Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A Toast

Here's to you, Lydia Francis Brunk, for the distance you have traveled with your intelligence and your hard work! Congratulations!

Dear Reader,  please recall, a niece of mine just graduated from Bryn Mawr College (yes, with high honor; and yes, I've already got two blog posts crammed with details!)  After Commencement, our celebrating group of family and friends went to a garden party**hosted by the college.

Now, because it was so nice being with the recent graduate and her family and her friends and fellow graduates, and because the weather was so nice, and because there were some fancy little sandwiches and strawberries and glasses of champagne, and because  everything had gone down so well to this point, I had already put my highest stamp of approval on the day.

It was then, when the sun was also going down well (as far as I could tell), that we set out for the restaurant where Lydia's father (my brother) was hosting us all for dinner and drinks.  It was a grand finale to the jubilant day! We raised our glasses high in a toast to Lydia!

(Alas, Viewer Dear, here's where the photographer [oui, moi] should have handed the camera across the table to Aaron!  She failed miserably by photographing not even half the table, utterly missing the guest of honor, and neglecting to film the actual toasts!)

So, ahem.  I'm drinking a glass of wine and raising my glass to you right now, Dear Lydia Francis, as I give this toast (It's late, but sincere).

May many delights of the heart, mind, and spirit and body come to you throughout your life's journey, and may your integrity and intelligence give you a head start out the gate* and take you far!   
(i.e. Have a good life!)

Well, then, don't you know, we had yet one more grand finale to top off the evening!  The group walked out of the restaurant into the balmy night air to see a glorious luminescent full moon shimmering directly ahead! I know that when the moon is full, it's just a matter of degrees***.  

Wow, it's in honor of you! I told Lydia.

 As we discussed photographing the moon (something I'm inclined to do every time it shows its shiny full face), all of us pleasantly full folks riding in the van (eight of the nine who'd been toasting) got an excellent, brief tutorial from Aaron (obtaining a degree in photography from Pratt Institute).  If you watch closely, Viewer Dear, you'll spy not only the lovely full moon in the sky, but the road of life stretching out ahead for each one of us... ****


 *Horse reference for the sake of the HM (Horse Man)

**Ricky Nelson's now giving me an ear worm!

***Pun intended (But, of course. Please tell me, Reader Dear, I don't have to go to such a degree to make explanation).

****AArgh . At times, Would-be-Viewer Dear, Blogspot proclaims the road of life one has taken (or, taken a photo of, at any rate, to be "too lengthy" [this video clip is barely two minutes long; I'll persevere]). 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


This post, Dear Reader, will show my niece, Lydia (aka Magna Cum Laude Graduate) walking across the stage to accept her degree from Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.  First, however, she must get into her regalia and line up with the hundreds of other candidates to join the Academic Procession.

And our jolly, just-finished-brunch bunch who is here to watch and cheer must get in gear and go to the tent to claim our seats for the ceremony.

Already, an hour and a half before the two o'clock start time, spots are being claimed.  Only family members (we are told) who are there in person are allowed to reserve seats; no clothing or other items are to be left as security.

However, see here, Viewer Dear, someone cleverly left food on the chairs to reserve their seats; fortunately, our group was not hungry!  We made our way beyond the edibles, and laid claim to eight vacant seats in a row.  

After the long wait, during which we all took turns walking around, taking (more) photos of the beautiful buildings and the beautiful day and the beautiful graduates and...well...each other and the tent full of people...the procession began.  It was led by the Valley Forge Highland Band.

The bagpipers were rousing, but it was a lengthy process for three hundred and some faculty and students to march into the tent and be seated.  (However, the afternoon was still young, as well as most of the students! ) We eagerly awaited the address by Dr. Mae C. Jemison,  First African American Woman in Space, Engineer, Physician, Entrepreneur .

Here are two short clips:

The address was relatively short. The really BIG event was coming up next, and it was bound to stretch out the program.

One by one, the twenty-one page list of graduates walked the stage and received their well-earned degrees.  Our graduate, Lydia, was on page 18 (of the list), so we had a very long wait.  It was filled with applause, and cheering, and graduates crossing the stage (as well as hearing the names and degrees [reading the names from around the world when applause prevented hearing])

At long last, the moment arrived!  It was Lydia's turn to walk!

Just look here, Viewer Dear:

We were all bursting with pride!
In addition, after more than three hours of sitting, we were all excited to exit the tent (bagpipers, celebrating graduates, celebrating faculty, celebrating president of the college and guest speaker, celebrating family and friends, celebrating security and staff [I'm taking some things on assumption])!  The cheering, photo-taking, and a grand joie de vivre were certainly to be expected! 

"Would you kindly help us out?" I asked a passer-by, and handed off the camera.
And then, too, expected was the Garden Party!
What started out in the morning looking like this,

now awaited the groups carrying balloons and flowers and champagne*!

*And in our case, big beautiful strawberries, too; along with the champagne they were carried carefully all the way from Virginia by the Father Magna Cum Laude of a Magna Cum Laude Graduate.

The shadows on the lawn were beginning to lengthen, and the celebrating bunch had been treated* to a celebratory school cheer by two (and more) celebrating graduates. 
There was just one more bout of celebrating to come, Reader Dear.

(But because it's getting late,
and I'm reluctant for this delightful day to be over, I'm going to continue on to the next blog post...

See you there!

(to be continued...)
*Yes, cajoled by me, I'm proud to say,
callooh, callay!
Thanks, Lydia!
For the cheer,
and for making me part of your
very special day!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Magna Cum Laude

Reader Dear, it's a title of academic achievement and means "with high honors" or "with great distinction".  So it was exciting to get this invitation to celebrate with a niece of mine by attending her graduation ceremony, complete with a celebratory brunch hosted by the college, a garden party following the main event, and a celebratory dinner at a nearby restaurant (the dinner hosted by my brother,  honored with the title Father Magna Cum Laude of a Magna Cum Laude Graduate

[I'll have to admit, I bestowed the title myself, and there was no official paper or pomp associated with it, but of course it was earned, and he is very deserving of it!*]).

My niece's graduation was with a degree in Linguistics from Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, roughly an hour-and-a-half's drive from where the HM and I live (I'll just tell you right now, in case you are interested, Dear Reader, that the name means "Big Hill" and the college was established in1885 as a Quaker institution.  By 1893 it was a non-denominational women's college.

When Bryn Mawr College opened its doors in 1885, it offered women a more ambitious academic program than any previously available to them in the United States. Other women's colleges existed, but Bryn Mawr was the first to offer graduate education through the Ph.D., a signal of its founders' refusal to accept the limitations imposed on women's intellectual achievement at other institutions (deserving of at least three exclamation points, wouldn't you say, Reader Dear?)!!!

Moving along: Yesterday (the culmination of four years of earnest work by my niece) the weather in Bryn Mawr could not have been more spectacular for this joyous event.  There was a gigantic tent on the spacious campus lawn, with chairs outside the tent for the overflow crowd.  I've got lots of photos of the whole day, so I will start with introductions to The Graduate Magna Cum Laude and  her celebratory bunch of family and friends:

Here are Lydia (The Graduate Magna Cum Laude [term I will continue to use off and on, as it gives me great pleasure]) and her father:

This photo was taken at The Brunch, where all graduates were offered a rose, followed by a lavish and extensive assortment of foods and drinks (the foods and drinks, to our good fortune, were also offered to all family and friends of the graduates, as well).

If I were to list every food and drink offered, it would fill this blog post, so I'll refrain (though I can't help but mention the made-to-order omelettes, the make-your-own fresh waffles with whipped cream and fruits, the mimosas and Bloody Marys, and...[I must interrupt here to say that after vowing to refrain, it's time to quit the list]).  I may be able to assert that it was the most elaborate brunch I've ever attended (barring any long-time-ago-now-forgotten ones)! And did I mention it was a help-yourself, eat-all-you-wish affair?    Needless to say, it quite handily carried us over to the post-graduation garden party.

Omelette Maker par excellence
Celebratory Eating and Drinking, Indeed!

Next we've got Hattie, dear family friend, with a sunny personality extraordinaire!

Here's Hattie, following the brunch, on the lawn with Lydia, who has slipped into her regalia (official term for the cap and gown), and prior to lining up for the biggest part of the big event of the day.

Below, The Graduate  is pictured with her Aunt Nita (sister of mine, thereby making her sister of my brother, who is the Father Magna Cum Laude of a Magna Cum Laude Graduate [I may as well go ahead and use the title a second time, Reader Dear, making it that much more official]).
Aunt Nita is deserving of a better photo, as she is an Aunt Cum Laude, but it's the best that I've got  to show you.

And, speaking of photos, I took a quasi-infinite number of them (I'm certain I could count them if it were a necessity; I do not feel it's a necessity, Dear Viewer [and since I'm not sharing all of them with you, you will have to be satisfied with merely knowing I've got a lot!])  

Of course, I wasn't the only one taking photos.  Heavens, no, there were hundreds! Here's a small collection of folks photographing folks:

Marching right along, another member of our celebratory bunch was Cousin Molly.   She's pictured here assisting with the proper placement of the full regalia:

And there was Molly's husband, John, with his delightfully British accent and his sense of humor.  You'll see him again, Dear Viewer, pouring champagne at the Garden Party (but that's still a few hours away as I'm telling the story).

 Lastly, but by no means least, we have Aaron, another close friend of the Magna Cum Laude Graduate.  How pleasing to have this pleasant and super-helpful member of the graduate's own generation to also be a member of this celebratory group, to assist with finding our way around the campus, and to be a professional photographer, as well as just being an all-around nice guy!

Quite obviously [I'm assuming you know this already, Reader Dear] I was a part of this bunch.  HM was there, too, and can be seen in the background of this pic, as well as the foreground in the brunch table photo
(what an oversight--no individual photo with the Magna Cum Laude Graduate!)

 As for  myself, here's the official "Photo with the Graduate who Makes her Extended Family so Proud!":

Now that you've met all nine of us,
Dear One,
I'm going to leave you milling around with the graduates until I can get the celebratory group to the tent, and to the official  opening of Commencement exercises at Bryn Mawr College, 2019.

(to be continued...)

*Mother Magna Cum Laude of a Magna Cum Laude Graduate (likewise deserving of the title) was tragically unable to attend the event, due to health issues.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


Reader-Viewer Dear, I will quickly show you the tile business owned by the late Henry Chapman Mercer, and then we will lay Henry C. Mercer to rest (er, you know, so to speak [he's been "resting" there in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, for nearly a century already) lest you get excessively bored with the tale of his wealth and his talent and his good fortune and his world travels and his fabulous buildings and...well, I'm quite certain he had his sorrows, too (and they may have been quite deep, for all I know), but I'm not privy to that information.

Anyway,  here it is, the Moravian Tile Works:

Here, Viewer Dear, is the HM studying the design of this concrete-poured building.

And, though he's fascinated and in awe of Henry's building ability,  HM is expressing some of the concern that people of Henry's day may have had in regard to this inventive man's buildings.

"Yikes, this whole thing is going to collapse in a heap of rubble!" (They may have said).

For HM and me, we had the advantage of a century's proof otherwise.  I had no hesitation walking into the building and spending an hour strolling around and viewing Henry's tile designs (which are still being manufactured right here, today, in this building, using the same hand-manipulated-clay methods).

Seeing as how it was an ordinary Monday morning, the place was not excessively busy.  The HM and I were shown into a room (Henry's office) where the two of us watched an introductory video (Since we'd already visited both the home and the museum of Henry C. Mercer in the previous days, we felt we knew nearly every detail the video was likely to share with us [Viewer Dear, you may have a similar sentiment right now if you're accustomed to reading my blog posts (and viewing all the clips, of course!)]).

I did learn one new fact, which alleviated my curiosity concerning the name that Hank gave his tile works (forgive me sincerely, Reader Dear.  I've taken liberties with Henry's own name; I may be the first person in all of history to refer to him as Hank, but I feel I know him pretty well; he deserves a nickname).

Work Area (as it was, and still is) 

This piece was for sale in the Sales Area (Even if this had been H.C.'s only design, I'd still give him six stars out of five, that's how much it pleases me [and you may have had a clue, as well, by the fact that I'm showing it to you twice, Dear Viewer!)

R.I.P. Henry (aka Hank) C. Mercer