Friday, January 31, 2014

Sepia Saturday 213 Traveling bags, packed and ready to go

Intrigued by the image, I was certain of what to share this week;  somewhere here carefully placed where I did not look, we have a  vintage straw rattan type small suitcase that could match the prompt.  It belonged to my late Uncle Carl and accompanied him on many auto trips, on the back seat handy to access and packed with snacks, treats, flashlights, compass and a small portable radio and other miscellany.  Whether he went for the day or weeks the rattan case went along making a target for comments from his wife and sisters. He laughed that he did it because it gave the "women something to talk about." 

3 vintage 1940's era suitcases which today hold old
photos and memorabilia
We have a collection of suitcases from vintage to today's lightweights, including most of my 1962 white leather Samsonite set which I received upon high school graduation.  Most are used today for storage, especially those vintage ones from my family that today hold photos and memorabilia...if those bags could talk, what tales they could tell, they are truly Sepians and have traveled miles and miles  around this country and Canada.  

 But since I did not find what I intended I became nostalgic (distracted) looking over a 1990 album with photos from one of our Caribbean cruises.  Here in the cold arctic winter with far excessive  sub zero temperatures, looking through photos of warm seas and warmer climates was a good indoor activity.  

Here we are, dragging some bags  in San Juan Puerto Rico, October of 1990 about to board our ship for the Caribbean cruise marking our 23rd anniversary.  I had written alongside this photo that with connecting flights from California when this photo was taken I had been awake for 27 continuous hours while Jerry had no problem sleeping on the planes or while we were waiting for the connections.  

or in sepias
Our ship Carnival Lines, Festivale
  It was a typical touristy vacation cruise  with multiple routine island stops, St Thomas, St Maarten, Barbados, Aruba along the way.  Today I am not interested in that type of itinerary, nor commercial activity, with crowds all around but 23+years later, I  prefer something a bit more relaxing, sedate,  more Sepian if you will.    But  that was then when I was far more attracted to tourism and shopping which was the first thing I did when we disembarked in St Thomas. 

I noted that this stroller on the main street of St Thomas was
singing a tune and in a happy mood. I loved her and still smille

recalling her joi d'vivre

It didn't take me but a minute or two to lose Jerry who figured
I would be checking out the jewelry counters in one of the many
stores along that street.  Here he is looking for me
He caught me in the act.  I had found just the "perfect" blue topaz
ring set in gold at Sensations Jewelers.  I was sure the price was a great bargain.
"I"ll take it " said I as he caught up.
I have that ring today and still admire the blue topaz stones.  There you are, first few photos  from that voyage.    

"Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go.  But no matter the road is life."        Jack Kerouac

For other Sepian takes on the prompt go to the website and tour along

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Keep learning it's the only way to live

“Anything that you learn becomes your wealth, a wealth that cannot be taken away from you; whether you learn it in a building called school or in the school of life. To learn something new is a timeless pleasure and a valuable treasure. And not all things that you learn are taught to you, but many things that you learn you realize you have taught yourself.”  C. JoyBell C.

Adam set up the new PC and tuned the laptop while data
transfer was underway
After pondering it took only a quick browse at Best Buy last Thursday to find just the laptop PC I wanted to replace the older one.  A new HP Envy Touchscreen, 23 inch with Windows 8 and more bells and whistles than I need but certainly a techie dream and a means to keep me busy in place when the snow blows outside as it is doing today.  We have had good luck with our Hewlett Packard computers so we stuck with that brand.

I have heard so many complaints about Windows 8 but when I saw and tried the Envy I could not fathom why.  The geeks tell me it is because people try to run windows 8 on older PC's, models without  all the smart touch technology. That sounds odd to me because most reputable places will advise consumers that software is not going to work well with this or that.  Still, I know people tend to ignore expert advise and tinker and likely make more problems for themselves.   I will take them at their word.  

Although I am fascinated and learning more every day, I have not had a bit of trouble.  I attribute that to my frustration a couple years back when I converted from my Blackberry phone to the Samsung smart and the Samsung tablet.  Back then I used every word and then some aabout the tablet especially.  But it was a learning curve and now today I am better off for it.  Once again one of my grandma's old sayings, "whenever you struggle remember you are learning and good will come of it if you just keep on at it."  Perseverance and victory.  

When Adam left Saturday after the installation and fine tuning, he reminded me that the Envy would be doing multiple updates and not to be surprised if it restarted itself many times,  He was so right, it is just like a new baby learning to walk,,,updates and then some.  If the updates are not from HP they are from Microsoft or Trend.  But we are humming along.  For a time I will keep the old PC here because it is just like anything else, the minute you get rid of something you need it.  All files appear to have been transferred, but just in case.  However, it's a relief to know ultimately it will go to Best Buy where they will recycle it, free. 

Meantime this is how the weather looks outside yet again today as another Canadian clipper sweeps low.  But with the new Envy and the new to me software, Adobe photo shop, that came along with I am engrossed and more than entertained.   I have always believed once people stop learning they are doomed, some wait and claim to be too old and sure enough they aged poorly but many quit learning as young adults thinking they are now out of school, etc.  

“The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
― T.H. WhiteThe Once and Future King 

Friday, January 24, 2014

212 Sepia Saturday Snow shoes and snow, yes!

Serendipity thrives betwixt  me and Sepia. Last weekend I had my first experience whilst spending this winter here in the Minnesota arctic north, I snow shoed.  I  have been curious about snow shoes ever since we moved here and well what better time than now to try it our while we are in the midst of polar clippers, non stop frigidity and  some sunshine on diamonds in the snow. Fresh powder snow doesn’t just look beautiful, it also swallows noise, making everything impossibly silent. But walking through deep snow is so strenuous that it’s nearly impossible to enjoy this simple pleasure — unless you strap on a pair of snowshoes.  Now  for the Sepianness, I found lots of information about snow shoes, that I never knew.  For example, did you know they were likely invented in northern Asia perhaps 6,000 years ago and then brought across what was at the time the Bering land bridge between Siberia and Alaska by the native Inuits and Native Americans when they migrated.  Because the materials don't last that long, there is no archaeological evidence. An interesting website is:  

Add caption
While these are not  Sepian photos by age but are current, taken right here in La Crescent, MN on January 18 and 19,  2014, this is me on my first snow shoe attempts.  I learned that it is easier on top of icy or packed snow, which provides a base for he shoes to glide, so it was far easier in the woods behind our home.  I shared more photos of my expedition on Facebook.  Here I am  strolling along the side of our home, as I came up the hill.  This year I believe I am wearing out my parka it has been arctic frigid and we have not been able to snowbird south as weather is not giving a break now. 

Me in the front of the house atop the mounds and hills of snow
On our visit to the Anchorage Alaska museum in August where we spent merely half a day and could have spent much more time  had massive  exhibits of the old wooden snow shoes used by the Natives. When I read that the Inuit and Athabascans, Algonquin, Attikamek, Cree, Naskapi, Labrador and Iroquois mastered the development of snowshoe making using various wooden weaving, I reflected on today's  snowshoes of different materials.   

Wooden and woven Native American snowshoe

Although snowshoes were also used in Europe, mainly in the Alps and Scandinavia, their development was not as sophisticated as of those across the Atlantic. In Europe there was a stronger focus on the development of skis to facilitate walking and traveling through deep snow. The snowshoe, in its advanced form, was introduced in Europe only when the first settlers brought them back from North America around 1600.  

My  snow shoes which I rented for the weekend were made of sturdy but very light weight aluminum with web fasteners and grippers  on the bottom. 
Sideways shot of my foot in the snowshoe
 It is almost easier, I believe,  to cross country ski to glide quickly so I can understand why skis were used in Europe and other parts of the world. Snow shoes require a lifitng of the feet and perhaps it is a bit more tiring.   Yet snow shoes played an integral part of the settling of the United States and were extensively used by the trappers and fur traders in these northern states.   Settlers usually bought their snowshoes from the Native Americans. Ironically, that a Native American invention helped European settlers spread across this continent.
Uncle Carl and horse drawn sleigh

To keep the Sepia theme, I share photos from the late 1930's in Pennsylvania and while not of snowshoes, they reflect winter and the one horse open sleigh.  These are of my late Uncle Carl and an unidentified man who were sleighing to get around and it looks as though they had at least one stop for adjustment to the horse or harness.   
Something needed fixed and it looks like
the horse stood for the repair
Was it really such fun to ride in a one horse open sleigh?
This  is my contribution to this week's theme.  To see what others in the international realm have contributed, go to the site at this link

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sepia Saturday 211 World War I Unknown Soldier in my family

Sepia Serendipity is fully functioning this week; I was  puzzling once again over the photo of the unidentified young man in WWI  attire and what is the prompt for the week but World War I, the Great War as it was called then and now.  I believe I have shared my strange soldier before here but do so again along with the post card in the same album.  

The postcard features doughboys singing "Over There." A historical film clip on  YouTube  shows the US war declaration as Bill Murray, scratchy sound sings Over There.

On the morning of April 6, 1917, newspaper headlines across America announced  that the United States had declared war on Germany after years of attempted neutrality. While most people who read the newspaper headlines that morning tried to comprehend how their lives were going to change, one man started humming. That may seem like an odd reaction to most people, but not for George M. Cohan, actor, singer, dancer, songwriter, playwright, and Broadway producer who had composed hundreds of songs, famous songs as “You're a Grand Old Flag,” “Give My Regards to Broadway,” and “I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy.” So it is not completely surprising that Cohan's reaction to the morning headlines was to hum. By the time Cohan arrived at work that morning, he already had the verses, chorus, tune, and title of  "Over There." It  was an instant success, selling over two million copies by the end of the war. Perhaps the most popular version of "Over There" was sung by Nora Bayes, but Enrico Caruso and Billy Murray also sang renditions.

The song is about the "Yanks" (i.e. Americans) going "over there" (i.e. across the Atlantic) to help fight the "Huns" (i.e. the Germans) during World War I. In 1936, Cohan was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for writing the song. 

 The chorus lyrics:
Over there, over there
Send the word, send the word over there

That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming
The drums are rum-tumming everywhere

So prepare, say a prayer
Send the word, send the word to beware

We'll be over there, we're coming over
And we won't come back till it's over over there.
Over there.

The mysterious soldier is a full Sepia with only 1919 written on the back.  I have wondered about him ever since I found this wonderful album kept by my grandmother and late aunt.  Many photos lack names; they never thought so many years down the road I would be pondering.  Because he is in the section of photos of my late 2nd cousin and  my Grandma Rose's niece Annie Ostroski Kaluzny Gorlewski. I strongly suspect he may be Annie's first husband, Frank Kaluzny.  I found Frank's WWI Draft enlistment on dated  June 15, 1917.  It was interesting that the handwriting on that card noted his citizenship "by virtue of father's papers."  Frank was born in Austria Poland) in 1887 and immigrated to this country with his parents. He died in 1927 in a Base Hospital and his grave marker identifies him as Private, U S Army.  He and Annie married August 1919 and had two sons Raymond and Frank. Annie who was my grandmother's favorite niece  said she had been a widow before she married her 2nd husband.  So salute to this man and the many millions of others who served in that War that was to end all wars.  Would that it had.  

This is my Sepia post for the week.  Visit the site to see what else is on about history and the Great War and other posts this time.   I hope this link works, strange Blogger again

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Electronic vibes and white air blips

Yesterday this old desktop, HP PC gave me a plateful of fits seasoned with the "shoulda's" and basted in "been meaning to's".   Saturday was the last I'd used it  and all was as well as it can be.  For one the Internet Explorer has long been non-interfaceable (recognizable, acceptable) with Google which is how I access my gmail and this blog and it is impossible on Facebook where I try to keep up with folks around the world.  Well not to be stopped, I switched primarily to Chrome and all was well.   
Yes,  I have been talking about replacing this HP since fall, truthfully for a year or so, how time flies.  Well then again, it could wait until after we return, supposing we get southbound soon, maybe this summer. I come from a family of people who used things up, fixed them to last and am happily married to a fixer upper all around handy person.  So just because it's older, why can't it last?  But oh no, electronic consumerism imps  and ever changing Microsoft  discourage longevity--buy new, upgrade, replace...that's the melange of these times.  

We have a lap top and Samsung tablet and smart phone but this old desk top is where I  do most of my blogging, photo work and is the keeper of data on Quicken.  It's 8 years old, well past it's prime and despite upgrades and now plenty of excess memory, even my buddies at the Geek Squad have cautioned, "It's Window's XP and there's only so much that can be done."  Yeah, yeah I know but as long as merrily we rolled along, I could make do.  

But yesterday morning it had no Internet access neither through Explorer nor Google Chrome.  I was off to the Y and  thought nothing of it, until later that afternoon, same scenario.  So I called our friendly ISP, Ace, could they be down?  After several busy signals I was sure that would be so but if so, why not the other  computers, on our network?  After a connecting with the technician who was unaware of any system wide outages and who walked me through some pinging and preliminary diagnosis of the router, we reached a blank wall.  This followed with the nasty revelation that all the network device drivers were blank, gone, fitzed out to a white as the snow today.  WTH? He could do no more  but suggested it needed a trip to the fixit shop, Geek Squad here we come tomorrow will be soon enough. 

Jerry who is excellent with all things electronic tinkered too and same result, zero, zippo, nada, naught, kaput.  Curiously all the software worked, it just lacked connectivity.  Other attempts were to repeat the unplugging router and computer, restarting, to no result. With a reluctant sigh I acknowledged maybe this was it, the end, time to buy that new one with the swipe monitors and Windows 8.  This old buggy could not  be upgraded to Windows 7 and so the XP was it's lifeline a time long past maybe the white winter had seeped into its bones.

But this morning we awoke to another blanket of white that started overnight and just kept on coming down...not the prime weather for me to be out computer shopping.    Just yesterday it was greatly melted but I spoke too soon besides, the SUV was washed.    So today all is white and the wind is blowing sideways.  A winter white that was to stop by noon did not get the message, instead has not relented all day.  Well if the old XP was deserting me I'd best hook up the external drive and back up the works again.  This is another occasional challenge where sometimes the ancient one recognizes the USB drive and other times it takes hours to be coaxed to do so.  On a whim I clicked on to the Geek Squad log in as I sat down to get it backing up.  

What a surprise it connected to Geek Squad.  How? Could it be the air gremlins or the electrons vibrating, those mysterious befuddlers that generate nasty language?  I tried the Internet, bingo right there.  I logged out restarted and again it worked.  So here I am, blogging away about impossibilities of logical explanations.  And just as mysteriously this AM all the network devices and drivers are showing up right where they should be.  While I am elated, I know it is only a matter of time and a replacement is imminent.  After all, I've been meaning to.........

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sepia Saturday 210 Old books, photos and memories

This week's prompt appeals to me because I am a book lover a genealogist, amateur historian, and love to share family stories here.  It symbolizes memories drawn from discoveries over the last several years, with the passing on of elderly relatives, finding those old photos or documents was the good in the grief...just wish there were someone to ask about those new to me treasures. Wistful too because there will be no more discoveries in the backs of closets of relatives who have completed their earthly journeys, all having gone on now.  Well, I might rediscover something again here among our troves of albums and photos, something perhaps forgotten that reveals itself  while I hunt for something else.

Today I'm sharing a few photos from Jerry's album that was kept by his paternal grandmother, Emma Morrison who lived in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  When Emma died in 1987 at age 91, one of the aunts thoughtfully sent the album to us in California.  When that brown manila envelope arrived in the mail it was a most welcome surprise for which we remain grateful today.   Remember these, black papers with the  corner holders for photos, tied with a cord...Jerry was born in 1937 so this album, handsome still today,  is at least that old and if Emma had it before that date we will not ever know.  It's   brown leather with gold embossing, an iconic Indian in canoe, so reflective of Wisconsin, this Midwest, historical hearkening  to the era of fur traders.  In genealogy research we have learned a lot more about Emma Walker Morrison than Jerry ever knew, she was born in 1896 in Iowa in what was "Indian Territory" to a mother, Eva Mae who would abandon her and her sisters sometime before their father, William Walker, died.  Eva Mae herself  was a fascinating colorful character for those times, a brazen woman, she married many times, chased men it seems and  traveled or roamed  a wide area, from Iowa,  Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, the entire midwest.  But that is another long tale to be told later.  

Inside of the album cover is a  careful record of Jerry and his lucky number "7" in white ink, Emma's writing, she began in August when her newest grandson was 3 months old.  Jerry was so amazed when  he received this,  things he never knew.  His mother and father separated and divorced  and his mother as I have written before would not win motherhood awards and was not really playing with a full deck.  When we told her about this gift, she was quite snippy, I suppose she wondered just what the in laws might have written about her, but the Morrison's were not into gossip.  Emma was quite the woman, volunteering over 8000  hours to the Veteran's Administration in Tomah Wisconsin, we learned in her obituary.  She was an animal lover and requested memorials be to the Humane Society when she passed on.  
Jerry was in touch with his Morrison grandparents, especially Emma.  Here is a photo page from the album, appently Emma had a cat named Tom, and she was amused to have a photo of Tom and Jerry.  The photo on  the right that shows Jerry as a baby with his parents.  Emma labeled  all photos carefully.  76 years later the album is a testament to her efforts.  
Album page

The last  two photos  are of Jerry with Emma, the first from the album, 1937 and the last in 1980 one of our trips to this area, he always went to see his grandmother Emma Morrison.  I am glad that I got to meet her. 

This is my Sepia Post.. Blogger is acting up so the photos are not labeled individually. To see what others are sharing go to the Sepia site at

Monday, January 6, 2014

Clear to go but now waiting out the weather

Notice the truck tracks on our frozen Mississippi backwaters
transporting those who drove to their ice fishing huts

So here we are centuries after William Shakespeare wrote in As You Like It about winter, "Thy breath be rude" we agree.  Inhuman, I say.  Winter has arrived with an icy grip but we are warm and comfy inside our home. Here along the mighty Mississippi, the river has frozen and the river barge traffic has long ago ceased, the waters are still and white all along.  Winter's metaphors often reference the stillness, sense of silence and darkness, a season of hibernation, a season where everything dies a little. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, "The falling snow is a poem of the air,..where the "troubled sky reveals the grief it feels." That is a fitting sentiment as we marked three more  deaths in December, one anticipated a blessing after her long suffering, one sudden and most unexpected and the third a surprise perhaps not so unexpected with the person's illnesses the past years.  All were too young, or "not that old" as my Mom would say when she reached her 70's; one my contemporary from high school in Pennsylvania another only 74.  Winter with its cold and darkness aptly describes death and yet it is a respite for the year. In "January" John Updike wrote about the lack of sunlight in winter: "The days are short,   The sun a spark,  Hung thin between The dark and dark." Long freezing winter nights and crisp winter days can evoke harsh feelings among the people who endure them, but not all poets consider winter a bleak and lifeless season. My favorite poet, Robert Frost's "Dust of Snow," a crow’s movements cause snow to dust the speaker passing under a tree, and this dust "Has given my heart / A change of mood / And saved some part / Of a day I had rued." 
For my fellow bloggers not on Facebook, I passed my colonoscopy with an all good to go, clear, victoriously, flying colors and hope I get another 10 year pass until the next exam.  I will say the prep was easier than what I had 10 years ago and I was able to get a good night's sleep until I had to arise at 5:00AM to drink the remaining clearing solution.  At the hospital wing waiting area, holding my "traveling bag"so named by the nurse who processed me aboard, in it my clothing as I had stripped into the ugly hospital gown and robe the common dress of the women in the room.   I read and talked with another patient through her sign language interpreter, that woman was also named Patricia; soon another patient arrived to wait and she too was Patricia.  I have not been with so many like named women before.  Whenever a nurse came for Patricia we made sure by last name which of us was next.  Finally it was my turn to walk down to what would be my procedure room and climb into the bed which the thoughtful nurses had heated with a warm blanket and  then quickly piled some toasty blankets atop me, hospitals are always cold.  They hooking me up to all sorts of medical measurement equipment.  My doctor was a pleasant young woman, at least she looked young to me, an  Italian immigrant who apologized for being late to  proceed with me but explained that there had been issues with the  previous patient that took some time to resolve.  I assured her I expected to make it easy for her, in and out and done in no time so she would not miss lunch; by this time it was 11:30 and I had been admitted at 10:00AM. Moreover, I was hungry for lunch now.   She laughed and the next thing I knew it was time to awaken.  She said she easily removed 3 tiny sessile polyps, minute in size only 1 and 2 mm, or Millimeter which measures length; she sent the tissue for a pathology examination but she did not anticipate any problems and I would receive a follow up recommending my next exam and my primary care doctor would already have the electronic access o the results.  Technology abounds.  She provided a written report to the nurse who passed it along to me after I dressed for my exit. I have since learned that my tiny polyps were something that might not be spotted (ahem) but for the state of the art equipment of Mayo and the specialists.  

Back deck thermometer through kitchen window
8:15 this morning, sub zero has arrived
Now we are keeping a careful watch on the weather as our temperatures fell  well below zero overnight and the south eastern parts of the country all are experiencing very low temperatures. I have never before experienced these sub zero temperatures, all the more reason to stay comfy inside, marking another first for me.  We had been planning a departure about January 16 right  after my last meeting of the Diabetes Prevention Program at the YMCA.  But now we are watching for better weather. 

2013 at Easthaven.  Icicles hanging from the
wheels covers on our coach. Here in MN it
has its own house and is not exposed to harsh elements.
Last year we spent a week at Easthaven, just outside Memphis, TN waiting out the ice storm that was devastating the area and making for treacherous driving conditions in an area not equipped to handle it.  Then when we did get going we drove through snow in northern Mississippi.  It was not an experience we want to repeat.  Jerry said, why try to drive the rig and toad (tow vehicle for those unfamiliar with RV style lingo)  for two days to sit in ice, we are better off right here at home, cozy and warm and not having to go out in the frigidity arctic temps.    
2013 last  year through the windshield of our motor coach on
I55, northern Mississippi.   
So we wait patiently and keep warm and I keep busy with many projects including writing on my blog. I see I  need to remove the Christmas and Santa from the right side here, tomorrow perhaps. A lesson I have learned  to perfect in retirement, I don't have to complete all tasks in one day, tomorrow's another day.