new zealand

The Family










Flying home from my winter wonderland visit with the family I thought about a conversation my mother had with one of my nieces as they were saying good-bye.

Mother:  We really do have an odd family

Niece:  Should we take offense at that?

Mother:  Well, no, you are all very interesting.

Niece:  Interesting?  Now I know we are being insulted.

Mother:  But interesting is good.  I can’t think of anything worse than a bunch of boring people.

Niece:  Well, we certainly are not boring.

Mother:  No, none of you are boring!


It was all in good fun but it made me think of what makes up my non-boring family.  There were sixteen of us.  We are scattered across 5 states.

The patriarch grew up on a farm in Iowa and ended up spending over forty years as an expat.  He  met many Heads of State and he had been to 90 countries by the time he was 90.  The matriarch, kept up with him all the way also starting out in a small town in Iowa.  My brothers and I are third culture kids who grew up all over the world.

I married Nicholas, a Russian American whose parents were refugees after World War II.  Nicholas’ father never learned to speak English so Nicholas was his translator from a young age.  Nicholas used to tell me that coming home from school every day he felt like he was crossing a border into another country.  Most of his family still live in Russia.  Our son spent the first six years of his life in Russia and has traveled to many places around Europe.

My brother moved to Australia after college and met and married a woman from New Zealand.  She also came from a cross cultural family with roots in England and Australia.  Their children carry dual passports – New Zealand and USA.  They visit their relatives half way around the world whenever they can.

My niece married a first generation American with Indian roots.  She is now immersed in the traditions and culture of an extended Indian family.  One tradition included a rice eating ceremony for their baby daughter.  For this ceremony they needed a baby sari.  Not just any sari but a beautiful, fancy sari.  They found it was difficult to find one the USA and so another sister-in-law of mine and my niece are starting a baby sari business.  They have an Indian woman lined up to make the saris and they are working on a website to market their goods.  You will be hearing more about this as things progress.

So we are a cross cultural conglomeration.  And we all get along beautifully.




Hurricanes and The Sound of Water

I have just finished reading the Sound of Water by Valerie Davies.

I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot!  It is full of literary references and historical anecdotes along with beautifully written images of life in a small New Zealand village.

The reason I mention this is, of course, Sandy.  Water.  It seems apropos.

It has rained for three days.  Wind and water.

Leading up to this major historical event, I stopped by the store thinking I should probably get some batteries for my flashlight, just in case.  By some miracle, I happened upon the last packet of “D” batteries in the store.  I later saw a news report on batteries, “D” batteries were nowhere to be found.  I had been lucky.

I wandered around the store and picked up a few more items, just in case.  Of course wine was a top priority but, on my way, I stopped by the bread aisle.  Interestingly enough, all the white bread was sold out.  Only whole wheat and “healthy” bread remained.  Made me laugh.  There was plenty of “my” bread left so I bought a loaf, just in case.

My son hauled the cooler out of the closet, just in case.  I made extra ice, just in case.

I charged up my iPhone backup battery, and filled up my Brita water jugs.  Just in case.

We hunkered down.

Schools, closed.  Federal Government, closed.  Public transportation, closed.  My office, closed (although expected to work from home – ahh, modern technology!).

We watched Obama return to the White House.  He was right there in the middle of it all.  We watched the weather channel, and CNN.  And just to break it up a bit, we watched and old Bond movie with Sean Connery.

The wind started up after dark and remained fierce for several hours.  We have some downed trees in the area and we are soggy.

But we never lost power.  We were lucky.   Our elected officials did what they were supposed to do, our public employees did what they were supposed to do, mostly people listened, and we were lucky.

And in-between news reports, Valerie Davies got me through.