Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Culture Shock

August 25, 2011

Girl Child has been home now for a day short of a week.  it has been amazing having her back.

no, she didn't actually walk home

well, amazing for me.  for her?  a bit of culture shock.

it’s to be expected, yes?  she spent the last two years in a place where the village population was about the same as the number of people in the local mall at lunch hour, yet spread over an area about 10 times as big.  she’s just not used to people, so many and so close.  despite me suggesting she go off and see friends (hers and mine…i wanted to show her off), her first few days desire was to cocoon in the house.

we’ve been playing games (kicked her butt in Boggle, she kicked mine in Bananagrams), watching tv shows (old “West Wing” episodes that we both enjoy), and letting her experience a wide choice of fresh foods (the spinach salad i made her the first night was a total hit!).

oh, and we did end up taking that bike ride that she wanted to go on.  on the way home from the airport, she was reiterating her wish list of things to do, which included the bike ride.  we had this interchange – – –

Daughter Person:  i’m looking forward to a bike ride.  but…i’m a little nervous, too.  it’s been so long since i rode a bike, i’m not sure i remember how.

The Dadster:  don’t worry…you’ll remember…it’s just like riding a bike.

[a quick duck from a flying elbow to the head and i survived that bad joke]

after a few days, she finally wandered out and is slowly re-acclimating to the weather (it’s still winter down in ZA), the hubbub (cars! people! noise!), and to the reality of having to find a job and place to stay.

we’ve been out quite a few times.  she’s relearning how to drive a car.  she met my Pub Friends at the last get together (so i DID get to show her off!).  she took a hike with me, Dear Friend, and another friend.  and tonight?  she wandered off on her own to meet up with old friends who still live in the area.

she makes it look easy.

she went to the mall by herself, to buy new shoes.  and ended up overwhelmed by the choices.  yes, they have choices in South Africa, but not in the village where she lived.  to get to the choices, she’d have to take a hike, bus, and taxi…some 3 hours to go 40 miles.  here?  a 2 minute drive to the mall.  too close, with still too many choices for her.  culture shock.

she’s off again, too soon, to start her new life.  heading to Washington DC to look for a job and an apartment.  she’s already invited me to come visit and is looking for a time to return here*.

i find myself wondering how much more culture shock that will be.  while the local city is clearly much bigger than her Peace Corps village, it’s by now means close to the size and frenetic lifestyle of Washington DC.

i’m thinking she’s in for a bit more culture shock.


*she damn well better…i’m lending her a car and want it back!


Exile Completed

August 18, 2011


Daughter Person is returning home!

The Prodigal Daughter Returns!

Having served her time for tax evasion  for gun running  in the Peace Corps, she is coming back to the U.S. of A

The experience in South Africa was a treasure to her.  Her host family was…IS…welcoming and embraces her as a family member.  She will have fond memories of the children and teachers at the school she was assigned to.  She will have wonderful memories of holidays taken to other corners of South Africa, as well as the surrounding countries.

She will have not-so-fond memories of what seems to be endemic across the world – the bureaucracy of governments, local and national, that seem to impede, rather than assist.  Her idealism, a necessity of youth, is tarnished a bit by beating her head against the veritable brick wall of red tape and beliefs of leaders.

But she is undeterred in life.

She has many resumés out to various organizations and firms in the Washington DC area.  Her true hope is to obtain a job which will allow her to continue ‘Saving the World’ [trumpet voluntary].

She’s coming back here to the Wilds of Ohio, where she spent most of her youth (I was going to add “growing up”, but think she did much of that in the Peace Corps).  Spending a few days with her old Pops, she’ll ease back into a lifestyle she hasn’t seen in two years.

On her wish list of things to do when she gets home –

–          Mexican food.  Mexican food, Mexican food, Mexican food.

–          A long bike ride

–          Beer, with my friends

–          Watch “Music Man” (she admits, “I don’t know why.”)

–          Eat a huge spinach salad

I’m not sure if I will get her for three day, three weeks, or three months before she begins her new life in DC.

But, we will enjoy it, Girl Child and I.

Heir Apparent

November 8, 2010

This sad little lizard told me that he was a Brontosaurus on his mother’s side. I did not laugh; people who boast of ancestry often have little else to sustain them.  Humoring them costs nothing and adds to happiness in a world in which happiness is in short supply.
–Robert Heinlein

I don’t make a big deal of it, but apparently there’s a fair chance that I’m descended from Swedish royalty.

Back when I didn’t care about my heritage too much, other than the basic “what country are we from?**”, my mom was in the midst of trying to trace our roots.  I vaguely remember her telling this story from what she learned from relatives.  When I did start becoming a bit more interested, mom had already passed away.  I questioned my sister, who was sort of into the heritage stuff, but her memory was fuzzy.  My brother seemed surprised by the story.  So this all needs to be taken a bit tongue-in-cheek.  Seems that as my mom traced back on her mom’s side of the family (the Swedish side), she kept hearing the same story from direct relatives.  Digging further, she heard it repeated by distant relatives, with the story basically intact from what she’d already learned.

The story goes that there was one of my great-to-the-something (fourth? fifth?) grandfathers was actually raised in an orphanage.

The catch was that my grandfather was visited quite regularly.  Every couple of weeks, a royal carriage would come around and one of the King’s daughters…a Princess!!…would come in and spend time with my grandfather.

The rumor had it that the (unmarried) Princess had a liaison with one of the royal court and, as sometimes happens in such affairs, she became preggers***.

my family is a saucy one

Being unmarried, but for religious or medical reasons unwilling to terminate the pregnancy, the child was brought to term and born into – – – nothingness.

Back then (still?), children of royalty born out of wedlock were assumed not to exist.  Given how randy and lascivious many royalty were … are?…, you can’t go around affirming and recognizing every apparent heir to the throne.  Only those issue of approved and blessed marriages may ascend to the royal court.

So, the child was placed into an orphanage, with sufficient funds to ensure he was properly taken care of as long as needed.

But, the Princess was awash in maternal instincts for her ‘lost’ child and made it a point to visit over an extended time.

True?  No way to tell for sure.  A good story, nonetheless.

So, yeah…I may be royalty

…but bastard royalty!

…and damn proud of it.

I’ll be soliciting ideas on how to reclaim my rightful throne…

relatives? maybe...but they're sitting on MY throne


*had to chuckle.  I thought I was being clever using this quote.  But, not remembering the whole thing, googled it only to find that about 73 other people with blogs talking about genealogy use it as well.  You’ll notice it didn’t stop me a bit.

**me?  The biggies are 49% Scottish, 24% German, and 24% Swedish, with a smattering of other stuff thrown in there for the rest.

***yes, I do realize that royalty don’t become “preggers”… that’s for redneck high school girls.  Royalty become “with child” or “enceinte” or some other pompous, overbearing phrase for “knocked up”.  I just felt like using “preggers”.

Irrationally Siblingated

July 10, 2010

Got a phone call from Daughter Person this afternoon.  A care package I’d sent had arrived and she wanted to thank me.  Took the opportunity to catch up a bit (why, yes, I should have been busily working instead of yakking…why do you ask?).

One topic of conversation was the Boy Child.  She’s felt a bit left out of his life because he’s not good at keeping in touch and, complicating that, he’s been dating lately.  I may have said too much when I informed her that he’d left on vacation – – –

GnuKid:  Well, I know he left this morning.

Daughter Person:  WHAT?  He went on vacation?  Where did he go?

GK:  Jamaica.  Hey, I just got the itinerary from him last night*.

DP:  WHAT?  I’m his only sibling and he didn’t tell me he was going out of country.

GK <barely stifling my laughter>:  Well, I’m his only father and he only gave me the itinerary last night.

DP <mildly incensed>:  And he left this morning?  Is he going there with anyone?

GK <starting to feel a bit sheepish at revealing apparent Boy Child secrets)>:  Well, yes…he’s going with his girlfriend.

DP:  WHAT?**  Oh, she’s just not right for him.

GK:  What do you mean?

DP:  Well, I’ve only seen one picture of her.  She just doesn’t look to be his type.  I mean, look…she’s blonde!

GK:  I’ve only seen one picture of her and I think she’s an attractive lady and he looks very happy in the picture.

DP:  And her name…c’mon…Stacy?  Just not ‘him’***.

GK <laughing openly now t her irrationality>:  What should her name be?  Gertrude?  Stella?  Jessica?  Amy?

DP:  I don’t know…it’s just not right.

GK:  So, he should base his dating choices subject to your approval.

DP:  Well, yeah!

GK:  <laughing so I can’t talk>

Daughter Person saw the futility in further conversation on this with me and quickly changed the subject.

Trying to decide now whether or not to forewarn Boy Child.

…a storm is a’coming from South Africa…



*Which is technically true.  Now, he had told me the last time we talked on the phone that a vacation was in the works.  Apparently he didn’t even let her know he was thinking of going.  Oops.

**Now I’m starting to worry that DP’s hearing is going bad

***Okay, to be fair, Boy Child has favored darker haired women…and enjoyed hanging out with Asian young  ladies in High School.  This Scandinavian blond is a departure from his norm.

Nothing Up My Sleeve

April 26, 2010

We interrupt the expected post on my trip to South Africa with an update of family doings.

My sister’s wishes for after her death (which was the first week of December) consisted of (1) being cremated and (2) being buried in Arlington Cemetery (being allowed due to her six years of military service in the early 70s).  My brother-in-law, being reasonable, delayed the Arlington burial until warmer weather.  The time set was for this past Friday.

Arlington Cemetery is a hallowed and honored place.  Among other things, there is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and JFK’s grave.  I could not help but feel overwhelmed and touched by the immensity of the sacrifice that was laid out before my eyes.  Despite non-feelings for my sister, my eyes leaked at the solemnity and honor the cemetery represented.

We drove to a place where we were to meet the honor guard.  Here, my sister’s ashes and an American flag were placed in a casket atop a caisson.  We walked behind the caisson for the final quarter mile, led by a small military band and further honor guard flight, to the columbarium (where they place the ashes for final rest).  At a small chapel, there were final words spoken by a chaplain and the flag was folded and presented to my niece.  A bugler played “Taps” (always heart rending) and a 21 gun salute was rendered.  A shorter walk to the niche in a wall where the remains would be placed and the ceremony was done.

All this was done by members of a military unit who are trained to treat the remains of fallen comrades with utmost respect and dignity.  The uniforms were crisp, as was the slow march behind and in front of the casket.  Pomp and circumstance does not begin to describe the ceremonies followed.

But, there was a slight twist to that ceremony.

When my sister passed away, there was a memorial service where I took the opportunity to vent to a porcelain rabbit containing the cremated remains of my sister.  While I felt a bit strange taking pictures, I felt I must capture this.

The honor guard, standing ready to place the cremains and the American flag into the casket – – –

The flag in the front row and the back row has...

And then both are put into the casket – – –

Watch me pull a rabbit out of my casket, Rocky!

Here’s a close up – – –

Close up of the transfer

Bless the airman for not cracking a smile…or even just outright busting out in laughter.  Not sure I could’ve kept it serious.

And, at the last, laid to rest in the nook where she will reside forever – –

Maybe we should've put some carrots in there to tide her over for eternity?

A quick text after the ceremony to my Dear Friend:  “The rabbit is in the hole.”  And a hope I can find peace as well in her being laid to rest.

Shifting Relationship

February 20, 2010

If you have children, you will never… ever… cease being a parent.  That’s not to say that you have to continually treat your offspring as a child, but there will always be a feeling that you must protect and support your kids.  And, yes, I fully realize that there are some parents out there who feel their parental duties cease the moment their child turns 18.  Or even a 12-sigma minority who feel it ceases at birth…or even conception from some men.  But for the majority of us, always a parent.

My kids have had several opportunities to prove this point.  But I’ve noticed a subtle shift.  A shift which is touching.

Case in point. 

Boy Child is a contributing member of society, adult in all senses of the word.  But, still human.  And subject to human frailties and life events. 

He’s dating.  Or attempting to.  He dates some people he’s met through work, as well as a couple he’s met on-line.  A recent date?  One of his good friends for quite awhile.  He’s told me that they really like each other as friends, but never crossed the line to ‘dating’. 

That changed recently, as evidenced by a text message from The Boy:


Parent mode kicks in and an immediate text back to him, asking what’s going on.

Seems he finally crossed the line with his longtime friend and found himself “making out” with her.  The problem?  His friend is still with her current partner.  Yes, they’re on the last legs of that relationship, but they’re still together.  Boy Child is very sensitive to the potential for problems with this.  His next text to me affirmed his feeling that:

“…it’s gonna be a drama apocalypse…”

(and a nice turn-of-phrase, that).

As a parent, I want to help.  As a parent, though, I know he’s an adult and must deal with this.  So, I offer support, an ear, a shoulder, a few kind words, and affirmation of him being a good man. 

But the ‘dad’ in me still aches for him.

And the ‘dad’ in me feels damn good that he feels he can come to me, openly and honestly, with this.

I think I did good raising that pup…

Spooky II

January 31, 2010

Okay, yeah, psychically deaf.  Meaning I can’t ‘hear’ or ‘see’ psychic stuff.  But it doesn’t mean that stuff doesn’t happen that makes you go, “Hmmm….”.

My brother’s wife talked to me a bit back saying that she had a strange event occur – – –

Her favorite song is…now, don’t laugh…a piece written for clarinet (the instrument of choice of sex gods and goddesses alike).   A song called “Stranger on the Shore” by Acker Bilk.  Actually, quite a beautiful, if sappy, little number.  But, just as obviously, quite obscure.  Hell, I had no clue what it was without looking it up on the internet.  I’m guessing none of you knew without doing the same (okay, maybe one…).

About a year after my brother passed, I got a phone call from sis-in-law.  She was obviously a bit shaken (not stirred).

Seems she got a call on her phone from some 1-800 number she didn’t recognize.  Still, she picked it up.  There was silence on the line, like you sometimes get when a 1-800 number figures “we have a sucker here” and transfers you to a real person to sell you some obtuse thing like flapjack warmers or ear polishers or some such.

But, instead of a live human, she started hearing “Stranger on the Shore”.

And it played all the way through, hanging up at the end.

She told me that there were only two people in the world who knew that was her favorite song – – my brother and her functional daughter*.  Given that my brother was…ummm…indisposed, having passed away and all, she called my niece…

…who categorically denied having sent the message nor any knowledge of who could have sent the message**.


…how do we explain stuff like that happening?

[shaking my head in wonderment]



*I keep intending to share the story of my brother’s daughters…the good niece and the ‘other’ niece.  Well, that’ll have to wait on another post.

**Sis-in-law did try to track down the 1-800 number and found out it was for some bug control company like Terminix or the like.