Monday, January 25, 2010

And Now About That Hole.

Ok so just a brief (as brief as I can ever be) rundown on our lovely sinkhole.

Oh... this was about 3 weeks ago I guess. I'm inside, it's late morning, I'm still in my nightgown.
Kids 1, 2, and 3 (ages 11, 13, & 16 respectively) are all outside playing, in snowsuits, having been kicked out of the house by Mean-Mom after waaaay too much video-game playing.
I hear a wail.
It's not the she-threw-a-snowball-at-me kind of wail.
It's the alarm-bells kind of wail. I'm thinking, did she fall down, get hurt?
I open the back door for a first news report and yell, "What happened?"
No answer, but Kid 2 is running over to the side yard and Kid 1 is looking bewildered.
I yell again, "Is someone hurt? WHAT HAPPENED??"
By this time I am also throwing on my coat and sticking my bare feet into my Birkenstocks, the closest and quickest footwear I can put on.
I run out the door in the direction Kid 2 was headed.
I see the side year... I see the line of pine trees which marches from the road to the back of our yard... I see what looks like Kid 3 sitting on the other side of the snowbank by the driveway, in between two pine trees.
She is crying, she is wailing, she is howling, but she can't tell me what's wrong as I'm running over - it is the sound of TERROR. I arrive and look at her from above, now.
She is not sitting.... she has fallen into a hole.
A big, deep, unexplainable sink-hole, about 4 ft across and from all I can gather, bottomless... I can't see the bottom, I can only grasp that my child has one leg dangling deeply into the pit and one leg bent high over the snow and two arms grasping the snow on both sides and WAAAIIIIIILING for her very life, it sounds like. Most of her is in the pit, which is also under about 2 feet of snow on all sides.
My brain goes into freeze-dried automatic control. Kid 2 is with me, Kid 1 (the youngest) is hovering on the driveway uncertainly, afraid.
I tell Kid 2, BRING ME ROPE. AND MY BOOTS. She runs for the house. I just don't know how deep this damn thing goes.
Then I take back control of my brain and think (in about 1/100th of a second) What would I do if she were falling through a frozen pond? I step into the snowbank and then I tell Kid 2, Hook your arm under her right arm, and I'm gonna hook my arm under her left arm, and then on three we're going to pull her out (keep in mind that Kid 2 is 13, and a thin little slip of a girl.... kid 3 is 16 and more athletically built).

And darn if we didn't pull that teenager out of that pit. And back, and back, till we were nearly on the other side of the driveway. And then when we were all breathing again (and bless her heart, here came Youngest with the rope and boots...) we asked Kid 3 what happened.

She says, wiping her tears, "I just stepped off the driveway, over the snowbank and into the yard!! And then my foot kept going down and down and I thought 'something's not right' and then I didn't know what to do other than hang on with my hands and holler for help!"

POOR KID! Jeesh!!! Must have been heart-stopping!!

So we did go back and look, and Kid 2 (the photographer) took some snapshots, and we figure it's probably 7 or 8 feet deep - just some kind of unexplained sinkhole. I need to call the city to see if they have any old pipe systems or whatnot. We live in the oldest house in this village, from what we've been told (1920's or so) so they'll need to investigate.

But she's fine, and has quite the story to tell the grandkids someday! ;) So that's what THAT was all about.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm not Irish after all.

Turns out I'm a Scot! Would you like to see the family castle?? Of course it's much fancier nowadays than it would have started out... :)

I sent an email to my father a few days ago, as I'd recalled a long-ago story that we were of Irish descent and had a castle in the family, at some point long ago. Well, that was too vague and has been a hovering question in my mind recently (did we have Irish roots or not?) , so I emailed Dad and asked him to clarify the old story.

He replied back that it's not Ireland, it's Scotland, and he explained the genealogy of how we go back (yes, I should have asked earlier, but we don't get the chance to talk that often).

So.... it turns out that I, through my Dad, and him through his Dad, and him through his Grandma, are direct descendants of Clan Ross of the Scottish Highlands. WOW. And we did in fact have a castle in the family (there was a clan chief in our Rosses for about 300 years) which is called Balnagown Castle (traditional spelling is Balnagowan). The castle still stands, in Kildary, Ross-shire, as an estate.

The current owner, an Egyptian millionaire (ever hear of Harrods? That's the man) lets out the surrounding cottages in the summer for high-paying guests, from what I understand, and the castle is his summer home. The castle was actually still in the family up until 1972, when the taxes were too high and the family could no longer afford them... that is when the new owner bought the castle and has really done a beautiful job of fixing it back up again, restoration, and repair.

With the name provided by my Dad, I was able to locate photos and the website for the castle. I would love to visit someday, even to walk around! I always wondered what that branch of the family tree held, and it feels very good to finally have details. Scottish! Imagine! My husband said to me when he found out, "Well that explains a lot!!" Wonder what the hell does he mean by that? HA! And you know what? When I found out, not only was I very happy, but also it struck a very familiar, comfortable sort of cord... I mean, almost like my mind went, WELL OF COURSE! As if I had known all along (but I hadn't)..... Interesting.

So like all of us, I'm a great blend... Portuguese and Scottish on my Dad's side, Russian/Latvian and Canadian on my Mom's side, and here I am a blended American married to a Canadian who's family is French. Cue the music.... it's a small world, after all! I'm going to start saving nickels for a trip to Scotland. Should have enough nickels by the time I'm 50 or so.

Oh and... also we had a big sinkhole in my side yard between 2 pine trees. Looks so deep my kids' friends are joking it's a portal to Narnia. We're investigating the "why". But more on that later! :)

Have a good day!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Oh King Julian, you are so funny...

Remember that guy?? heh heh....

SO! Anybody catch the People's Choice Awards last night?

Oh I should mention I finally relented and got TV turned back on. :)

I only caught the last 30 minutes, dangit, but I did arrive in time to see the great and silver-tongued (and often twisted) Sacha Baron Cohen deliver an introduction to Johnny Depp. WOW. Awesome.

It sort of highlighted his pirate and his Wonka days ("Sir William Wonka," said Cohen) in the wittiest of manners, ever the gentleman in his delivery. And in regards to his upcoming role as the Mad Hatter, he said something like "....and thank you for making it acceptable for creepy middle-aged men to invite young girls to tea and give them hallucinogenic drugs"... which while the content is not funny for a mom like me of course, still had me literally giggling uncontrollably, it's just the way he said it all, oh ma godd. The guy is just a genius.

And then the Depp man appeared in person to the roars and whistles of the crowd, rather than accepting via live giant-screen from France. That was very cool.

He did talk a bit like his pirate, though, which made me wonder if he is filming something at the moment and still immersed in his character. Or maybe he's caught the nearly-British-accent for good, perhaps from years of movie-making, not sure... I don't remember him speaking like that years ago, but then neither did Madonna. LOL. But I'll watch him speak however he wants to. ;)

So yeah I'm sure I had other stuff I wanted to talk about today, but it has been eclipsed. Them's the breaks.

Off to work and then we go in for Phase 2 of Middle Girl's Braces fitting! Wish us luck!!


Friday, January 01, 2010


Wow, been too long.

As I was brewing coffee and doing dishes this morning, I felt a blog post forming in my head like a storm cloud. It was regarding resolutions. When that happens, I need to go write or I'll forget everything I was thinking about!

Well, 2010. Go figure. Make any resolutions?

It's more about resolve than resolutions, don't you think? We can make New Years resolutions out the wahoo and they do not mean a thing if they are vague... like, I'll lose weight. I'll be nicer. I'll get a raise... meaningless if they are lightweight, puffy ideas that we don't really think about after 2 weeks. And that's how it's always, always been with me. I admit it.

Puffy resolution makers anonymous, here I come.

So I thought this year, I will not make any.

But then Dick Clark changed my mind. Dammit. If he can still show up to drop the big ball in Times Square, looking dapper in a suit and witty as ever, then I can at least try to make some New year's resolutions. OK, FINE.

So I thought it over, and then I thought it over better, and with more effort. Here are my real, actual, swear-to-God-cross-my-heart RESOLUTIONS FOR 2010:

I will pay more attention to my business: It's a tiny little thing, but it needs more love and care. I have lots of sparkling new things I could put in there (keep in mind, it's an online-only shop) but I'm slow to list them (quick to ship, though!!). SO, I will list new things more often. I will try to advertise where it seems like a good idea. Because my dearest dream is to rent a little storefront someday and let people walk right in to browse!!

I will get rid of my extra clutter: I have too much junk, most people do. I will slowly, and casually, continue going through the clutter-magnet areas of my home, and drop things into the trash or make a Goodwill bag as it applies. Not a big tornado of cleaning; I don't have time for that, but just little things, every time I come across them. I've already started the kids doing this with their rooms before Christmas so they have an easier time with giving things away or tossing out what we just don't need (little-kid toys, last years worn out lunchboxes, snowsuits that are beyond patching up, the dollar-store figurines that no one claim as theirs, etc, etc). And I'll work on our shared living areas.

And finally, I will avoid sugars and white breads most of the time.
Aha, see how I worded that?
Not that I will NEVER eat sugar again, because that would be ridiculous for me and self-defeating. So instead, I'll keep this sort of mantra in the forefront of my mind..."stay away from sugars, just find an alternative, that's crap. And I am eating to live, not living to eat".
I'm typing this while enjoying my Light Thick & Creamy 100-calorie, fat-free Orange Creme yogurt. Which tastes like a creamsicle, but I can taste the Splenda in it, and that works for me. YUM.

OK off to get a cup of fresh coffee and tidy up, got family coming over to visit. And I'll be making crackers-creamcheese-and-eggs for lunch, and yes crackers have white flour in them. It's a traditional brunch thing we do, so I'm not skipping it. This is where "most of the time" comes into play....gotta pick my battles. :)

So my friends.... Have a safe, healthy, stress-free, happy, financially-secure, loving, peaceful NEW YEAR.

Mouah!! OXO