Just Call Me Femke- Part 2

…and there I am.  My DNA. The basics of everything I am, handed down for generations.

And I am surprised.dna1

English! Scandinavian? IRISH?!?  And not a trace of Native American.  I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

I suspected the English since my grandmother’s maiden name is Hewlett and that happens to be a town a mere 15 minutes from where I now live.  Yes, we founded that town. No, we don’t have the Hewlett money.

Dad gave me a year’s subscription to My Heritage and I’ve been adding people practically daily.  Our family tree is up to 1625 people and I have connected with different people with the same links in their trees. The earliest I have been able to go back is a 16th generation Grandfather, William Pepper, born in 1458. It’s so exciting yet frustrating.  I try to go through every match (there are hundreds) to see if they are actually part of my heritage but it so slow going.  And I’m not getting any hits on any other branch of the tree- MR’s branch is withering and my cousin’s branches are bare. Eventually I’ll have to sit down with those sides of the family and pick some brains.

What’s really exciting (yet frustrating) is that I found my maternal grandfather.  He left my mom and sister when they were very young and my mom’s hatred of him was well known.  Nana married a nice man who also had a daughter (he died when I was two) so she did have a father figure around.  But I was always curious about the missing grandfather and I didn’t dare ask Mom.  Anywhoo, I found that he never remarried, did a stint in the Army, moved around a lot and died in 1991.  In Staten Island.  STATEN ISLAND, so close to me.  I could have met him, talked to him.  It makes me sad that a piece of me was taken and can never be replaced.

Back to the DNA test. If you can, have it done.  I believe it’s accurate because a third cousin of mine had it done and who was on top of the list for possible third cousins according to Ancestry?  That same third cousin who had it done as well. Our little DNAs were a match.

So there I am. I knew I was a mutt, but now I know what breeds make up my muttness.

I still like cornbread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Call Me Femke- Part 1

It seems that my whole childhood was a lie. Not the “Santa Claus is real” or the “Tooth Fairy put a quarter under my pillow”  type of lie that every childhood has, but a real identity lie.  One that may have led to ridicule (or may not have,  I was kind of a little jerk when I was a kid.)  One that gave me a sense of always being on the fringe of normal.  One that I didn’t realize until I’m older had left me with questions about who I really was.

In elementary school, starting in Third Grade, I took French.  I don’t remember why exactly I ended up taking French over Spanish.   Something about not returning the form on time, or my parents not having the foresight to see that Spanish may have been beneficial- I don’t know.  All I know is that I didn’t choose it.  I would never have chosen it.  My teacher, Ms. Nussbaum, scared the shit out of me.

French classes continued until Junior High School.  Maybe into High School, I don’t remember and I won’t bother to look it up. All I know is I can recite the “Solomon Grundy” poem in French and I know where my Aunt’s pen is. (It’s on the dresser.)

So, as they do to this day, language classes always hold “Cultural Fairs” and “Ethnic Feast” where the kids are supposed to bring in dishes native to their nationality.  I always dreaded those days (I didn’t know then what I know now, that ethnic food is DELICIOUS),I never ate a thing my classmates brought in.  Spanish food and Italian food and Jewish food and German food, ack.  Gross.  The most ethnic dish my family ate was lasagna, made with Ragu pasta sauce.  What did I usually bring in?

Cornbread. Why?

Because I was told I was part American Indian.

It seemed that this ethnic piece of my pie trumped my German piece of the pie (dad’s side), so no, I’m not bringing in Schnitzel.   We were half American (mom’s side) and a portion of that was Native Indian.

That cornbread was accepted in my lower grades because what little kid doesn’t like corn bread and Cowboys and Indians? But as I got older and brought in that pan of maize cake and explained that I was part Native American Indian, I started getting major side-eye from both my classmates and teachers.  When they asked what tribe I was descended from, I couldn’t answer.  When I pressed my mom on what tribe we were, I never got a straight answer. I stopped bringing in corn bread.

Fast forward a few years to Seventh Grade.  March 17, everyone is wearing green because it’s St. Patrick’s Day.  Not me, unfortunately.  I’m not Irish, I’m Protestant (Lutheran) so I’m not wearing green.  Here, my mom says, wear this shirt. It’s more suitable to your heritage.

My orange Tony The Tiger shirt.  Orange.

I know now that it’s not a slight to wear orange.  The Irish flag is green (Catholic) and orange (Protestant) and the white symbolizes the peace between them.  But I grew up in a working middle-class neighborhood in the 70’s and those Irish kids were listening to their Irish parents talk about the Troubles in Ireland.  I think if I was a boy, I would have been beat up.  Not that I wasn’t threatened or stalked or intimidated. There was no way I was taking the bus home that day.  I begged a ride from a friend’s mom and they went out of their way to take me home.

So I grew up “knowing” that I was 50% German, 50% American, which included American Indian.  I “knew” my mom’s side of the family founded the Long Island town of Hewlett because that was Nana Ethel’s maiden name.  I “knew” I wasn’t Irish (even though EVERYONE is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day).  I “knew” my ancestors came over on one of the ships soon after the Mayflower landed in America.

These are the “lies” I grew up with.  Not intentional, absolutely not.  Just repeated from generation to generation without a smidge of fact checking or research. And for the next 40 years, I was content to believe them.

It wasn’t until I started going to the cemeteries with Dad that I became interested in my family history.  When Joyce contacted me after coming across this blog post I became even more so.  When Sandy wiped out all of the family photos and I had to rescue them and started really looking at these people in these old photos and wondering how they were related to me, I was hooked. I had to know where I came from.  Who were my ancestors?  Where are those Native Americans?  How was I related to the Hewletts?

Thank you Ancestry.com.  And MR. And Zombiegirl and her quest for scholarships.

Last Christmas, MR gave me the Ancestry.com DNA kit.  He’s fully supportive of me finding out where I come from and what I’m made of.  I spit in the tube and mail it out.

Eight weeks later, I get the email I’ve been waiting for.  This is it, this is my past revealed to me.  I will finally get some questions answered and some facts validated. I can’t wait for MR to come home, I have to open it now. My hands are shaking as I click the email…

Stepping Over

Here it is at the end of March and I can attest that it came in like a lion. The first week of March alone had me in and out of bed with migraines.  The added Magnesium I’ve been taking is helping, but the weather was just too tough for me to battle.

Speaking of battles, why do people have to be so obstinate? Lately, I can’t have a conversation with someone without being shut down.  It’s truly like talking to bricks, one-sided and very hard.   I obviously have something to say; I’m saying it in an intelligent manner and I’m saying it somewhat nicely (depending on the subject manner).  I would expect, when speaking with other intelligent beings that I would be able to finish a sentence before I’m spoken over, ignored or basically told to shut up.

Whatever. I’m waiting here at the end of the month for it to go out like a lamb.  I need a little calmness and serenity in my life.

I didn’t get much calmness and serenity these last few days with Zombiegirl’s 17th birthday the day before Easter. I was cooking and cleaning and wrapping and decorating for days.  Seventeen.  Damn. This year has and will be all about driving lessons and SATs and college fairs and boyfriends and prom dresses and college classes and mono and Varsity sports and Sportsmanship awards and Chipotle and The Witch’s Brew.  It’s a lot, Junior year.  And I know Senior year is going to be much busier.

That is why I’ve decided to leave my hobby job. Even though I loathed getting ready for it, I loved it the minute I walked  in the door.  I’ll miss the little extra cash I earned (so little after I satisfied my weird obsession with fabric) and I’ll miss (most) of the people that worked there.  I’ll also miss the very creative and talented customers who were always willing to tell me what they were working on, or bring projects back into the store specifically to show me what they made.  I won’t miss the conflicting and contradictory methods of management  or the aggravation of discovering empty product packaging (why buy a pack of needles when you can break open the pack and take one?)  I definitely won’t miss the constant cleaning up of misplaced items or half eaten candy bars.  I won’t miss the passive-aggressive notes left for us by management or the suspicion that one of our fellow workers would steal from us.  I won’t miss any softball or soccer games or dinners with my family and I’ll get my life back.

What the heck will I do with all my time?  <snort>

One foot in March and the other foot stepping lightly into April- springtime, renewal, simple times, that’s what I’m anticipating.

 

 

 

 

 

30 Day Simplicity Challenge- Day 12

Does anyone else obsess and stress about the mess (!) between Christmas and the New Year?  During the few days I take off that week, I often go into full-on cleaning mode, clearing out the refrigerator and freezers, tackling the cabinets and pantry and organizing the drawers. Speaking to my Jewish friends, it’s similar to preparing for Passover, searching for “chametz” and “kashering” the appliances.

While I was cleaning out the freezer this year, I kept finding more and more dubious bags of…stuff. Stuff so covered over with ice that it was impossible to make out if it was meat or veggies. Or both. Heart breaking, I threw out tons of food and vowed never to let that happen again.

(Last night I pulled out what I thought was frozen eggplant and it turned out they were roasted hot peppers. SMH.)

My pantry is actually an 18″ wide closet on the side of the refrigerator. Which is great because everything is right there while I’m cooking. Not so great is the fact that it’s 24″ deep, which means stuff gets pushed to the back and forgotten until the week between Christmas and the New Year. I’ve been after MR to build me shelves that can be pulled out and the stuff in the back can be accessed. Remember, ladies, if a man says he will fix it, he will. There is no need to remind him every six months about it.

(My favorite meme. Even MR liked that one.)

I can’t do anything about the black hole in my pantry right now, but I did do something about the black hole residing in the freezers. The door on the pantry cabinet is about four foot high, so I painted a large portion of the inside of that door with black chalkboard paint and noted each shelf and the downstairs freezer and inventoried each and every item in the freezer and marked it down on the blackboard. Now I’m able to see at a glance what we have and can erase and rewrite as we use and add food.

No more wasted food. And it’s easily found when we need it.

I tried to do an inventory on the stock of food in the basement, but I haven’t come up with an efficient way like the blackboard. I tried keeping a book on top of the fridge, but if I don’t see it immediately, I tend to ignore it. The stash downstairs is mostly canned food, bags of sugar and Costco-sized boxes, larger things that won’t fit in the pantry upstairs, but there are things down there that are used pretty often. So I came up with this idea:

DAY 12 of 30:

Make a list of 20 things you use often and put them in the note section of your phone. Whenever you see a sale on any of these things, stock up. 

Here’s mine:

  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Flour
  • Rice
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Veg Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Laundry detergent
  • Mozzarella (blocks or shredded or both)
  • Cheddar cheese (blocks or shredded or both)
  • Seltzer
  • Orange juice
  • Chocolate almond milk (freezes better than regular almond milk)
  • Toothpaste
  • Tuna
  • Pasta

Mark on your phone list how many of the items you bought. If you use one, delete it from the number on your list. Keep a running tally even if it’s in the freezer and on the blackboard.  Keep an eye out for coupons for extra savings!

Do you have any other suggestions for pantry staples? What’s in YOUR freezer?

30 Day Simplicity Challenge- Day 10

DAY 10 of 30:

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet your self-imposed goals.

  • Whether the 30 days of a challenge happen over 40 days or 50, I shall try not to feel bad over the fact that I can’t post every day.  Shit happens, life happens, God throws curve-balls- whatever.  Accept that you’re doing the best you can and celebrate that.

As each day crept by and I didn’t post another challenge, I felt guilty-like I have THOUSANDS of readers that I have to impress, lol.  There have been a few persons liking my posts and I have gained a few followers and I know that there are a few subscribers and I felt like I was letting y’all down.

Then I realized that I DO have a few readers and I have a few subscribers that want to read what I want to say and if they get pissed off that I’m not adhering to the one-a-day challenge religiously, I can tell them, with all humor and love, to piss off!  Seriously, it’s not like this is the Weather Channel and we’re all waiting to see if we’re going to be snowed in another day (we did).  It’s not like it’s the cliff-hanger to the latest medical drama and we didn’t find out if the daughter has a dreaded disease (Zombiegirl contracted Mononucleosis and it’s not fun at our house lately).  It’s not like we’re watching the Superbowl and cheering on our”favorite” team to win (they didn’t).

I’ll survive.  And you’ll certainly survive.  And if we don’t sweat the small stuff (like posting EVERY. SINGLE. DAY on this blog) our lives will be sweeter and simpler, right?

Please agree.  Please?

 

30 Day Simplicity Challenge- Day 9

My husband has a theory.  He claims he knows exactly, within a few hours, when I’m going to get my period.  He claims that when I’m clumsy, when I’m making dinner and I drop things, my period is on the way. If he hears a spoon drop and he yells out, “Period’s coming”.  Methinks he’s the town crier or something.

It’s kind of nice that someone else keeps track of things like that.

It’s laughable when he does it these days, though.  As soon as something hits the floor, he’s informing the world of my impending bleed.  But lately, eight months to be exact, that bleed hasn’t shown up.  I gladly stopped all birth control around that time and thankfully, my period is among the missing.

So last night, when I dropped the fork I was using to flip the burgers, I had an epiphany.

Why am I constantly dropping things?  Why do all my tights and pantyhose have runs up the sides?  Why am I always tripping and sometimes falling?  Why do I spill things and why am I always losing stuff? It’s obviously not all because of my period…

Epiphany? Because I’m always rushing.

Yup.  This is what I came up with- I need to slow the fuck down.  And here goes the challenge for today:

DAY 9 of 30:

Move purposely.  Take care.  Slow down.  Become Grounded.

After I dropped the fork and saw the light, I tried something.  We were having French fries with the burgers and I inevitably, always, certainly drop a fry or three whenever I transfer them to a bowl from the cookie sheet.  Dogs hang out by my feet whenever I scoop up fries because they know.  This time, I took a deep breath and slowly spooned the fries off the cookie sheet into the bowl.  Spoon by spoon, I concentrated and moved with a purpose.  And I didn’t drop one.

This actually gave me joy.

The brain and the hands sometimes work against each other and rushing around makes matters worse.  At the age of 52 (going on 53) have I finally learned I shouldn’t bumble through life?  There is no shame in moving slowly as long as you’re moving with a purpose- and that’s what I was lacking- purpose. So, I will:

  • Try not to reach for things without contemplating what’s in the way (coffee cups, plants, soda cans, yogurt- all things I have knocked over on my desk and at home.)
  • Take care when dressing so nothing gets ripped or poked through.
  • Walk slowly and with care so that I don’t trip over my own feet or the cracks in the sidewalk.
  • Contemplate all movement so nails don’t get broken, fingers don’t get scraped and zippers don’t get stuck.

Think how simple life will be when nothing has to be cleaned up, sewn up, picked up or untangles. This will be a fun experiment with the added bonus of not hearing MR yell from the living room.

30 Day Simplicity Challenge- Day 8

Whoa, sorry, got a little sidetracked there.  Life definitely got in the way these past four days.

I needed a little time away on Friday- it was a grizzly bear of a week and I was feeling sorry for myself that I never get away.  The combination of being blue and having a migraine and having to deal with some stuff then going to the hobby job at night- yeah, it was the perfect mix for a formal day off. But, I have discovered a cure-all for depression and migraines.  SPENDING THE DAY WITH YOUR GRANDSON!

What, you didn’t know I had a grandson?  That’s because I didn’t tell you, at least not on the blog.  If you follow me on Facebook, you certainly know since I post constantly on his cuteness and make his face my profile picture whenever Beena lets me!

Jackson Jon was born July 10th at 3:30pm.  He was 7lbs, 13 oz, 20 inches of adorableness.   He had some problems in the beginning (jaundice, no BF) but he is the type of kid to smile through it all.  Beena and John are great parents and let his grandma (I don’t have an official name yet) take him when she needs her baby fix.

The hobby job called me and informed me I didn’t have to come in because there are too many employee hours and not enough sales.  Okay.  So I got to watch him for a few hours and after he left, I took a long nap.  Not that he is actively walking or talking or anything, I’m just not used to having someone rely on me 100% of the time.  It is so magical being his grandma that even when he sleeps, I don’t put him down.  I can’t help it, he’s my GRANDSON!  Lol!

Saturday saw me in a better mood because we went upstate for a soccer tournament.  Getting out of the house!   Seeing my soccer peeps!  Even though we lost the tourney and Zombiegirl came back bruised, sprained and bleeding it was a good time hanging out and going out to eat with the girls and their parents.

Sunday Zombiegirl and I had all good intentions of giving platelets (me) and blood (her first time) but that went disastrously wrong.  It seems my platelets are low (187) and after donating platelets for years, it was not recommended that I give because apparently, I have enough for myself but not enough to give.  I honestly think they just didn’t want me there for two hours since they were busy.  And the asshat that interviewed Z-girl was just plain rude.  She brought her debit card (with picture) in as ID, but for first time, under-age donors, they wanted something with her birthdate.  This jerk said, “That’s not going to work” and left without another work.  Zombiegirl left with a bad taste for donating and I’m furious that they sent the moron to do the interview on a nervous, somewhat scared kid.

I ended up donating blood, but all day I worried about my platelets being low.  Oh, and the stress of trying to print out Book of Mormon tickets I bought for Utah and KevKev for Christmas (and dealing with three different people on the phone at Ticketmaster) by the time they had to leave- this had me moping around the house all day.

Yesterday was a Work-In-NJ day.  And although the “trash” was taken out and our little CAFM group is happier for it, it still takes a lot out of me to travel there and back and deal with the crap we (I) have to deal with.

So here we are at today, and I’m in a better mood and ready to continue this journey to simplicity…

 DAY 8 of 30:

Find one thing in the house that needs fixing and fix it.

This one thing can be big or little.  For me, it’s the phone holder for the car- I took it out one day and all the springy things popped out and it wouldn’t stay upright.  It’s been sitting on my dresser in pieces and I keep moving it from one place to another.  Before I lose any of the pieces, I’m fixing it and putting it back in the car because I really need to use my phone for GPS and hands-free driving.

Don’t try to rewire the house’s electrical system or replace the washer or dryer.  Find something that has been hanging around and that you can do something about quickly.  Plaster that hole in the wall.  Tighten the leaky faucet.  Glue the sole of your boot so it doesn’t flop around when you walk.  Sew that hole up in the seam of your pants.  Replace that burnt out light bulb.  Take the pants that need hemming to the tailor.  And if you really, really like that broken vase, glue it back together.  If you don’t, then toss it!

(yeah, those are all things I can also do, but I chose the phone holder because seriously, I need that shit to work.)

So to prevent being sidetracked again, I will prepare a few challenges in advance and hopefully we can continue uninterrupted!  Hopefully.