Category Archives: Family

Really, 2021?

So as if all the medical stuff with Jazzy wasn’t hellish enough for 2021, Peter called me this morning and said my dad was in the hospital with a very severe staph infection (like, “the CDC was called in to see if they could identify the strain” level of severe).

He had both hips replaced last year and was doing really well with them, but one of them apparently got mega-infected and he’s back in the hospital. They had to operate on him again to remove the infected components of the hip. Luckily they didn’t have to remove the whole hip joint again, but this is really going to set back his progress.

He was pretty groggy when I talked to him after the surgery but I can tell he’s really discouraged.

Screw 2020 and screw 2021, too.


So remember a few weeks ago when I said that Nate and I finally completed and mailed our thingies? Well, I got my results today!

Since I did the 23andMe version of this like eight years ago, I had a good idea what to expect with my results. However, Ancestry seems to have a bit more detail/specifics as far as some populations go (especially in Europe).

I know 23andMe didn’t specifically pick out the Welsh, Swedish, or Basque; I think they just got lumped in with larger regions. And I don’t think my regions in Africa were quite as specific.

(I should just check. Lemme check.)

OKAY NOPE I LIED, the African regions are split more precisely on 23andMe and the European regions are split more precisely on Ancestry.

Anyway, all of the non-European bits come from my dad’s side. My mom is 100% European.

Also, I’m currently reading Exodus and learning a lot about the Jewish people and Jewish history in general, so I’m super curious about that itty bitty little 2% European Jewish background and where that’s actually coming from.


I Miss My Mom.

United States, get your shit together.

I completely understand the extension on the US-Canada land border closure (AGAIN) and I fully expect it to be closed at least through the end of the year, but it still sucks, yo.

I mean, since I’m a US citizen I could go down there and visit her, but when I came back up here I’d have to quarantine for 14 days. I don’t know if I’d have to quarantine when I got to Idaho?

And since I’m a Permanent Resident of Canada, she could technically come up here to visit me, but she’d have to quarantine up here for 14 days.

So not super feasible.

It just sucks.

Old Piccys

My mom sent me some old pictures she found while cleaning/organizing her stuff. And since my blog is nothing but random nonsense that no one else cares about but me, here are said pictures.

My grandpa in the military. He never seemed like the military type when I knew him, but there ya go.

Case and point: here’s my grandpa (and my mom) with books on their heads ‘cause I had a book on mine.

Apparently we had an actual factual pony when I was a kid. I have zero memories of this pony. This is, obviously, my mom and me.

My mom and a kitten!

Me with our cat Wooder sleeping on me.

“We ride at dawn!”

The end.


Long story short here to set things up: my grandpa (on my mom’s side) died way back in 2002. We had him cremated, and since then, my grandma has been holding on to his ashes. Now that she’s dead, my mom took possession of my grandpa’s ashes and decided to scatter him somewhere he always loved to be: Spring Valley.

So today we took him out there and found a nice place to put him. It was kind of snowy and cold, but we know he’ll be happy out there.


Rest in peace, grandpa. You’re finally back out in the woods where you belong.

My Grandma Died Today and I Felt Nothing

Horrible title, huh? Well, it’s true.

I think I felt her die; I knew right before my mom called that she was gone. But once my mom actually told me, I had no reaction to her death. Absolutely none.

My grandma was not a good person. She was abusive, manipulative, and cruel.

I’m not going to go into the details because she is now in the past and is no longer of concern. But my mom has had to deal with her for many, many years, whereas I was able to put her out of my mind as soon as she moved out of our house when I was in high school. Now she’s finally free of her.

And that’s all I want to say about this.


My dad’s here for a few days, which is going to be stressful.

We get along fine, but we don’t get along the way my mom and I get along. It’s a lot more forced and a lot more awkward.

I also haven’t seen him since 2016 (!!!), so I wouldn’t put it past him to make some sort of snide comment about the way I look or dress or act now.

Or maybe I’m worried over nothing.

Blah. I have no patience or tolerance for humans right now due to BURNOUT, so this might be an interesting visit.



And for once, she’s not just staying for a few days. She’s here for the whole month of June! She got an Airbnb place that is like a block away from us.

It’s super awesome. I’m excited.


[joyful screeching]

Merr Chrissmss

Went on a nice walk with Nate this morning. We found a restaurant that was open downtown and hung out there for a little bit. ‘Twas nice.


Oh my god, it’s so good. So good. This headphone amp has a bass boost option and you can be damn sure I’m never going to turn that thing off.



I’m sad.

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-TENT

Things that are fun:

  • Going to Nate’s parents’ cabin
  • Seeing my mom for the first time in a while
  • Showing my mom the cabin and have her fall in love with it
  • Sitting on the dock and dangling our feet in the cold water
  • Kayaking on the lake
  • Cookin’ hot dogs!
  • Putting up our new tent sans rain shroud because “look at how clear the sky is, it’s not going to rain”

Things that are less fun:

  • Frantically running to the tent as a storm starts and trying to put up the rain shroud in the dark

Yeah. Thanks Canada weather, appreciate it.

Also: tents are impossible to fit back in their original packaging. Once they’re free of their confinement, they grow like 300%.


I’m pretty sure I’ve achieved Maximum Homesickness™ right now. The last time I saw my mom/was in Moscow was last September. I know that’s not a super long time ago by any means, but it’s the longest my mom and I have gone without seeing each other in person.

So it’s hard.

I’m really hoping being able to see her and being able to go back to Moscow a bit will get me out of this obnoxious funk* I’m in right now. I could really use a break from that.


*“Funk” is too weak of a word for it and “depression” is too strong, so I don’t know what to call it.

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So here’s something interesting.

I was looking at my old 23andMe results that I got back in like 2012, ‘cause I wanted to show them to Nate. Back when I had first gotten the results back, I was more interested in the medical results (things I have more of a risk of getting, things I am low risk for, etc.). But today, I decided to look in more detail at the Ancestry Composition information. Here’s what I’ve got for my composition:


First off, I thought I was basically 100% European. Which is apparently not the case. I have no idea where that relatively large (in my opinion—remember I thought I was like 100% European) Native American percentage is coming from. Or that tiny bit of West African. Like…have you seen my family?

Also, something I didn’t know: Ashkenazi is a Jewish ethnic division, mainly from Germany, so that’s cool.

So I am mainly European, but not as European as I thought I was.


Heeeeeeeeeeey, it’s time for FAKE CHRISTMAS IN MOSCOW!

‘Cause that is the tradition here. At least one member of the family (me, my dad, etc.) is usually not around on actual December 25th, so we have “fake Christmas” on a different day.

‘Cause we’re cool.

Anyway, I got a Fitbit from my dad since he knows I like to track and record stuff like that. He also gave both me and my mom one of my grandma’s crystal paperweights. Grandma had approximately 3,000 of them and I apparently loved to pick them up and toddle around with them when I was young enough to barely be able to walk. I made her panic, haha. It means a lot to us that we each have one of those to remember my grandma by.


It’s Canadian Thanksgiving today! Nate and I (and his parents and brother) went down to his grandma’s house to have dinner with her and some other members of the family. Nate and I played catch with a pinecone for like two hours while we were there, ‘cause we’re adults.

It was fun. Nate’s family is cool.



Today was grandma’s funeral mass and burial. It was sad, of course, but it wasn’t too sad; my dad gave the eulogy and his goal was to keep it light and full of funny stories (which it was; even the altar servers were laughing) and yesterday and today were basically spent telling stories about grandma and grandpa and all the weirdness of our family. I think that’s the way grandma would have wanted it.

In case anyone’s interested, here’s the obituary my dad wrote for her that appeared in the LA Times:

Emily Ortega Mahler, of Brea, California, formerly of Huntington Park and Los Angeles, CA, died peacefully in her sleep on June 3, 2015. Born June 27, 1927, she is predeceased by her parents Emilio C. and Mary Magdalene (Bustamante) Ortega of Huntington Park, CA and her late husband of 56 years, Robert A. Mahler of Los Angeles, CA. Emily is survived by her sister Evelyn (Ortega) Sheppard of Placentia, CA; son Robert Mahler of Moscow, ID; son Blake Mahler of Rancho Santa Margarita, CA; son Lance (Kerry) Mahler of La Habra, CA; daughter Vicke (Tom) Helmer of Greenwood Village, CO; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Emily went to St. Matthias elementary school in Huntington Park and to Huntington Park High School. She graduated from the University of Southern California in 1949. After completing her degree and while Bob was in the service she taught school in small California towns including Maricopa and Susanville. Later she taught in several junior high and high schools in the Los Angeles School District. After many years in the classroom her energies were spent raising four children that included involvement in supporting organizations such as the PTA, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. As her children matured she changed emphasis and became a professional volunteer. Emily was especially proud of being a Trojan (USC). She always supported her alma mater. She was a charter member of Trojan Guild, an important support group for USC, and served on many committees within the University. She has been a USC football season ticket holder since 1967. She will miss tail-gating, traveling to South Bend for the great rivalry between USC and Notre Dame, and going to all of the home football games at the Coliseum. She is especially proud that two of her children, Vicke and Blake are USC graduates along with her son-in-law Tom. Over the past 20+ years she has volunteered one day a week at the USC Norris Cancer Center. Many of her best friends were met either in school at USC or at events that supported the institution. Emily was a professional volunteer and always a member of “something.” The more important “somethings” included the Mother Goose Guild support organization to Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), several chapters of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and Friends of California State University, Fullerton. Over the years she received dozens of awards for her efforts. In 1984 she received Brea’s first “Woman of the Year” award. Emily and her husband Bob were world travelers. They were able to visit all seven continents. She took tens of thousands of pictures to document her travels. Some of her favorite trips took her China, Antarctica, safaris in Africa, the Andes of South America and to Spain. Her last trip in 2014 was a Panama Canal cruise. Emily was always proud of her California family history. The Ortega’s, originally from northern Spain, have been in California for eight generations. Her great, great, great grandfather discovered San Francisco Bay as a scout for the Portola Expedition. She had relatives who are buried at 17 of California’s 21 missions. The Ortega Highway in Orange County is named for her family and her father, Emilio, founded the California-based Ortega Chili Company in the 1920’s. Many of those original products including Snap-E-Tom and canned green chilies are still on the market today. In college she wrote a history of this distinguished family. Being a catholic was always an important part of Emily’s identity. After marrying Bob she became a parishioner of St. Raphael’s in south-central Los Angeles where her children attended school. In addition to being active at St. Raphael she served as the school’s kindergarten teacher twice. She was a member of St. Angela Merici parish in Brea, California for the last 48 years. Her faith has allowed her to look forward to again seeing her husband Bob, parents Emilio and Mary, nephew Michael and many good friends who left before her on the other side of life, as we know it.


So I’ve got some bad news today. My grandma (on my dad’s side) has been in slowly deteriorating health for approximately the past 9 months. The doctors didn’t think she was going to make it through 2014, but she did because she’s stubborn as hell.

However, my dad emailed me this morning to let me know that she finally passed away late last night.

I haven’t seen her in awhile, but I always liked going down to California and visiting her, both when I was a kid and the few times I did so as an adult as well. Luckily I’ll be able to attend her funeral, as dad is getting me a ticket to fly down there sometime at the end of next week.

RIP, grandma. You will be missed by many, many people.

Happy Birthday, Isaac Newton!

Merry Christmas, people!

It’s still weird being back in Moscow. I really do feel like it’s been at least half a decade since I’ve been here last.


My mom got me, among other things, every sock I’ve listed on my blog since September, haha, and also got me that super colorful dress/shirt thingy. My dad’s off in cruise-land and won’t be back until the 31st, so we won’t be doing our usual two-day Christmas thing, though I suppose we’ll have “Christmas” again when he gets back.

Pretty uneventful day today, sorry.

(Road) Trippin’

Family road trip to Lewiston! We stopped at that big craft barn (the one with the metal cow and all the wagon wheels) and took pictures/got funky stuff. Here’s a pretty field:


And here’s a picture of an awesome print my mom got me:


If you haven’t been to that barn, you need to go check it out. Super cool stuff in there.


I hate trying to blog about Mother’s Day, ‘cause there’s no way I could ever put into words how much I love my mom and how much she means to me. I want to make everything in her life a lot better than it is right now, but I don’t know how. So all I can do is promise that once I get my awesome stats job and earn/save enough money, I’ll get her the giant awesome kitchen she’s always wanted and we’ll go cruise the Mediterranean.


Anyway. This blog sucks, but like I said, this is really hard for me to put into words.

So I’ll just say this: I LOVE YOU, MOM!


Wow, nothing beats hearing nearly an hour-long conversation about how hopeless/useless/manipulative/fake I am.

I’m so angry right now I’m not quite sure what to do.

Holiday Vroom

Yay, Christmas with my mom! We hung out upstairs and utilized my dad’s super giant TV to watch YouTube vids and play Geometry Wars.

Look what she got me:


TOWER OF PIMPS SHIRT!!! (Pic is from the RT store ’cause my battery’s almost dead on my iPad and I have no idea where my camera is)

She knows me so well. She also got me a new pot to replace the one that currently provides me with more than my daily allowance of Teflon flakes.

Bonus: Annabelle got catnip and toy mice! She still seemed pretty miffed that we were in her part of the house, though, haha.



You know what I’m thankful for?

My freaking awesome mother.

I know a fair number of my friends have bad relationships with their moms, but I seriously can’t imagine having a better relationship with my mom.

Heck, I can’t imagine having a better mom.

So mom, I know you read these (whenever I get around to posting them, haha) and I just want you to know how much I love you and appreciate you and appreciate all the stuff you’ve done for me over the past 25 years. I’m so glad we’re as close as we are and I’m so glad we “get” each other.

I love you, mom! <3