Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Someone" With Irish Twins

Possibly my favorite thing about reading is that I always learn something new. Reading Alice McDermott's Someone last week was no exception. But I have to wonder why what I learned took me so long. Where have I been? First, a comment about this book: I really enjoyed it. It is what I call a 'quiet' book - no murders, no big drama, just a beautifully told story about one "unremarkable woman's unforgettable life".

What did I learn that I had never heard before? The term Irish Twins. Me, the person who has long read and identified with everything Irish! The definition of Irish twins is roughly, "children born in succession within one year." Just like the term "No Irish Need Apply", "Irish Twins" has a similar derogatory connotation from the tide of immigrants coming to America to escape the potato famine in Ireland.

Our family has had a few sets of actual twins in the last hundred years, beginning with Dad's Uncle Lawrence's Bernard and Bernadine in the 1920's. Thirty some years later, another of Dad's cousins had twin daughters. (His Uncle Leslie's daughter, Elvera.)

Here are those twins, Lois and Linda with their mother, Elvera, and my Grandma Bessie (Dad's Mom) off to the right side.

Twins continued with my brother's born in 1974. Yes, they turned 40 in January. This photo of them was always one of my favorites:

Ron with Andrew and Ruth with Lorrie.

My niece, Lorrie, would grow up, marry, and have her own twins, sons Aidan and Erick. The above picture was their birth announcement. They lived on Rose Garden Lane at the time. Cute and creative, huh? That's my niece.

So, while my brother has actual twin  grandchildren, I have two sets of those Irish Twins - my oldest son's children, Zachary and Katrina:

Zachary was born September 10, '85 and Katrina was born the following August 27, 1986.

And my younger son's Ki and Kathryn. These two are exactly eleven months apart, September 14, '92 and August 14, '93. They really were mistaken as twins when younger.

So now that I understand what Irish Twins are, I'll be aware if there are any more in our family. Wonder what I'll learn new in the next book I read?

Addendum: After reading this post, Elvera's oldest daughter got in touch to tell me she also has twins - a boy and a girl. I have to conclude that twins do run in families, in our case, the Duncan clan. I also thought of another set of 'Irish Twins' - my cousin Glen's oldest boys, Kevin and Kendall born about 11 months apart.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Life Goes On

Yes, life goes on, though this year it feels like "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Winter Goes On!" I do hope having a long, cold, snowy winter presages an early, warm, lovely Spring. I for one am ready for it.

The snow and cold have only contributed to my usual problem with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Thankfully the longer days are beginning to help. It has always been hard for me to pull myself out of the depression I feel. This winter I have mainly just lost myself in whatever book I'm reading and let the days go by, waiting.

Other contributions to my depressive state have been the increased pain in my arthritic knees - to the point I was ready to call my ortho surgeon and schedule knee replacement surgery a couple weeks ago - and the less than satisfactory results of last fall's cataract surgery. Well, that's not quite right - the cataract was successfully removed - it was developing Cystoid Macular Edema after the surgery that has me bummed. A month of eye-drops therapy did help some, but learning that there would be no further improvement was disconcerting. One of these days I'm going to blog about "The Left Side of My Body".

That New Year's post I did about writing a daily affirmation/statement of gratitude did not last long, lost to the onset of negative feelings. But my daughter's lovely Bookish Dark post, "Gratitude", yesterday was just what I needed to remind me I have much to be grateful for: Spring is on its way! - At least in Oregon.

The weather finally moderated enough last week that I got back to exercising at the Y and also visited a new friend in her assisted living apartment. Maxine is such a joy to talk with - a woman who has seen her own share of life's travails, yet stays engaged in living. Just spending an afternoon with her made me feel so much more positive about my own life.

Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, Life does go on. Thank goodness.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

This One's For My Ch/Kristine Nieces

Two of my nieces share a name - my sister's daughter, Kristine Lynnette, and my older brother's daughter, Christine Marie. They share another trait, each has expressed a desire to buy and renovate houses. At one time or another they have commented about asking their cousin, my son Douglas, for advice on how to proceed, as this is something Doug knows much about. He has been building new homes and remodeling old houses for many years.
Christine and husband Dale have purchased a home in Florida with plans for some renovations. I don't know how extensive those plans are nor how far along they are.

Kristi and husband Ryan have purchased and completely remodeled their home here in Creston. In addition they bought a neat old Victorian house across the street with thoughts of remodeling it. I believe their plans have changed on that, but it would still be a gorgeous home if they did. (I did suggest to Doug that he could buy it from them and renovate it.) This is that house, front:

Just seeing the pictures again makes me wish I could see it completely renovated. Such a neat old house. It is on two full lots. This is the house on the back side:

Oh, if money were no object! Now, Kristi and Christine - the reason for my blog is to show you pictures of Doug's most recent renovation. This is the house as it looked last August when it was purchased:

The house was built in 1880. Doug said it had been vacant for twenty years. This is what it looks like now:

Everything about it is new except the gorgeous hardwood floors and the stairway. It took them about five months to renovate. The property is on the southeast edge of Redfield next to old Highway 6 and about five miles from the interstate - an easy commute to Des Moines. I'll let the rest of the pictures speak for themselves:

These were all pictures I took at their open house yesterday. Doug & his partner in this endeavor are shown above at the top of the stairs. Tim is from England where he had also renovated some properties. He said the whole procedure there was much different than in the U.S.

The following pictures are ones I took from their listing of the property:

I share my niece's desire to buy and renovate houses - it is something I had always wanted to do but never could. At least I get to live it vicariously through my son.