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Posts Tagged ‘family’

It’s been about two weeks since my dad and I took a trip to Niagara Falls, his hometown, and Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, my paternal grandparents’ hometown. The experience is difficult to put into words. As a young person who didn’t know her grandparents terribly well, I’m overwhelmed with a tremendous amount of pride and sentiment when visiting these places that were so important to them and to my father, though I’ve hardly spent much time in either town. It reminds me that where we are is one of the biggest factors in determining who we are.

Shufran house, paternal grandmother's childhood home, Philipsburg, PA

Great-Uncle Al's Garage

Walking through Belden Center, my dad's childhood neighborhood, with Rich Vicki

Rich Vicki, my dad's oldest friend

 

The first house my dad ever lived in. There would have been 9 people living in this house when he was born in 1948.

3011 Savannah Street- my dad's childhood home

Downtown Niagara Falls- Slipko's and Jenss- both now closed

DiCamillo in Downtown Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is like many cities in the north east that used to be industrial hubs. There is a lot of rot, decay, and ugly reminders of what used to be. I wish I had captured more of those images while we were there. The slow erosion that these towns have endured, I believe, is on-par with the after-math of many natural disasters. I know that these towns will eventually make a recovery but I don’t know who will lead the recoveries or how long they will take. I hope to keep going back so I can keep learning about the rich histories of these towns and to be a part of the recovery solution.

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Yesterday was the type of day that only comes once or twice a year. A perfect day— 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky— spent with the people you love the most, and all thoughts of worry, and work, and Monday are far away.

Rachel and Kent came down from DC and we spent our day sipping Rose at Veritas Winery and sampling beers at Blue Mountain Brewery, all while taking in the unobstructed mountain views. I’m feeling awfully thankful this weekend, not just for the fun, food, and drink we had, but for my incredible, crazy family.

 

 

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Family Friday

It’s Friday! And that calls for some lighthearted blogging material to make everyone feel all happy inside for the weekend. I really wanted to share this video that Ryan’s cousin Katie laboriously put together for our rehearsal dinner slideshow. It is really too cute. And has some forgotten-about pictures of both of our childhoods. I even think my mom and Peggy look kind of similar in some of the shots when Ry and I were babies… maybe just a little?

Click here to view the video on the Vimeo web site.

Later tonight, Ryan and I will head to DC to spend time with Ryan’s work family (DMB) and his real family (John and Peggy). It should be a good show. According to my stylist-extraordinaire and DC resident, Rachel, the whole town is buzzing with talk of Dave’s show tonight. Should be awesome.

Also, check out Rachel’s food blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir, that she just started up. Our family has officially caught blogging-fever… about 8 years after the rest of the world! Way to be on top of things Gerrards!

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Scarfs

My dad is the youngest of seven kids. I am the second-youngest of I- don’t-know-how-many grandchildren my Grandma and Grandpa Kosut had. I say I-don’t-know-how-many because, it’s true, I don’t know how many. I haven’t met all of my Kosut cousins.

You see, my dad’s oldest brother, George, died before I was born while he and his family were living in California. I guess that family just lost touch with the rest of Kosut side of the family. And, living in Virginia, I only got to see the relatives on my dad’s side of the family about once a year. So, I guess meeting that part of the family just never happened.

I don’t know much, and have even less, to remember my grandparents by. I remember their house, so well. I remember my grandfather’s gruff voice, my grandmother’s slow chuckle, and I have the stories that my dad tells.

My grandparents didn’t have much of value but they had a lot of stuff. When it came time to move my grandmother to a nursing home, several years after my grandfather’s death, my dad and his brothers and sisters cleaned out the house that they grew up in, the house that my grandfather, so the story goes, built with his own two hands. I’m sure they gave away what they could but I’m also sure much of it was just thrown out.

As far as inheritances go, being second-youngest of I-don’t-know-how-many grandchildren doesn’t exactly earn you a prime spot for a family heirloom. But, cleaning out the house, my dad was able to snag a few things of grandmother’s for me that I’ve come to cherish. Scarfs.

Scarfs. The after-thought of an outfit. Such an unlikely, pedestrian thing to become an… well, heirloom. Maybe she bought them on clearance. Maybe they just sat in her drawer unworn. Did she ever think that someday, fifty years later, her granddaughter would be hanging on to them, trying to hang on to her?

Here are some of the scarfs.

Here’s a picture of my grandfather, grandmother and my dad’s oldest brother George in Niagara Falls. The year is 1936. They were both 22.

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I have to say that one of the best perks of not having a full time job is the time it has allowed me to cook everyday. That’s right, everyday. I guess, to some,  cooking seems like an antiquated chore. And, yes, if I lived in Paris and had enough money to shop at Le Grande Epicerie, then, yes, I would never cook again. But, alas, I do not.

A friend of mine, another newlywed Allison Dodson, gave me a copy of The Gastronomy of Marriage to read. It’s a light, lovely book that follows an Italian-Chinese couple through their first few months of living together, planning a wedding, and shopping and cooking in NYC. What I love about the book is that she not only talks about her family’s deep roots in Italian cooking and how that plays such a large role in the family’s dynamics but she scatters some of her family recipes throughout the book, and I even tried a few of them.

One thing she mentions briefly in the book (as part of the research for the book) is that she kept track of everything she and her husband cooked for a year. I suppose she was hoping that some pattern, revelation, conclusion could emerge from all this data. So, I started, in a more biased and less anthropological way, keeping track of what Ryan and I were eating. I should say, I began keeping a list of meals that turned out well and that we liked.

Here are some of our favorites over the past few months. Let me know if you want the recipes!

– Egg noodles with white beans, arugula, tomato and goat’s cheese
– Corn Risotto (a ZoZo’s immitation)
– Asparagus, potato and leek soup
– Spaghetti with roasted tomatoes and romano cheese
– Sausage, potato and cheese frittata

What I like about this list I’ve been keeping is that it reminds me of the 11×14 sheet of paper that my mother kept on the side of our family’s refrigerator for years. The sheet was divided into sections— chicken, beef, pork, pasta— but over the years, from additions and drawing in the margins, all the columns seemed to run together until it was one big mosaic of dining options. The sheet was a matrix of sorts, a place where should could compare what she had on hand to the recipes she knew by heart. Skip the lugging out and dusting off of cookbooks.

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The idea to do this blog really came from Ryan. For a while, I had talked about creating a Web site… a way for me to finally get some of my music out there that I have been sheltering for so long, a way to make me accountable to the music and to myself. But, after reading a few friends blogs and being inspired by the boldness of their words, I decided blogging was something I wanted to do.

I have journaled for years, it is perhaps the single most thing that has kept me sane (despite my relatively blessed and comfortable life). And so the idea of opening my journal and sharing it with whomever (family, facebook friends, passersby) seemed to violate the very sacred space that is a journal and the freeness that comes with it. Even now, I have backspaced too many times to count, just knowing that other people will read this. When I journal, it’s just me and a pen, there is no erasing, and, sure, things get scratched out… but I always make sure that, no matter what, I can always read what I originally wrote. I will continue to journal and have my sacred space, but this is different.

One thing that I’ve learned about myself, after watching friendships begin and, not so much end, but rather taper-off over a couple periods of my life (high school, college, post-college), is that I always regret not letting people in enough. I’m always so worried about making sure I come off exactly the right way, or I worry that I might make someone uncomfortable, so I shy away from exposing my true self (my love, my hate, my passions, my faults). I’ve risked not letting people to get to know me to spare myself from a couple of uncomfortable moments.

Down With Me is the title of one of my first songs. It wasn’t the first song I ever wrote but it was the first one I finished. It’s a song I wrote in college about a guy wanting to get to know a girl better and the girl warning him that she’s not who he thinks she is on the inside. I feel like I’ve lived this way for much of my adult life. I feel like I am a different person “on the inside” than I present to most people, most days.

This blog is about turning 25. This blog is about Maria Kosut becoming Maria Gall. And, this blog is about making sense of life through music. I hope you will come down with me, and stay.

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