Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Historical Research

Mike says I should be more philosophical in these posts, rather than simply narrative. He says it adds value. Methinks he overestimates my depth.

I am still working on the Wu family pictures from the 1800s. I could try to explain why I find these photos so endearing, even though I don't know anything about the people in them. I prefer to find out as much as I can about them. I can sometimes guess where they lived from the photographer's studio. I can sometimes guess relations from the physiognomy. But, if all else fails, I can make stories out of whole cloth.
I love being able to put a picture into a family tree. It's like putting together a jigsaw that actually means something. I created a family tree on Ancestry.com, starting with Michael and moving back in time. You can view it as a guest, if you are interested.
I am throughly stuck when the families are still in China but the Munroes and Watkins go back quite a ways. 
I have also been stumped in my search for information about "C.P. Munro, the man who plays E flat", as he appears in last week's blog. There are many pictures of him and his wife but I can't find them in the census. I know they played the Haymarket Theater in Chicago when it was vaudeville before it got racy. I also have a picture of his wife playing the trumpet.
I am looking forward to starting on the photos of Tiam, Frankie's dad. He was a good-looking guy and apparently enjoyed having his photo taken. And there is more information about Tiam and Mae because of "My Chinese Marriage."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Killer in the Garden

Yesterday afternoon, I was talking to our cat sitter on the phone, commiserating over how she had to clean up feathers while we were gone. She blamed Al because Tiger is her favorite. I looked over at the back door to see Tiger waiting for me to open it. When I got closer, I realized he had a bird clamped in his jaws. I yelled, I screamed for him to drop it but he just sauntered away. I wasn't sure if the victim was dead or alive so I went to get an implement. I wasn't going to pick it up with my bare hands in any case. I cornered Al and got him to let go but the bird laid still on its back. As soon as I started to pick it up, it flew away. Al and I were not speaking for the rest of the day.

It was cool this morning so, after the gym, I weeded the garden, trimmed some, added organic fertilizer and compost. Things don't seem to be growing as fast as they have in the past. Is it a case of the watched pot? The pea pods seem to be nearing the end of their season but Chris tried the first of our yellow pear cherry tomatoes. He complained that it wasn't very juicy. A banana pepper is almost ripe as is a cherry tomato. We have three teeny zucchini and, although there have been lots of flowers, not a single pumpkin yet.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Then why is it so hard?

I have whatever is the opposite of ADD. It's not really OCD but it must have some cute acronym.
I have always struggled with "keeping all the balls up in the air." I get into one thing and want to do it until it's finished. But so little in life is ever really finished.
Maybe it's also due to the fact that most of my adult life I have had jobs that required that I multi-task or juggle many different tasks or drop whatever I am currently doing to respond to some crisis. Maybe I respond by wanting to concentrate on one thing.
So.. laundry doesn't get done... The house doesn't get cleaned... And I forget to write this blog. It's hard to shift gears sometimes. I haven't made anything in a month because I am up to my eyebrows in Wu family pictures.
Anybody got ideas about how to maintain balance? The only thing I can come up with is setting limits on myself, creating a schedule.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Digging Roots

I have been spending almost all my time for the last month scanning, restoring and posting Wu family pictures. They were everywhere when we moved Chris's parents out of their home of 50 years.
Until the late 1970s, I didn't know this family at all so it's been an amazing journey to discover their history through these pictures. This is Uncle Pete who, according to the back of another picture,"ran away to join the circus." He was Frankie's great uncle, her mother's brother. I can tell from the pictures that he lived and played music in Chicago and had a beautiful wife who was also musical.

Even photos of people whose names and histories I will never know are fascinating to me. I think about how they chose what to wear, if the portrait celebrated a special event and what they did after their portraits were completed.

So do you wonder how I can spend so much time restoring these pictures? Here's a small before and after. To save the original images, each of the speckles on the original has to be removed individually.

It's incredibly time-consuming and makes for sore fingers, elbows and shoulders. I hope that someday someone will be as excited to find someone they wanted to know about or an image that speaks to them even though they know nothing about the person in the picture.
Since I am spending so much time on these, I'll try to post my favorite image of the day. All of them will be on flickr.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We're Going to Kansas City

I can't believe we were in Kansas City for three days and didn't go to Stroud's. We did have some tasty Q at Oklahoma Joe's which is in a gas station. But our best meal, by far, was at Lin and David's house. Lin made yummy mashed potatoes and grilled corn on the cob and shrimp. She catered so kindly to my allergies. It wasn't just the delicious food, though. It was so nice to sit out on the deck and watch the fireflies and have a pleasant conversation - politics aside.
It was especially nice to cuddle up with their new puppy, Bentley. I couldn't stop even though I knew I would pay with allergy symptoms later. Look how cute! Who could resist?
Dr. Wu seemed to enjoy himself although, the next day, he worked very hard to express his disappointment that there was no steak! I took the blame.

I spent every minute I could in organizing, cleaning and posting the Wu family pictures. 1980 and 1981 are online. Since we got married in 1981, it brought  back a lot of good memories.
Chris sat with his dad for a while looking at photos from World War II. It took a while to engage but then he could remember lots of good stories.
We planned to take him out for the steak he missed, but he was too tired. Plus, it stormed like crazy.
During a break in the rain, we walked Dr. Wu to the frozen custard store. His caregivers are the best! We are so lucky! They really love him and take fabulous care of him.

Nothing Tips Like a Cow

After lunch at Chipotle, we went to Mom's old house to see how Angela and Vern had fixed it up. They took out a wall between the living room and kitchen, moved all the plumbing, added and fireplace, and combined two small bathrooms into one luxurious spa. But the thing that really blew me away was the finished basement. It was a scary, moldy place and now is bright and clean. Definitely added living space.
We had dinner at Young's Jesey Dairy (Great ice cream!!) and then took Elvis to visit the cows and goats. This calf was enjoying Tasha's petting and then decided her dress was very tasty!
Tasha ditched us to go out with friends and we called it an early night.
I woke up at 4 am completely alone in the hotel room. Chris's keys and wallet were still on the desk so I was pretty sure that I had slept through the rapture. I found him in the lounge where he had escaped from my snoring. In my defense, I had a bad cold. I let him go back to the room and I stayed up. I was too freaked out to sleep anyway.
We took a walk in Cliff Park so I could take some pictures of Elvis. I remember exploring the cliffs when I was a child. It seemed so big. Not so much anymore.
We had brunch at the Simon Kenton Inn. We stayed there the last time we were in Ohio 18 months earlier. Boy, have they expanded! It is completed surrounded by beautiful rolling hills of corn.
After brunch. we went to Mom's apartment and I looked at pictures with her. At first she didn't even seem to try to remember anything but then it seemed to click and she could remember lots of details.
Then it was back to Columbus and dinner with Patty and Jim (and, of course, more kitten pictures!

News Flash: Summer is humid in the midwest

So, remember Flat Stanley? Robin has 3D Elvis. We took Elvis to Ohio with us and the pilots made him feel very welcome. Although they did express some concern that their friendliness might lead to them looking for new jobs.
Stepping off the plane in Ohio was like entering a sauna. It was tempting to catch the next plane back to the temperate climate of home. But duty called and we soldiered on. We drove to Westerville to see Jim, Patty (and Rocky, of course!) When we drove up, a pride of cats lounged on the neighbor's porch. They were so photogenic that Jim had to come out and ask us who we came to see. 
Elvis had to hang out with the Joes (more pix on Flickr) and when Patty got home we went to Cheescake Factory where I enjoyed a Georgia Peach and the four of us shared a slice of strawberry cheescake. Yeah, we had dinner first but you know what's important.
We drove to Springfield conked out and got up early for breakfast before we picked up Mom and Lynds. CHris, of course, had a tip for the best breakfast. When we located it, the doors were locked and the building was for sale. We ended up at Elton's which was populated by big folks in overalls. The food wasn't great but the atmosphere was a slice of Ohio.
We got Mom and Lynds and set off for Wright State and Tasha's graduation. After sitting in traffic for an hour, just to get to the distant parking lot, we were waiting for the shuttle bus when the skies opened and drenched us. Everyone in line and on the bus was friendly and took events in stride. We walked into the auditorium just as the grads started walking in. Angela got there early and saved us seats. It was a huge graduation and they called every single name! An impressive feat! The only way we could actually get a shot of Tash was through the Jumbotron. After, when offered anything she wanted for lunch, Tasha opted for Chipotle. Dork.