I have written about being adopted before. It’s not a secret thing. I have always known I was adopted and have always been forthcoming about it. It was neither good nor bad. It just was a fact. Like being ginger or near-sighted.

My feelings about my birth parents have waxed and waned since childhood. I was always curious, but as there was no way for me to satisfy my curiosity or find answers to my questions, I tempered my comments with some version of  “it doesn’t really matter cuz I don’t want to know them anyway”. Not strange really. When you know that rejection is a likely outcome, you are not going to set yourself up for it.

Last summer, my brother took one of those DNA tests at the insistence of his children. They were wildly curious about his birth family and wanted to know where he came from. I am not sure he did, but he can’t deny those girls anything, so he took the test and nearly instantly found a half-sister and a dad of sketchy repute.

After that my daughter, who has been curious about my background since she was quite young, thought a DNA test would be a good thing for me to look into as well. But, I didn’t do anything until the fall after my godmother died. Losing her left a hole and I guess finding my birth mother seemed like a logical way to fill it. Never-mind that this was expecting someone, who gave me away and never came looking for me in half a century, power she didn’t have and probably didn’t want. But grief isn’t very logical, and it isn’t like I haven’t looked for her before – because I have on and off for a couple of decades.

DNA tests themselves are interesting. They require a surprising amount of spit. They also don’t take as long as you would think. Less than six weeks from spitting to “here’s your ethnicity and a shit tonne of people you share DNA with!”

It upended a few things I had been told about myself. I am not, for instances, Swedish. Like at all.

I am, however, a very English though not so much Irish. More Norwegian than I would have ever expected and surprisingly, a tiny bit Icelandic, which is frankly kinda cool.

I had only 4 close matches though. No parents. No siblings.

Two of my matches were first cousins and one of them responded to my query. With her help, I found my birth mother in about two days. Well, my cousin’s help and my mom’s “help”.

I qualify the help part because I discovered in all of this searching for bio-mom thing that my parents had known her name all along. I could have found her years and years ago. They just chose not to tell me the truth when I asked them for information.

Oh, they let things slip here and there, and maybe had I been more observant and less ambivalent, I would have noticed.

The Nancy Drew stuff is a story for another day, but the short version is I found my mother, but unfortunately, she is dead. She died unexpectedly in 2014. Her husband died in 2018 though I have no idea if he ever knew about me. But I know my half-brother didn’t know about me. He told me so in an email. It was polite and basic info informative enough, but I really don’t expect to hear from him again. Disappointing, but family often is. Low expectations are best because those are the ones that will met much more often than not.

There are other relatives. A few cousins seem determined to establishing legit connections. I think that’s going well. I am – as I told my sister when we discussed it – sometimes too much myself for people. It can be off-putting. She didn’t say anything because what can one say to such self-awareness? And also, she agrees with my assessment of me. Sometimes I am a bit much.

Legit connections, however, are what I want. I am not a curiosity. As an adoptee, I have had my fill of my needs being ignored in the whole adoption thing. In my opinion, cats and dogs from rescue shelters have their feelings and well-being better looked after than human babies, who are treated as commodities in contracts between adults who are much more keen on their own issues and needs than the thoughts and opinions of a baby, who will one day be an adult with questions, needs, and opinions of their own.

The most satisfying part of the finding my mother’s family thus far is finding people I resemble. In some cases very strongly. I don’t think anyone can know what it feels like to not look like anyone you know unless you’ve been forced to exist in a community that is physically completely unlike you.

I grew up thinking everything about myself was wrong. Freakish. My hair. My height. My weight. I was made to feel, sometimes inadvertently but often purposely, that I was ugly and doing it on purpose to embarrass or annoy people.

Seeing pictures of my mother, who was beautiful, and being told I look so much like her was something I needed to hear growing up and never did. I am not sure I can forgive people for denying me the right to know I was perfectly normal. That includes all of my parents really. And everyone else who knew I was out there somewhere and never thought to come looking for me.

And that’s the “what hurts” part of this. Aside from my half-brother, almost everyone in my mother’s family knew about me. There is a younger cousin, who wanted to find me but didn’t have much to go on, but it’s a bit hard for me to be okay with having grown up and living most of my life within an hour or two of my mom’s family, and no one ever looked for me.

She didn’t look for me. She didn’t tell my brother about me. That’s nearly as big a betrayal as parents not telling me her name in the first place.

I don’t buy that they did this for my good. Because they didn’t. They did what they did for themselves. They never once considered me. How I would feel. How I did feel. How I feel still. They were selfish and short-sighted.

I’ve told people that my dad is lucky he died a decade ago because I would have ripped him a new one for burning my adoption info and lying to me all my life. But if I’d have found a live birth mom, less than an hour away from where I grew up? I don’t think I would have been too forgiving of her not seeking me out or at the very least, telling my brother about me. That she didn’t do that makes me feel dark and dirty. Maybe not her intention, but certainly something she should have thought about when she was pondering my birthday every year – as I am told she did.

So now, I have a “real” family tree now to go along with the one my dad and mom created for me via stories and pictures of their extended family. I am not finding either very satisfying right now.

Cans of worms, right? There’s a reason why Pandora was told not to open the box. I am not sorry though. I have some (not enough) medical information which has helped me enormously, so totally worth it from that standpoint. But, I have no closure. My mother is dead. Her son and brother are polite but not interested in helping me. No one seems to have clue one about my birth father (who ran away when he learned about my existence so my feelings are “fuck him” for the moment. I don’t have a use for such a coward). And that’s that.

For now.

It’s an evolutionary process. Bit by bit things are pieced together in a puzzle I never thought I’d be able to complete. That’s something anyway.

English: UBS Investment Bank's Offices at 1285...

UBS Investment Bank’s Offices at 1285 Avenue of the Americas in New York City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is no reward for being responsible, spending within your means, and generally putting off self-gratification until you can afford it. Pretty much all this will gain you is never-ending expectations of “lending” money to your relations who aren’t good at any of those things.

When my late husband was ill, his employer fired him. This douchebag, through an actually illegal move, halved our income in one fell swoop. I spent the next three and a half years just barely making ends meet. If it hadn’t been for my wonderful beyond words and generous to a fault Auntie, I am fairly certain I would have lost my house at the least and maybe my job at the most. She, more than anyone else, stepped up when it mattered.

Because of Auntie’s example, I try, whenever possible, to help others in dire financial straits. Last year this time, I had poured money down the hole known as my older nephew, N1 and I was still bailing out my brother, CB, from the fallout of his well-intentioned but foolish attempt to put N1 on his adult feet.

Fast forward. CB managed to right himself with a lot of assistance from me and our mother and worked steadily and profitably through last spring, summer and into the fall. However, he is a path of least resistance guy when it comes to his ex and his oldest daughter. When he has money, they hit him up non-stop for any and everything. Consequently, he doesn’t have money left to put in savings for the winter months when – because he is a contractor – work isn’t plentiful.

At Christmas, the emails started. “Can you call me?’

This only means one thing. He needs money and Mom is not forking it over. CB has come to rely on me to talk Mom into funding him.

And it is funding him. He never pays anything back even though he always begins the request for money with “I’ll pay you back.”

But they all do that.

There is no truer adage than this “don’t lend money you unless you can afford to never see it again” because it is the rare person indeed who pays back a personal loan – family probably being the most notorious deadbeats.

I never give money to my family expecting to ever see it again. Even if you have a formal agreement, written up and signed by all parties, the first time a loan repayment conflicts with some expensive desire you will hear “I’ll pay you next month for sure, ok?”

And then maybe they do or not but the precedent is set and wants get fulfilled more than loan repayments and pretty soon, the person stops paying the money back at all.

CB has legitimate money issues. I feel for the dilemma he has with his ex and his daughter though if it were me, I would have told my nearly 17-year-old to get up off her butt and find a job before I bought her a car she couldn’t afford to keep up anyway. So I gave him the money but with the stern proviso not to hit on me again because the bank is closed.

Already, Rob and I have had to resign ourselves to not being able to buy a new house in a better locale, trade in our fast falling apart truck for a new one and give up completely on the idea of taking a holiday from this long ass winter because of financial responsibilities that we’ve taken on to help out family.

On the one hand, I accept this but on the other I am not as sanguine. And there are several reasons for this.

First, I rarely shop for myself. I see things that I actually could use or even need to replace things that are worn and I defer because I am my father’s daughter. He drove home to all of us kids, though it seems to have only stuck completely with me and maybe DNOS, that you buy things when budget permits – regardless.

Second, I look around my home. We’ve been renovating since Dee and I arrived. In fact, Rob was renovating years prior to even knowing me. Six years nearly and we don’t have steps to the back door. Took them out in the summer of 2007 and the cement blocks are still there. There is no floor in the living or dining room. Because winter came early, we didn’t get the shed built, so that lumber is stacked and taking up room in the garage, making it difficult to work on the plethora of automobiles cluttering up our landscape – some of them aren’t even ours.

The plan originally was to have had the house finished and sold by now. But life in the form of family in need has intervened and slowed progress to the point that now we are stuck. We just will have to finish up and gut it out.

“We could end up having to retire here, you know,” I told Rob.

“I refuse to think about that,” he replied.

But it could easily be our fate. Dreams of an acreage somewhere or even a house in town, which would be a million times more convenient, could easily elude us because of the stops and starts that eat up time and cash flow.

Third, one of the vehicles has developed what is probably a major issue. It’s the one we wanted to trade in and can’t because we’ve taken on Edie’s car payments now that she is back in school. We did this willingly, mind you, because we are parents and we know that she needs training in a profession if she is to go anywhere career-wise in life. But it’s a major imposition now that the truck is fubar.

I shouldn’t whine or be resentful. Life is what it is and my life is hardly the stuff of tragedy.

But I am annoyed about this.

When I was 18, I went off to college, which I put myself through and then with very little monetary assistance from my parents, made my way in the world. My mother poured more than twice as much money into N1  just last year than she has ever “lent” me as an adult. Sometimes, I question whether I should have learned my father’s lessons as well as I have. There is certainly nothing to be gained – other than the right to stand on the soapbox – from having denied one’s self and been responsible.

I will be fine without a new truck or moving. We have a beater in the back that Rob can easily get running again if worse comes to worst, and the house will be finished … someday … and maybe even emptied of all the crap that makes if seem tinier than it is. Life is not unbearable by any means.

But the bank is closed. So don’t ask. Unless you really want to hear what I might have to say.

Scientology Stress Test with E-meter

Scientology Stress Test E-meter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s heading toward three years since Rob’s “heart event”. At three years past with no further incidences, one is considered “good to go”. Even insurance companies think you are just an average risk for your age again.

A final step before the “all clear” is a stress test. He’s had one every year since the heart attack and treatment.

I can’t say that I don’t worry about these things. Rob’s sister, LW, watched her husband drop dead in the middle of his stress test. Granted, he was a  high-strung type and heavy smoker that had been experiencing problems. A stress test was just asking the universe to do something. But, I worry just the same.

And it’s January. I had a husband die on me in January before. Some months are decidedly better than others to schedule things.

However, he went. He jogged furiously. His heart kept up. He’s once again rewarded for his indifferent regard for cardiovascular exercise and watching his weight.

Instead of sitting anxiously about the house, I went to town to walk at the fitness centre and run a couple of errands. By the time I also squeezed in side trip to Dee’s school to chat with her teacher about a ski trip form I’d apparently filled out incorrectly and arrived home, time enough had passed that if something amiss had occurred during Rob’s stress test – someone would have contacted me already. No reason, therefore, to worry further.

He wasn’t even out of breath when he called to let me know he was already on his way home.

“I’m cleared,” he said. “No reason to make any more follow-up appointments unless there is a problem.”

A relief. I prefer everyone in my life to be healthy.

My own health issues were given the “you’re just old” stamp last week after all the cancer checks came back cancer-less.

The Doctor, who is seriously chagrined that I not only am well-versed in my own anatomy but that I can and actually do read the lab requisitions he gives out, had to do a bit of explaining as to why he ordered blood work to check for ovarian cancer along with assessing my hormone levels.

I had already googled and knew why, but I loathe being treated like just one of the sheeples and now he knows better than to poke and pry without giving me a heads up.

So, we are both good. Old. And not in a fine wine so of way. But okay.

Hopefully, we can put all the worries about health to rest now and concentrate on getting the present uncluttered and start planning the future. Other fish need to be cleaned and prepared because this being old business just keeps getting older by the day. I don’t want us to waste too much of it stressing.

English: Front of black iPad 2.

English: Front of black iPad 2. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mom’s visit shot the whole NaBloMoPo to hell. We put her in the office because Rob was worried about her going up and down stairs from the yoga/guest room. He didn’t want her to fall and break a hip or something.

Mom, it should go without saying, found this a highly annoying assumption because “I can go up and down stairs just fine”. I mollified her somewhat with,

“It’s warmer on the main floor, Mom.”

Which is true and so Rob’s status as adored son-in-law is in no danger, but she gets cranky when it appears that we are factoring her age into any decisions or plans we make regarding her visits. This despite the fact that she readily admits to not really enjoying going out after dark or walking long distances.

Her presence in the office curtailed my blogging simply because she stands behind me, noting and reading. I hate that. Only Rob can get away with reading over my shoulder when I am at the computer and even he is pushing it a bit by doing so.

Do not hover while I am at the keyboard and definitely don’t read over my shoulder. I am uncertain as to why this even needs to be said as it should just be a given.

After Mom left, however, I have no excuse beyond just not feeling well.

Same old aging female shit but wearyingly so this past week. Moved me to even make an appointment with my Family Doc, who is so unhelpful she actually said,

“So what do you think we should do?”

Yes, it has come to that. I must Google and then decide my treatment and she will simply facilitate. Universal care at its finest.

But that’s a tmi post for another day – really.

Today marks the mid way point toward gearing up for Rob’s mother’s extended visit with us and Christmas.

The two things will overlap at some point.

Sometime before they do, we have a wall bed to install in the office, a hardwood floor to lay in the living room, hallway and dining room, the latter-most needing to be gutted and dry-walled first, and a fair bit of stuff shuffling and purging to accomplish. This in between our regularly hectic schedule of yoga, Girl Guides, soccer and general daily maintenance.

No biggie.

Mom’s visit coincided with Dee’s Fall Break. I normally scale back that week by cancelling my community yoga classes and since Dee’s Guides don’t meet – we have a “slow” schedule.

More than once, Mom commented on the “slower pace” of our lives. She is used to her own out and about-ness, and the never-ceasing movement of my sister, DNOS’s, life as a working/hockey mom.

Part of the issue is that we live rurally and now that it’s winter, we don’t drive around needlessly. Trips anyway take long enough with good roads.

Mom is not used to be so still and in such quiet conditions though I would say that when Rob and Dee are at work and school during the week, the silence around me rivals that of a monastery. And I like it that way.

Without the constant background noise of tv and “city” life and the ability to jump in her car and toddle out to the grocery or visit friends, Mom was a bit bored.

Facebook helped. Now that Mom has an iPad (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d type), she is fast becoming addicted to virtual life. She facebooks, pins and goodreads. Heaven help us if she discovers Twitter. It’s gonna be “shit my mom types”.

The iPad isn’t all bad. With the Facetime feature, she has pretty much given up phoning us and it’s been good for her and for Dee to be able to talk face to face. Mom loves it so much, she is giving DNOS an iPad for Christmas even though they see each other in person nearly every day.

She is even talking about needing a smart phone because she was quite impressed with my ability to take and post pictures to my FB feed using my Android.

Not a sign of the apocalypse but certainly a seismic shift.

With the blackness of Friday encroaching on us here in Canada, I contributed to the Canadian economy yesterday with a few more Christmas purchases. I have a few more yet to make and then I am done but for wrapping.

It’s a scaled back year though that is relative. For us, scaled back means something different from what it does for people in the US for whom money is more of an issue.

I have issued a “please don’t buy me anything” edict again this year. I even turned down the offer of a new iPod from my mom. I have a wish list and I have a want list, but I have no real needs and so can’t justify requesting gifts.

Even Dee, when queried about Christmas, said,

“I don’t really need anything. Isn’t that sad?”

The American holiday spillover feels odd. Thanksgiving is a warmer weather holiday for us. More harvest oriented. Once Halloween is past, it is time for winter preparation and all that that entails. Our early snow this year drove that point home with a bit of force as well.

Lots of things going on in terms of career and future, but today is for updating only.

Happy Black Friday. May you find true bargains and not be trampled, accosted or shot should you find yourself in a Wal-Mart.


Christmas (Photo credit: fixedgear)

My dad bought an 8mm camera sometime within the first year of my arrival. He hauled it out for birthdays, Christmas and Easter for the next five or six years but captured only just a few other sporadic moments of our lives in between the big events. The last time he used it was to record a track meet in 1978 when DNOS and I were in junior high.

We never saw the films growing up because we didn’t own a projector. I think I was in university when Dad stumbled across a projector at a garage sale and we spent one holiday watching those old films – mostly because I was student teaching by then and knew how to thread a projector, a nearly useless skill to have acquired now but at the time was invaluable.

For the most part, those tiny reels sat in a cardboard box in the closet of my parent’s bedroom.

After Dad died in 2008, the films re-emerged during the cleaning and I urged Mom to have them converted to dvd, another dying medium but a step on the road to salvaging them.

Fast forward to our summer visit when I once again prevailed upon Mom to do something with those films.

“I don’t know where they are,” she said.

“They are in the basement,” I told her.

“No, I don’t think so,” she said. “I don’t know where they got to when DNOS and I were cleaning and getting rid of things.”

“They are in the basement, Mom,”

“I think they were in your Dad’s closet, but they aren’t there anymore,” she said.

“Because they are in the basement, Mom,” I said.

“No, I am sure we moved them. Didn’t we, DNOS,” she said.

“I don’t remember, Mom,” DNOS said.

“We did move them, Mom. From the closet to the basement. They are in the back room. Right where we put most of the stuff from Dad’s drawer,” I told her.

“Oh, they weren’t in the drawer,” she said. “They were in the closet and I don’t know where they are now.”

“They haven’t been in the closet for years. They were in Dad’s dresser and all that stuff got moved to the back room. In the basement.”

And so the conversation ended there, and the next day Mom informed me,

“I found that box with the films. It was in the back room of the basement. I don’t know how they got down there.”

Before we left for home, I made Mom promise to call the guy at Family Video about converting the reels. He is the only person in my hometown who does this sort of thing.

A month later, she still hadn’t gotten around to it, but I can be annoying and eventually, she took the box to have the contents evaluated for fitness. They were pronounced “good enough” and she was told it would take a week or so.

Neither Mom nor DNOS were terribly interested in the final product. But I harangued Mom via Facetime to hurry up and report back, so one evening they sat down and assessed it.

“Your dad wasn’t much of a photographer,” I was told. The lighting was uneven and there were places that were hard or impossible to make out.

“Don’t forget to bring it with you when you come to visit,” I said.

Mom had revealed that both my grandmothers, my long dead uncles, Jimmy and Red, and a host of other people who have either died or aged out of my life were characters in these long unseen movies, so I was anxious to see them myself.

Because the flat screen and blue-ray are still in our bedroom and not in the living room, Mom, Dee and I crowded round my Mac to watch the dvd the night she arrived.

“You are in every scene, Mom,” Dee remarked after.

Indeed I was. A side-effect of being the oldest that runs hand in hand with the fact that photo albums are stuffed with photo evidence of my every move and milestone while my younger siblings appear to be extras in the story of my life.

The first thing I saw was my very young mother opening the front door of their first house on Euclid street on the north end of my hometown. That house is still there. I’ve driven by it now and again over the years, but I have never been inside.

In through the door walks my Auntie, Grandma R., Grandma C. and Uncle Jimmy. Three of the four of them are long dead. My grandmothers died when I was in university. Jimmy has been dead forty years. I can barely recall him and when I try, he is just this lanky blur whose voice and laugh are just out of reach. It was odd to see him alive. Still photos do no justice at all to the dead.

The event was my first birthday. I am the lone child in a room of adults clustered around a tiny kitchen table with Dad unseen and filming. There is no sound. I would have loved  to hear what my uncle was saying to me.

Then it is Christmas. My cousins are small again. Their father, who died when I was 9, is there. All the men are in dress pants, white shirts and skinny black ties. Even my cousin, who is barely two years older than I am at the time is dressed for the office.

And it goes on. Mostly me in the first 15 minutes or so. Birthdays. First snow. First swimming pool.

“You must have driven your mom nuts,” Rob commented when I watched it again with him. “Every time she introduces you to something new, you hang back with this expression of ‘I don’t know whether I like this or not’. You can’t have been an easy child.”

“Dee was the same,” I told him. “Every time she’d get something new, it took her days or weeks to decide if she liked it or not, It was almost pointless to get her anything she hadn’t expressed interest in first.”

The most disappointing thing is that my dad only appears once and early on. He is playing with me on the floor.

“He was the one always taking the pictures,” Mom explained. “He really wasn’t comfortable having his picture taken.”

There is no footage of him with my siblings or even Mom though he is clearly there because we kids acknowledge him and at one point Uncle Jimmy grins off in his direction, making it clear they were sharing some sort of joke.

I don’t know how I feel about having these moving images back. I don’t like watching myself grow into a fat teen. That I am sure of, and I am reminded at one point that there are people taking up space in these images who I came to dislike intensely – for good reasons – when I was older. Like a neighbor boy who bullied me for years and ended up physically attacking me when I was about 12, and a cousin whose dislike of my existence resulted in verbal abuse until I was a teen and simply began to avoid events where he was likely to be. The latter is my co-star in minutes worth of swing set play and all I could think was, “Why you? Why not Uncle Jimmy, who meant more to me or Dad even?”

Very odd to watch little me and little DNOS, CB and Baby.

“Where is Baby?” Dee complained at one point when my youngest sister had yet to make an appearance.

“Sweets, she is five years younger than I am. Look CB is only a baby here. There is another two years to go before Baby shows up.”

The memories are nice to have again. Things I had forgotten, and that still photos don’t easily bring to mind, came right back to me. Such is the power of motion.

And it reminded me that I should do more filming than photographing myself. Lest now one day is hard to remember as well.


Recipes (Photo credit: pirate johnny)

My mother brought me my grandmother’s cookbook. It’s one of those parish cookbooks where the women contributed their best recipes and household hints and sold it as a fundraiser. Paper cover and plastic ring binding, and complied by the St. Andrew’s Altar-Sodality of Tennyson, Wisconsin in 1946.

The first section is titled “Household Hints”. Gems.

Cut very fresh bread with a heated sharp knife.

When rendering lard put a little hot water and a little soda in the kettle before putting in the lard. It renders faster.

Large potatoes will take much less time to bake if left to stand in hot water for 15 minutes before putting in oven.

A discarded pocketbook makes a dandy first aid kit for the car or barn.

An inexpensive but most amusing rattle for a baby is crumpled newspaper sewed in a gauze bag.

The bloody water left over from washing fresh meat is very good for house plants (no salty water).

Throughout the book, Grandma made notes here and there. Sometimes dating them as she tinkered with each recipe. One such was updated in 1966, ’67 and finally in 1975. Most were corrections about the amount of this or that to use or to change the baking temperature. One cookie recipe has the warning “no good” in the margin.

Ice cream, pickles and soap – these women could make anything. In the section on sandwiches, they explain how to make the peanut butter itself before giving directions for preparing the sandwich.

One of the household hints involved thickening gravy. “Remove it from the fire before adding the thickening.”

“Remove from the fire?” I said to Mom.

“Oh yes, we were still using a wood burning stove then,” she said. “My mom used to bake bread three days out of the week and she always managed to keep that wood burning oven at an even temperature.”

It’s the dedication I love,

“… is dedicated to the housewife, the greatest contributor to the happy home. The recipes have been given by ladies from a thoroughly American Community, founded by our German ancestors, a hundred years ago. Our mothers, our grandmothers and great grandmothers, have all enjoyed the reputation of being good cooks and bakers. In this book we give to you the treasures they have bequeathed to us.”

Obviously there was still more than a little anti-German sentiment following the war, but I love the pride they take in their skill sets. Sure, at the time, housewifery was the female path, but they see themselves as important and what they contribute as worthy of sharing. It’s a legacy that’s been passed on to them and now passes through them to others. Very cool.

Dee decided we’d take a stab at the chocolate angel food. Helluva lot of eggs need to sacrifice their whites for this recipe, and there were a few too many bakers today, but chocolate is good regardless of how the cake turns out. And it was more than a bit flat. Whipping egg whites is an art. I can’t imagine how my grandmother whipped eggs by hand. These women must have had forearms like steel bands. I gave up and used the mixer.

Tomorrow, date pinwheels. A Christmas treat that when I mentioned it not long ago to Rob, his reaction was,

“And you haven’t made these ever because?”

Because I didn’t have the recipe and couldn’t remember all the ins and outs that Mom used. It’s one of those that requires making and refrigerating things in advance. It also calls for “shortening”, which leads to “rolling” at some point – this I remember from my childhood when Mom would give my sister or I a baking chore every Saturday morning. Things that needed to be rolled were never my favorite, and I suspect they weren’t favorites of mom’s either because at some point, we only had pie whenever DNOS or I made one.

1946 is a long time ago. The hundred years of cooking is closing in on 170 fairly quickly. I am glad I have the book. It would have been a shame for those ladies of St. Andrew’s to have put so much love into a book that wasn’t still being used.

BMW 3-Series (E90)

BMW 3-Series (E90) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

… except for me.

Since my Dad’s death back in the fall of 2008, Mother has, in one way or another, gifted vehicles on all the licensed members of my immediate family. DNOS got the ball rolling when she asked for Dad’s car (mostly to make sure that Mom didn’t give it to our brother, CB, who behaved in a most heinous manner in the days following Dad’s death). She drove it a bit but ended up selling it in the end.

Which resulted in Mom buying our nephew, N1, his first car. He’d been promised Dad’s car and when he found out that DNOS had sold the car, whining on a toddler level ensued from both the boy and his mother, my youngest sister, Baby.

N1 promptly wrecked the first and second car he received due to his Grandmother’s guilty conscience, so she bought him a BMW, used, causing Rob to remark,

“What do I have to fix around your Mom’s house the next time we visit to get her to buy me a BMW?”

The beemer came to an untimely end within weeks. The State of Iowa decided it had enough around the same time Mom did. The state pulled N1’s license and Grandma closed her car loan office.

At this point in the story its cars 4, immediate family benefiting from free cars just two. CB, Baby and I were still free car free.

After N1’s infamous visit to CB last fall (his reward for losing his driver’s license, dropping out of high school and wrecking 3 cars was a holiday in Cali), CB was forced to decamp back to the mountains for some life rebuilding. Of course, he needed wheels and naturally, Mom mailed a check.

Cars 3. Siblings 2 out of 4. One grandchild/three wrecked vehicles.

Not long ago, Mom and I were chatting and she admits to me that despite vowing to close the Bank of Mom/Grandma, she lent money to Baby and N1 for … cars.

“Seriously?” I said.

“Well, Baby’s car engine blew up and without a car she’d have to move back in with me. That’s not happening.”

“But what about N1? He lives with his Dad. What’s in this for you?

“The temp job at the plastic plant worked out. It’s shift work. Without a car, he won’t be able to hang onto the  job,” she said. “It’s the first job he’s had.”

“I guess spending the winter moping in your Dad’s attic is an inspirational vision quest sort of thing,” I replied.

“And he has a girlfriend.”

Who lives in his Dad’s attic with him. Or so I am told. Only way to salvage some manhood in such a situation is full-time employment and a car.

Although Mom insists her latest bit of largesse is no gift because she required both Baby and N1 to sign contracts stipulating repayment, I have my doubts. Baby still regularly grocery shops in Mom’s pantry and has no end of cagey excuses to try to con cigarette money from Mom’s purse. She wouldn’t have to do either if Lawnmower Man wasn’t drinking up her paycheck now that he is “too disabled” to work. And it won’t be long before N1 has some emergency that will cause him to skip a payment.

“You’re going to be a Great-Grandma before you know it,” I told her.

“Oh, I better not be. I had a talk with him about that.”

I didn’t ask for details. It’s giggle-worthy enough to picture my 80-year-old mother giving the birth control what-for to my 18-year-old nephew without them.

Now however, it’s everyone has gotten a car but me. When I pointed this out to Mom, she stammered a bit because it honestly hadn’t occurred to her, and it wouldn’t. This is just one thing on a long list of perks afforded my younger sibs that being the oldest makes me ineligible for. Being the prodigal’s older sib is perk free. It is known.

It’s not as if she’s never helped me out; she has. I am not forgetful or ungrateful, but it’s disconcerting to hear her fear for her financial future, knowing that the only reason she won’t retire is out of fear of going broke and knowing that she’s spent thousands and thousands on cars.

And I didn’t get one.

“She couldn’t afford to keep you in the wheels you are accustomed to,” Rob said.

“Well, that’s your fault,” I countered.

“Indeed, I spoil you.”

He does at that, which is interesting because I wasn’t raised to be such a woman. I don’t have expectations of jewels, luxury holidays where I don’t prepare a single meal or even the latest techie toys (which judging from my clusterfuck experience with my smart phone’s voice navigator today is just as well). My Dad would be quite pleased with how modestly I live. His eyes would wiggle like one of Santa’s elves if he knew about the cars though, but when they met up again somewhere in the future, he won’t say a word to her about it. He spoiled her too.