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!
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 (, 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 and get to my family blog (, my genealogy blog (, and to my homeschool blog ( 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.


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.] 

Dad called me on a Wednesday evening.  Wednesday, August 22, 2012 to be exact.  He told me that he’d decided to stop his dialysis treatments.  We all knew this meant not only limited time, but marked time, so my brother and I jumped on a plane to Oregon that Friday.  We stayed the weekend and had a wonderful time.  He was in the best spirits and absolutely unafraid.  He was happier than I’d seen him in years and we talked about “after.”  Having not grown up with many beliefs, this was a new topic for us.  We also talked about genealogy, which was not a new topic for us.  My dad and I were the genealogists of the family, often emailing for hours over our findings.  I asked him to look up Miles Price when he “got there” and find a way to send me his parents’ names so that I would know it was from him and know he was okay.  He laughed and said he’d do what he could.  I knew that if I found something on Miles, it would have to be from another realm, as that information is just not here on this planet!

I left Dad on Sunday, with plans to be back for the remainder of his time that next Friday.  On Monday afternoon, the mail brought me Miles’ death certificate.  I’d ordered it over a year before along with two others.  I got the other two instantly, but Miles’ didn’t arrive.  Until that Monday.  And it had Miles’ parents’ names listed (Jacob and Rebecca).  Genealogical serendipity.

At first I was a bit upset.  NOW how was I going to know Dad was okay?  Then it clicked to me.  Maybe, if I believed this stuff, this was Miles’ way of saying, “Of course he’s going to be okay, you idiot third great granddaughter!  We’ve got him covered.”  Regardless, I still didn’t have anything specific to ask Dad for now.

I called Dad on Monday night to tell him and we laughed together.  He said, “Shorty, if I can find anything when I get there, I’ll pass it along.”  I talked to my step-mom on Tuesday night to see how she was doing.  I talked to Dad Wednesday night just to say goodnight and I reminded him that I’d be there Friday and I was staying.  “You’ll be stuck with me for awhile, Dad.”  “Well, Shorty,” he said, “I don’t imagine there is anyone better to be stuck with.”  Those were the last words I heard (out-loud) from him. 

Now comes more serendipity.  Thursday morning as I was checking my email for my updated flight information, I got an email from a woman named Penny.  She was doing some research for her best friend and had microfilm from Salt Lake City.  She Googled her friend’s family and my information on a blog posting from over 2 years ago came up.  She wanted to correct some of the information I had.  Oh, and by the way, did I want copies of the baptismal records from Germany and Wisconsin for this part of the family?  And since she had them, would I like it for the paternal line that didn’t coincide with her friend’s?  She’d be happy to make copies for me.  And also, it’s all in old German script.  Would I like it translated, since her college major was German with a concentration in old German script?  I received three full manilla envelopes of trees and original records. 

Later that day, as I waited for my transfer flight in Seattle, I received another email.  This time from a gentleman noting that he’d found a note I’d made in 1999 on a forum asking about Mr. Fisher, my husband’s birth father.  Did I still need information about him?  Did I have these photos of his parents?  These were the first photos my husband ever saw of his paternal grandparents.

I stayed in Oregon with my step-mom for two weeks and every single day I got new genealogical information from all parts of our family- maternal, paternal, birth, adopted, from EVERY PART IMAGINABLE.  As I got in Dad’s car (that is now mine) to drive the long drive home, I put my hand on the shifter to hold his hand, a habit I still continue, and said, “Dad, I love having this connection to you, but I really think I’m going to need a focus.  Can you send me something that you would wish I would focus on?”

When I got home and emptied the car, I found the plastic file folder holder that Molly and I had emptied and I decided to keep for one of my many failed organizing projects.  Stuck inside was a moldy torn photograph. 

I can almost promise that this was not there when I said I’d make good use of the file folder.  Who are these people?  Over the next month or so, I sent the photo around to family and no one recognized them.  A few weeks later, Google Alerts sent me a notice that my ongoing search for “Mariani” AND “hardware” had a match.  I clicked the link and this is what popped up:

I decided that was my focus.  And a mere two years later, this is the result:

Thank you, Dad.  I can’t believe it’s been two years since you passed away.

This weekend has been weird.  My plans yesterday got yucked up and that put me out of whack today.  Normally, I do the grocery shopping in Livermore on Saturdays, but I had to do it today in Tracy.  And the grocery store is set up totally differently and so it takes about six times as long.  I get frustrated and antsy and just want my normal aisles all lined up the way I like them.

I remember feeling this way when we moved to Livermore.  I wanted my Dublin grocery store aisle.  And I remember when we moved to Dublin, I wanted my Mountain View grocery store.  And I remember each time feeling like I'd never, ever like the new grocery store and I'd always want my old one back.

But this time, it's true.  The Livermore grocery store is right next to karate, where I am three times a week.  Why would I not use that store?  But that will make me inherently never, ever think of the Tracy store as normal or right.

Which I'm totally fine with.

In other news, yesterday marked the two year anniversary of the last time I hugged my dad.  I secretly sneaked out to the driveway last night and looked at my license plate.

"HI SHORTY," I heard in Dad's voice.  All is well.
A lot of people are asking me what my book is about.  Is it about ancestors?  No.  Is it about cooking?  No.  So what is it about?

On July 10, 2011, I wrote this for this blog:

In my recipe box, there is a recipe of Vera Mariani’s called, “Mrs. Scott’s Delicious Cake.”  I remember Vera making this cake many times.  It strikes me as prophetic that the cake I think of as Vera’s is actually Mrs. Scott’s.  Who was Mrs. Scott? When did Vera taste her cake, find it delicious, and get the recipe?

As I pondered on this one day, I realized that there may be a day far in the future when my children’s children’s children see my recipe for “Vera’s Tuscan Chicken” and wonder who this Vera was.  There isn’t a Vera to be found in our family tree, so they will wonder about this Vera, just as I do about Mrs. Scott.

I then wrote a short two or three paragraph story about Vera, with no intention of taking it further.  I just wanted a note in my recipe box so that there would be no unanswered questions.  However, after writing those paragraphs, I figured I should tell how I knew Vera.  That made me tell the story of the Mariani Ranch.  Which made me tell the history of Vera's dad.  And brothers.  And then their children.  And so on until I had found Louise Mariani and written a book, which I was able to present to her on her 100th birthday:

Today is the day!  It’s the day that our beloved Louise Mariani turns 100!  And in honor of that, I’ve decided that today is the day I release the book about her family.  Louise has been such a wonderful addition to my life since I found her just under a year ago and because I adore her and this book is for her, I decided to always remember this day.  The day she turns 100!

Louise has lived in San Francisco almost all of her life.  She had a brief stint in New York, but quickly returned.  She is so vibrant and healthy and she attributes that to walking 40 San Francisco blocks every day for several decades.  

Louise is my treasure and I hope she enjoys the book.

(Photo courtesy of Marc Mascot Photography)

If you’d like to purchase it, the link is below.  It's a hardbound book and so a bit pricy at just under $30, but proceeds go to purchasing copies to put in the local libraries.  I want to make sure that if anyone else ever wants to learn of the Marianis, they find my book and me, so that we can say hello!

Thank you for 100 lovely years, Louise. This post, and this book, is for you!

Vera's Chicken Wings and Peas, by Deborah Conner Mascot


My blog has gone woefully neglected for the past couple of years really.  I can't tell you all the things that have gone on in my life, as this forum is too public, but suffice to say that there have been deaths, sicknesses, a fire, and family issues.  I have put the locusts on the calendar as pending, because surely they are coming any day now.

But in the face of all of this, there has been some good.  The children are wonderful.  They are my saving graces, those two.  My older keeps me steady as she is so steady already at 11.  She's got a good head on her shoulders and it frightens me a little that she will end up like me:  independent and yet everyone will always depend on her.  I

My younger keeps me smiling.  He's still young enough to say silly cute things and yet old enough to also be quite insightful.  He keeps me filled with love.  No matter what, I can say, "My son loves me."  No matter what.  And that is a true gift that I rely on each and every day.  It is a wondrous thing to be able to experience the truly unconditional love of a little boy.  

I also managed to write a book.  A book about the Mariani family and I am quite proud of it.  I believe that throughout I've had the help of my dad from Wherever he is.  I've had odd assistance when it was most needed and strange insight when I was at a stopping point.  So it's been nice to have Dad close by.  Even if it's really not him.  (I just wish he'd help with some of the big stuff instead).

But now that the book is done, I have goals to revamp my website and blogs.  I want to have a Homeschool Blog for next year, a genealogy blog and then a family blog, as well.  I may merge the homeschool and family blog, though.   We shall see...  But the point of this is to ask you to please not give up on me.  I will  be back.  With a plan and a vengeance! 

To be magnetic and to be President. Enjoy the quest, children. Enjoy the quest.