My youngest daughter and I were waiting for someone inside a Christian bookstore.“Seems like everybody’s talking about that ESV Study Bible,” I said, pointing to the display. Hardback editions stood on end next to a stack of nicely bound versions boxed up and marked $75.“The church bought those for the graduating seniors this year,” my daughter said.“Really? The hardbound ones?”“No, those fancy ones,” she said, pointing to the boxes. “The students could get their names engraved on the front if they wanted to.”“Those? Right there?” I asked, incredulous. “For $75?” Continue reading
Wednesday morning, a dear friend of mine came over with her mom so that the kids and I could help her stuff and stamp wedding invitations.Only two of my four kids were available. My 12-year-old daughter, a task-oriented girl, devoted herself to the work, happily stuffing and licking envelopes. She completed a giant stack in record time.Meanwhile, my eight-year-old son placed stamps on reply cards, working slowly not only to do the job neatly, but also because he paused a lot to chat. He would look up from the task to make eye contact, leaving a stamp stuck to his thumb that emphasized complicated plot twists in his story during his theatrical gestures. As we worked together, he talked and talked and talked and talked. Continue reading
Snapshots from Father’s Day 2010
At my parents’ house this weekend, I spotted a few weather-worn pins clipped to the line and thought of all the lovely clothespin photos I’ve seen at blogs like Ann Voskamp’s. Moving in close, I saw that this shot would feature a couple of unexpected elements: Continue reading
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Here at the Food on Fridays carnival, any post remotely related to food is welcome—though we love to try new dishes, your post doesn’t have to be a recipe. If you just want to take a photo of black raspberries (I hear they’re in season around these parts), that’ll do just fine. Continue reading
Visit this post at NotSoFastBook.com to enter the Green Mama book giveaway—ends Saturday morning, June 19.Each weekend during soccer season, we tote collapsible chairs to and from our kids’ matches. The chairs fold down and slide into bags, and nearly always one of our bags is ripping at the seams.This past season, it was one of the red chairs. The chair itself still functioned fine, but this sorry-looking bag needed replacing. Continue reading
In the 1940s, someone told my dad, “If you learn to operate a Linotype*, you’ll never be out of work!” That kind of job security was a dream come true for a child of the Depression. His mom, my Grandma, borrowed money to send Dad to an Ohio Linotype school for training. He came back and got a job with the Indiana University printing plant.
(demonstrating his skills circa 1950)
That regular paycheck helped Dad work his way through university studies and earn a journalism degree. He and my mom met while working for the student paper. After graduating, they married and for a brief time tried to run a tiny weekly newspaper. Eventually they both took jobs at the Indianapolis Star newspaper, where Dad was hired as a copy editor (after a year’s stint as a teacher).
He’s described the flurry of the copy desk to me many times: scrambling to edit front page stories, marking copy with big black pencils, scribbling headlines, cropping photos with blue grease pencils, and composing captions, all under a thick cloud of smoke—it really was the 1950s news room we imagine, where cigarette-puffing reporters clacked away on typewriters and cigar-smoking editors waved papers, shouting, “Copy!“
(In case you’re wondering, Dad abruptly stopped smoking when my brother was born in 1963 and hasn’t smoked since.)
Once the bulldog edition rolled off the presses around 9:00 p.m., the editors could relax for a few minutes, marking typos to correct for later editions, but generally remaking the paper several times. When the i’s seemed dotted and t’s seemed crossed, Dad would finally leave work and arrive home around one or two o’clock in the morning. Sometimes—probably in the summer, when we could sleep in the next morning—Mom would let my brother and me stay up to greet him. Dad would surprise us by bringing home a treat from one of the only two places open at those crazy hours: Dunkin’ Donuts or White Castle. At the time I probably liked the doughnuts best, but I remember most vividly the White Castle hamburgers. While the rest of the neighborhood slept, we gathered at the table to unload those little cardboard boxes and pass around the onion-laden hamburgers.
For many years, Dad dreamed of owning a farm. Before my brother and I were born, he and Mom saved enough to buy some rural property with a pond, rolling hills, and old log house. It meant frugal living, but in the 1970s, they bought another smaller, working farm. We moved there when I entered second grade.
Though Dad owned two farms, the newspaper continued to be his full-time job. He leased the fields to full-time farmers, but raised Black Angus cattle himself. He loved those cows and hated to sell them, because Black Angus cattle—the same cattle whose manger you’ve faithfully filled with hay and grain all winter—eventually leave the farm in a trailer and sometimes return in little white packages.
When Dad first started farming, he had a lot to learn. But he had a valuable personality trait, enhanced by years as a journalist:
Inquisitive and interested, Dad introduces himself to anyone and everyone. Whether a person is a highly paid professional, grad student, farmer, or factory worker, Dad will ask questions and get him talking in order to discover something new. This is a powerful gift he’s passed on to me; whether by nature or nurture, I, too, have grown to be a curious person (you may interpret that however you wish). And now, as an adult, I’m grateful for this heritage.
As a child, however, I slouched in the back seat of the blue Chevy Impala and waited, bored, while Dad exercised his curiosity, picking this wiry farmer’s brain (see below) about crops and cattle, weather and weeds.
Dad’s curiosity has led him to learn about much more than farming. He’s worn out multiple dictionaries confirming definitions and pronunciations. He can quote excerpts from Civil War history books by Shelby Foote and Bruce Catton. He follows the weather and always knows when a storm is heading our way. He wants to know, and he wants to help.
Thank you, Dad, for scooting the newspaper across the table to me when I was little, challenging me to read the headlines. Thanks for bringing me up on a farm (and forgive me for being so lazy). Thanks for teaching me the lyrics to the sillied-up version of “Down by the Old Mill Stream” and for directing our impromptu family orchestra as you had us take turns singing the “oompa” tuba and “skeer-eet” piccolo parts of “Semper Fidelis.” Thank you for devoting so much of your life to words, stories, news, and ideas—awakening in me a curiosity about people and the world around me and modeling a love of books and learning.
Thank you for scooping me up from the back seat of the car at the end of a long day on the farm. Thanks for carrying me to my room and setting me on my bed, even when I was faking sleep. Because I loved a lot of things from my childhood, like going with you to Buck the barber to get my bangs trimmed, and munching those White Castles late at night. But the nights you carried me limp from the Chevy, you lifted me in your arms and I leaned against your chest. You were probably exhausted from driving, and I was probably too big to be carried; but letting me be a child resting in her father’s arms?
Thank you for that.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.