Family Values. On Sale This Week

June 28, 2009

I received an instant message this week from the wife of my bi-polar brother, telling me that today is his birthday. I felt as if I should call him, but could not find their phone number. I do not like to talk to him, because he seems too much like me, except worse. So I guess I must be half-polar?

I got her to send me the phone number and reluctantly tried to call. Their phone said, “We won’t take a phone call from you.” Evidently our phone blocks caller-ID and their phone won’t talk to such phones. Not only is my brother bi-polar, but his phone is as well.

I sent my sister-in-law an email describing the problem.

One of the great themes of conservatives in America is “Family Values.” Family values seem to have trouble with getting lost. People start out walking the Appalachian Trail and end up in Argentina. In the case of my siblings, we live as far away from each other as we can. One brother lives in Maine. One sister lives in Vermont. (That seems close, but they are separated by a continental divide.) My bi-polar brother lives in Missouri. This is known as the “heartland”; appropriate, as my brother had a heart attack years ago.

The final sister lives in California, where she belongs to a fundamentalist church full of Hispanic and Vietnamese people. As they probably cannot understand what she is saying, they probably smile at her and nod a lot. As her only way of “conversing” is an endless monologue, this probably works out.

My barely extended family is rather extended this week. My granddaughter took her mommies to Chicago to see her dad. Her dad’s mom lives in Oregon. Her co-dad’s stepfather is a Methodist minister in Connecticut but will retire to Colorado. When my daughter visited their Colorado vacation home in the mountains, she became ill with altitude sickness. Random Granddaughter’s mom’s parents are divorced and live with new spouses in Virginia. My wife and I live on an island because we are hermits.

RG seems to be a young genius. If she is, it is because the wiring diagram in her mind where she keeps track of her family values is so complicated she would need to understand calculus to make sense of it all. Her family values are probably so valuable I should set up a Swiss bank account for her as a birthday present for her when she turns six next year.


13 Responses to “Family Values. On Sale This Week”

  1. woo Says:

    My family is a little like that. People ask “Where are you from?” and I always have to weight up – quickly – whether I give them the short, simple version (“the UK”) or the longer, more complex but truer version (“Well, my father is Irish but has served with the British Royal Air Force for 25 years, so we moved around a lot. My mother is half English and half Dutch. I grew up partly in Ireland, partly in England and partly on RAF bases in Holland and Germany. Then I lived for a year in Switzerland, then four years in Scotland, then 6 years in London, then 3 years in Norfolk and now I’ve been in Sydney for 2 years.”)

    By which time they’re usually backing away…

  2. woo Says:

    weigh up

  3. Sometimes, distance is a good thing. A lot of the time, really.

  4. Pete Says:

    Hey Mr R – I think you just dial *82 and then the number, and your call will go through. I used to have that feature but had it removed, as you can manually block your call any time you want with *69 or some such combo

  5. As far as RG’s family values, they all love her, that’s the most important vale.

  6. modestypress Says:


    If the map of my family and the map of your family interacted it might be too complicated even for the mind of that little genius Anne Elise (RG).


    Sometimes people in the same room are far, far apart.


    I tried the code you provided. I got a busy signal. I suspect my brother only has dial up and spend his day on the Internet. I will try again later. Also, the tay berries are turning color just as we finish the strawberries. I would ask you how one knows the tay berries are really ripe, but I suspect we will figure it out. Anyway, three thank yous: the code, the tay berries, and the comment, as I always appreciate your comments.


    I do believe you have good values as well, as well as good vales. I hope you will forgive e for teacing you, as I make so many typing errors myself.

  7. modestypress Says:

    Such as “teacing” instead of teasing. Oh, good.

  8. spectrum2 Says:

    I liked this post on a number of levels.
    1)I’ve been on Facebook a lot today, and it is filled with mindless status updates like, “I’ve been at the pool all day, and now I am burned, ouch!” Or “We are taking the cat for a grooming, and I can’t wait to get off from work to see my furry buddy.” Or some useless crap like that. Your post was interesting.
    2) I like seeing the various family dynamics and how they work. Compared to you, we all live right on top of one another. I live 5 minutes from my parents, my husband’s parents, and my husband’s brother. No close family member lives farther than 2 hours away.

  9. modestypress Says:


    My family seems to be coming together via Facebook. I am not sure joining my family via Facebook would bring us together any better than if we all lived next door to each other.

    “We all live right on top of one another.” Many years ago, when I was in college, I met a student from Hong Kong. I remember asking him, “Isn’t it rather crowded in Hong Kong?”

    He answered, “Yes, but the social life is wonderful.”

    We live on five acres of woods. My wife looks out the window with fascination at the birds and the chipmunks and the occasional deer. Then I will hear her exclaim, “There’s a bunny! Shoot it! Shoot it!”

    The last time the mommies brought Random Granddaughter to visit, they talked to her about Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and about how Peter’s father ended up in a pie after Farmer McGregor caught him. Beatrix Potter actually became a real farmer and fairy tales in her time were a bit grimmer than the politically correct ones of today. I think the mommies were preparing Random Granddaughter to learn about what her grandparents really do to cute fuzzy little bunnies. Or what Grandpa will do one his cataracts are corrected. The last four shots I took at rabbits missed them by a country mile and the rabbits hurt themselves falling down and laughing.

  10. Pete Says:

    Last year we had 2 Japanese girls, 20 yrs old, stay with us for a week. We do this with different girls every year and really enjoy the cultural differences. One day my buddy Mark was over, and the girls were in the house. Earlier that day I had taught them how to shoot cans with a pellet gun. (All guns are illegal in JP.) Suddenly Mark sees a rabbit out on the driveway, grabs the pellet gun and takes it out with one shot. As luck would have it the girls came out to see what we were shooting at, and of course, saw Mr. Dead Rabbit! I was expecting some sort of foeirgn adult melt down, and one of them went over, looked at the rabbit, held it up in the air by its hind legs and gave some sort of Japanese victory salute! It was truly one of the funniest things I have ever seen, and ranks on top of my l;ist of “Things you least expect.”

    Think RG will ever get there??

  11. modestypress Says:

    In terms of Japan, there once was an event called “Pearl Harbor.”

    In terms of RG and hunting, I am not sure that Mrs. “shoot the bunny, shoot the bunny before it gets into the garden! Random will be exactly the influence the mommies want. For that matter, my daughter once worked in a medical research lab that sacrificed a lot of bunnnies in the name of medical research. My daughter was a little disgruntled at being the one who had to end the bunnies’ existence, but she was a “good soldier.”

  12. spectrum2 Says:

    Goodness, Random, you make me laugh! I don’t shoot the bunnies that live in the honeysuckle thicket near the mailbox. We live in a slightly upscale neighborhood in the county. So we have about two acres on a lake which attracts snakes. One snake was on the carport. My husband killed it with a hoe. My son, age 3, asked about why the snake was killed. My husband explains about good snakes and bad (poisonous) snakes. Then he tries to explain that in mommy’s mind, all snakes are bad and must stay away from her or suffer the consequences. Fun conversation, if I do say so.

  13. modestypress Says:


    Who was it who said, “Goodness has nothing to do with it?” Mae West?

    If the bunnies just nibbled on our semi-lawn (mostly edge of forest weeds), they could live happily and peacefully on the five-acre Random Estate. But they see the garden fence and cry out, “Lettuce, and carrots and berries and broccoli, oh my, how much do I want some!” And then they try to crawl under the fence or between the fence and the gate.

    And then my dear wife, whom everybody thinks is so sweet and kind, cries, “A rabbit! Get it! Get it!”

    Yesterday, a rabbit edged toward the garden fence. Even though I am near blind in my right eye, which is scheduled to go under the surgeon’s knife Tuesday, I sighed through the scope, squeezed the trigger, and the rabbit fell over.

    Some day, Anne Elise will read these words keyed by her grandfather with shock and horror.

    On the other hand, the only snakes we have are garter snakes, harmful only to slugs. Mrs. Random squeals with delight whenever she catches sight of a garter snake on our property.

    Of such varying tastes and behaviors are lasting marriages made.

    If I succumb to Alzheimer’s Disease (as my mother did and my aunt is doing) my wife will take care of me. She practices each week at the Senior Center, where she provides relief caretaing for weary caretakers. In the meantime, I am reading a book titled The Anti-Alzemer’s Prescription. With such undertain maps we grope our way to the future.

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