Family Reunion All five sons (Jonathan, Benjamin, John-Adrian, Chris, Kyle), two daughters-in-law (Heidi, Jocie), and all four granddaughters (Emily, Sarah, Aurora, Quinn) were here for at least a week around the 4th of July, and my brothers Jonathan and Scott, Scott's wife Karen, and Scott's mother Ruth came for a full reunion day on the 8th. Only Tori and Drew were missing, because of work commitments. Even Hank (see below) made it into some family pictures. Shockingly, we talked a lot. JA, Jocie, Aurora, Chris, and Ben took a side trip to New York, which of course involved problems with the GPS and getting lost, which was someone else's fault. Family bonding!
Glad We Didn't Pay For Reindeer We visited Chris in Tromsø in early May, and it was like landing in a National Geographic special. There was still snow just a little way up the mountains, which plunge steeply into the sea. Though the sun technically set, it never got dark, and Chris had to supply us with blackout curtains to sleep. Driving was difficult until we figured out about the island's tunnels and the Norwegian fondness for sending you in a sharp right loop when you want to turn left. We wanted to do all those Arctic Circle tourist things like seeing reindeer, as well as see Chris. He works on the main island but lives on another to the north and west, Kvaløya. The tourist sites listed several Reindeer Adventures at nearly $200 apiece. Glad we didn't sign up, as reindeer are just everywhere along the road, a sort of free-range cattle of the Sami people. They taste good, too. Chris took us to see fjords and the little villages that cling along the sides of them. Tracy got to see unusual birds, including a Eurasian Oystercatcher and a White-Tailed Eagle.
"The Descent Might Be Tricky" David has gotten himself up in some slippery places on his local hikes, and will sometimes text the above to the entire family from a summit when he wants to make them nervous. Once last January, the descent was quite tricky and he sustained a sprain serious enough to keep him limping for weeks. It all goes to illustrate one of his favorite lines: "Exercise is bad for your health."
"He's Just the Funniest Man!" Tracy volunteers at least six places, mostly teaching and tutoring. David sometimes helps with the preschool Sunday Schoolers, some of whom have been very complimentary. She gets hugs instead.
"I Liked the Dead People Best" Tracy took Sarah and Emily to Circus Smirkus, which had a "Night At The Museum" theme this year. In good constantly-educating fashion, Nana asked the girls what they liked best. "I liked the dead people best," said Sarah. We think she meant the mummies. We hope that's what she meant.
"Hank Is My Favorite Grandchild" Jonathan, Heidi, and the girls moved to Goffstown, about five minutes away. They bought an automatic lawnmower, more common in Europe but new here - something like a Roomba for your lawn. The girls named him Hank and I could watch him indefinitely, even in the rain. Fascinating, and he seems more than a pet. I expect to come over and find Hank making bacon and eggs some morning. I haven't started reading aloud to him yet, so I guess the four girls are still ahead of him in my affections.
"I'll Just Have Beans and Cinnamon Toast." Disaster preparedness includes knowing what to eat first when the power goes out, so when the floodwaters of Harvey islanded Ben in his neighborhood, then his house, we were concerned how long he could go. Not to worry. He has reserves of food - just not much variety after the first 48 hours. He came through fine, but the aftermath was emotionally difficult, filming the wreckage and trying to draw attention to the needs of people who had lost family. He is videographer at a new church this year, First Methodist Houston, which is downtown.
"I'm Taking My Game to Dunbarton" Kyle moved into a house with two other guys (what could go wrong, eh?) and announced it in dramatic fashion. He copied Lebron's method of teasing it, with two marked but covered hats, holding each out, looking at one and then the other, before putting one on and saying "I'm taking my game to Dunbarton." He bought the long-awaited Jeep, works at the post office in Concord, and is still in the Army Reserve, though he has grown a bit weary of the latter.