Thursday, August 31, 2006

Just returned from a great, though camera-free, trip to London. I felt naked -- and not just because my luggage got lost along the way. But my bag eventually showed up and my friend Caz shared the photos she took, so all was right with the world. Here's her favorite shot of dear Lucy and Matt, whose wedding was the reason for the trip.

Lucy and Matt met -- in a story that was told half a dozen times during the joyful festivities-- on their own respective grand adventures in North America, despite both being from London. My own role was small (hosting Lucy and Caz in Arizona, Mexico and Colorado, then being introduced to Matt in San Francisco shortly after the fateful meeting) but seemed to grow with each mention during the reception's toasts. Needless to say, we all had a great time and I was made to feel very much at home. The music alone was worth the trouble of crossing the Atlantic -- Lucy's family (with a literal rock star, a singer on tour with Kylie Minogue, and a veteran cast member of Stomp in it) does not lack for talent.

This, by the way, is Caz -- short for Caroline and, well, short in general. (I can say that because back on our roadtrip in 1999 everyone thought I was her older brother -- until we opened our mouths and our accents gave us away.) Don, the bride's father and half of the charming and endlessly hospitable couple that made me fall in love with London during my first visit in 1988 and my summer there in 1995, pointed out before the reception that Caz and Zac were mirror-image names. Unfortunately, this seems to have gotten my name stuck in his head and several times during his light-hearted and heart-warming toast he said my name when he meant hers -- which was only half as funny as when he said my name when he meant the groom's. Then he closed with quotes from Luke Skywalker and Buzz Lightyear (inspired by his grandson Jared), but switched their surnames to get Luke Lightyear and Buzz Skywalker. All of which inspired Lucy's brother Rob -- the next one on the microphone -- to say "I'm not sure what just happened there, but I think Zac has married Buzz Lightyear."

It was a whirlwind trip, but I managed to squeeze in a play at Shakespeare's Globe, a night at a club in Vauxhall called Fire, no end of great meals, and several long walks in the August sunshine (yes! sunshine in London! and lots of it!) including some with my host James Alison, my favorite theologian in the world. Here's the cover of his fantastic new book -- the first copy had just arrived when I got there -- titled "Undergoing God: Dispatches from the Scene of a Break-in" which sold out at the Greenbelt Festival he spoke to packed houses at this weekend. (You can preorder it from Amazon here.)

I'm back in Cambridge now, which is a lot of fun to think of as home for the next 3 years. Let me know when you're coming to visit -- I've already found a perfectly-poured pint of Guinness 4 blocks away and a truly faith-restoring number of non-chain restaurants!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

182 photos made their way back with me from the once-every-five-years family reunion this past weekend. Here's a favorite -- niece Summer outrunning nephew Tully and near-nephew Jacob -- to tide us over for now.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I used to write these posts in a big white house full of volunteers and dust, with slanted floors and an enormous dark-stained kitchen table. I'm writing this one in the Caretaker's Office of Stone Arch Lofts -- a multigazillion dollar development in the historic mill district of Minneapolis' river front, two doors down from the stunning new Guthrie Theater.

But these pictures are from the backyard of my little brother and his wife's new house in Saint Paul. They threw me a little welcome home shindig, and hosted their housewarming the following weekend. Their hospitality, and my folks' as well, has made my transition from the cloud forest of South America to the sweltering prairies of Minnesota as smooth as can be expected.

I start the drive to Boston in two weeks, stopping along the way to see dear ones in Chicago and Ann Arbor. From there I fly to London for a friend's wedding, so I won't really 'land' anywhere until September is here. That's the month I start my classes at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, and it's also when I start teaching digital photography two days a week at Umana/Barnes Middle School in East Boston.

[Speaking of my elective class at that incredible school, if any of you have upgraded -- or downgraded -- your digital cameras recently and have been wondering how to pass on the joy of photography to kids at a school that shouldn't be doing nearly as well as it is considering the challenges the students are overcoming (sound familiar?), let me know. We can use all the digital cameras we can get our hands on, and probably even get you a tax deduction in the process.]

Catching up with friends and family, I'm trying my darnedest to be not be "busy" even though I'm plenty "scheduled" during my time here in my beloved homeland of Minnesota. (The difference I see between those two is that 'busy' people are so preoccupied with their busy-ness that they rarely seem to focus on the here and now. 'Scheduled' people might have just as much on their plate, but they are present. They may have to be somewhere else in 25 minutes, but right now they're right here. Or so I hope . . . )

If said scheduled-ness allows for some more photos from South America, I'll likely put them on Casi Bastante, my photos blog. I'll try to put a reminder here if that happens.

Otherwise, expect some sweet shots of my darling cousins and their ensuing shenanigans from the Cousins by the Dozens reunion the second weekend in August. It promises to be the kind of fun you can only handle every 5 years . . .