A very old photograph -- 08/27/02
Happy birthday, Charlie Lawrence!
I got an email from my brother this morning. Since the note had been written last night he was able to point out that technically he was still just pushing 56, which was much better than pushing 60. (What's he mean, pushing 60? I've still got eight months and two days to go before the numbers on my natal chronometer cycle over to a new decade mark.)

Our father's cousin Helen had died a couple of years ago; earlier this summer her husband died well into his nineties after spending the morning mowing several acres. Their nephew sent my brother a photograph of our grandfather (on the back it says "Officer Jim Lawrence uncle of Helen Conklin Davis") which my brother scanned in and emailed to me.

Officer James M. Lawrence -- my father's father -- slain in the line of duty February 7, 1919.

On Sunday I took a drive up to Providence to visit my daughter, bringing her pet rats, Molly and Splinter (and their cage and food and bag of cedar chips, etc.) with me. (Her fish are staying here -- too difficult to move them -- but Nancy and I have no interest in caring for her rats.)

Living in "the big city" seems to be working out well for her. We went out to dinner, to a Japanese restaurant (she lives in the heavily college-aged area surrounding the Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design campuses, many reasonably priced ethnic restaurants -- Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, etc.) where she and her friends like to eat. It has two dinning areas -- a western room with tables and chairs and a traditional room. She lead the way to the traditional room where we took off our shoes and sat on floor cushions at a low table. In the past few weeks she has become adept at using chopsticks. (She has become an independent young woman, but when I look at her I will always see my little girl.)

After dinner we went to see the latest collection of one act plays being presented by Second Story Theatre. The opening play (a very short one) was "If Men Played Cards as Women Do" which presented a group of men gathered for an evening of poker but waltzing around the stage while speaking dialogue appropriate for a group of women gathered for an afternoon of bridge. This was followed immediately by Tom Stoppard's "The Fifteen Minute Hamlet" -- which is exactly that -- played broadly but using Shakespeare's lines. Very funny (and naturally evoked memories of having seen The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) a few years ago in London). Then came "Self Torture and Strenuous Exercise" and finally "A Chance Meeting." This last piece was quite amusing: a man and woman meet in a bar, they flirt outrageously, he is attempting (successfully) to pick her up... and then an old friend comes into and recognizes him, at first thinks he is cheating on his wife, but then realizes that the woman is, in fact, his wife... this is a fantasy game they play, pretending to be other people... and the husband persuades his friend to enter into their fantasy world... until his reluctant friend begins to enter too enthusiastically into his role. The friend was played by a friend of mine, the colleague from work who was in Mexico with me a few years ago. He was quite good in this (as he had been in the previous group of one act plays that Nancy and Jennifer and I saw earlier this month).

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