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Letter the Twelfth (2003 for

July, 2003

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…

    “That was the best toast you ever gave,” said Loie.
    “Well, it was easy,” said Bucky. “You gave me a perfect subject.”
    The Lovebunnies were picking up after their Eleventh Anniversary Party.
    “I promise I won’t give you such an easy subject again soon,” said Loie.

— — — —

    The Lovebunnies’ year of 2002 started off with what turned into a complicated project.
    Late in 2001, Loie had said, “I can’t stand this ratty plastic anymore.” Bucky agreed that not only was the plastic runner up the stairs from the Playroom ugly, but was becoming a hazard as well.
    “I think what we want is carpet runner,” said Bucky. “You buy it in long strips.” Visits to several carpet stores in Westminster brought blank looks of incomprehension. No one seemed to understand what Bucky was describing. The Lovebunnies decided to try Hanover, and the salesperson at the second place they went said yes, they could order some types of runners, but had no samples for the Lovebunnies to inspect. The third stop was the charm; a store with a half dozen types of runner carpet, ranging in price and quality from cheap and ugly to very expensive and beautiful.
    “I knew there was such stuff,” said Bucky.
    “And as usual it’s an expotition finding what you want,” said Loie. “But I’m glad we pressed on. This is just what I wanted.” It was an interesting coincidence that one of the clerks in the carpet store was Roxanne, Linda Risso’s sister. Linda Risso is an old high school chum of Bucky’s. “Small town, Hanover,” he said. The salesman from the store came to measure their stairs, and promised that their runner carpet would be ordered in plenty of time to be installed before the annual Valentine Dinner of Romance. Loie was to be in New Orleans for the ALA Midwinter conference in the middle of January, and Bucky arranged to have a carpet cleaning service come and clean all the upstairs carpeting before the installation of the new runner. That went off without a hitch, and the cleaners did a very good job. Then the fun began.
    The installer man came the next day, and began putting the new runner in at the bottom of the stairs. He went up the stairs, and the new runner looked beautiful. He trimmed it off, and began to fit in the leftover piece over the top of the stairs, where it was to angle over to the kitchen door, just the way the old plastic had done. Disaster struck: the leftover piece was too short. It just reached, but wouldn’t go far enough to be cut off at the angle needed.
    “OK,” said Bucky. “I see what happened. The sales guy measured along one edge. You have to add enough to make a triangle at the far end that’ll overlap the door threshold. He didn’t account for that. Oh brother.” Bucky and the installer man sat back and pondered. The installer suggested several possibilities. Bucky liked some and not others. In the end, Bucky decided he had to wait for Loie to come home. “I’m sorry to do this to you,” he said, “But I can’t decide this on my own.” The installer man very graciously agreed that it would be better for all concerned to have their say.
    Loie was disappointed to not have the carpet done, but appreciated Bucky’s quandary. The carpet salesman came back, and Bucky showed him what had happened. He agreed that he had made a mistake, and they discussed what might be done. Brother Pete came over one evening, and Loie asked him what he thought of the various ideas! Loie and Bucky decided to splurge on another long piece of runner that would go perpendicular to the stairs, and have it pieced together in a very complicated way. The installer man had assured them it could be done.
    On the ninth, the Lovebunnies took a break from home improvement to visit their friends the Baileys in Alexandria. Annie and Russ invited two other couples for the evening. The whole troop had appetizers while everyone gathered at the Baileys, then went to see a new movie, Amelie. Annie and Russ served delicious lamb stew for dinner after the movie. Loie and Bucky slept over, too, and had a nice brunch and more visiting Sunday morning. Loie noted in her diary that on their return, the Lovebunnies found
    Mr. T quite ready to come inside, and Mr. G terrified, having been left alone all night.
    But of course neither cat suffered any lasting ill effects. And finally, later that week, with only a few days to go before the Valentine’s Dinner, the new piece of runner was installed, pieced together and fitted and beautiful.
    “I’m really glad we had this done,” said Loie. “It’s so much better than that plastic. And Gunther looks so regal sitting on it. It’s all just perfect.”
    Bucky smiled and agreed.
    The 2002 Valentine’s Dinner of Romance had a Fun Theme: “Beach Blanket Bingo!” Loie found a poster for the movie in a shop in Ocean City when she was there for an MLA meeting. To get in the mood for planning, she had rented the movie back in January, and was enchanted to find that Annette Funicello’s character was named Dolores. The Lovebunnies took all the furniture out of the dining room, and the yellow rug became the beach. They had the movie again, and played it while their guests were arriving. Bucky fixed a luau dinner: Hawaiian pork and many fixings. Everyone lounged on beach chairs or the rug while they had their luau surrounded by beachy decorations.
    The very next weekend was an exciting time for Bucky. Early Saturday morning, the Manchester Volunteer Fire Department came to burn the giant heap of cleaned out brush that had so underwhelmed Nephew Siggy last year.
    “Well,” said Bucky, “They’re burning it, all right, but they poured kerosene on it! The sodas are a hit, but the doughnuts are kind of going begging.”
    “You’re doing the right thing,” said Loie. “You just never know what people will like.”
    “Well, we’re doing the best we can,” said Bucky. “But I don’t think they’ve quite got the idea that this project is trying to improve the environment. I mean, kerosene!” The brush heap was soon gone, and now there is another even bigger in its place. Neighbor Mike got the cleaning bug, too, and added quite a bit to it. It’s almost time to burn again.
    When Loie came home from work on the fifth of March, Bucky told her that Tictoc had a red letter day. “This was Tictoc’s Two Prey Day,” he said. “I had to rescue a chipmunk and a mouse. He brought both of them inside.” Loie was glad she hadn’t been around to experience that. And the next day, Bucky noted on the kitchen calendar that Tictoc caught a chipmunk. Perhaps it was the same poor animal Bucky had rescued the day before?
    “I was wondering if you could have a party here,” said Hilary. She and Bucky were working on a project for Bart Walter. “Sure,” said Bucky, “We’re always ready for a party.”
    Hilary wanted to have an Opening to show Bart’s video to family and friends. Her house was still at sixes and sevens with renovations, and the Lovebunnies were halfway between Hilary’s house and the Walter’s, so it seemed natural to gather at Lake Drive. On March 18th. The Hatfields and the Walters and other friends came to the LBs house and all had a good time watching the new video about Bart and his sculpting work. Everyone was impressed with the Jane Goodall interview, and Lynn’s great video from Africa.
    “I liked the foundry part the best,” said Bucky. “It’s fascinating to see all the work they have to do, and how Bart still has to work on finishing each one. And pretty soon we’re going to have another one, too.” The LBs were eagerly awaiting their lioness.
    That weekend Loie went to Laurie’s house for a Pajama Party. In her diary she wrote:

Mudslings and margaritas. Much talk of children, men and unsavory relatives (I’m not saying who). Chick flicks and chinese takeout. Tattoos and nails, bubble baths and massage. Two people actually wore their pajamas!

    April saw a watershed event for Loie. The C. Burr Artz downtown library had been under renovation and expansion for two years, and been temporarily located in an industrial park building on Spectrum Drive, on the outskirts of Frederick. On the 19th, Loie wrote in her diary:

CBA closed on Spectrum Drive at 5 p.m.
    This afternoon, I heard singing—sort of—coming from the area of the Reference Desk. I went out to investigate.
    At the desk, with an audience of love struck librarians, was a Miss Jean look alike: a big woman, hair pulled back (one might say primly), broad smiling happy face, wearing tan overalls. In the square pocket on their front was a tiny brown and very sleepy Chihuahua puppy!
    The lady had a cotton zippered bag under her arm that she was closing as I arrived. When she saw me she opened it again and out popped the face of a long-haired Chihuahua! The vocalist, however, was yet another blonde dog named Gift, who sang like my Poco girl did. She was smaller than Poco was, but looked a lot like her.
    What a lovely way to end our two years on Spectrum Drive.

    May started off with a bang. The Lovebunnies pretty much skipped Bucky’s birthday, because there were so many other things going on. On the third, Loie’s nephew Bill’s wife Amanda gave birth to a beautiful boy. Evan is Amanda and Bill’s first baby. Of course everyone was oohing and ahhing when Amanda and Bill brought the tiny infant to Mother’s Day Brunch at Loie’s parent’s house on the twelfth.
    But in the meantime, on the third and the fourth, Loie was busy with the grand opening of the expanded and renovated C. Burr Artz main branch library in downtown Frederick. Bucky had been hired earlier in the spring to do a series of advertisements leading up to the opening, so on Friday he went to have his hair put in a fancy french braid for the VIP opening Friday night. The next day, the Lovebunnies went to Barbara Michael’s house in Liberytown to escort her to the public grand opening. Barbara had a beautiful house in the midst of very nice gardens in the countryside near Frederick. She was to be the featured speaker at the Grand Opening. Loie took part in many activities, including introducing Barbara’s speech. Bucky toured the new library. It was even more beautiful in bright daylight. Then he walked to Barbara and Miles White’s house to help Miles get ready for the White’s annual Kentucky Derby Party. Miles and Bucky had fun preparing and setting out the food for the party, and all the White’s guests had fun watching the Derby. Loie went to Ocean City on Monday for the Maryland Library Association meeting, and so missed the many activities of the C. Burr Artz opening week.
    The 18th of May was cloudy, and Bucky was trying to resign himself to bad weather. It was the day of the Eleventh Anniversary Party. Diedra Eby and her band were scheduled to play, and Bucky had thought of a very nice toast. This year was a reaffirmation of the Lovebunnies’ wedding vows. It all started when Loie said to Bucky, “I’ve lost my ring!”
    She had just come home from work, and the Lovebunnies were sitting in the kitchen. “OK,” said Bucky, “Let’s go look.” They took the flashlight, and scoured the ground around Loie’s car. No luck. They peered in every nook and cranny in Loie’s car, also without luck. Loie was distraught.
    “Well,” said Bucky, “I know you’re upset, but look, it’s just a thing. We haven’t lost each other.” Loie smiled through the tears in her eyes.
    “At least it’s a ring we bought,” he said. “Remember when I almost lost the great grandmother ring in Arizona? Oh man, that would have been a disaster. And now we get to go shopping for a new ring. That’ll be fun.”
    “Only if you help pick it out,” said Loie. Now she was laughing, thinking of how Bucky had been sitting in their rental car, shaking with the shock of seeing the antique family heirloom ring pop off his finger as he took his hand off the steering wheel, sail into the air right next to the open car window as they zoomed at eighty miles an hour along the highway, and softly settle to the floor of the car between his door and his seat.
    Bucky readily agreed to help Loie pick out a new ring. They lost no time going shopping at Smyth’s, because Loie wanted to have her new wedding ring ready for the Anniversary Party. And Bucky thought the theme for the Party should be a reaffirmation of their vows, to match Loie’s new ring.
    “That’s perfect,” said Loie. “But let’s not have potential disasters as themes in the future.” Of course there was trouble getting the ring done correctly and in time, but all was in readiness by the time of the party. Bucky drew a picture of Loie’s beautiful new gold and platinum ring for the invitation. Loie and Bucky read a short version of the vows they had read for their wedding, and placed their rings on each other’s fingers. And just as Diedra and the band were ready to begin playing again, rain began to sprinkle. The band hastily packed up, and Loie reminded Bucky that the rain had held off just long enough.
    “OK,” said Bucky, “I’m being cheerful.”
    On the ninth of June, a hot and sunny day, Loie and Bucky had a special adventure. Loie’s Aunt Dolores had invited them to her house in Reservoir Hill in Baltimore for brunch and the local Garden Tour. The Lovebunnies had a good time inspecting all the backyards in Aunt Dolores’ neighborhood. They agreed though, that they preferred their own yard in the country. But Jack Scott’s back yard was a treat. He is a sculptor working in natural materials, and while Loie and Bucky and Aunt Dolores were talking to him, Loie was admiring his big sculpture of hanging logs. Somehow, the conversation turned to the Lovebunnies’ property, and how that sculpture would look particularly good out there. Jack Scott was excited about finding a home for the sculpture that had been refused by its original owner as too big for the yard. A few weeks later, jack and a friend came to visit the Lovebunnies to inspect their location. He seemed enthusiastic about trading it to Bucky for design work, but alas, after a few phone calls, nothing ever come of the project. It was fun to think about, though.
    Bucky drove to the airport late on the 19th to pick up sister Amy and Nephew Siggy, visiting from California. They stayed at Bellview for three weeks, long enough to be there for the Glyndon Fourth of July Parade and picnic. Amanda and Bill brought Evan to meet Yo that Fourth. That began another busy month. Bucky spent several days helping Neighbor Mike get back and forth to Baltimore and West Virginia to the veteran’s hospitals.
    On the 13th of July, the Lovebunnies had a campfire party. The Ebys came early for supper, and enjoyed Bucky’s explanation of the name of one of the dishes.
    “It’s putanesca sauce,” said Bucky. “It means bad girl’s sauce.” Katrina giggled over that. After supper a whole crowd arrived for a campfire. The fire was a great success, and some few folks had such a good time they stayed over! That doesn’t happen much anymore since the Lovebunnies’ friends have become accustomed to driving out to the wilds of Carroll County.
    The next weekend was another busy one for the Lovebunnies. On Friday the 19th, Loie and Bucky went to Bellview to visit with Yo, and Kinley and her sister Corrie. They were in town from California to help at their mother’s house. Their father-in-law Harry was due to have heart surgery soon, and Gertrude had just had an accident with her car. Friday night was taking a break from chores and business.
    The very next day, Bucky was up at the crack of dawn, waiting for mark Peeling to come by for the Great Crab Grab. At a little after 5:30, the boys were on their way to Harris’s Crab House on Kent Island.
    “I’m not sellin’ live ones any more after this,” said Mr. Harris. “It’s too much trouble.”
    “I’d think live crabs would be easier than steamed,” said Mark.
    “Nah,” said Mr. Harris, “You should be here. They call me back and come back and want their money back ’cause they had two–three dead ones in a bushel. I’m not puttin’ up with it.” Bucky and Mark agreed that was insupportable, and got away with the final purchase of Harris live crabs. They zipped across the Bay Bridge and at 8:30 were on their way back. There was a miles-long backup headed over the Bridge to the Eastern Shore, but little traffic headed west to Annapolis, so sailing was smooth for the boys. Bucky helped steam crabs at the Peelings that afternoon, and almost two bushels were eaten by the appreciative crowd.
    Early in the morning on Sunday the 21st, the Lovebunnies went to Frederick for a Shelving Party. The new C. Burr Artz branch had been such a success that the poor pages could not keep up with all the books that needed to be shelved.
    “I haven’t done this since I was in high school, working for good old Mr. Essick at the Reisterstown library,” said Bucky as they drove to Frederick. Many friends of the library turned out to shelve, and 33 book carts were empty by noon. Loie and Bucky went on a shopping expotition to the antique shops in Frederick. They were looking for a picture frame for Alyssa’s marvelous still life painting they had just been given by Terrie and Pete and Alyssa. The Lovebunnies found a very fine old gilt frame holding a bevel glass mirror.
    “I don’t know,” said Bucky. “It’s bigger than what we really want, but for this price maybe we should just buy it.” Loie agreed, and they paid for it, then went to a late lunch at the Bombay Grill. After lunch they picked up their frame, and Bucky shook his head as he maneuvered it into the car. “I think it got bigger,” he said. And, according to the Christmas Tree Principle, the mirror and frame did indeed seem to grow gargantuan when brought into the house.
    “All right,” said Bucky. “This is way, way too big for framing Alyssa’s picture. We’re going to hang this up just as is, and get the picture framed. I’ve been to too many antique shops, we aren’t going to find an old frame we like that way.” So he took Alyssa’s painting to the frame shop, and found the perfect framing material for it. Now her picture is proudly hung in the new sitting room, with the other Art By Family And Friends.
    That Saturday was the Class o’ 69’s crab feast at the Buc’s Club, and Loie and Bucky had fun visiting with his old high school classmates. The very next day the Lovebunnies went to dinner at Hilary and Mark’s house. All the renovations were complete, and Mark had some time to work on the garage, turning it into a studio for his painting. Everyone admired the work the Guys had done on their nice old Hanover house.
    Saturday the third of August saw the Lovebunnies driving into Baltimore to attend the wedding reception of Regina and Fred Frye. It was held at the newlywed’s house on Smith Avenue. There was a lovely dinner served under a huge tent, and live music and plenty of old time friends. Jean Worthley was there with Kim Worthley, and that was a treat to see Miss Jean.
    Bucky’s family had been talking on the Fourth of July about having a family reunion at the beach in 2003. Yo hoped that if they went to Bethany Beach in Delaware, she might be able to go, too. Bethany Beach, where Bucky’s family vacationed so many times, is much closer than the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Loie volunteered to help with the project. She took a day off work on Thursday the eighth of August, and she and Bucky drove over to the shore. They spent the day talking to realtors, tourists, longtime renters and locals. They were in and out of town offices and shops. Bucky had a good time remembering vacations of his childhood, but the Lovebunnies agreed some parts of town were run down, and others too expensive. No plans were made, but much food for thought was gathered.
    “Is that perfect or what?” said Bucky. Terrie and Pete and Alyssa had come to dinner on the tenth to see Alyssa’s newly framed and hung painting. Everyone agreed that the Art Deco style metal framing material was just right.
    The Lovebunnies were busy planning their trip to France when Elizabeth called them with very bad news.
    “My dad’s just passed away,” she said. “Oh, no,” said Loie. “We’re so sorry to hear that, Elizabeth.”
    “Yeah, and now I don’t know if I can go with y’all. I might have to stay here and help Momma.”
    “Well of course you do what you need to do,” said Loie. “If you can’t come, we’ll miss you. But take care of your mother first.”
    “I feel bad ’cause y’all have rented a house. Maybe I can still contribute a little something.”
    “Don’t even think of it,” said Loie. “We would have rented the house anyway. That’s just the way we like to go. You take care of yourself and your mother and we’ll just see what we see.”
    Then, on the 13th of August, Wanda Purdy’s brother Ben passed away. Wanda and Richard are Yo’s next door neighbors in Glyndon, and good friends of Loie and Bucky, too. Ben had Down’ syndrome, and was the sweetest person the Lovebunnies had ever met. He came with his mother to all the holiday parties in Glyndon, and Bucky had special responsibility cooking plain chicken for Ben, who could not eat much salt. Loie and Bucky went to Virginia for Ben’s funeral, where all were comforted by the beautiful old Lutheran hymns, especially Amazing Grace, which was Ben’s favorite.
    Yo called on Saturday the 17th with the very sad news that her only brother Jack Herrmann had died.
    “First Elizabeth’s dad, then Ben, now Uncle Jack,” said Bucky. “This has been a terrible month.”
    “And he wasn’t even at home,” said Yo. “But I know your cousin Suzy will help out. I wish I could be there.”
    Loie had not come home from work yet when Bucky got a phone call from sister Terrie. Bucky was worried: Terrie was crying and her voice was shaking.
    “I hate to bother you,” she said, “But could you drive me downtown? Pete’s been in a bad car accident and they took him to Shock Trauma.” So of course Bucky left a note for Loie and drove right over to Terrie and Pete’s house. They got downtown to the hospital in good time, and then spent the whole night there, waiting for Pete to be operated on. Terrie told Bucky that altough Pete was injured badly enough to be in Shock Trauma, no one else had been hurt at all. That was good luck.
    Pete looked pretty banged up. He had a deep scratch on his head, his arm was bandaged, and there was still blood on his head and gown. At first, the doctors said Pete had a dislocated elbow, and some damage to his spleen. They were waiting for the CAT scan machine to be available to check out how badly he was injured. Terrie and Bucky did their best to be comfortable in the hospital, and called all the family and friends to tell about what they knew.
    After five hours or so, about eleven at night, a doctor came down to say that Pete’s blood pressure had dropped to almost nothing, and they were rushing him to surgery. “We hoped we could do a laparoscopic operation, but now there’s no time,” she said, then hurried back upstairs. Poor Terrie was in agony for hours, until another doctor came down to say that all was well: they had removed Pete’s “shattered” spleen entirely and he was sleeping. It was about five in the morning when Terrie and Bucky finally went home. Bucky took Terrie to see Pete again, then after that she drove herself very well. When Pete came home, Bucky spent a few days sitting with him while Terrie was at work.
    “That’s pretty easy work,” Bucky told Yo. “Mostly he’s sleeping. I got bored and did some yard work.”
    “That’s good,” said Yo. “He needs to sleep. But someone should be with him in case there are any problems.” Pete slowly recovered, and many friends came to help with chores and yard work. Jodie Hood mowed the lawn! Bucky had to drive Pete downtown a few times for doctor’s appointments. Pete was moving slowly, but he made the trips without complaint. It took quite a while for brother Pete to recover.
    “Well, heck,” said Bucky, “They opened you up like a fish, and then rooted around inside you for hours. That’s got to take it out of anybody.”
    “Oh man,” said Pete, “Don’t make me laugh.”
    “Does that hurt your Harry Potter scar?” said Bucky, and Pete tried not to laugh. Pete’s boss was good about the time off, and now Pete has moved from working in the shop to working in the design office. The new duties are hectic, but Pete has enjoyed the challenge of learning to design cabinetry on computers.
    “I’m getting a little old for the shop floor,” said Pete.
    “Heck,” said Bucky, “I’m getting too old to work on the darn computers.”
    On the 13th of September, Bucky went to the Peeling’s house to work on the new Burning Man rig. Mark had ordered a fantastically heavy steel beam with which to hoist the Man. He and a neighbor had welded big handles on one end, with holes from which to hang weights. Paul was there, too, and the three workers soon had a new post and beam system installed. The swiveling hardware was rigged, and then it was getting late. Paul had to leave, and a bit of rain started to fall. Bucky and Mark talked things over.
    “I’m leaving next week,” said Bucky. “I can’t work on this any more until we come back from vacation.”
    “I think maybe Paul and I can get the beam hung up,” said Mark. “But I don’t know when. This is the only day he had free almost until the party.”
    “OK,” said Bucky, “Here’s what we’re going to do…” They hitched a good solid rope onto the beam, ran it over the top of the posts, and tied it to Mark’s van. They propped a beam under the post system to help keep it upright, and Mark drove away. The huge steel beam rose up to the top of the posts, and Bucky scrambled up a ladder and hooked the beam to the swivel. It was done!
    “Man, I’m glad Kathy wasn’t here to see that,” said Mark.
    “No problem,” said Bucky as he and Mark shook hands in the drizzly rain. “It went up like nothing. Piece of cake.”
    The very next week, the Lovebunnies began a wonderful adventure. They went to France with their good friend Elizabeth, the great traveler. She was able to get away, after all. The story of the trip to France is told on the web site in full detail, so is not written out here. It’s enough, perhaps, to say that both Loie and Bucky feel they would be very, very happy living in the south of France.
    Almost as soon as the Lovebunnies returned from France, it was time for the Peeling’s Oktoberfest and Great Burning Man. Planning had gone on for the Burning Man all summer, and this year’s was to be spectacular. The new suspension system was in place. Bucky went to Mark and Kathy’s house the day before the party, and Paul was there too. Mark’s neighbor had rigged up special fireworks that Mark and Bucky built into the Burning Man’s eyes. They set a crown of sparklers on his head. Paul and Mark and Bucky built a huge Burning Man that year, and rigged him sturdily to the new suspension beam. They thought nothing of the rain that fell as they were finishing.
    The rain put a bit of a damper on the Burning Man. The party was going well. Diedra’s band played, and Sister Terrie’s son Brian’s band played too. Everyone was having a good time in spite of a bit of drizzle.
    At some point, Diedra buttonholed Bucky and said, “That’s not what the name of that sauce means.” Bucky looked at her quizzically.
    “The sauce we had on the fish at your house,” said Diedra. “It doesn’t mean bad girl’s sauce.”
    “Oh,” said Bucky. “Putanesca sauce. Well, you’re right. That’s not a literal translation. But that’s what we tell the kids.” Diedra laughed and allowed that maybe that was best.
    Then it was time to Burn That Big Man Down. The eager crowd gathered in front of the Man, and it all began well. The Burning Man was hoisted easily on the new rig, and the fireworks shot out of his eyes with spectacular effect. Bucky lit the piles of brush under his feet, and the problems began. The wet brush would not burn! Bucky and some other fellows got a little fire going, but the Man would not catch. They tried everything: lighters, fluid, nothing worked. Calvin got a wheelbarrow and brought a huge pile of coals from the campfire, scattering the spectators as he came through the crowd. Not even the pile of hot coals would make the Man burn! Kathy was calling from the deck: “Accelerant! Accelerant!”
    And finally that worked. The Man was doused with gasoline, and that got him going! Mark grinned as he manipulated the huge Burning Man dancing in the dark night, and when the Man’s head burned and collapsed in a rush of sparklers and flame, the crowd cheered.
    The next week, Loie went to Camden, Maine for a long weekend to attend the PopTech Conference. PopTech is an annual event where futurists and publishers and electronics mavens gather to discuss the effects of new technologies on communications, work and communities. Loie attended many seminars and meetings gathering information on trends that might affect library work and services. She enjoyed Camden a lot, and even had time to visit the town library, established in 1896. She also did a bit of shopping, and brought home a present for Bucky.
    “Wow,” said Bucky, “This is one big fat book.” It was Steven Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science.
    “Oh,” said Bucky, “It’s all about cellular automata. Those are cool. But what’s the new science? It’s going to take a long time to read this.”
    Loie just shook her head. “I should have known you’d know about this,” she said.
    On the 26th, Loie and her friend Susan Mannion went to Washington to visit Hillwood House, the mansion home of the late Marjorie Merriweather Post. She wrote in her diary:

Susan and I finally managed our “girl’s trip” to Hillwood House. My last—and only other—visit there was 20 years ago. The estate has been much improved, including tours, gift shop and cafe. You can spend your whole day there. My great disappointment: her shoes were no longer on display!

    The next Saturday was the Sterner-Weber’s Halloween Party. There were many good costumes, and an Art Bonfire. Thomas had piled up logs and old stuff, and arched over the pile with tree branches in a kind of teepee shape. As the fire burned, the branches burned above it, slowly twisting and turning as they sank into the pile. There hasn’t been such an artistic bonfire before or since.
    “It’s a surprise,” said Friedrun. “Don’t tell Gene.” She was calling to invite the Lovebunnies to a birthday party for Father Edgett. Loie and Bucky were at Friedrun’s house on the tenth of November good and early. This was a special occasion, because it was Father’s eightieth birthday. Many friends gathered, and even Father’s brother Bill was there. Father was late arriving, because he didn’t want to leave the ball game he was watching on television at his house. And of course he couldn’t be told why he had to come. When Father came into Friedrun’s, he was surprised. Apparently everyone had managed to keep the party a secret! The party goers enjoyed a huge potluck buffet, and Father wore the gold crown supplied him.
    “Imagine that,” he said. “Eighty years old.”
    “And still going strong,” said Bucky. “We going to the beach next year?”
    “I hope so,” said Father. “Unless we have a hurricane!”
    Now the Lovebunnies were getting ready for Christmas and New Year’s. On the fifteenth of December, Father and Friedrun joined Loie, Bucky, Terrie, Pete and Alyssa for a Christmas Tree expotition to Sewell’s Farm in Carroll County. Father did well, and walked most of the way out into the farthest fields. Pete himself got a bit tired, but caught his breath. Of course, after much discusion and comparison, Terrie and Pete found the perfect tree. Alyssa was the expotition photographer.
    Loie and Bucky were a bit dismayed that the wet weather had kept the Sewells from bagging as many trees as they usually did. But a fine tree was picked, and everyone had a good time drinking cider and coffee and parceling the trees out to the correct van and truck.
    That Thursday was the Long Nights Full Moon, and the Lovebunnies had a special treat. They went to a concert of Christmas music at North Carroll Middle School, to hear Alyssa play oboe in the band and sing in the chorus. The auditorium was packed to the rafters: Bucky had to drive back out the long lane to the road to park in the wet playing field. The concert was a huge success, with several bands and choruses and soloists. Bucky noticed that the Eby’s were there, and they all said hellos after the show.
    Christmas was the traditional family dinners, and then New Year’s Eve arrived. Loie and Bucky helped the Peelings give a dinner for twentyfour friends, with salmon and ham and many fixings and side dishes. The Peelings had moved into their house ten years ago on New Year’s Eve, so they wanted to have an extra special New Year’s to celebrate the anniversary.
    “Where in the world did you get that tree?” said Loie. “And those ornaments?” Kathy laughed and said they were on sale at Lowes, and a special present for Mark. He had found a tree even bigger than Pete’s, and used all of it. It was at least fourteen feet high, and hung with glass balls the size of grapefruits and basketballs!
    “That is the finest Christmas tree I’ve ever seen,” said Loie.
    “Except for Terrie and Pete’s,” said Bucky.
    “Well,” said Loie, “Theirs is different. Both are perfect.”
    Mark set off fireworks at midnight, and all agreed that this was a good end to a year with some sadness, much joy, and good memories all around.


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