Everything Is Very Much The Same

I have been struggling with what to write about on my blog. I had great plans for what to write about as RangerSir and I explored life as full-time retirees. The places we would go. The decisions we would make. Things that turned out well and things that turned out completely wrong. Times we got more than we planned and times we got a good slap in the face from reality. Instead we got COVID and half the country “hating” those who don’t agree with them. It has made me hesitant to write about my ordinary life for a whole host of reasons. I know I am lucky compared to many other folks, so I did not want to flaunt my lot when so many others are struggling in so many ways. I did not want to say things that would start a firestorm of haters and trolls because I don’t need or want that. Days seemed the same to me and I could not imagine that my ordinary life would be something that someone else would want to read about. I could list many more reasons for why I haven’t been blogging. I have decided that is all about others and how they might negatively view what I write. I have missed writing, but have allowed myself to be talked out of writing. Today I am going to stop all that and start writing again. If I lose subscribers and my numbers go down I don’t care. All I want to do is share things that happen and maybe make you smile or feel like you can when you thought you could not. I want someone to think occasionally I could be in her shoes and that would be worse. I want to prompt someone remember something they forgot and relish the memory. So here goes a jumpstart on an old blog, by an old gal who just likes to write even if it is the ordinary.

In my last post I wrote about my half turkey that I was fixing for Thanksgiving. It is exactly what I did. Turkey dinner for two. I started the prep at the same time RangerSir’s family started the Zoom meeting. It was the first time we had spent the holidays with his side of the family in over 25 years. Family and friends were in all phases of celebrating the holiday. We had some folks who were in the late afternoon celebrating across the pond and we were the furthest west so I was just starting our half turkey. It was different, maybe even a little strange since some of the family were folks we had never met as there had been a couple of marriages that we had not gotten to be there to celebrate. The most interesting part is we were just putting our turkey in when we started and we were taking our turkey out as we finished. It was perfect timing and we really enjoyed the time spent with the family

Our zoom group for Thanksgiving of family.

We made the perfect dinner for two folks who have lived many places and not been home with family for years. We made Minnesota wild rice as a side. It is an old Minnesota family favorite that we had not had as part of Thanksgiving for a long time. I halved or quartered every recipe I made to allow us to have all the sides we thought necessary, but not so many leftovers it would create waste. I revised some recipes making them have a comfort food taste, while making it a healthier alternative. It was a grand adventure in cooking and planning to pull it off.

When RangerSir worked we ate dinner at the table most nights. Since he has retired we have gotten sloppy and started to use the dining room table for puzzles and other things. For Thanksgiving dinner we treated it like a proper meal and set the table. We used Granny’s good silverware and the bank giveaway crystal we collected when we first got married and only get out for special occasions. I dug out the table cloth that we only use when we put a leaf in the table. We spared no extravagance for the special day.

Dinner for two.

I must say we missed folks that we are usually with for Thanksgiving but we did enjoy our dinner together. We talked about many things and it was perfect in its own way. We were thankful for one another and our bounty that was both present and absent.

So I am back blogging. I will share with you thoughts I have as we plug through the adventures of life even when they are quite ordinary. I appreciate your time and support.

Is Your Hobby Genealogy or Family History?

With all the new technology people are taking DNA tests to find out about their genetic make up. As a person who has worked on my family history since the miniseries “Roots” I would say DNA is a third line of family research tied a little into both genealogy and family history.

Thousands of people are suddenly interested in where they came from. They want to know more about their family. I am all for it. I believe it is important that we preserve our family stories. They are being lost as generations ahead of us pass on. As the keeper of the story in my family I find that there are members from the next generation starting to asking me questions about who we were and what we did in history. I think that important when sometimes what I am repeating is nothing more than family legend.

Family legends are one of my favorite things because it is an oral history. It is what our family tells about themselves to the next generation. Sometimes, but seldom is it wholly based on the truth. Details have been left out because they are forgotten or someone sanitized our story. Embellishments have been added because someone wishes the tale was a little more like the story they tell. In spite of the fact that I have found oral history to be only somewhat factual, I always record them as they are told and reference them as a family legend. I think that name bestows on them the honor they deserve. Recording it as it is told will also provide clues to actually trace the story. Almost every family legend is based on some fact. That brings me to family history.

Family history is the story the facts tell about our family. Everything recorded as family history has something to prove that what we said is based on fact. Not all facts are equal. Firsthand facts are from the folks who participated in the event or had direct knowledge. Second or third hand facts are from others who probably know, but were not there at the time of the fact. A birth certificate is usually a firsthand fact of a birth date because the doctor was there. I have often found that the birth date on a death certificate is wrong. That is because it is from a child who assumes they know Dad’s birthday, but he lied when he joined the army in WW2 and he has stuck with the story since then . My favorite family history is when you find some one in your family changed their occupation or moved, because census records have shed an unknown fact. It is when I discover this, that I start looking for more information. I am looking for what made them move, why did the take up a new occupation in a era when people did not change jobs as often as we do today. Family history is more than just birth, marriage and death dates if you let it be so.

Genealogy is about tracing your linage. It is about “who am I related to?” My family legend said we were direct descendants of the Morris men who signed the Declaration of Independence. I spent time tracing the Morris men to see if we had a connection. It was completely false. I kept the legend but added a foot note at the end letting folks know it was no more than wishful thinking. No one talked about anyone in my family having served in the Revolutionary War, and yet that was a connection I made accidently after many years of research. It was fun to order up my ancestor’s military pension records and learn much more about his family and service. Some people just want to trace births, marriages and deaths. They want to make those linage lines and connections. It is another different way to study your family. Genealogy can also be used to help support and document your family history.

The latest family research type is DNA. DNA is interesting because we all imagine we are something…Irish…German…Native American. Yet for the most part it is mostly legend. DNA allows us to see if there was ever that Irish ancestor in our family. DNA allowed me to unexpectedly prove that the family legend was not true and what my facts told me was the truth as correct. The legend told me that my Grandad from Oklahoma was significantly Native American. His looks and facial features supported that. There was a family legend that a Great Uncle caught his mother with a man other than his father at a young age. There were no facts to support this nasty tale. So DNA provided me with the opportunity to look at this in a differently light. The DNA results showed neither my brother nor I had any Native American genetic markers. So it is another family legend disproved and the DNA results boosted my factual research.

Winter coming on strong and fast. I can’t imagine that my cautionary behavior is going to change any time soon. So like previous winters I plan on spending time dusting off my shelf of family history and revisit my brick walls, holes in my history, and documenting where I came from. I am also hoping that I can connect to others who may be keeper of a story I have yet to hear.

Christmas Cards – Going, Going, Gone

I think that the  tradition of sending cards to family and friends at Christmas time is fading away.    It seems sad to me that it is so.   Our list is made up of friends and family  scattered across the country.    It is full of friends that we have made in the many places we have lived.   They each have contributed to the color of our lives and helped to make us who we are today.  For me a card is a nice way to say “Hi” and you are important to me.

cb-wc37016_warm_cozy_collection_kit_f

This year I made my cards again.   Usually I pick one design and make a bundle of  cards in a single design.   This year I bought a designer paper collection from the local craft store including 12 pieces of two-sided paper and a sheet of stickers.    I decided that I would provide my own card base from my stash and make as many cards as possible from this collection.   I finished with 70 holiday cards and one thank-you.

IMAG1794.jpg

 

I have had a nasty cold this last week and it was a great step into and out of project.    I kept myself on task by posting each as I finished it on Pinterest.   You can see each card by visiting my Pinterest page.

When we were done RangerSir stepped up to the plate to help me get them addressed and out the door.

 

Patience and the Pie Lady

I have been making pies for Thanksgiving for years.   When I used to host Thanksgiving I would make upwards of 10 pies that my guests could pick from not only for dinner, but to take home, or if they were staying for future meals over the weekend.    Now that I no longer host dinner, I have been bringing pie for years to dinner that RangerSir and I attend.

To some pie making would be chore, a challenge, or something that you pick up from the local store or bakery.   For me baking pie is a favorite creative pastime.   I would rather make pie than any other sweet or dessert.   My Grandma Virtue was known for the pies she made when worked at the county home years ago.   My Aunt Leola always had pie with awesome flaky crust when we stopped to visit her and Uncle Sherm after a pilgrimage to visit the folks in Illinois.   So though I can’t remember sitting with either of them to learn about pie making I think I come by this talent honestly.

wp-1448596808011.jpeg

RangerSir rolls out his pie crust

This year I nearly cut the tip of my thumb off and ended up in the emergency room.   I have been since been told to keep it clean and dry, and to function without a thumb, until it heals up some.    This has kept me from all sorts of things including pie making.

wp-1448596801312.jpeg

He has it right and is putting it in the pan.

RangerSir, who enjoys cooking/baking, stepped up to the plate telling me he would learn to make pies.    It took a great deal of self-control and patience to not cuff him along side the head, while telling him pie crust is an art, and not as easy as they make it in the cookbook.  How did I tell him that making pies was a quiet time I reflected on Thanksgivings of past, and who we had been with and who was now missing.  It was my time and my art.   Yet  I agreed to help him through the process to make our pies for Thanksgiving.

wp-1448596788461.jpeg

Adding the cherry pie filling.

Now the test of patience was on not only for him who thought I should leave him to his own devices, but also for me to not get caught up in what I was missing out.  How do you explain to someone what the mixture looks like when cutting in the fat to the flour or how much water you add to the crust, when I know it is right by touch?   He was a bit of a saint when he begrudgingly stepped back when I said can I touch it so I could put my good hand in to feel the pastry for just a few seconds and pronounce it right, even if we had put in twice as much water as the recipe called for.  We made two pies last night and I thought my hair  would catch on fire from my brain cells scrambling as he rolled out the dough “all wrong”, but overnight the pastry fairies worked in his brain and he was doing it exactly as I wanted the next morning when we made the last pie. He was a bit miffed when I told him we were mixing up two pie recipes to make this year’s mandatory chocolate pie, but he went along without complaint.    Though to him making a three-layer chocolate pie was unnecessary, but when the sprinkles went on in the end, he was pleased with his results.   We worked together as I coached him on the art of lattice pie and that it really was necessary on a cherry pie.

wp-1448596772733.jpeg

He is a darn good lattice top maker.

The pies are all done now.   They look absolutely perfect.  Though we have not tested them out the crust looks flaky and is perfectly brown.   It was a trial, but also a reflection on how we can work together and support one another.   I asked him if I could take pictures and blog about the pie making.    He agreed knowing that I would not share this with the world if I wasn’t thrilled with the end.   He had my back on pie making and I was his partner into new territory.

wp-1448596758171.jpeg

Here they are the pies ready to take to Thanksgiving dinner.   

 

 

Friends Who Are Family

W_TrueFriends.png

I have spent all of my adult life living more than eight hours from where I grew up.   This means that my family has never been able to bop over to chat.    It means I have never made a Sunday family dinner, or the monthly family birthday party. It means that my friends have stepped in when when tradition would say it would be your family.    I have been blessed with friends who are family for me.

As we approach Thanksgiving I want to give thanks to and for my friends.

To my lifetime friend, who no matter how long it is between phone calls, and even longer times between when we get together you are there. It is like we just connected last week, time seems to not matter for us.   You get me.   You make me laugh  when I don’t know I need it. You provide insight about myself sometimes I don’t recognize.   You challenge me and make me a better person.    I hope I have been as good of friend to you as you have been to me.

To my little sister friend, who is all grown up now.  Who’d have imagined when as a college student and you decided to rent a room from me that this would result in a friendship that was more like sisterhood. You never cease to amaze me with your drive.   Knowing you has helped me to realize it is never too late, or you are never too old to explore new things and dream a new dream.

To all my Thanksgiving family friends.   RangerSir and I have never been alone on my favorite holiday of the year.    Thanks to all my friends in Minnesota, Colorado, Michigan, and Montana who have be part of the the many dinners we have shared with you.

Thanks to all my creative friends who have been with me for all my creative endeavors.   Your support and encouragement have meant the world to me when I was full of doubt.

Thanks to my family who are not only friends but also family.   I am lucky that I have brothers who rock and never let me forget who I am or where I came from.

Thanks to RangerSir, who is not only my husband, but my best friend.

This holiday season I just want everyone to know I am thankful for having you in my life.

 

 

 

New Appreciation of Sacrifice of Time

My new job this summer has given me a new appreciation for the folks in the world who make the sacrifice of being away from home to support their family.    I have traveled before for jobs I have held previously.   In my most traveled position, I traveled only about 20% of the time.   This job puts me away from home three nights a week.    Being on the road this much has made me realize how much time so many people sacrifice to make it in life.

We have a friend who is a salesman for a company and covers everything west of the Mississippi.   He has spent about 30+ weeks on the road for as long as I have know him (nearly 30 years now).   He has two great adult children with families of their own.   He and his wife have the kind of marriage we try to have as well, where each is there for the other and figure out ways to be there when it is critical. (There have been some pretty critical life moments for this family).   I never before realized how amazing they were to make it all work with all his time away from home.  When you think about all the divorce rates and kids who turn out in something less than their potential and then blame their family life.   This family has weathered it all and not just survived, they have prospered.    Their love, support and values have made the time that took the father/husband away so much a contributing factor to what they achieved, not a detriment or excuse for what they did not achieve.

My brother was in the Navy.   He worked hard to be with his family as much as possible, but like the military people of past and present that isn’t always possible.  There are big and small moments missed that can never be gotten back.    I never thought about what it must be like to be a single parent for so long and then suddenly have someone show up and have the whole family dynamic change in a day.    One day you get to make almost all decisions unilaterally and then the next there is someone there who wants to be a part of it all.    One day the kids only deal with you and suddenly there is someone else who can say yes or no.  It is a complete adjustment for the family, and rules are shifted in the space of a few hours.   Yet the military people continue to make those sacrifices for their country and to support their family.

In both of these cases I have highlighted the person being away, but the trailing/at-home spouse and the kids make sacrifices as well.   They quickly learn that this is their normal.  That the parent is away because it is how must be for this family.   There is nothing that can be accomplished by wanting a parental presence that can not be.  They learn to appreciate the times they have and adjust with the changes that come with a moving set of how a family looks and functions.  The “keep the home fires burning” parent often has a job as well.   The only difference is that they get to sleep in their own bed at night.   They often have to juggle their job, children and home with no one their to help.   Kids may have to step up and grow up a little faster to help. It is a balancing act and a collaborative effort.

I had thought of this occasionally before.   This job has given me a new appreciation for what one misses out on when you are gone, how they adjust when you blow in to town and that they will adjust again when you hit the road again.   I know at the end of the summer my job will end, and I will be home every night again, but there are thousands of men and women that this is part of who they are and how they support their family.    My hat is off to you because most of us can never imagine what that job costs you and your family.   You are making under what can be very challenging conditions.

She had the best smile and a natural twinkle to her eyes.

Yesterday my Aunt Arnie lost her courageous battle with cancer.   My heart breaks for my cousins and their families who lost their mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who they loved so much.   It makes me a little sad to know that I can not be there when they hold her service, but geography, work, and economics make that impossible.   That is one of the unfortunate realities of being a grown up and living so far away.

My Aunt had been a widow for many years and lived in the house she raised her family in.   No return visit to the Midwest was not complete with out stopping by her house.  We would visit around the kitchen table catching up with her.. It was always wonderful to spend time at her house hearing how things were going and sharing with her what was happening on my end of the world.

Last night with my husband, we reflected on all the things that made her special.   There were so many things I remember about her, but the thing that I will always remember most of all is her smile.   I can’t remember a time when she did not have that smile that wrapped you with warmth.   To go with her smile she had a special kind of eyes that twinkled and went perfectly with her smile.   I am not sure what it was about her eyes but they truly did twinkle with little crinkles around her eyes that some joined up to go perfectly with her smile.

Somewhere in heaven today, Aunt Arnie sits with those who have gone before us, looking down on us as each of us figure out how life will go on differently now that she is gone.   She is enveloped in love with those she is reunited with, and smiling down on us with love, because she knows we will be ok and some day she will see us all again.