Category Archives: Family

All those years ago

Leave it to me to replace one addiction with another.

Shortly after I took a break from Facebook, I received an offer for two free weeks of

Hahaha. Haha. Ha. Ha.

Well a week later, here I am. I’ve traced both sides of my family (parentage only…the whole tree will take me probably the rest of my life) as far as I can go. But wow, the places I went…

Our two family names are Pierce (father) and Martin (mother). Here’s what I found.

I mapped my paternal heritage back to circa 1770, when my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Seth John Pierce, came over from Ireland and fought in the Revolutionary War, living out his life afterwards in Georgia. Fortunately, Seth’s wife, Millie Askew, had a much longer published ancestry, almost exclusively from England. William Askew is my 11th great grandfather.

On the Martin side, we go waaay back. As luck would have it, Scottish and Irish aristocracy kept careful birth and death records, and I hit the jackpot all the way back to the 15th century. Fascinating.

I find myself wondering what they looked like, how they lived, what their personalities were. They obviously had station and land. Why was this not passed down to me? I ask you. I ask Grandpa Martin, and the 14 Grandpa Martins who came before him.

As I read the forums and comments on the Ancestry site, I see that many families have an official genealogist/archivist. I am far from that, but now that I’ve got us mapped with parent sets, I’m looking forward to branching out on the tree and seeing who else we might be tied up with.

Terrific. Another obsession to get up at 4:30 a.m. to satisfy. Psh.

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Lady Rat of Fink

Family Union

It wasn’t an event so much as it was a vibe — a great feeling. We reunited after many, many years (in fact, until last weekend, I don’t believe we have ever had a Martin family reunion), and spent the entire time laughing, joking, hugging, remembering, telling stories, eating (and eating), and generally just being silly. It was absolute medicine for us all, I’m sure of it.

The original Martin family, circa 1958

For those who may not know: My mother was a Martin, and the eldest of nine children born to a family that moved around quite a bit and worked several farms and factories in northern Illinois in the 1940s and 50s. Of the four girls, Judy, Carol and Janet are still with us (Mother died in 1996). Boys Glenn, Fred and Dan have passed on during the past decade.

When our aunts Tina and Debbie (wives of Fred and Dan) came to visit Mavis and me last summer, the four of us got to talking over lunch and decided that dang it, we need to have a Martin family reunion before we all get too old and decrepit to throw one. So T & D got busy. And when I say “got busy,” I mean they joined with their sisters-in-law and put together a gala deluxe. Everything was beautiful, and we are incredibly grateful for their hours and hours and weeks of work leading up to Saturday’s picnic fun.

The first generation of Martin grandchildren, in age order. L-R: Mavis, Susie, me, John, Andy, Fred Jr., Kristy, Debbie, Tammi and Ryan.

The first generation of Martin grandchildren, in age order, trying to behave for the camera. L-R: Mavis, Susie, me, John, Andy, Fred, Kristy, Debbie, Tammi and Ryan. Six of us couldn’t attend.

Of course, when nine sibs grow up and get married and have children, and then their children have children, a person has cousins by the dozen. Sadly, many are scattered all over the country (and the world — Janet’s son Jerry lives in Japan) and couldn’t make the trip, but those who could attend made the party that much more awesome. We actually managed to get a “cousin photo” taken with the children of the Original Nine. I love them!

Aunt Judy, who reminds us so much of Mother in many ways

Aunt Judy, who reminds us of Mother in many ways

An unexpected highlight for me was seeing Aunt Judy for the first time in many years. Mavis and I couldn’t stop looking at her; she looks so much like our mother. I told her it was almost as if Mother was with us again, which pleased Judy, as her sister Barbara was also her dearest friend. I’m glad we got the chance to pose for a picture with this beautiful, gentle and kind lady. Her husband, Uncle Marvin, tells the most hysterically funny stories I’ve ever heard. (I’m sure we all have an uncle like Marv, yes?)

Three of us with our Crazy Aunts. Back row, L-R: Judy, Tina, Susie, me; Front row, L-R: Debbie, Janet, Mavis, Carol.

Three of us with our Crazy Aunts. Back row, L-R: Judy, Tina, Susie, me. Front row, L-R: Debbie, Janet, Mavis, Carol. Oh, and Teenie, the  Dog.

Of course, if it weren’t for who we lovingly refer to as the “Crazy Aunts,” none of this would have taken place. They are among our favorite people in the world, and we’re so blessed to have been able to spend some time with them, as we all live so far away. They are silly, funny, smart and sweet, and along with our beautiful cousin and friend, Susie, we had a blast talking the day away.

I’ve often heard it said that nothing is more important than family, and that you should treasure every moment you spend with them. Heck, I’ve said it myself over the years. The adage proved true in spades this weekend. As we hugged the Crazy Aunts goodbye, we all said that this simply cannot be the last time we do something like this. Mavis and I are already discussing a repeat visit next summer.

You should plan one with your family, too. :-)

Alas, for now, it’s back to reality. I’m not ready to think about school yet, but I do have a piano to unbox, grandchildren to hug and the New Orleans Odyssey to plan, so I’d best get to it. Happy Monday!

Of webcams and heartache

I broke down and bought one of these today. As a longtime user of the soon-to-be-just-about-obsolete desktop PC (of all the computers/devices I use, it’s my all-time favorite), I don’t have an onboard camera. You know…to use with Skype. To talk with people far away.

One month from now, my best girlfriend of over 25 years will move away. And not just down the street, or to the next town or state — but a long way away. It bites, but I’m trying to put a good face on it. For one thing, it’s a fantastic move for Kay and Bob, because not only will they finally live in the same town as their son again, but they’ll also have tons of fun with tiny house living (can’t wait to see photos of it — and then actually see it in person).

Although I’m tied to a physical location by choice, for two important reasons (#1 — grandchildren; #2 — job), I find myself envious sometimes. The Thriller and I both long to wander free. Still, I admit I love being surrounded by my “things,” too. I enjoy the conveniences of my life, and I love having my family close by. That makes me very fortunate and happy, and I can’t imagine anyone faulting someone else for wanting the same thing. Kay’s son has been on the west coast for many years, and it’s time she was closer to him. It’s the right thing to do.

That doesn’t make this hurt any less, however.

One of my favorite photos of us, a couple Christmases ago.

One of my favorite photos of us, a couple Christmases ago.

The upside is that Kay and I have done the long-distance friendship dance more than once, as she has lived in Europe before, and we are pretty good at staying connected. I told her the other day, during a conversation about her living off the grid with no electricity and no cell service, that I would drag out the paper and pen and actually write weekly letters — you know, the kind you send in surface mail. *Gasp!* Amazing, yes?

I guess it stings a little bit more this time because before, they always came back to their house in the country, about 15 minutes from here. Two weeks ago, they sold the place, so…it’s on. She’s leaving for real and for good, which makes stuff more serious.

No worries, though. As much as she might try, she’ll never be rid of me. I have wheels, and if it becomes absolutely necessary, planes have wings. And in the meantime, there’ll be the pesky webcam and Skype, when she can get into town from the wilderness and use some wifi, or go where she has cell reception. It ain’t perfect, but I’ll take it. Oh, and the writing letters thing…that, too. ;-)

Till then, I plan to grab as much “K time” as I can get. T-minus thirty days…

Quiet day

The boisterous laughter and silliness and love from last night’s Hamsgiving celebration is a pretty sharp contrast to this morning: a freezing cold, quiet day of slow beginnings, napping pups (Pax was definitely overstimulated last night and loved every minute of it, while poor terrified Remy mostly just hid in the basement), watching football on TV in jammies, leftover ham for lunch, and vroča čokolada later.

This pretty table was heavy with lots of good food, precious family and tons of laughter.

The dining room table was heavy with lots of good food, precious family and tons of laughter.

Hamsgiving is not a long-lasting affair; we start at 5:00, and by 8:00, the house is quiet again, with the only sounds being the Thriller and me, tidying up. Mavis and I really appreciate all he did to help us yesterday, up to and including washing all of the dishes afterwards, which is no small project, as we don’t own a dishwasher. After being up since 3 a.m. and cooking all day, I ran clean out of diesel after putting food away and straightening up, so he did the lion’s share of cleaning the kitchen. (We had kind offers of help from family, of course, but we declined. I guess we’re funny that way.)

While I cluck at the silliness and totally wrong-headed history of the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m very glad we have it. With our kids having busy families of their own, it’s incredibly difficult to get everyone together anymore, and I will jump at every chance I get for it to happen. Awesome night. I’m looking forward to Christmas Eve, when we do it all again. Fun!

Have a beautiful Thanksgiving Day, fiends, and reflect upon how fortunate and blessed we are!

Fink, hoping for a Bears win for the Thriller today

It’s Hamtastic

I am grateful to pigs everywhere for tonight. For those who don’t know: our children make the Thanksgiving rounds to two-three different homes every year. Several Thanksgivings ago, I decided to try something different for our November family feast, to give the kids a break from turkey, turkey, and more turkey. Hence, Hamsgiving. I’ve claimed the night before Thanksgiving to offer a classic Midwestern menu, but with a perfectly paradisaical porcine personality. :-)

Fiends who have followed my little blog about nothing for going on seven years know that I harbor a particular affinity for cooking and baking, so days like this are enjoyable for me. Better still is the fact that Mavis and I get to cook together all day long for a big crowd (“big” around here is 13 people, including Bob & Kay, who are very much “family” to us), which is usually a laff riot. We all don’t get together near often enough for my taste, so it’s great to have everyone in one place for one day. Although, if our family continues to grow, Mama is going to need a bigger house.

So, I’m off to get ready. Gotta swing by and get Mavis, then hit the grocery for a couple of items I forgot.

I wish everyone who reads this the happiest Thanksgiving (and to those who don’t celebrate this most dubious of holidays, I’ll just say I’m happy you’re here). I love reading about other people’s plans, so please feel free to post what you’re doing today and tomorrow.

PS — Fellow foodies: there’s also a new cornbread recipe I’m trying today. It’s “designed” to wow those who don’t even like cornbread. We shall see…

PPS — I really enjoyed reading your comments from Sunday’s Greek post — I look forward to responding tonight, when the dishes are done and the house is quiet.