Betsy, my aunt, my dad’s sister, passed away yesterday, she was 89. Three years younger than my father, she lived as long as her mother. She died where she had lived most of her life in Wilmington, NC. My first memory of her, was when she and her family came to visit us in DC. Unfortunately, I had the chickenpox or some such, so being quarantined, I don’t remember all that much from that visit. Much later, as pictured above, Anne and I visited her. We were on our big bike trip at the time. My grandmother was still alive then and Betsy took us all out to dinner. We had a fright though, when Carl, her husband, appeared dressed for the evening in a tux. Our biker’s wardrobe did not include formal wear, but he was headed to some other function for the night.
On that visit, I helped my two cousins, Bob and Tex split wood. With already more than a thousand miles under our belts, I think that my physical prowess at stacking the wood kind of impressed them. While I was working with the boys, Anne helped out in the kitchen by making garlic bread, but her taste for garlic far exceeded Carl’s. A few years later, we visited her again. This time we drove and brought Dan along too. She was a grandmother by then too. My brother Chris met us there. We clammed in the mud with metal rods and Bob and Tex took Chris and I out on their boat. We raided a couple of crab pots. So, with corn on the cob, clams and crab, we cooked up a pretty good boil. Unfortunately, I had spent all day out in the sun barefoot and second degree burnt the tops of my feet. I couldn’t even wear sandals on the long drive home. Later still, Betsy and Carl came to visit us. They traveled by RV, trailering a Jeep. I feared not being able to find a spot to park their mobile home on our tight little street, but as it turned out, they left the RV on the east side. We showed them the house and toured them around town. I think that they had a good visit.
Traveling by RV was Betsy and Carl’s main form of vacationing. Every summer they would head up together into the Appalachians, to pursue her life passion, “ancestoring”, as her sons derided it. She was into genealogy way before the internet and Ancestry.com. Although, I have found comments on that site that she had made. Her methods of research were more analog, visiting every county courthouse, church and cemetery, trying to find past relatives. She wrote three books, covering three of the four branches of the family that she and my father descended from. Our family name didn’t warrant a fourth volume, having been traced back only six generations, to the early 19th-century. One other branch of the family, she traced back sixteen generations, all the way back to the 15th-century. She established ancestry that allowed her to join the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). I’ve inherited the copies of her books that she gave to my dad and regularly refer to them, when my own writing requires. She is at peace now. Resting in the bosom of her family, with all her many ancestors around her. God bless you Betsy.
News of the world:
- On our walks this week, we’ve seen snowdrop and witch-hazel blossoms. Uncertain as to whether those were late fall witch-hazel blossoms or early spring, but with the snowdrops already punching through from beneath the fallen leaves, I expect that they were of the early spring variety.
- Dan started working again. He has been unemployed since March. The union called him back again and this time he said yes. First though he needed a Covid test. He reported at six, but the nurse wasn’t expected until seven. So, he had to wait in his car. She never did show up. They eventually sent him out to a lab to get tested, but after that was done his shift was already over. At least he got paid to wait around all day. He told us that all those long distance, early childhood trips to the grandparents’ houses trained him well to be able to sit in a car all day. He reports for work again tomorrow. This time with a negative Covid test in hand.
- I spoke with my dad, who told me that the Lizzie Borden house is for sale in Fall River. They want a cool million for the place. I believe that as of late it has been operating as a bed and breakfast. “I’ll take the murder suite.” “Which one, father’s or mother’s?” I told him that I had met some of those Bordens at Peter and Evelyn’s wedding and that they had not been at all pleased with me when I told them that my last name was Axe. My dad said, that when he and mom got married, her friend at the local paper announced their pending nuptials by saying, like Lizzie Borden, Jackie U. took an Axe.
- The Orange Elvis has left the building (Ba-bye!) and the counting of the silverware has begun. A half-million dollars will be spent today for deep cleaning the Whitehouse, to try to remove some of the the stench of the past four years and all of the Covid from the last.
- For all of you fashionistas out there, I am pleased to report that Anne wore pearls to the inauguration. The same necklace that was once my mother’s.
- At noon Eastern, as Biden and Harris were being sworn in, I swapped out the Dan created header that I have adopted as a symbol of the resistance. Tonight, fireworks and then tomorrow, back to the regular sunset header.
- We now have a new president, #46. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris—I’m letting those words flow over me and sink in. A cloud has been lifted. It is a new day, a good day, a day full of hope and promise. Let the celebration begin! I look forward to four years of radical normalcy.
Anne has been slaving over a hot stove and I am up to my elbows in hot water, doing dishes. Your Mark I dishwasher is here. These two alternative forms of heat are both welcome, because it is freaking cold outside. It is probably even too cold to refrigerate food on the back porch. We didn’t walk yesterday or today, partly because of cooking, but partly because of the cold weather. I really love Christmas, but I think that by tomorrow, I’ll be about done with winter. 😉
We made quite the X-mas haul of booty. This year has a game theme. I must have heard the Little Drummer Boy three times already today, to which Anne has a joke to add: Mary, exhausted, having just gotten Jesus to sleep, is approached by a young man who thinks to himself; what this girl needs is a drum solo. Ahead of schedule, we’ve already had breakfast and opened presents. Now it is time for the next course, cooking. We unwrapped the turkey and discovered to our surprise that it was a Republican—it had its head stuck up its ass. We have to get this bird into the oven ASAP, because an afternoon of long-distance calling to family awaits us later today, followed by dinner and more dishes still.
We got a call from two longtime friends, I won’t say old friends, even though they are both starting to show a little wear around the edges. Their big news is that they both have already gotten the vaccine. She is a physician who sees patients in at least two hospitals. I’ve long since given up trying to keep up with her work, because she has had upwards of six jobs simultaneously. So, she’s a doctor and as such is naturally at the head of the vaccination line. Interestingly, she said that those little vials that the vaccine comes in are supposed to hold only five doses each, but actually have six. That means that those 100 million doses that I have been hearing about on the news are really 120 million. Now her husband is not a doctor, so how did he get vaccinated? Turns out he participated in a trial. In this trial 60% of the participants got the vaccine and 40% got a placebo. Now it could be that he got the placebo, but after his injections, he had the hoped for side effects. Won’t know for certain, but things look promising.
This is a backstage photo from a Macy’s Christmas windows that Dan once shared. A little humor, from a hectic time past. 2021 has some big shoes to fill. But with it, here’s hoping you all…
Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light, next year all our troubles will be out of sight. Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow. So hang a shining star upon the highest bough and have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
The preceding lyrics were first sung in 1944 by Judy Garland in the hit movie, Meet Me in St. Louis. It was also the words on our Christmas cards this year. Released at the height of the American involvement in the war, this melancholy tune tells a story of both loss and hope. It seemed especially fitting for this year’s holiday season and that it was set in St. Louis didn’t hurt either.
Today, Anne and I worked the day away, cooking and cleaning. Even though there will only be three of us this year, it still seems to involve the same amount of work. I guess this means more leftovers for us, but our huge turkey would have seen to that all by itself. Anyway, have yourself a merry little Christmas.
In order to make the making of Christmas a little bit more enjoyable, I turned on Christmas carols. This is something that I have avoided until now, because of the Little Drummer Boy Challenge. This is a hipster game that I learned of years ago and once learned cannot be unlearned. Basically, the object is quite simple, if you hear the song between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you lose. If you don’t hear it, then you win. Living like a hermit, I can generally win.
The last time I lost was one year that Anne was listening to a Christmas special on TV. The song came on, I heard it and when I went to confront her, she was fast asleep on the couch, so she won. Anyway, I thought that the radio station I had selected was sufficiently highbrow that that song would not be played. I was wrong. I was lying on the couch when it came on. Somehow, Anne had conveniently stepped out to deliver some cookies to the neighbors and had not heard it. A careful reading of the rules indicates that I had not lost after all, because the challenge had ended as of last midnight. So, there!
Another boat pic from the day before. Today, we did our neighborhood walk and while in Clayton, two Bald eagles overflew us. We’ve seen the occasional eagle in neighboring Forest Park, but this was a first. Maybe they were lost, maybe growing population pressures have caused them to hunt for new nesting habitat? Who knows? Flying the drone while eagles are about could be a problem. It is small and not particularly fast. Making it easy eagle bait. I’m not too worried in the urban areas, but out in the wild, I am aware of the danger and try to be cautious. Of all the ways that the drone could be lost, by eagle attack at least offers the opportunity of a good story to tell. A fitting epitaph for a drone.
The big news yesterday was that niece Ashlan became engaged to Allen. This is great news and possibly, a sign of a trend. Within our family, her older brother Rey with Becca, started the ball rolling. Dave and Maren followed suit and now we are looking at a hat trick. That’s enough sports analogies for one post. Back in our day there was a similar pairing rush. Once it gets started, It is almost like musical chairs, no one wants to be left standing alone. I expect that after a year of quarantining together, people worldwide will be looking at tying the knot.
Last week’s warm and sunny weather finally got blown east and after a inch of rain has tuned cold and dank. Brisk is the new byword for our daily strolls. It is either keep moving or freeze, not that it is actually below freezing much. The bugs are still out and when we were out at Don Robinson’s Anne cautioned me to be careful about ticks. I thought that was being overly cautious, but I did stay out of the tall grass. Real cold is coming, even if it is a little late this year. The word for the day is hurkle-durkling (from the 18th-century Scottish dialect). It means staying in bed long after it’s time to get up. Now, it is time to step away from the computer and get out and do something.