Visitors. It has been a terrific spring for making new friends. Awhile back Eric and Kim Elder came for a weekend visit; we had only a brief time with them on Sunday afternoon, driving out to take a look at the land we want to buy and then having them home for a quick dinner before heading to the evening Bible study, but it was so enjoyable that we insisted that they come back to Bristol soon, and that grace us with their presence for an entire day next time. Not long after the Wrights came to stay with us, which turned out to be a major good time.
And this weekend we had a visit from Bill and Kathy Waldrep from Knoxville, good friends of the Elders. Last night we joined them and the Vernots for dinner at the Mickools’ home. Then today they joined us for worship, followed by a picnic in Steele Creek Park before they had to head back home around 2pm. As with the Elders and the Wrights, we all discovered one another to be what Anne Shirley would call ‘kindred spirits,’ and if only for a short while our community became a bit larger. Hm, what am I saying, ‘a short while’? They and the Elders and the Wrights are part of us now, no matter how frequently we end up seeing them in person.
Programming. When I least expected it, I had an opportunity to do some real programming. The occasion was the impending switch to the new postal rates, as a result of which Priority Mail becomes a lot more complicated. Used to be that for up to 5 pounds (almost all of our packages) the mailing was not zoned, i.e. you could send a given weight across the street or to Seattle for the same price. That made the shipping cost a very simple calculation. But under the new rates, for anything over 1 pound you have to take into account not only the weight of the package but the zone you are sending the package to—and there are eight zones.
This means the Draught Horse Press order pages now have to take the destination zip code and figure out what zone it falls into, then take the weight and look up the shipping cost for that zone. Which requires adding all that zone, weight, and cost information to the database, then writing a database query which will lookup the cost given a zip code and a weight, then adding the webpage code to glue everything together. Not something I really had the time to do, but it had to be done and so I was forced to spend an enjoyable day programming. Most of the work is done and tested; tomorrow I will need to add it all to the ordering pages on the DHP order pages.
Birthday. Today was Maggie’s honest-to-goodness eleventh birthday, and there was a day-long celebration. After breakfast we opened her gifts; many of them were additions to her china tea set. At 10:30am we drove to Abingdon to collect her good friend Katie Mickool, who joined Maggie at our home for a luncheon and afternoon tea that Maggie has spent weeks planning in great detail—centerpieces, finger sandwiches, chocolate truffles, you name it. An elegant day from beginning to end.
Tired. I haven’t yet caught up on my sleep since that late Sunday night at the movies. Last night we did a taping at R.C.’s, this morning was the breakfast at Bonnie’s, and this afternoon R.C. and I reviewed the revisions so far to Dollar Signs of the Times ,which will have a new title and a new chapter when it is reprinted next month. I hope I’m not pinning too much hope on my trip to the sleep clinic, but the fact that I might be sleeping better afterwards has me increasingly focused on how badly I’m sleeping now.
Nothing much. A late-night post mostly for appearance’s sake, since I promised to be updating this weblog daily during the week.
Yesterday my upgrade to Dreamweaver MX arrived. The interface is much improved over Dreamweaver Ultradev 4, and much of the functionality that lived in other utility applications has been folded in nicely. Makes me wish I was a full-time webmaster, so I could justify diving in and using some of the cool new stuff in the HSC and DHP websites. And since what I actually bought was Macromedia Studio MX, I also received copies of Flash MX and Freehand 10, two other applications I’d love to spend some time with.
Today we received some much-needed rain. Tonight we feasted on R.C.’s sausage sandwiches, prior to taping the eighth of the Basement Tapes; it all went very well. Tomorrow I’ll join the rest of the men for breakfast at Bonnie’s, provided I stop typing at this weblog and get enough sleep to allow me to answer the 5:30am alarm.
Minority report. The younger set of St. Peter (Jonathan, Dakota, Michael and Nelson) decided that it was time for a late-night movie excursion, and also that it would be OK to invite an old guy along, so I accompanied them to a 9:30 showing of Minority Report last night.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a grown-up movie at a theater, so that by itself made it a good time. And it didn’t hurt that I’ve always been a major fan of Philip K. Dick; when I threw out my hundreds of science fiction novels, the only thing I kept were the Cordwainer Smith books and the twenty-five or so Philip K. Dick books that had taken me years to track down (of course now he’s famous and his work is easy to find).
Except for the premise, the movie wasn’t much like the original short story. But it was lots of fun until the first plot twist, and then kind of fun until the second twist, and then not much fun at all since they apparently couldn’t find a decent way of finishing it up. The special effects were pretty good, and didn’t dominate the film as much as they did in Star Wars: Episode 2.
Birthday. The celebration went just fine, so far. Star Wars: Episode 2 was just fine, particularly if you see as few movies as we do; it was a good way to catch up with the state of the art in special effects. After a mid-afternoon bout of cheesecake and ice cream, nobody was too interested in the special birthday dinner (peanut satay chicken breasts, cooked on the grill), so we decided to eat leftovers instead and invite the Daughertys to join us for birthday dinner after church on Sunday.
Birthday. We’re as relaxed as we need to be about the exact time that a birthday is celebrated. Maggie’s eleventh birthday is next Wednesday, but the celebration is a bit spread out. Her uncle Gary is coming down this morning from Lynchburg for a weekend visit, with the homemade cheesecake he promised to make for her. He and the kids will probably spend the afternoon at the park across the street, riding bicycles and maybe paddling a paddleboat on the lake. Then we’re all off to the Sprouls for dinner this evening. Tomorrow the big treat will be a trip to see Star Wars: Episode 2 at the Abingdon Cinemall, the best place around to see a Star Wars movie, then back home for cheesecake and presents. And on Wednesday Maggie has invited her friend Katie over for luncheon and afternoon tea; the plans for that are way too elaborate to spell out here.
Hospitality. It’s a lot of work to extend hospitality to folks who come to visit the community here in Bristol, but it’s the kind of work you live for. It would be so much easier to recommend a hotel than to offer beds in your home, to have them meet other St. Peter families at a restaurant than to host the dinners and suppers yourself, to go home to bed after a leisurely meal out rather than to stay up until all hours talking. Easier, perhapsbut what a lot of fun we had doing it all.
In a way it allows us to recapture some of the excitement of our own early days in the community. Not that the community has changed since then, but there comes a point soon enough where you need to put constant visiting and late-night sessions on the back burner, and get back to the business of everyday living, i.e. stop sprinting and set a pace that will allow you to finish the marathon. So it’s actually a great thing, nearly a guilty pleasure, when the commands to be hospitable actually insist that you resume that intense, giddy pace for at least a little while.
Our late-night discussions with Andy and Dennise were driven by their interest in learning about how we live life around here, and it led us into some lengthy, deep, and thoughtful discussions. Whatever the content of those discussions, though, I think that what makes this a rare community is the fact that we have those discussions at all. Around here we as live live we think about it and talk about it, and the thinking and talking directly influences the living. It’s a beautiful thing.
Visitors. Forgot to post a link to the pictures from the Wrights’ visit. You can see them here.