DNA – putting the fun back in dysfunction.

I wrote a few weeks about investigating my ancestry. Since then I’ve garnered some unexpected and interesting circumstances to consider. IMG_0097

In the past two weeks I learned that I have a very close familial DNA connection with someone I never knew existed.

I don’t really understand DNA jargon and numbers and probabilities. I decided I must pay dues and join an ancestry community in order to learn as rapidly as possible. It’s slow going. There’s much to learn and it requires untold hours of my time. I know that DNA is a scientific study and I have great respect for science. It seems to me, though, there are an awful lot of variables. I don’t yet have a grasp of what’s for sure and what’s iffy (for lack of a better term). I think I need help – a tutor maybe?

Here’s the deal – I have a match so close that she almost certainly has to be my sister or my niece. The match is on the paternal side of the family. I imagine you see where I’m going with this. I have one brother (deceased) and a father (deceased). I obviously cannot ask either of them the defining question. The birth mother is not known. Well, she is known by someone. The information is in a sealed record in Raleigh, our state capital. Closed adoptions were common (maybe even the law?) in the 1960s.

It seems unconscionable that my new relative cannot get access to this information. I  suppose the biological mother would have to give consent if she’s still alive. All other parents and possible parents are deceased, including the adoptive parents. My sister/niece is not asking, nor is she expecting, anything from her biological family. She wants to know that she has roots. It’s not too much to ask.

I haven’t met her yet except by telephone, text, and Facebook. She looks like us. She’s seems nice and kind. She’s intelligent. The rest of the family would probably be drawn to her if we were at party. She has a sense of humor – that runs in the family. She has our wide grin. I’ve told her about some of our quirks and familial dysfunction. It didn’t scare her.

We could use you, S, to help put a little fun in our dysfunction. We’re looking forward to meeting you in person.


Updates, discoveries and funnies.

I used the weather as an excuse to skip my walk this morning.  It rained all night–hard.photo-18 I know this because I woke up several times. That’s another excuse for not walking. Too little sleep.

I dreamed between spurts of wakefulness. I can recall this morning what I think was a brief encounter with my ex. Simpler times.  We were together, doing mundane tasks, together. Talking. Smiling. There was no anger, no angst. I would like to think my level of acceptance has risen to higher ground. I’m at peace.

I must say, though, that I am not quite so peaceful about my eye. Excited but not quite settled. I still wear a guard over my eye at night. That’s probably one reason for the wakefulness.  I’m still putting drops in my eye three times a day.  That’s down from four times.  And it’s one medication instead of the three this time last week.

The most important aspect of this scenario–my vision–is a work in progress.  The cataract surgery has achieved the desired goal. Increased clarity of color became evident after a few days.  It’s a miracle!

The cornea transplant benefits are more gradual. I have a very skilled doctor, and the surgery went well. He tells me that I will notice maximum visual benefits at about two months, or possibly three. I smile as I write this because I’m imagining how I would have been climbing the walls if I’d had this surgery in my middle age. I have much more patience now. I see differences almost daily and am confident I will reach the desired peak in a timely fashion. And in the end the result should be a major improvement.

I’m happy that I’ve been able to take care of myself the entire time except for needing a driver the first few days. I have discovered anew how generous and kind family and friends are. They have brought me food and sent cards.  Some have texted or emailed.  Some have called. Four different people took me for  birthday lunches, to all my favorite places. I am a lucky woman.

Moving along to the funnies part of this post. I love jamiedouglasillustration.com.  Many months ago I was searching the net for a bluebird of happiness. I came upon the illustration below.  It’s aptly named The Disillusioned Bluebird of Happiness. At the time, I contacted Jamie and asked if I could include it in one of my posts. He said I could as long as I gave him credit. In the meantime I lost my train of thought as to the bluebird and went on to other posts. But I saved this picture and I look at it from time to time because  it always makes me giggle. Thank you, Jamie, for entertaining me. Your illustrations remind me to hone my sense of humor and not to take life too seriously.  Other readers, check out Jamie’s blog.  You’ll be glad you did.Disillusioned-Bluebird-of-Happiness-38

One last thing to my favorite bloggers.  For some reason many of your email blog reminders have been sent to my Spam folder.  I don’t know why but am correcting those errors. Apparently it’s been going on for a while–maybe since I got my new computer. Aaaaargh!!

All in the family.

For the better part of last week I had a family — here, at my house.  My daughter’s air conditioner gave up the fight and they had to get a new one.  During the wait and installation they lived with me.  Some days we had three of the children, sometimes we had only the youngest.  (The oldest was at gymnastics camp in Pennsylvania.)  Oh, and the cat!  I forgot to mention the cat.

It was fun being part of a family again.  I missed them when they moved back home.  While they were here, I found myself relaxing into the chaos that having children entails.  There’s almost always one who’s hungry, one who needs a ride to somewhere, one who needs a little extra attention, etc.  Multigenerational families are a thing of the past in our American society.  After last week, I can see reasons to bring them back.

There are times when moms and dads can’t stop what they’re doing in order to give extra attention to the child in need of it — even acting out to get it.  But Grammy can.  My little boy entertained himself for a long time after I snuggled with him on the couch and taught him to play Solitaire on my tablet.  Granted, times are different.  I learned to play by watching my dad play with a real deck of cards.  Still, F and I had some quality time and he knows a new game.

I’ve written about my youngest grandchild S before.  She’s five.  She, of course, has a personality like no other.  She constantly fascinates and entertains me.  I can’t decide whether I should call her my “bag lady” or my little “pack rat.”  She borrowed an empty purse to put her “finds” in, but quickly decided it wasn’t big enough when she discovered one of my large canvas grocery bags.  She took her bag and went about her days accumulating “stuff.”  It seemed harmless enough to me.  Occasionally she would show me one of the treasures she had in her stash.  No problem, right?

After “little missy” went home, I found her bag in an upstairs bedroom.  I picked it up.  It was heavy.  How on earth had that small child carried it up the stairs?  And down?  And up?  As I emptied the bag, I was able to solve many mysteries .  The Earl Grey tea we couldn’t find for breakfast?  The entire package was in her bag along with the missing place mat, a partial set of coasters, a flying pig doorstop, a modern-day version of the Bible, a book of positive quotes to start your day, some cocktail napkins, a bar of soap — I could go on and on.  How I wish I had taken a picture of her mountain of goodies.

They have gone home now to their once again cool house.  I miss them.  I’ve been thinking as I write that it certainly was fun having someone to “blame” when I couldn’t find things.  And guess what!  Even though they have moved back home, I’m no longer alone.  I have a cat!  That’s right, they left Lulu with me.  I’ve adopted her.  We’re getting along very well, adapting to each other’s idiosyncrasies.  It seemed the natural thing to do.  You see, Lulu doesn’t do well with children.  She’s getting less nervous every day.  Maybe I am, too.

Observations on hospitalization.

  • I’m not going to the hospital.  People die there.  ~ Uncle Bob Honeycutt

Note:  Uncle Bob died years ago.  I’m pretty sure he was in a hospital at the time.

  •  You can go into a hospital with no known allergies, but  come out with an allergy diagnosis (latex), which the hospital staff  aggravated and exacerbated with their machinations and manipulations.  Now I’m taking an allergy pill a day in an effort to get rid of the itching and angry red hives.  It’s improving .
  • Only in a hospital (or maybe a court of law) would you tell the what-happened story so many times that you start to think it’s some kind of trick question, and if you don’t get it right they might throw you in jail.  (The actual doctor assigned to me was #8, and yes, I was counting!  How else was I to stay sane?)
  • I couldn’t help noticing that the hospital is a huge distributor of styrofoam cups and water pitchers.  Have they not heard how environmentally unsound that practice is, and how bad it can be for our health?  Read about it here.
  • Apparently NO ONE in coronary care (Don’t worry, my heart is terrific.) can have salt.  They brought me vegetable and barley soup.  It looked wonderful.  I tasted.  Ugh.  Mrs. Dash and pepper cannot cover for the absence of salt.  Understand, I’m a very minimal partaker of salt, but if I ever go to the hospital again I will take some with me.  I mean it!  Though I have no plans to go back.  I am hereby giving my family and neighbors permission to call an ambulance if I’m unconscious.  Otherwise, I’m sticking with Uncle Bob’s take on hospitals.

I guess a little explanation is in order.  I’ll keep it short.  On Sunday morning, I was ready for church when I had some sudden, unexplainable pains which could have been heart-related.  I decided to play it safe and had my daughter drive me to the ER.  They, also playing it safe, kept me over night. On Monday morning I had a stress test and aced it.  All that walking for exercise is serving me well. 🙂

I learned some things about hospitals and myself.  The statements above are a small sampling of things I could tell you about my short stay in the care of my hospitalist and her fine staff.  They were kind and caring–every one of them.  And I’m sure they were glad to see me go.  I learned that I am not a patient patient.  I asked about a thousand questions.  Why do I need a shot in my stomach?  What is it?  I don’t need a blood-thinner.  I won’t get a blood clot because I’m not lying in bed, I’m getting up and walking in place every thirty minutes.  Do you offer ear protection?  (They did.)  I’ll never go to sleep with those monitors in constant beep-mode.  I did my stress test at 8:00 this morning.  It’s four o’clock, when can I expect the results?  I don’t intend to spend another night here.  As I was leaving I could just imagine what they were thinking:  “Thank God the Q&A bitch is finally gone.”

Here’s the deal as I see it.  Sometimes it’s good to be alone.  There’s much to like about it.  BUT–I believe that a patient needs an advocate.  I had to be my advocate.  That’s scary.  This trip I was lucid and able to advocate for myself.  There were times when I wished I had been more tactful and less adversarial.  As I said above, they were kind people.  But I needed my questions and concerns addressed, so I’m not sorry I took the time to ask.  This experience taught me that sometimes it’s nice to have a spouse or life partner to lean on.  Ah, but life goes on and mostly it’s good.

Note:  I have not read the book pictured above.  I might look it up.

Today I mowed my lawn…okay, my weeds.

Her lawn looks like a meadow,              And if she mows the place,             She leaves the clover standing           And the Queen Anne’s Lace.             ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

I could tell you this is my lawn and you might believe me, but I’d be lying and I would eventually start to worry about deceiving you.  This is my neighbor’s yard (I’ll call him Left Neighbor).  I think it looks pretty good even though there is a good-sized weed pictured here.  Or is that just a clump of grass on steroids?  Those pretty little pink blossoms did not grow there.  They fell from a tree on my side of the boundary.  I don’t charge him a decorating fee. ; )  Actually he’s a fairly easy-going type who doesn’t spend a great deal of time on his lawn; and he doesn’t seem to care that mine is more weeds than grass.

Here you have a photo of my yard (I don’t think I’m allowed to call it a lawn.) before I mowed today.  I just love the little yellow flowers.  I don’t know what they’re called but they grow profusely when there’s no grass to impede them.  Notice they are thicker looking and quite nice at the top of the picture.  I’m thinking that the neighbors have just enough distance to get the best view and they surely must love them.  If you look closely you can see some spots that look brownish.  Those are little yellow flowers gone to seed which means I’ll have even more of them in the next cycle.  Then maybe they’ll fill those other little brown spots which are bare ground.  Given time, Mother Nature will take care of all obvious flaws.

Now here is Right Neighbor’s lawn with its lovely river birch which drops little dead branches on to my side of the invisible boundary so that I have to pick them up before I can mow.  I would prefer pretty little pink blossoms like the ones I donate to Left Neighbor’s lawn.

I mentioned that Left Neighbor is laid back and doesn’t get overly excited about lawns and boundaries.  Let me introduce Right Neighbor who is the opposite.  She pays great attention to boundaries.  Shortly after she moved in she told me one day that I was mowing on her side and I didn’t need to do that.  Last summer she put little marker flags across the yard where she perceived the boundary to be.  Her lawn is beautifully verdant and the part of my lawn that adjoins hers is the most green and lush part of my yard because it reaps the benefit (?) of her lawn-service chemicals.  Doesn’t it look nice?

I don’t mean to make RN sound like an ogre of some kind.  She isn’t.  In fact I’m quite fond of her.  She’s the same age as my oldest granddaughter.  Young!  She works very hard to have an ideal little family and a perfect home.  She is the one who takes care of the lawn–always.  And she wants it done right.  I’m sure she doesn’t want any little yellow flowers on her side of the boundary.  I think her thick, strong grass will choke them out if they try to migrate.

God bless the American Dream and all its dreamers!

Tagged, part two.

As I mentioned in my last post, Lady E, aka Laughing Cow in France,tagged me with some questions she was curious about.  She lives in the French Alps and I enjoy her blog.  I find her honest and real, qualities I consider very important.  Here goes:

1.  Why is the sky blue?  Because all Carolina Tar Heel fans go to heaven wearing their blue t-shirts.  Explanation for those who aren’t ACC basketball fans:  Basketball is big in this part of the country.  North Carolina’s color is a sky blue.  Duke’s (NC’s arch rival) is royal blue.  Some days the sky is so blue I could swear there are some Dukies up there, too.

2.  What time did you get up this morning?  8:15.  Today is the second day of Daylight Savings Time so it was really only 7:15.  I play this game with myself for about two weeks every year.

3.  Shower gel or soap bar?  Soap bar.  I’m a tub person.  I haven’t taken a shower since I saw Janet Leigh in “Psycho.”  That movie scared the bejeebies out of me.  Incidentally, Janet Leigh didn’t take showers after she played that role.  I heard her say that once in an interview.

4.  Favourite cheese?  I like’em all.  Some days I favor the salty taste of feta.  I love all those little “laughing cow” cheeses. 🙂  Just the right size.

5.  Do you vote?  (I really hope you do.  No pressure.)  Yes, ma’am, I do.  Every time they open the polls.  I think of it as a privilege, but also a responsibility.  (That sounds high and mighty, doesn’t it?)

6.  Have you ever tried to limit your carbon footprint?  Indeed I have.  Let me count the ways.  I could write a book about this one.  I call myself a tree hugger and an environmentalist.  I’ve been one for many years.  I used to write environmental tips on my chalk board hoping to plant seeds (pun intended) in the young minds of my high school students.

7.  What did you wear on your wedding day?  Which one?

8.  Favourite cocktail?  I drink an occasional glass of wine.  Not a cocktail person.  But boy you should see my girlfriends when we all get together for one of our long weekends!  They know how to put away some cocktails. 🙂  I’m the designated driver.

9.  What’s the capital of Burma (Myanmar)?  No cheating.  I have no idea.  Well, that’s not exactly true now because I looked it up.  I couldn’t even come up with a city in Myanmar.  Geography is not my best subject.

10.  What was the highlight of your day?  That’s easy.  Today I spent time in the car with my seventeen-year-old granddaughter.  She’s a gymnast.  I was the one available to pick her up from school and take her to the gym today.  An unexpected treat since she’s so busy and I don’t get enough time with her.  I grinned for an hour or so afterward.

11.  Do you wear pyjamas to bed?  I do now.  I wrote a post about this.  It’s entitled “Baby you don’t thrill me but you put off body heat…”

Thanks for the questions, E.  I had fun.  And now to bed in my jammies.  The clock says it’s almost 11:00, which means it’s really only 10:00.  Why am I so tired?

I’ve been tagged, part one.

Who in the world am I?  Ah, that’s the great question.  ~ Lewis Carroll

I’ve been tagged in cyberspace.  Vickie tagged me first.  Then, some days later, Lady E tagged me with a different set of questions.  Vickie calls “being tagged” a diversion, not an award.  Since it’s Saturday afternoon and I’m home alone and I desperately need to entertain myself, I think I’ll give it a go.  Following are Vickie’s questions and my answers:

1.  What movie could you watch every day?  The movie that I could watch every day has not been made.  I doubt it ever will be.  If it were, it would have to be short.  The older I get the more ADD I get.  A movie I continue to like, though, is “A League of their Own.”

2.  If you had to change your first name, what name would you fancy?  I like my first name okay.  I like that the nickname version is androgynous.  My middle name is Anne.   I think I would like that–or maybe Annie.  Yeah, Annie.

3.  You just got kicked out of your country.  You aren’t allowed back in.  What country would you move to?  If I were playing it safe and staying near family, I would choose Canada. I’ve always liked our northern neighbors.  And, yes, family is that important to me.  They could come visit and I could learn French.  Win-win.

4.  You are only allowed to eat one vegetable for the rest of your life.  Discuss.  Make mine broccoli.  I already eat it several times a week.  Love it.  And it’s good for me.  Those little trees are so cute.  It can be prepared many ways–sautéed, steamed, roasted, with cheese, with lemon and butter, in a casserole.  Yum.  I should take a break and eat now.  I also like asparagus but I’d hate for my pee to smell funny all the time. 🙂

5.  You get to bring home a celebrity.  Do with them what you want.  Whom would you bring home?  This is tough.  One of my favorite singers?  Nah.  I can just listen to a CD or iPod.  Hillary Clinton?  Maybe.  What an interesting life she’s lead.  And we could compare notes.  Michelle Obama?  I really like her.  She would get my rear in gear with her “Move It” campaign.   George Clooney?  For virile good looks, he’d be hard to beat.  Bill Clinton?  I can’t imagine more engaging and interesting conversation.  Definitely a front-runner.  But the winner is–Barack Obama.  Engaging conversation, we can shoot some hoops and he sings like a pro.

6.  Name three adjectives that describe you best.  Friendly, hopeful, pragmatic.

7.  You have to pick one…cat or dog.  Why?  If I were going to have a pet again, I would get a dog.  Dogs love their owners and they poop outside.

8.  You have been chosen to be in the Olympics.  You get to pick any sport you want.  What sporting event will you choose?  For what country?  I am not an ice skater but I’ve always wanted to be one.  I would choose speed skating à la Bonnie Blair.  For the USA of course.

9.  Pick an idiom that you would like my fourth graders to draw this Friday for “Idiom Friday.”  Oh, there are so many.  I pick “Van Gogh’s ear for music.”  I can only imagine all that you can accomplish with this one.  There’s art and science and music and history and writing and psychology and on and on.  Hehehe.  Let me know how it goesone educator to another.

10.  My favorite cartoon character was Foghorn Leghorn.  And yours?  I like your choice but I guess my favorite was Huckleberry Hound with his outrageous southern drawl.  He always comes to mind when I think of my dad.  Daddy loved that “dawg.”  Especially when he sang “Oh My Darlin’ Clementine.”

11.  A two-part question:  What is your favorite smell?  Your favorite sound?  Cooking smells–chocolate chip cookies, onions, anything with cinnamon.  Hard to pick just one.  Favorite sound–children laughing, hands down.

Stay tuned for part two.  Questions are from Laughing Cow in the French Alps–my favorite cocktail?  do I wear pajamas (pyjamas) to bed?