Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veteran's Day: Thank you.

November 11th has triple meaning for me.

First, of course, it is Veteran's Day. A twenty four hour pause in which we as a nation attempt to honor our veterans, a period of time in which each year we once again remember how much honor is truly due to our veterans.

My Dad is in a parade today out in San Diego, as a Veteran of the Year.
He deserves it, not so much for his WWII service in the Navy (not to discount that by any measure) but rather for all the work he has done to champion the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial. It is an breath-taking Memorial, and little known outside of San Diego, even though it is the largest War Memorial west of the Mississippi, and unique in that it honors veteran who served in times of conflict while they may still be alive.

The MSVM began as a tribute to the veterans of the Korean War. A simple red wood cross was erected on Mt. Soledad, in the early 1950's. The cross went through several versions, and at last was placed as concrete links. About a half century went by, and the "top of Mt. Soledad" was a favorite place to visit for a 360 degree view of San Diego.

Then, one day an atheist (who just died a couple of weeks ago...) decided that the sight of a cross on a hill offended him. He pointed out that city funds were used to light the cross and keep it painted. Separation of church and state and all. I'm still not sure exactly what kind of "religion" this cross structure was supposed to inspire. It was just a marker to remind people of the fallen in the Korean War.

But be that as it may...a long story began, with the sale of the ground beneath the cross to the American Legion Post which originally erected the memorial. The atheist wasn't happy with that either, and went to court over it. The case ran all over the 9th circuit, and up to the Supreme Court, and back down to a local judge. Crazy. A few month's ago the cross had to come down, per a local judge's orders. The Supreme court took up the case, and said nothing. The Memorial was declared a Federal monument. All very confusing.

My Dad has been active part of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association, and the American Legion post that "owns" the cross (somebody owes them some money if the US government owns it now), and he also designed many of the plaques gracing the walls around the cross.

If you by chance have a US Veteran in your family, who served during wartime, you can have a plaque made and place on the Memorial in his or her honor. Space on the walls truly is limited, and the spaces are going to run out soon.

Honoring your veteran while he/she is alive to that is an amazing way to honor a veteran.

I mentioned that Veteran's Day had three meanings to me. The second meaning is the birthday day of my maternal grandfather, Matthew Stein. He was born Nov.11, 1894, in Salt Lake City, Utah. His family traveled from Germany, coming to Utah, and returning to Germany again, and then returning to Utah permanently.

Grandpa was a Veteran of WWI, along with his brother. He served in France, fared well, and carved the name of each town he went through upon his pipe. The pipe resides in my parent's home, a family treasure. I'll try and get a picture of it next visit.

The third meaning is that Nov. 11th 1975 was the autumn day day my Grandpa celebrated his 81st birthday, seeing family from far and wide while at the Veteran's Hospital awaiting a series of yearly tests. He felt fine, and the tests were part of a routine physical. It was deemed easier at the time to just have veterans spend the night in order to run all the test over roughly a 24 hour interval.

Actually, it was a great way to celebrate a birthday, seeing everyone who dropped by the hospital, and fighting WWI all over again with other veterans checked in overnight for their own routine tests.

I was away at college but had written a letter telling him how much I loved him. I'm not sure, but the card probably had chrysanthemums on it. Those are November's birth flower, and we always had them in the garden blooming just in time to make a center piece for his birthday dinner each year.

After everyone who had come to see him left, and the dough boys had finished their stories, the lights were turned out for the night, and that night, Grandpa quietly died in his sleep.

It doesn't get much better than that. Not for a veteran who was born on Veteran's Day, and died in a Veteran's Hospital, on Veteran's Day. Totally at peace.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Millinery: Desperately Seeking Vera Whistler

Whistle bait? On me, not so much.

On a cute 20 something, in lean jeans, sassy heels and a tight tank top...probably.

Grandmama Fay would have been scandalized. It was her hat, back probably in the wild 1960's, probably her attempt to be groovy. The hat's designer Vera Whistler was known for being up with the times, during the times that were "a'changing".

It is hard for me to picture The Southern Baptist Belle of Memphis wearing a rebellious style. I never personally saw her in this hat. She probably wore it with a suit, that had just those colors.

She had a pair of kid gloves in that shade of turquoise. I know that for a fact, because those glove are now in my possession. Probably the hat and gloves went together, perfect accent assessories for church, or a Ladies' Luncheon.

Check the ombry dyed ribbons woven into a foundation mesh, that when peeked at by separating the ribbons, appears to be crocheted.

A sophisticated use of tie-dye?

The faceted beads scattered over the hat are plastic, and the three larger green leaf beads are glass. Wonder why plastic was used?
Kind of tacky...

The hat pattern is a simple circle crown, with a slight dart to give the crown some height. The side band is wider in the front, narrowing in the back, and pleated with a single catch stitch, once on both sides, at about 4 and 7 o'clock, if 6 o'clock was the back of the head.
Whistler used a structural devise to hold the front of the hat up a bit. Otherwise the weight of the hat would have collapsed the design into a pancake layers.
Posted by PicasaThe hat is heavier than I usually care to wear, and is just a bit too small on me to comfortably pull down low on the brow.

I think it would be a perfect hat to wear on an autumn day, with a long belted cardigan sweater and maybe even cord jeans.

I've been trying to research Vera Whistler. There isn't much out there about her that I have found. Her hats show up on ebay from time to time, not often, and not demanding much price-wise as a designer either.

Anyone out there know about Vera Whistler?

Does anyone know whatever happened to Vera Whistler?

PS to daughter LauraRN: This hat would fit you...interested????

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Up to no good....

Frankly, I think they look like a couple of tough customers, hoodlums, up to no good.

Oh sure, loaf around great grandmother's tea cart, "Hey, we're just sunnin' ourselves, what's your problem lady?"
"That crinkly cat toy bug back there? Pfff...don't know nuttin' about it. I had nothing to do with it".
"Aw geez, wimmen stuff. Could you just let me in, already?"

(After all of this posing, they ran out of steam and retreated to Bernie's office, where they snored the day away. No work ethic with those two. Good thing Bernie's hard at it, bringing home the kibbles, er, I mean bacon for the boys. It's good to be a cat!)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Vintage Lingerie pt. 2

Hand stitched silk lounging pajamas, probably from the 1920's.
The hand embroidered lace applique is so early '20 in design. Perhaps it is just '20s inspired. Hard to tell.

The design really shows nicely when back lit.

The garment's true color is the pale peachy pink in the last shot. The silk fabric has a brocaide floral sprig design woven into the fabric itself.
This shot shows the fine mesh upon which the design was worked. Real life size, the mesh is between tulle and nylon net. But this mesh is silk.
Don't you just love the cute little heart shaped hankie pocket?

And notice that the lace applique design is repeated on the outside edge of the pant leg hem (against the wall).
Posted by PicasaThe true colors. See the brocade pattern in the pants fabric?

I just love shopping on ebay!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Autumn views, windows and roses

I wait all year for the autumn view from my living room. The four Japanese maples put on a vibrant show, each day raising the color intensity, right up to about a week before Christmas.

Autumn arrives late here along the Gulf coast.

I have one housekeeping expectation for autumn: Clean clear windows to enjoy my private woodlands view. The sunlight streaming through the richly colored leaves in the morning comes close to cathedral stain glass richness to my soul.

Sadly, the same sunlight bounces off any substance clinging to the window panes, creating white window fog that ruins my view.

I just hate that.

So I (or Bernie, depending on how much time and how domestically motivate I can cajole him into being...) troop off the hardware store for one of those window cleaning bottled products that you attach to your garden hose. I have learned that it is the best way to clear off the dirt from the windows.

The windows are sprayed with clear water, then soapy water, then again with another round of soften water, guaranteed not to leave spots. There never are any spots after that. Just general fog.

The next step is for me to hand wash the windows. They have a film on them to block some of the sun glare. So I have to use very soft paper towels, squeegees, and tea towels.

I use the "vertical wipe on one side and horizontal wipe on the other", so I can tell where the streaks are.

Have I tried every product out there to clean windows yet?
Yes I have.
One year I even used window wax.

Always, always, streaks.

I use bone dry toweling. I have used newspaper. I have used paper toweling designed for window washing. I have tried everything that any household hinter or old wife or professional window cleaner has to offer. I professionally research the possibilities. It just can't be done streak free.

Wait. I take that back.
When we had the house power washed, they professionally washed the windows, and the window looked 95% great. The inside, still a little work to do.
While I was at son Jeff's new home I noticed his windows were as transparent as a bar of paraffin. I used two different types of window cleaners there, and got them up to "smeared with Vaseline" level clean. Cleaning just one sliding glass door and one above the kitchen sink window I went through a half a roll of paper towels. When I gave up, the view outside was still seen through streaks.

Maybe I will price professional window cleaners again. By the time I buy all the window cleaning products, I'll bet I'll come in at just a few measly dollars cost difference between the DIY (do it yourself) and professional done version.

The cats don't help either. The lowest pane in the inside window and door pane always has little bean shaped prints. The cats walk up to the window, go to get a better look, and bam, the nose bumps into the glass, leaving a little bean shaped nose print evidence of their stupidity. Each and every time.

They look like smart cats.
Like they would have learned that there is a window there.
But no.


Bumped the glass again.

They can sniff the roses without touching them though.

They always take the time to smell the roses. They have the time. They don't have worry about washing the windows!

Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 06, 2006

Houston Hat Net: November Sip 'n See

We rock!

Our gathering was graced with the presence of artist Bonnie Bell, of Women who Rock.

Hostess Sue invited Bonnie to attend and offer to paint our likeness upon rocks for the reasonable sum of $10.

Such a bargain! So much fun!

The food was autumnal delicious, including a berried roast, and pumpkin nut brie.

(Back to the diet today!)

Sue had just recently had her house remodeled and we were given the grand tour through the house, and through the 2,000 resident hippos as well.
After nosh, we did our traditional "Sip 'n See" activities, which amounts to bringing hats to share, swap or sell.

Sue had suggested we also bring a special item to share, an accessory that held a happy memory or made you feel special.

Sue (in green) shared her mother's amazing engagement ring, an enormous pear shaped diamond in a soaring modern setting. "Mom" was an extrovert, just like Sue, and didn't have an engagement ring until many years into her marriage. The fabulous ring more than made up for the delay.
Gayle in brown shared the vintage 1910 dressing gown that she was wearing that she had acquired on her first visit to Victorian Elegance.

Would you believe this purse is made from buttons sewn together?

Suzanne had a tale about a fabulous enamel and rhinestone Disney character necklace that her husband purchased on the sly one year when they were in New York. A very romantic escapade, and believe me, the necklace would knock your eyes out. Fabulous!

Marie had brought her mother's agate long knotted necklace. Unique, and so lovely to touch.

A bikini was shared...the one purchased on a first trip, and still held onto for memory sake, although rarely worn anymore.

Maureen was wearing a black hat she bought on a memorable shopping trip at a Sakowitz.

I shared the gold bracelet that had belonged to my great grandmother. I loved how its impressed flower design felt as I rubbed them as a child. I still do!

A few other memories were shared, and we planned out our events for next year.

The Houston Hat Net rocks on! Posted by Picasa

Hurray for Hippos!

Our Houston Hat Net met in the home of Sue, who is the most upbeat person you could ever want to know, and who is a member of many unique organizations, the most unique of which is probably "Hippo Collectors of the World".

That may not be the exact title of the organization, but Sue has the third largest collection of hippos in America of record.

Two thousand hippos, according to her. I wonder if that is an exact count. I'll bet there are a few more who had lumbered off during hippo roll call.

How much does Sue love hippos? Her car, a RAV has been "art car'd" fiberglassed to become a hippo on wheels.
Sue entertained us with the pictures from the seventh annual hippo collector convention recently held in Long Island.

Around 80 folks hat attended that convention, some flying in from around the globe.

I was *astonished* to see a picture of a set of fine china that one member had commissioned. The member had paid for someone to go to all the zoos in the world, and photograph the various resident hippos.

Those photos then were used to create the design on an elegant set of china. Serving pieces, plates, cups the whole kit and caboodle. Awesome.

Clearly the member, the Long Island resident who hosted the Convention had "discretionary income" of proportions that most of us only dream of. And frankly, even in our dreams, could not come up with such unique ways to divest such riches.

The blue gowned ice skating hippo in the first picture served as our potluck center piece at Sue's. The ice skates reminded Sue of her mother.

The second picture is of a glass sculpture hippo that came in from LoDo Denver CO.
I always think of hippos when I think of Denver, don't you?

I loved the garden hippos. The sunken hippo head burrowed in the leaves is amazing. Posted by Picasa
The powder room sink. The lily pad floating above the hippo is the spigot, and water twirls out in a waterfall.

I'm not sure what Sue wants for Christmas this year. Being Jewish, she already has a Hanukkah hippo menorah. She's all about celebration.

I'll bet that all she wants for Christmas is a hippopotamus.
At her house, I'm sure there is always room for one more.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

At last we meet....

Posted by Picasa Around fifteen years ago or so my mom thought it would be wonderful if I would start tracing my husband's family genealogy. She herself had been working on my Dad's side of the family, as our somewhat historically significant family had some gaps to fill in along the way to make the lineage complete.

It used to be really hard to fill in gaps. It involved looking through films of censuses, hoping that a family was where you thought they were at a given year. The writing was often blurry, and the rolling of the film in the semi dark was hard on both the eyes used to see and the shoulder used to crank the film.

I asked my mother-in-law about my husband's father's family. My mil is LDS, but apparently not in the least motivated to get involved in researching her husband's family herself. She did hand over what she had, which was the fact that my husband's paternal great grandfather had been born in Clay Co, IL. in 1859, and was named James F.

No one knew what the "F" stood for.

Happily for me, that meant that he was therefore going to show up in the 1860 census. Just one family with our last name was listed in Clay Co. that year, and indeed, thay had a one year old son name James F.

James had several siblings listed, and his father was named "James Joseph ------" (our last name). I quickly reduced his name to JJ, to make it simple. JJ was noted as being born in So. Carolina, in 1818. I was off and running on the family tree now, and before the research weekend was over I had the family pretty well figured out, all the way back to 1630. The family was in Maryland by the 1660's, leaving England as King's Men, racing to avoid the perils of Oliver Cromwell's upheaval.

Our son Jeffrey was the twelfth generation of the family name in America.

JJ was the seventh generation.

JJ lived in Clay county for almost eighty years. He lost both his parents by the time he was ten, and was raised by his mother's brothers. He had three wives, burying two by the time he was fifty five. There were thirteen children altogether, nine of which survived childhood.

Knowing that photography took off during the Civil War, and that photographers roamed the country in the 1880 taking pictures of just about everyone, I was positive that there had to be a picture of JJ out there somewhere. Somebody had to have some picture...but the family members that I knew about really didn't even know about JJ at all, much less have a picture of him.

Years passed, and the Internet miraculously appeared on the scene. Soon I was on data bases and website dedicated to genealogy. One day I saw a posting of James F. brother's name, Ulyssus S. Grant ----- (remember Clay Co. was just down the road from General US Grant's home, and baby USG was born smack dab in the middle of the Civil War).

USG--- great granddaughter was thrilled to learn about JJ. All news to her.

A few years went by. Then up popped an entry on about JJ. I emailed Paul----, who had posted the message. JJ's great great grandson Paul replied, on Bernie's 53 birthday no less! Paul ---- replied that he was the grandson of JJ's youngest son John, who had been born in 1876.

Paul also shared that he had inheritied his grandfather's documents, including JJ's Bible. JJ received the Bible in 1832, and faithfully recorded the family history as it happened within its pages.

I was delighted. Paul lives in Santa Cruz, which was just over the hill from where we once lived seven years ago. Ships that pass in the night.

I replied to Paul that I was interested in all that he had to share. I told him how excited I was to learn about the family Bible, and how amazing it was to get his message on Bernie's birthday.

And that I had long hoped that someone out there had a picture of JJ.

That evening the following subject line appeared in my email:


And below in the body of the email, was the picture above. At last, a picture of James Joseph -----, arriving for us to see, 99 1/2 years after his death.

Update: JJ was approximately 50 something at the time of the photo, as it is a tintype, which was came into general use during the Civil War. Paul commented he and his male family members all bore a striking resemblance to JJ.
Bernie's brother is a dead ringer for JJ on the left side.

Paul said he has additional photographs of other family members of that era.
He has barely begun to go through all that he has inherited.

I can't imagine how he has not!