Almost forgot. I gave Lisa a few presents this year to make up for a couple B-school Christmases without: an All-Clad 8 quart pot, a Cuisinart mini-prep, and a couple books on dogs to make up for the fact that we didn’t manage to get any puppies under the tree. We’re still working on finding a breeder for the Bichon Frise puppies she wants to get.
I just got back from taking my parents and sister to the airport. It feels weird not having a totally full house. Lisa’s folks will be here for another week, so we’ll be able to taper off slowly.
Now that our five-guest experiment is back to two, I can report it was mostly a success. One thing we figured out a few days in is that it’s a lot harder to get seven people moving in the morning than two or four. We had a long list of activities, but each morning by the time everyone ate breakfast and showered it was almost time for lunch.
We’re off to do a bit of after-Christmas shopping. Should be fun, he said grimly.
Esta came in last night, so our family is all here now. Just in time; if I had to wait any longer to see The Two Towers, I would have been… extremely unhappy.
I will say nothing more about how the conversations between me and the anti-Win Without War folks are going save to note that the fine art of the ad hominem attack is alive and well.
Esta seems to be luckier. Her post about same-sex marriages attracted a thoughtful and responsibly articulated opposing view, in her comments rather than in email so it could be easily publicly shared. And so she started a real dialogue. This just goes to show that her language skills are more advanced than mine, I suppose…
Good morning! Thirty years is far too short a time with all of you. As Bilbo Baggins once said, I feel I know less than half of you as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as I should.
And thanks to Esta for the technicolor reminder of my mortality. Never fear, dear, I’ve got September 20 circled in my calendar for a few years hence…
Family history, to be exact. The unpacking has progressed to the point that I’ve found the box that had the pictures from my office and—more importantly—of my family. Pictures of the University, of the barn up the hill from my Grandmother Jarrett’s house, of the ancestral Brackbill farmhouse, of my Pop-pop and Grandma, my parents and my Aunt Marie. Plus some other odds and ends: a framed Glee Club poster that I designed, a signed Edward Gorey print, a framed photo of the Rotunda taken from the vicinity of my Lawn room door, an antique mirror. Plus some Legos, for some reason.
All this stuff has been in storage, not just since we moved from Boston, but from our move from Cambridge in the early spring of 2001. I’ve particularly missed having familiar images to hang in my office; not any more.
Esta tells some outstanding ghost stories from her days in Colonial Williamsburg and philosophizes about why Halloween is so cool:
On Halloween we realize that everything we trouble ourselves about is as fragile and fleeting as water in a cupped palm, and rather than howling about it, in our inimitable human logic we put on face paint and howl with it. Tell me that ain’t cool.
Esta was in Lancaster County this weekend visiting our relatives and found my grandfather in great shape:
Pop Pop was more like himself than I’ve seen him since the accident. On Friday night we somehow got started talking about old farming methods, and he told stories for nearly 2 hours about planting and harvesting corn and pumpkins, and the shucking parties they’d have in the fall. If you found a red ear, you got to kiss your girlfriend! Even at 85, Pop Pop’s chagrin that he never found a red ear was quite evident…
Yesterday Esta started one of the cooler genealogical blog projects I’ve seen recently: Great-Aunt Eva’s blog. She’s transcribing our maternal relative’s 1949-1951 farm journal one page at a time. It’s astonishing how much it reads like the happenings of a far distant past even though it’s only fifty-four years old. The entries aren’t floridly written; most are only a single sentence. But her voice still comes through.
There’s a blog I’ve wanted to point to for a while, but because it wasn’t yet a fully public project I’ve refrained. Today I’m proud to point to the new location of Esta’s blog, now named “Estaminet” (which is not to be pronounced Esta minute, as tempting though it is). To make up for my not linking to her before, today is officially Link to Esta Day. Mark your calendars.
One of the family’s newer traditions, now that everyone is back on the farm in Buncombe County, is to spend a day after the apple harvest making apple butter by hand the old fashioned way — in a cast iron pot over an open fire outdoors with lots of people on hand to stir. My uncle Forrest has a trout pond down the hill from his house, in a little dammed-up river valley he calls “Quail Hollow” (random aside: the second word is generally pronounced holler), and they meet up to do the work there.
This year local TV got wind of the event and did a spot on it in last night’s news. The transcript will linkrot tonight, but I’ve transcribed the text in its entirety (lowercased for everyone’s sanity).
Dad (Olin), as always, hits the tone just right:
I’m a retired aerospace engineer.
Is this rocket science?
I think it’s harder.
Also, trust my uncle to claim that he had to go back to the family farm to be important–this is a guy, after all, who’s had pictures taken with presidents over legislation that he got lobbied through Congress.
One note: my mom was a little miffed they didn’t interview her–she was the only woman participating. Mom, if you have anything you want to add to the story, shoot it over and I’ll publish it…
While Tim is (hopefully) at home sleeping off his jetlag, I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing him and Lisa the very best on their 5th wedding anniversary. It’s times like this that being on opposite coasts really bites; a card and phone call hardly seem adequate. Fortunately, they’re both sensible people who know a good thing when they see it, so while I can’t help them celebrate in person on the 5th, hopefully I’ll catch them on the 10th through 50th and beyond.
Happy birthday today to my wife Lisa. She has put up with me and has made some very stressful years of school and moving not just bearable but enjoyable because of her continual wit, humor, and energy. Plus she makes sure that I keep on my toes!
Courtesy my Dad: a spectacular picture of my maternal grandfather, Herman Brackbill (aka Pop-Pop), ca. 1939. His hairline is about where mine is today…
Pop-Pop was with my parents for a few weeks and by all reports is doing much better than he has been for a while. Esta reports that at my cousin’s wedding he was in great form, cracking jokes and generally having a good time. I look at how he’s doing in his eighties, and remember how my great-grandmothers on that side of the family both were–essentially non-responsive, at least as far as us kids were concerned–and I feel even better about how he’s been.
My in-laws flew into SeaTac last night. Unlike our last flight, there was no lost luggage. We loaded them into my car and swept them to our house so they could ooh and aah before we tucked them into bed.
This is a big visit for a couple of reasons:
- This is the first visit by any of our family to the house.
- My father in law is the reason we went through all the renovations on our guest bathroom. It’s kind of a payoff to have him finally using it.
- This is also the first time that the older portion of the house (the guest bedrooms) gets a real shakedown.
- Finally, Lisa’s mom can help us figure out what the heck to do in our garden. We don’t know very much about gardening; she ran a $500K gardening budget at their retirement community.
They’ll be here for a couple of weeks, so my late night blogging activity will be curtailed. (It probably would be anyway, as AT&T Broadband has been really flaky recently–download speeds of 1.5K/sec last night, no connection at all this morning!)