Sunday, November 27, 2011

What did people do before they could forward each other email glurge?

They sent each other clippings.  I haven't found any clipping wars in Grandma's box of yellowing letters, but I remember her engaging in a few. 

This is a clipping found tucked into one of the letters sent to her, from one of her friends.  It is suitable to this blog because I'm having trouble throwing the silly thing away, for some reason, and I expect that once it's enshrined here it will be easier to let it go.  I have no idea what newspaper it was clipped from.  And at this point I'm not sure which decade it came from.  It was either the thirties or the forties.


Here is what Francis Mac. Jones, well-to-do Angeleno, threatened to do to his wife, Cornelia, according to her divorce complaint filed in Superior Court yesterday.

Build a 10-foot fence with barbed wire topping it.  Put Mrs. Jones inside the enclosure.  Then when men came to see her, they would tear their clothing on the wire -- and Jones could identify them.

Mrs. Jones asked $25,000 attorney fees and appropriate alimony, her husband, she asserted, being worth $750,000. 


Update - I found another clipping in which a man asked the local police to lock up his wife until the Navy ship in port had sailed because she liked sailors too much.  The police declined.  Together with a few clipped cartoons, this makes a trend. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Not Guilty

I don't often get the opportunity to identify something as something I definitely don't feel guilty about.  But tonight I mailed all of my Christmas cards.  Well, except for two cousins who have moved and whose addresses I still need to get.  And an uncle-in-law, whose address I got late.  But that's as nearly finished as makes no nevermind. 

I am feeling very not guilty.  At least about that.

Things I've learned about the Grandfather I never met

I'm also going to list things that I probably knew, but hadn't thought about for awhile. 

  1. He was in the Navy.  He was assigned to the U.S.S Colorado according to the letters sent from 1930 to 1932.  About every sixth letter he talks about needing to get out of the Navy to be home with the people he misses.
  2. He was a fiend for run-on sentences.  They read fine, because I read them as if they were broken up. So I didn't really notice until I typed a couple of them into my notes.  I'd have added paragraph breaks to some of those sentences.
  3. He uses the words gee, keen, and swell a lot.  He often starts sentences (or clauses, in his run-ons) with gee, well, or heck.  He used sure as an intensifier, as in 'you're sure swell' or "it's sure keen." 
  4. He always writes 'to' instead of 'too.'  (Yes, I do get paid for technical editing.  Why do you ask?)
  5. He leaves the apostophes out of most of his contractions and the few he includes tend to end up before the N rather than after it.
  6. "I sure have got those blues again . . ." ; ". . .well I should hope to smile."; ". . . well it all counts on twenty."; "I'm an honest square shooting man. . ."; ". . . desperately in love. . .".
  7. More than a few people called him Red.
  8. His ship was berthed in Seattle when his son (my Dad) was born in Bensenville, Illinois.  He didn't see him until he was 4 to 6 months old. 
  9. He and Grandma called my Dad "Little Pal" (with the quotes) before he was born and for about half a year after.
  10. In 1931 he usually started his letters to Grandma with:  My Honey Bunny Boo. 
  11. I can't send money this week because - things will just be perfect when we finally get together - you're nearly perfect - you're an angel - I almost never leave the ship so I won't be tempted - I get crazy jealous when your letters mention other men. 
This is from Grandma's letters.  I remember other bits and pieces from Aunt D's things, but I'm not going to open that box now.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Does anyone say "got my dander up" any more?

I'm hearing dead people.  I'm still going through Grandma L's letters and tossing those that don't apply to descendants.  I stopped the night before last (yesterday was Thanksgiving and therefore a day off) when I hit packets of what looks like three or four servicemen that she was writing to in '44/'45.  It was late and I didn't want to get into anything that would make the think too much.  Or at all.

When I started again, I set them to the side and continued with letters from relatives.  Then I found what looked to be a stack of letters from friends.  One friend, named Bernice, is a hoot.  I put all of hers aside to read through later.  The rest seemed to be women that she met during her stay in a sanitarium to get over TB.  She cut a lot of sentences out, here and there, and cut the address of the sanitarium off of all the envelopes. 

She got letters from relatives, and possibly friends, who were looking after my dad, aunt, and uncle for her while she was away.  I could tell because the kids would include letters, too.  Dad was about 15 and wrote on his own.  It felt really strange to read letters from my Dad that started, Dear Mommy. 

One set of letters outlined a little drama.  I couldn't tell at first if Chris and Marie were sanitarium friends or neighborhood friends.  Joe was apparently married to or living with Marie and was writing to Grandma about an argument between her, Chris and Marie over money owed or paid and a sewing machine.  Joe was going to talk to the Singer people in the morning to see who had been lying to him about the matter.  If it is Marie, he swears that he'll leave her.  It's Joe that has "got his dander up." 

Dad always said that life with Grandma was like living in a soap opera, and that he could never watch soaps because being reminded was too painful.  But this is the first hard evidence of it that I've seen.  One complication for me is that Chris is the name of one of Grandma's brothers and and also name on a letter that seems to be from a woman who met her in Olive View, the sanitarium.  Joe's letter called Chris a he, though, and Grandma had been in a women's ward.  Per Joe, Marie has always liked Grandma, "She says aside from breaking into her home and taking the sewing machine, she always felt you were a very nice person, and have been helpful in many ways. . . "

I wonder if I'll ever know the end of the saga of the Singer.  Oops, it seems that five years of free rent in an apartment is also part of the argument.  Also Chris and Marie were married, but have split and she has custody of the kids.  The money would have been owed while Grandma was married to Woody, and Chris claims that the rent was swapped for roofing work.  Joe is going to check with Woody through the Veteran's Bureau.  Chris and Marie also owe Joe money.  I don't know who Joe is, but he feels a responsibility to look out for the interests of Chris and Marie's kids.  Go Joe. 

Aha!  In an earlier letter, Joe talks about a divorce and about how neither Chris's family nor Marie's family are qualified to take sides.  (Although Marie was hard done by and robbed.)  So I'm pretty sure that this is Great Uncle Chris they're talking about.  There always was bad blood between Chris and, well, any other relative that I've ever heard talk about him. 

Joe first wrote to Grandma to ask about a sewing machine.  It and some war bonds were things that Joe feels that Chris is trying to keep away from Marie unfairly.  Chris said that the war bonds went to pay for lawyers.  And the story of the sewing machine sounds like something that Grandma could spin out sadly in a letter detailing her woes and Chris never bought the machine, they were only renting it from me by making a few payments, oh woe.  Seems she told Joe that she didn't know where Red was, which may have been true but I haven't seen any other evidence of that. 

Now I'm going to have to check the "Grandma L" sewing machine that Uncle L brought me to see if it's a Singer. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

People wrote each other poems in the 40s, too

Aunt D included this one, written on a separate sheet, in a letter that she wrote to Grandma.  This is probably while Grandma was in the sanitorium for TB and her children were staying with relatives. 



     Dear Mom

I never thought I'd see the day
Whe, from you, I'd be whisked away
Ans when I was eight or nine years old,
I'd have laughed if I'd been told
I was to go away from you
Ans all my friends and family, too.


But do not weep, lament or cry,
For someday very soon
We'll be together you and I
And all our family too
And though there are worlds between us
You'll always be in my heart
And this will always be true
No matter how far we're apart.

Original poem by

My best guess is that she was about thirteen when she wrote this, maybe a bit older.  I haven't memorized how many years younger than Dad she was. 

People wrote each other poems in the 30's

2/23/30 From John E. Hardy on the U.S.S. Colorado to his wife, Lily

Never Forgotten

Honey, don't think that I've forgotten,
If I don't write every day;
For my thoughts are always of you
Although I'm far away.

Don't ever think that there's another
Who can take the place of you
No matter where I go or roam,
Always will my heart be true
To baby, you and home.

At present I'm in the Navy;
My future is unknown.
But always my thoughts are of you,
As I long for you alone.

So, while we are waiting; sweetheart
Think of me and don't feel blue.
For when I've finished this duty,
I'll be coming back to you.

When ocean waves do break and roll,
And your face I cannot see,
Kindly look into your mirror
And kiss your dear self for me.

Though miles and miles between us lie;
And we are so far apart.
Remember that it is me dear
That sends this, with all my heart.

It's kind of sweet seeing the Grandfather I never met get all sentimental over Grandma.  There is a small, cynical voice saying, hey, the man was a sailor.  They probably swapped poems for sweethearts.  There are more semi-colons in that poem that in all of the rest of his letters.  On the other hand, a bunch of them are placed for decoration rather than for grammar.  And his other letters are all extremely sentimental.  So I'm just going to assume that it's genuine and not even try Googling it. 

Clearing My Desk

I'm going to retire the old Guilt List and just keep adding to this.  Grandma is still exloded all over my desk, but I feel like I've made some headway.  I did triage away enough to make things fit into one bin.  Unfortunately, I then opened the bin and started reading through the letters.

On the up side, I was able to throw out more and I've found a couple more dates and names for the family tree.  On the down side, there is not much free surface area left on my desk.  I think I'm going to be boring and do some scanning and dumping.  When I say boring, I mean boring for anyone reading this, because it's about to turn into a list of scanned forms and certificates.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Am I getting up to date with my Guilt?

November 5, 2011

I'm going through Aunt D’s stuff.  This is the stuff picked up last weekend.  I'm feeling guilt at throwing out the odd stuff that she kept and a sneaking guilt at being curious about her income and other things.  So I’ll take notes on that as I throw things out, to ease the pangs.  This isn't uncaring disposal or nosiness, it's creating family history. 

Tax records from 1981 to 1994 - tossed.  Of course I made notes on the tax records, especially the addresses she had lived at.

A good performance review from ’88 for Clerk II Orange County – tossed. 

A framed certificate of award for a suggestion for improvement of services from LA County, for which she received $40 – tossed the frame, kept the certificate.  I may toss the certificate, too after I've scanned it.

There were many copies of her request for retirement in 1986.  At first it seemed odd that there would be so many copies, but that was possibly related to the envelope I found with the list of LIES! they were telling her. 

The retirement would have been a stressful subject anyway because her views on financial decisions were very different from those of the mother and brother that she often received significant sums of money from.  I'm pretty sure that they had no idea that she was tapping into her retirement with one agency while still working at another.  So when she hit bureaucratic snags to starting it up, she couldn't complain to them about it.

While she was in the hospital and nursing facility, I had discovered that she had saved every bill and semi-official piece of mail she had ever paid or received.  They were arranged chronologically in her drawers.  When I arranged for hospice in her home, I cleared out quite a bit of it.  What I'm going through now had been stored away in boxes.

She saved grades from Harbor Jr College, between 1959 and 1964.  Mom spoke of them being in the same nursing program, but I don’t see any nursing.  Maybe she only saved the A's and B's.  She also took an Office Serv&DP class from Orange Coast College in 1981 (A). 

More Old (2010) Guilt - May

(Two old log entries.)  5/15/10

I did a burn today in the back yard.  E tells me they’re illegal, and he may be right.  This burn burns guilt, though, so it's happening.  The back yard has been unusable for years.  Neither K nor I keep up with the dogs.  And the last time the kids went through the stuff stored in the garage, they made a big pile of boxes of discardable stuff.  It’s been here, in the middle of the back yard, weathering and decomposing for more than a year. 

I feel that I should have put my foot down about that.  Also I’m discovering some of my stuff in the boxes as they spill their weakening guts onto the oak leaf and twig litter and the decaying tarps that were spread out to form a sorting area many moons ago.  (Note from November 2011 - the tarps went, too.)

The bible that Great Aunt Ella gave me was mildewed enough to be essentially one thick page.  I burned it.  I don’t feel as guilty about that as about the rubbermaid leftover containers that have recently been exposed. 

And I ought to be angry.  K keeps saying that she can’t work in the yard “because it’s hopeless”.  The oak trees constantly drop leaves and twigs.  Big fucking deal.  That’s like complaining that the grass keeps growing or, in this yard's case, the weeds and foxtails.  The yard was weeds when I bought the house and I’ve never managed to get it seeded in actual grass, although I did buy seed at one point. 

The sprinkler system does not work.  Eric is pushing for concreting over the back.  I’m not really happy with that. 


I could feel guilty about not reading through this list before adding to it – but I’m going to give that a miss.

I went through the closet and brought out some old ¾ inch video masters to be guilty about getting rid of.  And I found some half inch VHS tapes of two Windy Meads Shire Pas d’Armes.  One of them was the memorial to Lance.  I’m trying to decide who to turn those over to and/or who to announce them to.  (I think they went to AJ)

The ¾ tapes are of a Steiff (possibly misspelled) display from the Design Department at UCD years ago.  I don’t have access to any equipment that could edit them, even if I did have the time to edit them and the access to play the results. 

They’re going to go.  Two tapes full of cute stuffed bears and other animals.  Bye bye. 

More Old (2010) Guilt - March 6, 2010

(Looking at this log, I suspect that the entries will start to be longer and longer apart.)

Should I feel guilty that it’s been so long since I wrote here?  I think I’ll skip that.  Although I haven’t mentioned getting the Platinum Family Tree Maker with the six months of Ancestry dot com.  That makes me feel less guilty, even though I’ve only spent two days with it so far, and that is another opportunity for guilt.  Not taking that one, yet, though.

Found  the following quote on Emory’s website.  “Fear operates all the time in the financial markets, Gregory Berns, director of the Emory Center for Neuropolicy, told PBS Nightly Business Report. The herd mentality, or the idea that other people know more than you do, is “extremely potent, extremely hard to resist,” he says..”

I could do something with that. Dad was always railing about people being sheep.  This is a different way of looking at the same thing.  Without the bitter reproach. 

I may keep the silver serving spoons written about above.  (Last post.) Just because extra serving spoons can be handy.  I’ll use them for pot lucks and places where I don’t care if they get hurt or come back.

Oooo.  Guilt over Dad’s Ranting.  Here’s some videos regarding the quote above.  The relate rather well to his “People are Sheep” rant.  (Extended Interview with Dr. Gregory Berns of Fear and Finances.)


The link above no longer works.  Who Dr. Gregory Berns is can be found here:  .

This is a transcript of a very short interview with him.  And here is a speech he gave that's on YouTube.  One of those links will probably last for at least a few years.

February 15, 2010 Monday

(Still from the old log)

I am seeking comments from E and K on “the silverware”.  This is not Mom’s silverware, which is a complete set in a nice box.  This is five pieces of unmatched silver-plate that Aunt D was storing, all wrapped up in a drawer.  I have no idea if any of it ever belonged to anyone.  If it used to be Grandma L’s, then Uncle L would have taken it up to Aunt D to look after.  I’m going to have to decide whether to use any of it or to keep any of it. 

They are the following (with markings):

A scalloped large serving spoon with scrolling where the bowl attaches to the stem, and raised dots along the outside of the stem. (Rockford S.P.C 0.5  then a star – small enough that I had to get E to read it – and he had to take off his glasses).  The silver plate has worn off of the ridges in the scallops and gouges in the bowl.

A scratched and stained butter knife (Tudor plate Oneida Community).

A slotted, scalloped, scrolled small spoon (sugar spoon?) National double tested Silverplate.  

A matching spoon and fork serving set, with no decoration except on the stem ((eagle?) Wm Rogers (star), with an I S separately).  They are scratched, stained and may have worn through the plate in places. 

Eric just shakes his head and has no comment.  He says he doesn’t care about it. 

Katie says that I should clean them before I make any decisions.  Her Mom has a bang-up method of cleaning them without scrubbing.  (Looking back from November 2011, I suspect that they got put in the basement for storage.)

Happy Valentine’s Day 2010

(Again, this is from an old log.)  (It's being posted in November 2011.)
I’m feeling guilty about not reading this document before adding to it.  That will probably make the prose choppy.  I’m willing to forgive myself for it, though, because rereading would waste time and may distract me from making the next entry.  And I’m feeling guilty enough about the length of time between now and the last entry. 
Not that I haven’t thrown anything out since then, I just haven’t thrown away anything significant – anything old.  It’s been more of an empty the trash kind of thing.  Although I did go through all of the newspapers yesterday and the day before.  I clipped out the crosswords, because they’re the main reason I get the paper.  That and giving the kid taking subscriptions a break.  I used to deliver papers at one point.  Maybe I’ll write about that later.  Not today, though. 
Today I have on my desk an old globe that’s been sitting on my desk for a couple of weeks and that’s been sitting in my closet, in plastic, for years.  It’s one that Mom and Dad used to have.  It was part of their educate the children program.  The may have gotten it from an older relative.  (Yes, this is the globe that I claimed to have thrown out in the last post.  Give me a break, here.)
I haven’t found a date on it.  But it has French West Africa on it.  Germany looks like it’s all one country, which wasn’t the case when I was small.  The USSR is there.  So is a place called Tannu-tuva, between Mongolia and the USSR.  There’s also a place called Sinkiang near that.  Iran is called Persia.  Saluchistan is at the top of India, which has not yet calved off Pakistan.  Thailand is still Siam.  Burma is there.  I don’t remember if Burma is still Burma, but I’m guessing not.  Viet Nam is French Indo-china, and Laos and Cambodia are nowhere to be seen.  So I’m guessing there is no more Burma.  
Is there still a Borneo?  Was that what became Taiwan?  I’ll have to google these.  Line islands? 
The globe says:  “12 inch Standard Globe made by Replogle Globes, Inc Chicago, Ill.  Clear, Accurate, Up-to-date.  Up-to-date is a stupid thing to put on a globe.  Maybe on the packaging, or on a removable sticker, but unless the globe is frozen in time, it’s not going to stay up-to-date.
Nepal, now.  Is there still a Nepal? 
Time to toss the globe. 
Gone.  I have a corner of my desk back.  (See.  It had gotten as far as my desk, with the intent of throwing it out.  If it took another month and another entry to actually toss it, I'm cool with that.)
From Google: “On August 14, 1921 the Bolsheviks (supported by Russia) established a Tuvan People's Republic, popularly called Tannu-Tuva. In 1926, the capital (Belotsarsk; Khem-Beldyr since 1918) was renamed Kyzyl, meaning "Red"). Tuva was de jure an independent state between the World Wars.”
I think there was a Kyzyl there.  Should I go pull it out and check?  No, it didn’t.  That means the globe was published between 1921 and 1926.  Or that they left the capital off. 
Also, according to Google: “French West Africa (French: Afrique occidentale française, AOF) was a federation of eight French colonial territories in Africa: Mauritania, Senegal, French Sudan (now Mali), French Guinea (now Guinea), Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Dahomey (now Benin) and Niger.”
As regards Sinkiang, it looks like it was a province of China, in several forms: “In 1912, the Qing Dynasty was replaced by the Republic of China. Yuan Dahua, the last Qing governor of Xinjiang, fled. One of his subordinates Yang Zengxin (杨增新), took control of the province and acceded in name to the Republic of China in March of the same year. Through Machiavellian politics and clever balancing of mixed ethnic constituencies, Yang maintained control over Xinjiang until his assassination in 1928.[26]
So the globe shouldn’t have listed it separately from China.  We’ll see if Saluchistan is a similar case.  Nope.  It looks like it got split up into bits of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.  During British Rule it was split into three governing areas. 
Burma is officially the Union of Myanmar since 1989.  And Borneo is still the third largest island in the world.  So the Kinky Friedman song is still accurate, and the globe may or may not be accurate for that island. 
(OK, it took slightly more than another simple entry to get me to let go of the globe.  And, yes, I do get distracted that easily.  In fact, for me, that spate of Googling was remarkably on point.)

More Old (2010) Guilt - 1/24/10

(Just in case I didn't make it clear at the beginning, this is from an old log I kept of things that I was guilty about. It was meant, among other things, to list things that I was throwing out that I felt guilty about not keeping. The idea was that memorializing them was giving them enough respect that I didn't need to actually keep them any more.)
It’s been awhile since I wrote here. I feel guilty about that, of course. I’m about to throw out some more stuff. One is something I’d kind of like to keep, but it’s torn. So I’ll just describe it. It’s a dozen or so cardboard strips held together with a metal gasket at the top. They can rotate around the gasket. 
The front strip is thicker cardboard and printed with the Foremost logo. It used to be longest, as well as the thickest, but that part has ripped off. The thinner strips say things like SL 1 quart So-Lo extra and O 1 quart Orange Juice extra. It was a little ordering device from back when milk was delivered to the doorstep by milk men in milk trucks. You’d flip out your change in order and leave it in the mouth of one of the quart milk bottles that you had set out for return. There were also a couple of leave 2 strips and a No Service strip. 

It’s a cute little device. If you gave it to someone under forty and asked them what it was, they would likely have no idea. But it’s torn. It’s going out. Soon it will only exist here and if this document is lost, it’s gone. I feel a little guilty for not taking good enough care of it. If it hadn't been torn, I could have sold it on ebay.
Also, I picked up a few bookends from Grandma L’s house after she died. They were plaster, bought from a hobby shop and meant to be painted to suit one’s preferences. She had painted two and left one or more undone. I say or more, because I vaguely remember breaking one at one point. But they’re heavy and hard to dust. I personally get along better with bookshelves and thin metal bookends. So they’re going. They’ve been in my closet for more than a year.
Another thing going is an old globe. Too many borders have moved for it to be useful. And, like encyclopedias, it’s been supplanted by the internet. A few years ago I threw out the World Book encyclopedias. That was painful. Mom and Dad bought those from Mrs. Kearney, my second and fourth grade teacher. That took a lot of thought and cash on their part.
They already had the Encyclopedia Americana. But it targeted an older audience. The World Books were to help us kids with school reports. And they did. Still, ditching them felt like facing down my parents with: "You thought you were making a big family investment but you were wrong." (In late 2011, I'm not feeling that so much. That's a good thing to have let go of.)

1/1/10 Throwing things out and feeling guilty

This is going through old boxes, shelves, and drawers.
I have thrown out: a squeaky Christmas tape, an old pillow, Grandma Lil’s magnifying glass on a snakey metal pedestal, a box of old Toastmasters award plaques, spicy buttery popcorn salt, paper bags, etc. (I added the etc. to give myself permission to stop trying to remember everything I’ve thrown out.)

I’ve also got a bag going for stuff to the Goodwill, including the fake knife in a wooden display box that Kevin gave me years ago for the wall. I say fake because it looks metal but is actually plastic. The point of it is that it looks medieval and he knew that I was playing with the SCA.
There's also a bag for the Shire of Windy Meads. I forget which current shire resident volunteered to take the old banners off of my hands, but I know I didn’t erase the email, so I can find him. I’m pretty sure it was a him. Maybe I can find the sheep banners and pass them on, too.

I’m ditching an old prescription for painkillers and one for antibiotics (I took as many as the
doctor told me to) in an old peanut butter jar. When I asked the hospice how to dispose of Aunt D’s leftover pharmaceuticals after she died, they said to put them into a Ziploc bag with kitty litter and dish soap and throw them into the trash. It was freaky, but I did it. I know they’re not supposed to go down the toilet any more, what with not breaking down at sewage treatment plants and entering waterways.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Unpacking Grandma

If the pile of Christmas stuff didn't look like enough to make a full van load, this is the reason why. Along with bins and boxes of Christmas stuff, Aunt D was storing Grandma L's "paperwork".

While Aunt D had saved, among other things, the bible that her ex-husband had given to his Grandmother in 1965 and every bill she had ever paid, still in the envelope with all inserts; Grandma L had saved every piece of paper that anyone had ever sent her and then some.

The years of Aunt D's back bills and banks statements I dealt with before she was released from the hospital to hospice care. They had been neatly arranged in rows in her dresser drawers. A few things were in boxes in closets. I didn't throw away anything that was needed. Once a utility has acknowledged your payment on the next bill, I don't see any point in keeping back copies.

The bundles on the top are letters, cards, and postcards.  Underneath are diaries.  Some of the entries were in handwriting that was perhaps 3 points tall.  (Check that out with your computer font.) 

The diaries scare me a little.

I'll share an email that I sent to my sister while my desk was looking like the top picture. Can't see my keyboard? Well, I did have to move that maroon box to reach it. Or the burgundy box if it's necessary to be picky. (Skin Horse is a cool webcomic, but it's best to start at the beginning. Immerse yourself in the archives.)

So many ways to start this email . . .

1 - I have strange relatives all over my desk . . . and under it.

2 - The urge to light a match has been mollified by finding a clipping of The Mob. (No, there will be no explanation.)

3 - OMG she never threw any piece of paper out.

Aunt D was a pale echo of the original. Although I didn't find any bills beside the 1939 water bills and doctor bills. Either she didn't keep those or she only kept things that were evidence (they were from when she was married to Woody, if that's pertinent) or Aunt D tossed the rest of the bills. My recycling bin is grateful, whatever spared it.

As it is, every diary and photo album is filled with random clippings and bits and pieces. I can't just toss them because maybe one in six is related to a relative. The rest are poems, advice columns, editorial essays, etc. (Etc. includes a clipping of the birth of a 16lb 4oz girl at General Hospital by caesarian section, with speculation that it may be a record.) ((It also includes a little notebook with hand-written risqué jokes from someone named Ted Storm.))

I am evil because I threw out all of the negatives. I blame new technology. I collected the pictures and threw out a couple of those sticky page albums - minus the sticky. I am evil because I'm going to throw out the disintegrating "family" bible after I'm sure I got the information out of it. It was started by Grandma L some time after she married Woody, so it probably doesn't have anything I haven't already logged.

I am evil because I keep saying "Who are these people?" instead of thinking of it as a treasure hunt. She did label some of the older pictures and the newer ones that came pre-inserted into album pages. But some of the old ones were kicked around a bit, then glued into one of those old black paper albums, then ripped off and put into a sticky page album. So the writing is often half covered with adhered black paper splotches.

I'm evil because I keep thinking "Why did you people write to each other in pencil so often?" Smudgy handwriting on darkened paper is not fun to read. Saving letters may have been a generational thing. She not only has the letters her kids sent her when they were away, she has her letters to them. That means they brought them back to her. Or maybe they were just trained.

I’m also evil because I’m only going to keep so many pictures of Cousin R. For some of them I had a set and then I inherited Aunt Linda’s and now I have Grandma’s too. I like R and all, but I have to assume that he and Uncle L have copies of these, too.

Found another copy of the RCH will, with his step sister listed has having tenancy of the Sunland house for her lifetime and then it going back to JH (Grandma's first husband and RCH's son). Also some correspondence, which petered out about the time that a lawyer said that they'd need to have the wife that was married to JH when he died petition for it. And that it had to be done before someone legally bought it. (Which may or may not have been true. The lawyers weren't estate lawyers, they were helping Grandma out for free because they knew her.)

I think that's were the adventure of The House That Was Meant To Be Ours ended. Aunt Linda never mentioned the surviving wife bit (it would have been his third one), and may not have known. She certainly latched onto the story. It was one of the big tragedies of her life and proof that she could never catch a break. She was determined that it would never happen again. Not determined enough to, you know, make a will, but determined enough to give me marching orders. See previous post.

Well, I'm going to be more evil and try to identify enough letters as tossable to make the rest fit into one bin and one box for stuff to keep. Did S take up the harmonica? Because it looks like I have Grandma's now. Also an embossing stamp with her name and address. And diaries. I mentioned that the diaries scare me, and not just because I found another set of cheesecake photos . . . taken outside.

I'd better get back to it. May your desk be emptier than mine.

Christmas Has Left the Building


On the date above, the last of Aunt D's Christmas stuff was hauled from her nearly empty house. Well, the last of it that I was willing to haul. The van was full, the drive was five hours, and I wasn't going to come back for a collection of pine cones, a few 3' artificial trees, and things that had faded or gotten bent, but that she couldn't bring herself to throw out.

Aunt D, everyone will think of you every Christmas because you were the one who really did Christmas. Those of us who grew up knowing that the prettiest box would be the one from Aunt D can't think of Christmas without thinking of you. . . even if I take five bins of stuff to Goodwill.

That big red bin with the green lid in front is full of wrapping paper. And it's the good stuff. The bin on top of it is fancy ribbons and the one on top of that is foldable boxes. There's also another bin of ribbon in there somewhere and a big cardboard box in the house that's full of fancy Christmas boxes and tins. It will take years to use it all.

There are also a few other cardboard boxes in the house that didn't make it into the picture. Christmas may have left the building, but it's finding homes in many places.

Guilt to Goodwill 2011


This will start with a list of things going to Goodwill today. Some of them will have had pictures taken of them first, but the first things on the list definitely haven’t.

Also, I took an orange Rubbermaid bin and a smattering of Fall Decorations in to work. The bin will be used for the food drive collection for Thanksgiving. The decorations will be used around the office. Cheryl too custody of most of them.

For Goodwill:
1 big foldable box for Christmas Ornaments
a bag with 3 to 5 tinsel garlands
a decorative pack of holiday notepads with a wall hanger
a red and green Rubbermaid bin
a small new testament
a pack of 3 colored men’s handkerchiefs
a bible promises book
a 5x7 frame (with a picture of Aunt D that’s almost too faded to see – and besides that’s a pose that I have multiple copies of. She and Grandma both took a liking to a few pictures of themselves, and of my Dad in Grandma’s case, and got many, many copies made.)
a 9x10 frame – empty
2 store bought knitted Christmas stockings
2 3-packs of flat silver plated Christmas ornaments
1 green painted pine cone with glitter
2 unbreakable Christmas ornaments
8 small decorative packages
2 stocking hangers, light
2 hair clips – fake silver and turquoise
3 foam garlands
1 Christmas watch
1 clock radio
1 French phrase book
1 French-English dictionary
1 NA bird guide
1 book Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest

OK – It looks like I have to keep that one. Maybe. There’s an inscription in it. (Punctuation as written.) To Our: Sister and Aunt With Love L – D 2-8-’63. There are three pictures tucked in the front and several things tucked throughout. One picture is a late style polaroid of Grandma L and her sister M. L’s Birthday 1979 is writing on it. So this probably was given back to Aunt Dolores when Great Aunt M died.

A newspaper clipping of one of Guest’s poems was tucked in about halfway through the book, together with his obituary as the Plain People’s Poet. Apparently he wrote a daily poem for the Detroit Free Press and was syndicated.

Other tuck-ins are two pictures from July 1942 of Grandma and her 3 children and Grandma and Neal Ledford, about whom I know nothing; a tag from Montgomery Ward, an order form for Christmas cards with photos in them from Pacific Photo 1945 Lomita Blvd, Lomita Calif (before zip codes); and a plastic book mark.

The book mark is odd. It’s a bit too thick for a bookmark. It looks like a flat red arrow. Down the shaft is printed: This is where I fell asleep. On the arrowhead is written: The Hart Marker Patent Pending. And on the fletching is: Place Flap Over Page. Oh, the fletching has a folded flap on the back of it. Just below the fletching is: Slide Down to Line. Then there’s a movable clear plastic circle with two blue arrows on each side that can slide up and down the arrow shaft. I guess it’s meant to mark the exact line that you finished reading. I’ve never seen one, so I’m guessing the pending patent wasn’t a big money maker.

I think everything is going to be tossed except the pictures. I’m not thrilled with the poetry, either, so the book will got to Goodwill. These comments will be its only lasting trace. And they will last only as long as anyone is interested in reading them. But that counts to assauge my guilt. Well done, guilt list.

2 plastic and wooden bird decorations (not holiday)
1 wooden memo pad holder, with a wooden goose shape
1 glass and mirror carousel horse music box
3 red tartan napkins
1 matching red tartan table runner
1 red tartan tree skirt with applique teddy bears
1 book Shakespeare major plays
1 book He Leadeth Me
1 book of Dolls
1 book Nevada Ghost Towns
1 book Norman Rockwell: A Sixty Year Retrospective
1 paper World Atlas for Students MCMLXII – 1962, I think. The map showing religions of the world includes Mohammedans. I think that one will be recycled
1 National Geographic book: Discovering Britain & Ireland (comment later)
1 book – used copy of Frank McCourt’s ‘Tis: A Memoir

There have been business cards from the Redding utility company all through the books and papers. Odd that they had so many of them and were still not signed up for elderly rates. Either they didn’t know about it or Aunt D decided not to touch the word senior citizen with a ten foot discount.

2 heavier stocking holders
a deck of cards – used from Sahara Hotel Las Vegas
a Christmas hurricane lantern for candles
4 large decorative velveteen Christmas stockinge
1 paper Halloween tablecloth 54x102
pack of 6 Halloween paper bags for luminaires
1 Christmas pin
1 pack New Year’s Eve horns
1 pack New Year’s Eve hats
4 Christmas light nets for bushes
bag of about 30 Christmas light clips for rain gutters
4 plastic poinsettia glasses
sleigh basket for flowers
3 poinsettia candle wreaths
3 holly candle wreaths
2 penguin place mats
small ceramic message board
6 red cloth place mats
misc paper doilies
Christmas cat wooden napkin ring
Santa couch pillow
Christmas table runner
Santa neck pillow
2 holiday trivets
5 plasticized holiday table cloths
4 bead wreath napkin rings
4x6 bound lined notebook
unopened pack 4 white luxury cotton napkins
3 lg centerpieces
4 small centerpieces
2 baskets for centerpieces
misc pinecones and plastic or cloth vegetation for centerpieces
50x60 throw
1 green steerite bin
white reindeer centerpiece
3’ Santa floor decoration
snowman family mantle decoration

Hawaii hula Santa 6” (I took a shine to this and have kept it so far. It made me think of my middle son and the fact that he and the dear daughter in law honeymooned in Hawaii. When I mentioned it to him, he was pretty sure that they had given it to Aunt D. With the extra family connection, I'm probably going to keep it. It's cute.)

wire reindeer decoration
(tossed a couple of old FTD arrangements – they looked sad without the flowers and had faded and gotten bent)
gold Christmas tree candle 8”
ceramic single-piece nativity – 12” tall x 6” wide x 5” deep
stuffed Santa floor decoration - 1 ft
18” plastic wreath/plate candle holder for table
12” plastic wreath/plate candle holder for table
2 x 6” plates for candles, one with a wreath
1 decorative hurricane for candle 8”
2 X 4” decorative snowpeople
decorated bundle of long cinnamon sticks
set of 3 embroidered silk doilies
18” stuffed Santa
18” silver standing Santa for floor
16” maroon velvet Santa for floor
8” dark red Santa freestanding
6” white and gold Santa freestanding
6” green brocade Santa freestanding
driftwood hanging Santa head
10” old plastic & flocked Hong Kong made Santa – standing, with base
54 x 102 silver & white table cover
6 packs decorative napkins
silver-plated pie server
28 non-glass Christmas ornaments
6 Christmas refrigerator magnets
4” standing decoration Santa on Soccer ball, ceramic
2” tall 4 hinged wooden pieces, santas and reindeer
6 tiny bell & ornament charms for bracelet, colored
holiday night light
3” long plastic toy car
hunting horn & bells for hanging on doorknob
plastic mistletoe ball w elf – 4” dia
12” tall ceramic & cloth gnome Santa, blue

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More Old (2009) Guilt


I’m going to watch balancing point next. It’s a series of artistic rock-stacking vignettes in scenic mountain areas . . . played in reverse. Aw. The audio has been disabled because the video producer didn’t get authorization from WMG. Whoever that is. That's a pity because the effect was greatly enhanced by the music.

So I’ll turn on some Manheim Steamroller on iTunes. It’s nicely seasonal. I’m starting with Catching Snowflakes On Your Tongue. Segue into Masters In This Hall. There’s no authorization from the Steamroller listed in the YouTube part of that link, so I don't know how long it will stay up. The Amazon link might make up for it. Go Steamroller.

Aunt Dolores used to have flowers sent to Grandma L’s grave for her birthday and Mother’s Day. Possibly other days as well. I haven’t even sent flowers to Aunt D’s grave. She did some work setting me up to be her heir and caretaker. Not to the point of writing a will or visiting or anything. But when I visited at Christmas, she’d talk about me having her house because I was the one that needed it and the one that she depended on.

I wasn’t staying in touch because I thought there’d be a payoff. She had married for one thing. He was six years older than her and disabled. I'm sure she had assumed that he'd predecease her, but by August it was becoming obvious that he would probably wouldn't. So even if she'd written a will, there was no way I’d get the house, or want to. Not with a surviving spouse.

From September to December, I drove or bussed up to Redding to look after her and make arrangements. No one else from the family could make it up there, for various reasons. Uncle L, her brother, for instance, was in LA having a serious hernia operation, complicated by some possible heart trouble.

He came by when he could, and he gave me travel money, which made things easier. Nearly everyone else was out of state, with families and jobs and illnesses of their own.
Aunt D’s husband couldn’t make decisions about her illness and treatment. He was very hard of hearing and had been used to Aunt D taking care of him.

Neighbors tended to him while I did phoning and paperwork. Spouse was a veteran, so Aunt D qualified for burial in a veteran’s plot. So Grandma L is buried in Palos Verdes and Aunt D was cremated and buried in Redding. She had been hoping to be buried in the cemetery by the river, but Spouse didn’t really want to spend the money, and I don’t blame him, all things considered. He's going to need every bit of it for the next few years. The veteran’s plot is where he will go, too, unless his son has other ideas, later.

Aunt D really hated the idea of Spouse’s son getting the house. She instructed me to tell him that I was supposed to get it. But I’m not touching that with a ten foot pole. Not with anyone, and definitely not with a half-deaf man in a wheelchair. One who will need all the money in the house equity to get through the rest of his own life.

I’ll tell you sometime about her reasons for fixating on bequeathing the house. It will include old family stories about the wrong person getting the house, the property, the estate. Right now it’s New Year’s Eve. I’m going to watch balancing point again. It’s soothing. And I’m going to throw away a few more things on my desk.

[I've found out since then that there was probably some guilt to her urge to keep the house in the family. The down payment for the house had come from a house she sold that her mother had given to her. And her brother had been semi-supporting them, kicking in a few thousand here and there for taxes, for furniture, for the down payment on a car. So it had to feel like she had siphoned her family resources into Spouses family.

Still. Wills, people. If you want to leave someone something, write a bloody will. Don't imply that it's someone's family duty to fight for something that they're not legally entitled to, especially when you've set them up to be out of the legal loop.]

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Let's Update the List

When I started this blog, I was feeling very down (there will be an entry about feeling better later) and I think I kind of got a kick from starting a blog about feeling guilty and then not writing a second post for more than a year. Especially since one of the things I feel guilty about is not getting things done. And disappointing people. That's two things. No, I'm not going to go into a parody of the Spanish Inquisition Sketch.

For awhile, not updating the blog was actually comforting and self-confirming. I gave myself permission to fail in this one thing. It's easy to try to do too much, and to feel guilty not because you're not doing well or not doing enough, but because you can think of many more things to do than anyone could make time for. Not that I was necessarily doing enough, I'll leave that as a separate question and one that won't be addressed here. Here I will just say that for awhile this blog was my symbolic lowest priority. It let me prioritize other things to the low side of the to do list and to not worry that the bottom of the list wasn't getting done.

Right now, I feel like updating lists, and that includes this list. Adding things I feel guilty about currently. I'm giving myself permission to do badly at it. This will be a first draft. And I may not fix it later. It's going to rain this afternoon, and there are things I have to get put away in the garage before that happens. So if this takes too long, I'll cut it off suddenly. Sorry about that.

Let's try guilt categories. There's Family. There's the House (for some people, that's intrinsically tied to family, but not for me). There's Writing. There's Work. There's Pets. There's Exercise, which may be a subcategory of Health, which may be a subcategory of Me. There's Organizing, which feels like a category, but which may be a metacategory - something that I feel that I need to do to take care of all of the other categories.

Also under Me is Learning. I feel like I'm stagnating if I'm not learning things. And there are a couple of subjects that I have an interest in and that I've spent a chunk of time reading up on. Let's call these subjects Nodes. I'll get back to them. In fact, I think that all of the categories deserve their own posts.

So - Family - House - Writing - Work - Pets - Exercise - Health - Me - Learning- Nodes - Organization. Looking at the list, I have an urge to take Me out. Underneath it all, it's all about Me. It's My family and My house and My urge to write. I think I'm going to let Me and Organization be overcategories. Or maybe criteria for prioritizing. And Excercise is obviously a subcategory of Health.

Learning, Nodes, and Writing go together. Let's hit the thesaurus to see how they connect. That was interesting. Learning is linked to acquiring or collecting. Writing is, for me, a kind of sharing. The Nodes are subordinate to both - or a means to do both. Let's call that category Collect & Share.

That gives me: Family - House - Collect & Share - Work - Health. Five categories. One for each finger on one hand. (I decided to lump pets into family.) Now the question is, what category is my desk in, because it could sure use some organizing. Starting with a machete.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Guilt Continued

Still posting from the cusp of 2010.

That clears a bit of the flotsam on my desk. It’s December 31, 2009 and now is a good time for clearing, even incomplete clearing. I’ve ended up with a fair bit of Grandma L’s stuff, as I mentioned last post. I inherited it from Aunt D when she died last December 18 (2008). I don’t think I’ll ever think of Christmas without thinking of Aunt D.

Aunt D had no children of her own and was always involved with her nieces and nephews. She always gave really good presents. Not only were the presents good, they were wrapped with fancy wrapping. No one else in the family used such fancy wrappings. We suspected that she paid to have them wrapped at Sears or maybe even a fancier store. There were metallic papers and intricate bows. There were plastic poinsettias and fat ribbons.

No two boxes were alike, unless it was done deliberately. Sometimes if she got, say, me and my two sisters a similar gift, the boxes might be wrapped identically. This was different from everyone else’s presents. Everyone else had a few rolls of flat paper wrapping and curling ribbon. So there was little variety in the wrapping, mostly.

There was one mitigating factor to that, though, and that was Aunt D. We always saved the paper, ribbons, and decorations from her boxes. They could be cut down to wrap smaller boxes in other years. So our plain wrappings were boosted by her hand-me-downs. Oh, and we saved the boxes, too.

Later, much, much later, I learned that she was a shopaholic and that her spending had been a burden on my Uncle L, her brother, and my Grandma L nearly all her adult life. My Dad, her other brother, had pulled away, giving her nothing but advice and criticism when she overspent.

Oh, look. Grandma L had for some reason tucked a newspaper clipping of the death of Phillipe Cousteau, Jacque Cousteau’s son, into the Christmas Story book. She’s hand dated it Fri. June 29-’79. My youngest son, Eric, would be born November of ’79. I have no idea why she thought I, or my sons, would need the clipping. It’s going into the recycling.

Grandma L used to send me and the boys CARE packages – boxes with ‘useful’ things in them. There were find-a-word books, which the boys enjoyed, and which could be bought for a quarter at the drug store. There were packets from Kentucky Fried Chicken, with a knife, spork, napkin, and wet-wipe in each one. I forget what else the boxes were stuffed with. Usually nothing to terribly useful. But she would collect the items and mail them and the kids did enjoy getting them.

I’m listening to Principles of economics, translated, by the Standup Economist on YouTube, to cheer myself up. My YouTube favorites are sort of like getting a box from Grandma L. Not too terribly useful, but very cheering.