I hate to sound like I'm 100, but kids these days have it so easy. In my day, the Internet didn't answer our every trivial question. And in my day, there was a dad who wouldn't take, "I don't know- Let's move on," for an answer. If I asked a question and he didn't know the answer, by God, he'd find it. Not only would he find the answer, but he'd show me how to find the answer. In detail. Great detail.

One time, we were in the car on Highway 101. We had to take 380 to get over to 280 to get home. "Where did the highways get their numbers?" I asked to make conversation. I was 11.

Pause.

"Well, Shorty. I don't know." At that moment, I realized that my weekend was over. We’d spend it researching how highways got their numbers.

When we got home, we sat at the table and went through the Ma Bell Phone Book. DMV? No. They do motor vehicles. Department of Transportation. Yes, they handle the roads. Dad helped me write a letter (several of them until it was right— no backspaces or Control X/Control V available). We then went and got stamps and mailed the letter.

A few weeks later, we got a letter back telling us that North-South highways are odd numbered and East-West highways are even numbered. It went on with more detail, but I didn't really care by then.

Just now, I googled this question. I got 28,500,000 results. The first is Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Numbered_Highways), “United States Numbered Highways," which explains it in great detail without having to use the Ma Bell Phone Book, pen, paper, draft letters, final letters, envelopes or stamps.

But Googling isn’t nearly as memorable, either. Nor as endearing, like the sleeping bags.

When I was nine, I'd saved up $50 and I wanted us to have sleeping bags so that we could go camping. Dad said that he'd buy his and Mom's and that I could buy mine and Todd's, but I had to research different sleeping bags to find the best for what we had to spend. I was nine; I didn't know anything thing about sleeping bags. But not to worry-- Dad was to teach me how to research. At age nine.

This process would have been a lot different today. Today, I could teach my kids to open their Internet browser on their iPods and search, "best sleeping bag." Done.

But back then, there was no internet, internet browser, or Google. What did we have? The library and store clerks. Dad explained that we couldn't just go to the store and trust the clerk. Sometimes they are stupid and sometimes they just try to sell you the most expensive. So you have to know before you go.

Dad took me to the library and we we were there for hours. We first asked the librarian where the best place to find this information would be. She directed us to the issues of a magazine called, “Consumer Reports”. Dad had me look through them and I found an old issue about camping equipment that including sleeping bags.

I read the article and made notes. It outlined the different outer and inner materials with pros and cons. We talked through it and decided we wouldn't be camping in snow so crossed those off the list. Rain wouldn't be on purpose, but dew could happen, so while water-PROOF wasn't imperative, water-RESISTANT was.

I remember deciding on an nylon exterior with a Dacron II interior. I remember this clearly almost forty years later. In my quick Google search just now, Dacron had is founding by Dupont in the 1950s and by the 1970s it was in it's second rendition. It's still used in pillows and, likely, sleeping bags.


So then it was time for the shopping. Did we just go to the store and buy them? No. We went home. To the telephone and back to the good ol’ Ma Bell Yellow Pages. Dad had me call Montgomery Wards, Best, Sears, and a local camping store. I asked if they had Dacron II filled nylon sleeping bags and the cost. I made a chart of each and then we chose Sears. The next day (yes, this took all weekend) we drove to Sears and I chose our sleeping bags and counted out my dollars to the clerk. I got green, Todd got orange, Mom got brown and Dad got blue. We used them for many years and my pride at having shopped for them never dwindled.

All of that said, I still just teach my kids to open their Internet browser and search. It’s a different world and they need to learn the skills of the new world, too. Not all old school skills are still necessary. That said, they did have to listen to this story about road numbers and sleeping bags. No sense in wasting a good story about how I had to walk 5 miles in the snow to get to school research all weekend to find answers.



For a few months now, Dad's my car has been overheating randomly in traffic.  It doesn't happen all the time and it never happens when I take it in to get fixed.  Just randomly have to turn the heater on full blast as I'm commuting to or from work in horrible traffic. 

Last week, I took it in for an overdue oil change.  Since they have to run the car idly, it happened to them!  And because they are all really nice, I had every mechanic there huddled around my car trying to figure it out.  They finally determined it was the fan but couldn't figure out why.  They had me come back the next day when the head mechanic would be there and it took him awhile to get the car to overheat, but then he quickly found the problem: not a bajillion dollars!  It was just the wire housing unit that the fan connected to and it was all corroded inside.  He replaced that and now... now it doesn't overheat AND I hadn't noticed, but sometimes it was hard to start.  It is no longer hard to start.  So YAY!  Not expensive AND fixed.

I really didn't realize how much this was wearing on me until it was fixed.  I feel this load of stress off my mind now when driving.  Huge load of stress just GONE! Love that!

Plus, today I had a new client meeting in Napa.  Not only did the car NOT overheat, but the new client happens to be a conglomeration of wineries and they let me shop in the employee store for 50% off.  My wine cabinet (also known as the dining room table...) is full of great wines.  Good thing we never eat in the dining room...

I'm going to post about the kids soon.  Signa sent me some pictures of things they did for school, but I can't figure out who did what, so I have to wait until I can discuss with her.  But they are both doing really well!


She shouldn’t have been working a call center for AAA and he shouldn't have been the driver called to assist me. But she was and he did.

Just before Christmas, I went out to my car and the rear right tire was flat as a pancake. It was raining and dark and I pay for AAA so I called, rather than tend to it in the dark rainy night on my own. Yvonne, my customer "service" rep didn't listen to a thing I said. She kept to her script ignoring me completely. "I need to have my tire changed."

"Where do you want to be towed to?"

"No, I just need the tire changed."

"Thank you, Ma'am. I'm happy to serve you. We have service guarantees at several locations close to you, for instance, Blah-blah-blah and Blah-blah-blah, which are mere miles. Would you like to be towed to either of these locations?"

On it went. Finally I said that if I needed towing for any reason, I would like it to be America's Tires so that we could move on.

Mike should not have been sent to me, as he isn't supposed to change tires. He had part of a lung removed four years ago and so they like him to just tow and not do heavy lifting. But he said he could do it; he'd just have to take it slow and I'd have to chat with him and hold the flashlight. Not a chore in the least, as despite his looking more like a 62-year-old hippie than my nearly 70-year-old republican dad was, he reminded me so much of him.

We chatted for nearly 45 minutes while he changed my tire into the tiny donut and filled the donut with air. He hates the donuts, too, and longs for the days when you held back the best tire for your spare when you got a whole new set. He works hard, loves his job and his family, and had that quiet all-knowingness about him like Dad did.

So Yvonne shouldn't be working the phones and Mike shouldn't be changing tires, but she was and he did and I got a lovely Christmas gift of spending 45 minutes with my dad just one more time.

Thank you, AAA, for being slightly incompetent.

So much in my life is still entirely still unresolved, but I have to say one thing that is comfortable is my memories of Dad. I smile when I think of him and sometimes shake my head while smiling, as he sure was something.
Dear 2014:

I had to disappear for awhile. Quite literally. So much has happened these past few... years, really. It all seems to have culminated in kicking my butt. Deaths, funerals, housing problems, commuting problems, cancers (several), a fire (with more death and housing problems), surgery, illnesses, family troubles, etc.

I thought 2012 was the worst year possible. But then we had 2013, which sucked. Then came 2014 which was the Big Bad Wolf of Horrible Awful Fucked Up years. So, to be honest, I’m nervous for 2015. Each year I say, “Well, thank God that’s over.” And then 2014 happens.

So for 2015, I guess I have to say that I’ll just do what I can to again mitigate any horror it brings. Deaths, funerals and housing. Commuting, cancers and fires. Health and relationships. I will do what I can to not let them get to me. I don’t feel like it’s fair to set resolutions when life can be this shitty, as sometimes just getting through the day is enough of a resolution. I can only promise that I will continue nurturing my children, that I will focus on things that bring me strength, and shed the things that drag me down.  And that will continue surviving.

Here is to hoping that 2015 is a fantastic year for all of you. I hope it redeems my faith and allows me to say in 365 days, “I sure hope 2016 is as great as 2015 was!”

And so that I don’t leave you with this depressing piece of crap writing, I started writing a new book today. It will take years to write, but I have almost 5000 words into it already and some plotting. I’m also going to do a fix-up of the Dukes of Mixager book for a genealogy project, adding footnotes and citations for the information. It will require some rework, so I may need to do some corrections, too.  I will be posting those here.  As well as some other fun things I'm sure will happen!



www.mascotmanor.org
A few weeks ago I took an online class about blogging via Hack Genealogy. It really sparked me to do something I’ve been only contemplating for over a year. REDO MY WEBSITE. Not really the website, but the structure and organization. I still have a ton to do, but here is what you will now find…

If you visit my usual home page (www.mascotmanor.org), you will get to my main site, which now actually leads somewhere! All my blogs and information are drilled off of that. This has helped me so much, as I didn’t have a ground before. I had my family webpage and my genealogy one and then wanted to do a homeschool one, as well. But it was disjointed and made me not want to do any of it.

So now you can visit www.mascotmanor.org and get to my family blog (mascotmanor.blogspot.com), my genealogy blog (mmgenealogy.blogspot.com), and to my homeschool blog (mmhomeschool.blogspot.com). In doing this, I’ve also changed the structure of the sidebars and other items. I think it’s much nicer and easier to work with. And easier to write on, as well! So expect some posts.

Finally!



Here is a story I wrote in August 2002, just a month before Signa was born.  I added updates in brackets, just in case you wanted to know.

I feel old. I turned 35 last month and 35 is old. I was 15 when my mom was 35. I remember that she was old when I was 15. (sorry, Mom, but you were a lot older then, I think.)  [Dear Self, 35 was not old.  Shut the fuck up.]

I wear open-toed shoes now. And I let other people touch my feet. I don’t just have my toes painted by these other people; I have pictures painted on them and then make everyone look. On the Fourth of July, I even had a picture taken of the flags decorating my digits. [I am now too old for the pictures.  It's hard enough trying to get them to understand that I want paint on them.  To also explain pictures is just beyond the patience I now have left.]

I can’t see why a 15-year-old needs a cell phone. I see the 15-year-old and think the word “kid” in my head. Why would a kid need a cell phone? They are in school all day where a ringing phone should be a no-no and the rest of the day, they are at home, where there is a phone. I just don’t see why a portable one would be needed.  [They are needed so that you don’t have to wait for them.  You can drop them off and come back at the exact right time.  Convenience, 35-year-old self.  Convenience.  Plus, the games keep them busy when you need to do things like edit writings from 12 years ago.]

I collect recipes. I don’t usually make any of the food, but I do collect recipes. I’ve even been known to use the words, “Oh, I have a great recipe for that! Let me share it with you.” [USE THE FUCKING RECIPES.  Seriously.  There is no room for collecting shit you are not going to use.  Use ‘em or lose ‘em.  GO.  NOW.  Because I know that the 47-year-old self is still doing this same crap.]

I research genealogy. Even though I’m not old ENOUGH to say things to my nephew like, “When I was your age…” I do say things like, “Your great, great, great grandmother made rugs and gave them out to friends and family in Iowa.” By the time I get to the second “great,” he’s already hating me and wishing I were a deaf mute. [Okay. So this one hasn’t changed, except it’s my own children I say this to.  Sue me.]

I look for sale items, rather than just buying the thing that has the best commercial or the cereal with the best toy. “Spiced Heated-Bread Munch” is close enough to “Cinnamon Toast Crunch” for me. And it doesn’t even come with any toy. [Gave up on this.  No one in the house will eat Spiced Heated-Bread Munch and they all want the toy from the commercial.  You gotta pick your battles.  And I don’t care enough about saving money and looking for sale items.  I care more about not hearing whining and not seeing Spiced Heated-Bread Munch from 12 years ago still in the pantry, having made two moves with us.]

I wave my fist and call people “jackasses” on the freeway when they don’t merge properly. I’m sure it’s still them and not me; I’m not THAT old. [Also not changed.  But I drive more now, so it’s understandable.]

I decline long car trips because they make my back hurt and the frequency of urination is too much to get from one rest stop to the next. Even though this is pregnancy-induced, I don’t know that it will ever go away.  [It went away.  Now I decline long car trips because I DO THEM TWICE A DAY FIVE DAYS A WEEK.]

Also regarding pregnancy, even if my breast size doesn’t decrease from this glorious new “B” back to the usual “A”, I’m sure that the “B” won’t be in the same place as the little “A”s used to be- the “B”s will be lower. Much, much lower. [TMI, but I was oh-so correct.]

I cut out cute articles and pictures to show to others. “Here, Jane, check out this Dear Abby letter about new ways to combat incontinence.” [Dear 35-year-old Self.  WHAT. THE. FUCK.  No one cared what you had to say then.  No one needed cute articles.  And thank you for stopping the forwarding of jokes.  Now you just post them on Facebook and people can look if they want.  HA HA!  Didn’t see that one coming, did you?!?]

I seek out facial products that contain ingredients to deflect the signs of aging. I use eye cream diligently, night and day, and actually know what part of my body the “d├ęcolletage” is. [Still doing this, only now my products aren’t to DEFLECT the signs of aging but nicely titled, “Advanced Age Fighting.”  Good luck, facial products.  The only way to fight age is to not do it.]

I wear my glasses to bed to watch television and then forget to take them off before turning the light off. I fumble in the dark to get them onto the nightstand without dropping them into the glass of water. Thankfully, there are no teeth floating in the water. Yet. [Yay!  Still no floating teeth.  And I think I have mostly mastered getting my glasses to the bedside table.  Although, there have been a couple times when they go off the edge and I think, “I better remember that happened in the morning.”  Then morning comes and I’m all, “WHERE THE FUCK ARE MY GLASSES?” and I look all over the house, the car, the other car, and empty my purse before I remember.]

The classic “Generation Gap” of yesteryear whereby Their generation was so out of touch with Our Generation now puts me as one of Them. We dyed our hair. What will my daughter be dying???? And how can she possibly think THAT looks good??? [Seriously.  She wears yellow shorts and a weird Minecraft totally not matching green shirt.  How can that be cool?  But she is, so it’s fine.  So far no dying of anything.  But she’s 12.  Give it time.]

I saw a commercial about Long Term Care insurance and thought about purchasing some. Also saw a commercial about additional life insurance and it sounded nice. I think I’ll buy-up on that through work next year. [LTC was hideously expensive and so I didn’t get it.  I did get the additional life insurance, but only because if these people in my house kill me I die, the family can live on in the manner to which they are accustomed.  Now I’m too old and unhealthy for more of this insurance.  The underwriters would laugh and point.]