Category Archives: personal

Diving back into genealogy?

George and Connie Gerace by mlzafronI’ve been taking a little break from genealogy. After you’ve had your umpteenth dream about being lost in a cemetery, tripping over tombstones looking for ancestors or shirttail relatives, it’s probably  a sign that you need to stop for awhile.
And I have. I finished scanning stuff; I organized my documentation into file folders; I stopped hunting down distant cousins on Facebook. I even stopped going to to the monthly meetings they have here at work.
But now, I’m debating getting back into it. The weather has been nice and maybe if I’m, oh, I dunno, organized this time, my gravestone hunting adventures won’t be quite so chaotic.
The next steps are going to require more of a commitment from me. I need to spend some quality time digging around microfilm. Been there, done that and there is no disguising the fact that it is a pain and a half to deal with microfilm. I also need to send away for a few documents. At least so that I can deal with the next steps. I probably need to suck it up and go to the LDS genealogical library, which doesn’t enthuse me.
Anyhow, I’m probably going to start having the dreams again…but not quite yet…meanwhile, I give you my grandparents when they were courting. I love this photo!


My Uncle Ray passed away last week. It was not unexpected, but that does’n’t change anything really. He’s gonna be missed. More than anything (ok, really good food ran a close second), Uncle Ray loved movies.  And I think it’s from him  partly that I learned to love them too.

He loved anecdotes about classic movie actors. He loved really well done movies, but he liked the corny and the campy stuff too. He’d retell the scenes and  his enthusiasm and passion always showed. One of his favorites comes from Tales of Terror. He really loved Peter Lorre. So Uncle Ray, this one’s for you:

Separation between church and state

No, not really, more like between my personal life and my work life. As much as I would like to keep the two totally separate, there is too much crossover. And because I am not the US of A, I’ve decided to take my two old blogspot blogs and move them over here. I would say that you should update your bookmarks except that I think “you” comprises one maybe two people.

Seven things you (probably) don’t know about me

I’ve been tagged by billythekid.

The Rules?

* Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
* Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
* Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
* Let them know they’ve been tagged.

1. I have a younger brother who makes chain mail for a hobby.
2. I am a devout fan of the Mapp & Lucia
novels by E.F. Benson. So much so that when my friend went to Rye, he actually brought me back a Mapp and Lucia tea towel.
3. I do not drink Canadian whiskey thanks to a collegiate incident that involved me ending up with Lucille Ball red hair for a couple of months.
4. It was my miserable job doing health insurance billing that prompted me to go to library school.
5. I have kept a plant alive for over 10 years.
6. I went to see Braveheart because Patrick McGoohan was in it.
7. I once organized my non-fiction according to Library of Congress Classification.

You’ve been tagged:
Vintage Reader
Eat at Joe’s
Rebecca’s Adventures in New York
Peach’s Projects
morsie reads
The Ramblings of Sugar Socks
Bonnei Rulez

Bits of my childhood

So my mom is sorting through stuff and asked me if I wanted some of my old toys and memorabilia. I’ve been gradually going through the boxes. It’s been very weird and often unexpectedly moving.

This is not my homage to Dare Wright, just two of the toys that I remember most vividly. The doll bed was a present from my parents. My dad made the bed and my mom made the hangings and the linens. I can’t recall what I’d named the doll (also wearing clothes my mom sewed, but the teddy bear was Gwendolyn.

Then we have this lovely scene. Mandy (the name she came with) was also in the box along with assorted outfits for her and the baby doll, and Corduroy the Bear (elementary school project).

I spent this weekend washing and mending the doll clothes. No logical explanation.It just seemed important to me. The baby doll’s outfit is one I remember well. Mom made me a top for me out of the same striped fabric. I think that Mandy’s flannel dress is fabric that was a nightgown.

The question is…well, what do I do with this stuff? I don’t want to give it away. These were objects that had a special place in my life. I don’t have children of my own. I’m not about to display these things.

Some of the other toys I am going to give to my friends for their children. I kept the Lincoln Logs (real wood, thank you very much) and some of the Fisher Price things for when my friend’s son comes over.

But these are special. I guess I’ll just pack them up as carefully as I can and maybe someday I’ll take the box off the shelf and look at it once more.

Civilized Traveling

So I had the chance to visit Vermont this weekend to see my good friend, Lauren. With gas prices the way they are now (and to those idiots who keep blaming it on taxes–the price of oil is rising, not the taxes), I decided to do something I haven’t done in nearly 25 years.

Reader, I took the train.

It cost me $110 round trip. It would have cost me $100 except I opted to try out Business Class on the way home for the extra $10. Considering I would have had to fill my tank at least 3 times and it costs me about $50 to do that, I came out ahead of the deal.

I don’t like the actual process of traveling. I mean, I enjoy going to new places and doing fun things, but the getting to and going home parts leave me cold. It may only take an hour of flight time to get from here to say, NYC, but after you factor in the hour you have to tack on for security and the inevitable delays, it’s a lot longer.

Plus when you fly, you have the hassles and stress of going through security check points, the inability to bring your own food and drink on board, the utter hell of being crammed into a tiny seat next to strangers, the fun and joy of discovering that TSA didn’t close up your luggage properly, and so on.

A friend dropped me off at the station. I went up to a ticket agent who issued me the actual ticket that I bought online. She was pleasant. (Imagine that!)

There was no worries about checking any bags. I had a medium sized suitcase that I would have definitely needed to check if I had flown. I was able to bring on my hand lotion and water bottle. Nice not having to purchase a bottle of water for $5, the way they make you at the airport. The train came, I got on it. Put my bag overhead and settled into an extremely comfortable seat with actual leg room.

And business class–for an extra $10, totally worth it (little more room and nicer seats).

Now I will admit, there are some drawbacks to train travel: when the train is ready to leave, they don’t hold it for you. The food sucks (just like on the plane, but worse actually). And the bathrooms are just as dinky and just as unpleasant. The train’s motion made it hard for me to read. So I pulled out my knitting and went to town.

But you know, it felt civilized. Imagine that…

Spring cleaning

I like to have the TV on in the morning while I get ready. Lately, I’ve been watching reruns of Clean House, which is not the best program of its type, but is still interesting to watch. It’s the downmarket version (more mugging, more manufactured drama) of the now defunct Clean Sweep (more organizational tips, more information).

Recently a friend recommended a book by Peter Walsh (the organizer from Clean Sweep) called It’s All Too Much. While it has less of the tips than I thought it would, it was still an interesting read and it’s inspired me to start going through the house with a more critical eye. Now I’m not a slob and my house is not messy like the houses of the people who go on these shows, but I still have too much stuff. I don’t really like that feeling. I like things to be neat and tidy and orderly. So it’s prompted me to do some reorganizing.

One of his suggestions is to take two bags–one for trash and one for donations–and just go through your house and fill them. While I’m happy to say that most of what I own is in good condition, I have filled a bag twice now with items for donations. It’s a little scary how many dvds and books I own. Now I read my books. I read and reread, but there are still items on my shelves that I don’t like or have yet to have read.

I think what happens is that after awhile you can’t really see the trees for the forest. You don’t see individual titles–just the shelves with the items. So I have been looking at each book and dvd individually and weeding.

I must say it’s a good feeling when your books and media have room to breathe.

What price convenience?

I recently found out that I’d be hosting Thanksgiving. My initial reaction was panic. I work a full-time job. I’ve never cooked a turkey. Thanksgiving is a big meal. My first instinct was to see about ordering parts of the meal from Wegmans. Turns out that’s what a lot of people are doing these days. Heck, apparently a lot of people order the whole meal.

The thing is…I can cook. If I say so myself, I’m a good cook. I’ve hosted dinner parties without resorting to buying the meal elsewhere. I have flambéd things (intentionally). Making stuffing does not require a degree from Culinary School. Cranberry sauce–this is why I cringe when Sandra Lee and her ilk imply that you use the canned stuff because making your own is on the same level as making pasta. It’s not. Jeez Louise, you take a cup of sugar and a cup of water. You stir till it’s dissolved. You boil the mixture. You add the cranberries and ten minutes later you have sauce. It is not rocket science.

And the turkey? My mom’s talking me through it. I can read a recipe. I can totally do this. Yeah, I’ve ordered the pie and the rolls, but the rest of my meal is being made from scratch.

Convenience is fine, but holidays aren’t supposed to be about convenience. They’re supposed to be about family–however you define family–coming together and enjoying good food and company. To my mind there should be effort behind holiday meals. Not so much effort that it drives you mad, but more effort than picking up the phone and ordering the entire meal. I’ve got my mom helping me and my best friend is also going to be pitching in. When I was little, we all did that. Even if it meant you just sat down and peeled potatoes or ran and got the good dishes. The meal meant more because it was a communal effort, because you knew that effort had been put into it. We can order takeout any day of the year. What sets Thanksgiving apart from your typical Thursday is that it’s different. It’s a feast day.

That charming article I linked up top has the grocery store rep. saying “Customers have become so busy. They don’t have the day before Thanksgiving to prepare a meal.” Yeah, they’re so busy that they take off Friday so they can get up at 4AM to hit the mall. That is what has become important. Something’s gotten very skewed in the process.

Off my soapbox now…

The joys of an old-fashioned butchershop

So it’s been ages since I posted. I’m going to blame it on the teaching season for academic librarians, being out of town, and freakish snowstorms.

Although I’ve not been watching nearly as much of the Food Network as before, I do still tune in occasionally. I decided to make a Giada DeLaurentiis recipe–simple version of Italian Wedding Soup. It looked good; the ingredients were accessible. All that was slightly out there for me was ground pork, but I thought that would be easy enough to obtain.

Off I headed to my grocery store of choice. Not only did that they not have ground pork, they also lacked a butcher. The clerk looked said it might be in later on that week, he said vaguely. When I asked if they could grind some for me, he looked at me as if I had suggested he dance naked through the supermarket. I threw up my hands and got the heck out of the store.

On impulse I drove a couple of blocks to a butcher shop my mom still goes to. They didn’t have ground pork either, but they immediately offered to grind some fresh for me. I even got to pick out the piece I wanted them to use. Then the butcher ground it in front of me. While I was there, I bought a bunch of other things–all about comparable in price to Wegmans and all higher in quality. They asked each time how I wanted things wrapped. It was great. I will be patronizing them in the future.

The soup was awesome too.

Hey Miss, where are the corn pads?

So I went to Target to buy a sympathy card. As weird as that may sound, I really like the selection of cards they have there. Low on the glitter (glitter does not belong on a sympathy card as my friend John would say), low on the overly cutesy or religious. Then of course because I was at Target, I ended up buying a bunch of other things.

As I’m walking around the store, people keep stopping me and asking me where things are. Since I shop there pretty regularly, I knew most of the time. I didn’t think anything about it at first. For a long time now, I get this in stores. Occupational hazard, I’ve always chalked it up to. If you walk like you know where you’re going, people will assume you do. Also, when I worked at retail jobs, customers sometimes recognized your face and remember you as being a clerk, but not from where. It could get bizarre though. I was once in a drug store and some old guy wanted to know where the corn pads were. I declined all knowledge and he started in on how I should know where things were if I worked there. He then accused me of lying when I said I didn’t work there.

Anyhow, so back at Target. Busy day and all and people keep asking me things. Finally some girl noticed that I had a cart with me. “Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize you were off your shift.” I looked down and realized the problem:

You really don’t want to wear a red shirt and khaki slacks to Target…