If you have been following the Lovebunnies’ story, here’s the next installment. If you are new to the saga, read on and you’ll see what it’s all about…
“I’m completely bummed out about the band,” said Bucky.
“That was a shame,” said Loie. “But I think everyone had a good time.” It was May of 1999, and the Lovebunnies were picking up after their Anniversary Party. They were commiserating on how spring showers had interrupted the band that year.
“We’ll just have to have them back next year,” said Loie.
“OK,” said Bucky, “That’s a solution.”
Nineteen ninety nine begun quietly for Loie and Bucky. The weather was mild, and there weren’t many parties or excursions planned. In fact, Bucky’s big excitement for January was a sighting. When Loie got home from work on the twenty-first, she found Bucky ready to tell her of his day.
“I saw turkeys,” he told her. Loie was a bit puzzled at first. Then she thought of her emu (see the eighth letter for the story of Loie’s emu), and realized that Bucky meant wild turkeys.
“Where did you see turkeys?” she asked. Loie was jealous now. The Lovebunnies had spent many pleasant days birdwatching, and although they had logged many a bird in their bird guide, including a ruffed grouse, they had never seen a wild turkey.
“Right down on Sawmill,” said Bucky. “In a field on the left. I was going down to the UPS box. At first I thought they were buzzards, and was driving right on by when I kind of said to myself, ‘whoa, turkeys.’ So I stopped and pulled back off the road, and sat and watched them. I wish you’d have been there. There were eleven of them, all kind of strung out in a line, gleaning the field.”
“That’s really neat,” said Loie. “I wish I’d seen them, too.”
It was the next weekend that the Lovebunnies went with their friends The Guys (known to most of the rest of their friends as Hilary and Mark, and who may, depending on the occasion, include Baby Nathaniel) to an opening of an art show starring Joan Jenkins. Joan was the model for the En Plein Air drawing sessions held in 1997 and 1998. (See the Seventh Letter to read about that.) Joan had been in Czechoslovakia for an artist’s retreat, as she had done for several years. This year, she had organized a showing and sale of art by the participants, and photos of her taken there.Loie and Bucky bought a print of one of the photos. “I’ve got the perfect frame for it,” said Bucky. “But I don’t know where I can get the marble paper I want to decorate the matte.” Even after a long search, Bucky still hasn’t found the right paper!
On the thirteenth of February, Hilary and Mark, Angela and Chris Roe and the Lovebunnies had a magnificent Valentine’s Day Arabian Nights feast. It was the most elaborate and enjoyable Valentine’s day ever. Everyone was in Persian costume; they outdid each other in splendor! Loie had been downtown to Aunt Dorrie’s house to borrow her giant brass tray and Turkish platter, which were placed on the rugs in the dining room, surrounded by pillows. Bucky draped big cloths from the chandelier to the tops of the doorways, making a tent of the room. The friends enjoyed hummus, vegetable ragout, sweet saffron rice, lamb kabob and other Middle Eastern fare prepared by Hilary and Bucky. The room was filled with candles, decorated with palm tree cutouts, and of course Loie’s traditional valentine of a dozen red roses.
“Why does your idea of a good meal involve eating on the floor?” said Loie after all the guests had gone.
“That’s just the civilized way to eat,” said Bucky. “Reclining in luxury.”
And although they weren’t reclining, the Lovebunnies did have a lovely supper at Susan and Franklin’s house on the 13th to celebrate Loie’s birthday. It had been a tradition when Bucky and Loie first met that her birthday dinner was held at Gabriel’s restaurant in the countryside outside Frederick. One year there were twenty people. But poor Gabriel’s restaurant was not what it used to be, so Susan and Franklin decided to have a Gabriel’s meal at home. They did a wonderful job of it, with baked shad and roe as the main course.
“And it’s so clean here,” said Loie. Everyone laughed, thinking about how disheveled Gabriel’s had become.
“Come quick,” said Loie. It was March 17th, Saint Patrick’s Day, but Loie hadn’t seen leprechauns. She had seen a flock of cedar waxwings in the forsythia, and the Lovebunnies were happy to see them, indeed.
“OK, said Bucky, “Now we know spring’s coming. We’ve had our traditional early spring migrating cedar waxwings.”
On Saturday, Loie and Bucky went to Pete and Terrie’s house to pick up Nephew Brian and his friend Julie for the annual Christmas gift trip to the theater. This time it wasn’t Center Stage, but the Fell’s Point Theater for a production of Arthur Miller’s “Incident At Vichy.” Dinner before the play was at Jeannier’s in Baltimore, and Brian made everyone laugh. He tried some of Bucky’s paté, and said with a grin, “Mmm, tastes like scrapple.” Dinner took longer than planned, and there was a bit of a scramble to find the theater and park. The play was engrossing, and very serious. Afterwards, for some comic relief, they all went down to a coffeehouse on Thames Street to people and pets watch.
“Lord, it is hot down here,” Bucky said. He was calling Loie from Birmingham, where he had gone to meet the new editors of Near Eastern Archaeology, the journal he produces four times a year. Paula Wapnish and Brian Hesse of the University of Alabama are the new editors, and they squired Bucky around Birmingham and their home as they discussed the journal. The temperature was in the upper eighties, in the first week of April!
“Oh, this isn’t hot,” said Brian. “In the real summer it will be well over a hundred degrees for weeks.” Bucky laughed and allowed as how, for the early spring, it was hot enough for him. Bucky thought, as he flew home, that although he would miss working with David Hopkins, the former editor, he was going to enjoy very much working with Paula and Brian.
Two weeks later, the Lovebunnies were laughing about Gunther’s annual visit to the veterinarian. “How did he do this year?” asked Loie. Bucky always takes Gunther to the vet during the day while Loie is at work.
“Perfect gentleman, as usual,” said Bucky. “Sat on my lap, calm as could be. But you should have seen him sneering at this one cat…A guy had a cat in one of those carrying boxes, with the wire doors, you know, and that damn cat was tearing around in the cage and the cage was shaking and really literally bouncing around on the floor and the cat was snarling and yowing…” Loie was laughing at Bucky’s graphic description of the poor caged cat.
“And how did Gunther react to that?” she asked.
“He was kind of hunched down a little bit, looking at that cage jumping around like a bean, then, he sat up straight and turned his head away, and kind of shrugged, or maybe sighed. The scorn was so obvious.” When Gunther goes to the vet’s, he rides on a towel folded on Trucker’s seat next to Bucky, who carries him into the vet’s office on his shoulder. Then the two of them sit, composed and quiet, until it’s time for Gunther’s examination. Gunther never wears a leash or restraint of any kind to the vet’s, and he’s never been in a cat carrier. He does wear a leash when the Lovebunnies drive to the beach. Gunther walks Bucky on the leash when they stop for rest breaks. Many people are fascinated by the sight of a cat taking his owneder* for a walk on a leash.
That weekend, the 24th and 25th, Loie and Bucky had The Guys and Hilary’s stepmother Lee over for dinner. It was a homey affair, and since the guests had to get back home early, they all made plans to get together the next day for brunch, and to take a walk by Lucky Run to look for the nest of the redtailed hawks that live in the Six Acre Wood along the Run. This is how Loie described the day in her Trip Diary:
The Guys came back on Sunday afternoon for brunch--waffles with blueberry sauce, ham, cheese, crackers, apples. After eating, we bushwhacked through the tangle of the woodland path in search of the hawks’ nest. We didn’t find the nest, but we saw cedar waxwings, trout lily, spring beauty, Canadian and purple violets, jack-in-the-pulpit, may apple and skunk cabbage, plus something else coming up--maybe just jack-in-the-pulpit. There were small fish in Lucky Run, one about an inch and a half long. They each had a dark stripe along their sides. We were all standing and looking for the hawk nest when Nathan dropped his binky. It landed in a groundhog burrow and rolled right down, disappearing in a twinkling! Nathan’s first gift to a friend!
About two weeks later, Bucky was once again anxious to tell Loie of an adventure he had had. “Mike’s bees were swarming,” he said when she got home from work. “There were a jillion bees all up in a tree!” The Lovebunnies nearest neighbor and good friend Mike Sherrill keeps bees. He has fifteen hives in the small patch of woods between their two driveways.
“What were they doing?” asked Loie.
“Mike says they just do this, when they get to be too many in a hive. The queen makes a queen egg, then takes off. All the bees follow her, looking for a good new place to live. Mike came over to get me to see it. All these bees were way up high in a tree, and you could hear them buzzing really far away. First they were flying all around, then they were kind of starting to bunch together. Mike says they’re protecting the queen.”
“Is it dangerous? Could you get stung?” asked Loie.
“I don’t know,” said Bucky. “We were standing close to them, about ten feet away. Mike said in an hour or so, they’d be all bunched up in a ball. Then, he could shake them into a new hive, and they’d just kind of drop into it, all in a lump.”
“Wow,” said Loie, “That’s weird. I wonder what they’d do if he didn’t put them in a hive?”
“Oh,” said Bucky. “They were waiting for some of them to come back and tell them where a good bee tree to live in was. But they won’t have to worry about it. Mike’s taking care of them!”
On the 16th of May, Loie and Bucky went downtown to Baltimore to Mary Ellen’s house for Nephew Nicky’s birthday party. They took drawing supplies as their present. “You can always use more drawing supplies,” Bucky had said. Toshie was there, too, and they all had a good time visiting and watching the kids racing around on the treasure hunt Mary Ellen had created.
“Wow,” said Bucky, “This is great! There’s different directions for each team!”
Loie smiled and said, “But it’s only for kids. You can’t hunt treasure this time.”
“Oh, that’s OK,” said Bucky. “You’re already my treasure.”
The very next weekend was the day of the Eighth Annual Anniversary Party. The band was interrupted by rain, a first for the Lovebunnies, but a good time was had by all nonetheless.
Laurie and Thomas Precht and their son Geoffrey stayed the night, and had a nice leisurely brunch the next morning. After they had headed off for home, Loie said, “Wasn’t that funny about the piñata?”
“What about it?” said Bucky. “Oh, didn’t you know? It broke the stick.”
“No way,” said Bucky. But it was true. That night, Loie described the contretemps in her diary…
At our 8th anniversary party, we had a pinata that didn’t go willingly to the sacrifice. Bucky made a pinata stick from a pole that was in the house. We got through most of a round of whacking when the twine broke. Mark Peeling retied it & the kids started up again. After a few more whacks & with the dragon’s crest hanging by a thread, the string broke again! This time as Mark doubled the string, the kids were suggesting using a jump rope. The string broke a third time and the head came off. I wanted the kids to just stomp it. The loop had pulled out, so string had to be tied around the middle—Lee Bolhorst and Mark insisted that it had to be broken while hanging. Then, someone took a swing and the stick broke! We all yelled for Kyle Bolhorst, who had jokingly come by a few minutes earlier with a baseball bat. He took a mighty swing & finally the dragon burst open. Phewph! And just before the rain.
The next day, Loie and Bucky were in the midst of packing. They were getting ready to leave on their long-planned Driving the Stone Age trip. “Oh brother,” said Bucky, “This is just like our honeymoon.”
“I hope not just like,” said Loie. They laughed at the memory. They had planned and worked and rented and everything for their wedding themselves. Worn to a frazzle by all the excitement, they had taken off for a two week driving, hiking and playing honeymoon in California and Arizona the day after the wedding. Then, Bucky got so tired hauling luggage in and out of the car that he got sick! Not badly, mostly just a cold, but in Flagstaff he had proclaimed, “I can’t drag this stuff in or out one more time.”
It turned out well, since they stayed in Flagstaff for the whole second week of their honeymoon. And that was the start of the day-trip tradition, where the Lovebunnies pick a spot to stay for a week or more, and take day-trips from it.
“But we’re going to be driving and hauling this time, too,” said Loie.
“Yes,” said Bucky, “But this time I’ve got the wheely guys.” He meant their new pilot bags. And it turned out that he was right. The Lovebunnies traveled over 2,000 miles in Scotland, staying in six different towns. They climbed hills and slogged through peat bogs in pouring rain. They visited dozens of Neolithic sites, some almost impossible to find, and Bucky made it through with flying colors.
(There will eventually be a separate Letter about Driving the Stone Age. In the meantime, when you visit, be sure to read the special Driving the Stone Age Photo Album.)
The summer of 1999 passed in a round of parties and visiting. In June, there were Mark Hatfield’s and Yo’s birthday parties. Shirley van Zandt and Bob walker brought Lucy and Edgar to the famous Glyndon Fourth of July Parade. Loie and Bucky took Toshie and her friend to the Brass Elephant retaurant to celebrate Toshie’s first teenage birthday. In August, the Perseids meteor shower was a bit disappointing, but Bucky did see one huge long fireball meteor.
“It was huge and long and sparkly,” Bucky told Loie the next morning. “As good as the ones sister Sarah and I saw at the beach when we were kids.”
“I wish I had seen it,” said Loie.
“You’ll see one someday,” said Bucky. “We’ll just have to keep watching. And he was right.
Soon it was time for Loie and Bucky and gunther to head for the beach at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was an exciting trip. Laura van der Linden and Father Edgett joined them for the first beach week, but that wasn’t the excitement. Hurricane Floyd was the excitement. Father Edgett spent every evening watching Floyd’s progress on the Weather Channel. Three days after their arrival, everyone was evacuated. Although the Outer Banks themselves were mostly spared, as you know Floyd devastated much of North Carolina, and as you will read, it caused some panic for the Lovebunnies. They had made it home safely, after a harrowing drive through the early part of the storm. Laura was worn out; she drove all the way home by herself, and decided not to try to go back to the beach. When the storm passed over Maryland, Loie and Bucky lost their electricity. They were home in the dark for a day, and the electric company said it would be days before power was restored! But the realtors said that the Outer Banks were fine, and to come back down to the beach.
“What the heck are we going to do about the refrigerator?” said Bucky. “I mean, we can just go back to the beach, but if it’s days without electric, everything will go bad. Yuck.”
“How about Yo’s house?” said Loie. “She has that extra refrigerator in her basement.” Yo’s said her electric was fine. She had been at the beach too, with Sister Sarah and Kent and the kids.
“Of course you can use the downstairs refrigerator,” she said. So the Lovebunnies packed up all their food in coolers, put it in Yo’s refrigerator, and they and Gunther headed back to the beach.
In the next installment, Baby Nathaniel visits the beach, the Lovebunnies visit the Big Easy, Sister Amy and Siggy vist Yo, Calvin Sproul (almost) sets the woods on fire, Kinley and Paul and Kel and Thor visit Yo, everyone goes caroling, the moon is bright, and Barbara Weber regrets her decision to include confetti in the New Year’s Eve Balloon Drop!
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