The main event of the weekend was celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of my mom's brother (and his wife, needless to say). They had come to my parents' 50th (the Maine iteration of the moveable party) but it's entirely possible that the last time I saw anyone else from that branch of the family was at my grandparents'
50th, back in '76. ( There are pictures behind the cut. )
There was a barbeque on Friday evening and then the formal afternoon dinner-party on Saturday. Given that pretty much none of the non-family guests had ever met my gang, the convenient default topic of conversation for both events was "who are you and what is your relationship to the guests of honor?" Although for some reason it only seemed to be at the BBQ that I spent the first half hour explaining repeatedly that no, I was not in fact married to any of the men I had arrived with.
There were a couple of amusing culture-shock moments for me. One was when, after I had explained that, no, I wasn't married to any of my brothers, and in fact wasn't married at all, my interlocutor said, "Oh, then you must have a career -- tell me about what you do." Because, of course, if I were married, I wouldn't have a career? The second was more of a repeated motif: chatting with people about families and where they live, and hearing over and over about multiple generations all living within the same local community. One person mentioned the offspring who had moved two hours' drive away
who had then discovered that two hours was too far to expect people to come visiting and always had to drive "back home" to see anyone. There were all totally astounded that some of us had flown out from California just to attend the party.
My family was all staying at the Cortland Days Inn, about a quarter hour drive down the highway from the various party events ... and also the site of the New York Jets summer training camp. Of which we were reminded by signage every time we turned around. Non party time was filled with hanging out and playing games (the sacred rituals of my tribe). This morning, folks started peeling off to go home: cryptocosm
took the youngest brother off to the Syracuse airport for a 6am flight, getting back just in time to wave goodbye to the Maine contingent driving off. Since my flight isn't until tomorrow morning (partly due to the schedule restrictions on my free airline ticket redemption -- I did this trip on my free ticket from volunteering to get bumped after Kalamazoo), cryptocosm
and I did a little sight-seeing. The initial leg was to go to Ithaca to see if we could find the house our parents lived in right after they got married, when my dad was working at Cornell, and where they were when cryptocosm
was born. It turns out the house is still there, and still renting rooms out to university folk (it being located literally across the street from campus). ( Picture behind cut. )
Then we wandered around campus for a while, taking in the cool neo-gothic architechture ...( You know the drill by now. More pix on facebook. )
And then did a loop up and around Lake Cayuga. (Still chuckling at the "two hours is too far to drive" concept.) It's all very lovely and green, and it would have been great to do some sailing on the lake. I can see the attraction in aspiring to own a lakefront house some place like this. And it's been lovely having an unprogrammed day to just relax.
More culture shock time: we ended up having dinner at a restaurant that was suffering from failed air conditioning. Prospective diners were turning around and leaving when told this. Me -- I just enjoyed being indoors somewhere I wasn't freezing to death. I can understand wanting to take the edge off the heat, but I can't understand spending all the energy necessary to take the temperature from "uncomfortably hot" all the way to "uncomfortably cold" rather than simply to "just right". Well, time to calculate when to set the alarm in the morning. My flight doesn't leave Syracuse until 10:30, but one must calculate backwards through security, driving, check-out, breakfast, packing, and getting up.