July 31, 2010

Wine country, eh!

I've been chilling in wine country with the Canadians: drinking good wine, taking good pictures and having good belly laughs. I really needed this.

July 30, 2010


A long time ago, I laughed at a friend who gave money to every homeless person who asked for it.  We were living in Brazil, after all.  And if you give money to every person who asks for it, you'll have no money after you've only gone 3 blocks from home.  But the friend didn't care, and kept doing it anyway.

A few years later, I went to college.  Marquette isn't located in the worst neighborhood in the world, but it certainly isn't the height of all that is good and clean either.  (Jeffrey Dahmer lived mere blocks off campus).  It had its share of homeless and mentally unstable, with a halfway house on the campus grounds and a men's shelter technically "off campus", but in reality, right in the heart of student living. I never gave any of them money, because it was too dangerous.  And after all, how could you ever know who was doing it as their job and making mad cash?  Better to not give to anyone.

But then one day, while in a required and much dreaded, theology class, my professor (also a priest) was talking about his thoughts on beggars.  He said that he gives to every  beggar who asks, because that's what Jesus did.  And when someone asked what about what he does about those who are frauds, he answered that it would be Jesus who judged them for it, not him.  If someone feels he needs to ask, then someone deserves to be answered.

That one single moment in time sticks in my memory so vividly, I can still hear the clacking of someone's heels down the Wehr Life Sciences Building hallway as he spoke.  Because that one moment formed a foundation for my adult thoughts and feelings about spirituality and religion. It finally all made sense.

So now I try to give.  I'm often walking alone, and have not gotten entirely stupid; I know many are homeless because they are mentally ill. Which is why I try to keep a single or three in my pocket; so I don't have to dig into my purse.  And if I don't have any in my pocket, I continue to move on.

But when I can give, I do.  And now, I can't imagine thinking about it any other way.

July 29, 2010

A strong woman

Meet Thomas Gage (1719 - 1787), my great grandfather of 5 greats.  He was a British General, Commander in Chief and Governor of Massachusetts, known famously for his role in the early days in the American Revolutionary War.  And known most famously for being such a total screw-up during that war.  After all, his side and their pretty red coats didn't win, now did they?
Now I'd like you to meet his wife, Margaret Kemble Gage (1734 - 1824), daughter of Peter Kemble, a New Jersey businessman and politician; and great-granddaughter of New York Mayor, Stephanus Van Cortland. I give you this lineage, because it helps explain this... She probably spied against her own husband for the Americans.  Even better, she could have been the cause for Paul Revere's ride.

Histories such as Paul Revere's Ride and history-based novels such as Rise to Rebellion have controversially suggested that she was sympathetic to the colonial cause and may have supplied the rebels with military information. In particular, she supposedly warned Joseph Warren on April 18, 1775 that her husband's troops planned to raid armories at Lexington and Concord, leading to Paul Revere's famous Midnight Ride. Quoting Paul Revere's Ride:
We shall never know with certainty the name of Doctor Warren's informer, but circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that it was none other than Margaret Kemble Gage, the American wife of General Gage. This lady had long felt cruelly divided by the growing rift between Britain and America.
Among the contemporaries who suspected Margaret to be a spy was her own husband, who had her sent back to the family estate in England in the summer of 1775 to avoid further embarrassment.

Now that's a woman with some guts!


I'm always amazed by the amount of extra crap everyone ends up lugging along with them; literally and figuratively.  I once lived for a month out of a backpack.  Granted, string bikinis don't take up much room, but you get what I mean. This week I packed for a work trip, and I just kept shoving more crap in the bag that I'm positive I won't wear.  And yet, I did it anyway. I feel like I keep doing that figuratively; lugging around more crap than I need to "just in case". I really need to stop doing that.

July 26, 2010

Tigers roar no more

Tonight was the last baseball game of the season.  He hit...
He played infield...
He played outfield...
He waited his turn on the bench.
And he did it with dad by his side. (Because his obnoxious mom was taking photos of it all)
It really was not just a good game, but a good season.
The kids even adorably thanked the parents.
And after one last Tiger roar and a giant celebratory chocolate chip cookie, it was all done.
See you next season!

Random thoughts

  • My house stinks. Bad. Kind of like a dirty tent. And we can't get ServiceMaster in to clean it until the drainage is resolved, because the next rain, it'll all just happen again.
  • At least it's not as stinky as the Tomahawk Super 8 room we were in that used to be a smoking room until Wisconsin went non-smoking on July 5th.  Steam cleaning the carpets does not a non-smoking room make.
  • I missed a day in my 365 project (Friday).  Damnit!  All this flooding has gotten me so discombobulated, it didn't occur to me until 3 a.m. when I bolted upright in bed thinking, "I didn't take a photo!"  Sigh.  So does that make it a 364 project now?
  • Hopefully I made up for it with the 150 photos I took on Saturday.
  • We were at a family wedding on Saturday.  Only 1 cousin was absent, which was pretty amazing. I always love happy family events.
  • I don't have a washer or dryer. Which really stinks. In more ways than one. But like the ServiceMaster issue, I am not spending $2000 on a washer/dryer set to have it flooded out next week.
  • Our butterfly garden has been filled to the brim with butterflies. It took 3 years, but I'm so happy it's working.
  • It's also filled with bees.  So many, the garden just vibrates. Which I find fascinating, but Beerman needs to steer clear of with his allergic reaction to them.
  • I've been mostly off the coffee sauce for a couple of weeks now.  This morning, however, was a serious coffee morning.
  • I've become a bit addicted to Nip/Tuck.  Which is dumb, because the show really isn't that great.  And yet, I continue to watch an episode a night.
  • It's seriously confirmed how disgusting plastic surgery is for me.
  • I'm seriously stuck on some genealogy stuff on my dad's side. Which is dumb, because I know my mom has "the book". I really need to get my hands on that book.
  • Tonight's the last night of the baseball season. I can't say I'm depressed about that.

July 23, 2010

Racing to the weekend

And let me assure you, it can't get here soon enough.

July 22, 2010


And her merry men

Maud Vavasour
my great (25 times) grandmother

The book by Maurine Keen, “The Outlaws of Medieval Legend”, includes a chapter on the story of the Romance of Fulke Fitzwarin (b: 1169), and several chapters on the Robin Hood ballads. Fulke was married to Maude le Vavasour. The true-life story of Maude's relationship with Fulke Fitzwarin is very similar to, and probably the basis for, the legend of Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Maude’s parents were Sir Robert le Vavasour (Sheriff of Nottingham) and Julian De Ros.

note: Fulk was Maude's 2nd marriage. My lineage directly descends from Maud's first marriage to Theobald Le Botiller.


I don't consider myself a pessimist. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel soaked to the skin.
-Leonard Cohen

July 21, 2010

We owned Manhattan

Peter Minuit
1580 - 1638
my great 9 times grandfather

A Walloon who moved around Germany, Netherlands and Belgium escaping the Catholic Church, Peter Minuit worked for the Dutch West Indies Trading Company, and became the governor general of New Netherlands (West Indies).

On May 24, 1626, Minuit was credited with purchasing the island of Manhattan from the natives (most likely the Lenape tribe) in exchange for trade goods valued at 60 guilders.

On his return from New Sweden (Wilmington, Delaware that he helped found) in 1638, his ship and he made a side trip to the Caribbean to pick up a load of tobacco. Unfortunately, at that time there existed no hurricane tracking methods. While having dinner aboard a Dutch ship a hurricane forced all ships out to sea. Minuit and 't Vliegende Hart were never seen again; however, his ship the Kalmar Nyckel did make it back to Sweden without him.

Peter Minuit is remembered to this day with a number of public mementos. In Manhattan there is a Peter Minuit Plaza, which is a small park in lower Manhattan, a Peter Minuit marker in Inwood Hill Park commemorating the purchase of Manhattan from the Indian, and a Peter Minuit Flagstaff Base in Battery Park. School children in Public School 108 in Manhattan every day attend the Peter Minuit School. And the Manhattan Chapter of the DAR has called one of their chapters the Peter Minuit chapter of the DAR. Finally, in Wesel Germany, there is a Peter Minuit Memorial on Moltkestrasse, Wesel , Germany.

Wordless Wednesday: Slipping and Sliding

July 20, 2010

She's real

A long, long time ago, I had an imaginary friend named Dodie.  My sisters mocked me because there was no such person as Dodie.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you one of my kid's school friends and baseball teammates... Dodie.
Now I just need to find Pabby.
And, of course, the gratuitious shot of my own kid in his last night as an Orange Elephant.

Some days

You know those days when you're feeling great because you've got life by the horns?

Today is not one of those days.

So here it is.  I'm tired.  Tired of how people only talk about themselves (the irony of me blogging about this is not lost on me, but since everyone around me seems to complain I don't tell them anything, this ends up being the one place I'm occasionally willing to share stuff to everyone at once).  Tired of people telling me they're upset with me because I haven't informed them about my medical crap. (Seriously, don't ask how I'm doing or what you can do to help; instead, just accuse me of somehow wronging you! Because, after all, I need THAT added stress.)  Tired of people holding me captive while they blather on and complain about crap that just.doesn't.matter.  (Really? Your husband isn't letting you have a landscaper this season? And you broke your nails digging in the dirt?  Seriously, do I have to waste precious minutes of my life on this?)  Tired of my back being blistered and peeling like a molting snake (apparently a large quantity of steroids makes you a bit more sensitive to the sun). Tired of watching perfectly healthy people treat their bodies like total crap.  Tired of others not showing any interest in something unless it allows them to butt in to tell their own totally unrelated stories, proving they haven't listened to a damn thing you've said anyway.

I know this is a really crap read today. I struggled with whether I should even blog at all today.  And then I decided that life isn't all roses and sunshine, and neither is this place.  I'm tired.  I'm overwhelmed.  And if we're being honest, I'm a complete mess.  (The broom fell out of the closet and hit me in the eye on Sunday, and I laid down on the floor and bawled.)

That's because if the emotional toll of this crap disease and the even bigger crap drugs weren't enough, the physical stuff that goes along with it is horrendous.  Add in a toad-filled muddy basement and thousands and thousands of dollars of mounting bills and dealing with lawyers and village managers and school administrators and overpriced cleaning services as a result, and it's a complete recipe for disaster.  C-man's been acting up, which is no surprise when you consider his surroundings, and that makes me feel even crappier.  I have baskets of laundry cluttering every corner of the house because I have nowhere to put all these blankets and hammocks and extraneous crap without a basement.

I know nobody has died.  I know we aren't terminally ill.  And I know we've got ample food in our bellies.  I'm just tired of my consolation being not dead, dying or starving.

July 19, 2010

Another homerun

It's hard to believe, but there are only 2 more games left of the season; tomorrow and Monday.  What ever will I do with myself without having to race home from work 3 nights a week to make a 5:30 game?

Banned books

 William Pynchon, 1590 - 1662
My great (10 times) grandfather
Writer of the first banned colonial book

William Pynchon is known today as the founder of the city of Springfield. He made his fortune as a fur trader, then acquired extensive landholdings in the Connecticut River Valley. Pynchon established commercial relations with the indigenous people of the area, and oversaw the transformation of Springfield from a small colonial outpost to a thriving commercial settlement.

In April 1630, William Pynchon sailed from Southampton, England for North America as one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Pynchon began trading furs along the Atlantic coast, but the enterprise failed. In the autumn of 1635, Pynchon sailed up the Connecticut River investigating prospects for the lucrative beaver trade. He returned in the spring of 1636 and purchased 150 acres of land from the indigenous Agawams, who lived along the western shore. On a large island in the river, Pynchon established Agawam Plantation as a fur trading outpost. He chose the site for its proximity to the indigenous groups from whom he could acquire beaver pelts, and for the natural defense against attack provided by the river.

Pynchon envisioned the settlement as a self-sufficient industrial community, with agriculture necessary only for sustenance. The whole enterprise was initially based on the fur trade, and when the settlement expanded onto the less-fertile eastern shore of the river all but a few of the original settlers abandoned the village. Pynchon used land grants and indentured servants to populate the village, favoring admittance for those who could provide something of value to the community. He recruited artisans and tradesmen from other towns — carpenters, brick masons, smiths and coopers, weavers and tailors — to make the settlement independent of outside sources of supply. In tribute to Pynchon's efforts on behalf of the village, settlers renamed it Springfield after his hometown in England. Pynchon served as the Justice of the Peace and held court in his home. A board of selectmen governed the settlement.

Pynchon remained the sole furrier in the area, and reaped the benefits of an international trade in pelts that began in Western Massachusetts, passed through Boston and went finally to London. Pynchon relied on an Indian interpreter and assistant in business dealings with other native groups. Not all of Pynchon's business dealings were successful, however. In the late 1630s, Connecticut settlers suffered a corn shortage as a consequence of the Pequot War. Buying corn from the local indigenous groups, Pynchon sold it at a high profit to Hartford area settlers. He was found guilty of speculation by the Connecticut General Court. He also refused to help Connecticut fight the Pequots. Hartford, a competitor in the fur trade and rarely friendly, became now even more hostile towards the Springfield settlement.

Pynchon would also find himself in trouble over his religious beliefs. He was accused of heresy in 1650 over his book, The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption, which refuted Puritan theology by claiming that obedience, rather than punishment and suffering, was the price of atonement. The General Court of Massachusetts Bay denounced the book and ordered it burned at the market place in Boston. Pynchon's tract was thrown to the flames, and only a few copies remain today. One is on display at the Museum of Springfield History, in Springfield, MA.

Pynchon's troubles with the religious authorities coincided with an outbreak of witchcraft hysteria in Springfield during which several people were condemned to death. Perhaps sensing his position a little too precarious under the circumstances, Pynchon decided to return to England in 1652 and turned his holdings over to his son John.

July 18, 2010

I interrupt this sludgy basement cleanup...

...to bring you this red admiral butterfly in my garden.
I've named him Baxter.
And now, back to the exhausting cleanup.

July 17, 2010

On bees

I've read that a bee shouldn't be able to fly; that its rotund, un-aerodynamic body is too big in comparison to its wings.

But the bee doesn't know that.  Because the bee continues to fly.  It goes about its job, beating its wings and flitting from flower to flower, collecting the pollen on its legs so that it can be transformed into sweet, sweet honey.
There's a lot to be said for how the bees deal with their problems.

July 16, 2010

Party on

What a long, strange week it's been. From sun and fieldtrips to floods and toads (Beerman keeps relocating the toads who rode into our basement on the tidal wave).  People keep asking me how I'm doing, and I kind of hysterically giggle. Between the lawyers, mud, dumpsters, mold, chemo, laundry, toads, sunburns, and calling for basement cleaning, I don't know which to think about anymore.  Beerman was supposed to be interviewed on CNN yesterday, and instead was up to his butt in mud.  Crappy.

So right now I'm just glad it's the weekend.  Except we don't have air conditioning, because we're still drying out the furnace, so the house smells like a really earthy tent after a storm.  So I'm thinking going to a movie might be in order.  C-man really wants to see the Last Airbender (Stupid McDonalds and it's evil happy meal toys), but it's gotten horrible reviews.  The Sorcerer's Apprentice is getting a bit better reviews. Then again, he'll probably just want to see Despicable Me again. I don't know if I really care either way.  But it is Friday.  And Friday wouldn't be complete without me puking in the middle of a movie, right?  Because that's right ladies and gentlemen, it's drug-up Friday.  I know you're wondering where you can sign up.  After all, it's all the joys of binge drinking without the buzz.

Geez, I sure am the absolute life of the party right now, aren't I!  HA!

And, of course... Happy Birthday, dear sis!  Wishing you a year of health, happiness, and more than your share of silliness to make it all worth doing.

July 15, 2010

Partying like it's 2008

You know, 'cause I'm classy like that...

Yes, this is my front yard right now. My bushes are my clothes dryer until we can dry out the washer and dryer to see if they still work. I can't bear the thought of spending hours at a laundromat, so I think I'm going to let them dry and take them to the cleaners tomorrow to have someone else launder the gooey, sticky disgusting mud off them. Lazy? Yes. Sensible? Entirely.

Beerman suggested we do a "flood sale". You want it, come and get it as-is. It's yours.  As the day wears on, I'm thinking that's not such a bad plan.  This is really exhausting.  Or maybe that's the 3 hours of sleep we're running on.
At least the village manager knows I'm on his tail.  He came out to check the situation out, we've exchanged emails, and I politely informed him that I'm his new best friend.  He understood.  Just in case he didn't, I now have a lawyer on retainer.

In the meantime, we're going to party like it's 2008.

You've got to be kidding me: 6 a.m.

The rain isn't stopping. Every window in the basement is once again broken out and water continues to stream in. As a result, we currently 5" of water and sludge sitting in it.  Nothing like dirt, sludge and mold for a compromised immune system.

The next time I think about not wanting to go sit in my cubicle, I'll be more careful about what I'm wishing for.  In the meantime, I vow to visit the village manager every single day until this gets fixed.  He might suspect from the emails he's already received from me with a detailed timeline of photos, but he and I are going to get cozy. I'm on a mission now.

You've got to be kidding me: 1 a.m.

For the past 2 years, we've fought the village over their drainage issues.  After the 2nd flood rushing toward our house, breaking basement windows and filling our basement, I'm totally over it.  As soon as the lawyers get to work tomorrow, they're starting on my payroll.