Friday, November 9, 2012

Thankful November Things - 1

I feel so lucky to have been a little kid during the 60s. We were kids, but exposed to much. Vietnam and the antiwar movement, hippies, awesome music that addressed the times, the Civil Rights movement, our parents worked and I personally felt safe knowing I had a home to live in that was filled with food, dogs, cats and family and friends. I may not have understood everything going on then, but I do now. We were also exposed to good cartoons and fun TV shows. I also think that the teens and those in their 20s back then, may have a different take on that decade.

Having shared all that, I was feeling a little bit of a flashback and want to share a song that I loved as a little kid. I never really knew what the heck they were talking about, just knew I loved the song and would dance around the house playing it over and over and over on the old console stereo. It reminds me of my big sis, as she had the album and would bring it when she'd come to visit. Times have changed and I could not even imagine being a little kid in any other decade.

I've seen many people taking the opportunity to share daily thing they are thankful for during this month. If I can even attempt to keep up, this post would reflect item number one. I am thankful for the decade I was a child in, and I'm so thankful that I was exposed to this song.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Friday Afternoon with Mom

We had a very nice late afternoon / early evening this past Friday. My sis thought it would be good to get my mom out of the house, so we took her out for a late lunch at a Mexican restaurant that just so happens to have a vegan section on the menu! The food was good, but so much. My mom had a soft chicken taco with rice and beans and my sis and I had potato flautas with killer pinto beans! Then we stopped at Sears so I could FINALLY replace my watch battery that died months ago. While I went to the watch repair my sister took my mom to Land's End. She ended up getting two pairs of pants and a nice long sleeve T-shirt. They had a great sale.

Then we went to Bed, Bath and Beyond. I had a coupon and wanted to get coffee for my Keurig. I only had one coupon with me but also found a cool hand held mandolin to slice veggies with.

After that, we went to the vet to pick up the dry food for the kiddos and then hit one of my mom's favorite stores - 99 Cent Store. My sis found some Jello pudding and told my mom. They had an old favorite of hers, tapioca, but surprisingly, she wanted butterscotch instead. As we walked through the store, my mom kept touching things and asking what it was and then how much it was. We walked through the produce and my mom touched everything. "What's this", she'd ask and I'd tell her cucumber. Then she'd ask how much and I'd tell her. She seemed to really enjoy that as it reminded her of how she and my dad would go shop there when he was alive. She had a awesome afternoon and so did my sister and I.

A Strange Dream

Oh my. Almost another month has slipped away and not a single post from me. I am going to try really hard to correct that problem through the remainder of this year, and reappear full blast in the new year.

I had a strange dream Halloween night. Apparently I was boarding my cats (something I'd never do) at a PETCO. I went to visit (?) them and then suddenly had a new kitten. Anyway, the animals were all kept in an open area and this dog kept harassing my cats. The dog looked just like the RCA Victor dog except his spots were pastel colors and he had a tattoo on his shoulder blades. It was a heart with his name inside it. It started with an "S" but I can't remember the name.
The store was insanely crowded and the employees were dressed like diner waitresses, in yellow dresses with white aprons and big teased up hair. They were all bitching about how many hours they were working. I was trying to talk to the manager while holding this new kitten, wanting answers as to why this dog was running free and why my cats were as well. It was near closing time and the manager couldn't help me because he had to deal with the crowds, the bitching employees and he had his baby there in a stroller because he had no babysitter. It was so weird. I have no idea what that dream was about.

Monday, October 8, 2012

My Thoughts on PBS

Yikes! I can't believe another month or so has passed since I've posted. Life has been taking a weird path lately. I admit I've been out of touch for the most part, and rather mechanical in my day-to-day life. A trend I don't like actually. I have been doing a lot of carvings, yet they haven't found their way to paper or fabric yet. I have been so craving screen printing, but lately, have felt I can't even draw anything. I need to snap out of this "thing" I'm going through right now.

As we've recently had our first presidential debate in the US, I wanted to share my thoughts on PBS (Public Broadcasting System), so here goes.

I've seen so much posted lately about PBS and Big Bird since the debate. I personally love PBS and have donated in the past. Like many of you, I grew up with PBS and our parents didn't have to pay for our opportunity to watch those shows. Hell, that was well before the days of "cable" television and networks that you not only have to pay for, but you are also forced to watch commercials!

I never watched Sesame Street, however, I know that show is valuable to many and has served a purpose. I was more into the Electric Company myself (cooler music), not to mention Dark Shadows, The Flintstones and The Monkees. Also when I was a kid our local and free networks actually aired fun Saturday morning shows for kids, as well as fun cartoons and shows during the afternoon, which doesn't seem to be true today. I guess the big / free networks have abandoned those shows assuming that the "world" has cable, and kids can now watch the Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon.

I'm an adult and find Saturday morning television to be a drag! The limited cartoons suck, in my opinion, and what little kid really wants to watch sports (unless it's the Wacky Races)? So, if PBS were to "go away", I assume educational television could now consist of Honey Boo (assuming the world has cable) or the lame "reality" shows on free and local networks.

I also love the historical shows PBS airs as they are a great source of entertainment for my 89 mother. She can relate to these shows as her short term memory isn't good. Not sure how many of you can understand that. When she gets to watch shows with Big Band musicians or about WWII, Doo Wop, or Andy Williams, memories coming streaming back. On the other hand, if she watches something like, oh, Big Bang Theory (or whatever), she has zero interest. It just doesn't reach her.

So now that I've vented, maybe someone can actually help me understand why I "pay" for cable channels and am still forced to see commercials (especially those hideous Carls Jr commercials). It's clear to me that money is being paid to these channels (the same as they are to the free channels) to air their ads. What's up with that? I once asked a cable support person that question and she couldn't give me a reason.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Remembering Elvis and a Song of Week

I remember where I was 35 years ago today! I was babysitting two little kids, Cammie and Greg. Their dad had worked for my dad prior to joining the PD. My mom and sister called me to tell me that Elvis died and it was on the news! I was shocked, like probably tons of other people.

Sharing one of all time favorite Elvis songs! I can't hear this song without crying and thinking of my dad. When he was alive, he used to sing it quite a bit. When my dad had a stroke and was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, my sister, my dear friend Kevin, and I were sitting in gridlock traffic trying to get the high desert to see him before he went under the knife. This song came on the radio, and naturally, I cried. We did make it in time, btw.

Where Have I Been?

I cannot believe it has been over three months since my post! I have been around, but not really anything major going on, except that I did find a living connection to my dad's uncle Paul Martin Robinson and she shared some very interesting stuff with me. More to come on that later.

Since my last post, one of my dad's favorite divas passed away. I was a rocker teen, so you can probably imagine my "horror" when one morning I got up and walked into the kitchen only to bust my dad singing along to "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer, on the radio! Whoa! He loved that song and he loved her! I was so shocked to learn that she passed suddenly from cancer.

I have been attempting new art projects such as tie dying shirts, making printing plates from craft foam, and I got my hands on the newly released Tulip Screen It. I have only burned two screens and they didn't work too well, so back to the lab, so to speak. I'll share those adventures, or misadventures, later.

My mom was diagnosed with vertigo. That was not fun. She was do unsteady and dizzy for weeks! It was hard to leave the house without worrying about her. It was a challenge to get things done while she was going through this. She now is taking meds for it and it is getting much better.

I am super excited because one of my dad's cousins, Beverly, is currently in California. Her son lives here and is having surgery. We are going to meet this weekend!  Besides my dad and my sisters, Beverly will be the first blood relative on the Robinson side of the family I've met! And now to work on meeting more as well as meeting those on the Beck and Cloos side! Beverly and my dad never met so this will be truly exciting! I'm getting batteries and gathering up my camera, portable scanner and pictures! Can't wait. More to come on that certainly.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May 2, 2005

Seven years ago today, a Monday, I was up and getting ready for work. It was early and the phone rang. It was my mom calling to say she couldn't wake my dad up. She had called the hospice nurse who was on her way to check his vitals. I told my mom that I was going to work and to please call me once the nurse got there and got him up.

I then called my younger sister to tell her mom had called. She was on her way to work, or so I thought, but instead she was at the gas station filling up her car. She said mom had called her too. I said I was going to work and asked mom to call me once the nurse arrived, and my sister said, "what the hell's wrong with you? He's gone. I'm putting gas in the car and I'll pick you up and we'll go to their house." I then called my older sister, as by then my denial was replaced by reality.

Talk about denial. That is one of the stages of death that we go through and I was in it at the moment big time. The day before, my sisters and I went to visit my dad and to meet with the hospice worker. He was ready for hospice at that point. We had a fun visit and he had a nice final day. He got to spend it with his wife and his kids and he got to see pictures from his grandson's wedding that happened on the Saturday before our visit. He wanted to go to the wedding, but wasn't up to it health wise.

This past Sunday, my mom and I were running errands and as we sat at a red light, I had this thought pop into my head, "I wonder what dad is doing right now." It was out of the blue and strange. The thought was kind of like he was still here but just somewhere else. I guess he was just stopping by to let me know he's around.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Not so Wordless Wednesday on Thursday

When I was a little girl, I loved puzzles, paint by numbers, anything arts and crafts, our family pets, my family, my friends and a few outfits and shoes I had.

I also loved music. I grew up in house full of music of many genres. The music my parents listened to, the music my big sister listened to and the popular music on local radio and TV shows. One of those shows was American Bandstand.

I think there was a time that everyone in the US had American Bandstand on their television at some point. Yesterday was not only my birthday, but the day that Dick Clark died. The ultimate teenager and man behind the show that introduced so many "top 40" artists to the US, died from a massive heart attack while having some procedure done at a hospital in Santa Monica, CA.

Then today I learned that not only did Levon Helm from The Band die, but Jonathan Frid (the original Barnabas Collins) passed away as well. Levon Helm passed away from cancer today, and Jonathan Frid passed from natural causes on Saturday.

I was a major Dark Shadows fan as a child. I mean seriously obsessed. I would run home from school every day so that I could watch the show. This was way before the days of VCRs and DVRs. The show was, in retrospect and watching from an adult perspective, very campy and full of  "bloopers" such as boom mikes in the scenes or stage hands, but, as a kid I never noticed that. I was just thoroughly caught up in it.

Once I woke my parents up screaming because I had a Dark Shadows type nightmare. My mom threatened to cut me off. She told me I couldn't watch it anymore. I really thought I would die! I could NOT comprehend life without it (and I was so young to be so dramatic). I cried, begged, whined, carried on and basically tortured her until she agreed to let me watch it and the agreement was that if I had another nightmare, no more Dark Shadows. Luckily, I never had another one, or at least not one that made me scream in the middle of the night!

So, I dedicate this post to Dick Clark, Levon Helm and Jonathan Frid. They were such a part of my childhood and my life. They brought joy and entertainment and music that I will forever be thankful for.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Benjamin H. Trump - 20 - 22 April 1940

My great aunt Bessie Cloos Trump was married to a man named Ben H. Trump. I still have no idea how or when they met, or when and where they married, but know of them through my genealogy research. Bessie was living in Decatur, IL until 1911 from what I can find. Ben was living in Greenville, IL until 1910 from what I can find. Sometimes research is tough when you can't just walk into a local library and pull old city directories. And as far as finding the marriage certificate, I have no idea where to begin since I have no idea when or where they married. This is tough.

Ben registered for the WWI draft in 1917 and listed a wife. I assume that was Bessie. He was living in Greenville, IL. The 1920 census lists them as married and living in Greenville. Then came the 1930 and 1940 census. Bessie was no longer living with Ben, but rather living as an "inmate" in Alton State Hospital in Illinois. I have no idea when she went in but am going to do my best to get her records. So, not only was she an "inmate" in 1930, she was also one in 1940.

I did find Ben's WWII draft registration that listed him living in a place called Donnellson, East Fork, Montgomery County, IL. Last week with the release of the 1940 census, I decided to try to find him. Lucky for me, Donnellson was only four pages and I found Ben on page 3. He was listed as a home owner and a blacksmith (which was his typical occupation). Funny thing is that it listed his marital status as "M" but then seemed to be crossed out with either a question mark or a number 7 written next to it. I tried to find out what either one of those notations might have indicated on the census, but failed. The 1940 census also showed me that Ben lived in Donnellson in 1935.

I still have not been able to find a death record for him, which baffles me. A few weeks ago, my sister suggested that maybe, like Lola, Ben died under a different name, or that maybe Ben was a nickname and not his birth name. I then began searching last weekend for any possible Trumps with the first name beginning with H as that was always listed as his middle initial. I did find a Harrison Trump that was born around the same time (not the exact birth date though that Ben listed on his draft registrations). Harrison died in Washington County, IL in 1979, but I cannot determine that date as the SSDI only lists month and year. That makes trying to order a death certificate a challenge.  I also tried to see what I could find on a Harrison Trump on Ancestry and FamilySearch, and found nothing except the SSDI listing. I wonder if that was him. The search continues.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My dad Robert - 18 April 1940

As I mentioned before, last Monday (2 April 2012) the 1940 US Federal Census was released. As the different (lack of a better word) organizations began to make the scans available, my sister and I were trying to find our dad. We knew he lived in Huntington Park, California with the family of a friend, and the friend I was sure he lived with, I couldn't find anywhere in the on-line genealogy world. The last known address we had for my dad prior to Lola being "sent away" was the 1930 US Census and we knew that wasn't going to be a good resource.

My dad was born in Mason City, IA on 11 October 1917. Sometime in 1927, when he was 9 or 10, my grandparents and dad moved to California after a trip here to visit Lola's brother Bill Meents. In January of 1930, Lola had some sort of "incident" and was hospitalized for a few weeks for depression. She was released.  On 2 April 1930, the family was on the US Census in Huntington Park. My dad was 12 years old.  By January of 1936, my grandmother was committed. My grandfather and my dad were not in her life at this point. My dad would have been about 18 years of age.

So as we were trying to figure out how to find my dad on the 1940 Census (and knowing our only means of finding him was by an address) I remembered that I have a copy of the marriage certificate of my dad and his first wife, Fern. They married 17 August 1940. I pulled that out of my files and wrote the address he had listed on the certificate down. I then tried to determine where the heck that enumeration district was. My sister was already getting the hang of figuring the districts out so I gave her the address and the mission to find dad was hers.  Within about 10 minutes she found him! He was living at the same address that was listed on his marriage certificate and it was in fact the home of his friend's family that I could never seem to find on line anywhere - The McGowans. He was listed as a 22 year old lodger at their home on 18 April 1940, and was actually living there on 1 April 1935. My dad is at the bottom of below image.

National Archives

That bit of info was interesting as I am still not certain when my grandfather, Red, split, so I now know it was sometime before 1 April 1935. Once I can find Red on the 1940, maybe that will help a little bit. I know in January of 1936, Red was living in South Gate, California. Oh heck, maybe knowing his whereabouts in 1935 won't help piece things together. Or at least, not just yet.

Happy Spring!

Wasn't it just Christmas? Again I ask where does the time go? I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, be it Easter or Passover. I grew up celebrating Easter holiday with the Easter egg hunt, Easter basket, Easter dress (not really bonnets though), Easter candy. Early on, we got chocolate eggs and after much whining, the parents changed it to chocolate bunnies. We didn't go to church for Easter unless my aunts took us (my sister and I that is). Sometimes my mom would go, but never my dad.

Me, Easter 1962. Huntington Park, CA

Maybe I should be celebrating both Easter and Passover. Upon recently obtaining my grandmother, Lola's medical records, I learned that she said she was Jewish on her mother's side (her mother being my "famous" and rather unconventional great grandmother Effie Furst Beck Cloos Roby). I really don't know the story behind that and have not yet been able to determine whether or not the Becks were Jewish. From anything I can find, they appeared to have held weddings and funerals at Christian type churches.

My grandmother though, would participate in Jewish activities while she was in the system, and is buried in a beautifully maintained Jewish cemetery. In fact, the employees at that cemetery are beyond amazing. When I first got Lola's death certificate and my sister called the cemetery listed on it, the woman my sister spoke with took down some information and said she'd go out and find the plot and email a picture. Within an hour, she did just that! I really look forward to learning more about this.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Great Aunt Bessie - 3 May 1940

With the exciting release yesterday of the 1940 census, I, like so many others out there, have been researching the census at any opportunity. The two sites I keep going to, and, haven't yet uploaded the one state I'm most interested in - Illinois.  However, the National Archives has all States uploaded on their site, so, this evening I decided to head over there and see if I could find my grandmother, Lola's, sister Bessie. I really had no idea where she might have been, but I did know where she was in 1930, so, that's where I started, and sadly, that's where I found her ten years later.

Let me recap here.  As I began to research my dad's family, and his mother in particular, I found her parents and siblings. Bessie was her older sister by one year and three months, born 1 July 1893 (7 months after my great grandparents, George Cloos and Effie Beck married). George and Effie had five children and sometime before 1910, their marriage broke up and Effie and her children ended up living with other families as hired help, domestics or servants by the 1910 Census. I still cannot find George in 1910. In 1910, Bessie lived with a family called Colter, in Decatur, IL, as a boarder. The only other thing I could recently find on her, was a 1911 Decatur Directory which had her listed as Bessie Cloos.

By 1920 and the census, she was married to a man named Benjamin H. Trump and living in Greenville, Bond County, IL. She was about 27 (yet the census lists her as 25) and did not work out of the home. Ben was older than by a few years and worked as a blacksmith (self employed) and owned the home they lived in. When or how they met, I do not know. When or where they married, I do not know. I know that in June of 1917 they were married as I have Ben's WWI draft registration that lists a wife.

But then there's the 1930 census and Bessie Trump is listed as a "patient" at the Alton State Hospital in Wood Bridge, Madison County, Illinois! You can only imagine my shock to learn that, knowing that my grandmother was also in a State Hospital. Bessie was listed as a white female, married and 35 years of age. This census was taken on 1 Apr 1930.

Armed with her last known address, I went to the National Archives site this evening and entered the enumeration number from 1930 and got the enumeration number for 1940 and then the pages and began checking. I really had no idea where she was by then, but decided to check there as it was her last known address for me.  Unlike Camarillo State Hospital, where Lola was, the pages for Alton State Hospital had the "inmates" listed alphabetically. I began browsing through the pages until I got to the "Ts". I then scrolled down, and sadly, there she was, ten years later, still in Alton State Hospital. This census was taken on 3 May 1940. It listed Bessie as 45, white, female, born in Illinois, married (and then it looks to be crossed out with a question mark) and it does state that on 1 Apr 1935 she was at the "same house".

My heart sank and I felt such sadness. What happened to her? Why did she and my grandmother end up in these facilities while their brothers lived outside and normal lives? How could this be? I know they all had the same hard upbringing, and I know my grandmother's was compounded by the loss of a child and then moving to a new state.

I am of the opinion that Bessie did not have children as I've yet to find any proof of that, therefore, I believe my sisters and I are her next of kin. I am now seriously going to research how to get a hold of her medical records. I have attempted to reach out to living relatives on her husband's side of the family, and either, no one knows of her or has ever gotten back to my sister or I. I have her obituary that does not list her blood family at all and she died 6 Feb 1976 in a convalescent hospital in Peoria, IL. I imagine she died alone. Makes me so sad.

For the record, I tried to print and scan the 1940 census page with Bessie, but kept encountering problems. It just would not print even though I downloaded the free software that is suppose to make sharing this stuff "easy".

Again, I can't say enough how lucky we are to live in the time we do, as I really think there was a time when you could be "thrown" away because you were alone and unemployed and maybe suffered from depression. Why that side of my family didn't "stick" together, I may never know. I am pretty sure they knew where each other was, but that clearly didn't change what was their reality.

Now begins the serious research on how to obtain Bessie records as I (and my sisters) are clearly her next of kin and this is our bloodline.  Surely, more to come here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Grandmother, Lola - 9 April 1940

Today, April 2, 2012, the 1940 US Federal Census was released at 12:01 AM by the National Archives. These scans were released to a few different organizations including and has been uploading pages by state and today they began to upload California (along with Pennsylvania, Maine, New York, Guam, American Samoa, Delaware, District of Columbia, Indiana, Nevada, Panama Canal Zone, Rhode Island, Virgin Islands and Virginia. has uploaded Kansas, Oregon, Colorado, Virginia and Delaware.

Mind you, none of these pages have yet been indexed by name, so in order to search for your relatives, you must have an idea of where they might have lived and then determine the enumeration number for that area. There are maps available at the various sites, including the National Archives, but I haven't been able to really figure the numbers out.

This evening I checked at Ancestry for the progress of California and found Ventura County was up. I checked it and found that the city of Camarillo was available and there were only five links. The last of the links was the one I needed. It included the now closed Camarillo State Hospital (or as it was called in 1940, Camarillo State Mental Hospital). I knew from the hospital records I was able to obtain, that Lola was at Camarillo in 1940. When I opened that file, it was huge - 93 pages! This meant 93 pages to search without the luxury of names being indexed (which makes the search SO easy). My sister and I got on it and began to look through the pages, looking for Lola. Now, we knew that she was in the system as Marie and not Lola, so that was the name we were looking for. My sister was checking ahead of the pages I was checking and finally she said, "here she is". I asked what page she told me page 63 and line 34 (please see last line below).

National Archives
 The 1940 Census has some great questions, including address in 1935, yet, apparently all these great questions weren't all that important of anyone that was in a State Hospital in 1940. Basically, the only information that was apparently EVER going to be important to any family members in the future was Name, Age, Sex, Race, Marital Status and Place of Birth. I find that rather disturbing.

There was a time in my search for Lola that I really thought my only means of finding her was either going to be through the assistance of a medium like James Van Praagh or the 1940 Census. If I hadn't found her, I sadly realized today that I still wouldn't have a clue about her from this census. I hope that isn't going to be the case with her sister, Bessie! Time will tell though.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday and The Mystery of the Cat's Milk

This is a picture of me and my maternal aunt, Loretta "Sadie" McPhee's (1921-2004) cat Sam. Sam and I were babies at the same time. My aunt Sadie and aunt Pat used to babysit me often. Rumor has it (or call it family lore) that I used to drink the milk from his kitty bowl. That was back in the day when people actually gave cats milk. I always believed my aunts were not telling the truth as that is just pretty nasty, but they said I'd hold up his empty milk bowl, with remnants on my face and say (ala Oliver Twist) "more please"! Oh man.

And speaking of cats, here's a bad picture of my Go Cat Go collage screen printed on a flour sack dish towel. I'm working on these prints now and plan to have them available on towels, shirts and tote bags soon.

Wordless Wednesday - Lola's Grave

This is where my grandmother, Lola L. Cloos Robinson, is buried. She is in an unmarked grave and died and is buried as Marie Robinson. We still do not know "why" Marie, but we do know that her records did know she was Lola.

She is buried in the empty area left of the walkway. My sister and I have talked about getting her a grave marker. She's buried at Eternal Home Cemetery in Colma, CA.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Mystery Women in Old Family Photos

I was thinking about this picture that I got from my cousin. I don't think anything was written on the back of it or I think my cousin would have mentioned that. I know that the little boy that looks a lot like Little Lord Fauntleroy, is my dad. The tall, skinny guy next to him with all the hair, is my grandfather, Red. What I wonder is if the woman next to Red might just be my grandmother, Lola. I believe the other woman (second on the left) is either my grandfather's sister, Lillie Mae or his sister, Edna. Not sure who the guys are. I look forward to finding that out.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

1940 US Census

I'm so excited! In 11 days, the 1940 US Census will be released and available for viewing! I am so looking forward to learning more about my family tree. There are so many people that I cannot find or could not find even in 1930 and I hope that 1940 will shed some light.

Having found Lola, my grandmother, I know now where she was in 1940. She will even most likely show up on the census as Marie. I wonder where her sister, Bessie was in 1940. In 1930, Bessie was a patient at the Alton State Hospital in Alton, IL. Was Bessie still there in 1940? And where was Bessie's husband Ben? I still cannot find any death record for him, and there is no way he is still living.

My grandmother also had many cousins that I have hit brick walls with. These are the young female cousins that most likely married and died with different last names than, say, Beck. If I can find them in 1940, maybe I can find children that might still be living and might have information and pictures!

My grandmother had an aunt, Lena Cloos that died as Magdalene Josephine Moyer in 1951. Lena married a man named Alfred Martin in Grundy, IL in 1893 and they had two daughters. Alfred died in 1935. I cannot find Lena in 1930, but did find that Lena died at the same state hospital as Lola. I'm still trying to find living descendants of Lena, but that has not proven to be so easy.

I wonder where my grandfather Earl (Red) was in 1940. I'm not sure if he was still in the Los Angeles area then or if he was in Northern California. I believe he was in Northern California as a the widow of my dad's good friend told me that when my dad married his first wife Fern in August of 1940, they went to the World's Fair in San Francisco and stayed with Red.

I also wonder who my dad was living with. I believe the census was taken in April of 1940, so he and Fern will not be listed in the same household. I can't wait for the release and already imagine hours of obsessive searching on that day! Why the heck is it being released on a Monday of all days? They really should release it on a Saturday.

Where Does the Time Go?

Wow! These past several weeks (and almost two months) have been consumed by the norm - work, doctor appointments, picking up prescriptions, replacing starter in car, changing spark plugs to pass smog test, etc.

I also told myself that it was time to stop stalling and turn artwork into screens to print. I had been working on turning my collage prints into black and white art and printed them on transparencies, and I finally started to do something with all those transparencies. I should confess that I have a bad habit of buying supplies and never touching them. I also have a weird obsession with screen printing "tools". What I have always wanted to do is screen print on fabric but I have never had the funds to purchase all the equipment to "set up shop", so hence, my obsession with any new screen printing "tool" (I say tool for lack of a better word at this writing).

A few years ago, I purchased the PGArts. This is the larger format Gocco that I had always wanted and it was on sale at Paper Source. As soon as I bought it, I found out that the company that owns and makes Gocco, Riso, was discontinuing my favorite "toy". Therefore, I never took the PGArts out of the box. I continued using my old smaller model until I finally ran out of screen masters.

Well, I pulled the PGArts out of the box. I attempted to burn two screens and neither worked. I'm not sure why they didn't work, but can only say that the entire imagine did not burn both times. Ugh. Then I ordered some PhotoEZ Standard Stencils. I burned a stencil in the sunlight and then burned some in a light box. They came out pretty good, yet still lacked some detail from the artwork. They kind of looked a bit blurry when I pulled prints.  I then ordered some StencilPro Standard Stencils and I think they came out quite good, that is until I printed my stencils on a rather "rough" dishtowel. I didn't like the way it looked.

I then brought out the Yudu. I had purchased one back in 2008 or 2009 and had never used it (I only used one at a workshop I had taken). I watched some videos and read some helpful blogs and attempted to place the emulsion sheet on the screen. My first attempt was dreadful! It turned out looking like an abstract painting.

I clearly had too much water on the screen so the emulsion took forever to dry. I would attempt to pull the protective plastic backing off and it would pull the emulsion with it (a sign that the emulsion is still wet). I have since attempted a few more sheets of emulsion and have pretty much determined that knowing when the screen coated with the capillary film is dry, is a visual thing.

I then read about others having great success using liquid photo emulsion on their Yudu screens. It is certainly more economical and easy to apply once you get the hang of it. I am still learning to get the hang of it! I have coated several screens with the liquid emulsion and only a few have really been good. The very first screen I coated was so crazy, though. I used a scoop coater but applied the emulsion holding the scoop coater upside down. Talk about a waste of emulsion!  The first "good" screen I coated with the liquid emulsion, ultimately failed. When I was rinsing off the screen after burning the artwork,  I missed a few areas of emulsion so the print was wrong.

Seems that my biggest investment lately has been in emulsion remover! I am not deterred, however. I plan to get this down and get it right as I have so many design ideas floating in my head that need to come to life.

On the family front, my mom celebrated her 89th birthday this past Monday! I cannot believe she is 89. My sister and I took her out for a nice Thai dinner and then she had a glass of champagne (served in a vintage cocktail glass) and a jumbo Red Velvet cupcake. We got her gifts from the Braille Institute - a talking clock, two decks of playing cards for the visually impaired and a great magnifying mirror. I also learned how to fix her talking watch while at the Braille Institute store. She also had many well wishes and a call from my cousin from Canada.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Little Tribute to Rose Estelle Hancock Gamble

My mom's friend, Rose Gamble, passed away last Tuesday, January 17, 2012. When I got home from work yesterday, my mom told me that she had a call from her friend, Gaylene, with the news and letting her know that there would be a viewing and funeral for Rose in Glendale, CA. The viewing was scheduled for today and the funeral mass and burial service will be tomorrow.

My mom was clearly upset and wanted to attend the funeral. I told her that we couldn't go to the funeral because she has dental surgery scheduled for Thursday, but we could certainly attend the viewing. When I got home from work today, mom and I went to the viewing (or visitation). It was at the very massive and very beautiful Forest Lawn in Glendale. I can say that Forest Lawn is probably the most difficult cemetery I have ever attempted to navigate. Their maps are dreadful and the directions are lacking. I've attempted many times to fulfill photo requests there, knowing where the graves where located, but the maps are not user friendly. Even had to enlist help from grounds keepers and my success rate was only ever 50%. Luckily, today's viewing was in the main building at the entrance to the grounds, which I found out only after arriving there.

I really had no idea where on the vast grounds the viewing was being held and when we arrived, the information guard shack was vacant! There was a sign posted directing questions to the Mortuary Office, yet I couldn't find any sign of that office. The only signs posted were for the various churches and chapels on the grounds. Anyway, after driving around, I finally found some employees at the Human Resources office that told me where the Mortuary Office was.

We found the viewing and as my mom and I approached the room, a lovely young woman saw us and immediately called my mom by name. It was Rose's granddaughter. She was so kind and so very charming. I can't even say enough good things about her! She remembered meeting my mom when she had stayed with Rose after she fell and injured her hip (like my mom had a few months prior). My mom and Rose met in the senior apartment complex they lived in and they had many things in common. As lovely young women in the 1940s, both girls enlisted in the armed forces during WWII to serve their countries (Rose in the US and my mom in Canada). Both girls were very proud of their service and very supportive of the troops and the veterans (especially female vets). Both girls were honorably discharged from their service and went on to be contributing and productive members of society and both ended up in Los Angeles to raise their families, and met spending their golden years in the high desert of California.

As it turned out, Rose had raised her family in the same city my mom and I now live and will be buried in our city cemetery next to her late husband. It was very nice to meet her children and grandchildren and the family friends that were at the viewing today. It was an open casket viewing, and Rose looked incredibly beautiful. Her hair and make up were perfect and she was in her uniform! On her lapel, was a badge with the picture below of her. You know, nearly 70 years and three children later, Rose could still fit into that uniform! Not to mention it was still in great shape. I was surprised though that it was a light brown or dark tan in color. As I only really see black and white photos of that era, I just assumed the uniform would be green.

You didn't have know her well or know her for a long period of time for her to leave an impression on you. She had something about her that made you remember her after your first meeting! She was a wonderful lady and may she now be in peace and free of any pain that her final days may have brought upon her.


ROSE (ROSIE) ESTELLE GAMBLE Rose Estelle Gamble, 92, was born on July 25th, 1919 in Savannah GA and passed away in Victorville, CA on January 17th 2012. Rosie enlisted in the Women's Army Air Corp (WACC) in 1943 as a medical dental technician during World War II. She was honorably discharged as a Tech Sgt. in 1945. She was proud to be a part of the armed services and supported the troops throughout her life. She traveled to Washington D.C. when they had the dedication of the memorial wall for the Women Veterans of America. She married Bernard (Buss) A. Gamble in 1945 and settled in Los Angeles to raise her family. She was preceded in death by her husband Buss in 1990. She is survived by brother John; daughters Carol, grandchildren Charlotte, Lorraine, Edward; Susan, granddaughter Rhonda; her son Thomas, grand-children Carly and Scott and 6 great grandchildren. A celebration of her life will be held at St.Bernard's Church, 2500 West Ave, 33, Los Angeles, CA on January 26th, 2012 at 11:00AM, with burial following at Forest Lawn, Glendale CA. In lieu of flowers, make donations to American Women Ventrans Foundation, 1250 Connecticut Ave., North West Ste. 200, Washington D.C., 20036 (

Published in the Daily Press on January 24, 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Frustration with The HIPAA Law

How can I equally respect and hate the HIPAA law? Right now, I hate it more than respect it, but I do appreciate the law in the big picture. I can tell you that I had to jump through hoops to get my own grandmother's records (as limited as they were) and now I've been trying to get insight on her paternal aunt who also died in the same facility that my grandmother died in. Considering that the law deals with privacy and insurance, I'm thinking that the people I'm interested in, didn't have insurance during the time they were "incarcerated".

I just want to know what happened and how she ended up there, but I am not "eligible" to receive that information as I'm not considered the closest living relative. I've attempted to reach out via other sources to a great granddaughter of my grandmother's aunt, but haven't had any luck there. Possibly, the "descendant" isn't really into the gen research and doesn't know or care, but that doesn't mean others feel the same way. Therefore, how do we handle this?

So, if you're not not a direct descendant, how do you obtain this information if the direct descendants don't really give a damn? The laws really do screw things up. I'm talking about a woman that died in the early 1950s and not someone that recently died. But, it is someone from my bloodline and I want to know that history. Why is that so difficult? This is bugging the hell out of me.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Martin and a Song of the Week

It does often seem true that the good die young. Maybe that's because they are truly brave and can take a stand against injustice. They have a voice (like we all do) but seem to be driven to make their voice heard without fear of the consequences. Where would we be without people like that?

Fear is a killer. It kills dreams. It kills people. It kills society. It kills humanity. Fear also causes us to "conform". We fear failure, rejection, labeling, gossip, you name it. For example, some may fear any of the above, so they marry an abuser rather than be labeled a spinster. I once knew that person. She was married to an abuser and called me a spinster when I was 26 years old. Some fear their dream life and instead settle for a job (which is not a life).

To me, conforming does not lead to a happy and successful society. Rather, (and yes, Americans might gasp and this thought) a socialist society. A society where you are told what you should want, do, like, love and so on. A society that might think you're odd if you don't belong to the "right" church or political party. The society that might think you are less valuable because you didn't finish college. All a bunch of crap, really. And maybe, one day, society will appreciate the value of diversity (truly and not just lip service) and appreciate those brave enough to break the stigma molds that we seem to accept as the norm.

Now that I got that off my chest (as they say), I want to acknowledge Martin Luther King. A man that accomplished SO much in such a short time. It truly boggles my mind when I think about what he did in his life compared to what I've done. He was brave and held tight to his beliefs. He did not back down and took a stand for so many of us. He had a dream, and I'm sure so many of us do. The difference is he acted upon his dream and how many of us can say we do. Go out and be inspired by the man that dared to live his dreams in the hopes that we could lives ours. Maybe if we all do one little dream thing, we can somehow help make this a better place and contribute in a positive way to the lives of others. Hey, we never really know how some little thing we can do can really impact someone else. Think about it.

My Song of the Week is one that I can't hear without emotions being stirred. Ever since I was a kid, this song brought tears to my eyes. Enjoy and live your dreams. Life is short and too valuable to not live!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Saturday in the ER

It wasn't exactly how I had planned to spend the very first Saturday of 2012, but I've learned over the years that we must be flexible. I had a "fun" day planned of getting the oil changed in the car and then getting the car smog tested. A California smog test is required on older cars every other year, your car must pass the test in order to get your vehicle registration renewed. And yes, the renewed vehicle registration is required if you drive a car with California plates.

At the ghastly hour of about 4:30AM on Saturday, my mom woke me up and told me she didn't feel good. Her entire left side was numb. She wanted me to call an ambulance. I got my sister up and we agreed that we would take my mom to the ER rather than wait for an ambulance that would probably take her to the ER anyway. I brewed a cup of coffee in my Keurig, took my mom's blood pressure (it was rather high) and off we went.

It was early, and not many people were in the ER, so they took my mom in immediately and let both my sister and I go in with her. Normally only one family member is allowed in the ER with patients. Then we waited and waited and waited. The nurses came in and hooked my mom up to the monitors and IV. Questions were asked and reports written, then more waiting.

I grabbed my smart phone and checked in on Facebook and noticed that an author I follow had posted the most hysterical article from the Huffington Post. I began reading it to my sister and we were both laughing so hard that I wasn't speaking well due to laughing. My sister asked for the phone and she attempted to read the article. She began laughing so hard and then we were both crying. She finally asked me if we were laughing because the story was funny or because we were punchy. I said, "both". The article was about a guy being arrested by Madison, Wisc. Police for drugs in a park. The guy had just recently legally changed his name to Beezow Doo-Doo Zoppitybop-Bop-Bop! The article is hysterical and you can read it here.

During our laughing fit, one of the nurses came in to run tests. My mom had blood work done, urine tested, CT scan, chest x-ray, EKG and her arteries checked. In the end, she was fine. No sign of stroke. The ER doctor said it could have been a small stroke known as TIA and said that they tend to heal themselves within 24 hours. Therefore, if she had that during the night, they wouldn't be able to diagnose it, as they have to see it happening.

Eight hours later, we were free to go. Came home and gave my mom a cup of coffee and some oatmeal. After she ate and had coffee, she went to bed and slept for several hours. She is doing fine now, thank God.

Yesterday, a friend shared a link on my Facebook that once again had me laughing. Yes, Beezow Doo-Doo Zoppitybop-Bop-Bop reappeared in my life! This time it was a little hysterical clip from the Jimmy Kimmel show. All I can say is that I really wish I could have seen the judge grant that name change. I wonder if he/she was able to keep a straight face!

Wordless Wednesday

This week's Wordless Wednesday photo is one I found in my late aunt Sadie McPhee's photo album (which I have). This is a picture of three of my (late) maternal aunts, Patricia McPhee Dolan, Clara McPhee McPhail and Sadie McPhee.

Based on the clothes, I believe this picture was taken in the 1940s and that would then mean it was taken in Toronto, Canada.

L-R Patricia McPhee Dolan, Clara McPhee McPhail, Sadie McPhee

I love how glamorous they were! Whenever I see old pictures like this (especially from war times) I am always so amazed at how glamorous and put together people looked during the war and during a time when many things were rationed. How did they do it?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

My mom in Canada, probably during the 1940s. She doesn't recall the details of this picture and there is nothing written on the back. I do love it though and use it currently as my personal Facebook profile picture.

I curated my second Etsy Treasury of the year. This one features members of another team I belong to called 247 Treasury Team. They are also a very supportive team, but they are all business. I like them very much, but don't yet feel the same connection to the members as I do the EAWT Team.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My First Etsy Treasury of 2012

The last time I created an Etsy treasury was in mid November. I guess I became overwhelmed with the holidays, working and taking care of my mom and pretty much vanished from the land of Etsy.

I started 2011 with two big whopping sales and ended with five. I really would like to do much better than that this year. I don't think my items are hideous but maybe they're not functional. On the other hand, a plastic mustache on a stick doesn't seem functional either, yet it has been very popular on Etsy and people seem to buy things like that. Either, I am totally out of touch or I am out of touch! I must be out of touch.

I decided to participate tonight in my EAWT team treasury challenge. Here's the treasury I created. Now lets see how many views, comments, and hearts I get. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to be a finalist in the challenge! But, the point of sharing this collection is so that you can see some really cool vintage or vintage inspired handmade items! Check them out and maybe you'll find something you really want or would like to give someone as a gift (sorry but no plastic mustaches on a stick here).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Don't You Just Love People?

Some lovely guy flipped me off today in the Target parkng lot after I honked my horn at him. Go figure - I honked at him after he didn't look or stop and just pulled out right in front of me. I seriously thought about chasing his sorry ass down, but, really didn't want to WASTE the energy on such a jerk. Just said a silent "prayer" that someone returns the "nice treatment" to him.

New year and a new me!

Hello 2012, PS I Love You, and 52 Things

I start every new year feeling so optimistic and hopeful. I set goals and achieve some and some that are more realistic than others! I have this goal to win a lottery. Well, maybe that isn't so realistic, but it sure would be nice. It sure would help replace the income I've lost in 2011, especially now that I've taken on being a caregiver for my mom. Well, as long as my mind is functioning, I shall continue to dream of the day I win BIG! I did have a goal to travel to Illinois in 2011, but things came up and that trip didn't happen. I actually had that trip planned in 2010, but didn't make it then either.

However, this is a new year and I have added the trip to my newly declared "52 Things"! This time, there is no pressure. If it doesn't happen due to upcoming circumstances, I will not kick myself or feel disappointed. I turn 52 this year and have started a list of 52 things I want to do that I've never done, and taking a trip to IL is one of them. I want to meet family in person and gather data and pictures and stories! I want to go to the courthouses and check the records of my "famous" great grandmother, the notorious Effie Beck Cloos Roby! She had quite the past. I want to find out how my grandparents Red and Lola met and when they married. I would LOVE to find pictures of Lola, as well as her sister Bessie and their father George Cloos, their mother Effie and so many others.

This past Friday, December 30, 2011, we went to Palm Springs (PS) for our annual Christmas visit, dinner and gift exchange with good friends that are really family. Earlier this year, my dear friends purchased a new home on a golf course and we got to see the new pad. It was fabulous and so was the day and the visit. We drove around the country club and chatted, played dice, exchanged gifts and had good food and laughs.

I made vegan lasagna and vegan German Chocolate Cake! It was so good and rather decadent! So that is now something I've checked off the "52 Things" list. For the cake, I used this wonderful recipe and the frosting was from Fatfreevegan! Man, it was so good, and I say that as someone who long ago, lost interest in cakes.

While we were in Palm Springs, I realized yet again, how much I love it there and have added a home in PS to my list of things to accomplish this year! I LOVE Palm Springs. The vibe and the architecture speaks to me. I also love the lack of LA rat race that seems to surround the environment. As a kid, my family spent the week between Christmas and New Year in Palm Springs, so I have very happy memories of it (and some very goofy old pictures that I'll not share now). I am not one to like the heat but I can learn to deal with three months of "pain" in order to be in a place that calls my name. As always, the weather was fabulous at this time of year and the sky so beautiful. Once the sun went down, it got cold out.

My mom enjoys watching Dr. Oz and while we were in PS, we turned that on for her. That episode featured chef Rocco DiSpirito's Mushroom Lasagna and I thought it looked good, so yesterday, January 1, I added that to my list of 52 Things and made a killer vegan version of it! Two things now checked off my list! I hadn't ever made a "white" mushroom lasagna and decided to try it. It was fabulous. The picky eaters in my house really loved it. They thought the sauce seemed to be very  "Alfredo" like. For the ricotta, I used the vegan tofu ricotta from the Skinny Bitch cookbook which I've used for my "red" lasagna. Instead of mozzarella, I used Daiya Mozzarella and two 13.5 cans of mushrooms. I drained the mushrooms and added three teaspoons of corn starch to the liquid and whisked it together and added the mushrooms and liquid to the "ricotta". I then sprayed a 13" Pyrex and layered the no bake lasagna noodles, the "ricotta and mushroom" mixture, the Daiya and sliced black olives, covered with foil, and baked for about an hour, covered, at 350F. It tasted even better tonight!

My friends have adorable little furry children - a dog named Cody and a kitten named Chance. Their friend stopped by with his cute little puppy Raven and those little furry kids were running through the house, playing and chasing and rough housing and just entertaining my mom! They even ran across her lap a few times and she thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. It was a wonderful day.

Yesterday was New Years Day, but it didn't really seem like it because it was Sunday. I always associate New Years Day with the Rose Parade, but this weird old agreement, if you will, between the parade and the churches in the city, declared the parades would not happen if New Years Day fell on Sunday as that would keep the folks out of church. OK, the times have changed but not that strange agreement. So the parade happened today on January 2.

So, here's to a fab new year! Last year was tough, but I am looking forward to the new year. I plan to make it count and accomplish things this year so that I don't just feel like a cog in a machine going through some kind of corporate motions. Yeah, I say that every year, so, here's to this year being different. For you, I hope you have great success and prosperity and ask that you might even give my vegan recipes a try and let me know how it came out. I also hope you might participate in the "however many years" challenge and keep us posted here.  You never know how your "thing" might inspire someone else!

Here's to a happy, healthy, safe, successful and prosperous 2012 and I look forward to hearing about all the successes and to sharing my own.,

Goodbye 2011

Another year has come and gone. In fact, 2011 flew by! As I reflected back on the year, I noticed something that I am terribly guilty of - lack of follow through. I started several paintings and tutorials that I never completed. I still have those incomplete paintings hanging around and the tutorial pictures on my camera. I even had a tutorial in my head that never came to life, so that can come to life at a later time.

2011 was a challenging year. My mom fell and broke her pelvis in March after many trips to the ER earlier in the year because of high blood pressure. Once her pelvis healed, she moved in. That has been an adjustment for all of us. The cats do love having her around because she eats turkey and they love that gamy smell. They also love sitting on her lap and sleeping curled up at her feet. They don't like the fact though that she does rat them out when they misbehave!

My mom does have "chores" here that she likes doing - she folds the laundry and loads and empties the dishwasher. The evening I got busted emptying the dishwasher brought her great disappointment. I no longer empty it unless she is asleep! And only if it really needs to be emptied due to mass quantities of dirty dishes that I don't want to hand wash or have hanging out on the kitchen counter all night.

The Thursday before my mom moved in (she moved in on a Saturday) I was frantically cleaning and trying to organize things and while putting laundry away and not watching where I was going, I ran into the cat scratching post, tripped and landed, face down on my dresser! Lord have mercy. I felt the blood running down my face and ran to the bathroom. I could see my face already beginning to swell. I had two black eyes and looked like the beast from Beauty and the Beast, as the bridge of my nose rapidly expanded. Luckily, it was not broken, just fractured. My nose is still a bit sensitive I should add. I wonder how long this really will take to completely heal.

In 2011, my work hours were cut. I actually was cool with the part time hours as I have "full-time" work at home playing (or at least attempting) caregiver. I really believe the cut work hours helps with the care giving and my boss is truly amazing and understanding! I'm very lucky. Now to better organize my time so that I can make fabulous and functional screenprinted shirts and linens that will supplement my lost income. Hell, I've got the artwork ready so what is stopping me?

Major car catastrophes also happened in 2011! I locked my keys in the car one Sunday and frantically tried to get them through the small window opening and failed miserably, getting a nasty bruise on my forearm. You can find that story here.

My battery died at the post office in a 10 minute zone on a Saturday. I had taken my mom to her hair appointment and then ran to the post office to mail an Etsy order I had! Package sign, sealed and mailed and the car wouldn't start! Ugh. I needed to pick my mom up and then we were going to our friends' house for a fun Tupperware party. I called AAA and they sent a tow truck driver that had batteries with him and he replaced mine on the spot! 

Driving home on the freeway from a doctor's appointment my mom had one morning and I suddenly heard something weird and loud. It was my front tire. Blow out on the freeway! Traffic was light so it was a breeze getting to the shoulder. Calling AAA and getting a tow truck there was a bit longer! But, ultimately, I ended up needing three new tires.

I was invited to join four Etsy teams this year and that has been a blast. I have been most active (until recently) with the Etsian Artists Working Together (EAWT) team. I really love that group (although I have been bitchy on occasion with some of the members that tend to be non-responsive). I might just be bitchy in general, who knows! I love the community feel of the teams and, especially, the EAWT as they are truly connected to one another! They were my first Etsy team, for the most part super supportive and I am so happy to be amongst them! However, if I don't get  back in the groove, they might banish me!

2011 was the year I found my grandmother Lola! That was huge. After two years of research and pretty much dedicating this blog to my search for her and what I've learned about the "unknown" family, I found her. I also was also able to get the medical records that still exist on her. She was originally admitted to a state hospital in 1930 briefly for depression. Six years later, she was committed for the remaining 24 years of her life. She died exactly eight days before I was born and the doctor that wrote the justification for her commitment, was the same doctor that delivered me 24 years later!

The search was challenging because she was in the system, died, and was buried under a different name - Marie. That is still a mystery and something I am continuing to look into. Finding Lola was a huge goal, yet there are still so many unanswered questions. I kind of thought that once I found her, I'd know all the answers and could neatly wrap up the story and be ready to go on the Oprah show. But, alas, I'm not yet there.

Good thing it is a new year and now I can have new goals for 2012.