Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Deadlines and Drama

So Women's History Month ends tomorrow, and I still have two ladies in waiting, so to speak. 

My geek son put new stuff on husband's computer, including Windows 7, which is the machine I use as a backup for many things.  Now I can't access the photos I need for my departed mother-in-law, Althea Allen Schmidt, nor my husband's greatly missed aunt, Fern Tanter Schmidt. 

I really would like to have those photos, so maybe later I'll introduce you to those historic women in my life.

And at the present moment, I'm in the quake of a nasty bug I picked up by taking my daughter to the doctor several times over the last week.  I shared it with the rest of the family, one by one, like dominoes falling in line.  Yesterday we were all in bed coughing, sneezing, snorting, blowing, bellowing, and whining.  From the bedroom across the hall, the sneezing and nose blowing resonated with mine and husband's in three-part harmony, with an occasional hacking cough from youngest son.

Hubs is up today and says he "thinks" he's better.  Haven't seen either son yet.  But I know I'm still in bed with a warm laptop and a mountain of used tissues.

The best tip I've had was from one of my Story Circle sisters on Facebook lastnight.  A few drops of oregano oil boiled on the stove and sniffed under a towel.

No oregano in the house of course.  I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.  No oregano?

However, I just happen to have a healthy potted, beautiful peppermint plant.  I crushed several of its spicy leaves to make the concoction.  Oh, heavenly airways opened.  Then I made mint tea to sip while I sweated inside flannels and under heavy blankets. 

For sure, I said, I'll be better by morning.


More drama revolves around my granddaughter's wedding this Saturday.  I've got the layers for the groom's cake in my freezer, with plans to defrost and decorate tomorrow and delivery on Friday, along with the 12 church pew bows husband helped me finish yesterday.  I think I need to spray the pew decorations with Lysol, seeing as we coughed and sneezed our way through the creation process.

Above is a photo of one of our pew bows. 

And this is my beautiful granddaughter, Vickie, the bride-to-be

And so while I lay here thinking of all the to-do's I should be to-doing, my achy joints and head keep me down for the count.  

Best friend, Sweet Dell Laptop, it's just you and me, Baby.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Another Historical Woman

Dorothy Dean Mertz
1924 - 2010

My Aunt "Dot"

This is young, school-aged Dorothy Dean, just the way I remember her when I stayed at Grandma's upstairs three-room apartment on Clifton Avenue in Over-the-Rhine. 

I was fussed over and spoiled by this pretty young girl and her sister Clara.  I was taken to live plays in downtown Cincinnati at the lush Albee and Palace theaters. 

I had my picture taken at every chance, sporting lipstick and red nail polish.

I was taught how to sing and dance for visitors and family.

I was loved.

This photo reinforces what my father often said, "How do you keep your knees banged up constantly?  Why can't you learn to walk without tripping and falling."  Dad said my knee scabs were embarassing in public.  I think he was right. 

Before Aunt Dot married Bill Mertz, they took me along with them a lot.  It's hard to imagine that my Uncle Bill actually went along with it, after I kicked him in the shins, as he still to this day recalls.

Here he is posing with me for the camera.  This is at Burnet Woods in Clifton. 

Wedding Day for Mr. Bill Mertz and now Mrs. Dorothy Dean Mertz. 

The baby must be me.  I was the only baby born when they got married.  My hair just looks too light, but I notice the big feet. 

At any rate, they made a wonderful, beautiful couple, and there was no other home I enjoyed staying in more than theirs.

After their first child, MaryLou, was born, I was a babysitter, beginning at eight years of age.  I wanted to be at their apartment just down the street from Grandma's all of the time.  When MaryLou was old enough to play, she fell in love with paperdolls, and she would cry, "Paperdolls, Bettyann, Paperdolls!" when she saw me.  That girl just couldn't get enough of paperdolls. 

We'd sit on the flowered linoleum floor while Aunt Dot worked in the kitchen preparing dinner, playing with the paperdolls. 

As Aunt Dot and Uncle Bill's family grew, so did my chances of helping out at their house.  They moved to Price Hill after Clifton Avenue, where they bought their own home.  Aunt Clara lived across the street there, on West Eighth Street, so it was easy for me to go back and forth between the two.

Aunt Clara Dean Berding with her firstborn, Tommy

Aunt Clara influenced me in different ways than Aunt Dot.  Clara, the younger of the two, was the fun-loving type who wanted me to have a boyfriend as soon as I could and taught me how to sew my own clothes, how to fix my hair and apply makeup. 

 Aunt Dot was practical, though also fun, and taught me how to iron Uncle Bill's white dress shirts for work and how to cook.  She passed on secrets about how to feed a big family while still not spending a lot of money.

I remember once, when potatoes rose in price at the grocery stores and women were saying they weren't going to buy them, Aunt Dot told me, "I don't care if they cost five dollars a pound, I can't cook without them for my family."  She knew how to make a dollar stretch.

Aunt Dot and Uncle Bill had seven children and made sure every one of them attended Catholic school.  At Aunt Dot's funeral, I remember one of her grandchildren telling how his grandparents raised five girls in one bedroom!  The couple had two sons and five daughters. 

Aftere I married in 1963, I liked to visit Aunt Dot, but after I moved to Tennessee, those chances didn't come as often, and I lost track of all of my cousins.  I regret not watching all of them grow up and have children of heir own, but I'm making up for it now and keeping in touch and seeing them as often as possible, especially Uncle Bill, one of the sweetest men in the whole wide world.

September 2010 at Turfway!  Showing off my two dollars that I won on Uncle Bill's suggestion for "place and show."  He's still a wonderfully smart man.

I have a blessed life to be in such a large and awesome family, and I'm so proud of all of them. 

I owe a lot to my Aunt Dot.  Her presence in my life made a deep impression.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another Historical Woman

Clara Wehrle Dean
My Paternal Grandmother
1895 - 1980

This photo is labeled "1947," from my Aunt Dorothy's collection.  I remember the location. 

This photo was taken in the side yard of the red brick apartment house Grandma lived in, on the second floor.  My parents, Raymond Clarence Dean and Dorothy Mae Jones Dean, lived on the first floor.  I remember playing out in this yard!  Me and a little girl named Carol Ann Wheeler, whose family must have lived in another apartment there.  I met up with Carol Ann's family later in life when we moved to Klotter Avenue.

I never thought I'd see a picture of that yard, but thanks to my cousin, Aunt Dorothy's daughter Debbie, there it is.  Wow. 

Before we moved to the downstairs apartment, I stayed upstairs with Dad's family on and off beginning when I was born.  My earliest memories are of my two youthful aunts, Clara and "Dot" (Dorothy)  and my Uncle "Junior" (Frank).  I don't remember Dad's other brother, Norbert, at all during that time and doubt he was married that early.  He was in the navy, however, and that might be why I don't remember him.

I remember Grandma's kitchen.  When you climbed the steps from the door off the side porch, at the top, to the right was the kitchen.  If you turned to the left from the small hallway, you would walk through the living room and then into the bedroom (the only bedroom) that faced Clifton Avenue. 

At least four people in a one-bedroom walk-up flat, a Mom and her three children.  And people today have MacMansions and think they need more space.

The Prosit Cafe was either nextdoor to the apartment building or several doors up.  I took the below photo on a visit last year, and I'm wondering if  "Murphy's Pub" is the old Prosit.  Looks the same.

Notice the vacant lot next to Murphy's.  I'm 99% sure that is where the apartment building was because of the side yard.  None of the other buildings had a side yard; only small back yards. 

This part of Clifton is in the "Over-the-Rhine" neighborhood.  My family memories start here, and the last home I lived in with my parents was in the Klotter/Conroy area, which is also OTR.  Always somewhere Over the Rhine

One vivid memory I have of Grandma's apartment is Uncle Junior sitting at the breakfast table every morning eating a huge bowl of Wheaties.  Every morning.  He was a Wheaties addict.  The bowl he ate them out of was like a vegetable bowl, a serving bowl, not a cereal or soup bowl. 

And he was the biggest tease ever.  He always reminded me that "Susie, the Monkey" in the Cincinnati Zoo and I had the same birthday, September 22nd.  I don't know if that was true or not, but he said it was.  And he'd say we had the same birthday because we looked alike.  Just like a normal teenaged boy.  Always teasing and then laughing real hard, which sounded like a woodpeker, "heh-heh-heh-heh-heh," at his own funny stuff.

I remember Aunt Dot and Aunt Clara getting me to put on little shows, singing songs like entertain family and friends.  I was probably four years of age then.  It's the earliest I can remember back.  I was one spoiled little girl.  So much so that when a young Bill Mertz came courtin' my Aunt Dot, I kicked him in the "shins."  He still remembers that and says he's forgiven me.  Sweet man.  I'm glad he stuck it out and married her in spite of me.

Another big memory is the "cellar" in the building.  There were rats.  I was afraid of the rats and had nightmares about them.  Cincinnati's rats were big.  My mother was determined not to go down the basement steps...Ever!  She hand washed laundry in the sink in our kitchen.  Grandma, however, would not be kept from her appointed duties by a bunch of rats.

I distinctly remember her saying, "No rats are going to keep me from doing the wash."  And she would carry me down to the cellar, after all of her laundry was down there, and set me up on the stationary tubs so the rats wouldn't get me.  I could see them scatter across the floor when Grandma moved about.  She paid not one bit of attention to them.  Wow.  That was my Grandma back then.

She did her "wash" in an old wringer style machine, and she was more afraid of me putting my fingers between the wringers than she was of the rats.  I wanted to help pull the laundry through the two round wringers, where each piece of clothing came out long and flattened like roadkill.

Another story of rats is one time when Aunt Dot took me to the doctor for some reason.  It was starting to get dark when we got back to the apartment.  Aunt Dot went to reach into the mailbox on the side of the building, next to the door, holding me in her other arm, and a big old rat jumped out.  I thought it was jumping at me and I screamed so loud that they probably heard me across the river in Kentucky.

I loved staying at Grandma's.  When I wasn't there, I was out in the country, in Morrow, at my maternal grandfather's farm.  Grandpa had a wicked stepdaughter, Kay,who tried to kill me on more than one occasion, so I didn't like that place much.  When I told Grandma Dean about my narrow escapes from death, she said we had to pray to The Blessed Virgin for wicked Kay.  I don't think Kay ever got healed, though, because later in life, when I was 14, she was still causing all kinds of trouble and did some dreadful stuff that landed her in prison.

Grandma told me lots and lots of stories as early as I can remember, and I guess one of the reasons that I write is because of those stories.  They've stayed inside me until this day.  I'm afraid I might forget them because I'm getting to that age, and everyone else who knew the stories has already died, like Grandma, Dad, Mom, Aunt Clara, Aunt Dot, Uncle Norb, and Uncle Frank.  Nobody else was in that old apartment on Clifton Avenue, or other places where more stories took place.

As they say in the South, where I now live, "I reckon" I'm the one now who has to give these stories to the "young'uns" in the Dean family.  I sure do enjoy it.

Ebook Out Today!

What an exciting morning here at our house when we woke up!  We viewed my new ebook on the computer monitor.  Scrapbooking + Memoir = ScrapMoir: 7 Steps to Combining Your Photos, Your Memoirs, Your Stories

I'm really proud of this project and thankful for all the help from the two lovely ladies at Women's Memoirs who made it happen and a cool design man who helped.

I've already sent the link to all of my followers here on Craft Writers Journal, and want all of my other readers here, on Facebook and Twitter to receive my book. 

It's simple to get my free book, a $7.50 value.  Just click here on this site to be a follower, and I'll send you the link to your free book.  Easy Peasy! 

Another benefit of following here is being able to get half off  the price of my next ebook, Memories in Order, my work in progress which explains all of the ins and outs of photo storage, organization, scrapbooking, writing family stories, ancestry, archival methods, plus links to the best vendors and suppliers as well as providing you with photos of techniques and layouts.  Also included in Memories in Order will be guided instructions in creating your own free Scrapbooking Blog on the internet.

So go ahead, if you are new here, and click to follow on the right, and soon you'll have my free ebok to enjoy..and maybe get you started on your very own project of saving your memories!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Women in Your Life

March is Women's History Month.  Do you have a woman, or more than one, in your family or your life that you want to honor?  I've been blessed to have some great women in my life.  Below is the first I want to honor.  I'll be introducing you to others throughout the month.

My Mom of course, Dorothy Mae Jones Dean.

I learned forgiveness, acceptance, and unconditional love from my mother. 

I was grown with a family of my own before I learned of the hardships this woman endured, beyond the events she'd already told me about when I was younger.  Turns out I'm still learning about my Mom.  Last year I started to unravel a story I've been trying to uncover since I was 14 years old.  A story Mom would never share with me.  I'm writing the secrets for the first time in the book, Somewhere Over the Rhine: One Family's Memoir.  May 1st is my deadline for having it finished. 

I learned early on from Mom how she took care of her mother, my grandmother, Cecil Leeds Jones, as she died of breast cancer at the family home, a cheap wooden house on the banks of the Ohio River.  Mom said her mother would cry out in pain.  There were no medicines for poor people.  She told me the breast was eaten away and the odor of death filled the small bedroom and beyond. 

I cannot imagine what it took for my Mom to stay constantly by my grandmother's side and tend to her as she slowly died.  All the while as my grandfather pleasured himself with other women.  How sharp that pain must have been for Mom.  She was a gentle soul, quiet and shy.  How horribly she must have hurt.
I was being taken care by my paternal grandmother and aunts during most of this time. 

My grandmother, Cecile Leeds Jones, died before I celebrated my first birthday.

So often these days I feel my mother's presence, as if each year I draw closer to her, and with each story I unfold and write, she comes more to life for me.

Please share your stories or coments about important women in your life.  Let's honor our Women in March.
NOTE:  I'm still anxiously awaiting the release of the ebook.  It's been slated for sometime in the next few days.  Hang with me.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Little Words: Create, Story & Light

 Amy Kingsford's, "Make a Vintage-Style Brooch:One Little Word-McGyver Style

My One Little Word:  "Story"
 Today Amy Kingsford's creative tutorial on Debbie Hodge's website Get it Scrapped brought to mind the "One LittleWord" I'd chosen...actually borrowed from Ali Edwards in December 2009:  "Story."  When I read Ali's word choice of "Story" on her One Little Word page I knew her word was exactly the one little word I needed, every single day, to keep me on track with my 2010 goal.

Ali Edwards has been doing her "One Little Word" since 2007.  This year her word is "Light."  I like that word, but I want to keep "Story" at least another year.  I don't know, maybe I'll keep it as a Life Word. 

I found that when you choose your one little word for the year, you somehow are drawn to moving in line with your word.  For me, I've been writing my story -- my family's story -- pretty seriously since I began having my one little word guide me.

Amy Kingsford says in her Vintage Brooch Tutorial that her one little word this year is "Create."  She likes to wear her brooch to remind her.

I'm using old photos to remind me of my word.  One photo that drives me is "Sander Street."  Below is one of the very first scrapbook layouts I created with this old picture.

 I forgot my One Little Word when 2011 rolled 'round, but it didn't forget me.  I've continued to be called to task every single day to put the words on the page, to honor my heritage, my family, my roots.  It's the least I can do for the people who loved me and who influenced me.

No rich and famous people star in my family, but it's an exciting, "real" story all the same.

And my story is not the same as everyone else's.  No two stories are the same.  I have my story, and you have your story. 

I can use my old photos and my own words to tell my story the way it happened, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  It's a noble thing.  An important thing. 

What is your One Little Word?  What is Your Story?

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