January 31, 2013

Joanna Belle Harkness Cartledge, 1922 - 2013

Mother's sixtieth wedding anniversary picnic on Middle Bass, 2003.  From left: Mary Jo, Jennifer, Elizabeth, Tara, Shirley, and Mother.

Joanna Belle Harkness Cartledge of Middle Bass Island, Ohio, born May 26, 1922, died on Monday, January 28, 2013. 

She was the daughter of the late Charles and Lilian (Brown) Harkness of Vestaburg, PA, and Detroit, MI. She was proceeded in death by her husband of 69 years, Douglas Cartledge, and her older daughter, Amy Thomas Reidling. 

As part of the war effort in the 1940s, Mrs.Cartledge built Pratt and Whitney engines. In 1941she graduated from the Del-Mar School of Cosmetology.  With her husband she owned several island businesses, including the Erie Island Mirror, Doug’s Ice Fishing, the fishing boat “Way Ahead,” and Island Pottery.  Her final business, Belle’s Dolls, received national and international recognition for a series of 43 U. S. President and First Lady dolls, which she sculpted in porcelain and costumed authentically.  She was a member of the International Association of Doll Artists.

For five decades, she served as an election poll worker, and in the 1990s she was recognized by the State of Ohio for voting in every election for fifty years.

Mrs. Cartledge is survived by two sons and her surviving daughter, Mary Cartledgehayes of Louisville, KY; 8 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

 A private ceremony honoring her life was held on January 30.  The family can reached c/o Mary Jo Cartledgehayes, 2907 Rockford Lane, Louisville KY 40216.

Memorial tributes may be made to your local chapter of the Salvation Army (which Mother honored because of the vital services she saw them offering to the destitute during the Depression), or to the Middle Bass Fire and EMS Department, 455 Fox Road, Middle Bass, Ohio, 43446.

January 6, 2013

2013 - A Year to Savor

A friend has picked out one word to focus on for each of the last few years.  This time, I decided to follow her example.  My word for the year?  Savor.

It's a good word for me.  To begin with, I've been carrying a fair amount of resentment because of  the dog attack in June, during which my life partner got between me and a pit bull that had lunged into our back yard. The pit bull went to live with Jesus a few moments later; and I took Michael to the doctor shortly thereafter. That Tuesday a return visit to the doctor ended with hospitalization, massive antibiotics, massive painkillers, and, on Wednesday, plastic surgery to clean out the infection, which by then was sending red streaks up and down his arms. Five days in the hospital and nine weeks out of work wiped out all of the year's vacation time, personal time, etc., which is no doubt the reason my resentment escalated in December. I'm accustomed to being surrounded by dozens of friends and family over the holidays, but I wasn't going to leave Michael alone; and Michael had no options for taking time from work.

That brings us again to savor, which, it seems, to me, is the antonym of resent. I'm willing to let the dead past bury its dead; and to let the pit bull rest in peace, having learned that, as vicious as pit  bulls are, cocker spaniels are notorious for attacking pretty little two-year-old girls. (Per a nurse we met, they always go for the face).

Cocker spaniels, I'll admit, commit less damage, but the essential problem is owners who don't believe that any dog, including their own sweet precious dog, can turn in an instant and therefore must be constantly overseen.

The pit bull changed the complexion of 2012 in other ways.You know that thousand-yard stare that military personnel, police officers, and firefighters can display? The dog had a 2-thousand-yard stare when it turned to me. Nobody was home behind its eyes. The dog was a throw-back He'd tasted blood, and I was next. Rather, I would have been next, but Michael is former military, has a concealed carry permit, and had a loaded pistol in his pocket.  Of vital importance, he knew how to read trajectories and angles. Therefore the dog died instantaneously, mid-leap, from one shot into the brain through the mouth, and I was safe.

It was a summer of panic attacks for me and concern that somebody would retaliate by killing my Labrador mix in a drive-by shooting. I also  spent hours in hospitals during which I constantly called Michael "Fred" -- the name of my late husband, who died in 2000 after a lengthy illness. (PTSD shows up in lots of guises.)

On a lighter note, in September I was far enough removed from giving up cigarettes (5 years) that I thought I could withstand the modest deprivation of a diet. I've lost 17 pounds, using a miracle method I developed ALL BY MYSELF but will now share with you. Here is is:

    no ice cream
    no eating between meals
    after putting your meal on your plate, scrape half of it onto another plate to eat the next day.
    in a restaurant, ask for a go-box when your meal is served, put half the meal in it, take it home with you, and don't eat it until the next day.

That's pretty much it. I also did join a wonderful site called Bitch Yourself Thin where there's an emergency distraction button and people in charge with smart moves and bright ideas to keep you motivated. Love them a lot. They don't pay me to say that, unfortunately.

I haven't been blogging because not eating takes up a lot of time. Further, I've come to suspect that blogging, while useful, does not equal writing. I can blog with one eye shut and my brain sent out to the cleaners, which is the opposite of real writing.

Finally, google is demanding money if I want to publish more photos;. and personally I think they monopolize too much of the world's money already.

All of this is to say I'm going to be out of pocket for a while, giving my time to understanding what it means to savor each day; and to notice what is to be savored in each day; and how much.  Wishing you the best for 2013.

October 12, 2012

Best Present Ever!

I found this sweet December Angel, along with a September Angel, back in the spring.  My birthday is in September and my granddaughter's in December, so it made me happy seeing the two of them together. After I knocked a wing off September Angel (yeah, no surprise there), I retired her to the fix-it box but kept this cutie on a shelf in my bedroom.

Last weekend, I was thinking about my older daughter's birthday, on 10/11/12.  Her daughter, Lizzie, is off for her first semester at college, and I was remembering how I seemed to rattle around the house when my daughter left.  Something was just . . .  missing.  I decided my girl needed December Angel more than I did.

Here's where the "best present ever!" part comes in. I've been organizing and packing and generally putting my hands on every single item in the house, and last weekend what should come upon but a photo of Lizzie as a toddler. I'd found her a red pocketbook (or "pockeybook" as she, and consequently the rest of us, called it) and she was holding it, with glee sparking from every pore.  I photocopied the photo and cut her loose from the background.  Then I grabbed a U. S. map that was handy on the shelf, trimmed out the South Carolina part, glued it to card stock, and glued ribbon around the outside edge.  Then I added Lizzie's photo.  Here are the card and the figurine together in the box waiting to be mailed.
Yes, I know she is indeed the most darling baby ever.  (The angel, by the way, is standing on a plastic container; I'd covered the lid with fabric nearly identical to some I'd used to make a dress for Lizzie when she was about a year older than in the picture.)

All of that is pretty good, but what put it in "best present ever" territory is what I wrote inside the card: "Someone to keep you company until your own December angel comes dancing home."

I'm not always this good at giving presents, but when I get it right, I get it really, really right.

October 10, 2012

Boxes without Topses. Also Topses without Boxes

I've been on a cleaning, packing, organizing spree for a week now; and I'm totally bored by the whole experience. On the other hand, I can see the mahogany top of the living room desk for the first time since roughly Easter; and while the same can't be said of the table in my studio, progress is increasingly evident.

I'm also working on paintings, quilts, and assemblages to sell at Louisville's Good Folk Fest the first weekend in November.  In other words, in between tidying up, I'm dragging out sketchbooks and fabrics and files and tossing around fiber and  reflectors and curlers and acrylic paints and stars and garters

On top of THAT, tonight I spent several hours answering correspondence, some of it mine, some of it my mother's, some of it 11 months old.  I don't know where Mother hides things, but the letter she received last November didn't surface until August, and I don't know where her Christmas cards were hidden in the spring when I visited.  (Mother turned 90 in May and can't see well enough to answer letters herself; and probably can't remember long enough to do so.)

The dogs are adding drama to an otherwise ordinary life. When they went to summer camp over Labor Day while we were off at my beau's nephew's wedding, they learned how to bark.  Until then, Koko (the yellow Lab we adopted in 2006) only barked if he sensed an intruder.  If he needed a walk, he'd come up to me and stare deep into my eyes.  Now he barks and barks and barks some more.  He barks while I put on my shoes on and while I hook up the leashes and while I find a jacket.  Laramie (the Chihuahua), on the other hand, bounces.  You know that ping-pong ball move that Jack Russell terriers can do?  Like that, only not quite as high. Big fun for no one.

Oh, did you hear about the woman who was on the "Today" show because she didn't do housework for six weeks?  What's up with that?  I hadn't done housework for three years until this past August.  (It was a contest to see if my beau would break and pitch in. Break, hell.  He never noticed.)  Now that I'm doing it, I need boxes for organizing and storage, and it's the oddest thing.  The house is filled with boxes without topses and a corresponding -- and yet not matching or fitting -- group of topses without boxes. Just another amusing little element in my days.

As for tomorrow, here's to health, wellness, and safety. I throw in the last because some folks, annoyed that my beau who works for the cable company disconnected their stolen cable, shot at him yesterday.  Shot directly at him with the intention of hitting him.  His company van was in motion at the time, so instead of the bullet piercing the driver's door, it slammed into the tail light, destroying it and grazing the back end of the company van.  So, hey, let's all be careful out there.  Also, hey, if you're stealing cable, don't get in an uproar when you're caught. That television show you wanted to watch?  You're not going to see it when you're in prison for attempted murder of a utility company employee.

And I wonder how it is I end up posting between 11 and midnight . . .

October 9, 2012

Spring is here!

Today my contributor's copies of Spring: Women's Inspiration for the Season of Hope and New Beginnings, edited by Debra Landwehr Engle and Diane Glass, arrived.  My essay, "The Rescue Dog," is included; it's about how Laramie (whose photo I posted last week) came into our lives in a difficult season.

This book is one of a series of four being published this year by Tending Your Inner Garden, in celebration of their tenth year of offering programs on health, growth, and healing for women.  You can check out the website to learn about their on-site programs in Iowa, their potential on-line program, and the book series.

The books are available either in print or as downloads.

If you sign up for their newsletter, you get a free e-book.  Also, if you're a woman interested in writing, you still have time to submit an essay or poem for consideration for Fall, the fourth book in the series. Full details are on the website; the deadline for submission is October 30.

The editors are old friends, and it's been a pleasure to watch them bring this series to fruition.  Two wonderful women committed to empowering women in every way, Deb and Diane exemplify the new world of publishing, a world in which four or five large, rich New York publishers control the industry, leaving lots of room for independent publishers to create and publish powerful niche books.  I'm proud to be part of this project.

October 5, 2012

Fightin' Words

My gorgeous friend Lisa Creech Bledsoe, who started boxing a few years ago, has a new book out!  Not only that, you (and also I!) can download it for free.

I don't know how long that offer's good for, so I think we need to take advantage of this offer right now.

I'm going to interview Lisa this afternoon or tomorrow or whenever I recover from our Chihuahua jumping up and down on my chest this morning at 3:45 until I woke up and then continuing to jump on my chest (her front legs hit at throat level, her back levels at wow!-that-stings level) until I emerged into sufficient consciousness to realize she was thirsty.  (Usually she has a last drink immediately before bedtime, but I was exhausted last night and fell asleep before we achieved that step.)

Naturally the little bowl of water I keep near the bedside for such occasions was in the kitchen.  By the time I'd staggered down the hallway and found a bowl and run the water and carried it back to the bedroom without sloshing it all over my feet and listened to her lap it up for several long moments, I was too awake to go back to sleep.  Instead, I adjourned to the living room couch to read and listen to Koko, our yellow Lab, who's a talkative dog, carry on doggie-dreaming conversations, most likely with the black kitty that lives down the lane with whom he exchanged nose-touches every week or two.

As I was saying, go download this book RIGHT NOW, as will I. It's my first time booking it with pixels rather than air, so I'm pretty excited about stepping into the twenty-first century.

If you'd like, leave a comment for me to pass on to Lisa telling her how brilliant she is, or suggest a question for me to ask her when I get around to the (at the moment hypothetical) interview.

Now I'm off to scrub the pan in which I cooked incredibly yummy spaghetti sauce last night and that nobody -- not Laramie, our "wake up before I die of thirst" Chihuahua nor sweet kissing-kitties-in-his-sleep Koko nor The Tall Dude -- managed to put in the sink and fill with water, let alone wash, after I crashed into bed exhausted last night.

October 4, 2012

After the lovin', the dishes still need washed

The current conversation about whether women can have it all revolves around children and a high-powered career.  What nobody's acknowledging is that it isn't the children that beat you into the ground and leave you depleted. It's the dirt, grime, grease, hairballs, laundry, spills and maintenance.  It's the food -- shopping, hauling inside, putting away, preparing, serving, cleaning up after.  That's before we discuss the bills that somebody must pay attention to; and the decisions about various insurance questions that repeatedly emerge, not to mention the annoyance of getting prescriptions filled --

In other words, the kids go, but the drudgery stays all the the way to the grave.

It's possible for two people in a relationship to work out the issue of who is doing what.  For instance, Mormons tend to stick with firm gender demarcation lines between what a penis can do without shriveling and what chores (vacuuming and dusting come to mind) depend on a vagina.

The issues can also work out if both parties in the relationship are egalitarian.  As it happens, such was the case in my previous marriages.

The problem I've got now is that I'm the person I've always been but The Tall Dude, with whom I share space, was never house-broken, in any authentic pick-your-crap-up-off-the-floor sort of way.

I gotta tell you:  I find it incredibly annoying.  It's not that he isn't improving in these matters.  This very summer  The Tall Dude emptied the dishwasher ALL BY HIMSELF at least five times without being asked, coaxed, cajoled, or harangued into it.  (Okay, fine, he didn't wash the big pans or clean off the stove top, but I've given up even fantasizing about getting out from under those tasks.)

The upshot is that I've had it.  I give up.  I'm crying "Uncle!"  I decided a few months back that I'm dedicating this year to homemaking, which is a lot like my telling a surgeon "Go ahead and give me a lobotomy.  Probably by the time the year is up you'll have learned to reverse the procedure."

I've been a feminist since the day an employer told me I could get a salary increase as soon as I went to Sweden and had a sex change operation.  I hold two graduate degrees that cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000, not counting time. Just to round things out, I'm on a drug that makes my joints ache all of the time.  Most critically, any interest I ever had in housekeeping whisked itself out the door with my children when they left home.

I've been driving myself nuts over the one-sidedness of the household drudgery. The first year or two I overlooked pretty much anything The Tall Dude did or didn't do, because he's really cute and has a precious smile.  A year or so later, though, I noticed that, while one of us rinsed her dishes and placed them in the dishwasher, the other one set his plate BESIDE the sink.  I don't know if he was expecting elves or a maid or spontaneous combustion to take care of the plate; but none of those things showed up.

I'm reverting to the practice of homemaking because I refuse to spend the rest of my life angry; and I also refuse to spend the rest of my life waiting on somebody capable of pitching in and doing his fair share.

Come year's end, if we've worked through the issues, the Tall Dude and I will begin the slooooooooow process of planning a wedding. (I believe in really, really long engagements.)  If we can't reach some level of parity, I will, on the other hand, throw his ass to the curb.

I'm not looking forward to it.  After all, when you've unloaded one dishwasher you've unloaded them all.  Or, as my late husband Fred, who was annoying in an entirely different way (he'd unload and reload the dishwasher BECAUSE I HADN'T DONE IT RIGHT," said when I gushed over my first sight of an oil rig on a trip across Texas, "Only the first one is actually interesting.  After that, they all look alike."

The purpose of this decade of my life, I'm convinced, is not to be an unpaid maid and personal secretary, and also cook. My exceptions are Laramie, the little dog who upchucks fur balls with all the elan of a Persian cat -- and her big brother Koko, our yellow Lab, who every few years gets sick before I can shove him out the front door. They can't open their own cans of dog food.  They can't take themselves for walks or drive themselves to the vet's office.

What does The Tall Dude make of all of this? Every time I mention that "throwing his ass to the curb" option, it throws him into a great good humor, and he wanders the house in a flurry of dropped socks and shirts and handkerchiefs chuckling to himself.

He's not a stupid man, which suggests he won't let the situation reach the stage where I'm lobbing his combat boots across the yard into his truck; but we'll see who breaks, and when, and then what.

October 2, 2012

The Monsters under Some Beds

I'd like to introduce you to Laramie, the Chihuahua mix we got from the Kentucky Humane Society on the next-to-the-last-day of my high dose radiation for breast cancer.

We adopted her because when I woke up the day after my surgery my first thought was, "I need to get a Chihuahua."  And so it came to pass.

This morning that cheerful little dog coughed up a hairball the size of my fist on the leather couch, jumped down, ran into a corner, upchucked, and then took a nap to recover from all of the excitement.

I cleaned up after her and then loaded the dishwasher. When I was done, I turned on the disposal. Fairly soon I noticed that the garbage, rather than being chewed up and flushed away, was bubbling up on the other side of the double sinks. I mucked around with it for a few minutes and then noticed that the bottom of the dishwasher also held several inches of water and undisposed-of garbage.

I was interrupted when Laramie pattered into the kitchen. She hadn't been outside yet, so we leashed up and headed for the door.  She didn't bother to wee before proceeding to the more serious business of a walk. You know what that means, right?  It means she'd taken care of the wee-ing before we went outside and that I need to walk around in my socks until dampness reveals the location she'd chosen.

Meanwhile this morning, the big-ass Mitsubishi television in the living room blew a gasket and now produces nothing but lines of static and a very loud crackling. I'm torn between wrestling the thing to the sidewalk for the trash men (it's huge and DOMINATES the living room) and waiting for my beau to get home from work to test the thingamajiggies (I nearly said tubes, but that's so last century).

Dog, sink, and television all  in one morning. Our "things fall apart" experience continues unabated.  It began on August 30 when, ten minutes before we were to go out of town, my Jeep, which we were to take with us, broke down. Since then, empty jars, the Crock Pot, the Jeep again (it actually has had three breakages, two of which were fixed, the third of which awaits a spare thousand dollars to fall from the sky), a small end table, a piece of my mother's china and more have all broken.

All of this is to say that I had an annoying morning, which may be the reason I had a minor fit when I listened to the noon news and heard yet another half dozen reports related to the upcoming Susan G. Komen walk/run.I hope to God it's this weekend because I've had all I can stand of the sacralization of breast cancer that accompanies the annual event.

The White House was lit up in pink, for God's sake.

I've been on edge about the topic since last week, when two different magazines came to hand in which the editors whinged on idiotically about breast cancer

In the first case, the editor said every woman is scared before a mammogram.  Oh, please. I've never been afraid of mammograms, not my first one in the late 1980s through my most recent one two days ago.  In truth, I feel a great deal of affection for mammograms, what with them saving my life and the lives of zillons of other women.  I even love the room where my mammograms are done. Drunk on painkillers and Valium, I was taken to that room the day of my surgery and found the sight of five people hunkered around a tiny screen discussing my own personal left breast hilarious.  Whiffs of left-over good humor greet me each time I return.

(Obviously, my not being dead also contributes to my good feelings, but isn't that true of all of us and every thing?)

Getting back to editors, the second one had the audacity to say that the thought of breast cancer frightens every woman.

Where was I when Women elected her our spokesperson? Beyond that, why do people act as though breast cancer is the worst thing that could happen to a person?  It's nothing but a disease. Yes, some people die of it; and everybody hates when that happens; but how does that justify grown women acting as though a monster is hiding under their beds?

If you want to talk monster, I'll give you a monster.  It's name is multiple myeloma. Over all, life expectancy is 28 months following diagnosis.  Geraldine Ferraro got lucky; she lived for years following diagnosis. My late husband, on the other hand, only lived for 22 months.  Multiple myeloma is an orphan disease, far less common than breast cancer, but one hundred percent of the cases are incurable and fatal. If you want to be scared, that's a far more logical disease to fear.

And some things are far worse than that.

Not long after he was diagnosed, Fred told me that he kept asking himself "Why me?"  I'd pastored a church for the three years prior to his diagnosis and conducted more funerals than I'm going to count up. I'd spent quality time, in great quantities, considering the idea of death; and I'd reached one absolute conclusion.

"I don't mean this ugly," I told dear Fred, "but I'd rather you have cancer than five people I can think of right off hand."

Fred blinked, and then he uttered two healing words: "Me, too."

The five people referred to?  Our grandchildren. (We could as easily have been referring to the five children we had between us.) If you need something to be afraid of, don't bother with breast cancer.  Rather, be afraid that a child - any child: yours, mine, a friend's, a neighbor's, a stranger's - will be diagnosed with cancer tomorrow.

A mammogram is a diagnostic test, no more worthy of drama than that moment  when the dentist pulls your tongue forward during a cleaning to examine your mouth for cancer.  If you want to over-dramatize the test and the disease, have yourself a big time, but leave me out of the conversation. I've got a Chihuahua to clean up after and a no-monsters-allowed-beyond-this-point life to live.

September 17, 2012

Tools! Gorgeous tools!

Danny Ayes, my British cousin who lives in Italy, posted this photo of his woodworking tools on facebook and had this to say:

"Woodcarving gouges, chisels, knives (can't see a few at the back, bleached out). I picked up a few more from Chesterfield flea market last time I was in the uk. Aside from woodcarving being a fun hobby in it's own right, there's hardly anything more aesthetically pleasing than a well-honed gouge. You only need one or two to get started, but it's not insane to collect loads of them, more likely to have one suitable for a given task. I guess I've got about 100, accumulated over 15+ years. (Grinling Gibbons is reckoned to have had about 300.)"

In the circuitous universe we inhabit, I'm blogging the photo because it's lovely and also because I can then post it on my Collections board on Pinterest - which Cousin Danny saw yesterday, after which he decided to take this photo.  Nice circle, isn't it?

September 11, 2012

Liberty Aviation Museum

 On our way home from northern Ohio in August, we stopped at the Liberty Aviation Museum, 3515 East State Road, Port Clinton, OH, 43452. 

 We'd missed the grand opening the weekend before, and we were traveling six hours with two dogs, so from the beginning this visit was going to be a touch-and-go.
The museum also contains the Tri-Motor Heritage Museum.  

If you're hungry, you can get a snack at the Tin Goose Diner inside the museum.
One of the volunteers (I regret I missed his name) proudly showed me the back side of the building, which replicates the signage on the original Island Airlines airport building.

 I want a mailbox just like this for my house.

I suspect the walleye in the parking lot has some connection to Port Clinton's New Year's Eve Walleye Drop
A weathered sign inside the museum. 

September 10, 2012

Smiling Faces

We attended Michael's nephew's wedding over the weekend, and while we managed to get no, zero, nada photos of the gorgeous bride and groom, we managed to capture some other interesting couples.

 Michael and his brother Tim (in firefighter dress uniform) gussying up for the wedding.

We got to see my late sister's grandddaughter, Amy Belle Mason Reidling. She and I were headed into a rousing chorus of "Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross" in this photo, a song my father sang to every baby he loved. I've appointed myself back-up singer now that Daddy's unavailable.

My nephew Michael and his wife Nicole's three darling daughters, a. k. a. The A Team.  Alanna is next to me; then Amy, and then Alesia., with the family Vespa.
Michael was dashing in his black suit and Jerry Garcia tie, while I have a curl right in the middle of my forehead.(When I am good, I am very very good.)

September 9, 2012

Two nights on Middle Bass = 100 years in heaven

We made our escape from the city in the glimmer of time between Michael's physical therapy and his return to work.  In a jolly burst of reliving my childhood, I rented what used to be Mrs. Murd's house. Behind this house is the very mulberry tree from which, when accompanied by our mother, Amy and I were allowed to pick mulberries.
I love the architectural details!  And the interior architecture and furnishings are lovely as well.

Please note the side porch on the far right of the photo. On that very porch, which at the time was wooden and probably falling in, Mrs. Murd stood and pointed a shotgun (rifle? BB gun?) at two marauders up in her mulberry tree. Amy and I were the culprits. We fled from the wrath at hand and saved ourselves. Every other thing I know about Mrs. Murd is of a kind, hard-working person, like everyone else on the island.
The concrete floor on the porch meets up with the screen door into the house on one side and a concrete ramp on the other.  By the time this photo was taken, Laramie, the little dog with the grin, had been up and down the ramp fifty times, mostly because she wanted to track down all of the bunny poop she could find and point it out to Koko.
Laramie KNOWS Michael is going to pick her up any second now.
She'd tried to talk me into it a moment earlier, but I was busy and she was inches from the ramp.
The critical moment: Laramie studies the ramp. She's a good dog, and brave, and true; but she has a little tiny screw that's just a weeee bit loose and logic is not her strong point, and so she bounced further away, toward Michael and Koko, because while something nudged her about that space, she couldn't quite put it together that if she were to step on it, she could join us on the porch.

The garbage cans are located at the far end of the ramp Laramie couldn't find. 

The quintessential Middle Bass Island slogan: NO FISH GUTS.  These words have been written on every trash can, garbage bucket, outhouse, and cottage-rental agreement since the island was populated, and yet people still want to dump them into the nearest bin; and other people still loathe scrubbing away the stench of fish guts baked in the sun.

By the way, the best way to get the stench of fish out of your refrigerator is to put a vanilla-drenched cotton ball in a saucer on the bottom shelf. A little tip from back when I was cleaning cottages for Jim Bretz.

August 13, 2012

You may be a feminist if . . .

My friend Pat Jobe - preacher, poet, songwriter, and all around fine man - posted on facebook something like "100 Hundred Words on Oneness.  Now it's your turn."

I read what Pat wrote and decided to participate.  Here's my 100 words. (A caveat:  I can't find the word count function on this laptop, so you may want to count for me to be sure.)

Seeing the women win big
At  the Olympics and knowing
We did that.  We, the feminists working as one
For years in committees on phone trees on congressional visits on letters
At our home and at our meetings and
At our marches.
We, working, toward one goal: that our daughters
Our granddaughters, their granddaughters
Through every generation
Might stand on a stage, around her neck draped a ribbon
At the bottom of which dangles gold silver bronze and
Might hear “The Star-Spangled Banner”
Played for them.
If you love those strong be-medaled women holding nosegays
Thank one feminist tomorrow.

August 12, 2012

The Mystic Isle at Lonz Dock

From The Cartledge Archives: The Mystic Isle Put-in-Bay Auto Ferry landing at Lonz Dock, Middle Bass Island, Ohio, identified with my mother's handwriting on the bottom of the photo.

Incidentally, I learned from the experts at the Kentucky Historical Society that to preserve photos, the first step is to remove them from any album in which they're stored. Then scan them at the highest resolution possible and file the scans on your computer, on disks, on thumb drives, and on whatever other devices are devised in the future.

Then essential principle in historic preservation is to have digital copies in as many forms as possible in as many different places as possible.

August 10, 2012

Middle Bass Island Grade School, Spring 1960

Ha!  Here we are, the total school population of Middle Bass Island Grade School, circa spring 1960.

From left:  Karen Lee Kuemmel, Douglas Jonathan Cartledge, Amy May Cartledge, Mary Joanna Cartledge, and, in the foreground, Carolyn Yvonne Riddle.

Karen and Douglas were in seventh grade; Amy was in sixth; I was in fifth (and, incidentally, had already caught up with her in height); Carolyn has the grin of a child whose front teeth just came in, so she's either in first or second grade).  We were the core island scholars for several years.  I don't recall any students older than Karen and Douglas during my eight years there; and the only younger children were Carolyn Riddle's siblings, Steve and Rickie.  (They had a little sister, Marguerite, but I graduated before she started school.)

Regarding the building in the background, I rather think it's Walt and Izzy Swisher's home/store, although the style of the windows makes me wonder.  Perhaps it's Frank Roesch's house, which was also white with tall windows and buildings in the back.  Why were we there?  The answer is lost in memory, as is the answer to the question of how my mother, who was fastidious about the way her children dressed, let me out of the house with my petticoat showing.

We are not wearing the white gloves which were de rigeur for field trips.  However, you'll notice that bangs were a happening fashion statement that year.

August 8, 2012

Housekeeping Is for the Birds

I've been fabulously busy doing incredibly interesting things, like mopping the kitchen floor and loading (not to mention running and also emptying) the dishwasher every day.  Brushing Koko, our yellow Lab, once a day is keeping the dust bunny/hippopotamus situation under control; and figuring out supper every night -- my, that's just oceans of fun.

Kokomo, Michael, and Laramie panting in the heat on Middle Bass Island, each of them wearing dog tags and a rabies tag (ha! we can finally joke about the summer's trauma).

Not one of those three contributes a darned thing to housekeeping, except for Koko, an important decorating element, and Laramie, who travels the interior perimeter each morning to learn whether any bugs invaded in the night. As for Michael, he does all of our grilling and recently learned how to operate the dishwasher. I'm very proud.

Housekeeping, it turns out, is exactly as repetitive as I expected it to be.  (I'd like to say "as I remember it being" but apparently I stopped caring so long ago that memories have faded away.)  Nothing stays done, which is to say that if you mop, vacuum, cook, and clean today, by five o'clock tomorrow no evidence will remain of that effort. Which is why you might as well not bother.

I, however, am choosing to bother, for 365 days, some of which I've already used up, thankyoujesus.  Yesterday's  event was cleaning off the huge desk in the living room. I worked five hours, mostly making file folders and then putting pieces of paper into them. The desk needs another five hours of attention if I plan to see its surface.Yesterday evening I went through half a box of my parents' papers, a satisfying activity that turned up some photos I'd forgotten.

For instance, here's my aunt, Mary Astrid Cartledge Ayers, after whom I'm named:
 Written on the back in my mother's handwriting, "Mary A. C.  1943 + - "
Written on the back, in my father's  handwriting, "What do you think of my cute kid sister?"

Today's cleaning project is my studio/office.  I've rearranged the furniture and tidied the bookshelves and done the floors.  Now I'm off to scan some of the spectacular mail art I've received over the last four months.

August 1, 2012

Paperwork!: preserving family documents, step one

I began the morning paying bills and now, at 10:15 p. m., I have monstrous piles of family documents and artifacts bedecking the living room rug.

I'm beginning to get a handle on the huge project I've undertaken.  My father died at age 88; my mother is now 90 and has a good memory for important things, like people's names and how sewing machines work, but doesn't waste time on topics like what she had for breakfast.

Thirty years ago, Mother told me that you must always label everything.  That scrumptious photo of the most darling munchkin in the world, meaning yours, is going to be augmented by hundreds more photos, plus scrumptious photos of siblings; plus perhaps scrumptious photos of cousins; and then you throw in grandchildren; and I don't know about your family  but in the right light with the right tilt of the chin I'm hard pressed to distinguish between Charlie and Devin, Carson and Jon; David and Douglas; Mikey and Jeff - pretty much any of the boys - and a photo of my father in his youth.

Family resemblance is a powerful and wonderful thing, but it won't be your friend when 30 years from now you try to identify who's who on a photo that holds no indication of the date when every single one of those darling boys has a smile on his face and a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

So as I was saying, Mother labeled everything, except for the things she didn't, most of which were duplicate photos that are labeled, which is good, if you can ever get the originals and duplicates within ten feet of each other.

Meanwhile, Mother also did serious genealogical research, traveling with Cousin Carolyn to do research in libraries, phoning relative to find out who remembered what stories and to clarify relationships she was unsure of and also asking for copies of important photos, especially of her mother (who died at an early age) and father, who each belonged to enormous farm families; so photos of their siblings were also good to get her hands on.

Mother filled out the suggested forms, and she created a marvelous set of notebooks into which specific family units were divided.  But then things got tricky.  First of all, a number of the notebooks and papers collected the faintest whiff of mold over the last 2.5 years in a closed-up house.  Additionally, Mother in her last few years at home couldn't see well and apparently rearranged items that had been carefully encased in protective sleeves.

I took a class on preserving family heritage last year, and this spring I qualified as a Kentucky Historical Society Certified Community Scholar, which means my head is full of information my body hasn't been able to follow through on completely.

Item One is to remove every photo from every album.  Remember the ones with the magnetic pages?  Mother had transferred most everything out of those;for the two or three that remained, I took the albums apart and gave each magnetic page its own folder. Every few months I check the folder and find the glue has dried out on a few more photos and rustle the folder and see if the glue has dried enough for the photos to fall off.

Item Two is to keep all of the photos together in some sort of coherent chronological order.

Item Three is to remove all of the sheets of paper Mother laboriously put together from her research, photocopy and/or scan them,  wipe off the glass of the copying machine, put the papers into archival quality folders, and then store everything scanned and photocopied on a thumb drive and one or two more back-up methods.  (The more back-up methods the better, because everything is going to fail somewhere down the line, and you want backup upon backup for every potential failure.

Oh, wait.  There's another Item One, which is to remove every newspaper article from the rest of the artifacts.  Newsprint and ink are like friendly drunks, notorious for deteriorating and taking everything else down with them.  The acid content is higher than in other papers, and they self-destruct and contribute to the destruction of anything in the same file, album, box, and closet with them.

(On a side note, somebody at the preservation workshop last year had a newspaper printed in the 1700s, given to her by an elderly neighbor years earlier.  What should she do with it?  The answer:  find out whether the newspaper exists on microfilm, microfiche, or is any other way preserved.  If so, don't worry about. Newspapers, it seems, were a dime a dozen and -- here's a shocking idea -- their value was in the information they contained rather than in the paper on which the information was printed. Bummer, especially if you think you've been preserving something that might make you famous, or at least rich.)

We don't have any of that stuff.  We are, as my mother said, plain people.  We have lovely documentation, and lots of it, because my parents lived in the same house for sixty years and never threw a thing away.  Yes, I know it's a problem for a lot of people, but they weren't hoarders so much as frugal and cautious. If the water pump broke in the middle of the winter, you might just be able to get the one that worked poorly last year to work a little better this year -- at least, a little better than the one that 's not working at all.

On top of that genealogical notebooks and family photo notebooks and grown-up family notebooks, there are booklets from Tideswell, the town in Derbyshire, England, where my father grew up; and pamphlets published over the years by the ferry boats listing schedules; and the odd wine bottle label; and a lovely letter my father received when he was naturalized, and an award presented to my mother for having voted fifty years straight, and another award for having worked at the voting polls for 25 years.  Then there are the various businesses my parents operated over the sixty years on the island; and information about other businesses; and the Mr. Zippy or whatever his name was who arrived on a postcard to announce that the zip code for Middle Bass was 43446.

Tubs and boxes and cases, oh, my.  Some people have a little bit of everything.  I have I a lot of everything.  I think I have a handle now on how to organize it all. All that's in the way is a lot of scanning, photocopying, verifying identities, deciphering Mother's handwriting (which, thank heavens, remained legible until just a few years ago), and putting pieces of paper into archival quality document holders, for a second time.

Long, slow project, but rewarding in its own right.  I've found numerous photos of my mother that I don't remember ever seeing before; and a few new ones of my dad; and a darling photo of his sister, my aunt Mary, after whom I'm named, giggling the way only an eight-year-old girl can giggle.  I also found my parents' original wedding photo, which is a relief, because I haven't yet been able to locate Mother's wedding gown. I'm beginning to think a relative took it home for safe keeping, intending to deliver it to me once I weathered the uproar of my dad's death followed immediately by my breast cancer diagnosis. I know it's around somewhere and will get to me eventually.  Meanwhile, I'm sorting and scanning and trying to get the mild scent of mold out of my house as quickly as possible.

July 28, 2012

Hangin' with the Good Dogs

We escaped the heat of the city and spent two nights at the Murd House on Middle Bass Island, Ohio.

When we were children my sister, Amy, and I wandered through Bretz's pasture one day looking for wildflowers and ended up behind Mrs. Murd's house. Seeing no evidence of her presence, we climbed her mulberry tree so we could reach the few ripe mulberries. We weren't breaking any rules that we knew of; Mrs. Murd had allowed the picking of mulberries every time Mother asked her.

Imagine our surprise when Mrs. Murd appeared on the porch, yelling and waving a shotgun. Rather than approaching to tell her who we were, we escaped through the woods and scurried home.

No photo of the one-room island school house this trip, but I'm delighted to report that the tacky red paint has had its day in the sun.  The school is being repainted the historically correct white that's appropriate for the site where generations of island children learned to read.

As I write,the Hook, Line & Sinker auction is beginning in the Town Hall.  Mary Roesch and her committee did an astounding job of garnering donations for this event, by which they hope to raise $25,000 for the town hall, the fire department, and the hospice organization in Sandusky, Ohio.  Beautifully painted furniture, including a walleye chair with the island on the seat, is being auctioned off, as are paintings and beach-glass art and the bass drum that called 25+ years of island children to the Punch and Judy shows put on by my father.

Great trip, including conversations with people I hadn't seen in decades, fabulous food by Chef Elvis at the restaurant at Hazard's, and lots of time laughing at the dogs' enthusiasm for the sight and smell of bunnies.

July 20, 2012

Quench not

I love the photos I took this spring, but I love them even more when I've captioned them.

Rise. Shine. Breathe.

I'm in love with this technique.  Wait, maybe the word is obsessed.

July 19, 2012

I made this just for you.

My photo.
My text.
I used picmonkey for the first time.
I'm liking it.

July 18, 2012

Some Days A Woman's Got to Do What a Woman's Got to Do

In keeping with my new-found commitment to all things household-y, I went bra shopping at Dillard's department store today. I have to work up to this task, because it's labor-intensive and extremely tiring, which may not be the case for women in their twenties at Victoria's Secret but is for me.

It only took two and a half hours, one person working as a fitter, and the department manager helping her decide what actually fit me and what didn't.

Two and a half hours later, I left with four new bras.

How something essential to our functioning can be such a pain in the neck to buy is beyond me.  But every bra is made for a particular shape/weight/size/dimension of breast, and no two are alike.  And that's before you get to things like padding and shaping and water bras.

At any given moment, I learned a few years ago while writing a column on the topic, 75 to 80 percent of women are wearing bras that don't fit.  I'm guessing it's more like 90 percent, because the fit is constantly changing. Gain an ounce, lose a pound, watch your body shift; and every one of those little tremors means your old bra doesn't fit any more.  And if it fits right now, give it three months and it won't, because even if you are precisely the same, the fabric of the bra isn't.

The high point of the adventure was trying on a scrumptious hand-made French bra.   The architecture is different from that in America; the French add a separate piece of fabric at the underarm, which provides for an additional angle from which the spandex and elastic can provide more support.  Oh, it was pretty; and oh, I was disappointed when, after trying three bras in mildly different sizes the fitter and the department manager decided none of them fit me.

Ah, well, Maybe next time, three months down the road or five or whenever I work up the energy again.

By the way, the number one rule of bras is that they aren't supposed to gouge grooves in your shoulders.

The Ickiest Spot in Your House

So my compadre decided to wash all of the grill tools in the dishwasher.  I'm not talking little pokey; he owns the 2-foot-long variety of tongs, forks, spatulas, pokers, pullers, and general wave-in-the-air implements you might need to roast Babe the Blue Ox.  And he uses them, on everything from hot dogs to spare ribs.  And then they need washed.

We'd never had a problem before, perhaps because I tended toward washing the tools in the sink.  But my compadre is a progressive soul, dedicated to the use of time-saving devices.  Into the dishwasher the tools went, and out they came, clean.  Only problem was that the inside bottom of the dishwasher looked discolored.

Years ago I learned that Zud was the go-to product for gunk build-up inside a dishwasher.  My nearby dollar store didn't have any, so instead I bought something called CLR, which is liquid rather than powder but has the same instructions:  dump some in, run the dishwasher, and then run the dishwasher a second time to be sure all of the chemicals were cleaned out.

I never got to the second step, because the first step wasn't effective.  The interior of the dishwasher was still nasty.  I pulled out the dish rack, resigned to cleaning the thing out by hand.  But as I knelt beside the open door to study the situation, I thought to wiggle the big twirly dealie, the one that resembles an airplane propeller, to see if there were a way to get it out.  Amazing:  all you have to do is lift it up, and out it comes, revealing a tab on a plastic hub.  Tabs are all about things, right?  Gingerly, I pushed it down and then pulled it up, and one of those movements worked.  Out it came.  Then nothing was left but to lift out the circular gizmo that had spurred this enterprise.

Here's a photo of the emptied dishwasher:
 And here are the three elements I removed and set into the dishwasher rack.
 Now, prepare to be disgusted.  First, the part with the tab:
 Same part from a more disgusting angle:
 Twirly deal looking like detritus that washed up on a beach somewhere:
I took an informal poll yesterday to see if everybody else had been scrubbing their dishwasher parts for years and not telling me.  Turns out nobody knew the parts came out and nobody has ever washed them.  Which explains why food particles of ancient origin, spots of mold, and generic gunk had lodged into the intersections of the three moving parts.

So there you go. Three days or so into this happy homemaker project and I've already discovered yet another thing women need to be responsible for cleaning. Just what we needed.

On a side note, the dishwasher is running more smoothly and cleaning dishes more thoroughly than it has in ages.  Or maybe it hasn't.  There's a good chance I'm hallucinating to make up for the fact that I was so caught up interacting with an appliance that I actually took photos.

July 16, 2012

50 Ways to Use Marshmallows

This photo is a hint as to what tomorrow's post is going to be about.  Prepare to be amazed.

In a burst of caffeine this morning, I decided to devote the next year to being a -- oh, Lord, can I manage to spit the word out of my mouth? -- home maker.

That's one step short of housewife, for which I'm not qualified, what with not being a wife and all.  I do have a house, though, and a compadre who thinks eating three meals a day is reasonable and two dogs that shed unmercifully.

I've juggled the work/home bombs for decades, setting off numerous explosions along the way when I dropped one or the other.

Today, finally, I had enough. "Screw it," I thought.  "I give up.  Somebody hand me a freaking apron, quick."

I'm changing my ways, dedicating myself to the house first and the things that make life worth living -- art, fresh air, stepping stones, photography -- a gloomy second.  I'm going to recreate that magical mythical time -- roughly the 1950s -- during which white women with affluent husbands wore pearls and heels to vacuum, smiling vacuously all the while.

I'm not really prepared for vacuous, what with having a master's degree from Duke and another master's degree from Goucher, and also a brain; but I'm giving it a shot. Maybe I've been wrong my whole life.  Maybe this domestic crap is worth doing.  No time like the present to find out.

We live in a comfortable three-bedroom house in a slightly suspect neighborhood that's had a rash of car and garage break-ins recently.  It's an ideal location for turning the clock back to the 1950s, for taking the opportunity, now that my adult children have children who are nearly adults, to figure out the homemaking swamp,  complete with cleaning, cooking, finances, organizing, Saran wrap,and fake smiles.

I'm going to upend my world and aim for what society has wanted from its women all along:  tidy house, tidy pets, tidy life, tidy relationships, and a lovely meal at the dining room table every evening, often by candlelight, not to mention throwing money at every new fashion that comes down the pike in order to keep the economy strong.

I've been preparing for this task for years without even knowing it.  For instance, I have my very own copy of a pamphlet called "50 Ways to Use Marshmallows."  With that pamphlet in my hand, how can I go wrong?  I've already had one breakthrough, which I hint at with the photo at the top of this post.  Stay tuned to find out about my first extraordinary find.

July 15, 2012

The "Done Me Wrong" Hall of Fame

My good friend Pat Jobe has this to say on youtube about forgiving people:

He says he oughta know, because he's got his very own "done me wrong" hall of fame, inhabited by two people, one a "hateful, vindictive, smug, self-righteous, no-good dirty rotten scoundrel who did everything he could to undermine my ministry as a Methodist."

And the Pat says, "FIFTEEN YEARS I've been carrying around those bums."

We've all got a few bums hidden up our sleeves or camped out in our heads or weighing down our backs.  Give Pat a listen, if not to get around to forgiving somebody today but as information to have with you for the long haul.

July 14, 2012

We Interrupt This Life to Clean the Bathroom

Into every life, some Pledge, Pinesol, and water/vinegar spray must fall.  Even mine.

Not only did I clean the bedroom but I also took on the bathroom, which meant trying to find storage space for the dozens of brown/wrap/bandage dealies (I'm using the technical term) that Michael collected during his whirlpool therapy.  Infection is such a danger with dog bites that not only did they use a new wrap over the bandages every day, but if they brought more wraps than were necessary, they sent those home with us, rather than putting them in the garbage, which was their other option.  MRSA and the other antibiotic-resistant infections have pushed precautions not only to a new level but to a whole new realm.

Anyhow -- as if that's not enough, here's the most amazing part of my cleaning spree:  I scrubbed the baseboards.  Yep, you heard it here first.  You might want to re-read it a few times, because we may not pass this way again for years.

With a Labrador retriever and a Chiuahua, both of which shed to beat the band, we don't have dust bunnies; we have dust hippopotami.  New plan;  brush Koko for half an hour every day so the initial five pounds of fur hits the trash can rather than the hardwood floors. No guarantees on how long this will last, but it gives him much pleasure, relaxes me, and allows Laramie a crack at washing his face.  Win, win, win!

Yeah, baby, a few more years like this and I'll either have the cleanest house in the county or will have perished of boredom.

July 13, 2012

Sunset, No Tornado

 Yesterday's sunset was beautiful.
 What looks like a tornado was actually just a parting of the clouds in the evening sky.
The colors were different from one moment to the next and made moreso because I was taking photos out the passenger window as we traveled on the Watterson Expressway at 55 mph.