Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Little Writing

I was gearing up to do my Saturday cleaning this morning, but I had taken it easy, reading and sipping coffee and taking numerous breaks to pet my cats and look out at the back yard birds at the feeders and birdbath. A little story, or perhaps you could call it a little vignette kept going through my head until I gave in to it, and came to my computer to write it down. Here it is:

They got along well except for a few issues. One that seemed to be a niggling thing, yet, if you think about it, showed a substantial difference in their survival concepts, was how they dealt with running out of things.

Both of them had the educated middle class fear of doing without. They neither of them had gone through the Depression, and they lived in a society of total gluttony. This ignorance of real poverty coupled with the present frenzy of purchasing and ownership, made them hoard. He hoarded and hid, she counted and organized – and herein lies their humorous paradox. He, in his anxiety of looking and finding no more, had the habit of stashing those necessities and comforts – toilet paper, medicine, coins, in places he swore he’d remember. Then, when one of those items was needed, but somehow had not been replenished, he would scurry around from one hiding place to another until he proudly produced the wanted item against all odds. In that fashion, he could sleep peacefully knowing he never REALLY ran out of anything. There was always some of any item somewhere in the house that he could, with a little digging, find. He had staved off the black dog of want in his own mind, in this fashion.

He also had the habit of throwing very little out, including crumpled papers, receipts, pens that no longer worked, cryptic notes he had written himself in his crabbed and unreadable script. These items would get stuffed haphazardly into the same places he counted as legitimate for stashing necessities – and they lived an uncomfortable existence, jostled together.

He left change – coin change – everywhere. He threw it in drawers. He tossed it behind him into the cavernous and littered area behind his seat when he drove through fast food joints and toll booths. Cleaning out any area he frequented involved a money-making proposition, albeit of not much amount. When he came home from work, he threw all his coins into whatever desk drawer or pen cup was nearest him, as he divested himself of the world in preparation for the evening at home.

She was the exact opposite. Her goal, and one of the things she most enjoyed, was to produce order out of chaos; to put all of like items together in one place so that they could be readily procured; also so they could be admired in their plenty, since she almost never had one of anything and certainly never bought just one of anything. She had experienced a fairly prosperous and sheltered childhood in a large comfortable home with two relatively stable parents. Where she came by the need to know there was an unending font of supply of those things she valued, I can’t say. Having never done without, but having read extensively, perhaps her imagination was enough to tell her she never wanted to face an absence of her treasured things. In truth, and she knew it, she was far too enamoured of things, and far too fearful of losing them. Given these propensities, she would, once a week during cleaning and organizing, collect all the change from all the nooks and crannies in his areas, and secrete it in her coin jar. She reveled in putting all the pens she could find around the house, in one drawer. Labeling was another valuable aspect of her activity. It was a challenge to find all the flotsam and jetsam of their daily lives and categorize it, file it away safely. She was very thorough. When the mail came, she would open it all right there, immediately discarding the inserts and envelopes that were unnecessary additional trash and clutter, leaving only the bare bones of the (mostly) bills.

She would start in his room first, hang up the tangle of clothes he had tossed everywhere, scheduling for the wash even the things he had worn for a brief time. In the process of restoring order, her troubled spirit would be quieted. The very action of clearing the bed of debris and clothes had a soothing effect, as if, by her actions within her home, she could make their effect felt all around the world, like the ripples from a pebble, restoring order in a heated, feverish world. It was as if she could, by the simple few acts of smoothing, hanging, dusting, sweeping, bring order to at least the parts of creation that were under her rule. As much as she enjoyed this, the fact that it had to be repeated almost daily was a reminder of the result of sin on the world and the entropy that destroyed all order and beauty, and, if nothing else, it was annoying to have to do the same acts over and over again, like putting her finger in the dyke of chaos. When they were first married, she also included a cleanout of his desk and drawers with her regular cleaning, but having thrown away a fragment of wrinkled paper with scribbled numbers on it once too often, and witnessing him dig frantically for his lost item in the places he knew best and then level his frustrated gaze at her accusingly, she left off trifling with his, to her, strange method of storage.

An offshoot of her love of restoring order was having a great many items to order. Garage sales became her passion, thrift shops a treasure of inexpensive items where she could leave with bagfuls of merchandise without having spent more than a few dollars. When she purchased anything, she would purchase several in various colors or scents. She had gone completely overboard on candlesticks, candles and scented wax tarts and baskets were another weakness. She had baskets in closets, baskets hung around the top of the walls in her kitchen, about six inches below the ceiling. There were baskets full of candle accessories on tables doubling as scent and decoration. She had more baskets than she could use, and yet she had to forcefully stop herself from buying more when they could be had for a dime or a quarter. Often she succeeded with ordinary baskets, but those that were unusual she bought and then struggled to find a place for them. It seems to me this practice of purchasing too much of any one thing, and then organizing it all in specific places is related, smacks of fear, or perhaps greed, or perhaps simply the desire to pass one’s eyes over a heap of items, treasure if you will, in an array of colors or shapes and know that it will be a very long time before she could possibly run out.

He never opposed her buying habits, but supported them in every way. It was simple. He loved her and he wanted her to be happy, so saying “no” to her desires was not an option. If they could afford for her to have her desires, then so be it. Actually, even if they couldn’t afford it, this continued, since, after all, it was only a few dollars at a time. And if truth be told, he had his purchasing weaknesses also, but that is another story for another time.

So here they were so well suited in so many ways, and yet these actions of theirs constantly put them at gentle odds. She would sequester all of an item in one place, so as to keep watch over its availability, so as to procure more at the faintest hint of loss. He would, just as carefully, remove one or two of those items to one of his hiding places, ostensibly for the same reason. I suppose, at the very least, they kept each other busy.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Old School Photos

Laverne's mother kept a very careful scrapbook for her when Laverne was in elementary and middle school. Here is Laverne's kindergarten picture. The same children followed with her up to 6th grade:

Here are the names in photograph order - the handwriting is, of course, Laverne's mother, who was, incidentally, a teacher in the Pittsburgh schools. By the way, Laverne is in the second row down, second from the left.There are a lot of "don't know"s on the list, but if you look at the photos from later years,(which I will be posting soon) I think you can find the same children - and their names are recorded for those years. One thing I found interesting in the scrapbook - Laverne's mom used stick-on stars as tape (the kind teachers used to use to put on student's excellent work as reward). Either Scotch tape hadn't been invented yet, Laverne's mom thought these stars were more creative - or they were just out of tape. I can't believe the last is true because so much care was taken on the entire scrapbook.

Well, if you clicked on the Scotch tape link, you can see that in 1926 or 1927, the year of kindergarten for Laverne, adhesive tape for paper hadn't been invented yet. Let's see about paper glue. All I could find is the history of Elmer's glue, which wasn't invented until 1947. There have been adhesives made of fish and bones for thousands of years, but perhaps none for paper. In my grandfather's old photo album from 1916, there are little black corner photo holders that were licked and placed on the album paper - just like Laverne's mom's perhaps that was the only method of glueing or attaching paper to paper in the late 1920's - if it wasn't pre-glued like an envelope, it wouldn't stick.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I meant to add some more items to the Florida Seacoast Railway trip, but I started - and then had to finish - The Thirteenth Tale - and our internet wasn't working last evening or this morning. I am now at work and able to post.

First - The Thirteenth Tale. I hadn't read the proverbial Gothic Horror/Romance in many, many years. When I was a teen I devoured those type of books, and back then, there were some excellent writers of the genre.....Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Daphne DuMaurier and Georgette Heyer. The Thirteenth Tale is a kind of return to that type of story (and the excellent writing and plots of those days also) except that the plot concerns an author and her childhood - and therein lies the gothic flavor of this novel. There is a dark, totally dysfunctional semi-aristocratic English family, the requisite governess and various weird house and grounds servants. I'll leave the plot description at that. The thing I found most interesting is that you take for granted this story takes place in the now - i.e., modern times; however, the heroine never uses a computer, the internet, Google, genealogy databases, or any number of other methods of research when she needs to look up information. She also never uses a computer or even a typewriter to write. She uses 12 red pencils, a pencil sharpener and reams of paper. Period. When she needs to research something, she writes letters. No email. Just "snail" mail - the old fashioned way. I think this is deliberate on the part of the writer, to give the story the flavor of the classic gothic romances of 40-60 years ago. While this was a very well written novel and it certainly was a page turner I couldn't put down until I finished it, I was disturbed by the characters to a degree and found it unpleasant to read about some of their actions and behavior. For an entertaining - and disruptive (you'll not be able to put the book down for any length of time) read, I recommend it highly. I will look out for subsequent work by the author of The Thirteenth Tale.

Tonight I will - if the internet is back up and working at home - be able to post more on the 1935 trip to Florida.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What's For Dinner - 1935

Yesterday I promised that we'd see what LaVerne and her mother had for dinner. Actually, we can't know for certain exactly what they had, but we can see what they had to choose from. Here is the menu from their trip on the Florida East Coast Railway, circa 1935:

The second page of the menu had a small insert attached with a rusted paper clip. It gave more dinner options. The third page is actually the second page without the small insert. There you will see what beverages could be purchased. Finally, the back cover had an explanation of how the train was cooled and heated through the use of steam - perhaps something to read while you were waiting for your food.

I vote for the Southern Spring Chicken Fried in Butter with Cream Gravy and Corn Fritter, New Potatoes Hashed and Browned and Lima Beans in Butter. Butter.....mmmmmmm (I dislike margarine, which I thought was invented during rationing in WWII - this is pre WWII - BUT I was wrong).

Beverage? I'd have to try either the Apollinaris or the Clicquot Club Sarsaparilla, since I can't imagine what either of them would taste like. Hold on - I'll Google them......

Aha!! Apollinaris is billed as the Queen of Table Waters.
Clicquot Club was a company that produced soft drinks of all kinds until it was purchased by Canada Dry in the 1960's.....
That still doesn't tell me what sarsaparilla tastes like.....according to the article I attached to the word, "sarsaparilla", it takes like a more birchy root beer and Target is now bottling a naturally and artificially flavored sarsaparilla drink which I'll have to purchase just to taste it.

Since I now know what each beverage is, I vote for the sarsaparilla.

There's only one thing that bothers me about this idyllic look at railway travel in 1935. Ever the realist, I know that my black friends would not have been passengers on this train with me - they would have been the porters and waiters. While that was a good and honorable job, there clearly was an uncrossable line between servers and passengers.

I don't know about you, but I'm going to enjoy my dinner here in 1935 and leave a big tip for my server. I can't change history, but I can do a little bit to show appreciation to those who make my trip so comfortable.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Florida East Coast Railway

Let's take a trip down the Florida East Coast Railway. It's 1935 and it's cold up here in Pittsburgh. Cold, wet and dreary. Florida would be SO nice. That's where LaVerne and her mother went - to Daytona Beach. More on that in a following post. For now, let's just enjoy our trip! Excited?
This is the schedule - let's pick our It must be comfortable and it must be a sleeper. After all, we're going to be traveling overnight. Laverne and her mother must have had to take a train from Pittsburgh to either Philadelphia or New York City. From there they could go south. In the 70's I took a train from Penn Station in NYC to my friends in Maryland. Penn Station was huge, busy and overwhelming then - and the days of train travel had significantly dimmed by that time. Imagine Penn Station in 1935. Glamorous, well-dressed men and their families, "hicks" from out of town, traveling to other places via Penn Station - a whole gamut of 1935 US humanity at that time.

Later, let's see what's for dinner.....yum!

Monday, March 19, 2007

LaVerne Display

Below is a montage of belongings that LaVerne stored in her cedar trunk. There are the unfinished needlepoints, the pieces of ribbon from her wedding dress (she sewed her own), extra yarn, a bag from a store in Crafton, PA from 1942 (the year of her wedding). There's even a pair of fur mittens that I had to rescue from my cat, who made a funny mewling noise and promptly tried to carry one off.

Inherited Things

I had a friend many years ago who was a Christian mentor to me. She passed away about 10 years ago and left me all of her Christian books and textbooks, her cedar chest, all her family photos and ephemera. More than money or clothes or any other "useful" thing I could have been given - these things have meant the most to me. I'm scanning some of these items today in order to share not only the person I remember, but an era of gentility that is gone.

First, here is a Certificate of Health for LaVerne when she was in 4-6th grade. What odd wording on the certificate....

Next, a silly poem she saved - I don't know how old she was or who the person was that sent it....

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Book Meme

I came across this meme on these two blogs:

So here is my answer - and anyone who reads this - consider yourself tagged.....

* Bold the ones you’ve read
* Italicize the ones you want to read
* Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.
* If you are reading this, tag, you’re it!

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6.The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering
Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)

75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)*
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More Pictures

Textures of the undeveloped parts of South Florida.
Someone's home in Naples - I'm not sure, but this may be Wisteria.
Another tiny flower - hardly noticeable to the naked eye.
Not a ring-billed gull.....must look this one up.....
Wild hibiscus
Wild hibiscus bud
A lawn in Naples - this is poinsettia.
Coy pelican
I guess I scared him
Pelican sifting water through his throat
Photo one looks like his "arms" are behind his back - he's just shuffling through the grass. Photo two looks like he's inspecting his toes.....

Is it just me or does this flower bud look like it's being squeezed from behind?
A man and his fish on Naples Pier

Yay! Pictures!!

An old abandoned shack across from the entrance to Fakahatchee Strand. There were a LOT of people parked and entering the Strand - but no one was across the street, hence my choice. I have enough of crowds during the week....
Also in the area where the shack was, but nowhere near it. What was this for? Who knows?

I got all artsy with some fluffy weed I picked to bring home. I put things like this - seed pods - in baskets and display them. Nature is the best artist.
A baby lubber grasshopper. He's destined to be about 2-3 inches long.....and bright orange and yellow.

A tiny flower.

Unable To Post Pictures

I've made numerous attempts to post pictures of our trip last weekend. Nothing worked. I tried uploading my pictures to my older blog - Sumting Wong Photos - but it didn't work. Then I tried to upload them to this blog - but that didn't work either. Then I tried making all the photos I want to post open using Picasa, instead of Adobe Photoshop - I figured Picasa is partnered with Google and Blogger - but that didn't work either. Next, I tried opening in a different browser and uploading from there - nope. No pics.

So, hopefully, Blogger will fix whatever the problem is soon so I can post my pics. I'm SO frustrated!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Last Weekend

Last weekend my husband and I decided to take a day trip - this, even though there is a LOT of work to be done around our house. All work and no play make us dull, so we took off with our cameras to Naples pier. We made numerous stops along Tamiami Trail. More and more of it is getting covered with development encroaching from the east and the west. I hate to see it - development for the purpose of building more strip malls and houses is one of the things that upset me the most.

However, we did get a lot of nice pictures at Naples pier, as well as areas around Naples itself. Go to my photo blog to see them all.

Friday, March 9, 2007

That's Weird

I know I wrote a post this morning at work, and posted it here on my blog - and tonight, at home, I don't see it. Oh well. It was about how daunting I find all the work that needs to be done around our home. There's yard work I've neglected for far too long - and major home projects that need to be done.

I'm so overwhelmed I don't even want to write about them. I just hope to work on them one day at a time.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

First Post

I'm posting just to see what this blog will look like - and to see if I've tweaked everything (and didn't delete something essential) that I wanted to.....