Friday, February 17, 2012

My Little Happy Wanderer

Leif was my little "Happy Wanderer." He loved to be out, going places, just about any place, the city, the woods, the beach. When we lived in Germany, we went on lots of Volksmarches (organized hikes I've written about before). Our boys had their little backpacks to take things along with them. Leif, when he was this little, often took a stuffed animal along for the ride.

This photo was taken in the Fürther Stadtwald, the City Woods of the city of Fürth, Germany, in the fall of 1977 when Leif was a little over two-and-a-half years old.

I was looking for a photo that I was pretty sure I didn't ever have, one of me singing to my boys, or playing the guitar and singing, and since I didn't have one but wanted to post a list of songs I used to sing to them at night. Sometimes we also sang them while driving in the car. I'm sure the list isn't complete, but I'm surprised I remembered over sixty songs I sang.

This photo goes with "The Happy Wanderer," which I used to sing to them. I loved that song, which I learned in grade school. Here is the list I came up with. Happy memories come with all those songs. Some of them, many of them, I learned as a child. It was fun to teach them to my sons and pass them on.

1. America the Beautiful
2. Ants Go Marching, The
3. Battle Hymn of the Republic
4. Daisy, Daisy
5. Dixie
6. Do Your Ears Hang Low?
7. Down in the Valley
8. Edelweiss
9. 500 Miles
10. Found a Peanut
11. Four Strong Winds
12. Goodnight Irene
13. Greensleeves
14. Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley
15. The Happy Wanderer
16. Henry Martin
17. Home on the Range
18. Hush Little Baby
19. Inchworm
20. Itsy Bitsy Spider (or the Eensy Weensy Spider)
21. I've Been Working' on the Railroad
22. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
23. Kumbayah
24. Mary Had a Little Lamb
25. Michael Row the Boat Ashore
26. Moon River
27. My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
28. My Darling Clementine
29. My Grandfather's Clock
30. Oh, How Lovely Is the Evening
31. Oh, Susana
32. Old Black Joe
33. Old MacDonald Had a Farm
34. On Top of Old Smoky
35. On Top of Spaghetti
36. Once Upon a Dream
37. Puff the Magic Dragon
38. Red River Valley
39. Rockabye Baby
40. Row, Row, Row Your Boat
41. Sail, Baby, Sail (The Slumber Boat)
42. She'll Be Coming' 'Round the Mountain
43. Shenandoah
44. She's Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage
45. Somewhere Over the Rainbow
46. The Sound of Music
47. Summertime
48. Sweet Betsy From Pike
49. Taps (little did I know it would one day be played at his inurnment service)
50. Try to Remember
51. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
52. Way Down Upon the Swanee River
53. When Johnny Comes Marching Home
54. When the Red, Red Robin
55. When You Wish Upon a Star
56. Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
57. Yankee Doodle
58. Yellow Rose of Texas
59. You Are My Sunshine
60 plus (And Christmas carols, of course)
And I just remembered "Frere Jacques"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Happy Family Photo for Valentine's Day

When the boys were little, we made Valentines, and we had Valentine's candy. Once they were grown, we didn't normally do much about Valentine's Day between us, figuring that was more between them and their girlfriends or wives, but I used to send them cards, sometimes with a little cash just for fun. In later years, I didn't do that any longer, either. Now I just send little remembrances and cards to my grandchildren.

This photo was taken at a happy time. Both my sisters and their husbands were visiting us in Charlottesville, Virginia. We enjoyed having them there and showing them around the area. This photo was taken by my sister, Sherie. We look full of life and love, and Leif looks joyful. He was always happy when Lannay or Sherie was around, when he was a little boy. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Leif's Coif and Armor

Tonight Peter W. and I went to the German American Club Fasching party, like a Mardi Gras celebration German style. Although it's traditional to wear costumes, most of those attending don't, and the smaller percentage who do are competing for small cash prizes.

This year, Peter W. went as a knight, wearing the chain mail coif (the head covering you see in the photo) that Leif made and one of the beautifully crafted hand and wrist armor pieces that Leif purchased in 2003. He combined a shield he made with a shirt made from two dragon flags and completed his costume with leggings, boots, a sword and a dagger.

There were a lot of comments on the coif and many questions, asking what it was made of. They couldn't seem to believe it was really metal chain mail.

Peter won third prize for his costume, and although he was disappointed because he won first prize last year and second the year before that, considering that most people (including me) didn't win a prize, he should have been pleased.

Leif's coif and armor reminded me so of him, and his participation in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). I could almost see his bemused smile, had he seen his dad in this garb.

As I have said so many times, Leif is still with us in so many ways, in our thoughts and hearts, in all the things he left behind, the photos, the belongings, the memories.

I remember when he made the coif. He was very proud of it. He truly created it from scratch, purchasing a giant spool of wire. He used a drill to wind it around a rod and then he cut it into links which he wove in a beautiful pattern to make the coif. He had no pattern that I know of, just figured out how to make it fit his head, face and neck. I've posted this photo of him in it before. I wonder how many tiny links the coif contains and how many hours it took him to make it. Nowhere near as many hours as it took to make the huge (because it had to fit on his 6'2" frame) chain mail "shirt" (which I believe should be called a byrnie or haubergeon) that must have required both thousands of links and hundreds of hours. It weighed 52 pounds. How he ever managed to fight in SCA bouts wearing that shirt, other metal armor, and a heavy metal helmet, as well as carrying heavy weapons, amazes me. He was so very strong.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Two Brothers on an Airplane

On October 6, 2008, when I had been writing this blog for only six months, and Leif had been dead that long, I wrote about an incident that took place on an airplane. I was surprised, the other day, to find a photo I took at that time. When I originally wrote about it, I had the date wrong. It actually happened April 24, 1977, and we must have been flying to Kansas, not Germany.

Leif was a little over two years old, and Peter A. was eight. I was flying alone with them, and they were quite a handful, just normal slightly rambunctious boys. They actually entertained each other for quite awhile but then they began to get on each other's nerves and began to fight. It was annoying to all of us, and although they weren't loud, it probably wasn't all that pleasant for those around us, either. It was primarily boredom and being stuck in those seats, just running out of interesting things to do.

Peter A. said to me, in a rather snotty tone of voice, "Why does HE have to be here?" and added some comment about why we didn't just leave Leif behind.

I remember telling him that he wouldn't appreciate it if someone had that attitude about him, either when he was two or now, but he wasn't buying it.

Not long after that, Leif fell asleep. I thought Peter A. would be glad, because then he didn't have to put up with his little brother, but no, in just a few minutes he was asking me, "When is he going to wake up?"

I told him I thought he wanted to be rid of his little brother and would be glad now that he was asleep and he didn't have to put up with him.

I had a hard time not laughing at his reply. He wanted to wake Leif up!

I asked him why, and he said, "I'm bored. There's no one to fight with."

Such is the way of brothers . . . and perhaps sisters, too, I guess.

Leif looks so sweet and cuddly in this picture. He's wearing the little plastic set of "pilot" wings the airline gave him. I wonder, sometimes, if those and that flight began his love of flying, a love that was destined for disappointment when he found out in high school that he couldn't pass the flight physical.

Peter A. looking over that pillow, the one he put between them to keep Leif from touching him. So cute, the two of them. It's easy to say that now, looking at the photo. At the time, I was doing all I could to keep them settled down. It wasn't a relaxing flight for me, though Leif eventually relaxed plenty. :)