Recently in Family Business Category

my father's internet famousness

Though this is not quite as exciting as when my mom's recipes were featured in the Contra Costa Times, my father achieved some regional newspaper fame this week. He's featured on The Hive, a blog for the Modesto Bee. According to Dad, this photo captures him "urging the others to get the heck off the Cedar Breaks summit where we were parked in Utah, and back down the other side to warmer weather". He was successful in his efforts, and just 36 short hours later, it did finally get warmer, once they reached Sacramento. Dad is the one in yellow.


Mom's article is unavailable online, so Dad is actually more internet famous than her now, even if his face is covered by a helmet in that photo. More importantly, Dad's appearance in the Bee should up my standing in the expatriate Modesto community.

[Digression: I've always maintained that if your local newspaper is called "The Bee", then you live in the boondocks. A cursory search reveals the following cities with Bees: Buffalo, Fresno, Modesto, Sacramento, Phillips (Wisconsin), Sandpoint (Idaho), Danville (Virginia), Bullhead City (Arizona), Belle Fourche (South Dakota), and Beeville (Texas). I guess I wasn't wrong.]

The non-Keane-related highlight of this blog entry:

When several of us couldn't figure out how to turn off the flash on our digital cameras, Henry, our Indian guide, said, "Let me show you the Navajo Way." He took a camera and put his finger over the flash. Yes, that must have been how the ancients did it....

aunt agnes: local celebrity


Agnes Farrell, my great-aunt and birthday twin, was recently profiled in The Noe Valley Voice. Now she can add "local celebrity" to her resume, along with "great-grandmother", and "bingo champion". Here are some highlights from the article:

Both of Farrell's parents were Irish immigrants, and her dad was in San Francisco for the 1906 earthquake. He often regaled the family with stories of watching the city burn from a perch atop the Noe Street hill.

My great-grandfather and I had a similar mindset. You could argue that this blog, and perhaps my life in general, are a modern-day equivalent of sitting on a hill and describing the wreckage I see below me. Probably while also drinking gin.

Wonzod's was the place for candy "and other necessities," according to Farrell, and Marguerite's was the local ice cream shop, The local butcher gave all the local kids slices of baloney.

"Wonzod's" is a phenomenal name. Sadly, this interview is the only mention on Wonzod's on the web. Still, I trust Aunt Agnes's memory. Even though she visited the local butcher a lot as a kid, she is not at all full of baloney.

The more adventurous of the children hitched a ride on the produce truck, and would continue on their merry way until the driver started pelting them with potatoes.

Some ethnic stereotypes are rooted in fact. I like to think that the kids weren't hurt by the flying spuds, and only jumped off because they were so excited to collect the potatoes, take them home, and boil them up.

"We'd do dances like the Stack of Barley, the Hornblower, and the Highlander all night long."

Aunt Agnes can still do a mean version of the Highlander. Other relatives occasional try to outdo her at the annual New Year's party, but we all know there can be only one. When I put together my own squad to compete in America's Top Dance Crew, I am going to call them Stacks of Barley.

I hope the sudden fame doesn't go to Aunt Agnes's head. If you see her around the Noe Valley area, feel free to stop to say hello or take a picture, but please, no autograph requests.


my sister is not dead


Since it's St. Patrick's Day, I thought I should update everyone on our favorite pint-sized Irish girl with a plus-sized liver, my sister Molly. She's in Guatemala, where they celebrate El Día de Santo Patricio. Everyone wears verde, and they eat carne del misterio de vaca salada, probably cooked in a big vat of lard, because that's how they do it at the orphanage. I am also guessing that Molly is spending a lot of time kicking a soccer ball, and watching She's the Man with her young charges.

The reason i am giving this update is to reassure people who read the tragic story of a different Molly Keane, a woman from Berkeley who drowned last month trying to save her dog. It was a very sad story, and my condolences go out to the other Keane family. The story has reverberated with people in the Bay Area, and it has spread far enough that people at our church have been asked to pray for Molly Keane.

Since our Molly has been out of the country for months, this has understandably worried a lot of people. My parents pretty much only attend church for weddings and baptisms, so parishioners can't get in-person confirmation of my sister's aliveness. And, since they rarely answer the phone at home, no one can get telephonic confirmation either. Perhaps we need to ask the priest to clarify that they're praying for Molly Keane, but not that Molly Keane. Or hell, pray for both. Molly seems to be OK, but you really never know when she'll accidentally flood the orphanage bathroom, or misplace her softball socks.

In the interest of full clarification, I will note that the Keane family now has a dog again, a shitzu/lhasa aphso mix named Snickerdoodle. She's seven weeks old, and I'm sure she and Molly will get along famously.

snickerdoodle 001.jpg

the eggs-traordinary easter of 2005

It's almost Easter, Zembla's favorite holiday. But two years ago, the family Easter celebration was in danger. Molly was studying abroad in Chile, and Megan had already decided to opt out of egg hunting on Sunday morning. That left only Sean and Kelly to roll the rock away from the tomb of apathy and let the spirit of Easter rise again.

Megan's anti-egg-hunt position was understandable, if disappointing. Outsiders rarely understand the Keane family's holiday practices. When Molly tried to explain our celebration to her host family in Santiago, they stared at her in confusion. It wasn't a translation issue; her Chilean hermano explained that in Chile, egg hunting was only for children. Small children. Perhaps Molly had a brother who was mentally challenged?

I spent the afternoon of Holy Saturday at the Triple Rock Brewery's annual beerfest. Two regional finals for the NCAA Tournament were being played that afternoon, and both went into overtime. All the excitement, coupled with unlimited beer, made me temporarily forget my Easter responsibilities, much like how Arizona forgot to guard the three-point line at the end of the second half. Once the haze of March Madness faded and the taps were shut off, I knew I had work to do.

Mom picked me up from BART in Pleasant Hill, but went to bed almost immediately. When Kelly returned from work, we were faced with the daunting prospect of coloring three dozen eggs by ourselves, with no help from our worthless parents or siblings. There was only one thing to do: Open a bottle of wine, turn on the Starz Lord of the Rings marathon, and get to work.

It is safe to say that alcohol and Tolkien influenced our decorating. One egg compared my father's bicycling to the riders of Rohan for no real reason, except that King Theoden appeared on screen when Kelly was dyeing it.

The other source of inspiration was our anger at other family members for abandoning the egg-dyeing task to us. Megan's co-habitation with her boyfriend (they've since married, Mom's knee problems and the resultant painkiller usage, and Dad's limited art skills, Molly got a pass, so we took out our frustration on the nation of Chile itself. Our pattern was this:

1. Refill wine glass.
2. Shout "Morrrrdor!" or "Sam!" at sibling.
3. Write insulting joke about absent family member on egg.
4. Finish wine.
5. Dye egg ugly color.
6. Refill wine glass.

The living-in-sin eggs were my favorites. One read, "SINNERS" on one side, and "You know who you are" on the other. Another was labeled "Pissed-Off Jesus Egg", and displayed Our Saviour saying, "The bunny's no big deal, compared to living in sin". A third said, "Too Good For Coloring Eggs.../Not Too Good For HELL", with a drawing of flames.

My father consistently draws two characters on Easter. With the obligatory PAAS invisible white crayon, Dad sketches Bugs Bunny and a character called, "Murph the Surf", a guy that looks like Moe, the bully from Calvin and Hobbes, only on a surfboard. As far as I know, those are the only two things that my father can draw, besides treasure maps featuring household objects.

Kelly covered Dad's absence by sketching something she labeled, Doug's Doggy, a dog who said, "Ruff Ruff Doc?" Dad was not amused.

We dedicated memorial eggs to cars that had broken down throughout the year. We made fun of our poor 75-year-old grandmother, for reasons only Charles Shaw could explain. We wrote horrible holiday puns like, "Easter? I Hardly Knew 'Er!"

A Molly-in-Chile egg celebrated the mullet, Santiago, Chile's favorite hairstyle. Negocios enfrente, fiesta atras.

One design was simply a cracked egg covered with twelve different stickers from the PAAS pack Kelly described this egg as, "The most beautiful Easter egg in the whole wide world."

We made an Equal Opportunity Egg: Happy Passover, You Schlemiel! L'Chaim! The Sideways egg insisted, "I'm not gonna hunt for any friggin merlot!" An un-dyed egg read, "WARNING! This is an egg, not a jumbo-sized Vicodin!" Finally, we made a few prize eggs, promising the finder big-money prizes, to be paid out by Dennis. (He thwarted our efforts by "finding" those eggs himself).

We went to bed tired, drunk, and sick of Elijah Wood. We still hunted eggs the next morning, champagne glasses in hand, if by "next morning" you mean, "2 PM". We called Molly to tell her the Easter news and describe our eggs, and she wasn't surprised. After all, angry, drunken, mildly-incoherent egg-dyeing is common with Chilean children. Alcoholic children.

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