Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Fern Elizabeth Snapp Robinson Sewell

My dad's first wife was Fern Elizabeth Snapp. I believe they met through mutual friends, Bernie and Opal Cole. Bernie and Opal were the managers of the apartment where Fern was living, and my dad was friends with the Coles. Fern and my dad were young when they married on August 22, 1940. She was 21 and he was 22. They were married in Huntington Park, California and honeymooned in San Francisco, California, staying with Red (my grandfather) and Gladys. They went to the Worlds Fair. I didn't know that until about a year and a half ago when talking to the widow of my dad's childhood best friend. You see, Jack and Betty Ann Swineford, accompanied my dad and Fern on their honeymoon! That was because Jack couldn't get time off of work to be my dad's best man at the wedding. My dad had never mentioned that he went.

Fern was a very kind person. She was also quite a glamour girl. From what my dad said, it was Fern that convinced him to visit his mother, Lola. My dad hadn't seen Lola in a few years. My dad always said Lola was in Norwalk State Hospital (now called Metropolitan State Hospital) and I figured that was where he visited her, but based on the records I have and the timeline of his life with Fern, he would have visited Lola at Camarillo State Hospital.

My dad and Fern separated probably around 1942 and I believe she filed for divorce then. I'm really not clear on that timeline, but I know that my dad said she was very nice and he said he was an "ass". When I spoke with Betty Ann she said that she thought it was 1942 when my dad showed up at their house for cards without Fern and said he had left her. The rest of that is a mystery and I still need to get to Downtown LA to retrieve the actual divorce record for timeline. From what I've heard, they were still married when my dad was drafted and rumor has it that Fern remarried before my dad was discharged and before the divorce was final. Again, I'm not sure if that's correct and will begin to research that soon.

Anyway, they did go their separate ways and Fern remarried a businessman named Paul Sewell and my dad remarried a young lady named Esther Vondollen. My dad's circle of friends always remained in touch with Fern and her mother, Mary Roades Snapp. At some point, Paul and Fern moved to Oklahoma City. Paul had a trucking business and Fern worked with him running the firm.

I knew that Fern was killed in a car accident and that she was the only one that died in that accident, but I just didn't know when or where that was until I spoke with Betty Ann. She told me it was Oklahoma City in the mid 1960s. Prior to that, I just always thought it was sometime in the 40s for some reason and I thought it was in California. My parents never shared tons of info, obviously, hence my thoughts. According to my dad, Fern was always afraid of cars and feared she'd die in one. Betty Ann told me that Fern was actually involved in a plane crash and survived that, and had no fear of flying, but apparently, cars were a different story.

Armed with a place and an approximate year, I posted to the Rootsweb/ message boards for Oklahoma City asking for an obituary for Fern Sewell. It wasn't too long before a woman responded and said she'd check the newspapers at the library (mind you, she did this during horrible weather conditions). She sent some newspaper articles about the accident! True to what I had always heard, Fern was the only one killed in the accident.

It happened on Friday, July 28, 1966. Paul and Fern were driving in their car with Fern's brother James and his wife. They were traveling west on NW 39 Expressway in the 3500 block when they were hit head-on by a car driven by Thomas J. Dawson. Dawson was travelling east in the westbound lanes and police could not explain that. Fern and Paul were both wearing safety belts upon impact.

Fern's funeral services were held at 2pm on Monday, July 31, 1966 at Smith and Kernke Funeral Home. I will have to check with them to see if they have an actual obituary.

As for any art this weekend, the ideas were massive yet production nil. With taking my mom to her hair appointment, errands, filling and picking up prescriptions, returning mom's items that don't fit, shopping, laundry, chores, no art from me, yet again. I am now feeling very down about the fact that I didn't do anything fun for myself (maybe selfish) and now have to prep for the day job tomorrow.

I had an idea for a dish towel and got the supplies I needed and planned to work on it, and photograph it in progress to create a tutorial, but now it is after 9pm on Sunday and none of that has happened. Plus, my new smart phone isn't even loaded with my contacts, nor did I create a Twitter account. I feel sometimes like I'll never accomplish what I want to under my current circumstances. What can I say other than, oh well, deal with it. It’s easier to blog in between doing laundry, running errands and making dinner than trying to do art projects sometimes. Sadly, that doesn't help my goal of creating art to sell on line. Hell, I can barely get views any longer when I re-list items in my Etsy shop. I really need to rethink what I'm doing. I would hate to die tomorrow feeling like I do right now.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Smart Phone, Bracelets, Genealogy, and Family Recipe Friday

The past 24 hours have been rather interesting. Got up and got ready for work. Prepared my mom's lunch and chatted with her before heading to the office. Prior to heading to the office, I checked my Etsy and found that I'd been featured in four Etsy treasuries! That was sure nice to wake up to. In case you are not familiar with the treasury thing, basically, it is a way to showcase other shops and their items and share it with others. It is a great way to promote others, while promoting yourself. The thing is, you must get people to click on it and "favorite" it and view it, blah, blah, blah.

I belong to a really great and supportive Etsy team called Etsian Artists. My history with Etsy is that back in November of 2009 I opened my shop/account, added my avatar and banner and profile and that was it for an entire year! Lazy maybe. I had some items to list but not many, so I was a bit timid. Then a year later, I listed nine items, and have since added to that, but need to add more. I have tons of ideas and half finished items just waiting to be listed. The other thing that is "just waiting" to happen are more sales! That would be super nice. I had considered joining teams but never did until our fabulous team captain, Elizabeth invited me! That was after she featured me on her fab blog! I was honored and excited and jazzed and any other word you can think of!

I have finally "graduated" to a smart phone! Today I upgraded my mobile and now can spend the weekend getting to know it and figuring out how to stay connected when I'm running my mom to all of her appointments! Yeah!!!  And, yes, I no longer have an excuse for not opening that Twitter account. I still don't "get" Twitter, so this should surely be interesting.

The other cool thing that happened in the past 24 hours is that I was contacted by a genealogist today that I met back in April of 2010. We met at the LA County Records' Office (vital records) before I found my grandmother. She offered assistance and I gave her the details I had at the time, and then nothing. Turns out after our meeting, she encountered some family issues and after a sad death, was beginning to catch up. She did send me research info on my grandmother that I had already done, research that took me two years to do. I thought to myself that if she hadn't experienced her grief, I would have found Lola in 2010. However, all things considered, I am glad that I was the one that found Lola.

Here are some bracelets I've made but haven't yet added to my shop because I really do need to get better pictures of them.

And now for the Family Recipe Friday. When I was a teenager, I was famous for bringing by friends home just in time for dinner. My mom was never really ready for that but she never got mad at me either. One night in particular, my mom made the only "scary" recipe I ever remember her making. She was a fabulous cook, and would still be if her vision was still with her.

This night she made a funky gelatin dish. Oh man, even before I was a hard core vegan, this scared the hell out of me. From what I remember, she had chopped veggies like onion, celery and carrots and placed them in a Pyrex baking dish and then poured liquefied Knox gelatin over it and let it harden. I couldn't bring myself to touch it. She had NEVER made that before and said it was something that her mom used to make. My two friends did try it, and I could tell by the look on their faces that it was not easy to consume! A recipe gone bad or a bad recipe to begin with, but, thankfully, she never made that one again, and we did laugh about it years later!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Big Rigs, Spoonman and Freeway Gridlock

I can't remember exactly how the conversation came about but a few days ago, I was talking to a co-worker and 18 wheelers came up. That reminded me of the time I was hit by one and I had to tell her about it.

The year was 1994 and it was a Friday. Back then I had a job that had pretty cool work hours. We worked  9 hour days, Monday through Thursday and 4 hours on Friday. I loved that schedule as I always knew when I wasn't working and could schedule appointments easily. I would always schedule my hair appointments on Fridays. So on one particular Friday early afternoon back in 1994, I was making the commute (yeah, my hairdresser at that time was not close by) to the appointment. It was really like any other Friday commute to get the hair done, traffic moved OK and then the dreaded gridlock on the LA freeway known as Interstate 10.

Back then I drove a Pontiac Fiero. I loved that car. It was a dark cherry red with light grey interior. In retrospect, I don't know why I had to have that car as I am much too tall for a sports car. I would nearly bend in half just getting things out of the very small trunk! Plus, I wear heels so getting in or out of that car was always an adventure. I must have looked like an Amazon woman crawling out of that tiny vehicle. Add to that, the fact that SUVs were the newest phenomenon and caused major "visibility" issues on the road for those of us driving "low to the ground" vehicles!

So there I was, that early Friday afternoon, in my sports car on Interstate 10 sitting in gridlock, and almost at my exit. I was in the slow lane and had the radio blasting and the window rolled down. I still remember the song that was playing on the radio. It happened to be a song by a band I loved, Soundgarden, called Spoonman.

As the traffic inched forward, I glanced into my side view mirror and was pretty scared! All I could see was a huge rubber tire. The tire of a big rig. A big 18 wheeler, and I knew it was almost on top of me! I guess I did what anyone in that situation would have done - braced myself, held the steering wheel tight, and screamed as the big monster hit my little car. Thank God for guard rails as they did stop any possibility of my going off a cliff (okay, not a huge drop but still a drop). My car was pushed by the impact of that big machine and I pushed hard on the brake and tried to control the steering wheel, again, all while screaming. To this day I can't really understand how helpful the screaming was!

The good thing was that we were not moving fast so I was able to get the car to stop and didn't smash into the guardian angel guard rail! I managed to stop in the shoulder just moments away from my off ramp and wait for the truck to pull up behind me.  I almost couldn't get out of my car as my legs were rubber at that point and all I wanted to do was chain smoke cigarettes to calm my nerves. It was hard to open my driver's side door as it was damaged from the impact, but I got out and was standing there on the side of the freeway, while weird guys drove by yelling cat calls! Oh please. How about pulling over and offering to help instead of yelling unwanted shit! A little observation - that is not cool or appreciated, guys!

Anyway, the truck driver was just as freaked out as I was. He was a working stiff with a young family and just didn't see my tiny little car and tried to change lanes. It was an accident and nothing malicious. In conclusion, I decided to let his company take care of the repairs as I didn't want to contribute to the loss of livelihood for this young working man and his family by involving insurance companies. We exchanged information and I got to my hair appointment (a bit late). As I left my appointment and got back on the freeway, with my now jacked up car, I suddenly heard that scary big rig horn sound and looked, only to see the driver that hit me waving! He had made his delivery and was heading back to home base. Anyway, my car was repaired, I was given a rental and everyone was fine.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

I feel the need to bring back Wordless Wednesday.  I haven't done many of these posts, but I think it's time. Such a great idea from Geneabloggers and a great way to preserve old family photos. They have daily blogging prompts which are quite fun. 

So, without too many other words, the first picture is one of my favorites of my big sis and I. The second is another favorite of Red (my grandfather Earl), his second wife Gladys (they never did legally marry because Red never divorced Lola, but Gladys was the only grandmother I knew and she was kind to us and was quite gifted at crocheting and would give us great blankets and slippers), my glamorous aunt Georgette and my dad. My aunt refers to it as "the hat picture".

My big sis and I

My grandfather Earl, my other grandmother Gladys, aunt Georgette, my dad

Monday, July 25, 2011

Can the Weekend Really Be Over?

 Please tell me I'm hallucinating and that it isn't really Monday! Please tell me that I don't have to get up and go do something mundane when I'd rather do something creavtive and fun. Then I always hear things like, "I'm so thankful I have a job" or "you should be thankful you have a job". Surely there's some truth to that, but what if that "job" you're so "thankful" for drains the absolute life out of you or might just be taking a toll on your health? Then what? I've read that times like these are the best to start a business. Hmm. Maybe so, but what kind of business? Enough of that downer talk, but any thoughts are surely appreciated.

On Saturday my sister thought it would be nice to take my mom out for lunch and then shopping at one of her favorite stores, Merle Norman. My mom had said that she'd like to go get some foundation and lipstick. Having macular degeneration makes it hard for to primp herself into her onetime diva self and she's been feeling a bit down about that. So off we went and had a nice lunch in a very loud Chipotle. Naturally, my mom eats much slower than my sis or I and we waited quite some after finishing out veggie tacos for her to finish her burrito in a bowl. Then we walked to Merle Norman. My mom got lovely special treatment there and ended up getting this awesome tinted moisturize with SPF! It really looked good on her and brightened her complexion! I couldn't wait to try it. She also got a nice pink lipstick that is somewhat reminisent of the old Yardley Slickers!

On Sunday, I FINALLY did some test prints of my lino and soft rubber blocks! Yes, I think Hell did freeze over. I did my test prints on an unironed floursack dish towel and pretty much feel that the lino blocks did not lend themselves well at all to the fabric. Not sure why that is.

I feel that the soft rubber blocks printed much better on the "unironed" cotton, and now my little adorable Louie might just be ready to adorn kitchens worldwide. Will need to work on the prints though, prior to his household appearance. Oh, and get better pictures!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fabulous Finds...and woe is me

This has been the week from hell (as they say). Work is getting me down, it has been hot, and I have managed to go nearly the entire week without producing any art. I do tend to think of writing as art, so maybe my blogging in lieu of painting or printing might count. So, yes, those lino blocks are still waiting to be inked up and printed and I shall do that tomorrow. Tomorrow is Friday, after all, and thank God for that! I think, too, that I've tanked on the 30 day art challenge, so I am going to have to get a mental adjustment and try again.

I even told myself earlier in the week that I was going to pull out my Gocco and play. Well, not yet. I have been wanting to print with the Gocco for some time now, but have been afraid to since the supplies are quickly becoming obsolete as the parent company, Riso, has discontinued my favorite little "toy"!

Today I had to take my mom to a doctor's appointment. This was a follow up to discuss the results of her barium esophagram. The results were normal and only showed typical signs of aging which is good. She was having headaches, coughing, and what seemed to be allergies and the doctor gave her some samples of Nasonex which has really helped her. Well, we got to the appointment at 2 in the afternoon. There was a lady there already doing a crossword puzzle, and shortly after we signed in, a man came in for an appointment. The clock was ticking and the man there for his appointment was loud and chatty. Then the receptionist told us that the doctor was running late - a surgery went into OT and he wouldn't be in the office until 2:45. So, we sat and waited.

While we waited, the chatty man began talking to the lady doing the crossword puzzle. They somehow got on the subject of her husband's arthritis and various surgeries and then she mentioned that her husband is 85. I thought she was a child bride or something. Not that she was in her 20s, but surely, she wasn't yet 70! She had on a hip blouse and Capri pants, and was wearing sandals, exposing her polished toenails and toe ring. Her hair was done and make-up applied perfectly. I'd say she may have been a diva! She mentioned that she and her husband were pen pals and went to the same high school, except that she was 4 years younger than him! I nearly fell out of my chair. She began writing letters to him when he was in the Navy during WWII. When he came home he took her out for dinner to thank her for all those letters and they began seeing each other and have now been married 62 years!

Speaking of artists that are producing artwork on a regular (if not daily basis) and divas, today's Fabulous Find features both! Steven Hall is the artist behind some of my all time favorite illustrations, The Doodle Divas!

They are fabulous. They are fun. They are funny. And they are taking over and here to stay! You can adorn your walls with divas or you can get a diva notecard! And if that's not enough, you can even get them on candles, soap and t-shirts!

I can't see these illustrations without being in awe of the simplicity, yet the detail at the same. I love them.  You can find them on Etsy and follow their adventures of Facebook or on Steven's blog. Get out of the mundane and step into the fabulous (one high heel at a time, of course).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Deacon Jones, You've Been Gone Too Long

After an early morning of house cleaning (so not my strong point) and then five very frustrating hours at work, I left the office, stopped at the store and came home. I chatted with my mom and caught up on her fun visit today with her friend, Gaylene, who stopped by earlier today. She had a wonderful time! Then I changed out of the corporate "uniform" and into comfy "real people" clothes (jeans and t-shirt) and started to make dinner. I turned on my fab little kitchen TV to catch the news while cooking. Now, I am NOT a sports fan at all and get rather bored when sports is on the local news, but tonight was a bit different. Deacon Jones was on the news!

When I was a kid, my dad was a fan and follower of two sports teams - The Los Angeles Dodgers (baseball) and the Los Angeles Rams (football). For those of you that do not follow these teams, The Dodgers are experiencing much drama now with their current owner and the Rams left Los Angeles years ago. But back in the 60s and 70s when I was growing up, those were the local teams. I grew up at a time when one TV in the house was the norm and that TV was usually tuned in to the sporting event my dad was interested in. Surely, that seems odd by today's standards where most houses have TVs in every room!

One of the LA Rams players I remember (besides Joe Namath) was Deacon Jones.

He played on the Rams from 1961 to 1971 and is a Hall of Famer. Not sure if I remember him because he was a great player (again, I didn't follow, but it was a part of my childhood) or because of his catchy name! But, when I was a kid, he was a household name. He was on the news tonight speaking at a luncheon in Los Angeles and the minute I saw that and heard his name, I had major childhood flashbacks!

There was this very popular girl group called The Supremes (you might remember them)! They had many great and memorable songs. They were also fronted by a "diva" called Diana, until she left the group in 1970 to pursue a solo career and "replaced" by Jean Terrell. Of all the wonderful Supremes' songs, the one that always stuck with me was Nathan Jones (released in 1971). I actually thought it was called Deacon Jones, for some strange reason (and I attribute that to the house I grew up in). Even today, after seeing Deacon Jones on the news, I walked through the house singing "Deacon Jones, you've been gone too long" knowing damn well it was actually "Nathan Jones". LOL. Just in case you're not familiar with this song, I'm sharing it as it really is too good not to share! I hate to think of something this cool being lost in this day of say, Oops, I Did it Again or the like.

Another Day, No Test Prints and a Bit of Genealogy

So, another day has come and gone and so has my opportunity to test print the lino blocks! What's wrong with me? I've got about two week's worth of carvings to print. I left work yesterday with every intention of test printing when my cell phone rang. Naturally, I couldn't answer it as I was driving and the "take me to your leader" Bluetooth was buried in the glove box in serious need of recharging. Once I got home, I played the message from that missed call.

Well, it turns out my mom's friend was going to be passing through town today and wanted to stop by for a visit! My mom was so excited that we had to run to the store and get some cookies and tea for her visit. She was so looking forward to this visit from her friend and had been smiling all night! Me, not so much. Why? Because I am probably the world's worst housekeeper! Molly Maids, I am NOT, but should think about hiring them.

Since moving my mom in with me on the 14th of May, I still have boxes of her stuff in my living room and dining room. You see, boxes of my mom's stuff that should have been taken to "storage" on moving day, ended up here (including two bags of plastic grocery store bags - I kid you not). So there was the mad dash to tidy up. I would hate to think that anyone might be inclined to report that my mom is living in squalor! Was I busy tiding up last night? Not really, I started writing this blog post instead. Ugh. I really dreaded company coming over, cleaning, denying my mom anything, and cleaning (did I say that already?) Oh, I also dreaded that I had to go to work today, even though I now work part time hours.

I didn't accomplish much on the cleaning front last night as I was just too tired. I did buy lottery tickets but nothing came of that. Really, at the rate I'm buying them (and praying) something's got to give soon. That would be a huge score in an otherwise mundane and kind of stressful life. One of my friends pointed out that I've been feeling lost lately because I found Lola. That could be true. Even though I found her, there are still so many unanswered questions, and I'm kind of at a loss as to where to look, but, I know that will change as I seem to be pretty good at that type of research. And tonight, thanks to another friend, I just learned about a show in Canada called, "Ancestors in the Attic"! Well that looks quite good, and you can even watch episodes on the computer. I tried to do that tonight, but nothing would happen. I guess I need to update something here or try it on my other computer.

So, got up early this morning and started cleaning - dusting, vacuuming, mopping kitchen floor, putting things away, the works. The pad is now clean. Hopefully it can stay that way. I did drag out my lino blocks, new ink and supplies, but still haven't printed. Maybe tomorrow. I have to take my mom to the doctor's in the afternoon, so hopefully after we get back.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fabulous Finds...and a little more

For some reason, I'm really tired tonight, and have used that as an excuse to, yet again, not run test prints of my lino blocks. When I'm tired, I find writing seems to be much easier than pulling out the art supplies and working them. Surely, I'll kick myself if I don't get those test prints done soon! Seriously, what's the point of carving them if they're just going to hang out on the table! And why do I find it easier to carve linoleum than to print the carved pieces? Who knows!

A few months ago my cousin, Beverly, sent me some copies of old family photos she has.  I actually got the photos the same day I got the Records Release form from Fairview Developmental Center to request my grandmother's hospital records. The photos were so cool, but this one has really haunted me.  It was a copy and probably the original is not very big, so it isn't the best quality nor clarity, and I really need to get a scan of the original to better "research" the people in the photo.

Now I know my dad, and I know that the little boy with the ball on his head on the right is him. I also know that the tall guy with the wild hair next to my dad is my grandfather, Earl (aka Red) - and it's funny that tall and wild hair does run in the family. Could the lady next to Red possibly be my grandmother, Lola? I don't know as I've now only seen one picture of her that I'm aware of and that was the "inmate" photo on her admittance forms from the State hospital; a photo that does not depict a happy, young woman in her 40s. I also wonder who the other people are, and wonder if this picture was taken in Mason City, Iowa, where my dad was born. I'm still not sure when or where or how Lola and Red landed in Mason City, but I do know that they stayed there until my dad was 10 years old and then they moved to California.

You know that saying, "Those who can't, teach"? Well I think that saying sucks! In my opinion, anyone that teaches, provides a tremendous service to society, and sometimes, they are lucky enough to teach something they absolutely love!! What better way to spend your 9-5? I've always thought it would be so cool to be an art teacher. Imagine spending your days teaching people to paint, while you're also working on your own paintings that you might just show or sell!! Today's Fabulous Finds features someone that is an artist and an art teacher!

Katt, from Black Friday Studios, is a fabulous painter! Some of the best Johnny Depp paintings I've seen, have been at her Etsy shop! Yes, I do L-O-V-E Johnny Depp.

She is also an animal lover, and does donate to her local shelter and animal charities (which I find admirable)! This multi-talented lady is also a blogger. But she doesn't ONLY paint Johnny Depp, she also paints fabulous animal portraits! I really love her work and find her totally inspiring!

 The realism in her paintings amazes me, as I am NOT a realist when I paint. I think any student lucky enough to be in her art classes should be "thanking" God, and I'm sure learn a lot from this cool teacher!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Etsian Artists Team Treasury Challenge, Week 4

Yeah! I made the finals in this week's team challenge! The theme was "geek". Now it's time to vote. I have some serious competition here, but the cool thing is that the winner will be interviewed and featured on the team blog (which has an ever growing following) for a week and that means any shops featured in the winning treasury will also get the exposure! How cool is that? The other fun rule - next week's challenge must feature an item from the winner's Etsy shop.

So, without further ado, here's my contribution! Of course, I want to win, but really do exercise your rights and vote for your favorite.  I did buy lottery tickets today, so maybe I can win there if not in the challenge LOL!

Also, I pulled out my fabric ink to test print my lino blocks and much to my horror the ink was all dry! I had to grab my mom and run out to the art store! Yikes. Got new ink and will have to test print tonight. On a downer note, didn't get my hair colored. I wonder if I can use that as an excuse to not go to work tomorrow. Probably not. Ugh.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Hair Color, Wash and Set, and a Genealogy Challenge

Busy Saturday. Took my mom to get her hair colored today. Three hours later, we left the salon! You might gasp that it took that long, but you must realize that we are not talking about the blow-dry type salon here. My mom comes from the wash and set with curlers and sit under the hairdryer generation.  Once the hair is dry, it is followed by back-combing and teasing and lots of hairspray! But she was happy, and that's the point!

After the appointment, I made her lunch and we went to get her vitamins and pick up a few grocery items (and lottery tickets for me). Then home to watch recorded episodes of Keeping Up Appearances while I put the finishing touches on The Dionne Catuplets (should be ready to list tomorrow). So, yet again, no test prints of lino blocks! Tomorrow for sure. I will get up in the morning, make a cup of coffee and get printing!

In between the above, and making dinner, I checked my blog reading list and found a fun post at GenBlog about a challenge. The challenge is to list your 16 great-great-grandparents with their birth, death and marriage data (dates and places), countries, etc.  Well, since my genealogy research of the past two years has really only focused on my paternal grandmother, Lola, and her family, I am not ready to participate in a challenge dating back that far. However, I can list two of my paternal great grandparents and give a little history of them! So here goes.

George Cloos - Father of my paternal grandmother, Lola. Born 23 Dec 1871 in Germany (not yet sure where in Germany). Son of George Cloos and Elizabeth Grauhausen (both from Frankenthal, Germany, according to grandpa George's death certificate which I have a copy of). From what I can tell, he arrived in the US in 1876 at age 5. He had an older sister named Catherine E. Cloos Sowers Mauzy that he was very close to. He married my great grandmother, Effie Furst Beck 14 Dec 1892. They had five children - Bessie, Lola, Monroe, George and William. They split up before 1910 and were divorced 11 Oct 1920. George remarried Grace M. Hayes Abel Cloos sometime after 1920. I have established contact with a granddaughter of Grace and she has a picture of grandpa George to share with me once I make my trip to Illinois. George died in Decatur, Illinois on 28 June 1947.

Effie Furst Beck Cloos Roby - By far, the most notorious of my great grandparents, Effie was the mother of my paternal grandmother, Lola. Born 9 Aug 1871 in Prairie Home, Shelby County, Illinois. Daughter of Wells Marcus Beck and Emma Mayben (both from Pennsylvania). Her middle name, Furst, was the maiden name of her paternal grandmother, Leah Furst (mother of Wells Marcus Beck). Effie was the fourth of ten children. I have learned quite a bit about her thanks to a favorite site for genealogy research called They have many Decatur newspapers archived there.

On 23 Sept 1889, Effie gave birth to an illegitimate child she named Zetta Fern Beck. According to newspaper articles, Effie was "betrayed" by a 25 year old "Lothario" named Charles Cox, who refused to marry her after, as her father, Wells, put it, "blighting the life" of his daughter. Effie did charge Charles with "bastardy" and that must have been terribly scandalous in the 1889s! A young woman of 17 years old being pregnant and unwed must have been enough to drop a family from certain social activities of the time. Wells and Emma did claim Zetta as their daughter on later US Census reports, yet, Zetta was never mentioned in obituaries for Wells, Emma or Effie.

I'm not sure yet how George Cloos and Effie Beck met, but I think George may have known Effie's brothers (from articles I've seen). George and Effie married 14 Dec 1892 and their first child, Bessie, was born 7 months later on 1 July 1893. They then had four more children - Lola, Monroe, George and William. They split up sometime before 1910 and Effie and the children were living with different families as either laborers, domestics or servants for their board. Obviously, Effie was in no position to financially support five children once her marriage split up. I still cannot find grandpa George's whereabouts in 1910, but have found him in newspaper articles in Decatur from 1915 on.

Effie was arrested a few times in 1914 for being drunk in public. The articles did mention that she had a hard life. On the 13 Jan 1920 census she was "married" to Ellsworth Roby, yet her divorce from George Cloos wasn't "official" until 11 Oct 1920. Effie was arrested in 1930 for illegally selling booze and died at the young age of 59 on 13 Apr 1931 in Decatur, Illinois.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Moms, and My Attempt at The 30 Day Art Challenge

I went to a really nice memorial service today. A good friend of mine lost her mother last week after being diagnosed with brain cancer a few months ago. These past few months have been extremely hard on my friend as she and her mother were very close. Her mom was an amazing woman. She had a bit of a hard upbringing and was a single mother raising two young daughters when her marriage broke up, but did manage to overcome the hard times and succeed. She also instilled that drive in her own children, who are both very successful and independent young women now. She had a love of life and was taken way too early. She was only 59 years old.

After the service, I went to the office for a few hours before leaving to pick up my mom for her eye doctor appointment. As I've mentioned before, my mom has macular degeneration and has stated that she didn't feel like her glasses were good any longer. She had the full eye exam and her prescription glasses checked. Basically, the doctor said she is in the "end stages" of macular degeneration and that there is nothing that can be done to improve her vision and that it would just be a waste of money to get new glasses at this point. He also said that two major factors contribute to this condition - age and genetics, and then asked me when I last had my eyes checked and told me that I had a 30% chance of getting it! So, some things you can do to help prevent or slow the condition is to eat well (fruit and vegetables with every meal), don't smoke, and avoid hardcore drinking.

We left the appointment and I took my mom to a salon for some pampering. Then we came home. I made vegan lasagna for dinner and it was killer! I made a double batch of tofu ricotta from the Skinny Bitch in The Kitch cookbook, Daiya cheese, lasagna noodles, black olives and two jars of tomato and basil marinara sauce. Layer and bake for 60-75 minutes at 375F and then let it set for about 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving. I think what made this batch of lasagna sooo good was the marinara I used! As it was baking, the house spelled so fabulous!

Making some minor finishing touches to my latest mixed media "masterpiece". Then I can list the prints on Etsy. This was inspired by an episode of Antiques Roadshow. Someone showed up with collectible Dionne quintuplets dolls and that inspired this piece that I call "Dionne Catuplets". Now, I just have to finish it and list it.

Then I must run test prints of my carvings! That is on my "to-do" list daily and still isn't done. Ugh. Maybe I'll find my second wind after I finish this post and wash up the dinner dishes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Falling out of Bed

I took my mom Saturday for her massage and chiropractor appointments. Luckily, both are at the same place. She had the massage first. While my mom was having her treatments, I waited in the lobby thumbing through magazines. It was hot Saturday morning and the office didn't have A/C (not sure if they don't have it or if it wasn't working), but they had fans blasting and doors opened.

Phyllis, the massage therapist, came to the lobby to get a cup of water from the dispenser. She told me that she noticed a huge bruise on my mom's lower back. I hadn't noticed this. It turns out that while I was in San Diego on the business trip, my mom fell out of bed and that is what caused the bruise.

When I got home from my business trip, my mom did tell me she fell out of bed. She said she just woke up and was on the floor. Good thing she didn't hit her head on the corner of the nightstand! Since then, I check on her at night to make sure she is not on the edge of the bed. If she is, I have her move towards the middle.

I wonder why people fall out of bed. Could it be active dreams that cause them to roll around? I can't remember the last time I fell out bed (if I ever have). I know that my mom fell out of bed a few months back, before she came to live with me and did recall a dream she was having, and just waking up on the floor.

The massage seemed to really help her as she had been complaining about a pain in her side and low back (which I suddenly understood why she had that pain). When we got home, she knocked out on the couch for an hour and I took advantage of the quiet and worked on a mixed media painting and began carving another lino block.

I spent a good portion of the weekend working on these two projects and they are just about done! I tried taking a few pictures, but they don't look that good so I can't share them here now. Hoping to get pictures during daylight tomorrow. I'm also hoping to run some test prints of my carvings! Yes, I still haven't done that.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Visions of Sugarplums, Visions of Art to Come, and Retro Modern Projects!

After my business trip Monday night to San Diego, I have found myself busy with day job work and just not being creative! Not good. Needless to say, I now have even even more sketch/collage/painting ideas that are just waiting to come to life. I still haven't test printed my weekend carvings either.

Funny thing happened at the business trip on Tuesday. I took my older Epson all-in-one with my co-worker and I so that we'd be able to print and/or scan documents we needed for our trip. I purchased a newer model printer a few months back and my older model has just been hanging out at the house unused. When I needed to scan something Tuesday morning, I lifted the cover on the printer and noticed a page there, face down. I picked it up and was so surprised to find one of the medical reports I received from Lola's State Hospital files! That was weird, I thought. I wondered why I left that there and didn't put it in the file I am keeping on her. Hmm.

It did remind me that there is still much research to do on Lola (although that is always on my mind). For one thing, I really need to take a trip to Sacramento (State Capital) to see her records as I've learned that these are public. Now, I do find that odd, considering HIPPA laws, but maybe it isn't so much about medical records being public but rather court or inmate records. Basically, Lola was in the State Hospital system and therefore considered an "inmate" and inmate records are public!

The other thing that is still a mystery is when and where my grandparents met and married. I have no clue. I would love to find something on that, especially if there is information as to who witnessed the nuptials. I find it odd that I cannot find anything documenting their marriage, yet as far as I know, they were married (my dad was not listed on his birth certificate as a bastard child).

So, while I try to get back in the creative and genealogy detective groove, let me introduce another artist I absolutely L-O-V-E! Her name is Stacy and her Etsy shop is RetroModernProjects.

I absolutely love her work! I was a child in the 60s and just love all things mid century, modern, atomic and retro. I also love shapes and lines and lino carving! She does awesome work all while raising kids! She has also had some gallery shows which is so cool and is about to release new prints! Do yourself a favor and check her out! She's quite cool.  You can find her on Etsy and on Facebook!

Monday, July 4, 2011

30 Day Art Challenge - Do I Dare!

Lately I feel like I have been busy with so many things that being creative has taken a backseat. I really do hate that. I know of some artists that have challenged themselves to do something creative each day in the month of July. I thought that would be fun, but I'm afraid to openly commit to it for fear of not sticking with it!

Now that this challenge was in my head, I decided on Saturday I could work on a few things to either make up for the fact that day 1 had nothing creative to offer and also in case I don't make or find the time to create during the month.

I started by pulling out the sketch pad and found a face I drew about a month ago. I thought I might be able to work on that while sitting in the beauty salon with my mom. She was getting a perm, shampoo and set, and a manicure.

I thought possibly, I could remove the "cross-hairs" from the face, and using my Prismacolor pencils, finish the drawing. Well, I didn't do that. Instead I started a brand new sketch and spent the time at the salon working on that.

Once back home, I decided to carve. I started with a soft rubber block and drew circles on it and began to carve.

I also pulled out an old carving and worked a little more on it. I can't tell you how many half carved blocks I have!

On Sunday I watched I Love Lucy and drew squares on a lino block and began to carve that. I haven't yet printed any proofs and hope to do so this week. You might ask why I don't do it today (since it is a holiday), well that would be because I have to go out of town on a business trip! Ugh. Anyway, I was happy with the way the lino carving came out.

The other "creative" thing I worked on both last night and today, was rather torturous! I was trying to create a grab button for the blog. It took me forever. Well, if you look to the right, in the sidebar, you'll see the finished product!