Tuesday, September 26, 2017

One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus: Fixer Upper

Cookie is either doing a dance, or on his knees in celebration: Fixer Upper's fifth season is its last.  Fin. Adios. Gone. Won't you come home Bill Bailey out-of-here vamoose. As in no more, after this season.

Now Cookie only wishes the best for the hosts - Chip and Jojo.  But thank God almighty we'll be free at last from the ship lap, the wacky metal letters and 12 episodes a day of HGTV's biggest blandfest.

I wish them well - but they are not going away.  Just the show.  No, according to their twitter feed  they want some Chip and Joanna time of their own.  And they are working on stuff  for Target - that's all I am saying.  Thank God its not Wal Mart.

AND because of HGTV being an "Evergreen" network, chock loaded with content that never goes stale, I am sure were are in for reruns for a while.

So there is hope for plaster walls, again!

This might even be a reason for sex with my husband tonight!

Here's the link: https://twitter.com/chippergaines/status/912695506832207872

Sunday, September 24, 2017

I did the space needle, and then I almost collapsed

So after leaving Bainbridge, it was time for Husband's end of the trip.  Husband's get to win, too, folks.

We stayed at the Seattle Hilton, because with a Hilton you can expect things to be a certain way.  Just so you know - the Seattle Hilton is old, and it is strange.

The hotel was built in 1969 atop a multi story parking tower "giving guests a commanding view of downtown Seattle including the iconic Space Needle..." said the newspaper in the "T" floor hall way.  That's "T" for "Top.  And the "T" Floor is where the Hilton Club floor lounge is.

Well, the Seattle skyline has changed and from our view on the 26 floor all we could see were the white hoops in the picture above, but every direction was blocked by buildings taller than the Hilton.  So much for commanding views.

The bathroom was Microtel sized, and the TV was liquid crystal.  And there was so much furniture jammed into the room that you crab walked around everything.

We met friends for dinner in a Vietnamese cafe - a first for Cookie, and I ate unfamiliar foods.  When someone mentioned a spring roll, I could get into that.  What I wasn't prepared for was that they don't fry their spring roll's like Cheap Chinese does, around the corner from our house.  So what you get is rice paper that is translucent - like a thin layer of flesh.  I ate it.  But it gave me the cold willies.  Still, I ate it.

SO the next morning we get up and head down to the Hilton's restaurant - because they all have one, right? - "Red Trees" and what we find is something that looks like you'd find in a Best Western, but not the best Best Western, or even the second best Best Western.  The room was very small, and striped down to its simplest form, giving to all the charm of a table area you would find in a airport food court.  The buffet was pure economy hotel food.  We chewed our way through that, then left for the Space Needle.

Now Cookie has an unreasonable fear of heights.  But the Husband wanted to go up, so I went too.  I stayed in side, got my sea legs and then ventured outside where I held onto the inner wall.  When you're in a place like this, you are surrounded by two types of people.  There are the people who think its neat, and then there are the people, like me, who are making the best of a very bad situation.

And we acrophobic's stick together.   Oh, Hell yes.

As I worked my way around the obersvation deck - knowing that only a few wires and a rickety railing stood between certain death and myself, I encountered many people doing as I was doing - clinging to the wall.  This presented certain challenges akin to modern dance, because we were not all going the same direction or speed.   In one instance a woman bravly stepped about two feet from the wall to let me pass, then rushed back to claim her space.  In another, a man and I did something where I left my hand on the wall and he crawled under my outstretched arm.  He said thank you, and I could help but notice that he was sweating up a storm.

"My wife loves coming up here when we visit our son, and if she's happy, I can get through this.  Right?"

"Spouses get to win sometimes," was my reply.

After a half hour, my husband said "Let me take your picture."

Holding the wall?

"No, stand with your back to the railing and I'll take a quick picture!"

Spouses get to win.  So I carefully, with one hand on the building stuck a leg out, and let go of the building and then got a death grip on the railing.  I smiled, a painful smile, and then jumped back to the building and inside.

I got in the down elevator corral and rode down to the gift shop, which is larger than the observation deck.  The husband joined me and we shopped for souvenirs to take home.

As we left, he said do you want to get something to eat, and I said yes and we went to the closest place near there - the armory.

And that's when I kind of lost it.

I was either out of adrenaline from risking my life on the top of that Space Needle - which I was sure was going to fall the minute I stepped foot on it - or I was hypoglycemic, or both, but I got very confused and upset and I couldn't make a decision.  I also got a bit paranoid - as if all of Seattle was judging me.  I almost started to cry.  According to the husband words were coming out of my mouth that made no sense at all.

That was when the husband sat me down, told me to stay there and got us both some food.    About a hour later, I felt better - not great - but well enough to take the monorail back to towards the hotel.

I told him to leave me there while he went exploring and I crashed on the bed.  I remember him coming back into the room, once, then twice, the second time with a cup of coffee and he woke me up.

He asked me if the nap was good - a silly question, because all naps are good - but I said that I seemed stuck in the twlight sleep.  "You know, resting not sleeping?"

No, he assured me.  "You were out cold."

He told me about his exploits and explorations.  He had seen people who were very trendy, people who looked like they were trekking through the street like they were on a hike in the hills and tried on some shoes at Nordstrom's mothership store.

I did feel better after the nap.  And dinner was consumed and it was the best tasting food I had had in a long time, even though it was not a terribly posh place.

We went out to dinner and turned in early so we could get up early so we could get the Hell out of dodge.  And into the Delta Club for some food.  And yes, they had their uber yummy roasted Red Pepper and Gouda soup.  So I was very happy.

All of our flights were wonderful and the cabin crews were magnificent.  And yes - we LOVE TSA's pre-screening procedure.  I have never been so happy to keep my shoes on in my life.

So the filing of the pictures begins tomorrow, and the encoding begins.

But Cookie is not doing any tall buildings for a while.  A long, while.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Into and out of Seattle

So, where was Cookie last week?

On another madcap caprice - this time to Bainbridge Island, and Seattle, Washington.

Having never been there, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Growing up it was "Here Come the Brides", then it became "Sleepless in Seattle" and then it morphed into Seattle and then simply "Grunge".

I can tell you this - the second best part of the trip was hanging out in the Delta Sky Lounge's in Detroit, Seattle and Minneapolis/St. Paul before and in between flights.

The best part?  Family.

The purpose of the trip was to go and meet the grandchildren of my first cousin, three times removed, the great Banker.  Bo and Peep and Peep's husband, Bob.  We'd never met, but they said - come for a visit, we have some stuff for you.  So we went. We scheduled a couple days with them, and then a couple days in Seattle.

 From the airport, its about two hours by car, via Tacoma.  Otherwise, you take the ferry, which takes about half hour of travel but on a Friday afternoon, about an hour and a half to line up and wait for a ship that will carry your car.

My first impression of Bainbridge Island was that its a wee bit like Cabot Cove, without Jessica Fletcher, and without the highest murder rate in the state.  Charming, woody, lodgelike, with scrumptious views of boats and Puget Sound.  I loved it.

It isn't often that you get so amazingly lucky as we did.  Sometimes in genealogy trips, you end up with American Gothic where the conversations are nothing more than "Ay-up" and "Don't see what you find in all of this."

But this trip - we had a totally wonderful experience!

All three were delightful, wonderful people.  Generous to a fault.  And they had a puppy.  Peep and Bob had a house and Bo decided to retire, they invited her along.  So she built a lovely cabin on their land.  We were given a guest house room.

We ate, we laughed and I learned a great deal about their mother, who was - in her own right - an amazing person of kindness and accomplishment.

On the second day they invited us to the basement of Bo's house where boxes and boxes of family "stuff" were located.  I found pictures of my 4th great grandparents I never dreamed existed.  Every box yielded something amazing - jaw dropping - in fact.

And they were never once they types to say "Mine, Mine Mine!"  It was always there to share.  And my heart was filled - and long time readers know that this is an uncommon thing for Cookie to admit - with pure love and joy that cannot be built into words.

I opened one box and I was stunned silent.  Marriage licenses for ancestors from the 1820s and the 1830s.  I looked up and Bob said "Something good?"  My husband replied "He's either having a stroke or so overwhelmed that there are no words to express how excited he is."

And that was the truth.

We had originally planned to leave on Sunday, but spent an extra night cleaning up for them when they were at a charity event.  Monday morning was spent packing up boxes that were shipping home to us filled with pictures from the 1850s to the 1940s.  We were simply dumbstruck at their kindness!

To say I was exhausted at that point was an understatement.

But we said our goodbyes and headed to the ferry where the car and the of us were taken back into Seattle for two nights.

More on that in the next post.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Chip and Joanna Gaines: What Formulatic Fuckery Is This.

This Fuckery Will Run It's Course.

So in the last post I detailed our upcoming addition to the house.  And the things we will not have in the addition.

But we also touched on the subject of HGTV's dreadfully unimaginative "Fixer Upper" staring the Gaines', Chip and Joanna.

Now, I am going to say this up front.  A former blogger tells us that they have met said Chip and Joanna and that they are as warm in person as they are on TV.  So I have no doubt that they are decent people.

They also "show well" in the dog and pony show that is HGTV, which should really be renamed since there is no more gardening to be found on the network.

In fact HGTV is now nothing more than Buy 'N Sell Real Estate TV, because in addition to some decorating, its mostly all programming about people looking for their "Forever Home" in United States, or selling their old home to buy a "Forever Home" in Canada.

Into this mix come the Chip and JoJo, who get people to buy houses and remodel them in Waco, Texas.  And they have been good for Waco - because it is no longer the site of the Branch Dividian Tragedy, but now its a place to visit "Magnolia", their enterprise.

So here is Cookie's beef with the show:  Every. Week. Its. The. Same. Damned. Thing.

And every week it looks the same damned thing.

Now we all know that everything in the decorating world has a limited life span.  No style is forever.  Bean bag chairwere in and they are out.  Polished chintz?  The same.  Mission Style furniture?  For as much as I love it, the lodge look is out.

But right the hottest things in home decorating are also the ugliest things in a very long time.  Everything is either "inner city" West Elm industrial, or down home and "country" industrial.

Into this walks the Gaines'.  And every episode is the same because they all contain:

1) Harvest Table.
2) Bare metal ceiling lights and pendents that feature very bright bare light bulbs - or - bare light bulbs in clear glass shades.
3) Exposed brick that was never meant to be exposed.
4) Wacky mixed up discarded commercial letters on the few walls that they don't rip out that spell "HOME" and/or "FAMILY" just so you know where you are and what you are.
5) Painted furniture that needs to be stripped, or perfectly beautiful wood furniture that needs chalk painting so it looks old and distressed.

Now let's see - what could I have left out?  Could it be the mid century modern ranch houses that are remade in to Texas farm houses?  Could it be the the 1970s french provincial ranch houses made into Spanish haciendas?  Could it be the turn of the 20th century formal colonials that are turned into informal colonials?

Well, there are those, but I am thinking of something else.  Something that is shabby and chic.

You know what it is?

All that FUCKING ship-lap.

Now for those of living under a rock, ship-lap is a board of wood.  Now back in the good old days, in better houses, the walls were covered in lath (narrow strips of wood with gaps) and plaster applied over the lath in layers to build up a finished interior wall.  In "less formal" houses, they would use these boards to cover the wall.  It wasn't a material with bragging rights.

But thanks to this show, fucking ship lap is everywhere, so we all get to live like crackers and trash. This is the show that made the ship-lap industry BOOM.

To me it's fugly and a fire hazard.

But to some people, it is squeal inducing pure hillbillies in a haunted house marvelous.

And every week its the same damn thing.  It's become a show where women binge drink when they hear ship-lap.  It is the same old same old.

So Joanna, if you are reading this - you are becoming as predictive as the trains that run on schedule in a country with a dictatorship.

Girl, you need to stop being afraid of color.  Add in a high quality antique - the antique industry will thank you*.  Add in some funk.  And how about not tearing down ever interior room because one day all these young families are going to find themselves with surly, moody, stanky teenagers and the parents are either going to want a room for the kids to trash, or a place for the parents to go and hide from the kids.

Seriously Jojo, your relaxed look is becoming too structured for a your own good, and as cliche as a composite ribbon that reads "Live, Laugh, Love" at WalMart.

To grow your brand, you need to broaden your appeal.

*Hell, even Harriet Craig had a real antique in her cold humorless house.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Yes we are, and oh Hell no: we are not

Mr. Cookie and I have made plans to put on a small addition that will have a large impact of Cookie Manor, which is a center hall colonial - elegant and formal.

While our house was built in the era of Calvin Coolidge, the architect and first resident designed a formal house that made the most of the public rooms by making them a wee bit larger at the expense of the hallways and stair halls.

Things are to the point where "If it were any tighter, I'd marry it," tight, but it creates some issues that impacted the former residents ability to sell the house for top dollar and quick, both of which worked to our advantage.  This included the world's smallest master bath, and the worlds smallest family bath on the second floor, which we call the "Crab Walk Room," because that's the only way to get from the door past the tub and the sink to the "loo".

But now that we are owners, and plan on leaving Maryland one day for retirement, and a ranch style house, we realize the minor faults of the 1920s are big issues in the 2010's and beyond.

This means we have to make a few adjustments to the manor, which involve moving three bathrooms and redoing the kitchen, which means that we're in for a big project.  The end result, we hope and know after consulting with numerous real estate agents, will double the value of our house.  And that, is a good thing.

One of the by products is that we'll gain a new back hall, the removal of an inside corner of our living room to permit circular flow, a new front closet, a second floor sitting area and a laundry shute while doubling the size of both second floor baths and a kitchen that will be spacious, simple and functional. And the installation of a vintage telephone niche, because we have one that we bought from a Habitat store and it is SUPER cool.  And yes, that will also mean a candlestick phone.

Still people ask questions.  Usually its the why, and what.  "You're making the house bigger for just the two of you?"  Yes, because one day, the house will be sold to another family that may be LARGER and need the house to function better.

Other questions and answers are as follows:

QUESTION: Are you going to put in a barn door?  (Usually followed by a statement about how much they love barn doors.)

ANSWER: No. Why?  Because Barn Doors belong on BARNS.  I left farming when we moved to Maryland.

QUESTION: For the lights over the kitchen island, are you going to do clear mason jars and those "olde tyme" (emphasis added) bulbs?

ANSWER: No. Why? Because 1) it's 2017 and there is nothing attractive about a bare light bulb, and 2) mason jars are for canning and the occasional cliche substitute drinking glass for outdoor dining.

QUESTION: What kind of Granite are you choosing for the counter-tops?

ANSWER:  We're using stainless steel for the sink area, and laminate or quartz.

QUESTION:  But aren't buyers looking for granite?

ANSWER: They are.  But granite off gases RADON, which causes and abets lung cancers.

QUESTION: Are you installing a vegetable sink?

ANSWER: The vegetables will have to share the only sink in the kitchen with the pots, pans and other foods.

QUESTION: Will the toilets have their own little rooms?

ANSWER: No. They are going to be in water closets, because that's what the little rooms are called.

QUESTION: How much is this going to cost? 

ANSWER: Millions. Millions and Millions.

QUESTION: Are you doing the walls in ship-lap?  What about a harvest table?

ANSWER: Oh. Fuck. No. On both.

What it all boils down to is making the house more livable, and honoring its integrity.  What it is not going to be is some kind of Chip and Joanna Gaines bullshit special.  I am sure that they are lovely people.  But this remodeling is going to be all Hillary from Love it or List it.

And frankly - if it came down to a cat fight, my money is on Hillary.  She'd kick Joanna's ass.

When will this happen?  Well the plans are on the table downstairs, right next to the architect's bill, so the soonest that I think its going to happen is about a year from now.

Making yourself an easy Target

There are somethings that you do, my mother taught me.  A lady never smokes on the street. Never clear a garbage disposal with your hand.  Never jab a knife into an electrical outlet.

I am here to add, never wear a red shirt into a Target Store.

Trust me on this, people.  All sorts of hapless people will see you, tell you to come to them and demand that you show them where the 3M Command strips are located.  Or where the Swiffer's have been relocated to when the store was rearranged.  Worse still "You must be new here..."

Today a woman of a body type that I will call luscious told me to show her which freezer case had the plastic tubs of rainbow sherbet.  And she wasn't nice about it.  And her cart was filled with crap.  And her her Louis Vuitton was a fake.

"Do you really think that's such a good idea?"

She gave me a dirty look.  She was about to speak to my supervisor.

"C'mon. You deserve better. Häagen-Dazs, instead?"

She got all kittenish and said "You crazy. It's for kids at a party.  They can eat that shit."

I offered to find someone who worked at the store. "This shirt?  Bad fashion and shopping planning."

We both had a moment, giggled and went on.

But yeah, don't wear a red shirt to Target.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

More than likely, no, your female ancestor was not a full blooded Cherokee

Most of y'all know that Cookie suffers from the tombstone twitch - genealogy is my hobby, my profession, my passion.

And it being the 2010's, that means you have to have some level of comprehension when it comes to DNA, because DNA Testing is the latest fad in genealogy.  Like cocaine in the 80's, everyone is doing DNA testing to find their "roots".

Minus the white powder on their noses, some people get addicted to DNA.  Some of these people check and recheck their results every flipping day, multiple times a day, even though the results get updated multiple times throughout the week.

When I work with people, or am a meeting or a seminar, or even on Facebook, inevitably some well meaning soul will say something like:

"I got," (NOTE: Cookie hates the "I gots" but you see it everywhere these days.) my DNA results in and it's wrong.  My grandmothers grandmother was a full blooded Cherokee and the result don't show that."

And these people have no idea which grandmother had the grandmother - we have two - that this legend supposedly affects.

Then there are the people who say:

"I am asking for a friend of mine* who just received their results, and they seem to be wrong.  His great grandmother was a full blooded Cherokee and it's not showing up in the results."

*Which, by the way, means "I am hiding behind this facade, this ploy, this convention, this charade because I don't want to embarrass myself by sounding stupid."  Sorry Buttercup, but you have outted yourself.

Anyhow, there is a long answer to this Cherokee problem and a short answer.

I will give you links to the long answer below, but in the short answer, its simple: Somebody has been lying to themselves and lying to you, Buttercup.

The Myth of the Cherokee Princess, as we call it, has been an ongoing piece of genealogy lore in the South for generations.  It was used to explain away a lot of stuff.  Darker features on children of light complected people.  Mixed race offspring.  High cheek bones. Etc. and so on.  It was handy, it was used a great deal and its been passed on and accepted without question.  It adds an air of the mystical.


Let me ask you this.  What child in their right mind is going "sass" their parents and ask them if they are lying.  Not a question.  That kind of sass will get you knocked into next week.

Cookie's Axiom: "that most people who don't know, and are too lazy to know are fond of making shit like that up."

But there are somethings you should know about this myth:

1) It almost always involves a female ancestor.
2) It almost always involves at least a grandmother, a great grandmother, a great great grandmother, etc.
3) The records have been destroyed.
4) The only proof to be had is what someone older than you told you.
5) And no, no one has any way of knowing why that person would lie to you.
6) They most likely were not lying to you.
7) They are telling you what they were told, so they believe it to be real, an undeniable truth.
8) They want you to stop looking where you shouldn't be looking.
9) You cannot use this lie to get to the head of an Indian Nation owned or operated casino buffet line.

The simple fact is DNA tests - when done correctly, by the instructions, and by a reputable firm do not know what you family "lore" is, and it doesn't care what your family lore is.  But the results are the results, Buttercup. Your ancestor is your ancestor, not your token Native American to brag about.

Now there are very real results that show that you could be Native American.  This always happens in families where there is Native American blood.  See what I am getting at?

So if it happens to you, if it happens to family members and even if it happens to some idiot shooting his mouth off about how those DNA labs make stuff up, someone needs to set aside their preconceived notions.

And you can test all you want, but the results are going to be pretty much what they are.  BTW, if you don't like my links provided below, go look for your own, Buttercup.  The truth shall set you free.


Cherokee by Blood

Genealogy.com - Takes on the Cherokee Princess

Why Do So Many Americans Think They Have Cherokee Blood?

Friday, September 8, 2017

I'm sorry, but you have reached an incorrect number

So, what has Cookie been up to of late?

The latest fresh Hell is that our house phone has been ringing off the hook with people wanting to volunteer in training therapy dogs for wounded U.S. Veterans.  And just not a couple calls - lots and lots of people want to volunteer.  And who wouldn't want to - puppies and wounded vets.  Everyone wins.

Evidently, a good hearted volunteer in area code 440 (Ohio - naturally) incorrectly put their number in as 410-XXX-XXXX.  The problem is all those X's are our exchange and number.

So we have been getting calls like:

Person: "I am calling about the volunteer opportunity to work with...."
Cookie: "I hate to tell you, but there was a misprint in the paper that put the wrong number in."
Person: "But I dialed 410-XXX-XXXX like the ad said."
Cookie: "I understand that.  It's why we are talking, but..."
Person: "Can I speak with someone who knows what's going on?"
Cookie: "You can if you hang up and call 440-XXX-XXXX."
Person: "Can you just connect me, I'll hold."
Cookie: "I'll try, but if I lose you, you'll need to direct dial them yourself."

If the calls were coming in looking for One Million Mom's then I would hang up.  But who am to question the steely resolve of people who want to clean out dog crates so that others can rehabilitate canines into service dogs.

Sometimes they call back and tell me that the mailbox is full on the other end, or that their voicemail's aren't being answered.  I tell them that I'm just the answering service, and all I can do is pass on their complaints, but I would be happy to do so the next time they call in for them.

The calls are slowing down, which tells me that either they fixed it, or the paper it was published in has become stale news.  They should update the column next week.

Until then, it'll be Cookie playing Ernestine on the phone.  Complete with snappy come backs and snorts.