Photos around Grounds

rotunda lunette

I took the Nikon with me to the reunion, and practiced on a familiar subject, the Grounds (aka campus) of the University of Virginia. It’s a worthy subject as well as a nostalgic one; the original grounds, designed by Thomas Jefferson as his last major project, are designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO (together with Monticello). The buildings, which draw on an array of classical models and incorporate multiple architectural details, were meant both to provide housing and classroom for students and teachers and to be a living classroom for students of history and architecture. It was in this spirit, as well as with my Class of ’94 ring on, that I took my camera along. The result was a collection of almost 50 shots of the Central Grounds area of the University.

I tried to think more about composition this time out. I know there are things I could do to improve light-dark balance, but I only had three days in Charlottesville, and two of them were raining or cloudy. I also tried to grab photos of some interior spaces which were meaningful to me but haven’t been excessively photographed (example: the basement rehearsal room for the Glee Club in Old Cabell Hall). Despite the conditions, there were a few photos with which I am pretty pleased.

Happiness is…

If it were just the new Cowboy Junkies, it would be a happy day; likewise a new Sonic Youth. But a new Cowboy Junkies, Sonic Youth, AND PJ Harvey???? Bliss.

Maybe detailed reviews will come later. In the meantime, let me note that “Mariah Carey and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream” would make a great band name.

—And one other note. Of the two friends and bloggers that I met this weekend who gave me mix CDs, one made a mix containing the original version of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” and the other one had a 6:20 bluegrass hoedown cover of “Gin and Juice.” Who gave me the original? If you’re guessing Greg, you’re wrong. That would be my beloved one-quarter-preacher sister, keeping her mind on her money and her money on her mind…

Reunion friends met

estaminet, greenehouse, and me

I could probably continue to go blow by blow through the reunion weekend, but I thought focusing on some highlights would be more memorable and appropriate. And, as always, the highlights of any reunion are the people. I’ll save the music folk for another post, as this one will be lengthy enough without them.

The first night’s conversation with Scott and Susan Barker was an early highlight. I don’t think that, ten years ago, I knew Scott would be back at the University teaching, but I certainly knew he was destined for great things. The fact that Susan thought he was a good guy is definitely proof of that. —Friday night was the Barkers’ tenth wedding anniversary as well, they told us over a plate of Big Jim’s Barbecue. I asked them whether the tenth was traditionally the Pork anniversary. I don’t think they appreciated my joke…

We spent some time talking with Dan Herzfeld and his beautiful fiancee, who clearly outclasses all of us and with whom Dan is appropriately smitten. We saw Dan after Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball lecture, during which he handicapped the presidential race. He’s a powerful speaker, but at the end I had to agree with the guy on the Lawn who said, “The bottom line according to Sabato is that it will be a close race, unless it’s a blow-out.”

Saturday afternoon I bumped into Doug Acton and his wife and new baby. Doug has been busy in the military-industrial complex, primarily on the IT side. He was one of two physics classmates I ran into over the weekend; the other, Patrick Manigault, had finished his Ph.D. only to decide it was time to do a career change. He’s now in consulting. (Sound familiar?) At the same reception I ran into Carrie Smith, who was a year ahead of us and also went to the same high school (and middle school) as I. She and her husband appear to be doing well.

On Sunday we breakfasted with Greg Greene and Esta, who drove up from Richmond. The morning was a little comical, as we started out planning to go to Duner’s for brunch only to learn from the helpful lady at our B&B that it no longer did brunch. We then tried the Biltmore and other Corner restaurants, only to find they didn’t open until 11. This left us with the Virginian, about which Bernie Fallon (who was unable to attend the reunion due to work) always said, “Who eats there? You never see anyone go in or leave. Parents don’t eat there, faculty don’t eat there… who eats there?” Well, Bernie, apparently the answer is: people who want Sunday brunch before 11 am.

Afterwards we stopped at the Brown College (née Monroe Hill) reunion brunch, where we saw Marc and Diane Leipzig and their little baby. We also said hello to Carl Trindle, who is still in residence at Monroe Hill (he jokingly calls it his “sinecure”—certainly given his contributions and continued work it’s much more significant than that).

Carl Geisler told me that he thought later reunions, when everyone’s kids were grown and life was more certain, were better. I disagree. The best reunions are ones where the years melt away and you’re speaking with the same people you studied, ate, drank, laughed, and lived with. By any standard this counts.