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Baby Jack

Musings From a Traveling Auntie

I’ve known for a while that I won’t have children. It wasn’t a conscious decision, at least not at first. It was just something that never happened, for a variety of reasons, and in recent years I’ve become pretty certain that being a mom isn’t for me. A few of my close friends have kids, but most don’t. I hardly thought about babies at all until last September, when my sister Susanna dropped me a Facebook Messenger bombshell that she was pregnant. (We live many thousands of miles apart and delivering news via Messenger is the norm for us.) I hadn’t considered how overjoyed I would feel at the prospect of becoming an aunt. Even though it would mean two long trips back home within a six-month period, there was no question I would travel to the U.S. to meet the baby after he was born. I might only become an auntie once. This is my nephew, Jack, at his house in Middlebury, Vermont. I met him when he was five weeks old. Susanna and Jack, moments after my dad backed over Susanna’s mailbox with his pickup truck. It was an exciting moment for everyone, Baby Jack included. My father, Tenney, meets his first grandchild. Baby Jack […]

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A Year Without Jon

I’ve been trying to write this post for a while but I keep abandoning my drafts and starting over. I haven’t a clue how to say anything meaningful without sounding trite. But let me try again. Jon died exactly a year ago. He died of alcoholism. I’ve put off writing about this for a long time because I don’t know how to make people understand. Or to put it more honestly, I’m afraid that people won’t understand. Alcoholism defies understanding. Even though it’s all around us, it’s hard to see it for what it is.

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From the Melville Cat: The Lucky 5 Star is MINE

Another guest post from the Melville Cat. Actually, I don’t think he can be considered a guest anymore. He is a regular 2Summers resident now. Read more from the Meville Cat here, here, and here. ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦ It’s about time. Heather finally began to feed me this week. I was starting to think that she would never submit to my will. But I needn’t have worried. I always get my way eventually. I am Smokey, the Melville Cat. I am the most powerful cat in the universe. OU-AH-HAHAHAHA!

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A Time to Be Born, A Time to Die

Last weekend I attended a baptism for Kulani, the son of my friends Florence and Rob. You may remember Florence and Rob — they took me to my first South African wedding last month. St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Auckland Park, where Kulani’s baptism was held. It’s a small, intimate, beautiful church. Right around the corner from my house and I never knew it was there. It was such a lovely ceremony. As I listened to the service, I remembered something that a family member of Jon’s told me in the days after he died. She said that new people are constantly being born, so others have to die. How else could the world continue?

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I’m grateful that it’s sunny in Joburg on Christmas Day, even though the weather forecast predicted clouds and rain. I’m grateful that my sister flew here from America to be with me, and that she decided to stage an impromptu photo session in the aloe tree this morning. That was a really nice Christmas present. Here is a photo strip documenting the experience. Susanna climbs the tree.

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Baseball, Football, Family and 9/11

Before moving to South Africa, I spent much of my adulthood living and working in the Washington D.C. area. But growing up, I lived closer to Baltimore. My parents are both Baltimorians. I was raised on Baltimore sports. Baltimore has two major professional sports teams: the Orioles (baseball) and the Ravens (American football). Baseball season runs from April to September and football season runs from September to January. I was home during that magical month when baseball season is drawing to a close and football season is just beginning, and I caught one game of each. My dad is a die-hard Orioles fan and raised his two daughters accordingly. I remember when my sister Susanna and I watched on TV when the Orioles (who we call ‘the Os’) won the World Series in 1983; it was the best day of my nine-year-old life.

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A Garden in Gaither (or Scenes From Sykesville)

My dad still lives in the house where my sister and I grew up. It’s in a quasi-rural part of Maryland, about an hour’s drive north of Washington D.C. and 40 minutes west of Baltimore. The house is at the top of a hill, at the end of a long driveway, in a tiny town called Gaither. Gaither is so tiny that it doesn’t appear on maps. When I was growing up, there were three ‘public’ buildings in Gaither – Little George’s Market (a small convenience store), the Methodist church, and the post office. The post office wasn’t actually a building — it was a room in the back of Mimi Loon’s house, at the bottom of Gaither Road next to the railroad tracks. We used to walk down there every afternoon to get the mail and catch up on the town gossip with Mimi. Eventually Mimi’s post office closed and Gaither was absorbed – at least in the eyes of the U.S. government – into the neighboring town of Sykesville. Dad has a Sykesville zip code now, and I usually tell people I’m from Sykesville because no one has heard of Gaither and I don’t want to bore them with […]

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Celebrating Cooncie With Hurricane Irene

Yesterday was my grandmother’s memorial celebration, held on our family farm in Ellicott City, Maryland. It was also the day that Hurricane Irene hit America’s East Coast. (Ellicott City is a couple of hours from the coast so all we got were some downed trees and power outages. But still.) My grandmother’s name was Frances Wellford Mason, born Frances Colquhoun Wellford. Colqhuoun is pronounced “Cuh-HOON”, which is how she got the nickname Cooncie. All of her grandchildren called her that. Cooncie at age 24. She was stunning, right? (Photo: Wendell Powell)

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On the Road, Again

Joe and I just got back from an epic road trip around South Africa: from Joburg, to Durban, to Port Shepstone, to Hogsback, to Port Elizabeth, to Joburg. On the road at sunrise in Hogsback, deep in the mountains of the Eastern Cape.  It was a fascinating, fun, and utterly exhausting trip. More than 3100 kilometers, R7500 in car repairs (!), and hundreds of photographs later, we’re back home.

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