Family, family and more family: The Brazill sisters all together for the first time in two years (From left: Pat, Nan, Linda, Meg). Click to enlarge pictures.
What's a family get-together without old photos and new stories?
More cousins than Louisa May Alcott: Once there were ten; one now deceased, one arrived a day late and one could not make it. Eight out of the surviving nine of us met for the first time in decades. Pretty good considering we live sprawled across seven states from coast to coast.
There were folks we'd never met and folks of all ages like Mars Hill, grandson of cousin Barabara (above center).
Brother-in-law Tony G. came to the party in-between a 100K bike ride that morning and departing the next morning for 12 days in China, visiting factories. Tony gets kudos from the Brazill sisters for attending reunions of his wife's first cousins on both sides of her family within four months. Thanks, bro!
The party was a fun excuse for siblings who now live in different cities to gather. These two are my nephew and niece, Mike and Kate G., who live at opposite ends of Pennsylvania.
More family: The cousins invite their kids and the remaining wives — Shirley and Regina — of two of the three deceased Brazill brothers to join in the photo fun. The reunion was the a gathering of the children of those three brothers, one of whom was my father.
Cousin Mark was late but he sent supper, this gorgeous steamship round of beef, from his ranch. A product of 4-H and lots of love, it was cooked to perfection by cousin Bill and his wife, Teri.
Then it was turned into that classic dish that all the Brazills grew up eating: beef on weck! This plate is just the basics; back to the groaning board for all the wonderful salads and fruits that wouldn't fit on the plate the first time.
Cousin Bill's wife, Teri, takes a break. Teri made two superb cheesecakes that were one of the highlights of a great meal. She's a pro at this sort of thing so no cracks in the cheesecake surface, the true test of a chef.
Still more family: cousins, kids, moms, spouses, partners, friends — and Wink, the one-eyed dog.
A sultry summer day, tons of food and coolers of beer meant many walks down to the shale beach to wade or swim in Lake Erie. Lots of good rocks collected along with sore feet from the stony trek across the beach.
Late afternoon cleavage contest. You be the judge!
Separated at birth: Cousin Barb and I guess-timated that we had not seen each other in 40 years. We both showed up wearing Flax clothing and carrying 3-ring binders of family photos. In hers, Barb had a photo of our grandparents on their wedding day in 1915 that none of the rest of the us had ever seen. That alone was worth driving 700 miles to see!
But wait; turns out Barb and I both have spent big chunks of our lives as fiber artists and pastry chefs. We both reside in hip (or hippie) college towns, have an artist partner and tend flower gardens in our spare time. Who knew? Certainly not the two of us! It was a joy to reconnect with her; my only regret is she doesn't live here so she could join our group of "friends in art" and we could see each other all the time.
- Heartfelt thanks to cousin Billy Brazill and cousin Jimmy's daughter, Jennifer, for making this wonderful weekend happen.
- Thanks to Aunt Shirley and Aunt Regina for making the trek. Wonderful to see you both — and you saved me and Jim from being the oldest folks at the party.
- Thanks to all the cooks who supplied the fabulous food.
- Thanks to all the kids who were friendly and charming to this gaggle of gray-haired folks they never met before last Saturday.
- Thanks to cousin Mark for coming all that way. It was great to see you and also meet our dad's namesake, your son Jack.
- Thanks to sister Pat for compiling the great family contact list and getting it out to all of us so quickly.
- Finally, I promise to work on photo CDs ASAP. But my Mark did take almost 400 pix of woodsy walks, family and the Cleveland museum so it will take a little time to sort through them all.
Yes, we will do it again — sooner rather than later.