The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Home, Sweet Home

Home, sweet home. Yes, we're back home again and, believe me, there is nothing as sweet as returning to the comfortable surroundings of home. Walking through the doorway last night never felt better. That's not to say that our extended trip wasn't enjoyable. It was...mostly. And all the inconveniences of travel and living out of suitcases fade away into insignificance when placed alongside the joys of spending time with our grandchildren. But a month away from home is just about as long as we can handle.

We had hoped to spend a little more time seeing the sights on our return trip, but we both found ourselves victims of "get-home-itis." Despite this we took a little time to visit our dear friends, the Lees, in Fairfax, VA. One of the highlights of our day with them was a visit to the Pentagon Memorial commemorating the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon and the 184 pentagon employees and airplane passengers who perished that day. It's a remarkable memorial site and visiting it was a very moving experience.
The Pentagon Memorial with the new US Air Force Memorial in the background.

Perhaps the next time we'll make a nighttime visit when I'm told the lighting adds to the memorial's beauty.

A visit to the memorial is also a good reminder that we are still a nation at war, despite what many would have us believe. There are others, just as murderous and hate-filled as those who planned and carried out the 9/11 attacks, who today are planning even worse things for our nation. These Islamo-Fascists are today's barbarians, but unlike the barbarian hordes that overwhelmed ancient Rome, today's savages have no desire to assimilate. They want only to destroy and bring to the world a perverted version of Islam. It would do us all well to remember this.

We also visited Old Town in Alexandria, enjoyed a pleasant lunch at a local eatery, and spent a few hours browsing in the shops. Almost every shop displayed some Obama kitsch, proof that the president has been able to maintain his rock-star status. Indeed some of the displays were almost shrine-like.

The next day Diane and I headed south and stopped at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, Virginia. It had been 30 years since our last visit, back when our children were still children, so we decided it was time for another. We were both impressed by the new visitors' center, which opened just a month ago, and includes many interesting display areas and galleries, a theater, and a rather large gift shop where one can purchase all things Jeffersonian. For $20 each, adults can participate in three tours -- of the home, gardens, and plantation -- take in a 20 minute film about Jefferson and his home, roam the grounds at will, and make a day of it. Unfortunately throughout our visit we had to cope with periodic showers and heavy overcast skies that didn't help the quality of the photos I took.

Monticello on a rainy, overcast day - 5/25/2009

When in the Monticello gift shop, I browsed through a few books on Jefferson and noted some quotes that seemed pretty timely given what's happening in our country these days. Here are a couple I jotted down:

"The crisis of the abuses of banking is arrived. The banks have pronounced their own sentence of death." (1814)

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay it’s own debts as it goes." (1820)

(Incidentally, I later found both of these quotes highlighted on the Monticello website. I wonder if they will remain there.)

I'm pretty sure that Jefferson would have been no fan of the Keynesian, big-government approach we have adopted and expanded over the past 75+ years. It's an approach that Democrats and Republicans alike (with the possible exception of Ronald Reagan) have pursued vigorously and which has brought us to our current sad situation.

The bad weather led us to abbreviate our stay, and so we pressed on and stopped at a Roanoke motel for the night. The next morning we drove on to Ocoee, Tennessee and revisited our friends, the Hathaways, whom we had seen on our way up north back in April. And despite all the promises and all the time sitting on their deck, once again I failed to spot a single interesting critter -- no bears, no wild boar, no deer, not even a lone squirrel. But who needs an encounter with wildlife when in the presence of good friends? We did, however, get to see a remarkable 180-degree rainbow that extended across the mountains behind the Hathaway's home. It was too large to capture in a single photo (I need a good wide-angle lens), so I attempted, with only marginal success, to stitch three photos together. (See the resulting panorama below.)

Late afternoon rainbow in Ocoee, TN

We then headed for the Atlanta area where we visited with a trio of Diane's cousins. We spent the night with one cousin in Dacula, GA, then made a brief visit with another in Monroe, GA, and finally stopped by a third in McDonough, GA. As an only child, Diane is especially close to her cousins, who are more like older sisters to her. We try to visit them when we can, particularly now that we're all getting older. From McDonough we sprinted down I-75 and made it home Friday at 10 p.m.

Now I have to catch up on all the things I avoided during our time away from home.


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