Friday, December 18, 2020

Fly On The Wall During A COVID Christmas

     Welcome to another edition of Fly On The Wall group blog postings, hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado. Today, 4 bloggers are opening the "virtual" doors to their homes so that you can have a sneak peek at what goes on inside when only the nosy fly is watching. 

     I've been doing quite a bit of writing lately and wanted to share some links with you. I'm thrilled to share what I consider one of my funniest stories EVER---of course, it has to do with my hubs AND a recent plumbing disaster (gross but hilarious, I promise). Next, I had an article published in Covey Club about my anxiety during the pandemic and how my sweet little pug is getting me through it. Lastly, I am now a regular contributor to Alway Pets, and my most recent article matches the reader's horoscope with a variety of pets. You can find the links to all of these NEW articles here: 

"The Day I Learned My Husband Was A Crappy Plumber" on WRY TIMES 

"How A Rescue Dog Helped Me During The Pandemic" on COVEY CLUB 

"Best Pet Matches Foa All 12 Horoscope Signs" on ALWAYS PETS

     As many of you know after reading my last blog post, Tracing My Roots,  I have been knee-deep in family history and loving every minute of it. My husband Mac, however, has plenty to say about my research: 

ME: "This website is charging $300 for DNA kits that tell you what diseases you might be prone to."

MAC: "I'm prone to being stupid if I spend that kind of money on a kit."

ME "I can't believe how far back I'm finding my ancestors on this family tree!"

MAC: "Honey, you've gone so far back into your family tree that I wouldn't be surprised if you found a relative who was at The Last Supper."

MAC: " just sent me an email saying that my test results were inconclusive and that I have to do another test!"

ME: "Did they address your email to, 'Dear llama'......?"

ME: "Since you're adopted, I think it's important to find out your family roots so that we know what's in your gene pool."

MAC: "It's a cesspool, not a gene pool."

     As we prepare for the holidays, the fly on the wall has seen the hustle and bustle around here as I bake and wrap gifts. However, one bright spot in this lousy pandemic is that I was able to do ALL my shopping online, and in my pajamas, no less! The important thing though is that we are making our own kind of fun during these trying times, and the fly has witnessed it all.....

"Excuse me---you spent how much on Christmas decorations??"

"Sorry, but I had to---you know how our family is so steeped in tradition."

"More like steeped in stupidity."

 "Are you going to pick up a holiday turkey from Aldi's today?"

"No way, I hate that store. They only sell Faux-Turkeys there."

"I was a little nervous at our annual screening today when they put that ultrasound wand on my carotid artery. I was afraid of what they'd find."

"Not me. As soon as I heard the heartbeat on the ultrasound, I told the tech it sounded like my COVID baby was doing just fine."

"I still have some meds leftover from my last prescription. You can have them." 

"Your prescription is probably from 1868, but sure, I can go ahead and take it...." 

"My daughters must love me so much....."

"What brought that on?"

"They both texted me today and called me 'Hoebag'."

"And that's....a sign of love?"

"Sure! We have names for all six of us in the family: Hoebag, Dirtbag, Douchebag, Scumbag, Fleabag, and Barfbag."

"I don't even want to know which one of those names you gave me...."

     From our Hoe-Dirt-Douche-Scum-Flea-Barf Bag to yours, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Stay Save and MASK UP!!!

Click on these links for a peek into some other homes:


Baking In A Tornado        

Never Ever Give Up Hope   

Menopausal Mother         

Go Mama O.                

Friday, December 11, 2020

Tracing My Roots

Since I am still basically quarantining at home, I've done my best to keep busy during these last 9 months. I've cleaned out closets and drawers, redecorated my living room, created a new outdoor garden space, organized dozens of boxes of mementos that date back to 1975 (old letters, photos, trinkets, etc.) and have been writing regularly now for a new website called, "Always Pets." But my FAVORITE journey during this entire pandemic process has been tracing my family roots through

Twelve years ago, when my father was still alive, we spent an entire summer tracing his family tree. This was long before either of us knew how to use the internet, and I don't believe that even existed. My research was conducted from old boxes of photos and papers that my parents had saved, along with countless hours spent at the local library. My father had always believed his family was of German and Irish descent. Well, he was right about Germany, but it was such a thrill to show him that a large part of his ancestry was Scottish (with nary a drop of Irish blood). After my father died in 2008, I lost interest in tracing my roots. It just wasn't the same without his input and enthusiasm. 

My father and his brothers in the late 1940s

When my mother passed away eight years later, she left me a treasure trove of old family pictures, letters, and documents. Boxes and boxes, in fact. There was so much information that I became overwhelmed and shoved them to the back corner of my closet, where they have stayed until now. While doing my pandemic house purge, I came across the dusty boxes, and after lifting the first cardboard flap, it was like opening a portal to a past. 

Mom, senior year
high school

I've always been fascinated with history, but when I read my mother's faint handwriting on the backs of the old black and white photos, I felt the familiar thrill of discovery and knew I had to get back to my roots. 

I joined, took the DNA test, and was excited about the results. As suspected, I am primarily of German, Scottish and English descent. But then I discovered a little Sweden and Norway mixed in my DNA. I didn't see that coming! A small fraction of blood from Wales and France, but much smaller than I had previously believed.

My grandmother, great-grandmother, an aunt,
and great-great-grandmother (maternal side)

The information doesn't stop there. I was able to trace my Scottish paternal ancestors all the way back to 1445 and found many from my English maternal side dating back to the mid-1500s. I already had some of the background information on file from my previous research and from documents my father had kept. For instance, I'm related to Robert Livingston, who signed the Declaration of Independence, and also to Gen. George Custer. I'm not too proud of that last one, but it was fascinating to see how my maiden last name Kester evolved from Von Kuster, Koster, Custer, and Kuster. On my mother's side, I have descendants that were French Huguenots, and oddly enough, a grandmother from Salem in the late 1600s who was accused of witchcraft (but later acquitted), which might explain where some of my great-grandfather's weird psychic tendencies came from, as well as my own.

My paternal grandmother (toddler), great-grandfather, great-great-grandmother and 3x-great-grandmother

I've also enjoyed discovering tons of old ancestry photos on the site as well as documents, maps, and even pictures of the weathered headstones of my relatives' graves. Even more fun---many of my distant cousins on contacted me after my DNA results came in, and it has been fascinating to see how we are all connected!

My grandmother (paternal side) with her father-in-law on the beach. Yes, that is her bathing suit!

It feels good to step back in time--it takes my mind off this terribly bleak year of the plague. But most of all, I can feel my father smiling down on me for continuing the search we started so many years ago. And it's incredibly comforting to see how we are ALL truly connected to one another on this amazing planet. 

***I have hundreds and hundreds of photos, but here are some of my favorites. Enjoy this step back in time with me!    


Gilbert Livingston, 6th great-grandfather (paternal side)

Henry Livingston, 5th great-grandfather(paternal side)

Cornelia Beekman, 5th great-grandfather (paternal side)

George Boyd, 3rd great-grandfather (paternal side)

Elizabeth Livingston, 3rd great-grandmother (paternal side)


                Assorted great-great-grandparents, great-grandparents, great aunts, and great uncles (maternal side) I Love their goofiness!

Adeline Eaton, 2nd great-grandmother (maternal side)

George Ober, 2nd great-grandfather (maternal side)

     Sidney Ober, my ultra funny great-grandfather (maternal side) who was also a photographer.

                      Marion Ober, my grandmother (maternal side) as a little girl

                   Robert Syrett, my grandfather (maternal side) as a young man

My grandparents William Kester and Mae Anna Jones (paternal side)


Ida Walkup, great-grandmother
(paternal side) We should all be like Ida!

           The family roots never end, and I am enjoying this journey every step of the way. This one is for you, Daddy!                  



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