Sunday, June 16, 2019

Cousin Martha

People have asked Cookie why I love genealogy.

The answer is simple.  You meet people that you know and you dig up people you wish you could know.

Take Cousin Martha.  Actually, fourth cousin Martha, twice removed.

Now you are asking what does "fourth cousin, twice removed" mean?

Let me try and explain this without you going all glassy eyed.  When we determine relationships, we look at two people and the closest equal relationship that they have. with children, its parents. with grandchildren, its grandparents. With great-grandchildren, they share the same great-grandparents, who are their parent's grandparents. 

When it comes to determining cousins, we define a basic cousin as two people who have different parents but share a common set of ancestors.  You and your first cousins SHARE the same set of grandparents.  You and your second cousins mean that you share the same great grand-grandparents.

So a full cousin, be it a cousin, or a second cousin or a set of third cousins can go back an equal number of generations and find a set shared common ancestors.  (For a half-cousin, you share a single common ancestor who either remarried or procreated with a different mate.)

"Times Removed" means that there is an unequal number of generations between the common ancestors and your cousins.  So what we do is first find the two people who have an equal number of generations - that gives us the cousin degree, then we count the additional generations on one side as "removed" from one and other. 

So my fourth cousin, twice removed is someone with whom I share a common ancestor, plus two generations on one side of the equation.  Martha's fourth cousin was my grandfather, my parent and me being the two generations different from Martha.

Now someone will say that "Well you really aren't related..."

Au contraire mon frere!

If we really weren't cousins, there would be no common ancestors.  But there are, so we are.  Now it has nothing to do with shared common experiences.  I have first cousins that I barely know.  I do have third cousins that I am very close with.  I have two cousins that I am related on through both their grandfather and grandmother, through three different lines without any intermarriage.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Anyhow, Martha and I were related, separated by space and time, but we share the same Revolutionary War era couple as common relatives.  All of our families knew the same people, but the families, themselves were like planets, everyone in their own orbit, crossing paths, never colliding, but passing closely one to another.

So back to Martha. 

Many years ago, in the early 1980s, I was on the hunt for a copy of the expansive family genealogy - a book my mother called the "Kennel Papers" or what I have grown to refer to as "the moldy tome".  There weren't many published, and if our branch of the family had one, my grandfather more than likely threw it out and/or burned it when he cleaned out his aunt's home in the 1940s. 

A local librarian had told me that I might want to go knock on the door of an overgrown house on the main street that had a rusting Mercury in the drive.   The house belonged to someone with my mothers family name, and we passed it frequently.  But it was someone my mother denied knowing.  "Maybe I met her once, but don't pester her.  She doesn't like people."

The librarian, however, was certain that the woman in the house might be open to parting with the book. "Martha probably has one and she most likely would sell it."

So, I went to the big ramshackle white house, with the weeds and poison ivy in the front yard and knocked on the door. And there was the black Mercury, rusty but operational.  The smell of cigarettes was terrific, and I have always hated cigarettes and the smell and the dirt.  But it was odd because I was on a stoop, not on an enclosed porch or such - and the smell as if someone had been smoking beside me.

I waited and was about to knock again when the door opened and through the screen door appeared a woman with a face like the Mighty Favog, but topped a mop of chopped hair like Roseanne Roseannadanna, grey tinged with yellow from cigarette smoke.

I introduced myself, explained my quest and she said "Susan called and said you would be by," and opened the door.

The day outside was bright and hot, and the house was warm and dark.  The air was thick with Pall Mall smoke and as my eyes adjusted there was clutter here and there, but not to the extent that she was a hoarder.  She motioned me to the left and opened up a pair of French doors. "I don't often have company."

The room was dark, the air was thick and the bark cloth drapes drawn against any sunlight, but slices of light cut through the dim light to show the film of decades of smoke and dust whirling about.  It wasn't until I was seated that I really could see around the room, and it was pure "Chinatown".  If Hollywood was going to set a scene of California in the thirties and forties, this was it.

Bentwood furniture, bark cloth, wicker lamps, art deco cigarette boxes, bakelite pulls and rattan chairs.  Pulled back against the walls was older furniture, more in line with the 1900s.  A large tall case clock stood in the corner, its pendulum still.

We chatted, figured out how we were related. 

"I may have met your mother in 1935 - when I came back from California for the reunion.  Is she in that picture?"  She pointed to a long boy picture of about two hundred people that I had never seen. "We used to be a bigger family, but we all have scattered to the winds," she said.

I complimented her on the furniture.  In the 80's, this stuff was worth a small fortune.

"I left for California in '23.  On a vacation to the Coronado.  After two weeks beyond my return, my mother called to see when I was coming home.  I told her I was home.  I adored the California lifestyle.  So when I moved back in '65 to take care of her, I bought my things.  I thought I would move back, but you know how it goes sometimes."

Yes, she had a book.  And yes, she would sell it for a $100, firm.  "But I would have to look," and that she planned to get the house in order in the coming month. 

"Would you like 'a hot Sanka' and a cookie?  I hate to have a coffee alone."

I followed through the dining room, the butler's pantry into the kitchen where a table and chairs. 

"I don't cook much."

For as dark and cluttered as the living rooms of the house were, the kitchen was clean.  The range was from the forties and the refrigerator was like the one at my grandparent's house, a one door GE.

She sat down a cup with hot water, the jar of Sanka and some archway cookies that were hard as rocks.  And prattled on, in between drags on the cigarette, after cigarette.

"When I decided to stay I went to Los Angeles and visited cousin Walter.  He gave me a job in his bank.  I didn't like working in a bank.  But Walter had made the arrangements and I didn't want to disappoint him.  When Walter died, I was a branch manager.  The War started, but there was no way to move home, so I stayed with the bank.  You know how these things work out."

"Mother cooked.  I don't.  She's been gone since 1969.  So I keep the kitchen clean, because I may need to cook one day."  I think her entire diet was "hot Sanka", stale cookies and Pall Malls.

I left, she promised to look, and a couple months later she invited me back, and we talked but I mostly listened.

"I wasn't interested in men when I was young.  I was having too much fun.  And when I was older, men weren't interested in me," she said.  "Do you play rummy?"

We met twice more before she said "I have exhausted hiding places where the book would be.  So I called (her sister) Millie, and Millie has it in Chicago.  You know how these things work out."  That was fine, I had enjoyed spending time with her. 

We talked about her side of the family: "Now Corliss married Fred Weaver.  They bought a farm by McCutchenville...Emery died from an accident - a thresher ripped his arm off and he bled to death in the field...Movie stars are alright, but they have a right to go to the grocery without people bothering them...I never cared for modern art - I have a hard time with the battle between what I see and what the artist meant to communicate...Jerry Donovan was a nice man, crushed to death by a tractor wheel in the field...Dorothy? She lost her finger in the cream seperator...did you know about cousin Leon Wigglesworth?  He was going to make it big in film, but he spent too much time with Billy Haines...Do you cook? What doi you like to cook?"  You know how that goes.

She did bring forth her grandmother's "Misery Books". 

Evidently, her grandmother loved to clip out news stories of misery, bad luck, and tragedy.  The books were made from published books that she glued the newspaper stories onto the pages.  The newsprint was brown with age and the horse glue had hardened.  But there it was "Mrs. Dorothy Williams Loses Finger, New Cream Separation Machine Blamed: WARNS OTHERS  OF POTENTIAL DANGER OF ELECTRIC MACHINES."  She gave me one book, and I still have it, but am mostly afraid to open it after 35 years.

We met once more ("Can you bring over a jar of Sanka with you?"), and then not long after I moved out of the area.

Martha died in 1986, and Millie - like my uncle - cleaned out the house by throwing everything away that had any value.  By the time I made it back, the house was gone.

My mother said that they had to tear the house down because the Firestone bought the house and needed the parking the lot would yield.  More like they tore the house down because it was old and unkempt and beyond a quick coat of paint.  I would see the Mercury around town on my visits.

So, what did I get from meeting Martha and talking about family, California in the 20s and 30s and beyond?  Well, I still hate Sanka, hot or otherwise, I still hate cigarette smoke. 

But on the plus side, I got to meet her, appreciate her love of "the California LIfestyle" and now I know everything about cousin Leon Wigglesworth.  And I know not to become distracted and to be careful when and if I ever use a cream separator.

But its the experience of meeting people and hearing them and asking them questions that makes it worthwhile.

You know that goes, right?

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Write your own description

"Two days after they messed up her order at Panera, perimenopausal, chain-smoking Karen was still upset that they forgot to add extra feta to her salad so she’s thinking about going back to speak with the manager." ~~~ Faith S. on Facebook

Cookie loves bad art.  In fact, I have several pieces hanging in my house because it brings me great joy. 

So when Cookie found this picture in a thrift store group and that description - and I couldn't write it any better than Faith, I had to share. 

But she looked more like a Judith to me.

Anyway, I invite you to write your own cutline about this painting and post it in the comments.section. 

Friday, June 7, 2019


Trust me, lady; he will be disappointed when he gets his hands on the truth.

Yesterday I wrote about cleaning out my papers and files from my previous career. 

And what did the postman deliver to me today?

Goodies for my current career!

I can't say what the goodies are, but let's say that one blows the locks off one of the most told foundational stories in American business in the 20th Century.  Obliterates it.  YAY!!!!

So I am currently in talks with a major archive, a major university depository, a major library's manuscript division, and a national museum to see who wants this, and who gets it.  More importantly, who will take it and give access to researchers who will want to look at it. 

Very excited and a little annoyed that I can't play with the stuff until I get the clean out completed. 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Yeah, I don't think I can do that

Cookie is in the middle of a massive home office reorganization project that is meant to get rid of twenty years worth of detritus accumulated in my former career now that I have retired from writing local and regional histories for a major publisher.

Frankly, it's not my job to be the archivists for these communities. So all these copies of pictures that we made while we were writing these books are getting shipped off to the towns around the Midwest where I worked and wrote.

I was reminded today of the types of locals who just don't get it.  I mean they don't get what a local and regional history book is. 

An elderly man back in Ohio died.  He was really old when he died.  Really, really old.  Like in the running for world oldest person old.  He was old when I started this venture. 

The way the books would work is I would get hired, I would go in, get what I could at local historical societies, scanning and writing "cutlines" - telling the story of what was going on in the image in 120-140 words, max.  After that, we would invite locals in to bring their pictures in for scanning and story swapping.

Well, this one day, with about ten people waiting, in comes this elderly man with his three daughters - and they were old, too.  I think he was about 90, and the "fillies" as daddy called them were in their 70s. 

Instead of taking a seat, and filling out the form and meeting with the local interns I used for "intake", one daughter barged her way up and lied to the others saying she had an appointment.  She did not - if she had an appointment, I would have written it down.

"I'm sorry but my father (insert the guy's name) is here and he can't wait to be interviewed for his chapter."


"Surely you have heard about my father.  He's the oldest man in this county."

Now, the historical society for the said town had a man on it who was 101 and he was still driving.  That's something you remember.  If for no other reason to stay off the roads.   So I asked how old he was and the daughter said 90 something.

How interesting. 

"And I know that these people won't mind letting my father move to the top of the line."

The faces of the people who had been pushed aside certainly looked as if they minded.  Of course, they did.  They had played by the rules until the fillies stampeded the event.

So I asked her to wait, finished with the person who I was working with - a dear woman who timidly came in and "Oh, these pictures won't be of any interest."  That was an understatement!  She had pure gold - one of the images ended being the cover shot.

So I went over and the old man says "My 'fillies' tell me that you are going to write a chapter on me."  I introduced myself, shook his hand and smiled.   I asked what kind of images they brought and the daughters looked perplexed.  Pictures?  "No, we just brought daddy."

OK, then, perhaps we should schedule a time when I can come and visit and we can look at some pictures and do an interview.

The oldest filly - who was one hoof to the glue factory - said that "Daddy's life is more interesting than any picture from the past."  Sensing disaster, I suggested then, that an in residence appointment would be best.  "You see, today was for scanning pictures and these people who signed in before you brought their images, and we have the equipment for that purpose..."

The oldest filly, Mrs. Ed, said: "Aren't you interested in even talking to daddy?"

Just as I started to say what I had kindly just said, again, a local historian named Corlis came in and thankfully inserted herself into the middle. 

"Margaret, I told you it isn't that kind of book...This is a book that will have more photographs than body text...Well yes, and I am sure he has many wonderful stories to tell...The society might want to write a book based on his stories...I will call you Howard and set something up...Good seeing you, b-bye...So who is next in line?"

Later Corlis said while we were packing up "I told them, and I told them again, and they just don't hear a word anybody says."  Verily, Corlis was over the fillies.  "Their father is a really nice man, but he's dull as a dangerous knife and whenever anyone has a project they foist him on us.  When we built the new library, they wanted his name on the plaque inside the door because he was the first child to get a library card when they opened the old building when it was new.  That's a nice piece of trivia, but it isn't plaque-worthy."

Looking through my box of notes I found a card from Corlis - who died about five years ago - so says Legacy the death notice people - telling me that she met with the fillies and daddy but there "wasn't really enough for a paragraph, let alone a book.  I told them to write the stories down, as he tells them, and I will do something with them."

The other thing I was reminded of was when we did a signing and some woman came in and said "My friend said that there would be a chapter on their father.  I don't see it. Now this book is a present for their father so inscribe it with "'I am sorry that I didn't write a chapter about you for the book.'"

I literally wished I had a spray bottle of water so I could have sprayed in her face and said "NO!"

Instead, I smiled and said "I am not writing that. But I will write War?"

Deep down, I think the fillies did their father a disservice, time and again.  Great love can make you do things like that.  But that love is usually blind to carnage it creates with empty promises and misunderstandings.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

You know that family, a driveway instead of central air

Yes, we are those people...

Cookie has two terrible headaches and is very hot.

No, not hot in that way.

Hot because Ville Cookie, located in the Capitol of Mid Atlantic heatwaves, Bawlimore, has no central air conditioning. 

You heard me - no central air - on the first floor.

The previous owners did install AC on the second and third floors, but they never did for the first.  That's because our house has radiator heat and not forced air.  So it is easier to put the condenser in the attic and run flexible ductwork around the third floor than is it to pipe the stuff down two floors lower.

So we rely on window units on the first floor, and that means fans to move the air about, room to room.  The noise!  The inability to rend the air of moisture!

To add central air to the first floor, we would have to add a second AC unit and place the condenser in the basement.  From there it is easy to install floor registers, etc. and so on.  But its expensive.

But no, we needed the driveway.   So we have a drive, but days are feverish feeling in the heat.

And it's early this year.  Miserable early.

So I have a headache from the heat.  But I have another headache on the street.

The brand new hybrid has a fucked up radio/Bluetooth unit. Bother.  We noticed it when we returned from vacation.  Normally, you start it up, the system pops up on screen and you drive away.   But that first day back, it took forever to load, and then it crashed, and loaded and crashed and over and over and over.  Every third crash, the audio source dropped.

So off to the dealer we went, they loaded the OS and then the latest map update, and said it was fine to go. 

Got in the car, started it up, set it in gear and the audio system crashed and started acting up.  Without leaving the parking lot, back into the service bay it went.  So the service department studmuffin jumps into the car.  and we remove my iPhone from the system, and the system from my iPhone system - the technical manual calls this a divorce. 

The car runs fine.  The audio system stays up.

Then we turn off the car and restart it, re-pair the phone to the car and the car to the phone.  Everything is fine.

I ask if we can test it from a cold start, and we shut the car down, restart it, the car and the phone hook up like Gidget and Moondog, I put it in gear and drive five feet and like Gidget and Moondog, it crashes.

Reader, I have to say that only thing more exciting than sharing my car with an incredibly good looking man is to have an electronic device FAIL exactly like it did for you when you were alone, but in front of a witness at the dealership. 

No, I am not going crazy.

This time we get "System Is Unable To Update. Continue Y/N"

Praise Jesus, we have a twofer!

So they call the manufacturer of the car's advanced diagnostics department and hook up the car.  Nothing.  They call Apple, and there are no bulletins, but Apple asks me to update et the phone, which was updated two days before. So that's no it. They ordered me a new radio unit - "It should be here in  ten days."  UGH.

Anyhow, in the past ten days, I have been keeping a log.  What makes the system fail and what doesn't:

1) The system fails if the phone is on when you turn the car on.
2) The system doesn't fail is the phone is on when you turn the car on and you back up (because the review camera function breaks the chain of failure.
3) Number two, but then the phone book doesn't load.
4) The system works if you start the car and the phone is off.  Turn the phone on and the car and radio and nav system work fine, but the phone book may, or may not, load.
5) Back to number one, and the system fails on a cycle of one to three minutes.  Every third failure loses the audio source if the radio is on.

We tried this with my husbands iPhone and had no issues just loading the phone alone. But when I loaded the phone and the phone book, it repeated the crash cycle.

My diagnosis is that the nav system can't load the phone book from the phone and that causes it to fail.

Unfortunately, a week has passed and the dealership called to say "shipments are running slow because of the holiday weekend."  So I wait and stress.  I know, let go and let Toyota.  But it's cramping my style. (Whine)

So yes, I have first world problems, and they are very, very real.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

You'll find me out watering the driveway

What Witchery is this? Not our house, but you get the idea.

In water conservation terms, you always hear people saying "Don't waste water on the driveway!"  But our new driveway grows!

So the husband and I have done the eco-bay friendly thing and added a "green driveway".  Its concrete pavers, like in the picture, but the holes are filled in and the grass is planted.  Slows the runoff, absorbs water, doesn't absorb heat, etc.  And when the grass comes in, you really won't see the pavers so much.

The house was never built with a drive, but one was in the plans from day one.

These are not very common here, so we get a lot of gawkers and they all have comments:

  • "What do you think you are doing?"

  • "What's the meaning of this?"

  • "Are you going to pave over it?"

  • "Well, I am not sure it's a good idea."

The most ludicrous comments come from old white men.  What flying monkey's ass do you think I care about when Mr. 70-Something Year Old Man thinks its "not a good idea or not?"

"How do you think you are going to shovel that?"

What difference does it make to you, Pickle Puss?

The neighborhood busybody came by and told us she would get an injunction to force us to remove it.  "I will do everything I can to keep this out."

Not so fast Dora. I showed her the permit from the city.  And I smiled.  It's totally legal, and the city wants more stuff like this.

We do get more positive comments than bad ones.  Most of the people come by and say it looks "neat", "cool", or "progressive."

"These are all over the Netherlands," said a woman down the street. 

Marylanders who live near the Bay or watersheds that drain into the Bay are all being told to do what we can to protect the Bay, so this qualifies - thus we were so easily able to shoo-off Dora. 

One word of advice - unless you have a very strong back - hire this work down.  We paid to have this driveway laid down and the contractor gave us $40k worth of work on a 20K contract.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Having a wonderful time, wish you were...

Looks like rain. Too much rain is bad for crops.  Too little is bad, too.

So we made our annual pilgrimage to New England, which is mostly us sitting with the in laws. 

I know, big fun.

But it happens once a year. 

This time we ate well, but it was a wee bit rainy.

On our first day we made it to Weston, Connecticut, to see a beloved friend.  I miss her very much.  We were stunned that she's been in Connecticut for thirty years.   But she looks fabulous.  Moreover she seems happy, all good things with her children and husband, too.  And she deserves all of it and more.  You when you make friends with someone who is special? Audrey is all that and more.

On the second day we pushed on to Windsor, the first European settlement in Connecticut.  There we found the "Ship" monument to the towns first settlers and found the names of my forefathers.  Sadly, the foremothers were not on the list.  That seemed a wee bit unfair.

I take that back, that is horribly unfair. 

Women are really unvalued, and in "His"-story, even more so.

In many cases, before 1850, unless your courthouse hasn't been burned down, that woman in your past may never be found.  1850 was when the census in the United States began to record women.  Before that, if they were not heads of households, they were just hashmarks on a sheet of paper.  Not even shown as a wife, they were just a woman in a certain age-range.

Anyhow, we honored the women with a moment of thought and pushed on.

Next we headed to rural, Eastern Connecticut, which is very lovely!  Stops were made in Windham, Ashford and Chaplin. 

We went to one cemetery to view the graves of ancestors only to find out that Find A Grave had applied the wrong address to the cemetery we were searching for.   That was a major bother.   But we pushed on and eventually found ourselves in the bosom of the in-laws in Natick.

In Boston I got a respite t the unending merriment with the in-laws when I drove down to Newton - to Newton Center to be specific -  to visit my fourth cousin, Murial, and Murial's twin sister Miriam.  They are 86 and both are very sharp.  Having a conversation with them is fun.  They speak in partial sentences, each one finishing the others sentences.   Their cousin Mordecai was there and he was fascinated that I was married to a man.   

I was the youngest person there by 30 years.

There was lots of good food, a lot of laughs and a great deal of Yiddish.  We are all getting together in Cleveland at the end of July for the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies conference. 

Then today, we drove home, got the dogs and settled back into our lives. 

I love going back there, but to be honest, I really hate the traffic. 

So that was our week.  A real rip-snorting time!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Well, that was inconvenient

The guest suite in the garret is named for her

Well, Cookie has been through the wringer!

More and ongoing computer woes.  The hard drive in the 8930 died, and after a great clusterfuck, was returned to Cookie last Saturday.   So I spent all Easter resurrecting the beast.  Since I am here, you know, it has powered up and is working.  It has risen: a miracle.

This mark the FIFTH time in six months that Cookie has had to install programs, bother.

I am too cheap to pay money, monthly, for Photoshop CC, so that means going out, inputting all manner of byzantine information into Adobe to get the pass free version of Photoshop CS3 that is available to those of us who shelled out $799 when it was new, then jumping through more hoops to get CS5 Upgrade working.   Then there is Office, blah, blah and legacy programs.  Suffice it say, if you are reading this, then we are working at full steam.

On top of this, Cookie has been rehabbing our guest suite, which probably hasn't been painted correctly since 1965.

I don't know what Floyd and Martha painted with, but paint wouldn't stick to the depressing color that we called "Renter's Office White".    So we had to use a bonding primer on the walls, which are not plaster, not drywall, but something else that was manufactured in 1928.  It's panels, nailed up, and then had wooden straps installed over every seam.  And after 91 years, all those panels and straps had to be caulked.

So that was 32 panels that all had to be caulked, have cut in work done, then sealed and painted.  Three gallons of paint later (Ceiling, Trim, Walls, and Windows) one room of the "Edna Garret Suite" is finished.   That's right.  One week, three gallons of paint, one room.   But it is lovely and very metropolitan, very sleek.  The upholstered headboard is finished and mounted on the wall.  Cookie went beige, off white and white almost a tone on tone on tone to cut down the busy feeling.  The end result is restful, clean, inviting.

I had hoped to have both rooms and the stair hall done, but that will have to wait for May.  Cookie is FIN.

Coming up:  I am heading back to school for a class on graphics for three weeks in May.  Which will be fun, but its a concentrated course with classroom lab time an hour from home.  UGH.  But it was the only one I could find that wasn't "Distance Learning", which for a hands-on learner is a terrible thing.   Those of us who learn like this want on-hands time with the "thing" we are learning about and we like to ask questions. 

"Why is it doing this?"

"What if I do this?"

"Where do I find it?"

"How do I structure this, and who thought it was a good idea to do something counter-intuitive?"

That kind of learning doesn't do well with canned online lectures and screen time with your professor.

In other news, the latest on our City Hall mess, the Mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh has disappeared.  MIA.

"She isn't lucid," says her attorney.

We feel like she is playing ("cough") Camille.  Her attorney says she is trying to recover.   Her pneumonia has turned into bronchitis, but after a month of this, she no longer in the hospital and is trying to recover.  But WHERE?

MEANWHILE, the FBI raided City Hall, her two homes and three other locations.

And then we learned that her consignment shop, a side business that we all knew existed, that was offering GROUPONS until it wasn't offering GROUPONS?  Well, it closed.  Kinda.  When it closed has been up for some debate, because her business partner, Baltimore Comptroller Joan Pratt - who used to be the only adult in the room at City Hall - first said it was open by appointment.  Now she has corrected that statement by saying it closed on December 31, 2018.  Which is it Joan?   Was it open by appointment until Holly Hit the fan in March when it was selling GROUPON, or did it close in December, (cough) the date your corrected statement said?

Now we knew about the store, but not that Joan Pratt was in a side business with the mayor. 

There is yet another conflict of interest.


Because the Comptroller and the Mayor make up two votes out of three on the Board of Estimates.

That's the Board that approves city contracts.  See why that is a conflict?

Cookie spent many years working in the consumer financial institution world, and the number one rule, aside from "Thou shalt not keep two sets of books," is "The auditor is never your friend, they can never be your friend." 

An auditor, or comptroller, is a neutral observer who is loyal to the law and the rules of accounting.   Always.

Sort of like your shrink.  You can never be friends with your shrink - ever.

So no - you cannot be friends with the comptroller.  Ever!

And also happening this week?  The head of Univerity Maryland Medical Center - when the mayor used to serve on the Board, and initially got caught with the first shred of Healthy Holly stuff broke, has resigned.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

An accommodation, hope in the ashes, as Cookie would have loved it.

Faye was ROBBED!

So, what has Cookie been up to...

I am having a true First-World Existential Crisis.  For the FOURTH TIME in six months, my new Dell computer has died.  I know, I know, Apple, Apple, Apple.  But unless you are going to cough up the money for a new Apple, shut your yapple and just let me vent a true "woe is me" moment.

The situation is being solved by Trusted Retailer after Dell pissed me off.

When I buy your product, and it is under your warranty, and I play by the rules in reporting the problem, do not treat me, or any other customer as an "accommodation" that you have to bestow largess upon. 

It's a very dickish thing, James, at Dell.

Hopefully, the newly images SSHD will be fixed tomorrow so I can spend the weekend reinstalling everything.  The takeaway? Moving forward sometimes means taking charge and calling people on their bullshit.

In other news...

Cookie was heartbroken by the fire at Notre Dame.  I was watching CNN when the reports of the fire started, and once again, just like on 9-11 watched history unfold, and feeling helpless not to be able to stop it.

But, unlike 9-11 we can find some good in this event.  No lives were lost.  No country was attacked.  No faith was attacked, nor were fanatics attacking, either. The walls are still standing, though the north wall is in serious condition - not from the fire, so much.  But it was in poor condition beforehand.  Things of historical and theological value were saved.  Even the alter.  But sometimes we have to look at the ruins and find the sprigs of promise. The work of artists and artisans was lost, but more artists and artisans will be put to work. This offers a true chance to rehab the structure in a way that will help it stand for another 800 years.

My friend who works at the Beefhouse Strip Club said that sales of Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame - the book that forced the French to own up to centuries of abuse and neglect and helped to propel the Cathedral into a new era of popularity in the 19th Century - are flying off the shelves.

And perhaps this serves as a reminder to Catholics and the Catholic Church that this holy week, faith, like Christ, sometimes needs to be resurrected.

Maybe this fire will serve as a reminder to the church that terrible things can happen when you ignore problems and refused to modernize the inner workings, much like Notre Dame's stewards failed to maintain the electrical system that created the hazard that led to the fire.

Every day, find a silver lining where none seems to exist.  It's out there.  You have to be open to finding it.

Final Thought?

Faye Dunaway should have been Cersei Lannister.

Faye, you was robbed, dog.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Pee-U? Oh, no, not again

So y'all know that we have been in BMore for almost seven years, and the situation here keeps getting worse and worse.   Case in point, or Mayor's office.

In seven years, Baltimore has had two mayors and the specter of a third:

1) Shelia Dixon.  Shelia Dixon was elected mayor, she was very popular with the electorate.  Why?  Shelia is one of these people who develops instant rapport with the people she meets.  You really feel that she connects with you. That's good.  What's bad is that Shelia was found guilty of theft in office after she got caught stealing gift cards that were meant to be distributed to the poorest of the poor children in this community.   So Shelia had to resign in shame since she was convicted of a crime. 

2) Stephanie Rawlings Blake.  Steph is a brilliant woman, with the legacy of her father's lifetime of good works hanging over her head.  She is an Oberlin graduate, brainy, smart, but was terrible at connecting with people, and worse on TV.  Stephanie came to the job as City Council President, as per the charter, assumes the office of Mayor when the Mayor is unable to do their job or is removed from office.  And in this case, it was Shelia Dixon's conviction that brought Stephanie to the mayor's office.  But as Baltimore burned and rioted in 2015 over the murder of Freddie Gray, Stephanie was nowhere to be found.  She was not out on the front lines, she was not speaking to the people. She was spending a great deal of time getting her hair and makeup done.   So she removed herself from reelection, sensing certain defeat.

Now we have Catherine Pugh, a former state senator, who was doing what Stephanie should have been doing during the riots.  Catherine was out there on the front lines bravely standing up to the fear and the violence of the rioters.  Locking arms with Congressman Elijah Cummings, she walked into the buzzsaw and helped to bring people together.  And the city elected her mayor.

But since winning office in 2016, the clusterfuck that is Baltimore City Hall hasn't gotten better.  It's still a clusterfuck.  In some ways worse.  And department and division leaders are still making excuses for slipshod work.

INTO THIS came news, starting around March 15th that Mayor Pugh has been selling a whole lot of children's books that she wrote and self-published.  And that's fishy. 


Each year thousands of children's books get published by major publishers and they go nowhere beyond their initial printings.  Unless you are an award-winning book author, even the cleverest kiddie books go into the toilet.  Remember Fred Gwynne, Herman Munster?  He wrote children's books - marvelous works with great art.  Anyone remember them?  Nope.

But Catherine Pugh is selling THOUSANDS of her self-published books about "Healthy Hannah".  But you can't get them at the nearest library, and you can't get them at your local or national bookseller either.  But she is selling them in bulk, by the box load!  Thousands at a time!

Where are they going?  Well the University of Maryland Health Center, on whose board the mayor sits, bought a whole lot of books.  Enough for the mayor to pay cash for a house in Ashburton, a traditionally black, middle-class neighborhood of very nice 1920s era houses.  She also rehabbed that house, but without pulling the right permits and with pending fines.  Yes, the mayor's people didn't pull the correct permits!

But wait!  There's more!

  • Not only did she get money for that first batch, but she failed to recuse herself from Univerity business that impacted dealings with city hall. 
  • Then the books that the UofMHC were found sitting in a warehouse until they weren't.  Then they reappeared. 
  • Then Kaiser Permanente bought a load of books and SUPRISE they were awarded a contract to provide medical treatment to City Employees!  Better yet, it was the Board of Estimates - on which the mayor is seated by virtue of holding the office of Mayor - that approved the bid, with Mayor Pugh not recusing herself from that vote. 
  • Now ALL of the mayor's deals are coming under scrutiny.  Acting Mayor Jack Young has asked that the deals she has struck over the past two years be looked at. 
In a "really?" moment while this was all breaking, the mayor developed pnuemonia.  And what hospital was she taken to?   University of Maryland Medical Center, of course.  A decent crisis management team would have said "Anywhere but there!"  But no one was thinking.   They took the Mayor, accused with insider dealing to the hospital that the dealing was happening with. 

Then in a Camille moment, the horse and raspy-voiced mayor made one last stand when she defended what happened in a presser with no questions.  From there, she placed herself on an indefinite leave of absence.  

City Council President, Jack Young, who also ran for Mayor in the last race, took over in Pugh's absence.  Now, did you catch that?  History repeating itself. Dixon out, Rawling-Blake in, Rawlings Blake out, Pugh in, and Pugh out with Young in.

Every day for two weeks its been one revelation after another. 

Meanwhile, "Rome is burning".  A Canadian racetrack operator is trying to strip the Preakness from Baltimore and move it to a track in Laurel.  We have gone through four chiefs of police in three years.  Murders are up.  City services are down. 

Honestly, if you think the shitstorm in Washington is bad, it's business as usual in Baltimore. 

And those of us who believed in Mayor Pugh are disappointed, demoralized and dazed. 

As for Shelia Dixon, she still thinking about running for mayor the next time office opens up. Lucky us.  Maybe not.  It would be difficult for Dixon to run in a race where illegalities are the topic of discussion because its an easy way to ask her about her own troubled past. 

But the best part???

The books that started it all?  Healthy Holly?  Poorly written and dialog like a Christmas pageant. 

What this city needs is a Lori Lightfoot, outside of the machine, to come in and put their foot down.

Baltimore: We're so damned proud.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Lacking boundaries

Cookie asks the age-old question: What is wrong with some people?

Today, the husband was working out back behind our house.  We don't have a garage, just a shed, and the shed is located where the garage should be.  Actually, the previous owners, Merle and Pearl should have built a garage and not the shed, but that is neither here nor there.

Because the shed is where the garage should be, you can see it from the street.

At the same time, I saw a couple - older, white - get out of their ancient K-Car in front of our house.  Merle and Pearl have been gone for five years, yet their friends still come over hoping to see them.  This annoys me because if you haven't heard from someone in five years, that tells me that you aren't quite good enough friends just to drop in unannounced.

I noticed them standing and looking towards the shed, which was open because the husband was in our Back 40 doing yard work.   I got up - sensing that an intervention was needed - went downstairs and opened the door, went out of the stoop and asked if I could help them with anything.

Man: "I was just wondering what you had for sale in that shed."

Cookie: "Excuse me?"

Man: "I saw that your shed was open.  Would you mind if I looked through your shed to see if I might want to buy something."

Cookie: "No. We aren't having a sale."

Man: "I just want to look-see what you have."

Cookie: "I said we are not having a sale."

Man: "I just figured since the shed was open..."

Cookie: "Ah, allow me to introduce myself - my name is Cookie.  And who are you?"

Man: "You don't need to know that."

Cookie: "Ah, well then...."

I explained to Mister "You Don't Need to Know That" that no, he could not go on my property to my shed, and that no, he could not look through stuff because nothing was for sale, and that it would be best if he and his lovely wife moved it along, back to Essex, or Middle River, or wherever they are from.

His wife pulled on his arm and said that she thought there was another sale in the neighborhood.  And they left in their garbage filled K-Car.

Now, here's the thing: There is nothing in front of our house that says "Sale".  There are no yard sales in the neighborhood today.  The shed door is open because the husband is going in and out taking things out as he works in the back yard, and returning them when he is done.

So, I ask, "What is wrong with some people?"

In this case, it's the T.V. show, American Pickers, I guess, which has planted the seed that it's OK to nose around in other peoples stuff looking for things that are worth money, and then offering a fraction of the value so you can resell it.   Maybe too much exhaust from that fine K-Car is drifting into the passenger cabin and smoking their brains.

Still, I am eagle eye, from my office, ready to call 911 if they should return.

Monday, April 1, 2019

"Fincaria Verna" is not a Harry Potter Spell

Happy April 1st, and I wish this were a joke, alas it is not.  Meet Fincaria Verna, better known as "Lesser Celandine", also known as "Pilewort", also known as the bane of Cookie's existence.

This vile little plant is everywhere in Maryland and is considered an intrusive species.  This crap starts pushing up thick, waxy, vivid green leaves at the end of February and can choke out native plants.  The flower is a Yellow daisy like thing.  It's toxic to animals that eat it, and once it gets established, good luck getting rid of it.

Worse still, when it gets into a yard, it chokes out the lawn grasses, THEN when it dies back (by the end of May) it exposes bald patches perfect for spread of weed grasses like crab grass, Running Bermuda Grass, etc.

And how does it get established?  When someone buys it "herbal properties" as a topical treatment for external piles, aka hemorrhoids.  But if you don't get on it immediately, it will spread.

Only two things get rid of it.  1) Is a ton of round up, applied constantly until the tubers are dead, or 2) you dig up the top soil, remove it, and put down new sterilized soil.  This year we are trying to smother it with a ton of much.

Cookie wants to try a third method, a flame thrower.  None to worry, they are illegal and I am not about to do anything that will result in me heading to a local jail.

Still, it makes me pine for the noble dandelion, a weed that could be eaten if need be.  This stuff, seriously, it will kill you. 

The dottery old people who owned the house before us let this crap get established, and every time I go out into the fenced part of the yard, I curse their very names.

Other than that, not much new here. 

April is my favorite month - one that holds the promise for warmer days, greener trees and bluer skies.

People always say that they want to see the Cherry Blossom Trees when they bloom and I tell them not to waste their money.  The Mid-Atlantic really shines in the weeks after the cherry trees bloom, but before the humidity settles in.  The Azalea and Rhododendron show out here is beyond words fabulous, and it can, with the right weather, last for weeks.   Baltimore and Washington are at their most beautiful then.

This year I promise to take pictures.  They don't do justice to the spectacular color, but I will try and shoot some photos.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Gotta get my springs furs ready

That dog has an incredibly high ass if you ask me. 

Spring is around the corner and its time to get the spring furs ready for those few weeks when it's cool, but not cold.   So Autumn Haze comes back out and the others go into storage.

In other news, my big handsome husband has a problem, and I can't pussyfoot around it any longer.  So let me be frank:

Frank: My husband is a sucker for terrible movies. Gawd he loves them. The more corny, the better.

No, not the camp type of terrible, I mean the real stinkers.  This afternoon he almost got hooked in the 1956 stinker that sank RKO, "The First Traveling Saleslady."  TFTS was the lead production for RKO but it bombed at the box office so bad that students in grade schools did a duck and cover.  It's failure set into motion Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez' purchase of the RKO lot for Desilu Productions.

If the title doesn't already tell you that something is forced, trust me, the whole thing is a giant clinker.  Poor Ginger Rogers.  This was her Trog.  And the BIG reveal is that it's Carol Channing's first movie.  And there is a song about "corsets".  Need I say more?

Well, the hubby comes home early, plops his butt on the sofa, and starts watching it!

I turned it off and he walked the dogs.  Then the sneak got back on the sofa and switched it back on.  So I told him his hair needs cut, and off he went.

He just called and asked if we need anything from the store.   Quickly, I shall slink down the stairs and pull the Comcast cord.

If nothing else, I am a stinker.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Felicity Huffman lives the Lynette Scavo lifestyle

Few things disappoint me as when someone that you have a lot of respect gets involved with something really bad, and stupid.

Remember Lynette Scavo on Desperate Housewives?  The frazzled mother was always getting chewed to pieces when her moves in life came back to haunt her.

Apparently, Felicity Huffman never learned from playing Lynette Scavo lifestyle.

Today, Huffman and a host of others were implicated at buying their children's way into colleges and collegiate athletic programs at a number of high profile universities and colleges.

Initial new made it sound as if Huffman, and Lorie Loughlin we running the ring.  Not true.

What we do know is that they "hired" a firm to buy influence for their child's acceptance into a school and that the amounts paid were channeled into non-profits, which in turn paid coaches and admissions people at the school's kickbacks for preferred or manipulated admission.

In fact, Huffman was taped discussing what this consultant was going to do for her child.

Scandal traps Huffman, Loughlin and about 28 more parents caught with their hands in the kitty.

It also traps the people running the racket, and it traps college staff members who took the money.

What we have yet to see is how this is going to impact the schools, their athletic programs.

The biggest losers?

The kids who earned their spaces in these schools and earned the right to play sports.  They are the ones who could get screwed the hardest if the NCAA decides to do something really shitty, like cancel the programs and invalidate wins as punishment for the programs.  And the NCAA has a pretty good track record of fucking over collateral students who were never involved when these things blow up.

Huffman's daughter and all the children whose parents try to game the system are also victims.   I cannot imagine what is and will be going through their minds.  Think about it: Getting into a college should be one of the first "adult" decisions and efforts in life.   Now, everyone will look at them and wonder how bad their accomplishments must be for their parents to resort to these tactics.

Of course, this gaming the system is nothing new.

How do you think that Forty-Five got into college and ended up with a degree from Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania?  We know that he knows that the degree was bought because he is flipping out over his transcriptions and what they show.  Moreover, no one at Wharton really remembers Donald Trump.  Strange, don't you think?

And the last person I knew of who bragged about being a Wharton grad was a former co-worker of mine in Ohio who got busted for all sorts of fraud when her house came tumbling down.  She even ended up with a prohibition against working in a Federally insured institution. She displayed Wharton as her Alma Mater, too.

As for Felicity, even the genealogy community is BUZZING about this because a couple weeks ago she and her hard-luck childhood were featured Dr. Louis Gates, Finding Your Roots.

So yeah, I am angry with Felicity.  This really stains her brand.

But like Lynette, downing Ritalin to be super Mom, or Julia Ann Norbeck getting fingered for consumer financial fraud, when you are dishonest, you get caught.

Now, Felicity is pretty desperate, I bet.


USA TODAY, 20190312, "Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin among dozens indicted in largest-ever case alleging bribery to get kids into colleges"

Valentina Zarya, ESQUIRE, 2015/08/14 No one knows what Donald Trump Did at Wharton,

97-12-02IV--Final Order of Prohibition Julia Ann Norback, National Credit Union Administration.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Just Checking In

Cookie is just checking in as it has been a while.

I would like to say that I have all manner of things to tell you, but alas, February has lived up to its charms of being a cold, miserable month with not a lot going on.

We went to an open house today, a place within eyesight of our second-floor windows.  It is being offered for a sale at an eye-popping price double what we paid for Cookie Manor.  While its sports more bathrooms than the Partridge family could ever hope to use, it four bedrooms, down one from ours.  And it's on a teeny lot. 

I mean if they can sell it for that price, more power to them.  But if you were asking an amount within a binocular's view of a cool million, and at the top of the price list in the area, shouldn't it be perfect?  The bathrooms should be up to date, not 19 years out of date.  The cracks in the walls should be fixed and the bonus room shouldn't smell of mold.  The missing molding should be replaced,  And the house should be clean.  Maybe I am being picky, but if you are spending that amount, it should look better than a Property Brothers "before house".  Meow.  Hiss. Hiss.

I went to the Ohios a couple weeks ago and found it wet and messy and muddy.  I know that in certain circles that draw up imagery of piggy porn, but it really was the weather wreaking havoc with the Ohios.   Eastern Ohio was bleak, so was Central Ohio. 

News back there was that the house I bought for $60k in 1991, and we sold for $178k in 2012 just sold for a ridiculous $308,000.  The husband and I are dumbstruck.  But then again, that could have been us selling it and then having to rebuy in that market.

We are feeling uneasy with the Mueller Report due out soon.

I fear it won't take down the person who ought to be taken down.  And even if it did, we're so far along that its almost 2020. 

I also fear Bernie Sanders and his supporters may split the Democratic vote.  I shudder to think about what comes next.

On the most positive note, I can find, we are two weeks to Daylight Savings Time and that makes me very happy.  I love a late setting sun, but I love the fact that we can grill out again.

Until next time, Cookie over and out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Name Game, Part III: Oh, the bitter irony

So genealogist Cookie is taking a sick day because I wasn't paying attention to my meds this morning, and I accidentally took the P.M. meds (Vybryd, Trazadone) when I should have taken the morning meds (allergy pill, GERD medication, a Wellbutrin, and a white pill that the doctors insist that I take for blood pressure) and the result is that I am very, very sleepy.  On the good side, I get to wear jammies and play Camille.

Anyhow, since I am homebound (there is no way I would get in a car and drive) I have been working on a family line and have my favorite 17th Century baby name: "Accident"

Apparently, after having eleven children, said ancestor couple thought that they were in the clear by late thirties (their "last" child, Daniel, was born when the mother was 35) when a night of human rutting resulting in the September birth of "Accident".  Said accident, Accident, was a boy.  Mother and father were 40 and 41 - which is like 70 in 2019 years.  Apparently, Mother did fine carrying the baby and through the birth; she lived to 81.  Father died at 60, so the mother was not left a minor child raise.

As for Accident, or Axa, as he was later known he spent his life in Connecticut, married, and left farming to become a Minister, dying under a freak circumstance at the age of 47. 

And how did he die?

"Whilst felling an oak on the farm of John Williams, the tree half dead over from (a) storm strike, a "limbe (sic) struk (sic) the Reverend killing him, and leaving his wife a widow."

Yes, Accident was killed in an accident, accidentally.

I want to laugh out loud so badly, but these pills have me so mellow that all I can say is "dude".  Still, a reminder:

"Family is stranger than fiction."

Friday, February 8, 2019

Dessert for dinner

So last night, I made arrangements to have dinner with my friend Arlene at a tony place in the magical city of Upper Arlington, Ohio.

Upper Arlington.  Euphonious, Upper Arlington!

Well not really.  Its a really bland community, architecturally.

Anyhow its been seven years.  And in walks Arlene and first of all, she is looking amazing.  Not what she was wearing, but radiating this glow of health and good karma.  And she is rocking a twenty something body on a older model body.

So we sit down and order our cocktails - and this is a nice place opened by a local restaurateur with a very good track record and we chat and no dink, and we chat and no drink and finally I get up to find out where the drinks are and our server said they were on the way, so Arlene and went back to chatting, and the drinks arrive.

The wrong drinks.

Cookie ordered a Vodka Gibson.  Cookie was served a Martini.  Cookie ascribes to the same philosophy as Dashiell Hammett that  "gin is for old ladies."

Arlene ordered a Cookie Sidecar (standard sidecar, but ditch the triple sec and in place, St. Germaine) what she got was booze in a martini glass.

So we call the server over and ask about our drinks.   Her reply? "What can I do to make this right?"  Arlene says, that the right drinks would be the right place to start.  The server nods, but she seems a bit "off" her game.

Manager comes over apologizes, drinks on the house, says she.


In the middle of of our conversation the server disappears and the manager comes over and we learn that "Lori" will be our new server.  "Mandy had an emergency."

Arlene asked if she was fine and the manager said she hoped so.

Fine.  So Arlene and deep in a discussion on media, which is her field of expertise - former news anchor - and Lori comes over and delivers the dessert.  Which was great.  "But what happened to our fried chicken and waffles?"

Evidently Mandy must have been sent home, because a lot of weird got served up in that section.

It was a weird dinner dessert before salad, and all.

The manager came over and Arlene, ever the charmer said "who in their right mind would send back that a delicious looking dark chocolate tort? "

"Of course I am going to eat it!"

So the manager, feeling horrible, left the tort, brought out our entrees when we signaled, and dinner went a little upsey daisey out of order.

The cherry on top?  All of it was comped. And we got gift cards!

So Arlene got out and envelope out of her purse, wrote Mandy's name on it and slipped a twenty into it with a note ('We all have off nights.  Hope this makes things better.  Reach higher than tonight, and everything will work its way out.') and gave to the manager.  We also gave Lori a nice tip, too.

The manager couldn't thank us enough.  "You know, people today have every right to expect us to get it right, and I am taking time..."

But Arlene's good mood rubbed off on me as well.  "It's a meal, not Judgement at Nuremberg."

Arlene reminded me to embrace the least expected turns and twists in life.  "Besides, make me feel like a kid again."

"You know, there is so much in the world that isn't right, why do people let a FUBAR dinner, but with really good food ruin an evening.  Hate injustice, fight for rights.  But LOVE the people you are with and make memories."

Its good to have friends who put the fun and love into your lives.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

New Cookie in the Cookie Jar

Ironic that I posted twice about names, and find out today that Niecey in California delivered a bouncing healthy baby!

The problem is, I am a terrible uncle.

I forget birthdays.  Kids hate me.  I just do not relate to children under 21, which is why I never dated anyone younger than me.  I could have, but frankly, I cannot keep up with them.

I am, however very supportive of the Nieces and the Nephews.  I am also an uncle who will tell it as it is.  I think they appreciate that, to a degree.

No word on a name, but I would be a fool to place a bet on the name "Pleasance" or "Rhubarb".

This is my last great niece of nephew on that side of the family.  Which is kind of sad.  Cookie is getting old, and eldest great niece is ten, so hopefully, there will be more after 2028. 

And by that time, Pleasance and Rhubarb maybe fashionable and trendy names for a girl, or a boy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Name Game, Decoded

Several of you endeavored to play the name game from the last post.    The 16-17th Century names given were:

1. Mehetable
2. Zohra
3. Lettus
4. Seekpeace
5. Francis
6. Pleasance
7. Mayhew
8. Fairfax
9. Eudoia
10. Syntyche

So lets run this one down.

1. Mehetable - Female.  From the Bible.  Meaning "God Rejoices" .  In North American parlance "Damn, another dowery."

2. Zhora - Female.  Found in the bible as the city in which Samson was born. From the middle east.  Brought back by traders.

3. Lettus - Female.  Yupper. A harkening to bountiful gifts from the harvest.  Uhm, yeah.  My friend the super adorable Justin McKenzie performs under the name "Anita Lettus."

4. Seekpeace - Male. Tis true.  "Seekpeace" was an aspirational name.  It was a spin on Stephen.

5. Francis (Frank-Is) - Female.  Now here me out.  Francis (Fran-SIS) IS a male name.  But "Frank-Is" is a variation on the nature of women as property.  In Handmaid speak - literally "of Frank".  It morphed into Frances, and lost it harshness.

6. Pleasance - Female.   Cookie is going to give full disclosure.  I am a direct descendent, of one Pleasance Ely, of Ann Arundel County, and her first husband Edward Dorsey, who are my tenth great grandparents.  Pleasance, so named by her doting father, grew into a woman with a well known disposition that was anything but pleasant.  Harridan would have been a better description.  In fact, a Maryland history book notes that where Edward Dorsey died by drowning when his boat sank in the Chesapeake, several men attempted to court the widow Dorsey, who was - by her late husband's will the wealthiest widow in the state, but she hissed and spat until there was one suitor left.  He soon regretted his union, because it wasn't an act.  She was a throughly unpleasant person and made his life miserable for years to come.   SECOND tidbit.  Another Pleasance descendent is the Duchess of Windsor, the former Bessie Wallis Warfield Simpson. 

7. Mayhew - Male.  One of the variants of Matthew. 

8. Fairfax - Male. Yes.  Allegedly, a male named Fairfax allegedly had hair of flax.  Now, how are you going to know if the baby is bald.

9. Eudoia, Female. See Syntyche

10. Syntyche - Female.  Both Syntyche and Eudioa are biblical names, women, who are members of the same congregation in the New Testament.  Eudoia meaning, we think, Sweet Fragrance.  Synthyche meaning fortunate.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Just not enough children named Cuthbert anymore...

I wonder if she really was a Modest Outlaw...

My mother used to say that a child's name should be something that they grow into, and will serve them as an adult.

I would get this talk each day when she read the obituaries.

"It says that Murial Cooper died, age seventy."  Then, Mom would take that name and swirl it around in her mouth like a wine connoisseur at a world championship judging it by flossing their taste buds for every nuance.  "Murial. Muir-ee-al. Not enough children named Murial these days..."

Or it could be a call from her later "Flossie McKey died.  She was a hundred years old.  So you would expect a name like Flossie.  Popular during the McKinley era.  Not enough girls named Flossie."

Later when I was older and reading the obituaries myself each day, I still come across a name or two and out bubbles my mother's from my voice box when I utter the name and how its gone from our daily lexicon of familiarities.  "Lois Smith.  Not enough girls named Lois anymore," and when I skip to the sports page, every now and then an oldie but baddy will pop up eliciting a "Marvin? Who the hell names the kid Marvin, today?"

The problem is, parents name their children with cutesy names that fit children when they are wee small, not as adults.   This is how we ended up with boys named "Declan" and girls named "Troika".

My first "Troika" meeting happened at an event a neighbor was throwing.  The baby was adorable, with lovely baby fat that you just wanted to nibble on in the way that adults want to gobble up a baby.  Her mothers were bursting with pride.  "What did you name her?"

"Troika," they said.  "It's a name of strength, that honors her spirit, her body, and her mind.  She will be a force to be reckoned with."

I smiled.  In my head, I could imagine a life for Troika filled with endless questions about her "uncommon name."

And a middle name?

"We went with Rachel after Beth's mother who died a couple years ago."

Rachel is a beautiful name.  But trust me, Troika will be "Rachel" by the time she hits eight, twenty-four max if she becomes a TV Anchor.

Every era has a phase when it comes to naming babies.  Remember in the 1980s when there was an outbreak of baby girls named Ashley and boys named Christopher?  And then in 1990s, it was Brittany and Mathew?  In the 2000s it was Madison and Jacob.

These trends are nothing new.  In the 1600s it was just as bad with fads and such.  There was even a period in the 1600s and 1700s when children were given first names that sound to our ears like something from a hippy commune.  "Friend" for boys and "Thankful" in the 1600s for girls were far more popular than "Moon Unit" and "Apple" were in the 1960s and 1990s.

As a genealogist, I see these all the time.   It is especially vexing when the child dies young and it was before the advent of organized birth records because either the sex of the child is evident, or its anyone's guess.

I mean take baby "Shirly" Moore, born in Kentucky in 1801.  You look at that name and it sounds like someone your mother or grandmother would know.  Shirly could even be in the Bridge Club, right?

But baby "Shirly" died at age six months.  There is no birth record. Just a bible entry.  We don't even know where baby Shirly is buried.

So what sex is Shirly?

You read that right.  What sex?

Is Shirly a girl?  Or is Shirly a boy?

Shirly could be one or the other.  We don't know.  All we have is "Thomas and Ann Moore's" family bible which records the birth and death dates for "Shirly".

And was Shirly's name surely spelled Shirly?  Or is it Shirley, like it's printed in the book written in the 1970s by the person who was, in canon law terms Shirly's fifth great grand nephew, one Beverly Simpkins.  Yes, a man named Beverly. And yes, Beverly's granddaughter describes her "Grandpappy" as "Beverly, the Hillbilly".

(She thinks its funny. She's also paying me $100/hour to look all this up, so if she wants to laugh, let her.)

One Millenial, who is clueless asked me "Why do you have to assign a sex to these people.  Maybe they were gender fluid..."

Unlikely.  Look, you have to assign a sex to figure out how to start an organized search to rule in your hypothesis or, rule it out.  if you just go willy-nilly at the records, you'll never find anything.

So let's play this little game, shall we? It's one I play whenever we go further back than 1900.  Its called "Is it a He'in or a She'in?"  The way this gets played, I'll give you ten "Western" names that are pretty gender fixed, but way out of date.  You have to assign the most likely gender.  The names won't be ones you hear today but were common in the 17th and 18th centuries.  You have a 50% chance at getting them right.  Don't cheat.  I can spot a cheater a mile away.   (But you can whip this out and show it to your friends and defy their ability to get them all correct.)

1. Mehetable
2. Zohra
3. Lettus
4. Seekpeace
5. Francis (pronounced Frank-is)
6. Pleasance
7. Mayhew
8. Fairfax
9. Eudoia M
10. Syntyche


Mathe in New England


1) Mehetable - Female.  Taken from the bible.  Its translation means "God rejoices."

2) Zohra - Female.  Taken from Islamic culture, up through the Middle East into Europe, it can mean "Beautiful

3) Lettus - Female.  Later Lettice (Le-teece)

4) Seekpeace - Male.

5)  Francis - Female.  Yes, I know that Francis is a man's name, but "Frankis" morphed into Frances.

6) Pleasance - Female.  My 10th great grandmother was a woman named Pleasance Ely*.

7) Mayhew - Male.  A forerunner of Mathew.

8) Fairfax - Male.  One would think that "Fair" would apply to a girl, fair of face, so to think.  But no.  Fairfax was a name given to males.

9) Eudoia - Female.  I know, you are thinking "Endora", but no.  Eudoia is a new testament thing.

10) Syntyche - Female.  A buddy of Eudoia.


If you have made it thus far, the bonus name is "Mathe".  Not Maive.  And no, not Maude, either.  "Mathe" can either be a form of "Mary" or it can be - especially in New England a form of MARTHA.  Martha?  Now, sound it out: Ma-the, Ma-the, now say "Ma" and "the" fast together.  ma - THE, Martha.

Now if you will excuse me, but I have to wrap a gift for the new baby next door.  They named him "Viscount".

I honestly just can't.  You know?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Celine Dion's Industrial Accident

Does this woman not have anyone around her that is honest with her?

OK, let's imagine that you are best friends with Celine.  And the two of you are going out. In public.  And she walks into the room and says "How you like the outfit?  Eez eet too avant guard?" 

And you reply:

1) Maybe a bit too much.

2) You look like you are in a Space Attendant Suit, but we are not auditioning for a remake of the Starsheep Troopers remake.

3) It's 2019, not 1983.

4) You know, that plunging neckline only worked for two people, JLo, and Matt Lauer, and neither has a great career at the moment.

5) I bet that cost you a lot of money.

6) It's fa-fabulous let's go.

7) For Paris?  No.

8) Honey, I think we need an intervention.

9) I can't even.

10) I think we need to reattach your artificial leg.

Or make up your own reply.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

On the HiFi

Brought to you by EXCELLO RECORDS.  "We make your home your studio." 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Sleepless in Baltimore

In October/November the doctors changed my meds taking away Lexapro and adding in Viibryd (VI-bred). 

In some ways, things have been better.  In other ways, far worse.

Mood wise, I am much more level, less prone to panic attacks. 

However my habit of dropping letters and words when I type has increased ten-fold, my short term memory is fried, and now I am tired all the time, unable to sleep. 

You take these at night, but they keep you up.  If you take them in the morning, you feel like Judy Garland just before L.B. Mayer orders a dose of uppers to wake up and counteract the dose of barbiturates that he he ordered so you could sleep.

Anyhow, we have passed the point of patience.  A call is in order later this morning.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

What was once may be no more and some personal growth

Mays on the Heights bit the dust years ago. 

Cookie got a call the other day from a relative in NE Ohio and apparently, a part of our past may no longer exist much longer.  I am apprehensive about being more specific because we don't know if its certain or not.

It wasn't any place that was beautiful or a place that would be a community loss or anything that in and of itself is important to many.  But it is a keystone to our upbringing and part of my heart is still in disbelief.

It's hard losing a place that you know so well.  It's part of your life, your history.  Physical places are the anchors that we have to a place, long after family members have passed, and friends from childhood move away.

You can drive by these familiar landmarks and even if you don't go into it, it's there, and remember a time when you could go there.  And then one day you drive down the road and it's not there.

Last spring I drove to Columbus for a conference and ended up having to drive down High Street from East North Broadway.   Columbus has dramatically and swiftly changed since we moved in the late summer of 2012.

Let me state that again, Columbus - the sleepy capital of Ohio, has changed with dramatic results.

How swift? As I drove down High Street, the main north-south drag, from Lane Avenue, south to the Convention Center, I started feeling lost.  Everywhere are five story mid-rises, new stores, 13 story condo structures, apartments, hotels, etc.   The change is so dramatic that I lost track of where I was.

Thirty-five years ago, this was all burned out slum. Ten years later it was undergoing a revitalization, twenty years ago it popular with LGBT people and still had its edge, with bars and and funky shops.  When we left in 2012 it was losing its edginess, becoming very suburban.  Now it has flipped again.  Totally hipster centric, and I felt lost in its big city feel.

But this recent news is a place in Shaker and it's just something that you never thought would change.  Everything changes, and the older you get, the more change you see in the places you remember.  And the more changes you see in yourself.

That's why my reaction kind of dumbfounds me.  I should be beyond this.  It shouldn't hit me hard.  But it does, and that tells me that for as much as I have spent saying the structure meant nothing to me, it, in fact, means something.

And I have some time to spend before I can figure that out.


This past week I did something that I never considered doing.

 I sent a letter to the summer camp that I went to as a child and reported to them that I was sexually molested by a man who was working there as an odd-jobber.   The man lured me into his van at eleven, got himself high, got me woozy from the pot smoke and then sexually attacked me.  He was able to do that because I was terrified of having to go in a locker room and change for swimming instruction.  Apparently, he had told someone that he needed help cleaning out something that he would make sure I was safe and then we'd play catch until the bus came back.

The second time, he told me to meet him at the old May's on the Heights building on a Saturday afternoon, or he would come to my house.  Humiliated and freaked out, I did as other children back then did, complied with the abuser's demands.  He took me to the lower level bathroom and handed me over to another man, and watched as that man violated me.  When he was done, the guy gave my abuser four five dollar bills.  I was given one of the five dollar bills and told to say nothing. 

On the third time, after attacking me, he told me that the next time would involve a trip to his uncles where the three of us would swim nude and "have our fun."  Hearing that made something in my head click, and I knew if that happened, I would be in trouble, and I might not make it home alive.

There were two more weeks of camps, and the guy disappeared a week before the end.  During those last two weeks, I stuck by the camp counselor.  I varied my way home (I rode my bike to camp) and then I spent the next month terrified that he would show up at the door.

He never did.

And I pushed this down, deep and dark and forgot about it.  Until forty-four years later.

So as part of my healing process, I wrote to the camp Board - it still exists and told them what happened.  I also explained that because this guy jobbed for the camp doing odd jobs, they probably had no record of him.  I tried to tell them what he looked like, and about his white van, and how he took me off campus that one time.

There is nothing they can do, and too much time has passed. Without a name, I can't help them find him or identify him.  Heck, I can't even tell you the name of group's counselor.

I just wanted them to know.  I also apologized.  There is a significant amount of guilt in surviving what he did to me and then not telling anyone because there is the possibility he did it other campers in other years.  Had someone come forward before me, then maybe I would have been safe.  So if my silence at eleven did anything to allow him to hurt someone else, I am profoundly sorry. 

I also said I wanted nothing from them, except to log the abuse by a non-payroll employee, and know that it happened. I also asked that if someone ever fitting that description was caught, to let me know, so I can lock him away for good in my mind

So that makes me feel better.