Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Yesterday was a momentous day for our wedding. We got our first wedding gift!*

And? It was from our justgive.org registry, which makes it ten times better!

Confession: I wasn't quite sure how I'd feel with "gifts" of charity. In my heart and brain, I know it is the bestest and most noble thing. But part of me was doubting how I'd really feel. As honorable as a charity registry might be, wouldn't I feel sad at not having presents? For me? ME? With big bows on them? Of course, we didn't really want more stuff, we don't have room for more stuff, but who doesn't love opening presents? It's a fleeting thrill, yes, but I must admit it is a real one.

In reality, when I got that message in my inbox saying someone had given money to Doctors without Borders in honor of us, I almost cried. I'm almost crying right now. Call it bridal bonkers, but I've always been one to cry at the drop of a hat. Whether or not we need towels or wine glasses (I have broken nearly all of ours in the dishwasher), I am so completely touched by the idea that our love and marriage will grow into something special, not only for us and our family, but for people across the globe who really, really need help. I have a fantasy at least, that this Doctors Without Borders things will impact one life, then many, and spread out like a friendly, healing cancer all over some community, heck, maybe the world?

So even if we are both wiped out by a massive earthquake tomorrow, our love and our loved ones' generosity, has created a real and lasting impact on the world.

I can't do that with a toaster.

*actually, not exactly our first wedding gift, since we have been gifted with our parents' generosities in helping with the wedding, and our first night of married life hotel room (thanks mom in law!) -- no, we won't tell you where it is!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

chiggers and beer!

preach on!

I spent the weekend in and about Cincinnati, where my mother had planned an amazing feat-- a worldwide reunion of Pulskamps. There were about 209 people there, and 209 is also the number you get when you add the average temperature to the average humidity over the weekend, plus the number of chigger bites I got on my feet.

Friday night, there was a shindig in a beer garden at a German Club not too far from our hotel. After setting up a bit, we proceeded to drink German beer (not my favorite) and spend the evening eating and getting to know people. A visitor from Germany gave a great presentation about the old family farm and Germany in general. The location was very nice, and I secretly wish I had a spot like this available for my wedding. A covered, open-air hall with a bar at one end, adjacent to an outdoor beer garden canopied by trees, adjacent to a little forest with a path winding into it. The cicadas were very noisy but relaxing, and I tried to nap on a picnic table for a bit. At night, there were a very few fireflies.

After returning to the hotel, we all decided to stay up late, so we commandeered the lobby of the hotel and brought down wine and snacks. Grandma led the charge.

Saturday was the main event, out at the tiny town my ancestors first settled when they arrived. Highlights here were a stunning view into the valley, a nice old graveyard with many a family grave in it, from the way-back-whens, and......?


Not that there wasn't "beer." There was plenty of Miller High Life ("The Champagne of Beers") and Natty Light Ice to go around. I choked down one of each, in solidarity.

What did we do there? After traipsing around on the graves looking for our family name (of which there were many instances), we split up to go to the first family farm. How do you get around in the countryside?

A HAYRIDE, of course! Actually, I did not fit in either of the two hayrides, so I went with my family in the rental car, which worked out nicely, since one of the locals was guiding us and giving us lots of stories.

First stop was the first farm the family settled, which has recently been purchased back into the family. This picture shows the new barn, obviously not vintage. Inside, a barn swallow nest was full of a protectant parent and several little mouths. The pictures I took with my phone were not stellar, but better photos will come when my sister and dad get their photos out.

UPDATE: screw photos! We have video!!! My dad is so cool. Does your dad have a youtube account???

We proceeded on to an old German town called Oldenburg, where we poked around the church and witnessed the horrors of a Midwestern bridal party.

Then, more farm! We stopped at a farm that is still in the family, where we saw a cousin's John Deere tractor collection, spanning back to the 1930's.

When we returned to the town, Jennifer and I snuck across the street to the tavern. It was everything you would want in a small town tavern. We chatted with locals and drank Smirnoff Ice. There were no taps, just beer in cans-- Bud Light and Natty Light Ice! This tiny town of, I'm guessing, about 100 people, once boasted three taverns! But only Sally's place is left.

After wrapping up the party, we returned back to our hotel, stopping at a gas station along the way, where I was sure I could get some better beer. Not so! There was nothing but mountains of crap beer everywhere.

This about sums it up:
No beer for me!

Sunday we went to Cincinnati to see the conservatory and the Cincinnati Art Museum. They have a good museum, and the park it was in seemed quite nice, but really I had no time to see the city before heading to the airport.

Sunday night I got home to find that my feet had been attacked by chiggers. Ironically, I was wearing shoes and socks the entire time, while my sister exposed her feet with flip-flops, but I ended up with bites all over my feet. They are really not all that bad. Wherever I was when I picked them up, it must have been scenic. The area we were in was quite beautiful, unlike some of the other places I'd been in the Midwest. The old towns were nestled into green forested hills with winding country roads. Almost pretty enough to go back. Almost.