a project

A few years ago I was visiting my grandfather in the hometown and he told me he had something he wanted  me to see. When people say things like this it usually scares me. He left the room and came back with a very old photo album, the kind where the pages were made of paper and the photos were glued on. He said he knew I was into scrapbooking and figured I could preserve my great-grandmother's photo album and handed it to me. It was held together with twill ribbon and the pages were disintegrating with each turn. 

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I took the album home, put it in a drawer and didn't think about it much. For some reason today I decided to organize my scrap office (my hair appointment was canceled and I had an unplanned two hours) and came across the photo album. The pages were falling out, it smelled of old paper, and was dropping black flecks all over me. The pictures are great. It's really a great treasure to have them, but now I have to do something with this album.

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You would think this project would be right up my alley, but I've never worked on any type of preservation before. This will require removing the photos (and contacting someone on the best way to remove them), scanning and editing them, and deciding what to do with them afterward. This is going to be a real project, one I can't think of until I'm finished with next month's ScrapFest. The other hard thing about this is the photos were my great-grandmother's, who passed away in 1998, so I can't exactly ask her who the people in the album are. So, I have inherited an album full of unknown relatives (except for my great-grandparents and my grandfather and his sister). My great-grandfather is easy to spot in pictures because he was 6'7" and skinny. I obviously take after my grandmother's side, that would be Mammaw Patsy.

The picture on the right sits on my desk. It's one of my favorites. The photo album belonged to my great-gandmother in the picture, her name was Katie or Sister Katie when she was at church. We named our second daughter after her. She was strong and stoic and loved Jesus. She sent me two dollars for my birthday every year until she died. Her engagement ring was a giant ruby that I coveted (no, I didn't get it when she passed).  She pronounced my name "K-ree" because she was from Texas. I may have to bring "K-ree" back because it's fun and it kind of suits me, don't you think?

And so, now I have her pictures. I'll be chronicling this project after I start it and I'll share photos as I come across them. For today, here's some of my relatives showing you how one does the beach.

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genealogy

Back in 2001 my then family of three moved to Texas where I knew no one.  For the first month we were in a corporate apartment where I watched the attacks on the World Trade Center live on the Today Show, then we moved all the belongings of our three bedroom house in Georgia into a two bedroom apartment.  It was cramped to say the least.  I didn't like our town.  I didn't like that people honked in traffic.  I didn't like that the closest Lane Bryant was a pain to get because it took the skill of a master navigator to get there.  I didn't like that the only time I went to Michael's to get craft stuff a metal Christmas tree fell on my head.  I didn't like that the Walmart in our town gave me anxiety attacks.  And I didn't like that our neighbor left a nasty note on our door calling us horrible parents for letting our baby cry herself to sleep.  

48e8dede-54af-4bef-8f66-9311e24409a5-3 In an effort to connect with something familiar and comforting, I signed up for an Ancestry.com account and started researching the fam.  I started with my mother's side of the family.  My much loved grandmother, Patsy Henson Lewis, was dying although we didn't know at the time, but for some reason I started with her.  The photo on the left is of my great-grandmother, Minnie Belle Williams Henson and one of her sisters. She passed away when I was three.  My earliest memory is of being on her farm in east Texas.  I found out that her grandmother was also Patsy.  Martha "Patsy" Meade came from Virginia.  Her grandfather, Andrew, came from the counties of Kerry and Cork in Ireland in 1685.  I always knew part of my ancestry was Irish, but what I discovered was something special.  I got in contact with one of my grandmother's cousin who sent me THE Meade computer file.  

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The Meades were traced back to 1295, when the name was spelled Meagh.  I lost count of how many great-grandfathers that was.  The file my grandmother's cousin sent was incredible.  The detail was amazing. There were pictures — coats of arms, fantastic stuff. Several Meaghs were Knights and mayors of Cork.  They lived in Meaghstown and their castles had numbers.  One of my Protestant ancestors was married in Westminster Abbey and his brother, who supported the Catholic faith was executed for treason under Queen Elizabeth.  There was good stuff in the Meade file.  

For some reason today, I thought I'd see if there was any new info on the Meades.  I found out that Meaghstown naturally became Meadstown in the Barony (Irish subdivision of counties) of Kerrycurrihy.  

I'm changing my name to Kerrycurrihy.  We will see if Starbucks can spell that.  

When my parents named me, they didn't know part of our family came from somewhere in Ireland with my name in it.  I wasn't particularly named for anything or anyone, but I'd like to think I was.  It would make for a nice story to tell the kids, wouldn't it?

never leaving the house again: part 1

I am never leaving my house again.  

I mean it.  I plan to become a hermit.  I see only a few drawbacks to my plan.  I'll need to learn to make sushi and if I don't leave the house my chances of meeting Andrew McCarthy will be virtually nonexistent.  

When I leave home things happen.  I know things happen to everyone, but as you know, I'm special.  Because I'm special, crazy ass things happen to me.  I would pull out the KBF Crazy Ass Archive and reminisce, but there are new stories to tell.  And so, here's most of the story — because I don't care anymore.

October 10th was supposed to be the date of my dad's wedding.  A couple of months ago the wedding was postponed because my aunt was diagnosed with ALS and the ex-husband of my father's fiancé died suddenly. It was understandable that they would choose to postpone the wedding with all the family drama, but I still planned on making the trip to the hometown to visit family and friends because it was a good weekend for me.  

The drive up was fine.  Lunch with Hillary in Baton Rouge — had a great coconut and lemongrass soup, laughed a lot, spilled some sauce on the boob shelf which is my chest — whatever.  It was good.  On the way, I noticed that all but one mile of all three interstates I travelled on were being mowed.  It was at this time I realized that when I switched purses, I hadn't put my inhaler in the bigger raspberry satchel.  Don't worry, I ended up not needing it anyway.  

When I got to the hometown, I went to my grandfather's house, said my hellos and went to dinner with my mom who told me she hates my Facebook profile picture.  Hates.  No reason for the hatred given.  That's okay, there is plenty of hatred to go around, I suppose.  We went back to my grandfather's, watched tv, then I left to check into my hotel.  Of course their computers were down at the hotel and it was 30 minutes before I could check in.  The front desk lady apologized several times and I thought "what would I expect – this is me, this is what happens when I leave home."  On my hotel room door was a wet paint sign.  Still, I'm not surprised.  No, I'm jaded and know the universe fucks with me to see just how far I can be pushed before I hit my head against the freshly-painted door repeatedly and the men in white coats come to take me away.  

The next morning I ripped the coffee packet thingie open and coffee went everywhere.  I said "I give up" out loud and went on about my day despite not having coffee.  I put on my new cute gray mary janes and dared the universe to beat me.  Ha.  My plan was to go the Red River Revel arts festival to see my friend Will perform. The Revel did not want me to go.  I drove around for at least 20 minutes looking for a place to park.  I accidentally drove over the Texas Street bridge because I was in the wrong lane at one point.  So, I'm not good with the parking, fine.  I parked in a casino parking garage, noted that I was on the second level, and walked approximately 42 blocks to the festival.  It was at this point I remembered that the last time I'd worn new shoes on a day I would be doing a lot of walking I'd said that was the LAST time I'd do that.  Obviously, I'm not good with the learnin' either.  But the Revel was great.  Will's wife Molly, their son, and I walked to the parking garage afterward, said our "see ya laters" and I began to look for my car.  It was not on the second level.  I could see my car below and walked down the ramp, cursing my mary janes and my bleeding ankles.  

I was downtown at a red light when there was a knock at my passenger's side window.  A heavily-tattooed ZZ Top reject on a motorcycle was making the international sign for "roll down your window" despite the fact that no one has the rolly things anymore and we push buttons now.  I figured it was daylight and he might not kill me, so I put the window down.  He said "yer back tire's going flat."  I said "thanks" and put up the window and got on the interstate headed toward my grandfather's house.  My grandfather put air in my tire and told me to go to a tire/tune-up place he goes to, so I did.  At the tire place, Mr. Tire Man told me it would be two hours before they could get to my car because one of his guys was on vacation and one was out sick.  I didn't have much of a choice, so I waited.  And waited.  In the big waiting room there were two tvs.  One was playing CMT, the other (by the coffee machine) was playing Gangland.  I sat by the coffee machine.  The show told the story of a gang member named OMG.  I decided I was changing my name to STFU.  After Gangland, Mr. Tire Man switched the channel to the Andy Griffith Show.  It was the episode where Andy opens the first coin-operated laundry in Mayberry.  Yippee.  Then Good Times came on.  It was dyno-mite.  Then The Jeffersons.  We were movin' on up.  Mr. Tire Man told me my car was ready and I was "all good."  I asked him how much it would be.  He said I was "all good" again.  I asked what that meant.  He told me they changed the inner liner and it was no charge.  I wondered how they make any money and left.

That night my mom and I took my grandfather to dinner for his birthday.  It was nice.  Afterward, my grandfather wanted me to drive by his church to show me the new building, so we did.  After that he asked if I'd like to go by my grandmother's grave.  Well, sure, because that's the way I like to end my evening and no meal is complete without stopping by the cemetery.  

 

End of Part 1.  Part 2 will be up soon.  I need a margarita.  

 

photo study: my grandfather’s house

My grandparents were a tremendous influence on me growing up.  I learned volumes from them on things such as family, forgiveness, community, God, work, and charity.  

My grandmother, Patsy, was an adorable 4 foot 10 inch spitfire who would often curse with her signature "she-I-T" when she forgot to put the rolls in the oven or if the smoke alarm went off.  She named the hummingbirds that fed in their backyard every year — all with names that started with H.  She wore one of those aprons that said "nobody cooks like" with the extra letters to iron-on for your name, but in at least a decade of wearing, she never ironed her name on the apron.  She always had peppermints and Wrigley's Spearmint gum.  She hummed when she did housework and cooked.  She used two giant leather-bound dictionaries to work the Sunday crossword puzzle, but would call me for pop-culture references when I was in middle and high school.  I was devastated when Mammaw Patsy died of cancer in February of 2002, but I am grateful for every moment I was able to spend with her and for everything I learned from her.

My grandfather, Glenn, is another story altogether.  I love him to death.  He was a marine, a fireman, and is what my grandmother used to call "a tinkerer."  I've never seen someone do more to try to fix something in my life.  When we evacuated to Shreveport during Hurricane Katrina, my grandfather welcomed us with open arms.  Andrew was two months old and it was less than an ideal forced vacation to my hometown.  When we arrived I saw that my grandfather had all the pieces of an ironing board strewn all over the back porch and was attempting to reassemble it.  It was a wooden ironing board.  Made of wood.  He worked on the ironing board for almost the entire two weeks we were there before giving up on it and heading to Walmart for a new ironing board.  The old one had been his mother's and was probably from 1925, and no, I'm not exaggerating because my grandfather was born in 1926.  

Pappaw hates new stuff.  One of my favorite things to do when I'm at the house is to quiz him on the age of things around the house.  My favorite is the plastic green dustpan that was purchased the same year my mother was born.  So, just to show you the fun that surrounds Casa de Pappaw should you ever visit, here is my photo study.  

I like to call this collection of photos "The House Where Time Stands Still."

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It's always December 2003

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 I'm not sure if you can make it out, but the note says "Love you, Erin.  12-22-97 Merry X-mas!"  Erin is my cousin, who was 12 in 1997.

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This would be the new flat-screen tv next to the non-working console tv, which is now a shelf, obviously (holding the RECORD PLAYER).  The kids were watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, that's Johnny Depp looking weird.

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 This photo is from the entryway.  This lovely faux wicker set has been hanging in this exact spot since 1984 when my grandparents moved into the house.  Those candles used to be Williamsburg Blue and have never been lit.  The red flowers are new and are just awful.

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 This white, orange, and green carpet could probably induce seizures.  It's in the "computer room."  This is the room I would sleep in when I spent the night in high school.  I don't know how I didn't have nightmares.  The light fixture used to match — it was all kinds of disco awesome. 

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No, this isn't Pappaw's current phone number, so don't call and ask for his primo decorating tips.  Here's something funny though: I can remember my friend Will's phone number from high school because of this phone.  When I would spend the night at my grandparents' house and call him, it took ten minutes to dial the number because of all the 9s and 7s.  By the time the phone would ring, I'd already forgotten why I had called in the first place.

 

And now for the portion of the photo study I call "Paint it Brown."  The family joke is that my Pappaw paints everything brown so it resembles wood.  

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Yeah, he painted the birdhouse and pole brown. 

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No, the mailbox didn't come in brown — he had to paint it that color.  The original wooden post was hit by someone on the street, so Pappaw made a post out of some sort of metal and painted it brown to resemble wood.  I believe his exact words were "just let them try to run it over now." 

While I am poking fun at my grandfather, I love him very much and think he's the best.  I loved spending time with him during the holidays and hearing old fireman stories and talking about Andy Griffith .  He's the only person who calls my son, Andrew, "Andy" and I love that.  

photo study: my mom and her new cell phone

I gave my mom a new cell phone for Christmas.  Saying she's technologically challenged would be putting it mildly.  Here's a story from 1996 to give you a reference point.  

My parents had recently gotten caller id.  I'd come home on a break from college and both my parents asked me to look at the caller id box (remember when you had to have the box to see who was calling?) because they couldn't clear the info on the display.  My mom said the display showed someone named Melissa with a 555 number had called, but they didn't know a Melissa.  I went to the box, peeled off the display sticker and handed it to my mom.  True story.

So, yesterday afternoon, I gave the phone to my mom.  It's a very basic phone.  Here are the pictures to show her confusion over trying to figure it out after the lesson I gave her on how to use it.

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People, I am clearly a glutton for punishment.  I might as well set up an automated service to answer her questions about the phone.  And just so you know, while she was taking pictures of the kids with the new phone, my grandfather told her she'd better slow down or she would use up all the film.  Don't worry, there will be a photo study of my grandfather's house, per my friend Molly's suggestion.