The Devil’s Calderon Just Won’t Stay Put!

devilscalderon

Today, I’ve posted a story

–well of course it is true–

over on the blog Share Boone Stories.

Its about two very different communities. Both are places I’ve called home at one time or another. But mostly, its about the weird, gigantic piece of cast sculpture they’ve shared.

Sheesh! 

The stuff you can dig up without trying!

I hope you’ll check it out. Especially if you like Baseball, Shopping, Funerary Art, Mysteries, Syphilis, or things made by Tiffany’s

 

How to Boost Blog Traffic (as a human)

wpid-2015-04-20-17.03.57.jpg.jpegAll sorts of services offer to “Boost Blog Traffic Now!” for a price. But really? What kind of “traffic” do you get? There’s already enough black-market Viagra in my spam box to make the entire male population of Canada pop like an overfed tick!

Recently, I was reading a blog post on a craft technique (I’ve always dreamed of trying it out but know I will never get around to actually doing it), when I stumbled on to a great blog. I liked it because it was very interactive between the readers and the gal who writes it. So I took my time and poked around (besides, the craft I was reading about would likely have resulted in me buying all the supplies and then throwing them atop the pile of other unopened craft store bags). Something else caught my eye, and then “poof” somehow I landed on Readers In Wonderland.

Aside from their fun to read reviews of YA books, here’s what I found that I consider one of the best parts of their blog!

Look at this cute little blog badge:

BUTTON

Created by the founding authors of Readers in Wonderland, Bec and Alise , it encourages the simple good manners of humans communicating and expressing acknowledgement of good works to other humans. Thus making time spent on our laptops, sweating out gerunds and uploading photos, feel like a worthwhile pursuit to writers–appreciated even!

What a “crafty” idea!    Why yes, I believe you could probably call it Novel!

It’s free, and there are no exploding Canadian guys involved at all! 

And due to my innate, bossy nature (see the deep rooted psychological explanation for that by clicking above on “All About Mom”) I am driven to “gild the Lily” a bit more. So, at the bottom of the little “pledge” I tacked on my own embellishment about using “like “buttons too.

You see, the Readers in Wonderland writers use Blogspot to write with~ they don’t have “like buttons” which makes Mom a little sad for them 😦

 Thanks to this new discovery, I’ll be proudly displaying this badge on my blog. I invite you to do the same. Together, we can spread a great idea all the way from Blogspot across the Sea of Happy to the Land of WordPress…where we are blessed with “like” buttons.

If you are on-board with this “Boost Blog Traffic by Being a Human” thing I’ve cooked up, I encourage you to display the badge, share the post if you’d like, and leave your blog link in the comments below

–after taking the “pledge” of course 🙂  Raise up your pencil holding hand–

The Pledge~

By displaying this badge on my blog, I promise to respond to the comment you make there, and to also use the “like” button on YOUR blog any time I visit–so you’ll know I stopped by, cared about what you said, and that I am dang glad that you took the time to share your story or thoughts with others in the world.

All of us, the new badge club members, would love to stop by and drop you a like and a comment in the spirit of our newly found “humanity in blog trafficking.” So be sure to let us know how to find you in the comments section below 🙂

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Oh, and starting Friday…it’s coming!

I’ll kick off a new series addressing the emails I’ve been getting for some time. The ones about, and generally categorized as:

“Okay Mom, I have all these cool stories written up, now how do I make them into a book?”

Stay tuned, you won’t want to miss out on this one…and comment…and like of course! Meanwhile, I’ll be working on thinking up a title for said series 🙂

Until then, behave, be kind, be Human and enjoy sharing this badge!

xoxo,

Mom

Heraldry and We the People, Return from Spring Break

I originally wrote this post several years ago while the “Mom blog” was in its infancy. But after watching a good friend pridefully chose “just the right spot” to display her new, official and authentic family crest– complete with expensive frame and mat–freshly purchased while visiting a Theme-Park-Mega-Land…I thought we could all use a refresher. We Americans just don’t “get” the whole Heraldry and Flying the Family Colors thing. But boy, we sure want to participate! Here’s the real scoop, along with a bit of my own shame showing 😉   1219121525aI’m not sure, but I believe it was PT Barnum who said “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

What I am sure of is:  I am one of those suckers.

  The other day I was clearing out a drawer and ran across a family crest certificate that my husband and I had purchased many years ago.  Can you hear the Merry-go-Round music yet?  It came from a very “proper” looking shop.  I believe that it was even spelled “shoppe” ~ a spelling meant  to further endorse the authenticity of fake stuff.  But we were young and silly and newly married.  So we scraped together the $35.00 ( a pretty Royal sum for us 30+ years ago) and bought a “fully researched and authenticated, heirloom quality” piece of paper with our last name slightly misspelled on it.

Wow.  How cool is That ?

What I have learned since ( ironically for free via library books) is that we were totally duped.  A crest is only “good” for the original “owner.”  A father may have a certain design, but it does not pass down verbatim to his children.  When important families married, as was generally the plan, their crests were merged to create a new one for the identity of the newlyweds.

Maybe there was an Earl of Momenhousen who bore the crest in my drawer a bazillion years ago.  However we, the current-day Momenhousen family, have no claim to it.

  Heck at this point, I don’t even know what happened to the receipt !   I do have an excuse though…I am an American.  Almost all of us are about one inch away from obsession with “the Old Country.”  Additionally, we are also generally convinced  there is a Demi-Czar, a Baron or at least a Bergermeister in our family pedigree somewhere.

Therefore, it stands to reason that we (meaning the immediate “us”) must have claim to a heraldic shield, a family crest, or something that verifies we are from a stock above serfdom.  Thanks Mr Barnum, you have given a name to this madness~

Sucker.

The real truth is that Heraldic Design is pretty much about Art.  If you are Canadian, you may claim a crest for your lineage if you wish to go through a long and arduous process. For better or for worse,if you are looking for something cool to put up on the wall, its time to do some doodling.  Although I did some intensive research on the topic and found a few favorite books that I think are very good for being technically correct, I just recommend the use of an artsy relative.

Simply by Googling “Heraldry” or” Heraldic Design”, or” Colors in Heraldry” you can save yourself some time and money. If you are looking for good books on the subject (and you can persevere for a few months to get through one) I would recommend one of these three.  And please note, the third one is not an opening chapter, it is the title of the book:

1.  A Guide to Heraldry by Ottfried Neubecker

2.  Concise Encyclopedia  of Heraldry by Guy Cadogan Rothery

3.  The Manuel of Heraldry a Concise Description of the Several Terms Used and Containing a Dictionary of Every Designation in the Science with 350 Illustrations  by Sir Francis James Grant

If these all sound too scary, have a sit down with your clan and start brainstorming what it means to be a “Dipfenhoffper” or “Smith.”  Think up some words,symbols, and colors to use to represent You.  Maybe then craft a family logo~for your ” house”.  Remember, siblings should be allowed to represent the same ancestry with their own selection of colors, symbolism and mottoes.  Consider using a string of words that spell out your last name as a motto like the poems kids are so fond of writing out of their names .

Example (bad one, really bad one):

Bravery In The Hood Masked At Night (Bithman)

In my post titled Managing the Help(ers)” I talked a little bit about dividing this task up among different factions of the family.  It’s a great way to get everyone started with helping without driving you nuts.  And, as a bonus, if you can get everyone to create their own crest, then the cover design for their copy of the finished project will already be done.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Julie-Everhart-Fine-Art-and-Photography/161130630622523?__mref=message_bubble
Lord Levi, as rendered by my friend Julie Everhart, of Julie Everhart Fine Art and Photography

Wow, how cool is that?

It’s also as authentic as the “Heraldry” you buy in a glitzy little shop or from one of the online retailers. This is my fabulous furboy, posing as the Lord of a fictitious family who lives out their on-screen lives in a private home rented annually by their production crew.

I’d rather have this photo any day over one printed out with an ink-jet from a tourist trap! If you’d like your baby, or yourself, transformed into Napoleon or Marie Antoinette (before that whole unfortunate beheading thing) get in touch with Julie, you can have royalty “your way” as the great American (Burger) King says 😉

The Writing Write Up

 

wpid-2015-04-01-17.09.49.jpg.jpegDo you follow any good Writing blogs? You should if you want to “Up” your writing skills. And, really, who doesn’t want to become a better, faster, stronger, Six Million Dollar Man-type writer?

I like to mix things up a bit to learn new stuff from various points of view–yes including “Point of View” how-to’s. So today I’m sharing my list of favs…read on and then click through, you may learn something cool!

I follow Kristin Lamb’s blog and love that she offers long, interesting, relevant posts infrequently. In her latest post she discusses exactly why I feel this way. Why? Because if I’m following a blogger and they jam up my Reader or my Inbox with post after post…I’ll unsubscribe or un-follow. I can’t read everything, nor do I want to, so I try to choose only the best. I need a little “me” time to get my stuff done…not to just sit around and read about how I could be doing better…instead of doing it.Also, if you’re constantly trying to cyber-shame me into buying what you’re peddling (a book, coaching, editing, blah blah blah) I don’t really feel the need to be badgered.

That’s what my kids are for…and they are all certifiable ninja-level black belts when it comes to irritating Mom.

Another one I like quite a bit (maybe because there are little themes daily and I can pick and choose which ones I’m in the mood to look at) is Ryan Lanz’s blog “A Writer’s Path.”   I especially enjoy his Under the Microscope series where he does an intensive critique of a writer’s volunteered sample. Lots of good stuff comes up on that weekly feature. He’s also talented at rooting out good little nuggets in the inspirational quotes field!

Rachelle Gardner usually has something interesting to say when she says it. Another infrequent blogger, her site is a treasure trove of info. Use the search box and you’ll find she’s written about nearly any topic you want some info on when it comes to the “P” word. Yes, publishing. She’s a literary agent and quite generous with her knowledge and guidance.

Also, some of her followers leave great comments. Be prepared though, a handful seem to enjoy using the comment box as a sort of Agent Audition space…a little cheeky if you ask me 😉 

The last two, are certainly not the least. I always enjoy what Sue Bahr has to say on her blog as she takes us all along questioning the universe, shaking the pudding out of lazy muses and writing really, really good YA stories (and allowing us to peek over her shoulder as she does it).

And I am overjoyed and amazed to have found the easy-to-understand tutorials and tips put up by David Pasillas on iPhone Photographer. I don’t have an iPhone–I’m an Android person, but so much of the stuff crosses over, I’ve learned oodles about taking pix with my phone for my own family history writing AND my blog.

By the way…No one on this list knew this post was coming. I just wanted to share some of my very favs with all of you. You are all so generous in sharing with me 🙂

Happy Easter / Passover

Oh! And Please feel free to share a favorite or two of your own in the comments below…I’m always looking for something good to read / learn/ obsess over 🙂

The Old Mare Knew the Way Home

Image of Alabama and Market street stands circa 1912. Families who had "truck gardens" came here to sell their wares
Image of Alabama and Market street stands circa 1912. Families who had “truck gardens” came here to sell their wares

This is the perfect photo–the one I’ve waited on for many years–to help me tell one of the most heart wrenching stories in our family lore~

When one branch of my family arrived in Indianapolis, they took up the trade of “truck farming.” Truck farming meant generally anything you could grow or produce on a bit of land, and then take into the city to sell. Depending on one’s farming skills, acreage, connections–and time of year, one could buy or sell about anything from a stall along the street.

At times, beautifully crocheted lace work, wool yarns, eggs, honey, fish, baked items, seasonal produce, smoked hams, tobacco, even rags or “whittled” children’s toys were available for the asking.

The work was unceasing for these families. I would imagine that getting to Market Street and being able to stand back and take a breath seeing your stall ready for trading must have felt like a day off. The rest of the week was spent tending gardens and animals, preparing for market, the chores of family and daily living of course.

Until very recently, I never had a real photo of what the Truck Farm Market might look like. Then, by a fluke, I ran into the kindness of Darron Chadwick of the Chadwick Studios who lent me this image. When he posted the photo above to a “remember when” type of local webpage, I knew immediately what I was looking at pure gold for my storytelling.

*********

Grandma Marie and the Old Mare

     When I was enormously pregnant with our second child, there were some some scary moments. I remember my own grandmother, Gramcracker, looking at me as if she were watching someone else in those days. She visited more often than usual–as if she wanted to keep an extra close eye on me during that pregnancy. My husband and I had never told anyone about the near miscarriage. We didn’t want anyone else worrying.

One day in late July on the driveway as she was in her car preparing to leave, she rolled down the window to say goodbye. But instead of “goodbye” she said the oddest thing to me.

“You know, we’ve been worried about you.

You look so much like my Great Grandmother Marie. ” 

I dutifully lied, assuring her that I was fine, the baby was fine…insisting that everyone and everything was in fact “fine.”

Now, would you like to hear something a little eerie about what she said to me?

When Gramcracker said “we’ve been worried” she wasn’t speaking of her and my uncle who was her chauffeur and live-in caretaker.

Nor was she referring to conversations she’d had lately with other family members…well…not living ones.

Gramcracker was very “in-touch” as they say.

I guess I wasn’t creeped-out, because she had half raised me and I was quite accustomed to hearing such talk–I completely believed in it. Gramcracker could always see things deep beneath a surface that most folks never knew existed.

I went back into the air conditioned house, curled up on the sofa and thought to myself–

“Well crap, now she knows this pregnancy is a  fragile one, I really didn’t want to worry her.”

I never gave another thought to the second thing she’d said to me–about her Great Grandmother, Marie.

Of course I was not surprised that I looked like Grandma Marie! I looked like all the women on that side of the family.

What I didn’t account for was that special way Gramcracker saw things, most all things, in a way different from most people.

 Once Babykins was delivered, and both she and I were pronounced healthy, Gramcracker came to visit. She wanted to express her reasoning for gratitude and general feeling of relief that I’d “made it.” She very gentley unfolded the story of Grandma Marie with me as I listened, holding my perfect baby in my arms.

To this day, I wonder if what she told me about Grandma Marie accounts for my life-long tendency to panic if I feel too cold…

On Christmas Eve in 1904, Grandma Marie and Grandpa Paul were in the city with their oldest boys working at the Saturday Truck market. It was a busy day. Many vendors had purchased crates of oranges fresh off the trains coming up from the Mexican farmlands. Oranges were a favorite treat in a wealthy child’s Christmas Stocking. Business was good for everyone the day before Christmas. Even the bitter cold hadn’t slowed the sales. 

Grandma and Grandpa Paul’s younger children were home at their small farm on the fringe edge of the county. Under the care of an older sister Lizzy, the children were very busy with chores and tending the house. Late December weather is generally cruel in the Midwest. Since this year was unusually so, the children busily kept the stove stoked and frequently checked the water troughs in the barn to be sure they hadn’t frozen solid.

Around noon-time at the Market, Grandma Marie began feeling ill and looking pale. A small woman, but a hard worker, she was nearing the due date of their 8th child. While carrying this baby she seemed to get tired quicker than she had with previous pregnancies. Grandpa Paul told her to take the wagon and their reliable old mare home early. That way she could get out of the bitter cold and help Lizzy watch over the little ones. Grandpa and the sons would walk home or hitch a ride with some neighbors.

With everything arranged for the boys, her husband, and any unsold goods to get home safely, Marie finally agreed to leave early. She set off alone on the short five mile trip towards home. As she rode along the rutted and frozen stretch of the bumpy Old National Road (Route 40), she began feeling the familiar pains of labor. The intensity and quick on-set let her know there wasn’t much time. Knowing that the baby’s birth was imminent, she dropped the reigns and climbed into the back of the open wagon. She had little choice, but no worries about making it home. The horse was indeed an old and reliable mare who always found her way to the barn.

Marie didn’t make it back to the farm. She gave birth in the moving wagon to a tiny girl and instinctively tucked her under her clothes next to her warm skin; sheltering her baby from the cold.

When Lizzy and the young ones heard the mare’s familiar clip-clop coming up the frozen barn drive they were delighted the family had come home early. The children set the kettle on the wood stove and began heating up water for coffee and gathering bread and jam to tide the others over until dinner could be prepared.

After a few minutes of excitement, the children were puzzled that no one had come inside. When they peered out the back window, all they saw was the old mare standing patiently before the closed door of the barn. Her head bobbed up and down as she waited to be let in and unhitched from the empty looking wagon. There was no one else, only the driverless horse and wagon. After a few moments of trying to understand what was happening, Lizzy bundled up against the cold and approached the barn lot to investigate.

What the poor teen found was her mother, covered in blood, dead, in the back of the buckboard. On closer inspection she found the nearly frozen baby girl clinging to life on her mother’s chest. Lizzy called to the other children to run across the big field to get the neighbors. By the time the children returned with help, the baby had died too.

I sat there dumbstruck as I listened to my own Grandmother tell this story. I knew how Marie had died without hearing a medical explanation. Marie had suffered a placenta previa–the same condition that had threatened my own recent pregnancy. My Great, Great Grandmother had bled to death in that wagon–long before her body froze. She never had a chance.

Gramcracker didn’t have to tell me. I knew what had happened. The answer danced in the air, just as it had danced around me as Gramcracker watched over me through the long fretful weeks of that pregnancy.

And that was when I understood what she truly meant as she told me at the car window that I “looked” so much like her Great Grandma Marie.

Grandma Marie ~A woman who had died seven years before dear Gramcracker was born.

 The ground stayed rock hard the rest of that long winter. The temperatures and northerly winds kept everything frozen solid past Easter. The baby and Marie were covered in blankets and laid in a small shed near the barn until the earth finally give way to shovels in April. Then they were buried together, one wrapped tight against the other forever– the baby never named. Grandpa Paul never forgave himself for letting Marie out of his sight that day. He died about a year and a half later. Reportedly, he drank himself to death.    

 Now I’m the one who is so grateful, finally I got to write this story down…

*again, my heartfelt thanks to Darron Chadwick for allowing me to share this photo and thus finally feel I could share this story exactly as it needed to be told <3, what a true kindness from a stranger!

A List of To-Dos for March

this little cutie is from the image collections available on The Old Design Shop web page

This is not my favorite month.  Maybe its a wee bit’o jealousy because the only Irish in my family’s DNA runs through my husband’s side of the equation.  St Patrick’s Day has always been a fun day of green beer and sheepish pretense.

I’m not Irish, but kiss me or pinch me anyway!  I do have green eyes though…the better to be “pea green with envy” with my dear…

Perhaps my disdainful attitude toward March is more about the weather here in the heartland.  Good Lord what a ride!  I, like many Hoosiers, dream of retirement in the desert, any desert.  A place where the humidity level rarely flinches.  Here, my sinus cavity is under a constant state of attack with it’s little faucet running full on, then suddenly dried up to a painful pinching sensation, only to find a tortured relief in the post-nasal agony of the drip..drip..drip.  Yep, Indiana weather~ if you don’t like it ~ stick around for an hour, it’ll change.

Regardless of the snow, no snow, shorts and t-shirt weather and/or tornado laden skies outside, we Family Historians must push on.  For that end, I offer you a list of  To-Dos for March~

1.  Do something really nice for yourself this month~ begin a little achievement journal.  Nothing big and fancy (unless you just crave that kind of candy…I don’t judge).  This can be as simple as making a to-do list on your calendar at the beginning of the week, and then checking off the “done-did-its” as you go.  It’s a gift to give yourself.  Mark down exciting (to you) stuff that happens on that day:  Found cousin Dehlia’s Christmas card with her contact info under the sofa cushion…bonus…also cleared the underside of all sofa cushions!

During points of drought over the seeker’s field, these can be reviewed to help you re-inspire yourself..  RahRah Me!

2.  Start getting the kids involved.  This is a great time to plan and gather.  Spring break car travel-time looms, or being stuck at home with “bored” loved ones.  Instead of hiding inside your head, invite them to start their own spiffy project. Call in the cousins for support and reinforcement.   If you would like to see a shining example of what a kid’s book can look like click the link and visit Raelyn of Telling Family Tales…all her little book projects are fringed with magnificence.  You don’t have to be this elaborate, just drink it in for inspiration ~ http://tellingfamilytales.com/2013/03/04/when-he-was-young/

3.  Toward the end of the month, prepare and send out another “mailing” to let everyone know you are still working on this project (call it the “story of us” or something clever and inclusive).  Include a little crumb of “reactive bait” like a photo, or a couple of little questions (does anyone recall the name of the road Grandfather’s farm was on? Was it named? Was it always paved?). If you have been lucky enough to elicit a response or two from the last letter binge…build on it.  I find that others are kinda generous with sharing scans of photos, and that they love telling me about how much fun it was “digging through the dusty boxes with mum” but, they don’t really convey the meat of that to me~without direct and subtle inquiry 🙂

 Human nature…sigh!

So, I then start feeding back to them…hey, that pic of Granny and Harry, where do you think that was taken?  Do you know about when?  What the heck were they doing there in that place? Wonder who took the picture? That looks like the 60’s to me (when clearly it’s more like the 20’s…trust me on this one…try it!).

Then, it never hurts to throw in something utterly stupid (this is a great technique to get info…everyone loves “correcting” me). Ask a questions that you are sure you know the answer to ~

Say something really, profoundly, ignorant…”Did Harry have any bothers?”  This would be a good one if in fact, Harry comes from a brood of 10-12 assorted gender children, or was the younger brother of a famous prize-fighter, or was taken in as an infant or purchased from Gypsies (as my family generally insists about me)

Everyone loves to be right. Everyone likes to “school those fools who have it wrong.” So say your dumbest stuff, and listen to every little utterance that comes at you as fall-out. That’s YOUR pot o’ gold! Have fun with March where ever the weather and the “stupid questions” land you, and I hope you get kissed on St Paddy’s day too!

xoxo

Mom

ps…definately make sure that Someone writes this down!

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