Ghosts in the Machine

Or, how to get from THIS—CaseyFamilyPhotos-1-7 to THIS.CaseyElaineGus

1. CaseyFamilyPhotos-2-3 2. CaseyFamilyPhotos-1-6 3. CaseyFamilyPhotos-5 

It all started innocently enough. (It always does, doesn’t it?) I decided to have a scanning session, something I have done countless times before. I was looking specifically for some photos to make a birthday album.

I came across this tiny (2”x3”) black and white photo, circa 1958. As far as I know, there are precious few “Family Portraits” of my grandparents and their children.  There is that one over-exposed, standing in the sunshine snapshot. And there is this. I am guessing an anniversary photo. Grandma Elaine is sitting in front of a bouquet, and Daddy Gus stands behind her. Their children are posed, above the mantle, frozen in time- 1952 or so, my father angelic in his first communion attire.

THIS is the only copy of the photo of which I am aware. So, I added it to my pile to be scanned, scanned them all and moved on. Last night I started to edit, retouch, crop etc. And I discovered a very, very odd situation.  I looked at Daddy Gus’s mouth. I thought it odd; I didn’t recall having my cursor on his mouth, or have any recollection or reason to have been playing with the mouth. But, I reset the image to it’s scanned state, expecting my inadvertent error to disappear. Wrong. The image SCANNED that way, it looks like it on the TIFF file. I can see every crack and speck of dust and fingerprints, and Grandma Elaine’s mouth is perfect, but Daddy Gus is smudged.

I checked the scan plate, set the photo on a different spot, and turned it on its side, figuring there was something on the glass. Nope. Same smudge. Someone suggested scanning upside down, but all that did was give him a crazy smirk.  So, I went old school and took a photo of the photo. Finally, success.

Those who knew my grandfather claimed that he was just having some fun with me. Smile with tongue out

CaseyFamilyPhotos-2-2CaseyFamilyPhotos-1-4

This is an interesting shot, taken by ? circa ? The first is the scan, the second is complete with inky finger and palm prints. A 2×2 square photo.

It’s February 1st. Do you know where your photos are?

New Year’s resolutions are all well and good, but you have probably already slipped up some. (shhh. I won’t tell.Winking smile)  I have one that you can keep your promise on, right now!

It’s Sunday morning. And JANUARY 2015 is FINISHED. Let’s get organized!

  • MINIMUM EFFORTphonto2Find the cord to your phone and upload all the photos you took in January 2015 into a folder on your C drive called  2015-01-JAN (or something close). If you took photos with a real camera, grab those SD cards and upload all the photos you took into the same folder. (If you are feeling ambitious, make a folder that is 2014-ALL and get the rest of the photos off the phone now, too.) DO NOT DELETE or ERASE CARDS YET.
  • A BIT MORE EFFORT— Look at every photo you took in January 2015. Are there duplicates, or totally blurry or otherwise absolutely useless photos (like the photo of a recipe so you could go the store)? If so, delete them NOW from the folder.  Go ahead, be brutal. When you are done, grab a cup of coffee, and settle in to do some reading.  <—-Read this blog that I wrote a few years back about how I organize my photos.
  • More about HOW TO organize your photos

And then, read even more about it that I have written over the years.

I fear greatly that this generation coming up is not only going to be the most photographed, but also the generation with the fewest images accessible to them when they’re 64.

Technology is great! All those great movies and music on those eight-tracks cassette tapes  floppy disks CDs MP3s VHSs DVDs Blu-ray’s that we stream via the internet every day…

EXCEPT.

The year is 2060. Your grandson was downsized at work. He and his wife and his 13 year old twins are moving back across the country, following a job. They are staying in a friends basement while deciding if this is the right town for them.  While packing the most important things and putting the rest in storage, for a better time, he comes across a box full of antiquated media. A mish-mash of all the variety of storage devices he had seen in museums. Some has writing on the edges; cryptic information like “Daddy’s fishing boat photos”, but mostly they have nothing or simply dates. Although he smiles at the box; he recalls Grandma putting treasures into it when he was a child.

As he digs through the box, he sighs. There hasn’t been a player to watch some of this stuff in decades without having to go to a historical society. And while he recalls vaguely seeing old family photos, he wouldn’t have a clue where to start to locate them amidst  the dozens of disks in the box.  They have become Frisbees. He guesses he could probably go to a college, or contact a library to see if they have something that can still read these items.  But, does he have the time? He and his wife will be working more hours, trying to get back on their feet and the twins are insistent on getting back on sports teams when they move. The money and inclination to take random, unlabeled VHS or floppy disks or CD’ s or Blu-ray’s somewhere, pay to be told that they are hopelessly corrupted, or have the information transferred to the current media? His wife will go crazy if he spends more money that they don’t have having them transferred. Braces, the dentist said. Times two. And how disappointed will he be after spending all the time and effort to discover that the images rescued are of some people that must have been friends of friends of his great grandparents? This box heads to storage.

Discovering a dusty, even poorly maintained, horrible ‘magnetic’ photo album? A Buster Brown shoe box full of negatives and curling black and white photos of some dude who, wow, looks like his kids? Those actual printed photos? Shoeboxes full, even, will end up in the back of the minivan, because when he opened the lid, he saw a photo of his puppy from when he was seven. The box may end up on a shelf, half-heartedly sorted through on a random snow day far in the future.  But, one day, a child will ask about dad’s first pet, and he will be able to scrounge around, find the box, and spend hours laughing at the odd clothing and hysterical haircuts from the past.

Will it EVER get opened again? Will the rent stop arriving on the storage facility when the job doesn’t pan out? Because mortgages, electricity, gas, clothing for growing children, and a huge list of other bills will eventually be more important than THINGS they haven’t needed in months or years. Sold at auction, you can bet those disks are trash. phonto1

The same situation IS going to happen to your current storage devices, you know. It WILL. Forward progress. Whether the images mean something to YOU or not, when your kids are cleaning out your home after you die in 50 years, and they run across media they can not EASILY look at—will they take it home, tell their kids no vacation this year because the money is going toward seeing the treasures Grandma had on a (what turns out to be a corrupted) CD?

Have I scared you yet?

  • PRINT YOUR PHOTOS!  And by print, I DO mean have your photos PRINTED by a lab, photo paper, chemicals, the whole nine yards. Think you have a photo printer attached to your computer that does as well, as cheaply?  Photo inks are not stable enough. The inks are sprayed onto the top of the glossy paper.
  • Sign up to Shutterfly, Mpix, SmugMug, somewhere! and have some images printed. Not everything.  But some. The ones that are special, and sometimes the ones that are not. Photo books are great, too. If you have media that is readable still, look at it! Check to see that is is still usable, and send it to an online gallery for storage. Pass them around to far-flung family in a Valentines card.

This will not protect you from fire or flood, though. GIVE some family photos to other family members. Connection AND insurance. And have an online presence. Some online is better than other online. You do not want to only do this— if they go out of business (Kodak Gallery) you are out of luck. Free places tend to be more iffy; so…. Of course, you do then have the “braces this month or pay my yearly online fee” conundrum…. My thought is the cost of the year of storage is less than the cost of a half dozen rolls of film and developing.

  • ONLINE, UNLIMITED STORAGE, plus the ability to order PRINTS of all your images! This is where I have all my photos; my photo web-page rteest42.com is powered by Smugmug! If you sign up USING THIS LINK, there are DISCOUNTS involved! Galleries can be totally locked down so that no one or only those with the code can get into them. (when you go look at my site you will see a fraction of the galleries I have) ( Pricing and features of Smugmug)
  • Or go to Flickr. BUT MAKE SURE YOU CHANGE all the options to be private and right-click protected. The last thing you want is for your family photos to be accessible to just anyone. (Facebook notwithstanding, you really don’t want EVERYTHING out there…)
  • phontoNegatives. Just don’t throw them away, ok? Seriously, how much room do they take up? It’s hard to sort them, but look at the bright side, you are probably not making more! Take the envelopes, open and glance. Can you get a year based on the images? Date the outside, and put into a big old shoe box. If you don’t get around to doing anything ever with them, let your grandkids decide to trash them. Who knows, you may want to have something printed. Even if you trash the photos, the negatives are available. (My negatives from 1983 until 2004.)

Oh, right. I said don’t delete from the phone yet. So, having read all of the above, (coffee topped off?) have you a backup plan? Once you have burned a CD or DVD (properly labeled as to be retrievable), and uploaded to your fancy-pants new online photo storage, hit that delete button!  I was with someone the other day who I haven’t seen for a YEAR. She STILL had photos from the last time we got together on her phone. One minute of distraction and the phone is gone….

 

PS. THIS IS A DO AS I SAY, not as I do post, meant to motivate ME to finish as much as to get you to START!!

PPS Someone on Facebook posted this the other day…”I was cleaning out yet another part of the house and happened upon a folder I hadn’t seen since I moved away to college inside I found all these moments of my families past I wasn’t even aware of…” I doubt if she had run into a CD she would have even glanced at it; as it was when I ran across her thread, with photos, there was a healthy conversation happening about the photos from different family members.

Happy Birthday, Grandfather Clark!

Birthday cakeWell, OK, in the interest of full disclosure, Great Great Great Grandpa. And of course, as he would be turning 217, he isn’t around to read this, either.

But, of all my ancestors whose lives I’ve poked around in, I feel a certain kinship to Ephraim Clark, MD.

Ephraim was born in Wheatsheaf, New Jersey on March 29, 1797, an only child. I can trace his father back another 7 generations, and go sideways to a variety of cousins, including his second cousin, a Signer of the Declaration.

However, there is something personal about him, something personable, that makes him more to me than notes on a page. 

His handwriting is distinctive. If he wasn’t left-handed, I would be very surprised. That is a pretty rare thing back then!  So, when I am going through those piles of papers that were in my attic as a teen, his were always easy to locate. And as a fellow south-paw, I guess I feel an affinity.

He participated in the Civil War, as a Post Surgeon. (I haven’t done too much actual digging for service records.)

While he was born in New Jersey, he moved to Staten Island as a young man and married into an old Island family. He stayed there till he died at 88 in 1885.

He knew the Vanderbilt’s, he met the Marquis De Lafayette,  and he was one of Aaron Burr’s physicians.  This article was published in 1878 in the New York Times.

It describes a pretty lively 77 year old!

ephraimI have only one photo of him; I assume there are more because during his life time, he seems to often have been where the action was, but I haven’t discovered them. Someday, maybe I will find them at Richmondtown. He is the old man with cataracts on the top left; the gentleman to his right is his son, James. You can read a letter James sent to him, below. Those are his grandsons below him—Fredrick Ephraim and James Guyon.

I have a lot of papers that I rescued from our attic…Here are a few transcriptions.

Nothing earth shattering, just interesting snippets of life. And you will note that children haven’t changed much in the ensuing 200 years, when you read the letter from his son!

 

I am now itching to start to dig through these letters again and to do more on the fleshing out of other members of the family!

 

INDUCTION AS AIDE DE CAMPE
State of New York, Richmond County
I hereby certify, That on the 20th day of January, A.D. 1842 ….constitute Ephraim Clark Aide-de-Camp of the Second Division of Infantry of our said State (with rank form 1st December 1841) …..  Witnefs WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Esquire, Governor of our said State,….
Passed the Adjutant- Generals Office.   (Signed) William H. Seward
(signed) Rufus King? Adjutant-General
(original in possession of Trish Casey No. 19)
***********************************************************************************
REQUEST FOR VACATION MONEY FROM SON
Bellvue Feb. 5, 1846
Dear Pa,
I received your letter  ….I therefore want you to provide me with at least $20 with which to take the trip and spend a couple of days or so.  I deem the recreation necessary to my well being before going to the Small Pox Hospital.
Your son, JG Clark, MD.

DEMOCRATIC DELEGATION (Charleston,)  April 23, 1860

Dear Son
I have but one moment to write – all is confusion  We are just going into battle. Climate warm and beautiful.  We have the best quarters in Charleston.  I wish you were here.  Oh, how you would enjoy it. I never have seen so pretty a place– We live like Nabobs at  a small expense- a servent at every elbow. The Delegations from other states have called on us every hour.  We shall have a hard fight.  Love to Ma. and Etta. I will write tomorrow.  Yours aff. E. Clark
(original in possession of Trish Casey  No.3)

 

foghorn

The blast of the foghorn momentarily distracts me from my reverie. The damp, foggy air only sharpens the smell of “OLD”. It is pervasive, touching everything. It has wrapped itself into the folds of cloth, into the cracks and crevices of boxes and books; it is folded inside letters. Its perfume lingers in old trunks and hangs low from the rafters.

Gingerly, I open a letter. The date– 1823. Quickly scanning it for a familiar name, I refold it and place it on the ever-growling pile on the floor. Its destiny– not neglect or mildew any longer, but a curious strangers’ careful transcription.

A stack of memories builds by my side. Letters forgotten before my grandfathers were born are entrusted to my care. I’m guardian to their memories. They have traveled physically only within the confines of an Island, but over one hundred years later they have journeyed to an attic where they sit waiting for me. Generations separate them from their intended audience.

I read through missives written by people whose names have but the slightest meaning to me. Letters that were written at a time of candlelight and feather pens. They are very formal, with proper and labored wording, even to those with whom they were intimate.

It occurred to me anew as I peered uninvited into these peoples lives and their private thoughts, that this “collecting” spirit is seemingly an inherited trait.

There is a photo of Aunt Genes’ back door hanging on my wall. The door was planed to fit the frame, the paint is peeling, and the door knob is of purple glass. But according to my grandfather, the photo is missing a crucial element– the strings hung with once and twice used tea bags, suspended there to dry.

Last year, Aunt Gene and Uncle Everett had to move to Florida. Cleaning out their home was a distressing experience for them. These two people had spent their lives reusing, recycling and collecting. The ultimate irony became, for them, a painful reality. Mom got the glass jar full of old broken crayons. Those crayons and the coloring books that went with them were old when I was a child. Just a few years ago, my own daughter colored those same pages. Tow five-pound mayo jars full of glorious old buttons were donated to a preschool.

After some cajoling on my part, Aunt Gene gave me a few mismatched antimacassars, and a lace table cloth, crocheted by my great- great grandmother, my great grandmother Miriam or by Aunt Gene her self. Boxes of negatives were rescued from the rubbish pile.

The sum total of nearly 100 years (for her parents lived there before her) was slowly and precisely laid out on the front porch, the front yard, the curbside, and what wasn’t picked over, finally went to Fresh Kills.

It no longer seems odd that my little one has an affinity for paper; for “books” filled with all manner of scribble, crayon drawings, stacked in piles, balance precariously on the tops of toys in her “area”. Her “figures” collection pours over the edge of the large Easter basket put into use to house these treasures. They are each precious to her. None may be discarded.

I can’t walk by a stationary store with out looking. The desire to own these papers is strong. To fold and tuck into an envelope my thoughts and secrets, sealing them inside.

I know now why boxes fascinate me. Small, large, containers of all sorts I collect to hold– what? I have an extra-deep bookcase so that I can perch various momentos and memories in front of the smaller books (mostly volumes rescued from the ravages of various basements)

So many parts and pieces, each with a story. My home is a living overstuffed monument to those who came before me. I am a product of my upbringing.

The Tiffany candy dishes that now grace my tables, were wrapped and carefully tucked away in my grandmothers closet. Every year I discovered them as I searched for evidence of Santa’s early visit.

This inherited trait is the reason that this treasure trove exists. No one could bear to throw things out. It is reassuring to understand why I frantically search through reams of paper for a letter I know exists.

It is just because of a long line of collectors before me. I can’t complain, but only be thankful because I know there were other people in my family who were the same way.

And I feel secure in the knowledge that someone will find that paper I’m looking for– Someday!  <<<<THIS was written a few DECADES ago by me. I’d say 1991…  But it still holds true!

Meet Twitchy…

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is a work in progress of mine. This is Twitchy.

Twitchy _face2

Twitchy is a doll that I have been working on on and off for the past two years.

She was named after my muse. My muse is a fickle wench, and she drags me hither and yon. I rarely can stay focused on one project (be it quilting, writing, photography, genealogy, gardening, housework…you get the idea, right??) long enough to complete it.

In the summer of 2007, I was deeply in the middle of writing a fan fiction story, when this line of prose came from my characters mouth. “Why so twitchy, Babe?”

Twitchy lying2

It didn’t suit the character in that particular environment; it wasn’t working in the greater scheme of things, so I abandoned it.

The sentence continued to haunt me for a week, so I wrote a little one shot, using the same characters but a different reality. Then that took on a life of its own, and that became a 15,000 word piece!

The story, Why So Twitchy Babe, is finished. As is the story that started it, Big Chill, after a long hiatus caused by Twitchy herself.

Twitchy, however, is still unfinished. She is only the second fabric doll I have ever made (the first being Eli, about 28 years ago, for my babiest brother)

Twitchy resting

I have made a lot of mistakes with her, (her head is on crooked, and she has the hands of a half-back for example) but I have been enjoying myself!

Twitchy believes that she should be somewhere on a sandy beach (cabana boys bringing her mojitos) looking for inspiration, not stuck sitting on a shelf in my studio…

He Stopped to smell the roses….

2009 ButterflyLGBGTiMMY(Timmy at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens)

A variety of random thoughts….tell me these stream of consciousness posts don’t entertain you!

First of all, thank everyone for your comments about Vivienne…as everyone else has discovered, she was special…I sent her niece a condolence card, and she replied that she felt the need to send everyone who met Viv a sympathy card, because everyone lost….

And to those who commented for the first time here, really my whining elsewhere about the lack of comments was NOT a plea for attention – VBG;)

…So, what else is up in the world?? It is JULY—can’t quite figure THAT out yet…

…Took off to NJ the other week, to see old friends and meet new ones…off to other places later in the month to repeat the exercise…

…I am finding change to be unacceptable when it comes to my computer…this VISTA thing is a PITA, although one function so far (writing and publishing this blog) seems good….although you may never receive another email, since they took away my Outlook Express!!!!……I am actually almost on target with the quilt I want to enter into the Hoffman Challenge, everyone keep those fingers crossed!!!…

…My stepson’s CD release party for their band MEMORY FADE was LOUD! But go listen to the music on their website, and buy the album! I will be putting up photos shortly….

….well, other than I am somewhat back on a genealogy kick, (so PLEASE, send me old photos and information!!)

I believe there’s not much else going on in this part of the world…

HAVE A HAPPY SAFE 4TH of JULY!

New Years Day 2009

If you are a sometimes reader of my blog (And, indeed as I am only a sometimes WRITER of said blog; I can’t ask more of YOU than I do of myself) you may recall that about 11 months back, I made some late entry New Years Resolutions.”

Well, yeah, that worked well. No, really it did. In a way. I DID get a good deal of Genealogical stuff scanned. But, I discovered a great deal more, and inherited a small collection of Nana’s photos, AND I never did get them all clean and shiny and up on line, so…

Let’s call it a wash, ok? No harm, no foul.

Tomorrow is a new day, and all that rot. I played with some the other day, and discovered that at least four generations of us have the same mouth. (What do YOU think?)

I could spend all my time editing them, bringing them back to life. It’s fun and keeps me from housework. Right there is reason enough, if you ask me.

However, it keeps me from quilting. (Somewhere in the studio are a few dozen unfinished projects) And from editing MY OWN photographs, burning CD’s, getting them on line and trying to sell some. Oh, and writing – It keeps me from writing –(I’ve a Fan Fiction story I’m 150k into, my hero is lying, gravely injured in a hospital bed, yet, here I am, goofing off. It’s no wonder my muse has up and left…)

So, do I do the New Years Resolution thing again? Or do I put my money where my mouth is with the whole Reduce, ReUse, Recycle theme and recycle LAST YEARS RESOLUTION(S)?

One ‘goal’ is going to be not taking plastic bags. I sew. I can make bags. For a buck I can BUY bags at the store. And do I NEED a bag for a roll of THREAD?? (thanks Kerin, for the inspiration)

Hmmm. Ok, that is a selfless resolution. Onto some selfish ones.

I will QUILT!!! I will try very hard to buy only SOME fabric. And I will even try to make said fabric have a plan! Not just become part of my Fabric 401k, (which by the way, despite the economy, is holding steady. A yard is a yard is 36 inches)

I will get off my duff and try to get some of my photographs SOLD. (wanna help?)

I think that’s enough. Don’t want to overdo the whole planning my life thing.

Another year over, a new one just begun….

And what have we to show for it?

New friends were made,

Old friends re-discovered.

Goodbyes were said,

But greetings were offered.

We experienced vast Historic days.

We strove to laugh in many ways.

New places were discovered;

Old places once again uncovered.

Happy news out weighed the sad;

On balance, it was a good year.

With more of the same to come! Happy New Year 2009!!

(Oh, I do have an interactive part to this New Years Resolution thing… I want YOU to resolve to leave me COMMENTS!!!!!)