Monday, May 23, 2011

Donald and Kristin's Roman Adventure

On the Tuesday after our Sunday wedding, we departed for Rome, Italy. We took an overnight flight on Al Italia, arriving around 8 am on Wednesday morning. Then, on little to no sleep, we had our first day in Rome. It was tough, since we couldn't check into our hotel right away. We could, however, drop off our luggage there. After which we went down to St. Peter's Basilica (where there was a large gathering of people associated with John Paul II's beatification), got lunch, and then saw the Pantheon. By this time we were exhausted, so we went back to the hotel and checked in, and I, at least, took a two-hour nap. Kristin got maybe half-an-hour of sleep, before we went to a nice restaurant for dinner.

The Pantheon from the square outside.
The Pantheon's dome.  Note the large skylight, aka the hole in the ceiling.

For the next week, we did a lot of stuff, more than I can easily recount in one blog post, and the number of pictures is staggering. This is partly because Kristin's idea of a relaxing day is to do two museums, rather than three outdoor ruins in the hot sun. She also had very specific ideas about what restaurants she wanted to go to, based on various guide books, and she was willing to spend a significant amount of time wandering around in order to find them. My idea of a relaxing day is to spend it inside doing not much of anything, and maybe get a meal at a nice, nearby restaurant for dinner.

After our first full night's sleep in Rome, we spent the next day (Thursday) seeing the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine hill. It was hot, tiring, and we took many, many pictures, mostly of things that will be boring to anyone without a deep interest in Roman history.

Me in front of the Colosseum

On Friday, we went to an Etruscan museum in the morning. It would have been more enjoyable if more of the information had been in English, but it was mostly in Italian.  We intended to take the afternoon off, but instead spent it wandering around a park lost, trying to find a restaurant. This made Kristin grumpy. The restaurant we did find really wasn't anything special. That evening we saw the Vatican museums, including the Sistine chapel, which was great fun.

From the outdoor exhibits of the Etruscan museum.  I'm not sure that it's really Etruscan, as there was no information included, but we weren't allowed to take pictures of the indoor exhibits.

From the Vatican museums, the famous statue of Laocoon and his sons being devoured by serpents.

The next day, Saturday, we saw the Imperial forums, ate lunch at a really expensive (but also really nice) restaurant, then climbed up the Capitoline hill to see the Capitoline museum. There was a whole lot of walking and climbing involved. This made me grumpy.
Kristin in a shop (taberna) at Trajan's market

Me in front of the famous Capitoline wolf.  The wolf statue may be ancient, but the infants (Romulus and Remus) weren't added until the Renaissance.

On Sunday, we went to Ostia Antica. This was an abandoned Roman city. Since it wasn't buried under mud or volcanic ash like Pompey and Herculaneum, it was in fairly poor condition. That said, the staff are much less protective of it, and visitors can wander around and through most of the buildings.
Me in a thermopolium (restaurant) in Ostium Antica.
That's me walking around the amphitheater at Ostia Antica.

 On Monday, we visited three different catacombs along the Via Appia Antica (the old Via Appia, which is famous to anyone familiar with ancient Roman history). While the guides for each tour told us largely the same information--for example, catacombs were purely for burial, the Christians never hid in them--this was fascinating for anyone interested in the history of early Christianity.  And also for any aspiring writers who think catacombs would make a great setting for a story. Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures inside, so we have no boring pictures of the catacombs.

The outside of the catacombs.

On Tuesday, we went to Hadrian's Villa. Hadrian was a Roman Emperor who built the luxurious retreat to end all luxurious retreats (at least until the next Roman Emperor came along). I wasn't as impressed with the villa as I wanted to be, but it was still fun.
The Canopus at Hadrian's Villa.

Finally, on Wednesday, it was time for our trip to Naples, for the second stage of our honeymoon.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Wedding of the Century . . .

...happened two weeks ago.  Prince William married . . . some woman, I presume.  I really wasn't paying attention.  I was more concerned with the wedding of my lifetime, which happened this past Sunday, when I married the lovely and talented Kristin Janz.

Kristin and I met in the writing group of Park Street Church in April of 2009.  We quickly discovered that we were both published writers who wrote similar types of stories, specifically fantasy with a society based on Ancient Rome.  This became something more, thanks largely to generous hints dropped by Kristin.  Even so, it took me awhile to notice, but by July we were dating.  Aside from going to conferences together, we've also gone camping, backpacking, and to restaurants much nicer than I would ever think of going by myself.

After a year and a half, I proposed to her in December, while we were visitng her parents in Nova Scotia.  This gave me the opportunity to ask for her father's blessing first (note that I asked for his blessing, not his permission--it's an important distinction).  We didn't leave ourselves much time to plan for the wedding.  There are limits to the times her family can travel, so that meant that the wedding would either have to be before mid-May, or we'd have to wait until October, and we decided earlier was better than later.  Less planning time encouraged us to keep things simple, which was how we preferred it.

Kristin had long dreamed of having her wedding as part of the regular church service.  It's not unheard of, but it's not something that our church had done before, so when we approached Park Street's associate minister about doing it that way, he was originally reluctant.  We laid out our case in e-mail, and apparently the senior minister was enthusiastic about the idea, so eventually the associate minister came around.  We scheduled the wedding for the 6:30 pm service at Park Street on May 8th.

Ultimately, the wedding ceremony was the easy part.  There were, over the course of the weekend, no less than four parties, although I'm using the term "party" a bit loosely. 

The first party was really just dinner out for us and our families on Friday night.  The twelve of us went out to Legal Seafood, one of the nicer family-friendly mid-range restaurants.  Present were Kristin's parents, her grandfather, her brother, and my parents, my sisters, and my nieces.

The next day was what we'd been calling "The Saturday Event."  Since the wedding ceremony was so late, the reception would be even later.  So we knew that we needed something at a time that families with children could enjoy.  We also wanted to spend more time with our families and other friends who'd come from out-of-town to see us.  For this purpose, we planned a party for Saturday afternoon, from noon to five.  This took place at our old apartments: prior to getting married, we lived in the upstairs and downstairs apartments of a two-family house.

For this, I wanted to do something special for the food, namely crawfish. Crawfish is a very Louisiana food, which you just don't see a lot up north.  For a while we didn't even know if we could get crawfish in Boston, but we discovered a restaurant called Brother's Crawfish, in Dorcester, that catered.  They delivered plenty of crawfish for our meal.

As you can see, they look like mini-lobsters.  They're good, but often pretty spicy.  I got to teach some Canadians how to eat crawfish, though, so it was fun.  My niece, Kara, already knew how to eat crawfish, of course.

Aside from crawfish, we got some barbeque and sides from Blue Ribbon.  This ensured that even those who couldn't eat shellfish (like my sister) had plenty to eat.

After we had cleaned up, Kristin and I went home to rest up for the big day.  And it was big.

The first order of business was getting set up for the reception, which would take place that evening in the same two apartments where the Saturday Event had been.  Then we picked up the food for the next party: coffee hour.  Our church has two evening services, a 4 pm service and a 6:30 pm service.  In between, they have a coffee hour.  Since our wedding was at the 6:30 pm service, we decided that we should be present there to greet guests who were coming to the wedding, but not the reception.  But since coffee hour usually only has a limited amount of food, we brought extra: a full gross of desserts from Quebrada.  We had cupcakes, croissants stuffed with fruit or chocolate, lemon tarts, fruit tarts, chocolate tarts, chocolate dipped strawberries, and five pounds of cookies.  We also brought some Italian sodas, apple cider, and some teas to drink.  We wanted to make the desserts available to the entire church, but we also knew that they'd go quickly, so we told our guests to come at 5:15 pm.  The 4 pm service let out at 5:20 pm.  By 5:30 pm, all the desserts were gone.

Nevertheless, we were able to talk to most people at the reception.

Kristin and her roommates

After that, it was time for the main event.  We had a reserved row for family, but everyone else found their own seats.

From left to right: Kristin's brother, Stephen, her parents, and her grandfather

From left to right: my sister, Rebekah, her daughter, Kara, and Hope with her mother, Sarah, my other sister

In order to keep the wedding from being too disruptive of the regular service, we kept things simple.  That meant no wedding party, just Kristin and I, no wedding dress, and no special music or readings.  When the time came, we went up, stated our intentions, received the blessing of our families and the congregation, said our vows, exchanged rings, kissed, and sat down.  Okay, sure, it sounds like a lot when written out like that, but the whole event only took about ten minutes.



After we had our receiving line--really, we just stood where new members stand after they join the church, and let people say hello and congratulate us--we went to the fourth and final party, the reception.  For this party, we had sushi from Whole Foods, as well as fruit, vegetable, tortilla, and mediterannean baskets.

While many of our guests with children weren't able to make it, we hung out with a lot of friends, some local and some from out-of-town.

Kristin with her father, brother (Stephen), mother, and sister (Lisa)
More guests
Around midnight, we went home to our new place.  We didn't take any pictures of what happened next, though.

Our new place--taken the next day