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?

Birthdays are not for sissies.

I had a birthday recently.  I’ve also been a little sad of late.  Are the two connected?  I don’t really know.  Maybe.  My mom did not age gracefully.  She fought it like a tiger.  I asked her once if she had thought of having a “friend” or another husband.  Her answer was classic Mom:  “I’ve thought of it but the way I see it I’m too old to get a younger man and I don’t want an older one.  I DON’T LIKE OLD MEN!”  I decided to rib her a little and told her that she was, in fact, an old woman.  She stood her ground as she told me she knew that but “I STILL DON’T LIKE OLD MEN!”  I conceded and I don’t think I ever mentioned it again.

I’m not sure why I brought this up or where I’m going with it but I will tell you that I don’t dislike old men as long as they don’t act old.  I think that order gets taller the more birthdays I have.  Now I shall return to this most recent birthday celebration.

Through and throughout the malaise of depression sadness I never lose sight of the fact that I’m very fortunate to have family and friends who are kind and giving and supportive.  Witness the beautiful rose bouquet pictured above or the chocolate-covered strawberries (right) which were delivered to my front door.  Yum!  Equally important are the thoughts and wishes that aren’t or can’t be pictured here.  Lunch out AND dinner cooked in by my best buddy who loves me no matter what dumb thing I might say or do.  All-girl family dinner with two daughters and two granddaughters where we named the worst and best things about our day and some of us couldn’t think of a worst.  How great is that!  A Barnes and Noble gift card to cover my nook-book purchases for quite some time.  Hugs and kisses from my Latino friends and a loud “Happy Birthday to You” sung in Spanish.  The Face Book greetings, the phone calls and the snail mail printed cards.  The handmade cards made by the grandchildren.  My favorite birthday quote comes from a card my grandson F made:  “I hope you have a great birthday but I know that it will be great because you are with the people who love you.”  My second favorite comes from a card his little sister S made:  “On your birthday, can you take me to the toy store?”

Life is good.  As I wind down this little essay I leave you with what I consider to be my funniest card.

Trying to figure out this award thingy…

My blogger friend Sharon (dointhegratefuldance) has been so kind as to honor me with this award.  Thank you, Sharon.

I have not followed through on awards in the past (not saying there were bunches of them) for a number of reasons.  First, it felt as if I had to turn in homework.  I’m way past doing homework and grateful that I no longer have to grade it.  Then there was the decision process–to whom should I pass this award?  There are numerous possibilities.  Or are there?  Many of them already have said award.  And last, probably the biggest bugaboo of all:  Will I be able to figure out the techno-process?  I may  need help but here goes…

Seven things about myself.  Things I haven’t talked about already in previous posts?  This could be difficult as I’m an open book.  I don’t hold much back.

  1. Now that I don’t miss my ex as I once did, I really miss the housekeeper we could afford together but that I can’t afford on my own.
  2. Obviously I hate cleaning house.
  3. I always pay my bills on time.  Well there was that one time I lost the water bill and forgot about it.  They didn’t turn the water off.  It wasn’t that late.
  4. I’m going the mountains to ride a zip line in the near future.  Can’t wait.
  5. As a child, I was a tomboy.  I spent more time in trees than on the ground and I could jump on the horse’s back from the rear just like cowboys in the movies.
  6. I sometimes suffer bouts of depression.
  7. I tend to keep an optimistic view of life.  Even when I’m depressed I have an underlying knowledge or feeling that the depression will pass and I’ll be okay again.

I would like to pass this award to two bloggers I have recently added to my blog roll.  First to Vickie at Jumping in Mud Puddles.  Vickie is a fourth grade teacher.  Her sense of humor shines through in every post.  She’s a caring yet realistic teacher.  I look forward to her posts.  My second nominee is Catherine at Accidental Autism.  Her adult daughter is autistic.  Catherine writes well.  She’s intelligent.  Her love for her daughter is evident. Worth the read.

Now–would one of you techies please tell me how I can make the Versatile Blogger Award show up at the bottom of all my posts?  Thanks in advance, Caroline.  🙂

Ego–his, hers, mine.

…I made a conscious effort to think like a person who doesn’t put himself at the head of the universe. ~ Sam, in “Skipped Parts” by Tim Sandlin

I’ve been thinking about this post for quite some time.  I’ve done a little research on “ego vs. healthy self-esteem.”  Little is the key word here. I even listened to a Q&A session with Eckhart Tolle in which he discussed this topic.  I find him rather difficult to listen to even though I do respect his writing and his opinions.  There is a great deal of information “out there” about ego.  So much, in fact, that my mind got boggled by it all.  Alright, I admit it, it doesn’t take a great deal of something to rattle my brain.  I read a little and came to the conclusion that my opinion is just as valid as some of those I read online.  Hehe.  How’s that for ego?  Or is that self-esteem?

  • self-esteem–How much you respect and accept yourself.  Your concept of how worthy, valuable, lovable and capable you are in society.
  • ego–An inflated opinion of yourself often accompanied by a belief that you are superior to others.

I’ve been trying to understand how or whether ego contributes to or causes divorce.  I think it could do both.  (I’m in way over my head here and I’m trying to find a graceful way out.)  The best I can tell, healthy self-esteem is a good thing.  Ego is not.  And if my self-esteem goes too far in either direction, the ego takes over.  Once my ego takes over, I do things that are not good for me.  If what I’m doing is not good for me, then it’s probably not good for my relationships.

So…When D started to have an affair with S, he started avoiding and neglecting me.  Over a period of time his inattention eroded my self-esteem.  Once my self-esteem became wounded (unhealthy), I started acting in a way that further damaged our relationship and our marriage.  That’s one scenario.  Another might be that I was already operating on too much ego and that might have been the reason he strayed.  Or maybe not.  I don’t really like that scenario.  (Ego?)

Bottom line–I can’t analyze, in retrospect, the ego of D, nor of S, nor even my own with any degree of accuracy.  Therefore this exercise in self-esteem/ego is a waste of time.  To quote an elderly priest D and I used to listen to when we were on the road together: “It matters not how the donkey got in the ditch.  Just get him out.”

I hereby promise myself that I will give up the search for what caused it and just get myself out of the ditch.  I mean it!