Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Soap Operas...

One of my blogger friends mentioned the demise of the soap opera she watches. It took me back to my early womanhood when I was at home with my babies. It seemed they liked the 3pm hour for their afternoon feedings. I'd turn on the TV, which in that time, broadcast only game shows, talk shows and soaps.  I started watching General Hospital, and I got 'hooked'.

I'm almost ashamed to admit that. But, it is the truth. I watched almost daily, to be sure not to miss a moment of Dr. Steve Hardy and his girlfriend, and later wife, Audrey.  There were twists and turns, sickness, sorrows, deaths, resurrections, weddings, you name it...it was there. Things were written into stories that would never happen in real life!

There was a story line that involved some sort of mafia characters...every story must have a few villans, you understand.  After awhile of talking about the 'Ice Princess' who was the 'head' of the evil operations, she made her first appearance. The beautiful, violet-eyed Elizabeth Taylor did a short stint as the Ice Princess. She hatched a plan (and pulled it off) to freeze the entire area (I've forgotten the name of the city) from an underground weather station. She wreaked havoc, and when the story line was over, those characters were gone for good.

But of course, they were replaced by others.  Somewhere along the line, they introduced Dr Leslie Webber's long-lost daughter, Laura. She stayed on the show for a very long time, and in time, she was the main character. She had a sweet and loving relationship with Luke, and though they went through fire and rain, they ended up married. It was said that more people watched their 'wedding' than any other show to that date. Truth? I don't know, but we who watched were certainly intrigued by the whole thing.

What makes those things so addictive?  Are we so bored with our lives that we must watch a story-book portrayal of life?  I know that the writers of these things give you just enough at a time to draw you back....especially when they give you a 'cliff-hanger'.   All I can say is this, I guess I needed that entertainment and then I got hooked. 

Once I went to work, full-time, that was the end of that. I lived my own life and didn't have time for the nonsence that appeared on the TV screen at 3pm each week day.  And, do you know what? I didn't even miss it. 

Monday, August 29, 2011


Fortunately Hurricane Irene did not hit the area where my kids live. She did, however, send storm surges and wind from her outer walls.  That did enough to keep the officials and the Highway Dept., as well as residents, busy for awhile.

There will be roads to clear, storm drains to clean out, trees to cut up and remove.  There will be areas near the beaches, owned by the Town, which will need new asphalt. There will be beach patrols to remove the debris and make sure things are safe for people to use the sands again.

As for us, my daughter lives in my Mom's rental house.  There are three trees along the road, owned by the Town, located  fifty or so feet from the house. Correction... there were three trees. Long after Irene's strong breath blew off in a northerly direction, she pulled something unexpected.  There are now two standing and one lying across the roof of my daughter's 2011 Chevrolet and blocking the garage door and the front door. They have one access in and out of the house. I don't know if there's any damage to the house, per se, other than the rain gutters, but once the tree is removed, we'll know better.

Meanwhile, phone calls have been made to the Town and to the insurance companies. There has to be paperwork and claims filed. The Town will have to inspect. The insurance companies will too. Then, I guess it's a waiting game. My daughter will have to get another car, once it is determined how her carrier will deal with this mess. 

I'm 900 miles from home and  my daughter.  I wish that I was closer, so that I could be more help to her. She told me this morning that there's nothing I can really do, but listen to her, and that I am the one she 'dumps' it all on.  I don't mind. That's what Moms are for, isn't it...at least one of our jobs.  

The poor kid has had a heck of a year, thus far. She's the one who had the gangrenous appendix and surgery in May. The loss of work while hospitalized and recuperating affected her finances, already strained. Her medical insurance has a large deductible to be met each time there's a  surgery, so there's a debt load she certainly didn't need. 

There are so many things to be grateful for, even in this. My daughter and her girls are fine, albeit, upset about the situation.  The home they are in is liveable.  The car is fully insured. This could have been so much worse.  In a few years, this will all be forgotten, but for now, there's a lot going on in our hearts and minds. We'll get through it, we always do, but life sure can hand you some surprises!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In Preparation....

All week-long, all over the TV channels reports of  Hurricane Irene have been broadcast: Irene over Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and where she might go next, seas rising and falling and surging against the sands, the storm's projected paths.  All of the East Coast has been watching and waiting.

I am far from the coast, and we have seen no wind or rain. But, still I am affected by this storm and it's fierce behaviors. Because two of  my children and two of Mike's, a number of grandkids and numerous friends are in her direct path, Irene is on my mind too.  I have sent instructions and suggestions, lists and good advice to my girls, who were too young to really know what a Hurricane is like, and what preparations should be made. I could tell when I spoke to one of them on the phone earlier this week, that she was not realizing the importance of it all.  I think she thought I was just needlessly worrying.  This morning, she said she's beginning to get an inkling that there might be something to worry about. 

I was hoping they would join together in one of their homes or the other, but it seems they're planning to stay in their respective places.  I suppose it's up to them, but I'd be happier thinking that they are together.  Of course, being 900 miles away, there's not much I can do to help them prepare...or listen.  There's nothing Mom can do to 'fix' anything so that they stay as safe as can be. It's one of those times when I wish I could control things, but can't.  

So, I've done what I can, and hopefully, they have all done what they can do to clear their yards of furniture and things that can propel through the air on a stiff wind. I pray that they've found what food they need should they lose their power, and not be able to cook anything. I hope they've got enough ice to keep their perishables cold enough that they won't need to throw too much food away. They've got books to read by flashlight and camping lanterns.  They've got games they can play. They will be 'locked down' together, my daughter and hers, my other daughter and her friend (s). 

And...they, as with all my friends who are in the line of the hurricane, will be in the hands of the protective Lord, because I've already placed them there...in preparation.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This Morning

"Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day!"  This August day is starting out with temperatures in the 70's, which will rise to the mid-80's. It's clear without a sign of that horrendous humidity we've suffered with this summer!  It is glorious out there!

The front door is swung open, and the fresh air comes through the screen door.  It feels so good, and has already taken the inside temperature down by three degrees. It doesn't feel stuffy in here any more!  I long for days like these, and I believe I'd be quite pleased if it stayed this way year-round. No, I wouldn't. I'd miss our one yearly snowfall and the crisp, cold, short winters, and the brisk Fall breezes that cause the brilliant colored leaves to dance.  I'd miss the summers too. Really, I would, as much as I gripe about the awful heat! It is actually because of each season's misbehaving that I appreciate the good days that we see!

There is a cacophony of sound coming from our front porch. There's enough breeze this morning to move the windchimes quite well. As the long copper pipes join, the deep, mellow notes fill the air, reminding me of the cleats hitting the  aluminum masts in the harbor back home.  The other windchime
is smaller and higher-pitched. It seems louder, and the sound goes through my head, almost causing me to take them down.  But, I don't...because it's quite melodic when it plays with the deeper one.

That just made me think about people.  Some are easy to be with, some are not. We might like to eliminate those difficult ones from our lives. But they are here, in our lives, for some reason. If they work together with others, the harmony of life can be so sweet!  If they work against everyone they meet, it may be more uncomfortable, but having them in our lives will be giving us something to grow through.  That is not a bad thing, however uncomfortable, is it?

So, this morning is a joy! It is a wonderful entry into another day of activity, of lessons and growth. I'm already enjoying the presence of it and I thank the Creator for it!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Late, but still grateful!

I am taking part in BlessingtheElements   Attitude of Gratitude blog entry each Saturday, but I'm late! (nothing new about that!)  This is my offering for this past week.

It is not difficult to share what I am grateful for this week.  My heart is thankful....for grandchildren, for the sweet things they say, the funny things they do, the love they offer without measure, the unconditional acceptance of their old family members. 

I'm grateful for the reasons they give me to smile!

What are you grateful for?  Put it in your blog, and then run over to http://blessingtheelements-mi.blogspot.com/2011/08/attitude-of-gratitude-you-simply.htmlis   and let her know that you're grateful too!

Creative Work

There is a saying that goes, "Idle hands are the devil's workshop." It's not often that my hands are idle. Nor is my mind. I'm always turning the gears in my head with a list of ideas of what I'll do next. Many of those things get forgotten, because I don't write them down, and I've moved on to other things.
I'm a part of a group of ladies on a decorating website. We 'chat' on an electronic bulletin board, sharing photos and ideas of our projects and decorating. It's a nice bunch. Every so often, someone decides to organize a 'swap' for a specific season. The first time I was a part of the swap, it was "Christmas in July" where ten of us exchanged handmade ornaments for our future Christmas trees. The only real 'rules' were that they should be 'primitive' looking (it's a primitive country decorating site) and the sending dates. This time there was a 'Fall' swap.
It took me awhile to make a decision as to what to make for the July exchange...and I finally settled on mini- broomstick horses. They were well received, and I've now got a few orders for some of them for Christmas gifts. This time, I was wracking my brain for something different. I thought I could make some salt dough and make hanging things like leaves or pumpkins, using cookie cutters. But I thought someone else might do something like that. Then I thought I'd make some sachet-type items, scented with spices and shaped like acorns . I toyed with the idea of a banner to hang over a door way, saying, "Autumn!" or some catchy phrase or line from a poem. Finally, a lightbulb went off over my head, and I thought, "MASKS!"
So, on one of my trips to take care of some errands, I picked up some black felt, some white, and a few fall colored pieces and some black grosgrain ribbon. I came home and made a paper pattern, placed the eyes, and cut out a bunch of masks. I cut black and white together, so that the lining would fit the outside. Then I decorated each mask differently.
They are seven finished ones, and I'm still thinking that I might throw in a little something else when I send them to the gals. I did get some tiny little shopping bags in black and in orange, and I'll put a little something in those as a 'treat'. They need to be mailed before too long, so if I'm going to make something else, I'd better get crackin'.
When that project is finished, I think I might make a couple of other masks for my grandkids. They will enjoy that.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Thinker

Her name was used in the Bible, in the Psalms. It is placed  at the end of some of them, as emphasis, I believe. I've read that it means 'meditate on this'.  Since the word is also a musical term, meaning 'pause', it must mean that something is worthy of the time it takes to pause and think about it.  The word, the term, her name is Selah.

This child, who is not yet eight years old, has always been unique in many of her ways. She was never one to sleep much. She'd sleep only when she was being held, and then just for a few minutes. If she was put down, she'd immediately waken, and her eyes would be wide open, as though she was concerned that she'd miss something important.  Sometimes she would just stare into the air, making us wonder what she might be thinking about. As she grew, she would mull over everything anyone would say to her, and ask one question after another, until her curiosity seemed to be satisfied.

At an early age, before she could write, she would compose stories,verbally.  Once she'd gathered the skills necessary to put words on paper, she would sit at the table, writing and erasing, thinking, editing, rewriting. I was amazed at her ability to put her stories together in legible form, with beginning, content and ending, and very little wandering. She often surprised us with the subject matter of her compositions and conversations. It often felt as if we were dealing with a tiny adult person with a mind far more advanced than our own.

This child is a thinker, there is no doubt. She's proved that to us again and again.  The other day, she rocked me to the greatest degree ever, since her birth.  She had this conversation with her mother. Her lines begin with the "S"...her Mom is the "E".  

Conversation between daughter Erinne, and granddaughter, Selah

S: I have it figured out.
E: You're not even 8. What have you got figured out?
S: All of it
...E: I'm 40 and I haven't got it figured out. Can you teach me?
S: Well, yes. See, all of time is a chapter book.
E: Yes?
S: And each year gets it's own chapter. We're on chapter 2011.
E: Okay, I follow.
S: And each day gets its own page.
E: I love this.
S: And we just have to keep reading until God stops writing.
Yes...Selah is a thinker.... and a deep one.  I believe that she has got it all figured out.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Family Reunions...

Lately I've been thinking about family reunions.  Not the 'small' ones like families who gather for birthdays, but those bigger ones.  I read about them all the time, where three or four generations of cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. get together for a grand old time of remembrance and family stories.

I have, in the past, planned two reunions. They were smaller than some families do. One was for the descendants of my grandparents, my Mother being the matriarch, her children, our children, and theirs.
It went pretty well, except for a few episodes of stories being told that embarressed some of the kids.
The other party was a camping weekend, which included Mike and I, our kids and theirs. One of my brothers attended, as did Mom, but they didn't camp out, choosing instead to visit for the afternoon and dinner. 

That party didn't work out as well. It could have been that everyone was lacking in enough sleep, I don't know, but it seemed that people were all on edge with each other. There was some ornery behavior in a few, resulting in one family leaving early, and I don't blame them. If I'd been spoken to by that brother in that way, I'd have left too...or better yet, asked him to leave. They were all adults, but there were moments  when those two acted like little boys.   As for the adults, the eldest were Mike and I, and somehow the younger parents thought we should be the ones to cook for them, and clean up too, while they all went to the beach or to the playground or for a walk.  It was the plan that each family would bring their own food, and prepare it for their families, and we'd all eat together. Eventually, when we were asked "what's for breakfast?" I got the point across by responding, "I don't know, what are you cooking for your bunch?" 

Maybe a camping weekend wasn't the best idea for so many. We've done some weekends with family members at other times, and it's gone fine...but this time we had included other, 'strangers' (I say that because we don't know them well. )  Perhaps that was the difficulty.  Whatever it was, there won't be another reunion that is so lengthy.  In fact, with thoughts of that weekend, there may NEVER be another...not if I have to plan it! It is a lot of work to organize, and you just never know what's going to happen. The work wouldn't be an issue if you came away thinking, "Boy! That was worth every minute of the effort!" But when you get to the other side of the gathering, and come away feeling disappointed,
you might not be inclined to try it again.

I guess, only time will tell.

Trying to Post...testing

Having trouble with Blogger again....siiiiiigh

Check again later to see if there is anything new! Thanks

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Looking For A Sign

Whenever I'm in the car, I look at the signs in front of churches.  Some of them are humorous, some are serious, some are double intendres. All of them catch my interest.

In the dreadful heat of this summer, I saw a sign that read, " If you think it's hot here, you don't want to try Hell."  Well, no, I sure don't, and years ago, I made sure that Hades wouldn't be my permanent resting place! Another on the same subject said, "Stop, Drop and Roll" won't work in Hell.  Now, those are what I call 'heavy' messages, and serious ones, at that.  Hell-fire for all eternity is not my idea of a joke.

A sign, relating to the fierce heat of our area, gave me a chuckle. It said, "Come inside. Our church is 'prayer conditioned.'   Cute, and hopefully, true!  Another let me know that, "God answers Knee Mail".
And then, there are those that use abbreviations, followed by meanings, such as "ATM inside...Atonement, Truth and Mercy."   Another says, "P,U.S.H... Pray Until Something Happens."

There are various other messages pinned up on the signs outside of the churches everywhere.  I'm sure they strike people in the same ways people do when they hear a verbal message.  If they have a sense of humor, they will smile or laugh at the comical. If they are very serious, they will relate more to the less funny words. If they are hard-hearted folks, they won't want to respond at all, or at least not in a positive manner.  I guess, some of us will allow the opinions and messages of others to affect us  and  others will not.

As for me, I'm always looking for a sign.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Man Clan

When we moved here, there were a number of guys in the neighborhood who would come by whenever they'd see Mike in the yard or on the front porch. He couldn't get a lot done, if he was attempting to shovel or rake or weed or mow. Mike was brought up to believe that you should look at someone when they are speaking to you, and pay attention, so if someone stopped by, the work stopped.

It wasn't long before I pinned a nickname on these buddies. "The Man Clan" is what I called them. Sometimes they'd sit on the porch for hours with Mike, chattering and laughing. As frustrating as it was that our landscaping wasn't getting done, I was glad that the guys were getting to know Mike and he was making new friends. You know how it is...when a new person moves into the neighborhood, everyone is curious about them.  In a subdivision that's brand new, noone knows anyone, so they make a point of trying to get to know their neighbors, at least that's how it happened here. Things have settled down a bit, and the neighborhood has had some changes. Some people have already moved out, due to loss of job or other changes in their lives. New people have moved in, but the newness has worn off. The Man Clan has slimmed down to a few and their visits are less often than they were, with each of them settled into their own life's business and work.

This morning some of these guys are off to have breakfast together. Every now and then, I wish I could be a fly on the wall!  What do they talk about? Do they gripe about us wives, or maybe they praise us? Or do they talk about other people in the neighborhood? Sports?  What do guys talk about?!  I try to disappear when one of them is around, other than to say a few words of greeting. After all, guys need their time together, just as women do. Sometimes when there's one of them on the porch, I'll hear them comparing recipes like two old women! They sometimes rib each other about something. Sometimes they are seriously discussing politics or a show on the history channel or some local news story.  Depending upon who it is, there might be the tossing back and forth of military experiences.   I guess that's what they talk about...'guy stuff.'

I hope The Man Clan will enjoy themselves this morning. It's a good break for them from their routine lives of family and work. I tease them all about their comradarie, but they know that I'm just razzing them. I'm really blessed that they have each other.... just as I am to have the women friends I've made.

It all comes down to this, people need people  whether the relationship is called family, friends, acquaintances or 'The Man Clan."

Monday, August 15, 2011


My blogger friend at  Blessing the Elements invited us to blog about something for which we have Gratitude. If you are interested in her blogs, see my followers and click on the one which says 'Blessings of a Wildflower" as her name on the picture. It'll carry you to her blog.  Here is my offering:

Is my heart full of gratitude? For sure!   'Why?' you might ask. I can tell you, quickly...and with certainty, if you've got a moment.

I am flooded with gratitude when I think about the fact that I am alive and well. Years ago I was sick, for nearly a year, and no tests results had a cause for it. To this day the only thing they've come up with was 'you must have had a pelvic infection, at some point, leaving the web of scar tissue that caused you such abdominal pain."  I've learned to live with the unknown cause and the vague diagnosis.

But, because of all that testing and mystery of cause, I saw one doctor after another, finally seeing another gynocolgist who took a fecal testing. Never before had I had the painless test, but I'm glad this doctor did it. I had occult blood in the sample.  From there, I was sent to a proctologist for a discussion and a scheduling of a colonoscopy. (yeah, I know...such fun.)  Actually, the prep drink was the worst part of it, and the test was a breeze, sleeping through the procedure, and waking a short time later with no after effects.  The doctor's news wasn't wonderful, however. I'd had a couple of  polyps, which were removed and one was sent for biopsy. It looked as if there was a small, new cancer growing on one of them.  When the word came back, that was exactly what happened.

It wasn't a problem. It was so new that it hadn't had a chance to grow into the intestine or cause any trouble. With the polyp removed, it wouldn't cause me any, but I was told to be diligent in having routine colonoscopies in the future.  So,  another appointment was made for three years later. That one came up free of any growths of any kind.

Since then, I have followed Dr.'s orders and have had my colon scoped on schedule when they tell me I should. If no polyps are found, it's every 5 years. If there are polyps, they are removed, and I return in three years.  All is well in that area, and there's been no more cancer scares.

So, I have a heartful of flowing gratitude. I am grateful for the year of abdominal pain, because it led me from doctor to doctor, until I had a test that saved my life.  I am grateful for the medical technology, invasive and otherwise that finds and saves lives.I am thankful for the prayers of many friends who took my name and my mysterious ailment before the Throne of Grace.  I am grateful that God watched over me and kept me safe, and I am thankful that I am here to tell you this story, so that you,too, might heed a warning and have your testing done. I am grateful that you are reading this, and hopeful that you will run, and not walk, to your telephone to arrange for your appointment. The life you save may be your own!

Great Grandma Rackett

Again, I write about a woman whose blood flows through my veins. This time it is my maternal Great-Grandmother.  She was born in Nantucket, Mass., the daughter of Henry Fisher and Maria Chase. She met Clinton Rackett, who was a fisherman from East Marion, Long Island, and moved to that little community in New York state.

I think of what it must have been like to move away from all she knew, to begin a brand new life as a young wife in a new area.  There must have been a strong resolve and an even stronger love for the man, to leave everything behind. East Marion might have felt somewhat familiar to her, since both Nantucket and Long Island are surrounded by water, and in those days, many of the men worked the sea as a way of life. The air in both places would have smelled salty, and weather conditions would have been somewhat similar as well.

There are photos that show the home that was built by GrGrandpa Rackett, for his family. I'm not sure when it was built, but it stood fairly early in their marriage. It stood close to the Community church, but across the street on the Main Road. It was taken down many years later, but I never had the chance to see the building.  I'm told that GrGramma Rackett kept an immaculate house and yard.  Even the outhouse had starched and ironed white curtains hanging in the window!  There was a garden, a cherry tree, a picket fenced yard.  My Grandmother was married there, in the garden.

Not only was GrGrandmother a woman who took good care of her home and four children, she was also a good business woman, I'm told.  Her husband died in the early 1900's, leaving her alone to raise the youngest child, my Grandmother. She took on the his fishing fleet business, keeping it running in fine order.  How these female old timers got all the household chores done and ran businesses to support the families, is beyond me.  

I was a working woman, but my housekeeping was none too good. I gave up my baking, except for an occasional batch of cookies. I had to let some things go and organize other things when I went to work. But, the women of old couldn't do that. Baking, sewing, laundry, mending, gardening, cooking, canning, cleaning (including beating room sized rugs!), etc. could not be not be overlooked. They didn't have take-out food or frozen, pre-made meals to pop in the oven. They had   to do that work.  Taking on the bookkeeping, records, payroll and other matters relating to running a fishing fleet was a time consuming endeavor. I don't know how she did it.

GrGrandma's obituary tauts her as a 'pillar of the church'. I know she was a woman of faith, but apparently she was quite involved in the women's ministries of the time. I'm sure that involved meeting the needs of other women, widows and orphans. Besides muscle and determination, she apparently was blessed with a compassionate heart. Perhaps it was her faith that gave her the strength she needed to keep going and to accomplish all that she did.

Our ancestors were not wimps. They were hard workers. They knew there was nobody to do the work but themselves, and they did what was necessary.  We could learn much from these family members. They were pretty good examples.

Sometimes it pays to look back so that we know how to move forward.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

'Don't Air Your Dirty Laundry'

How many of us have heard that line in our lives? It seemed to be the mantra of those who went before us. Today's generations seem to live their lives without any thought of what others think, but there was a sense of shame in our elders. They were telling us to have a conscience about our mistakes and to keep them covered so that people would look upon us as 'decent' adults.

A friend and I were discussing that very thing this morning. We're both investigating our families histories and we got to talking about 'skeletons in the closet' that have been discovered. He wants to share them, but not for three or four generations, when those who did the deeds are long dead and buried, and relatively unknown.  I don't know how he'd go about hiding things that long, should he write the tales.

Things are often so well-hidden that we never stumble across them. Not so in another friend's life. He recently visited a cousin in another state. He and his cousin were discussing their individual searches of their ancestries, when the cousin laid out a huge family tree.  He pointed to a name and said, "See that guy? That's your brother."  After some discussion, it turned out that the named brother had been born some years before my friend had, and had been surrendered to an aunt and uncle of the mother to be raised. The mother went on to live her life, marrying and having other children, never mentioning that there was another family member!  Can you imagine my friend's shock ?! At sixty years old, he had an older brother he knew nothing about!  He has since contacted the man, and the two plan to meet in the coming months. 

I'm not sure what the reasons were for hiding that sort of information. In many ways, I feel that it isn't fair to siblings to be denied the chance to know and love those born of another father or mother. My own husband was denied the opportunity to know his own father, due to a nasty divorce when my husband was a toddler. An entire family was eradicated from my husband's life!  There was something within Mike's mother that felt her son should not know there was a living being on his paternal side. She would not speak of any of them right up until she died. She'd have been horrified to know that, as I dug for information on his ancestors, I discovered that Mike's great-grandfather was alive and living in Casper, Wyoming up until Mike was fifteen years old.  His grandparents both died in 1965, as did Mike's Dad. Though he'd spent very limited time with his father during his up-bringing, he'd never really gotten to know him. That caused Mike to 'idolize' his Dad.  He didn't get to meet his grandparents, though, or the half-brother who also died in the 1960's in a car accident.

They say that you don't miss what you never knew. Seeing my husband's responses to each of my discoveries of his 'lost' relatives, I can't agree with that statement.  But, for whatever reason, his Mom thought it best to keep them all a secret.

I suppose there are things that people would want to keep hidden away, and if I should stumble across anything in our family, I will honor those words not to 'air the dirty laundry.'  However, the long and short of it is, things happen. People you are related to, are still related to you, even if they've done something horrible.  It can't be changed or erased, but if families want to hide it, it's important to them for us to keep it buried, at least until enough time has passed so that the person is 'just a name' to those who discover the secrets of the past.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Great Grandmother Case

There is so little that I know about her. She was born in 1860 and passed away in 1947, a few months before I was born. I have two photos of her, though, and a small glimpse into her life come to me via various relatives.

One picture shows her as a young woman, with a serious expression dressed in a dark frock, surrounded by nine of her gaggle of eleven children . I look at her, and think she must have been of strong stock, though she looks thin and small. She left her hometown of Newport, RI and moved to New York state, to a small island off the eastern end of Long Island.  How did she meet the Shelter Island man she married and who lived with there? How did it come to be?  If he had been a mariner, I would imagine that he'd gone to the R.I. port, and they'd met there, in some way.  But no, he was a carpenter, and so far as I know, was not a traveler. How then, I wonder, did she make her way to Shelter Island?

As frail as she may appear in the photograph, she managed to give birth to all those children in a few years. That alone, in her day, was no small feat. Many things might occur in a natural act of child bearing, and medical methods were no where near as advanced at that time as they are these days. She achieved the goal of safely bringing forth her brood.  But that was only the beginning of her work. As any mother knows, it's not an easy task to raise even one child to adulthood. I can only imagine what her life was like.

Think of the laundry !  There were no machines to help her as she kept her family in clean clothes. She would have had to lug the hot water to the wash tub and then scrub each item on a wooden washboard, probably rubbing her knuckles raw at times. She'd have to wring out each item after rinsing a few times, and hang it to dry from a rope line in the yard.  There would be the folding and putting away, and I'm sure, some ironing as well.  That might have required the heating of a sad iron on her wood  cook stove, being careful not to burn herself.  I wonder what her hands looked like after strong soaps (perhaps she even made her own lye soap), washboards, scalding water, and possible burns from cast iron stoves, irons, and the pots she cooked the food in. Not only did she have to wash the clothes for the large family, she had to mend them and make them all, probably on a treadle sewing machine.

I know, from stories told by my great-aunt, that GreatGrandma was, indeed, a hearty woman. Her husband, Willard, had met an untimely death in 1903 when he fell from a roof, landing first on a scaffolding, and then falling to the ground, breaking his neck or back.  Many of  the Case youngsters at home, and they had to be cared for and fed. Great Grandmother opened a boarding house in the large farmhouse where my grandmother was born.  I'm told that there were some nights where thirteen or fourteen people sat at their table, served a hefty meal by Great Grandma.  Did she raise the food in the acreage behind the barns?

It is my guess that she did.  She would not have had the funds to purchase the vegetables and meat to feed such a crowd. I can assume that she and her sons ...and maybe the girls,too, worked in the garden in the summer...and at harvest-time, they gathered their crops. Then mother and daughters would gather in the large kitchen to prepare the peas, string beans, corn, and other vegetables for canning.  That would require hours on her feet, in front of a hot stove, cooking the vegetables, placing things in the mason jars,closing them, boiling the products in the jars in big kettles, until they safely sealed. When they'd cooled, they'd be set in the pantry for use until the next garden was ready to eat.

Think of the work involved in just one day! Without a husband to instruct her sons, she would have had to instill all the things they would need to know as adults. She would have had to teach her girls the skills involved in homemaking.

Because I know so little of truth about Great Grandmother, I have had to guess about a lot of things. The mid-1800's was not an easy time for most women, and my Great Grandmother was not living a life much different from others of her day. When I think about her, and all those other women, I feel admiration. If there was a need, they met it. They didn't have the choice. I don't imagine they complained about the tasks at hand, either. They just did what needed to be done.  Perhaps they bartered with others. Perhaps they sold their eggs, or their seamstress abilities, in order to buy what they could not do. Or perhaps they just did without.

Whatever is the actual story of my Great Grandma Case, she survived it all, living as a single mother for forty-four years. She became the old woman with gray hair, in that photo, who sits in her rocking chair on the porch. She was proof that a little hard work never hurt anybody.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who Were They?

One of my friends writes a daily blog, and sometimes she hits so close to home that I need to write my thoughts on her subject. Today her wondering was about who her ancestors were and what were they thinking when the photos were taken.

She was so right!  I don't know how many times I've looked at those old sepia or black and white photos and wondered just what was going on in those lives at the time the photos were taken.  There are some stories that swim through my mind, perhaps not exactly the same as I'd heard them originally, and some that are lost for all eternity because the teller is gone, and I didn't listen well enough at the time to retain it.  My grandfather was the best at telling family stories, and unfortunately, in my young years, I thought to myself, "I already heard that story" and I shut off my hearing. Now, at my age, I understand that it was important for him to tell those events. He needed to remember them, and he wanted me to know those folks he spoke of.  It's too late now....and it saddens me.

My mother, as sharp as she is on a lot of things, has faded memories when I ask of things. However, if I just start a subject and let her ramble, often I'll get a new clue to something that went on in her youth.
Her mother, who passed away when I was expecting my second child, probably had a million thoughts and stories of her East Marion,NY family. Unfortunately, she'd had a series of small strokes for years, and it affected her speech. She was a quiet woman, anyway, but after the strokes, she often would say the wrong words, and she knew it. It frustrated her, so she tended to become even quieter.

 Her father owned a fishing fleet, passed away when Gram was about ten years old, and her mother then took over the running of the business. Later, Gram's brother ran it...into the ground, from what I heard from another relative.  Those are things I want to know details of. I want to know if the picture I have of my young grandparents is a wedding picture...it seems that it might be, but Mom doesn't think so, 'because that's not Gramma's wedding dress.'  I want to know about the wedding, which was held in the garden. I want to see her dress, but it's gone 'where moth and dust hath corrupt.'  I want to know who those ladies were, in the tremendous hats, sitting with Gramma and eating Nabisco shortbread cookies. (I can see the label on the box in the photo!)

 I want to know so much. I was able to tape a 90 yr old sister of my paternal grandmother shortly before she passed away. She was as sharp as a tack and her sense of humor hadn't waned one iota. She was a Shelter Island girl, and had been raised by a mother who hailed from Newport, RI. She carried some of that New England accent in her voice, and was such fun to listen to. She told of my grandfather,  'Ahtha' (Arthur) when he 'courted' Maud. He'd hide his 'courtin' duds' in the bushes, and 'afta werk, he'd go inta the woods 'n change outta the werk clothes and inta the courtin' clothes.'  They'd sit on the front 'pahtch'  'n Ahtha would sing in his beautiful singin' voice.'   I'm blessed to have that tape.

I also went to visit an old cousin of my father's over on the Island. He was known as Shelter Island's historian. He was a character, to be sure!  He told me a few tales...some I suspect were pretty 'tall' ones!  Eben had a way of embellishing to make the story interesting. I've yet to know if there's any truth to the story that my GrGr Grandfather Case truly did hang himself in the back shed... or if  his wife really was so mad at him for doing so that she buried him in his 'every day wig instead of his red Sunday one.'  (that story is published in a book about the Island, with Eben's name attached to the telling of it.)

The loss of our history has been a lesson to me. This blog has many offerings of family tales, and I'm hoping to add more, so that my children and theirs will know something of their forefathers and mothers. I need to keep going...they just may want to know one day, when they've turned on their hearing ears again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Forgive Me?

Gracious...I have no right to complain just because I lose a couple of blog words. Who do I think I am? Forgive me for my brief, however heartfelt, rant this morning?

There are those among my neighbors who are battling life-threatening illness. There are people from church who are  suffering with illnesses that render them house-bound or in pain on a 24/7 basis. There are large percentages of people without jobs in our state, and some who are homeless due to losing jobs in cutbacks. Who do I think I am to gripe about something so insignificant as my frustrating computer?

It didn't take me long to adjust my attitude and to realize how fortunate I am in my life. I have health, and my family is healthy too. I have all that I need, and far more than I need in some cases.
I am loved by some and I am liked by others. I live a quiet life in a peaceful place. I have a God who watches over me always and sees me through the  difficult times....even computer ailments!

So...this evening, I offer an apology to you, dear readers, and with a grateful heart, I thank God for all that He has brought my way, both good and bad. After all...how would I know good sunny days fell if I didn't have a few rainy ones to compare it to?   Thanks be to God...and to all of you who bring me yourselves and your life experiences and your friendship. I wish you all peace and love and thankful hearts, even on the difficult days. 


This is going to be short and maybe not so sweet..... I was nearly finished with my blog writing this morning, when POOOOF....it went off into who-knows-where.  I'm in no mood at this moment to write it all over again.  Check back later, and perhaps there will be another posting.

Sorry... it'll just be a rant if I write again right now.  See you later...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Work Day

Prologue: ARG!!!!!  I had nearly finished my blog this morning, when I hit some unknown key on the keyboard, and erased the whole darned thing!  GRRRRRR.   I'm still getting used to new things on this laptop I bought a few weeks ago, and the 'erase key' is one of those mystery things that I've not conquered yet. Here I go again...let's see how far we get this time.

As I was saying before the text flew off into never-never land, today will be a work day. It's time. My craft room looks as if a bomb went off and definitely needs a clean out and organizing.  Since the dawn of my being, I've been a lover of all things termed 'craft materials'. Paper and pens are a real obsession, and since scrapbooking was added to my list of loves, those products have multiplied on the shelves. Not too long ago, one of my favorite local scrapbook stores was closing, and I purchased some shelving to house the cardstock and other papers I own. It will be nice to get those in place and loaded for action.

Then there are the sewing things to get in place. (Here is where I will whisper that I haven't pulled the sewing machine out in years, but I do have plans to, so I don't want to part with all the stuff...just some of it.)  That room has  a closet, and for some reason, next to it, is another spot....a good, deep, fairly wide space, that would be wonderful for open shelves. That would make the perfect place to stack fabric and sewing supplies.   The problem with that is, I can't build them myself, and hubby has so much on the honey-do list that he'll never see the end of it. So, shall I buy some sort of  too-shallow unit, or shall I hire our trusty carpenter pal to fill the space with wonderfully efficient, simple, shelves? I guess the first step is to get up there and get to it. I will clean out, get rid of, and then organize the remainder. The shelves can wait 'til later.  

My mind has been going a mile a minute all week long. I even made a list of decorating ideas that I want to implement, but the garage needs to be unpacked first. I know there are lots of things that I want to use, and lots that I'll want to get rid of once I start that project. You see, while I was in SC for nearly a year before my husband was, he and our grown kids packed the majority of our stuff.  What I had previously packed was done in a rational manner, towels and linens,for instance, and the boxes were marked for ease in unpacking.  Conversely, the remainder was packed with no rhyme or reason, so there's no telling what will be found in each carton.  It makes the job interesting but more difficult.

Anyway, I'm ready to unload some of this junk. It's just going to take some time. It's too bad that my mind has so much more energy than my body has. There's no way I can keep up with my ideas and projects, but it all begins with the first step, right? I'll leave you now to begin the mammoth project. If I don't return in a few days, call out the canines and the Search and Rescue teams. I'll be buried under a mountain of something.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Back Again...

After buying the new laptop, and starting to get used to it's new functions, one evening I couldn't access the internet.  I kept getting a connection error...and finally one that said that there was a modem or other connection device error.  FRUSTRATION!

So...I made my way to Best Buy and purchased another modem....and then a new wireless router, since I wasn't sure which device was presenting the problem. I thought that if I hooked up one at a time, I'd track down the problem and be able to solve it myself. If not, I'd stoop to calling my internet provider, and have them come out here to fix things.

The new modem was plugged in and I signed on to see if that would fix things. Up popped a note that read, "Are you using a new modem?"  And a few other questions involving entering numbers of the old modem, etc. Then, the computer instantly began installation....but wouldn't complete it.  I still couldn't use my computer.  After trying a number of times, I called Charter techies for help.  Listening to a 'smart' taped voice who seemed to know everything except the 'incomple installation' question, I was sent to a real person.

Sean was very helpful, and when we finished our finagaling, I was up and running again. He made my day!  I'll keep that new router, I think, rather than returning it for a refund.  At least I'll save myself the twenty-four mile round trip to buy it again, should I need it in the near future. The current one is four years old, as was the modem...and the other laptop.  So....maybe it's safer to keep it close than to return it.

Anyway...I'm back, and will be moving myself back to the habit of writing something nearly every day!  I've missed you guys....and hope I haven't lost my readers!  I'll meet you here tomorrow. You bring the coffee....