Thursday, February 28, 2008

Big Snow

Here it is! Our big snow. I blog on my laptop downstairs, but photos are stored on my desktop upstairs. That's why sometimes you have to wait for the photo.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bad Driving Decisions

Most of you St. Louis folks already know my mistake by choosing I-64/40 on my way into town. I was amazed at how little traffic there was and figured Saturday must be the day to drive to St. Louis. Then, I realized the highway was closed and had to take a very long detour. Jeanne said that I should have MapQuested it and I would have known. Hello---I've only driven to St. Louis a zillion times, so why would I MapQuest it??

Coming home, I made another bad decision. I left mom's at 3:45 a.m. Very light traffic at that time in the morning. I decided that when I reached 70/270, I'd go east through Illinois rather than go all the way downtown and cross there. Bad idea. By the time I reached Hazelwood, the snow started. By the time I got to Florissant, it was really coming down. Passing through Spanish Lake, I noticed all the police lights right before Lilac. I was forced to exit there. I stopped and talked to the cop and had the choice of turning around and catching 170 to connect back to 70, or make a right on Lilac and go to Riverview and then backtracking to 270. I chose the right (you know how I love my "rule of the right")! Luckily for me that there isn't much traffic at 4 a.m. as I skidded through several intersections. By the time I reached Riverview, I decided NOT to take the "Road Less Traveled". Instead, I took a right and went down to Broadway. I headed downtown and picked up 70 again. Had I continued down 70 to begin with, I probably would have missed the snow altogether. By this time, I was thinking, I just want to get out of this god-forsaken city! It was slow going. I'm not stupid---I wanted to get home safely. I had to stick pretty close to 45 m.p.h. almost all the way to Mount Vernon. After that, it was smooth sailing. No, snow.

Paducah is our halfway point. I reached there about 7:30 a.m. and called Butch to see what the weather was like in Nashville. All clear ahead. I was just past Clarksville (about 50 minutes outside of Nashville) when the traffic came to a dead stop. After waiting about 15 minutes, I knew it wasn't a good sign when pickups were turning around and going backwards up the shoulder. I followed them---thank goodness for 4 wheel drive in the mud! I ended up coming into town by way of the Old Clarksville highway. I ended up getting home about 10:30---only 1 hour and 45 minutes later than I should have been. But at least I was safe!! Later, I heard on the news that a truck had collapsed in the middle---no accident, or weather related issue---just broke in half. It was carrying auto parts. It took 20 men 4 hours to unload the truck so they could move it. It had too much weight for the truck. That traffic ended up being backed up all the way past Clarksville for 10 hours!!! I would have DIED if I was stuck that long. I wonder how many people ran out of gas. After all, it was 34 degrees here.

Oh, and when I got home, it started to snow hard. I took a picture and will post it later. By noon, the snow was gone. It did snow off and on all day, but didn't amount to much. When you have 60+ degrees most of the time, the ground just melts it. Still, I'm glad I didn't miss our BIG snow!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Hunt Comes to an End

Over the past month, we've looked at several houses. We actually found the perfect place, but the yard was crappy---or I should say, how the house sat on the lot was crappy. Anyway, after that I had a couple of different ideas. I got up one morning and told Butch that what we needed to do was to build THIS house, but tweak it a bit to make it exactly what we want. Then he reminded me of how we'd vowed we'd never build a house because we've seen it happen too often--by the time you're done, you've spent 40% more than you wanted. Don't want to deal with the unknown.

My next idea was to add on to this house---an additional 2 car garage with a studio for me above. Sounds good, but if we do that, then we'll price ourselves out of the neighborhood. Plus, we don't really like our neighborhood anymore anyway.

That left us with continuing the search, or just staying here and forgetting about it. We decided to stay here. Then, of course, after making that decision, our realtor sent me an email about a house in my favorite neighborhood (Northumberland) where there aren't many things available---ever. Figures, just when we make the decision to stop looking, we find something. It sounded absolutely perfect--maybe a tad bigger than we wanted, but everything we were looking for.

The house actually came on the market today and I met my realtor there. The neighborhood is incredible, the house was gorgeous. There were a couple things I didn't like: kind of gaudy---very expensive hand-made furniture, moldings, hand-painting, murals, and gold, "scrolly" fixtures. I'm thinking, well, it might be a shame to "rip out" expensive stuff, but it will have to be done. The other drawback---too many outside doors.

It reminded me of a comment my friend, Nancy made after we moved into this house. We were at the theater one night when she said that she had lain in bed and counted all the ways to get in my house. She wanted to know if that scared me. I said, "well, I hadn't really thought about it, but thank you very much---Butch is out-of-town and I have to go home to a dark, empty house." As it is, I'll discover an unlocked door somewhere and we'll realize that it's been unlocked for weeks! Definitely a problem.

The house I looked at today had probably twice as many doors as this one. They all lead to the gorgeous terrace, formal gardens and pool---beautiful. I reminded myself that it is a gated community, but that many doors still seemed like a drawback.

But--- the KISS of DEATH appeared as we went out onto the terrace overlooking the garden and pool. My buddies from the American Leak Detection were there! That was it, game over, finished, done, no way am I trading my current known pool problems for new unknown pool problems!!!

There's a certain comfort in knowing what your own house problems are. I guess we're back to staying right here!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Reality TV

I think it's funny that just the mere watching of reality TV somehow makes us experts. Butch and I sit here and watch American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance---you name it---and suddenly we know it ALL! We become Simon Cowell, Piers or any of those other British, negative judges. If you heard us, you would think that we, ourselves could sing, dance or have some other sort of talent. I guess our best talent is "judging" the talent of others. As if what we think matters a whit. Oh well, it entertains us! And we never even actually vote.

That reminds me of my big opportunity to be a rock star as a teen. Some of the guys in the neighborhood decided they needed a girl singer in their band and asked me. But, my mom said, "no". I guess she heard me sing around the house too much and knew I didn't have a career there. Mom---crusher of dreams!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Family Update

Just got back from Kalamazoo. Had a great time and played a ton of games: dominoes (Elizabeth cheats), memory, dance, dance revolution (Victoria is getting good), wii bowling, rockstar careoke (turns out Mitchell has a good voice---who knew?), guitar hero, books, and magna doodle, just to name a few!

Mitchell and Victoria got great report cards that called for a shopping spree at the mall in Grand Rapids. Although I've done that with Morgan and Jordan, the best Mitchell and Victoria ever got was a Target shopping spree (due to the lame mall in Kalamazoo). We had a lot of fun and the kids got some great outfits from Abercrombie and Gymboree.

Greg got a promotion recently, so he's putting in some longer hours with his new responsibilities. He's happy to be able to affect some changes at Pfizer and is energized again. Great to see, but that means his job satisfaction means they are unlikely to look for something a little closer to home. They have a good life in general and are very happy there. I'm glad for them.

Sandy always makes new recipes when I visit. I love it! She's a great cook and goes to a lot of trouble to make sure we have good food. Greg is equally adept in the kitchen and they often cook together. He made some really good steaks---on top of the stove---never had that before. After dinner, they made a new dessert that was a big hit. S'more bars---delish.

Elizabeth is so much fun. She kept saying, "I wuv you, grammy---and grandpa too!" ---so darn cute. She still goes to bed so easily, it's amazing to me since she's in the toddler bed and can get up whenever she wants. We don't think she realizes that yet as she still calls for mom or dad when she wakes up in the morning and will wait a very long time for them to get her.

There is a lot of snow on the ground in Kalamazoo. Wisconsin is consistently having below zero temps. Steph and the girls still like the snow, but I think Bryan has about had it with going out every hour to keep up with the snowblowing.

We're all going to Steph's for Easter, so that is going to be fun. I'm going to get with Morgan to plan the menus as she's the cook in their family. Steph's job is very flexible. She can work from home as needed when the girls are home. Gotta' love that!

Mindy was lamenting the fact this week that she couldn't even get her dad to be her valentine. She has decided that law school isn't for her, so she has withdrawn (we're happy that she did it in time so we get a full refund for this semester). She still has a year to change her mind, but she is now in search of a "real" career job (she is currently still working at Emeril's, but that's not her career). The deal is that she has to be able to support herself wherever she goes, so we'll see where she lands. She wants to experience life and go to a big city. Totally Mindy to want to go somewhere where she doesn't know a soul. Of course, if it were up to me, I'd have her right back here in Nashville. I miss my girls!!!

Butch is at the Daytona 500 with his brother this weekend. He leaves for our annual ski trip next Saturday. I decided not to go this year since I haven't skied in about the past 4 or 5 years anyway. I'm heading to St. Louis for some family fun and research.
I'm really looking forward to it.

I've spent the day reading---haven't done that in a long time, but I'm reading the BEST book! Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth (blogger won't let me underline). 1000 pages, but it's going fast!

See y'all soon!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Grammy's

I thoroughly enjoyed the Grammy's tonight. Tina Turner is still incredible. Sure, you can tell she's slowing down, but for crying out loud, that gal has to be near 70!

Kahne West, give me a break---and way to go Vince!

But the moment for me had to be Andrea Boccelli and Josh Groban. Just goes to show that a young singer singing "old fogey" music can be hot. Move over David, after being in love with your for over 35 years, I might just have found someone new. Josh, "I think I love you- so what am I so afraid of? I'm afraid that I'm not sure of- a love there is no cure for". Ahhh, still a great song, oooh David, I had a little lapse. Forever faithful!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Sick of Being Sick

I am sick if being sick!! I started with what I thought was a cold last Friday night. Well, it went straight to my chest. But the worst of it was that it triggered a major hive attack---like I haven't had in a very long time. I had to triple my dose of prednisone. I was in bed from Sunday night until Tuesday mid-day. But now this cough is driving me nuts. I have a constant head ache from all this coughing. I've been taking so many different kinds of medicines, that I've really had Heath Ledger on my mind. But when you feel bad, you can't remember what you took when or how much. And another result of the coughing, can you spell "incontinence"? Another post-menopausal symptom I forgot about!

On the positive side, I went to the doctor yesterday and I don't have bronchitis or pneumonia. Thankful for small blessings.

I've gone to bed early every night this week and am heading there now. It's only 7:30. Later...

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Lazy Genealogist

Well, I got back from Salt Lake City yesterday. I had so much fun! The first day we started at 7:30 a.m. with a lunch break, visited 2 scrapbook stores and back to the library until closing at 9 p.m. I found most of my information that day. The second day, I spent nearly the entire day on the international floor. This is what I found out---I only liked it when it was easy--the first day! On that second day, I had to scroll through 1000's of feet of microfiche to (maybe) find a birth certificate (never found a single one). After an hour of that, I said s***w this s**t and went back to the computer. Although I got some stuff, I found that since my family were recent immigrants, it's hard to get good information---and it's all in a foreign language. I couldn't find information about the places in Italy where our ancestors came from, but was given some information on a couple of Catholic Churches to write to for christening, marriage and death records. Since the letters have to be written in Italian, they gave me a book of all the words I need to translate. I think I'm too lazy to do it. I did get the name and a picture of the boat they came on and some records from Ellis Island. That was cool. This was for the Preli/Pagella side. Mostly they were farmers. I didn't get a single new thing to add to the family tree on the second day, so that was a bit discouraging.

On the Zimmermann side, I did a little better as the Zimmermann's immigrated in the early 1800's. That put them in more US records. Once I tried to trace them back to Germany, it was impossible as it turns out that the name Zimmermann is like Smith or Jones. Again, I was given some places to write to along with the German translation guide. Maybe I can get Mindy to handle that for me. The most interesting thing I discovered was that Grandpa Zimmermann's mother's name was Amelia Bollenhagen. She was born in MO as were her parents. But I hit a dead end as she grew up along with her little brother in St. Joseph's orphanage (she was 8, he 4). Kind of sad to not know what happened. Of course, since everything was a big secret back then, her parents names were not listed--just where they were born. I might try to delve into that little further sometime when I'm in St. Louis as that seems like such an unusual name. But one thing I did find out---beer drinking is in the genes! Many of the Zimmermann's were brewmasters and brewery workers. Figures.

On both sides, we come from a long line of Catholics. There's a reason I'll explain later as to why I think this is relevant.

Butch had already done some work on his side of the family and traced the Eads' back to 1700's with forefather's names like Isaac and Abraham and a few Bibles thrown in for good measure. I researched his Irish side---Donnelly's. I could only get back to the mid 1800's with that as once I had to go back to Ireland, I found that the Donnelly's were also like the Smiths and Jones. Bridget will be happy to know that a great-great-great grandmother was a Bridget Donnelly--I couldn't find her maiden name. At least I could figure out that these Donnelly's came over about the time of the Irish potato famine.

So the breakdown is this: I'm 50% German and 50% Italian. Butch is 50% Austrian, 25% Irish and 25% English. That makes our girls: 25% German, 25% Italian, 25% Austrian, 12.5% Irish and 12.5% English. I might not be so good at math, but, by golly, I learned my percentages!!

My friend, Pam fared much better than I. The first thing she discovered is that someone---a very distant cousin that she's never heard of---already researched her side. All she had to do was print out the information. Seems like her family must have come over with Christopher Columbus as she had information going back to the 1500's. They've been in TN for a very long time. One thing that she came across was a lot of divorces all down the line. That's where I think the relevance of our family being from a long line of Catholics---not a single divorce.

I also learned that the records currently available only go to the 1920 census. Because of the privacy act, more recent information cannot be revealed yet. The 1940 census records are due to come out about 2010.

I plan to give everyone copies of what I've found. But, you will need to email me if you want it so I'll know how many to make.

This was so interesting and totally worth the trip. I'm pumped for my St. Louis trip at the end of the month. I'm going to visit Calvary cemetery and find all the grave stones and death records that I can. Anyone want to take off work and come with me? It'll be an adventure! We can get some 'rubbings' too!