Category: The Hodge Podge


Digging up Family History

As I have gotten older, family history has become important to me.

My free time lately has been filled with searching for family names and finding birth and death dates. I put in names in google and see where it leads me.

Next up will have to be ordering death certificates my mother already does not have in her collection. I would like to see if I can find pictures.

I am trying to avoid having to sign up for a paid site. But they seem to have more information that I can use. I can find some family members but a Thomas Proctor, a great-great-great uncle, born in 1850 while the family was still in England has been difficult. His widow and sons are on the 1920 census living with my great-great grandfather.

Next up, I plan do one of those DNA tests. A cousin did hers on Ancestry and said it was easy. After that I would like to set up my own family tree so that my kids can have the information – should they ever want it.

In the meantime, I am using the information I do have. The other day I spent a part of my day in a cemetery looking for gravestones. I had called the cemetery staff looking for a possible location. While they told me the lot number, I never found lot number markers.

So I did what I could, knowing that my great-great grandparents died in the late part of the 1800s. I found myself in the part of the cemetery that held the founders of the town. It took me awhile but I hit pay dirt. As I walked around with a car snow brush in hand, I uncovered a number of grave markers that looked as if they could be from the right time period.

It helps to know a little history on cemetery markers. Such as granite would not start being used till the mid-1900s. And families, especially those of some wealth would have obelisks as a family marker. The taller the obelisk, the wealthier the family.

No, I didn’t find my great-great grandparents. I found my great-great-great grandparents, the ones who came from England and helped settle the town of Arlington Heights in the Midwest. It appears I come from pioneer stock.

All of these commercials about finding your history are meant to make one curious, meant to make you wonder just where did you come from. Was your ancestor a good person or a not-so-good person. It makes you wonder where certain health issues start, such as my rosacea.

I remember when the genealogy for Barack Obama came out and there was a scoundrel somewhere in the family tree. It was also found that his mother’s family came from the second boat to arrive at Plymouth. When you go back far enough, you find the good, the bad, the incredibly ridiculous and incredibly boring.

Well, I am looking forward to finding out more of my family tree. After that, I can go farther to those British and Polish records. Eventually.

Sarah Proctor 1833-1900
Thomas Proctor 1827 -1897

The Rowling Paradox

It is no secret that I have been a Harry Potter/J K Rowling fan for a long time. to be honest it was when my oldest son brought home the first book.

I loved the series about a boy who is destined for the ultimate battle with the ultimate bad guy.

Harry was an inspiration. J K Rowling was an inspiration. She became the writer I wanted to be. Her world building was incredible with names coming from flowers and the stars and long ago forgotten British history.

I found the books to be allegories of WWII with camps and people disappearing and might is right type slogans from the Grindelwald era. I saw bureaucrats taking advantage of Voldemort’s shadow government doing their best to write laws against anything that went against their beliefs of what was the right and proper order of the world. Except that order meant pure magical humans and none of those pesky half blood magic peoples.

These stories always seemed to me to be about tolerance, about finding the good in people, accepting others for their differences. That people are who they are not because of their magical lineage but because of the choices they make in life. Dumbledore repeatedly said that to Harry.

So to hear that J K was making anti-trans statements was jaw-dropping. People in my life who were Potter fans are giving it up in order to not give more money to JK.

And I get their feelings. The tweets I saw in a Glamor article (https://www.glamour.com/story/a-complete-breakdown-of-the-jk-rowling-transgender-comments-controversy) did not put JK in a good light.

So she does not think trans medications or surgeries are a good thing? Act as if trans people are not real or their emotions are invalid? I hope she realizes who this makes her look like.

The problem is that these statements appear to be the exact antitheses to everything we ever learned in Harry Potter. That we need to judge a person by their character, by their actions and not the characteristics they cannot control. Rowling has made some choices that show her character and it’s not what you expected.

Suddenly, she is this hateful, prejudiced person against a small group who have made a choice of their sex, not sexual orientation. This is not something anyone does lightly, it does not happen willy-nilly.

With each new revelation, I have to re-work my feelings about JK. And it’s hard because I want to believe in the world she tried to create. A world that could live in harmony if people tried, if people saw the hypocrisy and hatred that lies beneath their souls and worked to change their hearts.

The truth is we will never be freed of Voldermorts, Bertha LeStranges, and Delores Umbridges. There will always be people who think they are better than others and try to make laws to subjugate those people they consider their lessers. There will always be people who are destructive for destruction sake. There will always be people who seek a purity of race that they themselves do not possess.

What I don’t think JK has considered is that she is becoming the worst of her creations , Delores Umbridge. She appears to want to bring clarification about what she feels is a dangerous medical course of action. But her words become a mess of misogamy without a shred of medical evidence.

What is a fan to do?

Well, this fan is keeping her books. And enjoying the memories associated with the Wizarding World. But no longer am I a fan of Rowling. Sorry Jo, but you get no more of my money. I will learn to deal with the cognitive dissonance that I feel towards Jo and what she created which was the best part of her.

And with any luck, Jo, you could come back to your senses and live the example your books have given all of us.

The Coffee Treat

Have you ever heard of the Lipstick Effect?

It is one of those weird little theories that states consumers will continue to buy little luxuries during times of economic stress such as recessions or downturns. Things like lipstick that doesn’t cost a lot but makes us feel good.

But for nearly the last two years, we have been living in a world where masks are a normal part of life and lipstick is not. I have not bought a new lipstick in all of that time although I have purchased chapstick. No one is going to see that.

Every week, it seems that something is the new ‘must-buy’ item at the store. Ice cream, cake mixes, flour, sugar. one time I went for coffee creamer and the shelf was nearly completely empty.

Once my workplace opened back up, I noticed something interesting. The Dunkin Donuts I passed by had a line, a long line. And it happened nearly every day. And at nearly every Dunkin or Starbucks I passed during my various travels.

I have been back in my office for a year and a half. And those lines are still long. I thought people would have moved on, found a different thing to focus on. But week after week, the lines don’t stop. One time I pulled in for an afternoon treat when there was not a line. Within minutes, there were three cars behind me.

And why not?

It’s not pink frosted or a Boston Cream but it will do.

For $5.00 it is possible to get a flavored coffee with cream, sugar, and whipped cream with a lovely sweet treat that involves flour, sugar, and hot oil. It’s a little bit of heaven during a rough period that no one would have ever believed would have lasted this long. Not only that, we can do it from our cars. Drive up, make an order, pay, and move on.

Do I have any scientific evidence to back this up? Not a bit. My theory comes from constant observation as I drive around my community.

But with the Lipstick Effect as my guide, I believe that instead of rewarding or treating ourselves to lipstick, we are now getting a coffee and donut to go. Does it last as long as that tube of lipstick?

We all know the answer to that.

But for those few minutes of caffiene and sugar, it feels worth it.

What are you listening to?

During this pandemic time, I have been stressed.

Like so many others, I have days where I cannot concentrate despite having piles of work to get done. Some might call this ADHD, anxiety, or laziness.

I call it a pain in the ass.

The truth is, I want to get work done. I want my piles to go away and become organized. I try to look at every day as an opportunity to be better. And on those days when I am feeling really stressed, I find something on Youtube to play in the background.

At first I was listening to classical music meant for reading. Later I found music with titles stating that you’re in a library with a ghost or Hogwarts’ Hallway. These can be very soothing as I do data processing or number crunching,

But some days, I have too many people milling about me. Have music on makes the chaos around me worse. People want me to pay attention to them. (Imagine that!)

But I still need some sort of sound because I have tinnitus. The sound makes the tinnitus less overwhelming.

That’s were Handsome Nature, a Youtube channel, comes to the rescue. The folks at this channel put down some bird seed, set up their camera, and let the wildlife come. So you can watch birds and squirrels and chipmunks eat seeds. You can listen to their chirps and songs.

Picture by Floppy 2009

I find it incredibly relaxing. My productivity has gone up. I just feel better.

And when people come into this shared space, I don’t feel more stressed. The sound manages to become pleasant background. And when everyone leaves I can go back to my happy place while getting tons of work completed.

Give it a try. Your cat might love it, too.

I recently had a colonoscopy.

Some of you may know the prep that is involved. You have to take this awful syrup to clean out your gut before the camera goes in to take pictures.

But here is what you may not know. You have to stop all of your supplements several days beforehand because not all ingredients are known. Because nothing is left to chance that might cause extra bleeding, these pills must be stopped. Even aspirin and ibuprofen may not be taken because of their blood thinning properties.

As I lived for days without my vitamins, herbs, and minerals, I came to realize I cannot live without them. The glucosomine and tumeric help my arthritis. The tumeric and B-12 help with my diabetes.

Now combine that with my tubes of creams and bottles of lotions. Suddenly, it has become clear to me that this is all that holds me together. I use Vicks vaporub to battle my toe nail fungus (which I am winning). I have another cream to work on the athlete’s foot on only one foot. The moisturizing lotion I used is scented with lavender to aid in both dry skin protection and emotional well-being.

And then there is my blue emu pain relief cream. It looks weird but it helps. Now granted my pain is not great. I can get by with only tylenol as I cannot take aspirin or other pain relievers in that vein as they interfere with other meds. But without any one piece of my pots, tubes, or bottles collection, I am a mess.

I was so glad for the day of my colonoscopy. Not because I am a fan of anesthesia. I hate that stuff which makes me sick every single time. Once the procedure was over, and I recovered enough to eat supper, I took every single supplement on my list.

It took a few days but everything has slowly come back to normal.

Not that I am without pain. I can tell you when rain is coming. And arthritis is trying to beat me everyday. But thanks to my bottles, tubes, and little pots, I am able to keep my skin intact, keep the pain at bay, and fight against the autoimmune system that seems to want to kill me.

What keeps you intact everyday?

You know, when the other guy was finally out of the White House, I sighed a breathe of relief.

I thought I could go back to watching cat videos for fun not stress relief.

I thought I could go back to paying half of my attention to the political world because it wasn’t a stinking disaster ever single day – like it had been for the past five years.

I watched as the other guy would torpedo his party’s plans for world domination because they weren’t his plans for world domination. Heck, he couldn’t manage a response to a world-wide pandemic properly.

But after January 20, I thought I could rest, relax, and not think about it so hard.

Boy, was I wrong.

Maybe it was the Republicans’ reaction to the insurrection. You know, those representatives who thought what happened was OK because nothing happened to them. What happened that day was a matter of free speech despite those people beating police officers they said Black Lives Matter people didn’t respect.

Maybe it was their reaction to the shooting in Atlanta, a white guy having a really bad day. Who cares what the other guy said about the virus or how it put a target on the backs of Asians across our country. Or that he had to drive twenty-seven miles to get to the next spa that happened to be owned by Asians and employed Asians. Or that out of the ten people killed in that shooting only two were white.

I haven’t heard how the shooting in Boulder will be justified but that young man killed a police officer during his shoot-em up. Will there be leniency for him?

So I guess I am going to have to go back to my habits of the last five years. Keep my congressional representatives on speed dial. Call every time something pisses me off, which is damn near weekly. Write emails to state and U.S. members. And start contributing to senate races where the republican needs to be ousted.

Ted Cruz, Cancun Boy, that includes you.

Christmas Porch

Decorating the front of my house always feels like a challenge. 

Porch Xmas signI am a simple girl, not quite a minimalist but definitely not a ‘more is more’ kind of person. I like it simple and not over done. In fact, when I decorate at work I get it to the point where I like it and then add three more elements. That way I know it is what it should be, what is expected for Christmas decorations. 

This last fall, I saw a porch decoration for fall in Better Homes and Gardens that really fit my vibe. So I copied it as much as I could. I didn’t have the super thick rope or the grapevine balls.

I had orange lights and orange rope. I had other pieces of halloween decoration and pumpkins. Once I put it together, I was really happy, it was simple and elegant. It wasn’t over done.

But now it’s Christmas.

Christmas seems to say excess, maybe scream it a little.

porch-xmas-wreath.jpg

So what did I do?

I stayed in my comfort zone.

I kept the orange rope, changed out for white lights, changed out the wreath, and added a Christmas sign where I had a Halloween ‘beware.’

A part of me thinks about adding some pine cones to the rope. And then I re-think when I consider all of the work involved. Now that school is done for the semester I want to be lazy.

I am making cookies, watching movies, and thinking about switching around that one troublesome part of my book to make it flow better. My plans include buckeyes and peanut butter cookies with chocolate stars in the centers. If I get lucky, there might be some Rumchatta chocolate pudding. 

But still, it’s pretty isn’t it? And it is a start of Christmas Cheer, even when this might be as far as I get.

Porch Christmas

Study Music

For the last two years I have been working towards a certificate called a Library Technical Assistant.

It was a part of the condition of my job that I have, that I am to be working towards this certificate if I didn’t already have it. It has been great in a lot of ways; I have learned so much about the world of libraries and researching. The course on technology nearly killed me even though I learned more about excel and word.

Through all of this I have learned to listen to music while I am writing which helps build a wall between me and wherever I might be working. Some days I find myself in a library because my home computers do not have Microsoft products.

My school bag keeps a set of ear buds in it at all times so I can plug in and get going on what ever project I am doing. Having that wall really helps depending on where the computer area located. Some are right next to the check out desk which means I get to hear all of these conversations as people check out or get their card renewed.

What am I listening to?

duranduran 1980sDuran Duran

I loved these guys back in the 80s when they first hit the big time. I loved dancing to their music and would have loved to have gone to a concert but I was a poor college student. 

To be honest, I still have no idea what The Reflex is or why we are waiting for the New Moon on Monday. Some of the lyrics make no sense and I have no idea how some of the videos connect to the song that they are emphasizing. At some point I decided not to care.

At some point I lost track of the guys. I got married, had a kid, got divorced, got remarried, listened to a lot of country music and Raffi. Had more kids.

Hello Bananaphone. Goodbye Duran Duran

Then one day at a garage sale I found a Duran Duran Greatest Hits album. The more I played it, the more my kids made fun of them but I didn’t care. I loved their music. Then for one of my classes, I did a research project on the boys. I found out that they are still making albums and interesting music despite breaking up, connecting with other musicians, and later re-connecting with the original five, and breaking up again. At this time four of the original musicians are still in the group.

Duran Duran GettyImages-todayThrough 2015 they have been creating new music, some of it reminiscent of their earlier stuff and other albums that moved on with more modern sounds. As I hear more and more of these songs, I find my self falling in love with their music over and over again. White Lines, What’s Gonna Happen Tomorrow, All You Need is Now, and Pressure Off are just a few of my new favorites. As much as I don’t appreciate the costumes in the video of Girl Panic, I find myself loving the song and the supermodels portraying the guys.

I listen to their music because the mid-tempo songs help my typing become quicker and easier. I feel happy when I am listening to it and that makes projects get put together much easier. I will admit that I could have never gotten through this program without the music of Duran Duran.

Everyone has a band or an artist that they love. For me it is Duran Duran. No apologies, no justification. Not sure if I really care if the rest of the world disagrees with me.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go listen to Serious one more time.

Duran duran serious

Tom and Meg

Tonight I watched one of my favorite movies. It was made in 1998.

When did 1998 become twenty years ago?

It seemed like yesterday in the golden age of romantic comedies. But her I am, twenty years older, just like Meg and Tom.

Yes, I am on a first name basis with these two as are many women my generation. We watched them in Joe Vs. the Volcano, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail.

I realize that Tom is really busy and Meg is taking time to work behind the scenes. But it is time for them to make a movie again.

Seriously.

They are a part of the Boomer generation and maybe it is time to see these two back in a romantic comedy. A romantic comedy in which the two people are the approximate same age going through similar circumstances with their business and family and life.

And I have the perfect vehicle for them.

It’s called Juliet and Romeo by Jeanne Ray.

Julie and RomeoThis book is about an couple whose families are life long enemies although no one is quite sure why. The both own flower shops and have large families. Julie is divorced while Romeo ‘s wife died a few years ago.

Their attraction begins while attending a seminar for small business owners who are struggling and need new ideas.

After seeing each other across a hallway, the two develop a bond. They fall crazy in love. But now they have to fight against old hatreds and new-fangled shenanigans from their children.

It feels like it could fit these two people who are now older but have feelings that are definitely something from when they were younger.

Now Meg and Tom would be the obvious choices for Julie and Romeo. But there are two daughters for Julie and several sons and a younger daughter for Romeo. And this could be fun casting. Personally, I would love to see Selena Gomez as Romeo’s younger daughter. She could hit that younger boho vibe with an iron will. You will need a few tough guys to play the oldest son and daughter on each side along with some star-crossed loved in that younger set.

I used to think Sandra Bullock would be great as the older daughter. But now I am thinking of someone else, perhaps Eva Mendez or Amanda Peet. Maybe Adam Driver could be Romeo’s older son who is a force to be reckoned with. He needs to lighten up sometimes. And for the old grandmother, you could go for the Italian stereotype or allow Betty White to do something besides the naughty old lady.

All I am saying is that Meg and/or Tom need to read this book and figure out how to make a fun movie out of it.

Is that so hard to do?

Halloween has become my favorite time of year.

The weather is not too hot and the snow hasn’t started yet, most years. This year we had a snowstorm on Halloween day with high winds later in the night. Some towns in my area put off Halloween trick or treating to Friday or Saturday.

I chose to celebrate with a little house decorating. Better homes and Garden showed a cute way to decorate the house using a thick hemp rope and big bulb lights. I had orange thin nylon rope and orange lights. Nor do I have the Grape vine balls they used and didn’t really show up in the picture. I might head to the thrift stores and see if I can find any to add to my porchscape.

Front Porch Halloween 2019

But I did find three ghosties at the dollar store to hang on the garland of rope and lights. Plus I had a fun sign to put on my pitchfork tines. I felt very halloween-y.

Now Halloween is over. The wind is blowing more. Time change has come and it was inky dark by 5:30. I m not ready to go full Christmas. Which was OK because the BH&G issue showed how to make this ready for thanksgiving.

 

Front porch post halloween 2019

 

I removed the ghosties and other Halloween elements. The pumpkins can stay till they are eaten or become too mushy to live on the steps. I need a new sign to hang on the tines, something in the order of “Give Thanks” or “Welcome Friends.” The orange lights get to stay until the Christmas lights go up.

Maybe I need a big fat turkey.

Gobble, Gobble.