Thursday, June 28, 2012

What I've Been Reading

My most recently completed genealogy project was to trace the ancestry of a male in-law. This was a fun one. After I found each set of ancestors and entered their names and other pertinent facts into a database, I googled those people's names to see what else I could learn about them. There was plenty to be found.

My favorite folks in his family tree lived in the mid-18th century in an area of Tennessee  near what we now know as Nashville. They helped to settle that area during a particularly dangerous time in our country's history. In 1780 the father of the family was killed by Shawnee Indians, who kidnapped his daughter, Mary, on the same day. The mother and one son were killed in a separate Indian attack several years later, and a second son was killed by Indians in still another incident. (Think about how scary it feels to walk through a well-lighted parking lot after dark, then imagine how you would have liked to do your daily chores while a group of riled-up savages lurked behind the trees. Not blaming the Indians here, just saying I'm glad I didn't live under those conditions.) Not to mention that all this happened at the same period in history when the patriots also had to watch out for the British.

The member of this family who intrigued me most was the kidnapped daughter, Mary Neely. She lived with the Shawnees as their slave until they delivered her (for a fee) to a British prison. I was captivated by Mary's story. There are plenty of articles about Mary on the Internet, but I was tickled pink when I discovered that she was the inspiration behind two works of historical fiction:

Songbirds Are Free by P. M. Terrell:

River Passage, also by P. M. Terrell:

For a description and reviews of either of,
these books, click on its image above.

I downloaded both books to my Kindle as soon as I found them. The first one was very exciting, even though I'd read enough about Mary to know how the book would end. I haven't started the second one yet because, once again, I'm racing to finish my library books, but River Passage is definitely up next. I can't wait.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Seven Days in June

I don't know what words I may have read on the Internet or what other trigger jarred my memory, but I suddenly thought about passages from my great-aunt Hazel's diary in which she described a race riot in Detroit, Michigan, where they lived at the time. I remembered that it had happened in the summertime, and I was curious about exactly when that was.

A quick Google search led me to a Wikipedia article entitled "Detroit Race Riot (1943)". According to that article, the riot began on June 20, 1943--exactly 69 years ago from yesterday. Good timing, don't you think?

Armed with that date, I was able to pull out the correct diary and reread what Hazel  had written so long ago.

Before you see the diary pages I've scanned to share with you, you should know that Hazel paid no attention to the preprinted dates in the diary, nor to the number of lines allotted for each day. I like that about her -- that little sign of independence.

Here's what she wrote:

Sun - June 20 - Fathers' Day - Grand day. L [Hazel's husband, Loren] worked in yard. Washed windows - cut grass. Stayed home all day --

Mon - June 21 - Read lesson early. [Hazel was a Christian Scientist and read a CS lesson daily]. Fine day. Frances in to borrow wash board - her machine broke. Gosh! A Race Riot. - Too bad - Loren told me not to go far from home today. 180,000 negroes in Detroit. The riot is terrible. The governor of the state declared marital [sic]. . .

. . . law to go into effect at 10 tonight. All liquor places - movies - etc - closed at 9 - & all people had to be home at 10 - curfew.

Tues - June 22 - According to radio the riot is well under control. Pres. Roosevelt ordered it to stop - Hospitals & jails are full of folks. All started from a fist fight on Belle Isle Bridge between a negro and a white man.

Wed - June 23. City still under marital [sic] law - 10 o'clock curfew. 27 are dead & over . . .

. . . a thousand injured. Jails & hospitals crowded. Cooler. Belle Isle closed to public. Soldiers are 'camping' on Grand Circus Park - Standing guard on library lawn - etc -- Fran down for me to phone Officer Stephens about Frank Stark 'disappearing' -- Our colored postman back today for first time this week. This eve - L. & I ate a bite in the Inn at the corner -- Bought tomatoe [sic] - Scarlet sage & dusty miller plants. L. bought me 2 doz. beautiful roses. (cut flowers)

Thurs - June 24. Did small washing - Scrubbed kitchen - Set out flowers. Swell day -

Fri - June 25. 96° today - Too hot. Stayed in all day. More talk at the office of our going back to Washington in Sept. I'd give anything if we could know what to plan on. By the time we get a home fixed up - we have to move -- great life if you don't weaken. Curfew now from mid-nite to 6.

Sat - June 26. Watered yard early. Frances invited me to go shopping with her but I don't feel like going - It's so hot. Death total from riot now 31. L. to Pete's tonite for chicken & other groceries.

A week's worth of posts, then life apparently returned to normal for those who were there but not directly involved. I wonder if there's any chance that our blogs will be available 69 years from now to give our descendants a glimpse into the events of our daily lives.

Probably not.

Hazel Elliott and Boots - Nineteen Forty-Something

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

We've had so much rain here in the past couple of weeks that the ground is soggy. That translates into dogs with muddy paws, which, due to Gimpy's semi-confinement, hasn't been as big a problem as it might have been.

It's been a good time for me to stay indoors, too. The genealogy project I've been working on was completed just this morning, so I probably would have been at the computer even if the weather had been nice.

If the forecasters are right, there'll be plenty of sunshine to enjoy in the next seven days--although those high temperatures predicted next Sunday and Monday are scary. Today is only the first day of summer, and I wouldn't have expected 100-degree temperatures until at least next month. Still, I'll take my book and my dog-boys outside as often as I can.

The beautiful sunflower that grew under my bird feeder last month has gone from looking like this. . .

. . .to looking like this:

It's still pretty in a different, weird kind of way, don't you think?

My gardenia bush doesn't have nearly as many blooms on it as it did a couple months ago, either. Thank goodness there are pretty things to see in the neighbors' yards. A neighbor on one side has this gorgeous crape myrtle:

The neighbor behind me grows beautiful canna lilies:

And the vibrant greens of another neighbor's pecan tree shade the dogs' favorite corner of the back yard:

For shade on my patio, I rely mostly on a big umbrella. Wait. . .what's that dark spot I'm seeing, and why is Levi watching it so closely?

Hmm. Let me zoom in really close. . .

Oh, it's one of those little guys. If you don't have tree frogs in your part of the country, let me introduce you to one of the tiny creatures that share my back yard. I adore them.

Wish you could sit out there with me. We'd drink something cool and really get to know each other.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Gimpy: as good a man as he ever was

Gimpy was scheduled for neutering Wednesday morning. He climbed into the car at home without hesitation and climbed back out of it with the same sense of adventure in the parking lot of the animal hospital. He remained unruffled as we walked through the front door, then sat at my feet like a little gentleman while I filled out the consent form for anesthesia.

Everything went smoothly until a vet tech approached to change out his collar and leash for one of theirs, which sent him skittering to hide behind me. He and I turned around in circles several times as he attempted to keep my body between himself and the tech, so the tech suggested that he might be more cooperative if I would go ahead and leave. I walked out the door, closed it behind me, and glanced through the window over my shoulder. The tech was standing right where I'd left her, holding her end of the leash while Gimpy was leaping and bounding on his end. Heh. He's no pushover.

That all happened about seven-thirty in the morning. Shortly after eleven, the vet called to say the procedure was complete and Gimpy was awake and doing fine, although he was still "a little tipsy." (She also shared that his mood had improved dramatically prior to surgery when a female mixed-breed named Honey, occupying the next cage, was apparently struck by his awesomeness and boldly let him know it. That romance was nipped in the bud--literally--when it was time for the surgical procedure.) Knowing that Levi would be all over Gimpy when I brought him home, we decided to let Gimpy nap at the animal hospital until mid-afternoon.

Levi definitely noticed Gimpy's absence. He looked for him all over the house, then searched the backyard, finally stopping to wait at the gate and watch the driveway for any sign of him. He was better after Kim brought Lucy and Winston over, and all three of them were excited when I brought Gimpy home. They sniffed and inspected every inch of him.

The aftercare instructions from the vet said that for the next seven days I shouldn't let Gimpy run, jump, climb, get wet, or lick his incision. Leash walking would be okay. After reading that, it dawned on me that I was destined to become a canine activities  director for the next week.

I moved Gimpy's crate into the living room, where he could be with the family and I could keep an eye on him, and he slept for most of the afternoon. Once he was good and awake, though, he wanted out of there. He seemed to be geared up for his usual nightly romp with Levi, and Levi clearly had similar ideas, but that rough play was out of the question. I put a ball in the crate with Gimpy and gave another one to Levi. Immediately, they each wanted the ball that the other one had.

Shortly before bedtime, I put Levi behind the indoor gate and let Gimpy out of the crate so I could give him some hands-on attention and affection, and that was when I got my first good look at his incision. At first I thought all the dark-red blood I was seeing was seeping out of his wound, but I quickly realized it was all under the skin. His now-empty scrotal sac, also blood-red, was swollen to about the size of a lemon. I'd been so careful to keep him quiet and lick-free that I almost panicked. Fortunately, I had checked with Dr. Google the night before to find out what to expect after the neutering procedure, and Gimpy's condition was one of the possibilities I'd read about. He didn't seem to be in any pain whatsoever, so I decided he didn't need to go to the emergency vet yet, and I switched my attention to making certain he didn't make the problem any worse.

I got out one of Butch's old E-collars, put it over Gimpy's head, and fastened it as tightly as I could. He bucked around the living room like a wild bronco ("No jumping, no jumping!!!") and scraped it off against the coffee table. I did it again and so did he. I went back to the cabinet and pulled out another, smaller E-collar. That one was tighter, and he wasn't able to get it off, though God knows he tried. It was also shorter, so I wasn't sure it would be effective, and Gimpy was miserable while it was on him. He wouldn't even eat his favorite liver treat.

After about twenty minutes, I gave up. I took the collar off of Gimpy and made him a bed in my room, the first time he'd been allowed to spend the night outside his crate since he's lived with us. And then I went to sleep--and woke up every ten minutes, all night long, to check on him.

The next morning, bright and early, we went back to the animal hospital, where the vet told me he that he has a hematoma ("a localized swelling that is filled with blood caused by a break in the wall of a blood vessel") and that she had turned around during surgery on another animal and caught Gimpy "going after it" hard enough to break blood vessels, so all my precautions were a little too late. She told me what to expect and gave me her cell phone number in case it got worse, and I felt considerably less anxious as I brought Gimpy home again.

Since then, everything seems to have been going well. The hematoma is gradually clearing up (blood is being absorbed by the surrounding tissues), and Gimpy hasn't appeared to have been in any pain at all. I've been putting him in the crate only to settle him down when he's gotten too rowdy and, yes, at bedtime, too. He hasn't been licking the incision during the daytime, so I've felt reasonably certain he wouldn't do it at night, either, and we've all been sleeping better.

I've had to break up Gimpy and Levi's wrestling matches a dozen times a day, jumping in as soon as one makes the first move on the other. When that happens, they both give me hurt, confused looks, as if they think I'm punishing them and don't understand why. We played ball for the first time today, limiting it to slow rolls across the patio, which bored them both after about a minute. Afterwards, Levi ran in the yard by himself while I kept Gimpy beside me on a leash.

If there are no more glitches in the healing process, we'll be back to normal activities in three more days. In the meantime, I sure wish Gimpy and Levi had opposable thumbs and a PlayStation or a Wii.

What I've Been Reading

Genealogy research has continued to keep me buried up to my eyeballs this week, and I've enjoyed it immensely. But at every mealtime and every bedtime, those same eyeballs have been glued to a book. These were all pretty good, especially The Memory Collector, which I haven't yet finished. Lots of action and suspense in that one.

Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain

Faithful Place by Tana French

The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White

The Memory Collector by Meg Gardiner

For a description and reviews of any of these books,
click on its image above.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Sepia Saturday: The Importance of Seeing Ernest

The subject of this week's Sepia Saturday photo prompt is a well-dressed lady who smiles as she sits beside a small, cloth-covered table while a uniformed maid pours her a cup of tea. That photo sent me scurrying through my own files in search of the photo below. The two nicely dressed ladies in the foreground of this shot are my great-aunt, Cleda, and my grandmother, Lola. They, too, sit at a cloth-covered table, though I'm sure their  cups had been filled with coffee.
(L-R) Cleda, Lewis, Vicki, Kathy, Lee, Ernest, Lola--late 1950s

I have nothing else to say about that photo except that it's the perfect time to drag it out, because I've been wanting to tell you about Uncle Ernest. He was Aunt Cleda's husband.  I probably met the man only half a dozen times in my life and, frankly, I haven't thought of him all that often through the years. Until recently, that is. Lately he's been popping  into my head on an almost daily basis.

I know very little about Uncle Ernest. I know he was a successful businessman in Kansas City. I remember that he always dressed impeccably, and he was charming enough that I enjoyed being around him in spite of his ever-present cigars. He was also the first completely bald man I ever knew--for a long time the only one--and I had to be careful not to let anyone catch me staring in fascination at his sleek, shiny, sun-tanned head.

The photo below shows Uncle Ernest (at right) when he had hair. Even at that time, though, when he would have been no older than 25, his hairline had begun to recede. One might say he already had a "head start" on baldness.

Uncle Ernest (far right)--abt 1920

It seems odd to me that memories of someone long gone, someone I never knew all that well, keep popping up so frequently. It always happens when I'm totally relaxed, when I'm sitting out on the patio with a book in my lap, a cold soft drink on the table next to me, and my feet propped up in a chair. Uncle Ernest will be the farthest person from my mind, and then--poof!--there he is again. Do you think he's trying to tell me something?

Good ol' Uncle Ernest. I wish I'd known him better. If I had, maybe I'd understand why I keep thinking about him now.

UPDATED TO ADD:  Could it be that my "sleek, shiny, sun-tanned" knees remind me of  him?


The Saturday Song Selection this week is an old favorite. You might not immediately grasp its obscure connection to the Sepia Saturday post above, so I'll spell it out for you:
a) The song is performed by The Eagles. Eagles (the feathered ones) are bald.
b) A line from the lyrics:  "It seems to me some fine things have been laid upon your table..."
Get it now?


The song is "Desperado" by the Eagles.
Thanks to TheEaglesHD for posting this song and its lyrics on YouTube.

To see what other Sepia Saturday participants
have "laid upon the table," click on the image below:

Friday, June 08, 2012

Odds and Ends and Pretty Flowers

One of the hardest things about being retired is keeping up with what day of the week it is. When I wrote Tuesday's post, I thought it was Wednesday. (Gimpy's appointment to be neutered is next Wednesday, not Tuesday.) I almost missed "So You Think You Can Dance" Wednesday night, because Wednesday seemed like Thursday. And today feels so much like a Saturday that I've found myself twice thinking about calling people I thought should be home on a Saturday morning. Maybe it's because my days aren't all that different from one another lately, and maybe it's because, even in their sameness, they've been filled with things I enjoy.


I've had three separate genealogy projects going on this past month, and there aren't many things that hold my attention more than family history research. It's more fun than ever now that so many people are posting family photos and stories on the Internet to go along with the trail of "begats." What isn't fun is spending hours posting names, dates, and places in a genealogy database and then discovering that much of that family tree is someone's best guess. Wouldn't you suspect an error if a wife lived a century before her husband or died before her eleven children were born? Needless to say, there are some kinks to work out of my latest research.


When my children were small, I made many of their clothes--and a lot of my own, too. Nowadays I use my sewing machine mostly for alterations, and that happens so seldom that  I always have to pull out the manual to see which way the spool of thread goes on the spindle. I could thread my old machine by muscle memory, but this machine is new enough--and used infrequently enough--that I haven't yet developed that ability. This week I was shortening sundresses for my daughter, and that little bit of sewing was enough to make me long for a bigger project. I'll leave the machine set up for a few days and see if anything comes to mind.


One of the best things about being retired is not having to stick to a schedule, though I now find myself with a regular deadline I hadn't anticipated: the due date for library books. When I was working and could afford it, I bought books. Then, I could read at a leisurely pace. Now, a stack of books from the library excites me as much as a box from ever did, but it also puts pressure on me. The first thing I do is divide the two-week lending period by the number of books I've borrowed to determine how much time I'll have to spend with each one. Isn't that silly? I know I can renew them online, but I don't want to do it. For some stupid reason, it feels important to me to finish them on time. I think it must be some kind of weird, left-over-from-work mindset.


The granddogs, Lucy and Oliver, are spending the weekend with us. It's fun to have actual lapdogs for a few days. They don't play with Levi and Gimpy, but they all get along, and the big boys are not quite as rambunctious when the little ones are here. It's a nice change of pace.


All the flower photos in this post were taken on my recent visit to Houmas House. Can you see why I love to go there?

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

No More Dark Shadows

The title above refers to neither the old TV show nor the new Johnny Depp movie, though some (particularly male readers) might find the subject of this post equally ghoulish. You see that dark shadow between Gimpy's hind legs in the photo below? This time next week that'll be gone.


Yup, I've made the appointment. The deed will be done a week from today, which happens to be the two-month anniversary of his joining our family. I knew when Gimpy  arrived that neutering lay in his future, but I wanted him to get to know us and love us first, so he wouldn't associate missing body parts with Levi and me.

So far Gimpy has shown none of the bad behaviors I've learned to expect of fully intact male dogs, but I want to stop those urges before they begin. The one that worries me most is the sudden eagerness to take whatever drastic measures are necessary to escape when any female dog in the neighborhood is sending "ready" signals. 

Our '80s dog, Radar, broke out several times and ran away in search of romance. When we got better at preventing his dashes out the door, he would sit for hours at the window, looking out, crying, his chin quivering in misery.

Nope, that's not the life I want for Gimpy, and I can't depend on the high fence around our yard to keep him home and safe under such powerfully tempting circumstances. That fence didn't stop Kadi's tenacious suitor.


Kadi's veterinarian had told us to wait until the first time she was "in season," then have her spayed right after that. But Kadi was a good-lookin' little girl, and I saw the big Blue Heeler that had begun to hang around, crouching low on the other side of the fence, an intense, determined expression on his face. I wasn't worried, though, because I thought Kadi was safe inside that fence.

And then, early one morning, I got a phone call from my next-door neighbor:

Neighbor:  Are you aware that there's a big, strange dog in your backyard with Kadi?

Me:  Ohhhhh, nooooo!

Neighbor:  They're not doing anything, just lying side by side in the grass.

Me:  Ohhhh, lord, please tell me they're not smoking cigarettes.

No sir. Gimpy will not be climbing that fence if I can help it.

What I'm Reading

I enjoyed both of these books, especially True Colors. Give 'em a try if you have the time and the inclination.

True Colors by Kristin Hannah

The Lost Hours by Karen White

For a description and reviews of either of these books,
click on its image above.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Sepia Saturday: Just for the Record...

When my stepfather passed away, I asked Mother for one thing of his to remember him by, one special item I associated more closely with him than any other thing he owned. She gave it to me without question or hesitation. It was this vinyl album, recorded in 1955:

I was nearly 15 in 1957, when he married my mother and moved her, my sister, and me  from Missouri to Texas. Before then, I'd never knowingly listened to classical music, although I would later recognize certain classical tunes as theme songs from some of my favorite '50s TV shows. Those were the days when I wanted to listen to Elvis 24/7. (As a matter of fact, those were the days when no one ever even used the phrase, "24/7.")

Instead of Elvis, we got Tchaikovsky. We got him early in the morning, and we got him loud. A special feature of this particular album was actual cannon fire. Do you remember how much you liked to sleep when you were a teenager? Can you imagine lying in bed, trying to hang on to the last vestiges of sleep, then becoming just conscious enough to hear a particular passage of music and know that if you didn't get out of bed immediately, you'd be blasted out by the sound of cannons in a matter of seconds?

I never did learn to like this piece of music, though I grew to love the man who did. He passed away sixteen years ago. I haven't played this album since, but it means a lot to me. His hands pulled the vinyl record from its jacket on so many long-ago mornings, placed it carefully on the hi-fi, and cranked up the volume. When I hold the album in my hands now, I feel close to him. Now, from a distance of more than fifty years, I can smile when I remember the devilish grin on his face as he watched three schoolgirls stumble through their bedroom doors each morning with sleep in their eyes and hands over their ears.

This photo from 1957 offers an example of that "devilish grin" I mentioned.


Just for the record, there's plenty of classical music that I enjoy these days. This piece doesn't fall into that category, but, hey, I'll make it my Saturday Song Selection anyway. I think Daddy, wherever he is, would get a kick out of it. Now, if you loooooooove the kind of classical music that would be an appropriate soundtrack for a raging battle--or if you simply have masochistic tendencies--go ahead and listen to the whole thing. Otherwise, just turn up the volume, slide the little round time-marker-thingy to about the 4:15 mark, and check out the cannons. (I've discovered it's actually kind of fun to hear them when you're wide awake and expecting them.)


Thanks to zmov1 for posting this music video on YouTube. 


What are other bloggers doing this week for Sepia Saturday?
Click on the image below and follow the links to find out.