The Ida Odyssey

Found at Inlet Beach, Florida, September 7, 2021

Hurricane Ida slammed into coastal Louisiana on August 29, about six weeks ago. I’ve had this post drafted for nearly the past month, but haven’t brought myself to finish it. There are a few reasons for this, I think. Like any great procrastinator, I’ve been able to find plenty of other things to do rather than write this. And every time I’d sit down to write, I found that the post-experience had changed. We were very fortunate, and did not sustain any major damage to our home, so “back-to-normal” came sooner for us. For friends whose homes and businesses were devastated, I just feel kind of insensitive writing about what happened to me in particular, when it was not particularly devastating.

So I’ve decided to keep the tale of this odyssey to just the first two weeks after the storm, when pretty much everyone who lives in Southeastern Louisiana had a shared experience of power outages, lines for gas, and the decision of whether or not to evacuate.

I will also include two items of note that are not shared experiences, but are particular to me. 1) August 29 is my birthday. And 2) Ida was my mom’s name.

Starting with those two weeks, from August 29 to September 11. We did not evacuate, and lost power in our house in the early afternoon of August 29. The storm blew in, and it was a wild one. We heard a crash outside, and looked to find a pine tree blown down, about two houses down from us. The worst part came in the evening, when my phone told me there was a flash flood warning. The levee failures during Katrina inundated our neighborhood (we did not live here at the time), and all I could do was pray that all the improvements that have happened since that time really did improve the situation.

They apparently did, because we woke up the next morning to wet, debris-strewn streets, but not flooded streets. The next decision became “should we stay or should we go?” We had a vacation in Florida, planned for months, set to begin Sunday, September 5. But we were looking at a long six days until then with no power, no services, and no place to go, since both of our workplaces were experiencing similar issues at a different scale. That made the decision easy. We couldn’t get into our vacation rental any earlier than the 5th, so we booked a hotel nearby our rental and left on Thursday, September 2.

One more detail to add. I waited for seven hours to get gas on Wednesday, September 1. All I care to say about that is that it was a lesson in patience and fortitude, and I hope to beat that time by a significant amount when I run the New York Marathon in 2022.

Our Florida vacation was really nice, definitely one of our nicer beach vacations. But it did have a bit of an Odyssey feel to it, like when Odysseus lives the high life with Circe while having no idea what is going on back at home.

I’ll conclude with those two items of note, mentioned previously. About August 29 being my birthday…I’ve written in this space before about what a bummer it can be. This quote from a post in 2017 about sums it up: “When your birthday falls at the height of the hurricane season, you get used to altering plans.”

And about Ida being my mom’s name. She died in 2014, at the age of 81. Her positive, beneficent, influence was really strong in our family, and still lives on. Thus, when a Hurricane Ida took aim at the places where a good number of her children and grandchildren live, the name of the storm was more than a detail. Ida is not a common name in our time. I’m still scratching my head over how a name I associate with such a gentle human being caused such mass devastation as a storm. Storms and people are very different things, obviously, but I guess they both have the potential for major impact. I’ll take the impact of having had Ida the person as a mom any day (and twice on Sunday).

The Iliad: 100%

Sunrise over the New Orleans Museum of Art Sculpture Garden, June 29, 2021. The sculpture could be inspired by The Iliad, but I don’t think it is.

I recently finished The Iliad, and all I can think to say is: thank God for the movie Troy. Being able to picture Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Brian Cox, and Sean Bean in my mind’s eye as I slogged through the text about Achilles, Hector, Agamemnon, and Odysseus was tremendously helpful. Although, on the few bits with Hector’s wife Andromache, I thought less about Saffron Burrows and more about Charlize Theron, because her character in The Old Guard is named Andromache.

When I write “the few bits with Hector’s wife,” I mean it. The Iliad is very male-centric. Even though they were apparently fighting the Trojan War over a woman (Helen), she does not factor into the story very much. What does factor into the story? LOTS of fighting. And some Olympic-type sports. And the Greek gods behaving like Grade A A*holes. I read a version translated by Alexander Pope, where Zeus, or Jupiter, was referred to as Jove. And Jove gets mentioned everywhere, by jove.

The description of the fighting was pretty evocative, and might be the only thing I really enjoyed about this read. Catch this: “He fell heavily to the ground, and the spear stuck in his heart, which still beat, and made the butt-end of the spear quiver till dread Mars put an end to his life.” What a picture! (Although this time Mars gets the attribution, not Jupiter.)

Spoiler alerts ahead: there are two bits of ancient history that I kept expecting to encounter in The Iliad, but they never came up. The first was the death of Achilles. His death in Troy is foretold throughout the story, but the story ends with Hector’s burial, and Achilles apparently very much alive. According to an article by Philip Chrysopoulos in Greek Reporter: “The death of Achilles is not mentioned at all in The Iliad. His killing by Paris, who had discovered the one weak spot of the Greek warrior, comes from another ancient legend, which says that Paris shot Achilles in the heel with an arrow and killed him.”

The second was the Trojan Horse. It is referenced in The Odyssey (which I’m currently reading), but not in The Iliad. And unless it comes up again in more detail, all the reader finds out is that it was Odysseus who kept everyone quiet when they were hiding in the wooden horse. Given all the visceral action sequences in The Iliad, I would have liked to read a depiction of what happened when they came charging out of the horse.

But while these two Greek classics are not proving to be favorites, I definitely feel I’m benefiting from the experience. Getting a first-hand sense of these stories, foundational to so much of western thought, seems to be having a clarifying effect on me. That’s it for now!

Mrs. Dalloway: 100%

Photo by Ming Jun Tan on Unsplash

“…having done with the triumphs of youth, lost herself in the process of living, to find it, with a shock of delight, as the sun rose, as the day sank.”

— from Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway is my most engaging read yet this year. Out of the eighteen serials I’ve read on the Serial Reader app, it might be my favorite. Great Expectations comes close, but can’t match the synchronicity I experienced. I never recognized as much of myself in Pip as I did in Clarissa Dalloway. The fact that I’m the same age as Mrs. Dalloway in the novel certainly helped foster this feeling.

That can seem pretty loaded, to say that I identify with a privileged, middle-aged, woman living in excessive comfort in early 20th century London. But that’s not what I mean by stating “I see myself in Clarissa Dalloway.” And I’m pretty positive Virginia Woolf’s intention was not to glorify Mrs. Dalloway’s privilege.

To me, the whole point is that there is so much more to everything, and everyone, than the categories we put them in.

I had a similar experience many years ago when I read Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I remember strongly identifying with the protagonist, Anne Elliot. Not only did we share a name, we were the same age. Not yet 30 years old, I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t excited about my future prospects. Something needed to change — I needed to change — to course-correct my life. What I took from Persuasion was that if things could change for a 27-year-old woman in the Regency period, there was no reason why I couldn’t shake things up for myself at the fin de 20th siecle.

Clarissa Dalloway is at a different stage of her life, (as am I). Now it’s not so much about changing your life, as it is making sense of it. And what Virginia Woolf accomplished so masterfully in the novel is capturing the multi-facetedness of life, of perception, of everything. Reading Mrs. Dalloway was like being hit with, and comprehending, a brilliant stream from the multiverse. Not only do we understand how Clarissa Dalloway perceives things, we understand how she is perceived, chiefly through the characters of Richard Dalloway, Peter Walsh, and Sally Seton.

And what can I say about the other anchor for the story, the Great War veteran Septimus Warren Smith? Suffering from PTSD and rapidly losing his grip on reality, reading his scenes was difficult, to put it mildly. Clarissa Dalloway does not know him, but knows his doctor, Sir William Bradshaw. When she learns of Smith’s death from Bradshaw, she is profoundly affected, and the story comes back around to itself in the most amazing way. It was one of the most convincing depictions of humanity’s interconnectivity I’ve encountered.

I didn’t go into Mrs. Dalloway with high hopes. I read Woolf’s Night and Day first, and didn’t care much for it. There was only one character I really liked, Mary Datchet, and she kinda gets the narrative shaft. Night and Day was published six years before Mrs. Dalloway, so I guess it just goes to show how writers can develop. Something else I can hope to identify with.

To conclude: my recent interest in Virginia Woolf relates to her novel Orlando. I read it in college, and remember being very intrigued with how time is treated in the story. I plan to re-read it this year, and Night and Day and Mrs. Dalloway were a sort of grounding in Woolf. Tying it back to time, the striking clocks were another thing I loved about Mrs. Dalloway. So I’ll leave you with this, right after Clarissa learns about Septimus Warren Smith:

The clock was striking. The leaden circles dissolved in the air. He made her feel the beauty; made her feel the fun. But she must go back. She must assemble. She must find Sally and Peter. And she came in from the little room.

The Irregulars

The Irregulars, 8 episodes on Netflix

My television streaming was not all it could have been over the past year. I had some technical difficulties with my Smart TV, which I’ve only just recently corrected with the purchase of an Amazon Fire Stick.

So, while not quite making up for lost time, my TV intake has been somewhat strategic. Admittedly, the timing of the Fire Stick acquisition likely had to do with the release of Godzilla vs. Kong. I couldn’t abide the thought of viewing this long-awaited monster movie through a choppy stream. I’m happy to report zero technical difficulties with the streaming. Narrative wise, I was disappointed that the story was weighted toward Team Kong, and that I did not hear one good Godzilla roar. But it was entertaining, and — spoiler alert — the intro of MechaGodzilla was fun and worked for the story.

But, as the title of this post is not Godzilla vs. Kong, rather, The Irregulars, let me get to it. Searching for something else to watch, The Irregulars caught my fancy. It’s a take on Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars, set in the 19th century but infused with 21st century sensibilities. It features four kids of the street and one posh outsider, who are hired by John Watson to investigate some paranormal happenings.

In The Irregulars, Holmes is an addict, and Watson is, at best, unreliable, and at worst, villainous. Ultimately, it was the chemistry of the five Irregulars that really made this show stand out to me. You get the compelling backstory on all of them, except for Spike, played charmingly by McKell David. There was nothing mysterious about him, you just get the sense that he aligned himself with sisters Bea (Thaddea Graham) and Jessie (Darci Shaw), and their friend Billy (Jojo Macari), after the three of them left the work house they had been in since childhood. In a later episode, Spike refers to himself as the skeleton of the group — the one who holds them all together. I loved this.

The posh outsider turns out to be Prince Leopold (Harrison Osterfield), the youngest son of Queen Victoria. I loved this storyline, too.

The first episode ended with the introduction of what I thought was a tired old trope, which was puzzling in a story with so many fresh elements. Fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed enough to stop watching. The trope wound up turning on its head, and I think this successfully redeemed the originality of The Irregulars.

If I am to believe the Internet, there will be a second season of The Irregulars. I’m looking forward to seeing what the showrunners come up with next.

Quarter Report 2021

Not following the arrow

I live my life a quarter mile at a time. — Dom Toretto

This is not the first time I’ve referenced this favorite quote in this space. Vin Diesel’s line is a running theme throughout the Fast & Furious franchise, and, to me, is a tremendously apt way to describe living in the moment.

My specific reference is not miles, but years. Having cut my teeth in the business world in the discipline of accounting, I’m prone to think of years in quarters. And as I find myself at the end of Q1 2021, it felt like a good time to post a quarter report. So here, in no particular order, are some particulars:

  • While I have not been idle, I have still not prepared the manuscript of my 3rd novel for public consumption. But I have set a fast (and furious) goal of having it prepared by end of Q2. Q2 2021, just to be clear.
  • I completed a “game-ified” course in the Python programming language through an app called Mimo. That’s all I have to say about that.
  • I discovered the writer Jess Lourey. I have not read her — I watched a webinar on editing she offered through Sisters in Crime, and was thoroughly impressed. I plan to take more of her online courses, after I finish my editing work (see bullet point #1).
  • I finished Don Quixote. I found myself thinking of the musical theme to Monty Python and the Holy Grail through most of it. And realized how much Terry Gilliam must have been influenced by Don Quixote. In fact, I discovered there’s a 2018 film, written and directed by Terry Gilliam, called The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. With Jonathan Pryce as Don Quixote, and one of my favorites, Stellan Skarsgard, as a character called “The Boss.” And Adam Driver as Toby, and my guess from his billing is that he is the eponymous “man who killed Don Quixote.”

Anyway, to wrap this up: I’ve added The Man Who Killed Don Quixote to my ever growing “to be watched” list. But, I close the book on Don Quixote thinking how little, and how much, has changed for writers in the past 400 years. And I believe it’s a net positive for writers in the current era.

How little has changed: there’s a scene near the end, in Chapter 62, where Don Quixote enters a book printer’s shop in Barcelona. Don Quixote asks an author he encounters whether he is printing at his own risk, or if he’s sold the copyright to a bookseller. The author answers that he would not give up his copyright so readily, and that he is printing at his own risk: “I do not print my books to win fame in the world, for I am known in it already by my works; I want to make money, without which reputation is not worth a rap.”

How much has changed: to me, the risk an author hazards in the digital era is significantly less than 400 years ago, or even 25 years ago. With an exponentially increased potential readership over 400 years ago, and a reduced out-of-pocket cost compared to 25 years ago, it seems to me that a writer has very little to lose by putting her works out there.

Or here.

Don Quixote: 65%

Photo by Cdoncel on Unsplash

I read John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces last year. It was an effort that took about 15 years. I’d tried to complete it at least twice before, at the urging of folks who claim it’s a masterful comedy that captures the spirit of New Orleans like no other book.

While I feel like “masterful” is an apt descriptor, I’m less inclined to agree with the comedy part. Every time I tried to read it, I found it really, really depressing. It’s evident to me how much of himself Toole poured into the book, and I believe it was ultimately his undoing. And while it definitely captures a flavor of New Orleans that only a native could express so truthfully; it’s a bitterer flavor, and a meaner spirit than I hope to capture in my fiction.

Anyway, I steeled myself and managed to finish it. And it spurred an interest in reading Miguel Cervantes’ Don Quixote. How so, you may ask? Because, I’d seen more than one reviewer describe Dunces’ main character, Ignatius Reilly, as a 20th-century Don Quixote. So I marked Don Quixote as a “Read Later” on my Serial Reader app, with the intention of starting it as 2021 began.

And, so far, so good. I’m enjoying Don Quixote much more than A Confederacy of Dunces. And I definitely am NOT getting the sense that Don Quixote was Cervantes’ undoing. Here are a few observations thus far:

  • Two stories / ten years. Don Quixote consists of two parts, published roughly ten years apart. It’s my understanding that the the first part of the story was an unprecedented success for Cervantes, and led to his writing further adventures for his protagonist. (Fascinating bit of 17th-century intrigue: an impostor apparently published a “fake” story featuring Don Quixote before Cervantes released the second part.) But as far as Cervantes’ original, I notice a difference between the two parts, which I really dig. The humor of the first part seems to be more at Don Quixote’s expense; while he comes across as a stronger and more aware character in the second part. I feel more empathy for him, and like him better in the second part.
  • Life for a noble in 17th century Spain. The experience of reading Don Quixote has been very immersive for me. The world of the novel feels evident and tangible, more so than most of the classics I’ve read over the last several years, with the exception of War and Peace. But while Tolstoy’s classic dropped me off in Russia in the early 1800s, Don Quixote sends me back another 200 years! And even given the further time displacement, the climate of Spain and all the Catholic stuff feel very familiar to me, more so than the world of War and Peace. Plus, the fact that Cervantes philosophizes a whole lot less than Tolstoy has made it a more entertaining read.
  • Knights-errant / superheroes. One last thought: while most of the knights-errant of the chivalric romances — the objects of Don Quixote’s obsession — are unfamiliar to me, it’s been very easy to imagine them as superheroes. Heck, they even call Batman the Dark Knight. Just another thing that makes the world of Don Quixote seem a lot closer than 400 years ago.

The Amazing Swan

Sunrise over the Sculpture Garden on January 7, 2021

Winter is not my favorite season. Snow is rare in New Orleans, and winters here tend to be dank and gray. Cold, too, just not consistently cold. The later sunrises don’t suit my preferred morning routine, either.

If you’re picturing me as a curmudgeonly Bernie Sanders meme right now, fair enough.

I guess it’s just my way of setting up that I’m pretty excited about the approach of spring. And it seems there are more reasons than the return of bluer skies and greener land to be hopeful this year. Yes, the earth is still in the mighty throes of a pandemic, but pandemics don’t last forever, and we might finally be able to say we are in the waning days (months).

Some interesting bird sightings recently also have me thinking of spring. Appropriately: robins, robins, everywhere. But also a particular pelican and singular swan. The pelican, pictured below, was airing out its wings on a bridge in City Park’s sculpture garden. (Actually, the sculpture garden belonging to the New Orleans Museum of Art, which is located in City Park.) Not so unusual, except that it was stationary so long it seemed almost like a fixture.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The swan requires a bit more explanation. There is a mirrored maze in the sculpture garden, that was designed to be walked through. The interior of the maze has been closed due to the pandemic, but you can still walk around it.

The same Saturday I saw the pelican, I spotted a large, white mass at the center of the maze. Because of the way the mirrors are positioned, it’s impossible to get a clear line of sight. But I could clearly make out white feathers, and what appeared to be a neck tucked into a wing, like it was sleeping. A couple of days later, I passed the mirror maze again to look for my fowl friend. Sure enough, there was a swan there, no longer nested at the center, but looking like it was ready to emerge from the labyrinth.

Taken from the exterior of the sculpture garden, January 25, 2021. Look just past the “Interior Closed” sign.
A closer view.

I can only speak for myself, but something about emerging from the maze feels terribly symbolic. 🙂

2020: Dream is Collapsing

Bayou St. John
Sunrise over Bayou St. John, December 27, 2020

Fear not! This post is not as dire as the title might have you believe. In truth, it’s the name of the song I listened to the most in 2020, if I am to believe Spotify. It’s an instrumental piece, full of drama and portent, by Hans Zimmer. Many memorable action sequences from the movie Inception are set to this piece of music.

And to prove that I was not all about ominous, reality-busting mythos this past year, my second-most-listened-to song of 2020 was “Wishing Well” by Terence Trent D’Arby.

But I have to admit, if I was to create a piece of fiction based on this past year, I’d be afraid to reference “Dream is Collapsing,” because it’s just a little too perfect.

When I think of my own particular ambitions for this past year, pre-pandemic, I can’t really say they collapsed — it’s more like they deflated. And I’m mindful of how fortunate I am in that scenario, so what follows aren’t complaints, just examples. Specifically about writing and running, two solitary activities that, in theory, could still go on with little interruption in our current environment.

Regarding writing, the best excuse I can give is that a combination of uncertainty, anxiety, and doubt kept me from settling into the necessary re-writes on my third novel. We’re talking another level of procrastination. And regarding running, I didn’t run the New York Marathon in November, because there wasn’t one to run.

I see a bright side to this deflation, though. I feel like I can see a little more clearly without all the puffiness of my aspirations getting in the way. No, I didn’t write as much as I “should” have, but I did read a bunch. Most notably: for sheer volume, War and Peace and David Copperfield; and, for giving me stuff to think about, Bhagavad Gita and Frederick Douglass’s Why is the Negro Lynched?

Running-wise, if I had run the marathon, I most likely would not have run the Trail-Zilla half-marathon trail run with nieces Nicole and Cece a few weeks ago. And I would have missed out on a really challenging, but fun, shared experience.

So I don’t regret my flat tires. Just hoping to get enough air in them to get me back out on the road before too long.

Norco
The view from Trail-Zilla

An American in Paris

An American in Paris

So, I was planning on posting something about David Copperfield (the novel by Charles Dickens) — I’m about two-thirds of the way through — but last night, I happened to watch the 1951 film An American in Paris. And I felt the need to pre-empt my previously scheduled programming.

I’d seen the film at least once before, a very long time ago. If my memory’s not faulty, I saw it on New Orleans’s local PBS station, WYES, tempted into the viewing by a life-long love of Gene Kelly and a burgeoning interest in Gershwin. Granted, life-long was not as significant a qualifier back then as it is now, but I’m happy to report that my appreciation of Gene Kelly has only matured and deepened. Like wine. Or perhaps cheese.

I guess that’s what I want to write about. The maturation process. What’s changed for me in the roughly 30 or more years between viewings. Of course, not about everything that’s changed, no one’s got time for that. I’ll limit it to a few observations about the film itself:

  • The music. Gershwin’s music was my biggest takeaway the first time I watched the movie. It’s what cemented it in my mind. Much like how Masaru Sato’s theme from Yojimbo stuck with me in the long years between my first viewing and my more recent renaissance with that film. Last night, I watched the before and after commentary from Brad Bird and Ben Mankiewicz, part of TCM’s The Essentials program. They talked about the iconic ending of the movie, how the ballet sequence was “one of the more perfect dance sequences set to film,” I think one of them said. But they didn’t say anything about Gershwin. I’d take it one step further to include George Gershwin’s music — it’s a pretty phenomenal visualization / realization of the composition itself.
  • The story. The first time I saw the movie, I’d never been to Paris. I was roughly the age Leslie Caron was when the film was made. I’d never seen Casablanca. So I didn’t catch the similarity between Lise being sheltered as a teenager by Henri during the war, and Ilsa’s connection with Victor Laszlo. As a matter of fact, I think the whole love triangle was lost on me first time around. Say what you want about love triangles, but Casablanca-variety ones are good for adding a touch of gravitas. And the movie has some great quotes: Gene Kelly as Jerry Mulligan — “Back home everyone said I didn’t have any talent. They might be saying the same thing over here but it sounds better in French.” Also, Leslie Caron as Lise Bouvier — “Paris has ways of making people forget.” Jerry Mulligan in response — “Paris? No. Not this city. It’s too real and too beautiful to ever let you forget anything.”
  • The actors. Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron are still as captivating as I remember them being. But I was so charmed this time around by Oscar Levant and Nina Foch. Oscar Levant plays the musician Adam Cook, and the scene where Jerry comes into his room singing “Tra La La La (This Time It’s Really Love)” is a new favorite. And I suppose, years and experience just give me an extra appreciation for everything Nina Foch brought to her role as Milo Roberts, Jerry’s art sponsor.

Everything else about the film — the costumes, the staging, the choreography — were just as enchanting as I remember them being. It’s such a lovely thing to revisit an experience from way back when, and have it not disappoint.

Retreat

St. Joseph Abbey is a Benedictine monastery about 40 miles north of New Orleans, on the more sylvan side of Lake Pontchartrain. I’ve written about St. Joseph Abbey in this space before, it’s a place that’s loaded with meaning for my family. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a silent retreat there. The theme was: “Be Not Afraid — Finding God’s Peace Amidst Life’s Uncertainties.”

It sounded like just the thing for the very uncertain times we’re in.

And I definitely felt recharged, and more relaxed, at the end of the weekend. Here are a few observations about the experience, and why I think it worked for me:

  • Silence — I was not daunted by the prospect of remaining silent for two days. I was actually a bit relieved that I wouldn’t feel obliged to make small talk, something that tends to fill me with anxiety. Keeping silence gelled nicely, too, with the face masks we all wore. Also, it’s not like my vocal cords went unused. Community, out-loud, prayers from a booklet punctuated each day, and I read at one of the Masses held during the weekend.
  • Walking Meditation — the weekend’s agenda was very loose, and allowed ample free time for walking, thinking, and reading. Those days marked the first spell of cool weather we’ve had since the summer, so walking around the peaceful grounds was delightful. Also, I’m currently reading David Copperfield, and I did feel downright Dickensian as I visited my parents’ graveside, often throughout the weekend. They are buried at the Abbey cemetery, which is just behind the retreat house.
  • The Communion of Saints — bear with me on this one. I truly felt, at the close of my time there, that I had spent the weekend with my parents. I was particularly struck with this idea of “communing” when I first arrived, near sunset on Friday. Their headstones face west, and as the sun was sinking, I had a clear memory of sitting on the back stoop of our house with my father. The rear of the house where I grew up faced west, and once, many years ago, I had stopped to watch a particularly picturesque sunset. My father asked what I was up to, and when I told him, he replied something like “that sounds like a good idea,” and we both watched the sunset in silence together. It was not something we were in the habit of doing, nor did we make much of it moving forward. But it still remains an indelible moment for me, of just “being in wonder” with another human. Particularly a human like my father, who was many things, but Zen was not one of them.

There are a lot of other reasons why I felt closer to my parents — spending time in a place that meant a great deal to both of them, and feeling like they are well-situated in their eternal rest, to name a few. To tie this up, I’ll say that attending a retreat at the Abbey had been an idea in my mind for quite some time, and I’m glad making it reality was such a positive experience. One I’m definitely game for trying again.

The Abbey Church
A prominent tree in the cemetery that my father referred to as “Lady Oak”
The moon and Lady Oak