and to suggest a typical small town America, in a conceptual sense. And that is all the sociology you get from my seat in a Best Western. More here Monday. Perhaps check out Twitter or Instagram between now and then.

Jul 17

Catching up

We are wrapping up a trip to my folks, a four-day visit to the ancestral stomping grounds, and I do mean ancestral. I’ve been brushing up on a few branches of the family tree. Turns out there are parts of my family that have been in northwestern Alabama when the state was merely a territory.

We arrived late Friday, just in time to go to sleep. Woke up Saturday and had a casual day of it. After church yesterday we spent the afternoon with my grandmother. She gave me another branch of the family tree to look into. And then we went to a nearby cemetery and found the grave of my great-great-grandfather.

Apparently, no one knew where he was buried. I figured it out online from a few hundred miles away, thanks to the Internet. After about six minutes of walking through neatly mown grass in the twilight I found the actual marker. You can’t miss it, really. I’m not sure how no one in the family knew. The marker just has his first and middle initials rather than his full name, though, so I suppose that’s part of it. Anyway, there he is, marked by a stone that tells the tell in just seven letters and a few numbers. He died more than a half-century before I was born. He was younger than I am now. He probably worked harder than I ever will. And there, next to him, is his wife, my great-great-grandmother, who died 24 years before I was born. I don’t know anything about them, otherwise, or, today at least, what their parents names were, but I’ve at least proven they existed. I’ve driven by their cemetery all of my life and didn’t know they were there.

Today was a pool day and a cookout day and a dodge the rain day. We went for a quick bike ride and then helped cleaned and then entertained the kids and then jumped in and out of the pool and ducked thunderstorms. I taught a three-year-old how to swim, sort of. It was a fine day, all told, then.

And we’re back here, as well! Back to the old Monday through Friday schedule. And here are a few June pictures to wrap up the month before … well, July 4th … when we’ll be … pretty much stuck in the car all day … So, yeah, enjoy some pictures!

This is a flower on campus that I walk by regularly. There’s really nothing special to it. I was trying to get the ants to cooperate with my phone’s almost-focal length. But I think the pollen became more interesting in the end:

We rode our bikes a fair amount, of course. This is a picture we took on our anniversary, actually. I thought it was nice of The Yankee to slow down and let me catch up:

She’s a nice person like that.

Allie is hard at work, just so you know:

I took this shot the other night at 8:50 p.m. There is a summertime advantage of living so far to the west in the Eastern Time Zone:

Later, that same night, I took this picture:

It is a fine perk, really.

Jun 17

Happy anniversary to us

We were standing in the heat. We were with my family and hers. Her friends and mine. Someone was going to have to travel so we made them all travel. And everyone was there, in Savannah, where we’d taken our first trip, across the street from “our tree” and the place where we’d also gotten engaged. We had everyone sitting outdoors on the hottest weekend of the summer — you couldn’t reserve a space in August, I figured, because people would melt — and they were there for us.

My uncle was down there at the end of the aisle. He’d promised to tie us in a knot we wouldn’t easily get out of. I walked down and stood beside him. Then The Yankee came down on her father’s arm and she was smiling to light up the world.


Now we’re in front of everyone and I remembered that it would have been nice to say something profound and special to her parents, but how do you say in a whisper, in a moment, that you’re going to try your absolute hardest to spend all of your time watching out for their daughter and trying to make her laugh? How do you tell two people all the things you want them to hear in a single sentence? And how do you look back among the small group of people who have traveled from many points on the map and thank them for taking their time to be there? How do you apologize to them, with a wink, for the heat they are sitting in?

My uncle, he’s delivering this lovely service, and it is just perfect because I’ve heard him preach a little, but mostly sing my entire life. I can pick out his voice in a crowded church of singing people from the back of a room and now he’s putting words to thoughts about what I’m supposed to do with all of my days to come.


Almost all of our two small families are there, and the fullness of that is such a special and lasting thought. In all of this time and in all of my sentiment I can’t get the importance of that down in a statement. Our friends, meanwhile, are live-tweeting the thing. Everyone is waving a sandalwood folding fan. There’s a string quartet over there to the left playing a set list that she’s picked out and there’s a candle to this side that is probably just melting in the radiating Savannah summer heat. Later, our friends will say I turned white, but it was the heat and the wool as much as the moment. That heat defines most everyone’s memory of the day, because every wedding has some kind of character.

She’s saying a part and she’s tearing up a little and I whisper something about taking her time. Like she needs this advice. This is one of the strongest, smartest people I know and this platitude is silly even as I say it, but there should be no rush here. There is rushing aplenty in our lives and we’ll get to all of that eventually and sometimes you should just take your time more, and that ceiling fan hanging inside the tent is doing nothing.


Now it is time for the kiss and I did something funny and our friends and family chuckled and then the ceremony was complete and we went back inside and into this fancy restaurant attached to the mansion where we got married. We had a lovely dinner where I learned what it means when they tap a knife on a glass. We went outside for night photos and it was somehow hotter and muggier. The festivities went long into the night.

And they’ve gone far into the years that have followed on adventures with our friends and families and at home and abroad and in all the big and little and pleasantly unexpected and perfectly predictable parts of life. Eight years of laughter and a relationship that gets better all of the time. We were standing in the heat, and our relationship just gets warmer.


Jun 17

Back in the U.S.A.

We arrived safely and on time and only inconvenienced by the inconveniences of the modern convenience of air travel.

Which is, at times, inconvenient.

But we were well-fed. Customs was a chore, even in the fast lines. And, like all things in New York, the moment you stepped onto the curb you knew exactly where you were and why you didn’t want to be there.

We made it back to the in-laws to find that Allie hadn’t missed us at all:

That was Friday. I flew back yesterday. The Yankee dropped me off at the curb:

I made a video of the flight:

And, now I am back in town, back at the office, back to the regular routine, now with jet lag! If history is any guide, I still have another two days until I can walk that off.

The above video makes the 31st video I’ve produced in the last two weeks. Add to that 103 photos that have also been uploaded to the site. And that’s just what I’ve shared here. So, with the trip well-documented, it seems a good time to take a little break on the blog. There’s an anniversary post coming up, of course. And if anything interesting happens in the next few weeks I’ll throw it here as well. But, otherwise, let’s say hiatus until July. In the meantime, follow along on Twitter and Instagram. They never seem to stop.

Jun 17

Top of the world, end of our trip

We went up to the top of the Cairn Gorm today. I made a video for you:

We took some photos at the top. It was windy, but I found some new hairstyles.

We took quite a few pictures, actually. I made a montage:

The Cairngorm range being the physical barrier between the Highlands and Lowlands it seemed a fitting place to turn and say goodbye. Our trip is winding down, which is sad, but what a terrific trip it was. So we headed south, and found a gas station literally in the nick of time. They don’t just put them on every street corner here, and we were pretty close to using the old “coast it in” strategy. But, after a few failed attempts, we found a gas station and made it back in Edinburgh. That’s a city, of course, which means people and stores and traffic and advertising. And I guess this is something you need around here:

Some of it seems like really odd advertising:

You guys do know what happened to that character, right?

We walked around on the Royal Mile and saw The Hub:

The Hub is just that, home to the Edinburgh International Festival, and where you go for information on all the events in town. The spire is the highest point in central Edinburgh. Built in the 1840s for the Church of Scotland, it was then known as Victoria Hall. The church merged with another and moved out in 1929. It has also previously been used as an occasional meeting place for the Scottish parliament. This is the view from the Lawnmarket, the area making up the oldest part of Old Town:

And this is St. Giles Cathedral, just down the road, and still on the Royal Mile. The building itself dates to the 14th century, though there are claims of worship here dating back a few centuries prior. This is considered one of the central locales of Presbyterianism, is full of history and must be absolutely beautiful inside:

I’ve seen pictures, and I wish we had the chance to have a look.

But it was time to eat and then repack our bags and get ready for the flight back to the States. Such a great vacation. It is a shame it is over, but we saw so many beautiful places and neat things and had a great time. We’ll always have those memories. And the slow motion videos:

Also she planned it, and as always, she created a great trip: