Category Archives: Family

Ancestors

Today we drove the 2+ hours to Salt Lake City to worship our ancestors.

Well, not really. However, that theme did come to mind. I’ve been doing some things with the kids recently about Chinese New Year–making Chinese food, crafting red paper lanterns, learning about the amazing terraced rice paddies, and even trying our hands at some Chinese characters.

I mentioned the other day to them that one important concept in Chinese culture, from Confucianism, is honoring one’s elders and one’s ancestors. They seem really fascinated with China right now, so maybe this concept will sink in and we’ll see more respectful behavior from them…. maybe.

Anyway, we had gotten a reference from one of Anthropapa’s co-workers to a good dim sum restaurant in SLC.

There is no dim sum in Pocatello.

So, we had to go. Had to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit by stuffing ourselves with shu mai, char siu bao, har gow, and chicken feet.

Yes, we ordered the chicken feet. I told the kids that there would be lots of bones and that they were honest-to-goodness feet of chickens. After confirming that yes, they do clean the feet before they cook them, we chowed down. The girl declared that the sweet bean-paste stuffed sesame balls, and the chicken feet, were here favorites. I declared that after my second taste of them, I can honestly say that while not horrible, they are not a favorite.

Then, I went to the amazing Family History Library, run by the LDS church, to do some genealogy research. I could have spent days there and only scratch the surface, but I had only a few hours this time while the rest of the family went to explore the Children’s Museum. I concentrated for the most part on the illustrious Blood family on my father’s side.

I discovered that Nathaniel Blood of Groton (1680-1756) was a member of the Expedition of the Showshoe Men during the French and Indian Wars, which “plodded up the valley of the Merrimack, up past the falls of the Amoskeag to the rendezvous of the Indians at Pequawkett” and brought back five scalps worth forty pounds apiece. Nathaniel and the other survivors of this expedition were later awarded land grants in Tyng Township, which is now Manchester, NH.

I also read of General Francis Blood of Temple, NH, who pursued some horse thieves to Keene, where they had stopped for the night. He planned to sneak into the barn of the inn, identify the horses, and at dawn apprehend the thieves. To his dismay, the innkeeper showed him to the very same room that he had given to the suspects. What to do? How to justify leaving the room in the wee hours without raising suspicions? Feign the onset of cholera, of course, with attendant “sighs and fearful groans.” The thieves were only too happy to see him stumble downstairs to fetch some brandy, and Gen. Blood was successful in identifying the stolen horses and arresting the criminals at daybreak.

This same General Blood was also recorded as one of only four people in the town of Temple to own an honest-to-goodness clock in the late 1780’s. “Most people used the hour-glass; all schoolmistresses had one; some of the masters carried those exaggerated watches. . . . Some people used sun-dials, and all had their “noon-marks.”

Another time, I will go to the Family History Library and look up much less colorful census, birth, and marriage records. Today seemed all about bringing some of our ancestors alive within the colorful history of our country.

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Pardon me while I sigh with contentment.

This morning we woke up to a little bit of snow. The red apples still hanging on the tree out back looked like Christmas ornaments. We made pumpkin pancakes for breakfast, and immediately afterwards the kids ran out to shovel the front walk and sweep off the car windows. Without being asked. I’ve got beef stew in the slow cooker for dinner, and a cup of warm apple cider by my side.

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Be It Ever So Humble…

…We’ve Finally Got a Home.

I’ve been feeling a bit too overwhelmed to create blog posts lately and have just been updating Facebook. Then I realized that not all of the people who read this blog are also on Facebook, so to update you:

We bought a house. It’s more or less right across the street from the kids’ school. It’s a tri-level, with 4 but technically 5 bedrooms (one room doesn’t have a closet and has a door to the backyard, but we’re going to use it as a bedroom). The yard has an ancient sandbox that needs some rehab work, and a mature apple tree that has lovely little sweet apples.

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By far the most unusual feature of the house is the finished crawl space in the lower level, which we refer to as the “play cave”. The previous owners had finished it with drywall and carpet for their kids to play there. We hope to do the same, but we’ll have to do some work down there first. Last weekend, when we got the keys, we found a wet area down there, around the furnace. We think that rain got in through an exterior vent that was pointed upward when the previous owners replaced the furnace for us. Anyway, we’re concerned about mildew and might need to rip out the carpet. And we’d like to put in a real wall and door under there to block off the furnace from the kids’ space.

The other lovely homeowning adventure we’ve already experienced was with the hot water heater. It sits in the downstairs bathroom in a little curtained recess in the wall beside the clothes washer and dryer. Yesterday we had the gas company come out to turn the gas back on, for the furnace and the hot water. Turns out the water heater violated city code in not being sufficiently separated from the living space, and the chimney that had been shared by the water heater and furnace was no longer up to code with the new furnace! At one point we had the city inspector and the furnace installer there; then a bit later we had two water heater installers plus an electrician to install a new electric water heater; earlier in the day we had two delivery men bring the washer and dryer! So it was a very expensive, Grand Central Station day at the Anthrohaus. We were also informed by the inspector that the water softener was cracked, so we’ll be buying one of those pretty soon too (we have incredibly hard water: Anthropapa told me that the existing water heater, which we think is only about 4 years old, literally had rocks in the bottom!).

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We took advantage of the $8,000 tax credit (or will, when we get the money) to either pay off credit cards or pay off the appliances we had to buy. I’m excited to think that by next year our finances will be much more positive and under control, even as we take on this larger debt. We can add value to the home, as the kitchen needs refinishing and the yards need work. We’re also excited by the neighborhood, which is quiet and has tons of kids. I am sad to report, however, that the neighborhood has CC&Rs that prohibit backyard chickens!

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Genealogy Mysteries

I’ve been doing family genealogy research for a few years now, though since the kids came it’s been only at odd moments here and there. Last night I came across this little gem while researching part of my husband’s family:

CHARLES ROYAL WOODS [Jr.]

Born at Cambridge, Mass., May 27, 1878.
Prepared at St. Mark’s School, Southboro, Mass.
In College: 1896-1900.
Married: Emma Seward, New York, N. Y., April 12, 1911 (died Nov. 15, 1919). Children: Elizabeth Katherine, June 20, 1915; Emma Seward, June 28, 1919.
Occupation: Leather salesman.
Address: Frank W. Hunt & Co., 118 Lincoln St. Boston, Mass.

Guess I am the Class “Rolling Stone.” Went to New York in 1900 and was employed by New York Edison Co. for a year, by New York Telephone Co. about three years, and left the latter to be secretary of Bates Advertising Co. Practically went broke in 1910. Was with the Fidelity and Casualty Co. until I bought a three hundred acre dairy and stock farm near Lynchburg, Va., where the war caught me with contracts for milk and a lot of young cattle on my hands. As feed and labor went up and all I had either stay stationary or went down I was shortly forced to sell out. I came back North and am now with the Prudential Life Insurance Co.

— Harvard College Class of 1900 Secretary’s Fifth Report, October, 1921, p. 498.

So much to ponder in this one little excerpt!

Notice that Charles’s wife Emma died after only 8 years of marriage, leaving a  four-year-old and a five-month-old behind. She died in 1919 — could she have been a victim of the Spanish Flu pandemic?

Then notice the reversals of fortune: Charles “practically went broke” in 1910, then again just prior to his wife’s death during WWI. Presumably he had come from at least a comfortable, if not wealthy family, having gone to Harvard (and other relatives through marriage were wealthy Harvard and Yale graduates, so we can assume a similar economic class). What inspired him to invest in a farm in Virginia after living his entire life in Boston and New York City?

I’m not sure what to make about his comment about being employed at Prudential Life while the summary states he was a leather salesman. Charles’s sister Hope married Merrill Hunt, whose father Frank was the owner of the Boston leather company mentioned. So it’s possible he got a job through that connection either before or after selling out his farm.

I’ve had so much fun over the years investigating these kinds of stories. I recently discovered that one of my ancestors, the charmingly named Abel Blood, is the namesake of a pub in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. Abel was one of the first settlers of the Piscataquis area of Maine, and according to the pub’s web site, “a bit of a scoundrel.” I have no records of specific misdeeds, but he was a party to 6 legal proceedings in 8 years! His father was a town selectman and fought in the Revolutionary War at Bunker Hill, so the Bloods weren’t all that wild.

Don’t even get me started on the relatives who claim ancestry from Catherine the Great!

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Pre-hiatus Update

Dear Bloggy Friends,

I must pause. Not to reflect, but to get everything else done.

We plan to close on our house on Sept. 8. Of course this has meant numerous phone calls, meetings, and appointments. We’ve got a lot of financial wrangling yet to do — buying appliances, applying for our government’s wonderful offer of $8,000, and much more. And at some point I need to start packing.

I’m registered for History 101, and have made myself known to much of the history faculty. In doing so, I got myself signed up to do a Public History internship, in which I will help research and fact check on an upcoming book celebrating the anniversary of the Idaho Museum of Natural History here on campus. In the future I might also assist with the scholarly journals the department produces. I saw the gleam in a few professors’ eyes when they heard I was an editor of scholarly humanities books, so that might be a source of future paying work, as well. And at some point before December I need to take the GRE and figure out who can write references for my grad school application.

The kids start school tomorrow. In trying to balance my work, my classes, and their needs, I’ve signed Napoleona up for after-care three days a week, so that I have the entire day free for work and my courses. But the other two days, I’ll be taking Anthropapa to work at 8:00, the kids to school at 8:30, returning to pick up Napoleona at 11:15, returning to pick up SillyBilly at 3:00, and picking up Anthropapa at 5:00. Clearly, we need a second car. And at some point I need to figure out when I can volunteer in the kids’ classrooms.

I’m plugging away on my current manuscript, an examination of the role of emotions in US history. Then I’ve got 2 or 3 more to do next month. The next few months will be a huge test to see who I can balance maintaining my work load along with going to school. And at some point I need to find some new clients.

I’m also volunteering as the Chapter Development Coordinator for the EFA. It’s not too onerous, but some days it seems to take up more than a few hours of otherwise precious time. I like contributing to the organization that has provided me with so many benefits, but right now it’s yet another thing in the mix. And at some point I need to write up all the policies and procedures that go with the job.

So, my friends. I can’t keep up. I can’t even get to read all of your wonderful blogs, no less comment thoughtfully. No less write my own blog posts. So I’m officially going on hiatus, until such time as I have enough time and energy to share. Retaining the right, of course, to pop up at any time randomly.

Love,

Anthromama

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Trial by Water

Today was rather momentous. At one point this afternoon I realized that the entire day was like an initiation of some kind or another.

Rudolf Steiner wrote quite a bit about initiatory experiences, religious, meditative, and quotidian. The quotes I have given here are from his book, How to Know Higher Worlds: A Modern Path of Initiation, available for free online in a previous edition here.

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This morning I was baptized into the Missouri Synod Lutheran church here in Pocatello. It’s the church that runs the school my children attend. I started attending services regularly last spring and went through the adult confirmation class.

It’s not something I ever expected to do. I’ve never attended regular religious services before. But it just felt like the right thing to do, for me, right now. I found that at least once in each service, I would get teared up, even a bit wobbly-chinned. And this was at the early-morning, traditional, formal, organ-music service — not where you might expect an emotional response like that. So, I was intrigued about what that was all about, and kept going.

This trial is known as the Water-Trial, because in his activity in these higher worlds the candidate is deprived of the support derived from outward circumstances, as a swimmer is without support when swimming in water that is beyond his depth. This activity must be repeated until the candidate attains absolute poise and assurance.

Now, I’ve never been a big fan of standing up in front of large groups of people. I’ve done it before: performing in plays, leading business meetings. But it’s always been profoundly embarrassing.

I had gone through confirmation, was attending regularly, and had agreed to be a member of the congregation. So, it was time to be baptized. When I arrived at church this morning, I noticed that the sanctuary was more full than it has been recently (summer vacations, you know). I thought, great, even a bigger crowd to witness this! But I thought about how fear is really an illusion, a kind of self-centeredness blended with a certain lack of courage. I thought about what the Lutheran church teaches about grace, and what I’ve read in many places about surrendering oneself to a higher power.

I wasn’t nervous after that at all.

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Silly Billy and Napoleona spent most of the day today outside, playing.

Now, we live in an apartment complex. We’re looking for a house to buy, but for now we’re here, and so the kids don’t have a backyard. They play in the playground areas, they ride their bikes and scooters around, they climb trees. For an apartment complex, it’s not too bad.

But today they crossed a boundary; they erred in their decision making.

For even as it is difficult for those who have not learned to spell correctly in their childhood to make good this deficiency when fully grown up, so too it is difficult to develop the necessary degree of self-control at the moment of looking into the higher worlds, if this ability has not been acquired to a certain degree in ordinary life.

Anthropapa and I heard a knock at our door, and there was a woman with SillyBilly, saying something about he and Napoleona getting into people’s cars, and that Napoleona had run off. Anthropapa tracked down Napoleona, and we sat down to talk about what had happened.

They had evidently been opening unlocked car doors and getting inside the cars. Worse, they had a plastic bag with a few odds and ends they had taken from some of the cars!

They were really, really upset. SillyBilly told me that some of his friends had told him there was jail for little kids, and was that true, Mama? Napoleona just cried and cried.

We talked a bit about why opening cars is wrong and unsafe, and about how wrong it is to steal. We reassured them that there is no little-kid jail, but also made sure they knew that their actions have consequences.

Later in the evening, while I was combing and drying Napoleona’s hair after her bath, I started talking about forgiveness. I told her the story of the Prodigal Son, how the son made big mistakes (a kind of initiation we can all have in daily life) and how parents (and God) forgive us if we are sorry about and try to learn from our mistakes. The parent might be upset at the mistake, and our desire to learn from the mistake is necessary, but the forgiveness and love are always there.

Should [the candidate], in the course of his activity, introduce any of his own opinions and desires, or should he diverge for one moment from the laws which he has recognized to be right, in order to follow his own willful inclination, then the result produced would differ entirely from what was intended. He would lose sight of the goal to which his action tended, and confusion would result. Hence ample opportunity is given him in the course of this trial to develop self-control.

A day of trials, of initiations, of waters and tears.

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Photos by Vanessa Pike-Russell.

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Vacation; or, We Attack the Pacific Northwest

N.B.: I’m stealing the format of this post from Tammy, because it’s a great way to do this quickly given that we took about 4,000 pictures.

We drove from Pocatello to Port Townsend, WA (1,700 miles) to visit Grammy and Grandpa for 2 weeks (the kids staying an extra third week). We hadn’t been to Washington before so this was a great treat. Turns out, Anthropapa and I discovered it was ideal there, and we now have a 5 year plan to relocate to the Seattle area! Must get master’s degrees first, though.

A is for public Art. This was at the Seattle Center, and even had one tube the kids could climb inside:

B is for Beach. Grammy and Grandpa live above a private beach, complete with a sand dollar colony and 40 bazillion shells. This picture is from a day trip to Dungeness Spit:

C is for Clouds. We had beautiful weather except for one cloudy day, but the sunsets were gorgeous. This is the view from the back deck:

D is for Doughnut machine. SillyBilly has been reading Homer Price by Robert McCloskey, which features a doughnut machine run amok. We were thrilled to see this one in the Public Market on the waterfront in Seattle:

E is for bald Eagle. Grampa says there are one or two bald eagles flying by quite often, perching over the sound watching for fish. They are awe-inspiring. Sorry, I have a very lame camera. Squint a little:

F is for Fourth of July. We went up to Port Townsend to sit on the beach and watch the fireworks at Fort Worden. We could see fireworks from at least three other spots around the sound. The Fort Worden show was simple, but lasted much longer than any show we’d seen before:

G is for Columbia Gorge. We drove up the gorge on both ends of the trip. Coming west we kept seeing Mt. Hood peeking out at us. Going east we had a slightly less fun time (went the wrong way on the highway, before we could get off we saw a tanker truck on its side blocking the entire westbound side, had to backtrack all the way to Portland, two-hour delay leading to being on the road 12 hours). But we won’t blame it on the beautiful gorge. This is the view from the Washington side, westbound:

H is for Hat. Though the temps were cool, the sun was very strong and I needed my hat! I almost forgot it in the ferry terminal leaving Seattle that day. I remembered at the last minute, and when we went to get the hat from the bench where I’d left it, we found a young man trying it on! I waited to see if he really wanted it (I would have gladly left it behind, even though I like it) but Anthropapa ended up asking for it and the man gave it back a bit sheepishly. Now my little blue hat has a story:

I is for Interesting. Anthropapa and I snuck away one day to Seattle while the kids stayed with their grandparents. We had lunch with old friends (Hi Erin and Kensuke!), found some treasures at a Tibetan store (certainly none of that in Pocatello), parked ourselves for a few hours at the awesome Elliott Bay Book Company, and saw some amazing installations and exhibits at the Seattle Art Museum, including some Helga paintings by Andrew Wyeth, beautiful Northwest native weavings, and this installation in the lobby, which inspired some interesting conversations about meaning in modern art:

J is for Joy. So many things to be happy about on this trip! Being with Grammy and Grandpa, discovering things large (the Seattle Aquarium) and small (the Port Townsend Marine Science Center), seeing wildlife (seals, eagles, deer, elk, sand sharks, sculpin, crabs, sand dollars, goldfinches, gulls, jellyfish) and many wildflowers. This is a tiger lily among lupines up on Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park:

K is for Kids playing. Lots and lots of that. This was at the Seattle Center:

L is for LEGO Liberty, also at the Seattle Center:

M is for Multnomah Falls, which Anthropapa and I stopped by to see on our way home. So beautiful!:

N is for Nibblers. We saw deer in the backyard, deer in open fields, and a few rather saucy deer who were clearly looking for handouts at the visitor center at Hurricane Ridge:

O is for Olympics. Truly awe-inspiring. Next time I hope we have time to explore more. We just had time to go on a quick hike,  a little taste of the beauty of these high mountain peaks:

P is for Playground. Even on vacation, sometimes it’s nice just to take a little swing:

Q is for Quiet. So often we had the beach to ourselves, or sat on the back deck watching for sailboats with just the birds to accompany us. Even on our hike on Hurricane Ridge, with lots of other people there enjoying the sunny day, it seemed quiet. Maybe it was the beauty all around us, like this avalanche lily:

R is for Rivulets on the sand. We went out on the private beach during low tide to explore the sand dollar colony and go beachcombing. I was entrance by the shapes the retreating water had made in the sand, and realized later that I saw very similar shapes in eroded mudflows by Mount St. Helens:

S is for Seattle Skyline. We went over twice on the ferry from Bainbridge Island. What a fun city, not too big or small, quite clean, and with friendly people. Lots of culture as well as amazing outdoor opportunities. We’ll be back, for sure:

T is for Transportation. We took several ferries, and rode the bus, a monorail, and a trolley. It was great fun to take the Bainbridge-Seattle ferry, seeing lots of sailboats, container ships, and even some jellyfish!:

U is for Unusual. We did many unusual things (for us), including staying up late, eating fried clams, watching movies, and playing with light-up light sabers on the Fourth of July:

V is for Volcano. Anthropapa and I scouted out Mount St. Helens National Monument on our way home. Yet another awe-inspiring mountain! I’ve always been interested in geology, and we both clearly remember the 1980 eruption (Anthropapa even remembers the ash fall in Montana). The visitor center has some great displays, and a rather frenetic film, but the star of the show is the mountain herself. Pictures really do no justice in this case:

W is for whirlpool. One day we noticed these beautiful water forms as the ferry left the terminal:

X is for eXciting! For the kids, even simple things were so very thrilling. Grammy took them fishing off the nearby dock several times. The first time, Napoleona almost immediately caught a sand shark! She couldn’t keep it (all six-gilled creatures must be released back) but was so amazed at herself. She and SillyBilly went on to catch several sculpin. Unfortunately, though they are edible, they are almost all head. Nobody wanted togut and clean them! They might look calm and cool, but really they were quite thrilled:

Y is for Yikes! As Anthropapa and I left Seattle on the ferry, we noticed this boat following us, resplendent in jaunty red and accented by a machine gun! The public address system notified us a few minutes later that this was a routine Coast Guard escort. Hmmm. Funny that we hadn’t seen one before! One time we watched the boat almost stop to intercept a sailboat that was unwisely heading toward the ferry. They wisely turned away, as I’m sure they noticed the nice man with the big gun out front:

Z is for blast Zone. The ridge where the Johnston Ridge Observatory now sits across from Mount St Helens was directly in the path of the pyroclastic flow in the 1980 eruption. It’s hard to conceive of that much earth moving so fast and so far. These trees, several feet in diameter, were simply snapped off at the base by the force of the blast:

And if you’ve read through all this, you deserve an award 🙂

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