Lessons from Night #1 as Dugout Mom

  1. There are a lot of freakin hooks on catcher’s gear.
  2. It’s easier to put on the catcher’s chest protector on BEFORE putting the helmet on.
  3. Murphy’s law of the batting order means that the last girl at bat is inevitably the one who has to be immediately put into the catcher’s gear.
  4. Thank goodness they all have numbers on their shirts, and that I have a name-number roster at my disposal (didn’t stop me from calling Nicole “Sarah” at one point).
  5. Not being on the field doesn’t mean you don’t get all dusty.
  6. It only took Katie 1.5 innings to figure out that the new, sleeveless jerseys are ideal for armpit farts.
  7. Little girls can scale a chain link fence faster and further than most little boys.
  8. It’s harder to keep up with the activity on the field, but it’s pretty fun being dugout mom.


My individual development plan – with translation

Skill/Competency:  Able to successfully complete multiple, high priority projects concurrently.

Translated:  Able to complete the 6,325 project deliverables that have been assigned to me while on back to back, never ending conference calls with minimal usage of the phrase, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that, please?”  Mastered the ability to prepare lunch, eat lunch, pee, and drive while on a conference call.  (Not all at the same time, though.   That would be under “long term goals.”)

Skill/Competency:  Excellent written and verbal communication skills.

Translated:  Have figured out how to use Google and Microsoft’s thesaurus to sound intelligent without being redundant.  Not above using copy and paste if someone else has written something better than I could ever state it.  Have learned to rephrase “Are you a #!%#!%!#%! moron?” into the more appropriate “I don’t quite see things that way.”

Short term goals:  Successfully implement project X.

Translated:  Make it through the day without physical harm to myself or others, and without saying anything that requires a meeting with HR to discuss my “personality conflicts with others” when my multitasking skills fail me and the stress of trying to complete 6,325 simultaneous projects with a bunch of  #!%#!%!#%! morons finally overtakes me.  Rely heavily upon snarky comments via IM with girlfriends and mass quantities of coffee so I will survive to see another Friday.

Long term goals:  Upon mastering <current job function>, to be promoted to <level X>.

Translated:  Dude, I just want to hang on and make enough to retire; the sooner the better, please.  Just keep my job interesting until then, OK, and don’t kill me in the process.

Willingness to relocate:  Will relocate for right opportunity.

Translated:  Will move if the Company:

  1. Gives me a really big fat raise (that does not come with a big fat increase in work … SOME more work, OK).
  2. Hires a maid (let’s call her Alice) to keep my current house immaculate while it’s on the market.  I can’t keep my house clean enough for my standards (which, frankly, are fairly low) let alone clean enough for potential buyers.
  3. Finds spouse a highly paid job (or, in the case of my spouse – pays for a country club membership so my spouse can be a golf hack all day, especially if I get that big fat raise).
  4. Hires a moving company to pack and transport all of my junk to my new location.
  5. Whisks our entire family off on a week long vacation, ala Home Makeover (yes, limo to the airport, please) while all of our belongings are en route to our new, luxe house.  Upon end of vacation, Company delivers the family (still via limo) to aforementioned luxe house where everything is unpacked and 100% move-in ready; Alice has dinner waiting for us, jammies out, and beds turned down.

Just a hunch … but we probably won’t be relocating any time soon.


My life as a softball mom

When Katie turned three, and everyone else was starting up with soccer, I devoutly stayed away from all things organized sports.  She’s three, I’m thinking, and I’m silently laughing at all of my friends shuttling kids here, there and everywhere at zero dark thirty on a Saturday morning, or sweltering in 95 degree July heat at 9am, while I’m home reading the paper and drinking coffee (you didn’t really think I was sleeping in, did you?  God made the perfect alarm clock in the form of a small child.)  I didn’t really see the point … she’s three.  How much coaching can you give a kid who will still pick junk up from the floor, and covered in hair or not, promptly pop it into her mouth, no matter how loudly and insistently you yell NONONO!!!?  The same 3YO who resolutely, absolutely, stubbornly refused to potty train?  Yeah, great idea – add in the fact that a baseball bat is just another weapon and sign me up, Jack!

At five, though, I finally relented … in part because the teachers at Katie’s daycare kept telling us she’s athletic (the jock gene apparently skips a generation … or two, maybe) and because some neighborhood moms strongly encouraged me to get Katie involved in a variety of different activities, with different girls – that way, when the Mean Girls come out and Katie’s on the outside with one group, she still has other friends she can run with.

So off to Plano Sports Authority, aka PSA to the Plano luxury SUV-drivin’, wine-drinkin momma set (not drinking AND driving – oh no … definitely not at the same time – that’d be gauche).   Katie had just finished Kindergarten, so T-Ball it is – I go online, pick up co-ed T-Ball, sign Katie up, punch in my Visa number and anxiously await her team assignment.  Since we hadn’t done this before, and since there wasn’t a group of neighborhood moms with a team already going, I knew PSA would place her onto a team that needed another player, or that she’d end up with the rest of the kids whose moms were slackers  just now signing their kids up without benefit of a preformed “team”.

Finally, I got the email from Coach Ian – she’s a Dodger!  So I look at the roster … Xander, Soren, Brent, Josh, Jack … hmmm.  No girl Dodgers.  I check every other team in the league … no girls.  Not.One.

Craaaaapppp … I’m new to this, did I screw up and sign her up for the wrong thing?  Checked PSA and nope – definitely co-ed … so, where are all of the girls?  I asked a friend if her daughter was playing T-Ball – and the answer was no, Eva’s playing softball.  DOH!

But Katie, my abhor-everything-pink and anything girlie girl, the girl who loves Darth Vader and video games – she LOVED being a Dodger.  She loved the uniforms, she loved practices, she loved the games, she loved her coaches, she loved her teammates.  Katie once famously said, as she confidently strutted onto the practice field: “I’m gonna show these boys how it’s done” – but other than that, she never really noticed that she was the only girl.  And, to be honest … she played better than a good number of the boys on the field.

Last fall, back to PSA I go with my used and abused Visa card, and now my only option is softball:  boys have baseball, girls softball.  And, being the fall league, there were very few girls and teams that signed up (softball being more of a spring sport) so we were ‘placed’ onto the Rangers, an established team centralized mostly around an elementary school other than Katie’s.  The Rangers managed to finish first both in the regular season and the fall tournament (OK, there were three whole teams, but still – FIRST PLACE BABY!)  And we were invited to join the Rangers again this spring.

So now the regular spring season is over, just when I’ve finally gotten to the point where not every girl with a ponytail looks the same, and I’m not saying “Good hit Ava!” and then going oh crud, that was Catherine (or vice-versa, I did that a LOT … but in my defense, it’s hard to tell them apart when they look like big bobbleheads with their batting helmets on).  Competition is a great bonding agent with the other moms and dads (as a nail-biting first tourney game tonight has proven), and it’s easy to see how any parent can become THAT parent in the heat of the moment, forgetting that the players are all but six and seven years old.    And yes, we have had our share of “those parents” (none wear Ranger pink, of course).

And other than being with all girls, softball hasn’t been much different for Katie than T-Ball.  “Ranger ready” means the same thing as “Dodger ready” which is coach code for “Quit playing in the dirt already!”  OK, so there’s maybe more crying in softball … Tom Hanks was wrong, there IS crying in 7YO softball; lots of it, for every possible reason from skinned knees to hurt feelings to somebody looked at me funny.

Katie still loves practice, her coaches, her team.  My abhor-all-things-pink girl never makes a fuss about her pink uniform shirt, and even asked if she should buy pink sunglasses for game days.  And she insisted on sugar cookies, shaped like softballs – and frosted pink – when it was our turn for team snacks.

As for me, the reluctant softball mom?  I love the chatter of the parents in the stands.  I love watching Katie in left center or at short stop, hustling after the ball, making plays.  I even love Katie in left center or at short stop, doing karate moves, playing in the dirt, or doing armpit farts (OK, maybe not the armpit farts so much).  I love the clink of the ball on the metal bat, the dirt that’s permanently embedded in her cleats and her glove, the chocolate-smeared, post game snack sticky fingers.  I love how all of the coaches are teaching the girls the fundamentals of fielding, defense, batting and throwing with kind words and instruction.  I love how Coach Kevan ends every game by asking the girls “Did you have fun?” and not being satisfied until people in the next county can hear 15 grimy, sweaty softball players all screaming “YEEEEESSSS!” at a pitch that only a gaggle of 7YO girls can seem to muster.

I love life as a softball mom.

Father’s Day 2014

Last year I posted a Facebook note on Father’s Day in memory of Grandpa Jack.  So I’m making it ‘official’ now by moving it to the REAL BLOG – with a couple of additions/corrections.

The additions I didn’t include originally because they’re not my memories, but my Uncle Dave’s.  Uncle Dave and Grandpa  took several fishing trips to Canada with their church; trips they always enjoyed a great deal.  The church had a group of deaf members, which was nice for Grandpa – he had “peers” he could hang with.

Well, Uncle Dave tells a story of Grandpa and one of these other deaf men on one of these many fishing trips, in the boat in the middle of a lake, belting out “You are my Sunshine”.  VERY loudly and VERY off key – but if my memory of Dave’s story holds true, they managed to sing together, go figure.   But why they decided to sing that song, in the middle of that lake, at that time, remains a mystery.

Uncle Dave also recalls several “heated” discussions with Grandpa when Uncle Dave was a teenager … but when Grandpa had had enough of the debate, he’d just raise the newspaper up in front of his face and say (in that loud voice of his) “I can’t hear you!”  Conversation over!

And a correction – it wasn’t Grandma who was competitive and got bent out of shape in the Great Monopoly game, but Grandpa … and I wouldn’t have guessed that.

So this year, for Father’s Day, some recommendations from me via Grandpa:

  • Greet everyone with a big “HI” and an even bigger bear hug.
  • Play some monopoly – and play to WIN, dang it!
  • Go to church; pray.
  • Spend a Sunday afternoon barbecuing with your entire family in the backyard.
  • Work in your garden; get your hands dirty and your shirt sweaty.
  • Eat some fried chicken (really, in the spirit of Grandpa, you should eat a lot of chicken … like, two entire KFC buckets).  Follow up the chicken with a big ol’ bowl of homemade ice cream for dessert (ice cream must be consumed on a back porch, preferably on a hot afternoon).
  • Sing “You are my Sunshine” even if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket … and do it loudly.


Father’s Day 2013

It’s Father’s Day weekend, so friends are posting recollections and pictures of their dads on Facebook, and the paper is full  of columns and stories about different dads. It got me to thinking about the dads in my life – Skip (I couldn’t ask for anyone better to be Katie’s dad), my own dad (who gave me my sense of humor, and now relishes the role of “G-Pa”) and my own grandpa, Jack, who I miss more than I thought I would.

Grandpa Jack was an incredible eater – the family legend is that he once ate two entire chickens in a sitting (I think it was at a restaurant somewhere in the Ozarks that served “broasted” chicken, whatever that is).  I lived with my grandparents for a few months after college – my parents had moved to Colorado Springs, abandoning me in Omaha – and I recall one evening at the dinner table with meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, and homemade bread.  And this was SERIOUS homemade bread; made with wheat and other whole grains and probably some honey; it was the sort of bread that was heavy in your hand but it melted in your mouth.  I think Grandpa polished off half of the meatloaf, a small volcano of potatoes (I’m certain they were served with gravy), several slices of bread (buttered, natch) and two or three ears of corn.  Mind you, Grandpa Jack wasn’t a big man – he stood 5’ 8” at best before age began to rob him of his height – but he was SOLID.

Grandpa Jack might’ve liked to eat, but he loved people.  He greeted everyone with a huge smile, a big emphatic “HI!” and a hug. Total strangers would come up to him and start conversations; he just looked like one of those people you should approach and start a conversation with.  Now, this was always interesting to watch; Grandpa Jack was completely deaf and had been since about the age of twelve.  He would usually smile and nod as the stranger carried on what ended up being a mostly one-sided conversation.

And Grandpa’s conversations with Grandma remain fascinating to me. When most people think of sign language, they think of the big, sweeping hand movements and finger spelling that you see when there is a sign interpreter at some large, public event. Grandma was also deaf, and she and Grandpa had this odd, shorthand sign language they developed in their 60+ years together.  Grandma would be in her recliner and Grandpa in his, side by side, with Grandma making (what looked to me) ever so slight movements with her left hand and Grandpa making similar signs with his right.  They carried on entire, lengthy conversations this way.  And oh yes, they would fight – my brother remembers one highly contested Monopoly game (Grandma did NOT like to lose).  Jason says, “You should’ve seen those fingers FLY.”

Grandpa Jack adored his family; I am the second of seven grandkids spread out over more than a dozen years, so I got to watch Grandpa interact with the youngest of my cousins. I have lots of memories of Grandpa playing with all of us kids – chasing us through that big back yard behind the tiny house on Spaulding Street under the shade of the huge maple trees – and of course LOTS of hugs.  And ginormous bowls of homemade ice cream on sultry, humid Omaha Sunday afternoons on the back porch.  Grandpa Jack spoiled all of us, although part of me suspects he was looking for a cohort when all of the Oreos were suddenly gone.  🙂  But you could always count on Grandpa Jack to be around to help – sometimes with mixed results (asking Grandpa to help move large objects or to assist with home improvement projects was a somewhat iffy proposition – he always gave it 150%, but ‘grace’ and ‘precision’ weren’t always his friends).

Grandpa was also a man of faith – a simple faith, but a strong one.  I remember a picture of Jesus on the wall of their house and a small wooden cross on a bookshelf with the words “Jesus Saves”.  When Skip and I were “church shopping” in Des Moines, Grandpa’s two criteria were 1) Do they teach from the Bible? and 2) Does the pastor wear a robe?  #1 had to be “yes” and #2 “no” and that was all Grandpa needed.  Grandpa would probably be tickled to know these are the criteria Skip applies to churches we attend today.  Grandpa gave me one of his Bibles and it’s one of my most treasured possessions.

Grandpa Jack usually smelled of sweat and hard work – he was forever doing something around the house or in the yard, particularly in his garden, although I think his adventures on the roof gave my mother more than a few scares.  Christmas Eve meant Grandpa going to bed right after the presents were opened, so he could be to work at the Peter Pan Bread company bright and early the next day.  For all my grandparents accomplished –raising four kids, working outside the home – with a disability in the days long before the Americans with Disabilities Act – I am constantly amazed and in awe.  But a lot of that speaks to Grandpa Jack’s work ethic, his love of family, and his faith.

Grandpa Jack is now just memories – the glasses held onto his head with the elastic band that went from ear to ear, with the ever so stylish ‘flip up’ sunglasses that clipped over the lenses.  Grandpa’s tendency to pronounce words exactly like they looked – and always in an extremely loud voice, due to his deafness.  There was one Mother’s Day in Omaha when he and my mother were discussing the use of “niger seed” in a bird feeder.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to how exactly that sounded.

While he wasn’t part of my life every day, he’s in my blood and in my history.  I hope on this Father’s Day that my brother and cousins will stop and remember Grandpa Jack and his influence in our lives.  And maybe see a little of Grandpa Jack in themselves, or looking back at them from their own children – I know I see Grandpa Jack’s smile in Katie every time she meets a new friend.

Happy Father’s Day.


It’s all a bunch of Mickey Mouse bull****

Twice in the last two months I’ve traveled to Arizona for work.  Traveling for work always has a purpose – some need to meet face-to-face to work through some detailed process or issue, or some team building activities for my geo-scattered colleagues.  But it’s not something I take lightly – I’m spending the company’s money, and I’m taking up my time to get there and back.  And it’s not like it’s all fun – I am a Frustrated Flyer – I go often enough that it’s more of a burden than an adventure, and I don’t travel enough to ever get upgraded (shoot, last year I didn’t even get “gold” status, not like that counts for much any more).  

And my trips usually consist of going from the airport to the hotel to the office (stop for coffee on the way – DUH), grab a quick bite somewhere, go back to the hotel, work some more from the hotel if not too tired, otherwise watch something really worthless on TV and fall asleep.  Repeat, until it’s time to come back home.

With both recent trips, my reason for going ended up being hijacked for the latest crisis du jour.  Said crisis du jour could have been managed just fine from my desk in Texas, earbuds jammed into the familiar confines of my ear canals.   And, in the spirit of things that just keep on giving, the reasons for going to Arizona in the first place were then incomplete.   And let’s not forget all of the other work left undone by virtue of the travel itself – so now I’m in a never-ending cycle of catch up, not to mention the fact that I’m spent from the combination of a post-crisis adrenaline crash and a delayed flight that meant I didn’t get to bed until after midnight.

There’s a lot of change happening at the office – AGAIN – changes in leadership, roles and responsibilities, process.  Shoot, I’ve technically worked for the same company for the last 16 years but under four different names, so change is nothing new (I stopped worrying about who moved my cheese after acquisition #2).  As long as my badge still gets me into the office, and they keep putting money into my account every two weeks … I’m good.   And if the badge stops working, I have a long list of things I’d sure like to do.

The longer I work (or maybe it’s the older I get), the more fatigued I am by all of the changes.  I am tired of trying the same things in a slightly different way – but that different way feels strangely familiar (didn’t we try this with acquisition #3?)  I’m tired of everything being “The Priority” or “The Crisis” that has to be resolved today, with plenty of people willing to help you clear your calendar but no one ever trades this project for that one (there are just new projects added to the list).  I am tired of saying the same things, to the same people (the never ending merry-go-round of different consultants, mostly).

Which reminds me I am also very tired of corporate buzz words (“What’s the ask?”) and PowerPoint “decks”.   I am tired of having to learn a new process just when I finally mastered the OLD process, dang it!  And I am extremely tired of using Excel for word processing!  (Sorry, that last was just a totally random gripe.  But I think there is a special section of Hell reserved for those who make “forms” in Excel.)

I’m trying to stay focused on my work in the midst of all of the changes, attempting to keep my attitude somewhere north of the positive/negative line in spite of my fatigue and cynicsm.   Which reminds me of my dad …

When I was growing up, my dad worked for utility companies:  he was in public relations, operations, HR,  so very much a white collar sort of guy.  Actually, he really was a white collar guy – forget about getting him to wear a shirt with any color or pattern in it.  Dad was – and still is – pretty conservative, both in dress and attitude.

Being a kid, and trying to come up with birthday or father’s day gifts, I always wanted to get my dad fun ties – you know, the ones with cartoon characters.  Or maybe some character socks – still fun, but mostly hidden, right?  But he would never wear the fun socks or the ties; they just were not his style.

So at some point when I was still in college or maybe a recent grad, I noticed my dad was wearing a Mickey Mouse watch.  With his shirt and tie for work.  Totally out of character (no pun intended) for the man who refused my Mickey Mouse ties and socks.  So, naturally, being the brat I am, I called him on it.  His response?

“When I’m in meetings, and it’s all just a bunch of noise, I look at my watch and remind myself this is all just a bunch of Mickey Mouse bulls****.”

See, Dad, I did listen to you.

OK, maybe not all the time.




“I keep thinking, this year, it will be easier”

My Mother’s Day gift for the last eight years has been a picture of Katie, taken by Skip, and placed in a beautiful silver frame that gets polished up and presented with the current year’s photo proudly displayed.  Skip even went so far as to buy a small album to hold prior years’ pictures.  It’s a very cool tradition Skip started; I love each of my eight pictures.

The other annual Mother’s Day tradition in the Harris Household is Skip uttering the words, “I keep thinking, this year it will be easier.”

Outtakes for this year include pictures of Katie with a big stick, pretending to be a Jedi (in fairness, if Darth Maul ever attacks our home, my money is on Katie) as well as several pictures of her doing armpit farts (to every parent whose child learned this lovely little “trick” from Katie:  I am sorry.  So, so, so, so, SO very sorry.  Very sorry.)

Katie, Jedi Master
Katie, Jedi Master
Katie's fine armpit fart form
Katie’s fine armpit fart form

Skip keeps thinking that each year, the pictures will be easier – that she’ll be more cooperative, better able to listen, more into the whole process than she’s been in previous years.  And every year, Katie manages to prove him wrong.

The first year, he fully anticipated being challenged – Katie wasn’t even two weeks old, so trying to get a good picture is definitely tough; I have a real appreciation for anyone who can get a good newborn picture (although I do notice that in a lot of those newborn pictures, the babies are all snoozing.  Is that cheating?)

I like this one (it looks like he caught her mid-sneeze):

First Mother's Day
First Mother’s Day

The following year, at just over one year old, got us a meltdown and a total lack of cooperation …

Katie Meltdown
Katie Meltdown
Katie's cute backside, but not quite what we were after
Katie’s cute backside, but not quite what we were after









There are dozens, if not hundreds, of “botched” pictures, all taken in the often fading hopes that one, just ONE dang it, will be a keeper.   And I got to thinking – this is a lot like parenting itself.  You keep thinking it’ll get easier when she’s sleeping through the night.  When she’s walking.  When she’s able to dress herself … feed herself … and on and on it goes.  But every “easier” comes with a trade off.   Being able to dress herself means picking out shorts, ski socks, tennis shoes and a sweatshirt.  All in clashing colors and in all likelihood, the shirt has some horrific stain.  Being able to walk means she runs and holy buckets kids can run fast (this momma runs WAAAAY slow), and kids always run straight to the things that induce immediate cardiac arrest (streets, swimming pools, large ugly dogs, etc. etc.)

But for every hard moment there are the good ones – the hugs, the sticky kisses, the “I love yous”.  The moment when your kid does the right thing – unprompted – and your heart swells so much it might just come out of your ears.  And the few good moments far outweigh the bad ones; I just hope that in most of your bad ones, you can also look back and laugh.

I’m just hopeful that Mother’s Day 2019 doesn’t make me long for the days of armpit farts.

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My birthday, my family tree, and why I’ll never be running for public office

I’ve never met or even been remotely acquainted with anyone who shares my birthday (April 24).  I know of no fewer than three people who share a birthday on April 26, and even Katie has already encountered two other kids with the same birthday as hers.  (Now that I’ve put that out there, no fewer than 15 people will comment that their great-aunt’s sister’s husband’s cousin once removed has a birthday on April 24.)

But what has happened TWICE on my actual birthday is I’ve gotten an email from a distant relative, looking for genealogy information.  Genealogy is one of those things I pursued several years ago – you know, before adding my own sapling.  It still interests me, I just don’t have the time to pursue it; genealogy is a hobby that requires a lot of dedication and patience.

This year, on my birthday, I’ve connected with relatives in Alaska and Norway via a great-great-grandmother.  I have very little to go on with regard to Helene Nore; she was married to August Yager, a wagon maker by trade, and they had three children.  While my dad remembers August (my dad, his mother, and August all lived with August’s daughter and son-in-law for a time during WWII), Helene passed away long before my dad was born.

Census records showed August living with his three children in 1910, 1920 and in 1930.  The 1930 census shows Helene living in the Nebraska Institute for the Insane – and when I first saw that, I recalled something from a genealogy course I took – often times menopausal women were committed or institutionalized and it wasn’t uncommon to see Mom, Dad, kids altogether in one census, mom gone the next census, and then mom back with dad for the following census (after all of those hot flashes and hormonal swings passed, I guess!)  But it seems Helene was in the Institute from sometime prior to 1910 until her death in 1936, and one of my new connections has found that August & Helen’s kids were turned over to an orphanage for a while, so things must’ve been pretty bad.  I’ve made feeble attempts to get the records, but am thwarted by privacy laws (yes, even after all of these years … time to sic my brother, the attorney, on this little task, now that my interest is peaked again).

But Helene’s institutionalization isn’t the only odd or unusual story on the family tree.  Several years ago, pre-Katie, I got another birthday email, this time from a woman in Canada.  She indicated that she had a picture that might be of interest to me.  She described the picture as one of three little boys, and on the back it noted the boys were named William (aged 8), Paul (aged 6) and Allen (aged 5), it was taken in Lanark, IL, in 1923 and was signed “your brother, Will”.

I had posted to a message board several years before getting that email, looking for information on a great-grandfather who was adopted by his grandparents.  ‘Adoption’ in the 1870s is sort of loosey-goosey; you pretty much lived with whoever took you in, and there wasn’t typically a paper trail.  I’d posted all of the relevant facts about my great-grandfather, one William Orus Kunce:   spouse, kids, all applicable dates and places.  And I didn’t hear a peep for several years until that email landed in my inbox.  Well, those are the names of my great-uncles, and my grandmother was born in 1923 in Lanark, IL, so unless there was some weird parallel universe out there, this had to be my family.

Notice I didn’t say she attached the picture to the email.

We exchanged a few emails and at one point, I asked one of the boys in the picture was wearing a sailor suit – I have a copy of that picture, and “Billy” is very cute in his little sailor outfit, standing behind his two brothers.  A sweet picture.

A short time later I got an email response with the picture attached.  Billy, Paul and Al were standing behind a Model T in what looked to be a grassy field.  Wearing white robes.  With hoods.

My great-grandfather had taken his three young sons to a KKK rally.

Skip came running into the study when I saw the picture – I’m sure I gasped and let out some OMGs and who knows what else came flying out of my mouth.  To say I was shocked would be an understatement.

I asked my grandmother about that picture, and she remembered it very well, although she didn’t have a copy.  Grandma recalled the time when her mother, Bessie, was sorting through pictures, and Bessie tore the picture into several pieces.  Bessie did not like that her husband had belonged to the Klan, although Grandma told me that William left the Klan upon becoming a Christian.

And … the woman in Canada almost didn’t come into possession of that picture.  She’d met with an elderly woman who shared many Kunce pictures and stories, but the older lady held the KKK picture back until the last minute.  Probably a good call – not exactly something you want to whip out when first meeting someone, although it is a good conversation piece, I guess.

So now I’m back all excited about the family tree game.  Some of it is the thrill of connecting with new people far and wide, and some of it is a little bit of anxiety … other people find out they’re related to Queen Victoria or they can trace their roots back to the Mayflower.  Not me, I’ve got institutionalized people and Klansmen in my tree.

Oh well – public office is overrated anyway.