Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day Commandments

Today is my first Father's Day without a father of my own.  It's just one more opportunity for me to conjure up some good memories.  And that's easy to do.  Recently, I came across Dad's hand-written Ten Commandments and sent them to my siblings.  My brother, of course, reminded me of the original fifteen, and Dad would have loved the association with Mel Brooks.
Dad at Nantes Cathedral, France

Here are Dad's Ten.  And if anyone lived by these, he did.  He never passed up an opportunity to sit down with someone whose views he may not have shared prepared to be persuaded--but only if the other point of view somehow worked better for him.  And listen he did--always respectfully, I might add.

1. Thou shalt open thine eyes to perceive the "round about."
2. Thou shalt create meaning.
3. Thou shalt care deeply and lovingly for thyself.
4. Thou shalt have care and compassion for all other "thous."
5. Thou shalt learn the rules which enable life to be corporate so that creatures may survive.
6. Thou shalt sing and laugh and take great pleasure.
7. Thou shalt be with others for others without "using" them against their interests.
8. Thou shalt gather together with those who share similar attitudes and meanings to reinforce thine own.
9. Thou shalt gather with others who differ from thee to learn from them.
10. Thou shalt create visions of great good.

Dad was one of a kind.  He will always be remembered.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Final Days in France

Dad in Nantes, France, 2008
I admit that my last post in October left my readers somewhat up in the air about the rest of the France story--not to mention the many months since.  Briefly, just before leaving Canet-Plage (south of France on the Mediterranean), my father, Theodore Webb, died back home. 

Four siblings
This event colored the last few days of the trip and the months following my return home.  Dad was 96 and had lived an accomplished life as a Unitarian-Universalist minister in the upper Northeast and in Sacramento, California.  The death of a parent is a sad affair, but fortunately, I have many wonderful memories; and I think of him and my mother every single day. After my return from France, the run-up to Dad's memorial consumed much time and attention.  In mid-December, we held a wonderful memorial event that brought together all four of his children and at least some of their families to honor him. 

Viaduc de Millau
On the trek back to Paris for our return flight, we crossed the Viaduc de Millau enjoying that stunner bridge that quite literally takes your breath away.  It soars across the valley as graceful as a heron in flight while engineered to ensure the safety of all who touch tire to pavement out in space.

Our final day in France we visited Chantilly--on the outskirts of Paris. We have driven by on several occasions and never taken the time to enter.  This time we enjoyed the riches of art in the Musee Conde, which is reported to be the second museum of old art (before 1850) in France after the Louvre.
Staircase ram's head

Jeanne d'Arc
Chandelier detail

The Chateau was built in the 16th century and sits on 20 thousand acres of meandering parkland and includes an 18th-century stable for almost 250 horses and many more hunting dogs. 

Hunting dogs statuary
View of the stables from the Chateau

It was on our return drive to the airport before sunrise that we discovered our headlights were frighteningly bad.  Traffic on the highway toward Charles de Gaulle was horrendous, so we took an alternate route on back roads where there were blessedly few cars but zero ambient light.  We avoided any critters that could easily have been crossing the road in our path unseen and arrived at the car lease company relatively unscathed.   After an uneventful flight, it was good to be home.

In the months since our arrival in October, we have already started planning for our next trip in September.  Flights have been purchased, the car has been leased, and we have settled on two separate weeks' locations.  The remainder of the plans will be on the fly and as the spirit takes us (and the weather is good).  When the time comes, I'll post from France again.  In the meantime, I'll try to be more communicative.