All those years ago

10 September, 2016
Rat Fink

Leave it to me to replace one addiction with another.

Shortly after I took a break from Facebook, I received an offer for two free weeks of

Hahaha. Haha. Ha. Ha.

Well a week later, here I am. I’ve traced both sides of my family (parentage only…the whole tree will take me probably the rest of my life) as far as I can go. But wow, the places I went…

Our two family names are Pierce (father) and Martin (mother). Here’s what I found.

I mapped my paternal heritage back to circa 1770, when my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Seth John Pierce, came over from Ireland and fought in the Revolutionary War, living out his life afterwards in Georgia. Fortunately, Seth’s wife, Millie Askew, had a much longer published ancestry, almost exclusively from England. William Askew is my 11th great grandfather.

On the Martin side, we go waaay back. As luck would have it, Scottish and Irish aristocracy kept careful birth and death records, and I hit the jackpot all the way back to the 15th century. Fascinating.

I find myself wondering what they looked like, how they lived, what their personalities were. They obviously had station and land. Why was this not passed down to me? I ask you. I ask Grandpa Martin, and the 14 Grandpa Martins who came before him.

As I read the forums and comments on the Ancestry site, I see that many families have an official genealogist/archivist. I am far from that, but now that I’ve got us mapped with parent sets, I’m looking forward to branching out on the tree and seeing who else we might be tied up with.

Terrific. Another obsession to get up at 4:30 a.m. to satisfy. Psh.

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Lady Rat of Fink

I’m not dead yet

28 August, 2016
Rat Fink

Oh, knock it off already.

Oh, knock it off already.

I always thought people who took a “social media vacation” were kind of silly. Seriously, either you can handle it or you can’t. Log on or not. Makes no diff, so stop being a big baby about it.

I love social media, as many of you know. The fun banter, the checking in on people, seeing everyone’s pictures, sharing about life events and pets and grandchildren, and commiserating about sports teams — I adore it all. But over the last few weeks, I became, I dunno….sidetracked. By some ghoulish turn, I found myself increasingly drawn to the resultant anger of reading articles about Donald Trump, blog posts about those who would “reform” public education in order to line their own pockets at the expense of kids, and reports of yet another idiot exercising his “2nd Amendment rights” by blowing someone’s head off.

Looking back, I recognize that I was morphing into a slightly different morning routine: Come downstairs, start the coffee, take pups out, grab a mug, sit down at the box, and hit the political articles posted on Facebook. Add to that the new twist of starting school, and I was doing all the above plus hitting the road and dealing with the standard problems of teaching and being a union president. Add to that the slight increase of stress associated with my longtime friend and partner in musical theater going through chemotherapy this fall, and I guess you could say I’d become a pretty grinchy rat over a very short time span. Comparably tiny glitches in the routine were making me bark at people who care about me. It was getting to where I didn’t like me very much.

So…stop. Enough. Back up the truck. Mama needs a cool change.

On 26 August, I deactivated my Facebook profile. And of course I wanted to announce it in a positive light, for two reasons: 1) I hate it when people get all upset in an online forum and announce, “I’m leaving!” Just leave already fuh cripesake, and take your swan song drama with you;  2) however, when my friends found I’d deactivated, some would surely contact me and ask what was up, so I thought I’d head some of that off at the pass. Anyway, that was Friday night. Now it’s Sunday morning. And you know what?

I don’t want to go on the cart.

I’m not dead yet. :-)

I’ll most certainly be back, but I’m thinking maybe after my show closes and the election is over — both of which happen around the same time. Maybe sooner, maybe later. It’ll just depend on my rattitude. I envy people who can juggle all the plates and keep it all together in a manageable balance. Me? I think I was feeding the wrong wolf, and that’s not healthy. When you get up in the morning searching for outrage instead of peace, you’re out of round; cracking the enamel. And that’s where I was headed.

It’s kinda weird, actually: As I write to you, I’m thinking about rehearsals for Addams Family starting tomorrow. But the thoughts are not soaked in dread, as they were a couple weeks ago. Instead, I feel something akin to a healthy fear. haha But it’s good. I’m not allowing myself to read the news sites this morning; I need to munch on something else for breakfast; like peace. Maybe later I’ll catch up on the news of the world, but not now, in the formative minutes of daybreak. I have to frame my morning more carefully, and I get no peace from reading about guns and Trumpkins, say thankya.

So here I am, temporarily quit of social media, and still alive and stuff. I have no idea what happened in American politics overnight, and don’t plan to get one until later. And I’m fine with that. Meantime, I’ll get some school work done and have a chat with the Thriller. Happy Sumday, fiends. Fink out.

Shouldn’t-a done that.

1 August, 2016
Rat Fink

I (feel like) I ate the whole thing.

I (feel like I) ate the whole thing.

So here it is, 3:30 a.m., and I’ve been up since I opened my eyes at 1:40. I blame the birthday cake.

Yesterday was the Thriller’s big day, and we had a small gathering to celebrate; kind of an “open house” deal, in an effort to make it convenient for the kids and their families to just come over when they could.

I didn’t plan anything for dinner, figuring that we could just make a sandwich or something at 6:00, when everyone left. Well….turns out that dinner was cake. And cake, and more cake. While this photo is an exaggeration, by the time I went to bed last night, I felt like the four pieces I’d eaten between 4:30 and 6:30 were all that size.

Cake wasted. Oh, and don’t forget the half piece before bed, with a small cup of milk, of all things (I rarely drink the stuff, and even this was the lactose-free kind). I think that was the deal-breaker.

Unfortunately for me, I can’t do the “bedtime snack” routine. It interferes with my already-shaky sleeping patterns, and I end up wide awake with indigestion at 2 a.m. Last night was no exception; only this time, a nightmare came along for the ride:

I was standing in my high school parking lot, having just got back from teaching middle school choir (strange, because I don’t travel for my job; the kids all come to me from the building next door). I was baffled because even though I’d just arrived, somehow I couldn’t find my car. Dude…

So I did the beep-beep thing on the key fob, trying to locate it. Every car in the parking lot responded — except mine. I remember pointing my keychain at a motorcycle, and it kept beep-beep responding to me. I tried to tell a group of students that “this motorcycle has stolen the code to my car,” but they acted like they didn’t hear me. Panic scratched at the back of my brain.

Switch to the teacher lounge at the high school, which in reality is the size of a small bedroom, but somehow today held the entire faculty — most of whom I didn’t know. I retold my tale but no one listened, except a guy who is a principal in another district, and even he was more interested in my Browns season tickets than my plight. (Like I’d sell ’em if I had ’em.)

Suddenly, I was out searching the parking lot again, when, to my horror, I realized I’d blown off middle school choir (which supposedly I had already taught, right?), and now, on top of losing my car, I was going to lose my job.


I came to and looked at the clock: 1:39. The ooky feeling in my gut told me why I was floating around in dreamland. Indigestion was keeping me semi-awake, or at least not deeply asleep. Drat that birthday cake.

Shouldn’t-a done that.

So now I’m up for the day, as it’s 4:15 and there’s really no point in attempting a do-over, even though the Pepto is starting to work. Meh…serves me right. I rarely eat high-sugar/high-fat stuff in any great amount, so it shouldn’t surprise me at all that I’d be affected by making a meal (or three) out of it, all in one afternoon.

Rat Fink, Rat Fink. What a donkey. *yawn*

“In times like these…”

30 July, 2016
Rat Fink

OK, Billy Graham Crusade veterans: What song starts with that line, and who was famous for singing it? Ah, memories of my mother. She had a bunch of his albums.

Anyway, I was thinking of a post title that ran along the lines of, “In difficult and changing times like these,” and it reminded me of that song.

To say that this summer has been interesting would be an understatement. There have been some beautiful peaks and deep, sad, challenging valleys; I’ve experienced it all, and it ain’t over yet.

I’m staring down the throat of another school year full of uncertainty, but hopefully equally jammed with some great music and memorable experiences with my kids and the fantastic group of parents (an embarrassment of riches, hidden in two little roadside towns) who support what we do. If some other “issues” stay out of the way, or at least under control, I think we can make it happen.

And while RtB is basically a politics-free zone (this is the 20th post in the “Politics” category in Finkweb’s 8.5-year history), I will say that the most chronic, irritating question of the summer for me, personally, is “How on God’s green earth can evangelical Christians support Trump?” He’s an unrepentant bigot who basically laughed when asked why evangelicals seemed to flock to him. “I don’t know [chuckling], but they love me. You’ll have to ask them why, but they love me.”

Unbelievable. Christians: Trump’s Chumps, fueled by fear of the brown people. To those folks, I direct you here, to an op-ed written by a Republican in the The Federalist, one of the most ultra-conservative, anti-Democrat sites out there. I know it’s not the only opinion, but it’s one I share.

This is the most publicly politic I’ve been thus far this election season, as I don’t like to broadcast my opinions when I have so many students and parents who read my stuff. But there comes a time when I feel I must use this forum — not politically as much as personally — to get out the megaphone and do a little Elmer Gantry-ing. I wouldn’t presume to be able to influence who people vote for; I just hope it’s not him.

But…politics, like any other polarizing issue (religion, cars, operating systems, dog breeds and favorite colors), is not given to shifting people’s paradigms. “And no minds were changed” and all that. But I look at how evangelical leaders who support Trump are reaching for bizarre rationalizations for their support (really, Dobson? A “baby Christian?”), I have to wonder what Trump did that swayed them into overlooking almost everything else, since many Christians vote values as highly as platform.

I guess in the final analysis, it won’t matter what I think or say, or what anyone thinks or says to me. The voters will decide, although this is one time I confess I’m grateful for the electoral college. It might be the only hope for Trump to go away.

Regardless, there are other matters more pressing and important to me, like our next Odyssey, the grandsons, friends and family, and what I’m going to eat next.

Especially that last thing.

Happy weekend, fiends — it’s Saturnday! Get out there and have some fun before it rains.

Mt. Vernon and Shenandoah

11 July, 2016
Rat Fink

What a whirlwind Odyssey this one has been! Thanks again for playing along and looking at my pretty pictures and silly stories. Coming to you today from the Hyundai Elantra — the first place in a couple of days where there’s been a half decent connection.

George Washington's back yard

George Washington’s back yard

We started out from DC on Saturday and drove 45 minutes to George Washington’s historic paradise, Mount Vernon. They wouldn’t allow photography in the house itself, but encouraged it when we went out the back door onto the long veranda, where Washington entertained his guests by serving tea and exchanging stories while watching boats come and go down the Potomac.

The reason this view is pristine is because of a ladies’ group in the 1950s, who started buying up all the Maryland property facing Mt. Vernon. They wanted to preserve the land so that future generations could visit the mansion, look across the Potomac, and see *exactly* what George Washington saw when he sat on his veranda. How cool is that?

As was the case with our entire time in DC, the heat was oppressive. I was dreading the tour inside the mansion, but either I’d forgotten the place was air conditioned since I was there 30 years ago, or they had installed air conditioning in the house since I was there last. Anyway, cool, literally!

View from our door

View from our door

After the tour, we headed off to Shenandoah National Park, and checked into the Big Meadows Lodge. Of course, the natural beauty of the place was breathtaking. We pulled over to many of the dozens of “overlooks” the National Park Service carved out in order for people to pull off to the side of the road and take photos.

We went on the Limberlost Trail hike (not a difficult trail at all, but the 1.5 miles felt a bit longer for some reason). We enjoyed the quiet, the restaurant, the walks, the history and the animals.

Over the last seven years, we’ve visited over a dozen national parks, monuments and battlefields, countless preserves and state parks, and a hundred different unplanned side-trips to see cool things in nature, and never before have we seen so much wildlife up-close as we saw this trip. We even saw our first bear! Days upon days at Glacier, Grand Teton, Mt. St. Helens, Yellowstone and Sequoia, and we never glimpsed a single one.

We decided that as much as we admire and love looking at the gorgeous natural spaces and unspoiled wilderness, we are not rustic travelers. Rather, we will in the future admire it from the roadside, a small stroll, or from a train or car. The lodge/camping experience (at least when we’re paying outrageous prices — if we’re going to do that, Mama wants room service and stunning cityscapes and fantastic food), isn’t really for us, so we’ll do something different in the future.

What’s that, you ask? Well, Odyssey 2017 is this. :-)

Again, thanks so much for tagging along for the pictures and stories. We loved this rather brief, but fantastic voyage full of history and beauty and relaxation. Ciao!

Fink and the Thriller, just crossing the Pennsylvania line