Friday, July 18, 2014

The Coles–8th Installment

On December 6, 2012, I wrote the following (second paragraph below) fully expecting to receive some more family history details from my second Cousin, Tom, and photographs of Elizabeth Buckingham Cole.  Tom was taking over the reins as the Cole Family Historian from Pat Weeks (another distant Cole relative—her mother Florence Cole Weeks, granddaughter of Elizabeth).  If you would like to refresh your memory of Elizabeth Cole (and for those of you new to the blog and wondering what in the world I am writing about), I started her story on this blog November 22, 2012.

“A note on the 8th Installment of The Coles (refer to the last 7 blog posts).  I know I left you hanging and Elizabeth still has some major challenges in her life, but I would like to post some pictures of her.  My cousin (second cousin, that is) is sending a few photographs.  Don’t forget me, Tom!”

Sadly, Cousin Tom lost his battle with cancer last year not able to follow-through with my request.  Pat unexpectedly died within two weeks of Tom’s passing.  It was unclear to me who would be maintaining the Cole family history after this.  Another reminder of how quickly life moves on.   I have been asked to finish Elizabeth’s story with what I have currently.  Such an interesting life, it would have been made so much more alive if I had the visuals.  Here is the rest of the story…

William Thomas Cole & Elizabeth Buckingham ColeElizabeth Buckingham Cole

“If you recall the last post on Elizabeth Cole, she lost her husband (my great-great grandfather) in October 1889 (the handsome Irish gardener)and at age 71 he was finally laid to rest.  Leaving their small farm in Iowa, Elizabeth headed West again—to the farthest reaches of the country in Washington State.  (Photo at left is William and Elizabeth during their Iowa years.)

Traveling with her son, William Buckingham Cole, and his wife, Viola Bonebrake, and their five children, they made their new home in Centralia, Washington where other relatives had settled years before.  A few years after making a home in Centralia, Viola became ill with tuberculosis and died October 17, 1895 leaving an elderly Elizabeth (now in her 70’s) to raise a large and very young family.

Although their home was bare, grandmother Elizabeth made a warm, comfortable home for her grandchildren.  As a skilled seamstress, she taught her granddaughter to sew when she was five years old.  All four grandsons adored her.  Thanksgiving and Christmas were filled with the delicious scents of her famous old country plum puddings.  

But survival in the woods of the Northwest was a challenge.  If ever there was a courageous woman, she was one, as Elizabeth’s son, William, became very ill with a lung infection and required a delicate operation.  Medical facilities and staff were almost non-existent in this part of the country.  To save her son’s life, Elizabeth’s nursing skills were needed by the local small town doctor.  The operation was performed on the dining room table with all the sheets and instruments sterilized by Elizabeth and giving her assistance to the doctor.  Young grandson, Ira, administered the anesthetic.

Her son survived.”

I will finish the final chapter of Elizabeth’s life next week.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Magic Moment #17–Undergraduate Degree

IMG_2941Although my parents wanted and expected their children to continue to university after high school, I knew they had no money to send me.  Through a program (too complicated to explain here), my dad had a “grant” for each of his children to attend the University of Washington tuition-free.  But, obtaining it (too complicated to explain here) and paying for books and cost of living in Seattle, was simply out of the question.  I had to figure it out myself.  I wanted a four-year undergraduate degree and knew it was in my best interest.

Using the cooperative education program at my high school and the business skills I learned early on, I was able to get a job during high school and after graduation with a government contractor offering paid college tuition for coursework taken after hours.  I worked full-time (the job had a 40-minute commute) and attended college courses at night, on weekends, and sometimes taking vacation to attend courses only offered out of town on the main college campus at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington.  One quarter I took a 3-month work leave and signed up for double the college credit normally allowed (had to get special permission).  There were no short-cuts or easy on-line access available during those days—same number of hours (usually from 5 pm to 10 pm, 4 nights a week with no time for dinner and some weekend classes), same amount of homework as a full-time student.  I drove to the school, plopped my butt in a hard seat and absorbed what was taught.  I gave up sleep during the workweek and socializing on weekends with friends to complete the homework or attend class.  I am not whining, just saying it was extremely difficult.

It took about ten years after graduating from high school (there were a few quarters I simply could not afford to buy the books and was not able to attend), but with determination I achieved a B.S. in Business Administration at Central Washington University (focus on Finance and Marketing) and a decent grade point average.   And I am proud as hell I did it.  “Magic moment” does not even begin to describe how I felt when I received that single piece of paper above.  And yes, it was worth it…I was able to retire young, wasn’t I?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mystic Moment #16–Fortune Teller

kristine_rose_walshWith two friends, Linda (originated from the Isle of Wight—south of England) and Wanda, we journeyed to Port Townsend today to have our fortunes told at Phoenix Rising.  You know the shop with glowing crystals in the window and incense wafting out the front doorway.  We had appointments with a well-known intuitive/medium, Kristine Rose-Walsh (her photo, left—looks pretty normal, right?).  I am a skeptic in most things spiritual, but I have to say she had some very interesting insights about me and my life.

The reading started with the dampening of dry tea leaves in a delicate tea cup.  The moistened leaves are swirled clock-wise while you are instructed to think about significant thoughts/events on your mind.  After a minute, the cup is quickly turned over on a cloth.  With the cup turned up right-side, the leaves remain stuck to the bottom.   Kristine set them aside.

She then selects eight random cards with symbols from a large stack.  Two represent your past, two your present, and four as the future.  Kristine begins interpreting the cards. 

The past for me has been very structured, mostly mental, left brain.  Everything organized.  Everything strategic.  Events thought out.  [Okay, she has this right.   Long hours making a living and planning our retirement.   But, this can apply to many…] 

The present shows a transition to a creative life.  A desire to lead with the heart rather than the mind, but there is difficulty moving away from maintaining tight structure and over-thinking everything.  [Wow, this is getting close.]

My future includes a concentrated effort to delve into my creative side, painting, maybe more.  [Did I just hear her mention painting!?]  “Once you make time for this, you get lost in it, don’t you?  It is important to you to do more.  Keep going. ”  [Yes!  Well, that was insightful and very encouraging.]

On to the tea leaves.  “You are planning a far-away trip in the next few months?”  [Yes!]  “The trip will be exciting and you will have wonderful experiences.  I see interesting, unusual trees.  [What?  Trees?]  Trees with flattened branches.”  [Well, dang!  I will be looking for those trees when we travel to Croatia in October!]

After the three of us received our readings, we compared notes over a cup of coffee.  [Port Townsend is filled with little coffee shops with freshly baked pastries located in old little cottages.  So cute!]  Of course, Wanda and I will be traveling to Croatia together and Kristine told her the same as me—traveling to a far-away place in a few months.  Wanda’s trip prediction includes a life-changing event.  I am looking forward to seeing her experience that!  And Linda’s reading had advice for dealing with a past difficult divorce and moving on with her life. 

A little spooky, new experience.  Try it!  I think I got some good advice.  And my friends were pleased with their readings.  Time to move on with right brain thinking and stop being so “mental”!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Downsizing “The Smalls” My Way

About a year before retiring and moving into our RV, we made every attempt to downsize our belongings.  Storing is not only expensive, but can be hard on your stuff.  The heat cracks furniture wood, the mice make nests in your cardboard boxes and there were things no longer needed (extra furniture or work related)—why save?  We did a very good job downsizing for the first attempt, but after being without a couple of years, there was a realization that so much more could go.

sentimentalshawdowboxThe most difficult items to downsize are the small sentimental things.  The birthday cards and letters, small inexpensive, but meaningful gifts, and personal items of family (living and gone).  They take space, are rarely looked through, and collect dust.  We have been to a few estate sales and it is just sad to see treasured items like this unceremoniously tossed into the trash.  I decided that our “treasures” would be dealt with on our terms, not by someone else.

I finally tackled “the smalls” a year ago and came up with some good solutions.  All the cards and most of the letters were scanned.  Saved on the computer, external hard drive and in the cloud.  A few “especially special” letters were kept as hard copies—they are possibly the few the family will keep after we die.  The cards and letters were the bulkiest to store.

The personal items will become part of a shadow box display with background pictures of the individual owners (grandparents, siblings, and parents).  This way they can be viewed often by us and visitors and sealed from dust.  Another keepsake the family will most likely hang on to.

The gifts (a carved hand displaying the peace sign, a little book of poems telling me how special I am [of course! /smile/], work-related commemorative trinkets, and a couple of friendship rings) I finally gave away with the exception of the rings (one onyx and another turquoise) and one work item for hubby.  These items were sentimental only to us and would not interest anyone else.  They are gone, but not forgotten. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Magic Moment–#15 Fathers

strawberry_jamEvery summer my Dad made jam with fresh berries—usually strawberries and logan berries.   He made enough to give a couple jars to each of his kids (five of us) and keep several for himself.  The jam was quite tasty and used almost every morning in our house on toast or pancakes.

A couple of years after he died (2001), I happened to remark to my husband’s supervisor how much I missed his annual jam gift.  Not sure how the subject came up--we were at a company function just making idle chat, about this time of year, around Father’s Day.

A few days later I find a couple of jars of homemade strawberry jam on the kitchen counter.  Unknown to me, the supervisor made jam for his family each year too; and that year he made sure I had two jars.  Well, you know what an impact it had on me;  I have a hard time writing about it without getting tears. 

A very nice man made another special memory for me on Father’s Day.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Magic Moment–#14, I Spy

HarrietIn the sixties, there was a surge of spy topics in books, movies; and in real life, the Cold War.  I was fascinated with the subject; religiously watching the popular television series, “Man from U.N.C.L.E” and reading “Harriet the Spy” (the book came out 30+ years before the movie).  Although the book was more about childhood problems and emotions, I was mesmerized by Harriet’s “spy” habits  and wanted to be just like her.  (Just to put this in perspective, I was 10-11 years old at the time.)  After finding a pair of old glasses (no glass, just frames) to disguise myself and purchasing a small spiral notebook with my savings, I setup a regular spy route each day with a stop at Malley’s drug store/cafe after school (this was when Malley’s was still embedded in the neighborhood before moving to the strip mall), hanging around the teachers’ breakroom door during the day (remember how cigarette smoke billowed out of there?), and in the evening sitting outside the neighbor’s open window.   I wrote diligently in the little notebook about everything I saw and heard, even making a sketch now and then (yes, the photo on the right is a sketch I made of someone in Malley’s Drug). 

SCAN2731When did the routine stop?  Probably when I turned 13 and entered junior high.  My world turned upside down about then. New and bigger school, a whole new set of “problems” and other priorities.  But, I look back on my spy career with fondness.  It seemed so damned exciting at the time.  Watching people, and they didn’t know I was there (I told myself that, anyway /smile/). 

Maybe this is why I like to people watch today.  Wondering where they are from, what their families are like and if they have secrets.  Imagination is a good thing—it keeps us young.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Magic Moment–#13 Fishing

Mike_Fishing_Watercolor-1 (2)Not a skilled fisherwoman, I am amazed when I can actually reel in a nice fish.  The hubby enjoys fishing for the “big ones”; so this sport for us is usually focused on salmon, steelhead and sturgeon.  This year he is trying his luck with halibut (short season starts next week). 

We have friends (guys and gals) involved in bass clubs/tournaments and they can pull ‘em out one after another.  Others can fly fish in the smallest of streams and catch trout.  Some will sit for hours by a lazy river and hook onto a decent sized catfish.  I am in awe of their skill.

Port Angeles with Dick EvansMy so-called skill involves second-by-second instruction from my fishing partner, yelling at me to set the hook and how to reel it in.  If I actually get it in the boat or on shore,  it is exciting! and I am all smiles.  [Picture above in the Columbia River, recent picture on the right is out of Port Angeles with a friend, and below a few fish I have caught through the years.]

SCAN2259SCAN1563But, when we get home and cook the freshest fish ever, the real magic begins.   Fresh never has the “fishy” smell you seem to get at the store or the mushiness.  Nice firm meat with that explosion of flavor when you take a bite--whether it is barbequed, steamed, baked or fried with spices or just salt and pepper.  Pair it with in season vegetables and our favorite wine and life does not get much better.