Cleaning house physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Posts tagged ‘family’

Here’s My Family Tree Forest

As I get older, I am more interested in the past. Wondering if that’s because I now forget the present, so have only the past left. Anyway, I’ve been dipping my little toe into my ancestry and coming up with a family tree. However, due to a marriage, I have a family forest, not just a single tree. Let me try to explain.

My brother is my step-brother is my cousin.

Did that send shivers down your spine? Are you hearing the banjo music of Deliverance?  It’s not that bad; let me explain further.

My mom (Phyllis) had 2 brothers, Wally and Bus. This forest story is more about Phyllis and Wally, so for now am leaving Bus out. Phyllis married Mac; they had 2 kids (I am one of them). Wally married Wanda; they had 4 kids. We all hung out together,  always. Age-wise, if the oldest was 10, the others were 9, 9, 8,  6, and 4. As you can see, we were all fairly close in age.

As for girls, it was just me and one of my cousins. We all grew up, some got married, some had kids (actually we all had kids eventually; I was the last, of course).  Wanda was my mom’s best friend, and was a marvelous aunt!  I could go into a lot more detail, but let’s just cut to the chase.

Wally died. Phyllis died. The remaining spouses (Mac, my dad — and Wanda, my aunt) married each other.  Don’t freak out; there were only related via marriage. It was their first spouses that were brother and sister, not them.

Thus my 4 cousins became my step-brothers and step-sister. My step-sister, G, always wanted a sister and so did I. We both got our wish!

So that’s how my brother is a step-brother is a cousin. One of my more humorous brothers calls me his step-custard.  Kind of a mangled step-cousin. We both work at the same place and like confusing everyone when we say we are related. The short explanation is:

  • N’s father and my mother were brother and sister.
  • They died, remaining spouses got married. Thus N, who was my cousin, is now my step-brother.

And while researching some ancestry, I discovered that I have a drop of Cherokee blood too.  And related back to Chief John Ross of the Cherokees; Principal Chief from 1828 to 1866. His maternal grandfather was my great, great……  (I can’t remember all the greats) grandfather. Chief John Ross (with others) was responsible for remodeling the Cherokee tribal government into a miniature republic with a written constitution.


Fickle Friday #6

Here it is the 2nd Friday in September and school is in session. I dropped my daughter off at college on Monday. She has figured out what she needs and has greatly reduced what she takes to her dorm room. This picture is her side of the room with much of her stuff. Her roommate (Japanese exchange student) arrives tomorrow. I’m sure they will be busy getting to know each other.

Now at home it is just me and the kitties. Speaking of the kitties, they are hanging in there with the toilet training. I was so excited yesterday when they both left presents in the designated spot. Tonight I opened up the little hole just a bit. Seems as if I have to take every change very slow. Sunni is the problem child and apparently hates change. So slowly we forge ahead.

The news chatter had such an interesting story about a moose who was eating fermented apples. Poor little guy apparently got a little tipsy and was got stuck up in the tree. This unusual act captured everyone’s attention as I received several e-mails about it and it has hit a few blogs I read too.  So here’s my addition to all this moose attention. This photo was taken from a window at my work. There are often moose at work (if the plural of mouse is mice, is the plural of moose, mece?) I have family that lives in the country and the moose often visit,once even stepping into their swimming pool to cool off. Several years ago there was a mother moose and calf outside of my daughter’s school entrance. We had to wait in the car until mom and kid wandered elsewhere.

My tomato plants are kicking into high gear. They are ripening up quite nicely. I’m guessing that the chillier air in the morning is contributing to the ripening. Since I have a black thumb, this is one of the first times I have had success with my tomatoes. I’m thinking that Mother Nature decided she had punished me enough and is getting my hopes up with this little bumper crop.

As I’m sitting her on the computer (no, I’m not physically on the computer), I’m watching The Invention of Lying with Ricky Gervais. Such a little unpretentious movie that I’m chuckling every minute. The man is a genius!

Winter is on its way. How do I know? Because tomorrow my snow blower is going in for maintenance. That means that when I get it back, I will be prepared. And based on my tomato crop, I’m thinking Mother Nature has me in her sight. And because I have a snow blower, I will need to use it.

Kind of hard to even think of snow because right now it is hot!  And I’m in need of ice cream!

Fickle Friday #5

Today is September 2, 2011 — or 9-2-11. I have a tendancy to notice simple patterns and like 9-2-11 because 9+2=11. Strange, but true!

Do you believe it is September? Wheat harvest is going on and summer is near the end. The weather did a little change and yesterday there was even fog when driving to work. Lows were down in the 40s F. and highs were only in the 70s F.  But I think Mother Nature was just teasing, because next week it will be in the 90s again.

Monday is Labor Day in the USA. That means no work! But it is also the day I have to drive Daughter back to college. I checked the weather forecast and it is supposed to be in the 90s F. ARG!!  Daughter can’t get the key to her room until noon and she has a 4:00 meeting. So we have less than 4 hours to  get checked in, move everything from the car to her room, and then grab her stuff that we put in storage. That might take 2 trips.

The worst part will be the heat. And then I have to drive home (about 3 hours) in Labor Day late afternoon traffic. That is making me anxious already. I will have to remember to take my Glee CDs to keep me engaged in sing-along during the boring drive home.

The Packing Process

Once I return home, it will be deja vu in her room.  In July, I had it all spotless. I’m hoping it will be mostly cleaned up when we pack up. She’s been sorting through her things and has actually packed some of her stuff already.  The cats are quite enjoying everything though; there are lots of nooks and crannies, bags, and suitcases to investigate.

After daughter is back at school, I will hopefully get back into finishing the house cleaning chores. And just when I get that done, it will be time to back up and store the patio furniture.

OMG – I’m watching Man, Woman, Wild on the Discovery Channel. It’s a show about a survival expert and his wife who simulate survival situations. Right now they are in a small boat adrift in the Bermuda Triangle. They have been there for 3 days, with minimal water and only a tiny fish or two they caught. And let’s not forget there are sharks bumping against their boat. Mike (the hubby) is suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration. So he tells Ruth (his wife) to give him an enema to hydrate him. Now that’s love!  And successful love, because he got better and they were rescued.

I’m thinking that I will stay out of the Bermuda Triangle. And if I get too hot on Monday while moving Daughter into her college room, I hope no one sneaks up on me and gives me an enema.

Toilet Training the Cats #5

Sunni investigating the small opening

About 9 days ago I opened up the first hole in the CitiKitty tray to introduce the cats to the “toilet” world. That did not go well at all (see the intro here). After about 40 hours, the cats were not using the tray at all and someone (not providing a name to protect the innocent), peed and pooped on the bath rug in the upstairs bathroom.

I was a bit concerned about them not accepting this change and also I was not all that interested in cleaning up, so I decided to replace the cutout. I cleaned up everything and used duct tape to close up the opening. Within 1 minute, MeiMei was up on the toilet and producing a river! After a quick clean up, Sunni did the same thing. Whew, the opening created the problem, and maybe we could get over it.

It took several days before Sunni was convinced that using the toilet again would be OK. After both of them were doing all business in the toilet as desired, I would then consider having a small opening again.

Today was that day. I removed the taped cover for the first hole and taped it back down with just a small opening instead of the original larger opening. Someone has used it a couple of times already this evening. Not sure if Sunni (the cautious one) is involved yet.

Yard sale left-overs

The weekend yard sale was OK; between the two of us, we made a few $$. It was hot (94 F.) and hotter. I guess I’m not a true yard sale person, because I could not understand why people came early (can’t they read the signage that says 9 to 1 ?) and showed up way after 1:00.  But the best was that we both got rid of stuff we didn’t want. Teen girl clothes that did not sell will be taken to the Teen Closet, a local organization to provide clothing to foster children. In the past, I had 3 foster kids, so even today, I recognize this enormous need. The rest of the left-overs will go to another organization.

And to end the day, I must share this photo of my daughter (who did not want her picture taken, thus the cover up. I had forgotten the purchase of the t-shirt shortly after Hurricane Andrew. Apparently my daughter found it and wears it. And she was a survivor, so it’s OK.

Surviving Andrew

Hurricane Andrew Blew Me Away – Part 3

Before I continue with my Hurricane Andrew story, I just want to send my best wishes to residents on the East Coast. You have no idea how much you are in my thoughts these past days, and for the next few days too. Irene, you are not on my Xmas list this year!

And one personal side note. During Andrew, one meteorologist, Bryan Norcross, was on the air forever (I exaggerate only a little). While watching the Weather Channel today to get caught up on Irene, who did I see? I heard him first (Bryan Norcross) and recognised his voice immediately, even after 19 years. I am sure I’m not the only one who is forever in his debt for his supportive coverage during Andrew; and all the years since then, including today.

So, we left off with $$ from the insurance company, but little else. And where to spend the night (and future days) while we plan what to do next. I was extremely fortunate to have such caring friends, who tracked me down and offered to house us for a few days.  Cell phones were not common back in 1992, so how they tracked me down was quite a chore. So we left the dogs overnight in the house (guard dogs, ya know), feed them, and took off to Ft. Lauderdale where friends lived.

There were discussions that evening between husband and me. Basically, it was the perfect opportunity to leave Florida. The house and most of our stuff was gone. We had $$ to start again. And I had always said that I wanted to raise our daughter in a lesser populated area, one with four seasons, not just hot, hotter, hottest, and humid. So we decided to move to the Pacific Northwest, where I was originally from. Whew, decision made and now the planning.

I had worked in the past with this couple, Karen and Frank. They made phone calls to friends and where they worked, and we got a truck and packing boxes. The next morning, we all drove to Homestead and started packing what we could. Living room, dining  room, kitchen stuff (because most of that was in cupboards and thus not damaged), a few clothes that were undamaged (mold has already damaged most of my clothes), and anything else that we could find, were packed and hauled off. The weather was very hot and since there was no running water, we didn’t stay very long; just long enough to pack the big stuff and get out.

The next day, husband and I went back to Homestead and looked for more stuff that could be saved. At one point I had to use a crowbar to break into a dresser. The wood had swollen so much that I could not access the treasures in the drawer. I was able to save all but one of my Northwest Coast Indian art collection; I lost a batik piece that was wet and moldy.

I had some old family memories, such as a family bible from Czechoslovakia, that was too damaged to save. I also lost years of family photos; growing up, college, all sorts of visual memories of great experiences. To this day I miss them, such as my photos of the Teton Dam collapse and Mt. St. Helens. Since I had packed the baby’s clothes when we evacuated Homestead, she only lost her room furnishings. I was a huge Tyco fan and most of the toys were the indestructible plastic that just needed cleaning.

One of the most interesting saves was a ceramic pig full of pennies. This had been stored in an outdoor shed (sometimes called a Florida basement). After Andrew we could not find the shed anywhere in the neighborhood. However, the pig was sitting upright in the back yard without a scratch. The swing set–which had the legs set in concrete–was twisted into pieces. But the legs were solid. My bicycle, which had been stored in the shed, was literally wrapped around one of the swing set legs. And by far the best save was a wedding picture. This was found about a mile away by someone who recognized my sister-in-law (she was in the photo). They gave the picture to her, and she gave it to me. Slightly damaged, but still a remarkable find.

We ended up at the bank in Homestead and closed accounts, grabbed valuables from the safe deposit box, said goodby to our neighbors, and left Homestead for good.

I gave a two-week notice at my work place. We contacted a moving company who came to Karen and Frank’s house and carefully packed everything we were able to save. I had gone through and pulled out stuff we would need when we got to Spokane, such as the baby’s high chair, car seat, stroller, some toys, and dog carriers. Everything else was packed and put in storage until we actually ended up someplace. The unnerving part was we had no idea how long it would be before we could would be in a house again.

Husband also packed up the big dog (Doberman Pinscher), a bunch of baby stuff, and drove to the Pacific Northwest. We both had family in Spokane. He was supposed to find a house to rent, but did not accomplish that task (I was kind of upset about that one). I arranged for the two little dogs (Miniature Pinschers) to fly to Spokane. Then all dogs were placed in a long-term kennel until we got settled.

In the mean time, I was running errands while still working. Getting bank accounts, mortgage, and other things settled. Took car in for service as we were going to drive across the country. I was actually too busy to miss the baby; besides I knew she was in good hands with her aunt and uncle.

Because I still was officially working, I was able to get my husband a stand-by ticket to fly back to Florida. He got home late one night, and we left the next day to get the baby, journey across the country, and start again. Things were already slightly strained between me and husband. Leaving Florida, I even mentioned that now would be the perfect time to get a divorce because we had nothing and thus it would be easier (financially) to split. But we decided to try to work things out. Andrew had placed a great deal of stress on everyone!

So that’s almost the end of the story. We  drove across country for two weeks and ended up in Spokane. Stayed with my brother for 2-3 months until we found a house. Neither one of us had a job yet, so we could only get a house that we could pay cash for. We both found jobs; I have been at the same job for over 18 years. Husband and I separated after 18 months and were later divorced. Hard to be single parent! But I am happy to be in the Pacific Northwest, out of hurricane reach, and my daughter knows what snow is!

After all is said and done, there are still strong memories. I really miss the old photos and other memorabilia that was lost. I do not like the sound of helicopters (they were constantly overhead in the days after Andrew). The smell of mold tends to send a wave of anxiety through my body. And the worst is that all hurricanes since then seem to bring back Andrew memories.  Thank you and good night, Irene.

Grilling Harry

Last night I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 in preparation for today’s adventure to watch Part 2. Daughter is obsessed with all things Harry (sounds a bit kinky, don’t ya think?). She was accepted through the Quill Challenge and gets to visit Pottermore before its official opening in October. So that has her in a frenzy absorbing the Harry Potter books again, and, of course, the requisite dragging of mother off to the movies.  Thank you Binks!!!

If you have not seen the movie yet, go–go now! It wraps up the entire Harry Potter series in a nice big bow. The special effects are indeed spectacular as always. The make-up for the creatures (including Kreacher – pun!) is unbelievable.  It was wonderful.  I have been grilled (questioned) to the nth degree but I don’t remember the details.  When I was in high school/college, Lord of the Rings was the books everyone read. We use to have trivia contests. Daughter’s generation is Harry Potter. Wish I could get her to read Lord of the Rings though.

After the movie we decided to grill all these fresh veggies we had. I bought a grilling basket and a corn on the cob griller to try out. The grilling basket was OK, but thinking that kabob style would work better for many of the veggies. Next time I will try putting veggies in the basket that will cook at the same time. The corn was quite delicious in the cob holder. Daughter didn’t like some of the parts that got a tad brown, but I thought it was all perfecto.

Here are some before and after pictures of the flowers I planted at my mom’s house at the end of May. She has a green thumb, as is obvious by the pictures. My thumb is not as green as my mom’s, but I must admit my tomatoes are going strong!





Tomatoes on the grow

Cherry Gold cheery tomatoes

さようなら AUAP Students

AUAP students for cycle 1, 2011

My daughter works at college as an international peer advisor (IPA) for the Asia University American Program (AUAP) Japanese foreign exchange students. Students from Asia University in Tokyo, Japan, come to the U.S.A. to attend classes at her university to study English. It is her  job as an IPA to assist them in acclimating to American culture. She plans activities and outings to maximize their American experience.  I call her the mother hen of her Japanese chicks.

Check out the napkin foldings!

I have been fortunate enough to share in this experience with her by welcoming several students into our home. Last Thanksgiving, two endearing young ladies spent the holidays with us. We did a huge (almost 20 people) family dinner with the traditional turkey and pumpkin pie. The girls pitched right in and put their origami skills to work with napkin folding.  Everyone welcomed them and a great dinner was had by all. The next day, the girls (daughter, Mika, and Kazune) did the Black Friday early morning shopping. That evening, they made us a tasty traditional Japanese meal – ginger pork.. Yum yum! And they made the best sticky rice I have ever had. And all with groceries bought at the local store. I still have the recipe for the sticky rice and have made it a few times myself, but it is never as good as what they made.

Merry Christmas 2010

At Xmas, Rina spent several days with us. Still had Xmas shopping and cooking to do. And by far the best was my family tradition of Xmas morning breakfast with everyone!  The menu has been the same for decades and is loved by all. Land goop is a kind of omelette  which includes chunks of roasted potatoes, sausage, cheese, and of course, eggs. And then there is the perfect french toast. We had a lot of fun!  It also snowed so a little snowman was erected in the back yard.

The last cycles’ students have all returned to Japan and now my daughter is gearing up for the next cycle. She’s plotting and planning already, eager to get back to college and meet her new friends. She just found out who her new Japanese roommate is, so that has her flying in the air. Her leadership ability is growing, the dedication to her job responsibilities is high, and the compassion and true friendship for these students is immense. I’m so proud of her and her accomplishments this past year in college. Yeah, Binks, I’m proud of you!

Mother hen and her chicks