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Thoughts, Rants, and Musings


Jibralta
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I woke up to find this in my email mailbox:

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The red blocks are my bio-sister's name. 

I've been meaning to contact this aunt. She's my bio-dad's sister. I spoke with her very briefly in the beginning of this year, when my bio-sister decided to reach out to our cousins. Nice lady.

I don't know what to say, though. 

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I exchanged emails with my bio-aunt all week. I finally called her yesterday and she answered the phone with "Hi Jibralta." So she obviously had me in her phone, which surprised me. I think it's a positive thing, though. I just went and put her in my phone.

I have to give these people pseudonyms, because it's impossible to talk about this otherwise. I've already named my half-sister "Samantha" and named my cousin "Sally" earlier in this thread, so I'll stick with those names for them (in reality, these two ladies actually share the same name! But there's no need to replicate that situation here lol).

To give you some background, I have four first cousins and four siblings on my bio-dad's side. I know this through my research on Ancestry (and sleuthing beyond). My bio-dad had two sisters, Darlene and Marylou. Marylou passed away in 2014. Darlene has two daughters, Sally and Melanie. Marylou had two children, Brian and Jessica. My bio-dad married a lady named Lisa and had three children with her, but he has five children total when you count me and Samantha. From oldest to youngest, his children with Lisa are Roland, Marsha, and Wayne. Lisa died in 2017. 

I'm just going to refer to my biological grandparents as "Paw Paw" and "Grannie" because that's what they all call them. Those are pretty generic names and they are much less confusing (to me) than referring to them as my grandparents or 'our grandparents' for some reason. 

Darlene and I talked for about an hour. She told me all about the family, which seems quite fractured. I sort of knew about this from when I texted with Sally earlier this year. During that conversation, Sally said, "Our family has been terrible about mending fences. Our side is guilty of it too, hell everyone has their part to blame. This has been as long as I can remember, though. We don't let go of things really easy. it wasn't until I met my husband that I realized this wasn't normal behavior lol."

Another thing that I already knew was that Paw Paw had a reputation for being mean. Samantha told me that he chased our dad and her mother off of his property when they went to visit him. Sally told me that he had a bad temper and was an alcoholic for most of his life, until he finally quit before he died. Once he quit drinking, said Sally, "he was the kindest I'd ever seen him." Darlene's story was similar. She said he was abusive towards Grannie, and abusive towards his children, especially my father. "Nothing he did was good enough in my father's eyes. Nothing."

Makes me feel some sympathy for my bio-dad, and perhaps some insight into why he (and his children) continue to ignore my half-sister's and my existence. There's probably a lot of fear and anger there. Nothing I want to mess with!!

When she learned that I was an architect, Darlene told me that it runs in our family. My bio-dad is in construction (which I knew) and very adept at math--"He can pull all those algebra formulas right out of his head." I can do that, too. lol. She said that Paw Paw was a jack of all trades in construction and mechanics. He went to college for engineering on a basketball scholarship, but was kicked out for hosing someone down with a fire hose. She told me that my great grandfather went to college for engineering on a wrestling scholarship, but had to quit in order to help his younger brother. From what I saw on Ancestry, he did eventually become a transportation engineer. And finally, my great-great grandfather was a water resources engineer. 

My two half-brothers are doctors, which I knew. Roland is an orthopedic surgeon; Wayne is completing his residency in anesthesiology. Marsha is a physician's assistant, which I didn't know. I thought both half-sisters were housewives. Those are my bio-dad's 'legitimate' children. Samantha and I are the bastards lol. 

It seems there has been a lot of bickering in the family over inheritances and entitlements. There is a family farm in East Texas that has dwindled from over 100 acres to something like 77 acres, and one elderly uncle still lives on it. It doesn't seem like a lot of land, but I get the sense that people have their eyes on it. Perhaps its profitable. I don't know what they grow or raise there, if anything. Maybe they are just attached to the land, which is understandable as it has been in the family since the 1800s.

Paw Paw was married three times. His last wife died before he did and shunted the family inheritance (whatever that was) to her own daughter, leaving him destitute for the last two years of his life. Darlene and Paw Paw's sister cared for him after that. Sally mentioned this when we first spoke about a year ago. She said that Paw Paw's third wife "loved us kids when we were younger, but as we got older [she] got it in her head that we were out to get an 'inheritance.' She signed all their belongings and property away to her daughter... She had oil/mineral rights on properties from her dad. She was very paranoid about people trying to rebuild relationships for the wrong reasons. It really hurt us kids cuz we were caught in the middle. It's just one of those hard truths you learn when you get older."

Darlene said that his third wife 'kidnapped' her nephew, Brian, at some point. Darlene didn't provide many details, but they apparently sent Jessica home on a Greyhound bus and kept Brian. I can tell that Darlene is still upset about it, and I think that's why the story got a little confusing. Brian was ultimately unharmed.

Brian and Jessica's mom, Marylou, got roped into a biker gang and developed a terrible substance abuse problem--mainly alcohol, I think. She went to rehab a bunch of times, but could never kick the habit. Darlene said that it was as though Marylou had an allergy to alcohol. She was just one of those people who should never, ever touch it. It changed her into a completely different person. As a result of her vices, Marylou never really left the nest. She lived with Grannie and Grannie's second husband (who, by all accounts, was a very nice man). I guess her kids must have lived with them, too.

I think there may be a rift between Darlene and Grannie. It seems to have started when Grannie and her second husband moved into my great-great grandmother's house (the centenarian). This house was about an hour from her children, and Grannie complained that no one visited her. But in all fairness, her children were all working and raising kids. It would have been easier for Grannie to visit them.

At some point after that, Grannie and her husband moved into a trailer on Darlene's property. With them came Marylou. I am not sure if Marylou's children joined them or not. Then Darlene's daughter Melanie got divorced from her husband and moved in with Grannie (and everyone else, I guess). It sounds like there may have been a lot of people in that trailer lol! There was some plan for Melanie and Grannie to split a home (or something like that) but Melanie ended up getting remarried and moving out with her new husband. Grannie got bent out of shape about that because apparently Melanie said she'd never get married again. But Melanie was only 21 at the time, and (according to Darlene) Grannie should have known better than to believe that Melanie had really sworn off marriage. Nonetheless, it caused tension.

Grannie now lives with Jessica, Marylou's daughter, in another town. Not surprising, given the fact that Marylou lived so long with Grannie.

Darlene informed Grannie about Samantha and me via text. Before she did that, she reached out to my bio-dad and let him know that we were all in contact with each other. She gave him an opportunity to tell Grannie about us himself. He did not respond to her, so she went ahead and informed Grannie about us, as she explained in this email. In the email, she makes some reference to her relationship with Grannie, which was my first inkling that something could be off with them. I get the impression that Darlene and Grannie don't talk much.

I'm a little confused about the first paragraph of this email. But I think that if I ask "what 2 emails?" it will just confused things more. Maybe one day, I'll understand more lol. 

The second paragraph is the response to my question about how Grannie reacted when Darlene informed her of Samantha's and my existence.

The remark that Darlene makes about "My Sally" being weird is because (remember!) Sally and Samantha actually have the same name. In my previous email, I referred to Sally as her (Darlene's) Sally to distinguish her from my half-sister. 

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Anyhoo.... the only way for me to reach Grannie is through Jessica. So, a little while ago, I shot Jessica a text. My cousin Sally has informed Jessica of my existence, so this won't be coming out of left field. Hopefully, Jessica isn't a jerk lol. I tried to send a letter to Grannie earlier this year and she never received it. What a shame it would be if that was due to Jessica. I sure hope it wasn't!! But if it was, there's nothing I can do about it.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/18/2021 at 11:19 AM, Jibralta said:

My former coworker from Job 5, Eddie, was diagnosed with brain cancer back in June. He's doing ok. They removed the tumor and he started undergoing chemo and radiation therapy. But Eddie is about 75 years old, so this could be an uphill battle for him.

Poor Eddie. He is not doing well. We went out to dinner with him and his wife a couple weeks ago. His speech was slightly slurred, and he was having trouble with his left hand. He'd had fluid drained from his head not long before that, so I hoped it was just a result of that surgery... but from recent experience with my boyfriend's coworker, Robin, I thought that the fluid could be a bad sign. 

I called him last week to check up on him and he called me back on Saturday. He told me that he'd fallen out of the bed on Wednesday night, that he couldn't get up, and that his wife wasn't strong enough to pick him up.... "It was a very unhappy situation," he said. He didn't mention the incident to his doctor, but when he went in for occupational therapy a day or two later, the therapist thought he didn't look right and sent him to the hospital. They thought it might be a stroke. He was going in for a CT scan on Monday.

But it turned out not to be a stroke... So, I guess it's probably the cancer.

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I got together with some old friends on Friday night. We had a lot of fun. Ended up playing Cards Against Humanity towards the end of the night, which was a blast. Now my friend Lisa wants to have a game night every month or (worse!) bimonthly. The other girls are in agreement, but not me lol. It just ain't gonna happen. First of all, it's practically impossible to get this group of girls together even one time per year. Secondly, no fcking way am I committing to that frequency. I don't want to.

Lisa recently met a guy and I think she's on a bit of a high--which has to be why she thinks a monthly (or bimonthy!) card night is achievable. She'd never think that if she was grounded in reality. The relationship high is totally understandable, but I wish she wasn't so optimistic. It can't be more than two months since they met, and he's already practically moved in. We all met him on Friday night. He came in about halfway through the evening, helped Lisa do some dishes, ate some dinner, then went into the bedroom and went to sleep. He was totally pleasant.... but two months, girl. Why is he living there?

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Sounds like a fun night Jib! 
 

Ahhh the sweep you away motion of a relationship in its infancy! Gotta love it! In love, it’s pretty infectious!

 

I hope it works out for them. Does she have a bad track record? 
 

How are you and Arnie? I always just think you guys sound like the perfect couple in chilled harmony. 
 

I’m also sorry to hear about your friend at work - that’s rough going. Poor guy and his poor family.
 

Lo x

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17 minutes ago, mylolita said:

Ahhh the sweep you away motion of a relationship in its infancy! Gotta love it! In love, it’s pretty infectious!

Yes, that used to be my favorite part of a relationship! It's like a drug....

23 minutes ago, mylolita said:

Does she have a bad track record? 

Yes, unfortunately. She is simultaneously too idealistic and too pessimistic.

24 minutes ago, mylolita said:

How are you and Arnie? I always just think you guys sound like the perfect couple in chilled harmony. 

Arnie and I are doing fine. Chilled and harmonious, as you say. This beats the New Relationship High any day. I hope my friend Lisa finds this balance. I think she's afraid that lack of drama equals unfulfilling relationship. But it's not so. 

25 minutes ago, mylolita said:

I’m also sorry to hear about your friend at work - that’s rough going. Poor guy and his poor family.

Thanks.

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32 minutes ago, mylolita said:

Sounds like a fun night Jib! 

It really was. The threat of repeating the event 12+ times per year has dulled the pleasantness of the memory somewhat, but it still provokes a smile. 

Every time I look down at my fingernails, which are now a metallic blue-green, I happily remember my friend Cassandra applying these nail polish stickers to my nails. I'd won them in the 'white elephant' gift exchange that we'd just done. I'd never heard of these things--'color street'? But all the other girls knew what they were. Cassandra actually had some on her own nails and described the application process to me. Then she was like, "Here, I'll show you," and we opened a packet. The memory is all the more pleasant because she and I were never close friends growing up. Our personalities are totally opposite. We were never enemies, but we sort of repelled each other like magnets can. And here she was, after 30 years of mutual indifference, with her reading glasses on, patiently and methodically applying these stickers to the nails of both of my hands... My friend Lisa tried to take a picture of the scene and the reading glasses came right off lol. Cassandra is not ready for the world to know that she needs readers lol...

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My boyfriend and I watched the 2016 Ghostbusters movie last weekend. It started out strong, but waned as it went on. It made a couple subtle (and obvious) nods to the old film, which I appreciated. Overall, it was ok. The cast was solid, just the writing petered out. I remember it getting a lot of hate when it first came out, and I have no idea why. It certainly wasn't a bad movie; it just ended up being average after a strong beginning.

Tonight, we watched the original Ghostbusters. It is so satisfying--really a great movie. I'm glad the 2016 movie didn't attempt to copy it. 

There's a new Ghostbusters movie out this year... I'm wondering how that will be.

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A solid four months after I started the book, I finally reached another human being in The Plains of Passage. He appeared on page 274. Can you believe, 274 pages of plants, landscapes, and animals until that point???? This is definitely not Jean's best work. I could barely accomplish one page per day after the first few chapters. But now that other people have shown up, things promise to move along at a faster rate. Only 591 more pages to go....

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On 11/6/2021 at 6:42 PM, Jibralta said:

Anyhoo.... the only way for me to reach Grannie is through Jessica. So, a little while ago, I shot Jessica a text. My cousin Sally has informed Jessica of my existence, so this won't be coming out of left field. Hopefully, Jessica isn't a jerk lol. I tried to send a letter to Grannie earlier this year and she never received it. What a shame it would be if that was due to Jessica. I sure hope it wasn't!! But if it was, there's nothing I can do about it.

I haven't heard anything from 'Grannie' or Jessica since I sent that text. I talked to Darlene again a couple days before Thanksgiving. She encouraged me to call Grannie and gave me yet another number. But I haven't tried it.

Frankly, I'm a little put off by the family. I keep thinking about Grannie moving an hour away from her kids and then complaining that no one visited her. Meanwhile, she was retired and they all had jobs and were raising kids. Talk about making problems for yourself.... Why invite that into my life? This lady knows that I exist. She can ask for my phone number, too. 

Back in August, when I met Samantha in person, she told me that she was having a little trouble in her relationship with Melanie. She had only recently (within the last few months) met Melanie and Sally, but she was already finding it much more difficult to connect with Melanie than with Sally. Melanie kept breaking plans at the last minute. Also, Melanie seemed dubious of Samantha's claim that our bio-dad was really her father. According to Samantha, Melanie kept saying things like, "So, the guy you say is your father...." 

When I heard this, I told Samantha that some people are just asshles. You can't waste any time on them. But Samantha didn't seem convinced. She's only 29, though, and still has the energy to tolerate people like that. She said that Melanie is very 'country,' and that that meant southern country which is very different and more backwards than regular country. 

Well, Melanie had to make an extra effort to get that way, because she was raised in the suburbs of a major city just like Samantha and Sally. She wasn't raised in a hut in the woods. So, I'm not impressed by her (Melanie's) 'backwoods' excuse. 

Maybe Melanie and Grannie were cut from the same mold lol. No wonder they got into a fight... and even that's ridiculous. How do you, as a grandmother, get upset at your granddaughter for deciding that she did want to get married after all?

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  • 2 weeks later...

The other day, my boyfriend and I were sitting in silence. He was playing his video game, and I was doing my genealogy research. I discovered that one of my second great grandmothers may have had a child when she was 16, and I was trying to dig up information on the potential father by going through old newspaper clippings and establishing a timeline. I realized that genealogy is my videogame. I told Arnold and he said he already knew that 😂

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On 11/27/2021 at 5:12 PM, Jibralta said:

A solid four months after I started the book, I finally reached another human being in The Plains of Passage. He appeared on page 274. Can you believe, 274 pages of plants, landscapes, and animals until that point???? This is definitely not Jean's best work. I could barely accomplish one page per day after the first few chapters. But now that other people have shown up, things promise to move along at a faster rate. Only 591 more pages to go....

I'll fan through a book before I buy it.  If there isn't mostly dialog between people and a lot of description like you shared, I'll put it back.   My attention span is that of a gnat 🙂

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4 hours ago, reinventmyself said:

I'll fan through a book before I buy it.  If there isn't mostly dialog between people and a lot of description like you shared, I'll put it back.

This is a book that I bought back when I was 15 or 16. It was the fourth book in a series, so that momentum carried me through the purchase. That and the fact that I wasn't terribly selective back then lol.

Honestly, I don't know how I ever got through it, and I'm pretty sure that I read it more than once. 

As an adult, I've reread many of the books that I purchased as a teenager and I've been pleased to discover that most of them--most--are quite good. Exceptions are this one and (it pains me to say it) the Dragonlance series.

I'm powering through this one because I saw that the author finally came out with the fifth and sixth books in the series and I want to complete the series (after almost 30 years lol). 

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On 12/8/2021 at 12:56 AM, Jibralta said:

This is a book that I bought back when I was 15 or 16. It was the fourth book in a series, so that momentum carried me through the purchase. That and the fact that I wasn't terribly selective back then lol.

Honestly, I don't know how I ever got through it, and I'm pretty sure that I read it more than once. 

As an adult, I've reread many of the books that I purchased as a teenager and I've been pleased to discover that most of them--most--are quite good. Exceptions are this one and (it pains me to say it) the Dragonlance series.

I'm powering through this one because I saw that the author finally came out with the fifth and sixth books in the series and I want to complete the series (after almost 30 years lol). 

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”

 

- Oscar Wilde

 

x

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55 minutes ago, mylolita said:

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”

I can't say I disagree...

I think about Oscar Wilde sometimes. We had to read The Picture of Dorian Gray many years ago, in 9th grade or something. I was far too young to get into something like that. But I remember that it had meaning, and sometimes I think about reading it again. I think it might be especially relevant in this day and age.

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I met the nicest lady from Kansas a few weeks ago, through my genealogy research. We are a generation apart and something like 5th cousins through our 2nd and 3rd great grandparents. But we are probably a little more closely related than that, as my 3rd great grandfather's sister was her 2nd great grandmother, and her 2nd great grandfather was my 3rd great grandmother's brother. So actually, we have the exact same 4th great grandparents.

Have I confused you yet? Half the time I am doing this stuff I am operating through a stupor of confusion.

Anyway, she sent me this photo of our mutual relatives which was clipped from an unknown Kansas newspaper. The lady seated on the right is my new-found cousin's 2nd great grandmother (and my 3rd great aunt). The woman in the center is apparently our 4th great grandmother. My cuz doesn't know who the others are. One of the men may be my 3rd great grandfather. One may be my 4th. Both may be there for all I know. Kansas is rich with genealogical resources (unlike another state I know (Texas!!!)), so there's a good chance that I may find out who's who. 

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Edited by Jibralta
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My aunt and uncle are up from Florida. Arnold and I went out to dinner with them and some cousins on Thursday night. It was really nice. My aunt and uncle were a big part of my life until I was in my mid 30s. They used to host big gatherings of friends and family at their house a couple times per year. Then they moved out of Jersey about 10 years ago and everything changed. Now that they are in Florida, I hardly see them.

They are getting up there in age, approaching 80. My uncle said, "For the first time, I feel old. At the airport, two guys saw me trying to pull our bags off of the luggage carousel and they said, 'Let us get those for you.' And then they carried them all the way outside for me."

My aunt chimed in, "It was so sweet."

After dinner, my uncle helped my aunt with her coat, then sort of struggled to put on his own coat.

Arnold said, "Can I help you with that?"

My uncle said, "No, I got it."

With the memory of my uncle's experience at the airport in mind, Arnold (ever the ballbuster) said, "Can I pick up something heavy to carry outside for you?"

"You're gonna pick yourself up off the ground if you keep talking like that," said my uncle, not missing a beat. 

That made Arnold really happy.  😂

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Great story!  Enjoy!

My aunt and uncle are also in Florida, same age range - they still own a condo in the Northeast but not sure what's going to happen.  Same situation where we saw them for large family gatherings but it's been many years since we've had those regularly - and I haven't seen them in wayy too long.  I am close with them over the years, especially my uncle.

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I learned something interesting this morning while I was looking up 19th century ancestors on Newspapers.com: There used to be a newspaper called Cherokee Phoenix, and Indian's Advocate. It's exactly what it sounds like, a newspaper that advocated for Native American people:

Quote

.... the Cherokee Phoenix was meant to function as a tool for gaining public support in keeping the Cherokee Nation united. In 1829, the publication became the Cherokee Phoenix and Indians' Advocate to make its efforts as an advocacy publication more explicit. The paper began publishing small fictional works, Christian living articles, and news of the Cherokee nation, but rapidly shifted towards focusing on the removal crisis.

Source: https://gahistoricnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/lccn/sn83020874/

The above write-up also said that this paper was "notable for its adjacent columns of English and Cherokee text." I don't think I've ever heard of a written Native American language before. So of course I looked up "written cherokee language." That took me to Sequoyah, the Cherokee man who developed it. 

Sequoyah saw the value of written words while working as a silversmith trading with European American settlers, and also while fighting for U.S. interests during the Creek War (there were just zillions of these little wars in U.S. history). To quote wikipedia: "he and his fellow Cherokee warriors could not write letters to home, read their military orders, or write down any events or thoughts that occurred during their service." Despite criticism from the Cherokee people, he persisted in creating a writing system and completed it by 1821. His peers eventually accepted the language and the Cherokee people adopted it.

This research led me to "Indian Removal" which gave me some potential insight into the migration patterns of ancestors that travelled through and settled in the South. I also found it interesting because, during the course of my research, I've seen some people moving in and out of "Indian Territory" in Oklahoma. Not to stay permanently, just on business. Like driving cattle, etc. Their comings and goings were actually logged in documents like this:

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It all seems so official. And I guess it was.

A couple weeks ago, I learned that Georgia was founded by James Oglethorpe as a debtor's refuge. This happened 100 years before the Indian Removal, but I'd like to go back and examine that timeline a little more, and parse it with this 1820s future that I now know of.

This has really shed some light on a couple of things for me, although I still can't say for sure exactly what or how. So, that must sound ridiculous. All I can offer as an explanation is that I know that it's caused me to see things a little differently and I always like when that happens.

I'm always fascinated at how you find answers to so many questions in the most oblique ways. Even if you don't know exactly what the questions and answers actually are.... Maybe it's better to say that some discoveries help define the questions that need to be answered.

Edited by Jibralta
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4:41 PM. I suddenly noticed there was no ambient noise coming in from outside. Usually, there's a steady stream of white noise from traffic on the busy road nearby, and from the highway that runs just to the south beyond us. It's just absolutely quiet right now. Not a car is passing. Just me tapping on my keyboard and the computer whining its hum. An occasional click from my boyfriend's controller. It's dark in here and we have candles.

I think this whole place just snuggled in for Christmas.

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