cake lover?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

speaking of turkeys...

this 22 lb. fresh, organic, local, $60 turkey went into my oven at 7:30 am. it got up earlier than me. (my mom stuffs turkeys superfast).

these helper turkeys make yummy crescent rolls.

this big brown turkey spilled hot turkey grease all over my dad. luckily someone was there to hold his pant leg away from his leg. sadly, the little pink turkey girl took a digger and slipped on the not-so-successfully-mopped-up turkey grease.

this little turkey only ate a little bit of everything because her tummy wasn't feeling very well. though, when it was "time for dessert time," she still wanted whipped cream, but not on her pie, on the side, thank you very much.

this turkey thought his kid wine had too much spice and was stirring out the fizz.

this momma turkey is still a very pregnant momma turkey. the littlest baby turkey is not ready to come out of the oven yet. (don't worry people, that's kid wine).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

el árbol generoso

speaking of trees...this is mr. tree and he wishes me a good day every day on my way to work, and i thank him. some people think i'm crazy for talking to and naming a tree. some people think i am cute & quirky.
this is my favorite tree in the whole wide world. it is somewhere between here and my favorite place in the whole wide world. i never know when it is coming up, i only know it when i see it. some people won't humor me and stop to take a picture. some people will.
the story "the giving tree" by shel silverstein makes some people cry. it doesn't make me cry, but it does make me sad. it makes me sad that that little boy never stopped for a moment to look outside of himself to see what a wonderful gift was being offered to him. it makes me sad that the tree was so selfless that she gave and gave of herself until there was nothing left to give. as often as i read it, and as much as i want that little boy to thank the tree, or perhaps to refuse to cut down her limbs & her trunk, just once, it never happens. what is the lesson shel? to give of yourself freely if you love someone so much, even if that means sacrificing your own happiness to make the one you love happy? to realize what gifts you are being handed and not take them for granted?

the best part is the beginning -- the innocent love between a boy and his tree -- but it goes downhill from there when money and life get in the way. why must love and life be so complicated?

... i was talking about trees, wasn't i?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

like a virgin

madonna popped my cherry. um, i mean, i popped my madonna cherry. er, um, yeah, i mean, i saw madonna for my first time!

what was meant to be an outing for the ladies of leisure became a sisters plus brother-in-law/husband plus children/niece/nephew boston extravaganza (by no means any less or more pleasurable than an outing with eva and tracy).

because tracy was broke and eva has strict requirements for her viewing pleasure (see exhibit A),

exhibit A: we were seated in section 327, yellow, nosebleeds #9-12. eva ended up buying $$ tickets in montreal where she was seated around oh section j, blue, #17.
because derek has a list of artists he would pay inordinate sums of money to see (see exhibit B),

exhibit B: and because one day jennie was rocking out to borderline, and decided that she must see madonna too, jennie, derek, suzanne (me), julie, baxter, paige, and cocoa left for boston on thursday, October 16 right around noon time. (we were supposed to leave at 11, but the lowell/poirier clan wasn’t quite ready (surprise, surprise) and we had to rock out to a few songs from the immaculate collection before we headed out).

after a therapeutic stop at target (incredibly i only spent $50), we arrived at our posh suite in burlington, MA. i donned my madonna ensemble, made julie put on some girlie earrings, and made jennie put on an about-to-be-baby-mama cleavage-revealing top (sorry jen, the grey t-shirt was just not going to cut it for gussying up to go out to see the original material girl herself). derek even tried on the blue feather boa i’d brought for him, but opted not to wear it on the T. marta, super-babysitter (by no means any less or more superb than ashley, the super-babysitter), arrived, and the adult siblings were off!
what could have been a disastrous wrong turn and what was a deathly slow T-ride (hampered by a misplaced garbage can?), turned out to be fine, and we weren’t late! i was a bit grumpy (like the grumpy that a person might get when she is climbing up the steep steep, what seems to be perpetual, and actually is never-ending staircase, that is camel’s hump), until we were finally seated in our nosebleed seats (eva, you might be on to something – read her blog about her night & see her close-up pics here). we were to the side of the stage, and although screens were there for our viewing pleasure, the images that were being projected were backwards for us, since we were actually behind the screen. fortunately, i’m an excellent sdrawkcab reader. i was still feeling grumpy and like i’d been duped by citicard's promise that they had “special," pre-sale madonna sticky & sweet tour tickets. again, it all turned out in the end – we had a neat behind-the-scenes vantage point, got to see madge get her mic fixed, going down to the depths of the pit on her descending platform, and got to see her get in place and practice some moves before her rotating screen was turned toward the audience.

the show was one big ADHD-riddled person’s dream -- lights, music, videos, dancers, props, jump ropes, cars, pianos, ascending & descending platforms, costume changes, and of course madonna herself, who actually went from having no bangs to bangs. I don’t know how she did it (though magical bobbie pins could be the answer). madonna danced with an illusion of justin timberlake (i’d like to reiterate how grateful i am to him for bringing sexy back), sang with the piped-in vocals of kanye west, tricked us by switching her image with britney’s, and made a shameless plug for voting for obama, and I think kabbalah, though i couldn’t be sure because the 85 degree temperature (which she insists her venues keep the temp set to) was slightly frying my brain.
i could go on and on about how madonna jump-roped and double-dutched in high heel wedged sneakers, how she shook her fanny in old 80s style exercise shorts (see exhibit C), how her voice kind of trembled in a not-so-good way during borderline (i never said she was a good singer), how she is totally hot and buff and i’m not sure, but am almost positive that she’s had some plastic surgery, how we danced and danced and screamed (but didn’t cry), but i think you’re getting the picture (unfortunately, i can’t show you because they wouldn’t let me bring my camera in, though there were plenty of people who were filming with their cell-phones. you can be sure to catch those quality vids on youtube.)

exhibit C:
this was the set list with a few details from yours truly:

~intro/candy shop
: this is where the stage rotated and madonna was revealed sitting in a queen’s throne holding a scepter and wearing white laced black f*ck me boots.~beat goes on
~human nature
~vogue: this is where we put our hands up to our face to make kind of like a picture frame around our heads.
~video interlude die another day
~into the groove: this is where we screamed the loudest.
~borderline: this is where i felt slightly embarrassed for madonna.
~she’s not me: this is where 4 different women rose from the platforms dressed as different madonna-era madonnas – there was the lacy white bride, the cone boobed voguer, the marilyn monroe hot-pink dressed, white-gloved material girl madonna, and the pin-striped suit, short-haired express yourself madonna.
~video interlude
rain/here comes the rain again
~devil wouldn’t recognize you
~spanish lesson
~miles away
~la isla bonita/lela pala tutedoli doli (live interlude - romanian folk song)
~you must love me: this is when a piano rose from the floor and madonna was laying on it in a huge black cape that revealed itself to be lined in hot pink when she finally flung it off of herself. this is also when I asked julie if this was the song from that argentina movie she was in.
~video interlude get stupid (about saving the planet): this is when she asked boston if they’d registered to vote and told them to vote for obama.
~4 minutes
~like a prayer: this is when she let us sing.
~ray of light
~hung up: this is when the building started bouncing.
~give it to me (finale): this is when she left and the lights came on. i can’t believe she didn’t do an encore.

so, i’m no longer a madonna virgin. the highlight of my night could quite possibly be when i was recognized as the material girl. one, of many, gay guys cat-called out to me, “it’s madonna!” I guess my outfit was convincing enough for him. i struck a pose.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

crème brûlée revisited

long ago, i wrote a post about derek’s new blow-torch and the about-to-be-newly-released ben & jerry’s flavors. i raved about how much i loved crème brûlée to my friends and family, because, let’s be honest, you handful are the only ones who read this blog, or so i thought. to my delight, someone else, a stranger, actually commented on that particular post – a one bungalow benchly commented:

"When B&J releases this new ice cream, which I must say I'm probably more excited about than I should ever let on in public, they should have Audrey Tautou from Amelie do a demonstration on how to eat it properly. "

not only was i thrilled to have a comment from, and a reader in, a stranger, i was also quite excited to have a comment from this particular stranger. i had had a blog crush on mr. benchly since way back when, when he was blogging on live journal and I was networking on friendster. i came upon his profile accidentally (more or less, if you don’t count me typing in a search for eligible bachelors aged 25-30 within 20 miles of the 05401 zip code). immediately i was struck by his funny and cute pictures with captions that made me laugh out loud. i read about his activities, his thoughts, and his life, including his daily commutes to the evil empire (his former place of work), his family – mama benchly, papa benchly, sisters 1 & 2, and nieces #1-5, his budding relationship with a woman with freckles, and his world of friends and family with their own unique nicknames. i wanted to be part of this person’s world who seemed so much like me – liberal-minded, family-oriented, intelligent, sensitive, an incredible writer (not that i would say that’s like me), funny & fun, and a bit self-deprecating at times, but i didn’t think that he would be interested in little old me. i was hooked and mourned that missed opportunity for at least two days before i got back on the horse and joined lo and behold, whose dating profile should I come across, but a one bungalow benchly, who had not been active in 2 weeks, the same amount of time that he’d been seeing the woman with freckles. now i was convinced i'd missed my soulmate by a hair.

i moved on and i met paul (we all know I don’t hide anything – names, pictures, dates, places…), but still checked up on mr. benchly’s blog every once in awhile. when paul and i broke up for those 4 months, i checked in on benchly to see if he had any brothers (he doesn’t), and that’s when i shamelessly plugged my somethingsomething blog to him. i confessed that i had been reading for the past couple of years and that i even had a link to his blog on my page. he was flattered and that was that, or so i thought.

back in june, mr. benchly walked by me in front of old navy, and although he was too bashful to say hello, thankfully he wasn’t too shy to email me that we were no longer strangers, rather we were “Burlington Residents Who Walked By Each Other The Other Day.” i asked him why the heck he hadn’t said hello and that began our friendship. our daily emails back and forth became small books and i started to miss hearing his thoughts on the weekends. we talked about the books and movies we love and hate, our families, funny stories from our pasts, our relationships, our frustrations with our relationships, politics – anything and everything because it was safe to be internet friends.

i feel bad about this part. i knew he was in a relationship. i knew i was in a relationship. but i couldn’t help but think about how well he matched me. and i had a sneaking suspicion that he felt the same way. the guilty part goes like this: we decided to meet to see if there would be a spark – there was, he made me a mixed CD, i made him a mixed CD, we decided we wouldn’t communicate for a month and see our respective relationships through. we ended our respective relationships. we went on our first date. and then we went on our second date. and by now i’ve lost track of how many dates we’ve been on.
the timing isn’t exactly the greatest. but the person is. little did i know that when benchly made that comment way back when about audrey tautou being the spokesperson for crème brûlée, that I should have responded, “no, i think you would make a better representative…” he’s got a fragile shell that hides something oh so sweet underneath and i really can’t get enough of him.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

it smells as sweet

suzanne spataro, suzanne potter, suzanne grant (as in hugh), suzanne perry, suzanne ripski, suzanne mcgregor (as in ewan), suzanne marco, suzanne benchly. all girls do it -- if they like the guy a lot, if they like the guy a little -- it's as reflexive as the literal rubber mallet on the knee cap.

i once told a friend (the future mrs. ripski's husband, in fact), that i wasn't sure if i would take my future husband's last name or if i would keep my own. women's lib aside or not, suzanne lowell does have a certain 30-year old familiar ring to it. mr. ripski scoffed at me and reminded me of my hopeless romantic self, and that if i ever finally did fall skull over achilles, i would most definitely, surely take my husband's last name. he was willing to bet on it.

the jury is still out on that one, as it is on the lowell/poirier child #3's name (ETA: 11/22).
never traditional, my older sister jennie (lowell) and her husband derek ("i'm not a manny" poirier), decided that should their first child be a boy, he would take my father's last name (because my father was one of two boys, and uncle mark has never married). i suppose they figured that baxter elliot could carry on the lowell name. i always meant to ask them why they thought their son, who would most likely be raised as liberally and non-traditionally as his liberal and non-traditional parents raised him, would pass his name on to his future wife (or husband...) -- wouldn't he follow their lead and match with a woman (or man) who was liberal enough to want to keep her (his) name?

(M.S. (mid script): my grandfather created the last name lowell for himself and his wife. slight anti-semitism in his neighborhood, paired with the inability of the town to correctly pronounce lowenthall, convinced one milton lowenthall to christen his young family, lowell.)

in jennie & derek's heads, if the first boy was to be named lowell, then the first girl would be named poirier. and thus, a poirier, paige elizabeth became.we are all waiting with bated breath to find out if the newest member of our family will be girl lowell or boy poirier. we're all just hoping it's a baby.

with all of these name possibilities flying around, i'm just glad that i get to be aunt suzie who is still searching for uncle suzie.

"always remember, there is nothing worth sharing
like the love that let us share our name"

"murder in the city," the avett brothers

Sunday, September 28, 2008

tiabo kristi

e tia nako vietnam rarou kristi.kristi -- ti uringko! taiaoka, oki ngkai. ke oki rimwi. au tangira ke iai kamau iroum.
tekeraoi n t mwananga, ke!

happy birthday julie

yesterday she was 28. today she is 28.
julie marie lowell, born september 6, 1980.

we've always celebrated her birthday at camp. sometimes labor day weekend falls on her birthday, sometimes it doesn't. but there is always birthday cake. even when she's not there.
next family birthday: it's a mystery. either jennie's on 11/18 or baby poirier/lowell -- due date, 11/22.

Friday, September 19, 2008

happy birthday baxter

yesterday he was he is four.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

god loves a terrier

the lowells are schnauzer people. in 1995 we bought our first schnauzer. we named her pepper, and there wasn't enough of her cute pudgy little body to go around. mom and dad thought it would be great fun to breed her and have more schnauzer puppies. (i thought this was a horrible idea and cried and yelled at my parents for taking her to get raped. their claims that it was in her nature disgusted me, and i still believe to this day that sex and pregnancy changed my sweet innocent little pepper). but the mating took. and pepper had 6 pudgy little puppies, 5 girls, and 1 boy. the boy was the runt, so we appropriately named him wilbur (and if you've never seen charlotte's web, perhaps you should update your netflix queue). wilbur was so teeny that one fateful day, pepper smushed him. julie counted & recounted, but only counted 5 puppies, until she finally found him, under pepper. wilbur was barely breathing, but my dad got out his stethoscope and my medically inclined parents performed "mouth to snout" resuscitation. though slightly brain dead, he's the sweetest little pig. the cutest female became jennie and derek's first baby. they were living in hershey, PA, and consequently, cocoa was christened.
one christmas, derek surprised jennie with a second schnauzer puppy, duncan, and then there were four.

i wanted a dog. but i was going to break away from my famliy's trend and forge my own path. and i did. when i was in the peace corps i found myself a pudgy little black mutt, koobe (the kiribati word for coffee), who grew into a black lab look-a-like who thought he was a schnauzer lap dog. i tried my hardest to bring him home with me, but the doggods were not in our favor and that's too sad of a story to tell.when i returned i searched the pounds and the humane society for my dog. i knew that he or she would come to me and that i would just know when the dog and the time were right. i searched and searched but found no doggie soul mate. and then i gave up the search with the tiniest flame of hope still lit in the back of my heart.
derek's parents, lynn & allen had taken up the hobby and side-business of dog-breeding. their spacious farm offered much land on which their cockerspaniels, poodles, schnauzers, cockapoos, & schnoodles could run.
on another fateful day, one schnauzer was born to them with only 3 legs. the umbilical cord had wrapped around her hind right leg and cut off the circulation so much so, that her leg had fallen off (who knew dogs even had umbilical cords?)! lynn & allen couldn't sell her, so they offered her to jennie and derek, who declined because they had their hands full with cocoa, duncan, and baby baxter on the way. next she was offered to me. the time was right, the dog was right (even though i thought i didn't want a schnauzer), and then there were five. ella was meant to be mine. thank dogness she is.with five schnauzers, the "guess the schnauzie" game, in which a blind-folded family member was on the clock to guess which schnauzer she was touching, was born. it was really quite easy -- duncan had cropped ears, cocoa had a cyst on her side, pepper was the licker, wilbur has the softest fur, and well, ella only has 3 legs!
sadly, we lost our duncan to cancer. luckily (some might say), another terrier waltzed his way into our lives. oliver was julie's "rescue" dog -- who rescued whom, i'm still not sure. the poor wheaton had spent the first 11 months of his life neglected in a cage, left for hours at a time. he had abandonment issues, to say the least, and still gets nervous and pees on things when julie starts to pack. (i know i'm not really one to talk when it comes to a dog's nervous bodily habits). i think both of our doggie soul mates have come a long way though.

ella just turned four -- i think celebrating her with a blog post and a little whip cream treat is exactly what she wanted.

happy birthday baby.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

an ode to summer's end (part III of III): star lake revisited

ever since I can remember my family has been celebrating labor day and the close of summer at my grandparents' log cabin on star lake in the middle of nowhere in the adirondacks. usually we are bundled in jeans and sweatshirts around an inside fire, but in the last few years, global warming has provided us with a warm, sunny final weekend.

after an extended-birthday goodbye breakfast with uncle arthur in new jersey, our family started the 7 hour trek to our favorite place in the whole wide world.


jennie, derek, and the kids went on a special mission into the city to obtain the most coveted cupcakes in the world – magnolia’s cupcakes. jennie and the kids wanted the cupcakes. derek just wanted to use the GPS that he’d “borrowed” from his parents (D, does borrowing become stealing once you’ve had the item over a month?). once said cupcakes were obtained, back and forth text messages went like this:

from D’s cell: cupcakes! (3 dozen of them)
from suz & julie: magnolia’s cupcakes got all the bomb frosting.
from d’s cell: GPS rules! we are invincible!
from suz & Julie: i prefer mapquest, but google maps is the best. true. double true.
from D’s cell: cupcakes in mouth – I mean hand – with this accompanying picture:from d’s cell: 90 bucks later mission cupcake successful. sweet – with this accompanying picture:from suz & Julie: double sweet.

sadly, jennie and derek had never seen the snl skit/song to which julie and i were referring. please educate yourself now about "lazy sunday" and understand why magnolia’s has all the bomb frosting.

mom & dad headed up to saratoga to pick up pepper, wilbur, and oli at the doggie spa.

jennie, derek, and the kids headed to jeremy and steph’s (derek’s brother and sister-in-law) in schuylerville to pick up ella and cocoa. (if you read derek’s blog, you’ll hear his take on magnolia’s and on dealing with ella’s catastrophic escape).

julie and i continued north, meeting up with mom and dad to transfer oliver to his mother’s waiting arms, though he gave her the silent treatment for the first 24 hours (and even slept on my feet & couch the first night. oh was he mad at her for abandoning him for a week).

we all stopped for pizza an hour from our mecca. we were going stir-crazy by that point. i attempted spelling pizza backwards and drew a large pepperoni slice, though my backwards/rearview mirror writing skills are lacking, and mom & dad only knew that i was trying to send them a message, though they had no idea what AZZIP meant.

the 3 car caravan eventually made it. the crackle and pop of the stone gravel driveway under our tires was like a sigh of relief.


it's hard to put the experience of being at star lake into words. it's like how you feel when you've finally come home after a long trip. it's like putting on that favorite too-big sweater that has been in storage all summer. it's like cuddling up with a good book on a rainy day. coziness & contentedness all rolled into one.
not much has changed about star lake. the marlin fish is still on the wall above the dining room table. the bear skin, deer heads, and moose head still overlook our evening antics in the living room. the old-fashioned jars of toxic fire-extinguishing chemicals still sit in their orbs. the kitchen still can only fit 2 people comfortably (2 and a half is pushing it jennie). the kitchen is open for breakfast from 6-8:30 per grandma's rules, and lunch is served promptly at 12 when the noon siren goes off (the local fire station lets the whole town know when it is noon, and then the lowell posse of dogs reminds everyone with their howling). dinner is served at about 6, and if you want a snack in between you've got to sneak it. even baxter knows where the good graham crackers are kept, and since grandma's hearing is going, we've even gotten away with popping a bag of microwave popcorn right in front of her. after dinner there's always dessert and after dessert there's almost always s'more.

our log cabin at star lake has not gotten any bigger, but our family has. grandma still has her bedroom and mom and dad still have theirs, but paige and baxter have taken jennie, julie, and my place upstairs in the loft. derek and jennie now sleep outside in a tent and julie, ella, oli, and i claim the 2 couches. uncle mark still gets the boat house, and unexpected visitors bring their own tents. lord knows that one bathroom cannot accommodate all of those guests, and the toilet has overflowed on more than one occasion to prove it (we managed to keep that flood from grandma as well). there used to be a plaque in the bathroom with this sage motto:

"in these lovely isles of sun and fun, we never flush for number one."

once the guest numbers became too large, and grandma made the switch from well to town water, that plaque resigned its place of honor and we can actually flush every time now. grandma's toilet however, was still not keeping up (or down as the case may be). uncle mark managed to switch the old one out with the monster "toto" brand (again, without grandma being the wiser), and we have yet to have a problem.

there's much more i could say about camp, many more stories to recount, and pictures to share, but camp is my family's sacred place and something i don't share with just anyone. you have to be invited to camp. and when you come, you fall in love with it.

years ago, mom and dad bought the land behind and to the left of our log cabin with dreams to expand & build. plans have been slow-going. mom and dad, this is my plea: so that we can enjoy many more years of sun & fun in our lovely isles, please please lay the floor & the tiles!

an ode to summer's end (part II of III): celebrating 90 years of great art

after jules and i strapped her bike on the trunk, we were off to east brunswick, NJ to meet up with mom, dad, jennie, derek, baxter, & paige for our great uncle arthur’s 90th birthday.

arthur, my father’s uncle, (his mother’s brother), used to wow his grandnieces, by pretending to eat salamanders. he held them up by their little tails and dangled their wriggling bodies above his mouth, lowering them just so that it really did look like he was eating them. i think he delighted in our squeals of disbelief and disgust just as much as we did. we nicknamed him uncle anteater (we knew he wasn’t eating ants, and we knew he wasn’t an anteater. i think it had something to do with the children’s book character arthur the anteater. uncle salamander-eater just didn’t have the same ring).

arthur neuhauser was born on august 27, 1918. he was best friends with one milton “mickey” lowenthall, whom he introduced to his sister judith, my future grandmother. he met and fell in love with his soulmate rosalyn before he was shipped over to europe during world war II. my great uncle will talk and talk for hours about most things, but never the war. don’t even ask him about it. all you’ll get out of him is memories of his dog, gorgan, a black mutt, whom he smuggled home. and then you’ll hear the story of how judy and mickey lost him while they were dog-sitting. poor gorgan was never seen again, and poor arthur’s heart still has a teeny crack from the loss. arthur and his 3 children (kenny, mitchell, and claudia) were to suffer an even greater loss when cancer stole their rosalyn in 1980. in his wallet, arthur kept a newspaper cutout of a quote of the day for years: “of all of god’s creatures, the goose and the gander mate for life,” until he finally gave it and his porcelain goose and gander statues to his daughter. to this day, arthur has been without his goose, or another mate, though aunt ros’ 2x3 framed picture accompanies him whenever he travels and framed photographs of her beautiful smile fill his room.

arthur worked at the NY times as an editor for 40 years. he also edited books, and even was thanked/mentioned in martin gilbert’s historic account of world war II – he found a very big mistake. arthur has a penchant and a talent for word games, crossword puzzles, and cryptics. he lies awake at night assigning number values to each letter of the alphabet (A=1, B=2…Y=25, Z=26) and attempts to find 100 point words. he’s actually found some. and then he reverses the value and starts over.

arthur’s optometrist was also his next door neighbor and good friend who was practicing out of his basement with out of date equipment. i forget how the story goes, but it has something to do with his optometrist never testing for glaucoma, or his glaucoma testing machine being broken, or something like that (arthur could fill in the details). unfortunately, his glaucoma was discovered too late. his sight, though not his keen mind, has faltered ever since. in his old age, he’s had to learn about the photocopier so that he can blow up his crossword puzzles and he’s befriended the local librarians who save him the best large print books. he has magnifying glasses of varying magnifications by his reading chair, and was recently gifted a reading machine from the VA.

i started developing a deeper and closer relationship with arthur when my grandfather died in 1999. my grandfather was an incredible man, but a quiet & stoic one who came across as foreboding and hard-to-approach to his grandchildren. arthur shared stories about his and micky’s childhood and early adulthood, and helped me understand what kind of man my grandfather really was. i am forever grateful to arthur for providing me a glimpse of my family’s history and of my heritage. not only do i understand my grandparents better because of him, but i understand my father better too. i am also grateful to my uncle for being a surrogate father for my father. i know how much dad cherishes his weekly conversations with arthur.

arthur has gone above and beyond the duty of great uncle. i didn’t even know that great uncles felt a connection with their grandnieces, but arthur does (he even has a connection with his great grandniece, grandnephew and granddogs). he has always been supportive of my life and endeavors. when i was studying to be a teacher, arthur called for monthly updates. when i joined the peace corps he sent me monthly, typed missives, and even included packets of sweet-n-low, until the day the post office caught him and told him it was a big no-no to send white powders in the mail. until recently, when hip & sight problems became too much for him, arthur visited his north country fan club every summer. we thought claudia would never let him return after the time he fell head over keister off the dock at star lake, but we were able to keep his bumps and bruises hidden until they were healed properly enough to pass them off as a minor stumble. when he visits malone, he also has to visit the local funeral home to catch up with the director, for once he misdialed my parents’ number and had a 30 minute conversation with the man. with arthur, there is always a hilarious mishap waiting to happen. i’m sure pat (his daughter-in-law) will never forget the time she set the bowl of scrambled eggs meant to serve 14 in front of him and arthur dug into the bowl thinking it was all for him. when i stayed with him, i was slightly appalled when he made a fresh pot of coffee and then promptly put in the fridge to keep for the week. the next morning we had to warm our coffee up in the microwave. i know the man is going blind, but it’s always slightly comical to me when he pours himself a glass of orange juice, but actually pours himself a countertop of orange juice, and similarly when he dumps his glass of water into the sink, but actually pours it on the counter. it’s only comical because he himself brushes it off with laughter.

arthur recently moved into an assisted living home, a move away from the independent lifestyle to which he was accustomed. he seems to be doing well in the “institution” (as he refers to it).

claudia wanted to celebrate her father’s 90th, but knew he wouldn’t want anything lavish. she asked him if it would be all right if his children and their families from the city came. he said fine. then she mentioned that kenny, pat and the kids would be coming from kentucky. he agreed to that as well. then she said that his sister wanted to come to, and that the north country contingency was waiting with bated breath for the OK. he kept agreeing until about 50 people were allowed to come to help him celebrate his great life.

the shindig was on a thursday evening at a chinese restaurant, no less. cocktails and fancy hors'devours of egg rolls, shrimp dumplings, scallion pancakes, & chicken & pork skewers were served, as well as an amazing meal. baxter wondered where the cake was, since it was a birthday party and all. he ran over to ask claudia about it and excitedly announced to the private room that there would indeed be cake. the north country table (read sugar fiends) cheered.

arthur’s cake was graced by the portrait that his now 16-year old granddaughter designed at the age of 6 – we’ve been celebrating great art ever since.

i’ve learned much from my great uncle arthur – above all, the love and importance of family. thank you uncle anteater.