Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cake Diva

Kellie Ann Turns 11
I don't know what it was with me and multi tiered birthday cakes but I always wanted one.  Every year Mom would ask me what sort of cake I wanted and I would answer " a three layered cake" and she would produce a three layered cake and then wonder why I was not overjoyed with it.  It took some digging but we got to the root of the problem, what I wanted was a three TIERED cake not a three layer cake.  She had nailed it the year before with a three tiered chocolate cake, but not knowing that such cakes needed internal support it sagged in the middle a little, still not a bad effort for a novice.  By the time my eleventh birthday rolled around Mom had begun taking cake decorating classes and this was one of her early forays into full fledged cake decorating.  When I think of the thousands of cakes she did since this one I am amazed.  Almost as amazed as my son was when he saw this picture and realized that I had been young once too, and said with shock and amazement that bordered on insulting "Wow Mom, you were cute back then!"  Well...hmmm  Thank you?  I guess...I like to think I still am, for what its worth.  Now I do not even remember how old I am.  I have to count it up each time.  I spent one whole year thinking I was about to turn 40, but I wasn't.  I was about to turn 39.  Now if I claim the correct decade I am happy with it.  Funny how that happens.   It goes the way of the birthday party I guess.  We have not had one in years, now we just go to a nice restaurant and maybe there is a gift to open, maybe it was purchased a month or so in advance when the opportunity came along... 

Long ago and far away...

Me around the age of 9, I still have the yellow painted chair....
Jamie around age11 with her Christmas bike
 That is the Clancy's house across the street
Chapter two is all about my childhood and the first question was who was your best friend in the neighborhood.  That is easy, it was Cathy  Clancy.  We spent a lot of time with Cathy, usually around supper time when she would often show up on the door step.  We thought it was funny because we knew her Mom was a good cook, and Cathy was always skinny, so who knows why she always came over to join us for supper, and more importantly why didn't she ever get fat double dipping the way she did?  Oddly enough Cathy Clancy is also the asnwer to question number 3 "Was there a neighborhood Bully?"  Sad to say that Cathy was that as well, but even more sad to say she always managed to turn Jamie and me against each other.  We were always locked in a battle two against one and Cathy was rarely if ever going it alone.  Jamie and I however threw each other under the Clancy bus every chance we got.  It was pitiful really, us fighting tooth and nail to be in good with Cathy when we both knew full well she would drop us in an instant to go be with someone she thought held higher status.  That did unite us though in our mutual disgust and shame at how we were treated and had been treating one another.  Cathy never did get past treating us like red haired step children, but happily we did get past putting up with it.
      When we were not fighting for Cathy's favor we would hang out in the neighborhood play hopscotch on the sidewalk or playing yard games like duck duck goose, hide and seek and the sort.  Then the kids would all be called in for supper one by one till only one was left who would wander home out of boredome or lonliness.  We also rode our bikes and skateboards and rollerskates.  One day I was making my way out the front door in my way too big roller skates that I insisted on getting because they were the style I wanted at the right price but not in my size.  I reasoned I would grow into them, and I did, but roller  disco was way out of fashion by the time that finally happened.  Anyhow, I was making my way to the sidewalk when I tipped my foot forward to use the stopper to help me get down the step only to realize as I pitched forward that Jamie and Cathy had unscrewed them and set me up to fall.  I have mixed emotions about that...It was pretty classic I have to say and dang funny too, but I could have really hurt myself, and it was upsetting to me that risk of serious injury was not in any way  an impediment to them in their quest for a laugh at my expense.  That was life with Cathy though.  I would get really bent out of shape if I was not honest with myself and admit that I would have done the same to Jamie if I had thought of it first.
     One of the questions in this chapter is "How was your neighborhood lit, street lamps or porch lights?  The answer is both.  Actually there had at one time been no street light but then the Clancys petitioned to have one put in and once it was installed they realized that it shone right into their bedroom window.  That is why we spent our summer evenings throwing rocks at it.  Mr. Clancy promised cold hard cash  to the one who could bust the bulb...We never did actually cash in on that.  we were usually freaked out and forced indoors by the swarms of June bugs  that circled the light  before any of us could land the money shot.   I know it seems like this chapter is all about the Clancy's but life on Plaza for us back then was.  

Elementary Schools

Ranchvale Elementary School
I actually attended two elementary schools, the first was Ranchvale Elementary out in the sticks north of Cannon AFB.  I attended first and second grades there and remember it for lots of reasons.  The first is that it was a self segregated school, not black and white as you might imagine, but Country and Base.  There were the country kids and the base kids, and we stuck to our own kind.  For some reason the Country kids were given higher status.  It could be that they and their parents were not moving away anytime soon, and the faculty kept that in mind, it could have been that they had more money, it could have been blow back from the whole anti military climate of the time, but for the kids it boiled down to one thing, they had horses and got to ride them, and we didn't.  We base kids felt like the red haired step children because we weren't from around there...The irony for me years later is that "Yes, yes I was from around there, my Mom was from Amarillo, not 100 miles from Ranchvale Elementary School, and while my Dad was in the Air Force he was every bit the country kid that they were, horse included.    It was several years too late by the time I connected the dots.  But other cool things happened regarding Rannchvale.  The seeds for the first episode were sown in my first grade class when I sat in Lona Starky's room.  She would later remarry Dwight Waldo and change her name accordingly.  That is how I met her the second time years later when Steve and I got married and moved into the Waldos  fourplex apartments and she became our "landlordess"  We have maintained our friendship over the years and I just saw her a few days ago.  I also have had a friendship over the years with Susan Brockmier who had become the principal of Ranchvale Elementary and I had the supremely weird privilege of helping her paint and decorate her office at my old school.  Weird because I was back as an adult in a school I had not been in since 1974, and in the principals office on equal footing with the principal herself....yup, weird.
Sandia Elementary School
     The Elementary school I spent the bulk of my time was Sandia Elementary.  It was a one story building about 7 blocks from my house.  I remember when we moved to the neighborhood Mom driving us along the route in our new black Buick Regal and pointing out street names and landmarks so we could find our way home.  There was a big playground with swings and monkey bars and the forbidden "wall" and "Tower"  The wall was a large undulating ladder made out of welded steel rods about 4 yards long and 8 or 9 feet high.  It was hard to climb because of the undulations, and not all that much fun.  The tower on the other hand was just that. A good 15 feet up in the air with a chain ladder on either side and a welded railing surrounding the platform.  We were expressly forbidden to play on these two pieces of equipment during school, but that did not stop us from getting our fill of them both  during the summer or in the evening when everyone had left the school for the day.  I often wondered why they would install such tantalizing structures and then forbid us access to them.
     Inside the school was a paved courtyard called the patio.  After lunch we were corralled in the patio before going to our classrooms and we would hover around the edges to stay in the shade, the boys on one side and the girls on the other.  It was in the patio that I did my stint as a "Jump Rope" monitor in the sixth grade.  I handed out ropes to the younger kids, helped them jump rope and then made sure the ropes got put away at the end of P.E.  It earned me a "Principals award for leadership" which I still have to this day, somewhere...
   Corporal punishment was still practiced in my school and I got swats a couple of times, both for talking.  Seems a little extreme now that I think about it, but I had been warned.  In Mrs Anderson's 4th grade class if she had to get on to you for bad behavior your name got written on the board.  If she called you out again you got a mark by your name.  Three marks before the week was out meant you had to stay behind on Friday and get swats on your butt with a big wooden paddle.  Nobody wanted to get into Mr. Simpson's 6th grade class.  As the only male teacher in the school it was known that his paddling was the worst of them all. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Something New in the House

I clearly remember the day we got our first microwave, at least I clearly remember parts of it.  I have a vague notion of waiting in somebody else's car parked on main street probably in front of the old Woolworth's Department store while Mom and her friend went inside to pick something up.  I think that something was the microwave oven.  I tried mightily to find a picture of the model we owned on  line, but there was nothing that came close to that pale yellow dinosaur.  I liked it because it was so user friendly.  You only had to decide how long you wanted it to run, turn the knob  to indicate the number of seconds/minutes required and then hit the start button. 
 ( note the conspicuous absence of a key pad here) No fussing with power settings, or defrost settings, it was either on or off and that was it.  And it was built like a tank too!  I think we used it at home for a solid 15 years before it went on to Mom's shop to work for at least another 10 without ever needing to go to the repair shop.   I say I remember the day clearly because I will never forget how Mom Jamie and I gathered around our new space age wonder and watched as it cooked bacon on a paper plate right before our eyes.  We were shocked and amazed, and hooked!  From then on why turn on the stove if what Jamie later dubbed the "Micro-slave" could do it quicker and on a paper plate that did not have to be washed.  That I guess was the beginning of our paper plate streak too.  It was before the whole recycle thing had caught on, we were not asked to reduce our garbage when I was a kid, but  just to please keep it in its proper place, what with the Indian crying over the trash strewn highway and the little white on green stick figure throwing garbage in a can with the catch phrase "Pitch In"  Or Woodsy the Owl "Give  Hoot!  Don't Pollute!  But back in the early seventies recycling was on the hippie fringe and not mainstream at all.  So we had our stack of paper plates and a stack of plastic paper plate holders that would keep the paper plate from catastrophic failure long enough to eat whatever was on it -piping hot and fresh from the microwave.  I did not realize how enmeshed in my life the microwave had become until I moved from home for the first time when I was 17.  I had graduated high school and moved to Amarillo with the girl across the street, Cathy Clancy.  I was standing in the kitchen of our apartment with a saucepan of cold Kraft macaroni and cheese and not the faintest idea of how to re-heat it for my lunch.  I went to throw it in the microwave when I realized I did not have one anymore and I could not  imagine how I could heat it on the stove without cooking it to death.   I called  Mom long distance ( also a big deal back then)to find out how to reheat food without a microwave.    Fortunately my life without a microwave did not last long.  The staff at Cannon Chapel all chipped in and gave us a nice new ammana model for a wedding present.  I will never forget one of the chaplains saying " A Microwave oven?  Dang!  All I got when I got married was a picture of Jesus at the rock!"

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Just 30 more minutes...PULEEEEZE!

Medical Center
Of course my bedtime  changed over The years but there are benchmarks that stand out in my memory for different reasons.   I remember being sent to bed at a very young age and hating that we had pillows so flat they hardly mattered.  Mom and Daddy had big feather pillows, but Jamie and I had  pillows that were made from a coral colored floral print fabric that when folded in half, and let me say here for the record that not only did they fold in half they folded easily in half,  still had barely enough loft to lift our heads up off the mattress.  When we whined about them and asked why we could not have "real" pillows like theirs we were told that big pillows where not healthy or safe for little children...I am not sure exactly where the danger was, possible suffocation?  Chronic neck pain?  Who knows, but what I was sure of a few years later was that no matter what harm could befall me from an overly lofty pillow there was nothing that the handsome Dr. Gannon of "Medical Center" could not cure.  At this stage in my upbringing I had moved past the 7:30 bedtime of my early youth and had gained a whole hour!  At first flush this seems like a real victory but not on Medical Center nights.  You see, It came on at 8 o'clock  and it was an hour long show.  I always got hooked into the story during those last 30 minutes of my day and invariably I would be sent to bed promptly at 8:30.  I would ask to stay up for the last 30 minutes of the show, but I don't think Mom ever relented.  Her stock reply was that I knew I would not be able to see the whole show, so why did I start watching it in the first place?  This was before the days of a TV in every room, so it was watch what she was watching or go do something else.  It was not lost on me even at that young age what a looker Chad Everett was and I always held out hope that this would be the week she would fail to notice the time.  So I gambled and lost over and over again.  It would seem a sorry and pitiful thing except it lead to one of my all time favorite things...going to sleep with the flickering blue light of a TV on in another room casting shadows under the door. It may be why I still fall asleep to a TV show flickering in the dark every night.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Home is where the Heart is

I have lived in many houses in many places, but one house rises above all others as the place I think of as home.  None of us live there anymore.  After Mom's stroke we sold it to a friend so that Mom could move to Roswell and live with Jamie.  But I think it's safe to say that we all still think of it as home, even Zachary who found it to be the one constant in his nomadic Air Force Brat life.  All roads led back to 921 West Plaza, even after I had grown and gone, when I said I was going home I meant this house. There are so many memories of our life there I cannot begin to capture them all, but here are the ones that come immediately to mind while looking at this picture.  
First I remember our front yard which was made of white rocks instead of grass.  Believe it or not we learned to run across those rocks into the melting summer asphalt and across the street to Cathy Clancy's house barefooted.  The first trip of the summer was always the hardest, but by the time August rolled around we did not even give it a thought.  You might think that because the yard was not lawn that maintenance would be minimal.  You would be wrong.  Weeds would come up all over the yard and because of the rocks you could not mow them down, they had to be pulled, or so Mom said.  Have you tried pulling a weed out of the sun baked sod of the southern High Plains?  I do not recommend it.   Imagine my surprise when my soon to be husband Steve said "why don't you just spray them with round-up"   What is this "round-up" of which you speak I asked.  He turned me on to herbicide that day and it is one of the enduring reasons I love him so.  Speaking of Steve, please notice the mimosa tree growing in the front.  It is what you might call a late bloomer if you think it should be leafed out and in full flower in February.  Steve thought so, and since it wasn't he attempted to cut it down.  We put a stop to his butchery just in time.  We pointed out that dormant and dead are two different things.  We saved that tree and it still stands today, having grown big and sturdy enough to support the weight of three grand kids who climbed up into the cool shade of its canopy each in their turn.

To the left off the garage are buried three dogs,  our beloved Panchito and Conejo, who grew up in that house right beside me and Jamie and Granny's dear Little Bit .  We had thought we would put Milford's ashes there too, but now that the house is sold to another, we'll take Milford with us to our next and hopefully last house.

You can also see poking up over the roof of the house the swamp cooler.  Its a bit of a dinosaur today, but when I was growing up all the houses had them, and what little I know about mechanics I learned working on the swamp cooler.  

Now the road home leads to  Roswell, a town I never lived in.  It seems sad and strange not to take the familiar roads to my old town and my old neighborhood,, until I see all the familiar faces and things surrounded by new walls, and then I realize I am back home after all.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

The bathroom sink

The book asked today if my dad shaved with a straight  razor or an electric one.  I do not know.   I only vaguely recall ever seeing him shave.  I was generally not out of bed yet when he was getting ready for the day, so do not recall how he shaved, though I know he must have.   All men in the Air Force have to shave, and I do not recall ever seeing him with a beard, though I do remember his whiskers. What I can recall about my dad and the bathroom sink was the ever present bar of lava soap and the faint residue of motor oil and grease left behind  after he did his best to scrub clean after work.  The lava soap was not meant for us, but I used it anyway, who could resist soap with bits of rock embedded in it?  And the truth be told, it worked pretty well after a hard day of making bricks out of the ashes at the bottom of the grill, or digging a hole in the ground at school.  I liked getting my hands dirty back then and still do today.  I have tried to wear gloves but they just wind up getting in my way or getting full of holes so on the rare occasion when I do try them out, they are ditched withing the first thirty minutes or so of any given project.   As a result my hands have prematurely aged, but ainokea, it is what it is.  I have more fun using my hands than admiring them.  I suspect Daddy felt the same way about his hands, they were tools to be used and use them he did.  I remember his finger nails were mangled on one hand after an industrial accident, the details of which escape me.  Mom did tell me  though that he had to have a skin graft on his fingertips and they took the skin from his chest, so from then on he had hairs that would grow from his fingertips, but because he used his hands so much they were always worn down.   So how did he shave?  I cannot say, but I think  pumice soap and mangled fingernails is a reasonable substitute.
Update: After reading the blog to Mom she says that Daddy shaved with a saftey razor and shaving soap...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Family Reunions

Me with my Uncle Dale Furney and my coousin Rosanne Brueggman in Golden CIty, MO
August 2009
Banta family Renunion
Me posing near the Banta Road sign near Steve's childhood home in NJ,
It was named after my ancestor
When  I hear the phrase "Family Reunion" it conjures up all kinds of images.  I think of large extended families where everybody is familiar, kind of like I feel when I visit with all of Steve's brothers and sisters and their kids.  We all know each other and have a shared history even if its an aggregate cobbled together from random scraps accumulating here and there over the years.   I also get a mental picture of an over-sized picnic filled with laughing people  in old fashioned clothes.  I know it comes  from the black and white photos I have of an old Bartley family reunion that took place in Thompson park in Amarillo when my mother was a girl.  By the time I came along we had fallen out of the loop and were no longer attending the reunions assuming they were even still happening.    I had never been to a family reunion until the summer of 2009.  I had just rediscovered my Furney family roots and by extension my Banta family roots.   The Banta's were and still are as far as I know having their annual family reunion in Golden City Missouri.  The year I went I met with my Dad's brother Dale who took me all around West Plains and told me about his life there with my Dad.  The next morning we headed for Golden City to be the first people at a Banta reunion to represent the offspring of Nell Banta Riley, the one child of James Henry Banta who had never had representation at the reunion.  She and hers it seems had also fallen out of the loop.  Her daughter, my Grandmother died young so the connection had been lost for a while.   I was glad to go to the reunion and get Nell's family back into the loop, and I hope  I can  again one day.  I did not know a soul in the building, but still felt oddly at home.  Maybe it was in seeing all the double chins; I guess that must be a  Banta trait;  now I know who to blame...Maybe the ease I felt there was the product of genetic memory, being among people who shared so much of my lineage.  Whatever it was, it was powerful and I liked it.  It was not unlike walking through the old church yard in Hackensack and seeing the headstones of all the people I knew  who were my kin, not creepy in the least despite the tilting headstones and heaving graves.  I felt quite at ease in that ancient burial place.  I guess it comes down to a feeling of belonging. A belonging that is a birthright and  not a privilege, somthing to be either  bestowed or withdrawn, but something that is.  Like Descartes said "I think therefore I am."   I say "I am, therefore I belong."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Memiors of a West Texas Pioneer

                                                                  Pauline and Martha Rhody
 This entry is all about the stories that Granny told me over the years.  The first I will remember is about the picture above. Granny said that it was taken just before she and her sister Pauline rode the train from east Texas out west.  She said her stepmother had the picture made just before they left.  It was a big deal back then not just because of the rarity of having a photograph taken but because they were wearing the first "No Iron" cotton dresses that were available in the region.  Sure enough, I don't see any wrinkles, do you?  Granny is the one without the hair bow, I guess she was a bit of a tomboy back then.  The other stories she told me about her childhood have to do with her time on a ranch outside of Floydada, TX.  Her mother died when she was little and a good part of her upbringing was left to her older brothers, I guess that might explain the disdain for hair bows.  She told me once that whenever she had had enough and needed to escape she would climb on the back of a horse and ride off.  If the Granny I knew was anything like young Martha, she probably spent a lot of time on the back of a horse.    She and her brothers and sisters also spent time on the back of a mule.   She told me that she and several others would all climb on the mule and ride around bareback  until the mule had enough and then he would head for the nearest prickly pear or thistle and  sit down just in front of it causing whoever was nearest the tail to slide off right into the spines.  When I first heard the story I thought that must have been one smart mule, later I began to speculate on the brightness of the children who would return again and again for the torture of being closest to the tail.  I guess hope sprung eternal back then too.Granny also told me stories about the ranch hands and the ranch.  She said there was a sinkhole on the ranch and that they never could find the bottom.  She said the ranch hands screwed together 17 windmill pipes  and lowered them down the hole and never did touch the bottom.  This is very plausible, the bottomless lakes near Roswell testify to that, as does the fact that the water was too full of gypsum to be good for anything other than the stock tanks, and even then, I think it would have to be diluted with sweet water to some degree.   I swam in Lee lake once at the bottomless lakes park and the water was very full of gypsum, so much so that as the water droplets dried on my skin they left little white patches.  Granny also told a funny story about the ranch hands trying to pull a fast one and sneaking what they thought was a watermelon from the garden only to be sorely disappointed when they cut into it and discovered that it was a citron melon instead.  She also told me of being stranded during the dust bowl days.  She said she was in the car with Uncle Clarence, I am assuming Papa was with them, when they were overtaken by a huge dust cloud.  It was so thick it choked out the engine of the car and it stalled.  They had to hunker down and wait for it to pass and try not to breath in all the dust.  I remember Granny telling me she was very frightened for the safety of Clarence who was just a little baby at the time.
    I am glad I took the time to ask Granny to tell me about her life as a child, there are not many stories, but I treasure the ones I have and I am pleased to capture them here so that Zach will be able to share them with his children, and they with theirs.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Aunts and Uncles and cousins, OH MY!

 My Aunt Peggy Bartly Arnett

    For this entry I am going to lump together several questions asked about my extended family and family vacations because they all go hand in hand.  As I mentioned in the previous entry my grandparents did not live in the towns in which I lived, nor did any of my aunts, uncles or cousins.  Military life has a habit of making close extended families a very real impossibility.   On my Dad's side of the family were his two brothers and I do not recall spending much time with them as a child.  I do remember meeting my Uncle Dale's two boys  Mike and Doug on our trip to Oklahoma, and liked them well enough but have never spent time with them since then because our only links, my dad and our grandfather, both died shortly after meeting them.  I have since spent time with both of my dad's brothers after a 30 year gap, and am still grateful for the  opportunity to meet both of them.  I have also spent time with Bob's son John.  I remember him from the early days, he was stationed near us when I was little and so I remember him.  I had the good fortune to reconnect with him on our return from Hawaii and had dinner with him and his wife in Las Vegas.  It has been a real blessing to find my dad's family again after so many years.   I still keep in touch over the phone with Bob and exchange the rare e-mail with Dale and I think it does us all good.
     Just like my grandparents I know my Mothers brothers and sister better and consequently I know those cousins better.  As children we did spend a lot of time with my Mom's sister Aunt Peggy.  Several summer vacations were spent in Dallas hanging out at her house in Oak Cliff.  Who knew that as I was sitting in the Texas Theater a few blocks from her house  watching Bruce Lee movies one summer, my husband- to- be was in New Jersey reading about Lee Harvey Oswald and his attempted getaway that resulted in a murder in that very theater.  (Weird how our lives overlap even when we don't know it, yea?) So time spent in Dallas meant time spent with our cousins Marladean, John, Terry Keith and Terrilynn.  We liked all of our cousins and enjoyed time with them.  They were all older than us, but each in their own way built memories with us.  Marla by mothering us right along with her own two children Tommy and Monica, Terrilynn by taking us along on the wild ride that was her young adult life, John by spending happy hours around a dinner table playing Spades and telling funny stories and Terry Keith by zipping us all around Dallas in a silver corvette and then treating us to dinner at the Spaghetti Warehouse in the West End back when it was cool.  Of course there is also Uncle Clarence and Aunt Jean and their kids, the twins Russ and Rene, and Myra Lynne.  They lived in Oregon, so we did not spend much time with them, though they did come several times, and I do feel as if I know them.  I am facebook Friends with Myra, and its nice knowing I can contact her whenever I like.   Mom also has another brother, Uncle Ken.  I guess of all her siblings he is the one I know best because he has lived in Clovis since the early 1990's and in Mom's house for a large part of that time.  He is what could be kindly described as an odd duck, not because of his "alternative" lifestyle, but for numerous other things, each when taken individually is only mildly quirky but the cumulative effect of them all over a span of time gets down right annoying.  This is why he and Mom finally had to part ways.  He is still in Clovis, at an old age facility sporting an ankle bracelet to help ward off his unsafe wanderlust.
      I have not really addressed the question of family vacations.  I can only remember two official family vacations.  Both were trips to Dallas, where we all piled into the car and made the 8 -10 hour drive from Clovis.  The last one was during Thanksgiving and I remember it well.  Granny lived two doors down from Aunt Peggy on Brooklyn.  The Oregon contingent came down in an RV and we were all together for that one glorious extended family Thanksgiving.  Uncle Ken was still living on the edge in California, but everyone else was there.  Those were not the only times we went to Dallas, but they were the only times Mom was with us.  We went several times on our own.  We flew once, but more often we rode the Greyhound bus.  Try putting two kids on a bus alone now and see where it gets you!  But we did it more than once back in the day. One time in particular I remember staying at Granny's house over the 4th of July.  We wanted to see fire works but there was no one to take us so we were out of luck.  Granny tried to console us with the offer of watching them on her TV that was in her bedroom.  No, we opted not to watch at all rather than on a 12 inch black and white TV.  That was the summer of the doodle bugs and the flu.  I came down with the flu and spent the bulk of my Dallas visit laid out alone on the living room sofa with no TV and no one to talk to.  Jamie, who was well went with Marladean, Granny stayed in her room watching soap operas and I laid on the sofa with tears in my ears suffering from not only the flu, but an epic case of homesickness.  When I felt well enough I would sit in the sandy patch in the front yard and torment doodlebugs by digging up their little sand funnels just so I could watch them spin around and make a new ones.  Its amazing how little it takes to entertain the truly bored...  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Me, Granny and Barnaby Jones

My Granny
Martha Bridget Rhody Bartley
"Did your Grandparents live nearby?" No, yes  and YES.  I find myself getting a little annoyed at these questions because the answers are not ever as simple as the question appears to be.  I then get annoyed at myself for being annoyed at the book for doing it's job which is to provoke thought.  If the answers are all simple yes or no answers then the result might possibly be the most boring memoir ever written.  So I set aside my annoyance to answer the question.
    Lets start with Sol and Gertrude.  No they did not live near me.  In fact Gertrude did not live at all in my lifetime.  She died when Daddy was a boy and I never met her, though in a weird way I feel very connected to her through her quilt which I have inherited. I did get to visit her grave in West Plains a few years ago when Daddy's brother Dale joined me there for a family reunion.  He drove us all over the countryside showing us places and telling us stories.  Gertrude is buried in a beautiful little cemetery in the woods, and I wonder if I could have ever found it on my own.
       I did meet Grandpa Sol though and remember being given a ride on his tractor.  He lived in Oklahoma and we lived in New Mexico.  I only remember making the trip to see him one time, but I do remember that trip, we saw a longhorn steer in a pasture and Daddy stopped to pick cotton bolls out of a field for Jamie and me to play with.  We could see them whizzing by as we drove down the highway and we desperately wanted to have one to look at.  I remember being astonished at his daring, picking cotton bolls right out of a field that was not his own!   That is about all I can recall about my encounter with my grandpa Sol.  I am left with the vague impression that I liked him.  I was a highly sensitive child and if he did something to upset me, or that I didn't like I would have remembered it.
     My memories of PaPa and Granny are far more elaborate since I spent much more time with them.  They lived in Amarillo, only two hours from our home in Clovis, so we went to Amarillo frequently, and they came to see us too, though not as often.  There was a convenience store across the street from Granny and Papa's house on Taylor Street and PaPa would give us each a quarter to spend on candy whenever we came for a visit.  They took us to Thompson park  Zoo and Wonderland Amusement park...trips to Granny and PaPas were almost always fun.  Granny's back yard was a little paradise that we loved to play in, and her front porch had a swing to loll on when it was too hot to do anything else but wait for a breeze.  Whenever we were leaving to go out we always had to wait for Granny to catch the weather report on TV.  This was before the days of 24/7 news and weather coverage.  You had to catch the News at noon, the evening news or the late night news or not at all.   As a child  I never understood what the big deal was  but later learned she was making sure we were not headed straight into a tornadic thunderstorm.  Growing up in the Texas plains I guess she had her share of tornado scares.
    We actually spent the most time with Granny not just because she lived the longest, but because she actually moved in with us for a while.  I don't remember how long she stayed, maybe a year or so?  I do remember that she was in our house when I was in the third grade because that is when I came down with the chicken pox and was sent home from school.  I got to go home because Granny was there, otherwise I would have had to languish in the nurses office until Mom could come get me.
     It did not last long, Granny's time living with us.  We did not know it then, but she and Mom were not able to live together, Granny unwilling to see Mom as an adult, and Mom, then in her thirties, not willing to explain her every move to her mother.  Jamie and I were blissfully unaware of the discord, they did a good job of keeping it out of our world.  All we knew was that Granny made the best pickles ever from the cucumbers she grew in the yard and that every Thursday night we could pile into Granny's room and watch Barnaby Jones with her, and I am glad to have a happy memory of that  time.   She moved from our house to live near her other daughter, my Aunt Peggy in what was soon to become our vacation Hot spot, Dallas Texas.  I have it on good authority that there will be more on that subject soon.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Having a Tiger by the tail

Jamie Lee Furney and Zachary James Wachter
 On the Day Jamie graduated from ENMU with her Masters Degree in Education
Do I have any brothers and sisters?  That is the question asked by the book today.  I'll say!  And she is the walking talking personification of all things a big sister is imagined to be.  She can and has beat the crap out of me on more than one occasion and then turned around and beat the crap out of others who attempted to do the same.  If that is not the whole sibling dynamic tied into a neat little bundle, then I do not know what is.  She has come to my rescue many times in the past and still does even to this day.  She has driven me to distraction many times in the past  and she still does to this day.  I can say this last part  knowing that she can and would say the same about me.  Our relationship has been tumultuous over the years.  Partly because of the whole sister connection and partly because we are like chalk and cheese.  Jamie loves a crowd, I love solitude, Jamie loves  spontaneity, I love ruts, Jamie loves sports and cars, I love arts and children she had the Bat Man birthday cakes and I went for the Ballerinas. Even our nick names tell the tale, She is Tiger and I am Kee Bird- names given to us when we were still in diapers and they could not have been more appropriate, Jamie ready to maul the world and me ready to fly from it.   If we were not sisters our paths would probably rarely cross if at all.   But we are sisters and  our shared past has entwined us permanently to each other, Her with my feathers in her teeth and me holding tight to her tiger tail because everyone knows that once you have a tiger  by the tail you cannot not let go.

Monday, March 25, 2013

My Grand and Great Grand parent's Names

James Baldwin Rhody, my Great Grandfather
This is a a subject I have visited before in my blog, and little wonder, its been a fascination or should that read "fixation" of mine all my life.  I have always wanted to know more about who my people were.   I get a deep feeling of satisfaction in knowing my history, knowing and I mean Knowing, not guessing, not suspecting, but knowing that I am German, Dutch, English Irish and French, and whats even better is knowing who by name contributed each nationality.  James Baldwin Rhody pictured above is responsible for at the very least some French and some Irish.  There is more I am sure, but he has been a tough nut to crack.  The question I am answering today was a simple one "Name your grandparents.  I decided to go one better and name my great grandparents too.  Years go my friend Kit told me a statistic that most people cannot name all eight great grandparents.  At the time I was among the many and could only name one or two.  I took it as a challenge to discover the names of all eight greats and I checked that line item off my bucket list years ago.  So here for the record, I want to name them once more.  My grandmother on Mom's side, Granny is Martha Bridget Rhody Bartley and her mother and father were Minnie Cummins Rhody and James Baldwin Rhody.  My grandfather on Mom's side, PaPa is Clarence Russell Bartley and his mother and Father were Susan Clementine  Lane, and Joseph Pinkney Bartley.  On my Dad's side his mother is Mary Gertrude Riley Furney  and her parents were Nell Banta Riley and Ezra Riley.  Daddy's Dad, Grandpa Sol Furney's parents were Rosa Lee Hook Furney and James William Furney.  So there it is entered into the record one more time.  If any of my descendants decide to trace their roots, I hope they raise a glass to good ol Kellie Ann who took the time to make their job easier.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Kee Bird in Key West

Kee Bird in Key West
 My nick name is Kee/ Kee Bird, Mom is the only one who really uses it, though once in a while Steve will call me by it.  I don't know when she began calling me Kee Bird, except that the bird part came via her English friend Sylvia who was our neighbor at Indian Springs where I was born, so I suspect it came along pretty early in the game.    When I was young I began to realize that she called me Kee Bird when she wanted me to do a small favor for her, and how could I say no after being so lovingly summoned.   Of course she and I both knew the truth, if she told me to do it I would have to do it or face the consequences, but if sweetly asked to do it I was far more willing to comply and we could both avoid the upset and drama of a domestic mutiny.
    I was stumped for a minute over what picture to use for this question.    How do you capture a nick name in a picture? I thought I should look for a picture that captures the "essence" of me, but that is a pretty subjective question when you think about it.  What I like to think of as "me" probably bears little resemblance to the me that other people know, and because I am the worlds leading expert on "Me" I decided that no one picture sums me up sufficiently.  I finally settled on the picture above even though I have used it in the blog before because it captures a part of me that I like, but think sees daylight too infrequently.  I like to think I am a fun loving, free wheeling, uninhibited life of the party, and once in a  while I can be, but usually I am a little too clenched for that. This picture captures one of those rare moments so I decided to go with it.  Plus  I could not pass up the see, it was taken in KEY West!   We drove down with our friends Jeff and Cathy Dull who always manage to coax out the better me, I think that is why I like being with them so much.  We had a great time and on the drive home as we were hopscotching up the keys I saw a fleeting glimpse of a Key Deer.  Cathy told me that they are very rare and that I was lucky to have seen one, and then she wondered allowed if it might be my totem animal.  It only just dawned on me today how appropriate a Key Deer would be as a totem animal for a Kee Bird...Maybe I should read up on totem animals and see if she is right.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

All The Dogs I've Loved Before


I am an animal Person.  I cannot think of a time when I was not.  I can remember as a child thinking that when I was grown up and could do what ever I wanted I would have any kind of pet that I liked.  And through the years I have had quite a variety of animal companions.  Dogs and cats naturally, but I have also kept tortoises, ferrets, a bird, hamsters, fish, a rabbit, a snake and even a crawdad, he was not a pet so much as a prisoner, but I was only 7 what did I know about crawdad husbandry?  If I had to choose one from the list though it would be a no brainer, Its dogs all the way for me baby, and Rat Terriers to be specific.  We got our first rat in Lubbock.  Milford was his name, and what a dog he was!  We had him for almost 14 years.  His life as a military dependant was not easy.  Though a house dog, he did enjoy the outdoors and for 6 years of his 14 he really did not have the opportunity except in a 6x4 kennel or at the end of a leash.  So when we moved to Alabama we gave him the yard to do with as he pleased.  He lived up to his breeding and actively hunted the small game on our property coming happily through the doggy door with his muzzle caked in dirt from hunting his prey.  I am glad we did that and let him pursue his bliss as they say.  When we got to Hawaii, the yard was a paved lanai.  By then he was was losing his sight, hearing and mobility so a warm slab of concrete was a fair trade for the wilderness of a yard he had just left, but he did have two good years doing as he pleased in Alabama.  When the time came that  we had to let him go we swore off dogs for a while but in a few years we were ready and we went straight for another Rat Terrier.  This time we found Winslow.  Milford and Winslow share the same breed, but that is where the similarities end.  Milford was an overweight chow hound, Winslow is  finicky and only a few skipped meals away from anorexia.  Milford was stubborn and intransigent, Winslow is compliant and easily over corrected. Milford would bolt every chance he got, Winslow stays in his yard and comes right back in the house when called.  Milford was a true feist, bold and fearless.  Winslow is far more skittish.  They could not possibly be any more different than they are, and I am glad.  I want Milford to always be Milford and Winslow to be Winslow.  Its easy to love Winslow knowing that he cannot possibly ever be thought of as a Milford substitute.   And one day I know we will bring home another rat terrier puppy and think how happy we are that he is nothing like our dear Winslow.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"I had cast my lot with an Airman and where he was, was home to me."

Our current house in Columbia, SC
The tile of this post is a variation of a quote by Martha Summerhayes.  She had cast her lot with a soldier, but my life has been spent with Airmen.  First Daddy who brought me from Nevada to New Mexico and then Steve who took me everywhere else.  The question is "Do I live in the city or the suburbs?"   The answer to that depends on when you are asking!  My first home was in Indian Springs, NV and that does not even qualify for much of anything let alone a suburb or a city.  Clovis was most definitely a town boasting a population of around 35,000 people when I lived there.  I spent most of my life in Clovis at 921 W plaza, but also spent some time in Base housing on Market loop, short stints on Cameo, Ross, 10th street and Wright Street.  The first two when I was very little and the last two when I had grown.  Wright Street was where Steve and I had our first apartment and became friends with Lona and Dwight Waldo.  Lona interestingly enough had also been my first grade teacher way back in the day at Ranchvale Elementary.  I spent roughly a year in Amarillo living in the Nantucket Apartments with Cathy Clancy until a fist fight over a beer can pyramid brought the whole unhappy period to a close.  For the record I was the one who was anti-beer can.  Even back then I was a nester who wanted nothing more than a nice well appointed home.  Beer cans did not then and do not now feature in my idea of a well appointed home...let me amend that statement...EMPTY beer cans do not feature.
     Since then my homes have always been pleasant, and while I have lived technically in cities proper, it has never had that urban loft apartment lifestyle I think of when I think of urban dwellers.  I have usually lived in a detached or semi detached house with a lawn, though there were exceptions.  We lived in a  three story Dutch duplex  in Terschuur;  a small village in the middle of the farmland of Gelderland.  Then we moved into base housing in Soesterberg, The NL where we were stacked up like cord wood.  From there we went to a ranch house in Lubbock Texas, the first house we owned. Another military duplex at Offut AFB near Omaha Nebraska was our next stop.  Something we called stairwell housing in Kaiserlsautern Germany came after that.  That was as close to urban living as I have gotten.   Vogelweh Military housing are apartment buildings that have three stairwells each.  In each stairwell there are four floors and two apartments per floor so a total of 24 families lived in each building.  We lived on the the third floor on the outside edge of the building.  We had no yard, so taking Milford out for his potty brakes several times a day got to be a real pain in the butt, but we got fit doing it.  We even got in the habit of racing each other up the stairs...couldn't pay me to run up three flights of stairs now!  From Germany we went to our house in Alabama.  We bought it sight unseen off the Internet.  A risky move we knew, but the gamble paid off and we sold it at a small profit after only two years because we were off to Hawaii!  The house we rented there  was nothing to write home about, a standard dated 60's ranch house badly in need of updating, but it was in an exclusive neighborhood called Maunawili and our back yard looked straight up the Ko'olau mountains.  On rainy days silvery thin water falls would come down the green fluted cliffs.  I counted 20 one day.  It was a view we never tired of.  After a while you generally stop noticing your surroundings.  That never happened in Hawaii.  We treasured each day there.  Finally, the second to last house I will live in, or so I hope, is this house,  also secured sight unseen over the Internet.  We are only renting this time so it was not the okole clencher that the first one was.  We gambled and won again.   Its a perfectly adequate house that has served its purpose well.  Of all the houses though it has seemed the least like home and I know it is because Zach has never lived here. In about a year from now we will pack up the boxes one more time and move home for good, back to NM where I can finally spend all I want on flower bulbs knowing that I will get to stick around and watch them bloom.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oh so politically uncorrect!

Where I worship, St. Davids Episcopal Church Columbia, SC
The question I chose to answer today is so taboo these days that even bringing it up in certain places and circumstances could get you fired!  We have become so hyper-sensitive that to ask a person what race or religion they are is verboten.  You are welcome to take a stab at surmising, but to flat out ask is boorish at best and  actionable at worst.  So why did I choose to bring up such a touchy subject here?  I want it entered into the record.  This is supposed to be a personal history to be passed down to my descendants, so I set aside the silly moors of my society to deal in the facts.  Of course the political correctness that is so irksome to me is only the fallout of past discrimination and in an attempt to put a stop to it, we have over corrected and hopefully the time will come when openly asking about race and religion will not be seen as an attempt at singling someone out for negative treatment but rather a chance to celebrate our differences and share our similarities.  

So with no further ado, I will speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.   I am a WASP, a White Anglo Saxon Protestant.  I am the walking talking definition of a WASP, and me and my kind have been so for many generations, at least 9 that I know of for sure.  I have had my DNA tested as part part of the National Geographic Society genographic program and have traced my genetic lineage back to the cro magnon of Europe.  I share DNA with Oetzi the ice man found frozen for millennia in the alps.  Interestingly enough, I share the same Haplogroup with the Ashkenazi Jews of Europe and though I have yet to have the testing done, there is a strong statistical possibility that I am not only a WASP, but may be Jewish too!  They do seem mutually exclusive, I agree, but the genes don't lie and I harbor a small hope of being genetically linked at least, if not culturally linked to God's own chosen people.  Maybe one day I will fork over the money to find out for sure, until then I will just bask in the possibility.

What I do know for sure is that many of my ancestors were part of the reformation in Europe.  I have Huguenots, Pilgrims, Puritans, and German religious sects all present in my family tree.  But I also know that the lines were not so black and white for some of my ancestors.  My 9Great  grandfather Epke Banta was brought before the prosecutor  in Friesland and fined for having a Catholic Priest into his home to baptise his child.     Zealots are Zealots and intolerable no matter what they ascribe to or in whatever age you find them.   Epke was a protestant but apparently not protestant enough.  I think he and I would see eye to eye on the whole Church thing.  Protestant, Catholic...what does it matter if you are in a sincere and earnest relationship with your creator.  A Godly man or woman is a Godly man or woman regardless of what set of human ecclesiastical contrivances  they choose to adhere to.  I guess the political correctness was going on then just as it is today, it just keeps spiraling into ever broadening circles.  I suppose it is better today than it was back then, we can be Catholic or Protestant without having to fear for our lives and fortunes.  And things have even starting coming back full circle.  We protestants split from Rome because of the excesses, immorality and a departure from scripture that we saw in the Roman Church, and now protestants are returning to Rome, my own family included, for the very reasons their ancestors left over 9 generations ago.  Would they, our ancestors, be rolling over in their graves at the thought of their progeny returning to Rome?  I think not.  I think they would be proud of their descendants for doing just what they themselves did in leaving behind the "Church" in order to follow God.  So now my Mom and my sister have followed God to the Roman Church and I have chosen to stay in the mission field that is the Protestant Episcopal Church Of the United States.   So that is the answer to the question what is my race and religion.  I am white and hopefully Jewish, I am a dissapointed protestant with Catholic sympathies and if current science is correct you can add a dash of neanderthal to the whole thing, stick a fork in it and call it done.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Boy

One of my most treasured possessions is a letter written by my grandfather to my grandmother 15 years shy of 100 years ago when their eldest son Uncle Clarence was just a baby.  They were apart because Granny had gone to care for her ill sister.  In the letter Papa asked how "the boy" was, and said that he missed him.  That struck a chord with me for some reason, that he would refer to his own baby son as "the boy"  so we latched on to the phrase and use it liberally when referring to our one and only child, now a grown man.  He has always been and will continue to be "The Boy" Today's question is all 
about the Boy.  It asks how many children we have and how old are they?  We have just the one, and feel lucky to have him.  Because of the chemotherapy I had at the tender age of 22 my fertility was in question.  One doctor told me I had nothing to worry about, but all the others seem a little surprised that we had a healthy normal pregnancy at all.  So majority rules and Zach is my official miracle baby, not that there is much of a baby left about him.  At 21 years old and almost through with his first 4 years of college he would not fit the bill as Anyone's little baby, except for mine of course.  

When he was little I used to look forward to the day when he was grown and I would not have to worry about him, and now that he is grown I realize that day is never going to come and even worse, I have all the worry and none of the control.  The good thing is that I see signs of hope all the time.  Just when I wonder if he will be OK he surprises me with a good decision, a bit of unexpected wisdom or a measure of maturity that I did not know he had.  He steps up a lot and has made us proud on countless occasions, so my worry is probably more from habit than anything because our boy is really quite the man.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

25 years ago today

The question for today is what is your anniversary date, and how many years have ytou been married?  We were married on February 6th, 1988.  Twenty five years ago today I stood at the altar of St James Episcopal Church in Clovis NM and said " I do".   I could not have known then  all that I was agreeing to, but it was the single best decision I ever made.  Steve has seen me through two different cancers, countless neurotic meltdowns and an ongoing and inordinate love affair with carbohydrates.  In spite of all of my many failings he comes home every day more or less on time and says he is glad to be home.  He has escorted me around the world to see and do the most amazing things.  We have kissed in the shadow of the Eiffle tower,  swam under a rainbow in Hawaii and best and most astonishing of all brought our son into the world in a Dutch Hospital in Amersfoort, The Netherlands.  Who would have guessed that we would have had such a wonderful and surprising first 25 years?  I certainly did not, standing there at the altar all those years ago, but I did not need to.  I had Steve and that was  enough.   Now with retirement looming on the Horizon with as much and more uncertainty about the future as there ever was 25 years ago,  I do not  worry, because I have Steve and we both still do...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Furney Family Circa 1900

The question is "What is your maiden name"  The answer of course is Furney.   I guess if I were getting married all over again,  I would seriously consider hyphenating my last name.  Back in the day, I wanted to take my husbands name and gladly did so thinking it helped solemnize  the bonds of marriage and maybe it did, but now I am of the mind that we can find a better way to do that, one that does not come at the price of the bride's birthright, her family name.  Why should she have to sacrifice that part of herself on the altar of Holy Matrimony?  No, I am all in favor of the hyphenated name, or at the very least lets revive the tradition of giving our children their mothers maiden name for a middle name so that it is not lost to the ages.  Since I had not thought of that when Zach was born, its a little late for me, but at least here I can document that I was and am a Furney.

The picture above is of three generations of Furneys.  I presume it was taken in Kansas in the early 1900's.    From left to right they are my great Aunt Cora Lee Furney, My Great Great Grandmother Sarah Darner Furney, my Grandfather Solomon Ray Furney, my great great grandfather Solomon Ritz Furney, on his lap perhaps Floy Hazel, behind him standing are my great grandparents Rosa Lee Hook and James William Furney.  James William is  resting his hands on who I believe is La Rena, and their eldest son Glenn stands on the far right.  I am not sure about the girls but that is a pretty good guess I think.

For years I knew nothing about my Furney family roots, not knowing where the name originated, how we came to be in America, none of that.  But with the advent of the internet I have been able to unearth some fascinating things tracing the Furney family back to 1690 in Fahrni Switzerland, the village we are all named for.  Apparently Christian Farney emigrated to Wachenheim Germany.  His son Johan Adam then moved from Germany to America sometime during the 1700's.  He died in Fredrick County Maryland.  His son Philip had a son named Fredrick Philip who moved to Ohio where he had a son named Daniel.   Daniel was the father of Solomon Ritz who moved to Kansas.  Interestingly enough, my Dad's brother Bob told me that the Furney family belonged to a protestant religious sect in Ohio, but that Solomon Ritz had a falling out with his Christian brethren and pulled up stakes and moved to Kansas, where he opened a saloon and made enough money to buy an entire section of land.  I do not state that as fact but as family lore.  It does have a lot going for it though, they did move to Kansas, and that is a fact, but as for all the other...I cannot say, but I like to think thats how it happend.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

As good a time as any

South Carolina State Capital
The question for today is what is the name of your spouse.  I figured it was as good a time as any to explore the intricacies of Steve' name and lineage, it gets a little confusing...His name is Steven Edward Wachter.  He takes his middle name from his Dad, who was James Edward Wachter.  But before James Edward was a Wachter he was a Richardson.  His father was named James Edward Richardson, a man from New York City who was of Swedish descent so the family lore says.  He married Anna Bach and then in time little James Edward was born.  Sadly James Sr died  of pneumonia just a few months after his son was born.  Eventually Anna married Fred Wachter who promptly adopted his bride's son and gave him the name he carried the rest of his life and passed on to his children and many of their children.  So now the world has a whole branch of  Wachters who are true Wachters in all ways save genetic.  I think they are proud be be called the grand children of Fred Wachter, a man  they all loved well.  It does sadden me though that the Richardson line is all but lost.  For all we know James Richardson might have been a wonderful father and husband and would have been proud of his grandchildren, had he lived to know them.  So not meaning to diminish the gift of Fred Wachters life and name, I want to be sure to include James Edward Richardson in the discussion about the name of my spouse.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Mom and Daddy

The question is "What are your parents names?  My Mom is named LaWanda Bartley Furney.  She has no official middle name, though it has been suggested for years that her first name is La and her middle name is Wanda.  Back in the day she went by Wanda, most of my childhood I remember her friends calling her that.  But as we all grew up she transitioned back to LaWanda, and I think that is what she goes by with everyone today  that does not call her Mom or Oma, or Omar...a variant of Oma forced on us by spell check and auto correct features of the texing/tweeting age we live in.  We have always wondered why she was given no middle name.  All of her siblings have middle names, but not Mom, another indication that Granny un-apologetically did things her own way.

Daddy was named after his Grandparents. Or so I suspect.  His name was James Lee Furney and his dad's parents were named James William Furney and Rosa Lee Hook.  So it does not take a rocket scientist to do the math on that one.  Or does it?  Jamie is named Jamie Lee Furney, and I would have bet money that she was named after Daddy, but Mom says no, not really.  Hmmm ....something does not add up there.  She looks just like him, she was his first child, He was called James Lee, and she is called Jamie Lee... I think she was named after him if even on a subconscious level.  I am glad, its a good family name and it should go on.  That is why we named Zachary James the way we did.  It helped that both his grandfathers were named James.  So the tradition continues of naming people in our family in mercurially significant ways.  Lets see what the next few generations do with it!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Nevada, Rural Clark County, Nellis AFB

And the Question is...What state where you born in, What City? What Hospital?  I know the answers do not quite match up with the questions, and the picture does not match up at all but all will become clear.  I was not born in a city per se, but on an Air Force Base.  Nellis AFB hospital to be specific.  Nellis is near Las Vegas, but not in it, so whenever I have to fill out a form asking for my place of birth I must write "Rural Clark County, Nevada.  I like it.  It has an air of mystery to it.   And the  mystery deepens because if you were to search for records showing my father being stationed at Nellis you would come up empty handed for he was never stationed there, but rather at Creech AFB in Indian Springs, Nevada.  We left there when I was very young but I do still have some memories of the place.    I remember going to a restaurant out on the highway.  Why it sticks in my mind has something to do with my earliest encounters with pizza but even more to do with the empty pool that was on the property.  There is something forlorn about an empty pool, an empty pool in the desert even more so.  I remember it  even to this day.  I remember going with Jamie to our friend Sylvia's house to watch the forbidden Soap Opera Dark Shadows, and I remember "watering" the giant yuccas in the front yard from the top down, and feeling like a fool some years later when I learned that plants drink from their roots, not their leaves...I remember picnics at Mt Charleston. I remember riding in  the back of a neighbors station wagon on one such trip and coming face to face with the horror of the olive loaf...that was the first realization that there is no accounting for taste.  It was also at Indian Springs that I think I was exposed to nuclear radiation from all the testing that was done in the region.  It really should not have come as a surprise when less than 20 years later I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, and 20 years after that, thyroid cancer.  What is surprising is that Mom and Jamie have managed to stay cancer free!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Battle Maiden by any other name...

Several Years ago I invested in a book titled To Our Children's Children- Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come, by Bob Greene and DG Fulford.  I saw them being interviewed on Oprah and liked the concept so much that I forked over more than $20 to buy the book.  Now I realize that may not seem like a lot, but back then it pretty well used up my free money for the two week pay period.  I remember sitting down at the computer, inserting my floppy disc- yes it was that long ago...and typing away at some answers.  I believe I got to question number 27 before giving up on the project.  Well I am back at this time armed with a blog and Mac and more importantly nothing significant to blog about.    For Christmas this year Steve had my previous blog posts printed and bound and that's when it hit me that I should revisit the family history project again.  I plan on spending the year answering selected questions from the book in my blog and then having them all printed and bound.  Voila!  A family history to give to Zach and his children.  So with no further ado...

Chapter One


1. What is your name?

My Name is Kellie Ann Furney Wachter, well legally its Kellie Ann Wachter, but I started adding the Furney back in recent years.  I have no beef with taking my husband's name, but I do think for posterity's sake we women should at least be sure to document our maiden names if for no other reason than to help some poor soul several generations from now who is trying to figure out just who we were and  to whom we belonged.  ( Is that the correct usage for whom?  I don't know, feels right, but that doesn't mean much in the big scheme of things, come to think of it, neither does the correct usage of who and whom...) Every genealogical brick wall I have hit is a female ancestor who's premarital state is a mystery.  I hope to leave more breadcrumbs to mark my trail than they did.

I have always liked my name.  It's common enough not to be thought unusual, pretentious or absurd  yet you don't find Kellies hanging around on every street corner either.  I think I was just about the only Kellie in my age group at school.  I like that it's Irish, I know I have some Irish ancestry, so it is appropriate and it goes with my freckles too.  I looked up what it means in Gaelic and the definition I got was that it means Battle Maiden...Now on first flush that seems a little inappropriate considering that I live in fear most of the time.  Granted it's fear of the stupid and trivial, the real scary stuff throws you straight into shock so fear never has a chance to get much of a toe hold there.   Fears born of anxiety are the monsters I face.  My default setting is "worst case scenario" so I am usually working up a good panic over most anything that has the remote possibility of spinning out of my control.  I have gotten better over the years at keeping things in perspective and have embraced for the most part that things can go wonderfully right just as easily as horribly I am less fearful now than I have been.  But the fear that makes me think my name is not suited to me is precisely why it is.  I have rushed headlong into the battles of my life with more courage than anyone who has not dealt with anxiety will ever know.  Of course you could also say that my name might mean I like to fight, which I do, a little, but only if I think I can win.