Without a shadow of a doubt . . .

The folks who write fortune cookies have been angry with me again -- perhaps it's because Chinese restaurants should have no place in my healthier and thriftier 2009 lifestyle, but for some reason the less-than-complimentary fortunes continue to roll in:

The quality-control folks at the cookie factory need to do a little anti-crooked training.

I could be offended, or I could take it as yet another cosmic reminder that my personality didn't just fall out of the solar system somehow. Surely there are people that I ought to thank.

While I believe we previously established (in the post here) that having my Dad's genes would probably not aid you in being chosen homecoming queen, if you wanted to land a leading role in local amateur theatrics, head a major corporation, start an industry-changing business or make a decent showing on "Jeopardy", my Dad's genes are exactly the material you'd want to work with. And he probably has this guy to thank for it:

My Grandpa Kenneth, whose birthday it is today. That makes it always easy for me to remember Groundhog Day, which in Minnesota can be overlooked because we will most certainly have 8 and quite possibly 12 more weeks of winter. But back to smart men and the people who made them . . .

My Grandpa was a philosopher who worked his way through life as a cowboy-farmer-steelworker, all the while giving loud political and religious commentary, as well as supplying the answers to math problems when asked.

This last fact was most interesting because he never went to high school, nor did he know how to do the math, he could just see the answers by looking at the problems. This made him a homework genius if you just needed answers, but left you high and dry if you had to show your work. And he had no patience with girls who wanted to know how to do it or how he knew the answer -- he simply couldn't imagine that everyone who looked wouldn't automatically know.

Once Russ was trying to help him do something in his yard, but wasn't doing it the way Grandpa thought it should be done, and in exasperation he finally told Russ, "Why don't you just stick this knife in the ground so I can fall on it?" Because Grandpa just wanted things done the way he could see they ought to be done. A simple enough request, I guess.

He was also a "scared straight" sort of fellow, who could help one overcome all sorts of behavioral problems and would have been mighty helpful for all of us to have around when we were raising teenagers, if only he could have stayed that long.

We could ask his old tractor about that if it could talk, I guess, because not long ago I found out that he used to beat it with a 2 x 4 when he was angry at it. I don't know whether it helped the tractor "straighten up and fly right," but I know he could talk to a kid in a way that was simple enough but effective as a 2 x 4 beating. Grandpa got results.

When I was a small girl, I sucked two of my fingers incessantly -- not only were they usually disgustingly pruney, but they had two dents from my two little front teeth that never went away. I once remember one of my Grandma's friends asking what had happened to my fingers when she saw the dents, and I told what is quite possibly the first lie I can remember -- I said I fell down. She pretended to be satisfied by that answer -- at least she didn't press the issue by further inquiring as to their wrinkly wetness.

Yes, that's me on the left. And behind the hand you can see, I assure you the other hand is half in my mouth.

One day my Grandpa looked at me and said, "I don't want to see you sucking those fingers again." And that was that. I can't really explain why, but when Grandpa told you to do something, you did it and how.

I think everyone should have a chance to sit down with my Grandpa Kenneth and have a discussion about something -- you can choose the topic, he'll be happy to discuss whatever you like and will probably teach you something if you pay attention. If you didn't have a chance to do this before he left, be sure to look him up in the next life. And behave yourself.

All of this leads me to today's show-and-tell in which I can finally announce that this piece is finished:


The fact that it only partly fit on my scanner detracts a little, but the idea remains intact.

It was something of a wrestling match and there were a few times I confess I wanted to beat it with a board. But I was happy to have it come out on Groundhog Day because although my Grandpa Kenneth was definitely a loud spouter of "what to think," he was also a stellar example of "how to think," and so now I get a chance to say it again:

Thanks for the genes, Dad.


Pam said...

I loved this post. Just loved it! Grandparents are SO important.

Jessie said...

your newest wool piece is AMAZING! Maybe this is obvious, and I'm blind for missing it, but what is the significance of the "w" on the bracelet charm?

susan m hinckley said...

I'm impressed that you noticed the "w" in that poor-quality picture, but thanks for asking -- the "w" is for "Wisdom", which is the name of the piece (rest assured that you are not the only person who will ask me that question!)

Amelia and Justin said...

Jessie already asked the question I was going to ask :)

I loved going to grandpa Kenneth's house. Although I don't remember many conversations with him, I do remember his awesome chair ramp, of course. You really are making me appreciate those experiences I had with my relatives. Thanks! :)

susan m hinckley said...

I'm so glad you guys are old enough to remember them -- Lindsay has a few memories, but the other two girls seem to have more vague impressions that they mix up (who had the chair, who had Hattie, who had the eyebrows, etc.) I'm so blessed by the tremendous influence of my grandparents, I think it's amazing fun that I get to celebrate them here!

Sara and Cory said...

fun post! There is a lot I didn't know about Grandpa... math wizard, whoda thunk! btw, I knew right away what the "w" was for...just saying... ;O)

susan m hinckley said...

Hooray! Thanks for making my day! I was having some serious doubts about that piece working because first Russ stumbled all over what it was supposed to say when he tried to read it, then people were confused about the "w" (which I expected, but they can't be confused about EVERYTHING in a piece!) so I feel a little better about it :)

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