Sunday, September 25, 2005


Who uses it: Winemakers
What it means: The amount of sugar in wine that's fermenting
How you can use it: As a snooty way to refer to the sweetness of anything. "Tasty, but its Brix is too high."

Thanks to my cousin Rich for this word. He makes his own wine, which is not for sale; we drank a bit of it last night at my Uncle Eddie's and Aunt Marie's, and it was excellent. The label on the bottle -- courtesy of Rich's wife Diane -- says "Agnello," and if you don't know what that means, you can darn well go and look it up. I'm pretty sure the answer is somewhere on this page, and if it's not, it's on my profile page. We like name puns in this family, which is the only possible explanation for my own name.

The past couple of days have been a blur. Friday was a day that deserves its own rant at a later time, as I learned that "Use of the Library of Congress is a privilege extended to the public by the Congress of the United States," which 1) was not Mr. Jefferson's intent and 2) has the effect of turning what used to be a working library into a book museum. I also want to say that the Kinko's/FedEx store at Eastern Market is the worst, most under-staffed, dirtiest, most poorly-equipped Kinko's I've ever been in, and a disgrace to a company that used to be known for excellence.

I managed to redeem the day with a trip to Annapolis, meeting Keith and Vikki Bea to see Our Chris in a production of Othello at St. John's. Chris, as Gratiano, was only in the last couple of scenes, but since Gratiano (spoiler alert...) winds up with all of Othello's riches at the end of the play, Chris pointed out that one could make an argument that the entire sequence of events is an elaborate conspiracy between Gratiano and Michael Cassio (who winds up Governor of Cyprus). (Okay, if that wrecks the plot of Othello for anybody, too bad, and you shouldn't admit that to anyone.)

Yesterday afternoon was the 100th birthday celebration for my great-aunt, Agnes Colloton, the only surviving member of my grandfather Lamb's generation. Aunt Agnes and Grandpa were part of a family of 8 or 9 (Dad?), and yesterday I felt a little overwhelmed by all the first cousins once removed and second cousins I'd never met before. Identifying myself as "Jimmy's daughter," or even as "Ed's granddaughter," didn't help, either, since most of the men in this family seem to be named either James or Edward. My own Uncle Eddie and my aunt's husband, Ziggy, said that the next time we have an event like this, there will be a big blank family tree at the door, and everyone will sign in and get a number identifying their position on the tree. That's a good plan, but it'll be a while before the next person in the family turns 100.

It's startling to think that Aunt Agnes was my age in 1945. She's very deaf, but otherwise of sound mind, though she tires easily. She remembers events of years ago as if they were yesterday; when I sat down to say hello to her, she asked me, "What happened with the marriage?" She was asking about the engagement I broke 16 years ago. Time looks completely different from a perspective of 100 years.

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