Monday, December 24, 2012

Got My White Christmas!

Well, Christmas Eve at least.  The grandbaby is loving the white stuff pouring from the sky.  She laughed & laughed, then tried to catch it.  What a fun & clever 10 month old girl!  It's likely to melt tomorrow by late morning, and it wasn't supposed to happen, but I am delighted all the same and so is she, and that is all that matters!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Joy

My granddaughter is one of the biggest joys of my life.  Things like her smile & giggle are amongst why.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What I'd Wear (if only I could)

Girl You're Amazing

I put this together this morning on Polyvore.  I'd wear this if I could, it is just the right colors for me, looks super comfy, and honestly, who doesn't love comfy & cute together?  Right?  Sadly this shirt is mostly in the UK & not in my size, but I'm going to be searching for something as similar as possible.  The TOMS shoes are on my Christmas list & I really hope someone loves me enough to get them for me.  I plan on putting the scarf & hat on there as well.  Love this whole look!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Living Where I'm Planted

I'm not sure if it's a change of mindset, time spent here, learning to love where I've been planted, realizing I needed to give it a fair shake, or a combination of various of the above, but I can't say that I hate living here any longer.  I'm not certain I could say that I love it, but I like it enough.  The downtown area is really growing & coming together well.  There are these great little shops, amazing coffee, cute bistros & cafes, the locals seem friendlier, and so on.  The tree lined streets, the fact they try so hard to improve nearly constantly, the cleanliness.  Seriously, I loathe dirty cities.  Ew.

I do love the creek that winds through downtown, how they've landscaped along it, put in walking & biking paths to encourage the people to enjoy it.  I will be strolling along there with my grandbaby Sora soon.  Fall is in the air, it's getting crisper without becoming cold, and the leaves are slowing morphing from green into the shades I love about autumn.  Cup of my fave coffee in the stroller cup holder, baby girl in the seat, camera around my neck, and it's a date.  Maybe my daughter will join us.

Leather boots, cozy sweater or plaid button up, cute hate, nice scarf, comfy jeans.  Crunching leaves underfoot, smiling at passerbys & nodding hello.  Dreaming of this day to come, while today I sit indoors and enjoy the rain falling on the roof, seranading me with it's soothing melody.  I love rainy days, they remind me of home.  Today, while I think of home with love & fondness, I am not homesick and wishing I were on a plane.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Trapped In A Fat Suit

I am a curvy woman.  Currently I wear size 18/20 top & bottom.  I am not one of those gorgeous BBW who are so brilliantly confident in their own skin and are just fabulous being who they are.  I admittedly am sad and unhappy as all get out.  True story.

Growing up I was a typical beanpole tomboy.  I could eat anything I wanted, which may have spurted me up, but never out.  I was so thin that my hipbones jutted out, my collarbone showed, and my ribs were covered, but not by much.  I never tried to be skinny, I just was.  I had a super charged metabolism and so did my mama.  From about the age of 5 up until about 15 I was tall, as in I was 'that' girl.  You know, the one taller than the boys.

Now I'm 5'10" and for a while, due to compression from all the accidents & injuries, I was down to 5'8".  I kid you not, seriously I lost two whole inches of height.  Thanks to chiropractic, massage therapy, and doing a lot of physical therapy, I am back to my full natural height.  So yeah, I'm still taller than a lot of men out there, but I'm okay with that.

Back to the skinny girl/fat girl thing, I went through all my pregnancies and each and every time I snapped right back to a trim figure and went home in regular clothes that I wore pre-pregnancy.  No dieting, no working out, nada.  Just gave birth.  The lowest I remember being in regards to weight at this height was a very unhealthy 118 lbs., which came about due to severe stress and not any form of trying to lose it.  My first husband sat me down on my 22nd birthday to hand me a present and then proceeded to tell me he wasn't happy being married to me, was in love with someone else, and wanted a divorce.  Surprise!

Hitting my 30's didn't change my metabolism or body type either.  I barely noticed my 30th, and didn't spend one minute in denial or angst over it either.  I just am not one of those women who freak out about aging.  Psshh, I earned every grey hair, every crease & wrinkle baby, they're mine, I am not theirs, and I'm okay.  Fuggetaboutit!  Not to say I don't dye my hair, I do.  I have since I was 18.  For fun, to try new things.  Yes, in part, it is now to cover the greys, but I wouldn't lose it if I were to be unable to dye and have to go natural tomorrow.

What changed my life, and size, was a freak accident involving a horse.  My husband bought me a gorgeous palomino filly for my engagement present.  So, right after we married in June I began working with her on ground work and manners.  She had none.  One day in late August after I had finished with her, I walked her out to the pasture, went to put her through the gate, and the other horses crowded her.  She panicked.  Into me.  Repeatedly.  Against a 5-bar steel gate.  Until the gate, myself, and the filly crashed to the concrete pad just behind us.

There I was, lying on a cold slab of concrete, on top of a twisted and mangled gate, the filly and all her 750 lbs. mostly on top of me.  Then she began thrashing around to get off.  What I was once she finally made it to her feet is more than I care to completely recall, nor do I have sufficient words to describe it, but I can tell you this, it was bad y'all.  I was one big, hot mess of pain.  All I can remember thinking is how incredibly awful I felt, and that nothing up to that point had ever hurt me so much.  I had to crawl down to the barn, over crushed gravel, and passing out a few times along the way.  Once there, I grabbed the bucket sitting under the phone on the wall and I threw it, over and over again, until finally it knocked the phone down.  I was praying the entire time it wouldn't break into pieces when it landed.

Luckily for me, it didn't break.  It actually landed on me.  I dialed my husband's cell and when he answered, I think for quite a while, all he heard was me sobbing hysterically.  Finally he was able to get the gist of my garbled, sob filled story, and he told me he was on his way home.  I passed out at least one more time.  He got there, and by then I was sitting up, and when he pulled into the barnyard I stood up on my own.  We got to the hospital and I was to find out I had torn muscles, pulled muscles, bruised bones, deep tissue hematomas, and a mild concussion, etc.

It hurt to breathe, move, and I don't think I did much of the latter for days and days afterward.  I did my best on the pain pills and muscle relaxers to still be up and get my girls off to the bus, to make supper in the evenings, but those mornings & afternoons in between, well, I was in a medicated fog, mostly on the sofa, praying the pain would go away and leave me in peace.  Over the next 8 months, even though I was actually eating less than before the accident, I gained weight, and a lot of it.  I went from a healthy size 7 to a size 16.  I hated how I looked, how I felt, and how it made me so unhappy.

Over these past 12 years since that accident there have been others.  I have been hit by a semi-truck, a car, and have fallen down the stairs, on slick ice, and the one I can't recall, fallen from the ATV this past June.  I have now sustained 5 concussions, numerous muscle tears, pulls, strains, sprains, vertebral compression, nerve damage, broken and bruised bones, and have put on an extra 115 lbs. of fat.  Being that broken and hurting doesn't easily allow one to keep active in the gym.  I've been in & out of physical therapy so many times, and for the record, I do my exercises every single day.

When I can't do them all, I do what I can.  Sneezing can put my back out.  Being hugged does it to.  It all depends on the day and the mood my body is in.  I have tried so many diets, and am on my 3rd gym.  I have found one that I feel comfortable in, that I feel is working for me.  No judgement, just help and guidance when I ask for it.

I cry when I'm alone and no one can see or hear me.  I cry because I do truly feel like that skinny girl I was my entire life, one who is trapped in a fat suit and no one can get her out.  There are times I look in the mirror and am shocked at my body.  I hate photos being taken of me, and I realized the other day, I have very little photographic memories of myself with my children, and now with my granddaughter Sora.  I want to change that.  I want to be able to be okay being in photos with them.  Make memories of now for the future.  But mostly I want the zipper to go down, step out of this thing, and be me again.

Me at age 5 with my Mama

Age 17 & about to graduate high school, size 5

Age 23, size 5

Age 31, equestrian college, size 7

Age 40, size 18

Thursday, August 23, 2012

History & A Voice From the Past

I recently gave a car to my eldest & her husband.  He is mechanically inclined, the car needs some attention and work, and I had no use for it, they need one, and so on.  Anyhow, in searching for the title to it for them, I found a letter file that belonged to my Dad.  He's been gone for well over 10 years now, and it was quite a shock to me to find it.  I had no idea Mom had put that away. 

I mean, I may have once had an idea, heck, she probably gave it to me after he passed away.  However, since the wreck this past June, the resulting major concussion causing memory loss, well, who knows, I certainly don't.  There it was though.  A manila envelope marked Family on the tab, sitting in her old file cabinet.  I pulled it out and there are these letters and stories from Dad to me, to my children, about his birth, moving to America, his growing up, his life.

Intending to read through it, I sat down with it.  I didn't make it past the first.  Too many memories are slamming into my head, causing my brain to spin.  Seriously, I feel ill.  My stomach is turning over and over, my heart is pounding.  I can hear his voice as I read the words and it hurts so much.  I swear to you I smelt his Old Spice, butterscotch pipe tobacco, and the scent of pine that was forever coming from his skin.  He was a cabinet maker, and even though he was allergic to all 40 some odd species, he nevertheless continued his craft.

Closing my eyes and leaning my head back, the images, scents, and sounds of the past continued to swarm into my mind.  Pouring relentlessly even as I struggled to slow them. Him waking me at 4 AM so we could leave by 5 to get to a lake or river by 6 and fish for trout before it would be too hot according to him.  On these mornings, mist rising from the water, wrapped in one of his flannel shirts, he would let me drink coffee with him.  My entire family, to my knowledge loved coffee; aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, grandparents.  They all drank it whether black, sweet black, or with cream and/or sugar.  Not me.  Nope, I hated the stuff.  I loved tea.  But those times on the banks of various waterways, poles stuck between our feet, lines taut as the current teased the lures, I drank it and listened to him talk about his birth in England, moving to Canada, then to the USA, his service in WWII, the horrible awfulness of seeing action in Morocco, Italy, Germany. 

He carried tiny bits of shrapnel in his back and neck.  There had been Purple Hearts and other commendations awarded to him, Silver Stars.  He would never speak of any of it, other than our fishing trips.  Only when we were alone and out in the wilderness did he open up.  The things he saw, experienced, had to do, they haunted him I knew.  Those things had changed him, altered the young man he had been, made him into someone else.  He had been amongst the very first group when the Army split and the Army Air Corps was established.  A young officer.  I have a photo of him, crouching amongst his unit, different colored uniform, distinguisable even in black and white.  A cockeyed grin crosses his face, eyes crinkled with some unspoken mirth. There is no mistaking this is my Dad, that nose, those eyes, that overall expression that is undeniably him.

Because of these stories, his pride in having helped a military branch be born, I joined the US Air Force upon high school graduation.  The stanzas of the old songs he'd taught me rang through my mind as I made my way through basic training.  On the hottest, most humid days San Antonio threw at me, I would call up his face, hear him telling me how brutal the heat and humidity of Africa had been, and I would push through. How could I not, far be it from me to let the old man down.  The very thought of it sent renewed energy coursing through me every single time.

Not my father, not the man who created me along with my mother, but my dad all the same.  We did not have an easy, nor altogether healthy relationship.  Over the years there had been things done and said, damage caused that would take years to heal.  And still I loved him.  Incredibly this man, whom I had never once heard say he was sorry, never saw him back down, would apologize to me later in life.  From that day, that discussion on, we would be close.  We talked several times a week by phone.  He in Washington State, me in West Virginia and later Pennsylvania.  Talk about my children, food and recipes, dogs, pine trees, trout, huckleberry season, the weather.  He never again spoke to me of his childhood, the war, none of it.  Apparently without the protection of being in a forest on the edge of wild water, he no longer felt safe enough to do so.  I don't know, but what ever his reasons, I am so grateful, and feel enormously blessed for those mornings we shared.

Then too, I feel blessed to have found this file this afternoon.  To be able to hold once more letters from him, read his stories.  Eventually I'll get through them all, one by one, tears or no, and I will treasure them each and every single one.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Baby Girl

I leave next Friday, early in the morning, to take my youngest back down to college.  At 19, she remains my 'baby', though she is so independent, so strong & capable, that at times I have the urge to remind her of that fact.  We had coffee recently & I stole looks at her when she had her attention occupied.  She is am amazing young woman, and I feel more than blessed to call her mine.  Her smile always reaches her eyes, and she listens to those talking to her with an intensity I don't see in the majority of young folks around her age.  Sadly, I don't see it in a lot of folks at any age lately.  Those conversing with her cannot help but realize the gem of a listener they have in her, she actively listens, verifying this by the input of a quick question or small comment, then back to looking into your eyes and engaging you to keep talking.  It's a gift indeed. 

I often see her big brother when I look at her.  None of my 4 kids think they resemble one another, and I find that mildly amusing as I find them in each other at every turn.  Of course, I too feel they don't resemble me, and have been often told that, in fact, they do.  Each of them.  Anyhow, she looked up at me at one point, the light coming through the large window of the shop just right, illuminating her eyes and cheekbones, and I couldn't believe how much she looked like Matty.  He is 6'2", she a mere 5'3".  He has very curly hair, as do the other two girls and myself, whereas Kait has beachy waves, that kind that seem perfectly placed with care during a lengthy styling session.  She has bemoaned wanting our curls, we her waves.  Isn't that how it always seems to go?

Yet, in that small moment of time, I found them staring at me from the same eyes.  It was a beautiful thing, and just for a second, my heart stopped.  They've all moved out on their own, two of them in one small town, the eldest in another state, and Kait in yet another small town here in Pennsyvlania.  Until she leaves for school.  Then she is going to be several states away.  Mere hours, that can feel so much farther.  I'll miss grabbing our coffee at our fave little shop.  They buy their coffee from another local business that roasts their own blends, and the truth is in the details y' very, very good.  But I digress.  We try to thrift shop together as often as we can also.  Both of us enjoy browsing through the shelves, racks, and piles in several stores here in the city I live near.  Just a block either direction from our coffee shop, and we have a choice of no less than 5 thrift stores to peruse.  How lovely is that?

While I will miss that time spent nearly weekly with her, I am, at the same time, bursting with pride in my girl.  Dedicated to obtaining her degree in early childhood education and becoming a teacher of littles. Plans to spend next summer overseas, some place like Indonesia, India, Cambodia, teaching English in an orphanage.  She is talking to a group that arranges these amazing trips for people like her; students around the world, looking for opportunities to expand their hearts, knowledge, minds.  I pray she raises the money it will take.  The experience would be beyond her dreamy expectations I know, the chance to do something so many merely dream about, but if I know my girl, she will not rest in her quest to make it reality for herself.  I dearly admire that bulldog quality she has.  Like my other 3 punks do. When I am down, I call up memories of her, and that soothes it away.  Just like that, her gorgeous smile makes all well again.

My beautiful, amazing Kait!

Bethy & Kait on Beth's 'best day ever', Beth married Tim!

Liv & Kait on their 18th/16th birthday...great party!

And finally, with the big brother...Cinco de Mayo back in '09

Friday, August 3, 2012

Family Ties

My eldest and youngest daughters, and my son, rarely get to see the middle daughter's baby girl.  With things like work, school, attending college a few states away, etc., and so forth, they just seem to miss out on seeing her much.  Yesterday my mom and I went and picked her up and drove down to see my eldest for a while.  The baby was completely fascinated by her auntie's dog Jack.  Sadly I wasn't able to get any video of her laughing and laughing over Jack being silly, or with her lovely aunty either.

Then today, after her morning play, and a nap, we went to meet my son for lunch.  He really just loves her so much and barely ate his meal playing with her and holding her the entire time.  I did manage to get a few snapshots of them together.  She is a pickle this one, kept stealing his toast and paper placemat.  Yes, we are those kind of people, we eat breakfast for lunch and supper.

Sora and Uncle Matty back on day one Feb. 13th

Trying to eat that paper placemat

What she thinks about him saying no to the former 

So, she stole his toast instead lol!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Empty Nest Thoughts

I had always thought I wouldn't be one to cry at graduations, weddings, or when the last little bird flew the coop.  I was wrong.  First the eldest graduated and though we home schooled, she was part of a graduate walk at church, and when she walked across that stage to accept her certificate and bible I did it, I cried.  It happened again at her wedding.  She walked up that aisle towards her man, and I looked up to see his expression.  Yeah, sucker got me, he was tearing up.  Loser.  Nah, I love the guy, he's pretty darn awesome I'll admit it. Plus, he really loves my kid, and man, you just have to love a guy who loves your daughter like he does her.  Sucker.

Then the whole cycle repeated when my only son graduated, the middle daughter graduated and started college, the youngest started college at 17, and so on.  Okay man, I get it, I do cry at important events.  Yeah, so, wanna make something of it?  Then that silly middle daughter went and got pregnant.  Geesh, you do not wanna see the photos of me from that day of getting her news.  Dang, it wasn't pretty y'all, not even.  Only all the above are like not registering on the scale of the tears that were shed by moi when I helped my first grandchild make her appearance into the big ol' world.  OMG!

There are not adequate words by any means to describe what a Gigi feels as she coaches her baby in delivering her own baby. Ack!  She didn't look at her midwife, the nurses, the other grandma, or the baby's father during those contractions.  Nope, looked straight into my eyes every single time and would nod at me, letting me know to hold her foot and breathe with her.  When her midwife passed out (low blood sugar & low blood pressure combo) she again looked at me; I assured her the midwife would be okay and on we went with delivery.  Then after 3 hours, my baby girl's baby girl started sliding out.  That shock of curly black hair, that tiny perfect face, the huge sob from my darling as she looked down at her daughter for the first time.  I was a goner y'all, and I am not ashamed!

They came home here after the birth.  I got several precious weeks helping care for Sora before their little house was ready for them.  Yeah, yeah, I cried when they left.  Shut up.  She's going to be 5 months old this Friday.  I just cleaned their old room this past weekend.  I couldn't bring myself to do it before this.  I tried.  Walking through that door, looking at that me right in the heart man!  It's a done deal now though, the room is empty.  It echoes.  For real.  The one next to it that my son left also sits empty, waiting for the next stage.  They make me sad those empty rooms.  I have the blinds up and curtains wide open so the sunshine pours into them and out into the hallway.  It's harder to tear up over them with sunshine splashing on you like that.

So, two empty rooms sit and wait to be transformed into something.  The smaller of the two is going to be a guest room for Sora.  Pinks and creams on walls, doors, and trim.  Seashells, surfboards, beach signs, and a sea turtle rug wait to go into this room for what we all believe will be one very athletic and active girl.  It was the other room that mocked me to come up with something to do with it, something for myself.  Along the lines of my last post about learning to bloom, thoughts of making it over just for me and me alone kept creeping in.

I have used the Sherwin Williams Chip It! tool and some favorite photos to come up with a color palette, poured over Ikea, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, and Ballard Design catalogs.  I have a very definitive idea of what this room is going to be nest.  A place just for me, to go be alone, to paint, to read, to pay bills, to breathe, to keep losing this weight gained from all the dagone injuries over the past decade.  I have the exact spot for the treadmill, an art corner is going between the two windows where natural light pours in nicely, and the back corner with less light is going to be a reading nook with an overstuffed, comfy chair, floor lamp, and table for drinks and me to put my feet up.  Yes, I put my feet up on the furniture okay.  It's okay, I'm laid back that way.

I've found a lovely rug from Ballard Design that looks like an old letter that is going down over the wood plank vinyl floor we're putting in when I joyfully rip out the old, heinous burgundy carpet that has bothered me for the past twelve years now.  Then between thrift shop finds and things purchased from the aforetomentioned catalogs with money tucked away here & there, I will outfit my nest just so. Perfectly Chelle, a tad bit Parisian, and just partly eclectic as suits me best.  It is going to rock!

Sora Riley welcome to our world!

Just after her 1st bath

Sora & Gigi say hello!

Pacifier is almost bigger than she is!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Still Learning To Be Myself

That whole 'bloom where you are planted' saying keeps going through my mind today, and I have to admit, I haven't.  I just plain have not allowed myself to bloom at all the past decade.  I have not really ever liked this part of PA, nor living here, and it wasn't my idea or in my plans.  Hubby is from here, his family still lives here, and we rent our home from his parents.  It is lovely, I won't lie.  It sits on just over 120 acres of gorgeous farm land with wooded areas, crop land, 2 creeks that end up bordering 3 sides of the property, and crazy wildlife abounds.  Turkey flocks, whitetail deer, fox, coyote, rabbits, eagles, hawks, owls, songbirds, the occassional falcon and random odd black bear.  Pastures, barn, outdoor riding arena, and we're allowed to keep a few horses, which is very nice.  I do get all that.  Honestly I do.

However, I just do not love it here, I don't feel at home here, and have lived here a total of 12 years.  He doesn't visit his family, other than seeing his parents and sister at Easter, Christmas Eve, an occassional dinner for a graduation, 4th of July, or something like an occassional birthday, etc.  They live 6 miles away, his mom comes over everyday to take care of her horse and his youngest sister's horse.  Still, they don't talk.  It's sad really.

On the other hand, back home, my aunts, uncles, cousins; man, we just were at one another's houses all the time.  Coffee, chit chat, what ever.  As in daily.  Seriously, daily.  I know my cousins down to like 4th & 5th man, and it's nice.  Really, really nice.   I love having family around, love knowing people that care and will be there are able to you know, be there.  I like my aunties, and how they are with one another, with all of us.  There is none of that here.  At all.  Did I mention I find it sad?  So very sad.  Then there is the fact that is is humid back here, and my arthritis does not appreciate that, nor do I.  Sticky air, so not cool man. Ugh.  And gross dude, so gross.  Yuck. 

All of that said, it remains a fact that I live here, in south central PA.  I want to move, my husband is very willing to do that, and we just can't right now.  So, here is where I live.  I need to stop refusing to bloom.  I need to let myself grow and be who I am supposed to be, and stop getting in my own way.  I have found a few places and things I am growing to love around this little city, and I dearly and deeply love that my four children are close by.  Two are within 20 minutes, one at about 40 minutes, and the other is half an hour when she's not at college.  It's so nice.  I just spent today with the youngest having lunch, thrift shopping, browsing our fave used book store where she finds Austen and Shakespeare, and grabbing coffee at our very fave coffee shop and they use locally roasted beans. 

Is it enough?  I'm not entirely sure yet, but I am more willing than ever I've been to give it a honest try.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Yummy Crock Pot Meatballs!

So, I've known about different Crock Pot meatball recipes for quite a long while now, but never got around to making them.  We don't have parties, the kids are all grown & mostly moved out, so they don't hold parties any more, and so no need for a big ol' pot of meatballs has come up.

However, my mom picked up a little bitty Crock Pot a while back, and today I looked out at the dense, gloomy fog covering the farm & decided why not make a small pot.  I had all the ingredients on hand, they sound fab, and so I went for it.  I'm so glad I did too, they are delicious y'all!  Truly. 

And don't be like me and afraid of the grape jelly, throw it on in there.  Honest, it just adds so much to the whole flavor, you'll like it. Trust me.

Grape Jelly (any brand), BBQ Sauce (we only use Sweet Baby Ray's here), and frozen meatballs (any brand will do, though I suspect you won't want them heavily flavored with anything).  Stir first two ingredients together in your pot, add meatballs, stir to coat, cover with lid, set on low, walk away for several hours.  Come back, lift lid, stir, enjoy.  Yummo! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I hate cancer!

A very good friend of 38 years told me recently that he has a very large tumor and it is stage 3, probably lymphoma, and it is entangled in the blood vessels of his stomach, liver, and spleen.  Due to this, it is most likely not operational.  They are putting a port in this week to allow chemo treatments to begin.

I met him when we were 7 and in 2nd grade.  He made me laugh.  Quite a lot.  I beat him up once because he picked on a friend of mine that was smaller than him and it made me angry.  Then when we were in senior year of high school we began dating.  He proposed to me.  I accepted.

Later on he decided he wasn't ready to be engaged, nor married, and so it didn't happen for us.  However, we remained close friends all this time.  I adore him.  He is still funny, very loyal, and just a good all around kind of guy.

I haven't handled it well, this news.  I am angry and sad and just overwhelmed.  All the feelings I had when my sister called me in 2010 with her news came rushing back.  The feelings I had in 2011 when she passed away.  The feelings from last week when the year anniversary of losing her came up.  I know this friend much more so than I did my sister.  I talked about that last week, how she and I did not grow up knowing one another.

I know this man.  I know his parents, his grandparents.  What makes him angry, what makes him smile, what makes him laugh.  How he loves motorcycles and old cars, tearing them apart, putting them back together.  How his beard is red, but when he still had hair it was not.

Memories abound and I cannot quiet them.  They run amok in my head like a bunch of toddlers hyped up on sugar.  Twirling and dancing their way across my mind.  The time he sent me a pair of Levi jeans with the holes patched up with red fabric hearts when I was in San Antonio for the Air Force and incredibly homesick.  Knowing he had cut out those hearts and sewn them onto my jeans himself.  The cake he made me from scratch for my 18th birthday when not one family member remembered it at all.  How I walked across the stage at graduation in a cap & gown because he insisted it was the right thing to do, when all I wanted was to sit in the audience and get my diploma afterward because no family were coming to watch me.

The nights under the stars, sitting on a blanket in various state parks, talking about the future, what we both hoped for in our lives.  The week at the lake up in the mountains.  Cruising the ave in his father's huge silver cadillac or his father's enormous motorcycle.

Yes, I am angry.  So very, very angry.  I am not ready to say goodbye to yet another person I love.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Who Knew?

I have always wondered about my family lineage.  Where we came from, what our ancestors were like, what they all went through, etc.  That said, I dug little, but very little.  The past few days I have been digging deep.  Very, very deep.

I have discovered a thoroughly interesting family pedigree on both my maternal & paternal lines.  I had always been told we were Irish, Dutch, Welsh, and English on my mom's side.  Told we were Scottish, German, Jewish, French, and French Canadian on my father's.

As it turns out, and I'm in the mid-800's on the paternal side of my maternal lineage, and the late-900's on the maternal side of it, we are very much English, French, and a little bit German, Belgian, and Welsh.  So far not one drop of Irish or Dutch what so ever.  There is a LOT of French though, and not one of my great-aunts or great-uncles seemed to know, because they never once talked about it.  Also, I am thinking they somewhere along the way, started mispronouncing Deutsch as Dutch, as do many Americans.  So, they ended up thinking Dutch when really they're German.

I have begun digging on my father's side as well, and got quite a bit done, though no where near as in depth as the other side of my family tree is going.  We are very German, French, and a bit English.  No Scottish at all, and if we are Jewish they didn't record it, and I'm pretty sure they would have had to at some point in records that the churches kept.  They are, for the most part, very detailed records.  As to the French Canadian, I'm thinking not so much.  I can't find anything at all about any of our family having come to the US from Canada at all.

I have found plenty of excitement though.  Knights, lords, ladies, dukes, duchesses, earls, barons, baronesses, and a whole plethora of castle born and castle builders.  These are primarily in France, Normandie to be exact, and England, though several are on the borderlands of Wales and England, and one in Belgium.  There are photos of several of the castles, some of which are down to foundations, but two of which are fairly substantial and are lovely.  I have found family crests, intrigue, and tales of murder.  Yes, murder.  Also, at least one died whilst defending his castle and family against siege.

Arranged marriages to gain political standings, strengthen one's holdings, and so on...oh you betcha! We had those aplenty.  Seriously.  I have a very distant aunt who was named Hedwig, and as a devoted Harry Potter fan, well, I thought it quite fascinating.  Also, there is a poor distant uncle who was recorded in the church records as William the Bastard.  Yes, really.  That can't have been easy to grow up with.  Just imagine how the legitimate children and his father's wife treated him.  Poor lad.

There is the one who was a crusader, the one who came from Normandie to help settle the Welsh borders and was Lord Marcher.  That means marshal also, and the marshals worked for kings to keep order in the land.  Imagine that.  What I want to figure out is, how did we go from titled land owners in France & England to people who left Europe on ships for America.  Why did they leave?  What happened to those who stayed?  Do I have family in France, England, Wales, and Germany today?  If so, who are they, what are they like?

Oddly enough, I have always loved tales of knights, ladies & lords, castles, dragons, jousting, and so on.  I adore medieval histories and have read about them at length.  I have even written a faux history on myself to prep for a character when I was going to join SCA.  Even more odd, she was living in England in the 1200's and had French lineage.  Seriously.  I did that about 5 years ago now.  Pretty darn awesome right there!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Year Ago Today

I lost my big sister Judy to her fight against cancer.  She fought hard & for a year.  So brave, so strong, so amazing.

The 2nd & last time I was able to see & visit my sister

Sadly we didn't know one another growing up, we had different mothers.  She grew up in southern California with our two brothers, and I grew up in Washington where I was raised an only child for most of my life.  I was to gain step-siblings from both my parents, but the one set were nearly mom's age, and the other I wasn't to meet until I left home at 17.

Judy & I first met at the same time I met my eldest brother, in Alaska when our father passed away.  I was 29 years old, Mike was 39, and then Robert & Judy each several years younger than Mike.  She had the biggest, brightest smile.  I loved seeing her smile.  I loved that our hair was very similar, that she and I wore the same size shoes even though I was a few inches taller.  That we both so deeply loved our children.  That we loved teasing our brothers and cousins as often as possible.

There is so much I'd say to her given the chance.  I wasn't able to get down to Arkansas and say goodbye and it hurt...still hurts so much.  To say I wish I could have gone isn't going to be any where near good enough to cover how I feel about not getting to go.  I wish I'd called her more often and gotten to know one another better.  I used to write her in the beginning, but life for both of us kept us so busy and the letters trickled off.

The visit from the photo above was a good one.  Two of my daughters were able to be there and meet their aunt Judy and in particular one of them became quite attached to her.  Both adored her, but my youngest was drawn to her aunt Carmen at the time; both girls spent hours talking to their respective favored aunt.  I loved seeing that.  My childhood is colored with love due in a very huge part to my aunts, they remain a true blessing to me, and my kids hadn't had that particular blessing in their own lives as I had, knowing close family so well, being surrounded, loved, and supported by them.

Today my nieces are struggling with memories, missing their mom, trying to get through this day without being able to hear her voice telling them she loves them.  I know that pain as I have lost my dad, ten years and it's still mostly raw, filled with longing to call and hear that voice tell me every little thing is going to be okay.  I want to buy Old Spice and a flannel shirt, spray it and curl up with it.  I'm sure the girls each have certain things that strongly bring back all the good memories, and I hope & pray each of them feel their mama's love today, wrapping them up tight and letting them know she's with them.  I hope my brother-in-law also feels her love that way.  He is in Arkansas, one of the girls in Arizona, and two in Idaho.  For her granddaughter, who is still so very young, I hope she feels her grandma's love & that her own mama & aunt can help her today.  I hope they call one another and share the ache to make it more bearable.

Most of all I wish them love.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Back To School I Go...

at last, at last!  So, I have dealt with the sadness, frustration, anger, and so on in having had to leave school and give up professional massage therapy.  I honestly think I went through all the stages of grieving, but finally was able to let it go and look forward again.  Then, of course, I came to acknowledge that I enjoy learning, that even at approaching 45, I want to learn, I want to have a career in something I'm good at and want to do.

I spent several long weeks doing a lot of contemplating, mulling over, and so on.  Back in my very young days I drew, painted, sketched, and otherwise spent countless hours of my life in some form of art or another.  I also, years ago, nearly went to school to earn a degree in interior design, wanting to focus on kitchen & bath design.

My husband is a draftsman, his father a contractor, and they take me to home builder's shows when they come up, and I've also been in on meetings with customers, helped with choosing colors, textures, and so forth and so on.  I like it.  Rather a lot actually.

I then did a search to see about just getting into kitchen & bath design, and lo and behold, there is a national certification association, and also I also found a college that you can earn a degree in this very field at.  I was plum tickled pink y' very happy!

I am proud to announce that my classes begin on Monday.  Yeah, Monday.  As in three days from today. Gulp.  Been on the phone and computer busting my behind getting essays, applications, other assorted and varied paperwork done, and trying to take placement tests, test out on a few things, and orientation from 2 1/2 hours away.  Whew.  Are you tuckered out just reading all that?  I am.

My school is in Pittsburgh and I am not.  As I said, I am over 2 hours away, and my entire degree will be earned via online long distance learning.  Oh boy.  Let the games begin right?  That's going to take some perseverance, dedication, hard work, and sweet tea.  Yeah howdy.

Last night I dreamed I needed to be on campus and had to move to Pittsburgh away from the family, horses, dogs, and such.  Let's hope not eh?  Not at all what I want to have happen.  Not in any way, shape or form.  I like Pittsburgh well enough; the art, the food, the people, but I don't want to have to ever again live in a big city unless it's either Spokane or Seattle.  Period.

Anyhow, that's what's new with me.