Lake Mendocino

Lake Mendocino

Friday, January 12, 2018

Monday, July 17, 2017

Cousins Galore!

My great-grandmother was one of three children, but that generation only produced one child: my grandmother. This means that Gram grew up with no first cousins. Her grandmother had a brother, and I believe he had a family, but I've never heard about that branch of the tree.

I grew up knowing that I had paternal cousins, that my father had two sisters who had children. I have a really vague memory of Jeanie and Jaime from my toddlerhood, and another when one of them came to visit my grandparent's house once with my Aunt Beverly. My cousin Beffer, Earlina's daughter, and I hung out for a few months when we were teens, but lost touch shortly thereafter. I know my dad was close to his cousin, Chuck who was married to Cookie and they had two sons: Chuckie and Tommy.

I have always assume that I have family somewhere, but we've had no real contact.

Serendipitously, I began working on a memoir this summer, and out of the blue I received an email through a long closed account from a woman claiming to be my cousin. We have exchanged several emails and she is indeed my cousin! And apparently I have dozens and dozens of cousins. Would they be second or third or removed cousins? I don't know. I do know that for a kid who was raised alone with little sibling or cousin contact, this is quite a boon. Thanks to Cousin Charlene, I now have a few new pics and an increasing amount of information about my father's side of the family.

This has opened up a whole new swirl of feelings and insights. I've renewed my search for my grandmother's childhood home in Ukiah, and I am pretty certain that it is the same house where my sister-in-law stayed during my daughter's wedding back in April. I've printed the census records and plan to dig a little deeper at the local library or government offices.

If we choose, the hubby and I can travel to Missouri next year for a family reunion. I have to admit that I am reticent about the idea of a reunion with strangers, even if I am related to them. I am very much enjoying corresponding with Cousin Charlene and digging deeper into my family tree.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Happy Birthday Grandpa (a little early)

I was resting on my bed yesterday. I believed in the moment that I wasn't actually asleep, when I was suddenly struck with a thought. I realized that I couldn't remember the last time that I had talked to my grandfather. I was somewhat aghast at that realization. I threw my mind back and back; I thought that maybe we had spoken or seen each other in May or June at a family gathering. I couldn't quite put my finger on when, though. I resolved to call him, in that moment. I recited his phone number in my head and reached (and this should have been a clue) to open my computer.

I felt guilty, as I assume other grown children do, that we hadn't spoken in so long. I was momentarily worried that he would be upset at my prolonged silence, but then I remembered calling him once after a very long absence, one where I had consciously pulled away from him for nearly a year. He had been quite happy to hear my voice. Armed with that memory I knew he would simply be happy that I called today. I also reasoned that if he wanted to speak with me, he would have called me.

It took several minutes of what I now realize was my slow coming to wakefulness, before I remembered that Grandpa was dead and has been for a dozen years. I'l be honest that one of the first things I did upon that realization was to worry that I forgot he was dead. Am I developing dementia?!?

Once I moved beyond the multiple bouts of near panic, I realized that I miss Grandpa, and it kinda hurts. Do I sound surprised? I am a bit. I loved him, I did. When I was a little girl we were so close. When I was a teenager we fought constantly. As a young adult, although he could be very supportive, he could also be grossly negative about my choices in life, railing against a foolish decision or even many logical ones. After my grandmother died, he and I lived on a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs. He fell into a deep depression and become very verbally abusive. A few years before he died I had to cut off contact in order to save my own waning sanity. We reconciled when he got sick and had some really lovely closure in his last days. Still, some part of me resents him for the years of verbal abuse.

I mourned him deeply when he died, so much so I had difficulty getting out of bed for weeks. Since then I've been very grateful for the generosity of his will and have a lovely home in large part because of him. But I haven't missed him in a long, long time.

So despite the sudden pain, I am happy to miss him again. He would have been ninety-eight in a few weeks. Happy Birthday Grandpa. I love you. I miss you. Thank you.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Revisiting, Remembering, and Beginning Anew

I have moved to an area where my grandmother spent part of her youth, my mother spent several of her adult years, and that I visited often in my 20s.

My grandmother lived on the block directly behind me. I discovered this shortly after we had settled into our new home. I renewed my membership and created a Family Tree, so I have been floundering about in the world of genealogy. A 1930 census record shows Gram living with her mother, step-father and uncle. They rented, but the house number listed doesn't match any of the existing houses. I often walk down the quiet one block long street and feel a sense of closeness to the woman I lost more than 20 years ago.

At one point my mother lived in Potter Valley with one of her husbands (was it four or five or six?). I have come to realize that most of the interactions with my mother were toxic on some level. The most healthy face-to-face moments took place in that valley about 25 minutes from my new home. I drove there recently; the signs, and GPS, pointed me deeper and deeper into a quiet and sprawling green valley. The drive was a beautiful as I remember, although very little looked or felt familiar.

Main Street in downtown Potter Valley is 2.2 miles long. There are only a few blocks, and a few buildings including a saloon, fire department, school, community center, post office, church and a several homes. My memory places my mother's home in a cluster of buildings that at the time seemed to be hotel room converted to tiny apartments. I remember apartments along one side of the property across from an empty swimming pool. The only potential match between my past and the town's present is a complex with more than double the number of apartments and no swimming pool.

One particularly rainy winter in 1986 I was stranded in Ukiah by El Nino rain. My girlfriend and I had taken the long drive from San Francisco so she could see the boy she liked. Jim lived with his brother John in a two bedroom house they had just rented. It looked like it had been recently renovated and sported a cute back deck. I know this little house is somewhere in my new neighborhood, but I have yet to find it.

The other place that holds a special memory for me is a picnic spot next to Orrs Creek just beyond the outskirts of town. I have yet to find that spot, but there are several beautiful areas along that creek that give me joy.

Moving to Ukiah feels like going backwards and forwards simultaneously.The town and surrounding area are deeply embedded in my past. My future is now rooted solidly in my new home, a secure career, and the chance to live alone with my husband for the first time.

I still miss my grandmother at times; I don't miss my mother, although I do mourn the potential she let slip through her fingers. I am fond of that the young woman I was, but I am thoroughly enjoying the woman I have become. I am quite excited about moving forward as I begin anew.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Househunting Chronicles: Dismantling and Restarting

This is the last full weekend the hubby and I will be spending in the Petaluma house. As I take a short break from packing I feel relieved that most of the shelves are empty and boxes are stacked neatly across the room. Most of the house is in a similar state.

A few short weeks ago I was feeling pretty panicked that we wouldn't be packed and ready to move in time. But we now have movers scheduled, incredible friends who spent hours and hour helping us pack, four truckloads of boxes and outdoor furniture already in Ukiah and it looks like it is all downhill from here.

A few dozen fine friends and neighbors stopped by last night to wish us a fond farewell as we embark on our new adventure. It's been a very long year and a half since I landed an incredible job. My body is looking forward to swapping a one and a half hour one-way commute for an eleven minute one. The changes needed to get here have been very incremental; sometimes it really felt like this would never happen. We started looking at houses a year ago! Now we have a lovely, lovely new home to settle into, so we continue to dismantle the old home to restart our life together.

Monday, January 11, 2016

House Hunting Chronicles: Is the End in Sight? or So Many Moving Parts

Our house has been on the market forever! Okay, only five months, but it feels like forever.

The general attitude of people who have been inside our house is one of utter disbelief and confusion that it has not yet sold. The feedback from agents and potential buyers includes the valid (concerns about the neighbors to the south of us) and the strange (it's so far from the street). The neighbors have been dealt with, but I can't move the house. I think we confused people when we increased the price a few months ago. In my defense, the comparable houses were selling for much more than our asking price, and I was worried the house wasn't selling because we devalued it by asking too little.

Suddenly this last week there has been a flurry of renewed interest. In the last few days 8 new people have saved our house on Zillow and the stack of flyers posted by the For Sale sign seemed to have, forgive the pun, flown away.

The house we REALLY want was taken off the market back in July and rented. We made an offer on that house last week. They have accepted the offer, so we are in escrow for a new home. Two days later we received an offer on our current house. After a little back and forth, we accepted the offer and escrow begins today.

This MAY happen. The End may be in sight! BUT there are a lot of moving parts and many people involved. Each set of buyers has their own real estate agent, and their own mortgage people, plus inspections and disclosures and reports to wade through. Competing interests, distance, renters, and schedules all play a part. We are trying to balance feeling very excited and cautiously optimistic.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

House Hunting Chronicles: We're Still Here

A full six weeks and still no sale.

We seem to have put our house on the market at an odd time in the calendar: August. Most schools in the area were back in session the following week, so any families who were once interested in relocating were immersed in back-t0-school activities. Shortly after that, we had a triple digit heat wave. Then a volatile stock market was the topic of concern. The next thing we knew, we were in the midst of Labor Day weekend. Two open houses were held in that first few weeks and only a few requests for private viewings.

Then things picked up, just a smidgen. After weeks of cleaning every morning and every night, avoiding cooking (to avoid extensive kitchen cleaning and odor abatement), paying someone regularly to clean the house top to bottom, the requests for private showings picked up. One couple from out of state expressed interest, as has an investor. We are, however, still waiting for offers.

I could complain about how tired I am, how much my back hurts from the daily 3-hour round-trip commute; I could complain about living with a fraction of my possession, clothes and general use items (because the house is staged to look like it could be lived in, not that it is lived in). I could complain about the lack of time for a social life or seeing my grandkids less often than I like; I could fret out loud about the fact that I am falling behind at work and haven't yet prepped for my tenure committee meeting next week, or plenty of other things.

That all sounds so depressing.

Things I am happy about and grateful for: living alone with my husband for the first time ever, my job, the newest grandbaby, and all the small things that make me happy like a PM with a Facebook friend and wonderful and supportive friends.

We are certainly learning how to clean up after ourselves more often (like every time we move an inch) and appreciate meal planning more than ever before. The house looks great, if not a little bit sterile.

So for the moment, we're still here.