coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Monday, May 23, 2022

Chewing on a memory

My husband bought a loaf of sourdough bread at the farmer's market. This morning I was lazy, and I didn't want to make breakfast. I wanted to grab something. I grabbed a piece of now almost stale sourdough. So good! As often happens, I chewed on more than just the bread.  

This "madeleine moment" reminded of the book Heidi, which made a strong impression on me as a child.  In this case, I remembered Heidi and her grandfather ate bread and cheese for breakfast. I may have cheese later. For now I'm just eating the plain bread, allowing my mind to wander.  

I may read that book again. There was a strong class consciousness throughout, and it may have been my introduction to class and inequality.  At least to an inequality that was clearly defined. Feelings, fears, and suspicions were justified. I have never been the same.   


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

A pregnant thought


Please don't tell me that it's a woman's fault if she gets pregnant and she should pay the price. Believe what you want, but I think that particular belief is short-sighted, mean-spirited, and lacking complexity.  I don't want to hear it because it doesn't ring true.  

Don't tell me that a pregnant woman can always give her baby up for adoption. Have you ever put your young life on hold, carried an unwanted fetus for 9 months, went through labor and delivery and then gave it up to strangers at birth?  I know some of you have. If so, I will listen to your story with compassion and empathy. I will listen to your story over and over again, because I know you need to tell it. There are situations where a woman chooses to do this, and it is the best thing for her and the child. Her choice, because there are as many "best situations" as there are pregnant woman.  

Don't tell me that a fetus is a human being from the moment of conception. I accept that you believe this, but I don't. Beliefs are not facts. Up until the mid-19th century even the Catholic Church allowed abortions until the baby quickened because that is when they determined the fetus was ensouled. Then the Fathers of the Church changed their mind, because they can do that. Dogma is an enforced belief system. 

I'm not saying you shouldn't believe your religious or political dogma.  It is your choice, and I trust you to make the best choice for yourself. You have that right. We all should.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Taking time

I haven't been checking my blog, or reading the blogs I follow for a couple weeks. Sorry! I'll catch up with you all soon. Instead I've been obsessed over genealogy. I've been working on families for a niece-in-law, and for a nephew-in-law. 

I finished my niece-in-law's tree. Both her parents didn't know their fathers' genealogies, so that was fun to help them understand where they came from. I'm still obsessed with my nephew-in-law's family tree, and I will be until I've found every bit of documentation I can find going back as far as I possibly can. It's a game. I am so happy when I have a juicy family tree to explore.  

His last name is Newton. Of course, Sir Isaac Newton is a many times removed great uncle. He's likely the great uncle of almost all the Newton's in America. Sir Isaac actually helped me with this tree, pointing out to me which uncle of his (Sir Isaac's) my nephew-in-law descends from. Big help.  

Apparently when Sir Isaac was being knighted, he provided Queen Anne with a handwritten short tree that proved his connection to some Newton who was his relative. Stunning find.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

So, how do I fit in?

My husband became a great-grandpa again. His granddaughter S had a baby boy. He's a beauty, just like his 2 year old sister, CH. I claim these children as my great-grandchildren, too. After all, his daughter R is the half-sister of our daughter, M. Is that presumptuous of me? 

We've had this beautiful family in our lives since 2017, when Tom took a DNA test and he and R found each other. It was epic, wonderful, full of grace.  

I struggle, though. Not the wicked stepmother struggle of "what does this take from my family with him," because it takes nothing away. Love isn't a pie to be divided. Love expands. If you open your heart to it, love will fill you up like a balloon.

My struggle is trying to figure out my place. R was adopted at birth and she had a good parents. Her children had grandparents they loved. I can't be what I never was. However, if you can't be one thing, then you can be another. Even if you have to make it up as you go along. It's all good. 

Recently I found an old picture of her biological mother. I was surprised when the picture made me sad. Why did it make me sad? Because it looks like R has her birth mother's mouth. I want her to look like me! Ha! I'm a silly old woman.  

I made a quilt for H. It's not a treasured crib quilt. It's a lay-it-down-on-the-floor and get it dirty kind of quilt. I hope the first time he rolls over he does so on this quilt. 

Saturday, April 9, 2022

If Robbie had moved to South Bend in the mid-1960s

Blogger friend Roderick "Robbie" Robinson left a provocative comment on my last post. It inspired me to imagine what might have happened if he moved to South Bend, Indiana in the mid-1960's.  Instead, he spent a few of those years in Pittsburgh trying to figure out what this America thing was all about.  

South Bend was smaller, but still akin to Pittsburg then; industrial and gloriously ethnic. Had you moved to SB in the mid-1960s, Robbie, you might have hung out at bars my Dad frequented. He could be charming or he could be loutish. Totally up to you. But he would have initially tried to befriend you. And if some lunkhead made fun of you for being a "foreigner" he would have had your back. Seriously, he would have thrown the first punch.  

Dad often brought home people from other countries who had interesting accents. Sometimes he brought them home in the middle of the night. There might be singing. My personal favorite was the Irishman who told us about leprechauns. Dad would have put on music that he thought you MUST hear, like "Cleanhead's Back in Town" by Eddie Vinson. Perhaps you and he would have sang together? Unlikely, but this IS my fantasy. And if you had told him how you liked classical music, he would have listened with an ear to hear.  

He might have had you eat kielbasa with his Polish friends, or goulash with the Hungarians at the South Side Democratic Club. Certainly you and your wife would have joined my parents at a local joint for a Friday night fish fry.  

My Kentucky-born grandfather would have distrusted you, of course, but he might have taken you pistol shooting at the gravel pit. Or shown you his mermaid tattoo, or the American Eagle imprinted across his chest. He would have certainly taken you in his basement to show you how he made his own bullets, really an interesting process. Grandma would have made you Southern fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, and fried corn as the side. 

Well, that was fun. If only you hadn't moved to Pittsburgh instead.

Intersection of South Bend's Michigan and Jefferson Streets, 1968. Photo credit to Lou Szabo.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

A formative trip, 1961

My parents took the following pictures in 1961. The family was on the road, moving from South Bend, Indiana to Seattle, Washington where my father had taken a job as a tool and die maker at Boeing. The trip was 2,225 miles by station wagon. What an adventure it was for my parents and the five children jammed into that car! We stopped along the way at Yellowstone National Park, a memorable event.

I'm not sure where this was taken, but it might have been Wyoming.  

When we stayed at Yellowstone, the bears were pretty bold about eating from the cabin garbage cans.

On the road, we often stopped to take pictures of wildlife, like these Elk Moose calves drinking from a creek.  

And this one below showing a road that had been tunneled through a mountain.  

I was 10 years old when this trip was taken, but it remains vivid in my mind. In some ways that trip formed me. Coming from the corn belt, the flatlands, this was my introduction to the magnificence and natural beauty of the United States.  

This was the first time I saw my parents take pictures of landscapes and animals, and they were so excited about everything we saw. That made a strong impression on me. My childhood was transformed by this trip and this move. Although we ended up moving back to Northern Indiana only 3 years later, some changes were permanent.

Monday, March 21, 2022

How much drama is really enough?

I went to Tampa last week to serve as a chaperone for granddaughter E's high school theater troupe at the 2022 Florida Thespian Festival. 

I knew there would be lotsa drama, but sheesh! It was one thing after another. I can't bring myself to recount the technical problems, endless emotions, REAL highs, and REAL lows yet. Too soon. 

There are 49 students in E's troupe. Festival organizers were expecting 9,000 students to attend over 4 days of endless events. There were two large locations, and trolleys to take people back and forth to events. 

E played dramatic lead in a small one-act play that received "top honors" in that category. Some of her friends competed for voice, costume design, technical expertise, and set design. So much talent!

The large group, mainstage musical was presented at Tampa's Morsani Hall, which seats 2,610. It was jam packed with theater crazed teenagers who really knew how to "voice" their appreciation. Best audience ever! One of the other chaperones said it best when she quipped "They finally got the audience they deserve." 

E played the risqué grandmother with panache. She's always been one to steal the show with comic timing and outrageous theatrics. Can I tell you that she got the most applause at the curtain call? Because she did. It was deafening. They loved her and she loved them. She dazzled, throwing ostentatious kisses that would make Gloria Swanson proud! She pointed at the crowd and threw her arms up in the air waving "come hither" towards herself for more applause. The audience went wild.

The mainstage musicals were not a competition. They already competed last fall at district competitions, and only a handful of musicals were chosen from throughout the state to perform at the festival. Being one of those performances was the award. I'm glad. Lack of rivalry enabled the many troupes to mingle, support each other, and enjoy the moment.  

I'm so happy I went. I love that young woman.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Down on the ground.

I try to remain positive. Unfortunately, I'm down. I'm really down. Who isn't?

Of course there is a war taking place that is so critical, so important. If Valdemort is allowed to win the entire world loses. It feels like Star Wars, y'all! And that half of my country with their heads up their asses are whining about the price of gasoline. 

There are still people who don't believe in climate change, for crying out loud!  These are the things that keep me up at night, worrying on behalf of those who are too shortsighted to worry.

In addition, right now there are a number of "issues" with people I love in my large extended family. A death, legal battles, harsh realities limiting young people's options, unhappiness, struggle, drug addiction, alcoholism, emotional pain. You know what I mean. I'm not the only one. It seems like the more people you have in your life, the more possibilities there are for both great love and crippling heartache. 

Empathy! That gut feeling which, left uncontrolled, will lead to compassion, thoughtfulness, and caring. The revelatory fire that increases intelligence, insight, and ties us to our fellow humans.  

Opening your heart to love can seem like an act of courage in hard times. It is, but I do so want to be brave.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Troubles in the blogosphere

I am unable to comment on other people's blogs now.  I am also unable to reply to comments on my blog. WTH?

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

I know nothing

I don't know, do you?  Probably not.  It's all so freakin' complicated. 

In all seriousness, what is wrong with so many people in this world?  People who litter, refuse to wear masks, won't recycle, really, really want to believe the lies of thugs and tyrants, don't believe in science, want all the power and money for themselves, try to hide historical truths, blah, blah, blah.  I'm so tired of stupidity, hatefulness, and meanness of spirit.   

I think Western leaders have been brilliant with their unified front and kick ass sanctions against the evil one.  But I hate that once again, their brilliance and ability to act as a unified force for good is sidetracked by those who would destroy the world for their own gain.  

Yesterday's New York Times was filled with war news.  Halfway down there was a small article that caught my attention.  It should have been the top story, dammit!

Today, again half way down, was this:

What the Hell?  And I do mean Hell, because this power grab in the Ukraine smells like a lake of burning sulfur.  

P.S. After posting this, I find I can no longer comment on other people's posts.  Please know I'm reading your posts!  What a world.