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September 4th, 2006

barbecue, fawn, nieces

This Labor Day weekend we paid a long-overdue visit to my wife's family in Kansas City. I am very fond of my in-laws,and always look forward to these visits.

I did not sleep well Friday night,and thus awoke Saturday far too early, hours ahead of our very early flight. This rendered me in a dream-like state for much of the Saturday proceedings.

From the window of the airplane, I saw white clouds, but I render them here as red:



My wife's father, a charming man, met us at the airport, and drove us to he and his kind wife's home on the Kansas side of Kansas City. On the way, we stopped in downtown Kansas City at the President Hotel. The President is an old-line Kansas City hotel which has been restored. One of my wife's friend and schoolmate's husband is one of the developers. It is an incredible hotel, with a 1920s deco interior except for the Drum Room, a Cuban-style restaurant done in 1960s deco "Rat Pack" fashion. We marveled at the hotel, whose older designs had all been done in their day by a 20 year old. After a brief visit with my wife's father and his wife at their home, we headed over to my wife's sister and her husband's home, as well as the home of my ten year old niece.

We had planned to go on a walk, but my niece had homework to finish which lingered overlong. Soon, I fell asleep on a chair, still seated. I was awakened by a kind of alarum, which proved to be a call to arms to look out the window, where my niece was doing a rather elaborate cheerleading routine.

In the melee I neglected to notice that my glasses flew off my head, where they had been perched when I read and then fell asleep. After a while, I noticed them, yards away, on the floor. They were mangled beyond belief, with the right earpiece turned at some odd axial angle to a "normal" setting. My brother-in-law took my wife and I to the mall, where
a woman at EyeMasters used ice-tong-like adjusting wrenches to turn tragedy into commonplace salvation. I believe that the loaves and fishes worked in much the same way.

We stopped by Brookstone for a moment, to pick my niece up a belated birthday present (n this case, a curious egg-shaped clock named, conveniently, Bob), and then headed back to the ranchhouse.

We all went to the Wood Yard Barbecue in Merriam, where I had an incredible barbecue turkey sandwich with my relatives (who had their own pulled pork) as we sat outdoors, and the loudspeaker played Patti Smith's cover of "Gloria" and a man with long hair smoked huge oar-sized salmon, as we watched in awe. The woman who owned this new place explained that they had made fish sandwiches for a Lenten alternative, only to find that entire salmon "walked out the door".

We then went to my wife's father's home, in the Mission Hills area of Kansas City, where my wife went to take a nap, while I went to take a walk. Soon I found myself at an estate sale in the Reinhardt section, where I got used books on miniature plants and a wonderful novel I read today about an Episcopal priest. I have a weakness for novels about the clergy, which always cause me a kind of delight.

My father-in-law had promised that he and I would prepare dinner, and I fully expected to be a hamburger assistant of the "hold this spatula" variety, just as I am, with my own father, a mechanic only of the "hold this wrench and don't move that flashlight" variety.

Yet my father-in-law had in mind a pleasurable alternative, a trip to Arthur Bryant's barbecue establishment. Arthurt Bryant's is the local "famous" place, kings and potentates and Sally Field gather to eat barbecue in a hole in the wall.
When we arrived at 4:30 p.m., the line of people with a similar labor day plan was snaking out the door. Nonetheless, we waited in line for a near-eternity, finally leaving with tons of well-wrapped barbecue.

Both my wife's sisters's families, and a beloved aunt and a cousin, gathered at my wife's father's place, where we all ate in a cicada-sounding sky under strangely beautiful clouds. I enjoyed my second spot of Kansas City barbecue immensely.

On Sunday, we headed to my wife's other sister's town, in Parkville, in Missouri. We went on a hike with her sister, her sister's husband and their ten month old daughter, my newest niece Quinn. We saw a doe and a fawn in the deep woodlands, as well as flowers and butterflies. The weather was in the Heavenly seventies, and it was a perfect day to hike.
Then we went to the little park on the Missouri river, and put Quinn in a swingset.

The flowers we saw were tall, yellow flowers. But in the red-sky spirit of a red-sky-at-night-sailors-delight set of evenings, I will render them here as:



This morning I took a long walk to the Prairie Village Shopping Center. I passed Prairie Village Presbyterian, the charming church were my wife and I married sixteen years ago. I went into Tunes music instrument shop, and looked at mp3 player at Macy's. I have a quasi-political dissatisfaction with Apple having to do with itunes and digital rights management, but as time goes on I realize I will need an mp3 player. I thus continue to scout brands, looking for something either vary cheap or filled with gigagigagigaomnibytes of storage capacity. I loved the cicada song and birdsong as I walked.

We went to a wonderful restaurant called Thomas near Westport for lunch, and then were driven to the airport. When we landed in Dallas, welcome rain came. For me, Labor Day in north Texas is all about rain--a storm in the three day weekend breaks the heat. Last year, we had no storm (and the drought began). This year, the storm came, and I have hope that the drought may over time end.

I am glad to be home, although we had a wonderful weekend with people with whom I enjoy spending time.