A new take on Genealogy

My religion focuses a lot on connecting family eternally. Knowing who your ancestors are and sharing those stories with future generations.

Lots of family trees and collecting stories from the past. This year, I’m also focusing on leaving a record for the future. I signed up for a memoir writing class and procrastinated actually doing the classes before they expired.

However, this year one of my goals is to leave a record for my descendants. It’s also a good way to heal from past hurts. So once a month, I’ll be sharing my writing prompt for the month. I would love to have you join me and share your stories.

That said, this month’s prompt is talk about your teenage friends.

Who are they? What did you do with them? Are you still in touch? Why or why not? How did you meet them? What is your favorite memory of them? What is your biggest regret about them? What brings you shame when you think on that time?

I’ll post my story at the end of the month.

Chernobyl for Christmas

Still from HBO’s Chernobyl Docudrama

No this isn’t about the war in Ukraine although I trust Ukraine over Russia when it comes to managing the site. No, this is about my family’s choice of Christmas viewing.

Christmas Day conversation revolved around 9/11 and the survivors and the physical toll on them. That led to talking about the HBO docudrama on Chernobyl.

So Boxing Day we’re all watching Chernobyl because that’s how we roll. And that led to some Google for history and where are they now answers and did you know that more people died in the holiday snow storm in New York than the Russians and therefore the UN admit were killed by Chernobyl? The official death toll for the nuclear accident is 31.

This led to a discussion of what happens when society conditions you to believe that lies are truth. And both sides of the political aisle are guilty of misusing opinion as facts. Try looking to see where the often quoted statistic about 50% of marriages end in divorce came from you’ll find it’s an estimate not actual data. (Latest estimate is that almost 60% of first marriages will last until death parts them, it’s the 2nd and additional after that that skews the data up to over half of marriages fail).

But back to Chernobyl – the scene that hit many of us hardest was the “it can’t be graphite, you must be mistaken” and the one where it’s pointed out that 3.5 is the maximum reading their detectors can register. People are willing to accept misinformation if it fits their narrative. It’s how we start believing social media is reality even if real life doesn’t match the screen.

So ask yourself – what beliefs am I looking to support when reality doesn’t match? What facts and reality am I ignoring in order to support my beliefs? Are there any beliefs I hold that should be re-examined given the reality happening outside of my screen?

Just a random thought

And totally out of season.

If the Third Reich hadn’t committed the holocaust, how long would eugenics have continued to be popular in the rest of the Western world?

How did Covid change Christmas for you?

With the lockdowns and illnesses, supply chain changes and resulting inflation, has anything changed in your Christmas traditions?

During 2020 the last of our kids moved out (L is back though as mortgages in Utah are less than rent in California) and we scaled back the decorating as no one would be coming to visit the house.

I moved from 3 trees visible from the street to a single tree. The hardest of the old trees to give up was the one that had graced my father’s company lobby and my house for 20+ years but let’s face it, it was showing it’s age. The stand had broken and it never really fit right anyway so the tree always leaned to one side or the other but oddly it was a happy connection to my extended family. I guess that really sums up my family relationship. My happy memories are working for my father. Sadly, his memory is not that I was an integral part of the family business but he was “helping me” by letting me have a secretarial job. For those that don’t know, I never was a secretary. When I explained my week to the MBA entrance board they said that what I did was director level at least and more accurately described as a VP of operations.

But I digress. In 2020 we went to a single tree and it was white – and then after Christmas we took off the ornaments and put on New Years decorations (including a Hat, blower noisemakers and a Welcome 2021 banner). February was Valentines, March – shamrocks and green tinsel for St. Patricks Day. April was Easter, Mother’s Day in May covered it in flowers. July was Red, white and blue, followed by pencils, crayons and rulers for back to school and then my stitched Halloween ornaments.

Following Halloween it was donated to the thrift store so we could make space for a genuine Stickley couch that we got at a bargain price. And we got a tiny tree for 2021. This year the 3 foot tree is back sitting on the chess table. And on Dec 18 it’s the only decoration besides my Mirabilia Christmas Elf. That’s right, I haven’t gotten out the boxes of tinsel and wrapping, of bells and the giant Santa poster, there is no garland on my stair rails.

I’m also seeing less of the holiday baking pictures on my social media. Did we all switch from Instagram and Facebook to somewhere else? I’m not a TikTok fan and it’s actually not suggested based on my new job in Cybersecurity. Or are people not baking this year?

I have had more Christmas parties this year than in the last two years but that’s because my new employer had a party and my old employer didn’t believe in spending money on holiday parties (waste of tax dollars). And with DH volunteering, we were invited to a volunteer appreciation party (with a drawing for gifts). If there are any extended family parties this year, I haven’t been invited to them. But if it’s true to form, some evening soon I’ll get a phone call asking, “Why aren’t you here?” To which the canned response is “Where is here and when did you tell me about it?” Then I will be told the location where I’m supposed to be and the event (that I was also not invited to) where plans were made and everyone notified by iPhone. (I’m an Android user and for some reason never get the group texts sent by iMessage).

For those thinking I sound really grinch and should get out and do things for other people. Yes, I probably should. That would maybe help me get more in the Christmas spirit. But today, I’ve sat in the front room working on a piece I’ve barely stitched on all year and listened to Christmas music in order to catch the feeling and I’m just not in the mood to leave the house at all. Maybe that’s the biggest change for me, after a year of hunkering down at home, I still haven’t figured out how to restart my extrovert. This ambivert is reveling in the solitude of just those close to me around. I know I would probably be energized by groups of people but it sounds like so much work to put on actual clothes instead of sweats and pajama pants.

Maybe I’ll just tuck into a Hallmark movie or a good Christmas book instead?

Comfort Food

I haven’t seen as many posts about cookie baking this year as I usually do around the holidays. Maybe it’s the algorithm that social media has forced on me but again it could be the inflationary cost of sugar and the lack of decent butter. I know that I had to resort to Amazon to get the candied fruit for my dad’s annual “applesauce cake” (we can’t call it fruitcake, it’s an applesauce cake because nobody would eat a fruitcake).

Around the holidays there are comfort foods that I make and long for – Mimi’s cookies (which I make with butter not Crisco). Mama’s Peppermint Marshmallow Pie that no one else likes so I don’t make it anymore.

My husband wants to make a proper Victorian mincemeat if he can source suet.

Thanksgiving this year made me realize that turkey soup is a comfort food. I’m not even talking good turkey soup. I’m talking the over cooked bone broth, mushy potatoes and carrots that Mama used to make. That and the turkey sandwiches with Miracle Whip and cranberry sauce that my dad did before becoming vegetarian. Although Miracle Whip doesn’t have the same texture it did when I was a child. Something in it has changed it’s more goopy and sticky, not as smooth.

I remember someone telling me that tomato soup and grilled cheese was a comfort food because their father would never let them eat it. They only had it when they were home alone with mom. As an adult she once asked her father why he wouldn’t let them eat it. To him it was poverty food and reminded him of growing up with nothing else available for supper. He had determined to always provide better for his family. Knowing that about her dad made it even more comforting.

The two meals that my grandfather would never allow served were stuffed bell peppers and Navy bean soup. He said bell peppers gave him gas and he had eaten a lifetime’s worth of bean soup in the Navy and he never wanted to eat it again.

Speaking of never eating something because of the military, my husband came back from TDY and announced that there would never be Chicken ala King on our table. For 2 weeks straight 3 meals a day his unit had been served the Chicken ala King MRE. If he never ate it again it would be too soon. So I have never fixed chicken ala King for my kids.

Just so you know, some of the other comfort meals for me are corned beef or tuna gravy (commonly known as S**t on a shingle), creamed peas and potatoes, mujadara, and S&B Mild Curry Roux with potatoes, carrots and peas over rice.

As long as the mujadara is eaten with rice, they’re all high carb foods which makes sense as carbs help the brain release serotonin and that makes you feel better. Do you have any comfort foods that aren’t heavy in carbs? What are they?

Just a thought not fully formed…

I’ve been thinking about cultural appropriation specifically about food after some comments I’ve seen on curry and avocado toast. And a trip to Spitz that didn’t turn out well.

My grandparents were newlyweds during WWII, they didn’t have access to crops from “enemy” countries. Same with a lot of spices. They were suspicious of “foreign” things because that’s where the war was.  Some of the recipes from women’s magazines at the time warn against using Asian spices.

They didn’t share any of those “enemy” things with their baby boomer kids who discovered a lot of things like mangoes and spices when refugees came after the Vietnam.  Refugees bring great new things with them, but if you’re suspicious of refugees, you also don’t try the new things.

As more immigrants move into areas, more ethnic restaurants pop up to meet community needs. You can tell who the racists are when they start complaining about not having any “good” or “normal” places to eat.

But immigrants can’t always get the same ingredients in the US as they got at home (any other Finns smuggle in makkara?) which leads to adaptation to get a similar flavor or texture to what you had at home.

Children going to school with more diverse people discover new foods and flavors (Rosemary Wells Yoko, anyone?). The more diversity children experience growing up, the more they can bring those experiences back to their parents, and both generations learn (as long as there is a growth mindset, but that’s another topic).

I personally love discovering new flavors. But I’ve also run into situations where I’ve been told that hot spices are sinful (still looking for the scripture on that one). It’s got me thinking of Anthony Bourdain and how he tried to reach and learn about others through food.

It’s also got me wondering how society has used food to enforce racism and systemic discrimination.

Was there a food you were told to avoid without being given a clear reason? Also, how has food changed over time for you?

That last question comes up because I was looking at a museum piece from the 1800s, and they talk about the lobster and oysters being a succulent meal. But at the time period, when it was painted, those foods were poverty and prison fare. No one with money would have eaten lobster. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that lobster became a delicacy instead of the cockroach of the sea.

It also reminds me of the cottage cheese and yogurt industry. In the 1970s, dairy manufacturers and women’s magazines began advertising cottage cheese as a way to lose weight (anyone or their mom do the cottage cheese diet?). Then, manufacturers discovered yogurt was cheaper to make, and now yogurt is the diet breakfast of choice.

Now, I’m hungry. I think I’ll go fix something to eat from a forbidden food list.

The First Mirabilia I ever Saw

Mother’s Arms by Mirabilia

The first Mirabilia lady I ever saw was Mother’s Arms. There was something about it that I fell in love with immediately.

In 1995, 8.50 was a lot to pay for a cross stitch pattern but I did it anyway. And then I stitched Scent of Old Roses instead.

And then so many other of Nora’s ladies and pixies, the latest being Tiger Lily

Every now and then, I would pull Mother’s Arms out of the filing cabinet and gaze longingly at it because I still love it. Then, last year, I pulled all the fibers for it. It moved from the filing cabinet into a project bag and found space on the kitted but not started shelf.

And then finally, this year, for my birthday start, I pulled it out and started it.

Now, if I can just remember where I put the beads for it, since they aren’t in the project bag.

A word of intent for 2022

In 2020, my word was focus and it helped as there was much distraction and redirection in 2020.

In 2021 I went with Flow because if I learned anything in 2020 it was that plans change and anticipation and foreplanning create anxiety when what is doesn’t match what you want things to be. And Flow worked – even if it never made it onto the focus board to be viewed in the morning.

But 2022 needed something different for it’s intent. Something for me to manifest and work toward. So I took quizzes designed to help find your word for the year and I looked at other people’s words and I looked at goals.

Then one of the responses to a quiz smacked me hard in the face. It told me I was in Warrior mode and gave me a list of Warrior affirmations. What hit me is that I have been questing and battling for so long, I forgot to slow down and look at the roses on the path. I forgot about the joy in the journey. I forgot about checking the rear view mirror every now and again to see how far I’ve travelled.

But gratitude didn’t seem like the correct word.

Abundance, however, did feel right.

I can work on my health and losing weight because I have an abundance of food. I can exercise because I have an abundance of options and can prioritize my time to do so. I have a new job which also gives me an abundance of opportunities to learn, grow and develop. I have an abundance of family members to improve relationships with and practice emotional intelligence. I have an abundance of stash to work on my hobbies.

This year I will recognize my ABUNDANCE and I will be a good steward of what I have so the universe can use it to make room for even more.

Thinking for the new year

So Facebook just reminded me that in 2016 I posted about what a great year it had been. I remember doing a similar post about 2020 not being 100% horrible. Then I started thinking about this year.

I can’t say that 2021 was a really great year. I think in will be one that just fades to nothing in my memory but if I had to pick out a few highlights.

1. I have stitched every single day of the year with the low point being a day I put in 8 stitches total for the day.

2. FanX occurred and I volunteered and met a new agent I had never worked with before. It was so good to see my FanX family but it sure felt like way too many people to be around.

3. My parents were able to come home from Finland

4. We were able to hold the reception for my kids who got married last year.

5. The temples re-opened and I’ve been to the temple several times

6. I have a Covid vaccine and booster.

7. I have season opera tickets and have been to the opera this year.

8. I met some great recruiters and signed an intent to start work as a full time employee ending my 2 years as a contractor.

9. My 2020 taxes were not as bad as they could have been and they are paid.

10. My kids were all able to come home for Christmas.

My word for 2021 was FLOW and I have flowed with the year.

I also learned that when I am bored, I will find ways to entertain myself and that I should find more productive measures and less time wasters to alleviate boredom. However, I have also learned that my new stress release is to create fiber art or play video games. Fiber arts are fine but no one cares about my Animal Crossing island or where I am on Merge Mansion or how many gardens Lily redecorates. Something with more permanence would be better.

11. I’m starting to have to admit that I’m not as young as I once was as cringe as that is to say it.

So 2021 wasn’t a really productive year. I wasted a lot of time, I didn’t learn as much as I could have but I did what I did and I need to get back to the small habit changes that will lead to big differences in the future. Now where did I file that backlog of things I wanted to accomplish in 2020? I’m thinking that would be a good place to restart.

I finished a book!

Just so you know, I finished Jolene by Mercedes Lackey. Now for those of you who knew me before the Pandemic Lockdown. This would not be a big deal, I was reading 1-2 books per week.

However, just before lockdown I had a soul crushing year and was one week into a new job when lockdown occurred. I had great lockdown plans, I was going to finish writing my book. I was going to read everything in my TBR pile. I was going to stitch and finish all my WIPs and start all the previously kitted projects on my shelf.

And then it hit. A paralyzing stress reaction where all I wanted to do was deny that I was stressed. My kids actually insisted I go find a switch (ended up with a Switch Lite and Animal Crossing).

And so I numbed my busy mind with building a 5 star island. Come August, I held a virtual get together with some local stitchers and agreed to stitch a model for a very busy designer. That woke me up a little and I started stitching again. I’ve now managed to stitch at least a little every single day since Sept 22, 2020.

But reading and writing have not returned. I have 2 maybe 3 of the Louise Penny Detective Gamache novels ready to read. I have a stack of business books on my Kindle and Google Play account ready to go as soon as my reading desire returns. I’m hoping that the reading bug is off playing with my writing bug.

See, I’ve put together a boatload of slide decks but no actual writing is required for that. It’s just a matter of finding the right pictures. Blogging has not been happening and YouTube filming is still halted.

So, you see, finishing a book is a big deal right now. It’s a step back to normal for me. True during lockdown I listened to several books but only Polio: An American Story by David M. Oshinsky which convinced me that I will never give another penny to the March of Dimes again.

So let me tell you about Jolene – It’s an entry in the Elemental Masters series by Lackey. The publisher would have you believe it’s the first on American soil but they weren’t the publisher on Fire Rose which preceded the current list of Elemental masters.

Jolene is an adaptation of The Queen of Copper Mountain. And yes, there is a part where the Dolly Parton song is paraphrased. The setting is in the hollers of coal and copper mining areas just after the civil war.

I am motivated now to go read the Annie Oakley Elemental master book which I have missed reading in the series. Or, I could go restart the Phantom Tollbooth that I started and didn’t finish when lockdown first started.