It was quite fitting that the night before we told my parents we were engaged, I’d been scanning my parents old wedding negatives. I also recently bought a copy of Adobe CS 5.5 Design Premium, so, empowered with the force of photoshop and some actions (occasionally) from the Pioneer Woman, I’ve fixed up some of the photos and will show them to you here. Captions will be above the photo.

I’ve grown up looking at these photos in an album that is made with the same fabric as mom’s dress. And yet, it surprises me when I talk to my parents, or look at these details and see how things were different than I have imagined them.

I don’t know how long my parents were officially engaged, but I think it was less than a year. Instead of an engagement ring, after the mutual decision that they would get married, dad gave mom a carved wooden bird. Thus explaining why the bird lives in her dresser. (That puzzled me as a kid.) My parents wanted matching PLAIN wedding bands, which at the time involved going to a jeweler in Toronto. Which I kindof think of as being similar to going to Cleveland for a jeweler because the jewelers in Columbus and Toledo don’t have plain wedding bands. Which these days, is a crazy thought.

Mom and her family.

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Closeups of mom with her family.

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My parents with my dad’s parents. Sadly this negative was a little scratched on Noni and Nono’s faces. I tried to save it, but there’s still some scratch visible… I have very few pictures of my grandfather (Nono) and this one makes me smile.

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Dad with his family. My uncle Dave is looking surprisingly serious, given his usual jovial state.

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Mom and dad talking in the background while relatives (including my paternal grandparents) sit in the background and mom’s parents talk in the foreground.

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These pictures (including the next three) were all taken in the yard of the house where my mom grew up. The house where my grandparents lived until the mid-nineties. I’m guessing they were taken before the service, but I don’t know. My mom’s brother and a next-door neighbor/family friend were the photographers. While not all the pictures are great, there are enough that are exactly what you want from wedding photos.


One of my favorite photos. My dad’s brother (best man), mom’s sister (maid of honor) and my parents. Everyone looks so happy.

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I guess this picture is probably when I noticed my mom’s distinct lack of flowers. Which is amusing to me because everyone else has flowers. Mom’s not a flower type of person (I don’t know that we’ve ever had florist-flowers in our house, just wildflowers or garden flowers. In fact the one time I can remember my dad giving my mom something flower related was when he got her a lilac tree one year in Alaska.

Formal portrait.

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Dad looking the same, with mom giggling.

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Mom made her wedding dress, with the help of, I believe, my grandma. According to my grandma, there was some serious procrastination and the dress was finished less than 48 hours before the wedding. Unlike many wedding dresses, which sit preserved on a shelf, mom’s dress lived in our dress up box. It was next to the Japanese kimono and the Egyptian slippers. I think the shoes may have been in there too. For those of you missing the obvious, no, I will not be wearing my mother’s dress. I outgrew it when I was about 11.

I have never heard of a wedding with a bassoon & clarinet duet. I am intrigued. Luckily my parents have an audiocassette of the wedding, so I could listen (or share it with you all!) if I wanted. Apparently I am the only person in our house to ever have listened to the tape. I found it when I was about 12 and listened to it until it got boring. (Poor quality didn’t help relieve the boring factor.)

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My parents were apparently trendy before the trend. They basically had a cocktail hour between the service and reception. Only the cocktail hour involved no cocktails or any sorts of alcohol (unless you brought a flask) and there were no appetizers. So a more correct term would be mingling hour. But that sounds less trendy.

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I assume that the mingling was prior to going in the church hall for the reception. But I can’t tell you because I haven’t checked with my mother.

I had it in my head that my parents had a cookies and punch reception. People made cookies and there was a fantastic orange and cranberry punch. (I know it’s fantastic because I have the recipe and I keep thinking I should make it more often.) So you can imagine my surprise when I came across this picture this morning. Apparently there were salads, deli meats, cheeses, and bread as well as veggies. (And, presumably elsewhere, punch and cookies,)

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My parents reception had no dancing. There was a group singing of “Consider Yourself at Home” from Oliver (performed by mom’s side of the family, as per tradition.) But I believe most of the reception was people giving speeches and involving gifts somehow. Including, for some reason, hiking boots. (Sadly there is no audio of the reception.)

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Oh look! They’re getting a colander.

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And the colander is on dad’s head.

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(I sent this post to my mom for her to verify facts. She adds, “There are a few corrections to be made (for example, I believe that my mom made all the cookies over several months, and froze them until the wedding). It was a HOT day.”)

4 year olds + cameras = crazy

In 2005, I spent time at my grandparents cottage with my family, cousins, and grandparents. I loaned my digital camera to my then-four-year-old cousin and the following pictures are but a small sample of the pictures that resulted.

An interesting representation of me.

My grandmother would be mortified by this. Don’t anyone show her!

My cousin’s face and someone’s arm.

My legs.

We could figure out where my cousin had been by what pictures were on the camera. Here’s the porch door. Pretty good framing.

Back stairwell.

And the camera cord…

Old Family Photos

In chronological order:
This is a relative, we think. We don’t know who she is, but she appeared in a photo album from the early 1900s of a trip of a relative to visit other relatives in Alberta. She is, as far as we know, the only person on my mom’s side of the family who looks like me. Freakishly like me.

I believe that these are my paternal grandparents. (Unlabeled pictures! Grr!) I never knew my grandfather well, but I knew my grandmother. I don’t remember her as being this elegant though, which is what is throwing me off. In my life I knew them as Noni and Nono. (Yeah, Italian scholars, I know it should be Nona and Nono, but my fam lives on the wild side…)

My maternal grandparents with my mom, aunt, and uncle. This would have been their first Christmas together.
Aw! Look. It’s my mom and her sister grown up a little. Yes they’re twins. However did you guess? Apparently this was taken in Newfoundland where they lived for their first 3-4 years.

My dad looking all young and wearing his crazy hat, showing off my little brother. He looks awkward. It cracks me up.

I’m not telling…

I mentioned the other day that I’d gone on a trip before that I hadn’t told my parents about. Here is that story.
April 3o and May 1, 2008 there were two MAJOR concerts in England to celebrate the King’s Singers 40th anniversary. The first was to be in London, the second in Cambridge at King’s College. The year before, dad and I had planned to go. But this was when the dates were unknown and as soon as he found out when they were, he bailed. Teaching or some such nonsense 😉 But I had this idea in the back of my head. I had over 100,000 frequent flyer miles. I could go to England on my own!
Thus the scheming began.
Poster from King’s College Concert
I hemmed and hawed and finally decided that if I could buy tickets for the Cambridge concert, I would go. (I knew there were still London tickets available.) I called up Cambridge via Skype and they had tickets…good ones, so I started booking everything.
Then I thought it would be funny if I didn’t tell my parents that I was going. To understand this you have to understand two things about my relationship with my parents. First, I tell them almost everything. They know what I’m worried about, whether I went to the doctor this week, and who I had lunch with last Friday. That’s just who we are. Second, they are not worrywarts. In fact, when I was in Mexico for 3 weeks and our tour guide was getting death threats and Canadians were being held hostage (local to where we were), what was my mom most worried about? That I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt in the cab. Because it didn’t have seatbelts.
So I knew that my parents wouldn’t mind being left out of the loop. And I wanted to do this to see if I could hide something from them. It was HARD. But Simon and Ben got to hear all of my planning instead of my parents.

What I look like after a day of biking

I even went on a 30 mile bike ride through the Cotswolds on my own. Because I could. And because it started in Moreton-in-Marsh, home of Ian Kellam, whose music we often sing in choir.

I concocted a ruse about why I wouldn’t be calling my parents that week (which they bought) and let them know via email that they should call Ben if they needed to get in touch with me while my broken phone was being serviced.

I thought you should know my phone died… If you need to reach me you can email me, have Anthony IM me, or call Ben. I should have this all sorted out by the middle of next week…I hope 🙂

Then I took off for England. On Thursday, May 1, I mailed them a postcard of the King’s Singers concert, confident it wouldn’t arrive til I was back on American soil on Tuesday, when they could call me. I got an email on Monday, May 5, entitled “so.”

Got a very mysterious card from England.
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Since when did the British postal service work that fast? But nevermind! I called them from the Newark airport the next day and they were highly amused.

Anthony’s Here

My brother makes excellent poses at Christmas time (example above, ~2005). Anthony made it in this afternoon and brought his worldly sense of crazy with him. My parents will show up tomorrow and then the quintet of crazy will be complete.

Christmas is coming

For some reason I was the only one excited about my New Zealand possum hat in Christmas 2004. I think this pose qualifies as an awkward family picture for many reasons…

Unapproved Photo or Why my family is weird: Part 5

Warning: I am on day 4 of a headache…so I didn’t ask the people in this photo for permission to post it…SORRY!

Christmas pictures in our family often look like this: Dad is excited about his Robert Shaw Chorale cd and Anthony is excited about having picked such a great cd in the first place.

Happy Birthday Anthony!

Once upon a time my little brother was little and liked wearing a pig snout over his belly button.

Crafting with Mom or Why my family is weird: Part 4

Mom said that she wanted to do crafts one day while I was home. I said ok, envisioning the crafts from several Christmases ago where she and Anthony cut out 50 paper snowflakes. No. This years craft involved a blowtorch. N0t the small one, but the big one. It’s so big, it may be called something different than a blowtorch. It’s a BERNZOMATIC. We needed it at several points for our undisclosed craft.
The Bernzomatic

Mom liked to wave the BERNZOMATIC around wildly while I was trying to heat up the knife to cut the wax. She made me nervous. Luckily, it turns out that my nervousness was deserved. She lit the newspaper (guarding the countertops) on fire.
The burnt newsprint, knife, and chunk of wax.
Our craft also involved a cutting board. At one point we needed to heat up a nail (with the BERNZOMATIC) and dad fashioned a vice grip with these needlenose pliers and a rubber band. Cause in my house, that’s the way we roll.

Needlenose pliers with rubberband, nail, and drips of wax

Sorry anxious readers, but I cannot reveal what the craft was, for that would go against the rule of the craft society. But stay tuned for tomorrow’s November FINALE post (which will also not be a reveal, but will be equally exciting).

Crazy Pets

Maggie in the windowsill

My parents, for years, had two pets, a dog and a cat. For our first six year in Kentucky, Traveler (our collie) was a single child. He mourned the loss of our cat deeply. He moped around and every Himalayan cat he saw, he thought would want to play with him, cause it must be Rumbler. (We had left her in Alaska because we’d been long term petsitting, we’d never “owned” her.”) Then in 2004, dad’s co-worker decided that my parents needed a cat and Maggie (Margaret Thatcher) came into their lives. Traveler loved Maggie and it was common to see Maggie sleeping on top of Traveler or Traveler helping Maggie groom the hair on the top of her head.
So, perhaps it wasn’t surprising when Maggie took Traveler’s death incredibly hard. She knew it was coming (as we all did). He stayed outside for the 48 hours before he died and she apparently refused to leave his side, even for food and water. When I say he stayed outside, that was primarily because he couldn’t walk up stairs or control bodily functions, and by that point he wasn’t eating. It wasn’t very cold and they’d made the shed up for him. But Maggie stayed with him. Mom brought him inside (carrying him) before she took him to the vet, and I don’t know if Maggie came in too, but when mom came home from the vet, Travy wasn’t there, and my parents say that Maggie hasn’t been the same since. She’s been much more needy and has craved attention.
Ben is not a cat person. I think of him as a dog person, but neither of us has pets at the moment. So I didn’t know what his reaction to spending a week with a cat would be. Maggie has latched onto him though. Dad thinks it’s because he’s the calmest presence in the room, but if Ben is seated, Maggie will find lap space and sit there for as long as possible. It doesn’t matter if he’s reading, doing sudoku, or on a laptop, she will be there. I, naturally, have been teasing him about this and he now claims that we can’t get a cat because the cat would like him better and then I would feel neglected and would get another cat, leading to a vicious cycle. For now though, I’ll just enjoy having a cat wandering around and I’ll enjoy the notion that maybe, one time, the cat will pick me…