Tag Archives: Family

Silly Memory That Still Makes Me Smile

Jillian here. I was working on an upcoming blog post for a friend for the month of October which is apparently Family History Month. My post for then is about my two great aunts. One of which I knew well and one who died before I was born. It reminded me of a funny event involving the one I knew and I thought I’d share it for my post here this month.

My family is from North Alabama. Even though I never lived there, we visited a lot.

My great aunt Lit was my paternal grandfather’s sister. She was married to a man named Charlie Sandlin and I loved, loved him- her, too, but her husband was my pal as a kid. My grandparents owned a house on the Tennessee River and Uncle Charlie and I would swim the mile and a half across it all the time- we’d try to touch bottom way out in the middle. Sometimes we could and lots of times, we couldn’t. The Wilson Dam was not too far away and the water levels rose and fell as the dam was used to let boats in and out of the lock.  It was always deep in the center, but sometimes, near shore, you could walk out a number of feet and pick up stray clams in the mud. All the kids grabbed them a lot and then we’d put them in steaming water to see them open. Charlie was a big ole kid and we had a special bond.

Uncle Charlie had a brother named Buddy and he was an inventor. It was a lot of fun to see him on occasion- usually running into him at a store or something like that. He didn’t come out to the lake house and I didn’t know him well and never met any of his kids or grandkids.

Years later, after Uncle Charlie died, I was in law school in Birmingham, Alabama and met a guy in one of my classes named Jimmy Sandlin. I couldn’t resist asking him if he was from Florence, Ala. He said he was and I told him I had a great aunt named Lit who married a man named Charlie Sandlin and he had a brother named Buddy. I asked if he knew them.

He said he was Buddy’s grandson but I was wrong about his Uncle Charlie because his uncle was married to a woman named Marie. It was just so weird, I couldn’t believe it. I said, “I promise you, her name is Lit and it has to be the same person- how could it not be?”

Shrugging, he said, “What can I tell you? Uncle Charlie’s wife was named Marie. I swear.”

I went home and called my dad to find out exactly what Uncle Charlie had been up to with two wives. My dad laughed and laughed and when he finally got hold of himself, he said, “Her name is Lydia Marie and the family have always called her Lit.”

Man! Did I feel silly, but you know what? In all my life, I’d never heard her called anything but Lit.

The next day, I told my new friend we did indeed share a great aunt and, from then on, we called ourselves cousins-in-law.

How about you? Any stories about mistaken identity?

Here’s a picture of the two great aunts I’ll be on my friend’s blog talking about in October. Lit is the one in the seat and Hoovey (another one with a nickname as her real name was Louise) is the one on the arm of the chair. Image-1 (2)

 

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Happy October? Summer in Fall?

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Jillian here. Sorry I missed my post last month. I had what was supposed to be a minor surgery that turned a bit more complex and I wasn’t able to focus for more than 10 minutes at a time even … Continue reading

Memories: the Foundation of our Present and Future

I’m a day late with my blog, which means I need to make it a super special blog, right? So here is the picture that is my inspiration when I sit down to write stories, romance or otherwise.

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This is my Aunt’s wedding picture and I have been in love with it ever since I first saw it. To me, this speaks of happiness and family.  It is the perfect vision of the happiness of a wedding day, but is also so much about family.

My aunt is standing with her four sisters, in bridesmaid dresses hand-sewn by my grandmother.

My Grandma and Grandpa had eleven children. (I can’t even imagine that these days.) She raised them all pretty much single-handedly, because my grandfather traveled for months at a time working for companies who build dams all over the world. And she did an amazing job.

I have such fond memories of my grandparents, who lived close to us. Especially Thanksgivings spent at their house, where year after year we all gathered. Sisters, brothers, cousins, the whole lot of us. Tables would be hobbled together end to end through the living and dining rooms for a sit down dinner (with about 40 attending). Before dinner, we kids had the run of the upstairs. Hide-an-seek was the game of the day. Or games.

Dinner always included Grandma’s homemade rolls, which no one ever managed to duplicate after her death. I guess it was the special brand of love she infused them with.

After dinner, Grandpa would set up the projector and show pictures, mostly so we kids could laugh and tease each other.

It was a time of togetherness and love that has been the foundation of my life ever since. And I see that when I look at the happiness and love of these sisters.

I hope you all have memories, Thanksgiving or otherwise, that can make you smile each time you think of them. I am very, very grateful for mine.

Happy Thanksgiving month!

 

 

 

 

September

20160916_140445I love September, the colours, the early morning chill which often turns to warmth midday and cool evenings. The song  Autumn Leaves,  especially Nat King Cole’s version, expresses my feelings about autumn which has become favourite of mine over many years ago and a newer version by Andrea Bocelli conjures more recent memories.  There is an underlying sadness but also positive tones in the words.  A must do for my family in September is to go blackberry picking, make a pie but also freeze some berries for Christmas.  It has become a tradition with my son’s and daughter’s families which Peter and I keep too.  Recently we had a session over our local fields which have a bumper crop of sweet, succulent berries this year.  It has been important to keep to these rituals for me as my summer months have not been as I anticipated, autumn and winter look set to follow a similar pattern.

I began a personal journey in June this year when a breast abscess developed in my left breast. Subsequent tests revealed early cancer cells too so early in July I had a biopsy followed in August with an operation to remove the cells, abscess and two lymph nodes. Tests showed all was clear.  September is a rest period of sorts waiting to begin radiotherapy in October.  Hopefully just after Christmas I will get the final all clear. I have been helped on my journey by family, friends, especially tremendous medical care and support which is ongoing.  People I have met along the way have been truly inspiring. Lots of humour has smoothed some difficult times but I feel so LUCKY. Odd word some may think but if I had not had the abscess the cells would not have been discovered until next summer when I was due a mammogram, there was no indication that anything untoward lay hidden away. So dear friends please have regular medical checks and scans.  I wasn’t going to write a blog this month or talk to you about this journey but I realise how much help I have had and want to share what a positive experience I am having.  Not everyone is so lucky I know.

Tricia recommended a book called Show Me by Laurie Ryan, yes our Laurie, which is so positive and well written, though poignant even sad at times it made me feel positive myself.   Tricia has been one of my mainstays through this process but the main thing we do is laugh!  Books, Music and the odd glass of Prosecco have been companions too and your blogs.  I do not want this blog to be depressing and hope you all understand that my journey is very different from other people’s experiences.  One thing I have learnt is that we are all different, react differently to situations but a smile along the way helps so much.

Enjoy September in your own ways but keep smiling.

George & Louise…A Great Love by Valerie J. Patterson

George and Louise Boldt–their story is one of a great and deeply felt love.  It’s also a tale of tragedy and a future with a broken heart.  George was a poor immigrant in the late 1800s who managed to gain employment at the famous Waldorf Astoria, and later would own it and another hotel here in Pennsylvania.  It was while he was working at the Waldorf that he met Louise Kehrer and fell madly in love with her.  While vacationing in Alexandria Bay, more particularly, the Thousand Islands, he bought Hart Island, which he legally changed to Heart Island.  In 1900, he commenced building a castle there for his lovely Louise to live in.  In 1904, tragedy struck and Louise Boldt died suddenly at the young age of 41.  That same day, George sent a telegram to the island and ordered all construction to cease and all workers to leave the island.  The heartbroken George never stepped foot on Heart Island again.  He never allowed his children or their families to visit the island either.  Boldt Castle was 96% finished the day Louise died, and it would remain unfinished, too.  So great was his love for his wife, and just as great was his pain from losing her, that he could not bear to live there without her.

In 1977, the heirs of George Boldt sold the castle and Heart Island to the state of New York for $1.00 with the following conditions:  1) The castle was to be open to the public and every cent from the sale of tickets was to be put into restoring the castle, which had been vandalized over the decades it remained empty; 2) the restoration was never to go beyond 96% completion, which was the last Louise had ever seen; and 3) no one was ever allowed to live there or stay there.  To date, $38 million have been used in restoring the castle and only one and a half of the 6 floors have been fully restored.

Beginning at the top left corner and continuing clockwise, the photographs are: A view of 75% of Heart Island as seen from our hotel suite’s balcony; the Italian Garden at the rear of the castle with the castle’s power house (also a castle-like structure) in the background; the view of the castle’s main arch entrance where George imagined his guests docking their boats and visiting he and Louise at the castle–to the right is a 6 story playhouse he had designed and constructed for his children and their guests; a rear view of the castle; and, again, the arched entrance to the island.

Steve took me to the Thousand Islands for our anniversary trip, and I was instantly overtaken with the immense love George Boldt had for his wife.  I snapped over 500 photographs, and I apologize that I don’t have a closeup of the front of the castle for you, but those are on another camera card that I have not yet downloaded.

The entire time we were exploring the castle and its grounds on a self-guided tour, Steve and I discussed George and Louise.  All around us were visual signs of their love from heart-shaped flower beds to hand-carved granite benches with huge hearts carved out of the center of each bench’s backrest to the portraits of Louise to the Italian Garden with its carved granite statues.  We wondered what George would think of all the people tramping around the grounds and invading the castle.  We wondered how he would have looked upon the vandalism each room on each floor suffered from careless youths who didn’t know the story behind the castle or perhaps knew it and didn’t care.

As we sat on a magnificent porch, on a heart-shaped bench, I became weepy thinking about George and his immense love of Louise.  With all that Steve has been through this year, perhaps George’s story hit a little too close to home.  Or perhaps I’m just too softhearted and enjoy a good love story.  Maybe a little of both.  One thing I know for certain, George and Louise Boldt are now a part of my own history, and their love story reminds me to be thankful for my own love story!

Finally–so as not to leave on such a sad note–It has been my dream to own an island.  Strange dream, I know.  But ever since I learned that Raymond Burr owned his own island, I’ve wanted to own one myself.  During our stay in Alexandria Bay, we came to learn that there were 3 islands for sale.  The first one we saw had a price of $1.4 million.  The second one we saw had the hefty price tag of $5.5 million.  And the third one was selling for $80,000.  I’ll leave you with the photo of the third island, which is still swimming around in my thoughts as a possibility!

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It’s not the size of the house that matters, but rather the island itself that remains important to me.  <grin>

Until next time, may you be as loved as Louise!!  ❤

Boldt Castle

It’s Ladies’ Night by Valerie J. Patterson

It’s ladies’ night!  Oh what a night!

Last month I invited the ladies from the office over for a little dinner and some poker.  I expected it to be a good night.  I expected us to have a couple hours of playing cards, eating, and talking.  I expected everyone to have a good time.

I was wrong…

It was a great night!  It was several hours of non-stop laughter and shenanigans!  And everyone had a fantastic time!

I can’t wait to do it again!

Oh my!  Put five ladies in a room together, add a deck of cards, some poker chips, food, snacks, wine, and dessert [and a charming male who makes intermittent appearances throughout the evening] and you have the recipe for an exceptional evening!

We ate.  We played poker.  We ate again.  We played poker.  We ate again.  We played more poker.  We talked about everything under the sun, laughed at ourselves, discussed work for perhaps 30 seconds, and then went straight into carrying on again.

Did I mention we played poker and ate?

It’s good to get together and get away from the stress of the job, the worries of the family, and just relax and laugh and share…and be with other women who understand that we all need to escape once in a while, let our hair down, and be completely at ease being who we are individually.

The time passed so quickly that evening, but oh my how fun it was to be there in the midst of it all as one of the gals!

Until next time, may you gather your friends together, laugh until the cows come home, and play a little poker!

I Have a Grand Dog! 

Jillian here. It’s been a month of stress around here with the day job and I apologize for not being around to comment but I’m going to be better, I promise.  

My son and DIL have been trying to adopt a dog for a while now and kept being turned done since they both work full time. It seems a number of places are super strict about someone being home with the animal most of the day. I get that in some ways but it does leave a lot of people out, doesn’t it? 

They finally got approved at an adoption day at Petco and brought their little girl named Primm home today. She was named Ginger but they changed it.  Here’s a photo. Isn’t she cute? We aren’t telling Hobbes. 😉

I also have a new book out as of yesterday.  It’s under my other name, Sherry Chancellor and is a humorous romance called “Rex, the Ex and the Hex.” I think it’s my best work. The editor said tears were streaming down her face in laughter. Made me happy. 😀

Happy July.