Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Quirky Dinner Party

Welcome to my quirky dinner party!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so this image should tell you something... but I'm not sure what!
(Click on image to view larger)

If I could have dinner with any four of my ancestors, these are the four I would choose. Zofia, Vincent, Jozef, and Karolina are my grandparents. Not 6th great grandparents, not 3rd great grandparents... not great grandparents of any sort, but great grandparents in my imagination.

They say you can't miss what you never had, but that's not true. I never had the chance to meet three of my four grandparents and I've missed them all my life. Karolina died 16 years before I was born, Jozef, 7. Vincent died a mere 6 days before I was born. I can distinctly remember missing them when I was a child. It always bothered me that I didn't know my grandparents.

Zofia died when I was 13 but I never really had a chance to bond with her. By the time I was born she was frail and losing her eye sight due to complications of diabetes. She didn't speak English so I never had a conversation with her. I don't remember ever sitting on her lap, never got to hear her read to me, never went for a walk with her or tasted the homemade soup that she was famous for. Even though I'd met her, I never interacted with her. I miss knowing her too.

It would be so wonderful to have dinner with my grandparents. Do you know what I would ask them? No? Neither do I.

I don't have a list of questions to ask them about my ancestry. Oh sure, there are things I would like to know. But the answers aren't all that important to me in the scheme of things. What I would most enjoy is simply the experience of being with them.

I would love to hear the sound of my grandpa Vince's laughter. I've often wondered if it was deep and hearty or the silent kind that makes one's shoulders shake.

I wish I could hold my grandpa Jozef''s hand and look into his eyes. I wonder if his hands were as big and strong as my dad's were and if his eyes were the same shade of blue.

How I would love to hug my grandma Carrie and pull a picture of her great grandchildren out of my wallet to show her. I wonder of if she would see anything of herself in them.

And then there is grandma Sophie. More than anything I would like to shake her hand and thank her for her courage. She came here from Poland at the age of 19, traveling with just a girlfriend. She had to know there was a good chance that she would never see her family again. But still, she left behind everything familiar to her and set off on a 6,000 mile journey to a country where she couldn't speak the language in order to support her family back in Poland.

I'd like to crank up the old Victrola and see whose foot starts tapping. I'd like to pour some libations and share some funny stories just to see everybody laugh! I'd like to bring out platters full of good traditional Polish food... kielbasa, kapusta, bigos, pierogi, golabki, barscz, and pazcki and eat till we couldn't eat any more! I really don't care what we'd talk about just that we'd enjoy spending time together.

I'd take photographs, lots and lots of 'em... video and still. I'd invite Susan along to make audio recordings of the event and DearMYRTLE to do a podcast! Steve would definitely have to be there to translate for us, and I'd want both Becky and Thomas to write it all up (you can't expect me to blog about it while I'm immersed in the experience!). FootnoteMaven would have to come too to figure out the proper way to cite the experience as a genealogy source. I'd want Randy, Miriam, Craig, and Blaine to join us just so I could brag, "I have cyber friends who are related to several presidents of the United States, one was a judge, and one is a genetic genealogist!" I just know my grandparents would be impressed!

I'd want Janice to be there to capture the images she would need to make a video of our little dinner party like no one else can ;-) It would be nice if Bill could join us with a supply of flutaphones and John with a Dudelsack so that we could make merry music together. Hey, do you think if I invited Donna she would write it up for a national genealogy magazine? Oh and my friend Valerie has to come too because she would understand the significance of this for me (she's a genealogist too but not a blogger). And then I thought maybe we'd round out the evening by taking a little ride around Detroit so that my grandparents could see what has become of their city. I'd like to stop in at Sweetest Heart of Mary Church where both couples were married. I know that would mean a lot to them. I'm thinking with so many people we'd definitely need Apple to bring her bus!

So there you have it. That's my ideal dinner party with my ancestors. The image above is actually a digital scrapbook page I created in the last couple of days. It's done in a style known as "quirky" which not only has odd elements and incongruent messages, it also uses blended layers and contrasting textures. It's supposed to be one of those pictures where the longer you look at it the more little things you discover in it. It was my first attempt at a "quirky" scrapbook page and I ran out of time before I could put in all the elements I wanted to include. I have somewhere between 10-12 hours of design time in it. It sounds like a lot but I had such fun doing it, and the first time for anything takes a little longer. I plan to add a few more elements and then print and frame it and hang it in my dining room. It'll be a great conversation piece don't you think?


  1. First of all, Jasia, thanks for inviting me to dinner! I'd love to participate, and perhaps gain 5 or 10 pounds eating all that lovely, hearty food you've mentioned! Yum!

    Of course, I'd love to hear what your grandparents would have to say and would enjoy all the entertainment you've set up. It would be fun meeting and visiting with the other genea-bloggers, too, and of course, with you!

    Secondly, I absolutely love the "quirky" page you created. Almost right away, I noticed your family crests. I'm so envious of your digital art creativity!

    What a great dinner and what a great time we'd all have!

  2. Thanks for the invitation, Jasia. I'd love to be there to write up the events and blog about it. It would definitely be an interesting experience and I'm looking forward to sampling all of that delicious Polish food.

  3. I'll come with a dudelsack, but I assume you don't want me to start playing until its time for everyone to leave. I realize some people enjoy the sound of bagpipes, but not when I'm playing them, I assure you.

    Though I do think it sounds like a fun party, and I am honored to be invited.

  4. I very much enjoyed reading this - and enjoyed writing my own for the Carnival. I have some roots in Austria-Hungary too. Love the picture of your grandparents too!

  5. Jasia,

    Thanks for the invitation to your dinner party.I am honored to think you would invite me. And you know I would be there wearing amber and bringing my camera to capture the moment. Afterwards, I would help with the dishes so you could spend time with your family. What fun!

  6. Thanks for the invite! It would be so much fun be there as you met your great grandparents. I like the fact that you set no specific agenda!

  7. I knew two of my grandparents and for that I'm am grateful.

    I've never been to Detroit so it would be a blast to drive the tour.

    I love the scrapbook page. I'm still struggling with basic pages but pages like yours inspire me to keep trying.

  8. I'll be there! Just let me know what time! It sure would be great to meet your ancestors and all the genealogy bloggers.

  9. Jasia,

    I would so write it up for a magazine and I'd love to be there! What a great post, and very touching, too. My father and his sister often talk about not having grandparents growing up and how much they missed that experience. My personal belief is that even though you never knew them, they know YOU anyway and are with you, watching you live, and especially laughing at that fantastic quirky photo you made. No COG post will ever have a photo to top that!!! Thanks so much!
    PS - I say we all get together for dinner one day, with or without our deceased ancestors. ;-)
    What's Past is Prologue

  10. Great post, Jasia, and I am SO lovin' your hilarious collage!

  11. Great piece! Bet you'd find your grandparents a lot of fun. After all, you must have got that quirky sense of humour somewhere.