Tuesday, May 31, 2011


We sat at The Breadbasket Saturday evening (the 21st). Grandpa commented on how noisy the room was.

My cousin Sherri leaned over and reminded him that over half the room was his family - his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

"You mean. I'm responsible for all this?!"
"Yeah, Grandpa."
"Then I should be tired!"

Probably, Grandpa. I think you've earned some rest.

(scroll down for a post about saying goodbye)

saying goodbye

Almost two weeks ago we said goodbye to our precious grandma (mother, mother-in-law, grandmother-in-law, great-grandma). It was hard.

I miss her in a way that's hard to describe. It's not as if, today, I would be having kool-aid tea and store-bought cookies in her apartment. But just knowing that it's not an option anymore is overwhelmingly emotional at times.

Grandma was a part of my life kind of like air-conditioning in May, always there, patiently waiting for the moment needed.

In a way, she still is. All four of my grandparents are inextricably intertwined in the day-to-day of who I am. When I bake, I am the part of me from Grandma Donna. When I sew, it's Grandma Lu. When I fix something, it's Grandpa Melvin. When I'm particular or a perfectionist, Grandpa Varden's part comes out. From all of them, I'm frugal, but I know some things are worth spending money on. I am strongly tied to my faith and faith heritage. I am loyal. I treasure my family and dear friends. I love to garden. And I could go on and on...

Spending the first 25 years of my life being known and loved by my four grandparents is something I will treasure forever. I know I am lucky. And I am grateful to all four of my grandparents. They are no small part of who I have become.

And knowing this made it just a little bit easier to say goodbye.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer Reading List

I made a comment the other day to some friends (my language arts teacher friends, no less!) that I would rather read a book than watch a movie - they don't necessarily feel the same way. It's true, and it's why they love me. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the mindless entertainment provided by my TV on a regular basis. But most of the time I'd rather be reading. (Maybe I need one of these t-shirts?!) So here's what I'm working on for the next few months...

My summertime reading list in no particular order:

Phoenix Rising by Hesse
Sing You Home by Picoult
Confetti Girl by Lopez
All the Broken Pieces by Burg
Anything But Typical by Baskin
Double Eagle by Collard
Faith, Hope, & Ivy June by Naylor
The Great Death by Smelcer
Heart of a Shepherd by Parry
Operation Yes by Holmes
Return to Sender by Alvarez
Wild Things by Carmichael
Years of Dust by Marrin
Perfect Match by Picoult? (I'm not sure if I've read this one or not)
Everlost by Shusterman
1984 by Orwell (no, Mrs. H... I've not read it)
Nickel & Dimed by Ehrenreich (this might be a struggle - I don't do well with nonfiction)
Peace Like a River by Enger
The Rest of her Life by Moriarty
Of course I'll also be reading lots about reference and user services and cataloging and classification...

(I'm already two books in :)!)

This year I'm trying to read all the William Allen White nominees for 2011-2012 that sound interesting - so that's what most of the young adult novels on the list are.

I'm thinking I might need a few more adult novels.

What's on your summer reading list?!

Friday, May 27, 2011

school's out

"If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job." ~Donald D. Quinn
It's finally, officially that wonderful time of year that we call summer. I'm breathing a sigh of relief that this school year is over - it was difficult... that's been no secret to anyone around me - and crossing my fingers that soon I'll be posting on a more regular basis.

Monday, May 16, 2011


I've never liked geraniums. After all, flowers are supposed to smell good. But these don't. They kind of stink, to tell you the truth. I may have even given my mother strict instructions not to plant geraniums in pots to decorate at our wedding.

So it was completely confusing when, a couple of weeks ago, I started to feel an intense desire to plant geraniums - but not just anywhere. In the milk can and the pot on my front porch. Every time I glanced at one, on the way into Dillon's or driving past a neighbor's house, I wanted to reach out and grab one.

Um... but... I don't even like geraniums. Why would I want to plant them?

Then it hit me. Both of my grandmas have always had geraniums... Grandma Lu in pots on her patio, Grandma Donna in planters and pots on her front porch. And when things change, in big ways, I tend to long for the comfort I find in what's familiar, in the traditions and habits entrenched in who we are.

Nostalgia always wins.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Donna Lois Klaassen

The obituary will tell when she was born, how she married my grandpa, who has survived her. It will say when services will be held and where memorial donations should go.

But it won't tell you who my grandma was (it is so difficult to write this in the past-tense).

It will leave out the stories of her childhood, how she and her four sisters would play house under the porch - with candles - and hang out on campus, both at KU and at Bethel.

It won't have room for the stories of tea parties with her granddaughters, detailing how she would paint my nails pink then serve kool-aid in china tea cups and store-bought cookies (ironic, I know, since she's the best baker!) on saucers. Then there are the times she would help us set up a water park in her front yard, dragging hoses all the way around the house so that we could set up the banana slide and all the sprinklers - even finding poster board for us to make a sign.

It isn't going to add up the number of her children's and grandchildren's school concerts, ball games, graduations, and track meets she cheered at, or tell how the first thing she and Grandpa would do on Wednesday and Saturday mornings during basketball season was look up the scores of the high school teams that her granddaughter and grandson-in-law coach in the paper.

The dozens of cookie recipes that were each her specialty won't be printed. How she baked, froze, and mailed them to her grandchildren as college care packages will be left out - as will the nickname my friends lovingly bestowed on her: "Megan's cookie grandma."

It may mention that she majored in English and later worked at the library, but lists of the piles and piles books she read and shared and talked about with us won't be mentioned. 

It won't tell of the annual "neighborhood" Christmas open house she hosted, for everyone living around the adjoining sections. Somehow, it will overlook the story of how she decided not to wrap Christmas gifts, meaning each child and grandchild and great-grandchild had a pile in the basement every year, covered in sheets until the big unveiling.

Somehow it will fail to mention how Grandma managed to make each person in her life feel like the most important - and each grandchild feel like the favorite. 

The words that will be printed will be accurate, factual, and well-thought out. 

But they will not be enough to honor her life. Obituaries never are. How could they? Even hardly tells of the amazing woman who's my Grandma Donna.

Words cannot express how blessed we all are to have been loved by her and how much we will miss her.

Friday, May 6, 2011

511 Park Place

(This post is mostly for my sisters. At least the pictures.)

My Grandma Lu &  Grandpa Varden sold their house, so Easter 2011 was the last family holiday at 511 Park Place.

We spent countless hours playing in this backyard - under the bridge, up in the tree house, around the weeping willow, grabbing cattails in the creek.

I know that it's time to move on, and that this is for the best, but I'll miss this place. My grandparents (all four of them) have been a big part of my life for all of it, and this house is no small part of the part of my life they are. And while it'll be hard not to come back every Thanksgiving and Christmas and Easter and days in between, I'm looking forward to their new place and the new memories that will be made there.

Monday, May 2, 2011


I am still processing events of late. There is much going on in our world. It is a time of great celebration for many yet a time of great mourning for others; I don't think either of those responses can be ignored or dismissed. As someone who was raised in a strong pacifist belief system and is unsure that violence is ever the correct or best answer, I have mixed emotions about it all. Maybe later (after my semester paper is complete - so close!) I will do more writing. For now, I believe Martin Luther King, Jr. said it very well, and his words will suffice...
I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.
"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." -Martin Luther King, Jr
 Edit: after a little online searching, the actual quotation from MLK, Jr. does not include the first sentence. It's unclear to me where that sentence originated - perhaps someone's own thoughts - but as it moved from facebook status to facebook status, the quotation marks migrated as well.