Ted brought me another batch of old family photos. Some pictures had information on the back identifying the people, the date, and the activity. Ted did his best to identify people and guess at dates for the others. If any of my readers can contribute better information, please let me know. The photos and memories below are in chronological order, to the best of Ted’s knowledge.

This is one of only two pictures we have of Ted’s mom as a child. The picture noted that it was taken at the farmhouse in June 1918, when she was ten years old. Check out the water pump. Ted thinks the pump was removed and capped when he was in high school.

This is Grandpa Theodore, for whom Ted is named. It was his farm where Ted’s mom grew up, where Ted’s dad was the hired hand before marrying Ted’s mom, and where Ted and his siblings grew up. Ted’s mom lived in this house her entire life until after his dad died. Grandpa Theodore had a heart attack and died in the barn when Ted was six years old. For a long time after that, Ted said he was afraid to go into the barn.

This photo specifies that it was taken on February 23, 1930. The lady is Ted’s mom and we think the man must be her fiancĂ©, Gerhart, who died in a motorcycle accident two weeks before their wedding. Ted thinks Gerhart has a suitcase because he’s going somewhere. (Duh!)

The information on the back of this picture said it was taken at the Port Wellar Bridge in Wellar, Ontario on August 13, 1930. Ted identified the people (L>R) as Loella, her sister Leona, and her brother Clinton. We think this picture was probably taken on the trip Loella took to Niagara Falls with Louis and Leona, her sister and brother-in-law, and that Clinton was also invited to come along.

This picture of Paul and Loella was taken at the farm on July 26, 1931. They were 23 and 24 years old at that time.

Loella always had a big garden. She told me once that “the farmer takes care of the land and the farmer’s wife takes care of the garden.” She froze and canned a lot of food every year. She was still gardening and “putting up” food through her 70s. We are guess-timating this picture was taken around 1931.

Snow! There was no information on the back of this picture, but we think the people are Loella and a man. Her dad? Ted’s dad? We have no idea. We’re going with 1936 because my mom repeatedly told me stories of how much snow there was in the winter of 1936.

Introducing Baby Teddy. Maybe the family was having a “fry-out” (as we called it in Wisconsin), so they brought Teddy’s high chair outside. This is probably the summer of 1943 because it doesn’t look like Ted is wearing walking shoes yet.

It looks like Baby Teddy is happy to ride his tricycle and to help his mom with the laundry.

Here’s Ted holding one of the barn cats. He thinks he might be seven or eight years old.

When Ted was ten years old, he joined the local Busy Bees 4-H Club. One of his club projects was to raise a calf. He showed this calf at the county fair.

This is Ted’s sixth grade picture.

Ted’s dad often attended agricultural classes at the University of Wisconsin Extension Center. Here’s a picture of him (center back) and his classmates one year. Ted’s best guess is mid-1950s. We suspect the man on the right was the teacher, trying to look as if he just handed the certificate to the man beside him.

Every year, the high school FFA Club (Future Farmers of America) selected a local Farmer of the Year. One year (maybe late 1950s?), Ted’s dad received the honor and his picture was printed in the local newspaper. The picture was taken in front of the corncrib on his farm.

This is Ted’s high school graduation photo.

After high school, Ted wasn’t sure which career path he wanted to follow. There was a draft at the time, so he decided to meet his obligation to Uncle Sam for three years and give himself time to think about his future. In the early 1960s, lots of U.S. soldiers were being sent to Germany (including Elvis), but Ted got unlucky and was sent to South Korea. One of his buddies took this picture of Ted washing his feet in a mountain stream in 1962. The picture says “The water was real cold and really felt good in the terrific heat.”

Note: Ted did find a career path in the Army. One of his duties in South Korea was to launch weather balloons. The balloons sent radio signals with information about the upper level winds so that if it became necessary to launch an Honest John missile at North Korea, the missile launchers could adjust their aim as needed. Fortunately, there was no need to launch a missile while Ted was serving in South Korea. As a result of his weather-related duties, however, Ted later attended the University of Wisconsin and graduated with a degree in meteorology, then became a forecaster for the National Weather Service.

After serving 13 months in South Korea, Ted’s next assignment was at Fort Benning, GA. One of his duties on base was to serve as the chaplain’s assistant. The picture notes that Chaplain Kelly took this picture Ted sent home. The back of the picture also informs his parents that he bought a tripod with the money they sent him and that he was looking forward to using it.

Ted also served in the Color Guard at Fort Benning. Here he is in his uniform. All he needs is a flag. It’s 1963, and he’s almost ready to be discharged from the U.S. Army.

Meanwhile, on the home front, here are Ted’s grandparents (Paul’s parents, Elizabeth and John) with Ted’s nieces, Lisa (the younger one) and Cindy.

There is no information on the back of this picture, but we both think it was taken in 1972 during the weekend celebration of Paul and Loella’s 40th wedding anniversary. Check out the men in the family: (L>R) Dan, Ted, Paul, and Gary. Note that they all have the same nose and they all have their right leg crossed over the left. I have another picture of them somewhere. They are standing together outside in the family stance: they are all roughly the same height and they all have their legs spread the same way and their left arm crossed over the right arm. It must be bred into them!

The last picture we have in this pile of old photos celebrates a happy time. It’s cherry-picking time in Door County in 1983. From left to right, that’s Helen, Cella, and Loella. Those are some fantastic-looking cherries! And look how much fruit the tree is bearing! My guess is they started on the right where the tree branches look more bare and filled those four buckets without even going to another tree. Good times!

P.S. Is that car on the left a woodie?

For many years, I’ve been experimenting with ways to view Ted’s and my vacation pictures on our big TV screen instead of crowding around my PC or looking at them on a tablet or phone. Over time, Jeff engineered several ways to access my PC to show the files on the TV, but I always had trouble duplicating what Jeff did to make it work. He’s far more intuitive about which key to click than I am, so the menus became mysteries to me and nothing seemed to work after Jeff went home.

One of my requirements for our new entertainment system was the ability to view my computer files on the new TV. Of course, it’s much simpler with a smart TV than with our 20+-year-old plasma TV. We have a new, more modern universal remote for the entertainment system and the installation team programmed the new remote to access my laptop. They named it “PC” on the menu–it’s shorter than “laptop.” I was told that when I scroll down and select “View PC,” five different things happen among the TV, the sound system, and my laptop, enabling my laptop screen to be duplicated on the TV with sound. Great!

The installer walked me through the buttons on the remote and the steps to access everything before he left. Hours later, when Ted and I decided to try looking at vacation pictures, everything worked on the first try. The sound system is the hub of our new set-up, so I had to (1) connect the laptop to the sound system, then (2) click on “View PC” on the remote. And there we are–ready to leave home and head to the Southwestern U.S. in 2017.

I can operate my laptop with a nifty mini keyboard (2″ x 6″) that Jeff gave me for Christmas many years ago. Jeff’s intent at the time was to allow me to control the pictures on the TV from the comfort of the sofa. The keyboard requires two-finger typing because the keys are so tiny, but I only need to use the mouse pad and the arrow keys to change pictures or picture files or to select the “slide show” mode. It works great and does everything a full-size keyboard can do–just as Jeff intended when he gave it to me. The installer said he’s never seen such a small keyboard. Thanks, Jeff.

Just a click of a right arrow brings up the next picture. This is one of the venues at the Polynesian Culture Center (PCC) on our 2018 trip to Hawai’i.

It was really nice to sit comfortably on the sofa to view the large pictures. We enjoyed it so much that we scrolled through three trips last night. Wishes do come true; sometimes, it just takes a few years.

While I sorted through pictures of my family last spring, I told Ted he should sort through photos of his family. My sorting system was based on (1) pictures I liked in (2) chronological order. Ted’s classification system was more detailed and was based on photos by (I assume) the main character in the photo. He had a separate pile for each person.

Today, I picked out an envelope of Ted’s photos of his parents to share on this blog, and they struck me as a love story. My photo love story begins with young Paul. Here he is, working at his job on a freighter on the Great Lakes. The “M” on his sweater is for Milwaukee Teachers College, where he was a history education major.

Here’s another picture of Paul on a Great Lakes freighter. I’m thinking there was some real work to be done, so he ditched the fancy BMOC college sweater and put on his working clothes.

While Paul sailed the Great Lakes, a young woman named Loella traveled to Niagara Falls with her sister and brother-in-law, Louis and Leona.

Loella liked this new coat so much, she had her picture taken in it.

This picture was taken when Loella became engaged to marry Gerhard. Two weeks before the wedding, Gerhard died. He was riding his motorcycle and was hit by a car.

Paul was the hired man on Loella’s father’s farm. Here’s Paul at the farmhouse. I’m not sure what he’s holding, but he looks proud of it. An award or trophy of some kind?

Paul and Loella fell in love and were married. Ted identified (to the best of his knowledge) most of the people in this wedding day photo. Left to right for the adults, we have: Theodore and Clara, Loella’s parents; an unknown man and woman; John, Paul’s brother and best man; John’s wife, Helen; Paul, the groom; Marcella, Paul’s sister and a bridesmaid; Loella, the bride; two more unknown people; Dorothy, a cousin of Loella and the maid of honor; Grace, a cousin of Loella; Bob, a brother of Paul’s; and Elizabeth and John (face not included in the photo), Paul’s parents. Ted recognized two of his cousins among the children. Myron is on the left in the front row and Jeanette is the third from the left in the back row of children.

Here we have the wedding party. Left to right are Dorothy, the maid of honor; John, the best man; Paul and Loella, the bride and groom, and Marcella, a bridesmaid.

Paul and Loella visited Keshena Falls, WI on their honeymoon. Keshena is about 45 miles northwest of Green Bay. I assume Paul was the photographer for this picture of his new wife.

Time moved on, and Paul and Loella had a family. Left to right are Mutzie (Ted’s sister), Gene (a cousin), Dan (Ted’s brother), and Karen (a cousin). The baby in the front row is little Teddy when he was seven months old.

This family picture was taken at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Manitowoc, WI. Ted looks like he’s between one and two years old.

Jumping far into the future, this photo is the most recent one Ted has of himself with all three of his siblings. Left to right are Gary, Ted, Mutzie, and Dan. Their families include 8 children, 14 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren. In addition, Ted and I are expecting a great-grandchild in March and a grandchild in June. The beat goes on, and so does the love story.

Reassurance for the squeamish: gory details have been omitted.

The tools: One of Ted’s and my wedding gifts was a beautifully engraved knife and a honing steel.

The task: For the 51+ years I’ve had it, I’ve used the honing steel to keep my knives sharp and I taught Ted and the kids how to hone our kitchen knives. Here’s Ted, demonstrating what I was doing with the knife I was honing. (Are you getting a hint of where this is going?)

The tragedy: After 51+ years, I have never even scratched myself honing a knife, but last night I sliced myself across the wrist.

I have a history of fainting at the sight of blood and at the thought of surgical needles piercing my skin, but I’ve always managed to remain conscious until the medical personnel took over. This was no exception. I saw the injury and slammed a wad of paper towel over it. When I quickly needed a second wad of paper towel, I directed Ted to tie a handkerchief around my forearm and to tie a pencil into it to form a tourniquet. (I learned that in first aid class in grade school and I finally had a chance to use my knowledge.) I kept my arm elevated while Ted drove me to the ER. So much for our plan to sit in our hot tub when we finished doing the dishes.

I was seen quickly and the wound was described as “suture worthy” and probably not a candidate for medical glue because of wrist movement. The first nurse I saw said the bleeding had nearly stopped, so Ted and I did a good job. She put a pressure bandage over my wrist and I kept my arm elevated while waiting for my turn with the doctor.

Because of strict COVID policies, the lobby was restricted to patients only, so Ted had to wait in the car until I was in a private ER room. While I was waiting my turn, I heard myself referred to as “the laceration.” Three different caregivers asked me at three different times if the injury was intentional. I assume a slashed wrist indicates possible suicidal thoughts. One nurse specifically asked if I’ve been thinking of suicide. No, I was mostly thinking about not fainting and wondering how on earth I managed to do this after 51+ years of honing knives almost daily. I said it wasn’t intentional; I cut myself while honing a knife. None of them knew what “honing” was. This gave me three opportunities to be a teacher again.

Nearly three hours later (obviously, my injury was not life-threatening), I was ushered into a room and Ted joined me. That nurse told me the cut was a little more than two inches long and definitely needed sutures. After another half-hour, the doctor arrived, examined the wound, cleaned it, and told me the bleeding had stopped and the tissue was already beginning to bond. She said nothing major was injured (artery, nerves, tendons) and that if I was willing to wear a splint and keep my wrist immobile for several days, it looked like the wound would heal satisfactorily if she closed it with steri-strips. I need to wear the splint 3-4 days, and the steri-strips will gradually peel off and be gone in a week or so.

Well, there goes my hot tub time for the next week! The splint is going to be inconvenient, but it’s a minor thing compared to how bad my injury could have been. It looks like I need another 51 years of practice with my honing steel.

I like to do handwork and I’ll do anything except needlepoint and patchwork quilting. I hated needlepoint so much, I didn’t even finish a small piece I tried and I quit my patchwork quilt project before I finished the first square. I enjoy sewing, knitting, tatting, crocheting, embroidering, and counted cross-stitching. I like to do kits too, like paint-by-number and the Diamond Art kit Kathy and Annette gave me for my birthday last spring. When our kids were little, I made a lot of Christmas tree ornament kits; I sewed quilt kits for Thom and Kari as well as an original DJS design quilt for Teddy; and I made three 15-piece ceramic nativity scenes–one for myself, one for my parents, and one for Ted’s parents. I especially enjoy challenging projects and I have a very challenging project in progress right now. More on that when I finish it–hopefully by my goal of late February.

Thanks to COVID, I had time on my hands this year and decided to give some handmade items as Christmas gifts. I always have at least one handwork project in progress, but I often choose to engage in other activities, so it takes awhile for me to finish a project. With a Christmas deadline and the world in lockdown, I dedicated my spare time to gift-making.

In the spring, I made about 125 face masks for the family. In the summer, I saw an online pattern for table runners and napkins and decided to try another sewing project. I made three sets (in order below): one for Ted and me, another for Kathy and Annette, and a third for Kari’s family.

Then I switched to knitting and made dishcloths for Kathy and Annette, Kari, and my friend, Liz. Here are some of the dishcloths.

In the early 1980s, I made an advent calendar for our family. We hung it every year and the kids liked to take the ornaments out of the pockets and hang them on the Christmas tree.

At some point (college, her St. Charles apartment?), Kari wanted an advent calendar of her own and mine was looking worn, so we worked together and made one for each of us. Thom wanted one too, so I made one for him. This Christmas, Katie sent me a picture of Sefton continuing the advent calendar tradition, hanging the ornaments on the calendar I made for Thom. The DIY Christmas tradition lives on.

For many years, I’ve done little sewing beyond an occasional minor mending job. This year, however, was different and I used my sewing machine a lot. As a result, I discovered I need some new things in my project room: (1) a decent chair for my sewing machine; and (2) a plastic mat so I can get in and out of the chair without having to come to a half-stand to lift it out of the carpet pile. It was time to shop.

The box informed me that this is not an ordinary chair–it’s a “task chair .” It has “delicate curves,” an “inset” seat design, a “sculpted base,” and (wow!) matching “mobility casters.” Wouldn’t it look odd if the casters didn’t match? Without mobility, would they cast?

I started by taking the parts out of the box. (Duh!)

An hour later, I had a comfortable chair ready to roll on my new plastic mat.

Beach towels are nice for the beach (or pool) in the summer, but Ted and I have found ours to be kind of flimsy for drying off when we get out of the hot tub in cold weather. We went shopping for some nice big bath sheets with a little more substance to them than a beach towel from Target.

I was reading the tags as I removed them from the towels and it made me wonder if I should be concerned about washing the towels.

If three washings will make these towels “bloom” that much, how long will they keep blooming and how thick will they get? Will they become so absorbent that they just attract the water and remove it from our skin? I guess these are questions we’ll answer in the coming months.

The first of a series of predicted winter weather systems brought us freezing rain overnight. Luckily, we had only about 0.2 inches of ice and MoDOT treated the roads in advance, so they were only wet.

Our arborvitae trees felt the weight of the ice. . .

. . . and we had some pretty views from the front porch.

The ice melted before lunch and then the rain showers moved in. Light snow is forecast for tonight and tomorrow. 2021 wants us to know it’s winter.

Lots of things are different in 2020 and Christmas is one of those things. We celebrated with Kari’s family on Christmas Day, but it seemed incomplete because we were missing Kathy and Annette, who usually join us. They chose not to travel this year because of the pandemic.

Last year, Ted and I were in Brisbane, Australia on Christmas, so we didn’t decorate indoors, bake cookies, or make special Christmas candies. This year, we did it all. Here’s our decorated family room.

Ever since Thom was old enough to buy gifts for the family, he and I have exchanged a Lego Christmas set. Most of my Christmas Lego from Thom is on the display shelf above the TV; the overflow is in front of the TV. This year, my Christmas Lego set from Thom was a pretty Christmas tree that spins on its stand.

We had a wonderful Christmas Day with Kari’s family. They arrived in the early afternoon. Before we started opening our gifts, we took a family photo. I took one, then Dean took one, so one of us appears in each picture. Sky’s girlfriend, June, joined us.

After some settling-in time, we opened our gifts. This year, several of us chose to give a variety of smaller gifts to others instead of a single large item, so there were a lot of gifts to open.

There was only one minor glitch. Dylan included the book Red Mars on his wish list, and it was one of the things Ted and I bought for him. Or so we thought. When he opened it up, Kari asked if that was the book he wanted. His tactful response was, “It’s close.” It was Red Moon, by the same author. Yikes! I told him I’d get it exchanged, and Ted and I puzzled over how we got the wrong book. We double-checked our online order which clearly stated Red Mars and included a picture of the book. I ordered it online for curbside pickup and I think the employee who brought it to the car grabbed the wrong book. Neither Ted nor I noticed the error while we were wrapping it. I took Red Moon back to the store the next day. The clerk verified my order and the error, gave me the correct book, and thanked me for bringing Red Moon back–maybe because it cost nearly twice as much as Red Mars and I’d only paid the price of Red Mars. Here’s the book Dylan wanted. It looks like a good story. I might have to ask him to lend it to me when he’s finished reading it.

Opening all those gifts was exhausting, so when we finished, the activity level dropped while I and my helpers prepared dinner.

I made the main course and Kari brought the salad and the dessert. Everything was delicious and I made the tables look Christmas-y. Check out my Christmas tree-folded napkins.

After dinner, we were too full for dessert, so it was hot tub time. With an outdoor temperature of 19 degrees, we had to hustle in our swimsuits from the kitchen door to the warm water. After that, the cold air wasn’t a problem and we were warm enough to move more slowly on our way back into the house. The water we dribbled on the patio from our wet feet turned almost instantly to ice on the chilled concrete.

After we were all dressed again, it was time to eat the cheesecake Kari brought and to visit with each other a little bit more before Kari’s family left to go home. Dean played Uber driver and took June home–with Sky’s help, of course.

Our Christmas celebration continued virtually. We visited with Kathy and Annette via Zoom on December 26.

Jeff and La spent a few days with Kyra in Provo, UT for Christmas, so we visited with them via Google Meet on December 28.

Thom and Katie visited her family after Christmas, so we celebrated with them today, giving us a week-long holiday celebration with our family.

It was a different kind of holiday for us, but it was good. It took a week, and it gave us the opportunity to celebrate Christmas four times–once with each of our children’s families. Happy new year to all!