Posts Tagged ‘memory’

Today is the first anniversary of my Favorite Thing I Have Ever Done: purchasing my home. Having moved from place to place more times than I can remember, I am indescribably relieved to finally have a place where I can put down some serious roots. (And after having spent most of this sunny March afternoon out in the garden, I can say with confidence that the roots are coming along just fine.)

A year has passed and I find myself marveling at the newfound feeling of not having to wonder whether or not I will be in the same place for another season. In honor of the epic year behind us, and the many years and adventures to come, I’d like to share some of my favorite domestic scenes from our first year in our forever home. Here’s to flowers and sunny windows and snowy scenery and foster babies and beautiful sunsets and stacks of books and a house full of love. My Castle, my Fortress of Solitude, my Bliss Station: I hope I get to haunt you forever.


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Tonight, as I was sorting through some of my things and cleaning out junk from my room, I came across a series of my earliest childhood memories that I wrote out for a school project years ago. One of the funnier ones involves my earliest attempts at entrepreneurship…


         As a young child, a major endeavor of mine was to acquire money with which to buy candy. I had no use for money besides this, but without my own money I was not likely to get the amount of candy I desired. So, I took to selling lemonade. This would have been a good idea, except that there were few cars that passed our house out in the country on any given day. But, I was determined, so I would sit on the stone steps, behind a little table, selling cups of hot lemonade that had been sitting out in the boiling sun. My siblings were my best customers, though a few of the neighbors would also stop to purchase a steaming cup or two. More often I would sit on the stone wall watching the spider mites and waiting for my next victim.

When the neighborhood tired of lemonade, I thought up new get-rich-quick schemes. I designed greeting cards and postcards, selling them for a nickel apiece. I set up shop on the living room chairs, and worked on my merchandise as I waited for anyone to come by to buy something. I didn’t make a lot of money, but it was enough to buy a few pieces of candy. That was all I needed.


Another early ambition of mine—bunny wrangling…


        Around our house lived dozens of wild bunnies. I would see them out in the field, munching on clover in little groups. I very much wanted to catch a bunny, and I would try to sneak up on them, milk crate in hand. Of course, as soon as I came anywhere near them they would scatter, but I always felt that I had come so close, and so I would keep on trying. When that didn’t work, I set up a trap in our spacious backyard. I used an overturned box propped up with a stick. The stick was tied with a long string that I would hold in anticipation as I hid behind a bicycle propped up in the yard several feet away. I dreamed of the moment when a bunny would come along and decide to crawl under the box. My plan never worked.


Youth was never a simple thing for me. I had the ideas and the drive, but neither the skills or the knowledge to figure out how to accomplish what I wanted. Perhaps things aren’t so different for me now—except that I can’t spend all my hard earned money on candy.

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It’s Father’s Day. Time to celebrate dads by grilling out, gift-wrapping tools, giving cards and gathering the grandkids.

And blogging.

My dad is a modest sort of guy, and there are not many words to adequately describe him. So instead, I got together with my sisters to make this list of our favorite memories of our one-of-a-kind Daddi-O. I think they describe him better than any other combination of words ever could.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Favorite Dad Memories:

  • Jen: “He came all the way up to Frank’s in Castleton one night to escort me to my car due to an angry customer waiting in the parking lot for me at 1am.”
  • Marie: “Listening to Dad tell stories about being an Army clerk during the Vietnam War. That stuff could be made into a novel.”
  • An enigmatic dish called “pookywook” that he would bring for dinner after Mass each Sunday.
  • Theresa: “Staying up late, eating popcorn and watching “Tour of Duty” and other war and horror movies.  Sammy Terry!”
  • popcorn. and soda.
  • Building the cabin at Shoals.
  • Angela: “I remember how he used to pick me up from school 84 and I would jump off the top the stairs when he walked up, and he always caught me 🙂  And one time at a soccer game he ran along the sidelines with me waiting for a stop in the play and then whipped out his pocket knife and cut off all the duct tape holding my shoe together b/c it was unraveling all over the place :)”
  • Spending countless hours waiting on the side of the road waiting for Dad to come up with some ingenious solution to another car problem. Like fitting together soda cans to replace a broken exhaust pipe.
  • Countless camping and canoeing trips.
  • Teaching us to do hundreds of things, such as, how to shoot a gun, how to paint a house, how to install ceramic tile floors, etc…
  • Jen: “He came all the way up to my apartment at 3am when my intruder alarm engaged and no one would help me turn it off.  By the time he got there I figured out how to turn it off, but I was so stressed and emotionally distraught that he sat with me on the street curb while I cried for nearly 20 minutes.”
  • Marie: “When Dad showed up at my house to help me bury Smeagol. I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved to see someone.”
  • The smiley faces and little drawings he puts on email messages and cards.
  • Four or five small children vs. Dad in grizzly-bear-hug tickling contests. We always lost.
  • hanging off the shopping cart while grocery shopping with Dad.
  • getting our faces sandpapered by his stubbly face!
  • Theresa: “Visiting every battleground within driving distance.”
  • Staying up super late on summer nights playing board games on the porch.
  • Storm-watching
  • Enough flashlights to light up a small army.
  • Jen: “When he came all the way back to Indianapolis from a Boy Scout canoe trip, very early in the morning to get me.  None of the other Boy Scouts showed up, so Dad decided I could tag along.”
  • Waking up to the smell of Dad cooking eggs and bacon on Saturday mornings.
  • Waking up to the smell of Dad cooking fried potatoes at midnight. And letting us get out of bed to eat them.
  • Getting $1 to spend at Village Pantry on Sundays after Mass in Greenwood.
  • Hundreds of Saturday brunches, Dad treating everyone, no matter how many unexpected guests showed up.
  • Marie: “The look on Dad’s face when I fell off the roof. Then how we laughed hysterically about it and he gave me an Air Corps wings pin to commemorate my flight.”

I’m sure I could go on for quite some time, but in the words of Jennifer,

“There are so many good memories, and so many things Dad has done for me in the past, I can’t begin to remember them all just now.”

Thanks Dad 🙂


Your beautiful, smart, wonderful and talented daughters 😉

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Spending time at Grandma and Grandpa’s house was something that I always took for granted. It seemed that the house would always be there, my grandparents would always be there, we would always have another holiday to gather as one big, happy, extended family. Thanksgiving would be turkey, Christmas would be ham and presents. Easter would involve epic egg coloring, and Fourth of July grilled black hot dogs. The coming of August would bring hot air balloon races flying overhead, and hoards of cyclists passing through the neighborhood. Halloween meant chili and trick-or-treating as far and as fast as our little legs would carry us. There would always be many reasons to visit Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

With time came the inevitable changes. Family events became fewer and further between, and never seemed to last all day and all night like they used to. Eventually, the house emptied itself of living souls completely, leaving behind only a lifetime of collections that crowded each room and stood as colorful relics of days gone forever.

I brought my camera to Grandma and Grandpa’s house today, to try to capture a bit of the dwindling spirit that made this home such a vibrant place, teeming with life on countless occasions. My goal was to focus on those details that may have stood out to me twenty years ago. I wanted to capture the feel of leaning over the upstairs banister looking down, and the hesitation of a child peering down the basement stairwell, looking for monsters.

I couldn’t capture the scents of the place: yew, Irish Spring, musty carpet, freshly popped popcorn. But if you stare at the images long enough the memory of it might come back to you. You may even begin to remember the feel of knees burnished by orange carpet that was plush and bright long before I ever crawled across it. You might begin to feel the impossible heft of the door, inseparable from the squeak of the hinge and the beep of the alarm at ready. You might hear my grandfather’s laugh, and footsteps receding in the hallway, stepping down two steps, then immediately stepping back up two steps to the kitchen. You might rediscover a long lost part of yourself in those red tiled floors and brown striped upholstery. It’s worth a look to see.

I began writing this blog with long drawn out captions, attempting to describe the significance of each scene I had chosen to capture. I decided instead that the photographs could speak for themselves, or silently hold their mysteries forever.

Before long these images will be mere reminders.


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Watching thunderstorms was a family tradition. As soon as those silver maples turned back their leaves and the clouds began building, we would gather on the porch, anticipating. The tv would flash with promises of excitement to come. Mom would make us put on shoes, and warn us not to take showers or do dishes (not something we were prone to doing as children anyway). I’ve never really been able to pinpoint the attraction, but I know our family isn’t the only one to get our kicks through storm watching. There’s something exhilarating in an approaching storm, but less scary (for me) than a roller coaster or a horror movie. And yet, a thunderstorm is far more potentially deadly than either.

Even today, I’m happy to hear a storm roll in, so long as I’m cozy at home and don’t need to be anywhere. And even today, my first instinct is to reach for the nearest pair of shoes to slip on before I head to the door.

So what’s with these early admonitions from our childhood? Do I really need to put those shoes on? Does my highly valued shower time really have to wait until the skies clear? Did Mom and Dad really know what they were talking about?

The answer, of course, is sort of.

Rubber is definitely a good insulator, and can help protect you against electric shock. However, the immense magnitude of a bolt of lightning isn’t really going to care if you have 2mm of rubber attached to the bottom of your feet. And those shoes aren’t going to do much anyway if you are, say, lying down in bed, sitting in a lawn chair on the porch, or outside splashing in a puddle while your mother’s back is turned.

The real danger while indoors during a thunderstorm really does lurk in the shower, the kitchen sink, and…the nevermore ubiquitous landline. When lightning strikes a house, the electric current travels (mainly) through the electrical wiring and the plumbing. Anything connected to those systems is fair game.

So please, when you hear the trees begin to bustle and the rain pours down in sheets, use your modern technology wisely. You can Tweet on your cell phone and Facebook on your laptop to your heart’s content, so long as they are not plugged into a socket somewhere. You can even do it shoeless, if you like.

Whatever you do just don’t, don’t wash those dishes by hand, and don’t pick up that rotary phone receiver.

Happy storm watching.

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In my earliest memory I am two and a half, sitting in the cab of a pickup truck next to Theresa. Mom is driving, and has just realized that she has left the cap of the gas tank at the gas station. We turn around and head back.


At three years I am standing at the foot of the stairs at our house on 47th Street. I look on silently as a wet, steady stream cascades down the wooden steps. My eyes follow a trail of broken glass to where Theresa stands at the top of the stairs, gazing down at her prized possession lost: a giant pickle jar once lovingly filled with river water. Tadpoles, shells, slimy pebbles now lie strewn about and encroaching upon the front entryway.

She looks upset.

The musty smell makes me think camping: plastic mugs hung on tree branches, a hammock. For that split second time halts, and we both stare dumbfounded at the scene, anticipating Mom’s frantic investigation.


A tornado came through the neighborhood. We went to the basement, and someone set me on top of a tall dresser near a window. A distraction occurred and for a brief moment that seemed interminable I was stranded alone on my perch. I turned to the window to watch the branches falling outside.

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