Henry Clay Plasterer Family


People, your Auntie has a terrible addiction.  It’s called Ancestry.com, the genealogy/family history website.  It is my crack.

You may laugh. But I am not alone. And for those of you who know me, you will realize that it’s a perfect storm of addiction when I tell you that it combines

  • Mysteries
  • Biographies
  • History
  • Family
  • Research

as well as pictures (sometimes), evidence (in many cases) and INSTANT GRATIFICATION, all from the privacy of your own computer or smartphone, because of course they have an app.

Let me tell you something:  you have not LIVED until you have stayed up till three a.m. clicking little shaky-leaf hints, trawling through grand-uncles and sloppy handwritten 1850 censuses and blurry images of gravestones that might be my relatives to find OMG FOUR PICTURES OF MY GREAT-GREAT-GRANDMOTHER THAT I’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE! And my cousin looks EXACTLY LIKE HER!


I can stop any time I want to.  Except I will NEVER WANT TO!!! I’m not even sorry, really, except I really should not let it interfere with my sleep quite as much as I have over the years. I really shouldn’t.  But will that change anything? Probably not.

Because there’s a comfortable feeling of righteousness that goes along with my Crackcestry addition.  I am not up playing Candy Crush Saga into the wee hours of the morning; I am Doing Research and finding out Family History.  I am doing it for Posterity.  I am Helping Other People Learn About Their Families.

Oh, did I not mention that last part? Because in addition to my own sprawling, 1200-person family tree, and the four family trees I’ve made out of curiosity (two minor historical figures, two old people I’ve known who told me all about their family history in great detail), I also have four trees dedicated to searching FRIENDS’ family history.  As a service to them, you understand.  Because I love them, and I am generously donating my time and research prowess.

Not because I have a problem.  It’s not a problem; it’s not a hobby that is way out-of-hand.


It’s a mission.

Soooo sleepy.

Guerrilla Napping

I coined a phrase the other day: “guerrilla napping”.  The phrasing came to me through the idea of Guerrilla theatre, a form of theatre-cum-protest especially popular in the 1960s; a “friendlier” version lives on in today’s flashmob.

Guerrilla napping has two meanings: 1) a nap sneaks up on you unexpectedly; 2) you decide to nap in an unusual place.  While anyone can do either, I believe that dads (and grandpas, who are exponentially more dad-like than just a regular dad) are the masters of the first definition, while cats are certainly masters of the second.

Let’s take dads. I don’t know about yours, but my dad has fallen asleep at random more times than I can count.  It goes this way:  he’ll be sitting somewhere, watching television or listening to people talk, when suddenly his eyes will close and his head will drop back.  He may or may not snore.  If others are talking, he may suddenly interject a nonsensical word or phrase, and we have to explain to him that he was asleep.  If he’s watching TV, we may try to change the channel and he will say “I was watching that.” “Dad, you were snoring.” “Oh.” Back to sleep.

Cats, on the other hand, just don’t care whether their nap space is comfortable-looking or convenient to those around them.  It’s naptime, people, so napping is happening.

At least it’s warm?

I find myself combining both aspects of guerrilla napping quite a bit these days.  It goes this way: I’ll be reading or watching TV while sitting on my bed. My cat will have taken up a nap-ready position somewhere inconvenient on the bed.  I suddenly find myself OVERCOME by sleepiness and decide to stretch out “just for a few minutes” (ha ha ha).  I curl up around my cat wherever she is (because what is better than a nap/cuddle with one’s kitty?), and suddenly it’s two hours later.  I’m blinking myself awake, wondering how I ended up in such an awkward position.

What are your guerrilla napping experiences?  Do you have a pet or relative who guerrilla naps on a regular basis?  Tell me in the comments.

I just called to say "I love you."

The Wonder of Stevie Wonder

I think I first came across Stevie Wonder when I saw him on Sesame Street some time in the late 1970s or early 1980s.  (Side note:  why is 1970s Sesame Street so much better than all other Sesame Streets? I may have to explore this in another post.)  I remember asking my mom why he wore sunglasses, and she explained that he couldn’t see and that blind people would often wear sunglasses when they were on TV, perhaps because of the bright lights.  (A quick Google search on the question tells me that there are multiple reasons–lights being one of them–and another is to signal to those around them that the person is blind.)  In any case, I’ve known about Stevie Wonder and his great music and idiosyncratic dance style for most of my life.  I like a lot of his songs and he has a very distinctive sound.  Recently I heard his uptempo version of “For Once In My Life” and went looking for a video of it.  I found this one:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vxVyaYuGYE This video is awesome, for several reasons that we need to talk about.

  • SW is approximately 18 in this video.  He is SMOKING HOT.  Pardon me, Young Stevie, for wanting to cougar you up.  Sorry I’m not sorry.
  • He’s been dancing like that for a long, long time.
  • Speaking of dancing:  those backup dancers kind of suck.  Why the lack of coordination? They start off dancing together, and then it falls apart, with no choreography at all.
  • I do LOVE that their dance group is a) interracial, and b) wearing cute outfits.  You can see the influence of the 1920s on 1960s fashion here, with the sleeveless, straight, drop-waist dresses.
  • Notice how they hand Stevie his harmonica and then take it from him after the harmonica break, even though the whole thing is clearly lip-synced.  That is some dedication to verisimilitude, right there.

I haven’t been able to find the source of that video, so if you know anything about it, please share.  In the meantime, tell me about your Stevie Wonder experiences.

All boo'ed up.

What makes a good friend?

What makes a good friend?  I see a lot of my younger acquaintances struggle with this question.

Your Auntie moved around a lot as a child, and learned how to make friends quickly.  Sadly, there came the inevitable moments (fifth grade, junior high, junior year of high school) when “friendships” soured and Auntie had to decide whether to keep or ditch them.  Fortunately, I had wise older people in my life who helped me figure it out, and now I’m helping you.

First, what makes a good friend?

  • A good friend likes and respects you, and you like and respect them.
  • A good friend is loyal to you.
  • A good friend helps you become a better you.

Let’s break it down.

A good friend likes and respects you (and you feel that way about them). Contrary to what many people think, friends don’t have to have everything in common with you.  One of my friends (whom I’ll call Aunt C.) is about as unlike me as is possible to be (in the early days, we disagreed on nearly everything). And yet, over time, we developed a mutual liking and respect.  She and I have both grown immeasurably through the friendship, and we are friends for life (although we each secretly think the other is a little bit wacky).

A good friend is loyal to you. My dear friend Aunt J. always says that she would “bury a body for me” (Aunt J. is from the South and may have Mafia connections, so…).  Sadly, my commitment to law and order renders me unable to reciprocate, but I would go very far for her.  And in the following situation, I might be persuaded to help with the body.

Goodbye Earl

A good friend helps you become a better you.   My friend Aunt D. is a writer, and she is always pushing me to woman up and write.  I am a procrastinator and have long called myself a “lazy writer” (“Why does everyone always think I’m a writer? Why do they always want me to write stuff?”), but Aunt D. is a no-nonsense woman, and HERE I AM WITH A BLOG AT LAST.  And all the better for it.

There is, of course, more to say on the subject of what makes a good friend.  I’ll write future posts on friendship, but in the meantime, why not share what you think makes a good friend? Feel free to include examples from your life.

Cool Aunt blog profile pic

Welcome to Auntie’s Place!

Everyone needs a Cool Aunt. Most of us have one or have met one. A Cool Aunt is a “character” with life experience and advice to share. She’s the person who lets you stay up too late (and sleep in the next day), who gets you the present you really wanted, who cares about what you think no matter what age you are. She encourages and supports your experiments with looks, ideas, and identity without batting an eye, no matter how silly–although she might steer you gently in the direction of better taste (but you won’t realize that until later).

Everyone needs a Cool Aunt, because we all need someone who is in our corner, who won’t judge us, who helps us look and feel better. I have been blessed with awesome Cool Aunts, and have been working on my Cool Aunt credentials for quite a few years now. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you. :-)

I would love to hear about your Cool Aunt–please leave your stories in the comments!