Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wedding Bells!

Well, there’s no excuse not to blog now – a lot has been going on in the last month or two. First and foremost is #2 son’s wedding this past weekend. What a wonderful day! He and his bride have gone together for several years, and he (finally!) proposed at Christmastime last year. She’s a lovely person and they complement each other very well. The wedding was in our home town of Cherry Hill, at my wife’s home parish. Both older brothers were groomsmen and youngest brother was the altar server. Weather was picture perfect – sunny and high in the upper 70’s. The mass was beautiful and the reception was a blast – everyone commented on how much fun they had, including the 89-year-old mother of a friend of ours who spent half the evening on the dance floor.

Of course, gearing up for the big event was a bit hectic. One of the perks of being the father of the groom is that you don’t end up putting out a huge amount of money and effort, but still get much of the credit. But God bless my wife. She helped with much of the planning, especially making 72 small floral centerpieces – rose arrangements in martini glasses. The back apartment part of our house became the back of a florist shop, as well as the flower fridge – she turned the AC all the way down to keep the roses fresh, and it got below 55 degrees in there. But in the end it was all worth it, and son and new daughter-in-law are now enjoying their honeymoon in Dublin, Ireland.

The other big development is that we are hosting an international student for the year. He is from South Korea and beginning his senior year at a local Catholic high school. I was corrected early on: He’s an “international student”, not an “exchange student”, because his main objective is to complete his education here. After graduation, he hopes to attend an American college or university. So far things are going well – he’s a nice young man, curious and eager to learn with a sense of humor, and he speaks pretty good English, though we’re trying to help him improve it enough to do better on the SAT.

Poetry: My poetry has obviously had to take somewhat of a back seat to the other things going on, but there have been developments there as well: I recently read at the Manayunk Art Center in Philadelphia with two other local poets, and I have another coming up on the 24th in the Mt. Airy section of Philly. I’ve also had a few more poems accepted: The Barefoot Muse has accepted my blank-verse sonnet “Taking It All Back”, and Tilt-a-Whirl, a journal devoted to “repeating form” poetry, has accepted two poems: “Poe Boy Blues” and “All I Want”. I’m still hoping to attend at least one or two conferences or festivals in the upcoming “poetry year”, but other domestic and family matters may prevent some of that from happening.

Baseball: As big a Phillies fan as I am, I hadn’t attended a game all season till last night, when my wife’s cousin’s husband invited me to a game against the Braves, with whom the Phils are fighting for the NL East title. We had great seats – first row, second level right behind home plate. They won 3-1: Cole Hamels had another great outing (8 innings pitched, 6 strikeouts) and Brad Lidge was bringin’ it in the 9th. It was amazing to see 45,000 fans on their feet, cheering and waving their souvenir “rally towels” over their heads to spur Lidge on to get the save, putting down the Braves 1-2-3 including two strikeouts. You could feel the energy going out to him, and he even acknowledged that after the game. The Phillies are now 4 games up in first place over the Braves and their “magic number” is 8.

Music: My wife, my youngest son and I are all big fans of the men’s a cappella group Straight No Chaser. If you don’t know them by name, they’re the group of ten guys who met and performed years ago at Indiana University and reunited for a concert a few years ago. They performed an amusing version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” that went viral and made them virtually overnight sensations. Now they’re PBS pledge-drive favorites, with two Christmas albums out and a more recent collection of pop songs. They’re an entertaining, often funny , and extremely talented group. They were artists-in-residence at Harrah’s casino in Atlantic City, and we all went to see them last month. They put on an amazing show, a song revue of pop hits from the 50’s to the present, and afterward they had a “meet-and-greet” – every one of them were there, signing autographs and chatting with fans, and they stayed till everyone in the long line got to meet them. They are a swell bunch of guys.

Poem of the Month: I would like to post the poem I wrote several months ago in anticipation of my son’s wedding, but I’m shopping it around for publication so that may have to wait. Instead, I will offer a love poem I wrote to my wife (who was also beautiful as mother of the groom). This appeared previously in the online journal Word Catalyst:

Time Travel

Maybe it's in the memory of skin -
a certain touch, chemical connection,
a circuit of nerves completed.

Maybe it's all in the mind -
a déjà vu of senses,
a re-opened file of valentines.

But when we share a serious embrace
or trade passionate kisses,
there is no need to compare

those kids in the old wedding photo
with what we see in the mirror.
Reflections are irrelevant,

time machines superfluous.
When I am in the moment of your arms,
I am nineteen again.