Category Archives: Family

K is for …

Kiss? Nope, don’t want to write about that.

Kites — haven’t tried to fly one in years.

Kids — okay, but goat kids or mine? Goat kids are awfully cute and so hoppy, but I don’t really know anything more about them.

So my kids it is.

I have three human kids & 3 of the furry four-legged type.

My oldest, a daughter, just turned 21. She’s in her third year of college. She started as pre-nursing, changed to health sciences & is now considering medical school. So who knows how many years left to go. She’s smart — tested out of math & humanities, has a 3.7 or so gpa, and is pretty fluent in French (always took the National and AP tests & got high scores and prizes). Since starting college she has also lost weight through smart exercise & food choices. But she hates that some might just discount her intelligence because all they see is that she’s a ‘pretty girl’. ~sigh~

My son is a college freshman, mixing art and computers by studying game design. He’s a very talented artist – as long as you don’t ask him to paint or sculpt. He plays video games, skateboards, has great friends, and just recently got his very first job. He’s funny and snarky and smart and sometimes a mister-cranky-pants. He and I get along really well, sharing a lot of the same interests and off sense of humor.

Youngest is in middle school and has tons of friends. Through the Internet, she started reaching out to people before we even moved so she had friends waiting for her. She has no ideas yet on what she wants to do in the future, but she’s got a few more years before she has to really think about it. She loves girly stuff like doing her hair and nails, and she picked the pink bedroom. Right now she’s enjoying being an ‘only’ child instead of just the youngest.

As for the furry kids —
One long-haired we-don’t-know-what-breed cat who is a flame point with blue eyes. He’s our scaredy cat. But when he wants loves he is quite persistent and has no problems literally getting in your face.

One seal point mitted Ragdoll who is an odd mix of priss and mighty hunter. He’s been known to bring me mice in bed — really not nice at 3am.

One great big 80 lb (so far) 6 month old Landseer Newfoundland puppy. He’s bouncy and drooly and we have no idea how big he will ultimately be.


Family History

I have been fascinated by my family history for, oh, decades now. And the Internet has made it so much easier – and harder – to do. Easier because there is SO much information out there — books and documents that have been digitized and posted for anyone to access. Harder because there is SO much information out there, and not all of it is reliable or accurate. Wading through it can be frustrating. And time consuming. It often feels like three steps forward, four steps back. It doesn’t help that some people (including some of my own family members) are apparently so desperate to link themselves to nobility that they will add people to their family trees without any regard for the facts.

I just realized I could have added my family history to yesterday’s post on the eclectic.

All of the below assumes that the information I have is correct.

My ancestry is rich and mixed and made up of a wide variety of people. On one line, I’m only 3rd generation American as my great-grandparents emigrated from Denmark. On another, it’s 4 generations since they moved to America. Yet other lines go back to the colonial days, before the American Revolution. They came from Germany, Denmark, Ireland, and England in the 1800s. During the 1700s, they came from Scotland and England, and maybe one from Germany. In the 1600s, it was also Scotland — not willingly if all the information is correct – and England.

Some of my ancestors, a very few that I’ve found so far, were well-off, landed, with manors, coats of arms, towns bearing their names, noted in history lessons, leaders in their communities. But most of them were ordinary people — farmers, fishers, tailors, carpenters, coal miners, merchants. One is specifically listed as a lace merchant. Another I suspect may have been spice merchant or trader as he named a couple of his children Spice and Mace. Some were tobacco planters and slave owners. A few fought in the American Revolution — some for and some against; one was arrested for aiding the British. Others fought in the Civil War, again on both sides although the Union is easier to trace. They fought American Indians, panned for gold, were pioneers always traveling westward, eventually reaching the Pacific coast. I’ve found ancestors in Delaware, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Montana, Oregon, Washington, California.

One line looks like I can trace back to Norman England, shortly after the conquest. Based on the names, they were Angles who then Normanized their names.

One ancestress, widowed with three small children, survived Indian attacks then with her brother and others headed west across what is now Tennessee to help found Nashville. Centennial Park there is on what was her land, granted by the Federal government for her deeds during the Revolutinary War — Ann Robertson Johnston Cockrill.

I used to think all the Scots were on my father’s side (Ross/Rose/Ros, MacBride, Cunningham, Cuming) but in the course of doing research, I discovered that there are a lot of Scots on my mother’s side as well (MacGillivray, McIntosh, Noble). Someday I will go there.

And of course there are plenty of Smiths, and Jones, and Hansens, and Johnsons, and other dreadfully common names that make sussing out the correct ancestor a real bitch.

So, if it can be so difficult and frustrating and confusing, why do I do it? Because it’s fascinating; a puzzle to put together; a connection to the past, to history, making it all very personal. And it’s all part of me, who I am, who my parents and siblings and children all are. It may be generations, even centuries in the past, but it all connects in me. And I am excited to discover it all.


C is for….

Calla lilies. California. Cats. Children. Curiosity. Crafts. Cross stitch. Confusion…. And some many other things that start with C.

That’s the problem with an A to Z challenge — what to pick for each day’s letter.

Calla lilies — my favorite flower. In all the colors. I have a small pot of pink and purple and white ones on my bedside table. When we lived in California, they grew abundantly in the yard without any tending.

Carnations — another favorite flowers, especially when they have a heavy scent. I love their spiciness.

Cats — I looooooove cats. I’d probably be a crazy cat lady if I thought I could get away with it. I see all the cats at the shelters and with the rescues and I want to save them all. We’ve always had cats. When I was young, it was an orange tabby named Kitzel. Then I had my own brown and grey tabby named Peek-a-boo. My brother had one of her babies, Smokey, a grey tabby. And their was Kaiser, a long haired tortie we rescued who eventually went feral, coming back occasionally to visit. When I met my husband, I had Caleb, a beautiful black domestic short hair. Now we have Charlie – a long haired flame point with blue eyes, and Caesar – a seal point mitted Ragdoll.

I also love wild cats — jaguars, leopards, ocelots, African wildcat, lynx, bobcat, mountain lion, all the various wildcats around the globe. Did you know there’s a Scottish wildcat? Forest wildcat? Steppe wildcat? European wildcat? Usually when people talk about wild cats, we tend to think of the big ones, but there are still a lot of wild smaller ones. Our housecats are most likely descendents of the African wildcat. And did you know that despite centuries of domestication, our housecats are not very different from their wild ancestors since their breeding has not been as rigorously controlled as has dog breeding?

And I love that my MacGillavray ancestry is part of Clan Chattan, with the motto “Touch not the cat” and a wildcat on the badge.

Crafts — Throughout the years, I’ve tried many different crafts — my grandmother taught me to knit when I was 12; I taught myself embroidery and crochet and cross stitch; drawing; painting. I don’t do too much with them know. When I was working full time, with my long commute, there just wasn’t the time to keep up with any of it. But in the past, I had knitted myself a sweater; baby blankets for my two oldest children; scarves for all three of my children; blanket squares. I’ve crocheted doilies and snowflakes and granny squares. I’ve cross stitched and/or embroidered pillows, wall hangings, pictures, and ornaments. Recently I’ve thought about digging things out and starting some new projects — I’d like to learn how to knit socks and mittens and hand warmers. I’d like to paint and draw more, improve my skills. Of course, first I’d have to find all my supplies, still boxed up and in the store room since our move.

California — I’ve lived 20 years in California, although it’s now been 12 years since I last did. I lived in Northern California, the East Bay area of San Francisco from the age of 2 years to 11-1/2. We lived in the same town my father grew up in, where grand parents and great grandparents had lived, and his family all still lived there. My grandparents had a ranch with cattle and horses. I spent many hours wandering the acres on foot and horseback. I even went to the same elementary school my father had attended and had one of the same teachers. When I was 11-1/2 we moved to Washington, but frequently went back to California for visits.

I moved back after graduating from university, in the early 1990s, for a job in the greater LA area. I lived in a harbor town, worked with fishermen on their boats, got to spend time along the coast both north and south of LA. It’s where I met my husband and all three of our children were born. Most of our time there, we lived less than two blocks from the ocean, on the seaside of a hill where it was only unbearably hot when the Santa Anas were blowing. I loved to walk along the cliffs, well protected from falling by a secure concrete barrier or other fencing (otherwise, I’d have never gone close as I have a horrible fear of falling). The sunsets were often glorious, out beyond the Channel Islands. The crash of the waves, the swelling of the tides, the waving of the kelp beds…. I loved it there. I used to take the two oldest down to the tidal pools where we’d catch hermit crabs, and find sea stars and sea hares, crabs and snails and tiny fish. We’d stick our fingers in anemones to feel them squeeze shut around us then search for sea shells to bring home. Sometimes, if we were really lucky, we’d see dolphins or sea lions or seals.

But our growing family required we move and we couldn’t afford anything in that area, so we moved to Orange County, near Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. It wasn’t as nice as being by the sea, but we liked being so close to Disneyland that we could easily go whenever we wanted, and sometimes just stay outside the park at night to watch the fireworks.

However, that lasted less than a year before circumstances led us to move east, to Illinois.

But California is part of us. We go back every few years. And I still have family there to visit, up north.

Birthday Presents

My birthday was earlier this month. I love my mother, but she’s not always really good with the present giving. Sometimes they’re really odd.

Last year was an uncompleted and odd-shaped kitchen apron and matching hot pad. They’re still not completed as they were packed up during our move and whatever box they were put in has not been unpacked yet (we have a few of those boxes left).

Oh, and for my son’s 18th birthday, it was a dancing and singing dog thing. That did not survive either his move to college or our move to here.

But this year…. This year was very cool.

My grandmother, Mom’s mom, died this fall, just shortly before her 90th birthday. She’d been declining for a while, had outlived all her husbands, so it was not a surprise when I got the call. Being the only daughter, Mom got some of her jewelry and other small things, some of which she sent to me to share with my daughters.

The main part of the package, tied with a big red bow was just for me. It is a sterling silver hand mirror, the type with the long handle that were usually part of vanity sets. It’s not very ornate, has a few dings and scratches, the reflective surface isn’t very shiny or smooth. But there is a fancy engraved “R” on the reverse. Which took me a minute, because none of my grandmother’s names started with “R”.

The note from Mom helped me figure some of it out. Grandma got it from her grandmother — and Mom thought that was the end of it, but this great-great-grandma also had no R names. But great-great-grandma’s mother’s maiden name was Roberts. So it looks like great-great-great-grandma Roberts probably had this mirror at some point. Mom does remember that there were more pieces to the vanity set when she was a small child. First thought was that this is where it ends.

Then I was able to make out a maker’s mark on the mirror and with the help of some younger better eyes (my daughter’s) was able to figure out it was a JEB Co., in fancy script — and very very tiny (at least to my eyes). James E Blake Co existed from about 1898 to about 1938.

Great-great-great-grandma Roberts was born in 1861, married in 1878, and died in 1941. But if she married in 1878, would she have gotten a mirror with an R, her maiden name initial, 20+ years after that? So what about her mom? My 4x great-grandmother Jones was born in 1834, married in 1857 to a Roberts, and died in 1934 (just 5 months shy of 100). So she would have been a Roberts during the right time period.

Can’t tell I like family history, can you?

So, at the end, all I really know is a I was lucky enough to get a family heirloom for my birthday, something that goes back to at least my 3rd-great-grandmother, maybe further, and is around a hundred years old.

Pretty darn cool. πŸ™‚

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