Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nonnie Wafts

Nonnie Wafts

waft |wäft, waft|
pass or cause to pass easily or gently through or as if through the air

I’ve been too busy wafting to write lately. (Well, I also blew my wad on that last poem I posted.  I had to wait for a refill from Whoever distributes that kind of thing.  Writers of lesser works get fill-ups, too, you know. Maybe half a tank or maybe a trickle-I never know what to expect-and I damn sure don’t know when to expect it.) Anyways, back to wafting. One hot afternoon I up and started tracing my ancestry. As I’m pretty sure you know, it’s an easy thing to do these days, thanks to people like poor Steve Jobs-pancreatic cancer, jeez louise! 

genealogy |ˌjēnēˈäləjē, -ˈal-|
noun ( pl. genealogies )
a line of descent traced continuously from an ancestor: combing through the birth records and genealogies.
• the study and tracing of lines of descent or development.
• a plant's or animal's line of evolutionary development from earlier forms. 
genealogist |-jist|noun,
genealogize |-ˌjīz|verb
ORIGIN Middle English: via Old French and late Latin from Greek genealogia, from genea ‘race, generation’ + -logia (see -logy) .

That’s what I’m doing, combing through, only I never suspected I’d find it to be such a warm, romantic, emotional experience. Take Joseph Kennedy, our Joseph Kennedy, who was born in 1840, in Athlone, Westmeath, Ireland, five years before the potato famine, “an Gortá Mór”, the “Great Hunger,” began. Then I learned that he moved to Liverpool and in 1860, or so, he married an English girl, Elizabeth Campbell.   In1882 his wife and two of his daughters took a ship to the US. I imagine Joseph died in Liverpool sometime before his wife got on the boat.  He was an iron turner and Elizabeth was a cotton weaver. The two Kennedy sisters married two Blum brothers five years after getting to New York.  My guess is those girls were pretty, with dimples like my Nana. 1840 is as far back as I’ve gotten with Joseph’s line-record keeping might not have been a priority for the likes of Irish iron-turners or English cotton-weavers in those days.

Now the French! They were serious about keeping track of people. I’ve gotten as far as 1600 with that bunch. I’m going to read about Samuel de Champlain’s settlement in Quebec City, because some of my ancestors were there. Pioneers! Tracing my mother’s father’s family had me wafting in France-Paris, even-and Canada for days.

For some time now it’s felt to me like my family’s been shrinking-I suppose a lot of people in my generation feel that way- what with their mom and dad, aunts and uncles gone, or in their old age. We know our “folk” are all over, some kindred spirits, some not so much, but still, there’s an emptiness above us we have to adjust to.

I feel bigger now.  After the little bit of looking back I’ve done, I’m beginning to sense how huge our family, hell, all our families are. I could be related to every single person that reads my maunderings.  (Yes, I know. “Maunder” is a verb, but if the talking heads can pounce on a perfectly good noun, “incentive,” use its awkward verb form and “incentivize” everything, I can make a noun out of “maunder.”. Well I think I can….er, obviously.) After I die and get to do some quality, bodiless, wafting, I want to meet these men, women, and oh! so many infants and children, about whose births, marriages,  deaths, and immigration records I’ve been dreamily reading. I want to have a good talk with the wood carver from Bavaria, the lady music teacher in Old New York, the French knight, the English farmer. I want to play with all those babies, (so carefully, beautifully named!) and listen to the stories the children have to tell. 

The Florida heat, too much talk by and about Republicans, the general wonkiness of my health and my fed-up-it-ness with feeling guilty that it isn’t better, were getting to me-I was coming down with crankiness and dare I say it out loud? feeling sorry for myself. But I don’t have time for all that nonsense now.  I want to see what I can find out about the Augustines from Trieste, and bring my brothers up to speed about Joseph and Elizabeth from Liverpool.

Monday, August 15, 2011



Let’s hear it for children who can’t make the grade,
men who do yoga and don't part their hair,
long flowery skirts, soft voices, sad smiles,
muddlers, ditherers, timid types who won’t pounce,
old poems, people, houses, and shops,
misfits, crazies, loose women, short men.

Let’s ease up on the plump, the pimpled, the silly, 
the worn-out, the defeated, the below average thinkers,
plodders, shufflers, stooges, and tinkers.

Though some of us triumph, remain certain, look good,
 I humbly submit-most would if we could.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Nonnie and Drago Help Out the Economy

Haven’t written for awhile, but I’ve been busy spending money. My brother Drago and I had most of the floors in our house done in cool ( I mean that literally-underfoot temperature is important to pets and people during Florida summers) porcelain tile. Now the floors are Italian villa, the furniture is a mix of our late Mom and Dad’s Yankee farmhouse aesthetic, Drago’s sleek, slightly Asian bent, and my re-creation of the New York apartment I lived in during a past life when I was buddies with Dorothy Parker and her ilk. So the new flooring cost a bundle, but we happily spent the money knowing we were helping out small business in America, and because the wall-to-wall carpeting had to go-people, pets, and 20some years had done their thing. Writing was off the table, naturally, what with all the discombobulation of our house during our infrastructure project.

The second excuse I have for not writing is because I needed to help out the economy even more by buying a new Apple computer.  Oh, I know they have more money than the Federal government, but I WANTED A MACBOOK AIR! ONLY WEIGHS TWO POUNDS! The computer, the Airport Extreme WiFi thingy, an external hard drive for transferring data from the old ‘puter to new because the Migration Assistant wouldn’t work with the new WiFi box, (Adam from Applecare helped me with that-it was frustrating for him, too), and the gift cards I had to buy for other stuff I needed that the State of Florida won’t let you-oh, never mind-I still don’t understand that part of the process-all came in separate deliveries. Drago and the UPS guy were trading one-liners by the end of the week. Blossom, our dog, was greeting him with a wagging tail and no barks. After phone calls with Madison, Cesar, Phillip, ( the only snooty one), Carla, and dear Adam, I am now transferred to the sleek, beautiful, new Apple, and Drago is using my MacBook, so it’s still part of the family.

Yesterday I finally left the house, after avoiding the heat for as long as I could, to pick up prescriptions and run, well walk, errands.  I also paid a sad visit to Borders, which was plastered with “Going Out of Business” signs.  While driving back to our beautifully tiled home, I had NPR going on the radio and the talkers mentioned the 600+ stock market drop. Drago was home when I got there, watching CNBC.  I asked him if we’d have to sell Mom’s collection of Wedgewood Christmas plates. He laughed, said no, and I decided to take a nap.  Blossom and Sam, our cat, joined me on my elegant bed. I forgot to mention I’d also helped out the economy by buying a new bedspread and pillow shams. Online.