category: family

family Screenshots from Skype with the baby

Jeff and Sydney


A still from the funny struggle to redress a crying Sydney because the first onesie was too big


Jeff and Sydney again, this time in “a onesie with a little Pooh on it”


family Email from my mom

So the windows are done. They came back and painted today and now they are gone. So now I can clean. Which is good, because there is a half inch of sawdust All Over Everything. Even the vertical surfaces are coated! It is a mess.

So I grab the Liquid Gold and start on the banister/handrails. It is working even better than I remember. It is even taking off the dirt under the sawdust. And it smells a little better than I remember.

Then I glance at the can I grabbed. It is red, aerosol…

Anyhow, if you have any woodwork that needs cleaning, Raid works really well:)

family Scannering: results

Here are some highlights from a crapload of pictures I just scanned. They’ll all be on the photo site in an album called “071115-Scanned” in a few minutes. They’ll be larger there, and will have comments.

But, like I said, highlights.

I call this one “Airport ’77” because we’re in an airport, and it’s 1977, not because of any big disaster that happened or was about to happen. Note the ashtray built into the table. Note the American ticket jacket in my dad’s pocket. Note how dressed up we are, just to fly. Dig my mom’s pants, man. Scariest part? This is not the only picture I have of her wearing those pants.

Airport 77
These next two are notable for only one reason. First, we have one my mother labeled “Summer 1977: Jeff 1, Elaine 3.”

Elaine & Jeff 4

I don’t know where we are here. From the look of it, we’re at In Thirty Years Parents Will Call This Place Death Park USA Park. I mean seriously. That child is ONE and he is in that situation. Nowadays, he’d be encased in plastic. I love shit like this.

The second one of this set isn’t labeled, but the processing stamp on the back says “Oct 79.” Notice anything?
Elaine & Jeff 2

Yeah, that’s right. It’s two years later (you can tell easily from looking at Jeff, if not at me), and I’m wearing the same shirt. It even fits a lot tighter than it did in 1977. I do not remember this shirt, but I must have loved it.

Lastly, and this is my whole point, we have what I consider one of the finest pictures ever taken of me ever in my life. My father demonstrated a gift when we were young for taking pictures of children correctly. He must have spent ten years kneeling in front of us with a camera. He got so close, and the light and focus were always so good. Go to the new album page on the photo site and you’ll see more examples. He was great at it.

family My weekend in Parma

(I don’t know if you know, but I went with Jackie, the daughter of my paternal grandmother’s sister, and her son Shaughn [Four of Seven] to visit her parents [my grandmother’s sister and her husband] this weekend. There are other names in here: Margaret is the wife, Jack is the husband, Meg is One of Seven, Grady was Margaret and my grandmother’s second-oldest brother [Two of Nine], Sport [a nickname] was their brother Henry [Five of Nine], Steve is Jackie’s husband. Margaret and Jack have lived in the same house since roughly 1951.)

We left around 8 am and got there around 3 pm. Jackie has the drive down to a science, knows exactly the best places to stop, and so on. Shaughn was the only one with us, and it had been a year since he was there, but he knew the route too. I offered to drive but she didn’t take me up on it.

The house looks exactly the same as the last time I saw it twelve years ago! Jack & Margaret look a little the worse for wear, as you’d expect, but honestly not as bad as I had feared. Jack sits in a wheelchair because it’s easier to get in and out of than the sofas, but he walks around the house. He uses a walker Steve got him, but he moves fairly easily, and he gets in and out of the car and the house just fine. Margaret uses a cane outside the house and a walker sometimes in the house. Her knee seems to be really bothering her, but she didn’t seem to have any trouble bending to pick things up, and sitting/getting up.

Jackie took the shopping list and went to the grocery store, and Shaughn and I stayed to visit. The pictures from the wedding, and especially (surprisingly) the picture and stories of Jasper, were a big hit. Shaughn had been reading “Flags of Our Fathers” in the car as part of his summer reading for school (going into 9th grade) and he became a little obsessed with Iwo Jima. He got all kinds of stories from them about things that happened during the war. We also got lots of stories of the Butlers. Margaret kept saying that Jeff’s picture, especially the profile, looked just like her brother Grady, and Shaughn is just like Sport.

Jack doesn’t seem to be able to see much of anything; he moves around the house with familiar ease but I’m not sure he can actually SEE the house. He cups his hands over his ears to hear, and Jackie told me yesterday that she and Steve have tried to get him to consider hearing aids but he hates the idea.

But I was heartened to see that both of them are completely … I’m not sure what the word is, the opposite of dementia. The sense of humor is still there (I do so like to make people laugh and I was able to), the stories come out, they aren’t forgetting people’s names. Jackie and I agreed, after seeing it happen (Steve’s dad, two of my grandparents), that it is better for everyone that her mom and dad have the problems they do, as opposed to suffering through Alzheimer’s.

It was a couple of hours before Jackie got back from the supermarket. She apparently does this every time; the fridge upstairs and the freezer downstairs (Margaret can still do the basement stairs, apparently, though I didn’t see it happen) are stuffed with easy-to-make things (frozen pizza, steakumms, etc.) and baked goods. I could have quite happily lived there! Jackie forgot a few things that weren’t on the list and I offered to go out and get them. Shaughn went with me. I was planning to fill the car up with gas while I had it, but Jackie had beaten me to it. $2.57 a gallon in Parma. I wanted to fill the trunk!

We went out to dinner. Guess where. Did you guess Red Lobster? Because I saw that coming. Shaughn rolled his eyes, doesn’t like seafood, but came along gamely and ordered a steak! I had snow crab legs and a beer. No one would let me pay, but I tried. We sat and talked some more, and I was very tired so I went to bed barely later than Jack did, maybe 9 pm. I slept in what I remember being the playroom, Jackie in the guest room, and Shaughn on the sofa.

I was repeatedly invited to Mass but declined. When they got back around 11:30 on Sunday, Jackie and I went out to Subway and got lunch for everyone (this is also apparently part of the routine for these visits). Jack had asked her to get an anniversary card for Margaret (“something with a lot of words”), so we went to Walgreens on our way back with the sandwiches and read them *all* before finding one that seemed to fit. We had apple pie for dessert, and then Jackie went through the mail and the bills and whatnot with Margaret (again, routine).

We left around 1:30 on Sunday. Traffic was pretty bad on I-70. We were stuck at one point and went about a mile and a half in two hours. Shaughn was bummed because the other boys were going to go see the Simpsons movie last night and couldn’t wait long enough for him to get home. I was able to get online from the car and figure out where and what the delay was. It was close, so we didn’t bother trying to go around, and the traffic was fine the rest of the way.

We got back to Gaithersburg around 9, and I got home around 10.

In other news, Meg cut her hair, way up to about chin level. It’s so thick and wavy that it’s hard to tell how long it really is. She donated the rest of it to Locks of Love, the cancer-wig cause. We agreed as how those guys were probably pretty happy to see her hair walk in. It looks really cute short. I don’t think it’s been that short since she was very small.

Maybe this is more information than you wanted. Sorry. I’m glad I went, anyway.

family Pictures of Jeff

Here’s a picture I’ve had on the wall for years. It’s from the summer my dad first grew his mustache, which he still has. I look at it a lot because even then, at the age of not-quite-seven, I crossed my arms and smirked instead of smiling. I look at this and try to remember not to do that. That’s my grandmother next to my dad. Click the picture to see it larger.


Here’s a much later picture of Jeff. This one was in with the rolls from the last couple days of high school. I was looking through those yesterday for a specific reason (I’ll be posting those specific ones soon) and found this at the end. So it was late June, 1991. Jeff was finishing up his freshman year.

He had a different fashion sense then. I love this picture.

geocaching Geocaching is awesome

Look, it’s my parents, live from the University of Montana!

Picture 1-2

The webcam is user-controllable, which is really cool.
I could see them while they were talking to me, which was really creepy.

family There’s a wedding tomorrow.

Zero days, six hours, nine minutes, fifty-one seconds. This widget has been counting down for a while now. I believe there’s a screenshot of it from several weeks ago on the blog someplace. I’ll leave finding that as an exercise for the reader.

I have the flu, have had since shortly after arriving in California on Tuesday, and I feel like death warmed over most of the time. Once the Theraflu kicks in, and I fall asleep, I’m good. I wake up, I take more Theraflu, and I fall asleep again. I haven’t slept less than twelve hours a night since I got here. Tonight will be less, because I have to be up and around in time to meet Lisa and the other bridesmaids at the salon at 11.

During the day, I take Dayquil, but the times between the Theraflu wearing off and the Dayquil kicking in are bad, bad times indeed. I’m supplementing my diet with Zicam rapid-melts (“shortens the duration”), but I’m not sure it’s making a difference. I’m also taking an Allegra-D every day, because I am a decongestant racist. I firmly believe that the dextromethorphan in Dayquil doesn’t work, and that the phenylephrine in Theraflu doesn’t work, and that the pseudoephedrine in Allegra-D does work. Bless two-years-ago me for laying in a supply of a prescription decongestant.

We had the rehearsal today. I’m only about sixty-seven percent confident of my ability to do things properly. I’m the first one down the aisle, you see, and I’m not completely clear on where to stand. It’s also going to be dastardly hot.

The rehearsal dinner was delicious, with good service and nice table karma. Everyone in the wedding (I’d only met the best man, the maid of honor, and one of the groomsmen before this week) seems just positively lovely and delightful. Lisa’s family are all lovely and delightful. My parents’ friends (including Nicole and Michele’s parents, who I can’t believe came) are lovely and delightful.

It is exhausting.

The best thing I did today was to spend an hour in the pool and whirlpool after dinner. I had the whole place completely to myself, and it was great. For a while I felt like I wasn’t sick, I never had been sick, and the world was quiet and wet and soft and light.

family April 13, 1945

In my cleaning and tidying today, I came across a small journal I hadn’t read in a long time. My grandmother wrote a few letters to my mother in it when she was a baby. There isn’t a lot in it, maybe ten or twelve entries all told, but there’s one that stands out in a big way. It’s the only one that mentions anything happening outside their home and family.

When history is happening to you, around you, you may not realize your time will be remembered. The war was still on, even in Europe, in April. Much of the journal is written the way you’d write to a baby, explaining things in simple terms, without realizing the baby will of course be an adult when she reads it. The way she wrote here about the news of the day is as though my mother, reading it decades later, wouldn’t know these things had happened. It’s odd and charming. Also charming is how she wrote last names (Hoover, Landon, and so on) and filled in “Mr.” afterward, so as not to be disrespectful.

April 13, 1945 – Friday

For 2 weeks we have looked forward to Friday the 13th of April—you would be 11 months old. The day came and almost went without our remembering—The news which came over the radio yesterday late afternoon shocked us too much to remember anything else. Our beloved President of the United States died at 4:35 Washington time—3:35 P.M. Cleveland time. He was the peoples choice by a wide majority for 4 terms. Never before has a President been elected for 4 presidential terms. Mr. Roosevelt was a humanitarian—he catered to the little man—the poor people—taxed big business to give to the worker. The first time he won against Mr. Hoover—neither your Dad nor I voted for him. Mostly because we were Republicans and he was a Democrat. The second election in 1936 against Mr. Landon your Dad was for him—I against. Your Dad felt he had helped him by giving the worker higher wages and shorter hours. From then on we were both for him.

War came to Europe and we knew we would eventually be in it. President Roosevelt was a politician and a fighter. He got what he wanted and made many changes in our government. Much criticism was given him for his spending so freely on his projects—ran the national debt into the billions—but for the war he couldn’t be equalled—he forsaw what was coming and fought for preparation when the isolationists couldn’t see beyond their noses.

His idea was for regimentation—which for postwar worried many of us—he wanted everyones wages to be on a scale—price of goods on a scale—the same job and same merchandise would be the same price—that way good workers & poor workers on the same job would get the same salary. After this last election many worried that we would be communistic and lose our freedom. With his death I believe all these fears are over.

Harry Truman is soft spoken—easily led, I believe, but do not feel will destroy our way of life. It is too bad Mr. Roosevelt could not have lived to write the peace—he would have been more firm. We may have another war in 20 years now because of Mr. Roosevelt dying before the Axis were brought to their knees. Mr. Roosevelt was working toward permanent peace.

I am so glad you are a girl—maybe we can keep you with us if there should be another war. I dread thinking about war—because it is awful.

You are sweeter than ever—now at 11 months you are so much fun. I love you—Susan, dear.

The next entry is two years later, in May of 1947. The next is a year after that, when my uncle was a baby. Then nothing for fifteen years, until November 3, 1963, when my mother was nineteen. It ends with the words “Maybe if luck holds out I will live long enough to see both my children happily married—then my job is done.”

family Nostalgia

Here’s a television commercial I’d never seen before, for a product my brother and I fought over.

Here’s proof he usually won.


family It should be OBVIOUS

…that only a moron would post pictures of her brother’s fiancee in a possible wedding dress on a site she knows her brother reads.

far >