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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Regan!












Today is my beautiful daughter's birthday! 36 years ago today I was tanned bronze from basking every afternoon in that unusually warm and sunny April winding down, awaiting the arrival of the present in my tummy. My little son and I would sit out on the patio while he played in the sandbox and think of names for a little boy or girl. He loved the name Regan and he never did say which boy's name he liked. Guess he knew she would be a girl. Back in those days, we, or at least I, didn't know ahead what the gender was so it was always a surprise and since it was 10 days before my birthday it couldn't have been a sweeter gift.
She was always ready to move around..couldn't be content in her little punkin seat until she could crawl and walk. She loved little toads and no matter how hard the boys in the neighborhood teased her with them, she would grab them from their hands and kiss the little dudes. That being said, she was very attached to her mom and very shy and as she grew, mom had to participate in her activities~yes, I had to get on the mat with her during gymnastics~did a couple somersaults once or twice and even had to get on the trampoline with her. I was worried she would never out grow that but when it came to the next year when she was 4 we enrolled her in ballet and she forgot her shyness. She loved ballet and from then on tap danced her way through junior high and high school. She loved playing the flute and the violin. Music was her outlet when she got stressed.
She's an ethnic conglomeration~part Lebanese, German, Scot-Irish, and a little Dutch~ so maybe that's why she always had the longing to go, go somewhere, see the world. About 10 years ago she decided to move all the way to Portland, Oregon from Indiana. By herself! How proud I was that she didn't have to have her mom with her on that excursion! She'll be getting married for the first time this summer in July to a wonderful man from Holland and she waited till she found the best man to spend her life with. I couldn't be more joyful!
She's traveled to several places in the world~I've traveled in books. She's creative like her mom but she is an artist, and a jewelry maker~ she loves the outdoors, to hike and to ski...Oregon is the perfect place for her~she's just like me~ only opposite.
She looks like me, too...if I was tall, blonde and slender!
Happy Birthday, Reggie! Love, Mom

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Things I'd Rather....




I have to do some, not a lot, but enough grocery shopping to make me fussy. Seems like I just went. How can two people go through this much food..staples really. Milk, bread, potatoes, meat, veg. I hate lugging that bag of potatoes and milk up the stairs into the house dodging our 126 year old cat who tries to slip out of the closing door. One time she got caught between the screen door and the hard door and I couldn't find her for half an hour! And on top of that I have to vacuum the house, finish straightening things up a bit, wash and dry 3 loads of laundry (who is wearing all these clothes?!) and then iron Kenny Rogers look-alike's shirts. And it is raining and has been all day long. Yuck...I'd rather just stay here, wish it weren't raining and sit in my wicker chair and look at photos that I'd like to write stories about and take pictures of Mr. Rat-a-tat, the woodpecker(I have found out now that it is a Northern Flicker of the woodpecker family) who has made the biggest hole in my tree and the biggest mess of wood chips on the ground...Guess we can use them for mulch.. Take photos of the lush green of spring with my one eye squinted on the digital camera up to my eye. Yes, I do that, as if it were a regular old-fashioned camera. My friends make fun of me because I put the screen up to my one open eye and snap the picture..old dogs keep the old ways. I could have done all this yesterday but I was too busy talking on the phone (we all live in different states) to all my relatives about our ethnic past. That takes lots of time..trying to figure out who is related by who especially when all the names sound alike and all we have to go on are some of the old stories my grandparents told. The "new" old country related cousins and aunts and uncles say they never heard some of those stories. So are they true or not? We tend to want to think the stories will stay the same in our minds. They sound more romantic. So I'd rather be doing all these much "funner" things than going to the grocery in the rain.
At least the green of spring looks greener in the wet rain. I'm begrudgingly off to the store, thinking of my next story.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Know When To Fold 'Em



My boyfriend of 20 years (in some states that is considered common law marriage though we choose to stay unmarried but live together like we are)looks like Kenny Rogers. Well, he did before Kenny had some unfortunate plastic surgery.
I was visiting my daughter in Portland, Oregon again, the first time I had gone out by myself and there was a thrift store a couple blocks from her house that I liked the looks of while window shopping. There was a cardboard standup of none other than Kenny Rogers..big as life. I had to go in. I asked the man behind the cash register how much he would sell Kenny for. He said $4.00. Wow, I said I can't pass that up but how will I get him home to Indiana? He said it will cost you more than $4.00 to ship it and it does fold up so I'll bet you can take him on the plane. I thought about it and decided yes, I could do that. I have done strange things like that before! So the day of departure came and we dragged my suitcase down 4 flights of stairs at 5am along with Kenny under my arm. After the tearful good-bye and a pat on Kenny's head I presented myself and luggage to the curb side check out. The man there looked at my ticket and asked "Is it just you and Kenny today?" I said yes, do you think I will have trouble on the plane and he said No, I think he'll go in the overhead bin. So I was happy and relieved. So up the escalator Kenny and I went receiving lots of long loving looks and chuckling. We got to the inspection gate and Kenny had to stand up and go through on his own..he was wanded but thank goodness they didn't have him take off his shoes! I made it through with out setting off any alarms for once and so did Kenny. While walking to our gate a woman observed "Either you like Kenny Rogers or you like cardboard." We got to our gate and sat down behind a father and daughter. The daughter looked behind at us and said to her dad "Kenny Rogers is sitting behind you, Dad. He looked and chuckled and wondered if he would sing to us on the plane. We had our ticket scanned and nothing more was said. Great. We entered the packed plane and I thought "where am I going to put Kenny?" A girl standing behind me noticed an empty bin..She said "look this one is empty, just put him in and we'll close it and everyone will think its full!" Brilliant girl! Don't think I even saw her face. So Easy Peasy I thought..this is just great!
We flew from Portland to Cincinnati for our connecting flight and again we got loving and longing(as I like to think of it) glances as we were waiting for our plane. I kept waiting to hear them call our row and then noticed that Kenny and I were the only ones left at the gate. We hurried up to the desk and they said, Oh my they are almost boarded! Did I have a brain fade thinking about Kenny?....It was a very small plane..2 seats on each side of the aisle--but the flight attendant said nothing about Kenny so in we went and sat down next to a very large black man. I smiled at him and thought to myself, if I were a casting agent I would pick this man over all others to play Big Sam in Gone With The Wind! Kenny wouldn't fit in the bin on that plane..hardly had a bin, so I put folded up Kenny in front of my knees. His arm stuck out a little into the aisle but not more than a big fat man's arm several rows ahead of us. "Big Sam" looked at Kenny and then at me and asked.."is he going to fly with us like that?" And I said "yes, it will be fine..he's not in the way." The flight attendant starting going down the short aisle and gasped, "Oh, Kenny can't ride that way!" I said that I didn't know what else to do with him. She tried him behind her seat. Nope, didn't fit. Tried him in the front of the plane behind that flight attendant's seat. Nope that didn't work either. Tried him several places and by this time we are 20 minutes past take-off all because we can't find Kenny a seat. I was getting nervous~I thought oh, my gosh people are going to start yelling at me and they are going to throw poor $4.00 Kenny off the plane! Instead, people started singing Kenny Rogers songs~"Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em", "Lady" and several others. It was hysterical. Finally the attendant came back and she said, the Pilot says "Kenny can fly jump seat behind me if he'll sing me a song." So off Kenny went to help fly the plane home and every one clapped. When we arrived home Kenny and I were walking to the luggage carousel again getting the loving longing looks and Michael was there to greet us. He said "my gosh, what have you done? Where did you get Kenny? This is so typical of you, Kim!" He loved it! Now Kenny goes to parties and drinks beer with the guys and people get their picture taken with him. Funny thing about that is...the real people look more cardboard than Kenny!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cracking the Safe of the Past







One of my cousins is going to meet a relative of ours that we never knew existed...didn't know any one was still alive in the old country. We are anxiously awaiting the rich information she will bring back to us. What an incredible tool the internet is to us seeking our past! There are branches of our family~every family really~ that are out there and living and some might live only a few miles from us and have for years and we never knew!
Our paternal side of the family is from Lebanon and my cousin has found the live link...our three grandfathers were brothers and they came over at the turn of the 20th century on ships..one entered through Boston, one through Canada, and the other we are still researching for place of entry. Our grandmothers did too, entered this country by themselves when they were in their teens. That is amazing to me...to come to another country over a vast sea in a ship that perhaps was not very hospitable, to put it delicately. To come over across the ocean not speaking any English and looking for work at age 15 and then ending up staying, meeting a man or woman of your own background, carving out a life of work, marriage, children and housekeeping never to go back to the old country again. Establishing roots in a foreign country yet intertwining the customs of the old ways with a new culture and in many cases losing correspondence with the family left behind. That is what happened here. For generations our relatives in Lebanon thought our ancestry line was no longer in existence and they wondered what happened to the brothers that left for a better life. Needless to say, we are all very excited on both sides of the sea and wouldn't our grandparents be so proud of us! It is like opening a safe that has been sitting unopened for generations...everyone wanted to open it but could never figure out the combination. We think we have the combination now. Aunts and uncles and cousins all that are still alive in both countries are buzzing with remembrances and questions of long told stories and mispronunciation of names with phones running out of charge and fingers flying on the keyboards.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Misty night in Dallas







Several years ago I was privileged to go on buying trips with one of my best friends, Lynn, who owned a decorating and gift shop in our home town. I was, I like to think, an Assistant Buyer. We always have an adventure when we're together and this trip was no exception. Dallas, Texas was our destination to buy at the World Trade Center there, where we flew once (that is another story)...but then took the train the next two times. We would leave from Chicago on the train which seemed kind of silly to take the train from Indianapolis up to Chicago and then down to Dallas..but that is the way the train travels. This trip was in January when it is very snowy in Indiana and Illinois but milder in Texas. One night after a long day of walking, looking, choosing and doing great quantities of dollar calculations for the shop we decided to go to Baby Doe's Matchless Mine restaurant..an old silver mine of sorts that is perched on the only hill, as far as I know, in Dallas, complete with a live burro at the entrance chewing on hay or what ever they chew on. It was a very misty, cool, dark night but Baby Doe's was very cozy and warm and we enjoyed a delicious meal. When the meal was over, we asked for a cab to be called for us. While we waited we shopped in the little gift store that looked just like a "company store" a mine would have~there were pieces of turquoise and silver jewelry and rings, bits of fool's gold and all sorts of books and trinkety things to tempt you. Time passed and no cab. A couple of what looked like cowboys with big ten gallon hats sauntered over and asked us if we were movie stars and we said "Why, yes, we are" I wonder if they believed us? That was fun but waiting that long was not. We asked the maitre d' again to call a cab and waited again. Pretty soon an hour had passed and we had asked 2 more times. Finally they told us that a cab had arrived. We went out into the murky night and saw 5 cabs in a row. Puzzled we looked at each other and decided to take the first one. When we entered the taxi the windows were so steamed up we could barely see. I said to Lynn "I don't feel right in this cab. Something is just not right in here..I feel like there is a gun in here or something." We decided it was going to be alright that my imagination was running away from me since we'd had such a long intense day and that we didn't have far to go. We drove along in the heavy, misty rain on the road that runs parallel to Stemmons Freeway back past the World Trade Center and we saw a man in a trench coat carrying a brief case and piece of luggage walking along the road and waving for us to slow down. Our driver hesitated but we said let's give him a lift since it is so miserable out and he can share the cab fare with us. So our driver stopped to pick up the man. The man said "no, you already have a fare" and we insisted that he take the ride. He and the driver loaded up his suitcase in the trunk and he seated himself in the front. He said he needed to get to the airport right away and he was in a great hurry...he seemed irritated and nervous. We told him it will be alright, the driver can just leave us off at the entrance of our hotel drive and they can go on. The man never looked at us or thanked us. So we were deposited at the entrance of the drive and the cab drove away. The next morning we hailed a cab to take us to the final buying day of our trip. The sky was blue and it was a little warmer and we were talking to each other about what a difference a few hours make. We told our driver that we had a terrible time getting a cab last night...that we were out to dinner and....Our cab driver joined the conversation and finished the sentence Lynn was just saying...He said..."Yes, 5 cabs were dispensed to Baby Doe's last night for a fare of 2 women. During this fare the driver picked up another fare and we are told never, never to do that. After the driver released his original fare at their hotel he was held at gunpoint and robbed on the way to the airport." Silence fell over our gaped mouths like a blanket. Lynn looked at me and whispered, "I'll never not trust your intuition again!"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Night Cars


These past unusually warm April nights takes my memory back to the summer nights of my childhood visits in Maine. My cousin and I would sit in our grandparents swing in the evenings and talk or just mind-meld...sometimes we wouldn't have to say anything at all..we just put our heads together and rocked the swing, intuitively knowing each other's thoughts. There was an old empty factory building across the street with the multi-paned windows and sometimes we would go over there and run up and down the shipping and receiving ramp and then run back to our swing. We would sit and listen to the cars way off in the distance traveling on the city streets knowing that we would never know who was whirring those motors, shifting those gears, pushing those accelerators, stomping on those brakes that made that "errrrck" sound. Never seeing the cause yet hearing the effect.
So last night I put my head back on the wicker chair and looked up at the stars, thought of my cousin and listened to the night cars....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Volcano and Cello





There is a young cello artist I had the pleasure of hearing as my daughter and I strolled the streets of Alberta in Portland, Oregon during a FirstThursday Art Fair. This was a few years ago. Amid the creative booths and tables of very interestingly talented artists, Adam Hurst's music wove in and out of my psyche. His cello music is absolutely mesmerizing and I was enthralled with the hypnotic cords wafting through the night like clouds of incense. It is the most ethereal music I have ever heard...it takes you to a deep part of your heart.
Adam Hurst studied cello at Skidmore College while in high school and Brown University while in college. He holds a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design (1997). He taught cello at Providence College as an adjunct from 1998-2002 and continues to teach privately.
That was the same year that we took a trip to Mount St. Helens. Adam Hurst's cello was the perfect background music for our visit~ the volcano that erupted May 18,1980. Mount St.Helens is an awesome effect of nature. Miles and miles of fir trees line the mountains along the road corridors. It is a herring bone pattern. So vast you can't wrap your mind around it. Then the sullen emptiness of the many miles surrounding the volcano that still expires its breath, looking almost like a teepee with smoke signals emitting from its gaping sunken crest. No vegetation except for a few hardy plants that take over years after vast fires have killed everything in sight. The last words of 30 year old volcanologist David Johnston as he witnessed the explosion...only enough time to shout "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!" echoes in your mind and the drone of the haunting strings of Adam Hurst's cello seem to meld together as if the music were written for this awesome power of nature. I would like to go back sometime soon..but meanwhile I shall listen to Adam Hurst's evocative, dream like emotional melodies. Occurences happen in Portland and the Pacific Northwest that transfix your life, I'm pretty sure of that! It happens to me every time.
http://www.gypsycello.com/ Here is his website for his newest work. You will enjoy it I'm sure.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Two Crows Watched Over Us


Once a few years ago, I was in Portland, Oregon visiting my daughter. It was a beautiful day and we decided to go to the park and read our books. We packed up her lawn chairs and a little lunch and set off. We parked the car and walked a very little distance to a sunny and shady spot under a big canopy of tree. We set up our chairs and settled in for a long read. A man approached us with a back pack on, a paper cup in his hand and long, black hair. His face was rather swarthy. He stepped between us and asked us what we were reading. We looked at each other...a little skeptical and uneasy...and told him. He said he liked to read too. He said he would let us get on with our reading. We felt a little uncomfortable since our purses and lunch pail were just kind of strewn around..not really near us as they should have been. He walked off and sat down by a grove of trees. We continued to read. He came up to us again and said he had a question to ask us. We said ok, ask away. He asked..Did you vote for George Bush? We chuckled and gave him our answer. I looked up at him and to my eye he had a blue line outlining his face. I don't know if I am able to see auras but I saw this blue outline. He proceeded to sit down on the ground and told us he was a Black Foot Indian. He said Black Foot Indians are the most fierce of Indian tribes. He told us his age..just a few years younger than myself..how he lived under the bridge and that he was an alcoholic. He told us that his brother was a police officer in Portland and sometimes he lives with him and his family but he is not allowed to stay there unless he is sober. He told us of another homeless lady who also lives under the bridge that got angry at him one day and said to him "Choose your path". He said he thought about that a lot. He told us he had died two times and that his parents and grandparents were dead and he saw them in the light but they told him to go back and that he missed them very much. He told us about his grandmother Lucy Top Knot and how she taught him to tan hides to make a tent. He taught us Black Foot words and about the rituals of becoming a man in the tribe and about a bundle of precious things that his brother was chosen to keep. Blackfoot traditionalists believe religious items cannot be owned by individuals, but are held by "keepers" for the good of the tribe. He told us about them piercing the the chest of a man with antlers or pieces of bone and raising him up and twirling him around to see how much he can endure. He was sad about things in his life and that explained why I saw the blue aura around his face. He told us about the fir trees and the words for birds and plants. I looked all this up when we got back to my daughter's apartment. Everything was true. He showed us his ID from the reservation in Montana. I enjoyed our visit and it made such an impact on me. I wish I could listen to his stories again. The whole time we were talking to him I noticed two crows sitting in the tree above us.. they stayed the whole time..As we packed up and left they flew away. I will never forget this man...I think of him often.

"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."

- Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator


Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way. - Blackfoot Proverb

Saturday, April 10, 2010

much ado about nothing in particular





Outside in my backyard, a gentle zephyr is blowing~the sky is truly "sky" blue~birds are singing and there is in particular two woodpeckers calling with their monkey sound and drumming away to each other from distant trees. Every so often the soothing sounds get interrupted by a lawnmower...did these people all buy their lawnmowers at the same place? Did they have a sale on Bush-hogs? These yards are tiny in-town yards..postage stamp size and these mowers sound like bulldozers! Ahhh, at last they have finished mowing...knew it wouldn't take too long to do a 20'by 15' lawn. Now the monkey drumming sound has distanced too and there is the sound of scampering squirrels gathering around me for their peanut afternoon snack. I shall pretend this glorious day is my birthday.

Knee Deep in Discovery




I'm knee deep-not "knee deep in June" as the James Whitcomb Riley poem describes..knee deep in genealogy. I'd been away from it for nearly a year-regretfully but feeling that I'd gone as far as I could. Refreshingly, I got started again full on course. I received by email (the internet is one of the most amazingly convenient and immediate modes of communication and sharing)some pictures I'd never seen from a cousin of Michael's. Michael hadn't seen his cousin in 50 years and then only saw him rarely. His cousin's quest was initiated by a friend of his son's who had contacted me through Ancestry.com. She was doing a favor for her friend as a gift whom she knew never knew much at all about his father's family. She and I unlocked many lost pieces and secrets that I'm sure Michael's mother didn't even know.
Things started clicking in my mind again and I got the big hat box of old pictures and grandma's funeral guest book. I started looking up the names of family who had signed their condolences and who had sent floral gifts. VOILA~perseverance, lots of patience and a discerning eye for birth dates, scrambled names written by well meaning census takers and other members of families are the key to unlocking the mysteries of relationships and identity of old photos.
Michael and his cousin knew none of the names I asked them to recall..they both said they only knew their grandma and she died when they were 9 and 17. They really didn't pay much attention and no one ever seemed to talk about the family which is a common thread in many families. Maybe because back then relatives lived very close together on the same street or in the same town or county. Maybe because there were secrets that were to never be discussed.
Last night after many hours of checking pages and pages of census and border crossings and ship arrivals for siblings of whom I deduced were related to their great grandma I am 98% sure I have found her maiden name and her parents name and their origins. I didn't uncover royal ties like Brooke Shields did in the television series "Who Do You Think You Are", and rarely will you uncover such a link, but it is exciting to at last know names and occupations and to be able to identify people in photographs...people who worked in skilled labor and farming jobs and lived ordinary houses that housed many children who grew up,got married and did the same hard working jobs to build this country from the ground up.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Springy Spring










Spring has SPRINGED! Here are some shots of spring around the Wildlife Habitat back yard. This is our neighbor's cat, Lucas. The squirrels call him "Danger" although he doesn't scare them when he tries to chase them..they love to taunt him. We took these photos of the magnolia tree right before a spring storm with the storm warning sirens blowing. Fortunately it only thundered and rained. The best kind of spring storm and afternoon entertainment of furry creatures. (You can double click on the images to see what's going on with the cat and the squirrel)

Monday, April 5, 2010

SHARING OUR DIARIES




Blogs are the new diary of our lives. They are the way most of us wile away the evening or late night. What is the purpose of it, one might be asked? Not so much a purpose as it is a joy. The thrill comes from writing, photography, reading and connecting with so many people all over the world who actually think like you do and think MORE than you do. It exposes you to all sorts of ideas and images that you might not be as readily exposed to if you didn't shout out in cyberspace. It helps you hone your skills at text writing for teaching a craft or moves your mind in a way that helps you improve your thinking and verbage;it enables you to discover computer skills you didn't know before. It surprises your kids! It makes even the home bound feel they can travel and connect with new found friends. That is worth more than monetary income. Once you start blogging it is addictive...it vitalizes you and it makes you go to bed at night thinking about what your next few posts can be about and what things you want to share or wonder about. It fills that creative need and helps us sort out our jumbled minds at times. Sometimes you get plagued with writers block...it is only temporary and natural and well understood by your fellow bloggers. Interesting note is that no matter what anyone has to talk about..no matter how great or how seemingly insignificant..it strikes a cord with your readers.
Only downside...your butt has a tendency to get wider.!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010






We're having Kentucky Legend Ham (the only kind of ham to buy according to my dear friend Ginny)~delish rice and mushroom casserole, roasted peach halves with raisin filling for Easter dinner. Then our next project is to assemble the gazebo we bought at Target Thursday night. It says it only takes 1 1/2 hours to assemble...we'll see.....a man and a woman working on an outdoor project....uh. It'll be a snap...hope we don't snap each others head off! hahaha Oh, and here's something I did Friday afternoon. I painted my old poly resin outdoor settee and chair. Give me my craft paints and an afternoon and I am a happy girl! It started out green and I sprayed it yellow with paint made for plastic..great stuff. Then I took watered down red paint and painted it on. This is the effect you get. I have done this before and even though you might have to redo it to make it vibrant again in a year or so if you leave it out in the harsh winter weather, it is a fast easy project. I also repainted my cement frog...he loved it and it gave me a chance to chat with him. He loves to chat and tell me all the things that he has seen this spring in the Wildlife Habitat backyard...believe me he says he has seen a lot! Ollie the mystery cat, the skunk, the opossum out in the middle of the day... It's a very happenin' place.