Accident Prone Knitter

Here you will find musings about knitting, home renovation, travelling, sports and the myriad of things I delight in. "Out into the brimming, sun bathed world I sped"

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Location: Central Pennsylvania, United States

I've lived in California, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Toronto and Pennsylvania. I'm a retired police officer, and I've worked in accounting and payroll related fields for the last several years.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Reunion Memories

Warning this is a long post about a family reunion, with brief mention of crafty things.

My Mom’s family reunion June 9-11 was a unique and joyous occasion for me as I live a great distance from my immediate family and have for the past 20 plus years. We sometimes go a couple of years without seeing one another, so you can imagine how often I might see aunts, uncles, cousins and greats. In addition, it was my Mom's birthday on June 10.

This past week we converged on the little town of Freeman South Dakota "The Right Place" approximately 30 miles West of Sioux Falls SD. My childhood memories were that of a fairly desolate and dusty area, not so reality. It was green fields of young corn stalks surrounding farms whose buildings were surrounded by huge trees which have been standing for years. How ones perspective changes with maturity.

Steve and I arrived in town at a cousin’s business and home for a hotdog picnic at noon. The cousins definition of hotdogs for about 20 people in the middle of a very busy work day for her was chicken in a vodka sauce, corn on the cob (of course), potatoes, 3 different kinds of salads, carrots, 3 different kinds of bread and strawberry shortcake with ice cream! Nicer hot dogs I’ve never had. My immediate family was on a timetable as my Dad’s family is from Menno, "The Place To Be" a town about 20 miles away, and arrangements had been made for us to meet up with them for pie and coffee at 1:30pm.

The little café we met up in Menno was spotless. Old, charming and I say spotless. Great pie and coffee, but they didn’t have enough rhubarb pie. My brother’s godmother was among those in attendance and what a treat that was for him. Showing up a few minutes late was a couple who are very strong in my memories. She is my mom’s cousin married to my dad’s cousin. I remember going shopping with her and she would dart from rack to rack having to touch absolutely everything. I tend to do the same. After a stop at the cemetery and nursing home (these can be difficult visits but are worth it in the long run) we popped over to the cousins house, and she showed me skeins of yarn for afghans she is crocheting.

Right next to our motel was one of three restaurants in town and because there were so many people to see, we met up with the majority there. For me and my cousins we had the joy of watching our parents reconnect with numerous childhood friends who never left their hometown. For me in particular was the connection with my aunt and uncle and cousin from Montana who I grew up with, and then my other aunts and uncles and cousins who we spent many family vacations with. Seeing my cousins as the wonderful adults they have become and their spouses and feeling the love and caring of my aunts and uncles is a memory I will cherish. Unfortunately some of the cousins couldn’t make the trip, but they were there in spirit.

A childhood memory for me in South Dakota was eating chizlik (not sure of the spelling). This is basically a lamb kabob that has been deep fried or grilled. It’s hard to find, but not in South Dakota and certainly not in Freeman. It was just as good at the reunion. I also had a small glass of Hooterite (colony similar to the Amish) rhubarb wine. I know it sounds like, and hear me, it feels like we ate every three hours.

Other than catching up with family, for me the most memorable thing we did was visit the farmhouse my mom and her siblings were born and where my grandfather died when Mom was 5 years old. We did this on my Mom's birthday. This home was built between 1898 and 1902 and has been vacant for several years. The land is still farmed and the barns used. All of us and I’d say that’s about 30 went into the house and even up to the second floor. I was amazed at the solid floors and the feeling that it will stand for years. As it was, it still felt like a home, a testament to my grandparents. Grammy never remarried, unusual for back then, and raised three daughters and one son on her own. They had to leave the farm and had a rough road but to a one, they never felt poor. Grammy was quite the lady, and that is such an understatement.

After that we went to the Heritage Hall Museum depicting the pioneer history of South Dakota. In addition, the Museum has the largest privately owned Indian artifact exhibit in South Dakota which is what really held my attention. There were examples of Indian beading, that’s right BEADING. Thousands of beads. I read about how porcupine quills were also used for decoration. Porcupine quills have a barb on the end and are filled with air. Indian women would flatten these quills with their teeth and then use herbs for dyeing them. Absolutely beautiful articles were made with the combination. Here you see items from a plains dentists office. Yikes! Take a look at the inside of this antique car and note the upholstery. This is a gray pinstripe flannel and the condition it was in was amazing.

Then, off for the evening meal, laughter over the family attempts to speak the German of their youth and lovely speeches by the elder generation of their memories as well as the current status of their offspring. Then off to a cousin’s beautiful home for desert. She’s a knitter and has a stunning antique spinning wheel that I was admiring.

Sunday morning we woke to a foggy day, so instead of leaving after lunch we decided to leave right after church. Before we left the church Mom and I went to see a tapestry she remembered of the Last Supper. I have never seen one this big. It must have been 10 feet wide by 6 feet tall. Made by hand. All I can say is WOW. While Mom and I were there, Dad and my sister in law joined us and it was a special moment.

We said goodbye, Dad and I always the most outwardly emotional – always difficult and headed home, most of the others were leaving Monday.

For Steve’s perspective of the reunion visit his post here. He’s a city boy, but he loves the mountains, so he’s not all bad. I have often envied my husband and his family for being as geographically close to one another as they are, they are so lucky.

My family is spread out and yet we are so lucky too.

4 Comments:

Anonymous twig said...

Sounds like you had a great visit. I know the pull the old farmhouse to you. My family was all born up here in Massachusetts (all except me -- I was born down south) on the eastern end. One of my mom's cousins came back here for his 40th high school reunion and I went to meet up with him (we had worked a lot on genealogy together)and he brought me through Attleboro where they all grew up.

He brought me by the house that my great grandfather built himself in 1880. Amazingly the current owner was home and allowed us in to look around when we explained what we were doing in her driveway. *laugh* It was really neat to touch the past like that.

1:25 AM, June 21, 2006  
Anonymous Dipsy said...

This sounds like such a very nice visit, it's always so good having one's family come together from all parts of the country! Though it usually doesn't happen often, the nicer it is after a long while, there's so much to talk and share, isn't it?
I loved the pics you posted, the area there seems like one I'd really love to visit, peaceful, tranquil, and: No mountains! Hallelujah! These old farmhouses must have such a special spell, it seems all the memories and events of the past are kept in them, waiting to be released! Wonderful post, thank you so much for sharing!

2:14 AM, June 21, 2006  
Blogger Kish said...

It is so wonderful anytime you can get together with family. I enjoyed seeing the photographs. Your pictures were lovely.

9:53 AM, June 23, 2006  
Blogger JennyRaye said...

Thanks for making your way to my blog home via Twig (Hi, Twig!!!) and for your kind words about my shawl--it's at the fair as we speak. I just hope it isn't getting wet! Please stop by anytime! I always love company :o)

12:37 PM, June 24, 2006  

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