Tag Archives: old pictures

Stupid Distance

14 Sep

Today is my sister’s birthday.  According to facebook she’s 85, and since I’ve never had reason to doubt anything else that I’ve read on everyone’s favorite social media site, I don’t know why that wouldn’t be true.  I wrote this post back when Stacy was just an early octogenarian, but it’s exactly how I feel today, too.


Did you ever have one of those days when you really just wanted to whisper something in your sister’s ear that made her smile no matter what else was going on?  And it certainly wouldn’t hurt if you were both wearing matching polyester green outfits.

Or even if you don’t have coordinating clothes, don’t you want a day to hold her safely onto the vinyl ottoman and tell her that you love her?

Yeah, me too.


Stupid Distance

21 Jan

Did you ever have one of those days when you really just wanted to whisper something in your sister’s ear that made her smile no matter what else was going on?  And it certainly wouldn’t hurt if you were both wearing matching polyester green outfits.

Or even if you don’t have coordinating clothes, don’t you want a day to hold her safely onto the vinyl ottoman and tell her that you love her?

Yeah, me too.


I Need a Nap

19 Nov

Everyone is a little tired today, so we don’t have much to offer in the way of posts.



12 Nov

Betcha can’t guess out of what decade today’s grab bag special is pulled.


Did I hear someone say the 70’s?  You are most likely correct.  There is a slim chance it might have been taken in the early days of January 1980 when my Mom was celebrating her 29th birthday with brand new aluminum pizza pans and another gift done up in my father’s specialty wrapping – the newspaper.  But even if big hair, leg warmers, and Ronald Reagan were on the horizon the 1970’s were clinging on for dear life.

First, there is that wallpaper.  Seriously bold choice.  Although, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t our parents’.  They moved into that kitchen with it’s Formica, brown fridge, metal cabinets and the most decade defining wall decor ever manufactured.

And while they can’t be blamed for those decisions, it seems like they might have been sniffing the wallpaper paste in a couple other design areas.  You can’t see this very well, but the chair I’m sitting in was a padded, beautiful, Big Bird Yellow.   It matched the BBY Formica table underneath the brown and gold madras tablecloth.

The orange bowl to the left of the refrigerator, however, is not some super-trendy serving set my parent’s received off their “registry” at Ace Hardware.  That is the most important bowl in my Mother’s kitchen.  Always has been, and unless she comes down with a mean case of diverticulitis, always will be.

That is the bowl/lid of her Stir Crazy.  You know what a Stir Crazy is, right – those fabulous popcorn poppers that have a little metal rod that “stirs” the bottom of the hot plate where the popcorn kernels await their chance to pop like “crazy.”  When it’s all over you flip the entire appliance and the transparent orange lid becomes your snack’s serving bowl.

The man who invented it is a genius.  A genius who lives down the street from us, that is.  Yup.  You read that right – one of the men who designed the West Bend Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper lives just around the corner from our house.  He and his wife retired in Grand Rapids after, one can only assume, they went Stir Crazy in Wisconsin.

And if anything can convince my parents that it’s a good idea to move to Michigan it would be the example of my mother’s hero.  I sure hope when they do move this direction she’ll let me borrow that awesome cardigan.

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.

We Love our Mummy

31 Oct

You all are in for a treat today! No trickin’! You see, we have this really fantastic mom. She’s always been that way. I suppose she always will. Occasionally we’re reminded of the ways in which she is fantastic. Today, specifically, countless Halloweens come to mind. Halloweens during which we donned the creations of  that lady. Some of our costumes were homemade from their very beginnings. Some were yanked from household closets. Some were stolen from unsuspecting construction workers. Those things matter not. What matters? The fact that we were never clad in polyester/synthetic fur/plastic mask/made for Walmart/highly flammable costumes. (Well, we had ONE highly flammable costume, but darned if we can’t find the picture. I promise that when we do, we will post it, regardless of season. It’s THAT good.) I wish that I was always so intrinsically motivated as a mother. Well, maybe it wasn’t intrinsic motivation at all. We may have just been really high maintenance daughters. Nah. That couldn’t have been true…Anyway, to you I present The Vogelsang Sister Halloween Costume Gallary:

See these? Ghosts. Cliché? Nope. How many ghosts do you see wandering the sidewalks these days? That’s what I thought. These are costumes only rivaled by Charlie Brown.

Next photo please…

You’ve seen these before (in black and white and itty bitty). A lion. A flower. Faces encased in cardboard. I’m wearing an old dress and Christina is wearing a gunny sack died green. Brilliant. Innovative.

This is District 13’s student body dressed up for the holiday and in front of our schoolwide Halloween art project. How cool is that, right? These costumes were obviously pinched from our father’s closet. Christina has more power as the “White Hat”. That’s as it should be.

The overall costume is ripped from our p.j. drawer, but the bonnets? Those were handcrafted my our mom. The diaper/trick or treating bag? Another homespun accessory. The bottles? Well, sometimes people keep things in storage too long….

DUH-da-da-DAH! Best costume EVER!!!! “Beware of the Abominable Snowman” Yep. Wondering which costume we ganked from construction workers?? Look no further. I can still smell the crumpled newspaper shoved down our britches. We had to answer a lot of questions that night. That’s why Mom made signs. Most Abominable Snowmen don’t wear signs. Betcha didn’t know that.

Good, huh? We’d love to hear about your past costumes. Please? Sometimes my discussion requests get ignored, but this time I’m Serious (serious enough to capitalize). And with that I wish you Happy Halloween, Blessed Reformation, and a Joyous Candy Collection Day.

Prairie Bell(e)s are Ringing

29 Aug

As the school year begins I often get wee bit nostalgic. (Nothing overly sentimental, mind you, but thinking back’s kind of fun, right?) My sister and I are members of a wonderful minority: country school scholars. Yep, we got our educational beginnings in a good ol’ fashioned one room schoolhouse. To be fair, our school had 3 rooms (bathroom, coat room, classroom), but it wasn’t much larger than most middle class living rooms (those of you living in fairytale castles – picture your closet).  And every year at this time we were drooling with school year anticipation.

District 13. Prairie Belle School. Isn't that a sweet name for a school? It was ours.

Usually we would take a late summer pilgrimage to Norfolk (or sometimes Grand Island if we were feeling fancy) to go school shopping. Once laden with new jeans, tennis shoes, pencil boxes, and backpacks (if we were lucky) we patiently twiddled our thumbs until the first day of school. And, oh!, the wait was painful. There is almost nothing to this day that ignites nervous anticipation in my heart like the first day of school. Would I get to hang my coat on a high hook like the wiser students? How would Mrs. Hall arrange the desks? Would there be new contact paper on the class table? What games would be popular at recess? Would it be too hot to wear my new jeans? Would my schoolmates (all 3 to 6 of them) remember me? Had anyone gotten a new hairdo over the summer? What would my classroom job be? SO MANY QUESTIONS! And all would be answered in that one day. I might go so far as to say that the first day of school was the BEST day of school, but jumping to extremes leads me to abandon Halloween, Christmas pageant day, Field Trip day, and Valentine’s day. It’s a close race, folks.

The sleepless nights and elevated heart rates were all worth it on that first day. Armed with a fresh box of Kleenex (usually generic), a bag full of unmarred supplies, and a Care Bear lunch box (or was it Strawberry Shortcake? Smurfs? Christina, help me out here) we would trepidatiously enter that stucco learning fortress. Our school had a wonderful smell. The scents of bromegrass, cornfield, chalk, powdered tempura paint, construction paper, and mouse droppings combined to form a comforting olfactory cocktail that culled academic prowess from our pores. (Don’t question it.) As we slowly inhaled, gazed around our beloved building, and found our seats, we found ourselves – that crumble of a piece that had been missing all summer.

I’m saddened that these rural institutions are largely things of the past. I’m desperate for my own children to have the same experiences of school that were given to Christina and me and a few lucky others. But, as with so many things, their experiences will be different from mine – their memories just as sweet.

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.


Humiliation In Every Bag

21 Jul

I brought two boxes of old photos home from Nebraska, from which I have decided to begin a new Blog Series called:

Grab Bag Special

Here’s how we play:  I will reach into one of the boxes and pull out a random photo.  I will scan the photo and upload it to the blog.  I will then apologize for our unfortunate hair, clothing and/or facial expressions and explain the context of the embarrassment.  You will then laugh at our dorkiness and give thanks that you refrained from all mortifying behavior in previous decades.

Let’s begin, shall we?

I suppose the hair is a dead give-away to the time period here.  Do you remember how much of the late 80’s and early 90’s were wasted attempting to acquire that look?  As you can see, Stacy and I do.  That’s probably why we were so tired, we had to wake up an hour earlier than everyone else to sculpt those Bang Bulbs.

But look at little Rachel.  Isnt’ she adorable?

This was the summer of 1990 and we were on vacation in New Mexico and West Texas.  At our stop in Carlsbad Caverns I decided to become a professional spelunker.  A decision based solely on my fear of tornadoes.  It was either that or move to Alaska.

We also took a day trip to a little town in Mexico where I bought what I considered to be the COOLEST black leather jacket in the whole world.  Complete with fringe.  I hope to never find a picture of that one on a Grab Bag Special day.

Do you know what confuses me most about this picture?  Mom.  Or maybe that’s Rachel’s mom Georgia.  Either way I want to know:  Is she asleep, too? Or just leaning over so Dad in the front seat can take the picture?  And, if that’s Mom, where’s Georgia?  And if it’s Georgia, where’s Mom?

You see, I know that Dad and Rachel’s dad were in the front seat because that was the Unspoken Rule of the Car.  Men in front.  Women in back.  It was also the Unspoken Rule of the Holiday Table.  Men at the Living Room Table.  Women at the Kitchen Table.  I remember once when our cousin tried to buck the system.  Scandalous.  But I think overall she was the one who suffered.  The rest of us womenfolk didn’t have to endure the conversation about corn yields and swine infestations.

I suppose that wraps up our First Edition of Grab Bag Special.  Thank you joining me on this trip down a steamy, dreamy, mesquite-lined memory lane.