Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A New Year and 52 Things

My sister was telling me about a friend of hers that did this very cool thing when she turned 50. My sister said she plans to do this in the new year, and I thought it was so cool, I'd do it myself.

With the new year upon us, take your age in the new year and then create a list of that many things you've never done that you can do in the new year. So, for myself, I will be turning (gasp!) 52 in the new year, so I will create a list of 52 things I haven't done and do them. I shall then check them off the list as I go.

What is cool about this is that there is no pressure. I really believe the pressure to accomplish goals or resolutions can lead to failure so I like the rule that there is no pressure. You can even change your "things" as go along. The ultimate goal is to complete however many things (based on your upcoming age) in the new year. Your "things" don't have to be monumental either, but rather things you can really do. For instance, cook quinoa or go to a cemetery and photograph headstones that someone requested on You may even want to volunteer at a shelter one weekend, or start a journal. The possibilities are endless and open to change, just as long as you can do things you want to do that you haven't done yet! A kick back bucket list, I guess. I hope you'll give it a try!

I shall create a spreadsheet of things I shall do this year that I've never done and as I complete them, I will check them off. But even better (I know!), I will blog about them! These little gems will be tagged here as "52 Things" and the post titles will also contain "52 Things" so that you won't miss a single exciting moment!

I really hope others will join in and share their "however many things" with me. I really believe we can all inspire each other! Having said that, I'm getting an early start with some of my 52 things for the upcoming year.

1 - I will make a vegan German Chocolate Cake. As a kid, that was my absolute favorite cake in the world. It has been too long since I've had it, so, I'll come up with a recipe that meets my vegan diet.

2 - Request a coroner's report (my grandmother's). I learned that these are public record.

3 - Offer international shipping at my Etsy shop.

4 - Transcribe 1940 Census Records (I've never transcribed any census records and have already signed up as a volunteer)!

5 - Compile my mom's recipes into a cookbook (I have all those recipes of hers in my possession) and offer the vegan options. She really was a great cook, but now, it isn't something she does.

So, here's my start, and, maybe number five is a bit huge, but, I'll give it a shot. Remember, no pressure. That just really makes it more appealing IMO.

I hope others will join in and share their own accomplishments and goals here or share their links! I think my item 5 is huge and will take several months to complete, but I have others so far that will be easier. I look forward to seeing where this goes in the upcoming year. I also look forward to seeing what others do as I might find someone else's "thing" something I want to try.

Here's to 2012 and a prosperous, successful, healthy, safe and happy New Year! Do things! Make things happen and contribute something good to others while doing something good for yourself!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Holiday Weekend Recap

The Holiday weekend is ending and the New Year is on the horizon. It is Monday, but I seem to have the blahs like I tend to get on Sunday. In an hour or so, I will log on to the work computer and do some work as the morning deadlines will come either before I'm fully awake or while I'm preparing my mom's breakfast.

The weekend went fast. It seems the majority of it was spent shopping, running errands, calling in and picking up prescriptions, doing laundry, chores, wrapping gifts and cooking meals. Alas, the art projects fell short. That seems to have been my mantra this year and not one I like. I did some brief search through my posts here from this year and that has been a common theme. I really need to make a better effort. I know other people find themselves as working caregivers and make the time to do things that fulfill them on a personal level or make the time to do little things for themselves. I just haven't been able to successfully work that balance yet and am sitting here typing, thinking about how yet again, I have hideous regrowth and didn't seem to manage to get an appointment to color my hair. My escape time tends to be writing or doing genealogy research as that does not require dragging out art supplies and is something I can do while in the kitchen cooking.

My house is a mess and I feel that my life is too. I need to get my mom into activity programs that will benefit her while allowing me some time to do those silly little things like hair appointments and art projects. I need to get her house ready to rent out and get things in her house sold or donated. I also need to go through my own stuff and let go of things I no longer need or use.

Today I had planned to walk into a salon and get my hair colored, as well as (here we go again) make some art, but then I found myself making breakfast and lunch for my mom, checking her blood pressure, giving her meds, and helping her set up her foot bath for a soaking and foot massage. In between, I pretty much drank coffee, read some gen blogs, checked in on the Etsy happenings and thought about what I wanted to do (she moves so slow these days). Then laundry, dinner, dishes, and the weekend is over. At least the week is short and another holiday weekend is just around the corner.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Cool Yule and a safe, healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!
I had a very nice Christmas, prepared a huge dinner, and actually got everything I asked for. My sister and I got my mom a foot bath and she was very excited about that. We also got her two sweaters, a Sobakawa Cloud pillow (I got one, too, and it is very comfy), and a massage gift certificate.

Now I am so tired I can barely type this. I'll write more tomorrow (I can't believe I've been away for a few weeks). Where did this year go? That old saying is true - the older we get the faster it goes. The year flew by and I have to say it was a huge year of genealogy discoveries for me (I found my grandmother Lola), as well as being personally challenging.

Last Sunday, my BFF got my sister and I tickets for Christmas to see one of all of our favorites, Brian Setzer Orchestra (BSO)! We have gone to see his Holiday Extravaganza many times over the years and he NEVER disappoints! If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it.

Until tomorrow, I leave you with one of my fav holiday songs and the best cover of it, by BSO. The only time I saw him perform this live was the year the US bombed Baghdad and he dedicated it to a buddy of his who was there. It was very moving and brought tears to my eyes as well as many around me in that theatre. Until tomorrow...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays, and a Song of the Week

It is a rainy day and it is a Monday. Rainy days don't so much get me down, but Mondays tend to. And the rain today brought some cold weather with it, along with some cold winds, but luckily nothing like the winds we experienced last week that did much damage in certain areas.

Since it was so cold and rainy and Monday, I thought it was a good day for some warm comfort food. I made a really good batch of Lentil Barley Soup and some cornbread muffins. It did hit the spot! Unlike the recipe in this link, I did add two bay leaves and some torn Kale and it was fabulous!

I posted yesterday about Lena Cloos and her death certificate and indicated that I'd be calling the facility in Costa Mesa to talk to the woman that handles the patient records.  I did call her today and, as I suspected, my relationship may not be considered next of kin. But, I do have a homework assignment - I need to use my "detective" skills and find out if Lena has any living "next of kin" such as grandchildren or great grandchildren. Lena did have two daughters that are now both deceased, and from what I can tell, one of her daughters had a son. He is also deceased, but it appears that his wife and three daughters are still living. Now I must figure out who they are and how to contact them.

I also mentioned in yesterday's post that I had made a bunch of bottle cap magnets. The resin is drying now and they look so cool! Not all are totally dried yet, but I just couldn't help taking a pictures to share. Yeah, the little things. I'm so happy with them, yet the pictures I took tonight aren't that great. Actually they're pretty bad and I can't seem to fix them in PhotoShop. I'll have to wait until I can get pictures during daylight to share.

In keeping with the post title, it is a rainy day and a Monday, so I thought it was appropriate to share a Song of the Week. The weather may not be beautiful, but the song is and so is the voice of Karen Carpenter. She was such a talent and her life ended so tragically. Two weeks ago, a very nice man I worked with passed away suddenly from a heart attack. When I was telling my mom about his passing and how very nice he was, she said that it always seems that the nice ones leave us early and the bad ones seem to stay around. Maybe the nice ones are just lucky enough to leave while they are at the top of their game so that they can be remembered that way. Or some may not have gone while on top of their game, but we still remember them for the things they contributed. My song of the week, obviously, is Rainy Days and Mondays by The Carpenters. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lena Cloos, Part 2

Oh, man. I got Lena's death certificate this past Thursday, and have been taking it in since. Lena Cloos, aka Magdalene Moyer died in DeWitt State Hospital on 5 Nov 1951 in Auburn, CA (Placer County)! I really couldn't believe it, yet prior to getting her death certificate and knowing where she died, I did wonder. I wondered if Lena and Lola being in the same county and possibly city, were aware of this and knew of each other's whereabouts. I wondered if they were in contact with each other. I also wondered if Lena was for some reason at DeWitt, as their both dying in Placer County did strike a chord with me.

So, Lena was at the same state hospital that my grandmother, Lola was and they were there at the same time. I did review the medical records I have for Lola and there was no mention of an aunt anywhere in the files. That doesn't mean a mention wasn't there, but from what I understand, these records get purged over the years and therefore, what I have, has no mention.

Lena was a "resident" at DeWitt (according to her death certificate) for 3 years, 10 months and 19 days prior to her death. Based on that I figure she was admitted around 1947 or 1948 and the physician that signed off on the d/c indicated he had been treating her from 17 Dec 1947 until 6 Nov 1951 (her date of death). Interestingly enough, Lola was transferred from Camarillo State Hospital to DeWitt on 17 Dec 1947.

I wonder if Lena may have been at Camarillo prior to landing at DeWitt. Lena's usual residence was listed as Los Angeles. Or maybe she just somehow landed in Northern California at DeWitt in 1947. Sadly, my hope of an informant that may have been a relative  was shattered. Her informant was the DeWitt State Hospital Clinical Records. They did have good information, so either she provided it upon admission or someone close to her did.

I called the facility that holds DeWitt's records Friday and the person I needed to speak with was off. The records are held in Costa Mesa, CA because DeWitt is closed. It closed in the early 70s. I will have to call again tomorrow to see what my chances are of requesting and obtaining Lena's records. I imagine I may not the closest living relative, yet, I might just be the closest interested relative. I know Lena had children (they are now deceased) and I'll have to research their children.

I really find it rather sad that a few women on my dad's side of the family did die in State Hospitals. My mom always felt that my grandmother was in because of menopause. That is very possible as she did have her ovaries removed at 22 or 23 years of age, which could have started her change early and at a time when the only way "they" knew how to deal with the emotional aspects of that, was to declare them mentally unstable and lock them up. My grandmother did suffer from depression in 1930 (which was documented in her medical records). I can't help but wonder just how many women that were depressed or going through the "dreaded" change, landed in mental hospitals. Locked up and maybe given weird shock treatment and then released. Maybe after that, they were different and then put away forever. Who knows.

The scary thing is that it really wasn't that long ago. The other disturbing thing is that due to the diagnosis of the time, probably many women lost support of their families. How very sad. Mental illness was such a stigma back in the 30s through the 60s (and maybe even through the 90s). And to think that mood swings, depression, or the change of life could have been considered mental illness! Could it be considered that now?

On the art side of life, I have made a bunch of bottle cap magnets and more line art from my prints for screenprinting! I won't share pictures yet as the resin hasn't fully dried on the caps and the screens haven't yet been printed. I also FINALLY got my cut today! It has been so long and my hair was getting really ratty looking. The guy cut it a bit shorter than I wanted, but it will grow and he did a pretty good job. Curly hair isn't something that all stylists are gifted at. I know that from experience!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cocktail Cat Test Print

I have been thinking that I need to turn some of my groovy cats into line art for screen prints. I can then print them on towels and shirts. I get great feedback on my cats, but not really sales. So, my thought is that if I make them more "functional" they might stand a better chance of finding new "homes".

I have been working on many, but thought I'd share Cocktail Cat. In reality, I may get nice feedback on my designs, but do I really get any view on my Etsy shop? Not really. Is that disturbing? Absolutely. I can create treasuries until I'm blue in the face, but that doesn't seem to be what works (no matter what any Etsy expert might say). I can relist until I'm blue in the face, and, well the same.

Anyway, while I try to figure out what the hell I need to do to get my handmade items out there, I thought I'd share my first test print of my Cocktail Cat. I turned my collage into black and white line art and just tweaked it a bit.  Here are the "before" and "after" results. I was actually quite happy with the test print. Now, for the fabric printing. Of course, that will come after work, my mom's doctor appointment and my trip to the vet.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Blood and Cats

I got home this evening and there was blood around the house. Not dark but still a lot. There was blood on the couch, on the chair, on the bed, in the kitty donut on the bed, and little bloody paw prints all around the carpeting in the house.

My mom had put a blanket over the blood on the couch and did say that she thought it was Petey as he had been sitting in the spots today where the blood was.

Basically, the blood was pretty much in all the areas Petey was today. Petey's little paw pad was cracked (kind of like my hands in this weather) and he left blood and blood prints all around. I have to take him to the vet tomorrow evening to make sure he's OK. He is acting normal - running, eating, sleeping, scratching on cat posts.

I called the vet to see if there was anything I could put on is paw such as aloe or something. I was advised by the receptionist not to put anything on it. I asked if it was possible that his paw pad cracked and bled like my hands do in this weather. I was told no. Naturally, I was told it would be best to take him in to see the vet. So, yeah, we're doing that tomorrow evening. If the vet tells me that is pads were dry and cracked and to put ointment on them, and then charge me for the visit, I will demand a refund.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lena Cloos

Lena Cloos was a name I came across a few times over the past few years while doing research and looking for my grandmother Lola. I saw a few Decatur newspaper blurbs about a "Miss Lena Cloose" and always thought she might somehow be connected to my family. It wasn't until I saw a blurb in one of those old papers about Lena and Emma Sowers visiting someone, that I knew there was a connection. Emma Sowers was the daughter of my great grandfather (Lola's father) George Cloos' sister Catherine Cloos Sowers Mauzy. Plus, Lola's middle name was Lena.

Until just recently, Catherine aka Kate, was the only sister I knew George had. There were several newspaper articles mentioning their visits, and Kate Mauzy was listed as George's nearest relative on his WWI draft registration.

Towards the end of October, I reached out on the Rootsweb message board for Decatur, IL, requesting an obituary look up for George. Someone came through almost immediately (the gen acts of kindness is truly beyond words!) and sent a transcription of the 1947 obituary. It confirmed my thoughts that Lena Cloos was connected.  Lena Morgan of California was listed as a surviving sister of George. The obit also listed a surviving sister from California named Louise Allen. I had not yet discovered a Louise, so this was another great find! It also gave me proof that George's mother, Elisabeth Groshauser had remarried a man named William Henninger (or Henninges - I've seen both spellings) and had more children (George's surviving half brothers Rolf or Ralph, and Roy). I did find Emma Sowers listed in the 1900 census as a granddaughter to William Henninger prior to getting the obituary.

As soon as I got the obit, I found a death record for Louise, the woman I didn't even know about. I found her on the California Death Index (CADI) on Rootsweb. It was easy to find her as she died as Louise Allen. I used her name, father's name Cloos, and birthplace "other" (I figured she too was born in Germany) in my search criteria and she popped up right away. Louise died in 1955 in San Diego, California. Her death index record even had her mother's maiden name of Groshauser. I also found Ralph's Illinois death record on Ancestry and it listed his mother's maiden as Groshauser, as does George's death certificate.

Lena Cloos or Lena Morgan, on the other hand, eluded me. I couldn't find much on her. I did find on the Illinois Regional Archives Database (IRAD) that Lena Cloose married Alfred Martin in 1893. OK, so maybe Alfred Martin and Lena Cloos divorced before 1947 and she remarried someone named Morgan. Actually, Alfred Martin died in 1935 from what I can tell. I cannot yet find Lena in 1930, but she did have two daughters with Alfred, Doris and Alfreda. And there the trail went cold, until last evening.

I was thinking about Lena and that in 1947 she was living in California so I was pretty sure she died in California as she would have been in her early 70s at the time of George's death and I just didn't imagine her moving around from state to state at that age for some reason. Previously, I had tried searching the CADI for Lena Cloos, Lena Morgan and Lena Martin but found nothing. So I decided to search only on birthplace "other" and father's name "Cloos". There were several hits and among them, Louise, but no Lena. As I looked at Louise's record it came to me to remove "Cloos" as father and put "Groshauser" as mother and leave birthplace as other (no first or last name) and I got a hit! Not sure why I didn't think of that before as that is how I found Lola after all!!!

Lena died in Auburn, California (Placer County) 6 November 1951 as Magdalene Josephine Moyer. There it was - mother's maiden name Groshauser and father's name "Closs"! As with the census records I found for Lena Martin, Magdalene Moyer was born in 1873. What was so surprising to me was that Lola died in 1960 in Auburn, California! I immediately ordered Lena's death certificate. I wonder if they were in contact with each other. Lola was in the state hospital at that time in Auburn. I can't wait to find out where Lena was and who her informant was. I realize she died many years ago, but hopefully her informant will be someone that will be "searchable". I keep hanging on to the thought that someone will be alive with pictures, stories and information to share.

I also found that someone added a memorial to her on How cool that strangers do that!

I can't wait now to get the death certificate and wish I could somehow convince all State and County offices that maintain vital records to get automated. I can't understand why in this day and age, one must still print out paper applications and send checks and wait weeks for informational copies of vital records. Of course, we can use a third party online service that these offices contract with, but the fees are astronomical.