Sunday, April 27, 2008


Andrew and I are staying with his mother until his father returns from Taipei.

Andrew’s mother gave us an early dinner last night before we all headed to the airport to drop Andrew’s father, and she had prepared several of Andrew’s father’s favorite foods in honor of his departure: Amish pot roast with cream, mushrooms and green onions (the smell of which drives the dog nuts while it is roasting), mashed potatoes with cheddar cheese, homemade stewed tomatoes, fresh green beans, white corn and Amish pepper salad (a sweet-and-sour salad made primarily with cabbage). For dessert, she had baked a Dutch apple pie.

When we returned from the airport, the evening was still young, so we dismantled brass fixtures, indoors and out, and polished them while we listened to music. Andrew’s mother especially likes French music, so Andrew picked out six discs of French repertory for us to listen to for the next several days: a disc of Rameau, a disc of Berlioz, a disc of Gounod, a disc of Debussy, a disc of Vierne, and a disc of Poulenc-Milhaud-Honegger.

Today, after church, we went to the care facility and had lunch with Andrew’s grandmother in the elegant dining room at the facility. Lots of families have Sunday lunch with family members at the care facility, but Andrew’s family very, very rarely goes there for Sunday lunch. Instead, two or three times a week, always on weekdays, Andrew’s mother will have lunch at the facility with her mother, and every other week or so Andrew will join his mother for a weekday lunch with his grandmother at the facility.

I had been to the facility only on two previous occasions, both times on a Sunday, but never for lunch. Today was the first time I actually had a meal at the facility. The food and the service were exceptional—it was like dining at a fine restaurant (and the prices are comparable, I am informed, although guest tariffs are nowhere posted).

We remained at the facility for a couple of hours after lunch, sitting with Andrew’s grandmother in the conservatory, before we left.

For the rest of the afternoon, Andrew and I exercised the dog and helped Andrew’s mother with a few things around the kitchen.

We did not eat dinner tonight. No one was hungry except the dog. He got his Sunday night baked and de-boned chicken—there’s no depriving him, and he knows the weekly routine far too well to try to fool him and pretend that a Sunday is really a Thursday—but the rest of us decided to skip dinner and have a light snack before bedtime.

Instead of eating dinner, we went downstairs and watched on DVD “A Slave Of Love”, a charming, even exquisite, movie from a surprising source, Brezhnev-era U.S.S.R.

Filmed and released in Russia in 1976, it is the story of a silent-movie crew caught up in the events of 1917 while filming a frivolous melodrama in the Crimea. Very Chekhovian in subject and tone, the movie touches on themes of love, loss, and misunderstanding, all set against a background of rapidly-shifting political events. The cast is superb, especially Elena Solovei, who plays an apolitical silent-movie star thrown into events she does not understand, always carrying the dramatic flourishes of her screen acting over into her private life. The cinematography is magnificent, very French in look and feel, with a pastel color palette drawn from Claude Monet. The movie is a small masterwork, the work of a very young Nikita Mikhalkov, who was clearly familiar with French New Wave cinema.

I had never seen “A Slave Of Love”—I had never even heard of it—and neither had Andrew, but Andrew’s mother had seen the movie when it was released in the U.S. in 1978. I was pleased to make the film’s acquaintance.

We spent the rest of the evening up in the kitchen, mostly doing nothing: a little talking, a little talking on the phone, a little emailing, a little playing with the dog. Andrew’s mother baked a small loaf of homemade bread, which she very seldom does, and we ate that with French onion soup.

I don’t think this coming week will be too brutal at work, either for Andrew or for me. Neither of us should have to work late this week, so we should be able to enjoy our time with Andrew’s mother.

There are no concerts we want to attend this week, and no plays in town we want to catch, so we probably will just stay in.


  1. Have a good week ahead, Joshua.

  2. J.R., I hope you have a good week, too.

    I also hope your weekend was a wonderful one.