Category Archives: Silliness and Mayhem

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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A Secret Hazard of Editing

I don’t mean to whine, but I am sick of being sick, already.

The day before our big trip to Washington, Napoleona puked all day. So of course the next day, while somewhere in the middle of nowhere (between Baker and La Grande) I got sick too, despite washing my hands 40 bazillion times. Then the day after Anthropapa and I returned home, I got a stomach bug again.

This week, I got a weird ear infection that has involved all the lymph nodes on that side of my head and neck. The ear infection isn’t so bad, but the whole area in front of, underneath, and behind my ear is so swollen that it’s painful. Even my earlobe is sticking out! Waaaaaaaaah! (That time, I meant to whine.)

This is the second ear infection I’ve had this year. The first one was in February and I ended up with a ruptured eardrum. I wish I knew what was going on with this, since aren’t ear infections just for kids?

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You’re probably wondering by now just what the heck that post title means.

Well, I recently worked on these two books, and they’ve made me a bit hyperchondriac about this ear infection. What if it’s some weird bacteria and I’ll be on one antibiotic after another? What if there is no antibiotic to handle this infection at all? Never you mind that I don’t have a fever or any other symptoms; these things are unpredictable and sneaky and deadly, I tell you, DEADLY!!

Hookay, back to reality. My ear is stuffed up and my face hurts, and it’s impossible to sleep on that side. But really, it’s probably not fatal.

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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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Filed under art, Books, Family, Food, friends, Napoleona, Nature, papa, play, Science, Silliness and Mayhem, SillyBilly, travel

Happenings

Life seems very busy right now. I feel like I have no time or energy to blog much. But I do want to….

To perhaps get myself back into the swing (though we are about to go on another vacation, so we’ll see if I get to blog anything for the next week or so), I will just do a little dump of random happenings here.

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A few weeks ago, Anthropapa and SillyBilly went to an air show at Hill Air Force Base near Salt Lake City. They had some nice “boy” time together.

A lot was going on up in the sky

And they went into the belly of a whale big plane

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SillyBilly is going to a “Summer Adventure” program four days a week. They do little things like ride the city bus to the library, eat lunch at the park, and have swimming lessons at the gym at ISU. But then they do bigger things, like go cave exploring at Craters of the Moon, and last week, fishing at Lava Hot Springs. SillyBilly caught this rainbow trout, big enough for an entire meal for four, with his very own fishing pole. We fried it up for dinner and it was scrumptious. Wild food!

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On Father’s Day we took a walk through the Edson Fichter Nature Area in South Pocatello. It was sunny but cool, and we saw and heard lots of  birds. The Portneuf River was quite full after all the rains of the last month.

Napoleona loved that she could run really far on the trails.

SillyBilly took a quiet moment by the river, perhaps hoping to see some fish like the one he caught out of this same river many miles away.

I was happy to see some beautiful wildflowers, including (for the first time) this lovely but poisonous black henbane.

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While we were in California a few weeks ago, SillyBilly had a very, very loose tooth. He didn’t lose it until we returned home, so per Nana’s request, here is a picture of the craziness of an almost seven-year-old’s mouth.

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Poetry and Speech

On Mother’s Day one of the things we did was go to the bookstore. I’ve been So Very Good lately, getting all of my books either from the library or BookMooch, so I felt justified in buying a few for once. In addition to a compilation (I almost typed “complication” – interesting slip) of C. S. Lewis essays on Christianity, I bought the new Tolkien, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún. It’s poetry for the Seriously Geeky, being a rewriting of ancient Eddic sagas in modern English but retaining the Old Norse meter.

That sounds rather esoteric, but it’s amazing to read. This kind of poetry is so compressed and so highly structured – a line divided into two halves with two stressed syllables in each, the third of the four stresses always carrying alliteration, to be matched by one or both of the first two, but never by the fourth (are your eyes crossing yet?) – it’s really awe inspiring that someone could create it. Here’s an example:

The Gods gathered
on golden thrones,
of doom and death
deeply pondered,
how fate should be fended,
their foes vanquished,
their labour healed,
light rekindled.

In forge’s fire
of flaming wrath
was heaviest hammer
hewn and wielded.
Thunder and lightning
Thor the mighty
flung among them,
felled and sundered.

–”Völsungakviða En Nyja” (The New Lay of the Völsungs), Upphaf (Beginning) 7-8.

Now certainly the subject matter is interesting, being some of the oldest stories of Northern Europe, but even better is to say these poems out loud! They are like the most delicious tongue twisters ever.

I’ve had a soft spot for tongue twisters since childhood. My parents bought me a book of tongue twisters that I practically wore out – it even had foreign language ones like “Six sous ces saussicons-ci?” (Six cents for these sausages? – French) or “Nama mugi, nama gome, nama tamago” (Raw wheat, raw rice, raw egg – Japanese).

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes – even more than these tongue twisters, Tolkein’s eddic poems remind me of some of the speech exercises we learned in Foundation Year at Rudolf Steiner College:

Lovable lidded lizard,
Lipping light laughter,
Lumpishly lurking,
Launching a lurch!

Clip, plop, plik, glik,
Clinked clapper quickly

Or this one from Steiner himself:

Tu-whit twinkle ’twas
twice twigged tweaker
to twenty twangy twirlings
the zinnia crisper
zither zooming shambles
this smartened smacking
smuggler sneezing
snoring snatching.

Discussions with Teachers, p. 135.

How fun are those? And how much more fun to have Tolkein put that kind of beautiful, chewy language into poetic form with an engaging plot and luscious imagery.

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Random Things I Thought I’d Share with You

1) SillyBilly has dived full-bore in to reading. He insisted on getting a chapter book yesterday at the book fair at school. I’ve been steering him toward the simpler, early-reader type books… but no, he wanted a big kid book. He picked a Magic Tree House “Merlin Mission” book, which is a series I know nothing about, other than it appears to be fairly inoffensive compared to much of the dreck publishers seem to think kids want, like books based on Pokemon or Barbie’s adventures in Pinkalotta Land. He’s been reading it (silently to himself, I might add) in pretty much every spare moment.

While I feel deep joy that he loves reading and has willingly embraced it, part of me does not want him to read as much as I did when I was a girl. So, while I will encourage and praise his reading, I will also be booting him outside whenever possible. And he’ll be going to a “Summer Adventure” program four days a week starting in June, which will not involve much indoor activity at all except for the public library once a week. Now I just have to pray that he’s not going to need glasses in addition to hearing aids.

2) SillyBilly is also teaching me a lesson in Not Freaking Out Over Weird Physical Symptoms. When I went to pick him up from school today, I noticed he had a spotty red rash on his face. When it was revealed that he also had it on his arms and torso, we immediately went home for further examination. Turns out he has a spotty red rash pretty much everywhere, but it’s not raised or blistering or itchy, and he doesn’t have a fever or any other symptoms. So I’m chalking it up to him needing to process something out through his skin instead of his usual M.O. of mucus production. He did something very similar when he came home from the hospital as an infant — he was covered with a fine red rash for quite a few weeks as all the various drugs and antibiotics worked their way out. I’m refusing to worry about it unless more symptoms arise. And trying not to be disappointed that it’s not chicken pox, which I’d like both kids to get sooner rather than later.

3) It’s wind season in Southeastern Idaho. We had a few weeks of a nice pattern of rain storms followed by sunny cloud-watching weather. But now it’s all about dry air, sneezing from pollen, listening to the amazing sounds of the pines, and the treat I had this morning of watching a hawk hovering over an empty field, searching intently for his breakfast. It was so windy that for much of the time the hawk was either totally still in the air, letting the wind keep him completely steady without moving his wings at all, or letting himself be carried to another part of the field with a few flaps. At one point I also watched him rise up and repeatedly dodge a smaller bird that was clearly harassing him.

Unfortunately I could not get close enough and the light was not right for me to tell what kind of bird exactly it was, but I know it was a hawk of some kind, possibly a dark morph. I was close enough at one point to clearly see the shape of the bird’s head as it intently peered down to the ground, hoping some field mouse or rabbit would unwisely reveal itself. I couldn’t stay long enough to see if it made a catch or not, but as it’s somewhere I pass by every weekday morning, I’ll be keeping my eye out for sure.

4) Also on the nature study front, in the last few days Napoleona has brought in the shed skin of a snake’s tail section (looks like a rat snake to me) as well as several largish pieces of what appears to be robin’s egg. Time to clear off the nature table for some real treasures!

5) Funniest Quote on What Is Otherwise a Very Serious Subject:

We may note in passing that He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met Him. He produced mainly three effects – Hatred – Terror – Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval.

– C. S. Lewis, “What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” God in the Dock.

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Amazing Internet Synchronicity

I’m home with a sick little girl today — major digestive disruptions (or should I say, eruptions, all over the bed and in the underwear) last night and this morning. You know an almost-five-year-old is sick when she is lying on the couch for hours looking pale and grumpy.

So of course one part of my primitive brain center is screaming at me, “Swine flu, AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!” Totally irrational, but there it is. She’s just got a stomach bug, and so she’s lying on the couch with a hot water bottle and sippy cup of chamomile tea.

On a seemingly unrelated front, I just opened a Twitter account and will be using it primarily for freelancing business and to promote the EFA (my personal promotion only, at this point).

Then this morning, these two aspects of my life came together in my feed reader:

So much of Twitter is like this. Not any of my followers, of course! Now I need to figure out how to put a Twitter widget in my blog do some editing.

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