Devious Sisters

She looks sweet and innocent, doesn’t she?

Holly & blanket

All those cute little curls. The baby of the family.

Holly Easter 1965

But oh no. Don’t let that sweet smile fool you.

This weekend we went on a little trip to see her new house. And a beautiful place it is, too. While there we did some canning together, visited, laughed over old stories. She asked me if I wanted a wool blanket, and I made the mistake of saying ‘sure!’. After all, you never know when the big quake will hit and you’ll need blankets. I also agreed to take a very few small knick knacks that belonged to Aunty, who was like our grandmother.

But the little sweet and innocent baby sister is a sneak.

In the box were more things. Old things. Things she didn’t want, but didn’t have the heart to get rid of herself since they have emotional attachments. Things that belonged to our mother, or to Aunty.

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Stamp on the bottom is a spider web with a star in the middle and the letter ‘W’ in the middle of the star. Then there’s ‘7 d’ stamped above the spider web.

Things I didn’t agree to take.

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Very 1970s. Used to hang in our bathroom. Not going to hang in mine.

And now I’m stuck with them because they have emotional attachments. I decided to take them to the thrift store but my husband thinks all this is just hilarious. Of course he does.

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Gold inlay, no less

He doesn’t dust.

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The sweet little stinker has no idea what she’s just started. I believe I have some old things around here that I can sneak into a box that might head her direction.

Blood Connections

I’ve been thinking about family lately. Both kinds. The ones forcibly tied to you by the accident of shared blood and DNA, and the ones you choose.

I have three sisters. One shares my DNA and two don’t. But all three are my greatly loved sisters. I also have a couple sisters-in-law that I’m kind of partial to (don’t let it go to your heads, girls). They are family, with no thought on my part as to whether DNA figures into it or not.

B2, Mont 09 116

Sisters

Vegas sisters

Las Vegas Sisters

I have uncles, aunts, and cousins that I’ve never met and wouldn’t recognize if they passed me on the street. I have some friends who are deeply ingrained in my heart that I can’t imagine life without.

And just recently I’ve found that there’s even more family out there I’ve never met. Adoption brings a whole new equation to that phrase ‘aunts, uncles, and cousins’. My mother was adopted at birth and I’ve just recently found some history on her biological mother, and some first cousins.

June Davis (mom young)

Mom with adopted great aunt and uncle. Oddly, mom and the great-aunt look alike.

Do those new relatives matter?

Not much in the grand scheme of things, personally. I’d like to find out medical history. You know, when your doctor says ‘does your family have a history of…’ and you have to sit there with a blank look on your face. It would be nice to be able to answer instead. But overall, the people who would have been dramatically impacted by this discovery are of past generations. My mother, who longed to find blood family all her life, died before so much of this was available online.

It obviously meant a lot to her. That connection of shared blood. I know it means a lot to some of my family.

But me? Shared blood is just shared chemicals. That DNA bit doesn’t mean someone is entitled to love, as everyone knows. It doesn’t mean I have an obligation to someone simply because we’re ‘family’. It doesn’t mean there’s any connection.

And yet…

I was in Scotland and Denmark in July. I’ve been to Scotland before and love the area of Caithness. In particular, the towns of Dunnet and Thurso where I have friends. It was so, so wonderful to be back there. Not just seeing my good friends, but being there. The northern and western coasts just simply fill my heart. I took more photos there than anywhere else on the trip. No, I’m not going to slide off into a tangent on inherited memories and ancestors and unexplainable connections to land. That’s not me.

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Dunnet Head

And yet…

I found all the information on my mother’s biological mother and those assorted new relatives because I did a DNA test. I put a great deal of thought and discussion into the pros and cons, and ultimately decided I wanted that medical history.

One of the things that came back was an almost 80% match to Scotland. No surprises there. All you have to do is look at my hair and freckles to know there’s either Scotland or Ireland in there somewhere. But this test was more specific than that. Not just Scotland, but the western coast of Scotland. Exactly where I was a couple months ago, madly taking almost five hundred pictures. Little did I know.

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There were no DNA results that tied any miniscule part of me to Denmark.

I took less than ten photos in Denmark.

Of course that could all be because I live in the mountains. High country will always be my spiritual home. Rain and fog and low clouds. Trees and, yes, okay, heather is kind of nice. I love the mystery of the mountains when their craggy tops are hidden and you can imagine anything you want walking up there, free of crowds and traffic.

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But who knows. Maybe there’s something to that DNA thing after all. Not enough for me to change how I value and choose my family.

But maybe enough to change how I look at a landscape.

Or how I move through the stories tied to the land.

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I Love My Subconscious

But my subconscious doesn’t trust me. It doesn’t seem to think I’m smart enough to figure things out on my own.

Sometime in the wee hours last night I dreamed about a hornet. And a couple carpenter ants. And some earwigs. In the dream I’d moved some books and they all came out. They were crawling on me trying to sting and bite and I was madly trying to get them off me.

You know how nightmares go. When you describe something in the daylight after the fact, the dream sounds silly and you wonder why you were so scared. But during the dream you’re terrified.

My subconscious, though, didn’t seem to care that I was in the throes of panic trying to get the hornet off my arm.

Get this. In the middle of the dream, a, calm voice intrudes and says ‘this is what your character needs to feel right now’.

Geez. Even in my dreams I’m thinking about writing.

So now the tea is cold and my fingertips are numb because I’ve been madly typing for the past three hours.

I’m so glad my subconscious is smarter than me.