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Grappa Grab

5 Nov

There is something in today’s Grab Bag Special on which I want to focus. No, on which I NEED to focus. Is it the pig? Well, my sister and I have never had a fear of pigs, that’s certain. Piglets, especially, reside warmly within the memory of my heart. The charm of those silky ears and the sweet rubbery nuzzle of their sweet rubbery schnozz sends drizzles of syrupy warmth through my veins. It seems odd, doesn’t it? To speak of porkers with such positive passion? Well, yes, but that’s not why I’m here today. Nope.

What about sweet little Christina in this photo? So curious. So innocent. SO rockin’ the 1970’s polka dot sweat suit. Is this her first porcine exposure? Doubtful. We were well-versed in all things hog. (Shush!) But, once again, my focus is elsewhere.

Where? See that gentleman? The consummate farmer? THAT man. He is the attention capturer in  this photo. That is Grappa. Farmer, Seedcorn Salesman, WW2 Vet, Lutheran, Coffee-er, Husband, Father, Grandfather. That man. Oh! I love that man. I ache because in their lives my children don’t have his influence. They will never be taken in by those teasing baby blues. They’ll never see his gnarled worker’s hands folded in prayer. The gruff love he gave the meanest cat in creation is a lost anomaly. My boys have some amazing male influences. But, there was something about the combination of grizzly, seed bag tossing, toothpick chewing, implement running farmer with pleasing, softhearted, Cert doling, eye twinkling grandpa that will never be recreated for my babies.

I mean, LOOK AT HIM! I can smell the Old Spice/Spearmint/earthy goodness of him just by LOOKING! Look at how gently those work-beaten hands cradle that sweet animal. Look at how he knowingly gets down on Christina’s level and makes the most beautiful eye contact with her. That eye contact! I can FEEL it.

So that’s it. Today’s Grab Bag Special is extra, well, special. I can’t stop staring at this poignant snapshot. I’m sure I’ll continue to stare well beyond the average blog surfer. Feel free to join me.

Now You See It, Now You See It Again

29 Oct

I’m not going to lie – I was pretty excited to reach into the good ol’ grab bag this week and find the photo album filled with pictures from the months around my first birthday.  It’s nice not to be humiliated every once in a while.  And I’ve never seen a picture of a yearling child that wasn’t dominated by cuteness.

I’m not even going to spend a lot of time pointing out the weird fuzzy stuffed animal that I can completely feel in my memory, but can’t picture well enough to remember what animal it actually was.  And I’m not going to talk about the crazy gold striped chair that I’m sitting in, because in 1976 I think every family had one of those.  I won’t even dwell on the adorable jumper that I just bet my Mom made.  And that wall paper?  I’ve never seen it before.

This is what struck me about this photo:  Cecilia.

Do you see it?  Here, compare it to this one of our dear daughter that I’ve doctored with a little retro-photo action on Picnik.

Okay, so she’s got a little bit more of The Nose going on, but I bet my parents would testify to my nosing it up back then.  And I had a few curls sprouting behind my ears, but so does she, you just can’t see them in this picture.  We’re obviously not the generous and conscientious parents my folks were.  We’ve simply given our only girl a stick to play with.  Her dress?  Hand-me-down, not handmade.  But that’s nearly the same.

Despite all these differences I still see the resemblance, and I don’t think it’s just the Picnik photo re-vamping that’s doing it.

This is a really dumb picture.

22 Oct

Okay. Here’s the thing about grab bags. Sometimes you get really stupid stuff. Like nose whistles. Or flower tattoos. Or lemon drops.

Or this picture.



Really? THIS? Okay. Here goes. The thing about this particular picture is that it speaks to my high school years in fog horn decibels. Yep. High School. I know. I’m embarrassed. I am. There were a few things about which I was passionate in high school. Gilbert and Sullivan Musicals. Loved those. Z Cavariccis (I had a purple pair). And, well, Disney movies.

And cats.

And stuffed animals.

Ach. This is pitiful. I’m not sure I can go on. See that box? It was a FREE box from the Disney Store. I kept it because I loved it. I decorated my room with it. I MAY have even had a senior picture taken with it. I OBVIOUSLY staged pictures with it. And my special Disney stuffed animals. And my cats. I mean, really, is there anything more adorable than two kittens, Iago, Lady, Mickey, and Flower surrounding a BOX??? What about if one of the kittens is IN the box WITH MICKEY!?!?! Cutey cute cute cute. What about the Mickey slate in the background? Talk about artful framing. The knee and the foot? There’s got to be a story there. And the two rag rabbits? Well, honestly, I don’t think they were invited to the party. They were such a natural part of the decor that they went unnoticed. Like grass. Or clouds. Anyway. That was me. That was my art. That was what I used to do.

Say Cheese! Then put it back in the fridge.

15 Oct

Today was Church Photo Directory Picture Day.   For those of you who’ve never been part of such an event, you can think of it as School Picture Day plus grown-ups and minus the free combs.

It’s been a few *cough, almost nine, cough* years since our last Photo Directory.  Our family has changed a bit since then.  For instance here’s our picture from the winter of 2003:

It’s a missing children photograph.  And get this – it’s not like we left them with a sitter or accidentally forgot them.  There were simply no children.  None.  Well . . .  see that gleam in Jerry’s eye?

Never mind.

Other notable things are missing from this picture.  For instance, I don’t see a single gray hair on either of our heads.  And look what I have instead – salon applied highlights.  Highlights!!!  Strategically placed by an actual professional!!!  I probably also had a Starbucks that morning.  Life was pretty luxurious back then.

And here’s what we looked like today:

Okay, you’re right.  There’s something missing here, too.  Besides our bodies, that is.  Thomas.  I didn’t realize his shirt had already vanished from the layout until I upload the picture.  It’s waaaaaay to late to rectify that omission, so instead, please imagine a blue oxford standing at Jerry’s right elbow.  I assure you it was there when I laid out the clothes last night and he was wearing it today.  In the pictures.  We remembered him.  Surely.

While you’re busy fantasy photoshopping my picture, could you please erase the recycling bin overflowing with milk cartons, the old fishing hat (which gladly was not worn today), the odd sock, and the corner of my breakfast bowl?  Thank you.  I appreciate your cleanliness.

Now that you’ve done such a good job virtually tidying up, wanna come over to the house?  While you’re here I’d be happy to serve you some coffee while my Nice ‘N’ Easy takes effect.

Growl of the Beloved

8 Oct

See those cuddly bears? Those are our Oldests (when they were Youngests). I remember this evening well. My bear had been washed clean in Holy Baptism earlier that day. He was 6 days old. Christina’s bear joined us to help celebrate (as all good bear cousins do). This Mama Bear and her grizzly husband were T-I-R-E-D, and therefore, well, bearish. We had holed up in our cave for the night (or so we thought) when our den-guests invented a photo-op. (This bear metaphor is getting exhausting. Do you mind if I quit? Thanks.) Anyway, they invaded our room, and made us come downstairs for family pictures. I got all swept up in the crazy that is our family and amidst a LOT of chortling we changed our newborns into matching bear outfits.

It was this evening, in a storm perfect for spousal discovery, that I learned my husband cannot bear an interrupted bedtime OR matching cutesy outfits.

I Don’t Know What You’re Talking About

28 Sep

In an effort to thwart a bad cases of Blogger’s Block, and because we have not revealed enough of our olfactory oddness and possible parenting laziness, today I offer up another of our favorite forms of humiliation:

Grab Bag Special

Embarrassing aspects of this photo:

We’ve chosen a lovely place to pose – the doorway of the bathroom.  Not a bathroom, or our bathroom, or the special, fancy-soap guest bathroom.  Nope, the bathroom.  We had one.  That’s it.  But we thought that was normal.  Also, that bathroom is oddly located right off the living room.  Which is kind of convenient since it provided a comfy place to lounge while waiting for your turn in the one bathroom.

And then there’s the macrame plant hanger in the background.  It was one of many in our house.  At one point my parents must have been really in to macrame, we had cones of cord and scores of wooden beads in our basement.  My money’s on the 1970s.  Ours plant hangers were lovely, but you should have seen the piece my aunt had.  It was enormous, like a suspended end table with a glass top.  Or bottom, I suppose, since it was hanging.  Actually, it would be a glass middle, because  under the glass was this hugemongous, white, puffed-out tassel.  It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  In macrame.  No, strike that.  It was just the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Well, since you’re already gawking up in that direction I suppose I might as well mention what Stacy’s got going on up top.  That’s a dusty rose lace heart adorned with country blue ribbon.  Home decór doesn’t get more elegant than that, my friends.  And I’ll tell you a secret:  Stacy and I made those.  Good news, don’t you think?  I mean, if this mothering gig doesn’t work out for us I’m pretty sure we can get jobs in the interior design industry.

Okay, fine, enough ignoring the obvious.  Did you see that shirt I’m wearing?  See, for two years I played volleyball.  Volleyball was my thing.  I bet you’re thinking, “Hey, I thought she said she was scared of balls flying towards her face?”  You’re right, I am.  But in volleyball I saw an opportunity to send balls flying across the net via a killer serve which would theoretically reduce the chance of the balls coming my way.  Obviously I did not understand the meaning of the word “volley.”  But I did spend $9.78 on wearable proof that I was “an athlete.”   That’s really about all it takes to be good at sports, right?

And finally, the necklace with the t-shirt?  Nice, touch, don’t you think?  I’m just glad it didn’t choke me.

Well, there you have it.  Only a bad hair day could have made this picture more embarrassing.

And the Winner is . . .

15 Aug

Just kidding.  We can’t pick favorites.   Plus, we have nothing to offer as a prize except a hardy round of applause, and even that might be virtual. (clap, clap, clap)  That didn’t seem too hardy.  What about this?  (CLAP!!!  CLAP!!!  CLAP!!!)  Still pretty lame.  So sorry.

But we did gain these impressive stats from this little exercise:  We have EIGHT readers!!!  We never hoped for so large a number.  Of course, one of them is our Mom, but she still counts, right?  Right, Mom??  Mom, are you still reading?  Oh, well – we have SEVEN readers!!!  This is very exciting.  Here are their entries in the great caption contest:

Mom plunges her way through another Halloween with a couple of her 'ghoul-friends'.

Oh, just wait until we pull some photos of our Halloween costumes.  I’ll give you this much as a teaser:  The Michelin Man.


Girls, we should be on the Paris Fashion runways!!! We be stylin’.

I’m fairly certain there is nowhere more geographically or ideologically distant from Paris fashion than our hometown.


Woman plunges GOLD from her ears and lives to tell about it!

As Dad always says, “If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, and earwax were made of gold . . .”


“The Three Plung-e-teers” – For a small fee, we’ll take care of all your plunging needs AND serve you a tasty home-cooked meal while wearing a smile and sporting the latest fashions.

I have no doubt that these three women did two of those things very well.


Look at what I pulled out of the toilet!

What toilet?  We had an outhouse.  A three-seater.  I’ll tell you about it sometime.


The Golden Girls...the early years...

Oddly, this is very, very close to the truth.


Just heading out to an LWML meeting.

And combined with this one you nearly have the whole story.

But I’ll get to that tomorrow.  For now, I’ll leave you with one last caption.  Guess who sent in this gem?

I needed to exercise censorship before I sent a box of photos home with my daughter

Mom?  Mom?  Are you still out there?  You still love us, right, Mom?

(crickets chirping)


Your Brain, Our Photos

8 Aug

I’m planning/researching a fantastic Grab Bag Special for you, but the photo is too wonderful to sit idly by on my hard drive until I get my act together.  Therefore, you get a sneak peak.

Not so fast!  There’s a catch.  In order to see this unbelievable snapshot of family history you have to give us something*.

A Caption.

A wonderful, apt, clever, witty, spunky caption.  Or, something boring.  That’s fine, too.

Here’s what you need to know about the picture:  the woman in the middle is my mother.  That’s it.  Go!  Be clever!  Submit!  Multiple entries welcome!

Special Note to Our Mother:  Mom, you may compete.  In fact, you should.  And, if you are inclined, you could even look up the “source documents” for us.

Alright, everybody ready now?  Do you have your Caption Caps on?  Here it is:

Your Best Caption Here

*If you’ve gotten this far you’ve probably already seen the picture.  So, get to writing.  Okay, we admit we’ve got no power.  You’re on the honor system.  But I will say this:  Please.

Feed Bag of Memories

1 Aug

It’s time for another thrilling installment of . . .

Grab Bag Special

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  I might have done a bit of my own work on the bangs.  Why are bangs a reoccurring theme in these pictures?

So, did you know that our dad used to raise pigs?  When I left home he got out of the business.  Read into that what you must.

But weren’t they cute?  (I’m talking solely about the pigs now.)  And loud, let me tell you!  On days when I feel the need to complain about the noisiness of my household I need to remember that wicked combination of volume and frequency that could curdle milk.  You know that’s why we drink cow’s milk and not pig’s, right?  No?

Okay, I don’t know why we don’t drink pigs milk.  They have something like 8-12 milk nozzles (I’m trying not to get any unwanted hits here, so please forgive the technical terminology.)  That seems like a pretty rich resource for tapping milk to me.

Back to the picture now.  Let’s focus on that feed Co-op feed bag.  On our Vogelsang Girls’ 5K we ran past the Co-op and the smell of the feed in the air reminded us of some of the best school field trips ever.  There weren’t a lot of options for field trips, so once a year we went into town and toured some of the businesses – the bank, library, newspaper, jail, and of course Farmers Ranchers Co-op.

They always gave us Saf-T-pops with the CO OP logo on them.  The sign of a good field trip location was always it’s free give-away at the end, and that sucker placed the feed store pretty high.  It wasn’t as good as the year that the bank let us go back into the vault and then gave us pens stuffed with shredded dollar bills, though.  I remember bragging that we didn’t keep our money at that bank, so ours was much safer.


I grabbed Rachel.

30 Jul

Remember the cool grab-bag special game that my sister started? Well, I grabbed. This is what I got:

I think that's my mom's handwriting on that cake....

Who is that smooshy-gooshy adorable blob of baby? Well, friends, that is our long lost sister, Rachel. I intend to answer 2 questions in this post:  #1. Is she really lost? and #2. Is she really our sister?

First I will deal with question #2 (I’m almost always backwards…) by answering some other questions. Is Rachel biologically part of our family? No. Was she raised by our parents? No. Did she live under our roof? No. I know, I know. It’s sounding less and less like we can claim her sister-ship. Bear with me. She DOES have a sisterly title. We call her our “schwester”. No, she’s not German, either. She’s a child of the Sandhills, just as us. (There’s a connection, right?) We just coined that term while traversing Germanic countries with her. Look below. That’s us in Austria. They speak German there. Seriously.

10 points to the person who can name the movie we are portraying in this scene. GO.

We grew up with Rachel. No, not in the same house, but we LOVE that girl (and she puts up with us rather politely). We’ve vacationed with her, played with her, babysat her, taught her things (I think…), commiserated with her, hugged her, joked with her, dried her tears (at least we tried), advised her (not advisable), cheered for her, and watched her turn into someone really really awesome. Which takes me directly to question #2.

Rachel’s been lost for awhile. First that darling decided to up and leave the Midwest for seemingly greener (ivy green) pastures on the East coast. Stupid Harvard. After that whole thing was done she eeked a bit closer to us (and much closer to my sister and her schwester) by attending law school at Notre Dame.

We celebrated her Juris Doctorate with Touchdown Jesus.

At this point our dear Rachel was still lost. So lost that she wandered again to the East coast to take some giant test about Virginia’s bars. She liked what she had learned so much that she (and her two kitties) settled in for awhile. I thought we’d never again find her amongst all the culture and clamor of the DC area.

Here’s where it gets exciting. Really really exciting. I FOUND HER!!!!!!!! WHERE!??!?? Sitting unassumingly in the back pew of our beloved church this morning. (Can you think of a better place?) She’s back, friends. Here to stay? Well, we sure hope so.