Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Our Annual Valentine's Day Letter

Valentine’s Day 2012

Beloved family and friends,

Where are the frogs? And the flies? And the locusts? After last August’s earthquake and hurricane we’ve been expecting more plagues to hit Richmond. So far, though, the best we’ve been able to muster, plague-wise, is last Saturday’s 30-minute blizzard. It was fun while it lasted, but one inch of rapidly melting snow hardly constitutes a Biblical plague. Maybe it’s time to relax…but not till we’ve put more gas in the emergency generator.

Our major accomplishment for 2011 was that we managed to paint two rooms in our house, wallpaper a third, and hang drapes or shades in three rooms without setting off a single argument, tantrum, or pouting fit and with no trips to the emergency room. (We’re pretty skilled at home first aid, though.) Doug did spend a fair amount of time complaining about crumbling plaster and crooked walls and mysterious wiring, but after 14+ years of marriage Mary has learned how to ignore him until he drives to Home Depot and comes back in a better mood. Doug has learned to simply say, “Wow!” when he’s got some doubts about Mary’s decorating projects.

While we were content with pretty modest accomplishments, Alex impressed us all by graduating from Columbia University in May. Way to go, Alex! We’re counting on our favorite Ivy Leaguer to bring fame and fortune to the family – or at least to be gainfully employed at some point. Meanwhile Alex is hard at work editing the third edition of Flaneur Foundry, the literary journal she founded three years ago.

Christopher has followed in the footsteps of his mother and his older brothers by becoming a serious home cook. The menu he tackled for Thanksgiving dinner sounded like something straight out of a five-star restaurant. With some long-distance coaching from his mom he managed to get everything on the table and impress his guests. Doug has volunteered to be the official taster whenever Chris and Mary cook together.

We gratefully enjoyed a visit from Sam and his fiancée, Shauna. Sam’s time off had to be squeezed in between the end of landscaping season in the fall and the start of snowboarding season. This year he is continuing to sell snowboards during the week while coaching private students on weekends. Shauna manages a shoe store in Stowe and has developed a knack for coping with snooty shoppers with more attitude than taste.

On the Thorpe side we enjoyed Hannah’s wedding to Corey B. outside of Pittsburgh. Mary contributed a Texas-shaped cake for the festivities and she and Doug sang “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us,” accompanied by Grandma Eileen and a strong wind. Everyone downwind of us seemed to hear fine. Anyone upwind enjoyed watching the wind blow out the candles. In the end, though, the event was an unqualified success.

Later in the summer Doug joined his parents and siblings in Kansas for the triennial Adell family reunion in Lindsborg, KS. It’s hard to imagine Swedish immigrants’ reactions to their first summer in Kansas, as the air warmed to temperatures only seen in Sweden inside ovens. The Adell humor and affection somehow make the heat tolerable, though. It’s also hard to imagine an entire pioneer family living in one of these dugouts, probably with a sod roof and one window at most. Our ancestors were made of stern stuff, indeed. But the therapist in Doug looks at this dugout and sees an incubator for depression.

Doug continues to love his work at the Virginia Institute for Pastoral Care, where he is now the Director of Clinical Services. At the end of April he will finish his term as president of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. His four years as an officer in AAPC have taken him all across the country and exposed him to many creative, devoted pastoral counselors. He’s ready to give up the conference calls and travel for a while, though. He loves his time on his bicycle, and is grateful that Richmond is flat.

Mary’s second year at Church of the Epiphany extended many of the ministries in which she was engaged her first year there. She was very pleased to be asked to change her status from temporary priest-in-charge to permanent rector near the end of 2011. This winter her bishop asked her to serve as dean of Region XI, coordinating the joint ministries of the parishes on the north side of Richmond and offering the first line of pastoral care to the clergy of the region. She is also the president of the Lakeside Clergy Association, an interfaith group that shares outreach ministry and ecumenical worship, and an active member of the Committee on the Diaconate for the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. She still has time to cook (although she isn’t posting as many menus on FaceBook) and to knit (it passes the time in meetings).

We are excited about celebrating our 15th anniversary this year by taking a walking tour of western Ireland with the poet David Whyte. Mary will get back to her Irish roots and Doug will explore the wonders of Irish culture (and beer).

We keep you in our hearts and prayers – we hope this Valentine’s Day reminds you of the power of divine and human love in all of our lives.

Be blessed-

Doug and Mary

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