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It’s been a while since I joined in with Joyce’s weekly Wednesday Hodgepodge over at From This Side of the Pond, but a few of the topics this week jumped out at me, so I’m in.

The concept is simple.  Each week, she posts a set of questions; you answer; and then check out what others have said on the subject.

You can do that by clicking here:


So let’s get on with it, yes?

1. Do you have an interest in learning about your family’s heritage? Why or why not? If you know a little bit about your roots, share an interesting piece of trivia or a fun fact about someone who goes way back on your family tree.

Yes.  I have been interested in my family’s heritage since my early teens.  Two things happened at that time.

The first was that my father’s mother died when I was 13.  Given my grandfather had died the previous year, we then cleaned out their house.  I helped my aunt go through materials and was delighted to discover that my grandmother saved all sorts of family news clippings in her prayer-book.  The prayer-book itself was equally fascinating.  Titled “Treasure of Pious Souls” it was originally a gift to my grandfather’s mother for her baptism and first communion in 1907.   And the news clippings – including rather detailed descriptions of various family weddings from local papers – were wonderful.  I still pull it out and leaf through every now and again.

The second was that, when I was 14, my other grandmother came to visit us from South Africa and brought “The Dog” for my mother.  Here he is:

Looking quite good for 200 (ish) years old, isn't he?

“The Dog”

This black porcelain dog has been passed from mother to (first daughter) on my mom’s side of the family for almost 200 years.  My grandmother told me that her mother first remembered the dog in her grandmother’s cottage in a village called Little Maplestead in England.  When my great-great-great grandmother passed away, the dog moved with her daughter to London.  It spent a few generations there and survived the bombings during World War Two safe in its place on the mantel in the family’s Hampstead home.  Following the war, the dog moved to Africa – living in Nairobi, Kenya and Fish Hoek, South Africa, outside of Cape Town, which is where my mother grew up.  Then, in 1991, it made its way to Canada.  And now that I have two daughters?  It will pass to me, and then to my eldest daughter.  Or my youngest daughter should the eldest not have a daughter.

These two events piqued my interest in family heritage and my mother’s father was kind enough to send me a huge family tree he had worked on for years, which traced that side of the family back to the time of Henry VII (late 1400s).  My mother explained that he then stopped researching because he had hit the Welsh border.  Given my grandmother’s father had left her mother and the family to “run off with a Welsh woman”, my grandmother had made it clear she didn’t want to know if she was Welsh.

Other than the random stopping of the research, the only other interesting fact was the attempt to try and prove we were related to Percy Bysshe Shelley.   In recent years, I tried to figure this one out with the help of Ancestry.ca but also came up blank.  As a note, it would appear that many a British person with the last name Shelley tries to figure out this claim, so I think it’s unlikely.  But it would have been cool to be related to the husband of the author of Frankenstein.  For the record, he was also pretty awesome in his own right.

2. Branch Rickey, the baseball exec credited with signing Jackie Robinson, is quoted as saying- “Luck is the residue of design.”

Agree or disagree? Why?

Agree.  I even went and looked up the full quote and agree even more.  Here it is:

Things worthwhile generally don’t just happen. Luck is a fact, but should not be a factor. Good luck is what is left over after intelligence and effort have combined at their best. Negligence or indifference are usually reviewed from an unlucky seat. The law of cause and effect and causality both work the same with inexorable exactitudes. Luck is the residue of design.

The other similar quote to this that I tend to come back to is “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”  Some of life is chance.  But most of it is figuring out what you want and then working hard to get it.

3. In the town where you currently reside, what’s your favorite green space?

Hog’s Back.  I posted about this – as well as a few other outdoor places of wonder in Ottawa – back in the fall here.

Briefly, Hog’s Back is a large park area in the middle of Ottawa with a waterfall in the middle of it.  There are also short paths through the woods you can wander or bike through.

I remember spending afternoons there running about as a child and I’ve taken my daughters there a couple of times in the summer and fall when we are looking for something free and fun to do.  The last time I was there, a stranger took a photo of my girls and offered to send it to me.  I wondered vaguely if it was a scam of some sort, but the following Monday, I got an email from Victor Deveau with this beautiful photo of my two girls:

Princesses and Diamonds

If I didn’t love Hog’s Back before, I certainly do now.

4. Who is your favorite comedian?

This is the question – other than the heritage one – that drew me in today.  This isn’t something I’ve ever really thought about, but just last Friday I was out with a friend who mentioned that one of the women we went to university with had become a stand up comedian.  I didn’t know her, but it’s always nice to discover successful Carleton alumni.  I looked up Christina Walkinshaw online on Sunday evening and had a good laugh.  Here’s a sample:

5. March is National Nutrition Month, and almost everyone needs to improve their diet in some way.  What about you? How can you improve your nutrition on a daily basis? Will you try?

I made some major diet changes last year and lost 30 lbs.  Every now and then I back peddle a bit, but I’ve mostly kept it off and kept my good habits.  So right now, I’m looking to maintain the good habits I started last year.

6. Which of these green expressions have you ‘experienced’ in recent weeks -green with envy, green thumb, green around the gills, or give the green light? Explain.

I guess I’ve been given the green light.  I’ve recently been given the opportunity to act as manager at work.  The circumstances were unexpected, and it’s been busy, but I appreciate the opportunity.

7. Where is one place you don’t mind waiting?

I have zero patience and hate waiting.  For anything.  Seriously.  I’m like Homer in this Simpsons episode:

The one exception would be if I’ve made plans to meet a friend downtown and know they are running late.  I will make a beeline to either the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library or the Chapters at Rideau and kill some time browsing or reading.  In complete silence.  By myself.  Given I spend most of my life in perpetual motion and noise surrounded by competing demands for my attention this is GOLD.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

My 4-year-old recently scolded me for leaving a pair of nylons on the counter in the bathroom.   I generally bring two in with me in the morning when I get dressed for work because one will inevitably have a run in it.  Anyway, I forgot to return the other one to the drawer.  My daughter informed me she was going to go put them back in the drawer for me so that they could “go play with the other nylons.”  I hadn’t realized the importance of hosiery socialization until that moment.   I also liked that my daughter considers the feelings of others.  Even if those others are just my nylons.


Thanks for the fun questions this week! Looking forward to checking out some of the other hodgepodgers!