Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oh, Hi Again, Ohio!

Okay, I'll admit it. I expected to have a perfectly lousy time, especially at the wedding (given my eternal pledge never to attend them, or funerals, alone). But the whole trip turned out rather well, including the wedding -- at least until the dancing started.

Paul has developed a taste for Cincinnati's special culinary delights, namely Skyline Chili, and White Castle hamburgers. I made sure he got his fill of both, as well as a dozen cans of the unique "Cincinnati-style" chili formula to bring home. Paul spent two nights at the ultra-swank, art-deco-inspired Netherland Plaza Hotel downtown, since they had a special rate for the wedding guests. I stayed with my sister up in West Chester. I have no complaints.

The wedding was at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington, Kentucky, on Saturday afternoon. The rehearsal was the night before. Sal called from the Philippines during the rehearsal. Since I never know when she's going to call, I took it outside. It's not like I had anything to do, right? At least not yet. Then we went to the rehearsal dinner, at an old police station known as "The Precinct." My brother came up to me and, undoubtedly in a concession to my superior skills at public speaking, asked me to do a "short and sweet" invocation before the meal. To my surprise, the bride and groom asked me for an encore at the wedding feast. I was flattered. For the latter occasion, I added something in the middle (sort of like the "director's cut" released after the original, right?) but here it is:

Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God,
    King of the Universe,
        who bringeth forth bread from the earth.
Who through Thy Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ,
    did grace the wedding feast at Cana,
        and so blessed the marriage there.

Pour forth Thy blessing
    upon those gathered here this day,
and especially upon the union
    of Thy servant, Mark,
        and Thy handmaiden, Lauren,
that together they may see
    the prosperity of Jerusalem,
        all the days of their lives.

Bless also these gifts
    which we are about to receive
        from Thy bounty,
            through the same Christ our Lord.


And to think I just made it up on the spot -- well, sort of. It was inspired by a Jewish berakah or prayer of blessing, an Eastern Orthodox wedding prayer, the 127th (128th?) Psalm, and the Roman Catholic table grace. When you read too much, this is what happens to you. But regardless of what happens to me, the parents of the bride were most gracious, truly a class act, and I wish the new couple well as they start their new life.

I had lost fifteen pounds in the previous six weeks. In the week of my vacation, I gained back about three. The good news is, it worked out great that the dancing started late, since my esteemed dance partner was not there to upstage the bridal party. Oh yes. We would prevail. (Sigh!)

Come Sunday morning, I had the honor of being "in choir" for the Traditional High Mass at All Saints Church in Walton, Kentucky. Theirs is an example of the revival of traditional church architecture, and a kindly old but quite lively Franciscan drives in from Lexington (just over an hour's drive) to celebrate the "Old Mass" for adherents on both sides of the Ohio River. I was invited to stay for a repast afterwords, but had to decline so I could take my son to the airport. I did my fair share of driving that day.

It just so happened that later that day, that the local historical society in the town where I grew up, was having a once-every-two-or-three-years historic homes tour. Milford has a number of beautiful residences, in the Italianate and Victorian styles, particularly in the Old South neighborhood (such as the gem shown to the left, originally the residence of a Leiutenant Colonel Greeno, who fought with distinction in the Civil War). Some of the homes date back over two centuries, like the "Arrowhead Farm" which has long been owned by the Gatch family, who are among the town's original settlers. It once had an oak tree that was at least 750 years old before lightning struck it down. It was also where you could find arrowheads in the ground if you looked hard enough (as I did when I was a boy in the surrounding crop land). I met people I had not seen in over thirty years, so it was a nice reunion, reminiscing about stories we had heard in our younger days, and folks inquiring about Mom and Dad.

Monday was spent doing laundry, and preparing to return home. I spent the evening with a book discussion group, held at the residence of fellow Saint Blog's parishioner Rich Leonardi, author of Ten Reasons: the observations of a seditious catechist. He posted a story earlier this week which calls for a response of sorts, but it will have to wait.

I arrived home 24 hours ago, and I'm still not finished packing. Oy vey...

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