As I type, the dulcet tones of the Southwest gate agent drone in the background in this somewhat overcrowded (but typical) Southwest terminal. It is the morning after the 80th Birthday Party of Julie Carey McGrath, wife of James, and Mother of Bryan (among others). Largely due to the efforts of Sister Kelly (and the financing of James), she was surrounded last night by friends and family at a downtown Raleigh Irish bar---which turned out to be familiar to me, as it is where her #70 was held. It was a wonderful affair, and it was good to talk with people I haven't seen in some time, as well as to see my own family---two times in a month is a treat.
While here, I stayed in the lovely town of Clayton at a bed and breakfast known as The Morning Glory Inn. I highly recommend it should you have occasion to be in central North Carolina. I am not necessarily the target B and B market, as I find the forced intimacy of the morning breakfast with a group of strangers who are almost always more talkative than I to be a bit of a slog. But with the clan gathering, the number of available comfy beds began to dwindle. That--and the fact that I am only two thirds of the way through this travel--convinced me that the Sunflower Room and its large, comfy bed would be the right resting place for me Friday and Saturday nights. It was a good decision, though because I wanted to be cooperative, I ate a carb-loaded breakfast that I will regret later.
After the soiree, I met The Hammer and Mrs. Hammer (they were in attendance) at a nearby steak joint to throw down a few ribeyes and continue our party conversation. Both are wonderful conversationalists, and if you ever want to know where Hammer gets his irascibility, it is a function of the utter sweat-pea he is in the company of his Lady. She clearly wears the pants in that family.
In 90 minutes or so, I'll head to BWI for a three hour wait to get on a flight to Providence en route Newport. My dinner plans for the evening have changed, and I am on my own--which suits me fine. Then tomorrow morning, it is to the Naval War College to think big thoughts for a few days.