Sunday, June 17, 2012

Civil War Reenactment

It is raining cats and dogs right now and we are all so grateful. It has been so dry this summer and I can't remember the last time it rained. All of the grass is brown and even turning white. We have a lot of farmers in our area and I am sure they are praising God right now!

Earlier today we took my father over the the Civil War Reenactment at our local Veterans Home. He used to participate in these events and has a wool uniform in his closet. Thank goodness he did not remember that since it was 89 degrees when we started out.
Guess what this tent is "reenacting"?
My husband figured it out right away! Would you like a lemonade, sir?
And how about a nice, cool compress?  I think he has forgotten is wife is behind the camera!
We finally talked my dad into walking over, but unfortunately I don't think he understood what was going on here! He told them they should be wearing heavy dresses and hats.
I had to share this photo - it is Abraham Lincoln taking a digital picture of the museum on the grounds. Too funny.

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Father's Day

I am trying to empty the attic at my father's house during the warmest June I can remember. In the midst of about 100 empty gift boxes, several plastic Christmas trees and old utility bills dating back to the 1980's, (I go through EVERY piece of paper), I did find some gems.

Happy Father's Day to my maternal grandfather. My grandfather was a jeweler, semi retired when I remember him. He was very quiet, had an overstuffed comfy chair and foot stool straight out of Mary Engelbreit and read lots of magazines and newspapers. Here is a precious photo I found in with some non-related papers. Sadly he passed away in 1969 or 70, while I was in middle school.

Isn't he precious?
Next I want to wish a Happy Father's Day to my paternal grandfather.
He is the guy second from the left. I just found this picture a few days ago and it has an interesting story. The gentleman on the left was my dad's Uncle Charlie, who was his mother's brother. His mother, Mary, is the bride and to her right is Charlie's wife, Helen. Charlie passed away in the 1940's, my grandmother Mary passed away in the 1950's and in the 1960's, my grandfather "Pop" married his widowed sister in law, Helen. So this is actually a picture of my grandfather and his first and second wife.   I did not know him very well. They lived about an hour from us and that was a distance back in the day. And I think that the women folk planned the entertaining back then and my step grandmother was closer to her own family. I do remember that when we would visit she would always make homemade noodles. It took her about 2 minutes to make noodles for a crowd of people. I was amazed! He passed away while I was in high school.

I would like to wish a Happy Father's Day to my own father. Here he is in his service photo.
We have not always had the easiest relationship; we are very different people. But I still want to wish him the best on this Father's Day and on the next chapter of his life. He has had several set backs with his health in the last few years and after suffering a significant stroke in April, I have moved in with him and we are making arrangements for him to move to an assisted living residence.

I hope you all have wonderful plans for this Father's Day. I am so grateful for the wonderful father my husband has been to our own children (how did a dumb seventeen year old blonde get so lucky when choosing him?) and for my son who will become a father in July. He is already so prepared and excited and I know that baby will be so lucky to have him as a father, too.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Who gets Gramma's Yellow Pie Plate?

When I worked for the county extension office, our Family and Consumer Science Agent (that would be Home Ec for us golden oldies) offered a workshop titled: Who Gets Gramma's Yellow Pie Plate? It was not a financial workshop for retirees, but a practical workshop about relationships and how to divide up items that have meanings when a household breaks up.

When my mother passed away, my father wanted all of her personal items removed immediately. I had taken two days prior to the funeral and the day of the funeral off from work. The day following the funeral I received a phone call from him at my office stating he needed me to bring boxes home with me and pack up her things. I enlisted my youngest daughter and niece to fill their cars with everything from her impressive closet and layer in on their back seats, depositing it in my family room in relays. I dumped dresser drawers in boxes, along with all her "personal stuff" like letters, jewelry, magazines, books, memento's, etc. and several pick up loads of boxes from the attic.

I am guessing that you have all seen "Hoarders". I prefer to think of my mother as a collector. From a long line of collectors.

I started to go through the clothes, but it was impossible.  We ended up taking load after load to Goodwill.

I find, as I have been going through these boxes (and there must be 50) (or more) (maybe 100?) that everyone in my mother's family was a collector. I don't just have several rubbermaid tubs of fabric purchased by my mother; I have unfinished projects and extra fabric from my grandmother. Digging deeper through the stash I have found fabric and unfinished projects from my great-grandmother.

I can usually only sort 2-3 boxes at a time. And that usually takes me an  hour per box. I have to read each letter, examine each movie ticket stub, carefully study each snapshot. Usually out of three boxes, I end up saving 1-2 boxes to go through again at another time. My husband was thrilled when one of the boxes ended up being grocery inserts and coupons that had expired ten years ago. I still had to go through each page, but I did end up disposing of the whole box. One day I found a treasure. A letter written by my aunt (who passed away much to young) home to her parents when she was a sophomore at Kent State University in the 1940's. She was discussing travel arrangements for Thanksgiving (by train, of course), "the curse", and how to package and mail cookies to her boyfriend (who later became her husband).  I was able to forward the letter to her daughter who I have re-connected with on facebook.

I have two file boxes of aprons that my grandmother made and never wore. And one box of the everyday - very worn- aprons. I have become the keeper.

The more valuable items (to others) are the problem.

My grandfather did not have an easy life. His alchoholic father was injured on the job and later died and it was left to him, as the oldest son, to help out the family. He left school at age 14 (I believe) and apprenticed to a local jeweler who had space in the large department store on the corner of Main Street in my hometown. He worked there many years until an explosion removed several stories from the building in the 1920's. The jeweler decided to retire at that point and my grandfather opened his own store further down the block. In his showroom were three crystal chandeliers. When he passed away in 1970, the chandeliers came to the family. One hung in my grandmother's dining room. Somehow when the house was listed for sale, family members neglected to exempt the chandelier and it sold with the house. You would think this would have been a lesson learned, but the second chandelier ended up in another house sale. The remaining chandelier hung in my  parent's dining rooms; my long-suffering husband rehanging it every time they moved (and they liked to move!)

I can remember helping my grandmother clean the crystals in her dining room from the time I was about 6. Each of the over 100 crystals has to be individually and cautiously removed, soaked in water scented with ammonia, carefully dried, air dried and re-hung. She always promised me that the chandelier would be mine in return for all the hours I helped her. This same promise was made to my brother in following years and to each of my own children (by then by my mother) as they helped in the ritual of cleaning (or packing for a move). My youngest daughter remembers standing on a dining room table and handing each one down to my mother.

As I ready the condo for sale, the first thing I did was start the chandelier removal process. I am not letting the last one go out of the family on my account! I stocked up on tissue paper and bubble wrap and purchased ammonia. And talked my youngest daughter into helping me. It was almost three hours for us to remove and wash the crystals. And almost an hour and a half tonight for me to wrap and pack the crystals.

And now, where will it go? My house is not chandelier friendly (ceilings too low). My oldest daughter has sky high ceilings, but a modern, sophisticated style that would clash. My brother (who lives half a country away) mentions it often. I am thinking that my youngest daughter, the last helper, the latest helper, should have first dibs. She is living at home, but I am willing to provide storage as long as necessary. Unless someone else pitches a fit first . . . . .

Miss Merry