Thursday, December 24, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Is Proof Reading a Dying Art?

Supposedly, these headlines were actually printed...

(It took the editor two or three readings before he realized that what he was reading was impossible.)

PANDA MATING FAILS: Veterinarian Takes Over
(What a guy!)




(Who wudda thought?!)

(Wonder if they tried duct tape?)

(He probably IS the battery charge. It must have been a shocking experience. His new nickname is Sparky. Etc, etc…)

(It was the freeze-dried chili and refried beans.)

(Boy, are they tall!)

(Did I read that right? Are they serious?)

Have a safe and sane Black Friday everyone.
Thanks for stopping by...

Saturday, October 24, 2009


This was written back in August. I am feeling that it is time to get back to my blog – at least a little more frequently than I have been. Most of my projects are completed. I have put together 3 manuscripts about my dad. Today would have been his 98th birthday. I have finished most of my Christmas gift projects. It is still a little too warm during the day to crochet large items (I have 2 blankets to finish for my grandchildren… nothing fancy, just warm covers for their northeast winters). I am also in the process of really cleaning out a lot of my unnecessary “stuff” (I foresee another blog subject).

Once upon a time, in a place and time not far from where I am sitting, there lives a friendly pup named Ramona. Sometimes she is called Bella, sometimes Bubba Puppy – depending on how smartly or un-smartly (not a word, but I don’t want to use the word ‘dumb’) she behaves. The obedience trainer warned me, “You will always have a two year old living with you.” And… we do.

Ramona (a.k.a. Bella, a.k.a. Bubba Puppy) is very much attached to my son Chris. When he leaves for work, she mopes. When he comes home, she is that two-year-old that the trainer warned us about. Luckily, Chris has a good handle on her. While he is gone, I must be the nurturing mother figure of a two-year-old… oh, that was such a naughty dog!! Oh, what a good puppy… etc, etc. To say the least, I am NOT her favorite person unless I am the only one home and it’s mealtime. She has a built in alarm that tells here when it’s time to eat. I don’t know HOW she knows when it is THAT time.

She has a fairly large back yard (by California standards) in which to run free. She is sometimes a barker. She will let the passers-by know without a doubt that this is HER territory. She is a herding breed (Border Collie mix) and she is protecting her herd. However, if they stop and chat with her, she will lick them to death. She really does love attention. The yards in this neighborhood are all bordered with fences. There is an access gate in our back fence where Ramona stands and watches the highway of human life. As darkness falls, she stands on our deck and is mesmerized by the car lights going by. Later in the evening she chats with the other canines within ear-shot (hers, not ours). She is let outside just before out bedtime with hopes that there will be no need to get up during the night for a trip outside.

The neighbor to our north has a yard full of trees. Every summer the peach tree (in the back corner) bears its juicy fruit. Many, many people walking along the street at the back of our yard stop and climb the neighbor’s fence to pick the fruit in the tree (yesterday a couple of peach thieves broke that fence). If Ramona is out, she barks at them. Bubba loves the fruit… Bella doesn’t know right from wrong with many things – especially peaches.

Since it has been peach time, I have been waking to painfully stepping on a peach pit on my way to the kitchen… or stumbling over a broken pit in the living room or in the sunroom. Every morning it is something to do with peach pits – at least one, sometimes more. One morning I heard her trying to chew on it in the hallway where the bedrooms are (crunch, crunch). Just the sound hurt my teeth and jaw.

Now these wake up calls are usually before 6 a.m. My normal rise and shine time is between 7 and 7:30. But since these peach pit mysteries began, I am not sleeping at all well. (This time has changed as I am up by 6 a.m. these days to get my son to work... our second car ceased operating in September.)

Where, in the name of all that is Ramona, is she getting these pits?? This has really stumped us. Have the squirrels that constantly antagonize Ramona been stashing these pits for the winter, and Ramona found their stash? It just had to be the frickin’ squirrels. They have been trying to get back at us ever since we had THEIR tree taken down before it fell down.

Then, one morning, about 5 a.m., I heard something strange… I couldn’t place the noise. But when I turned the hall light on, you guessed it, another peach pit!!!

This pit lay in a pool of saliva (a large pool of saliva). AH HA!!! That dumb Bubba Puppy is eating any peach she can find before coming in at bedtime. In the middle of the night she regurgitates the pit and VOILA! I step on the pit and incur the pain of the pit. OK… so now we know the source. I will take care of that. We have a 30 foot lead line left over from her training. Before Chris left for work this morning, he attached that lead line to the bottom rail of our deck stair railing. That was at 7:30 a.m. At 8:30 a.m. I heard her out there barking at a guy on a bicycle. Now… how could she be at the back gate?? The lead line is not that long. OH BUBBA PUPPY!! I stepped out onto the deck. There at the door was an uneaten peach – for me? And there was Bubba with about 6 inches of the lead line hanging from her collar. Darn dog had chewed through the line and set herself free. And, in the process, had found another peach.

The peach was thrown away and, of course, Ramona moped away the rest of the day on the cool kitchen floor. I hope that tree dies this winter. And then the city decided to beautify the easement that runs across the back property of us and many of our neighbors (perhaps another blog subject?).

Thanks for stopping by... hope your days is just grand.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Some disjointed thoughts on a SEPTEMBER SONG

When I saw Jamie’s prompt, I said to myself, “Self, just what are we going to write about this?”
Happy Labor Day. May you be able to rest on your vocational laurels for these 24 hours. It’s a shame that our holidays are no longer what they used to be. I would LOVE to hear that WalMart closed its doors for 24 hours straight – or that any and all other stores did the same for that matter. I have a lot of respect for those small operations that actually do respect our formerly time-honored tradition of actually taking a holiday from work.

So, if it’s Labor Day, it must be September. Being from New England, this IS my time of year. This is the color and smells and glory of another year dying into winter.

People say that because I live in California, we don’t experience the seasons. I say this is not quite correct. Our daily temperatures drop from what can be a suffocating 100* to being a bone chilling 50*. At night, we do have frost and freezing temps. Perhaps we don’t have snow here, but I can travel less than an hour to see it, walk in it, make a snowball and throw it at something or someone. Our summer does melt into an autumn-like melancholy and then into the winter doldrums. I do get cabin fever.

And, each year I wonder to myself if it is time to write my September Song. I must consider that putting together a very loose family history does have to take place as a start to this song. Have I finally reached that point in my life where it’s all downhill from here. Well, rationally, I know that happened a few years ago. But am I really going to accept that fact? I try not to stare my own mortality in the face often.

I got to this point in my posting and thought, I don’t want to write about my mortality. I know it’s there… not too much I can do about that.

It was then I remembered a wonderful series that was aired on PBS a while ago. Victor Borge was a very accomplished Danish pianist and quite adeptly mingled humor into his concerts. This is my contribution to September Song for 2009.

I hope you enjoy a little smile with these two talented muscians. To see more September Song contributions visit TAKE THIS TUNE.

Thanks for stopping by...

Did I mention that my thoughts would be a bit scattered?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

And it's September 2009

I certainly hope that September brings ALL of us better times than August has.

For those who are ill or suffering from life's not so nice turns in the highway, may you find peace and hope and strength... sprinkled with a little laughing and a lot of smiles.

For those who are about to build and ark and float away, may you have warm sunny days with very little humidity.

For those people finding the dry heat opressive and energy-zapping, may you have cooler days with a few rain showers thrown in for good measure.

For those having found themselves at a good place in time, may you journey continue along this path.

Peace and blessings to all my blogging community and friends.

Thanks for stopping by :o)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wild Fire in Auburn, California

Auburn Wildfire Tears Path Of Destruction

Dozens Of Homes Burn In Placer County

AUBURN, Calif. -- A fast-moving wildfire burned dozens of homes and scorched hundreds of acres Sunday afternoon in Placer County, prompting Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger to declare a state of emergency.

The fire started near Highway 49 and Rock Creek Road in North Auburn at about 2:20 p.m. It destroyed at least 60 structures, most of them homes in the North Park and South Park subdivisions, and burned about 275 acres.

Cal Fire said the blaze was about 50 percent contained by 8 p.m., with full containment expected Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Hubby's 88-year-old mother and his brother, Dan, lost their home Sunday, August 30, 2009, in this horrible fire. The fire moved so fast that they were given less than 5 minutes to evacuate. They lost absolutely everything, except the clothes they were wearing and her car. She did not even have time to gather her medications or any memories to take with her. It will be a little crazy around here for a while. I will try to check in again with a progress report soon.

TAKE THIS TUNE... Life is a Highway

Saturday morning, I got a little nudge from Jamie, who created Take This Tune... “You might enjoy doing this week's Take This Tune.” It is difficult for me to get back to the discipline of blogging with my mind still going in a thousand different directions. FYI, I truly enjoy the music of Rascal Flats and love the movie “CARS.”

Last summer I did drive cross-country and back for the sixth and seventh times in my life. I cannot begin to count the times I have flown from coast to coast. A friend in Massachusetts remarked one time that she always thought I had a wanderlust-type spirit. As I discussed in one of my posts (June 29, 2009), I have actually stepped foot (or car tires have touched ground) in 42 of our 50 states. I have actually lived in only five of them (California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Connecticut). Then there are all the places we have visited in our cruising life… the Bahamas, Antigua, Dominica, Barbados, St Thomas, St Kitts, St Maarten, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, and Columbia. I think that pretty much covers most of the ports. We may be adding more in the near future. I never in my life thought I would own a passport, say nothing of travel outside of the USA -- except for Canada.

However, this summer my highway travel has been a tad different. It involves travels of the mind… to discover more about who and why I am who I am.

The wordy 1940’s brochure and the not-so-wordy 1950’s brochure about the summer camp my dad attended (and my grandfather had a hand in running) is finished. I spent hours looking at the poorly scanned pages under a magnifying glass (program) so I could make sense of the words. Then I printed out the 50 pages, incorporated what I figured out to be the printed words, made double-sided copies and placed the pages into report covers. I made 6 copies of this. My aunt (dad’s sister) sent me a collection of thoughts she had written during the years – mostly about Camp Tosebo. I have put them into Word and added appropriate pictures (if I have them). That needs to be copied and put into the report cover. There will be chapters with pictures on Todd School, Camp Tosebo and my memories of life with Dad – all interspersed with pictures and emails received from the still-living relatives. When it’s done, I believe I will have written my first book. I would love this project to be done and sent out for Christmas. This may be an unrealistic deadline as I have much more soul-searching and writing to do. At least I will have most of it done – the easy stuff. The things already written that only need to be organized.

I have been knitting and crocheting several things for the grandkids. I finally found a pattern for an ear-flap hat that seem to be popular with the kids these days, which I can make with some ease. I have also been making jewelry for Christmas gifts. This is not real high class stuff, just things I think will be neat for early teen boys and my 9 year old granddaughter. Now, if I were really ambitious, I would work on fixing my camera so that I could take pictures of all this.** That means finding the instruction book and reading it. These craft sessions also provide me with “thought time.” Some of these thoughts actually find their way to the printed page.

Two weeks ago, I was handed a gift from a friend – she had no idea. It is a book that I read very quickly back in 2000… UP ISLAND by Anne Rivers Siddons. It is taking me back through the early emotions of my divorce that occurred circa 1981-82. The emotions lasted a much longer time. The healing of the main character takes place on Martha’s Vineyard. I actually visited that island for one long Columbus Day weekend. It was a wonderful weekend and the book is allowing me to relive some of that wonder. Of course back then I didn’t take many pictures. Darn! I need to fix that camera!** I am enjoying this highway also.

So many highways to travel, so little time… BIG sigh.

** OK… so here’s the scoop on the camera. There was no LCD display picture. I could see the picture after it was taken but not before. I now know what the DISP button means – push it once, no picture; push it again, viola! The picture returns. Do I feel a little dumb?? YES!!! Hubby is being very smart, “I won’t comment on it! Nope, not saying a thing.” I’ll post pictures tomorrow of some of my creations. For now, I am going to a corner and licking my wounds. I may even watch this video again.

Thanks for stopping by... have a great week.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Taking a Little Time Off

My creative energies are taking me in a different direction at the moment. There is such a long list of things I want to accomplish sooner rather than later.
  1. Spend less time in this computer chair. My friend "sciatica" is letting me know that I am here too much and for far too long at a time.
  2. Get things ready for a BIG garage sale -- motivating hubby is becoming more and more difficult.
  3. Start making the Christmas presents -- the ideas have been running around in my mind for a couple weeks now.
  4. Work on the family history which I started.
  5. With my son now working, I have more home responsibilites... one of them being cooking (which is NOT on my list of favorite things to do in the summer). Also, one of our cars died last week, so we are down to 1 vehicle now... I find myself playing chauffeur.

I will still visit you and read the goings-on. And I shall return.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

TAKE THIS TUNE... Sunday Morning Coming Down

This week, I didn't go to to music for my contribution. This week is about what Sunday morning was way back when...

Through my entire formative years I wished that I could have slept in on Sunday morning. This was especially true during my high school years. However, it was church and Sunday school just about every Sunday that I can remember from my childhood. It wasn’t all bad as the years rolled by… it was just Sunday.

When I was in the elementary school-age bracket, there was always a nice breakfast – bacon and eggs and sweet rolls. Then it was off to dress in our Sunday best, pile in the car and get to church. When we got home, the smell of a roast permeated the house. Mom had managed to get one prepared and into the oven while the rest of us fussed about our clothes. Dinner was served to the melodies of classical music coming from our new stereophonic record player in the living room.

In later years, this practice continued when we had weekend guest from Mom’s or Dad’s side of the family. Mom’s family lived in Schenectady, NY – about and hour’s drive to the west of us. Dad’s family lived near New Haven, CT – about 1 ½ hour’s drive to the south of our town.

BUT... on those weekends that there were no guests in residence, Dad would chose to stop at the local Friendly’s Ice Cream Shop for an after church luncheon treat. And back in the late 50’s and early 60’s this was the place to eat if you wanted a great burger and an awesome ice cream sundae. The store has since gone through many, many changes. It’s still a great place to eat, but has lost the intimacy of being a small, privately owned chain of restaurants.

Oh… here I go again… off on another tangent… I just never can tell where my thoughts will lead me… (big sigh)

The Friendly Ice Cream Shop (which was its name when I was a child so many years ago) was founded in 1935 in Springfield, Massachusetts by two young brothers… 18-year-old Curtis Blake and 20-year-old S. Prestley Blake. Their first shop only served double-dip cones for 5 cents. And, oh boy, did they make good ice cream. I guess they still do, but it’s not the same. In 1940, the Blake brothers opened a second Friendly Ice Cream store in West Springfield, MA and added hamburgers to the menu. Plain and simple… hamburgers and ice cream. And, oh, they were so good (according to my memory).

I was patriotically surprised to read that in 1943, Friendly Ice Cream closed its shops for the remainder of WW2.
By 1951, there were 10 locations throughout Western Massachusetts and Connecticut. And they started selling their ice cream in these restaurant/stores. Have I mentioned how good the ice cream was? Real ice cream with real high grade cream and chocolate or strawberries or black cherries or pecans or almonds or walnuts… well, you get the picture. In 1979, the Blake brothers retired and sold Friendly to the Hershey Food Corporation. At this point in the restaurants evolution, it became less the neighborhood Friendly Ice Cream Shop and more the restaurant chain Friendly Restaurant (if ya know what I mean) – a different quality food (not necessarily lower quality, just different). AND the menu was changed. Hershey took my absolutely favorite ice cream sundae off the menu – the Swiss Chocolate Almond Sundae. The menu became more complex. In 1988, Friendly became part of The Restaurant Company. In 1989 the apostrophe and "s" is added to Friendly, making the restaurant chain's name Friendly’s (prior to that it was simply known as Friendly Restaurant). Again more changes.

In 1997, it became a NASDAQ entity and in 1998 it began a franchise program. In 2000, Friendly’s arrived on the American Stock Exchange. In August 2007, Friendly's is bought for $337 million by private investment firm Sun Capital Partners. Changes… just too many changes. And, in my opinion, very overpriced. But the food -- and the ice cream -- is worth the price.

For today, I think it is too bad that the dream of those 2 young men turned out to be such a capitalistic venture. To some extent, they would probably disagree. Currently there are more than 500 Friendly’s restaurants in the chain which encompasses 16 states on the East Coast of the United States. In 12 states, you can buy Friendly’s ice cream in a grocery store.
It’s nice to have the Sunday memories of way back then. Sadly, my memories of today’s Sundays are not much different from the other days of the week.

Please visit more Take That Tune contributions here.
Thanks for stopping by... have a great week!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Proximidade Award

Thank you, Jamie who writes Duward Discussion . Thank you for including me in your circle of blogging friends and for encouraging me to write what is important to me.

Being a recipient of this award affirms that this blog invests and believes in the Proximity – nearness in space, time and relationships.

Since my blogsphere is somewhat limited, I dedicate this award to all those who stop by on occasion to read my thoughts, and to those who write blogs that visit on a regular basis. I appreciate that these bloggers are exceedingly charming, blogging friends who aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement!

Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.

My thanks to:
Jamie, my mentor
Linda, the Photographer
Sandee, the Humorist
Empress Bee, the Ultimate Cruiser
Tammy, the Queen-size Funny Bone
Mary the Teach
Shelly the Story Teller
Trish, the Crazy Working Mom
Mimi, the Queen of Memes

If you would like to pick up this award again, please do.
I so appreciate being able to see parts of the world through your blog.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The REALLY Annoying Thing ~ A Thursday Thought

Most of the time, I enjoy blogging. And I am trying to be very positive about this REALLY ANNOYING situation. It’s not EASY.

The name of “the annoying thing” is fengfk2008. It used to be “anonymous” but I eliminated that choice from my comment section.

I shall loosely refer to him/her/it as a commenter on this blog. Check out comment # 6 on the previous post (hurry because it is going to be deleted soon). My problem with this commenter is that his/her/its comments are posted in either Chinese or Japanese. I chose to NOT find out which. Sometimes there are words that magically appear in English. Off the top of my head, I remember chocolate and motel – and whatever that word is in the previous post’s comments. I really appreciate my native language -- ENGLISH. And it is really the only language in which I am fluent.

To fengfk2008: Don’t hide behind a language you know can’t be understood by the majority of people reading this blog. PLEASE BE CONSIDERATE… IF YOU CAN READ THIS, either leave your comments in English or STOP leaving comments.

Is this a blog spammer? And, if so, what do I do about it? I have attempted to thwart this commenter by having to approve the comments first before it posts. This delayed the comments and drew some negative reaction from the few regular readers I have. So I then deleted the ability for an anonymous commenter to post. Well fengfk2008 got around that also.

Can you understand my frustration… or am I just over-reacting? I’m ready to go back to monitoring my comments again… does anyone have any other suggestions?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Would you... Stop and Listen ?

To begin, I didn't stop and look up the validity of this story. I'm not sure that it's important to do. Just reading what was written made me stop and think... and probably change the way I look, listen and notice things around me.
The following is a true story. It was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and people's priorities. The questions raised: "In a common place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?"

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007, a man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After 3 minutes a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes: A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children – every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes: The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money, but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this… the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before this “experiment,” Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.... How many other things are we missing?

Would you have stopped and listened and applauded? Since I can't be in a hurry to go any where, this would have been a delightful rest stop for me. There will always be another train, another doctor's appointment, time for another lunch or dinner. You might NEVER have this opportunity again.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

TAKE THAT TUNE.... it's a grand night...


I suffered as a child… I was traumatized. Because of my father’s VERY strict upbringing, as children, my sister and I didn’t have much of a social life, or any social adventures. We went to school; we had piano lessons. We were even allowed to be Girl Scouts. There was church school and church choir… all the activities that my parents considered wholesome to a goodly upbringing. I never tasted a REAL pizza until late into my teen years. And McDonalds?? Heaven forbid! But I could mow our lawn in the wink of an eye. (Remember I mentioned always thinking that my parents were of original Puritan stock?) But there was nothing of a butterflies-are-free social life. Even in high school, I wasn’t allowed to “socialize” with the Fonzie-esk “hoodlums,” as my dad called them. Nothing that could be noted as just plain old fun.

Living in a New England climate meant the summer was THE season to experience the adventures of outdoor life – and FUN. Independence Day meant there was a two-hour parade in downtown and then the Firemen’s Muster (competition among the fire departments – volunteer and paid – throughout the county) and the Gillette Carnival. The parade originally was to display the fire engines and muster teams for the competition. These were places to spend your carefully saved allowance in one fell swoop. And then a huge fireworks display at night. Nope I wasn’t permitted to partake in any of these activities as a child unless my parents took me to the parade in the morning. Admittedly, that was fun.

Then this story took a peculiar turn. As I searched the web for pictures of our illustrious Fourth of July Parade, I found a blog written by a man from Arizona who actually went to and took pictures of my hometown parade last month. In fact, he was originally from my neck of the woods. You can visit his story and pictures HERE. At one time was one of the premier Fourth of July Parades in the U.S. For several years, it was broadcast on PBS. It is now listed as the sixth largest in the country.

Now, back to my story, Pittsfield, Massachusetts also has a baseball park which in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s hosted minor league baseball farm teams from the Red Sox, Senators (now the Nationals), Rangers, Brewers, Cubs, Mets and Astros (and probably a couple that I can’t remember). Wahconah Park One thing Dad allowed me was a baseball game or three during the summer… in his company, of course. If I remember correctly, I saw Carlton Fisk start his baseball career in double-A ball at THAT park; and Mark Grace tooWahconah Park is a real one-of-a-kind place, and a throwback to another era. One of the last remaining wooden ballparks in the country, it's also one of only two in which the batter faces the setting sun in the early evening. Depending on your point of view, the ballpark is either a run-down relic ready for the wrecking ball or a charming, quirky slice of baseball history -- and I definitely subscribe to the latter interpretation. The main grandstand, complete with a full roof, really is constructed of wood. Plastic owls dangle from the rafters to thwart birds from nesting, and the "box" seats are simply folding chairs in the first few rows. With its ancient facilities and its setting in a mostly residential neighborhood, seeing a game here is a wonderful trip back in baseball history.

OK… I have gotten side-tracked a few times trying to get this written. We have gone from my not having a fantastically social childhood to the ballpark in summer.

Well, one summer the gal who baby sat for my sister and me when my parents, on a very few occasions, went out for the night was given one of the leads (Ado Annie) in the musical “Oklahoma!” This musical would be performed at the infamous baseball park. And guess what?? Dad said that Mom and I could go. It was a mosquito infested bleacher seat (the stage was in the home plate area) and they actually were able to have real animals in the cast. This production instilled in me a love of the musical theater. Alas, I never did land a part in a musical production myself, but in high school I did get a solo at our Christmas Concert. However, I certainly was the lil' devil in my parents' lives...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Camp Tosebo (III) ~ the old Camp Truck

I received the following email (as a cc) from my aunt on Tuesday – and the reason for a separate post about the camp truck.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 4:57 AM
You commented that A, E. Johnson was always the first name on the register. Indeed we were the first people to open the clubhouse door in June. As you will see in my stories, we came by Pere Marquette boats from Milwaukee, in the early years. I was still young when started driving around Chicago to get to camp. The truck was driven up at that time with supplies from Todd (School). Through the winter the camp truck was housed in our garage, unused as it was not insured. Usually one of the counselors drove it to Woodstock. We could easily make it in a day. It was because of these trips that Dad (General Johnson) invented and patented the precursor to the cruise control. He called it the "Gas-master". That's another story.

Back to camp-- We were the ones that looked for damage from field mice etc. One year flying squirrels took over the Crow's Nest. Dad would get water system in operation. He knew where every plug went and he removed to drain the system. He laid the pipes that went up the hill when we had water. I don't have to tell you what it takes to open up after it's been closed all winter. We learned to leave dresser drawers upside down to keep the mice out.Which cottage do you have? The Shaw one or did you build a new one?

Enough of my ramblings.Micky

The original Camp Truck was and old Model T.

They surely could load it down for their canoeing trips.

A common sight on camp ground and around town, was my grandfather driving the newer version of the truck. I assume he drove the old Model T also, but this is the truck that most of the campers remember. (I believe this is the truck for which my grandfather invented the “gas-master”).

The people who have become partners in the new Old Camp Tosebo Inn have just had this truck fully renovated. One of these partners,Dave Wallace (a former camper), writes: The truck that the General is driving has just been restored - I didn't do the work, but I paid the bills. It brings smiles to the folks in Onekama and Manistee who remember when it came to town full of singing little boys.

So... that's the beginning of my dad's story. I am sure there is so much more that I do not now know... and probably never will. I just received another email from my Aunt Micky. She has an old photo album that she is sending me of Todd School and Camp Tosebo. There are also pictures of my grandfather (General Johnson) and grandmother (the Latin teacher) when they were students at Hiram College. Can't wait to get it!

Thanks for stopping by and joining me on this trip...
Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday Thought #6

Have a really great Thursday, ok?
Thanks for stopping by...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Camp Tosebo ( II )

I continue discovering more things about my family and Camp Tosebo. My aunt and my cousin have reconnected with people they knew during their summers there. My cousin, Gary (son of Aunt Micky and brother of Arlene) was allowed to be a camper because he was the right age and because he was a boy. Arlene says she was upset by this because he got the Camp Tosebo t-shirt and she did not.
Cousin Gary (above) in his spiffy TOSEBO t-shirt
Cousin Arlene (below, left) no spiffy TOSEBO t-shirt
notice the pout
When I started this journey, I “googled” both Todd School for Boys and Camp Tosebo. There was not a lot to be found about the school, but I found someone had taken the time to collect and post over 100 pictures of Camp Tosebo – times that he and his older brother had spent at the camp. In this collection, I found pictures of my cousins, Gary and Arlene, and several of my grandfather, General Johnson. In this collection was a 1940’s brochure of the camp. In some places the printing in the brochure is very difficult to read. [One of my projects surrounding this journey is to decipher the information in the brochure.]

I thought you would enjoy seeing what a day in the life of a camper was in the 1940's. A well-rounded curriculum was provided for every camper.
The regular daily program will look something like this – only most days aren’t regular, for there are usually some trips or special events planned.

7:00 First Call
7:05 Assembly.
Getting up drill.
7:15 Wash up
7:30 Breakfast
8:00 Make beds and put camp in order.
Toothbrush brigade.
8:20 Transportation
8:30 Athletics. Class instruction and individual coaching in track and field, athletics, baseball, and rowing(?). [I believe archery was in this group also.]
9:30 Classes. The camp is divided into eight groups according to age and there are eight subjects taught. This gives each boy one week in each class. The subjects taught are Rowing, Canoeing, Horsemanship, Woodcraft, Material (construction work, model sailboats, etc.) and structural, Photography, and Bird Lore.
11:00 Swimming
12:30 Dinner
1:30 Rest Period
2:30 Free for recreation.
Sailing or motorboat trips. Fishing trips about twice a week. Horses available. Swimming.
6:00 Supper.
After supper: Ball games, boating on the lake, camp fire.

The camp was immersed in Native American folklore (all campers were given an Indian name).
From the brochure: The Thursday night camp fire is held in the sacred Indian Council Ring. Indian dances – Indian customs prevail. In the picture you will see four Tosebo Indians standing at the four points of the compass on the circle. They will do the Fire Dance at the end of which the stacked wood will miraculously bust into flame. How is it done? Nobody knows – unless possible Chief Whirling Thunder.

Memories from another TOSEBO camper: For the activities involving competition the camp was divided into two tribes, the Blackfeet and the Chippewas. Some of the feature events of the season included the regular games of the "major" and "minor" leagues, tournaments in tennis, track, archery, BB's, and Tom Thumb Golf.

Another visible sign of the old Camp Tosebo is the boathouse. The Camp Tosebo Boathouse has been a landmark on the southern shore of Portage Lake since 1912. Until 1938 the Boathouse sat on cribs out in the water and boats were "driven in" through doors on the east side. The second floor was used for clothes changing and featured a slide that went right into the water. In the winter of 1938-39 the Boathouse was dragged to its current location. Clothes changing was moved to the first floor and the upstairs was used to hang out the sails to dry.

Memories from my Cousin Arlene…
July 22, 2009
…I appreciate that the old Boathouse has been restored and it appears to have the same colors it did for years. It originally was sort of a light gold color like some of the other buildings. One day Grandpa took me - and perhaps my brother Gary- in to Manistee to choose new paint colors for the boathouse. I remember choosing the light green (though perhaps I was "guided" in that choice) for the boathouse - but it was Grandpa who chose the red for the lettering. I remember thinking that those colors might not go together, but I'm glad I was overruled. We got to help paint the boathouse - at least at the lower levels and seeing it restored is gratifying.
Arlene Thomas

I was going to include stories about the old camp truck. However, today I got an email with more information about the truck in it. So I will save that for later.

Thanks, again, for stopping by…
Have a great day !

Monday, July 27, 2009

Just a little FYI for Monday


Do y'all remember the rantings of a maniac mother a few weeks back? Yup, that one. The mother who threw the four inch telephone book at her 38-year-old son and said: have a job by the end of July... OR ELSE.

Well... the miracle has happened. This is Christopher (a.k.a. Son #1) -- doesn't he look like a Marine (in his own mind, he still is). He now has employment AND is working -- 2 shifts this weekend. He wears a uniform, too.

Anyway, he took the phone book, looked up Security Guard companies. Called. Sent resumes. And went 'visiting'. Now, in California, to become a security guard, you have to have a guard card. This involves taking an 8-hour class and getting some sort of scan and then waiting for your name and number to magically appear on some website. Last Tuesday the magic happened and on Wednesday Chris was employed by National Security Services/Industry. This is one of the places he visited after my short fuse exploded. Chris and the guy running the office hit it off really well. He told Chris everything he had to do to get THE CARD. Then said, if you get the card, you've got a job here.

On Friday, Chris picked up his uniforms. On Saturday, he worked a Sweet Sixteen party at one of the Sacramento Community Centers from 1:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. Last night he was called in to cover the grave yard shift in the parking garage in Old Town Sacramento. Apparently this security company contracts with the city. Tomorrow Chris reports to his regular post. After training this will be from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center.

It does a mother's heart good to see her son drag in at 9 a.m. Exhausted from the night's work --- YAHOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I am happy that he will be earning a living again. I am happy that he is doing something he loves to do. And I am really, really overjoyed that he will be associating with people other than his old mom and step-dad.

If I weren't his mother, I wouldn't mess with him... would you?

Thanks for stopping by... have a great Monday

Friday, July 24, 2009

Camp Tosebo (part 1)

This has been such a great “ride” for me. I have reestablished contact with some of my family and have opened a can of worms in the process. My 88-year-old aunt (dad’s younger sister) lives at an assisted living facility in Wisconsin. She writes their monthly newsletter called The Chamomile Chatter. Her August newletter will be about Camp Tosebo. Although the family lived at Todd School during the school year, that was academia… Camp was where the fun happened. Since my Aunt Micky’s family always lived close enough to Camp to visit every summer, their connection remained long after Dad and his older sister had grown and moved away.

There is a lot of information and more family memories for me to dig through here. It may take the form of a couple of different posts.

the summer home of TOdd SEminary for BOys

The second part of the pre-story history revolves around the place where my dad spent his summers. Again, his father was part of the running of this institution. My grandfather was referred to as “General Johnson.”
This is General Johnson fishing in the channel that connects Portage Lake and Lake Michigan.

Founded by Noble Hill, Camp Tosebo was established in 1912 as a private summer camp for the Todd Seminary for Boys in Woodstock, Illinois. The camp attracted boys from all over the country, and even though the Todd School was closed in 1953, the summer camp carried on with its eight-week summer program for another twenty-four years.

It is/was nestled in 56 acres of woods on the south shore of Portage Lake near Manistee, Michigan. Camp Tosebo was established in 1912 by Mr. Noble Hill who was at that time Headmaster of Todd School for Boys. From the old name of the school, Todd Seminary for Boys, was adopted the name TOSEBO. Orson Welles attended the camp during the early 1930's. [yup, there’s that name again… bet Dad was just thrilled.]

Today, long after the last campers have gone, Tosebo Inn retains their memories with camp photos on the walls and the camp credo, "There is nothing so kingly as kindness", painted on the large stone fireplace. If you look closely, you can see it carved in the mantle. These young men are watching a game of chess which was taking place in front of the great fireplace. It might have been a rainy day.

In the 1996 renovation of the Inn (formerly known as the Club House), details were carefully restored and as a result the entire camp was listed on the Michigan State Register of Historic Sites. The Inn now boasts eight guest rooms along with several sitting areas including a large living room, a library, a game room, a dining hall and two sitting porches, all lovingly decorated with camp furnishings. Comfort, privacy, relaxation and wide open spaces both inside and out, are what make Tosebo a unique B&B. The Old Camp Tosebo Inn - Bed and Breakfast - offers its guests the best in indoor comfort and outdoor pleasures in a romantic and historical setting...

These 2 pictures show part of the renovations taking place at Camp Tosebo. On the left is the old building called the Club House. On the right is the renovated Club House, now known as the Inn at Camp Tosebo.

The Clubhouse at Tosebo contained the most important rooms at camp - the kitchen and dining room. The food at Tosebo was good and wholesome. You could be sure that when you came in after a morning or afternoon of vigorous activity you would be able to put plenty of it away. The food was served family style by the counselor to the five boys sitting at his table. The clubhouse also housed the infirmary, the library and game room where you could play or sit inside by the fire and read stories on rainy days.

So that is a very brief introduction to Camp Tosebo. I have more to show you in my next post.

Thanks for stopping by…

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Thought(s) #5

I REALLY should have had this t-shirt as a child...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Todd School for Boys

Often I hesitate doing posts. I am so afraid that I have the information wrong.
Well if it’s wrong, this time… so be it.
This is about my father’s family history as I know it.
I am doing it for my sister, Margaret, my sons, and my grandchildren.
I am fortunate that my dad’s only living sibling, Aunt Micky, and her daughter, my cousin Arlene, have helped me with some information.

About this Todd School picture: (an email from my aunt)

Friday, July 10, 2009 9:49 AM

Dear Carol, I was fascinated by the pictures you sent. Your grandpa was on the far left. The two young women you picked were my primary grade teachers. The older lady was Miss Miles, the Wallingford Hall housemother. This was the time when your dad was a student and might be in the picture.The Tosebo pictures are of the time I lived at camp and are very familiar. Although your grandpa was there at the time he tended to be camera shy. Love,aunt Micky

At the time, Woodstock, IL was a small community NW of Chicago. In this small community was a private boys’ school, Todd School for Boys. It was an independent school founded by Reverend Richard K. Todd who moved to Woodstock Illinois from Vermont in 1847 to be pastor of newly formed Presbyterian Church. He brought the New England philosophy of "plain living and high thinking, and in harmony with Puritan traditions." [note: It’s really ironic, at least to me, that all the while I was growing up I claimed that my parents were of true Puritan stock – not far from the truth, eh?].

In 1848 Rev Todd opened a day school in the parsonage, for both boys and girls. This small day school went through many scholastic changes, and in 1867 the school underwent "extensive improvements" at which time it became exclusively a seminary for boys, and became known as the Woodstock Institute. It held this name until 1873 when it became known as the Todd Seminary for Boys. Noble Hill joined the institution in 1888 as Reverend Todd's assistant. Hill resigned a year later due to differences in opinions with Todd. A year later Hill returned with a promise from Todd that he would have his full support. In June, 1892 Noble Hill arranged to purchase the Seminary from Reverend Todd, at a cost of $20,000. Noble Hill was headmaster at the school until he passed the school to his children in 1930. The following is an email from my dad’s sister:

Saturday, July 11, 2009 8:25 AM

Dear Carol,
… During the WW2 your grandma taught Latin. Since Todd was a private school people did not need to have a degree, Grandma could do that. Early on Grandpa was called the headmaster as he had the college degree and Roger Hill did not. After the son got the degree he took the title of headmaster and Grandpa was the principal.
Love, Aunt Micky

The school’s final name change occurred in 1930 when it became the Todd School for Boys. In addition, Woodstock can claim an important role in the creative development of Orson Welles. Welles attended the Todd School for Boys in Woodstock where he came under the positive influence and guidance of Roger Hill, a teacher who later became Todd's headmaster. Hill provided Welles with an ad hoc educational environment that proved invaluable to his creative experience, allowing Welles to concentrate on subjects that interested him. Welles performed and staged his first theatrical experiments and productions at Todd School. [One of my father’s claims to fame is that he once punched Orson Welles in the nose. Dad said, “He was just too big for his shoes.” – now didn’t that prove to be so very true? Welles' photo was pointed out in the web description of the above picture. I cannot find my dad in it. My grandfather is the gentleman on the left with his hat in his hand. ]

This picture is of one of the last buildings standing on the parcel where Todd School once lived. I do not know if it is still there.

Thanks for stopping by...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Manic Monday ~ CURSE

After checking out the myriad of negative definitions of the word CURSE, I feel like I’m going through not-quite-the-six degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon to get from the word curse and all its negative meanings to the curser which I spell cursor which brings me to the computer. Whewww….

Actually, there is a very simple connection between curse and computer. If it’s not running well, I curse. If it’s not giving me the information I want, I curse. Plain and simple, if the dang thing doesn’t do or say what I WANT it to do or say the result is a plethora of profanity.
So Saturday morning I am sitting at the old keyboard just minding my own business when…. the phone rings, beeps, buzzes… whatever it does these days. It was pretty early cuz the boys were still sleeping -- or trying to sleep.

NOW... I need to back peddle just a bit before I continue on my phone journey. When we got back from our mini get away, this email was waiting in my inbox.
"Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 10:31:40 AM

Subject: Re: * IMPORTANT * Ensure The Safety For Your Online Banking Account… not a joke!

Today, I received a very legitimate looking e mail from Bank of America saying that some unusual activity had occurred on our accounts and I should contact them using the site spot they provided because our accounts were being frozen.

This looked very real, but I had heard about this sort of thing, so I called the Bank of America premier banking number we have for service and the woman told me that is was not real and to report it to the abuse email. I did that, and this is the answer I received. I did not provide any info or even click on the link they had so we will not have a problem.

I just want to warn you that if you receive a similar notice from Bank of America, immediately forward it to ..."

I cannot find anything about it on SNOPES (Urban Legends), so I will assume it to be true.

So... this scam issue is kind of sitting towards the front of my brain… and the phone rings. It’s before 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Damn… where’s the tragedy? No one calls us before noon.

AH HA… caller ID says it’s Bank of America calling. “Hello?” It’s a recorded message saying that there have been some questionable charges on my credit card. You know the routine… press 1 if you made the charges; press 2 if you didn’t; press 3 if you need time to figure out if you made these charges or press 4 if you want the message repeated. My inner voice is SCREAMING: REMEMBER THE EMAIL !!! [note: what I didn’t remember was that the email I received said I would get an email with a web site reference]

Luckily I am sitting at my computer. I press 2 and log into my bank account while waiting for a Bank of America representative to help me. And… voila!! Two charges made that morning… one at (an on-line dating site) and another at Horseshoe Bar U (or something like that… I have NO idea what that is). As for the on-line dating site, the ‘CURSE’ of the computer led me to my current marital situation. Enough said! I did not make either charge.
Of course all this turns out to be legitimate, but I’m still thinking a scam artist is trying to steal my credit card number – not that someone has ALREADY STOLEN it. The B of A rep is so nice and trying to get information from me and I am NOT giving it up. “Will you please verify your email address for me?” “Nope, I get all my statements on line. Bank of America already has it.” I was so NOT going to give out any info. Damn that email… that cursed email!!

The stolen credit card has been destroyed and a new one with a new number will be issued. I am very grateful for the diligence that Bank of America has shown me. And I thank Roxanne (the rep) for putting up with my paranoia.

The ‘CURSE’ of our high-tech world presents all of us with such infinite choices that we forget the communications of 10, 15, 20 or more years ago. It has made life easier and more difficult at the same time. It can give us hours of enjoyment, provide infinite knowledge and keep us in touch with long-lost or distant friends and relatives. It can also steal your money, your identity, your life. My small incident on Saturday was scary enough for me. I’m not untouchable in this byte-size world. Sometimes I really miss a less technical world… and sometimes, I don’t.

Thanks for stopping by... y'all have a great week...

Visit more Manic Monday stories here. Thanks Mo!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday Thoughts # 4

Have a great day everyone... thanks for stopping by...

Back from the foothills...

This is a picture taken in February when we visited our friend Ed (a.k.a. Mr Moose) in Sonora. The hill doesn't look ALL that steep from here, but it sure is when you try to walk up -- or down. Anyway, we had another very nice visit with our friend over the past few days. It was very warm -- hot even. We are in the midst of another summer heat surge. Anyway, I would have taken pictures on this trip but my camera decided to have a "melt-down". Yes, I have tried new batteries.

One of the highlights of my visit this time was to participate in Old Farts' Day at the local Sonora grocery stores. Sonora is about 45% retirees and on Tuesday some of the grocery stores give the seniors 5% off on their entire grocery bill. Ed figured that last year he spent about $4000. on groceries. Since he shops on Tuesdays almost ALL the time, it worked out to a savings of about $200. Now that's nothing to sneeze at, right?

We also watched the State Farm Home Run Derby on Monday night and the All Star Game on Tuesday night.

I had a long long phone conversation with my 85+ year old aunt on Sunday. She lives in Wisconsin and I was hoping to garner some more knowledge about my dad's childhood from her. It looks like this is going to be quite a project for me. I want to do this for my sons and grandchildren, so they know something of their heritage... then again... that's another story that I will share with y'all some day.

Thanks for stopping by... have a great day!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday Thoughts #3

There just aren't enough hours in this week. And next week, we are going to the Sierra Nevada Foothills (Sonora) to watch the MLB All-Star Game with our friend Mr. Moose and his cat, Penny.

I spent yesterday with an old friend who has finally moved back to the Sacramento area. She needed a ride to have her hair done in Loomis, CA (about an hour north of where I live). So we took the day to visit and shop! It was fun and I was really tired when I got home.
I spent the morning creating a birthday card for Richard's brother, Dan, who will be 50-something on Monday. Last year he sent me a card that was half burned (because of all the candles on my cake). So this year he is getting a birthday invitation to the Golden Years Living facility. My daughter-in-law has celebrates her birthday this Sunday and a good friend has her cake-day next Thursday. The cards are now done and I will be off to the Post Office shortly.
When I get back, I will go back to work on the information I found about my dad's school and summer camp. I really want to get that done.
Thanks for stopping by... have a great Thursday...