Friday, February 27, 2009

Different worlds of communication

I've just spent several hours tidying up my project room, which is the big downstairs bedroom that is off the study and that also serves as my work out room. I love being able to just leave my projects in process out in what may appear disarray in that room. That way when, the mood strikes me I can go in there and start to work on sorting photos, scrap booking or whatever the pending project may be. I don't have to pack it back into a box and put it away because that room doesn't get any other use. And it's downstairs and not visible to guests when we entertain upstairs. Lucky me!

But, something needs to be done sometime soon, so I chose today. Janine, one and only grand daughter is coming for a week in April. She will be here the same week that Jerry's brother, Rod and family will be here. Rod & Katie are teachers in So. Calif. and Janine is a college student in No. Calif. but every one's spring break is at the same time. So we will have a houseful for that week.

This bothers no one least of all, Janine, who announced she would be taking over the downstairs--this is our finished basement. I agreed she could have the bedroom down there but Grandma would have to tidy up her projects--some of which are strung across the bed. Janine likes the big screen TV & the rec-room and so fancies herself to be in charge of the lower floor. While I can keep my sewing strewed across the coffee table in the study I could not leave the bedroom in it's mess. So now things are packed up and into the closet. Trouble is, I won't likely get to doing anything with those photos, etc. for who knows how long now--out of sight out of mind.

Today while tidying I sorted and threw out some things. I started with a small box of photos and trinkets from my grandmother. She had saved these and I brought them from PA in 2004 when mom died. I did toss out photos of people no one knows. I have asked the only two who might--Aunt Jinx and Uncle Carl and they could not identify the people, so no need to keep these. Old black and white photos from how long ago. I found wedding photos of my cousin Roland who lives in Madison, WI and will mail those off to him. Another treasure which I'll pass along to him are photos of my aunt and 2nd cousin, Stella's, trip to visit them when they lived in Milwaukee. These show he and his folks and his brother and he should enjoy them. It was always a big deal to the Polacks in PA to take the train to Milwaukie...I made that trip every other summer with my grandparents. Rollie can pass them along to his daughter or one of his son's. Those are in an old black and white photo book, remember how the old photos were developed into these spiral photo books? They'd charge us who knows how much for such a thing today!

What I find very strange is how well the old black and white photos have lasted. Some of the photos are from the 1940's and 1950's, yet they are just as clear and certainly better than the color photos we took in the 1970's.

What brings me to the blog now is a telegram that I found. My grandmother had saved a Western Union telegram which Uncle Carl sent her in maybe 1944 or so, when he was in the Army. And there it is today in 2009! A telegram wishing her and all Happy Valentine's Day. Way before cell phones, texting, Facebook and/or email. Hey, this must even be prior to Hallmark cards in all their glory which are used to celebrate and greet today!

I wondered if it scared her when she opened it, because telegrams were not a good thing in World War II. She kept it a long time, so I cannot part with it in 2009. It will go into the Ostroski-Kochanowski Family scrapbook. That is when I get back to the projects! A historical relic of communication from the past. How different it is today.

So here it is, the scan of the telegram and photo of my grandparents and me. That's Teofil Kochanowski (Grandpap) and Rose Ostroski-Kochanowski (Baba to me) , me and Carl Konesky, their son and my uncle. He changed the Polish spelling to something more Americanized Konesky then he and the siblings all began to use Konesky.

I was the star of every photo. On the right, is Uncle Carl home on leave from the Army. There was no date on this photo, but I guess it about 1945 sometime. The clothes were out on the line which shows in another photo taken the same time, and yet in another there I am in the wash tub outside. So it must have been nice weather. And I know this was when they still lived on 2nd Avenue in the old row houses. They and Mom bought the house on Catalpa St. when I was about 2 years old, so here we are prior to that.

I just noticed that an old factory smokestack which would have been across the river looks like it's coming right out from my grandmother's head. Funny. The 2nd street row house was near the river and I know they were all too happy to move up the hill onto Catalpa St.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

From Party line to bluetooth/Ipod

I receive copies of my friend's father's poetry from time to time and today he emailed the one below about Party Line. Well, that brought back memories.

I remember our telephone in PA was a party line for a long time while I was growing up. My mother knew who the others were on the line. So she would watch her conversations, because she said some of them didn't have anything better to do than listen to everyone else. This was before afternoon soap operas on TV, heck it was before TV. I still remember that phone number--748R. The trivia that sticks in our heads!

Mom never really trusted the phones but continued to carefully watch her words when talking, years later. She said, "You never know whose listening in." I remember picking up the phone to use it and there would be someone already on it. By the time I became a teenager we had a private line. But unlike today I was not allowed to talk as much as I wanted on the phone. That used to tick me off. Talk about a world so different from today.

Anyway, my mother must have learned something from party lines,or from B-grade detective movies because she'd pick up the downstairs phone if I was nervy enough to sneak upstairs to talk "in private." So when I wanted to yak with my friends we had to go to each other's houses--within a block down the street anyway. We really lived in challenged times.

Then a day came when one friend got her own phone in her room. Her older sister worked and lived at home and gave that to her as a present. We thought she was quite lucky, unlike the rest of us. But it didn't matter because she was the only one with real privacy. The rest of us lived in phone restricted households, so she had no one else to yak with anyway! But we sure envied her phone.

Now with the ipods, cell phones, blue tooths, etc. that kids have attached permanently to their ears I wonder how we made it! And imagine these kids can talk freely about whatever and no Mom's ears to fear! Then again, their freedom comes at a steep price with such creatures as Internet predators, etc. I still think we were better off. Besides we were always walking to someplace or another and so spent lots of time outside--that was where we got our privacy!

Party Line

Hello! What are you doing today?
Well, I just called up to say ---
What's that? She DID? How'd you hear?
No! Wait, this line's not very clear.

Did you say she ---? That's what I thought.
Well, that's the first she ever bought!
What time was that? I mustn't forget;
Hold it 'til I get a cigarette.

Why, they were here until after eight.
Well, gossip's one thing I simply hate,
But I told her more than a thing or two.
O - Oh! Someone on the line, or was it you?

Of course! I know just how you feel,
(Quit clickin' this phone, you lousy heel!)
No, not you, but the way some act,
It's a pity they don't use a little tact!

I'd like to see it. How's it made?
But where did you put the rick-rack braid?
Bet it's cute. I'd like to see her in it;
Oh! Before I forget, have you tried Pinit?

No, I didn't. Never said a word.
Well, that's not the first, so I've heard.
That's what I say --- like an open page,
It's a wonder she wouldn't act her age!

Well, just thought I'd give you a buzz;
Wish I knew who that guy was,
Didn't you hear him try the line?
Yeah, been doin' it since almost nine!

Where were we? Oh, now I remember,
Didn't you hear? Nine, next November!
I thought so last week on the street.
Yeah, everybody thought her so stinkin' sweet.

You don't mean -- ? That awful clown!
Well, I did hear he left town.
You know that other, -- yeah, skinny legs,
Looked like a dog caught suckin' eggs.

Did you see --- Oh! That makes me mad!
If that guy needs the phone so bad
Looks like he'd get another line,
I pay this bill so this one's mine!

I guess that'll hold HIM, -- now, where was I?
Oh, if you're gonna be home, I'll drop by;
If there's any one thing that'll make me balk
It's some guy cuttin' in when I wanta talk!
Bye, see you in a few minutes!

Written by: Coleman Lee Williams
4/28/1900 - 5/5/1988

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My winter readings

Thought I'd post what I've been reading since November. I recently signed onto the Wall Street Journal Book Readers blog. While trying to answer some questions I realized that I should keep track of what I've read if only to be able to answer what I liked and did not like. I am an avid reader, a lifelong hobby which keeps me comfortable and entertained. Here they are:

Are You Hungry Dear? by Doris Roberts aka Mom Marie of the TV show, Everybody Loves Raymond. It's an OK book with some interesting flashes into her life and efforts in show business. Most interesting are her inclusion of recipes which makes this book a keeper for my collection.

No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay. This is a decent mystery about a rebellious teenage girl whose family disappears. As an adult she deals still with the trauma by becoming over protective toward her young daughter. I have not read anything else by Barclay, but would do so. It's a quick read that doesn't take much concentration, but kept me reading to find out what happened.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. I had this book on my shelf for the past year and just finally decided I had to read it because the author has now written other books. Subtitled "How Little things can make a big difference", this book is fascinating and outstanding about why and how things happen as they do today using an analogy of epidemics. It's about change and those who affect, inspire and lead it. Three agents of change according o Gladwell are the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context. I so enjoyed it that I sent a copy to my friend Sandy in CA. It can be read intermittently which I did while reading along something else for sheer entertainment. This book makes you think. Gladwell tells how Hush Puppies and Sesame Street became landmark successes. I especially related to his description of the Connectors, people who know lots of people. I think I'm one of those or at least I used to be during my career days in CA. Amazingly at Steve's memorial service his friend Ron described Steve as a spider who wove a web of friendship among many different peoples. That's a Connector! I was proud to hear our son was one. I also was intrigued at the description of the power of context and how children are shaped by their environments and the affect of their culture, their friends. Well there is much I could write about this book. It's definitely a keeper for me and one I'll browse from time to time again and again.

The Secret Lives of Fortunate Wives by Sarah Strohmeyer. This is an ok Chic book. To me these tales of these desperate housewives was tedious at times. A native son marries a reporter in Europe; this woman was raised on the other side of the tracks and her attempts to fit in and accommodate to their lifestyles, social posturing and veneers has moments. This is light reading. I found myself forcing me to keep reading. The most interesting part was when one of the desperadas gets into legal troubles. Would I read any other books by this author, probably not.

Still Aliceby Lisa Genova. An absolute smash read. This is her first novel and I can't wait for more. This book chronicles the descent into Alzheimer's by Alice Howland, a Harvard professor as well as the effect on the family and how she deals with the manifestations of her increasing dementia. Well written. Of immediate interest to me when I saw it on the table as a new release in Barnes & Noble. My mother had Alzheimer's so I avidly read anything fiction or non that I find about it. One memorable moment is when Alice arrives home from work and her husband looks at her with horror. He remarks something like, "You are supposed to be in Chicago at a conference." Alice recognizes then that her downslide is accelerating. How she tries to rationalize her behaviors and how she visits doctors alone at first without telling her husband are heart rending. This is also a keeper for me.

The Dream of Scipioby Iain Pears. I read only up to page 43 and could not continue. It's supposed to be thought provoking, set in Provence and flashes among three eras between 1943 and the time of the Romans. It was a local book club read here in La Crescent and all I can figure is they must have been desperate. With so many good books around I just could not waste anymore time on this.

Right now I am deep into The Preacher and the Presidentsa true story about Rev. Billy Graham and his counsel, friendships, and encounters with all the Presidents. I am enjoying it immensely as it has history and perspective. I will write more about it later.

Long John Winter

For obvious reasons I have not been wrting. Finally at the urging of friends and my psyche I will get back to my meanderings. Briefly the Jan 10, 2009 service for Steve in Auburn could not have been lovelier, other than if it had not had to be. We were blessed with a sunny, balmy day with warmth streaming through the lovely stained glass windows at Auburn Pioneer UMC. The music was beyond comforting, praising, outstanding. The songs, On Eagles Wings, Father I Place Into Your Hands, Be Not Afraid and You'll Never Walk Alone stole the show. Everyone commented and some asked if we had recorded it. Jerry said, "Hell no! Who wants to go through this more than once!" Pastor John delivered a eulogy as though he'd known Steve, just from briefly talking to us. The comments about Steve's cars brought lots of memories to his friends and laughter around the church, a good thing. The church was filled with friends and family; not all signed in but it was about 200 folks! Beyond our expectations. We were overwhelmed. So many of Steve's high school friends came, I had not seen them since the 80's. So many spoke about their memories and about how dear a person and loving a friend Steve was. To see so many full of grief and support was a tremendous blessing. I know that his spirit had to be filled with joy and wonder overlooking us. I spoke first because I knew that if I could others would. And they did. Rhonda wrote her pages down and gave them to us. After each one spoke they gave us both a big hug. Jerry really fell apart at the church. He finally gathered himself to bring the urn downstairs to the fellowship hall. He said, "I guess I'm not as tough as I thought I was." One friend replied, "We knew that about you." One of Steve's long time friends,Eric Knierem is a pilot with Alaska airlines. His folks still live in the area and they told him about Steve's death. Eric and family live in Washington and were on vacation in Puerto Rico. Eric flew in just for the service. The service and the people helped dull the bitter sting. My only regret is that we did not get to speak to everyone. So many of the school folks, Steve's co-workers did not come down to the fellowship hall. But even in the hall with the food and visiting I did not get to speak to everyone. Jerry's brother, Rodney and family drove up from southern CA; his sister Barb flew in from Denver, my cousins Larry & Lori from Cottonwood and my aunt Pearl from Grass Valley and of course the Morrisons of Murietta, Alan (son) and Angel and Janine,grand daughter and Brian, grandson. Such are the times when we know what family really means.

Well life in the arctic tundra of MN goes on. Jerry acquired a bad head cold that is making the La Crescent rounds. Being a thoughtful husband he shared it with me in it's last stages. I of course had to improve upon it and am now in my last stages, at least I hope the last. The second full week is wearing me out mostly with the night cough; but this too shall pass. Some days last week I didn't even get dressed. Merely got up, drank hot tea and went back to bed. All my life whenever I'm sick I can sleep, so that works for me.

Such sub zero temperatures as we had through January prompted me to take Jerry's advice and buy long underwear. Even before in the CA Sierra mountains when I cross country skied I didn't need long underwear. Some days here when I ventured outside to help shovel snow in the beaming sun, I donned tights under my jeans. Jerry and others all wear longies. I noticed viisiting with a neighbor that she wore them too. So, maybe it's time for me to breeak down and invest to make life more tolerable in sub-zero temperatures. I was astonished at the cost of women's longies! So I waited till the big sale and even then at half off these cuddlies are costly. But now I'm ready. Thankfully now the snow is melting and temperatures are in the 40's and yesterday a record 51 degrees! We will be putting this long john winter behind us!

I've been working on the Snow White quilt for granddaughter. I've learned that I will not make another quilt starting with 2 1/2 inch squares. No sir, the next time I will have larger pieces. It is looking good but the cutting, sewing and pressing each seam is taking lots of time. That keeps me inside and out of trouble. I had to order some 108 inch wide fabric for the backing from Hancock of Paducah, KY. For several days I could not get through on the phone. Well, duh, it dawned on me. KY had those horrid ice storms and their power was out. Finally though I made contact. The fabric I selected will not be aailable until March 1, which is just fine. I will be done maybe with the front by then!