Archive for April, 2010

family history

April 26, 2010

In a few minutes today on, a record of my great grandfather’s passage on a boat popped up. His first name was Wopka. He left Amsterdam for America on Christmas Day 1889, headed for Roseland, Illinois. My grandfather was born there 4 yrs. later. He traveled 3rd class. If he had sailed on the Titanic 20 years later, he would not have survived.

Another interesting random fact: HIS grandmother, Tilke Hylkema, was supposedly born AT SEA near Indonesia! Fascinating stuff. (This came up from someone else’s family tree.)


my brother’s passing, one year ago

April 26, 2010

One year ago, I started this blog. The reason I started it was therapeutic, for myself to write down my thoughts, as I went to sit with my brother dying of cirrhosis of the liver. We had not seen each other for 25 years.

It is hard to imagine that was a year ago. I can remember very clearly, our visit, each day, his voice, the way he looked, the various people I met. He was somewhat out of it, sometimes totally coherent, sometimes not so much (which was a very familiar pattern for speaking with him on any day, any year!). We had no relationship, basically, except for a few words on the phone if he called when I was at our mother’s, before she died a year earlier. He was a user. He called mom for money. However, as I have said many times, as far as we know, he never hurt anyone physically, and he had a good heart. He said that himself that last week, “Oh they all know me, I have a good heart, and they know that here.” It was like he was trying to believe it, trying to believe they saw through his adamant and insistent addiction and mental problems.

He never could just follow the rules. Ever. He slept in parks, couldn’t stand to be enclosed. That week he told me parks and places I should visit. It was so funny, like he was telling me what to go see, because he knew it all, he had been everywhere, and seen it all. He occasionally told a joke or something he thought was funny. His face would light up suddenly, like a light bulb bright. He looked pathetic, sick, like a person with addictions who had been homeless for 20-odd years. But he was my brother. We had other memories, of other decades, other times. I reminded him of a few of them. Like the time he came home from hiking the John Muir trail, and wanted to hide in the closet and pop out and scare our dad. He was funny.

He was sometimes disturbing, like the day he kept telling me to take him out of there, and told me off when I wouldn’t. “I just can’ t believe you won’t help your own BROTHER.” He was 2 days to not being in this world. He got so mad, he was going to stand up and walk out. And all he could do was hobble! That was Dan, defiant and independent to the end.

But he destroyed his body and who knows how much of his mind, with alcohol, cocaine and other drugs.

He never withdrew his membership from the Baha’i Faith, which then allowed me to list his name in a Baha’i publication after his passing. That was very comforting to me. Some who knew him and me, wrote to me.

I do miss my brother. I miss the relationship we could have had. But addictions took that away. I miss my mother as well. Lord knows, I’ve missed my dad for 40 years, since he left us! It is lonely sometimes. No one in this world knows what we all went through, and there is no way to explain it, or any purpose in doing so. In that, I am very alone.

April tadpoles & dragonflies

April 20, 2010

Yesterday, my husband and I noticed thousands and thousands of recently hatched tadpoles madly swimming all around the edges of the entire pond. We will soon have more frog voices. When we moved in last July/August, I remember seeing them hopping across the sidewalk as we took walks around the pond. I was wondering when they would reappear. Haven’t seen many turtles raising their heads in the water yet.

Another creature starting to make its appearance for the year, are dragonflies. At the end of last summer, they were so plentiful, I counted different colors & types. They flit all around you as you walk, but never land ON you. They are beautiful blues & greens. It is amazing to watch the natural eco-system of a pond. One feeds on another, they all mate & bring forth a new generation of their kind. The cycle repeats itself. Life is a strong force with the desire to continue.

(photo courtesy of )

sounds of the pond

April 16, 2010

The sounds of the pond tonight are just incredible. I recorded a little and will upload it to facebook tomorrow. It is loud. Creatures calling to each other in the night, frogs, crickets, all sorts of weird creature sounds. I have never heard anything like it before. (I’m a city girl, folks!) Deeper and lighter-type croaking, screeching, it is incredibly loud!! I opened the window, turned on the ceiling fan, and I’m going to lie in bed and go to sleep to the sounds…..

stories in the news

April 13, 2010

There are so many great stories in the news, and I don’t have time to post about it. I think it’s the Virginia governor declared “Confederacy Day” with an entire program and never mentioned slavery…. hello? The Mississippi Gov. responded by saying, “It was no big deal.” Riiiiiiight.

Someone just told my husband at a  book reading that black people were not allowed to step a foot onto the grounds of the Statehouse in SC or they were arrested— up to 1968. In 1968, I was 15 years old! Some things are really unimaginable. Now we have the African American history memorial on the statehouse grounds, & it is really very impressive. School buses drive up with busloads of children to come see it. Church people bring their Sunday school classes. It is something to see.

what else? Some idiot woman sent her 7-yr-old adopted son BACK TO RUSSIA with a note for the orphanage to take him back!! You just want to scoop up this child and love him, and put the momma in an orphanage where no child can ever go near it. Put her in jail!! (They might, actually.) Kids come with no guarantee or warraunty!! No perfection guarantee!! Kids have problems!! most of them from their parents, adopted or genetic!! GOD forgive us.

I am hitting a wall of tiredness and it hasn’t left me for 2 days now. End of semester. Right now I feel the next 2 weeks are insurmountable and I am really worn out. Not much I can do about it.

My husband is going in for colonoscopy and all that fun stuff at the end of this week. Life in the mid-50s fast lane…..

in my 50s

April 12, 2010

In my 50s, I have become “dumpy”. I am not happy with this. It is time to take charge of a number of things in my life, weight being one of them.

I have made a few decisions, one of which is to take charge of our finances. We are creating a savings for the 1st time in our lives, we are paying down our debt, even though the Parent Loans are unimaginable in size, and we are making progress. I can do the same with weight.

For most of my life, I have turned heads with my looks. Part of me is quite happy and satisfied turned “dumpi-er” in my 50s. I am happy with myself. But I am not comfortable being this weight, which is about 175 lbs. and 5’4″. For most of my life at the same height, I’ve been more like 135-155. Suddenly, I’m at this size. Guess what I’m saying is, I’d feel better if I wasn’t.

Health becomes a concern in your mid-50s. Heart, cholesterol, sugar-levels, all that good stuff. I’ve never had a concern health-wise. Suddenly, it’s feeling like if I don’t start fighting this fight now, it’s all down hill from here. My body is refusing menopause but I don’t have to be this weight. That is up to me. A lot of it comes from sitting at a desk and a computer ALL DAY LONG every single day! I have to control what I eat, and go walking regularly, for a lot longer than I have been.

growing up fishing

April 10, 2010

As I watch Sam go by across the pond, outside my window, I think, “What in the WORLD would Sam do if his parents moved him away from here?” He’s been outside all day, fishing. Just now he walked by, wading in the pond near the bank, with another friend. He’s about 4th grade age. Spring break week, he has been out there all day every day. He is there more than he is home. Parents here just let their kids wander. There is no fear for their safety. What a dreamy place to raise a child. We are a neighborhood with many houses, with pond and swimming pool, out away from the small town city limits, close to the big lake. It is its own community. Though something could happen, nothing does happen, to kids out here. People know their neighbors as well. They even own the STREETS! The neighborhood association OWNS the streets and takes care of repair of them– not the city. If someone tries to speed through from one side to the other and doesn’t live here — they can BAN THEM! It’s nice for safety. And it is also very insulated and excluded from the world. There are some African Americans here but few. People ride around in their golf carts on a sunny Spring Saturday. It’s a lazy, comfortable place to live.

Purple trees with low-hanging blooms have exploded open in the last week. I don’t know what they are, they look like giant lilac trees. Azaleas also exploded open on my campus and around town in the past week — dark bright pinks, lighter pinks, & white.

hidden words no.38-39

April 9, 2010

the next two Hidden Words are:

Walk in My statutes for love of Me and deny thyself that which thou desirest if thou seekest My pleasure.

Neglect not My commandments if thou lovest My beauty, and forget not My counsels if thou wouldst attain My good pleasure.

 (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)


April 7, 2010

Okay now I’ve seen it. We get up in the morning, there is a thin film of yellow dirt all over our cars. It is everywhere. You drive past pine forest and there is literally a yellowish “haze” covering the air. Yellow cones dot the pine trees like polka dot shirts. You get in your car and can’t see out, so you turn on the washer fluid, and create yellow MUD! In the streets, near the curb, you notice this yellowish dirt making lines on the road. It is amazing. Luckily, I don’t have the allergies. It doesn’t affect my ability to breathe.


April 6, 2010

There is nothing like being with grandkids and my kids. It makes life worthwhile. Spent a happy weekend up north. Al’s family always has a big easter egg hunt for the kids. They have a lot of cousins and 2nd cousins.

Saw a few good friends as well. Saw a couple bad accidents both on the way up, and on the way back south. If I get stuck in traffic, I always thank God it is not me in that accident stopping traffic, and things are not so bad. One car was absolutely flattened and had knocked down about 100′ of guard rail, then evidently smashed into the mountainside cliff on the side of the road. Maybe they rolled the car, because it was smashed. Probably a fatality or close to it.

Saw stars when driving thru the mountains with no city lights nearby, that I haven’t seen in a long time. Breath-taking view.

Got back to the south and all the purple flowering trees have burst into  bloom everywhere. Gorgeous weather, sunny and in the 80s. Got back at midnight, got to campus this morning by 8:30 & my teaching is already done for the day. Now just grading and catching up. All is well.