A new chapter…

I made a decision this January. I am putting my house on the market come April first. My daughter thinks that is a foolish (pun intended) day to begin a new chapter in my life but I think it is a perfect time. I want to travel, not have to cut the lawn or shovel snow so the house has to go. When it sells (notice I said when and not if – trying to stay positive) I plan to rent instead of buy. Can’t think of any reason to buy a house at my age. (born in 1943 – you figure it out).

Not going to look for a rental until the house sells. I have plenty if short term options to tied me over from one abode to another. In the mean time I am cleaning out drawers, shelves, closets, the garage and the basement. Lots of needless accumulation in every nook and cranny. The good part is when it is finished it will be a lot easier to move from here than it was to move to here.  I have boxes I haven’t opened since I moved in. Pretty ridiculous. So while cleaning out the closets and drawers I am trying not to think of the basement. The garage is under control for now and I won’t finish that until it is a wee bit warmer. It is the basement that is going to be the headache. But even that is doable. I will be ready on March 1st to get a real estate agent in here to let me know what else I have to do. I’ll let you know how it goes.

And Happy St. Bridget’s day. St. Bridget, born in 451,  is to the Irish people an important a Saint as Patrick. She was the daughter of a slave and a chieftain. She refused an arranged marriage instead established several convents throughout Ireland. She was an important figure in the education of women in Ireland – that is before the English came and forbade the Irish to educate their children.

Closing the Celtic Quay

Jan 23, 2013 ——- and the Celtic Quay is officially closed. Still looking at other family sites that come along. Facebook is OK but for me it seems a bit too public. I can never figure out who sees what. And what the heck is the difference between  “news feeds” and “home pages” anyway. So maybe a site will come along that will be easy to access, fun to use and private for the family albums, history  and news. One can only hope.

I will be changing my own website soon as well. Still working on that. I will let you know when that is up and running.

Chicago to Antioch 1949

I have a few but not many memories of living on Melvina Avenue in, Chicago. That is where my family was living when I was born. However I do remember some of the day we moved from Chicago to Antioch, a small farming community about 50 miles north of the city. Mike and I were 7 and 6 years old respectively and were too young to be of any help on moving day. So we spent the day with the O’Learys, good friends of our family. The next day I believe it was the O’Leary’s who took us up north to our new home, but that may be wrong too.

I remember the commotion of moving furniture and boxes, unpacking, and generally getting settled into the new house. Well actually the house wasn’t ‘new’. It was new to us but in actuality it was fast approaching the century mark. Most of all about that day I remember the barn, the chicken coop (which had no chickens in it yet), the windmill, and of course the out house (no indoor facilities yet). I didn’t think of the significance of that until many years later but Mr. and Mrs. Holshoe[sp this is phonetic but not correct spelling], from whom we bought the house, were quite elderly and had lived there on Trevor Road for many years. This was 1949 and they never had an indoor toilet. Amazing! Here is the Real Estate photo of the house and out buildings when we moved out there.

House, Barn and Outbuildings

House, Barn and Outbuildings

There was a hand pump on the sink in the kitchen that brought water, very cold water, up from the well and into the house. it seems there was always a large pot of water on the wood stove in the kitchen for washing dishes, little faces and what ever else needed cleaning. Bath time was quick and cold as I remember.

Moving day was filled with commotion. Lots of Aunts, Uncles and cousins as I recall. We kids ran around inspecting all the new and fascinating places of our new home. One such place was the corn field on the north side of the house. We ran up and down through the rows of corn. If I knew then what I know now never would I have ventured in there. Corn ears are home to nasty little corn borers. Ewww!

All in all it was an exhausting, exhilarating day. The house changed over the years as did the size of our family. We didn’t go too long without indoor plumbing thank goodness. It was mid September when we moved and the nights and early mornings were cold.  My siblings and I grew up and moved away, my parents are both gone now, but that day was a turning point for our family. One that changed us for ever, in a good way.

My memories are from a 6 year old point of view so in actuality the day may have been quite different. I will have to wait for my older siblings to read this an correct my remembrances.

Trying Something new.

I have had a website for the past year or so that has been used for a business I was trying. For various reasons it was not working out as I had hoped. So I decided on another entirely different approach. I am going to use it as a genealogy website. It is not ready for publication yet but will be soon I hope. One of the pages on this new site is a blog and I have linked it here to this blog. No sense in having two. So I have trashed some of the mundane daily posts here but kept the stories and mentions of travels and people. When ready I will put a link here to the new site and you can let me know what you think. In the beginning it will be a work in progress and will slowly take shape as I try to figure out what works the best.

Oh and by the way Happy Saint Nicholas Day – 2012!

The High Attic

Growing up on Trevor Road we were fortunate enough to have two attics in our old turn of the century farmhouse (That is the Twentieth Century). One attic was on the second floor under the roof on the southwest side of the house. This was the smaller of the two and it was entered through a door in the big bedroom. We called this the “Cubby Hole”.

This “Cubby Hole” held a variety of things such as non-perishable items that were purchased in quantity when on sale and other various and sundry things such as: skiis, boots, tennis rackets and fishing poles to name a few. Every so often it would be emptied and re-organized without the replacement anything that didn’t hold the promise of being useful in the future. In later years this area was converted to a bathroom and a closet with built in drawers, both of which were much more functional for whoever was occupying the room at the time.

At the upstairs landing there was a set of stairs that could be pulled down from the ceiling. This lead to the “High Attic”. This was a land of adventure and mystery. A day when we were allowed to go up there was a great day indeed.

The “High Attic” held all sorts of things, most of them being seasonal. Our admittance to the attic usually was the harbinger of a new season approaching. Trunks held bathing suits, sundresses, shorts and short-sleeved shirts in the winter months; while in the summer, hats, coats and mittens were packed away. Of course both sets of garments were protected from weevils by the ever present “Moth Balls”. That is a smell that lingers. The clothes were hung outside to get rid of the smell but even so the first wearing to school of the coat or other stored item brought comments or pinched noses from classmates.

Christmas ornaments and decorations, Easter Baskets, the Halloween Costume trunk, and Military Uniforms were among the other treasures stored up there. There were boxes that held school items saved because it was hard to toss out the end result of a labored-over project. Out grown toys packed away to be played with at a later time by a younger sibling also found their way up there.

There was no floor in the attic when I was a child. Dad laid down a few boards to use as a pathway to walk on, but the boxes were stored on the 2 by 4’s that held up the ceilings of the rooms below.  When we moved to this house in 1949 there was no insulation in the attic so one could actually see the lath and plaster of the ceilings between the 2 by 4’s.  To this day it is a mystery to me how plaster can be applied to a ceiling over the lath and it just sticks there and hardens, doesn’t fall down. Needless to say a misplaced step could have plaster raining down on the one in the room below. I believe that happened a time or two before a floor was laid.

We had a “resident” in the high attic as well. I am not sure just what year George arrived but it was around Easter time. George was a 5 foot very large, purple, stuffed rabbit, very reminiscent of carnival fare. He was well received by the younger members of the family. After Easter he was stored up in the attic with the baskets and other Easter decorations and brought down again the following year when Easter rolled around. When ever an unexplained noise was heard someone would invariably say, “Just George making himself comfortable up there”. For many years George shared Easter with us until one year he went missing. There has been some speculation about the demise of our tattered, well played with childhood friend but one thing is for sure – George’s spirit stayed with us. He could be heard rumbling around the attic from time to time just letting us know he hadn’t forgotten us. So George if you’re listening we haven’t forgotten you either.

Christmas’ past!

I remember when the magic of Christmas started the day before Christmas Eve when Dad brought home the tree and ended New Year’s Day when the tree came down. After Thanksgiving there was a gradual build up of excitement. We added a candle to the advent wreath on each of the four Sundays before Christmas. During December we baked cookies and made a Gingerbread house. We hung Christmas Cards from family and friends on a red string strung from one end of the dining room to the other and on into the living room. We secretly bought or made gifts, wrapped them and had them ready to go under the tree. All this and more built the excitement that culminated with the arrival of the tree on December 23rd. Decorations and tree trimmings were brought down from the attic and our modest country farm house was decked out for the holiday.

Christmas Eve was a day in the Catholic Church when it was forbidden to eat meat. We never minded the fast because it was the one day of the year mom would make potato cakes in the tradition of her Irish mother. And each year she would make sure we knew the distinction between potato pancakes and potato cakes. Potato Cakes are floured and baked on the griddle until a golden crust formed on each side, while potato pancakes were fried in oil until browned. We liked both but the baked potato cakes were a once a year treat.

Our Christmas was much like it was in many households. We gave and received gifts, welcomed friends and relatives and had a wonderful festive dinner prepared by my mother. But Christmas didn’t end that day. It went on for the whole week. We played games that we had gotten as gifts, we skated on the pond with new skates or went to Antioch Lake with the new toboggan. Christmas Cards came with the mail each day and weren’t considered late until well after New Years. We visited with neighbors and had them to our house. For many years the Friday between Christmas and New Years was reserved for an evening with the Schwabs. Mom and dad’s good friends, Clarence and Berniece Schwab. They would come to our house one year and we would go to theirs the next. This was a treat for my parents because there was rarely an occasion when they would be invited to someone’s house with all of their children. You see I have 14 siblings and even though we were not all living at home at the same time there was still a lot of us that tumbled into the Schwab house every other Christmas.

The end of the week brought New Years Eve. Another celebration, one for which we were permitted to stay up till midnight. Often the Lundegards would come down from their house on the hill to join in the festivities. The ending of a familiar year and the start of a brand new one with a new number. It was momentous. I don’t remember exactly what year we started to watch with the rest of the world when Dick Clark brought us to 11:59pm and the dropping of the ball in Times Square; but I do remember listening for the town siren to go off at midnight and going outside (if it wasn’t too cold) with pots, pans and spoons as noisemakers to ring in the New Year.  As the the years went by we had new neighbors, the Markwarts and the Gastons, with whom we would share these holidays.

I am not sure if it is just because I am older or if the times have really changed so much. It seems that Christmas starts a lot earlier and is over abruptly December 26th. The radio stops playing holiday songs and in  Walmart and Target, Valentines and Saint Patrick’s Day fare are displayed in the area of prominence. Super Bowl drinks and treats are displayed at the ends of all the food aisles. Commerce, it seems, attempts  to dictate the beginning and end of our holidays.  But the holidays are what you make of them. They’re not over until you decide they’re over. Gather often with family and friends, start new traditions and savor the old ones, share your memories of  Christmas’ past.  Forget the resolutions, just live each day to the fullest and make 2011 the best year yet. Happy New Year everyone!


Growing up the “Manger” was always a part of the Christmas decorations. After the tree was up and decorated the stable was put under the tree right in front where it could be seen by all. At separate times  each of us had our turn rearranging the scene to our own liking. That little cardboard stable with the chalk figures of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, shepherds, kings and of course the animals was an essential part of Christmas.  When it was all out of the box and set up under the tree, Christmas was officially here.  Of course we always waited until late Christmas Eve to put the Baby Jesus in the manger. The Crèche, as I now call it, is one of the first holiday decorations to go up in my house. Several years ago I thought it would be nice to put my love of miniatures to work and create a realistic setting for Mary, Joseph and the Christ Child. It has changed since that first year and continues to evolve.  My grandchildren have played with it and some how those little fingers never have broken a thing. Even if they did, Joseph has a workbench full of tools  and he probably had it fixed before I noticed it was broken. When I moved to the house in Waterford I made a Stable that wraps around the corner of the mantle. The rock outcroppings are a perfect spot to build a shelter for the animals of the Inn. The only missing elements are shepherds and kings. I have the sheep, which are totally out of control without a shepherd.  And the camels wander aimlessly. The scene has really been lacking in the doll department. Mary and Joseph usually need a little refurbishing each year and this year was no exception. I went online before Christmas and ordered a family of shepherds. They won’t arrive until the end of January. Too late for this year. Of course I will have to produce the costumes and makeup but next Christmas there will be shepherds and if I keep going there might even be Kings to go with the camels. Mary and Joseph have made the best of their plight and the Infant seems comfortable in the arms of His mother. Maybe if I leave it up all year I will be reminded to keep working on it.