Category Archives: Uncategorized

Summer Hiatus


IMG_0481Hi all,

Just a short post to let you know I am taking a blog break over the summer.  I will still be writing, but just not for my blog.  Which is sort of why I’m taking a break.

My day job gets intense in the spring and summer, and I only have so much band width.  One of my goals is to learn to write first and edit later, but I can’t seem to break the “edit as I write” habit with my blog.  I fall into a perfectionist cycle and end up with writers block and a severe aversion to my writing room.  And writing is as important to my sanity as walking in the woods with my dogs, riding my bike, and eating cake.  Sue not writing = Ungood.

To shorten what is certain to quickly become an 800 word very boring dissertation about my life – I need to retrain my brain.  And the only way I can think of to do that is to write with abandon – without worrying about making it sound pretty right out of the gate.  And I haven’t been able to do that with my blog.  I have tried – with varying degrees of success – but I keep going back to my old habits.

I’m going to keep a journal over the summer, and I’m going to practice writing fiction and dabble in some ancestry stuff – I’m thinking a Belgian time traveling German elfin princess astronaut who uses warp speed to sling shot the sun and bring back dinosaurs while fighting off Romulans and Darth Vader, while teaming with StarLord while riding trained raptors.  You know, the usual.

Most of you who read my blog are friends with me on Facebook, so you know where to find me if you feel desperate for a stupid story to laugh about.

See you in the fall,

Sue

PS.  This may be a smokescreen excuse because I really just want to ride my new bike more.

PPS.  You’ll find out for sure this fall.

PPSS.  Unless it’s a warm fall, then you might have to wait until late fall.

PPSSS.  Feel free to eat large amounts of cake to comfort yourself in my absence.

Keep-Calm-and-Eat-Cake

Horrible Parenting


IMG_0198

I think we can all agree that parenting is a crap shoot. You do the best you can with what you know and wing the rest. Chances are, you are winging it quite a bit.  Most of us want our kids to be independent thinkers – to make decisions based on their own experiences and investigation – but still expect them to hold on to our most important core values.

Dave and I raised both of our kids this way, and while they have often presented us with a laundry list of challenges, I didn’t really expect them to stab me in the back with this one.

My kids hate coffee.

I know, right?  Like, they could have been Bear fans or communists but nooooooo.

Where did I go wrong? How could I have prevented this? Am I a bad parent? What will the neighbors think? Will they realize it’s just a phase or will they gather around my door with torches and pitchforks?

I don’t know what else I could have done.  I was quite possibly the best example of what it means to have a coffee addiction in the entire universe.

Every morning I greeted my children with a hug and a coffee breath kiss. I left heart shaped coffee rings on their homework. I walked them into school with my coffee stained shirts and smiled my coffee stained smiles at their teachers and friends. On days they were late for school or dressed funny, the teachers whispered “She must have run out of coffee.”.

I seriously don’t know how they dodged this bullet. It should have been stamped into their little beverage genetic codes from conception. Coffee is the lifeblood from which my entire family functions.

Coffee for breakfast.  Coffee for lunch.  Coffee for dinner.  After dinner coffee.  Coffee with coffee cake.  Coffee with cheesecake.  Coffee with bundt cake.  Coffee with ANY cake.  Coffee with pie.  Coffee while we work.  Coffee while we pretend to work but we are really thinking “this coffee would be much better with cake”.  Coffee for road trips.  Coffee on vacation.  Coffee on coffee tables while reading coffee table books while we wait for more coffee.

But no. You know what they like to drink? They like to drink MILK.  MILK!!!

Nothing against milk – it has it’s place on top of my cereal or IN MY COFFEE(!). Maybe as a beverage if I am feeling guilty about calcium intake, but let’s be serious. We all know that’s what cheese is for. (Mmmmm….cheese…..and cake…. CHEESECAKE…mmmmmmm….)

Their dad, however, is a milk drinker. And he comes from a long line of milk drinkers. Was I NOT paying attention when I met him in art class? Was I so enamored with trying to kiss him during film strips that I forgot to ask him pertinent questions such as “What is your opinion about banjos?” “If your wife brought home several stray cats, how would you react?” and “How do you feel about coffee breath?”. But no. I had to ask things like “Do you have a car” and “Will you pick up me and my friends and take us to go buy beer?”.

So now you know. I’m a parenting failure. I gave birth to milk drinkers, who will, in turn, have more milk drinkers. My legacy is dead. I have failed.  Dave, on the other hand, is victorious.  And I am reminded of this every time I buy groceries and return home with 4 gallons of milk and only one bag of coffee.

Now, if you will excuse me, I must go drown my sorrows in Starbucks Sumatra with just a touch of cream, and a huge ass piece of Costco All American chocolate cake, after which I will enjoy a cozy football nap and then maybe have more coffee.

Until next time,

Parenting Failure Coffee Breath Sue

PS.   I found out AFTER I wrote this that my children do, in fact, drink coffee, thus making my entire post a LIE.  Well played, children.  Well played.

PPS. However, despite being a bald faced liar, with this turn of events, I can now say I am a huge parenting success. I have bestowed two more coffee drinkers unto the universe.  Dave is a milk drinking L-O-S-E-R!

PPSS. Dave would like to remind you that I’m a liar and any claims above regarding my greatness and his loser-ness should be taken with a large glass of milk, of which we have plenty because I just went grocery shopping.

PPSSS.  Dave would also like you to know that at least he will share his milk but if you try to touch my coffee, I will stab you in the back of your hand with a fork.  Not that he has any first hand experience with this.

Pressure Cooker For Sale


Elite

I’m selling my pressure cooker.  Ya wanna buy it?  6-quart Elite something something something – $40.  I paid $80.

I suppose you want to know WHY I am selling it.  It’s hard to admit, but I’m a pressure cooker drop out.  Except I really can’t blame the pressure cooker – it worked fine and cooked everything exactly the way it was supposed to…I think.

And there is the crux of the matter.  I am not really sure how food is supposed to look or taste when it comes out of the cooker.  I watched a few million infomercials and they just dumped all the ingredients in and assured the audience that even an idiot can make fabulous meals with it.  I must be some special kind of idiot then.

My first attempt was chicken tenderloins, and I threw in a can of cream of mushroom soup and some cut up potatoes and some butter and seasoning.  I couldn’t get it to pressurize so I added more water, JUST LIKE IT SAID TO DO IN THE TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE.  Still wouldn’t build up pressure.  Added more water.  Do you see where this is going?  Finally, I figured out I had to push down on the top to get a good seal and I finally had pressure.  Yay!

Only by now, I no longer had chicken with potatoes and cream of mushroom soup.  I had chicken and potatoes in opaque water with tiny gross black thingies in it and some weird ass film over everything.  And the potatoes were mushy.  And the chicken looked diseased.  Family reaction?  “Oh my God….”

Although it was not visually appealing, it didn’t taste horrible.  Like, no vomiting ensued after placing a forkful in our mouths.  So, even though Dave begged me to return it, I decided to watch a few more infomercials, and give it another chance.

The 2nd attempt involved spoon steaks.  Usually, I buy the ones that are marinated in the burgundy pepper stuff and even though I know it’s probably full of chemicals, they are quite delicious.  Unfortunately, my brain was on vacation when I was at the store because I returned home with plain, non-chemical infused spoon steaks.  Boring.

But I knew from watching the last infomercial that if I just browned them on the sauté feature and added some organic chicken broth, I would have a miracle dinner in less than 15 minutes.  Liars.  But the presentation was MUCH better than the last time.  Family reaction?  “You don’t have to make this again.”

Despite my family shoving the pressure cooker back in the box, taping the receipt to the top, and sticking it in my car, I decided I just hadn’t hit on the right dish yet.  I unpacked it and snuck it back in the cupboard at midnight, and did some major pressure cooking shopping the next day.

I bought a lemon pepper pork roast.  I bought pork chops.  I bought a stuffed pork roast.  Pork was obviously on sale.  I brought my precious dinner ideas home and nestled them in the freezer until the next Sunday dinner.  This time, it was going to be perfect.

Sunday came and I decided on the lemon pepper roast.  It sounded so delicious!  I made sure it was thoroughly thawed (say that three times fast) and browned it just like I did the spoon steaks.  I added 1 cup of chicken broth, just like the spoon steaks.  I figured after all, the spoon steaks would have been much better if I had used the marinated ones, so this pork roast was going to be fantastic.

When it was finished, I pulled out the roast and set it on a plate.  It looked…grey.  It didn’t look crispy, even though I browned it.  It didn’t look like “the other white meat” like it does when I cook it on the grill or in the slow cooker.  Hmmmmm.

I cut into it, and it was definitely tender.  Still grey, though.  My daughter saw my hesitation (never let your children sense your fear in the kitchen.  One funny look from you and they won’t eat broccoli for five years), and wrinkled her nose at it.  “Is that even done?” she asked.

“Sure.  Sure it’s done,” I said.  I poked at it.  It was a little pink in the center.  Grey and pink.  Not good food colors.  I cut towards the end, pretty sure those pieces would be done at least.  I took a bite.  I smiled.  I chewed.  I smiled bravely while I chewed, and then my eyes watered and my brain screamed “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY SPIT IT OUT!”  I swallowed.

“It’s bad, isn’t it,” said Dave.

“No…it’s not..baaaaad,” I drawled.

Dave took a bite and, to his credit, actually swallowed it.  “Kinda rubbery, dontcha think?” he said.  My daughter was in the process of taking her first bite when she heard his verdict and immediately beelined it for the kitchen sink where she made her opinion known with gagging.

Not only was it rubbery (although a tender rubbery.  Like, not hard to chew but still rubbery.  Very odd sensation.) but it didn’t taste like lemon pepper or pork or a combination of lemon pepper and pork or even just lemon or just pepper or just pork.  It tasted like chemicals, only not in a good way.  More like in a “I’m eating rubberized Lysol” way.

So now, we have an entire lemon pepper pork roast bagged up in the freezer until we decide what to do with it.  I can’t throw it away because of all the starving children in China and Dave won’t let me pawn it off on our son (“Really, honey.  I think you have given him enough fodder for the therapist.”) so it will just sit in the freezer until one day Dave throws it away when I’m not looking.

Meanwhile, I have a pressure cooker for sale.  Only used three times!

Sue

PS.  I am fully aware that my experiences have more to do with the cook and not so much the cooker, so no need to point that out.

PPS.  If you DO point it out, expect some rubber pork roast on your porch.

PPSS.  This is why I eat cake.  Cake would never do this to me.

 

 

 

 

Come In Orson


holdontoyourbutts

It is now the end of my NaNoWriMo experiment. I did not write a novel. I did not write 50000 words. I did not pass Go. I did not collect $200. But I did write almost every day, and I tried to get at least 500 words in when I wrote. I came close enough to this goal to be happy, and to call this experiment a “win”.

As a bonus, I learned a lot about myself and about how I write.   I can tell you are all just dying to know, so in the words of the great Samuel Mo-Fo Jackson: “Hold on to your butts.”

I LIKE TO WRITE.

That seems less monumental now that I see it in print. I mean, “Duh”, right?  But I was getting to the point of dreading my time at the keyboard.  I wanted every line to be perfect and I wanted everyone to believe my writing was perfect and I wanted to fit my square-ass peg in a round-ass hole.  Over thinking and editing every line lead to slow and painful writing, and when I couldn’t keep up with what I thought my imagined pace should be, I wrote less and had less joy doing it.

NaNoWriMo, however, is all about writing without editing.  Just letting the words fly out onto the paper, all willy-nilly and higgley-piggley.  I about had a coronary the first few days.  But then I got into it.  It became fun.  Nothing made sense at first, but I didn’t care.  I was writing, and as I wrote, I found golden nuggets along the way.

My main golden nugget?  Writing is a whole lot more fun when I’m not being such an anal asshole to myself.

MY WRITING STYLE IS MESSY.

I write the same way I clean my house. I make a fantastic mess and then somehow, in between looking at old photos and reading long forgotten sales flyers, I organize it into place again. I also leave cupboard doors open while I am cooking. I don’t know if this is related, but it drives certain people in my life crazy. So if leaving cupboard doors open is a pet peeve of yours, feel free to rant about it in the comments. It won’t change anything, but I know it will make you feel better.

I am much happier and more productive when I make a big writing mess, and then go thru it all later and puzzle it into a single, flowing, beautiful, angelic document of pure bliss and perfection. It is absolutely just as time consuming as my old way of writing one sentence and then editing it to death, but I get to write a lot more and I am editing less. I believe speed and overall better writing will take place over time and if it doesn’t – who cares?  But it will. And you know why? Because of…

PRACTICE

Why am I so old before I am finally understanding the concept of practice and not perfection?

When I was a teenager, my friends and I were Steve Martin fanatics, to the point of purchasing banjos and taking banjo lessons. Serious groupie behavior. However, to play the banjo with the same skill as Steve Martin involves years of dedicated practice. YEARS. And I wanted perfection, and I wanted it yesterday. I still love Steve Martin, but I no longer own a banjo.  I sold it when I realized that I would never dedicate enough time and energy to being that good.  It was a desire, but it wasn’t a dream I was willing to fight that hard for.

Writing has been a similar experience for me – I believed I was supposed to be perfect right out of the gate. Except I wasn’t.  And my writing was all over the place.  And I kept switching my genre.  And writing became a chore.

But this WAS my dream.  And still is.  I refused to give up.  And still do.  I will be in Kristin Lamb’s 5% of 5% of 5%, even if it takes me until I’m 90.  Even if I suck.  Even if no other living human ever reads another word I write, although that would be terribly depressing.

Because my new attitude is practice.  I can’t get better if I’m not writing.  I can’t find open doors and opportunities if I am not actively learning and participating in the writing world.  And I now know that it will always be “practice” and not “perfection.  And I am so very okay with that.  Finally.

THE BLOG

Photography is a lot of fun, but it’s not my first love.  I have time to be either a really good photographer or a really good writer.  I have to pick one and commit (which also relates to genre).

So I am going to stop muddying the waters of my blog, and will be pulling away from photo challenges and instead focusing on humorous posts as they relate to day-to-day living. I will publish every two weeks. On a Monday. With a full elvish moon.  Carved into stone by Wolverine at high tide during the festival of Shirtless Jackman, while Steve Martin plays Foggy Mountain.

THE NOVEL.

I will write one. But not this year. This year, I will be focusing on practice, establishing permanent writing habits, doing a few workshops, reading books about writing – that sort of thing.  Oh yeah and maybe realize my dream of being the next Sue DeGroot.  Who is great, by the way.  In case you missed that.

Of course I will still be biking and hiking and rolling around in the dirt and picking wood ticks off the dogs and eating butt loads of cake, and then coming back here to tell you about it – humorously of course. But I think…I think it will finally all make sense.  At least to me.  You guys are probably screwed.

Writingly yours,

Sue

PS.  Thanksgiving was awesome and pie filled – it’s the one time of year pie is an acceptable alternative over cake.

PPS.  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you all gained as much weight as I did.  Because I’m considerate that way.

PSS.  I would like to thank all of you who have inspired me and encouraged me to keep writing.  Some of you know who you are.  Some of you have no idea.  I was going to name names, but chances are I will forget someone significant and then feelings will be hurt and wars will rage and all of mankind will cease to exist.  So instead, here are the letters of all the initials of all of you.  A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.  And the entire Klingon alphabet, just for good measure.


 

NaNo! NaNo!


This month I am semi-participating in NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month.  This is a writing challenge that spans the month of November, and the goal is to write 50,000 words towards a single work of fiction.

I am going to be a bit of a NaNoWriMo rebel, however. First of all, I don’t write fiction (yet) and second of all, I can’t commit to 50,000 words (yet). However, I do want to establish better writing habits and eventually write an actual book – whether it be a work of fiction or a collection of anecdotes or the Adult Book of Pooping (hey, write what you know).

My main goal in this challenge is to create a new writing habit, which I will achieve by hitting 15,000 words for the month, and committing to writing at least 15 minutes each week day, and an hour each Saturday and Sunday.  And I am publicly signing up via my blog as a way to hold myself accountable – if I tell you about it, I will be more likely to follow through.   Feel free to send encouragement.  And if that doesn’t work, send cake.

One of the other points to NaNoWriMo is to try to write without editing.  To give you an example of how excruciatingly hard this is for me, realize that I retyped this very paragraph 6 times.  Obviously, my inner Mrs. Editor is a raging lunatic.

Getting caught up in editing on-the-go and rewriting the same paragraph twenty times until I get it just right (or just “write”…hahahahhaaaaaaa!  I kill me.) is not conducive to word count or creativity.  I really want to learn to just write without worrying so much about how pretty it sounds. Making it pretty can come AFTER I get the actual idea on paper.

Participating in this challenge means not as many hours watching Parks & Rec on Netflix, lurking on Facebook, or playing Spider Solitaire (I have won using 4 suits.  Yeah, I’m kind of a big deal.).  I feel kind of sad about that, actually.  I mean, this could be an entire month of no Andy Dwyer falling in the pit or Leslie Knope eating waffles.  Dave does a killer Ron Swanson imitation though, and we live with April Ludgate, so I guess I will survive.

Anyway, just wanted to let you all know that’s what’s goin’ down.  On the down low.  Fo shiz.  WERD.  Wait, no – WORD.  Or PAGES if you are on a Mac.

Your favorite dork,

Sue

PS.  Every time I see “NaNoWriMo”, I hear Mork from Ork saying “Nano, Nano” in my head. And yes, that is a little distracting, especially when I am supposed to be writing and not digging around on the internet for Robin Williams photos.

PPS.  Shazbut!

PPSS.  Mork calling Orson.  Come in, Orson!

PPPSS.  I miss Robin Williams.

Mork

“Where The Heck Is Cornucopia?”


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia contributor Royalbroil

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia contributor Royalbroil

These are the words uttered by my husband when I told him where we were staying for our vacation in the Apostle Islands.  At the time, all I could tell him was, “I don’t know.  Somewhere over by Bayfield.”  Seriously, I had no idea.  I thought it was fairly close to Bayfield but on our way up, we soon discovered it was actually another 20 miles past.  Long drive gets longer when you have no idea where you are going.  It looked close on the Google map, but that didn’t seem to fill Dave with confidence.

Sorry, honey.  My Vacation Planning OCD failed and it was the end of June before I realized our 30th anniversary was almost upon us and I still had not looked for a place to stay.  By the time I found the Siskiwit Bay Lodge in Cornucopia,  I would have booked it if it were a smelly old tent next to a raccoon infested dumpster.  Thankfully, the photos showed beautiful shots of Lake Superior and a cozy suite with a kitchen and private seating area.  It even had a separate bedroom with a queen sleigh bed and a corner jetted tub that looked over the lake.

Just waiting for you...

Just waiting for you…

None of the photos showed a single rabid raccoon or ax wielding maniac, but I was leery.  We had been burned by pretty photographs before (and ended up with crappy accommodations although no mouth-foaming wildlife or serial killers so far.  But it’s still early).

Plus it was a bed and breakfast.  Eating with strangers every morning seemed like a recipe for a Sue Disaster.

You know, what if I spilled food down my chest, or snort laughed coffee out of my nose, or stuck my foot in my mouth instead of my fork or just acted like such a complete dork that nobody (not even Dave) wanted to sit by me during breakfast? All of my friends are seriously nodding their heads right now because I have done and will again do ALL OF THESE THINGS.  The struggle is real.

As it turned out, our hosts – Bruce and Sandy – were wonderful, and the grounds and room were actually better in person than they were in the photos.  Vibrant sunsets and blooming flowers and comfy adirondack chairs.  There weren’t even any mosquitoes.  And all of the other guests were wonderful, too.  And the breakfasts were homemade and delicious!  And tiny singing birds and little chattering squirrels dressed me each morning while I broke out into song and twirled on the deck.

Okay, maybe not that last part.  But I did have coffee on our private deck each morning while listening to the blue jays and red squirrels argue in the pine trees and getting visits from hummingbirds on their way to the flower gardens.  All in view of Siskiwit Bay and Lake Superior.  I gotta say – it was pretty awesome.

First sunset

First sunset

Another highlight of our trip was our cruise out to the mainland sea caves with Captain Mike of Good Earth Outfitters.  We decided not to do the kayak thing seeing neither of us wanted to work that hard, and Bruce and Sandy highly recommended Captain Mike  as an alternative.  We are really glad we took them up on it.

Because of the rough waters that evening, our cruise out to the caves meant engaging both 200-horse motors, resulting in whipping hair and water spray and grinning from ear to ear.  I draped my hand over the side to feel the water smack against it, and giggled like a little kid.  It brought back a lot of memories of boating with my family and my Dad going wide open while we all hung on and laughed.

I yelled to Dave then – “I FORGOT HOW MUCH I LOVE A GOOD BOAT RIDE!”  and he yelled back – “DOES THIS MEAN I HAVE TO BUY YOU A BOAT NOW?”.  Hmmmmm..

Captain Mike’s real expertise and years of nautical experience growing up on Lake Superior came into play as he maneuvered the boat right in to some of the caves, despite the high waves.  His knowledge and obvious love of the area made him the perfect spokesman as he described the formation of the rock by the passing glacier, and the caves by the relentless pounding of Lake Superior.

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(The caves were stunning and my photos don’t do them justice.)

Although Cornucopia is small, and off the beaten path a little bit, we found ourselves gently swaying to the music of this small seaside community.  Of course we did the touristy Bayfield trip and took the boat cruise and checked out the souvenir shops and ate at a restaurant that required a reservation.  But I think our best memories will be from little Cornucopia.

By our last day, we were tapped into the slower drum beat that comes with unplugging.  Evenings spent with our toes dangling in the sand of Corny beach, mornings on the deck, hiking to Lost Creek Falls and sloshing thru Siskiwit River, sunsets spent side by side in the chairs at the lodge, plunging under Lake Superior to rise gasping and laughing (and freezing!), digging thru the sand for rocks and stones and driftwood.  Not saying a lot – mostly just BEING.  Being present.  Being together.

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30 years is a long time.  But it doesn’t seem like near enough with this man.  I hope we get 30 more.

Sue

PS.  I did not ONCE spill food down my shirt at breakfast, nor did I burp out loud, pass gas, or say anything inappropriate.  Truly a magical week.

30 years. Word.

30 years. Word.

 

 

Older Than Dirt: A Photo Challenge – Part 1


Okay, so the theme isn’t really “Older Than Dirt”.  It’s Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge:  Older Than 50 Years.  

Technically, I could include photos of myself, as I am over 50, but I haven’t quite reached “dirt” status and hope not to for a while yet.  I thought about adding my parents but that could cause me to fall in ranking from “Favorite” to “Disowned”.

Last June we had a mini family reunion on my dad’s side.  Some of my cousins flew in and we went to visit my grandparent’s home, their cottage, the cemetery in Champion where our ancestors are buried, etc.  It was a lot of fun to catch up and see everyone.  Some of us haven’t seen each other in 30 years or more!

I have a lot of photos and stories to go with them, and had been wondering how to tell it without boring everyone to tears.  I mean, it’s interesting to me, but how to make it interesting to you?

Then Cee announced that this particular challenge would last until August 6th, and I realized it was the perfect venue to share my favorite photos and stories, and hopefully not make anyone want to poke a sharp stick in their eye.

My first photo is of the barn built by my ancestors, who came over in 1856, or thereabouts, from Grand Leez, Namur Province, Belgium.  This is the Walloon Belgian ancestory, and for some reason the vast majority of these immigrants chose NE Wisconsin.  My dad claims they all got the same set of bad directions.

This is actually almost true.  From what I have read, most were under the impression they were coming to rich farmland, only to arrive and find the entire area covered in a vast, dense forest.  I’m pretty sure they were not jumping up and down for joy upon their arrival in the New World, but they had just traveled 10 billion miles by crappy boat and crappy roads, so their choices were travel back 10 billion miles or clear the land.  They cleared the land.

So, we have this caravan of 5 cars or so, driving down Conard Road (my maiden name and yes, named after our family.  We are obviously kind of a big deal).  I’m in the lead with my parents and my Uncle Jim – all well into their 80’s but the only ones who have any inkling where on this road the original homestead would be.  I was beginning to wonder if we were on a wild goose chase when my dad and my uncle both said “This is it right here.  This is Harold’s old farm.”

ConardBarn

In case you are interested, Harold was my grandfather’s cousin.  Harold’s father, John, and my great grandfather Julian, were brothers.  You can read more about Julian here: Walking With Grandpas.

The house was newer – probably about 30-ish years old, but the barn was obviously old – possibly original.  Anywho, we all piled out of the cars and milled about on the road talking excitedly, pointing at the barn, wondering what the little doors were for (all of our guesses were wildly incorrect), and snapping pictures.  This went on for about 15 minutes when a man cautiously came out of the house and slowly walked toward us.  Being of non-confrontational Belgian descent, I’m sure he was wondering if he should come over and interrupt us to find out what was going on or meander aimlessly around outside until we all regained our senses and left.

We made it easy for him, and walked over and introduced ourselves.  Turns out, he was Harold’s grandson, our third cousin!  We bombarded the poor guy  with a million questions:  “How old is the barn?”  “What are the little doors for?”  “Are you still farming?”  “Boxers or briefs?”

We found out he had no idea how old the barn was – just that it was “really old”.  The little doors were for pigs (who knew?) which he did not keep but apparently our ancestors did – he only kept a few steers, but his uncles had a larger farm on the adjacent road (also our relatives – I told you we were a big deal!).  We held him captive for another 15 minutes or so, and closed the deal by making him take photos with us out in the road, times about 20 smartphones.  We were all happier than pigs going thru little doors.  He, on the other hand, was probably scarred for life.

Actually, Randy (his name, btw.  I somehow managed to forget that detail in my narration) was a very good sport and actually seemed to enjoy himself once he realized we weren’t serial killers or zombies.

Below is a color picture of us minus my parents and Uncle Jim – who were in the car waiting for us because 80+ year old bones aren’t very cooperative when it comes to standing around in the middle of the road for ages.

RUN RANDY!  SAVE YOURSELF!

RUN RANDY! SAVE YOURSELF!

And that’s how we met our 3rd cousin, Randy, and got to see the old Conard homestead.

Sue

PS:  Part of the reason for this mini reunion was for my cousins to see Uncle Jim.  He is a Catholic priest with the Maryknoll Fathers and has lived as a missionary in Africa for almost 60 years.  He comes home to visit about every three years.  That’s another story all by itself!  Interestingly enough, he had visited Harold back in the sixties to learn artificial insemination, so he could improve the stock of cattle in Africa.  Neither he or my father had been to the farm in over 50 years, but they both remembered once they got there.  Thank goodness for that or we would still be driving around.