The NPV and Rachel invited me to accompany them last Sunday on a trip to Gettysburg, PA, to see the last of the sesquicentennial reenactment of parts of the pivotal Civil War battle there. It was only the second reenactment I have ever attended, and it shall probably be the last, at least as far as American demonstrations are concerned, because I doubt its sheer size and complexity will be surpassed. There were over 6000 uniformed troops from several dozen countries (including Israel and South Korea--I wondered who the Korean was, and which side had he chosen?), several hundred cavalry, and almost 100 cannon. Pickett's Charge hadn't been reproduced in like scale since perhaps the original event. The cannon fire--the blank charges spitting flame and blowing the occasional perfect smoke-ring, which undulated gently into the sky, wobbling like a Model T tire--was deafening, and the sound reverberated in the gut, making me wonder how the men of old, who'd been enduring four times the number of cannon, with actual bone-shattering bombs flying from them, had managed to maintain order and sanity.
The moment the firing ceased, and the rag-tag rebels had been routed, the heavens opened. Many people had brought umbrellas to ward off sunburn, but thousands, including us three erstwhile Virginians, had not, and we were soaked to the skin within minutes. And the rain kept pouring down, for a full half-hour, as everyone hurried to the shuttles to the offsite parking, and a dangerous number of pickups rushed cannon off the sodden fields, playing chicken with the hoards of wet pedestrians. It was not the organizers' finest moment. It would have been easy for deadly accidents to happen. Thankfully, we got safely back to our car, but it took an hour, and I'd rung many cups of water from my shirttail and watched it run in rivulets off my hat brim. In one of those classic "it pays to be prepared" moments, I had actually packed a full change of clothes, including underwear and socks, and so didn't have to remain uncomfortably damp for long. Rachel borrowed the socks and a dry pair of her husband's shoes--her shorts didn't retain water like my jeans had.
The day before, Rachel helped me create an online profile with good pictures (she took most of them) for a dating site Steven jokingly referred to as "Oklahoma matchmaking". I hadn't the wherewithal or inclination to do this in almost eight years, ever since the nasty letter from an acolyte of Dr. N. C. Warren exiling me from eHarmony for the grievous offense of linking to this blog from my profile. But since Rachel said she'd take some photos of me and walk me through the signup process, I agreed to do it. As I have a job that doesn't allow time for me to participate in volunteer activities I enjoy with the benefit of meeting new people with similar interests, and church offers about as much romantic opportunity as a family reunion, I have to do something. It's been pretty encouraging to see there are good guys out there, even if none has yet struck my fancy. I did get profile matched with a classmate of my baby brother, a Physics major from his university who plans to attend medical school soon, so I sent him a nice note, but I didn't want or expect that he'd go after a woman eight years his senior. I could have my pick of fifty and sixty year olds, it seems! Even most of the guys my age look so OLD in photos. Are grandfathers now my peer group?!
I cannot believe I've been at Susan and Steven's for a month now. It's been such a peaceful spot to come home to, and the time has flown. The only bothersome thing is the lack of space to do art projects--a coffee table that I have been refinishing has been out on their back patio for a week now, getting wet several times a day by the continuous rain. Steven sweetly brought it in the first day it rained and got black oil paint all over himself and what he touched as the payment for his generous gesture. I was really embarrassed and hauled it back outside as soon as possible. I hope it doesn't warp permanently, or turn as green as the rest of the world outdoors! The Potomac is high, and muddy, with no visible banks, and only the tips of the tallest river rocks can be seen. Mums tells me that the whole Atlantic coast has been subjected to the same extended rainfall, and we're all looking forward to having a small dry spell, so our roots won't rot.
I've babysat for Theo twice thus far. The first time I managed to keep him entertained, but tonight he hollered almost without pause for two hours, despite my doing everything but stand on my head to distract him from his infant troubles. It's heartrending to have this little person weeping uncontrollable little tears as you rock him, pat him, and attempt to interest him in squeaky toys. He eventually tired himself out, buried his tiny face in his burp cloth, and went to sleep in my arms. Tomorrow we are having an informal birthday dinner for his father, and then Sunday I am driving to Rockville to stay with Faith while her parents go out for a movie. I do not know how mothers do it--have the energy and patience to keep going and maintain their mental health day after day of little sleep and less rest. So, if I can give the ones I know a brief break from their child raising duties, so much the better.