ex-in-laws in Arden25 JUNE 2000

Dear Friends,

What makes a day memorable?
. . . Monday my favorite ex-in-laws visited -- my second ex-wife’s brother, his wife, and their two children. Two hours after leaving New York City via the Holland Tunnel, they arrived on my doorstep just in time to share a lunch of Philadelphia Cheesesteak sandwiches in the woods of Arden before driving on to Baltimore, which is only a little over an hour away.
. . . A visit from these friends is like drinking half a bottle of cold champagne. Such bubbly conversation and laughter would make any Monday memorable. And what about you? When will you make a day memorable with your company? Now that Barbara and I have a proper home with a guest bedroom upstairs and a fold-out sofa downstairs, we expect to see you soon!

Concert at Longwood Gardens

. . . Tuesday, since no friends visited, we had to do something else to make the day memorable, so the two of us went to the 1,050-acre Longwood Gardens after work. Decades ago, only the rich enjoyed such lavish grounds. Now they are ours.
. . . The guard scanned our Frequent Visitor passes with his laser gun. We entered the gardens and sudden thunderstorm soaked us before we could get to the conservatory. When the storm passed to the east, we ventured into the water-lily garden where I found myself mesmerized by the scene before me -- people strolling easily across the wet stones, the wet and the ponds reflecting the flying clouds and setting sun. I drank in the scene. Where was my camera? Back in the car and dry, so I only have these words to share. A double rainbow shone in the sky. We walked to the open-air theatre and enjoyed a concert of 20th century music played on wind instruments. It would have been more memorable with friends. Want to join us next time?
. . . Wednesday looked like it might be boring, so I took off from work at noon, joined my wife, and we bought a house. This is an expensive way of making a day memorable. Then again, it’s the sort of thing that will make a decade memorable, so I recommend it.

Exhibit at Delaware Art Museum

. . . The house is in the center of Arden, a village with a vivid, proud history celebrating its centennial. Three articles appeared this week in the Wilmington News Journal. Thursday we saw some of Arden’s history on display in an exhibit titled “Art, Craft, and the Utopian Ideal” at the Delaware Art Museum (www.delart.org)..
. . . The Arts and Crafts Movement influenced the founders of Arden, especially architect Will Price, who designed the house we just bought. At one time, Arden had a forge, which produced candlesticks, sconces, and other handmade items. Other artisans wove, painted, carved, sculpted, drew, and printed. Their work was on display at the museum. The museum also has a large permanent collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and stained glass on display in rooms papered with William Morris designs.
. . . I liked what I saw and wonder how my work might fit into this history. Can Arts and Crafts principles be applied to the design of websites? What does William Morris have to say about the degradation of images when they are compressed as JPEGs? Does John Ruskin have insights into the tension between navigational ease and pleasing graphics on websites? You’ve studied these idealists. What do you remember?
. . .
Friday, we saw the Arden Shakespeare Gild perform “As You Like It.” Much of that play takes place in a forest Shakespeare called Arden -- a frolicsome place where the Duke and his merry followers have been banished. Our frolicsome village gets its name from this play. Moving here from my home in Texas to these Arden woods, I could identify with the exiles. One line from the play was particularly memorable:

“Ay, now am I in Arden; the more fool I. When I was at home I was in a better place; but travelers must be content.”

Allan remembers the house's history. . . Saturday we started working on our newly-purchased house to make it our home. What made the day especially memorable was the visit of Allan Kleban, who lived in the house ten years. He still lives in Arden, as do his parents. He took us on a tour of the place that was once his. He was struck by how much had changed in the three years since he sold it, especially the downstairs bath and laundry room that had been walled in and all the renovations barely started in the attached one-bedroom rental.
. . . One thing Allan remembered is the story that -- during the era of love, peace, and good vibes we call “the sixties” -- the house was something of a crash pad. The story is that anyone who needed a place to groove out could drop in. One of the upstairs rooms was painted red. Pink, red, and black shag carpet covered the floor and climbed three feet up the walls. The word “peace” adorned one wall in huge painted letters. It was a love pad. There was a round bed in the middle of the room with a velvet spread.
. . . That’s the story. Sounds like the place would have been memorable but, for some reason, no one who was there remembers anything but hazy impressions, as though they were drugged at the time.
. . . It’s been a memorable week. Hope yours was, too.

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