The 2013 BrendelGram


Photo on 12-24-13 at 4.53 PM #2

Ye Olde XXVIth BrendelGram

The snow is gently swirling, the Christmas lights are twinkling, and the cat is dead.

You didn’t really expect “sentimental” from the Brendels, did you?

We signed off in last year’s Brendelgram with the good news that Cleo the cat had been diagnosed with a brain tumor but was doing well. Well, so much for the good news. Beloved dreamsicle-colored Cleo succumbed in the spring.

So we consoled ourselves by adopting two adorable kittens, Lady Katie (legal name: Katherine, Empress of All Russia) and the Rocket. Their main goal in life is to do stuff they’re not allowed to do. Rocket, get down from there!972022_10200520491513536_2060878169_n

In home-construction news: We had a screen porch built on the back of the house, and basically lived out there from early spring until our fingertips turned blue in the cold.

Natalie is knockin’ ’em dead at Arizona State U., and working as an adoption counselor at the Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA, the state’s oldest no-kill shelter. (Want to add a new furry friend to your household? Find “Natalie LeShea” on Facebook.)

Kris is living in Methuen, Mass., and working fulltime as a manager at Zumiez in Manchester, N.H. He’s playing drums with a new band, The El Paso Gunfight (find them on Facebook); they’ve played five shows already. Katie, get out of there.

Busy Lydia Charlotte (who is engaged to be married to Rocket) got glasses — she loves them. She did Scouts, dance and art classes, and drama (appearing in Pirates of Penzance, High School Dropouts from Outer Space, and Cinderella).

She’s — Rocket, stop chewing on that power cord — loving middle school, and she was da bomb on her Massachusetts standardized tests.

She and Mommy volunteer at Crane estate events, and Lydia loves working in — Katie, that’s underwear; it doesn’t go on your head — the nursery at Ascension Memorial Church.

Kristina ran her art gallery and got even more involved with arts and cultural activities in town. She also serves on Ipswich’s Design Review Board and — Rocket, where did you get that toothbrush? — did a stint on the Ipswich Visitor Center board. She’s gotten fixated on swimming just about every day, for fitness’ sake, and as a result, she looks awesome!

Doug kept writing his Outsidah columns and released Ipswich Unzipped, another book of New England humah. Professionally, he’s — Katie, please don’t lick the garbage can — still writing fundraising materials for BBS & Associates and others, and he served on the board of Family Promise North Shore Boston, an interfaith group that helps newly homeless families.

New Thing, our ministry in Belarus, is chugging along. It’s now the — Rocket, get out of the toilet — biggest humanitarian operation in the country.

Doug made two solo trips to Minsk; all three of us went together in April. Katie, did you go online and order this unicycle?

Doug’s 40th high school reunion in Griffith, Indiana, definitively answered the question: Yes, he’s really that old. Rocket! No! Those capers are for the piccatta!

When Kristina and Lydia Charlotte went to Colorado to visit Grandma & Grandpa Grundmann, Doug went into a spasm of visiting presidential sites all over New York and New England. As a result, he has a growing collection of presidential Pez dispensers.

We had — Katie, put down the car keys — visits from family and friends, we paid visits to family and friends (including Doug’s mom’s 80th birthday bash), we had an all-around fun year.

No, Rocket. It’s an absentee ballot. You can’t vote. You’re a cat.

Come see us!

 When They Were Young

The Children’s BrendelGram Transcripts — Greatest Hits 


  • “Every time you snort, do you kill a brain cell?”
  • “Dad, can you get on the freeway? I don’t want to waste all my time in the country.”
  • Anticipating a new pair of pet mice mating: “I hope I’m here for that happy day.”


  • “My head is too big to fit in the sewer.”
  • “One of my noses is running.”
  • When asked if he if he wanted to quit piano lessons: “Yes, and stop going to school.”
  • On not being allowed to wear shorts to the theatre: “Why? Is it cold or something?”

Lydia Charlotte

  • “I feel my heart beating in my butt.”
  • “Marilyn Monroe has really large what are they called?”
  • “I’ve thrown up in 3 different colors.”
  • Talking with Dad: “Tell me more. It might get interesting.”
  • “What if we invented a fork with five points? It would be a fivk!”
  • “I love the smell of Grandma and Grandpa, and their house.”
  • Talking to Natalie on the phone: “When Mom hears about it, she’ll freak out; that’s my hypothesis.”
  • At dinner, without warning or context: “How does Dad put his sperm in you? I know how starfish do it.”

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