Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Taylor Family Reunion 2014 By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

Saturday in upstate New York dawned a bit cloudy and misty, and very windy. But, Glenn and I hoped the weather would be better than last year’s monsoon rains, and by noon—the start of the Reunion—it was! Sunny and not too cold –never needing a jacket—we’ll take it!

 Rose, Jill, Jen, Aunt CB and Pat

Kathy and Gordy and Ann and Dennis had done their magic, with the help of Jess and little Olivia—the place looked great when we drove up—appetizers already on the tables and smiles and hugs all around.

By the time the group had all arrived, I think we had about 45 cousins—All the Lochners (Julie and Wes won the prize for coming the furthest distance) and a good amount of Maneys and Kinsellas.

Karen, Richard and Dan Maney

The food was wonderful, as always. Julie’s Concord grape pie hit the spot for me, but I am sure everyone had different favorites. Elderberry pie and Tom Kinsella’s loon cookies, Mom’s baked beans, breads and soup and salads….one or two plates of food did not hold the many choices!

Olivia and Leah

Mom wandered from group to group talking all the while, and Dad held court wherever he sat. The younger cousins played and ran together, digging through Kathy and Gordy’s pumpkins and gourds to see which should be taken home. And, at one point, I think they cornered Rick Lochner in the porta potty, as a huge racket of clanging and hitting on the john could be heard. We all perked up our ears and ran to help whoever was held hostage until Annie said ‘Oh, it’s just Rick. Well, that’s okay then.’ We returned to our conversations. I saw Rick later, so he did manage to crawl out somehow.

Patrick and Joe ---Look at those grins--Is Rick STILL in that porta potty?
The day ended too soon, and we were packing up our gourds and Cub Scout popcorn (thank you Cam and Joe!) for the journey home. It would not be a short drive, but we had so many memories and stories and laughs to go over again as we headed east to Massachusetts. Wonderful time, and so good to see everyone. 

  Ted, Karen and Dan

As a Walbridge cousin once said “We may yet spend many happy days where we can see each other and where our little ones can visit back and forth, as we used to go cousining.” 

Yes, it WAS a good ‘cousining’ reunion. Thanks again to Uncle Harold’s girls!

Kathy, Julie
Glenn, Mike

P.S. These are only some of the pictures. I will put up more!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Walking with Aunt Dot By Beth Kinsella Sakanishi


Years ago, when I was back in Rochester one time, I went to visit Aunt Dot with Jim. We hopped from subject to subject, happily talking our way from the present, to the past, and back. At one point Aunt Dot and I were talking about her fabled ‘green thumb’ and how she would love Japan with all its flowers, flowering bushes, flowering plants, flowering trees, some of which she would recognize (dogwood, azalea wisteria) and some native to Asia or Japan, or just needing a warmer climate than western NY, which she would not (bush clover, the ‘handkerchief tree’). 

I went back to Japan and had the good idea to put together a photo album of the things I saw blooming in my walks around the neighborhood. As I walked for about an hour or so, many days, at that time, I saw a good variety. I started it with the intention of doing a ‘calendar’ of flowers: photos of what I saw each month, with just a phrase or two to identify what I had photographed. 

But then I got sick and could not do those walks at all for a long time. So I never did finish the ‘flower calendar album’ for Aunt Dot. 

She must be up there whispering in my ear, though, because I have never forgotten the impulse and often think of it, and her, on my walks, which I have taken up again. 

I decided to start a sort of blog recently (just for me, really, and perhaps Mom and Dad), where I can explain to them what I see in my walks that range in all directions, through a varied landscape, month by month. I worked on an entry for August/September a few days ago, after thinking for days in a row, as I passed a certain temple, “I must take photos of those crape myrtle trees in bloom,” and then walking the ten minutes there, finally, and taking some photos. 

 Crape Myrtle Tree--Japan

The photos alone would not mean as much as if I explained different things about this temple area, so the few paragraphs I had in mind, became pages, and thus my ‘Masuo flower calendar’ was born, from the original idea for Aunt Dot. 

I thought of her the entire time I was taking the crape myrtle photos. They are a tree that originated in Asia, but my friend Rebecca, from California, knew them, so though I had never seen them before coming here, she had. The Japanese call them ‘saru suberi’ (‘saru’ = monkey, and ‘suberi’ = slippery) because, with its smooth bark, “even a monkey would slip down its trunk.”

They usually start to bloom sometime in August and are the perfect lacy, delicate texture and pale colors against the searing, bright blue sky, made even more delicious in September, when we start to get what I call ‘shredded clouds,’ wisps of white against a paler blue sky. The tiny blossoms of the crape myrtle can be pink, white, or a light lavender. One website I looked at called the last variety ‘Twilight lavender,’ which I rather liked. 

They are delicate blossoms, though, and since August and September are typhoon season, we sometimes wake up and after the strong wind and rain, find the poor crape myrtle blossoms spread across the entire road, a beautiful carpet of pastels against the black pavement or bits of color strewn across puddles. 

It is these small details I have kept track of in my head for years, in the album I continued to ‘make’ for Aunt Dot. There is a pilgrimage that Tim and I have been wanting to do ‘someday’ for years: it is 88 temples on Shikoku Island. The founding priest, Kukai, went to China in the 8th century, came back and helped popularize Shingon Buddhism in Japan, creating this 1200 kilometer pilgrimage route, among other things. When you walk it, you are advised to ‘walk with Kukai’ in your heart. I think that, when I am on my long walks, delighting in this or that flower or someone’s garden, I am really ‘walking with Aunt Dot’.

Doris and her Love of Plants!

--In an email, Beth added a few days ago: “Here’s to Aunt Dot! 
IF the weather cooperates — a big if at this time of year -- I will actually be in Kamakura on her birthday and part of my itinerary is to check out two temples that have bush clover blooming. Bush clover is another flower I have never seen and I discovered recently that this is because it is native to Japan. Even so, I had never seen it near me, and so look forward to seeing it at these two temples that are famous for having two different kinds (one white, one red). Aunt Dot will definitely be with me on that trip!”