Monday, November 29, 2010

Loving Cup Magpie Tales 42 (Click Here for Magpie host site)

Sophie shoved with the wind at her back, opening the tavern door, lured  by the promise of warmth from a coffee heavily  laced with brandy and Kahlua, banter with colleagues  and refuge from the bitter icy wind that froze noses and eyelashes on the short two block walk from the office.  It had been a gruesome day that could not end soon enough, evidenced by the slight pounding at her right  temple, the hours consumed yet again reviewing ceaseless digitized pages of legal  briefs, convincing her secretary to reschedule court dates, coaching the tireless associate attorneys, and the worst experience of the day, interviewing her newest aspiring divorcee client.    Ahh, to be off to Bermuda, sitting in the sun on the sand, instead of here in Pittsburgh in the ice.

Once inside the buzz echoed from regulars, occasionals and all  happy hour congregants, lively talk against the background of the Stones, the  unmistakable rattle of Jagger's voice from the CD player controlled by the bartender, Billie, the 20 something college boy bartender who had recently discovered the Stones and punished them all to continuous doses of his "vintage musical " discoveries.   Sophie recognized the lyrics, to "The Loving Cup"  ....."I'm the man on the mountain, come on up. I'm the plowman in the valley with a face full of mud. Yes, I'm fumbling and I know my car don't start. Yes, I'm stumbling and I know I play a bad guitar. Give me little drink from your loving cup.  Just one drink and I'll fall down drunk."

 "Billie, a coffee kahluokie, hot no whipped..." she called across the din. 

"Sure thing, Sophie!"

Amidst the waves and nods of colleagues she made her way down the bar towards Jake, Jeannie and Larry where an empty bar stool awaited her.  Billie bustled along and in no timethe warmth from the steaming drink welcomed her.  "Sophie, want this on a tab tonite?  Recognize this one?" Billie bantered.

"Loving Cup, Billie, just what I did not need to hear. How about something melodic?" 

 Jeannie, as always distracted the conversation to what was on her mind, their upcoming benefit for the Boys and Girls Club. Jeannie had agreed to chair the annual event and it was certain to be a success.  "Hey, Mrs. Godfrey donated a silver trophy today; says it has been in her husband's family through the ages.and she is tired of it and none of their family want it.  I figure we can raffle it, or maybe display it, award it to the team that raises the most money this time and keep it as a revolving trophy for fund raising.....whatcha' think..?"

"Jeannie, that is the most  preposterous idea you have had yet, a fund raising contest.  You have always been the most  competitive but does everything have to be a race to the finish, a winner, a loser?"

"Nahh,,  really, Look at it, I am taking it home to polish up, then  we can decide, look at it.   I think it's silver."

"Wow, what's that?"  Billie questioned while reaching for another CD to appease Sophie who seemed grumpier than normal today. "Some kind of trophy?"

"See even Billie thinks it's a trophy!  Don't you think we could start something new?  The competition to raise funds would benefit the kids, after all."

Larry, usually the quiet one,  determined to set all things into proper perspective, began to explain that it was indeed a Loving cup and lectured about the Gaelic history of loving cups, wedding ceremonies where both the bride and groom drank wine from the same cup, vowing their readiness to share the triumphs and bitters of life ahead.

"Wow, that sounds vintage!  I don't know how that goes with the Stones song,"  Billie grinned while refilling Larry's glass.  Larry drank only beer summer, winter and Sophie shivered watching him.

"Billie, indeed vintage, that's the business of loving cups."  Larry concluded his lecture and went back to downing his beer. 

"Billie, Loving Cups were also toasting cups in the 1800's, or so" Jake offered attempting to dilute the lecture with his  humor.  "The toastmaster would raise the cup filled with ale or whiskey, to be shared among the fellows  and say something like this,  ...Here's  to the men who eat and drink,
          Here's to the men who sit and think,
          The tippler and the teetotaler rare.
           For some are good who answer 'nay' 
          And some are good who drink all day,
          And all are good sometime, somewhere.."

"Jake, that is great, know anymore?" Jeannie chirped.

"Stop do not give him the audience, " Sophie cautioned.

"Well then whatcha' think, here another idea sponsor a toast that has to be submitted with the money raised, the winner gets to keep and display the Loving Cup till next year...." Jeannie tagged back, enthusiasm brimming over. 

"Jeannie, that is why you are the perpetual committee gal.  You're on,  use that Loving Cup as a revolving trophy.  Shine it up.  I can  hear the irony now, in the press release,  "Sophie Brunner, well known local spinster and divorce attorney wins Loving Cup trophy by raising funds for Boys and Girls Club !  Sophie grinned.  "Another challenge courtesy of Jeannie.  Why did I think I'd get some quiet in here?"

**The toast is "To the Boys" written by Joe Cone and included in the book, "The Loving Cup:Original Toasts by Original Folks"  by Wilbur Dick Nesbit, Published in 1909  Click here to see other toasts in this 64 page book.

This has been a Magpie Tale Post, my take on  the prompt from Willow.  Click on the title to this tale to go to the Magpie host site and link to read words by so many others on this same prompt.  You are certain to  be surprised and astounded by some. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Unholy Communion Sepia Saturday Week 51 (Click here to Sepia site)

I hesitate to share this last photo  a ludicrous reflection from my childhood archives, but why not, I feel accepted  among friends here on Sepia. I was raised Catholic by my grandmother; Mom acquiesced  to her mother in this matter because after she married her second husband who was not Catholic, and who was  not really anything, different for those times and seldom went to church, she still knew religious upbringing was important.  Coming from a long line of Polish Catholics, my Grandma Rose would ensure that my soul was protected and secured by my Catholic raising.  Grandma wanted me to go attend  Catholic school too, believing it would be good for me, but that was one discussion over which Mom prevailed, so I happily went to the neigborhood schools. Things went well for me there,

There are Catholic events along the life of every girl and  boy and the first, after baptism of course, is Holy Communion.  This was immersion into the faith,  and back in 1953, the date of this event in my life, it commenced by attending Catechism classes.  That did not suffice because the week before Communion we all  had to attend Catholic School anyway with all the "regular"  Catholic students, those of us, the renegades  from the public school hoods.  Oh what torture this became; we kids from the hoods  were mandated to arrive at the school  promptly before 7:30AM, thirty minutes before the rest of the class  so that we could do our assigned church chore which was some sort of penance for  not attending Catholic school; this was followed by daily attendance at mass.   

And oh, those nuns!  My grandmother was enamored of the "Blessed Sisters" which is what she called them but to me they were some sort of cross between a penguin and dungeon keepers.  The rules were ever so many that  were not  to my liking; I was not a bad child, just headstrong, a good student but fairly spoiled and used to doing things my way.  The Litany of rules included not to be talking in class, sitting just so, no fidgeting,  and worst of all for myself, no making faces. It is a lifelong trait that I can roll my eyes and show a full gamut of  expression with my face and lips.  Sometime I must write about my episodes with the nuns, the only time my Grandma was ever cross with me was when those Nuns would call her and report my daily activities, I really could not understand  why someone  whom Grandma thought so holy could be such tattletales.  But daily it seemed that there was something I did against their rules.  It was a week marked by suffering in my opinion never having had such immersion into the Catholic ways.

I was excited about getting a white dress for Communion, which meant a trip to our town's fancy store.  For this event, my other Grandmother, whom I hardly ever saw, (my father's mother, there was worse than bad blood between her and Mom,) announced that she wanted to buy my dress.  Well, she had not yet been shopping with me  but she was soon to learn about my opinions.  Both grandmothers, Mom and myself arrived at the store and the minute I saw the dress I knew it was "the one" it had some lace  rows with rhinestones along the skirt and I loved my sparkles even  back then.  Trouble was it did not fit and Mom promptly began to get others for me, but of course they were too plain.  I had seen the diamonds and they had to be mine! Mom was not so sure and tried to explain that maybe I didn't need that for Holy Communion, something plainer would do.   No way no how!  I protested such as only I could demonstrate, to the consternation of  the  saleslady, and I even went so far as to pronounce that after having to put up with those Nuns all week I deserved this!  Only this dress or nothing!  But my Grandmothers had already  put their heads together and both being excellent seamstresses knew that they could make this dress fit with a few adjustments here and there.  I was now appeased and pleased and Grandma Ball  paid for the dress and then off we went to get white patent leather shoes to match. 

Well here I am before we left my Grandma's house for the church; she had seen that I dressed at the last minute so that I not soil a thing.  I was fond of following Granpap out to the dirt, out to the garden, playing with the dogs, and whatever else appealed to me.  Besides I was hungry, back in those times in 1953 in the strict Polish Roman Catholic church one fasted before Communion, so I had an empty stomach besides my routine fidgets.  I was not that happy about anything except my dress; I  could not wait to wear it.  I really did not like those white knee socks but that was part of the prescribed attire, although I would have preferred red socks and made that known too.  Don't ask me why, just maybe I knew white socks would reveal the  dirt and maybe I feared keeping clean for too long; I really was gong to be very happy when this ceremony was all over and we had our big Sunday dinner with Grandma, who had baked for me alone a small lemon meringue pie, my request.

Somehow we made it to the church, St Mary's, the Polish Catholic church in town.  And off I went to join my  fellow Communicants or whatever we were called for the occasion.  Everyone came out for this event,  cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, it was a big deal back then.  Or maybe they too were just looking forward to the great gathering afterward and the wonderful food.  Best of all for me there would be presents; kind of like a birthday in May instead of waiting till November.   And I was celebrating that I would be back in school with my friends that Monday, the next day and done with the Nuns.  At least for a time.

To every one's consternation, somehow, I managed to get loose before our grand  processional entrance  into the church.  And as evidenced in this "professional" photo, those white knee socks told the tale.  Of course being clever, I smudged them, thinking the dirt would rub away  but it didn't.  I can still see some of the Nuns scowling at me and "tsking.."  To top it all off, I managed to make a face such that it further reflected my issues of the week; here I was trying to be as proper as I could be, hiding my chin and cheek  dimples, not laughing too hard and somehow I came out looking like a baby hippo.  But here you have it, my First Holy Communion photo.....I think both my Grandmas nearly cried when they  first saw this.  But at least the snapshot at Grandma's house  was before dirt! There I am trying to look my sternest, trying not to make a face, but I was so repressed that I created a double chin....However the sparkles of the diamonds in the dress are there and I still have this prayer book somewhere in a drawer today.  I survived First Communion!

Click on the title to this post to get to the Sepia Saturday site, host blog where you can visit others in this international community.  

Monday, November 22, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving and Reverie

It's here the fall harvest feast time of  the year, when night comes too early and left overs make round two of eating as much fun as round one.  This year it will be easier, the numbers of  us who gather decline, sure it's less complicated but it's solemn too.  Just us, Jerry's mother and possibly a friend.   Taking his mother out to eat is not in the game plan. Life is now so different from the times and  the feasts I prepared all those years past  in Newcastle, CA where everyone gathered at our home and I cooked and entertained and complained about how much work it was.

 Back then we were just about ready to harvest the mandarins from our orchard; we both had day jobs but we had wonderful friends who would come up to the farm to help and of course they were part of our  harvest family.  Back then I was always at work (and not just a job  but a career that demanded much) and often I would be out of town right before the holiday on business.  One year in particular I got so weary that I declared I would not cook that year.  As I recall I had an overnight flight to DC for a meeting and then back  to Ca and I was not in a mood to shop and cook as well.  Jerry suggested we eat out and so we did.  I thought all along that surely someone else would step up and do the meal, sister in law who lived not too far away, someone?  Anyone?  No one did.  So Jerry, Steve and I dined at a very nice restaurant in Lincoln at the  something  or other Bridges golf course.  It was exquisite as I recall, we had a gorgeous table in the corner, by the windows and could look out over the  greens.  The only thing was there were no left overs and that weekend I ended up cooking a turkey anyway, it  just  hadn't seemed right. 

It's even different here from when we first moved and there were cousins around who journeyed to eat with us and spent the weekend or even those who just came over for dinner. Life has changed. They are no longer with us. We are the survivors.

Which brings me to  this year, here in MN just us, it really does not seem right but  given the option to eat out,  I always choose to cook. There is that option to purchase the ready  made meal from any number of grocery stores too and bring it home, but  somehow the ghost of Aunt Jinx haunts me and I cannot imagine doing that either.  Two friends in CA are  doing  so  and it will be interesting to see how that  works for them.  I can't imagine any prepared meal being as good as what I can cook, especially my delicious stuffing.   This is the curse of being a good cook and then some, I am very particular about food.

I bought a small turkey, only 13  pounds which will be more than adequate for  3 or 4 of us; there was the time when I would have a  20 pound bird and  ham besides, or a turkey and lamb roast.. Sometimes I could not even pick up the roaster pan with the humongous stuffed turkey.  Then one year, Jerry bought the turkey deep fryer and I was sure it would come to no good, so I cooked a ham as well, but the deep fried  turkey was delicious  and no one wanted ham.

I do not intend to whine and lament; I know we have much to be  thankful for, our health and  relative prosperity, all the good things and blessings that we should not take for granted.  Still I will and do miss the preparation, the hub bub. I'm humming  that song, "those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end...." Now that I have the time to do all that work and a perfect home with lots of room, it is no more. I love setting the table with the fine china and all the adornments.  I will do that despite our limited attendance.

I suppose I should give it up and agree to eat out, easier, but there is something about having the meal at home at leisure and those wonderful smells that fill the kitchen and waft elsewhere.  Jerry has suggested we begin to  consider being away somewhere in the motor home over the holiday, but that just does not sound right to me either.  But perhaps, I will accept that as something whose time has come another year.  

I often thought  it would be a good thing to work at a community dinner and help serve, such as they held at the Auburn Fairgrounds in CA or here in La Crosse.  But then I think all the crowds and work and standing would be too much and so I do  not go past a mere spurt of that thought.

I browsed through some photos looking for  ones of all the gatherings but could not find them; surely there must be at least one or two around, but then again, perhaps we were so busy we didn't photograph the events, predigital camera days.  We were so busy, we didn't think to record the grand feast for  posterity.  I guess we thought those days and times would always be with us, but so like all those we love who have left this planet, those times are done. I can only smile now thinking about them.

I have made great progress sorting and culling old photos but I am not yet done; when I can find  the subject matter I look for right when I am looking for it, like Thanksgiving I will know I am organized.     I try to remember Thanksgiving times from my childhood but  those days are just not coming into focus.  I know that we had gatherings and these were usually at another relative's home because Mom did not  like to cook for others.  My grandma did though and those feasts when everyone gathered around are clear to me.  Sometimes we ate at home by ourselves, when Mom was feeling reclusive or my step father was working an odd shift at the  steel mill  and those few times I recall as not fun.  I always liked being with my grandparents, cousins and the crowds.  I guess I have that Norman Rockwell photo in my head and always thought that is the way it should be.  It is not and now though I well know it, I long for the "days ago."    I wish a  very happy turkey time to all my bloggy  readers.  If you have created new traditions I would like to hear about them and your experiences.  For me, old habits die hard....

In closing here is a poem by Edgar Guest, lamentations on Thanksgivings ago.....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sepia Saturday Week 50 The Tady Twins (Click here

I can still hear the excitement in the voices when they talked about the Tady Twins, the Tady Boys as I was a  youngster.  They were twin boys born to my mom's (and aunt  and Uncle's) cousin, Helen Janosky, who married Jack Tady.  Last week you met again, Stella Janosky, who was Helen's sister.  So far I have not found a  single photo of Helen in all the  old photos of relatives, but she may be one of those whom I cannot identify.  It must have been fun for my Mom, also a Helen, to have a  close cousin with the same name.

But back to the twins, I wonder now,  knowing what I do about our  ancestry, why  these twins were such a wonder.  There is  plenty of history of twins in the Ostrowski (Ostroski, Ostrowsky, etc.) lineage.  But nevertheless, the Tady Twins were revered, by their grandparents  Mary and Tommy and the rest of the clan.   And unlike those from years past, both boys survived and thrived.  No wonder that  Mom shuddered thinking of what could have been when I would lament in my teen years, "I wish I were twins!"  My cry was because I could not be in two  places at one time and there was always something more where I wanted to be than where I was at the moment. Mom shuddered because she knew it could have happened, she could have had twin me's!

 Here they are, darling little guys, a Sepia  photo retrieved from PA, Mom's writing at the bottom.Look at the arms linked and one more serious than the other.

I know they were a couple years older than me and their names were Fred and Frank; one is still alive today I have learned, but I don't know where. Fred is dead, and I do not know which was whom.  But what a couple of cuties!  Their parents first child, their older brother, Tom has also passed on and his wife has not wanted me to post anything about them or him relaying this message through a new found cousin,  not even communicating to me directly  but since I do not know her and these  are  from my family and my memories, I am sharing.

The way I know they are older than me besides my research that shows they were born in 1942  is look at this next photo.  Yours truly is the youngest, wailing  perhaps and  subdued by Mom in  1945, among  several of my boy cousins. Check out those short pants and  shoes and socks.  The Tady twins are  to the right of  myself, one either very concerned  or asking Mom to do something with the noise.  Again I do not know which is Fred and which is Frank. The boys to the left  are the Mroz cousins from Wisconsin who were visiting all of us in PA.  Rollie is the  youngest, the farthest to the left also looking at me with great concern and his brother Jerry is  bearing up; he is older and likely wishing he did not have to be among the beasties~ I gave copies of this photo to both the Mroz cousins a few years back; Rollie who passed away last year got a big kick out of it and reminded me that I had tormented them all my life.   I keep this photo framed  and on my family display shelf; it is one of my favorites.  You heard some of my escapades when I arrived in WI with my grandma to visit the Mroz's my Great Aunt Francie, grandma's sister on a March Sepia post

  I only have one more Tady photo and I am sure that  Jack, their father and Helen's husband has passed on, but I found this one from 1956 taken at my Grand Aunt Mary's during a family gathering...there were so many people there that the lawn chairs had to be brought inside the house to seat everyone.  Darn, wish I had a  Helen Janosky Tady photo here also  (I learned through research that  she passed away in this last year in a care facility in PA.  I leave this Sepia Post with Jack Tady, father of the boys!  Notice the look on his face, wonder who he was watching, maybe it was one of us kids!

As always, click on the title or here to get to the Sepia Saturday post site where you can browse through and visit others in the international community.   We celebrate  our 50th week this week!  What a journey!

Magpie 41 Grandpap's Pick Axe

I cannot explain why this came into my head and to the keyboard with this week's Magpie Prompt, but we all can look at the same object and see different things in our imaginations; maybe you cannot see this in the picture but I did and here is my vignette for Magpie

In a far corner of the basement, deep into what was once the coal cellar, barely visible from the dim light that reflected in through the block glass window, I found Grandpap's miner's  pick axe, hobbled by spider webs, speckled with rust on the barren head and long forgotten.  Behind it on the wall  an old tin mirror  reflected the worn handle and  the somewhat  splintered metal of the axe head, aong with another odd  piece of iron pipe .  How many whacks had this axe taken at walls  freeing how many  pounds or  lumps of coal buried deep in the earth?  How many miles had Grandpap trudged axe over his shoulder, metal lunch pail in the other hand, dirty boots laced tightly on his feet to another  day down the dirt or muddy road in the mining camp from the shack that was their home, on toward the mine, the hole in the ground.  

He told me tales when I was  growing up about their life in the mines unless Grandma overheard and chastened him. "Pap, don't you talk about that with her!" I loved the stories, they were our secret.   I remember the pride still in his face when he told me that he'd  bought his own axe, purchased with scrip at the company store, the only store in  the coal town; let those other miners  use the poor tools the company furnished, not my Grandpap!  He wanted his very own axe, a solid one, one that would do a good days work, one that he knew was safe and  well cared for, not a cheap one where the  head could fly off and  take vengeance on the unsuspecting miner's skull.  No, my Grandpap knew about tools and  caring for them and valued ownership. 

He'd talk of how the coal dust covered the miners so that he emerged from working, his face like a "czardnja" the Polish word for  black person, black surrounding those bright blue  eyes.  As he got older, nary a grey or silver hair lightened  his full head of coal black hair and he would laugh that the coal dust had so stayed in his  blood that it darkened  his blonde hair black transforming him  from a blonde boy to a  czardnja ( black) head.  Strangely this reflects in me  today as I age and my hair gets darker, stumping my hair dresser; most  people get grey with age not darker.  I who have never been in a mine or around coal dust wonder about genes, could the coal dust  have stayed in the blood stream of descendants?

He told me tales of being on strike and of fighting off the scabs who'd try to break the picket lines, boasting how he a loyal union member would bust them a good one if they got near his part of the line.   He  told me how happy he was when he got the job in the factory, never more to have to go down the mine shaft, pick axe no more to strike the dark walls; but he'd kept the axe.  Strange to find the axe here, a dim reflection in  the  tin mirror. Grandpap's been gone since 1961. 

Grandpap was never one to squander or waste anything, there would always be another   use for it someday so here it was.  I have just the spot at home in my rose garden for this, new  art decor, I'll  hang a bird feeder from the splintered long handle; Grandpap's  axe will see the light of day and recover from all that time spent in the dark.  A tool, still useful today, that someday for something else.  Grandpap would smile; he'd be  proud.  

As always click on the title to get to the Magpie host blog where you can browse thorugh ever so many more Magpie contributors..... or click here..

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Three reads

I have got to get his blog reorganized.  When I began to list my reads for tracking and sharing, I never thought I'd get so many, but I am pleased that I am cured (seems) of repurchasing the same books.  However I am  getting so many things on the side bars that it  is time to take some serious  redesign effort....sigh, another project pending.

Last night  I finished a James Patterson,  Alex Cross Thriller, "Cross Country."  I do love these Alex Cross novels and find them easy fast reading.  This one is published 2008 and I picked it up at a book sale for  50c paperback.  Devoured it in a couple nights.  In Cross Country Alex, the detective who gets into more  scrapes than James Bond  journeys to Africa, Nigeria to track a killer.  What he sees there changes everything for him.  Not to give away the story line, but it is up to date  leaving one wondering who are the good guys in the war on terror and just what is suppressed by the news today and what it not.  Highly recommend this  one along with any of Patterson's Alex Cross books. 

Just a few evenings ago after several weeks and a trip to PA where I had little to no time to read, I finished a very interesting historical novel, "Jackson" by Max Byrd. based on the life of Andrew Jackson, Old Hickory, courageous hero of the War of  1812 and  a President of our country.  I really enjoy historical novels and all history and this was not at all disappointing. Told over 421 pages, through the  voice of David Chase who has returned to the US from France and  is commissioned to write the biography of Andrew Jackson during the campaign for the presidency against John Quincy Adams.   It was published in 1997.  Byrd, the author was previously unfamiliar to me, but I would read his other works.  I found it interesting that he lives in Davis, CA.  His historical research is  intriguing and  yet he weaves interesting fictional characters throughout.  As I read I  thought that it could be written about politics today; all they lacked then was the speed of today's media.  The dirty  tricks, slanders, and viciousness of politics was out fully against Jackson.  This book gave me a perspective that I did not recall from studies.  Page 230 describes how times are changing in the country for this presidential election, "  That's how you win now in America, you  court the voters."  The reference to the wilderness struck me, "you can  ride for days in Pennsylvania and Kentucky and never hear English.  We cal it the melting pot."  And describing the deterioration of Mt. Vernon on page 231, he writes, "Through the trees Mt. Vernon had looked imposing, monumental.  Close up, however, the white facade was peeling in fist sized chunks, as if Time had strolled idly by swinging a hammer."

The writing is descriptive and excellent in parts.  The description of Washington, DC recalls the primitive roots of our country, unlike the bustle and  lavishness of today.   On page 56,  it is described with a .."town center, ....occasional rows of buildings, five or six at a time, then long open spaces like missing teeth"  and he goes on to  have a character say, "If America did not exist, a novelist would have to invent her."

 From the legendary creation of "OK", attributed to the illiterate Jackson  who it is said edited papers, with his  very limited reading abilities with the notation, "Oll Korrect" meaning all correct to the stories about his wife, Rachel,  who has a scandalous background, to the  Indian massacres to the battle of New Orleans and a successful presidential bid, this  novel about Jackson held my interest.  Max Byrd makes history alive and I recommend this one to anyone who enjoys history and has a basis for reference for it or recalling it.  Perhaps  anyone  unfamiliar  with  US history might not enjoy it as I did.  It is another of my book sale finds for $1.

And last only to document, though I cannot imagine ever repurchasing this one, the worst book I have read since I do not know when, "Forgiving Ararat" by Gita Nazareth.  We read this over the summer at  my women's book club at the Lutheran church.  We all struggled and protested while spending a couple months on it.  We were sold a bill of goods as it was touted as the Christian must read of the summer, presumptuously billed as the #1 Best Seller in Heaven.   I believe the author must have touted it as such.  It is a tale of the afterlife experienced by Brek Cutler, an attorney and young  mother who is murdered.  What she experiences in Shemaya,  is similar to the place Catholics recognize a purgatory but yet it was worse.  She is to work as an attorney,  a presenter in this  afterlife, where peoples sins are replayed constantly, presented as the book explains.  If that does not sound like hell I don't know what would; can you imagine being touted forever more in the herafter by all you have done  wrong while on earth?  I would have tossed  this book aside if not for our book club commitment and in fact, some did not persevere to the end.  There are some tricky parts  where presenters names are Biblical spelled backwards, such as Luas for Saul, and  Legna for Angel, but it is beyond weird.   We welcomed guidance from the pastor at our last meeting  that  the gist was to  substitue love for justice.  Some puzzing themes of the book are often contrary to Christian teachings, i.e., God punishes children for the sins of the parents and birth is the earliest injustice to humanity.  A truly miserable read over 404 pages.  Even the author's name is a pseudonym; there is no information about him or her.  Don't waste your $$ on this one.

Monday, November 15, 2010

MAGPIE returns Broken necklace, broken promise (click here to Magpie blog)

This week I will try my spin to the Magpie prompt; fall has arrived  heavily here in MN and this photo made me think of a couple things because it reminds me of.......well read along to learn what fell into my head and  then to the keyboard.  Magpie offers a weekly prompt that bloggers use in their poem, story, vignette.....

We were done clearing out her home before turning it over to the estate sale professionals, I had chosen carefully among  the overflow of treasures limiting my compulsion to continue accumulating, because there is only so much I can continue to squeeze into our own home. I took one last quick  browse, despite Jerry's impatient plea,  "Come on now, how much stuff can you take!  Enough already, leave something for the sale."

I opened the carved oriental  box again but now  the bangle and beads popped out, contrasted against the black taffeta fabric.  I'd  passed over the silver pearls and burnished brass talisman before, forsaking it for my grandmother's wrist watch instead.  All trinkets  that Aunt Czoche had held onto over the many years.  But now at the last minute there it was, the bronze talisman with the demon dancing among the loose pearls.

Suddenly the childhood rhyme echoed back from years long  gone  through my mind,  pushing forward, to the front, like the  pearls in front of me now, the words  I'd made up while  helping Grandma scoop up the pearls that scattered across the carpet, when the string to her necklace  broke so very long ago.  Spontaneous poems were  frequent with us often with some help from Grandma and I saw us again picking up each loose  pearl  and placing them into Grandma's hanky, for safe keeping, someday to be restrung, that someday never came. She  couldn't afford to do that and I remember so distinctly telling her, "someday I'll get them restrung for you, Grandma..."  Long time ago, had not thought of if and yet now, the rhyme taunted me till I spoke it out loud:

"Pearls of silver,
Pearls of grey,
Dance with the demon
But only today.

Gems for the lady
Brass for the man
Dance of the demon
Watch while you can.

Pearls so silver
Pearls so grey
Dance of the demon
Chase him away..

Pearls all scattered
Pick them up now
Demons might dance
But we'll show you how!

One, two, three.......

Resurrection of the rhyme, one of the many we made up while we slapped jump ropes against the sidewalks, childhood refrains. We girls  challenged each other on who'd make  up the jump rope jingles  the fastest.  The broken strand of pearls were fresh in my mind that day so I shouted out the demon dance jump. Hadn't I been ahead of the curve even then, if only I'd put it to music, my jingle similar to "Devil went down to Georgia" by the  Charlie Daniels band the ring tone on my Blackberry today.

What else lurks behind the memory wall of my  mind to be retrieved by the sight of a long ago  familiar object?  Why think of it now, except that there were the pearls, still waiting to be restrung more than 60 years later.  I picked up the pearls and folded them into a handkerchief, stuffed them into my jacket pocket,  to be restrung someday very soon, along with the brass demon medallion.  I'd promised my grandmother I'd do that.  These could not be sold, they brought back memories and the reminder of the promise. Doesn't it all?

This is but one of the Magpie posts.  To see how others use the prompt click here and browse the Magpie site, which  has grown so much since my last  visit.....

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sepia Saturday,week 49 Stella Janosky (Click here to go to other posts of Sepia 49)

I had so  many choices for my return to  Sepia Saturday that it was difficult to choose until something happened that  fellow genealogists will appreciate and that brought me to feature Stella Janosky (1910--1987). I had a contact from a previously unknown cousin, on the Janosky side so began to try to update some of that information.   Stella was  a  daughter of my Grand/Great Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom Janosky, a very close cousin to Mom and Aunt Virginia (Jinx), Jinx' best friend too for a long time.  Aunt Mary was an Ostroski (Ostrowski) my grandma Rose's sister,  I introduced her on Sepia Week  18; that sure seems a long time ago now, but it was only April

Stella  was the first daughter and third child born to Mary and Tommy Janosky.   She never married, the only one of her eight  brothers and sisters to remain single, she lived at home with Mom and Dad all her life.   Here is Stella  with her suster Josephine who married a Mentecky.  I am guessing that this photo dated about 1930 when Stella was 20 and Josephine was 18.  It is the hairstyles that make me think that and the dresses.  Mom's handwriting is on the photo but I found this at my Uncle Carl's home this trip.  Don't know how  he got it, but being Mom's brother and also a cousin to the  Janosky girls it's explainable.  I wonder if my Uncle Carl was not going to sketch these cousins as he was an artist and I found a portfolio of  his sketches done after Worlkd War II.  There were none of these girls, but many others.    I love this photo and the  gold leaf scroll work bordering it.  Wish Mom had not written across it, but at least this identifies who they are.  We saw some of Stella with the cousins back on the July  4th photos

 Stella and my aunt Jinx were very close and traveled around together.  They did have their spats off and on though, kind of the way sisters do.  Stella was especially fond of my grandma, too.  I remember seeing Stella in church and she would always  flutter a handkerchief towards us during mass to acknowledge that she saw us.  This next photo is about 1941  of Stella and my Aunt Virginia.  They both worked at Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company and this  5" x 7" photo is sealed in a 1 inch thick hunk of gorgeous cut beveled  glass.  I have never seen anything else like glass encased photo  among the family collection and I wonder if they got a discount at the glass factory to do this?  Kind of unusual, don't  you think. 

Stella and Virginia traveled to Milwaukie to visit their aunt Francie Mroz and family together and somewhere there are many of those photos, to be scanned.  These two cousins were the single ones for a long time until Virginia married John in  the  late 50's.  That put an end to their days together, I know. 
Last but not least, here is myself, approximately January--March  1945,   a balmy day  by the  dresses without coats although I am bundled up.  Stella is  holding me, with Mom standing alongside her.    They said she always volunteered to watch me, but  my Grandma never needed the help. 

The last photo is just of Stella and me. I look a bit worried about something.  I lost track of Stella as I grew up seeing less and less of her, and of course by my teen years  I was not   much for family visits other than those that were mandatory.  I had other things to do as a teenager.   By the time Stella died I was in California and I do not recall  any of the details about her death.   I wonder  now about her life, was she satisfied to  be the maiden aunt to so many?   Was she ahead of her time?  

As always click on the title to this post above or here to link to the others who are sharing this week 49 on the Sepia Saturday link.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

PA Finds continue

I was contacted by another previously unknown cousin from the Janosky clan, who is also in PA and who found me through web browsing and the post I shared about the 4th of July on Sepia Saturday 30 posted here on July 2. My new found cousin, Karen is retired and lives in PA and was interested in the information I had about our great grandfather, Frank Ostrowski, etc.  She knew next to naught about her father's side of the family because he and  they were estranged from his clan.

 Darn, we had just returned home from PA, but maybe next time we can connect in person. I was excited to have a contact to help me with some of the Janosky lineage and then, Karen sadly relayed with some embarrassment,  that some of the relatives she did contact  "do not want anything posted or shared on Ancestry," etc. Since they have provided nothing to me, ever and don't even know me,  I don't quite fathom  what they think will happen.  I suspect this means they want to remain private and keep hiding themselves without contact from the likes of me. Well I am a resourceful researcher and can find things without them and I am not going to cease researching because unknown folks get their dithers in a tither! :) Karen and I agreed "well and oh ...and that's how weird the family can be." Her own father, who  is my Mom, aunt, uncle's cousin and a son of Grand Aunt Mary (my Grandma Rose's sister) and Uncle Tom Janosky  had limited to no interaction with his own family after marrying though he lived near by. Reportedly Great Aunt Mary did not like his wife.  How often have I heard that tale in life?  What strange people to allow such rifts to tear them apart from their families, such losses in their lives. I am beginning to think this is a latent  curse of the Pollocks; these people are all part of the Ostrowski aka Ostroski clan.

  Is there something genetic here, or is it just as I suspect people who are uninformed ignore or fear what they do not know and have little curiosity to reach beyond themselves and expand their worlds.  The  relative who protested married in and so is not part of the genetic heritage.  I think it is just strangeness.  Whatever. 

But back to the reclusive relatives, I guess people who don't understand the Internet are frightened of it.  They hear all these tales of identity theft, etc and so it goes.  I do not have the kind of personal information that would cause hardships to these folks and though I was shrugging, I decided that I will not stop sharing on Sepia whatever I want to. The photos I have of family  and my  recollections and tales will go up despite their protests, they are my photos and my memories and history  and I will publish them as I wish.

This does make me wonder though about family falling outs.  I have a cousin, Sharon,  who found me when we lived in CA,  also on the Ostrowski side living in PA  from whom I have heard not a word for almost two years now.  Without reason she quit communicating though as far as I know she lives in Natrona Heights today still and her husband is on Facebook. we used to visit when we went to PA, dine with them, etc.  Last year no Christmas card, nothing.  I have tried to call Sharon and no answer on her phone and she does not return calls nor respond to email. I cannot imagine what would have set her  off in a snit and I do hope nothing is wrong, but after making calls and sending cards and letters to no avail and no response, I get the hint!  Who knows what turns peoples' heads.  I find this strange behavior.

This trip to PA at Uncle's home I found some wonderful old books on his shelves and brought a few back home to MN.  I know nothing about any of these books but could not resist them, printed in 1915, 1916, 1942  and 1943, with wonderful photos in the fronts, gorgeous  inside covers with sketches and engraved covers which are heavily worn.  They had them for a long time of that I am certain.

 I have added to my library "Just David"  by Eleanor H. Porter, 1916 published by Houghton Mifflin Co and offering a $25  prize to readers.   Look at the gorgeous scene that was printed in  green on the inside of the book which is partially obscured by this prize offering.   

Then there is "Michael O'Halloran" by Gene Stratton-Porter and illustrations by Frances Rogers,  Printed by Doubleday, Page & CO in 1915.  The lovely color print inside has the caption "Just by the merest chance, could your name be Mickey?    There is a name written  inside, "W.C.Brust, October 11, 1915, Arnold, PA,"  who must have owned the book originally.  And  again notice the lovely green etchings along the opening pages.  Oh these books must have been treasures in their day.  I hope the pages hold together while I read them.    

The "Prodigal Women" by Elizabeth Nowell Perkins was printed in 1942 and sports a cover  with a note that it is a Book Club Edition.  And finally "Hungry Hill" by Daphne du Maurier another Book Club edition printed in 1943.  At least I am familiar  with this author, but the cover is a gorgeous print of intriguing characters.  I have many books on my shelf awaiting reading, so these  four join that collection, but I am looking forward to the  pleasure  of delving into these old books.  The Kindles and Nooks cannot provide the pleasure of a solid book in the hands.   But then I think you have to really be a reader as I have been all my life to appreciate these!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blog Gremlins

I have just written a  very long post catching up on   my life over the past week and it has disappeared!!!!!!!!

GRRRRR for the Bloggy  gremlins.  I can't believe I lost the whole thing.  No time to recreate it now! 

It had all the news about why I have not had time to post....SHOOTS!!!