WTC Fam Tree

Quest for the Conqueror

I’m a nerd. I think I’ve already established that fact. So it should come as no surprise that I enjoy nerdy girl things, like spending hours on exploring all the research that my grandmother (and many others) have poured over on our family tree.

Last night I stayed up way too late in a quest to verify our family connection to William the Conqueror, First Norman King of England, son of Robert, The Magnificent (aka The Devil), Duke of Normandy. You see, as a nerdy girl, I am also a card-carrying super fan-girl of the HistorWTC Fam Treey Chanel’s series Vikings, and if you watch, you may know that William the Conqueror was the (5X) great grandson of Rollo the Viking. And that’s really exciting to me.

Every family tree has some knotholes. Mine has LOTS. We have civil-war deserters. We have British spies during the Revolutionary war. We have gamblers, tramps, thieves, and much worse. We also have royalty, vikings, clans in kilts, butchers, nurses, farmers… we have everything. In short, my family is a good cross-section of the DNA of any other American.

Looking over the generations has been fun. Seeing the images of centuries-old handwriting has been fascinating. Draft cards, census records, marriage and death certificates, photos of everything from children, statues, gravestones, castles to cabins have intrigued me and sparked a narrative that will play in my mind for hours to come. I’m a nerd, and that’s what I do.

How to Love a Mockingbird

Before you get too excited, this is not a post about Harper Lee, her new book, her old book, or anything so noble. This little tidbit is simply about… a mockingbird.

I’m a Texan, and mockingbirds are our state bird. I live out in the country, where the birds are more common. We have one that resides in the field beside our home and keeps us entertained constantly. We have, on occasion, listened to him mimic the bob-white quail that scurry from one mesquite tree to the next. We’ve heard him “mock” the feral kittens in the area, with a tiny mew mew mew. He even trills the song of the frogs after a rainy night. He has quite a large repertoire.

But last week we were shocked at the new song he was singing. My husband and I were leaving for church, early on Sunday morning, and as our garage door finished its obnoxiously squeaky ascent to the open position, we heard the mockingbird’s ballad. Squee-ee-ee-ee-lumma-lumma-ee-ee-lumma-lumma-ee-ee-chirrup. That’s right; it was our annoying garage door noise, reflected back to us in song.

Now my husband is set on WD-40-ing the tracks to eliminate that whine, but I don’t want the bird to stop his serenade.  While I hated the squeal before, and was all in favor of  ridding the world of the din, I now enjoy that our little bird has turned it into something lovely and sweet.

I’m grateful for, and love, our mockingbird.

Just One Little Weird Thing

I do this one weird thing. I write. I like to tell stories about things that haven’t happened, that won’t happen, that could never happen. Unless they do.

I’m a big fan of Ian Fleming, Ray Bradbury, and Gene Roddenberry. I’m a gadget geek. I love to look back at what these writers imagined– impossible and outrageous things– that are now commonplace in our lives. I marvel at their foresight. I enjoy every last little detail they include. Of course some things didn’t work out just as they wrote, but many others things did.

My whole life I’ve had ideas that I have suggested to people, only to be dissuaded and told my ideas were not practical, realistic, or marketable. And now years later I can go to the store and purchase those products. I have a trunk full of stories that I have written by hand on lined notebook paper (some from when I was in junior high) that people thought were silly or “out there.” But today I can go to the store and buy DVDs of Van Helsing, Enough, Eight Days and Seven Nights, and a few others as well.

What this tells me is that I need to trust more in my instincts. Do it anyway. Put in my earbuds and sing. (figuratively speaking– not literally– nobody wants that)


Chocolate and Coffee

I am a terrible cook. I can follow a recipe just fine. And lots of things I fix taste good. But since Mrs. Spurgeon’s 7th Grade Home Ec class at Crockett Junior High School, my kitchen skills have not increased substantially. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I became a writer.

I don’t mind cooking, but it’s definitely not my favorite thing to do, nor is the cleaning that follows. I have one, and only one, special thing that I make that garners an “ooh” or “ahh.” It called Black Magic Cake, from my Hershey’s Cookbook. It’s the best. The best. It’s so yummy that you don’t need frosting.Black Magic

It’s a dark chocolate cake that you make with coffee and buttermilk in the batter. (And I never have buttermilk, so I do the milk + vinegar trick. Thanks, Mrs. Spurgeon!) You can’t really taste the coffee in it– well, that’s what I tell all my friends who don’t like coffee. You can totally taste the coffee, and it’s amazing. It’s so delicious that my lied-to friends always say, “Wow! This is really good! And you’re right. You can’t taste the coffee.” I’m evil.

But after all, it’s called Black Magic Cake. Click here for the recipe!