My previous post about camping set a new record for responses and blog hits – didn’t see that one coming. But thanks everyone for your kind words – most of them anyhow!
The anniversary occasion has caused me to think back over some of the early years when I knew Diana and her family. I guess I knew that I was likely in for a change from my childhood household, but I never imagined how different it would be. Having been adopted by grandparents and growing up as essentially an only child with older parents, many of the details of my life were significantly different than most kids – both positively and negatively.
Since my dad was a farmer in his youth, our family diet was a rather constant meat, potato, and vegetable at each dinner. It was very American and pretty much never ventured into anything more ethnic than Pennsylvania Dutch. I was well into my teenage years before I ever ate pizza, and when I went to college and saw lasagna as a menu choice, I had to ask others what it was! Diana’s family really did not eat that many unusual things – probably more items from a German heritage than I was used to – but any place beyond my home was going to be exotic by comparison.
Probably the biggest change was being exposed to a new family that was a do-it-yourself clan. It was often economics that drove them toward this, though there were talents and generational experiences behind it as well. My father always believed that there was a professional for whatever you needed done. You hired electricians, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, etc. and paid them for the things you needed accomplished. My father was always annoyed also when “lay people” preached or taught in the church service, because that is what the pastors went to seminary to learn how to do … not to mention they were being paid to do it! So it was a case of “he who represents himself in court has a fool for a lawyer” on a grand scale!
But I was completely unprepared for the scale of do-it-yourself-ism that went on in Diana’s house. I was amazed to find out that her school teacher father had actually constructed the living room addition onto their home as well as refurbishing major sections of the home. He even did this really bizarre mechanical thing I’d never seen done – he changed his own oil and filters in their cars! I wasn’t even sure it was legal to do things like this all by yourself.
I quietly observed all these things and said very little … that is, until the Texas trip for the Christmas of 1976. This was the winter before Diana and I were married, although her older sister was married and had moved with her husband and baby to Dallas, Texas. There was some thought in my mind at that time that I might attend Dallas Theological after my college graduation in 1978 – still over two years away (although in those days, in order to get into Dallas Seminary, one had to apply 15-18 months in advance). So I was invited to travel there with the family over the holidays.
There was much family excitement because Diana’s older sister and husband had just bought a new home (new to them) – a rather sizeable ranch house. It was plenty nice enough but was not really new. The home would be enhanced by some remodeling, and I remember sitting in the kitchen listening to this family discuss what I thought were outlandishly crazy ideas. They glibly threw around ideas about knocking out walls here and there to open the floor plan, etc. And I finally said, “What is wrong with you people? You can’t just knock down walls whenever you want to. You are all crazy. This house will fall down!” They tried to tell me that it was no big deal – ranting on and on about “non load-bearing walls” or something of that sort.
I believe it was then that I began to get this sinking feeling that Bauder women (Diana’s family name – of four daughters, no sons) believed that the men in their world could and should be able to accomplish practically whatever creative endeavor their minds envisioned. After all, Dad could do it! And he could. He had to! Somehow he’d go off, maybe confer with his building brothers and come back and make it happen.
Famous Bauder women sorts of phrases:
“We could JUST knock out this wall and …”
“We can JUST move this family room over there …”
“That fireplace should really be on the other side of the room …”
“So we’ll put the sink where the stove is, move the stove to where the fridge is, and build in the fridge as part of the new cabinets …”
“Just take the roof off that part of the house and we can put two new bedrooms there…”