Archive for the ‘family’ Category

The Arrangement

17 March 2016

My husband G and I were having a problem. Neither one of us likes doing dishes. We had been taking turns cooking dinner (or deciding on a restaurant) and then not washing the pots and pans and cutting boards and sharp knives and other accoutrements of cooking. On the weekend, the dishes would get cleaned by the person who hated the pile of dirty dishes more. And that was not me.

While I did not mind not doing dishes, G was getting more and more resentful of me not doing dishes. Which I can totally understand, but which was not a good motivator for me to do my share, especially since he rarely complained. But he did complain, eventually, which is a good thing.

I apologized. The next day, I proposed an arrangement, inspired by a couple I had met when I was in college.

I proposed that G cook all the dinners, and I would wash all the dishes, as my job.

I think I got the better deal, even though I don’t like doing dishes. I love having someone cook for me every night! I love having someone else decide what to cook! I love smelling the cooking meal and wondering what it will be! I love not having to stop at the store on my way home at rush hour, or on weekends when the store is super crowded!

G thinks he got the better deal, since he gets to try out even more new different recipes and he never has to do dishes.

So far, after a week and a half, things are going great. I don’t wash the dishes every night, but I do them often enough.

No piles of dirty dishes!

No piles of dirty dishes!

G is happy that the pot or pan or knife or cutting board that he needs is clean, ready to use. I am happy to have my responsibility defined. Maybe this arrangement will last a long time. It will be interesting to see if we can keep it going.

Throwback Thursday

23 January 2014

At my new job, I found out I am somewhat distantly related to one of my coworkers, who is descended from the Mohawk Brants who settled in Canada after the American Revolutionary War. What a surprise! So conversations with Joe (he even has a family name!) got me to thinking about my ancestors, and I dug through the photos my parents have given me to find some from that side of my family. So here are Joseph Brant Poodry Jr., Joseph Brant Poodry Sr., Joseph Brant Poodry III, and me, in 1972 or possibly 1973.


Note that my rebellious dad is the only one not wearing a hat. Kids in the 70’s, geez. Also, great-grandpa is wearing a tie (a bolo tie, but it counts), grandpa’s got the top button undone and has no tie, and my dad looks like he has TWO buttons undone. I obviously think this is hilarious.

This one is of great-grandpa Wyman Jemison, his daughter Lucille Poodry, Joseph Brant Poodry III, and me, in 1971. 2014_01_22_21_44_43

I actually sortof remember Grandpa Jemison, in that I recall being at a large meal that he presided over, and I remember being told that he was deaf. Plus, he lived to be 99 years old and died when I was in 5th or 6th grade. I have been told that he said the blessing in the Seneca language, but I don’t remember that. I don’t remember Joseph Brant Senior at all, though obviously I met him.

So a little more detail: My grandmother Lucille was turtle clan, and my grandfather Joseph Brant Poodry Jr. was snipe clan. I am directly descended from Mary Jemison, who was a Scots-Irish immigrant whose family settled too far west in Pennsylvania. She was kidnapped from her homestead near Carlisle (later the location of an infamous Indian School) and taken North where she was adopted by a family that had lost a child in war. Mary Jemison had at least three husbands and there is a statue of her near her log cabin in Letchworth State Park by the Genesee river gorge. I am also related to the family of Ely Parker, the subject of the book Warrior in Two Camps by William Armstrong. Parker was a lawyer and engineer, but is noted for his role as secretary to General Ulysses S. Grant. Parker wrote up the surrender papers that ended the US Civil War.

Family names indicate I am related to Joseph Brant, who was a Mohawk war chief during the American Revolution. He fought against the colonists (darned illegal immigrants!) and after his side lost he settled in Canada with many Iroquois. Which brings us back to my newly-discovered cousin Joe. Pretty cool.

Oh yeah. We are also supposedly related to Red Jacket. Red Jacket was on the opposite side from Joseph Brant. He stayed in the newly formed United States of America and negotiated land in this country. However, in his time he was renowned for giving really good speeches that were so awesome people stayed awake to hear them and didn’t fall asleep listening. Here is my dad and me at the Red Jacket statue in Forest Lawn cemetery in Buffalo, NY. The oval on his chest is a peace medal, depicting George Washington and Red Jacket shaking hands. Ely Parker is buried right by this statue.




30 June 2012

Diana died this week.  She was a Christian woman in the best way, loving and caring and welcoming.  I met her when my father-in-law, Rich, brought her to visit us for a few days a couple of years ago.  Later that year, my visit to Portland, OR for a conference coincided with their visit to my sister-in-law, Jackie.

Rich, Diana, and Jackie and the Columbia River

Rich, Jackie, and Diana at a different vantage above the Columbia River

Diana loved to take photos, and she sent us papercrafted cards for every holiday while she could.  Every holiday including Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We also received papercrafted bookmarks that she made, with white flowers constructed of paper cutouts placed together with tiny dabs of glue, with bitty crystals in the center.

Most importantly, Diana was the person who Rich decided to share his life with.  They each sold their homes and moved to Oregon, far from where each of them had been living.  They bought a house where Rich could put together train layouts and Diana could do her crafts.  Diana will be missed by Rich and their dog Shadow, and by all of us who knew her and counted her as family.

We love you Diana, we know you loved us!

More Spring Stuff

22 March 2009

My husband has decided to try planting vegetables this year.  He decided this before Michelle Obama decided to have a vegetable garden at the white house, and has been pondering where to put the seeds he ordered.  I’d like to put in some rosemary, which I have always kept in a pot, but which I’ve seen survive the winter a couple of blocks away so I want to try it in the ground now.  I have to wait until all the veggie seeds are in the ground, though.

I know some of the veggies will go in among the roses, but today was pea-planting day.  Yes, we know peas are supposed to be planted on St. Patrick’s day, but it was pretty chilly here on the 17th and it was rainy the day my husband took a day off from work, so today it was.



Now, I did not see the seed packet these came in, nor did I look closely at the seeds (it isn’t my project, after all), but I trust that my husband planted peas and not mini-marshmallows.  If these grow, I’ll try to remember to post more photos!

Adirondack week report

23 August 2008

I’ve been trying all week to figure out how to put my Adirondack vacation into a blog post.  I figured I better just go and do it before it completely fades from memory.

My cousin has a “camp” in the Adirondacks that I’ve been going to most summers for all of my life.  An Adirondack “camp” is a summer cottage, not a campground where large groups of people go.  Though the way my cousin runs things, it might as well be the latter.  We never had fewer than eight for dinner, for example, and several times we had to have two tables.  We had people sleeping in three buildings, pre-programmed activities, and a cooking schedule. There is also daily laundry service, courtesy of my cousin, who does at least two loads of laundry per day.

My preferred way of starting an Adirondack camp day is a quick breakfast, a walk of a couple miles, and a swim in the lake.  Unfortunately, I only managed this once the whole week.  It was a rainy, cool week, and I was the cook for two breakfasts.  At the very end of the week I at least managed a second walk, but the weather was forbidding and I didn’t feel inspired to jump in the lake.  Happily, it cleared up that afternoon and I did go swimming then!

The two breakfasts I cooked were popovers, a tradition at camp.  My great-aunt cooked these as her specialty when I was a kid and she and her husband were both still alive, and popovers are part of what makes camp special.  I am happy to make them, and everybody else is happy to let me!

Swimming in the lake is another tradition, one my mother studiously ignores.  The lake is the Great Sacandaga Lake, a man-made reservoir for the Hudson River.    Usually in August the water is low due to nightly discharges into the Hudson, but this year the water was very high.  While usually a rocky stretch of sand separates the grassy bank from the water, this August there was no sand to be seen.  Just a narrow band of rocks.

The water was “refreshing” which is to say rather cold.  I don’t know the exact temperature, but I did manage to go in the Sacandaga twice, and Jenny Lake (where we visited friends) once.  The best time is first thing in the morning, but my afternoon swim with my little second-cousin-once-removed (a lively 5-year-old) was delightful.  She showed me how she could dog-paddle and “swim underwater” and hold her breath, and we chased each other around (I swam slowly, she kicked to propel herself in a pink inflatable ring).  Fun!

One morning most of the week’s residents were off doing various things that my husband and I and one of my cousins were disinclined to participate in.  That left the three of us with the 5-year-old and the dog (the dog was another invited guest who didn’t belong to anyone who spent the week at camp).  One of our activities was making a horse mask.

The main pre-programmed activity was a tour of local tannery sites from the late 19th century, when for about 20 years the Adirondacks were a center of the industry.  The sites consisted of stone foundations, bits of broken window glass, rusted barrel hoops, and at one site actual old piles of scrap leather.  While the sites themselves were very similar, the nice bit was the fact that we got to tromp around in the damp woods, where I took photos of mushrooms and trees and flowers and a stream.  I also got a couple of photos of my relatives.  We had “adventures” along the way, running into road re-construction on the way there and getting directionally confused when finding our way home by a different route.

Because of the weather, there was a lot of sitting around the cabin during the week.  I read a book, worked on crosswords, did sudokus (I’ve become addicted), played a game of scrabble, played cribbage, and watched some TV.  One major change in the camp has been the introduction of modern telecommunications.  My generation of cousins has introduced HD TV and 500-channel digital cable to camp, and there is internet access!  While I tried to stay offline, I did have to answer some e-mails about the online graduate course I am taking this fall and carpool arrangements for the day after our return home, and I showed my parents my facebook page.

All in all, it was a lovely time, thank you cousins!  I came home mostly relaxed and ready to get things done, and while I haven’t managed to accomplish everything I’ve wanted to since I got home, I have managed to do significantly more than lie about on the sofa!  I might post on some of that later.


22 August 2008

Buzz has gingivitis!  I took him to the vet for his 3-year rabies shot and a general check-up, and he has bright red gums next to his teeth.  I never look in his mouth (he really doesn’t like me doing that) so I hadn’t noticed at all!

The vet prescribed a liquid antibiotic, which we have to squirt into his mouth twice a day, a two-person job that will become more interesting once I am back at work starting Monday.  More interesting because I usually leave the house in the morning before my husband is out of bed.  Since the first week is all in-service, I don’t need to be as early as I like to be once classes begin, so I will leave a little later and we’ll get the morning dose down Buzz somehow.  I hope he doesn’t start to hide every morning when he sees us coming!  It is very hard to get him out from under the bed, for example.

I really don’t want to start brushing Buzz’s teeth.


7 August 2008

A rambling post that gives me an excuse to post some photos of quilts.

OK, see, there were these old quilt tops that my mom’s mom had lying around her house in Florida, and nobody really knew who had made them.  Maybe they used to belong to an aunt, maybe not.  But they were just the pieced tops, and Grammy Wilma was sure they were worth something.  She convinced my dad’s mom to try finishing them: adding the batting and a backing fabric, quilting the layers, binding the edge.  She did this with one of them and gave it to me.  That will be the piece I am “designing” the new guest room around this summer.  Here she’s binding it, and in the next photo she and I are posing next to the finished quilt:

It’s a pretty nice quilt, though my grandma says she never said as many bad words while making a quilt as she did with this one.  She dealt with lumpy seams, an uneven pattern (i.e. this quilt top was not made by an expert), and old fabric.  I’m going to hang it in the finished guest room by putting a muslin “sleeve” on the back at the top and putting a pole through the sleeve.  The walls in the guest room will be painted a pale green.  You can’t tell from the photo, but the green triangles in the baskets and the green binding fabric each have pale green bits in them.  There is a dark green carpet remnant currently stored in the basement that will also find a place in this room.  I bought a duvet cover and pillowcases from IKEA last summer that have similar colors to the quilt, and that will actually go on the bed.  Why not put the quilt on the bed?  Buzz likes sleeping on the bed, that’s why!

Incidentally, my grandma in these photos, my Native American grandma, is a prize-winning quilter.  She has made dozens of quilts, by herself and with groups of people, and all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren have one of her quilts.  My “original” quilt is a twin-size, with wide pale yellow sashing (my favorite color) and appliqué purple and lavender pansies on a white background for the blocks.  I don’t have a photo to insert, and that quilt stays on “my” bed in my parents’ house.

So, my mom sent me a photo this week of a second one of the old quilt tops that my grandma had finished.  She wanted to know if I wanted it, or if I knew anyone who would be willing to buy it.  If so, she would bring it to the Adriondacks next week where we are meeting for a mutual vacation.

The second quilt is only two colors: red and white.  It would be very striking on a bed, if you had decor it would complement.  Here it is:

So the thing is, we don’t want it.  It doesn’t go with anything we own, really.  We already have another quilt that we love, and which we don’t have a good place for at this time: our wedding quilt.  In our community of friends, people make quilts as a group and give them to couples when they get married (or as soon thereafter as can be managed by the group of quilters).  Friends of the couple make different squares somehow relating to the couple, and they are all put together in one quilt.  Here is ours:

This quilt actually has a title: Double Word Score, and is obviously based on Scrabble®, one of our favorite games.  Some of the squares include West Virginia, tofu and edamame, piano keys, beer Greg likes, a viola, a garlic bulb, and Buzz!  Unfortunately, I am afraid to put this quilt on our bed because we have skylights in the bedroom (plus Buzz sleeps on our bed too), and I don’t want the quilt to fade.  Also unfortunately, our house has low ceilings, and there is no place where we can hang the quilt on a wall without it dragging on the floor.  We’ve reached a compromise in which we fold the quilt and lay it across the back of a loveseat, and every so often (or not so often) I re-fold it so a different set of squares is showing.  Maybe someday we will have a house with high ceilings, and then we can display our quilt properly!

Here’s a wedding quilt I helped make for a wedding celebrated last summer:

This was for Kristen and Eirik’s wedding.  It is a hanging quilt, not a bed quilt, and had to fit in someone’s luggage for a trip to Norway!  The square I contributed is the one with cod and herring, two of Norway’s principal fishing exports.  Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of any other wedding quilts I’ve been a part of.  Sometimes I think I might like to make a quilt all on my own.  Usually, I get disabused of this notion pretty quickly.  The time, the patience, the tiny little stitches with the sharp needle…  right.

Anyway, if you want the red-and-white stripey quilt, e-mail me ASAP and I can tell you how much my mom wants for it.  I have to know before Saturday morning.


1 July 2008

Last week I visited my parents in the city I grew up in. I took the train, accompanied by my library books, crossword puzzles, ipod, and Nintendo DS lite. It was a substantial train trip. My backpack was way too heavy!

As is the wont of mothers everywhere, my mom welcomed me with food. She was cooking so my dad came to get me at the train station. The first night we had barbecued ribs with my mother’s special sauce, potato salad, roasted asparagus, and rhubarb pie. Deep dish rhubarb pie, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I am not usually a huge fan of rhubarb, but my mom picked the stalks fresh out of the garden and this pie was fantastic. So was the asparagus, and the ribs! I can’t sing the praises of the potato salad with as much enthusiasm because I had to pick out the olives. Those go on my list of foods I don’t like, along with raw tomatoes, and wasabi.

I am on vacation, and my parents are retired and on a fixed income, so we took it easy. We went to my parents’ T’ai Chi session, took my grandmother to Walmart, went for walks, and I helped my mom with the computer. It’s an 8-year old mac running OS 10.3, and my parents ask me for help with it every so often. They use dialup to get on the internet, and I have to think hard to answer their questions because some of the things I can do are things that they can’t do on their older, slower system. Also, my usual method of figuring out how to do things is to click on stuff until I figure it out. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who this does not work for, including my mom and some of my colleagues at work, so I have some practice in figuring it out and then giving the exact directions of what to do. One of the things we did was back up some information on a flash key, and we upgraded some programs.

We also spent a lovely day doing a jigsaw puzzle and listening to a CD of H.M.S. Pinafore. I love that kind of day. We set up my mom’s big sewing table, surrounded it with lights, brought in a fan, and pulled in an extra two chairs. Then we turned over and sorted pieces, trading them from one to another, putting together our little patches that grew into bigger patches and eventually connected. We didn’t finish the puzzle, but that day inspired me to try to finish re-doing the guest room BEFORE the end of the summer and then start doing a puzzle in it.

(my husband is snickering as he reads that last sentence. sigh.)

One of the other lovely dinners we had last week was this amazing antipasto platter that we put together with all sorts of little tidbits from Wegmans. Wegmans is an overwhelmingly large supermarket with lots of specialty items. You could eat all your meals there at the store, if you wanted, and probably never have the same thing twice in a given week. This platter had peppadews, which I had never heard of, olives, marinated roasted portobello mushrooms, fresh mozzarella balls, marinated green and white asparagus, tiny marinated onions, and stuffed grape leaves. We added canned chick peas, hard-cooked eggs, salami, and put it all on a bed of lettuce (various kinds). Not only did it taste wonderful, it looked wonderful:

In addition, my parents sent me home with two jars of homemade jam, some extra clothing, a tablecloth, two dozen homemade ginger cookies (with instructions to share with my husband, who didn’t come on this trip), and a yummy lunch to eat on the train. Remember that heavy backpack? Even heavier on the way home.

I love you, mom and dad! Thank you for a lovely, relaxing break! XOXO

Strawberry Pie, etc

16 June 2008

Yesterday I made strawberry pie. We’ve been getting strawberries from the CSA, and my desire for pie has been gradually building. So on Saturday I went to a farmers’ market and bought two quarts of berries at $6/quart. That is not too much to pay for nascent pie, in my opinion. I also spent $5 for some European Nightcrawler worms to add to the worm bin. I find it hard to resist a 7-year-old with a business plan and a passion for worm composting.

My dad has always been the strawberry pie maker in my family. For years after moving away from my parents I bemoaned the lack of strawberry pie in my life, and raspberry pie as well. We used to pick berries at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. My mom loves picking berries. I honestly can only stand to pick berries for a little while. Mom can pick whole jam batches at once and still have berries left over for freezing, pie, and breakfast the next morning!

Dad’s recipe is called Strawberry Triumph Pie, and it comes from The Good Housekeeping Cookbook of the 1960’s. My copy is copyright 1963, found in a used book store after much diligent searching. I had previously tried really hard to acquire mom’s copy, but she absolutely refused to part with it! Nowadays, this book can be found on eBay, but they didn’t have eBay back in 1990 when I was looking!

Following dad’s tradition, I doubled the quantity of berries for a 9″ pyrex pie plate. Here’s the recipe as written originally:

Strawberry Triumph Pie

Baked 9″ pie shell or crumb crust
1 qt. hulled strawberries
3 tbs cornstarch
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped

With fork or pastry blender, crush half of strawberries; stir in cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until clear and thickened; cool. Cut rest of berries in halves; fold into cooled mixture. Turn into crust. Refrigerate until well chilled. Serve, garnished with whipped cream.

As I mentioned, I doubled the strawberries. I should have also doubled the cornstarch…I used about 5 tablespoons and it wasn’t enough. I ate my pie this evening out of a bowl…with a spoon. I used a little more than 1.5 cups of sugar, I used 3 tbs lemon juice, and I omitted the whipped cream. The less said about my pie crust, the better. Next time I’ll do a crumb crust. The same recipe with slightly less cornstarch would make a great waffle topping or ice cream sundae topping. In that case, omit the crust! Anyway, here’s the pie:

In other news, I am in the exciting position of having no papers to grade tonight. I’ll have a few to do tomorrow, and a few to do the next day, but with 4 days to go it is finally feeling like the end of the school year. I am down to a “brain age” of 31 on the Brain Age 2 game that came with my DS (and I think it would be lower if I tested myself in the morning instead of the evening). Tomorrow I am getting a haircut and a hand paraffin dip with the gift certificate I won at the raffle on Teacher Appreciation Day.

Finally, I got the sad news today that not enough kids signed up for AP physics at my school for next year, so they will have to come up with some other class for me to teach. While originally nine kids signed up, things happened and kids had to make choices, and the class size dwindled to five. The assistant superintendent decided that 5 kids are not worth 8 periods a week of teacher time. Oh well. I had a great time with my kids last year, and I’m looking forward to being able to show you the Rube Goldberg machine they made when they finally get the video put together! I amazed some friends at dinner Saturday night by reciting the entire sequence of energy transfers the class put together.

Grammy Wilma

18 February 2008

On Saturday, I attended the memorial service for my maternal grandmother, Grammy Wilma. The service was in the Florida town where she had made her home for most of her life–where she had been a businesswoman and an actor/director and a pillar of the community. I cannot do justice to her life in this blog post, but I can at least post a couple of photos, one of which was taken at my wedding, and the other is from the late 1920’s, when my grandmother was a teenager. I wore that necklace to her memorial – it is a favorite of mine.

Things I remember about her:

  • She came to hear me give the first talk I ever gave at a national meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers, when I was in college
  • She sent me oranges from her grove in the winter, also when I was in college
  • She always welcomed me to come and visit, even on my own as a pre-teen. Once after a busy day I fell asleep on her sofa, and she had to drag me into the bedroom. I have no idea how she got me into the bed!
  • She never forgot the Fourth of July that I spent with her. I refused to use the very stinky port-a-potties at the park where we spent the day (and watched fireworks that night) and she was very impressed by how long I was able to “hold it.” I still have a steel bladder, which comes in very handy as a teacher!

Grammy Wilma is fondly remembered by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, as well as by the community theater people of St. Lucie county and the Women’s Club in Fort Pierce. She died on December 8, 2007, at the age of 93.

Left photo ©2005, John Shetron Photography

Wilma, 2005

Wilma, 1928-ish

The inscription on the right photo reads “Love Always, Jus’ Wilma” in her impeccable copperplate handwriting.