Garrison Keillor: I Understand Completely

"Rhubarb is the secret to the good life."

I read every word of his essay, and understood it to the core of my being. I feel exactly that way when I am researching and writing about St. Vincent. I love St. Vincent and all the people from it and all the people around it that made up our communities, our lives, our sorrow, our joys.
When my mother was nearing the end of her 97 years, what was most vivid to her was her youth. She said, “There is so much I’d still like to know, and there’s nobody left to ask.” So she ventured into the shadows to commune with her dead, which was a comfort to her. Nobody was alive who knew her in girlhood, so memory became reality. Some call it dementia, I call it imagination. At 71 I sometimes forget last week, but I clearly remember the big house on Dupont Avenue North where Corinne lived one summer when we were 19, and I blew smoke on her African violets to kill aphids. She and I had this idea to form a commune of writers all working away in their rooms, doors open, and when we wrote something good, we could walk into someone’s room and tell them about it. A sort of long-term sleepover. It was a perfect idea, and we didn’t bother with details such as Who and Where and How much, and because it never became a reality, it never came crashing down. It still exists in my mind. If I reach 97, I may finally go live there.
St. Vincent is my Lake Wobegon...


More than One Way to Skin a Cat

It's a lovely thought, having "a liberal arts education". I personally LOVE the idea of having one - but the cost of college has gotten gigantic and out of many people's possibility even with best-case scenarios of scholarships, grants, working, etc. I personally advocate for the even "older school" of life-long self-education. The same individuals who are motivated to learn in a group environment can do it as individuals, via traditional libraries, museums, as well as online. And universities aren't the only way to get out and meet people of diverse backgrounds, interact, learn about different cultures, etc. I know, because I've done it. There is more than one way to skin a cat! I never got to go four years to college, only one. Another two years a few years later for a technical Associates Degree (for IT - computer programming and network administration) But I have never stopped learning. I am a ideas and learning junkie.

I learned to read before starting school, in part thanks to Dr. Seuss
I had two advantages getting started on my lifelong path of self-education - a mother who valued reading and started me very early, and both parents who valued discussion and questioning the status norm, and weren't afraid to talk about ANYTHING with us or around us. They were fearless examples. My Dad grew up on a farm and only went through 8th grade (but was an avid reader and debater all his life) and Mom was a high school graduate (no college), but also a life-long reader and sometimes writer. Her oral skills at passing down family history and stories had been passed down to her by her Irish-Canadian parents and I benefited from them all.


1967 Party: Debbie, Trisha and Heather

I am the little girl on the left as it starts, and I put on my glasses...



I was taught embroidery by my Grandma. I went on to embroider many dresser scarves, pillow cases, and dish towels. In high school, I embroidered hats, purses, shirts, and jean jackets. As a young mother, I embroidered a crib quilt and dresses for my little girl, Eva.

It's been a long time, but I am once again inspired to do needlework. With my limited dexterity nowadays, I'll be tackling this small project, near and dear to my heart...


A Depth of Grieving

I read this, and I think of my Mother. No person ever grieved more for the person they loved, than my Mother did for my Father. For six years, it was as raw each morning for her, as it was the day he died...


Mom was a Packrat

Mom would have had a good chance of
winning the contest mentioned in #4...
My parents built onto the house in the mid-70s, a new kitchen and a downstairs bedroom. Mom used the old kitchen for her sewing room; virtually all the cupboards were filled with fabric.

It came from various sources - recycled old clothes, remnants on-the-cheap, sales.  Mom used some for quilts, as well as tablecloths decorated with a particular (and very beautiful) style of cross-stitch.  A few pieces were made into dresses for her granddaughter.  Much of it was never used; the various solids, florals, checks, and calicos remained snuggling side-by-side, tucked away in the cupboards...in the quiet dark.


1's and 0's

Hopper created COBOL
I recently shared on Facebook, about one of the paths I took earlier in my life, "I learned all about Adm. Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace, the ENIAC, the UNIVAC I, and more when I took a two-year Associate Degree in Programming. Computer history was one thing we were taught. Our instructors also felt it was important to learn the basics - we had to learn Assembly, which was basic machine language. It was very abstract to many of us, but we learned it. Then we went on to higher level languages like COBOL, which I really loved. If I had continued on that path, I'd be one of a small percentage of women today that are programmers. I often wish I could have. It was fascinating!"

My daughter, Eva reacted, saying, "The cool thing is your Grandson is very into computers and I think will go on to do amazing things...and you did and became what you were meant to be, and inspired a love of computers, technology, and creative thought in me, and in turn in him."

Google Doodle (12/8/13) of Hopper using COBOL code that would display her age...