Sunday, May 18, 2014

Dream No Little Dreams

May is a month with a lot going on for most families, and ours in particular.

It starts off with my and Austin's wedding anniversary. Six years now and we can still stand each other.

Next up is Mother's Day and I hope to one day get a Mother's Day where I can sleep in and don't feel sick. Maybe next year. This year was good, though, in it's own way.

With new people in the family, we get to put a birthday up next, so that's fun. Birthdays are always fun.

After that is the anniversary of Dad's death. I doubt I'll ever forget that day, unless I develop some memory issues later in life. I actually might be ok with forgetting that.

Lastly, another birthday, my nephew. He's going to be 13 this year, which I'm in a bit of denial about. How is it possible these kids are getting so old?

My nephew was born within a week of my high school graduation, so maybe that's why I have a hard time accepting him as 13. I have a hard time believing it's been 13 years since I graduated from high school and 9 since college. But it definitely has.

While I wouldn't want to go back to high school, it was pretty awful, I wouldn't mind going back to my college years. Those were great. Lots of freedom, responsibility, but not TOO much, pretty much getting to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted with no parent consequences. Sure, if I stayed up too late and skipped class the next day, that could be a problem. But that was my problem. I didn't do that ever. I only skipped class if I was actually sick and once for a funeral. My teachers liked me, I had a few friends in my major and more in InterVarsity. It's where I met Austin. So college was good.

Caleb, my big little brother, graduated yesterday from Texas Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. It's been a long time coming. He was in Lubbock for 4 years and at TSTC for 1, which is about a normal time frame for EE from what I understand. He put in the time, applied for the grants and scholarships, and took out the loans when those didn't come through. He missed family events for schoolwork and spent late nights working on more schoolwork. And now he is done and we are all so proud of him.

We talked last night about how now, we can all point and laugh and people still doing school work and say "Suckers!" It's a pretty great feeling to graduate and know that you are DONE unless you lose your mind and want to go further.

Mom, Bob, Austin, Cari, our aunts Linda and Jean, and our close family friends the Martinezes were all there to watch him walk and get his diploma. We found him pretty quickly in the crowd and were able to get some photos of him looking all serious. Then we came back to Abilene, minus the Martinezes, and Tom and his family took their place while we celebrated with champagne and Mom's spaghetti.

Wednesday is the anniversary of Dad, so last night Caleb gave a toast to Dad, and how his death was a catalyst in his life to DO something. He said he hoped Dad was proud of him and we all scoffed quietly because even if Caleb had been a ditch digger, if he did it well, Dad would have been proud of him. Dad would have been bursting with pride that his son had achieved such a difficult degree. He would have been stopping people in the halls at church and gone up to the hospital specifically to tell them, stopping strangers in the grocery store, proud to announce that his son had a BSEE.

He's done us all proud, living and deceased. Now if one of those companies he's interviewed with would just give him a job already things would be borderline perfect.

Can you see him? He's the one in black. No? I'll zoom in. 

See? Serious faces. To his left is one of the three girls in the EE graduating class.

For those wondering, apparently the President of the University's saying is "Dream no little dreams" or as the closed captioning said "Drain no little drains" or alternately "Drain no little greens." So take from that what you want. He said if you dream little dreams, you don't belong at Tech. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

In a Pickle

Whenever I eat sandwiches, I think of my dad and my grandmother. Maybe it's weird, but whatever. I think of them because I put pickles on my sandwiches. I know, I can hear the curiosity in your thoughts. I'm a little different because I eat sweet gherkins sliced longways, not dill or bread and butter pickles sliced crosswise. Weird, right? When I was a kid, I didn't even want the meat, I just wanted Miracle Whip and sweet pickles
on white bread. Gross, I know, but I thought it was awesome. My parents wouldn't let me eat it, but I did manage to sneak a couple sandwiches like that before deciding maybe it wasn't quite as awesome as I thought it was.

That's all beside the point. The reason I think of Dad and Grandmother is because of the pickles, in case you hadn't figured that out from the title. Dad and I liked our sweet gherkins on sandwiches and burgers but I don't like relish on anything and will only eat dill spears as a separate entity, not on sandwiches. I don't remember his thoughts on savory pickles but maybe they were the same? When we had burgers or sandwiches as a dinner, which we did on occasion, Dad would slice the pickles for me. He was so precise, the pickles a perfect, even thickness. I never could get it right, even into my college and beyond years, so I'd ask him to do it for me, later pretending I was busy getting food on the table or something or just outright saying "You do it better."

Grandmother always had sweet gherkins in her fridge. Maybe from knowing Dad liked them, maybe from some 50's entertaining manual, who knows, but she had them. And hers were already sliced. We had sandwiches or burgers or something at her house a couple times and every time that jar of perfectly sliced gherkins came out, I wondered why Mom didn't buy that for us. Surely it couldn't be THAT much more expensive.

When I was older, not sure if it was high school or college, I started looking for sliced gherkins in the store and couldn't find them. I figured I was just at the wrong store because I knew they sold them, my grandmother always had a jar. I commented on it to Mom once and she looked at me like I was crazy. "They don't sell pre-sliced gherkins, she slices them after she buys them."

Now I thought she was crazy. No human could slice pickles with such machine precision. Grandmother probably just knew about a secret shelf at a store with the sliced gherkins. Then I watched my dad slice pickles the next time. He sliced with that same precision. He did a lot of things like his mother, like how he wrapped presents and even his handwriting a little. And also how he sliced pickles.

So now, every time I have a sandwich and go through the torment of mangling pickles to put on it, I think of Dad, and how perfect they always were and how mine will never be that way except one or two slices and always by accident. I think of Grandmother, and chuckle a little at the thought of her sitting at her kitchen table, slicing a whole jar of pickles ahead of time so that they were ready whenever anyone wanted any. And I miss them.

Dad always did the pickle slicing better. My sandwiches have suffered for lack of him.

The Master Slicers

Sunday, May 4, 2014

You will be assimilated

For those of you living under a rock, my mom is getting remarried in June. It's crazy and it's been a whirlwind, but the couple in question are blissfully stupidly happy, so all five of Mom's kids and two of Bob's kids are all happy for them. This weekend, we all met. 

We (me and Rosetta Moore, mostly her, I was just helping some) decided to have a surprise engagement party for Mom and Bob. We wanted to invite a bunch of friends from way back who haven't seen her in a while. Unfortunately, only one of them was able to make it so it was predominantly a family party and a few close friends. It was fine, a good time was had by all (with the exception of an order being delivered incorrectly) and Mom was definitely surprised. 

Getting to meet the new "siblings" was pretty great. We didn't all sit at the same table at the restaurant, but I was glad when the Kolquist/Mordica people came back to Mom's for hanging out (visiting sounds like something old ladies do). We left the restaurant at 6 and I think we left Mom's around 11pm. So five hours of getting to know Bob's kids, and I was glad to hear we were going to get to see them again today for lunch. I'd call that a good sign. Hopefully they felt the same. 

My "new sister" is a marathon runner. She completed the Boston Marathon in less than 3.5 hours, which is amazing. I think the only thing I've completed in that time frame that's worthy of note was giving birth to Elijah. Cari and I were talking about that yesterday and how we're SO not runners. We were at a nail salon getting pedicures and she said there was no way she could run 26 miles. I said I couldn't run from the front door of the salon to the street. So for all my marathon running needs, which I'm sure SOMETHING will come up, I'll call Gina. 

My "new brother" and his wife, Christian and Margaux live in Austin, so I wasn't sure if we'd meet them before the wedding or not. It's not like it's far, but with busy schedules I thought they might just wait until June to come. I was very happy they did. He seems like a cross between John and Tom in some ways: he enjoys guns, technology, 80's movies, and kilts. Of course there's more to him than just that, but that's what stuck out in my mind. She is sweet and friendly and open and has a garlic allergy that makes me scared I'm going to one day kill her with my cooking. I heard talk of a Monty Python marathon at the restaurant and I'm so on board. I've got Monty Python's The Holy Grail Fluxx so we can watch the movie, then play the game! It'll be awesome!

Any reservations I had about meeting Bob's kids and getting to know them have been put at rest. They're just as quirky and oddball as the rest of us. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. Like John said last night, if we're not teasing you, we probably don't like you. I mean, sure, we give you a little while to get comfortable, but then all bets are off. Like I said last night: welcome to the family. The Walke family is a vortex. You will get sucked in. Resistance is futile. 
Margaux, Christian, Gina, Mom, Bob, Cari, Stephanie, and Tom. Apparently Tom and Stephanie didn't listen when I told them I was taking a picture.