Sunday, March 21, 2010

Eight Weeks

Tomorrow morning I resume getting up at 4:45 a.m. Spring break is over -- ending with 8 inches of snow on my front lawn . . . but the calendar says this is spring, actually, so the temp has risen to 42 degrees tonight and the snow on the streets has already turned to slush.

Two more weeks of March.

Four weeks of April.

Four weeks of May.

I hate early mornings.

My classes are full of difficult students.

The school district is in severe money troubles causing much anxiety for everyone and a very unsure future.

This is the first time since I restarted my teaching career that I'm dreading the coming morning.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


The snow has been falling since Friday night. Now it's just "light" snow, but 24 hours of medium to light snow does pile up. And the Lincoln will not start -- it turns over like crazy but just won't catch. We're waiting until Monday to figure out the problem. Thankfully Hubby got the flat fixed on the van so we do have some means of transportation, just not what you want to drive around the city in when there's 8 inches of snow on the pavement.

The Internet has been my entertainment today. Googling names of folks I remember from my past (you know you do it, too!) I came up with a couple of source documents that linked to I'd been watching the ads for the site and thought I might give it a try, so I purchased as three month only membership and set to work to see what might come up.

Mostly just census records and marriage licenses are available, unless someone has actually been doing research on your family, but seeing your family names from the 1700's is a fascinating way to while away a snowy afternoon. My father's side is very well documented, as I knew it would be. Back in the 1920's the family had already done extensive research into their history and could trace back to Wales in the 1600's. It was interesting to see how many branches of the family I'd never heard of had researched my great, great, great grandfather.

My direct generation though is very lonely. My dad only had one child. His brother only had two. It seems no one had researched this branch of the family. My mother's family is even less well represented and they were the ones I was especially interested in. My great grandmother only had two children and one died in childhood. My grandfather only had one child, my mother. And my mother only had me -- with no children. No one appears to have ever researched the family. Add to that, my great grandmother's name was Mary Hill, one of the most common names in the US.

Unless someone has added records to Ancestry, only the scanned census and marriage and death records are easily available. Sometimes you find old year books from high schools have been scanned into the media archives. And you have to pay bonus money if you want to search outside the US (I found many census records available for relatives in Wales but I wasn't going to pay to see them).

I found my marriage license from 1966 but couldn't find the divorce record. Ditto for Hubby's marriage in 1968. Our marriage license never showed up (but since I have a copy of it in my files -- HA!). I tried to find a record of Hubby's children with his exes, but again, no birth records showed. I wasn't surprised because I couldn't find my mother's birth record. The 1920 census seemed to be the most prolific record for my family -- shows how old we are. My maternal grandparents are well represented from the 1900's on here in Kansas City. And so are my paternal grandparents.

I added a bunch of old scans of family photos I had, in case the "Griffith" side of the family which has been doing all the research wants to have them.

All in all, it was a diverting snowy Saturday afternoon. The picture at the top was taken in 1948 -- and I'm the baby on the lap of my paternal grandmother. Dad is the middle man in the back row -- and my mom is seated on the couch wearing green/brown. We were celebrating Christmas Eve at my maternal grandmother's home (black skirt / white blouse).

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's the First Day of Spring?

The weatherman predicts 8 inches of snow tonight, tomorrow, and through Sunday noon.

Yeah! Spring!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Going to Hell in a Hand-Basket

Weird stuff happening in my city . . . and it's not good.

I grew up in the "lily-white" area of my city known as Waldo. Close to the state line (and the street is actually called State Line), upper middle class white folks moved into this area as 39th Street began to get seedy and black folks moved across Prospect, then Paseo, and (gasp!) actually right up to Troost. Once black folks crossed Troost, white folks fled in great numbers west into Kansas and east into the Independence area, abandoning Waldo. Even my parent fled -- but they went so far as to move to Colorado into a town where no black folks lived. Me? Well, I moved across Troost into a little bungalow and there I've stayed for nearly 40 years. I've never been the only "white folk" on my block, because the gay couple has been there nearly as long as I have. The recession has also made the prices of the fairly nice houses on my block look attractive and we've had another white couple move in.
Waldo became an area of nice family houses and middle class to lower income people. Closer to State Line and the houses got bigger and fancier. Closer to Troost the houses were a lot smaller.

Waldo now has a serial rapist stalking the streets -- attacking at least four women in the last year. That's bad. However, the news media has latched onto the story and turned it into sensational fodder. The rapist, as you might guess, is a black male of very general description -- balding, 6 foot, 25o pounds, round faced, and maybe 25 to 35 years old. They have a sketch of the guy culled from the victims description. Because of the hype on nearly every single daily newscast (Waldo Rapist Still at Large -- Women in Panic) and because the reward for his capture has grown so large ($12,000 and counting), now every black male who shops or drives through the Waldo area is suspect. Last week the police questioned a balding black male who was a grandfather -- nowhere near the reported age of the actual rapist. My husband looks very similar to the sketch of the rapist . . . and I've actually wondered if the police was going to show up at our door. We spend a lot of time eating and shopping in the Waldo area and we live just a smidgen away from the actual area. So far, the police aren't questioning 75 year old men - but you just never know.

It's important that women be aware to take precautions when something like this has happened - but the fanning of racial flames by our media, both print and video, seems out of all portion to the actual problem.

The Kansas City mayor is a joke. Mark Funkhauser was elected by people who thought they were getting away from old line Democratic and black politics in this city. They got a buffoon and an idiot. From trying to make his wife "co-mayor" to making decisions without the city council input, he has left out city leaderless. His newest media push was to help improve the Kansas City School District by using funds for curb appeal around the schools. We don't have enough funds to keep schools open but our mayor wants to mow lawns and plant flowers and this will make 50 years of poor education disappear?

Then, of course, we have the Kansas City School District who has made national news because they must now close 30 of their schools due to declining enrollment and lack of funds. For 50 years this school district has been an embarrassment to our city. Whites who might have wanted to remain in the city were forced into flight if they had children, especially those of high school age.

Kansas City proudly boasts of the new Sprint Center and proudly hosts college basketball tournaments. We brag about our luxury shopping on the Plaza and our delicious barbecue. But the truth is we are a failing city. We should be held criminally responsible for the harm we have done to our minority children through our educational system. We are a city that fans the flames of racism without a second thought when our "white" women are a risk -- but we have little to say about the harm we are doing by branding every balding black male as a threat. We elected a white mayor over an extremely competent black opponent and now our city government is in shambles.

When will we learn?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring Break

A much needed week away from school, student problems, and district money issues is what spring break is providing me this year. Tuesday night I got the "stomach flu" -- that 4 hour misery of vomit and diarrhea and 18 hours of exhaustion that nearly everyone dealing with the public gets at least once a year. This however is my second bout in the last month. I can't really complain because I've not had colds or flu, just the stomach problem twice. Anyway, I'm exhausted -- and I was beastly tired before I got hit. So . . . my goal for the next week is to cook a little, clean a little, do all the wash, and take plenty of naps.

Hubby and I took in The Green Zone on Saturday -- his birthday movie of choice. It was very loud. Honestly, you felt like you were in the middle of the war zone in Iraq. I'm divided in my opinion of the movie -- I believe in the premise but the actual movie plot was just kind of "hum." Otherwise we waited to do the fun birthday celebrating today with friends. His presents had been arriving all week from Amazon and he liked his books very much (all business manuals and tour books -- nothing that the literary crowd would ever want to read).

I cooked a nice big breakfast this morning -- hash, scrambled eggs, toast, sliced bananas, hot tea. And then I got busy and made Martha Stewart's mac and cheese for the party this evening. Twenty-five dollars of sharp white cheese and Gruyere went into that dish. The darned stuff had better be delicious. The fancy cheeses had to be shredded and lately I've just been in the habit of buying pre-shredded cheese in those convenient packages but these fancy cheeses required actually grating. And darned if I discovered I didn't own a cheese grater any longer. I finally decided to haul out the Cuisinart and sorted through all the lovely blades I had for it. One looked a lot like a grater but I had to get Hubby to install it -- and voila! it was a grater and the cheese came out perfectly. The white sauce came out thick and gooey and seemed just the perfect accompaniment to the elbow pasta -- except that the sharp white cheddar made the dish very pale in color. I like my mac and cheese a golden yellow. Still I think it will be a hit.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

You're Only as Old as You Feel

On March 13th, 2010 Hubby turns 75. How the years have flown! How grateful we are that he is healthy and happy and here to celebrate with us.
No big party, of course. Hubby would hate that. Dear, caring friends are throwing him a special dinner party -- not at a restaurant but in their home with food made by loving hands.
His present from me was a truck-load of books from Amazon, things he couldn't find at the discount bookstores around the city.
I look at the pictures of him from our 37 years together. We have been a couple since 1973 -- and I'm amazed to see that he has suffered only a few alterations. On a day-to-day basis, I just don't notice it. He seems exactly the same to me as he was when he was only -- my stars! 38 years old. I think, inside, he feels exactly the same, too. It's just the knees that have gone bad, the hair that is much sparser and grayer, and some of the stamina is no longer there.
Here's looking for at least another 37 years, my love.
Happy, happy birthday!