Greetings from under the bed!

I am reporting to you live from under the guest bedroom bed.

The doorbell keeps ringing (incessantly at some points) and kids, with the average age being 12, keep yelling TRICK OR TREAT!  So the cats and I are camping out until all this craziness settles down once and for all!

My Halloween costume this year?  I’m a techie.  Dark skinny jeans with a tailored black t-shirt from my favorite store of all time, H&M.  I’m just a ClearCom and a flashlight short.

Not much has been going on, hence the blog silence.

Some things that have gone on….

  • I got some serious peace from the Lord concerning the “thorn in my side.”  By earthly standards, I have a snowball’s chance in hell of the tides turning in my favor, but I have relaxed in the Lord that He will somehow bring it all into fruition in His time and under His will.  How?  No idea.  My faith is being tested for sure.
  • I have recently rediscovered my all-time favorite bra type: the balconette.  Random?  Yes.  But that’s me.
  • My new boss started at work.  My co-workers and I had a lot of apprehension about her; she’s not only sweet, but fair-minded, fun, and smart.  And someone who can pull her own weight when it gets crazy.  It will be a positive change for us.
  • I’ve got to spend some awesome quality time with Miranda and Samantha.  We’ve gone to costume balls, fancy restaurants, Emergency Vets followed by dinner (puppy was okay!), and crazy conversations.  I love my girls!
  • Spent a weekend in Detroit visiting family for my sister’s wedding shower.  It was amazing and I felt I really clicked with that side of the family, so different from the years past.  I even explored some graveyards and found my great-grandmother.
  • Oh, I turned 32, somewhere in there.  I still feel like I’m 25 with 7 years experience.

I haven’t been to the beach in quite some time and I am missing the ocean.  Perhaps if there are good waves one of these days, I’ll don the wetsuit and head out to the breaks….

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Jamaican me crazy….

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My random, split second decision to leave the country to get some perspective on the “thorn in my side” and spend some quality time with my mom and sister lead me to the island country of Jamaica.

Now, I wish I could report that I did something noble like a mission trip or working to better the lives of the poor….but that was not the case.

You see, my little sister is getting married next year and has decided to do a destination wedding in Jamaica at a 5 star all-inclusive resort. They were on a reconnaissance mission and I was invited along.

While my sister and I were raised in the same house, we are as different as night and day. I travel light, I stay in cheap hostels around Europe, I like to get into the culture of the country I’m visiting. I swear there is some gypsy blood in me somewhere, as I’m always on the move. My sister is my complete opposite: she does not travel much, but when she does, she stays in resort areas with a suitcase that would last me months. All-inclusive translates into the cost of the resort includes all your meals, drinks (from water to liquor), and the use of their butler service. Basically, it’s like being on a cruise on land. This was my 1st foray into this mode of travel.

This was also the 1st time my mom left the country. I don’t count Canada. This is the only country my sister has visited. Again, Canada doesn’t count.

I ate meals fit for royalty. I drank like a sailor. Well, I wasn’t walking around intoxicated, but having a drink before lunch became the norm. There was a bar you could swim up to, which was awesome. And when you’re sitting in a meeting about floral arrangements for a wedding that’s not yours, a drink should be customary.

Best parts: spending a summer afternoon with my mom and sister. We sat out drinking and sunbathing by the pool, ordering fruity drinks, talking about everything. We laughed a whole bunch and enjoyed each other’s company. It was one of the most perfect moments we’ve had, bonding as mother and daughters. I wish I could have bottled it up and relive it when I’m old. I shared a room with my sister and wow that girl can talk! We had a lot of good conversation and I feel I got to know her better; she’s got a pretty good head on her shoulders. We tried our best to avoid each other when we lived under the same roof.

Worst parts: Driving to the resort. Jamaica is a very impoverished country. I felt guilty dining on lobster and steak and helping myself to a buffet all day when it’s obvious that the typical Jamaican does not have access to things I take for granted here in the States. It was very sobering. I wanted to venture out beyond the resort to explore the country as I do in Europe, but that was heavily frowned upon. With the poverty comes the crime: with my light skin, I might as well tattoo “American Tourist with Cash” on my forehead. $92 Jamaican = $1 USD. I’d be an easy roll.

While the resort was on the ocean, I did not like their beach. There were no waves, thus no surfing. The beach was roped off so you could only go out shoulder deep. I do not like being ‘caged’ in. All the sand there is imported….the natural landscape goes ocean-rocks-land. There is no ‘beach’ like there is here in the Carolinas. Kure is still my favorite.

I return next year with my General for the nuptials. And I must say I’m looking forward to sharing this experience with my husband.

The Capital Tours

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Behold, The Lincoln Memorial and a statue of Robert E. Lee

Over Memorial Day weekend, my sister-in-law, Martha, Mary, Lazerus, and myself all ventured into our nation’s capital via the Metro train.  It was their first time into the city and taking a train — they loved it.  We hit up the WWII Memorial — I hadn’t seen it since it was rebar — very awesome, and very moving to see the veterans there.  Being the awesome Illinoisian aunt I am, we then toured the Lincoln Memorial, and walked past the White House to get lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (which is, I might add, right next to Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was shot….).  From there we trooped onto the Air and Space Museum (there was a lot of air….and space there).  We caught the correct train back home (I, um, kinda bought the wrong tickets for the wrong train….but this is typical of traveling with me) and another amazing adventure was in the books!  The kids did great and I have this great memory with them!

A few weeks later, The General and I hit up the other capital: Richmond.  Not only is it the capital of Virginia, but back in the day it was also the capital of the Confederate States of America.  Being the huge Civil War buffs that we are, we did the riverwalk, the Civil War Museum, and took a leisurely stroll down Monument Avenue to see all the huge monuments to the CSA heros.  One of my college buddies lives in Richmond, and she was having a party, so we crashed there after our tour.  We also had lunch here, which I highly recommend.

All in all, it was hugely educational.  I even learned something about Virginia!  We found this at a rest stop just off of I-95.  Virginia is a dude!

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An anatomically correct Virginia!

Makin’ some Illi-noise!

This is an iced mocha from The Coffeehouse in Normal, Illinois.  If you are ever within a 50 mile radius of Normal (yes, that’s an actual town), you have to stop here and order an iced mocha.  It will blow your mind.  It will become the standard on which every iced mocha you have hence forth will have to live up and fail miserably.  I have no idea what makes it so freaking awesome.  It just is.  And it had been many years.

This was one of the many cool things I got to do in Illinois this summer.  I was lucky enough to have The General accompany me, too!  In addition to rocking out at my favorite coffeeshop, we also:

  • Toured the only German submarine captured during WWII.  Of course, everything was in German and I could kinda sorta read stuff.  So, in a pinch, I could probably command a German submarine in German.  (I learned how to call depth commands on Das Boot).
  • Since the dawn of our relationship, I have been talking about Decatur, Illinois to The General.  One of their native daughters is like a sister to me; as for their native sons, well, let’s just say that every guy I kissed in college had attended either high school or college in Decatur.  The Soybean Capital, as it’s called, is best known for the disgusting smell from the soybean refining factories and I felt it was high time that the General experience just how awesome it was.  Unfortunately, we arrived on a particularly non-smelly day.  We did find this place with my college roommate/sister Judy.  If you’re in the area, check it out. It looks creepy at 1st, but I promise it’s not!  It’s well worth the trip!  And oh so good!
  • Hung out with an old high school buddy and her boyfriend.
  • I hate shopping and I haven’t been to the big mall at home since I was in college.  We ended up there 3 times!  It also has H&M, a European clothing store that I am totally in love with and bummed because the closest one to me is in Raleigh.
  • Ate way too much ice cream.
  • Found my college town is surrounded by wind turbines. Those weren’t there a few years ago!
  • The General had never had a White Castle burger.  We fixed that straightaway!
  • Went to Mass with my Dad and cringed at how a) they changed the words from the original Mass we  were used to because of “bad translation from Latin” and b) how non-bibical their message was.
  • Avoided a mini-tornado like storm (mom’s frantic voicemail: Stay at the bar! Us: Ok!), but came home to candles and flashlights because the power was out.
  • Best part:  Spend some seriously awesome quality time with my parents.  And my sister.  And my future brother-in-law.

Lines in the sand

It’s official: I’m going to have a grand niece.

David and Sheba are having a girl!  Crazy.  I learned this when David posted the news on Facebook and told The General when I came home.  “I was kinda hoping for a boy, ” I said.  “Why?” asked The General.  “Keep the line going, even though it skipped a generation (David is the son of The General’s sister), although it’s not “pure” our last name, it’s still a line.”  “And that’s important to you?” he retorted.  “Of course!  I’m a genealogist!” I exclaimed.  I walked out of the room before we could get into a discussion – The General’s name dies with him on his branch.  “It’s archaic!” came his voice from the next room.

But it got me to thinking:  My family name is dying out on my mother’s side.  My father’s side is alive and well and will continue on and on.  The maternal line I was tracing, I realized, dead ends with all the relatives I’ve found thus far.  And by dead ends, I mean daughters.  Sure, my alleles are in a good portion of the white population of Detroit, but they’re lost by name.  It’s not anyone’s fault.  It’s a 50/50 chance and my line just wasn’t to be.  But with 5 sons who reached sexual maturity, there’s got to be a pure line.  I’ve got 3 more leads, I hope I find something.  A direct decedent of Grandpa August on my line!

It’s too bad we’re not Jewish: their lines are traced by mom.  Why?  Cuz you can prove yo mamma easier than you can prove yo papa.

Speaking of lines – tan lines to be exact – I bought a surfing bikini online.  I found an ad for it on Facebook.  I never click on ads, but this one called.  I’m bringing back the LBB this year!  I got the glam top (one word: hotttttt) and the hipster bottoms, an internet search assured me hipster bottoms are great for pear shapes like myself.  After a horrendous night at that coal mine that pays my mortgage, it was a welcomed surprise.  A surfing bikini is an athletic tight fitting suit: with my huge butt and non-existent boobs, I’m a target for ocean-induced flashing with regular suits.  The top fits perfect, as if it was custom made for me.  The bottoms?  Well, I got the largest size they offer.   I thought it fit okay, but The General thought otherwise.  “You need the next size up,” he said.  “You’re falling out of it.”  “There is no next size up, ” I sighed.  Apparently, surfers are jockeys of the sea and quite small compared to my 5’7 medium frame/large ass.”  So needless to say, I’m returning it.  I’m not sure if I’ll get a different style – like the one that ties, so I can adjust the butt:suit ratio – or if I’ll take The General’s advice and wear board shorts for the rest of my born days.  This is totally counterproductive to getting my bikini line lazered.  I’m keeping the top.  I look like I have boobs.  And it won’t roll up or move.  Maybe, just maybe, this will be my year where I won’t break any public decency laws at the beach (well………………maybe not, heheheh).

Lines in the sand for sure.

Yup

Why is it that every night at work is a bad night?  I spent most of the night trying not to cry tears of frustration.  I run in circles, accomplishing nothing.  The computers AND the machines were out to get me tonight.  And as much as I hate to admit it, they won.  I actually stayed over to help catch up on another department’s work that our shift didn’t get to for the mere fact that I needed to calm down before I went home and exploded.  I can’t keep doing this.  I never smile anymore.  My blood pressure is through the roof.  I’m going to age prematurely at this rate, unless my adrenal gland detonates with all the F bombs.  Seriously, I never swear — it’s just at my job.  I even scaled back my schedule – working 5 days a week instead of 4 (less hours/day).  Today is Day #1 and already I can tell it’s not going to work too well either.

I haven’t even shot the picture for our annual Christmas card yet.  I plan to do that tomorrow.  I feel so far behind.

Having my family here was awesome — like all gatherings of my immediate family, there were a few skirmishes, but nothing terrible.  My Dad always finds a reason to re-wire a room in my house when he’s here and this time it was the kitchen.  He fixed our 3 way switch after much sighing and berating my husband for his lack of electrical knowledge (long story short: we switched out the switches in the kitchen for color reasons and they hadn’t worked right since.  Turns out we had the wrong kind of switch, it wasn’t The General’s fault [pun unintended]).  Meh.  We’re medical people and this concept seemed to evade my dad.  My mom fell on the stairs at the beach and hurt her knee quite badly, we’re thinking it’s a sprain, so she was laid up for the last day.

It’s no secret that my parents’ marriage is quite austere, to the point where it could be placed in the abusive/neglect category.  Like a Windows default, I’m programmed to stay silent during the verbal spars, as all through childhood.  I prayed when they came, if it became an abusive situation, that I would have the strength to say “STOP!”  There was only 1 conversation that was going down the road of verbal attack and I thank God He gave me words and actions.  I actually raised my voice to my father.  He got the message and stopped.  We changed the subject and all was well.  Hmph!  I will not take the kind of language in my house, especially towards someone I love.

Outside of that, it was a wonderful experience.

They spoiled us rotten.  My mom and I went to pick up a “few items” at the ABC store (it’s where us North Carolinians get hard liquor) and we bought out the liquor store.  I told my mom I actually want to remember this Thanksgiving — because we were going to float away with all the wine and spirits.  She was too kind.  And despite my alcohol fast (she didn’t know) and the amount we had, I was never drunk at any point.  My dad went to Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Auto Zone to get stuff for my car and the house — again, spoiled beyond measure.  They picked up the tab when we went out, too.

My sister and her boyfriend were fun.  I haven’t spent days together with my sister in years so it was interesting to observe.  I didn’t feel much of a connection with her.  She suffers from severe bi-polar disorder.  She’s on a lot of meds (like a lot a lot), but the disease is ever present.  She was up.  She was down.  She was wired, she was sound asleep on the couch.  My sister is slightly immature on top of it, but smart as a whip.  Smarter than me: she did better in college than I did.  Her boyfriend was cool to hang out with.  He’s so even keeled – I showed him how to play Rumikube and he won.  It was interesting to watch them interact.  He’s got her number and knows how to reel her in.  He’s good for her.  She’s good for him.  They’re going to make beautiful babies someday.

You know the psychology stuff about you marry a version of your father?  Well, I turned that notion on it’s head.  I married my sister.  If you take the bi-polar away, my sister and The General are cut from the same cloth.  And it’s kinda freaky.

Our family adventures included walking around downtown Wilmington, walking on the pier at Carolina Beach, the rocks at Federal Point (my sis is obsessed with hermit crabs and was very amused by the ugly wild ones!), and the rocks at Fort Fisher.  I took a picture of everyone on the rocks and it looks like they were posing for an album cover.  Hilarious.  I would post it, but I can’t blur out everyone’s faces enough without losing the continuity of the picture.  We also hit up Enchanted Airlie at Airlie Gardens.  If you are in the Wilmington area, you have to check it out.  It’s so beautiful and we had a great time.

Oh!  I almost forgot the Turkey Day part!  Phenomenal.  Mom did not disappoint with the stuffing and grasshopper pie.  I brought the German roots by making a spaetzle casserole.   The General made the turkey and everyone raved about how moist and yummy it was.  Pat and Kris showed up with enough food to feed everyone for a few days.  I prayed a short prayer before dinner.  There was silence for about 5 minutes as we were all way too into the feast for conversation.  We watched the movies Fix and Zombieland.  It’s tradition: you watch movies completely inappropriate for the holidays.  Drug addiction and zombies – how more un-turkey can one get?

Overall?  It was awesome.  I loved having a houseful.  It’s kinda weird now that everyone left.  And I ate the last piece of stuffing today.  I need my mom back to make another pan of it.  And to polish off some left over wine while we make it.

I never felt the tug to stay on my alcohol fast — and while I don’t have the answers, I know who does.  And I am His.  And what will happen will happen.  And it will be for the glory of Him.  However it’s all suppose to turn out.

Make like an egg and beat it

Pennsylvania was awesome, we had such a great time with the family there.  I went face first into the pierogies and learned of a new Polish dish: haluski (which basically means cabbage and noodles).  I’m really getting into the whole heritage cooking bit.  Here’s a recipe I found, but haven’t tried yet.  The General, who is half Polish, commented he didn’t care much for this.  Are you kidding me?!  This stuff was amazing!

The craziest part of the 12 hours in a car was the last stretch of curving mountainous highway at 4am.  I was driving – and getting very tired, I probably shouldn’t have been driving at this point – and Google maps tells us to take a right hand turn.  It was a dirt road.  We kinda laughed about it. “If directions to your house include, ‘turn off the paved road,’ you might be a redneck.”  And then it went from dirt road to boulder field.  We’re in a little hatchback, this car was not designed for a dirt road with rocks as big as one’s head.  Remember playing Oregon Trail as a kid and at the end you have to do that river part where you’re dodging logs?  Same concept here.  Luckily, this was the last road to take, and 5 scary minutes later, we pulled into the homestead at 5:30am.  We turned off the ignition, leaned the seats back, and promptly fell into a deep slumber for 3 hours before we woke up for the party.  All of my nieces and nephews where there – we got huge family picture – and we had a blast.  I played what I called “Polish volleyball:”  it’s volleyball where there are no set positions and you serve from the wrong side of the court.  It was hilarious, but a lot of fun.

The past couple of days haven’t been kind to me.  I decided to head on into an angry looking ocean the other day with nearly head high shorebreak.  I got up to my ankles and a big wave came.  I tried to block it with my board, but instead, the ocean pushed the board into my forehead and knocked me down backwards, rolled, and pushed me.  I have a goose egg on my forehead, which lucky for me, hasn’t started changing colors.  My back was scraped up, but the muscular strain was much worse.  I sat on the beach for a few to collect myself – I really thought I had a concussion.  I’m fine.  A little wiser now, too.

Work has been crazy.  That place really stresses me out.  I have a hard time not getting frustrated.  Especially when you’re there for 11 hours and you’re  doing some mundane task like counting cells under a microscope when you should be half way through a cup of tea on the couch at home.

I feel I haven’t been using my mornings effectively.  I’ve tried to limit my time on Facebook and spend more time in my quiet time, but it never seems to work out on the stage of real life.

I’m not sure if it was from the reunion or my love affair with s’mores, or me being non-compliant with my thyroid Rx,  but my weight is on it’s way up.  I started back on my vegetarian diet and all was going well until last night: I saw the soup at work was “vegetarian beet” and I was like, “Huh, I don’t care for beets, but I will try it!”  Well, the hand written sign actually said “beef” not “beet.”  Oops.  Oh well, I ate it and it was really good.

I should have gone out surfing this morning, but the waves didn’t look too good on the cam, despite the ocean looking like pepper with all the surfers out there.  It was a cool 21C morning, so we went running.  Ran a 5k in 34 minutes ::sigh::  It’s racing season and I need to seriously get my butt in gear with some speedwork if I want to actually run a respectable time.

I’m going to miss the summer, but I’m sorta looking forward to fall.  I want both.  I want some fall days mixed in with those awesome summer days.

“You can’t and you won’t and you don’t stop”

Shhhh.  I’m being a bad girl today.  It feels kinda good.  I totally called into work simply because it was easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. The General and I are heading out on a roadtrip tonight and wanted to leave mid-shift for me.  For fear of being stuck at work due to work load, I figured why not just take the day off?  I screwed my co-workers a bit……and I do feel bad about that…….but I’ve been there every day (plus extra time out of the kindness of my heart) for the last 4 months……so I rationalized it that way.  And I dreamt all night of patients who have a bad pancreas and all the fun that comes with that.

The winds from Irene only made it up to gusts of 70mph here…..so my hurricane virginity remains intact.  ::sigh::  For my 1st major storm, it was a learning experience.  I didn’t realize how strong “the bands” were of the storm that come through bringing gray stripped skies and a crazy amount of wind and rain.  The winds were the worst the day after the storm, I had never experienced wind/gusts quite like that yet.  The worse damage done to our house from Irene was a branch down in the yard with leaves and sticks all over the place.  State Farm kept calling me and leaving messages on my phone of who to call about making a claim…..made me laugh.

Hurricane Katia is churning out in the Atlantic now.  I was excited for some waves…..but it looks like Katia wants to wrap up her summer in Myrtle Beach.  She could turn, dissipate, or slam into our coast — as the computer models are currently predicting.  I’ve decided that I like hurricanes, I love a good storm – it’s the midwesterner in me.  However, now that I am living in my dream house I’m a little more worried about the damaging effects of these monster storms.  I decided when we bought this joint that it was going to be just that: a house.  It will not run my life, it will not be my life, and if the Lord takes it away via foreclosure, storm, or circumstance – then so be it.  We’ll just be on our next adventure  My faith is in Him.

Speaking of waves, the other weekend my nieces Mary (12) and Martha (9) came down with my sister-in-law and we had a blast down at Kure Beach.  I took the girls out surfing — Martha was content to be on the boogie board, but I did manage to talk her into riding some waves I pushed her into on my 7’6.  Mary, on the other hand, was a natural.  It took her a couple of hours what took me the better part of 2 summers!  She caught a couple of waves and kinda stood up, but nonetheless she was stoked and had some great rides.  Mary is also my height and the same bra size as me.  That was humbling.  They said they were coming back down in the fall sometime and I am excited!!!!  It was awesome to share the gift of surfing with my nieces…..and they were eager to wax the boards too!!  I called Mary my “wahine” (wah-hee-nee) which is Hawaiian for “girl surfer.”  Super awesome.  We also played a rousing game of spoons that had us erupting into fits of silent laugh mode.

I am so psyched for our roadtrip to the state gamelands of Pennsylvania!  It’s The General’s family reunion – about 100 people with similar alleles all gather together for fun, beer, great food, more beer, and 2nds or 3rds through the food buffet.  Last time we went we were dating — several weeks before he proposed.  Much has changed, much has not.  I’m looking forward to seeing my in-laws, nieces, and aunt-in-law.  I plan to surprise The General with 375mL of Jim Beam and airplane bottles of Bailey’s for his morning coffee :-).  I have a feeling I’ll be driving home if the dark rum I’m bringing doesn’t get to me 1st! We’re camping out in a tent again and it’s suppose to be warmer than the 10C outside it was last time!  For the 11 hour car ride I also made a huge batch of puppy chow.  Heehee.  I really need to take a nap before we hit the road.

For lunch today, I stopped at Tidal Creek, the local co-op for everything organic.  I grazed off their salad bar (I’m trying to be vegetarian, but with moments of meat here and there) and had the most amazing concoction: chocolate zucchini cake.  OMG.  Nom.  I need to find a good recipe for it — I could taste the zucchini just a tad over the chocolate and there wasn’t bits of zucchini — it was amazing.  I might go back just for the cake.  I’ve been eating terrible the past couple of days and this reunion isn’t going to help, but all bets are off when surrounded by all that wonderful food.  I’m going to try out this “portion control” bit that I’ve been working on.

The title of this post in a line from “Sure Shot” by the Beastie Boys I heard on the radio today while driving around.  The DJ mentioned this clip and I had to share it.  As a former fan of Sesame Street, this is quite amusing.  Enjoy.

The Knuckle to the Thumb Tour

Where was I?  Oh yes, boarding a plane in Myrtle Beach.

The teenage gentleman sitting in front of me has his seat reclined before I got to mine, so it was a bit uncomfortable, especially since everything I had with me was under his seat.  I was a little miffed at his obvious lack of courtesy (it’s a 2 hour plane ride! Geez!).  I  ignored all this by reading my current book, Walden, by Henry David Thoreau.  When I got up to let my seatmate out, he saw the book in my hand and said, “Thoreau.  Nice.” with a head bob of approval.  It made me smile and completely forget he was more in my aisle than his.

Once on the terra firma of Illinois, my mom met me at the airport as we headed back to the old homestead.  We had  big dinner of steak and potatoes complete with my entire family plus future brother-in-law and my “aunt” who is really an old family friend.  Even better?  After dinner my sister showed me how to correctly apply eye make up and gave me a bunch of make up supplies!  Wow!  I’ve been experimenting with eye color and technique and am so thankful she showed me the ropes.  I had been correcting her papers for college (my sister: “Was there a lot of mistakes?”  me: ::head hits wall::) and after the 1st one with literately line by line corrections, her writing improved to just polishing what she had written.  I even asked her, “Where have you been all my life?”  It’s so weird we’re close now that there are 5 states between us, but when we lived near each other we rarely spoke.

Mom and I left the house at 5am the next morning.  Everything went fine until we got here.  And that’s when the trouble began.

Afew miles over zee boarder, there’s a new casino.  I’ve only been to casino once and I was 19….so, needless to say, at 0630, we were seated at slot machines.  And losing.  I highly suggest hitting up Four Winds Casino – it was quite the nifty place. I had no idea what I was doing, so some of it was lack of experience; some of it was sheer bad luck.  Next time, Gadget, next time!  When all was said and done, I lost $15.  I’m a bad influence.

We stopped in Paw Paw for coffee at That Coffee Place, which was across the street from St. Julien Winery.  OMG.  Michigan wine rocks.  I bought some for the General!  Their Blue Heron wine goes nicely with his tattoo of his totem.

Our 1st planned adventure was the Detroit Public Library special collections downtown for some genealogy research.  I didn’t hit the jackpot, but I was more successful at the library than I was at the casino (such is the life of a former honor student, eh?).  I found some more leads, figured out who some people where, and now I have a few more boxes filled out on the tree.  And I know which church they attended.

After staying the night at a 4 star hotel (my mom is an anti-camper), we headed up north for the thumb portion of our tour to Port Austin.  This was the place my family vacationed year after year when we were kids.  It seems so small now, after walking around downtown.  I guess I’ve seen more of the world since I was 17.  I bought a mood ring while I was there.  Ah, the simple joy of being a kid for a moment again.  This place is especially important to me on my spiritual journey: I accepted Christ here in July 1998.

We headed for the old cottage on Lake Huron to meet up with my second cousin, Austin, who had just lost his wife.  It was so good to see him again.  We headed out the the lake, sat around talking, and eventually headed out to dinner in the sleep small town of Pigeon.

It really made me homesick. I miss the small farm towns.  It was so wonderful, I wish I could have bottled it up to relive it every so often.  I love my ocean, but I found my heart longing for the homeland and snow accumulation.  We ate at the Main Street Cafe and Bakery – I had sauteed perch.  I love me some perch. You can’t get it down south.  For desert, their chocolate cream pie was out of this world.  Wow.  We came back to the cottage for wine and more laughter.  It was a good time.  The weirdest part?  “Austin, you have a message,” I said as his answering machine was blinking.  “I do?  Oh,” he said.  “I think I know who it is.”  Sure enough, it was an old message from Bea, his dead wife, letting him know where she heard the best fishing spots were that morning.  And to call her once he made it up to the cottage so she wouldn’t worry.  54 years of marriage and they were the best of friends.  I can only hope the General and I are like that in our upper years.

We left early afternoon the next day after farm fresh eggs and recently slaughtered bacon from the butcher up the road.  Amazing. We sat and talked some more and hit the lake one more time.  I was amazed at how far out I could walk (about 200 feet) and not have to worry about the current.  While the love of the lake will always be in my soul, my heart lies in the ocean now.  I’ll take my rolling waves and salt water over a lake.  Never thought that would happen!

Mom and I headed to our next adventure: Frankenmuth, Michigan.  It’s this cute little tourist town of German culture – shops, german family restaurants with chicken recipes that will make your mouth water.  Mom and I walked around and eventually ended up at one of their flagship stores, Bronner’s – a store that has wall to wall Christmas stuff – and it’s as big as 2.5 football fields.  Oh yeah!  As someone who suffers from OBD, Ornament Buying Disorder, this place is like a keg party to an alcoholic.  It’s a Christian run organization, slightly expensive, but it has everything Christmas.  Seriously.  There were even bulbs hailing my medical profession!  You can order stuff online, too — that was information I probably didn’t need to know.  I have 3 new bulbs this year to hang on the tree — and I have a feeling there might be more.

After Frankenmuth, we hightailed it back to the Motor City burbs.  The next day was the day I had been waiting for all week.

Mom and I went back to her hometown: Grosse Pointe.  For those of you familiar with Wilmington, Grosse Pointe is like the more affluent older brother of the Mayfaire/Landfall area.  These people had money.  And extremely large boats.  And manicured lawns that would make a Landfall member green with jealously.  It was 30 years since Mom had been there – and 30 for me too.  I was an infant the last time I was there.  My mom was born here and moved away in 1972, in her early 20’s, as my grandparents relocated to the burbs because of work and my grandfather’s heart health.  We parked the car on her old street by the house and walked around the neighborhood as Mom pointed out things as she relived her childhood memories.  We grabbed lunch at a local cafe, went down by her old high school, grabbed wine down at “The Hill” – the cute shopping district.  We also stopped at the church where my ancestors worshiped: everyone on the line I am researching had this church mentioned in their obituary.  While it was closed and the lady who did all the historical stuff was gone for the week, the kind gentleman cutting the lawn gave us a church directory.  Inside, it has the brother and sister from one of the branches I was looking for!!!  Sure enough, they’re still in the area and I have addresses and phone numbers.  I am going to write them and include a early 1900’s picture of her grandparents with her dad as a baby.  Next on my list is to contact the lady who runs the historical records – she’s in her 90’s and may have even known some of my great grand aunts and uncles!

The best part of the trip was saved for last.  Just as we were about to leave GP (as I affectionally call it now), we drove one more time by the house my mom grew up in.  We watched it for a long time.

“Let’s knock on the door and see if they’ll let us in,” I said, seeing as how the garage my grandfather built was open with a car inside.

“No, we can’t do that!” My mom said.  “They won’t let us in.”

“Come on, let’s try,” I replied.  “Worse they can do is tell us to shove off and slam the door in our face. We won’t be back here – let’s do it!”

“I’m not comfortable with doing that.”

“Alright, let’s head out.”

Just as she has clicked her seatbelt, an SUV turned into the driveway.  “Let’s go,” was all Mom said and she lept out of the car.  I quickly followed.

A beautiful twentysomething stepped out of the SUV and Mom introduced herself as someone who used to live here.  “Would you like to come in?” she asked.  Would we?!  YES!

And just like that I got to walk into the house my mother was born in.  The girl, Mel, introduced us to her mom, Dar, who was in the house.  They ushered us through the house, detailing what was redone and what was still original.  My mom chatted away, pointing out things, asking questions.  A lot had changed.  The ground floor master bedroom had an addition put on it and was now a TV room.  The new master bedroom took up the entire 2nd floor (it was originally a bedroom with a half bath where my uncle had his room).  It was huge.  My mom’s room that she shared with her sister was now Mel’s room.  The bathroom had the tile my grandfather put in — it’s quite retro — but very nice.  The living room and dinning room have remained untouched as it was when Mom lived there.  The basement still had the tile and the “bar” my grandfather put in – the bar isn’t very big nor attractive and they plan to take it out eventually, as with the tile.  The fruit cellar is now a bathroom.  I got a picture of the fireplace – only because I have a picture of my grandmother standing by it on my mantle.  Here’s a look:

It’s not quite the same angle, but it still made my heart skip a beat.  I didn’t take too
pictures of the house, just the common rooms, as I felt a bit weird snapping pictures of someone’s private residence.  They were so kind to allow us to indulge in such nostalgia.  I sent them a letter thanking them and included the picture of my grandmother seen above.  Not only did I want to thank them for making my mom’s summer, but I wanted to prove to them Mom actually lived there and we weren’t casing the place.

Amazing!  We just kept saying, “Can you believe we did that!?” for the rest of the night.  So awesome, my mom was so happy about it.  We celebrated our genealogy successes and toasted our amazing trip at this great Mediterranean place in Northville, Le George.  The food was amazing, even thought the menu was hard to read — so many words I had never heard before — but the waitress explained everything so perfectly!  Dinner was fabulous, a chicken dish with perfect spices; it summed up our trip perfectly.

Saturday morning came too soon as I boarded a plan in Detroit bound for Myrtle Beach and a $50 parking tab.  Ugh.

So much research is ahead of me and I am so thankful I did this trip with Mom. Not only did she spoil me rotten, but we have these amazing memories that will keep us smiling for the rest of our lives.

Her name was Anna Caroline

She was born in Detroit, Michigan to Prussian immigrants in 1888 the youngest of 5.  I’m not sure how much school she had, but she wasn’t college educated.  At 22 (circa 1910) she married a man named Edward, a china packer,  and they too stayed in Detroit.   They had 3 daughters.  Their marriage would last about 10 years before she would file for divorce (something that was seriously frowned upon in that time period).  Edward, who was a kind man – he cried as hard as the kids did when the family dog died – had a Jekyll/Hyde personality when he drank.  Which was often — and during Prohibition.  Anna would lock herself and her daughters (the youngest still an infant) in the bedroom because of his antics, which would include chasing her around the house with a butcher knife.  When he would pass out, she would gather her kids – even in the dead of winter – to catch the streetcar to her mother’s house.  As a woman of the 21st Century, I can totally understand how this would constitute a divorce.

Back then, it wasn’t seen that way.  As a Lutheran, she was thrown out of the church of her youth due to the divorce. She moved her daughters in with her mother and got a job at Chrysler on the assembly line, putting arms rests in vehicles.  In the 1920’s, the kind man down the street named John, married her.  They had no children together, but had a happy 30+ year marriage.

Anna was the most beautiful Gibson girl and was quite the pistol.  Once she got an idea in her head, there was no stopping her.  Rumors spread about how she drove half way across the south with a shotgun in the back of her car for justice on someone who did her loved one wrong (it worked out okay in the end….I’m sure the shotgun helped things along…..no one was hurt).  She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind in an era when it was derogatory.  As passionate as she was, she loved hard too.  All who knew her spoke of her kindness and she helped people out whenever they needed it. Even when her ex-husband Edward was sick with the flu, Anna would stop by his apartment to bring him soup and make sure all was well.  She was a loving grandmother to all 7 of her grandkids.  She was always entertaining people and had a large group of friends that would meet in her home for cards every week.

Anna died from breast cancer in 1961 at 72.  The funeral director made the comment to her family that in all his years he had never seen so many people turn out for a funeral.  The doors were bursting at the seams.

Why all this?  Anna’s middle daughter was my grandmother.

I found a bunch of old family photos – a lot of negatives from the 1950’s that were hers, too – and decided once I had my house I would put these photos in frames and display them.  I’m still getting around to it, but I came across this photo (which now graces my mantle) that really struck me:

I don’t know who took this photo, when, or why, but it seems to sum up her personality.  I love how most photos of that time are very serious and formal — she clearly is not!  Classy, sexy, and not afraid to wear a weird hat! ((There is another pane to this, a picture of her with a girl, who I imagine is a friend – I cropped it out for continuity)).  I showed it to a friend of mine who said she can see some of my facial features in her.  I don’t see it, but it made me smile nonetheless.

Some other Anna pictures:

Anna (in the middle) with her sisters Louise (left) and Martha (right)

 

This picture was on my grandmother’s mantle – Edward and Anna’s engagement picture circa 1910.
My maternal great-grandparents.

 

Anna (right) with her niece Esther and Esther’s husband Coy, sometime in the 1950’s.
(How those 2 got together is a whole blog post!)

The balsa wood plane has ice on the rubber band

image

“Wasting away in the Rust Belt, looking for my de-icer and scraper. People say it’s a snow storm to blame, but I know it’s just too damn cold.”

Our puddle jumper prop plane out of this winter wonderland has ice in the engine and so we wait for a technician to show up….who’s about an hour away. Granted, I’d rather be delayed 2 hours than to find this problem via the black box. Still, when one sets an alarm for a 0345 wake up time, one expects to be on their way to the sunny skies of the Carolinas within the hour. Ah, such is life – complete with my curse – an unhappy toddler is on my flight. Yay.

My visit here with the General’s parents was awesome. I am so relaxed; my brain is rested from the lab chaos, I gained 10kg because my MIL is an amazing cook, and between the chocolatiers and the price of booze, I could hang my hat here for awhile. We’re going to miss the monstrous snow storm heading this way – if we get on a plane soon. Some more highlights:

* My 18 year old nephew is a self proclaimed atheist.
* I would test positive for GSR. Got to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights with 2 hand guns and a rifle at a shooting range.
* Saw a community dinner theatre Xmas musical that had great singers and terrible scene changes that required no set movements. They should have been seamless. Lots of good songs, tho!
* Saw the inside of a semi truck sleeper. 10 gears? I could do it.
* Drove with the General in a Chevy 4×4 through snow-packed country dirt roads to go skiing….but the trails were closed due to hunting. The scenery was breath-taking.
* Saw the Twilight movie Eclipse.
* Spent some quality time with the couple who raised an amazing son.

Happy Merry Thanksmas

Due to the nature of our chosen MOS, spending the holidays with far away family on the actual holiday usually doesn’t happen.  It takes a lot of planing and some luck.  This year we were not so lucky.  Instead, the weekend after Thanksgiving we drove up the Cocaine Corridor (aka I-95) to see my husband’s sister in Virginia for our “Happy Merry Thanksmus” — The combination of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the new year all combined into 1 weekend of awesomeness.

My BIL and SIL are freakin’ awesome people.  I could not ask for better in-laws.  My 2 nieces (3rd grade and 6th grade) and nephew (almost 2) were a blast as well.  We played lots of games like a boardgame of Twilight (the girls are slightly obsessed, um, Go Team Jacob!), battleship, and Truth or Dare Jenga.  There are truths or dares written on the pieces so I was asked questions like, “Have you gone anywhere without underwear?” and “Imitate someone in the room” and “Ever gone skinny dipping?”  It’s one thing when you’re playing with adults, it’s another when you’re playing with small children.  And for the record, yes, I graduated from college without underwear because I packed it accidently, I can’t imitate the General very well, and I went skinny dipping by myself in a Lake Huron cove eons ago.

A game I played for the 1st time (which I found is quite infamous in this family I married into) was spoons.  Apparently, at Grandma’s house back in the day, this was quite the cutthroat game.  The General and his sister talked about how people would get hurt, tables would be broken, and the older cousin who always won because he could push everyone out of the way.  I had never played before.  It was a blast!  We were laughing so hard and had a great time.  I was the 1st person out, but since it was my 1st game, it was all good.  The General ended up being crowned champion.

The worst part of the weekend?  My sinus cavity.  I’m on cold/sinus infection #2 of the season, so I was quite miserable the whole time.  I have a box-a-day kleenex habit, a jar of cocoa butter for my sore nose, and I look like I have been out drinking all night.  I HATE BEING SICK AND NOT BEING ABLE TO BREATHE!  I’m willing to trade up (down?) for the stomach flu; at least I can breathe with it.  My “voo-doo tea”/herbal tea wasn’t working in the long term and I can sleep with diphenhydramine-induced dreams.  I have what the General had last week – it lasted 2 weeks for him!  I’m on day #4.  This can’t go on for 2 weeks, I will die (but if it does, buy stock in Kimberly-Clark because I will buy out the remaining supply of kleenexes).  Today it feels like it’s on it’s way out – or maybe it’s just gathering strength.  In any case,  I don’t want to be banished to the blue bedroom at 3am again because my nose-blowing keeps the General from his beauty sleep.

In 2 weeks, we ship off to the Rust Belt to see the General’s parents and the other nephew.  I’m excited, even though it will be cold.  My hope is that it snows a lot so we’ll be suck there for awhile and not have to go to work, ha!  I just hope my cold is gone by then.

I’m out of kleenex and it isn’t even lunch time yet.

August

I can’t believe it’s August already.

I really like the name August.  It was also my great-great-grandfather’s name, August Ruprecht, who was an immigrant from Prussia in the 1870’s and went to Detroit.  If I ever were to have a son, I would probably use August as a middle name.  It is doubtful I would ever have children; I was on a plane with screaming children once and my fallopian tubes tied themselves in knots – “maternal” is not a word used to describe me.

Mad Men episode #402 goes up tonight, but I missed it.  I don’t have a DVR cuz I’m cheap so I have to wait until midnight tomorrow to watch it.

My parents land here next weekend.  I must admit, I am a little nervous.  My dad is a pretty intense person and I’m afraid the famed “Mount Vesuvius” temper of his will manifest.  I enjoy the peacefulness of the relationship The General and I have and I hate to back track to days gone by.

I’m off all day tomorrow — I wish the waves were good.

And the award for hiding spies goes to….

Meet the newest member of our family – she’s a tiger oscar and her name…..Rahab.

The General wanted something bibical, I wanted something edgy.  I tried to figure out how I could incorporate the Academy Awards into naming her (Best Fish?) and that didn’t work.  So being the ultimate libran couple we are, we compromised.  Isn’t that what marriage is all about?

Yes, we named our fish after an Old Testament prostitute.  She’s in the genealogy of Jesus and the mother of Boaz who married Ruth (there’s a book about her).  Our church just did a sermon series a couple months ago about Ruth, so it was still fresh in our minds and I didn’t realize til I searched the name that she was connected with Ruth.  Another weird part I just found, was that Rahab is also a sea-demon used metaphorically to signifty Egypt. (Psalm 87:4, Psalm 89:10, and Isaiah 51:9)

Tiger oscars, as we found out, are sexually monomorphic.  This means you can’t tell a male from a female, both sexes look the same.  The only way to tell is to get one knocked up.  So, Rahab might be a Boaz, but I will not know this side of heaven; The General decided that she was a girl.  They do best alone, so it’s her just in the tank.  We’ve only had her a week and already I can hand feed her food pellets.  Rahab is getting quite aggressive and will jump out of the water to get the pellet out of my hand.  It’s really quite neat.  She struts in front of the tank and responds to human/feline interaction.  She will get much bigger, too.

I think I will put a scarlet cord around her tank, tho.  Just to be safe, lol.

For the full story, check out Joshua 2.

A New Era

Today is the 1st day that the General is on a new platoon.  We’ve always been in the same company, and now that cute guy I used stare at from across the way has moved onto another assignment.  It still hasn’t sunk in yet.  The house is so quiet now without him here.

It reminds me of my 8th grade year when our school system went onto split shifts — class didn’t start til 1045.  I had the whole morning to myself, a beautiful thing in a chaotic household.  While I embraced it then, now it just seems lonely.  I love my General and I love my alone time – but I still wish he was here.  This will be a positive change for us and our marriage – it’s just something to get used to.

The in-laws were down from the great white north and we had a blast with them.  They are such down to earth people, I really enjoyed having them here. I now understand how my General got to be so freakin’ cool.

Had our housewarming party, which went really well.  I spent yesterday sick – all day, with most of the night.  I will stick with my General and less Captain.  Yikes.  I wore my alma mater t-shirt yesterday in honor of not being so stupid since my college days.

I need a beach day – perhaps tomorrow.  I hope the surf is good.