Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Musing

      One goes through a lifetime very sure about one's parentage, or at least I did. You were either born to a mom and dad, or to a single mom, or you were adopted by a family who very much wanted a child because your parent or parents could not adequately care for you. And if you were not adopted, you grew up in an institution called an “orphanage,” not a preferred method of living for a child since Charles Dickens' writings and the story of Oliver often comes to mind. As a kid, I must have become aware of how children came to be in families or other various iterations of children being cared for. It is likely a prevailing world view of how children begin their lives.

     I was born in the south in the early '50's to a stay-at-home mother and a father who was farming a family dry land ranch plot outside San Angelo, Texas. My two older brothers, six and three years old at the time when I came into being, may or may not have been aware that their world would change when a new baby was brought into the house. There must have been infant crying and other demands on their mother's time which they would likely have felt as intrusive. But then again, most of the families I knew as a young girl had many siblings at home, so new babies were just a fact of life.

     Cousins, childhood friends, kids at school, in fact anyone born to a parent were all compared to their mother or dad in these terms: she/he has his mother's/father's nose, or hair color, or body structure, or temperament. My older brother was said to have my mother's artistic talents and more sensitive temperament. Our male cousins so strongly resembled their father that it was always commented on. And my mother lamented the fact that she did not inherit her mother's musical abilities for playing piano and organ. My father did not inherit his mother's musical abilities either, and could hardly carry a tune. I must say that choral singing was one of my childhood favorite past times, and I spent years singing in choirs.

     Both my brothers, as they came into maturity, had idiosyncratic ways of speaking or moving their hands in a certain way when talking that it often brought on comments, especially by mother. As in, “you look just like Charlie when you do that.” They were of similar height, too. But I was always taller than they, and I was blonde whereas they were deeply brunette with skin that easily took the sun. I always burned when outside for more than a few minutes, whereas they sported nice sun tans during the summer, like our dad.

     Fifteen years ago, as my mother was dying and when the cancer had reached deep inside her brain, she became less inhibited. Once she looked at me and said “Are you really my daughter?” I assured her I was, patting her hand and giving her consolation. But then just a few weeks before she died, she asked me if there were anything I wanted to ask her about before she was gone, while I still “had time.” I assured her that I thought we had talked everything out, and that I could think of nothing else to ask her. I prompted her and said “Is there anything you want to tell me?” but she shook her head “no.” Pushing her a little further in this direction, she again responded negatively. The moment passed.

     It was a year or two after she died that my brother and I had a conversation about this odd, amusing event of mother asking me to ask her a question. It was then that the light bulb flashed on in my subconscious. Was my father of 94 years my biological father?

     I don't know. I will never know now. Funny thing, at this point, in the grand scheme of the universe, it does not matter.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Mereta, Texas and a Cardboard Box

It appears that I have abandoned this blog in favor of Path to Writing, but alas, that is not the case. Seems that  now I am spending more time for my class with writer Sandra Dorr.  And it also occurs to me that I have not shared a picture that my talented brother and commercial artist Charles H. McCarroll put together some years ago of the farm house where we spent our formative childhood years in Mereta, Texas, dry farm land in Central Texas.

Here is his rendition of our farm in mixed media:


... this is my rendition of the farm house in watercolor (yes, it was a pink house)



I wrote about a corrugated refrigerator box where I made-believe when I was five years old.  It can be read here if you are interested, which is a stretch of the imagination, even for me.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Selling the Family Silver

We rarely use sterling silver flatware pieces, and it requires constant polishing. Entertaining around food centered themes?  We usually do that in the back yard in the summer, sans formal table settings. Then throw away plates and plastic forks and spoons are the usual cutlery.

We have an embarrassment of riches in sterling silver. So now it might be the time to sell those three sets (my grandmother's, my mother's and my own),  Each of the patterns has complete settings for eight. That is a lot of sterling silver flatware.

I decided to do some research about how to undertake this task of selling silver without being robbed blind.

Mr.Money Mustache.  Have you heard of him?  He was a wealth of information.   Regarding selling old silverware: unless it has sentimental value, go ahead and ditch the silver plated stuff is his advice. Or give it to someone who can make jewelry from it, like my dad did in his day.  (I have a blog post about dad's jewelry business written in 2010 and you can read it here.)

(some of my dad's hand crafted key rings and jewelry he gave me)

Back to Mr. Money Mustache and his article about selling silver.  He says
Silver flatware actually comes in two varieties: 
Silver Plated, which looks and feels just like silver, but is actually only covered with a thin coating of silver. Other, cheaper metals lie within. This stuff is not worth much in this context 
Solid Sterling, which is always stamped “sterling” on the handle. This stuff is 92.5 percent silver metal.
Today's silver price is $16.86 per ounce, down from a ten year record high in 2011 of around $48 per ounce.



source

So now might not be the best time for selling the solid sterling, but I can get the silver pieces cleaned, sorted and piled into the sell-able silver, the 92.5 percent sterling pieces, vs. the sentimental pieces (mostly my grandmother's from the 1920's).

Let the polishing and sorting begin.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Our Dog Mercy

She has a need to be alone. It is her primal nature, for she was bred in the north, Calgary, where the cold wind blows. She was meant to stay in solitude for hours in small spaces and to keep quiet, the perfect condominium animal, bred over twenty generations for solitude and minimal barking. Keeping still and silent is necessary for some animals, the owl, the snake, the wolf. Now it is in her genetic makeup as well.

In her essence: a she-wolf. She observes, focuses, and is a watchful waiter when human food is being consumed. Patient, patiently watching and waiting until that last bite, knowing it is saved for her,  is gratefully taken with intense poise into her gentle mouth. It is almost a kiss she gives when taking her small treat. Her mustache is smoothed down with a light human touch, and she is told she is loved.

This is her day: a short walk led by the man of the house, a bit of play time, kibble and water, and then sleep. For sleep consumes the majority of her day. Snuggling down into the pillows on the bed, uncovering the bolster if necessary in order to reach her master's down pillow, her favorite, she takes time to make her day nest. Here she will stay for hours, only nature's call for elimination of fluid urging her out of this nest that only she inhabits. The others in the house, her sister animal friend and the humans, do not inhabit this space of hers called the peoples' bedroom. Those others stay in their own dens doing whatever it is they do during the daytime hours...reading, knitting, cooking, talking. But here, on this bed and on the once forbidden pillow, she stays.

Occasionally, when dreaming, a slight whimper will come from deep within her throat. It is not unlikely that she yelps. Perhaps a play date with her sister dog is in her dreams, or maybe it is one of those pesky UPS men ringing the doorbell and making her jump to attention, shaking her from that sleepy lethargy. Whatever the cause, those yips and slight low growls sometimes can be heard from farther rooms when she is deep in slumber. Her distant presence is made known.

Now the night comes. The people in the house retire to this, her place, at night. At first she welcomes them, and snuggles down, this time at the foot of the bed, into the old down comforter throw that is kept just for her, although the feathers are slowing disengaging from the seams, and little white fluffs can be found on the bedspread beneath her silky throne. With the lights off, now surrounded by these human masters of her universe, she again settles and sleeps.

After two or three hours of this nighttime darkness, she awakens and feels the presence of the humans and realizes she is, indeed, not alone. She jumps from her downy nest on to the wooden floor, her toenails making a soft, padded sound. She yips, awakening her masters. They interpret the yipping noise to mean that she wants out to pee, and the one called Gene cooperates, reaching for his flashlight at the headboard of the bed, pulling himself up and out of slumber, releasing her out into the cold night air. Upon command, she performs her duty, and both the human and she return into the room.

Circling round just the right number of times, she replaces herself on the nest. She again sleeps. But I often wonder if what this canine really craves is to be alone, again, on the bed she calls her own. Sometimes, when the owners correctly interpret throaty call, her name is sternly called out in the darkness to return to bed. Reluctantly, she comes back to her rumpled place at my feet. Perhaps she woke to realize she has others in her space. Her primal need was again calling her to solitude.  All she really craved was to be alone.



Friday, February 7, 2014

Photos Scanned, Clean Up Happened

Although I have not been blogging, I have been reading each of your posts, my friends.  First, let me say that I have tried to comment on most of your blogs, and secondly, since two weeks ago, daughter Julie came through her medical problems just fine.  No more headaches, no surgery.

That new scanner I ordered is the bee's knees.  Or is it bees' knees?  Anyway, it works very well, creating light where there was none, enhancing colors, cropping off non-essentials, etc.  It is just a run of the mill brand and was inexpensive, but it is the technology that has changed over the years. The old scanner just was not cutting it.  Results of all that scanning of old photos resulted in several trash cans full of old albums and photos.  And several boxes of heavier papers and albums were taken away by the local disposer.  We get an old age discount because the waste disposal guys figure that seniors don't have much trash.  Suppose we more than got out money's worth from this trash removal service over the last couple of weeks.

All in all, those pictures from the 1970's until digital times have all been scanned.  And the result? The best ones are now residing on one thumb drive. Amazing. It was an emotional time, truthfully.  Looking at my daughters when they were babes in arms, thinking of those years, most of which were troubled and unhappy, working hard, having little free time.  I had so much rather be living my life now rather than then. A couple of digital photo flashing frames were loaded with hundreds of vacation and family photos. The good times can be remembered at will. Happy, happy.

One large four drawer file cabinet is now in the garage ready for the "Fresh as a Daisy" pickup that the city provides in April for items too large for regular pick up.  And now my little study is boasting a new two drawer mahogany and much smaller file for papers.  Lots of the old files were also trashed.  Who knew one could accumulate so much unimportant stuff over a few years time?

Clean up pictures:
 (organized, items tossed)

(dusted)

And the amaryllis bulbs Natalie gave me are growing, finally,  in the guest bath:


The husband ordered new retirement business cards.  He has not yet handed one out, and I'm wondering if people will need an explanation of his thought process in creating these.  Probably he will not even get reactions.  Who knows.  And what price would one pay to a holistic detective agent?


Yes, knitters, I have now completed two thirds of my Looped Loop cowl and am on the home stretch of the Delancey Cardigan in grey and mustard orange.  The Looped Loop has to be knit under strong light. Usually I am watching some Inspector Lynley mystery shows on Netflix, so there have been a few dropped stitches. Next up to watch is "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas", Jan.   And yesterday I was involved enough to have to rip out some grey on the cardigan because it was time for a stripe.  Onward.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good Bye to 2013

And good bye to, among others, all soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives for our freedom

Good bye to various actors, authors, poets, politicians, painters including

  • Van Kliburn
  • David Frost
  • Scott Carpenter
  • Yvonne Brills, scientist
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Margaret Thatcher
  • Muriel Sievert
  • Helen Thomas
  • Ed Koch
  • Joyce Brothers
  • David Brubeck
  • other actors, authors, poets, politicians, and painters

And goodbye to my friends and family

My father, Charles W.  McCarroll (1919-2013)


                      My aunt Mary Howard Mays
1924-2013
Friend Mary Oman
1929-2013
Friend Maureen Keesler
1941-2013
Friend John Heniford, father of SIL Jack
1918-3013

Father of all,
we pray for those whom we love, but see no longer.
grant them your peace;
let light perpetual shine upon them;
and in your loving wisdom and almighty power
work in them the good purpose of your perfect will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Methodist Worship Book, 1999 (p498)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fires; Trashcan Cooking over wood

Colorado has had terrible fires this week, both near Colorado Springs and closer to our home, about 60 miles away, the Black Forest fire.  Almost 38,000 people in 13,000 homes have been affected by the Black Forest fire, Fox News reported.

The UK Daily Mail showed this picture and also reported that this is the worst fire in the history of Colorado with close to 500 properties already destroyed.  Three houses were miraculously left standing.


Please pray for all affected.

Being careful of fire and using appropriate measures, the husband cooked out down in our lower area and smoked a chicken for our dinner last night.  He smoked it in his home-made trashcan cooker.

 
The bottom of the trash can was placed inside an existing fire pit and the old fire pit  grill and cover were repurposed for cooking over coals.




The chicken was seasoned and smoked 1.5 hours, and was turned every quarter hour.  It turned out to be a masterpiece, even without sauce.  Delicious!

Happy Fathers' Day to all.  Prayers for all affected by the fires in Colorado.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hello, June

We've been saying hello to spring. Sprucing up. Painting. Gardening.

(in process, but now painted)

The master bathroom has been painted white the entire time we have lived here, so it was only appropriate to welcome in spring with a bit of a face lift and a few new accessories for the necessary room.  The picture above is a "before" one of the east window.  Indulgent Mocha from Behr over builders' white paint is now its cover.  A new clock on another bathroom wall to let us know how long it takes to brush teeth.


And I whipped up a new valence for that east window.  Seems it always gets hot in mid morning from that direct sun, so perhaps this fabric will shield some of that sun while taking showers.


Gardening!  Our wildflower garden planted last spring is doing nicely, thank you.  But the bluebells did not make it over the winter.  It was just too darned cold for their survival.  But the penstemon did VERY well.



Welcome to my garden with purple and yellow columbines...

 
 
honeysuckle that opened up this morning with a heavenly smell...

and welcome also to the prayer garden in the back that is filling in nicely with ground cover, iris, chives, mums and natural tall grasses, along with a few other bulbs.

 
And then it was time to whip up a few new dishcloths (the eLoomanator and Grandma's Favorite Dishcloth held with triple strands of cotton yarn to make a couple of fiesta potholders.
 

 
 
Sadly, my husband the chef said that three strands of cotton was not enough thickness to keep his hands from a burn.  So these fiesta cloths might have to go into the facecloth pile in the closet. Sigh.  
 
For lunch, my favorite chicken salad recipe found here by Emeril.  It uses fresh tarragon, of which there is an abundance in the herb area.   I use more than Emeril says, and we seem to never have an apple on hand, but it is good enough even without the apple.   Next time a picture; this time I forgot to snap a picture of the herbs, and the salad is not yet made.
 
How are you welcoming June?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Paint Party Friday

This photograph has been passed among my brothers and me after our parents died.  Strange how it resurfaced from the family archives only after they had passed.

It is a favorite because our parents looked so happy in the back of that (probably snazzy) old coupe.  Mom looked like a star with her dotted scarf and round dark sunglasses. It was likely taken in 1941 or '42.   Dad's naval hat in upper right sets the tone and time of the photograph while Mom's dress and smile sets the carefree attitude of a day away from problems.


Over the past two summers I have tried to paint a portion of this. It is still on the work desk. Maybe this summer it will be completed.  Or not.


She does not need too much detail; perhaps defining the lips and making the glasses smaller.  Of course the hands need work.  We shall see.

As usual, linking to Paint Party Friday.  Last week there were 123 links!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Another Birthday

It is my personal (ah hem) opinion that anyone over 11 years should not "celebrate" birthdays with a party. Of course, there are exceptions.  A woman of a certain age can, however, enjoy good wishes sent by others.

And boy-oh-boy, did I love the cards and phone calls checking in.  Thank you friends and family, for the sweet remembrances.  Here are a couple of cards to bring out your smiles in this last week of January.
 (cause we cool chicks gotta stick together)

And one from my friend Sharon that said "I think of you...and give thanks"  Ephesians 1:16.  And one from SIL with a little buck toothed dog on it, just like our Libby Sweetpea!

Some pretty silk scarves my daughter sent me:

And a beautiful bouquet of flowers from SIL and brother:

Don't you love it when somebody makes you something?
A pin cushion with heart pins!! The poppy is felted and the leaves and poppies applied with hand stitching.  So sweet, thank you Natalie.

The Mr. cooked up some snow crab for dinner.  It was yummy. And so another year was added to the lifeline. Grateful.
"There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” ~ Ralph H. Blum

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Today is Epiphany

In Christianity, Epiphany refers to the moment that a person believes that Jesus is the son of God. To symbolize this, Western Christian churches generally celebrate Epiphany with the arrival of the three kings at the birthplace of Jesus 12 days after Christmas, or January 6 on the current calendar.

January 6 is also our wedding anniversary, another memorable personal event. This video was made three years ago by my husband for our 20th anniversary. It bears repeating.

Happy Anniversary, Gene.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Good Bye Summer

good bye to our flowers...


goodbye to summer excursions and a trip to see family...

and hello to fall decorations, golden foliage, hot stews, two new tv dramas, ratatouille, apples and autumn fidget pie!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

You Knit Me Together in My Mother's Womb

For the Inspiration Avenue Weekly Challenge on "hearts," my brother tried his best to help me use the basics of Photoshop, but I failed miserably.  He even made me a 13 minute tutorial on layers and how to create images by combining pictures together.

It looked easy when he did it on his video, but there were so many intricacies that I could come up with only one half-way presentable image by combining two heart art clips on top of one image. Then I couldn't save the danged thing except to a .pdf file.
 (Mother and daughter in NIC unit, Kentucky, 1970)

"...You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body."  (Psalms 139, verse 13, 15, 16)

So there are a couple of clip art hearts on my daughter and me.  My entry...it certainly won't win any awards, but it was valuable in at least learning a few basics on the software of Photoshop.

Join in Art with Heart and show us some of your favorite heart-y inspirations like these:

                                                                               cianellistudios.blogspot.com


                                                                              Palmarin Merges : In the Studio

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Girls Scouts: 100 Years and Nostalgia

One hundred years of Girl Scouting and I have lived over half of those years.  Both facts make me ponder.


Over 50 million girls have been Girl Scouts since Juliette Low founded this opportunity and organization for girls to grow and mature into contributing world citizens.  The oath:
I will do my best to be Honest and Fair, Friendly and Helpful,Considerate and Caring, and Responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout
Being a Brownie myself in the '50's and a Girl Scout in the '60's, then going through the years with my daughter Heidy as a Scout through the 80's and 90's leads to this post.

Skirting the controversies of selling cookies door-to-door (which was the first no-no that I recall) and going all the way to transgender scouts, this post focuses on the positive aspects that scouting brought to our family.

Janet Macpherson, (1941-2011) The Girl Scout troop leader for my daughter's years in scouting, had a profound effect on many lives.  Janet was the mother of our younger daughter's best friend Melinda.  She was a good friend and a strong support to our family during difficult times, and Heidy spent many a night at the Macpherson home while I was at Children's Hospital with Julie.

Janet and I also shared many a good book and glass of wine during the years we commiserated over our young families during book club evenings and family dinners.

As families, Janet and we traveled to Washington, DC together to share an historic view of the city and to visit the Smithsonian Museums in the mid '80's.

Then there were Girl Scout activities Janet and I and our daughters shared, including two overnight trips to mountains and one to the Air Force Academy and a long ... very long... weekend in the mountains using three llamas as pack animals for the girls' gear.  And throughout it all, Janet was a good humored role model for all the girls whom she shepherded.

So for all those years in Scouting which brought us together, I am extremely grateful.  Her family, friends, beloved dogs and the bees she kept over the years are all so proud of you.  Janet kept the Girl Scout Promise and Law  close to her heart and acted accordingly.

Thank you, Janet, for your friendship and rest in peace.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Elusive Secret of Happiness

Remembering the good times is so important that researchers in the UK have found a clue that
The elusive secret of happiness could be as simple as remembering the good times and forgetting the regrets, a new university study reported
Valentine's Day, 1997 when daughter Julie and SIL Jack married:

Just look at the smiles on all our faces as Julie sets forth on a new journey with her husband Jack! It brings tears to my eyes remembering that joy.

1997, Jack and Julie enjoying their wedding cake on Valentine's Day after their marriage ceremony

Update: Julie has completed her second round of chemotherapy and had a PET scan yesterday in order to better target radiation that begins next week.  She is happy, upbeat, sweet and a joy to have as a daughter.  (Further links to Julie written by her mama can be found here, here, here, and here.)
Further: For people who look at the past through rose-tinted glasses are happier than those who focus on negative past experiences and regrets, according to a new study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
The study helps explain why personality has such a strong influence on a person's happiness and the findings suggest that people with certain personality traits are happier than others because of the way they think about their past, present and future.
The study examined how peoples' ratings on the "Big Five" personality traits relates to their approach to time and life satisfaction.
The "Big Five" model assesses how extroverted, neurotic, open, conscientious and agreeable a person is, and rates individuals as high or low on each personality trait rather than assigning them a personality type.
"We found that highly extraverted people are happier with their lives because they tend to hold a positive, nostalgic view of the past and are less likely to have negative thoughts and regrets.