“One must open one’s heart, even if surgery is required” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Ingrid Kunzel by ©Lori Maloney

“Ingrid is a buoyant personality with a keen eye for detail…I was not surprised to arrive at this photog’s home to find a full artistic vision laid out!  There are so many beautiful ‘nods’ to Ingrid’s life and loved ones in this picture, but I’ll leave most of them unsaid; the one I will point out is the BEAUTIFUL watch she’s wearing, which she writes about it in her questionnaire (well done, David! 😉 )   Birthdays AND being in photos cause Ingrid some angst…but she persevered with honesty, vulnerability, and a smile on her face!  Kudos, Ingrid, I am so happy you chose to participate in The Birthday Book Project!  …and a warm thanks to those two adorable assistants you provided! Our shoot started with all of us (Ingrid, David, their two little girls, and me) in her closet and ended with a toast and some delicious eats…yep, these shoots are all different and I’m loving it!” – Lori M

Image © Lori Maloney

An Interview with Ingrid

Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?

A. Fortunately, I have many but this one is still vivid.  At 10:30 pm I rode the C-train home from working for ‘Those Little Donuts’ at the Calgary Stampede.  My dad and a friend had walked over to pick me up and walk back home with me.  It was my 16th birthday and by that late hour I had only eaten a birthday girls share of mini-donuts.  When we got back to my parents house there was a perfectly chilled bottle of champagne waiting for me.  I indulged while hanging out at my mom and dad’s kitchen table with them and some of their friends.  Perhaps I overindulged, but I still swear it was the combo of donuts & champagne.  My ever tolerant mom held my hair back at the toilet before helping me to bed.   It was still the sweetest 16 ever… pun intended!

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. At first I thought 30 was terrible. I felt like I had failed to accomplish anything significant with my life; career, relationship, etc. But at 34 I gained perspective on perceived failure by a very real loss.  My older bestie, Karin, very much the big sister that I never had, with whom I share a birthday, lost a short and vicious battle with cancer.  She passed away a few months after ‘our’ birthday, her 40th and my 33rd.  For the preceding 15 years we had celebrated together without fail.  That loss left a void so now on ‘our’ birthday, I quietly remember my strong, beautiful, friend while cherishing quality time with my family.

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that most surprised you?

A. On my 40th birthday, 6 weeks after my second daughter was born, my husband surprised me with his custom version of a watch I had coveted for years!  It’s silver & deep sea blue, complete with two small fish swimming in the face, one for each of my daughters.  Did I mention I love the ocean & am an avid scuba diver :)

Q. Is there one food or dish that you insist on eating during your birthday celebration?

A. My birthday represents a significant departure from my typical diet of local artisan foodie snobbery!
There are two kinds of Calgarians; those that stay for Stampede and those that leave.  I am definitively all about staying for the festivities which means my birthday, that always happens during Stampede, is not complete without pancakes, a corn dog on a stick, turkey leg, draft beer & those damn little donuts.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. As long as I am spending my day with my two girls, hubby and my parents ~ life is good.  Please, no parties!
I also look forward to birthday week (or month) extended patio lunches with my girlfriends.

Q. Do you/your family/culture have any traditions/rituals/ceremonies that are performed to celebrate birthdays? What is it?

A. My parents and I moved from Germany when I was three (I’m an only child).  With no other family in Canada, the three of us are extremely close.  We speak German and cling to some traditions from our past life in Europe.  Everything evolves with time however we do still ritually get together for traditional mid-afternoon (3:00pm to be precise) coffee and cake on special occasions, especially birthdays!  We take a break from work, make lattes, bring out a torte and sing happy birthday. Now my 5 and 6 year old proudly sing in four languages; English, French, Spanish and German ~ it’s too cute.  Often we open gifts then.