Finally Finished

When I started researching my family tree back in 2018, I thought I’d just work on it for about a year and be done. Turns out there is enough mystery and intrigue in the research to keep me occupied for what has been 4 years now. I have taken breaks from it and I’m ready to take another, but I had set a goal of covering the paternal grandparents to 1945. Today I finished and I feel free to move on to Gardening — just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, too!

Not only do I feel the relief of moving out of the 1940s, but I’m super excited that we bought a garden cultivator/tiller.

Casey is like a kid in a candy shop and I’m very grateful that he likes this stuff as much as I do because I have Plans for that tiller!

This week’s weather is predicted to tease us with Spring. I try to plant peas on St. Patrick’s Day, so thanks again, Universe. Though our average last day of frost is April 8, my garden journal from 2021 records that we had a snow on April 24. In 2020 the temps were struggling to get above 40 in early May. I must remember that Spring is fickle.

My family story has obsessed me for a while now, but I’m ready to fill my head with garden plans. I’ll be back on Thursday for a St. Patrick’s Day Planting post. Don’t forget to wear Green or I’ll have to pinch you.


Old News, hardly a scoop…

I didn’t give enough space to our local birthday party, celebrating Samantha’s 7th and my 69th birthdays. Here’s a little montage of that day, February 19th…

I have now officially ridden Every Ride in the Walt Disney World parks, knocking out my last two at Animal Kingdom. I had put off the Rite of Passage ride when I was having some back problems several years ago and I wish I’d ridden earlier! It is now my Favorite Ride! We were pretty chill after our early mornings and spent a lot of time hanging out at pool bars (and pools) around the resort. I marked off “visit Nomad Lounge” from my must-do list, too. We had perfect weather…

Spring greeted us when we arrived back here at Sonnystone, and it was so beautiful last week that we were outside cleaning up and planning this year’s gardens. It’s time to start seeds inside, we plant our peas and potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day and I am impatient, as usual. I hope to start a Gardening Series on Thursdays and keep you up to date on how the garden is growing.

I used the nice weather as an excuse to procrastinate finishing up my Ancestry to 1945. I’m really going to get it written this week, I tell myself. I’m very ready to wind up that blog and spend more time here at the Acres providing you with plenty of Blather and Balderdash.


The Sunday Scoop

There is an upside to a sleet/ice/snow storm…the birds flock to our food. We moved the feeders to a spot under the porch so the ice couldn’t cover them and brought them in at night to dry and warm. There were never less than 30 birds in the area, lots of juncos on the ground, dozens of cardinals, finches and wrens of all sort, woodpeckers, and those damn grackles, too. One awkward pileated woodpecker showed up, too…

The kitchen has come along swimmingly! I’m never good at the “before” pictures, and we’re not done yet…

It’s a good thing you didn’t click on those Ancestry posts last week (and I Know you didn’t). Turns out I got a major part of the story Wrong and I had to un-publish and revise. It was kind of a bummer, as I rather liked the story the way I told it, but I came across some newspaper articles that contradicted it. I’ve changed the original posts, but haven’t yet gotten time to continue writing the tale.

Two weeks from today we’ll be on our way to WDW to celebrate my birthday, #69 to be exact. I’m calling this year my “Farewell to the 60s” event. Naturally, we start at Disney; naturally, we’ll end at Disney, too. That’s us.

Because of the ice, I postponed my usual visit with Grandies #2 and #4 from Saturday to Sunday (today). Lo and Behold! Samantha lost her first tooth and then her second soon after!


The Sunday Scoop

I’ve got not just 1 scoop, not just 2 scoops, but 3, maybe 4, scoops this week!

Kitchen Remodel Update: All of the cabinets have been painted (and cleaned), the glassfront cabinet has been painted (white for now because we’re almost out of blue). Everything looks clean and crisp.

Phase 2 includes moving the refrigerator, hanging some new wallboard, putting in a base cabinet (already purchased), new countertop and lots more behind-the-scenes stuff like finding a place for everything. We hope to be done in 2 weeks, but availability of countertop may affect that goal.

I had the honor of accompanying my #2 grandie in the Indiana State music competition where she sang “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme”. We’ve had a lot of fun preparing and practicing, and she was awarded a Gold medal for her efforts! #2 is an 8th-grader now, a sweet girl, and I am so proud of her…

I have been busy with genealogy research and was able to write and publish two posts last week.

The first is The Maynes of Albion 1910-1925.

The second is The Stallings Family 1910-1925.

I’d love it if you’d click on over and read those; I think you’ll enjoy the stories. Update 1/31/2022: I have unlinked those posts to edit them… I have discovered new newspaper clippings that tore holes in my timeline. I don’t have to start completely over, but there’s a lot that needs to be corrected. >sigh< I really liked the story the way I told it…

Sometimes I feel a little haunted by all these greats and grands living in my mind, but then I wonder if it’s not really me haunting them

So that’s the News from Sonnystone Acres for this week.

Next week will probably be more of the same, but you never know…


The Sunday Scoop

Any writer can relate to the current state of Mind dominating my days: wrapped up in my characters and plot, living in a different time and place from good old Sonnystone Acres. Since these characters are also my relatives, there’s another level of imagination added — putting 2plus2 together from stories and facts.

Right now, I’m living 100-years in the past, WWI, trains and automobiles, bobbed hair and suffragettes. In particular, my great-grandfather and his family moved from the farm in southern Illinois to Evansville, Indiana to work as a brakeman for the L&N Railroad in around 1914. In addition to my great-grandfather, Ed Stallings, the family included my my great-grandmother Gainsey, and their children, Vivian, Verla (my grandmother), and Maurice and they lived in Howell, a neighborhood on the edge of the train yards that had been built by L&N for its workers; it was literally surrounded by the tracks and the trainyard.

I lived in Howell in 1974 when I was pregnant with my daughter and remember that my then-mil was worried that the trains would trap me there when I needed to get quickly to the hospital. It’s true that we often waited forever when they were hooking and unhooking the train cars, but I didn’t have a problem.

There were train tracks everywhere in Evansville when I was growing up; the “highway” came right through town and the tracks impeded any kind of traffic flow going north-south. The “highway” going east-west had a train track right down the middle — I was terrified to drive on it when the trains were wobbling back and forth a foot from my car!

Since my great-grandfather worked for L&N, his family got to ride for free and the Stallings ancestors rode the trains to visit relatives in St. Louis frequently during those days. I only was able to take one trip, from Chicago to Evansville, when I was about 6 or 7. I remember my sister getting mad at me because I got the hiccups and kept saying “excuse” me after each hic…and also the conductor going down the aisle announcing “Terre Haute, next stop! Next stop, Terre Haute!”.

It wasn’t just Evansville, of course, where we were accustomed to hear and see trains. The highways often had tracks that ran parallel and I remember my uncle “outrunning” one as I rode in a 3-hole Buck packed with cousins, aunts, and grandma to visit my Aunt Almeda in West Frankfort, IL.

The sound of a train in the distance transports me to my childhood, fills me with a nostalgic yearning for “the good old days” when I was a kid. As John Prine put it…”I can hear the train tracks through the laundry on the line.”

The kitchen cabinets are looking good…

I’ve got to get back to my imaginary world and move the ancestors on to 1920s, another mind-blower…the prohibition of alcohol from January, 1920 to December, 1933. Can you imagine how people would take to Prohibition today? With all the screaming about constitutional rights and citizens united, can you imagine what would happen if the government started tearing down businesses and destroying their product? Interestingly, it was during the Prohibition years that my family began to drink! I carry on the best I can…


The Sunday Scoop

Not much to scoop today…After angsting for days, I finally chose a color for the kitchen cabinets…I forgot to get a true “before” picture –we’d already taken off the cabinet doors — but you get the drift: we’re entering into a blue phase. I’m taking the opportunity to clean up/organize all of the cabinets, too. It’s amazing how much crap we’ve stuffed up on the top shelves!

Casey’s got a shop set up in the diner and he just paints away while I write. It’s been a productive week for both of us. I am focused on my research and writing the ancestors and should be able to post a chapter in a couple of days. I’m planning two, possibly three, chapters after this and then my first draft will be finished! I would love to have first edit done before we head to London in June, but since it’s taken me three years to get this far, I wouldn’t be surprised if that goalpost gets moved.

Speaking of London, the trip is Definitely Back On. We’ll not be there for the Queen’s Birthday, Trooping the Colour and all that, but will arrive the week after. The Royal Ascot is taking place that week, where I hope to glimpse Her Majesty and other Royals. I’m back to planning it all out and the concierge at Queens Gate Hotel in Kensington is helping tremendously…getting excited…Long live our gracious Queen!

Scene from my weekly lunch with the Jr. girls…just before we went to the mall…


The Sunday Scoop

IWe had our first snow of the year on Thursday! Accompanied by bitter cold, I was snug as a bug in a rug, watching the birds flock to the feeders.

Just the day before the temperatures dropped, we had to spray the house for fleas! Our venerable cat, Wink, had been declining ever since our return from Disney World in October. We noticed he was scratching and licking himself a lot, but mostly that he was just sleeping all the time and stalking me, meowing to be rubbed and petted constantly. I thought it might be dry skin and old age, but after a couple of weeks I got some flea bites on my ankles and raised the alarm. We were still unsure and a bit afraid to spray him when he was doing all that licking, so we got him a flea collar, but he continued to seem skinnier and more lethargic. He’s 17-years-old, so it’s easy to blame old age and we did. However, Casey finally got some flea bites and took matters to hand. We put the Winkster in the laundry room and bombed the whole house, then sprayed him down real good. He’s a new man and back into trouble, knocking over plants trying to get to the birds outside. I figure he’s got several more years in him…

I’m in a quandary regarding my Trip in June for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. I seriously don’t want to miss it, but if UK keeps its quarantine requirements in place, I don’t know. This trip has been cancelled and rescheduled three times since I originally booked it in 2019. All of the $$, both hotel and airline charges, have been credited to me, so the money is spent and I want to use it. I’m going to contact the hotel, Queens Gate in Kensington, and see what they recommend. I am so over the Covid — still wearing my mask, ready to be boosted prn, practice social distancing, but we have to learn to live with the fact that we might get sick. I suppose that if HM The Queen can show up for the Jubilee, then I definitely should, but quarantining for two days of a 5-day trip doesn’t sound fun.

Casey has an abscessed tooth and is as lazy as Wink right now. That’s rare, so I’m enjoying it…for a while. We’re starting Phase I of a kitchen remodel, so he needs to rest up and get back to it!!!

Hope your next week is a good one!


New Year Resolves 2022

The New Yorkers got caught in the omicron blizzard last week; first Emma, then Eliza, and of course Melissa, were sick so they weren’t able to visit with us. I was both concerned and disappointed, but everybody’s okay now, so it’s all good. We pulled down the Christmas decorations earlier than usual, cleaning and rearranging and I’ve felt very in sync and in tune with the New Year and moving forward, making changes, and all that. Yesterday I cooked up some Hoppin’ John with greens, so I know the year will be prosperous; we kissed at midnight New Year’s Eve (eastern time), so 2022 is going to be filled with love.

Back in 2018 I wrote about my attitude toward resolutions:

I’m a little skittish about making Resolutions…  I’ve done it before, but I’m just not a Resolute person.  I have only a passing understanding of Determination or what on earth a Firm Decision would be.  Same way with Goals…  The very word implies Effort and there is a whiff of competition that has never appealed to me.

Just like cooking the traditional lucky food, and kissing at midnight, I usually make a list on New Year Day.  In the past, The List was aimed at Self-Improvement, being healthy, changing my habits… It consisted of the usual stop smoking, stop drinking, lose weight, join a group, take a class… I was determined that I Would Become a Better Person!!!  January was always full of hope…  By February, I would be making excuses, and March always saw me in the line of shame to d/c my gym membership.

Now that I am an Old (wise) woman, I see the Year Ahead much differently– I look at it as an Adventure, Each Day a New Experience, Every moment present and aware.  So I’ll call it my Adventure List?  My Experience List?  My Learning List?  My Here’s What I Want to Do in 2018 List? Whatever you want to call it, here it is… (in no particular order and not necessarily complete)  

from “The Perfunctory New Year/New You Post, January 1, 2018”

Right Here Right Now, 4 years later, it’s slightly modified to reflect my growing acceptance of myself…

1. Enjoy Each Moment

2.  Write

3.  Travel

4.  Spend Time with Family

5.  Learn New Music

6.  Read

7.  Garden

8.  Spruce up the House  

I’m actually feeling excited and hopeful about starting fresh again, and I’m making plans to achieve all of the above with great gusto! A New Year that finds us still coping with the pandemic, our political divide, and freaking harry&meghan can sound a little daunting, but I like to look at it from the point of view of this poet:

The new year always brings us what we want

Simply by bringing us along—to see

A calendar with every day uncrossed,

A field of snow without a single footprint.

New Year’s
by Dana Gioia

May our footprints be gentle in 2022!


Boxing Day

It’s the Second Day of Christmas and I’m expecting the delivery of my turtledoves anytime now. Boxing Day in the UK was originally about opening the alms boxes to give to the poor, but has devolved into a shopping day. It’s also St. Stephen’s Day in the Catholic church, the day that Good King Wenceslas looked out where the snow lay round about…

Last Monday was the anniversary of my daughter’s birth and we were in NYC to celebrate. After luncheon at The Community, we proceeded to the movie theatre to see “West Side Story”. (We Loved it, we cried, we marveled…you really should see it.) Then we trooped back to the apartment to sing and blow out candles; I’m Sure her wishes can come true.

We had a super time on Christmas Eve with the Jrs. After a good meal replete with mashed potatoes and gravy, we opened presents. Then it was off to the movie theatre to see “Encanto” which was encanting…(insert punny emoji)

We called the grandies on Christmas morning; beyond that it was just us, two old kids, exchanging presents, drifting through the day, content with grazing the leftovers, amicably sharing. The Day was balmy, so we walked through the woods, planning a pruning spree next month; walked around the gardens discussing plans for the 2022 upgrades; walked down to the campfire circle and envisioned a wall of forsythia between us and the neighbors’ pond… I hope your Christmas was just as heartwarming as ours…

We may or may not have visitors from Manhattan this week, depending on Covid testing. I think Emma may have gotten caught in the blizzard out there…


The Sunday Scoop

We drove through the fog and rain from Eville to Nashville, past trees that had been broken like twigs by that massive tornado that had roared through Kentucky just a week before. We have always lived with the threat of tornadoes and have experienced a few, but a twister staying on the ground, a mile wide, for 227 miles is mind-boggling. There was literally no escape from it. It is such a sobering sight to see the damage those Big Winds do and my heart goes out to the survivors.

We arrived in NYC Thursday evening to weather that was spring-like and I was feeling so confident that I was “safe”, wearing my mask, thrice-vaccinated, and visiting a city that is Strict about such things. Already, though, the omicron was rearing its ugly head and Grandie Emma’s school had closed a day early to avoid large gatherings. Still, I was shocked, dismayed, and disappointed Friday afternoon when Radio City Music Hall cancelled All remaining performances — we were to attend 11am Saturday.

Still, we’re together, and we just pivoted…The Jose’ fam opened their presents on Saturday morning…

It’s Luggage!

On Saturday evening, Melissa, Emma, Eliza, and I drove out to Garden City on Long Island so they could attend an “extra” Irish Dance class to prepare them for the upcoming major competition, All-Ireland’s.

You’ve seen my girls in their wigs and tans, glittering dresses and sparkly headpieces, wearing their winning sashes and hoisting their trophies, but it’s rare (especially since Covid) to see how hard they work to get there. The school that is responsible for making the grandies into champions is Doherty-Petri School of Irish Dancing. Their teachers, Lisa and Karen Petri, know how to set a high bar and help — yes, even Push — these kids to their limits. Emma and Eliza started their Irish Dancing career at another school and have only been at this one for a year. During that time, they have blossomed and grown into World-class competitors. Due to Covid precautions, parents aren’t allowed to sit in on the classes, but these kind ladies made an exception for me. I love the Rockettes, but watching these kiddos sweat and kick was love exponential.

The headlines have been screaming about a “blizzard” of omicron Co-V-19 and all my confidence has eroded into a sick feeling that there is really no end to this. I truly understand that eventually “everybody” will have contracted this virus and that anti-viral treatments are becoming quite plentiful (and no, I don’t mean worm medicine or malaria pills), but the media continues to stir up panic that is hard to avoid when you are in a place that is shutting down again… I guess I’ll double-mask on the trip home.

We’ll be back at Sonnystone on Tuesday and get the rest of the presents wrapped in preparation for Christmas Eve with the Jrs.