Sunday, October 1, 2023

Hello In There

Looking Inwardly,

  Jenny and I spent Friday and Saturday up in Ft. Worth, helping prepare for the outdoor wedding of our son, Jim, and his wife Anne, along the Trinity River, Nature's Cathedral, near their house, and the reception which followed into the night in their back yard. Nature's cathedral did need a lot of lawn mowing, raking of acorns and clearing of dead branches to get to a clear and placid appearance, which we did achieve Friday. We then prepared the back yard for the reception, particularly filling in holes the dog dug and digging up, then flattening various trip hazards. There were a few unforeseen small hitches, like the breeze which blew over and broke a couple of very nicely made plexiglass signs. Somebody stole an easel holding a sign from the park area after we had set up the chairs for the wedding. Little things, but no blemishes to the intimately shared wedding amongst the two families, bridesmaids and groomsmen.

  There was anxiety that something might go wrong, and I won't say who it fell hardest upon, but it was not answered by any catastrophe in the lived world of our shared experience. Everything went smoothly, without even a hiccough. (We started 18 minutes late. Pretty good, I think.)

  The wedding was officiated by a dear friend of the new couple, who got certified so that she could perform this official function. The Project-Manager was another friend who was constantly everywhere, directing human traffic during the afternoon and evening of "the event", a perfectionist with some talent. The catering was done by Anne's cousin's family-company, and was personal and attentive. The DJ was a middle aged musician from Lubbock, who did a fine job, as one would expect.

  The most important contribution, however, was enjoyed last, after the dinner, speeches from family and the bridesmaid, and while the kids were still dancing with flair. Holly made the wedding cake in the 36 hours prior to it's being served to the guests. Holly is our oldest daughter, who volunteered to take the first COVID ward at her hospital in San Antonio, the county hospital, and has been baking since middle school. This was Holly’s fourth wedding cake. She began the project in the nearby rented-house where we’ve stayed since Thursday night, before the Saturday evening wedding. The cake began with 12 pounds of fresh strawberries, cleaned and cooked down into a thick and lightly-sweetened concentrate which was folded into the cake batter and whipped into the icing, after the small test cake was baked, and the right form of icing was chosen from test batches, to best compliment the flavor and texture of the cake.

  The house was filled with the sweet perfume of strawberries for two days as the vast undertaking progressed, day and night, with the iced cakes and support-layers being brought to the kitchen of Jim and Anne's house as the wedding commenced nearby.

  Holly and Tommy missed the wedding for the preparations of the stacking at the site in the cool kitchen, with internally lit (like fireflies) clear plexiglass supports for the stack. Most of the cake was not the display cake, but created separately for serving, with the icing kept in the cool indoors until serving, due to the outdoor heat liquifying it, if it would be allowed to warm up.

  Despite the impressive and engaging appearance of the ceremonial display cake (which did get eaten) the real service to all of the friends, family, bride and groom was the experience of the finest cake anybody has ever eaten, a masterful synthesis of fresh ingredients, masterful craftsmanship through nights and days, leading up to the moment of completion. Holly and Jenny folded their love into the ambrosia through the whole process.

  Every bite of the wedding cake was wholly composed from the finest real things in life, in real time, with real love, which you can now imagine, though it was only intimately known by those who ate it at the party last night. (There is some cake here for breakfast this morning, but I am just having coffee until daybreak, and everybody else gets up. I'm fully respectful of this last bit of the finest cake ever.)

  We will share a morning of family gathering. There is plenty of cleaning up work for me to do where the party and wedding have been. This has been a time of synthesis and meaning within our family, which is more than a happy milestone event.

  Our family is going into a difficult period in human affairs now, and we are doing so in mutual support and love, respecting our union and respecting the different talents which make us more comprehensively capable of working through challenges and threats as they arise in our paths.

Wishing You The Same

Hello In There, John Prine​ ​

We had an apartment in the city
Me and Loretta liked living there
Well, it'd been years since the kids had grown
A life of their own, left us alone
John and Linda live in Omaha
And Joe is somewhere on the road
We lost Davy in the Korean war
And I still don't know what for, don't matter anymore
You know that old trees just grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder every day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello"
Me and Loretta, we don't talk much more
She sits and stares through the back door screen
And all the news just repeats itself
Like some forgotten dream that we've both seen
Someday I'll go and call up Rudy
We worked together at the factory
What could I say if he asks "What's new?"
"Nothing, what's with you? Nothing much to do"
You know that old trees just grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder every day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello"
So if you're walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes
Please don't just pass 'em by and stare
As if you didn't care, say, "Hello in there, hello"


  1. Congrats John and Jenny, and best wishes to the newly-weds for a long and happy marriage.

  2. A beautiful interlude. Heaven is still amongst us. Thank you for that and the reminder not to let my wife and I become 'me and Loretta'. Blessings to all your family, John. Dennis, Boston.

    1. Thanks Dennis. I took this song to heart the first time I heard it, but I think that young John Prine lumped empty-nesters in with end-of-lifers in it. Granted, lives did tend to be shorter, and that probably described some people's lives. I'm sorry Loretta looked out the back screen door so much. ;-(