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Wednesday, July 27, 2005



There she was, wispy white hair pushed back from her face, hand reaching lazily into a clay bowl full of homemade popcorn, sipping cold beer from a glass.

She has popcorn and beer every night at 5, when the 5 o'clock news comes on. If she naps during the day, she can stay up until 2am at a dinner party. She reads the New Yorker. She lives in Mississippi in a house shaded by trees; she rarely turns on the air conditioning. She is 97 1/2 years old.

"Have some," she said, pushing the bowl of popcorn toward us. We obliged, and it tasted so sweet, like the popcorn my dad used to make when I was a kid.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Summer night, in the country

Yesterday a bat pooped on me.

I felt a splash on my thigh, and thought, "Oh, it's raining." But that was it - just one drop of moisture. I was at a barbecue at my aunt and uncle's house out in Ashton, Maryland, and one of the other guests said, "it's bat poop." Huh? She pointed up, and there were little black bats darting across the sky, between the treetops. Ewww.

As we left the party later, bat poop wiped safely from thigh, I looked up and saw stars, everywhere. The air was cool, and we drove home with the windows down, even on the highway.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Wendy's Wedding . July 3, 2005

Wendy and Vince on a pier at sunset with the Chesapeake Bay all around them. The water was a brilliant blue. The night air was unusually cool, for July.

During the ceremony I could hear water lapping against rocks. There was nothing else, just the two of them and that water, which was just as it should be. All the planning, all the stress they'd been dealing with, all the years of Wendy being strong and good despite conspiring forces - it was gone, sent out to space like debris released from a spaceship, as they looked at each other, as they took each other, as they blazed into their own orbit.

Later that night, as the party was winding down, I stepped outside, my husband's suit coat wrapped around my shoulders. I could hear the muted sound of the band inside the tent. I took out my contact lenses. I stood at the same spot where they'd exchanged their vows -- Christmas lights on all the trees; the sound of water lapping against rocks.

The party favor, laid out carefully at each place setting, was a box of matches ("Wendy and Vince - A Perfect Match"), and a bundle of sparklers, in honor of the holiday weekend. The sparklers were tied with white ribbon, and at the end of the ribbon was a tag: "Please enjoy these tomorrow as we celebrate America's independence, and the end of ours." Ba-dum-ching. And in their orbit, they are laughing...

Back in our hotel room, I pulled bobby pins out of my hair. The next morning I washed out the hairspray. I kept the white roses of my bouquet alive with a wad of wet tissue at the base, wrapped tightly in a shower cap. We said goodbye to them in the lobby, Bon Voyage, and then again on the street in front of the hotel. They were off to Italy. I hugged Wendy tight.

That night, my husband and I watched the fireworks from our bathroom window, me resting my head on the window sill. Cosmo nuzzled against our legs. Afterwards we lit our sparklers in the park, and I danced, making figure eights with the fire, and my husband said, "I will always remember you this way."

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