Friday, May 23, 2008

grandad’s draft card

There was something on the news about the National Archives releasing U.S. military records as far back as they had ‘em, and that they would be available on Ancestry.com. I know Dad’s father, John Fleming, served in World War I for Scotland before he emigrated to the United States, so I decided to look for Mom’s father, John Dunn, Jr., who served in the Army and went to France with the Orion Division (I think that’s what he said).

And I found his draft card! Here it is—click it to make it bigger:

Draft Card, John Dunn Jr., June 1917

According to the registration, he was a telegraph clerk for Western Union in Lewiston, Montana, in June 1917, when he was 26 years old (b. April 21, 1891). Sure enough, I have a photo of him working at the telegraph office in Lewiston, MT in 1916 (click to enlarge)—he’s the guy standing:

John Dunn Jr., clerk with Western Union in Lewiston, MT, c. 1916

Walter, Alice, Grace, Joan, Anne, and Connie Dunn

I’m not sure where or when he met my grandmother, Katherine. At any rate, they ended up in Wyandotte, Michigan, where he worked for Wyandotte Chemical (which later became BASF) until he retired (in the late 1950s?). They had six kids, though my grandmother had been married before and had two, or maybe three, children. My mother’s stepsisters are Jean and Kit, and she may have an older stepbrother though I’m not sure about this since, as far as I know, this was never established definitively. John and Katherine’s kids are Walt, my mother Alice, Grace, Joan, Anne, and Connie (click to enlarge). Here is a photo I like, showing Grandad and Grandma Dunn and my sisters and brother and me. This was taken in the early sixties, maybe 1964, judging by my baby sister’s age. I’m the oldest, dressed in pink and standing next to Grandad. Maureen is in green. Jamie is in pink, standing between Grandma and me. On the ground, on the left next to Grandma is Kelly and next to her is my brother Scott. At the bottom is Carolyn. I remember this picnic, and I think the photo was snapped by Mom—one of her more successful efforts (we all have our heads in this one.) (Click to enlarge)

John and Katherine Dunn with their Fleming grandchildren, summer 1964?

John Dunn Jr., Age 81, April 1972

My grandfather lived a long life, pretty healthy until a few years before the end despite a lifetime of cheap cigars and Old Grand Dad whiskey. When I smell Old Spice, I think of him, particularly the combination of Old Spice and cigar smoke. He liked to garden and had a gorgeous flower garden in his backyard in Wyandotte. And I remember that he always had a supply of Coke in those little Coke bottles for the grandkids when we came to visit. I was in grad school at Columbia the year he died, in 1978. This is a photo of him on his 81st birthday in 1972 (click to enlarge). I wish I knew how John and Katherine met, where, when—maybe one of my aunts know, I’ll have to ask. I’m a sporadic member of Ancestry.com—it’s a good service, it’s just that I have other things I need to spend the subscription fee on—it’s pretty expensive, especially in terms of time ... I could easily blow through a couple of hours there!

posted by lee on 05/23/08 at 03:44 PM

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

looking for cucumbers

My tomato plants arrived from Burpee a couple of days ago and I want to get them into the ground. So I decided to get some of that mesh plastic sheet stuff for several reasons: to try it, to see if the black will keep the temperature high enough for it not to matter that it’s not quite warm enough to plant them, to keep the weeds at bay, and to keep the roots moist while we’re away. Normally I would plant the tomato plants the last weekend in May, but we’re going to be in Michigan then so I need to get them in now. So Stanley agreed that we could go to Home Depot today, on a Saturday, which he hates to do, AND HE DIDN’T EVEN WHINE ABOUT IT!

While we were there, I wanted to price getting a piece of carpet cut and bound to replace the threadbare, filthy, and tattered rug we have in our, uh, Media Room. Yeah, that’s what it is, a media room ... anyway, we need a rug 11-12’ x 8-9’ and since it will be a good many years before we can afford that exquisite oriental rug with the tree of life pattern I want (like 50 years), we figure it would be a lot less expensive to get a piece of carpet bound. Neither of us cares for wall-to-wall carpeting, which is why we went for the area rug size since the room gets too cold without something on the floor.

Well, we ordered one—made out of this polymer that’s made out of corn sugar or corn cellulose or something like that. A “green” carpet. Only, we didn’t select it because it’s green (it’s actually this pretty blue color they call sapphire), but because this stuff is supposed to clean up like a dream if it gets stained. With three or sometimes four animals in the house, this seems like a good idea. I am pretty pleased that it’s made out of eco-friendly stuff. It should arrive around the time we get back from Michigan. A 12’x9’ area rug that is under warranty, no less, for about $250. Instead of getting the snowblower for our anniversary, like we sort of meant to do (our anniversary was January 23), we got the rug. Plus there’s the HD gift cards we got for Christmas.

Then off we went to get the mulch sheeting for the garden and in search of some basil, pepper, and cucumber plants. Found the basil, found the pepper, but we had to search and search for cucumbers—Stanley finally found what is probably the last cucumber plant they had. We had to stop at Wally Mart, so looked there too—no luck. It’s so odd—they had everything from eggplant to Brussels sprouts to collard greens, but no cucumbers. We got a packet of cucumber seeds just in case we continue to have no luck finding a couple more cuke plants (like at Stew Leonards maybe?) Was there some kind of cucumber blight or something that made most of the plants sterile? Did some mad gardener corner the local cucumber market (and what is she going to do with them all, make pickles?)

With all that, didn’t get any actual gardening done today. Mañana.

Friday we wanted to play hooky and go see a movie, but there was nothing opening that we were interested in (the first Narnia was so awful neither of us have any desire to see the new installment). We did see Ironman on opening day, and that was really good. I didn’t think I’d like it since I never read the comic book, but I liked it a lot. We always watch the credits (I like seeing the locations and the names of the songs) so we got to see the trailer for the sequel, which I hope is just as good (though hope it will move along faster, plot-wise).

I remembered last week to take a picture of the Japanese dogwood from an upstairs window—even this photo doesn’t do it justice (alas, the blooms are finally falling):

Japanese dogwood, May 9, 2008

Slink is a very strange cat. I finally realized what he reminds me of: the black cat on the bags of Tidy Cat cat litter. This photo show him stretched out with Stanley, legs in the air, very comfortable on his back (click to enlarge):

lazy cat slink with legs in the air, May 16, 2008

“The dog looks so much nicer when she’s upside-down ... ”

slink's world, may 16, 2008

Note to self: Call Ben and find out what he wants for his birthday. Which was May 13th. I’m a terrible aunt. I did remember it was his birthday, called his dad to get his email address, but didn’t follow up. It’s so unreal that he’s 16 years old now. I’m, such an old, terrible aunt ...

We’re leaving for Michigan on May 27th, after Ginger gets her chemo treatment. Spending the night in Macedonia, Ohio, at a Days Inn that takes pets. Was thinking about booking at that old Comfort Inn in Warren again, but the last time it was so awful (not our usual room) I’m not ready to go back and try it again yet (awful room plus I was so sick, what a nightmare that was). I am so looking forward to seeing Mom and Dad. We have to leave there on June 11th though, since we have to be back so Ginger can get chemo on June 13th, and Stanley has a dentist appointment on the 13th as well.

posted by lee on 05/17/08 at 08:59 PM

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

happy mother’s day

It’s frustrating to be so far away on Mother’s Day—I wish we could be in Oscoda celebrating with Mom. Especially this time of year—I’ve never been to Oscoda in the spring. Every other season, yes, but not spring.

This afternoon, I cut some more lilacs for the house. The look and the smell of them always evokes memories of spending time in Wyandotte, Michigan when I was a little girl. We’d be visiting my grandparents, who lived on Maple Street—the same house Mom grew up in. Or sitting on the front steps of the house on Ninth Street, where I spent the first four years of my life.

Lee Fleming and Alice Fleming, October 1957
Sitting on the porch with Mom in October, 1957, at our house on 9th Street, which was across the street from a beautiful old cemetery.

Wyandotte is an old town southwest of Detroit on the Detroit River. Its most-famous former residents are Lucille Ball and Lee Majors. Wyandotte is a city that clings to traditions—it is represented in Congress by John Dingell, who was elected to Congress before I was born and is still there. (I’m 52.) There are lots of lovely (and many unlovely) old houses and beautiful old parks and cemeteries and there were lilac bushes everywhere—huge, old, lush lilac bushes. In Wyandotte, around Mother’s Day, when the lilacs bloomed, it was a wonderment just to stand still and breathe.

Alice Dunn, 1945
Alice Elaine Dunn at 10 years old, in 1945 (click to enlarge)

So lilacs and Wyandotte and my mother are forever bound together in my mind. I loved going with her to see my grandparents and my mother’s sisters and the Fitch (or maybe it was Futch) family, who lived next door to my grandparents. I loved listening to Mom and her sisters talk—the Dunn sisters were known (and feared) for their wicked, intelligent wit. I loved hearing stories about Mom’s school days and how she was the homecoming queen in high school and made the honor roll always and how she met Dad and all kinds of stories. So sitting here smelling the lilacs is making me miss Mom even more than ever. Dad sent this picture he took of her yesterday. As a Mother’s Day present, he treated her to a full salon treatment. The flowers on the table are her winnings from Friday-night Bingo at the American Legion. Looking at this photo, I was struck by how much she still looks like she did when she was ten—the bone structure and the eyes and the smile.

image
Alice Fleming, taken by James Fleming, on May 10, 2008. (click to enlarge)

(hi-res version of this photo for printing) Stanley and I are planning to go to Oscoda at the end of this month for a quick visit—I’m really looking forward to it.

posted by lee on 05/10/08 at 10:27 PM

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

sunday in the garden

Sunday was beautiful—about 70°, clear with a nice breeze. Stanley mowed the lawn. I could smell the onion grass. Which I love: it makes me feel calm and like things are okay. I guess because I always associate it with working in the yard with Stanley and summer and feeling content with my life.

I planted some perennials in the shade garden and we trimmed the old grasses. Stanley put in a new rosebush and planted a new lilac bush (it’s small—it’ll take about five years to get big enough to get even one bloom, I think, but it’s a start). Ginger was goofy, doing the silly bunny dance she does when she’s really happy. The lilac bush we planted a couple of years ago is loaded with buds and there is a lot of amazing growth on shrubs we put in over the years. Daddy Cardinal swooped down at us when we got too close to the nest tucked into the wild rosebush and clematis drapped over an arch. We watched the finch feed her babies where they’re tucked safely in the bat house (we would prefer bats in the bat house but aren’t about to evict the finch family).

The wood hyacinths and violets are wildly in bloom, with the periwinkle and lily of the valley making a showing. The Japanese dogwood is spectacular this year—it began blooming about ten days ago. The American dogwood had scant bloom. All the trees except the mimosa and the catalpas have at least baby leaves—it seems like the butternut leaves grew an inch overnight. Oh, and there are lots of dandelions. I know they’re weeds, but I love them. All of the peonies have buds.

A bleeding heart I planted a couple of years ago finally showed up (click the images to enlarge them):

Bleeding Hearts, May 4, 2008 by Lee Fleming

The violets are abundant this year:

Violet, May 4, 2008, by Lee Fleming

Our lilac bush is only about 6.5 feet tall right now, but it’s going to have lots of bloom. They should be open and smelling like nirvana by next Sunday:

Lilac buds by Lee Fleming, May 4, 2008

Here’s a shot of the dogwood among the other trees and wisteria—I took this from the back porch. It’s hard to see the dogwood flowers in this view—I will have to get another shot of them from an upstairs window to do them justice:

dogwood with cedar and catalpa, May 4, 2008, by Lee Fleming

Very few tulips came up this year—I think the squirrels must’ve eaten most of them. Will try to plant some more this fall.

red tulip, blown, May 4, 2008 by Lee Fleming

And here is my happy girl. She’s doing well on chemo—but has lost the whiskers over her eyes (eyebrows?) and some of the fur on her nose:

Ginger, May 4, 2008, by Lee Fleming

Stanley felt better with the lawn mowed—I kinda like the meadow look, but it bugs him. He also planted a rosebush and the new lilac bush:

Stanley Thompson, after the yardwork is done, May 4, 2008, by Lee Fleming

I took this shot a few days ago and love it so I’m posting it. It’s been so cold and wet that I’ve needed to use the space heater in our office—even though it gulps electricity, there’s no point in wasting oil to heat the whole house all day, not at current rates. Anyway, the space heater is next to my chair, below the counter you see here. Twitch, heat-seeker by profession, is stretched out on this counter because it’s very warm—and his butt is directly above the heater. Makes it kind of hard for me to use my keyboard, which is located to the left (you can’t see it) and I can’t rest my elbow on the counter, but he looks so content I manage to work around him.

kitty Twitch has a nice, warm butt, April 25, 2008, by Lee Fleming

We even managed to get a tiny bit of work done this weekend. Never enough to catch up, but better than not doing any work. I’m not going to complain about having too much work—I’m glad that we do. It was a great weekend.

posted by lee on 05/04/08 at 10:02 PM

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a great resource about ftd

The doctors’ report says this:

... PET scan ... that showed focal decreased metabolism in the left lateral midfrontal cortex as well as mild reduction in the premotor frontal lobe and possibly in the posterior parietal cortex of the left hemisphere.  The posterior cingulate FDG metabolism was not significantly reduced.  The frontal changes were conspicuous than the parietal changes.

Since I’m not up on my brain anatomy or what the various areas of the brain are responsible for (Stanley knows more about this than I—but grad school was so long ago!) what function, trying to decipher this report has been making my eyes cross. But, I found an article that helps a lot. Actually, I asked a question about the side effects of Trazodone on the FTD Support Forum and one of the members posted a link to this article, which briefly mentions Trazodone at the bottom. The article is Frontotemporal Dementias: A Review in the Annals of General Psychiatry. It helps to tie the report to the symptoms. Not a cinch to translate, but much more useful than anything else I’ve seen so far.

posted by lee on 05/04/08 at 05:09 PM

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