Ex, family, funny stories, LDS, Twitter

Turns out I have both knotty and nutty family ties…

I woke up at 5:41 am this morning, after having had a vivid dream about a southern town somewhere near where I came of age. I don’t remember much about the dream now. Sometimes, I wish I had Bill’s discipline, when it comes to recording dreams. He writes his down and sends them to his Jungian analyst. They talk about Bill’s dreams every week during their video chats.

I have vivid dreams, too, but I don’t remember most of them for long. Maybe I’m genetically less inclined to remember my rapid eye movements. It’s possible that this is a family trait.

Several years ago, I submitted samples to 23andMe and Ancestry.com. I started with 23andMe, because it seemed to be the more health focused of the two. It also had no ties to Mormonism. Some people may not know this, but the LDS church is big into genealogy. It’s so that members can “baptise” their dead family members who were around before Mormonism was. That way, those dead people can choose to be LDS in the afterlife.

Living members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints go to temples and do proxy baptisms for dead members of their families. Some also do “temple work” for dead celebrities, too, although they’re not supposed to do baptisms for people who aren’t relatives.

I know that, historically, descendants of Holocaust victims got pretty angry with the Mormons for “dead dunking” their family members murdered during World War II. Frankly, I find that practice pretty offensive, especially for people who died in the Holocaust because they were Jewish. These were people who literally died horrible, gruesome deaths for their beliefs. It’s beyond tacky to do a proxy baptism to allow dead Jewish people to be Mormons, as if they were wrong all along.

Faithful church members who do proxy baptisms for non-related people will simply shrug off the thought that they’re being offensive. They say that if the church isn’t true, it doesn’t matter if they “dead dunk” Holocaust victims. The ceremony is meaningless.

If you’ve been following this blog, you may already know why I don’t like Mormonism. These days, I’m somewhat less vitriolic toward the church than I once was. I still don’t like the church’s doctrine because I think it’s harmful to some people. My husband’s ex wife used it as a “reason” to alienate Bill from his daughters. She got everyone to join the church. Then, when Bill realized he didn’t believe in Mormonism, she told his daughters that he wasn’t worthy to be their father. He wouldn’t be going to the Celestial Kingdom because, when he ultimately resigned his membership, he turned his back on the “one true church”. Never mind that she’s not going there, either.

Ex has now apparently given up on Mormonism. It doesn’t suit her purposes anymore. However, Bill’s daughters are still believers. Younger daughter is particularly faithful. I also know that the church, which Ex had once tried to weaponize, was very helpful in helping younger daughter escape her mother’s clutches. I’m grateful to church members for that… and I know there are good people in the church. Nowadays, I try to be less negative about the LDS church, even though I still don’t like the doctrine. In fairness, though, I’m not a very religious person, anyway.

Ancestry.com has no legal ties to Mormonism, but it was founded by church members who, no doubt, tithe. I know that church members can be very persistent in tracking down inactive members. I don’t like to support organizations that make pests of themselves, especially religious organizations. After some time, I changed my mind about Ancestry.com. It probably happened when Bill started talking to younger daughter again, and she proved that she isn’t completely brainwashed.

23andMe recently made me .2 percent less Brit… 😉

After I changed my mind about Ancestry.com, I finally did a DNA test with them. The results were very interesting. DNA wise, my results were very similar to what 23andMe found. Both tests have my DNA down as extremely British and Irish. There’s a slight discrepancy on some of the other DNA predictions. 23andMe has me down as having a little Finnish and Spanish ancestry. Ancestry has me with Norwegian, Swedish, and Welsh. However, on both tests, my DNA has me as well over 90% British and Irish. Ancestry.com breaks it down even further, indicating that my DNA is (at this writing) 56% Scottish. No wonder I feel so at home there!

My people were homebodies, I guess…

One of the other advantages to Ancestry.com is that there’s a ton of genealogical data there. Recently, a lot more data has become available for my own family origins. I’ve been updating my family tree accordingly, finding little historical twigs from people who came from Switzerland, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany, and France. Earlier test results on the DNA tests had indicated that I had some origins in those countries, too. The results change as more DNA is added to the databases. For example, at one time, 23andMe indicated that I had Swiss DNA. Then it changed, and the Swiss connection went away. But based on my family tree on Ancestry.com, I do actually have some Swiss family members.

Neither test shows that I have much French DNA, but I’ve found French people in my family tree. Ditto for Germany… I actually know for sure that I have some German relatives. However, when it comes to my DNA, the connection isn’t as clear. Maybe that’s why I’m so short! I think it’s helpful to remember that the DNA analysis traces all the way back… not just within the past few hundred years.

So far, all branches of my family tree go back to about 1500 or so, which may be when people started keeping records. But the DNA goes back much further than that. It’s pretty mind boggling, if you think about it for too long. Bearing that in mind, it makes sense that my DNA would be overwhelmingly British and Irish, even though I can spot random other Europeans in my family tree. That French and Swiss DNA would be a tiny contribution, compared to the huge number of Brits who went into making me. 😉

And now, you may be wondering… what does all of this have to do with my post’s title? Well, now I’ll explain.

As I wrote further up post, I’ve recently been adding new people to my family tree. Some of it has been truly fascinating. I’ve mentioned many times that I was born and raised in Virginia. Indeed, the vast majority of my relatives were also born and raised in Virginia, starting from the 1600s, or so. My family was in Virginia from the very beginning of its existence.

I can see how they migrated from Scotland, England, and Ireland to Virginia, working their way down from Massachusetts or Pennsylvania, and settling in the Shenandoah Valley or further south, near the North Carolina border. Both sides of my dad’s side of the family are mostly from Rockbridge County. My mom’s dad came from Grayson County. Her mother came from Amherst. However, I did have at least one relative from way back who was born in Gloucester County, which is where I grew up.

All of these discoveries were fascinating to me. But then I stumbled across one that really gave me pause… Behold!

You will notice the name Fraser…

I was updating my tree yesterday, when I noticed that my great grandmother’s ancestry connects her to the Fraser family. The Frasers are a prominent Scottish clan. I know this, in part, because a few years ago, Bill and I were on a Hebridean whisky cruise, and there we met a very obnoxious fellow American. Her last name was Fraser. She wore the Fraser tartan at the two gala dinners. When I met this woman, I didn’t know much about my ancestry. I just knew that I liked the Scots. 😉 Anyway, the American Fraser woman on our cruise was very proud of her heritage and never ceased to let us know about it.

A few years later, I started to pay more attention to my husband’s ex wife’s online antics. Over the past year or so, she’s been claiming that she’s related to a certain aristocratic Scottish family. Now, I have no way of knowing if Ex is really related to this family or if this is another one of her fantasies… I do know she was adopted. I don’t know if she’s claiming ties based on her DNA or her adoptive family. But this is what she’s been posting lately…

Hmm…given that, I now have hope that my stories will make it to print. The method you enjoy…works! Please, just keep doing it; you create lives, no small feat! Remember me, though; it would be a delight to collaborate. I’m a Fraser du Lovat, by the way, & that’s fun!!

The above quote comes from a post I wrote May 16, 2022. Ex was trying to engage the actors on Outlander. I don’t watch the show myself. I just know it’s a Scottish historical romance. Ex is so swept up in it that she’s claiming to be related to a well known Highland Scottish clan, Fraser du Lovat, which has origins in Inverness. I don’t know much at all about the Frasers du Lovat, or any other Scottish clan, for that matter. I never claimed to be of particularly noble breeding myself. But, if I’m to believe Ancestry.com, I’ve also got ties to the Fraser clan… although my ancestor is Sir Alexander Fraser, 8th Earl of Philorth, which is a Lowland clan.

Apparently, I have a Fraser as a grandfather on my dad’s side…

I know from cruising on Hebridean Princess, that Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland run right into each other. We visited the Glengoyne Distillery, just north of Glasgow. The guide told us that the distillery is located on the Highland Line. Consequently, Glengoyne’s stills are in the Highlands, while the maturing casks of whisky are across the road in the Lowlands. It’s considered a Highland whisky, even though the Lowlands are literally just yards away.

I wonder if Ex would react like Blanche if she found out that we could be extremely distant relatives… Maybe she might even quit bragging about her Fraser connection.

Again, I don’t know how accurate Ancestry.com’s family tree suggestions are. I also don’t have any reason whatsoever to believe Ex’s own claims about her ancestry. She has a long history of stretching the truth. She also has a very active fantasy life. BUT… I can’t help but be amused that I apparently have ties to the same big Scottish clan that she’s so proud of… which clearly seems to make her feel “special”. She feels so special that she tweets Sam Heughan on Twitter and claims to be descended from the Fraser du Lovat clan. And I… the hated homewrecking whore (which I’m actually REALLY not)… am apparently related to the Frasers of Philorth. 😉

Of course, all of that was very long ago… and I have other family ties that are interesting for other, and frankly better, reasons. I wish I could look at the whole tree at one time. But now it’s gotten very big and unwieldy. My ancestors were very prolific babymakers. It’s a bit mind boggling to realize that when I die, so will my particular branch of the tree. Oh well. It’s probably fitting that my branch got pruned… I also blame that on Ex.

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Bill, mental health, Reality TV

A tale of two big CRASHES!!!!

Mornin’ folks. It’s a foggy morning here in Wiesbaden. The air is chilly and damp, and although it’s almost 8:00am, it’s still kind of dark outside. Yep… time for the time to change back to standard time. Bill came home yesterday, and this morning, when he went to work, I wished him a “good night.” Then I realized, it’s morning, and we still have the whole day in front of us. But, at least it’s Friday.

Arran had his second chemo treatment yesterday. I’m going to write the details of it on my other blog, but I will happily report that he tolerated the treatment just fine. While he’s not in remission yet– not that I was expecting him to be– his blood test results indicate that his body is fighting the cancer. And he is MUCH better this week than he was last Wednesday, the day before we started chemo. He was very happy to see Bill, too.

I was also happy to see Bill, because after two nights of very abbreviated sleep, I REALLY needed a full night’s rest. And that’s what prompted today’s blog post title, along with some news I read this morning. But first, I have to write about the “big crash”, because it’s kind of funny.

As some of my regular readers might know, Bill has been seeing a Jungian therapist for the past year or so. I can’t remember exactly when he started seeing his therapist, but the journey has been fascinating for both of us. Jungian therapy focuses a lot on dreams, which has always been an interest for Bill. And so, his work with his therapist includes a lot of talk about dreams and what they mean.

Because Arran has been on prednisolone for a week, he’s been suffering the side effects. And because he’s been suffering the side effects, so have I. The drug is wonderful in terms of how it helps him with his lymphoma, but it also makes him pee a lot and feel ravenous. So, during the two nights before Bill came home, Arran repeatedly woke me up to let him go outside, and for food. After I woke up the first time, I couldn’t fall asleep again. I was hoping for a nap yesterday, after we visited the vet for another dose of Vincristine, but there was no such luck. Just as I was about to doze off, Bill came home, and there was a joyful reunion between him and the dogs. I had to witness it.

Last night before bed, Bill told me he had some ZzzQuil, and maybe I should take some so I could get some rest. I often take an Advil PM before bed, but I ran out of them before Bill came home. I took a couple of those Zzzquil and, sure as shit, they knocked me out cold. At about 4:30am, Arran woke us up. I was in the middle of a very vivid dream that, apparently, had something to do with pastries and breads. I do remember trying to talk to Bill about the dream, which I thought was real. I was talking about a spinning wheel, made of breads with a bread handle on it. Even as I was mumbling about it, I knew on some level that I was talking about a dream, and yet it seemed very real at the time. I could not get the right words out to explain, despite trying several times.

Finally, I heard Bill say, “I think you’re coming out of a dream.”

I said, “I know… I’m not making any sense right now, am I?”

I tried a couple more times to explain what I was talking about, but then I went back to sleep and was out cold for another two hours. I woke up again at 6:20 when Arran flapped his ears. I know that I had a whole lot of dreams last night, most of which I don’t remember at all. But this is what happens when you finally sleep after not getting enough rest.

After I got up, I went down to the kitchen and Bill gave me some coffee that was vastly superior to what I made for myself while he was gone. He said he measures the beans by weight, rather than tablespoons. We talked a little more about what I had been trying to tell him about as I was recovering from my “big crash”. Then I looked at the news, and read the news about Kim Plath of Welcome to Plathville and her apparent “big crash”.

I’ve written about Kim Plath a couple of times. She’s the matriarch of the Plath family on TLC’s Welcome to Plathville, mother of nine living children, and owner of a dance studio in Cairo, Georgia, which is very close to the Florida border. I didn’t start watching Welcome to Plathville until it had been on for at least a season or two. I think I watched it because of pandemic boredom, and because huge, hyper-religious families are fascinating to me.

Anyway, in watching that show, I heard about how Kim had grown up with a neglectful alcoholic mother and, when she was in college, she partied way too much. Later, she met and married Barry Plath, who is very much a teetotaler. She then became sort of a fundie and, I guess, lost herself in being a wife and mother. During the most recent season of Welcome to Plathville, Kim announced that she and Barry were going to be ending their marriage. She opened a dance studio, then started drinking. I remember in one episode, she’s shown doing tequila shots with her model son, Micah. This was after years of abstinence.

The U.S. Sun was the first paper to report on Kim’s arrest for driving under the influence, property damage, and personal injury on October 20, 2022. She turned herself in at the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office in Crawfordville, Florida at 2:08 am. The U.S. Sun reports that Mrskickstand on Tik Tok was the first to report of the arrest, which is not Kim’s first for an alcohol related offense. On April 7, 1991, Kim was busted for having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Sadly, it appears that she’s back to her old habits, but this time, someone got hurt.

@mrskickstand Replying to @aroszkuz #greenscreen #fyp #plathville #plathfamily #welcometoplathville #plathvilletiktok #plath #plaths #tlc #plathvillefamily #plathfamily #tlctv ♬ original sound – The Irrelevant Teen Mom

A link to the Tik Tok about this…

I don’t know a lot about what happened in this case. I haven’t had the chance to read much about it at this point, and I’m sure that people who care a lot more about this will write much more about it than I will. I do want to say that I feel kind of bad for Kim, not because I think there’s any excuse for driving drunk or that she shouldn’t be punished, but because I think she has a lot of internal baggage that she’s never dealt with. I am Kim’s age, and like Kim, I grew up with an alcoholic parent. I have an inkling of what that might have been like for her, although in her case, it was her mom who was the drunk. If memory serves, her father wasn’t around, so she had to rely on her mother to take care of her. And then, after some time being “crazy” during her college years, she hooked up with a man who promoted a lifestyle that would not be alcoholic.

Alcoholism is an illness that leads to a lifestyle that vacillates between control issues and complete chaos. My father was often a very controlling person. He was also very neglectful and abusive at times, and sometimes he didn’t give a shit about things that were very important. When you’re a kid growing up with a parent like that, it’s painful, because while their behavior has nothing to do with you, you’re a child, and you internalize the bad things they say and do. You think there is something wrong with YOU, when really it’s your parent who has the issues and is passing them on to you. I know this firsthand.

This is what happened to me and my sisters. I have seen and heard about it from other people with alcoholic parents. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but I think the vast majority of us with alcoholic parents can agree that this is a common pattern. And it doesn’t really matter if the parent abstains from drinking, if they never actually explore the issues that come from that lifestyle. They still engage in the destructive behavior patterns that a drinker does.

I think it’s possible that Kim was a “dry drunk” for decades, which may account for some of her extreme control issues. But that’s just a wild guess from me, coming from what little I know from her reality show. I think the money from the TV show opened up some possibilities that she never thought she’d have. She dove in, head first, and is now finding that she’s been missing out on a lot. Unfortunately, she has a genetic link to drinking, and it appears that she has gone a bit off the deep end. I hope she gets the help she needs, and people show her some mercy. Because, while I don’t excuse what she did, I see this as a sign that she really needs help. She is clearly in distress. And she still has kids who need her to be around for them.

Lots of people who don’t know me well have negative opinions about me. For a long time, it bothered me a lot. Now that I’m 50, I’m not as bothered about it as I used to be, because I know the truth, and the people who matter to me, know the truth. But I would be lying if I said there aren’t residual effects from growing up in a family system where one of my family members treated me like I had little to no value. I think being raised like that can cause people to turn to negative behaviors that they somehow think will make them feel better. Or maybe it’s just easier to engage in dysfunction than be honest with themselves and face the pain and humiliation of having a parent who is abusive and neglectful, and chooses alcohol over their own flesh and blood.

I’m sure a lot of Kim’s issues stem from this neglect and abuse that she probably endured as a child… and she tried to make people who would accept and love her unconditionally. Sadly, one of Kim’s own beautiful children died due to her own negligence. And obviously, that loss still weighs heavily on her. She probably drinks because of that loss– and the loss of her marriage, as well as her son, Ethan’s, estrangement. She’s trying to find new ways to feel better. Booze is very sexy, but it’s not a way out of that pain. I know this, and write this, even though I drink booze, too.

I suspect Kim is one of those people that has a lot of detractors. I know how she feels, in that regard. It hurts. Anyway, I hope this situation doesn’t result in her having to go to prison for a long time. I think she’d be much better off in a residential rehab, with serious work with a mental health professional who can help her unpack the huge burdens she’s been carrying since childhood. Yes, she absolutely needs to be held accountable for what happened, but it shouldn’t ruin her life. Just my take. Sometimes crashes are beautiful things. When they lead to much needed sleep, or much needed therapy and accountability, they can be life changing for the better.

Well, that about does it for today’s post. I think I will write about Arran’s chemo on the travel blog… then maybe, if the weather stays yucky, record a new song, even if Noyzi demands a walk, like he did yesterday. Have a nice Friday, y’all.

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book reviews, celebrities

A review of Bright Lights, Prairie Dust: Reflections on Life, Loss, and Love from Little House’s Ma, by Karen Grassle…

If you were growing up in the 70s and 80s, it’s a fair bet that you might know who Karen Grassle is. For eight years, she played Caroline Ingalls– Ma– on the hit NBC show, Little House on the Prairie. I was born in 1972, so I was a child when that show was airing on prime time. I remember watching it on Monday nights, probably starting at the time I was about eight years old or so. By then, the show had been airing for some time, and was starting to jump the shark a bit. It wasn’t until I started watching reruns on TBS during my college years that I really became a fan.

Although I loved Little House, I wasn’t necessarily a fan of Michael Landon’s. I always thought he was kind of weird. One time, I saw a comedian do a hilarious imitation of the way he smiled, screwing his eyes a bit and twitching his jaw, as if he was trying to keep from crying. The comedian had him down perfectly, and every time I see Landon on screen, I’m reminded of it, as well as why he never came across as particularly handsome to me. Edited to add: I think the comedian might have been Jim Carrey. Here’s a clip.

When I got older, I started to understand why people found Michael Landon so charismatic. He had this “saint like” image that he tried to project in his projects. A lot of people were fooled by him, thinking that he was much like his saintly characters, especially Charles Ingalls– which was probably his most famous role. He was well-known for being generous and he certainly had a gift for making television programs that appealed to the masses. A lot of women thought he was “hot”, too, although it’s clear to me that he knew it, which I find kind of repellant.

As Karen Grassle points out in her recently published memoir, Bright Lights, Prairie Dust: Reflections on Life, Loss, and Love from Little House’s Ma, there was a lot more to Michael Landon than met the eye. And he was no saint. But then, neither is she. I just finished her eye opening memoir last night, somewhat surprised by her story.

Karen Grassle talks to Megyn Kelly about her book and working with Michael Landon. In this interview, Grassle says Victor French was a “wonderful actor”. And he was. But he also had a problem with alcohol.

Karen Grassle’s life started off normally enough. She was born February 25, 1942 in Berkeley, California. She grew up in Ventura, the daughter of a real estate agent and a teacher. She also has a younger sister named Janey and an adopted son named Zach. When she was very young, Grassle was captivated by her Baptist faith. She studied ballet, acted in school plays, and was popular among her peers.

Her first year of college was spent in New Orleans, Louisiana at H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, which was the women’s branch of Tulane University. Grassle couldn’t hang in New Orleans. She found the atmosphere too offensive with the rampant racism in the South during the early 1960s. With help from her mother, Grassle went back to California and enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, from which she graduated in 1965, with bachelor’s degrees in English and Dramatic Art.

After college, Grassle won a Fulbright Scholarship and moved to London for a year. Living in London gave Grassle the chance to travel around Europe, and she writes a bit about her experiences seeing the continent. She even includes a passage about riding on a train with a young Italian man and his father and having sex with the Italian guy while his father snored beneath them. I could relate to the train experience to Italy, minus the sex part. I once rode in a sleeper car with an Asian family on my way from Vienna to Venice and listened to the dad of the family snore all night. A little sex might have done me some good.

Grassle later moved to New York City, where she struggled financially, and picked up roles at the many theaters there. She drank a lot and smoked too much, and picked up interesting odd jobs to make ends meet, including a stint working as a size eight model for garment makers. Although she worked steadily, she didn’t really become financially successful in any sense until she moved back to California and auditioned for the role of Caroline Ingalls. The rest is history.

Yesterday, I wrote about Betty White, and how I think sometimes people mistook Betty White for her characters. I think the same may be true for Karen Grassle. On Little House on the Prairie, Grassle portrayed a beautiful, God-fearing, kind, gentle woman. Michael Landon portrayed a male version of that same ideal. But, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, actors are often not at all like the roles they play. That is apparently very true of Karen Grassle and Michael Landon. Grassle writes that the two of them didn’t get along very well after the first year of the show’s eight season run. Although on screen, they looked like they were deeply in love, they really were just acting…

In Bright Lights, Prairie Dust, Grassle gives readers a glimpse of what was going on behind the scenes on Little House, but readers shouldn’t expect an exhaustive tell all about the show. This book is really a book about Karen Grassle. The title is a bit misleading, which is why I think Grassle got some low ratings from Amazon readers. I think a lot of people read Grassle’s book hoping for stories about Little House on the Prairie, and what they got is a book that is pretty much just about Karen Grassle’s life, with only a little bit about the show that made her a star. There’s also quite a bit of throwing Michael Landon under the bus and airing of “dirty laundry”. As someone who also often airs dirty laundry, I can understand why she wrote about these things… but I can also see why other readers found the revelations off-putting.

I mostly enjoyed reading Karen Grassle’s story. I don’t judge her for her life choices or mistakes. We all make them. Karen Grassle admits to being an alcoholic who had many difficult relationships with men, including an unfortunate tryst with actor Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers) that led to a sexually transmitted infection. She’s been married a few times. She’s had a couple of abortions. She turned away from Christianity. She didn’t get along with Michael Landon and, in fact, even judged him for infidelity, even though she had herself been unfaithful to at least one of her partners. I’d say she’s pretty much the antithesis of Caroline Ingalls, a role she played so convincingly.

Karen Grassle writes that she loved working with Scotty MacGregor, otherwise known as Mrs. Oleson.

I’m sure a lot of readers will judge Karen Grassle for not being Caroline Ingalls. I guess I can understand why they might, since the title implies that she’s going to impart wisdom the way “Ma Ingalls” did. But again, I think readers should understand that actors are human, and memoirs are the ultimate project in self-promotion. Of course the book is about Karen Grassle, and Karen Grassle isn’t “Ma Ingalls”. That was just the most famous one of the many roles she’s played over her long career. I, for one, was interested in reading about Grassle’s lesser known work on the world’s stages.

I appreciated reading about Karen Grassle’s work toward promoting women’s rights. She grew up in a time when racism and sexism were rampant, and anyone who wasn’t a white man had less power simply because they weren’t a white male. I think it’s pretty clear that Grassle is politically very liberal, and she feels very strongly about protecting women’s rights, including the right to have an abortion. Grassle had two experiences with abortion. The first one happened when she was 20 years old. She had to go to Mexico, and it was done secretly. The second one was done ten years later, in New York, where in 1972, abortion was legal. She compared the experiences, which I found interesting, and a bit frightening for today’s young women, who may soon lose the right to privacy and bodily autonomy. Some readers may have less sympathy for her, later in the book, when she laments how she eventually wanted a baby of her own. She did eventually adopt a son.

Grassle is also very involved in Jungian therapy, which I found intriguing, since my husband is also into Jungian therapy. She writes a bit about dream analysis, and some of the cool insights she got from some of her therapists. I probably wouldn’t have noticed that part of the book if Bill wasn’t working with a Jungian therapist. If I had read Karen Grassle’s book a year ago, I probably wouldn’t have cared about her revelations regarding Jungian psychology. But I guess it just goes to show you that as one’s life evolves, so do one’s interests.

The one thing I distinctly didn’t like about Karen Grassle’s book was a certain contrived quality it had. It was like she was trying really hard to write in an evocative way that came across as insincere. Her writing wasn’t terrible; it just seemed to lack some authenticity. Like she was trying too hard to turn a phrase or something.

I do think the title of the book is misleading. I’m sure it was purposely given that title to make sales, but plenty of people who bought it for the potential of Grassle’s “spilling the tea” about life on the Little House set will “spill the tea” that the book is only a little bit about the show. There’s very little about the children who played the Ingalls’ children, but she does include a couple of less flattering comments about Victor French (Mr. Edwards), as well as a few more positive comments about Scotty MacGregor (Harriett Oleson) and Charlotte Stewart (Miss Beadle). I think a lot of people will expect much more about the show. They won’t necessarily get that information in this book, which may disappoint some readers.

The last comment I want to make is that the book ends rather abruptly, just as Karen Grassle has married her second husband of three. I’m not sure why she chose to end the book at that point. Maybe it’s because it was just as the show was ending, in the early 1980s. But the book is clearly not just about Little House on the Prairie. Grassle wrote a lot about her young life, her years as a struggling actress, and what led up to her turn as “Ma Ingalls”. If the book had been more about the show, I might understand why she ended in the early 80s. But it’s clearly NOT just about the show. Again… I think a more accurate title would have served her better.

There are some photos included, though they aren’t so easy to see on my Kindle app.

I’m glad Karen Grassle was able to quit drinking, since it clearly affected her in a negative way and was problematic, particularly regarding her relationships with other people, as well as her image. As a fellow adult child of an alcoholic, I could relate to some of her comments about what it was like to grow up in that particular brand of dysfunction. I respect Karen Grassle’s talent, and some of her insights about working with Michael Landon. A lot of her complaints about Landon were about money, and how he allegedly wouldn’t agree to pay her what she felt she should be earning on a hit show.

This book could have been better, and should be retitled… and maybe even retooled. But overall, I’m not sorry I read it. I would just caution prospective readers not to expect a book that is just about Little House on the Prairie, containing heartwarming, homespun, words of wisdom from Ma Ingalls. Bright Lights, Prairie Dust is definitely not delivering much of that, in spite of its title.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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celebrities, lessons learned, music, musings, obits, YouTube

The first day of 2022…

I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year’s Eve 2021. Bill and I had a nice evening, marred only by the news that the great Betty White passed away. A lot of people reacted to the news of Betty’s New Year’s Eve demise with great sadness. She was a remarkable woman who was blessed with so much talent, beauty, and humor. When I think of how many people were touched by her, it almost overwhelms me. This was a lady whose career spanned many decades and generations, and she did it all– singing, dancing, acting, sales pitching, and especially comedy. She was the oldest Golden Girl, and the last one to leave us.

She was such an adorable and hilarious pro! God bless her, wherever she is… I hope she and her beloved husband, Allen Ludden, have finally reunited.

I loved Betty White as an entertainer. I admired her a great deal. However, I don’t feel particularly sad that she died, nor do I think of it as a tragic event. I think, as living and dying go, Betty White did it in grand fashion. As far as I know, she wasn’t seriously ill when she passed. In fact, she was even featured on People magazine’s cover this week, as she planned to celebrate her 100th birthday on January 17th. She was still “with it”, and not bed bound. Yes, it would have been wonderful if she could have celebrated one last birthday, but 99 years is still a hell of a good run. What happened to her eventually happens to us all… and she had the good fortune to do it on relatively favorable terms.

I think this one was my favorite! Betty’s dusty muffins could not be matched.

So no, I’m not totally saddened by Betty White’s death. She died the same year as several of her co-stars on the Mary Tyler Moore show, as we also lost Gavin McLeod, Ed Asner, and Cloris Leachman in 2021. And all of them lived to ripe old ages, having been able to work, play, and be in the world pretty much the entire time. We should all be so lucky… and in fact, I think we’re all lucky that we were alive at the same time she was.

*Giggle* She was so funny!

MOVING ON…

A lot of people were also mentioning how much 2021 sucked. I’m sure it really did suck for a lot of folks. COVID-19 has really screwed up normal living for so many. However, one good thing I have noticed about the COVID era is that some people are reprioritizing their lives. Yesterday, I read an awesome Reddit thread called “Twas the night before my resignation”, about a guy who decided some years ago that he no longer wanted to prioritize his career over his family. He started taking off the week between Christmas and New Year’s. In 2021, as usual, he scheduled that week off.

At the end of the year, a work emergency came up. It wasn’t something that should have affected his time off, and he did what he could to warn his employers that he would be taking that week off. But, as it happens, the company dragged its feet and the emergency, quite predictably, became dire as the guy’s week off approached… For best results, you really should read it for yourself. Suffice to say, the guy pretty much told his boss to pound sand, and was richly rewarded for his moxie. And to that, I say, “Kudos, and fuck those people!” I hate it when employers treat their employees like they own them. It’s nice to see that some workers have been able to claim some control over their work environments. I hope this is a trend that lasts, so that working conditions will improve for everyone.

I know… maybe it’s too much to hope for that there will be less greed and corruption in the American workplace. But I can dream, can’t I? Hell… if I were in the USA now, maybe someone would even hire me!

Bill and I actually had a fairly good 2021, in spite of COVID’s suck factor. We finally resolved our lawsuit, and it mostly went in our favor. I know it may seem like a small thing, but holding our former landlady accountable for her egregiously illegal actions, outright lies, and the really crappy way she treated us, was very satisfying. I think we learned a lesson from it, too. Hopefully, that lesson will carry over the next time someone tries to screw with us and shame us into automatically allowing them to have their way.

In 2021, Bill finally started working with a Jungian analyst, which is something he’s been wanting to do for a long time… and something I’ve felt he’s needed to do the whole time I’ve known him. The sessions have been very healing for him, but they’ve also been immensely rewarding and interesting. I didn’t know anything about Carl G. Jung when Bill and I met, despite my background. Social workers do study psychology, but it’s not really the bulk of what we learn, since social work is not psychology, per se. It’s been fascinating to learn more about Jung, and help Bill learn more. He’s been so intrigued by the process that he even started taking classes at the Jung Institute in Zurich. So far, the classes have been online, but we did get a chance to visit Zurich for the first time last summer. If we manage to stay here awhile, he may get to do some serious work.

As for my own successes… I’ve watched my relaunched blog explode. In 2021, I had over 560 times the hits I had in 2020, which was much more successful than 2019, when I moved my blog to WordPress. It really is picking up, and that’s been exciting to see, even though it took some time.

I felt pretty much forced to relocate the blog from Blogspot, although I had kind of wanted to do it for a long time. It was difficult and a bit depressing to start over in February 2019. I had a decent following on the original blog, even though it was a bit rawer than this one is. Moving the blog meant losing followers, as well as ad revenue. It’s not that I make a lot of money at all through ads, but it was kind of a nice thing to occasionally get paid by Google.

Well… that pretty much ended with a thud when I moved the blog, and for quite some time, I felt really constrained and nervous about writing. I know some people don’t think I have any talent… and some people think writing is a waste of my time, so they think nothing about messing with what I do… and some people just plain don’t like me, and want to cause trouble for me for selfish and dishonest reasons. This blog is NOT my life, but it is something I enjoy creating, and it gives me a purpose. So it was hard for me in 2019, when I experienced the setback that caused me to have to start over.

Two years later, I think my blog is better than it ever was. And I’ve been rewarded with new followers, and yes, more ad revenue. I only monetized the blog a few months ago, but pretty soon, I’ll be eligible to be paid. And I can only expect that this blog will be more successful than the original blog was, in terms of money, and quality content. The travel blog is a bit down in views lately, but hopefully COVID-19 will eventually be tamed enough so we can travel again. And really, I mainly write this stuff for myself, anyway, so anyone who reads and enjoys it is just icing on the cake.

I also found a new person with whom I can do music collaborations. In fact, I even uploaded our latest effort this morning! Music is something I do for fun and relaxation, so this is a rewarding development, too…

He lives in the States. We’ve never met, but we have similar musical tastes.

Another great thing that happened in 2021 was that Bill and I finally got to visit Croatia, and pay another visit to Slovenia. I already knew Slovenia was beautiful, but Croatia was magical. Although we didn’t have an “action packed” vacation in the fall, it was still probably one of my favorite trips yet. Just the sheer beauty of Croatia and Slovenia, as well as the time we spent in Austria (another favorite destination) was so awesome. I guess COVID has also made me a lot more grateful for ANY travel. Thank God for vaccines, too. I will be boosted in a few days, which may cause temporary discomfort, but will likely make my chances of dying from COVID lower.

We got to see a few friends, and make a few new friends… and the old friends who are real friends are still with us. We also didn’t lose any loved ones in 2021. In fact, in 2022, Bill will presumably gain another grandchild. And… our beloved Arran and Noyzi are still alive. Noyzi has even become a real part of the family, right down to loving on me when he wants something and showing up fashionably late to dinner! So that’s a blessing.

I have high hopes for 2022… I hope you do, too. To those of you who have been part of this blog, thank you so much! I especially want to thank my friends who have been here since the beginning. You are all a big part of the success, too!

2021 didn’t suck for us… but I know some people are really struggling right now. I don’t know what words of wisdom or comfort I can share. One friend mentioned how bad 2021 was, and I mentioned that I thought 2016 was worse– at least in terms of lost legends. She responded that she’d had a rough time of it in 2021, and compared 2021 to a few other horrible years she’d experienced.

I knew she’s been having a hard time, so I acknowledged that. And then I remembered one of my worst years ever– 1998. If I’m honest, there were a few times during that year that I seriously contemplated suicide. I was dealing with moderately severe depression, and I didn’t see how I was ever going to escape the situation I was in. It was NOT a hopeless situation by any means– which I clearly proved. But at the time, it felt hopeless… and my perspective was so blurred by depression and anxiety that I couldn’t see beyond the fog of despair and despondency.

But some very good things also happened that year. Yes, I was working in a restaurant job where I was abused daily, and I lived with my parents, who were kind of hostile and disappointed in me. I was young and basically healthy, but felt unattractive and unsuccessful. That year, I backed into some lady’s car in our driveway, because I was so upset… and that accident led me to finally seeing a therapist. Dr. Coe helped me so much, and I was eventually put on antidepressants that changed my life. To this day, I no longer feel as horrible as I did for most of my young life.

I eventually got pretty good at the restaurant job, and was able to make enough money to pay for the therapy and save up for an apartment. I bought a car. I had a terrible setback in November 1998– in fact, that was probably one of the worst months of my life. And yet, two months later, the medication was finally correct, and I started getting my shit together… and by November 1999, I was in a dual degree master’s program, proving to myself that I wasn’t as stupid or worthless as I had felt a year prior. That was also the month I “met” Bill online. By November 2002, we were married! And now, 19 years later, here we are… In 2022, I’ll presumably turn 50, and we will celebrate 20 years married.

So it’s good that I didn’t give in to my urges to off myself back in 1998. That would have meant missing out on some really wonderful things. That “abusive” job also led to meeting some truly great friends and learning valuable life and survival skills. In the long run, that turned out to be a good thing, too, despite the suffering that happened when I was still in that situation.

My point is, sometimes what seems like the shittiest times can lead to some pretty wonderful recoveries. So if you are struggling right now, I urge you to hang on as best you can. It can, and probably will, get better. But I also know that those words ring hollow when a person is really suffering. So just know, there are people who really do care, and have been through it, too… You’re probably more like them than you know… unless, of course, you’re Josh Duggar or Ghislaine Maxwell. Those two probably won’t be enjoying life for awhile.

And, with that bit of “wisdom”, I’m signing off for today… Got a few chores to take care of, and then it’s time to watch movies and concerts.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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dogs, dreams, funny stories, Reality TV

My erotic dream about Derick Dillard was interrupted by Noyzi!

I need a good laugh. Do you need a good laugh, too? Well, how about this for a giggle? This morning, I had an erotic dream about Derick Dillard. Yes, the very same Derick Dillard who is married to the former Jill Duggar and recently graduated from law school at the University of Arkansas. Yes, the very same Derick Dillard who is on the outs with Boob and his wife, and was vilified online for being mean to Jazz Jennings. Yes– fundie Christian Derick Dillard, who is not my type! I could have changed his diapers.

He’s not really my type. In my dream, he didn’t have a beard.

I don’t know WHY I had this dream. I am not attracted to Derick. I have a husband who rings my chimes quite expertly. I don’t follow the Dillards on social media, and only know what I read about them on the Duggar Family News page and see on videos by Katie Joy. Derick is also quite a bit younger than I am, so I doubt we’d have much in common. I’m not exactly a “cougar”.

I woke up at the usual time of 5:30am, which is when Arran always rouses and asks for breakfast and a potty break. I spent about an hour reading my latest book, but then got drowsy. I put the iPad down and drifted off to sleep. At some point, the weird erotic dream began. I was just on the edge of an earth shattering orgasm when I heard Bill say, “Jenny, look at this!”

I opened my eyes and there was Noyzi, the Kosovar rescue dog, peering around the corner at me. He had a big smile on his face and was wagging his tail. It was about 8:00am by that point. I guess he came upstairs to see if we’d died. We’re usually up long before 8:00. We have nice weather today and agreeable temperatures, so I guess it was good “sleeping weather”. Good enough to have a hot dream involving a fundie Christian.

Here’s the weirdest part of it. The dream was taking place in a bedroom in the house I grew up in. I think the bedroom was supposed to be the master bedroom, since it had a bathroom. But it was a very small room, so my “princess” sister got it when we moved there in 1980. Then, it was a guest room… then it was my room when I was living with my parents for almost two years after the Peace Corps. Then it went back to being a guest room. Now, I’m not sure what it is. My mom sold the house to the woman who used to work for my dad and bought his business from him.

Anyway, in my dream, beardless Derick and I were nude and he had his head on my shoulder. He breathed in, closed his eyes, and was about to lay me down on the bed when we were interrupted by Bill. Nothing nasty happened. It took me a minute to realize it had been a dream. Once I did, I was grateful… since I would rather Bill be doing the honors than Derick. Below are are a couple of videos of Noyzi’s “good morning”. He’s getting to be a very confident dog.

Noyzi stops by to check on us.
Get your ass out of bed!

Speaking of Noyzi, he’s becoming quite adorable. The other day, he was wanting a walk in the worst way. Lately, he’s taken to coming upstairs at around 9:30am, which is about the time I’m usually done blogging on a typical weekday. He’ll sit in the hallway and whine a little. Then he’ll come into the office and look at me adoringly. Then, if that doesn’t work, he’ll follow me into the bathroom and watch me take care of business. On Friday, he was in rare form. I was getting dressed, and Noyzi stood outside the door and barked at me. It wasn’t his usual high pitched “yip”, either. He meant that shit. If you watch any of the videos in this post, this is definitely the one to see. Noyzi is hilarious!

Noyzi wants a walk. NOW! If you watch any of the videos, this is the one to watch.

After I took the above video, I took another showing Noyzi and Arran running around like a couple of freaks as we prepared for our daily ritual of strolling the neighborhood. Arran is about 12, but he’s still pretty feisty and full of life. We worry about him a lot, because he is getting old… but he’s definitely still kicking, as evidenced below.

They are NUTS! But they love their walks. It’s hard to believe that Noyzi was not leash trained when we got him and had never known the joy of a walk around the neighborhood. He demands walks every day, now.

I probably had that dream because I was very close to being awake. Bill has been seeing a Jungian therapist and they spend a lot of time talking about Bill’s dreams. Bill even writes them down and sends them to the therapist. Maybe all of the talk about dreams is what prompted me to have this erotic morning dream about Derick Dillard… but I just question why it was Derick and not someone else. I mean, I guess I can be glad it wasn’t Donald Trump who invaded my dreams.

I did notice a couple of my first cousins once removed, who also happen to be brother and sister, both posted photos last night. Each cousin is expecting a baby with their respective spouses, and both appear to be pretty close to the blessed event. Maybe my dream was influenced by my uterus, as it sighs through the waning days of my fertility. Ah… what could have been, if I’d only been more sexually active. Oh well. I wish them happiness and luck as they expand their families. I wish I still felt like I’m a part of the family, but I don’t, really. That is pretty sad. I remember my cousins’ dad, who was my very kind uncle. I saw him for the last time when I last went “home” in 2014. He passed away about six weeks later.

Anyway, I’m not in dreamland now, and praise God for that. Maybe if I get fired up later, I’ll write something more serious. For now, I hope this post gave you a moment of amusement… or perhaps a moment of horror!

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