Thursday, March 7, 2013

Birthday Week!!

March 2nd was my 80th birthday! Wow! How did that happen? Anyway, the celebration is non-stop for over a week. Here's a day by day account:

DAY 1: It started on Friday evening when Ellen and I went to Hallelujah Farm in Chesterfield, NH., which is a B&B and Retreat center run by our friends, Roger and Sandy Daly.

Entrance to Hallelujah Farm
Living room-Dining Room at Hallelujah Farm

Brunch at Hallelujah Farm
DAY 2: We spent the night there in a beautiful guest room and the next morning, Saturday, John and Cynthia joined us for brunch, prepared by Roger and Sandy.

Roger & Sandy Daly in the kitchen

We had a leisurely brunch and an even more leisurely time just enjoying sitting and talking by the woodstove. Cynthia brought her harp (the one we carried to Minneapolis to be repaired and brought back) and John brought his Irish whistle and they gave us a lovely "concert." A beautiful birthday!

Cozy by the fire

Cynthia got some photos of "us-ens" which I hope to post later.

Saturday evening Ellen made me a "fav" meal of loin lamb chops, scalloped potatoes and brussell sprouts which we ate by the fire at home. Delicious!  (No photos).

DAY 3: Sunday I led the choir at the Dummerston Church, we went home and packed and then headed out for a train trip to Columbia, MO where Betsey and Rob had invited us for a week of birthday celebration.

On the way we stopped at the Center for Living and Rehabilitation in Bennington, VT where our friend, John Nissen, is recovering from spinal surgery and just starting a course of chemotherapy. We had come over several times the previous week, and John seemed the best yet on Sunday. We are sending lots of loving, healing energy to him.

Center for L & R
Then we went on to the Albany-Rensselaer Train Station to get the Amtrak to Chicago.,

Amtrak station in Rensselaer, NY

We had reserved a roomette which is really a cozy way to travel. We were Room 3 in Car 4920 which was 9 cars away from the dining car, so we got a good hike going to supper and back!

Roomette on the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago

Dining car
At supper we sat with a very interesting couple, George Joseph and Thelma Pinto  - both are on the faculty at Hobart-William Smith in Geneva, NY, he in French, she in African Literature. She grew up in Cape Town, S.A., and is a Dutch citizen. They plan to retire soon and move to the Netherlands, where they own a home. I used to live and teach near Geneva, NY (at Keuka College), and had spent 2 months in the Netherlands, so we had a very nice dinner-table conversation. In an earlier period of his life, he had been part of a team which translated the New Testament into the Wolof language in Senegal, and that added another element of common interest (I having been a NT scholar at one time). The food wasn't bad either (maybe not GREAT but not bad).

We enjoyed our roomette - Ellen read aloud from a book John gave me for my birthday, James Diamond's The World Until Yesterday, a fascinating look at traditional societies and what we can learn from them.

Ellen reading

Sometime after 10:30pm, our room was made up into two berths. Actually, the seats proved to be totally recalcitrant to the attendant's efforts to make them up and we were moved two doors down to Room 7 which, fortunately, was available. This gave us the added advantage of being able to store our suitcases in Room 3, and make a bit more room to move around.

I LOVE train travel and with the help of a capsule I got a good sleep. I could actually stretch out in my berth. Ellen had the upper berth and was a bit anxious about falling out in her sleep, so she didn't use a sleeping pill. A harness is supplied which is designed to prevent falling, but it wasn't cleat just how to hook it up. So she didn't get a good night's sleep but she enjoyed resting and watching stations go by. I was awake early and caught the rosy early morning light out the window.

Early morning somewhere in Ohio

I got up early and took a shower, and we had a good breakfast in the dining car. Our train was reasonably on time and we arrived in Union Station, Chicago, a little after 10a.m.

DAY 4: We were met by Maggie and Jerry Hochberger, who had come in by train from Bartlett (Maggie is my brother Stewart's former wife). We had lunch together at a very special restaurant, Pazzo's, located in a skyscraper on Wacker Drive near the station.

The atrium at Pazzo's restaurant
It was like going into another world.  The food was really good too. After lunch we went back to Union Station and gawked a bit at the grand old central waiting room.

The four of us at Pazzo's, photo  courtesy of the waitress

Our meals at Pazzo's  

Ellen, Maggie and Jerry in Union Station

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