Gratitude Sunday: Cousins

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.


Sunday Haiku
Green grass soaks up sun,
eats rain, lives with worms and bugs,
needs trimming daily.

Sunday Musings
At some point in elementary school most students are assigned a genealogy project. This can be a fascinating foray into your own personal history and the history of your family. In my 40s I went quite a ways back trying to prove entitlement to a membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). I didn’t quite produce the proof, suffice it to say I did find my maternal lineage goes back to the Mayflower and one of the first governors in the new colonies that became the United States of America. For family privacy purposes I won’t publish the family name, but I claim the lineage just the same. Going further this lineage goes back to King James the 1st, of Bible version fame.

During my research while in elementary school, I asked my father if there was any other family in the Portland-metro area who had his last name. I don’t know why, but he always denied there was, saying we were the only ones. It made me feel rather unique to think I was an only.

I moved to the Oregon coast for 11 years, where the hubster became acquainted with a group of fishermen, and met a few fellows who had my maiden last name. Dad would come to visit and fish and though I introduced them he still swore we weren’t related, but the other fellows weren’t so sure. We just didn’t find a way to prove the relation.

When I moved back to the metro area and took my last job, I found several women whose maiden name was the same as mine. I even found out about a woman whose first, middle, and maiden name were exactly the same as mine all our growing up years, born only a few years apart. She grew up at one end of the Portland-metro area and I grew up at the other end, and since my dad was such a private person, and insistent upon no family in proximity we never knew each other. We still haven’t met.

I have met her cousins, daughters of the fishermen. We share the same maiden name. Two of these women I get to see semi-regularly. We look enough alike we could be blood cousins, though we have not bothered to find the proof. I claim them as my cousins, without proof, and they claim me back, all with the most accepting form of love. This week I got to spend a few minutes talking with one of these “cousins” while shopping at a local store and we enjoyed every minute yakking and laughing, sharing stories about our families and histories.

Proof of relation is probably entirely unnecessary, but it can also prove amusing. 20 years ago I worked as an assistant manager at my university bookstore. One day just minutes before closing time a couple came in. They were impeccably dressed, he in a suit, she in hosiery and heels, elegantly coiffed. I locked them in at closing time and let them shop. I didn’t earn over-time or commissions, but I had the authority (ah, the authority). I did this regularly because my manager loved the stories of how much I was able to sell as I gave customers my undivided attention. As I served them I became aware they were both university graduates as well. This couple spent more than a thousand dollars on souvenirs, university logo clothing, books, and other items. When they handed me their check, I noted the last name and said, “Oh! That’s my mother’s maiden name. We could be cousins!” They looked at my with disdain, horrified. This poor white trash woman serving them from behind the counter of a retail store (though I was the proud new owner of a Bachelor of Arts Degree, earned magna cum laude, in the top six of my class) could not possibly be related to this well educated, well dressed, very black skinned African-American couple. But we could have been. Our skins were just different shades of brown, mine pale, their’s darker.

I didn’t know enough about racism at that time to think of all the implications of slavery and ownership and how they may have acquired their name. Now I don’t deny it, but I find racism too ugly to think about: that people treat each other so horribly because of a difference such as the color of one’s skin. I have always believed we are all related, white, black, gray, whatever gendered, whatever systems of belief, whatever, whatever. We are all human beings on this watery blue orb we call home. We make love, which sometimes results in babies, whom we birth and raise, then we wait for the next generation to do the same. Every one of us, regardless, have more similarities than differences.

I love living in a small town where at any time, at any random place, the grocery store, the coffee shop, a retail outlet, the swimming pool, I might run into a cousin. With the inter-connectedness our current society has, we may be walking right by cousins all the time. Greet every person you see as if they were your cousin and you may find they really are.


April is poetry month. I was cleaning and found an anthology of student poetry I edited in 1995 in which one of my own poems was published. I wrote it in 1995 after reading about the life and works of Ezra Pound who was an expatriate and ostracized for his radical poetry and helping other writers such as T. S. Eliot with their radical poetry. I was going through a rough time then (story of my life!). My words seem as pertinent to me now as they did then. Bear with me while I subject you to my own radicality.

Pound-Wise Commisery
So lock me up, deprive me, take
away my home, my family, my country,
deny me security, destroy my faith, try to break
my spirit. Taxable income, ravaged dignity,
throw what you can at me, I am the catcher,
the receptive end. Oh! Athena, caretaker –
brain stimulator, no trend can match her
vitality. Just one thing I have from my maker
just one thing I have nurtured that isn’t blind,
that particular _____ which leaves me wanting more.
One thing they’ll never have that’s mine,
a complex thing that’s hard to find –
an elusive element I call my mind.

Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – lush rich burgundy red of a Japanese maple. DSCN0314 A patch of purple columbine. DSCN0319 Pale pink rhododendron with golden tongues of pollen. DSCN0341

Current View – Finished season 2 of Ray Donovan (2014, not rated). Heavy, intense, crime drama. Glad it’s not my life. * Still watching BBC’s Death in Paradise (2012, not rated), detective fiction, amusing and formulaic. * Muscle Shoals (2014, not rated) an interesting documentary about the last 50 years of the Muscle Shoals phenomena and how one man in a small town is responsible for so much of the incredible rhythm and blues sounds we know, from Aretha Franklin through the Rollings Stones. Always thought the men who were the studio musicians playing this music were African-Americans, but the principle players were Caucasian who helped people of all races succeed in the music business. Love learning new things. * And in honor of Shakespeare’s birthday April 23, I watched Romeo and Juliet (rated PG), the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli version with Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey. Showing my age but for me this beautiful production will forever be the best version ever.


Currently Reading – The Infinite Home (2015, fiction) by Kathleen Alcott. Slow starter. M Train (2015, autobiograhical musings) by Patti Smith. I have never cared much for Smith’s music but I love her writing and her photography is fascinating. Finished The Faraway Nearby (2013, essays) by Rebecca Solnit. The title comes from the closing line Georgia O’Keefe used when writing home back east after her move to New Mexico to say we are not so far apart, but always connected. This came at a good time for me, these essays about grief, transition, crisis, transformation, a mother descending into Alzheimers. When I want to copy so many of the words to keep, the author’s writing has a special resonance for me. Finished Second Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement (2013, career changes) by Nancy Collamer. Meh. Idea filled, but not sure how much help one can obtain from this kind of book. Yes, concurrently.


This week I have been grateful for:

  • Beautiful little golden yellow finches playing in the park where I took a walk.
  • The hubster, whose usual amount of patience is about as long as one of his eyelashes, expanding his patience to the width and depth of his little fingernail while helping me move (kicking and screaming, fingernails dug into palms) into smart phone technology. The length of patience immediately reverted after each “help session”.
  • My union local and the four office holders who voted to support my case through arbitration. They didn’t have to, but I’m grateful they did.
  • A class at the local community college to help define soft skills for employment, such as being a team player, initiative taker, and problem solver among others. Free to me but paid for through tax dollars, and since we know corporations pay little in tax I want to thank all you hard working tax payers, friends, family, neighbors, and strangers out there whose tax money is helping me get back to work.
  • Receiving some food stamp help during this time of transition between jobs. Again a big thank you to you tax payers out there. I have paid taxes over the years as well, and in a way I could view this as getting my own contributions back. I prefer to think my taxes helped other people while your tax money is helping me.
  • Getting my tax return filed on time.
  • Sharing a lifetime space with such incredible musicians like David Bowie and Prince. RIP.
  • Picking up a new follower to this little cranky blog. I love people willing to read me. And please share me if you like my work!
  • Crazy weather: 80 degrees daytime, 40 at night, sun one minute, rain the next. At least we still have weather.
  • Completing another week’s blog post and week’s worth of job hunting despite this pervasive exhaustion.
  • Being able to rest when exhaustion fills my day, even though I am not working outside my home right now.
  • The strange and interesting journey that is my life.
  • How sometimes, any random time, any random day, my heart is overwhelmed, blushed full of love for people I know and don’t know.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.


Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch
Paragraph dividers by Susan Branch

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3 Responses to Gratitude Sunday: Cousins

  1. piratesorka says:

    Cousins, ancestry….interesting toopic. I have scant few relatives these days. I know I have one out north of Sandy, maybe one in Portlandia and the other over in the Couv but we just do not mingle anymore. Very sad. I’ve not seen my Alaskan cousins in decades. More sad.
    I look a myself in the mirror and while I know I look very much like my long deceased father I can’t help but look in that mirror knowing that my biggest piece of the nationalistic DNA is in Sweden but hell if I see it! Many people guess Italian which would please me to no end but I would have to do a DNA test to find out for sure. Ostlund is a rare name and I am the last of my end of the tree, so my DNA with Ostlund/Knapp stamped on it dies with childless me.
    And yet, when I applied for a Clackamas county library card in the 90’s they told me I already had one, but it turned out to belong to a Connie J Ostlund of West Linn. Funny, I seldom run into the name Connie but to find one with MY LAST NAME TOO? What are the odds?

    Btw, are you planting a veggie garden this spring?


    • sassy kas says:

      Too weird, Connie, and to happen to both of us? What are the odds? Woe is me, I do not remember your middle name. No planting plans this year. I rely on the local Farmer’s markets to feed me home grown foods.


      • piratesorka says:

        Mine is Gail, sadly I have forgotten your middle name too, KATHY. I’m siitting here laughiing to myself, I suddenly realize that in my mind you are always that other name but I just thiink of you as Kate with a mysterious middle name
        Why no garden? The ground no good?


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