Tag Archive | personal: family

Blog Post: The Cottage

It was always just The Cottage to me, the way Lake Ontario was The Lake.  Sometimes I have to remember people down in Ithaca don’t have the same context.

My aunt and uncle – my mother’s older sister & her husband – are selling their cottage on Lake Ontario. (3)

It got flooded badly in 2018 – standing water for months 🙁 (1) and it got very moldy, and they are not young (my aunt must be, let’s see, 50+2020[year]-1+7… 76, and I think my uncle is within a year of that) and not in phenomenal shape.  I understand why they are selling it. 

On the other hand, I am mourning.

This is the last family childhood memory place still in the family – Grandma’s House, my great-grandfather’s house (other side of the family) are both gone.  All that remains is my parents’ place.

So I wrote them up a thing on Facebook, and I thought I would share it here, too.

This was part of my childhood.  I think it’s okay if I’m crying a little.

⛱️

I’ve been thinking about this for days. There are so many memories for me associated with the cottage – it’s more like a feeling, a set of emotions, than a memory.

For me, thinking about the cottage says “summer” and “family” in one breath. It brings to mind sand castles and sailing and German Potato Salad; it brings to mind Andrea at the kitchen window saying “Service!” and bridal showers and baby showers…
Grandpa at the kitchen table, telling us things he still remembered, even then, about his earlier life.

I remember when there was still a little cottage between [house of last-name], and [cousin and cousin] and I played make-believe in its doorway/on its porch. I remember, vaguely, the renovation, the new wall, how it looked before the garage.

Summer picnics, of course, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day. It never seems right, not being at the cottage, Uncle [Uncle] manning the grill. Bacon and cheese on triscuits and asparagus wrapped in bread.
I love that the cottage was part of Uncle [Uncle]’s family history, that it became part of our family history. It will always be a part of the geography of my childhood, one of the few places in my life that were not my home that felt, nevertheless, like home.

Life, Love, and a Funeral

Warning: the below discusses, among other things, death and funerals. 

Last Monday I got an email from my mother telling me that she & Dad were off to Death Valley for their annual “get Dad away from the cold” trip. (Dad says he doesn’t have Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Pretty sure he’s wrong.)

Three emails into the chain, she tells me my cousin Marilyn has passed away.

Marilyn was my mother’s older cousin (as I track the family tree, I think she was my grandmother’s brother’s daughter), 78 years old, and it turns out she’d been in intensive care for 8 months.

She was also the woman who taught me horseback riding and something of one of my queer icons growing up, long before I actually realized I was bisexual.

I started horseback riding because our Girl Scout leader was horse-mad & her daughter, my nemesis from elementary through middle school (same church, same Girl Scout troop, same school…), got to ride, so I wanted to ride. Continue reading

Internet friends

So this is something I sent my mom after we went walking/talking at Birdseye State Forest. She asked if I found that my internet friends were as they acted online when I met them in person, more or less. 
Then Dad sort of derailed the whole thing talking about being true to your genuine self or something and so… e-mail happened. 

We got a little derailed yesterday on one conversation, but I was thinking about internet friends.
I suppose, way back to the first one I met in person (Cap/Sarah), I wasn’t taken aback at all by the person I met, because by the time I met them in person, we’d already had hours and hours of conversation and interactions online.  So it’s… like if you went and encountered Beth on a chat board online for the first time after knowing her all this time; she’d still be the same person.
By contrast, many of the friends I had before my internet people, I first met roleplaying – so literally pretending to be someone else.  In that situation, it does take a little bit longer to figure out who someone actually is underneath all the roles.

Weekend Blog: Writing Letters

Writing letters and cleaning house: that’s what I did last weekend.

I’ve been taking part in the Month of Letters (http://lettermo.com/, it’s also http://incowrimo.org/) for almost half a month now — really, a whole two weeks, because I started writing on the 29th and mailing on the 30th January.

It’s weird. That’s the short version: It’s really weird. Also, it’s fun, although it’s perhaps, like most things I do, a little too all-consuming.

My letter-writing falls into a few categories:
* Writing to relatives I haven’t seen in a long time, or very rarely in that long time.
* Writing to facebook friends, who are generally IRL people I haven’t seen in a very long time and barely interact with.
* Writing to twitter friends — people I talk to every day on twitter but rarely see in person.
* Writing to people I encountered on the LetterMo site.
* Writing to and/or as fictional people, mostly to real people I know.
* Writing to family I see on a semi-regular basis.

All of these have their own unique challenges, and I’m finding all of them quite interesting for that.

For instance, writing to LetterMo people combines this “getting-to-know-each-other” sort of protocols with a fear of being judged by (and this isn’t really a thing) Professional PenPals (Okay, it might really be a thing, but I don’t know anyone who is). Like, am I doing enough? Is my letter pretty enough? Are there unspoken rules I’m breaking?

And then you add in all of that stress with contacting estranged family — people my father feuded with, or feuded with him, for instance, back when I was in college. Do they even want to hear from me? Do they remember me? My dad has four siblings, a half-sister, and four step-siblings, and almost all of them have kids. That’s a lot of nephews and nieces to keep track of.

(Okay, so there’s a lot of anxiety going on there).

Letters to family, I’ve been trying just to put into the world and let go. If they answer, they answer. If they don’t, I’m no less connected than I was before.

Twitter friends — that’s it’s own challenge. I talk to these people every day, or very near to it. (These people? Many of them are you guys.) What do I say that I wouldn’t share on twitter, or on gchat or in e-mail?

The thing is, for the most part, a little anxiety aside, these are fun challenges. And getting letters back in the mail — that’s amazingly fun. It makes going to the mailbox a blast!

Will I keep writing letters after LetterMo? Well, April is National Letter-Writing Month…

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Christmas and Traditions

This past weekend was Christmas, and, if you hadn’t guessed by the number of Christmas reposts I’ve been putting up, I’m kind of fond of the season. It’s a lot more work than when I was a kid, of course – that shift between primarily being a recipient of gifts and being a giver of such (Which, in itself, might be a nice metaphor for adulthood…) – but I am one of those people who gets a blast out of people liking the gift I gave them (And, luckily, so is T), so it’s a different sort of the same warm feeling.

(I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m an only child; I still get pressies. This year was long-sweaters and leggings a la 1989, warm socks and scarves and a long down jacket. We live in the frozen North!)

There was vegan cake (possum-free!) and vegan soup (and tasty bread) for mom and dad, spices and breadpans, warm hats and flashlights. There were dogs helping, because they do that. And for a moment, when I walked into my parents’ living room and saw the tree all lit up and the presents underneath, I was a kid waking up on Christmas again, and Santa had come overnight.

Christmas traditions have shifted over the years for me – when I was young, it was Maternal Grandparents’ in the morning and Paternal Grandparents’ place in the afternoon. When I was older, it was just Maternal Grandparents. And then, after my maternal grandparents had both passed, it was – well, that’s when I started doing Christmas Eve with my parents and my husband.

I like traditions. I don’t particular like change, if I’m being honest. And so when something we did once, twice on Christmas, thrice and it started turning into a trend, I held on to it like a tradition.

Movies on Christmas. I can’t remember what movie started it, but I know that Sweeney Todd and Emperor’s New Groove were a couple of the more memorable Christmas-Day movies. Back in Rochester, sometimes we’d go out to Denny’s or some such – someplace willing to be open on Christmas, someplace we could sit and chat, someplace with free coffee refills.

We moved down to Ithaca, and movies-on-Christmas-sometimes-with-friends became movies, the two of us. We skipped a year or two, but it felt wrong. Like Christmas wasn’t right anymore, without a movie.

This year, we put of seeing Rogue One for a couple weeks so we could see it on Christmas. We went to the sushi place across the street from the movie theatre. We drank free ea refills and ate maki rolls, and all was right with the world.

When I was little – three years old, five years old, fifteen, when my grandma was still alive – the kids would pass out the presents and everyone would dig in. My cousins have kids now, older than we were when that tradition started…

But on Christmas Eve, T & I meet Capriox at Tim Hortons (the one in the plaza where I went grocery shopping with Grandma as a kid), and we open presents with my parents and my parents’ dogs (I still pass them out), and on Christmas Day, we watch a movie….

I guess what I’m rambling around about is, I miss my grandma. I always will, I think. And I miss the way Christmas felt when my grandma was telling me about Santy Claus, when I knew I’d get a new ornament from Grandma and a new National Geographic book from my Aunt. But I’m pretty fond of my new traditions, too.

Now all I need is a cute red dress for next Christmas.

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Weekend, with Car Repairs, weighty conversations, and deer

It’s, in theory, Autumn, although the weather has been very up and down lately. We’re getting 10-degree shifts for a day at a time, 3 days at a time, and then dropping back a little bit lower and lower every time it drops.

This weekend, on a pleasant day, I drove up to Rochester (about 2 hour drive, half Thruway and half 2-lane roads) to visit my parents, and to have my dad help me fix (replace) my rear wheel bearing.

This, it turns out, is not exactly more complicated than fixing/replacing brakes, but it does involve a lot more swearing, a tool called a slide hammer that looks like a ShakeWeight’s more obscene older cousin, and a lot of Thrust (or some other lubricant, but hey, there’s a theme here).

It also involved puppy kisses from my two “kid brothers” the lab-mix doggies, a vegan “Reuben” sandwich (with homemade bread! also homemade vegan “cheese” and homemade sauerkraut!) from my mom, and a couple uncomfortable conversations.

All I’m going to say about the political discussion is: we managed not to have a fight. I’ll take it.

The other conversations were harder — talking to my dad about things I’d been holding on to, talking to both parents about end-of-life plans. I don’t want to know, I didn’t want to confront Dad…

…but I’d rather do it in the garage where I can hug them both and move on than do it later, in a hospital, or be shouting at a gravestone some day.

On the way home, feeling thoughtful and pensive and a little bit pleased, a little weight-lifted, I saw about a dozen deer in the Seneca Army Depot (but no white ones! Sad)… and then, in my front yard, two deer snacking on our apple tree.

They don’t symbolize anything, the deer, but they’re there, because it’s November and they’re always there, and it’s not like we needed all the apples, anyway.

Oh, and there was a supermoon. Which was just about gorgeous hanging over the Finger Lakes.

Little disjointed today, but that was my weekend. Hugs to you all.

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German Potato Salad & tastes of home

Guys, I made German Potato Salad this weekend!

This is a ~thing~ for me, because GPS (always “GPS”) is one of the major staples of family picnics in my natal family. My grandma made it, my mom makes it… I’ve never made it.

I made it with purple potatoes and jowl bacon, which did a bit to get my brain out of the “will this taste like home?” place, and I think it turned out pretty delicious. Not just like grandma’s or Mom’s… but still delicious.

I was a slacker and forgot to call Mom for the receipt – thus part of the problem with getting it to taste right – so I used this recipe http://www.foodiecrush.com/german-potato-salad/ – and added chives, because this time of year we have loads and loads of chives and not much else.

It didn’t taste quite like home, but it tasted reminiscent of home, which, I think, is pretty darn good for a first try.

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