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Tag Archives: family ties

It’s “Mrs.” Ninja, actually

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When we adopted our cats Mr. Pirate and I had a very serious conversation. Whose last name should they have?

You don’t often think of pets as needing last names, until they go to the vet that is. Antigone’s name is fairly singular, but Harley is about as common as, well, his orange motorcycle namesake.

Categorizing patient records by first name is ridiculous regardless of who the patient is. So the cats’ last name is Pirate. I figured it would be good preparation for when we eventually had human kiddos since we agreed that our offspring would have whichever last name sounded better with the chosen first name. So Elle is Elle Pirate and as a result, I’m completely out-numbered in our household when it comes to surnames. We’re a house of Pirates and one Mrs. Ninja.

But it’s not a big deal. Mr. Pirate fell in love with me as he first met me – as Amanda Ninja. We always know when solicitors call and it’s a bit of a running joke when mail arrives for Mr. and Mrs. Pirate.

It’s just funny that I can’t deposit a check into our joint checking account if our names are on a check as Mr. Pirate and Mrs. Pirate.

Both funny ha ha and funny awkward.

Here’s the awkward:
In order to deposit the check without having him there at the bank with me and holding my hand, I can do one of two things.

  • Have him co-sign the check and then go back with our marriage license to demonstrate that I’m really who I say I am.


  • Ask the person who wrote the check to write us another.

We’ll be going with the first because the second just demonstrates poor manners. I may be a lot of things – and a stubborn lady who didn’t change her name when she married happens to be one of them – but I don’t have poor manners.

Here’s the funny ha ha:

This whole adventure only reinforces why I didn’t change my name in the first place. My last name is unique. I’ve often maintained that if you’ve met a Ninja, I’m probably related to him or her.

courtesy of

As far as I know, we don’t have any kin in Jonesboro, LA — but maybe we should road-trip there one day to check.

That was certainly true today.

As I pulled out my driver’s license to demonstrate that I am actually the person whose name is attached to the account, the teller remarked, “Oh. I went to school with some Ninjas.”

Eight years ago when we got married and moved to Colorado, Mr. Pirate and I happened to move into the neighboring county of where my dad and his siblings grew up. (In fact! Elle will go to school in the same school district as her Granddaddy, three great uncles and one great aunt.) The teller mentioned, that the Ninjas she knew lived in Fairview Estates and that she went to school with Dale Ninja.

Well guess who happens to be the niece of Dale Ninja?

I didn’t have a chance to let her reminisce, or to mention that my uncles all live in Oklahoma now. There was too much of a line growing behind me.

But maybe when I go back with my marriage license to deposit money into the checking account, I can let her know that my uncle is well and in good health.

That’d be the polite thing to do after all.



[Photo courtesy of Seriously. We need to go visit.]


Better Go Catch It

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When it comes to celebrating life, my family tends toward a slightly off-center way of doing things.

We are not your white picket fence type of holiday people. We scorn turkey at Thanksgiving in favor of firing up the grill one last time for burgers and brats. My dad and I once visited Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day too late for the wreath laying ceremony, and then just spent the rest of the day trekking through the wet grass looking for the soldier whose headstone had the same number designation as my birthday.

This is why my dad and sister flying to Colorado, so we can take an 8-hour road trip to Kansas to celebrate my aunt’s breast cancer journey makes perfect sense. After beating cancer once, a recurrence, a full mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, she proudly can tell you that she’s still standing. My sister and I, who both hate to run, started running the Wichita Susan G. Komen 5K three years ago just for her.

We figured that running sucks, but cancer sucks more. This year though, since being a baby incubator means I am not supposed to get my heart rate above 140 bpm, and with planning a November wedding, my sister really didn’t train this summer, we just embarked on the road trip because visiting Kansas at the end of September is awesome.

And although my pirate mister and I decided that maybe we shouldn’t host out-of-state family and do Jade House projects on the same weekend, I slipped and we did a couple anyway. You see, my sister is my dad’s big carpentry buddy. She’s nine years older than me and when I thought that playing with carpenter’s glue and nailing little blocks of wood together was a great idea, she was helping our dad rebuild the back deck. Or remodel the kitchen in a week.

They’re just a good team like that.

So when my dad said, “Hey. We still want to get you a new refrigerator as a house-warming present.” I agreed.

Our old refrigerator had several problems beyond its age:

  • It routinely piddled on the floor.
  • The seal along the top of the freezer door was gappy and blew cold air toward the ceiling.
  • One shelf of the refrigerator froze food on a regular basis.

Owen and I picked out a fridge and arranged for the install last Saturday while I would be in Kansas. That afternoon he calls to say the new one won’t fit. I grumbled that we measured the space and although bigger, the new one should fit.

Once again, physics says no. Two refrigerators cannot occupy the same space at the same time.

After sizing up the situation on Sunday, my sister and I developed a plan of attack. We’d just saw off the counter to the left of the fridge space until it did fit.

TLDR: We now have a circular saw and a refrigerator that can grow with us as a family.

Also, I kind of shorted out the dish washer while using the shop vac to remove the mouse poop we discovered under it. But that’s another story to be told another time.


Babies everywhere! or how we tell the time

Well, not really. And not yet. Also, not yet for the pirate and I.

But in our little world there are a fair number of babies on the horizon (Miss Anna Mae, Baby Brown, and Baby Tami-John). Three sets of friends we know are expecting this summer and I’ve begun knitting madly so that maybe their baby hats will done before they are born. This will be a feat as most little people who come into my life don’t get their first knitted item until after they are done incubating.

These are happy and exciting times folks.

In other news:
My dad recently sent me a picture of my poorly remembered youth. I’m on my 82-year-old grandfather’s lap and my sister (9 at the time) is sitting next to him. We’re in the backyard in Brighton and both he and she look so happy.


I look vaguely peeved. Or confused.

It’s a good picture though and I’m happy he sent it to me. Most of the pictures of me as a small person are still in the photo albums at home. This though came from a bunch of slides that my dad recently acquired through the wonders of the technology.

Growing up I often heard of these slides. My family referenced them as others might give directions to Shangri-la.

“The pictures of the Kris Kringle Mart? They’re on the slides. But that was BA.”

BA-Before Ninjamechanic. A time that usually referred to the 9 years or so that my family was incomplete before I finally decided to show up.

They lived in Germany. My sister played golf on the Arsenal. We had a guinea pig. They participated in Volksmarches and our poodle went for bike rides.

Plenty happened after Ninjamechanic hit the scene … We moved to Northern Virginia. My dad and sister built the deck. We almost burned the kitchen down that one time in Indian Princesses.

Grade school. College. Georgia. Pirate-Ninja Wedding. Life stuff.

All just normal everyday things, but all things of which I have seen photographs. I’m a visual learner which I think contributes to my love of photography. You can express things in photographs or snapshots that other mediums sometimes struggle to articulate.

Moments in time that are fragile. Echoes of people who are no longer here and places that are out of reach.

I look forward to seeing what other things Dad digs up as he reclaims the slides. Especially the BA ones.

No punch backs

It is several degrees of awful and vaguely sadistic, but I get such a kick out of driving past groups of kids and teens who then wail on each other after I pass.

Even college students and adults get into the act sometimes. It’s still nice enough out that I drive with my windows rolled down and I can hear the familiar mantra.

“Yellow punch buggy, no punch backs.”

In my family though, hitting one another was not acceptable. My mom took a preemptive strike against fighting in the car and we could only watch for Beetles and VW buses, accumulating points as we ran errands around town. One point for Beetles, two points for vans.

Giggling over the number of friendly riots my Beetle sparks, it made me wonder if any other vehicle incites this sort of competitive car spotting? Sure you can try and get a trucker to honk his horn by pumping your arm up and down as you pass, but I’m not sure if there are any other car-make specific game.

Does anyone else have any car-spotting games I’m missing?

Focus Group

I’m jotting down these symptoms in order to have the facts at hand and to give this situation some more consideration.

The facts:
My brother-in-law recently experienced a series of electronic failures while driving on the interstate in his 2001 Ford Focus. While going about 65 mph the ABS light came on followed by the air bag deployment light. The ABS light went off and then all of the gauges spazzed out. He limped to an exit, made it through the first light off of the interstate, experienced an engine knock then coasted into a parking lot.

All around I commend him (and his girlfriend who was riding shotgun) for his cool head at a time when your car behaves abnormally. But I wonder about the series of events.

As he described this to me my knee-jerk reaction goes to the car’s main computer, the ECU. But then again the whole job of the alternator is to keep the electrical system operational while the engine is running. Additionally the engine knock might be problematic. That sound coming from an engine usually indicates metal has come in direct contact with another piece of metal. Even though the engine is pretty much all metal, there’s a film of oil protecting the pieces from directly coming in contact with one another.

Since I’m two time zones away, I’ll be curious to see what the final verdict is when a shop looks at it.

In other news:
-It’s spring break now, so on top of bringing order back to our apartment I’ll also bring another new post here.
-One of my instructor’s, A Ford Tech, challenged me to explain the a vehicle’s systems using simple and clean writing. Perhaps discussing the alternator would be a good place to start.