Monday, February 01, 2010


So did y'all miss me while I was away this past weekend? In case you didn't read the note in last week's Theme Thursday post, I went down to Pennsylvania for my Mom's 80th birthday party. Her birthday was actually January 4, but this was the closest Saturday we could get the rent of the room.

Mom lives in a retirement community in Chambersburg, PA, and the party was held in the meeting room of the Community Center. Aside from family members, a lot of her friends in the community came. Unfortunately, two people who wanted to be there couldn't make it because further south in Maryland it was snowing to beat the band (around 12 inches!); so the two Scotts, my brother-in-law and he and my sister's youngest son, were stuck at home because of the storm.

But despite the weather, the party went off well, and your roving photographer captured the event. I have to apologize up front: please excuse the graininess of the shots. I was bound and determined not to annoy people (and give away candid shots) with flash, so I ended up having to shoot at 800 ISO in order to get the light right without having to use a tripod. Next time I won't be such an anti-flash snob!

So here's the Birthday Girl with her royal sash talking to a friend. Now I ask you: does that look like an 80-year-old woman to you? Nope, not to me, either.

This is my sister Sue in a typical pose - texting away. In this case it was legitimate, though; she was texting family members to find out how bad the snow was where they were and if they thought they'd still make it, or was it smarter to stay home (or turn around and go back in some cases). Mom looks on anxiously.

My brother Don and sister-in-law Teri greeting guests in the hall outside the party room. They basically organized this shindig; they only live just up the road in Shippensburg.

This was the star of the day: the chocolate fountain. Various non-traditional - and possibly illegal - methods were discussed as to how to get the most chocolate out of it; applying the mouth to the top of the fountain and sucking was one approach, as was using a large straw. One attempt was seriously discussed: just sticking a coffee cup in there and filling up.

A shot of one part of the crowd. This was still early on in the event; those four empty seats in the front were eventually filled.

My sister's oldest son Kevin. Charm is his middle name.

Sue and Mom cutting the cake. See all the chocolate goodies on that table? Are you sensing a theme to this party? (Willow, please stop drooling on the computer screen!)

I call this shot "The Cousins (and one Boyfriend)". From right to left: Kevin, my sister's eldest who you've met above; Kyle, my brother's son; Brittany, my brother's daughter; and Britt's boyfriend, whose name just now floated right out of my brain (maybe it'll float back in later). The older woman in the green sweater in the foreground is one of the retirement community residents. They're all working on the trivia quiz Don put together (more about that below).

Sue brings out the kitchen staff and gets them a round of applause for the job they've done with the spread.

Don playing MC on the trivia quiz. He put together a series of trivia questions about people and events from 1930 (the year of Mom's birth) and made copies that were piled up on each table, and at the beginning of the party he encouraged everybody to fill them out so that at the end of the party he'd read out the answers and a winner would be determined. As Don put it: "There are no prizes, just bragging rights."

The last shot from the party - the die-hards who just wouldn't leave. All family, of course. From the left: Mom; Tim, Mom's youngest brother, who's only 3 years older than I am; Teri; Pat, Tim's wife (the three of us went to college together); and Don.

After that the party broke up. It was snowing there in Chambersburg, and Tim and Pat and Kevin were all anxious to get home (a) before it started snowing in earnest there in C-burg, and (b) before it got any worse back home. So fond farewells were said (and promises to call/text when they got home to let us know they got there safely) and everybody went their own separate ways.

But before I go, I just have to share with you this family portrait circa 1958. My grandmother took this in their old rowhouse in east Baltimore. Left to right: Don; Mom with Sue in her lap; and Dad with me in his lap. Every time I look at this I marvel at how young my parents were in this shot; being their kid, you just never think of them as ever being young, but here's the proof. And this is one of many shots of me as a kid that makes me swear Bill Watterson (who created the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip) must have lived in my neighborhood. There's no way that gap-toothed kid with the cheesy smile and the overactive imagination wasn't the model for Calvin!

And one bonus shot I couldn't resist from the trip home on the train today - the Manhattan skyline, one of my all-time favorite views. I know many of you may be shocked by that, given my Nature Boy reputation and all the shots of birds and woods and salt marshes. But there's something about a skyscraper-filled city skyline that makes my heart go pitter-patter. Go figure!

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. Extra primo good. I wish I coulda been there. Oh my goodness gracious, what stories there were to be found in that room.

    Mom looks great. May she have twenty more birthdays, at LEAST.

  2. Thanks for inviting us along to your mum's 80th. And do wish her many happy returns from the UK.

  3. Wonderful post Roy! My oldest nephew shares the same birth date, so looks like he's in great company :)

    Glad you made it back, as I've been keeping an eye on all that snow! And the pics came out just fine :)

  4. Proof positive that sometimes family gets together because they want to. Ain't that the best reason?

  5. This is just lovely, Roy. Sure makes me miss my mom!

  6. Okay, just as I was saying out loud to myself, how I could easily snarf a piece or two of that cake, I was instantaneously reminded not to slobber. Gosh, you scared me, Roy! Do you have some kind of new spyware?

    Love the 1958 shot. You look so much like your father.

  7. What a wonderful party and that chocolate fountain reminded me of the Vicar of Dibley!

  8. Great pictures...although I kinda got stuck on the one with the cupcakes and other sweets. Couldn't figure out how to download them in 3D. Darn.

  9. I love meeting your family. Sue also takes after your Dad...through the chin. Loved meeting Mom and all the folks. Chocolate Bliss....why didn't you invite me...I would of drove to Pennsylvania for that chocolate spread.


  10. Thanks, everybody!

    Megan - My brother kept telling everybody to save their trivia quiz sheets because he was gonna ask them the same questions again in 10 years when we do Mom's 90th birthday party.

    Willow - I had all those little chocolate goodies in mind when I wrote that, but I also suspect that had you been there you would've tried to take a dive into the chocolate fountain.

    Willow & Bob - I was getting that all afternoon: "You look just like your father." It's true, except that I didn't inherit his math genius. My sister got that and the resemblance as well; people were comenting on her resemblance as well. I kept telling people, "I only got Dad's looks, but Sue got his brains, too."

    Colette - Well, most of these people are Lutheran rather than C of E. But oddly enough the pastor of the on-site church there is a woman, and Pastor Beth does love her chocolate. Hmmmm... Maybe we can Americanize the show!

    Steph - How right you are! We always have fun when we get together.

  11. Ohhh...what a fun post! Your mom definitely does not look 80! (Now I'm craving chocolate!)

  12. LOvely to see your family Roy and your mum. So lucky to still have her around and she doesn't look like she's going anywhere too soon! Wonderful celebration of a very significant birthday. Love the old photo as well. Hard to believe we were ever that young!

  13. belated birthday wishes to your mom!!

    what a wonderful party - thanks for sharing all the images of your family (and then some) - I love the retro family pic.

    hey, I'm been to chambersburg!!

    incredible skyline shot from the TRAIN... skylines make my heart go all pitter patter too.

    (btw, I'm really behind in reading folks blogs) just now catching up some on last week's TT posts! so I didn't know till now that you were away, had I known I would have missed you, but I'm missing myself it seems these days - ha ha)

  14. Thanks, Roy - this was great! And Brittany's boyfriend's name is Jason. I may steal some of these photos (even though they are "politely" grainy)and post them on Facebook so my friends can see them, too. If I ever get the card for my phone, I can download some others for you.

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