Monday, August 30, 2010

Let's Roll by Lisa Beamer

Let's Roll by Lisa Beamer, wife of Todd Beamer, a 9-11 Hero on Flight  93that  crashed near Somerset, PA is an excellent, easy  faith filled read that was released in 2002.   I marvel at this young woman's strength, she,  who is living proof of the benefit of a life long faith.  Only a few pages into the book reveal  that her strength comes from her very deep solid Christian faith.  To lose her husband that way while she was pregnant with their daughter and raising two young sons and to remain steadfast in  faith in God is her testimony.  The book is simply  written , assistance by Ken Abraham, a professional writer.  However, Lisa is not just a simple stay at home mom as she claims; she is an educated woman  who has traveled to foreign countries, a professional who was employed by  Oracle as was Todd before they had their first son. They met when both were attending Wheaton College.  She has joined that elite but Job like club of those of us who have been tested by a loss beyond what we life long believers should have to endure and she has  pulled on her  strength from her faith, the only way we make it.

I have seen Lisa on TV interviews and  admire her.  I know she will survive and thrive because she has it all pulled together with strong support of wonderfully close family and outstanding church friends.  True friends in faith are the best kind! The book is 312 pages and at the end   she scripts the names of all those  who were on Flight 93.  Romans 11:33-36 is one of her spiritual sources; she has memorized much scripture being  a lifelong believer.

Back cover of book
My heart went out to her reading  the book.  On  pg 287 she asks "why would God allow the baby to be  born without a father?"  Or why did  God allow her to get pregnant when He knew Todd would not be alive?  She answers that, again with faith,  pgs. 287 and 288 " I know the only answer was to trust God to provide everything I needed.  .....He was teaching me that I could trust Him  moment by moment even for mundane needs....."   She shares the story of weeding and her friend showing up just when she needed her, an example of how God can  answer in the smallest way.  I have had that same  experience many times through my life from a  phone call at the right  time to an email to a card in the mail to an old friend  from long ago showing up again in my life.  Serendipity of faith rewarded..

More than 45 widows of the September 11 attack had given birth by the time Morgan Beamer, their daughter  was born.  This is striking to me because  you know I was born to a young widow and never knew my father.  But I know that Lisa and her children will be more than OK in life.  She is  balancing sadness with hope.   She has established the Todd Beamer Foundation which has as its  purpose "seeks to equip children experiencing family trauma to make heroic choices every day.  

This is an excellent book for Christian women to read.  I picked it up at Book Sale and will share it with others now.  I have kept special prayers for all the surviving families of 9/11 victims.  Don't even get me started about the mosque proposed to be built there.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Old Butch

I suppose this has been around a time or two but it made me laugh and when I need somehing funny to remember I can come back here to my blog and reread this...truth is stranger than fiction though and it's so true about those silent bells.....

John was in the fertilized egg business.  He had several hundred young layers (hens), called 'pullets,' and ten roosters to fertilize the eggs.  He kept records, and any rooster not performing went into the soup pot and was replaced.

This took a lot of time, so he bought some tiny bells and attached them to

his roosters.  Each bell had a different tone, so he could tell from a distance, which
rooster was performing.  Now, he could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report by just
listening to the bells.

John's favorite rooster, old Butch, was a very fine specimen, but this morning he noticed old Butch's bell hadn't rung at all!  When he went to investigate, he saw the other roosters were busy chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing, but the pullets, hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover.

To John's amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn't ring.  He'd sneak up on a pullet, do his job and walk on to the next one.  John was so proud of old Butch, he entered him in the Saint Lawrence County Fair and he became an overnight sensation among the judges.

The result was the judges not only awarded old Butch the "No Bell Piece Prize," but they also awarded him the "Pulletsurprise" as well.

Clearly old Butch was a politician in the making. Who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the unsuspecting populace and screwing them when they weren't paying attention.

Vote carefully this fall, the bells are not always audible.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Continued-other half early episodes Sepia Saturday Week 38 (Click here to go to the Sepia Site)

May 1941 Jerry (held by Grandma) cousins gather at the farm
This week I'll share a few more photos of husband's early days starting with this first photo taken May 1941 with cousins and his  maternal grandparents farm on one of their anniversaries.  This is his beloved Grampa Charlie and Grandma Esther Behrndt who were farmers and who actually raised him and his sister,Dianne, while his mother who was then divorced, worked and socialized, ahem.  Jerry's Aunt Marie gave me this photo several years ago and I framed it for Jerry's anniversary present on our anniversary that year; he loves it because he had no other photo of both grandparents.  The two boys on either side on the bikes are Alden on left  and Clifford (on right) Cook, Aunt Marie & Uncle Tommy's sons.  Aunt Marie said, when the Ender cousins, (children of Aunt Ruth and Uncle Leonard) Don and Lavonne seated on the ground with LaVonne holding Dianne, came they brought their bicycles.  Well her boys, who didn't have such expensive conveniences, always commandeered their  cousins' bikes and would not give them up until it was time to leave.  Notice the difference in the dress between Don and Lavonne, the city kids, and their country cousins in dungarees and hand me downs.  Marie also laughed saying, "see Jerry with Grandma hugging him, he really was her favorite child."  He is almost four years old in this photo.  The oldest cousin, the girl standing next to Grandma is Jeanette Wuest, Aunt Myrtle's daughter from her first marriage.  Jerry and Jeanette were very close and over the years when we came to MN to visit, that closeness was evident; she was kind of  like his big sis.  I liked her a lot too and through Jeanette, I learned a lot about the family and his mother's insanity.  We both still miss Jeanette who died in 1991.  Whenever we have visitors either family of friends now in MN, Jerry takes them up the hill to where the  farm was; all that acreage was sold off long ago and the old home gone, but a windmill still stands that his Granpa Charlie built and used.  When the grandparents first moved to town, Aunt Marie and Uncle Tommy took over the farming, but when it became too much for them the land was sold.  Jerry has lots of roots there where he had many happy days. 

As usual click on the title to get to the  hosted Sepia Saturday site.  Once there you can click on any of the individual posts. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Castor condiment holder and antique looking

Last Saturday, August 21,  we spent a  very full day at the fair grounds in Rochester, MN home of the Gold Rush Antique and Flea Market.  It's about 70 miles  from where we live and is an event worth attending for anyone even slightly interested in anything antique or collectible, one of the largest in this region and one that really should be done over two or three days.  But, thinking how tough we are, we confined our adventure to  most of  Saturday; oh our aching feet at the end of a long  hard day upright on that pavement. There are simply miles of buildings full of all sorts of offerings  from all sorts of vendors and then there are miles of  booths outside, more offerings, more vendors.  And this year there were ever so many wonderful food booths that it was had to choose what to eat, though Jerry stuck with a brat and I had a pulled pork sandwich at lunchtime. That was the only time we got to sit, and briefly too. 

There  is no seating at all in the booths or buildings, so one gets a good workout walking and browsing.It is not for the person who does not walk well, although we did see some handicapped riding their scooters, they could not get into some of the buildings; that's a good thing because some aisles would not accommodate those scooters.  There were families with strollers and I felt sorry for the little ones being down there at leg height among  crowds.  And of course there were  women who dragged along their  chopping carts, an easy way to haul loot.  

All sorts of decorative outdoor metal work available from this vendor.
We parked in  a lot near many RV coaches and asked a man who was dumping his trash if he was staying there, he said, "It's the only way I'd do this."  He pointed to his motor home and said he'd been sitting there watching TV and reading the paper while his wife was off at the booths.  They were from Brainerd MN and would spend  five days there taking it all in. Well next year, we agreed,  if we go, we are taking our Motor home and making a long weekend  out of it. 
One  booth of the miles of dishes displayed
By the way, if this is not enough, the tiny village of Orinoco, about 20 miles or so north of Rochester, but with a population of  less than 400 normally, magnifies it's size more than ten fold this same weekend.  The citizens of Orinoco rent out space in their  yards and the entire town is covered with  vendors offering  something for everyone.  We did not get to Orinoco this year.  Rochester hosts this antique show three times a year, but August is the premier show with Orinoco joining in and  ever so many more vendors.  When I first heard of it as Gold Rush, I laughed because we lived in California near real gold rush country, the  49'ers and all that.  But evidently this event is rightfully named because the area fills up and people come from all over to find just what they  were looking for and maybe even something they didn't know they wanted!  It's a time to look and certainly the place to find whatever might be missing from a collection.  I think this year there were  fewer of the vendors we normally have seen, a reflection in the down market, they say.  At this event, though people were buying.  In the past I have purchased things too, including what is a piano bench but serves as a side/end table in one of the bedrooms.  It was a darn bargain a few years ago at $45. 

This is our silver castor holder
We had a couple items to look for, including  maybe something Snow White related for granddaughter in CA who is a Snow White collector and maybe condiment bottles for our inherited antique silver castor set that speaks of a wealthier lifestyle and high society. It came from the Irwin mansion, my uncle John's' grandfather and family.  I've mentioned them before, source of many antiques we proudly own.  This particular item, has held our interest and it was not until this year that we even identified it by name.  We found an excellent high quality vendor who had some magnificent full sets available at $350+ but who spent a long time talking to us about ours.  He was so helpful and promised to contact us should he ever locate condiment bottles.  If I were in the market for  anything in the way of crystal or silver, I could have found it in spades at his booth.  

Notice the ornate heads as feet  and the solid silver bell
Condiment bottle
So this week I have spent time online looking where he advised and learned more about these items.  Ours is a solid silver gorgeous piece, which Jerry is now polishing.  The Irwins used it and the bell would be rung  by  depressing the small ball shaped lever atop the circular part of the stand, to summon servants to wait on them or refill condiments that might have been running low.   It is made by Reed and Barton and likely during the late 1800's and is likely American, so the vendor said.  He said the ones from England did not come with bells,  an adaptation here by Americans of means.  Reed and Barton have been in business since 1824 and  started putting earmarks of the year on their pieces in 1928.  Ours has none so we are confident it is earlier than 1928.  The silversmith who worked on this was an ultimate craftsman, judging by the quality and intricate scroll work and the magnificent heads, used as feet.  It is about 19 inches tall and a little over 8 inches wide at the circular holder for the condiment bottles.   We were sorry we did not take it along, but it would have been heavy and too much to lug around all day.  The  vendor pulled out a book which had a big section about these and was happy to talk with us.  He warned us that there are  cheap models  turning up lately but that we would be able to spot them as we had at other booths.  We know silver plate and  cheaper tinplate are no comparison  to solid silver.  It is interesting that he advised bottles are being duplicated but he  knew of no source.  This week I found some on ebay; one seller from Indiana  readily admitted the bottles were new. Another ebay seller out of FL  has a cheaper plated set but with  five bottles which we need; I am considering bidding on the bottles but they are of a different pattern than this  frond leaf scroll  on ours that matches the silver etching.  We have only one bottle with a crystal stopper, but the lid of the bottle is chipped, photo above.  The other bottles are tightly wrapped in plastic, don't know by whom and we hesitate to unwrap them because they look like they are shattered.  Then again, this gives us an excuse to  continue to search antique shows and markets and we are in no hurry.    

Prints like these are selling for excess of $50 and there were many available.  We have one of these.  It's always interesting to see prices on items we have.  But then again they are only worth that if someone pays for them.  One vendor had aluminum stirrers such as I have thrown out in PA; she wanted $60 for a box of  six!  I really gasped to see that!  You just never know!
This vendor had furniture and prints

Snow White dolls  by Krueger of New York  1930's

Vendor in photo with doll
As to Snow White, there were a few interesting items, but we opted to not purchase.  I considered a gorgeous huge cookie jar, but because grand daughter is only going on 20 and not out of college, who knows what could happen to it.  We found a 33 1/3 record album with a great illustration of Snow White and a story book included,  for only $10, but then, Jerry figured, what would she do with it.  And since  our DIL her mother,  is  a minimalist and not a saver of items,  I would hesitate to send it and have it tossed.  One  lady had  the most interesting set of dolls that I have ever seen though and she allowed me to take a photo, here  from her own collection, made by Krueger in New York in the  1930's, they are worn, but magnificent...The entire set was $2650 and we were not going to spend that for Granddaughter either.  Notice the photo of the little girl with pipe  curls; that was the vendor as a little girl. Such a treasure for someone who would appreciate it! So very cute!  She shared that she is selling off lots of her collections because, (this is a song I can sing) her children are not interested, do not appreciate the items and so she is selling now so she can get the money and use it as she chooses rather than leaving the planet and  allowing family to discard or sell off cheaply.  I have thought this same thing myself and have had this same conversation with others, who say sell it, and spend your money.  But right now, I am enjoying  our possessions too much to part with them.   

We did acquire a Snow White glass which I have put away to be sent to CA another time, maybe around Christmas.  I had  just completed and sent off to her  a Kinkade print of a Snow white throw and just last week finished a pillow to match the Snow White quilt I made  for her over a year ago now.  We also acquired a couple Olympia Beer glasses for Jerry's  bar, here at home.  That was the brand Jerry consumed forever in CA and is no longer made. 

 And the  piece de resistance was his purchase for all of $3 of an Air Force hat that fit him. He pondered this the entire time and finally at the end  when we were leaving decided that for $3 how could he go wrong.   It has no insignia, however, but he is searching for his and or will look at other venues to purchase it.  There were other military memorabilia booths, but at very high prices.  
Jerry with his naked Air Force Hat

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Catch up Post on Recent Reads

I have boxes of  books to donate to the library this week for their book sale coming up in September and so I  need to update my reading list.  I've read all these the past weeks....but just posting here....

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear was new to me and the first in this mystery series set in England post World War I.  I loved it and will read more about Masie, who is introduced in this book as the young daughter  of a costermonger, the word intrigured me and means a green grocer.  Maisie is sent to work as a maid in a wealthy  London family when her mother  dies and her father can no longer hold the home together.  Masie is drawn to the library of the home where she is serving and is eventually discovered to have been reading books but Lady Rowan takes to her and  arranges for Dr. Maurice Blance to tutor her.  Masie is bright and  eventually studies at Cambridge, then interrupts her education to serve as a nurse  on the front lines of WWI where she meets and loses  her intended husband.  After returning to London and completing her studies, she opens her own agency for private investigations.  There are so many rich     unforgettable characters introduced through the book with a couple divergences back and forth to her service on the front lines and then her current investigation.  It is an easy to follow story line and kept me fully interested.  I do not want to give away the  mysteries, so will limit my comment.  I understand that this was selected  as a community read in Woodland, CA, which is how I first  heard of Masie.  It is simply a very good period detective series and having talked to some others who have read and enjoyed  the full series of Masie's adventures, I have more good reads ahead. 

When I ordered Masie from Barnes and Noble, my fingers must have hit a wrong button because along  in the delivery came, "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox"  by Maggie O'Farrell, an author  who was born in Northern Ireland , grew up in Wales and Scotland and now lives in Edinburgh.  This was a strange book but  one I read quickly.  It is about two elderly sisters long separated.   Esme, is sent away  to an institution as a young child; her sister Kitty is the grandmother of the protagonist, Iris who learns suddenly about Esme as the institution is closing.   Iris is befuddled because she had been  taught her grandmother was an only child and Kitty now suffers dementia and is in a care home as well.  Well, again I can't give away  the plot line, but as Iris decides to take Esme in just until other care can be arranged, she learns more about family history than  she ever knew. I liked this line, on page 118, "Nothing is our own.  We begin in the world as anagrams of our antecedents."   It was an odd way to stumble upon a different read, but it held my interest through all 245 pages. I guess I could relate to how intrigued Iris would be as the history  of the family is revealed.  Not likely a book I would have seen browsing, but serendipity brought it to me.

Every summer I like to read another book by Elizabeth George working through the several I have acquired and added to my to read shelf.  I chose "A Suitable Vengeance" which has aired on Public Broadcasting as a  movie.  I must be on a British train lately as this is set in England too, maybe it's the influence and effect of  Sepia Saturday posts and all the Brits who are participating and involved or perhaps it's my current trend having recently visited with my Brit friend Pat, as she's easing back from her heat stroke episode.  This is one of Elizabeth George's earlier novels as  Inspector Thomas Lynley, forensic scientist Simon St. James and Lady Helen Clyde team up to solve crimes that get quite involved personally in the picturesque Cornwall village.  Lynely is torn as the solving the murders point to  someone in his own family.   But as always Elizabeth George weaves a mystery with many side lines full of richly developed  characters with modern twists of drugs, different sexual habits and more to vividly color the  mystery.

 Recently on his blog, Tony mentioned that  he was going to a "piss up," a term  I had never before heard.  That very evening, there it was in "Suitable" as Mrs. Swann, owner of the pub described such goings on.  Discovering what it meant, made me laugh and was worth the reading....I suspect I can use that term now and then to my advantage!    Page 254,  has this discussion about death, "The worst part of a death was always that moment of knowing beyond a doubt that  no matter how many people share it--be they family, friends, or even an entire nation--no two people can ever feel it the smae way.  So it always seems as if one experiences it alone."  Well, you knowq that struck me.  This is  one example of the good writing that Elizabeth George has in her books that keep me reading them.  I was introduced to her years back in CA and have yet to finish reading all her novels.  They are excellent though and a good place to lose self.  

And my last book for this post, which  I picked up in July for $1, hardback, first edition, at the Library book sale was the excellent "Kate Remembered" by A. Scott Berg, a Princeton graduate,  Pulitzer prize winner who devotes  years of intense research into his works and therefore has writtten few books.  He's not an author who cranks 'em out.  This is about Katherine Hepburn, one of my all time favorites. .  He begins his long time friendshop with her when she is 75 while he is working on the  biography about Samuel Goldwyn.  I laughed, coughed and  had a tear or two reading about Kate.  I learned that she was a  creature of habit in many ways, cocktails, very good scotch a six every evening and dinner at seven.  She lived to be 95.   I learned that she always liked to live in the moment.  She was an avid swimmer, even hitting the water outside in the New YOrk and Connecticut winter when others younger would shiver.  Of course there is a wealth of information about her movies, many of which I have never seen and  lots of information about her fabulous  career.  But this book is a very personal look at her,  her family and the lifetime relationships and  her friendship as it forms with the author over  20 years.  

She was not one to sit around and  reminisce nor live in the past.  As Kate aged, few people surrounded her, the result of outliving everyone, but she did make friends carefully with chosen younger folks, and no mistake she chose them.  They all were devoted to this eccentric grand lady.  I found one story  about one of her longest friends humorous; they had lost touch over the years ad were not as close as they had been, although they would each ask other people about the other one.  Finally Kate decided to invite her for dinner to catch up.  They and a few others spent the evening talking about old times, through the cocktail and dinner hours...after the woman left, Kate remarked to Scott that it was no wonder they had grown apart, Kate was bored with talking about the past which is all they did!  She never invited the woman to dinner again! 

Entertaining Michael Jackson one evening is another interesting anecdote, especially when she discovers he is very childlike and incapable of good conversation, which Kate insisted on in her home.  She painted and sculpted some, two things I had not known about her.  A woman ahead of her times in many ways, confident and contentious.  She never thought of her self as a second class citizen just because she was a woman, nor did she see why women had to be.   

 I learned that she was an avid reader and saw that as an absolute personal attribute.  I feel the same way.  I laughed hearing of how she added and subtracted to her age, confusing folks.  Of course the grand relationship with Spencer Tracy is described.  This was something very different for that time but they worked it out, she caring for him especially when he  drank excessively, which was often.  More than once, she would say, "Life's  tough for everybody and that's why most people become its victims."  She had little tolerance for weakness and for those who might wallow about  their circumstances.  I suppose she  may have been thought of as hard, but I see her as strong beyond.   Scott  avows that Kate " lived most of her life as a contestant in that great struggle, always pushing herself hard, riding the wave and sometimes swimming ahead of it."     I relished all  370 pages.  As the author  states, this is a tribute to a woman who forbid any tributes at her funeral; that reminded me of my Aunt Jinx.  But Scott, explains he believes it is more than a tribute is is her fond remembrances shared with him from her heart.  She was one and only, there will never be another Hepburn.  I'll have to read her own memoir sometime as well as her writing about her experience making the African Queen, both books are mentioned in this one. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Revealing the other half Sepia Saturday week 37 (click here to go to the Sepia website)

Grandmother Esther Behrndt, Jerry 1 year old,
and Mother, Florence. 
I spent some time on the genealogy of Jerry's (the other half) side this week, so thought I would share a photo or two introducing him and his peculiar side.  I have often said that if I had known  his family, in particular his mother when we first met that I would not have ever gotten involved with him and he says that is why he lived far away from his family.  Further he blames me because he said until we were married they did not bother  with him, after we married it seemed  they had a place to spend summer vacations and they did.  His mother, Florence,  is 93 today is still going kind of strong (but not in the mental area)  and lives here in La Crescent in a senior apartment, though she really belongs in an assisted living place.  But that's another story and she refuses so we get the duty of overseeing  and providing for her.  It's most unfair as Jerry says he has now provided  and cared for her longer than she ever cared  for him.  As the first  born and  oldest son, I think he is a saint, because  this woman , Florence whose life story rivals "Prince of Tides"   has become the bane of our existence. 

She was the baby of the family, the  youngest of  five sisters and nothing like any of them;  then her second husband kept her in a delayed state of adolescence and when he knew he would be  leaving this planet apologized to Jerry that he would have his hands full taking care of his mother who was then about 77 years old....Shudder and so true.  She had four children but the two youngest are really into the ME ME generation and have little to do with her, her daughter lives in CO and about every  two years makes a dutiful trip here for a couple days to visit her mother for a few  hours.
1950 California  bound
As I said, Jerry is a saint, because as this  photo taken in 1950  shows, Florence who never had a  full load of bricks as they say,  determined she would drive herself and her two children, Jerry age 13 and Diane age 12, cross country to California, leaving Minnesota two months after her mother, Esther  who had cared for the children died.  Florence had met  the man who would become her second husband and my father in law, when he rented a room from the family, but he left for work in California.  By this time she had really worn out her welcome in the tiny town of La Crescent with her antics and had built her reputation as a "loose woman."  Not a good thing in a small town, especially the day she took her Sunday School class to the local tavern to find out if her current hot date was there!  You get the picture, people were not willing to put up with that behavior, not in La Crescent.  She was divorced from the first husband, Morrison, who enlisted in the Navy in WWII to get away from her but who also had issues, another story.  Florence had spent time confined to a mental institution for a year, committed by her sister, Jerry's aunt Myrtle, who begged to adopt Jerry so that she and her husband Joe  could keep him in MN. There was no way that he wanted to leave Minnesota and especially the family and friends he knew.    No Florence would not have it, revealing a lifelong pattern where she thought of herself first.

Jerry in Korea, Air Force  1956
 So there they are, Florence with Dianne, Jerry's full sister and himself in front of the home, ready to head to California.  Jerry is 13 and would live in Californian with his mother and step father only  less than a year before he would hitchhike  cross country back to Minnesota and live with his grandfather..and the aunts until he could enlist in the Air Force, photos to the left....  Raised mainly by his grandparents and then off on his own, I told you she was not a mother to him. This trip to  California would culminate in Las Vegas  where Jerry ended up driving them after Florence nearly killed the three of them in a head on crash as she passed a car  going up a hill into oncoming traffic.  Jerry took over driving, to Las Vegas.  Florence called Lyman from there and he  came to Las Vegas where they married and took them to California.  Florence never drove again, never got a dirver's license, sinking into being "cared for" and taken wherever she went...Her oldest daughter, Dianne, (Jerry's full sister) died in 2005 in California but she had lived a hard tragic life of multiple marriages, many children most of whom did time in jails and prisons, on drugs, alcoholism, etc. and on and on.... Well you get the picture,   I told you it's like Prince of Tides......really lots of dysfunction and more....

Home in La Crescent
This was the old family homestead in town in La Crescent where she and the kids lived with her parents and Aunt Myrtle and Uncle Joe.  Today it is an empty lot and Jerry says buried under ground somewhere when they tore down the house and pitched everything into the cistern is his original pair of skis.   Uncle Joe was always Jerry's hero, taught  him to ski and would have been an excellent surrogate father.  This is the last photo of today,  Jerry's Aunt Myrtle, (a sister of Florence) and Uncle Joe a World War II hero and all around interesting person....this is their  wedding photo where the handsome soldier from North Carolina found, courted and married a beautiful girl from Minnesota.   With the purple hearts and Bronze stars Uncle Joe had earned he was entitled to send a son to West Point.  They had no children and he wanted to adopt Jerry and send him there, it was not to be.  Makes you wonder how  very different  life would have been. 
Wedding photo Myrtle and
Joe Whitfield

I did not realize I would  write so much about  mother in law when I started this, but more to come in weeks ahead.  I think my husband  did a dandy job of  becoming a good adult.... showing that people can overcome their circumstances with will....As always, click on the title to  go to the Sepia Saturday website where you can read and see others' photos and posts.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Betty our Police Lady Story tellers Week 5 and Sepia Saturday Week 36 (click here to get to others' photos)

Miss Betty Hoover our Police Lady

I am rerunning Betty here for the Story tellers; If you have been to Southern Belle, you know there is a tale to tell and many of my previous posts onto Sepia Saturday are tales to share.  So out of time to create something new today I offer you Betty and my frustrated attempts to be a resident Nancy Drew!

Sorting and sifting photos continues here where this week I found this old snapshot of Betty Hoover who was perhaps one of the first if not the first police woman in our town.  We called her, " Miss Betty Our Police Lady" and she was employed as a crossing guard, today's term,  at our elementary school, Third Ward.  This photo is from  about  1954, notice her spiffy uniform, high heels and white gloves.  She would step out into the street to direct traffic and allow us to cross.  Now that I think about it, I suppose this must have been invented employment, because we did not have that much traffic and when Miss Betty was not on her job, we walked and crossed streets quite nicely without any assistance.

My friends and I were fascinated with Miss Betty who lived with her friend, Wanda, in an apartment on the 3rd floor,  the remodeled attic of our neighbor's the Ropers.  They were the only single career women in our neighborhood.  Since the yard of the Ropers' backed up to  our back yard, I thought I could make myself quite available to her, by just  yelling, "Miss Betty" from our back yard.  My mother thought differently and the first time she heard me standing outside yelling, she scooted me onto the porch for a lecture.  I was not to bother Miss Betty and just because she rented from our neighbors did not mean that I could  bother her to satisfy my curiosity.  She was employed as  a Police woman and when she was not at work, she did not need the likes of me pestering her.

Not one to easily give up, I tried to engage Dayna, my  neighbor friend who lived on the other side of the Ropers to help in my efforts at learning more about Miss Betty but she was not as curious as me and besides, her mother felt the same, "You girls do not need to bother her."  I had a plan, Dayna's upstairs bedroom was closer to the Roper house, so if we could lean out Dayna's window and call, surely Miss Betty would hear us and if Dayna was calling and not me, my mother couldn't say anything.  But Dayna was no where near as interested and so much more the good girl than myself that it didn't happen.

I spent some time mulling about this and trying to overcome my Mother's admonishments without being absolutely disobedient. I suddenly became very interested in Harry Roper, their son, who was several years older than me (I was 9 and he was likely 13) and tried all sorts of ways to entice him into inviting me into their home; once inside I figured it would be easy enough to scoot up the staircase and knock on Miss Betty's door. That did not work, because Harry as I said was older than me and besides that totally uninterested in my antics. I think he secretly knew I was the one who would pelt him with crab apples, but he never could  prove that.  I could get onto our porch roof  near the crab apple tree outside my bedroom window, toss crab apples and whack him on the head, then duck back into my bedroom window, innocent as you please. 

My curiosity was not waning, so one day after school, I hung around the corner and confessed to Miss Betty that I would like to see their apartment but my mother said I was not to bother her, but I had this big tale about needing to interview her for a Girl Scout project. She and I walked the  few blocks back to  our homes together and Miss Betty said that she would speak to my Mom and if it was alright with her she would invite me in  for a soda.  It never happened and I suspect that my mother nixed it or maybe Miss Betty was not that interested.  I don't know  what ever happened but Miss Betty and Wanda moved away after several months and I was out of luck.  Maybe they really didn't want to live in a neighborhood of families either.

I had not thought of her for  many years, but  talking to  some of my friends  from those days, we all remember Miss Betty.  I however have the only photo. I don't know why we had a police woman because it was a lovely 'hood and you can see from her uniform she was nicely dressed and not set  to pursue or do much but direct traffic. 

As always, click on the title to get to the Sepia home page and find others who share their photos and or collections in this international community.  This now becomes a Story Tellers Tale for Week 5 as well.  Click here to get to the Story tellers site.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

So I have won a chicken!

Today's the day of reckoning, this afternoon when  I go to our farmer's market to get my winning prize.  Evidently last week, when it was steamy hot and I was enjoying a cold bottle of water with a piece of delicious carrot cake in celebration of the first anniversary of our market, I filled out a ticket for the drawing for prizes donated by  the vendors.  Martha called me late Saturday to tell me that I was the lucky winner of a chicken, donated by a vendor who sells meat and poultry, and that I could pick it up today.  I really hope it is frozen or packaged in some way, not alive in its cage with feathers and all.

That call left me thinking it might just be my lucky day or month,and maybe the corner of life was turning.  I seldom have had anything good happen in August; my first marriage, the biggest mistake of my life when I was too young and thought I knew something was in August; my Mom died in August; the inlaws always invaded, and over stayed their welcome spending  their summer vacation at our home in August;  Jerry's mother always creates havoc in August like  two years ago during a family visit when she turned loudly ranting at me witnessed by my  DIL and grand daughter, resulting in my avoiding her for the remainder of the year.  I could list other August negative experiences, but you get the idea, I want to see the month pass quickly even though it means the end of summer.  Following my momentary musement that maybe August won't be all that bad, Jerry's mother was on the  phone with another nasty blast which brought me to the reality that, "it's August!"

Chickens and me have a less than cordial relationship; maybe I was a fox in a previous life, but as long as I can remember anytime I have been near a live  chicken it has not been a good experience. The first negative encounter I recall was at my  Grandma Anna Ball's chicken coop in Harwick, PA when I was maybe five or six years old.  I went to the coop to get eggs or maybe just to satisfy my non-stop curiosity and the next thing I remember there was Anna shooing the chickens away from me as they clucked and carried on and she responded loudly gathering eggs from their nests into her skirt/apron and telling me to leave the coop!   I never went near it again during any of my infrequent visits to her, I considered the coop off limits.

Steve with his first chicken 1976
Flash forward to 1976 when we were living in Newcastle, CA on acreage where Steve and Jerry decided we would have chickens and enjoy fresh eggs.  Actually someone had given Steve a chick for Easter when we were still moving from Fair Oaks and we brought it up to Newcastle from Fair Oaks, before our move, Steve wanted to keep it for a pet and then decided raising chickens would be better. This photo shows him at 12 years old with that dumb chicken on his shoulder, he thought his was funny and I fretted.   To say I had reservations about this effort is an understatement below ground, but Steve assured me it would be his project, "Mom we will eat the eggs" and Jerry thought it an ok idea too, taking him back to his childhood days on the farm.  We started out with several dozen chicks many of which didn't survive, as daily the count went down; something was invading the chicken coop at night and making off with the chicks; Jerry and Steve decided it was a weasel and so they carefully fixed the wire around the coop and solved the problem of diminishing chickens.  I admit the eggs were good, but they harvested the eggs and as the coop was down the hill from our house, I had no need to go there.

We always had dogs and one morning we were awakened to the squawking clucking protests of chickens flying outside  our bedroom window as Hermit, our first Great Dane went to round up some that had flown from the coop up through the tree that grew in the midst of the chicken yard.  Hermit was just being dutiful the way he saw it, protecting his chickens and bringing them up to the house to let us know they were safe.  What a sound, followed by Jerry getting up and yelling at the dog through the  window, "dammit (*&^) Hermit, let that chicken go!"  Hermit would catch them in his mouth, drool all over them, and toss them up into the air in the front yard,  where our bedroom window faced.  The chickens flew and squawked and when they hit the ground, Hermit was right after them.     I don't recall the details but Jerry and Steve went out and herded the escapees back into the coop.

The chicken population dwindled till we had only a few including one proud rooster who immediately disliked me and flapped his wings in protest whenever I ventured past the coop.  No kidding that rooster would almost hiss and lose it when he saw me.  Steve really thought that was funny and would ask me to walk down by the rooster to show his friends how the rooster wanted to get Mom, a request to which I was not very obliging!

My ultimate chicken encounter happened one summer Saturday afternoon in Newcastle  and still makes Jerry laugh when the event is discussed.  I was home alone, Jerry was off with friends helping the local veterinarian move & I don't know where Steve was.  I was in the front yard puttering when alongside a rosebush, came that big rooster that had escaped the  coop. One look at me and it began to almost crow.  I ignored it and went about my business, thinking where is the local hawk when I need it.  But here came another chicken.  So I decided that I had better herd the flock back to their coop and I had no idea how to do this when I got the idea of getting the hoe, ala old MacDonald on his farm. In the garage where the hoe was hanging I eyed one of my laundry baskets and decided that I could use it to capture the escapees, throwing it over them and keeping them moving though staying a hoe handle length away and that way they would be herded back to the coop.  Quit laughing, you know I was/am a city girl! 

Needless to say this was an idea that did not work; I would toss the basket and the birds would scatter.  Once the rooster even jumped  atop the  basket which I'd tossed as though I had offered him a perch.  He eyed me and I cautiously approached with the hoe.  I don't know where the dogs were during this escapade, but I suppose that was a benefit as at least I did not have to defend the birds from the canines.  This exercise lasted about 20 minutes when I gave up because I never  captured even one of the escapees; I sat down, red faced and sweaty in the shade of the  bank on the lawn telling the rooster who did stay away from this wild woman and her basket that I didn't care where he went.  About this time Jerry returned home with one of the neighbors, both of whom thought it an odd sight to see me with a hoe and the clothes basket, sitting in the grass.  When Jerry heard my strategy, he bust out laughing, to which the rooster appeared and put in his two cents worth!  Jerry absolutely doubled over holding his sides, laughing so hard that he could not stand it and asking, Patricia, what in the world did you think!" Our neighbor, Bob was not much better,  laughing so hard that he had to take off his glasses!  I found this not at all comical, announced to both what they could do with these chickens  and retreated to the house and a cold drink.  Jerry was  still laughing when I shortly saw him walking along, toward the coop  with rooster and chicken following.  He'd gotten chicken feed and sprinkled it along, which attracted them and then he opened the gate and in they went.  Pat's encounter provided a humorous tale for a long time around the hillside.  I can still feel the frustration although this happened in about 1979!  Eventually we went out of the chicken business and bought our fresh eggs from Doc Santini locally.

As I have said, I am/was a city girl and though I enjoy gardening, I miss not a thing about  poultry agriculture.  I do enjoy eating chicken though!  So hopefully my winnings are ready to be cooked.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Moustache Mugs

Over the past weeks on Sepia posts,  there's been comment on moustaches in men's photos and the current interest in sporting  a moustache.  I mentioned that in our hutch are two fine china mugs, inherited from the Irwin family that are Moustache mugs.  These were used to serve men only, I presume, and had  a protective lip to protect  keep the moustache, preventing it from getting  wet with tea or coffee.  

 I have been interested in these but have done no research until now.  I have never spotted any at estate sales or auctions, making them all the more curious to me.  We don't  know anyone who has been to  our home for dinner with moustache, so have never used these.  Actually when friend Tom visited last year, I did not think about them or would have gotten them out for his use as he does have a moustache.  Sorry Tom, next time.   

 I believe they are mugs, different for their era because no saucers came with them and they are much larger than the  normal china cups with saucers. I remember my Uncle John Irwin would use them from time to time and said they came from his grandfather, the wealthy J.R. Irwin. 

Moustache mug

Moustache mug
Lip of the moustache mug

There is little information on the 'net about these, instead many that are shown and sold as collectibles  are shaving mugs, a heavier porcelain type.  But I did find the following,

"The moustache cup is a drinking cup with a semi-circular ledge inside. The ledge has a semi-circular opening to allow the passage of liquids and serves as a guard to keep moustaches dry. It is generally acknowledged to have been invented by British potter Harvey Adams (born 1835), but the invention did not occur till the 1860s.

During the recording of The Beatles' album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, John Lennon drank his tea from a moustache cup."

At least that tells these could not be earlier than 1860's.  JR was the millionaire of the Irwin family, when a million was unimaginable to most people, including my direct ancestors of miners.  He made his fortune hauling iron ore on the Great Lakes  and working at construction and design of the Railroads.  He was a contemporary of Carnegie and acquainted with President McKinley who visited the Irwins;  after McKinley was assassinated, Mr. Irwin purchased one of his carriages.  My uncle told  of being a small boy at his grandfather's home and seeing the magnificent  carriage drawn by  shiny black horses  decked out in silver.  But I am drifting away from these mugs.  

If anyone knows more about these, please let me know.  Perhaps there will be a resurrection of interest with men sporting moustache's.  Now I doubt that, now a days, there is not the interest in fine china, more apt to grab those stainless steel or plastic long tall mugs, covered from the local coffee shop on the way to be consumed in the traffic in the car!  A far cry from sitting with fine china mugs!

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Unknown Bathing Beauties for Sepia Saturday Week 35 (Click Here)

Our heat wave has ended and I have spent many days at the pool, water aerobics and  swimming laps, always  having been  attracted to the water to cool off.  Others have shared great marvelous photos of the bathing beauties from times past.  I did not think I had any, so proceeded on my way with my other anecdotes.  This week while making some progress through sorting photos, I got to another box from my Grandma Rose and  found two tattered photos marked only by year, without any names to identify the people.    I do not  think they are my grandmother nor her sisters but likely cousins within that extended  Ostrowski clan.  My grandmother  was never a swimmer nor a water person and could not understand my absolute fascination with water, swimming and all such things. 

I recalled my grandmother talking about a ferry boat that used to transport them across the river  between our town of New Kensington and Tarentum on the other side before bridges.  This beach was on the New Kensington side. 
1920 Renouf Beach Allegheny River  New Kensington

The two children in the 1920 photo might be girls too with the get ups on their heads, I suppose it was to protect the hair. To their left there is  someone in the water and there is quite a crowd in the 1920 photo, maybe it was during a big holiday event or weekend. It looks like they are leaning on some type of floating raft.

To me  it appears that there are different folks in each photo.  In the  1917 photo, below  the people are close to the shore, it appears, but look at those dresses; I doubt they would have ventured very far into the water, surely that would hav weighted them down.. . The woman to the right appears to even be wearing some type of stockingn if that is a woman, I think they both are with children.

1917 Allegheny River Renoul Beach

When I was growing up in the 50's and  60's we would not have dreamed of entering the Allegheny river as the industries and mills had polluted the waters and the towns dumped sewage in there as well.  Today there is a total change with the lack of industry and there is even a marina in New Kensington.  Boats abound on the river, quite a different sight.  Someone even told me that they get mussels to eat form the Allegheny, so there has been  an entire about face of cleaning up. 

The only other river picture I have handy is this one of my mother, Helen,  taken in 1942, posed in the wind.  She never was a swimmer so I don't expect this was a bathing photo, more  like just walking along the river .  This is one of my favorites of her.

As always to view others posts in Sepia Saturdays, click on the title to this post, above...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bambi's relatives = Devastation

I am still pouting and plotting revenge on the 4 legged  marauders who ravaged my rose garden last night.  Bambi's relatives have struck again. I know Bambi didn't do it because the tracks are too big, so I think this is the work of Bambi's relatives, the dad or brother as men have such little respect for finery and  there have  been multiple sightings  in our 'hood of a large buck!  One afternoon I was backing out of our driveway and noticed a big buck across the street standing in the neighbor's pines.  I stopped and waited not wanting to encounter it in my car just in case he decided to come across the street.  He did not.  Likely he was eyeing the rose garden guaging just when he might come for a treat. 
Bush trimmed
 I have been anticipating the blooms of 3 buds about 3 inches each on the Melody Parfumee rosebush. This is quite a big deal for this time of the year and for this area when we have had a hotter summer than normal.  Besides the MN  rose blooms just don't match CA size but I thought that this triplet just might.  I will never know now.   Such a devastating sight, 3 buds gone, trimmed before they ever had a chance to bloom, cut down before their prime. Maybe there is a poem somewhere in these words but the words I had this morning were not poetic.

Overnight, the marauders came and nipped all  the buds, chomping them like candy and further adding insult to injury by leaving their calling card, piles of skat in the lawn where I have  walked barefooted!  Fortunately this morning I had on flip flops and was not indulging my tootsies in the  morning lawn dew.  If you haven't seen it, here is just one deposit, I mean how rude,  they could at least have left this as fertilizer in the rose garden, don't you think?  Dine and dump has to be their motto.  When Jerry and his friends  deer hunted in the mountains on horseback in CA, I would stay at home and hope they didn't bag any.  When I was a little girl, and my uncle and others shot deer I would think it so mean and had to be reassured that it was not Bambi nor Rudolph.   So I have been a deer advocate but with the experiences here in MN, I have changed my attitude. 

In all our years in Newcastle, CA where we grew over 400 roses on 7+ acres, in the country we had no deer problem. But here in MN we live in the city limits no less and have wildlife issues! Deer are the bane of the existence of my rose gardens.
Chomped to the middle


I  did buy some a spray, Tree Guard developed at the University of Iowa  that local farmers use and that does seem to  turn them away, but I used the last of it around the bottoms of the bushes because we have been over run by  bunnies this year and the bunnies  chomped on all the bottom leaves.     This is our  2nd year  without the foxes in the hillside, they went to Florida during a harsh winter and never returned.  We enjoyed the fox and we had no problem with rabbit population but they have left us to battle the bunnies alone.    

 Meantime, I  did find a way to extend my  decor with wine bottles into the rose garden, shielding the bottoms from the bunnies.  It seemed to work, but nothing stops the deer who seem not to look down but prefer the eye  level tall buds and blooms.  

Wine bottle Bunny repellent
Melody is not the only rose bush they have enjoyed, Kiss Me along the drive was devastated a week ago, nipped in the bud too.  I will now wait for several more weeks for this bloom. 

Kiss Me in recovery

So with this start to my day followed by a good work out at Curves, I went  on about my errands in the heat and decided to seek solace in the Aldi's European dark chocolate bar.  While there I discovered a new cookie line they have added, Benton's which includes various flavors but one of which is  chocolate mint, which reminded me of my all time favorite Girl Scout cookie, thin mints.  I have never yet found an Aldi's product that I did not like, so I added both these to my cart and brought them home.  One more errand involved a trip to Woodman's to replenish my wine racks and browse their massive alcohol offerings.  A new mojito mix looked inviting so it  made it's way home  with me.  Colonel Wally, my laptop and kitchen TV bear welcomed the set up for my own little afternoon party. 

Wally welcomes the party

A trip to the local farmers' market, would take up the rest of my afternoon but  I did have  time for some refreshment, a  tall mojito and a few mint cookies.  Ummmm, delicious, my mood is now better.   
Afternoon break time

Tomorrow I will post my trip to the farmer's market, because my blog writer is acting up and I am beginning to get annoyed with the spastics of trying to post and add the photos.  Besides, it is evening and time for a nibble of the Aldi's chocolate bar!  G'night.