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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Pooh Bear Buys Spoons

I ordered demitasse spoons from Ebay last week. They're to go with my other Danish Princess silver-plated cutlery. The silverware belonged to my parents and I've always loved them. Over time I've added different pieces; a cake cutter here, butter knives there.

Yesterday the adorable little spoons arrived. I've ordered from Ebay before and have become lazy, not fully reading the description. Didn't realize the the spoons which were pre-owned, had intials engraved on the handles - horror! I thought maybe I'd been ripped off but when I checked on line, sure enough, the seller had mentioned initials; my bad. As it turned out this is a classic example of what my friend Barb calls my 'Pooh Bear luck'. The initials on the teaspoons? Each spoon has an elegant M, you know, for Miller - talk about dumb luck.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn... er, in Fair Oaks...

A couple weeks ago I tore down the dead Cecil Bruner climbing rose that has grown along the back fence line since I moved in years ago. It was just a wooden skeleton; I don't know if the deep pruning by the gardeners or insect vermin did it in, but it is likely that both had a hand in the rose's demise. Like the class act it was, the Cecil Bruner rose thoughtfully left behind a shrub sized baby, which is currently covered in baby pink blooms.

What I'm getting at is, it was only a couple of weeks since I was in that bit of my garden. Yesterday morning I opened my bedroom blinds and what did I see growing up straight and tall in that very spot? A humongous flippin'
Tree of Heaven, bold as brass & as tall as me, growing right where I'd torn down the rose maybe three or four weeks ago. How can any tree grow so damned fast! I ran right out side and did a dance on it's weedy arse. I think some bird must have sat on the phone lines overhead and pooped me a freakn' big-arse weed tree. Stupid Tree.

[Management wishes to point out that Miss Miller normally loves and mourns the loss of trees on and around her property, but her love of trees does not extend to the ugly-arse 'Tree of Heaven' purposely imported by Chinese Immigrants eons ago. The Chinese brought the seeds of the annoying and invasive trees with them from China as a reminder of home; their sweet memories of home, our continuing battle with a noxious nasty weed that now grows like big-arse sore thumbs all over the United States. The Tree of Heaven is the famed tree that grew in the novel (which Ms. Miller has read and loved)
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.]

In other news, yesterday I plum forgot I had a ticket to see a musical play at the Davis Musical Theater Company. Happily, my musical theater buddy Cornetta did not forget. Her phone call saved us both from missing out on a fun evening.

Neither of us knew a thing about the play - The Pajama Game - but we laid wager that the old 1950s play would contain at least one tune we'd recognize. Popular tunes often have their roots in moldy oldie plays that few remember any more. Sure enough, during the play there were three tunes that made our heads swivel round as we giggled like the demented creatures we can be. The one I enjoyed the most was Steam Heat (as in 'we got sssssss.... steam heat, but I need your love to keep away the cold', dancing all sexy Fosse, Jazz Hands and stuff).

We totally enjoyed ourselves.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tree Sap

Thought I should provide some of the documents I've mentioned earlier. First up, the 1930 U.S. Census; a snap shot of my Mother's family when she was a wee 7 year old. Click on these photos for readable blow-ups.

The Carters are on the bottom left. I wish they'd used typewriters to record this stuff. Still, it's in better shape than the 1920 Census, which I'll post as soon as I get a proper copy of it.

Next up, my mother's father's U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, from 1942. This registration was called the "old man's registration" because it covered men born from April 28, 1877 to February 16, 1897 and men between 45 and 64 yrs, and not already in the military.

1152 Union Avenue! The Bronx address long engraved in the heart of all true Carters

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Few Leaves From the Family Tree

Unless a discussion on pedigree occurs at Madison Square Garden and at least one of the subjects under discussion is wagging a tail, then there is nothing more boring than burying others under one's own pedigree. So! That said, allow me bore you to tears.

New genealogical finds:

1. U.S. Census, 1930, in Manhattan New York, for my Mother's family. It was so cool seeing familiar names pop up; Hello Aunt Grace & Uncle Calvin!

Charles Carter (45 yrs) Grandpa
Adele Carter (40 yrs) Grandma
Vanessa Carter (15 yrs) <=== I'm guessing this is Aunt Verona Norma Carter (7 yrs) MA!
Calvin Carter (5 yrs) Uncle
Sigroy Carter (3 yrs) Uncle
Grace Carter ( ) Aunt Grace
Brantford Phillips (22) my Grandfather's brother-in-law

There were still two babies still on the way, Uncle Walter and the youngest, my Aunt Arna who was often called 'peanut'.

2. U.S. Census 1920, for Cristobal, the Panama Canal Zone

Being able to find my father's family in Panama no less, was a HUMONGOUS surprise, .

William Miller (50 yrs) Grampa! Gives an estimate for his birth at 1870
Caroline Miller (45 yrs) Grandma!
William J Miller (11 yrs) DADA! The J is for Junior
Herbert L Miller (9 yrs) Uncle Herbert
Edgar I Miller (8 yrs) Uncle Edgar (Philip's twin)
Phillip O Miller (8 yrs) Uncle Philip (Edgar's twin 'natch)
Fred Graub Miller (6 yrs) Uncle Fredrick
Alexandra L Miller (5 yrs) Aunt Louise Cool name like Alexandra & they called her Louise? Dang. Had no idea she was named Alexandra. She was the youngest and only girl.
Miller Brycoe (age 67) Great Grandma Amelia and if I'm right this is the appearance of her long lost last name! Or is it still lost? Since the name is attached to Miller, maybe it is a relative from my Grandfather's mysterious family? GAK! Someone still alive has got to remember who Brycoe Miller is.

3. Last but not least it's a triple header for my matenal Grandfather, Charles Carter. I found:
  • some work discharge papers
  • His U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942
  • records of him arriving in New York City on the ship, General George W Goethals from Haiti. And, this all takes place in the time of the 1920 census, in October of that year.

Of course as is common with genealogy research, you 'solve' one mystery and a b'jillion more pop up to take its place. This week's big mysteries:

1. The 1910 census put my paternal Granddad's birthplace as Missouri. WHAT? He was born in Jamaica. I am certain of it because an old pass port of my father's had scribbled notes in the back that give a date and Kansas as the location for Grandfather's naturalization. It even lists the judge who presided over the event. If he'd been born in Missouri he wouldn't have needed naturalization (unless he'd previously given up U.S. Citizenship - I doubt that.

2. Is Brycoe the correct spelling? If true, it's easier to research a unique name than a common name. Is Brycoe Granny's last name? I'm hopin my grandfather's military papers, which I have already sent for, will explain.

3. Continuing mystery. Is Edward Archer Cordle really my maternal Great Grandfather? If so, is he also the father of my Grandmother's brother Cuthbert? I think may well be. But - if that's so, then are John C. Cordle and Mary Elizabeth Nunes truly Grandpa Cordle's parents? If he is my grandfather, the records on line revealed his parents are in fact, John and Mary. If that is true, then I have roots in Virginia. GAK! Was not expecting that. I wonder if someone has photos of them? That's the first generation that could have had their photos taken. So Charles Carter worked on ships sometimes as did my father? Apparently so!

Here is my family tree, another pair of possible maternal Great Great Grands included.

Ooops, I jumped the gun again. The birth dates for the presumed parents of Edward Archer Cordle have them being born prior to their son's birth. Oops. I'll have to prune them from the family tree.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My New Project

Prompted by realizing this month is my father’s 100th birthday aniversary, I took it as a kick in the arse toward at-long-last, working on my family genealogy. I’ve been meaning to do so for ages.

For starters I went through the notes I have from my maternal side, whose information was previously gathered by my Aunt Grace. I also dug into my paternal side. Loads of material was available from a pamphlet printed on the occasion of a celebratory family party held in New York for my father on his 91st birthday (he celebrated one additional birthday after that). Please note the buttton to add 'husband' to my little corner - how optimistic. Juan and Dolores are in there, but they don't show.

Click here for expanded view

The upper, paternal side of my tree are the Millers & Johnsons.

The lower maternal side of my family, are the Carters & Cordles.

And the past few days here is a tidbit I’ve added to to what was previously known.

Parma (the ship) Passenger Manifest page

I know this is the genuine article because my maternal Grandmother Adele was raised by her aunt, who is the someone-or-the-other Lofety whose name appears on the manifest. Cool, eh? My Aunt Grace had tentatively concluded that Grandma came into the U.S. through Canada. I vaguely recall Grandma may have entered the country on two different occasions. I’ll be skimming Canadian records to get to the bottom of that. But this document shows Grandma entered the country in July of 1916 when she was 23 years of age and she made the trip companioned with another young lady of the name Elelia Edwards. I have no idea if they were related or not; something else to dig up!

I also discovered there is a book, Encyclopedia of Latin American and Caribbean Literature, 1900-2003 by Daniel Balderston, Mike Gonzalez which mentions another maternal ancestor, Edward Cordle. He wrote a serial newspaper column based on a fictitious pair of characters Lizzie & Joe; their stories were written in the patois vernacular of Barbados, which in those days was a daring thing. I don’t want to kick in the $90 necessary to purchase the Encyclopedia volume. But I understand – or perhaps misinterpret, there is another book too, entitled Overheard which was published, or so I believe, in 1903. I’d pay $90 for that book – if I can find a copy.

Now for the real challenge! On my paternal side, pretty much everything is a mystery. I am going to have to stop being a freakn’ arse and call my father's nieces - in particular Sandra and Anita - if I ever hope to puzzle out at least the stuff that is still remembered first &/or second hand. For example, here is a photo of my maternal Grandma, Caroline Josephine Johnson Miller.

I have no idea either which lady is grandma, or the names of anyone other than Grandma Caroline. I only know they are here, all British citizens living in Jamaica.

Family story: My father told a story how on one of his first ship voyages out of Panama, he stopped in Jamaica to visit his mother's sister (half sister?) hi Aunt, whom he'd heard about from his mother Caroline. When he got there, his Auntie horribly snubbed him [the bitch]. She wouldn't let him in the front door, making walk round to the back door to let him in. After that uneasy visit my father still stopped by another time and by then the entire Jamaican branch of the clan had gone back to England - no forwarding address. Someday I hope to drop in on my unsuspecting British cousins and get snubbed first hand for myself [the bastards!].

For better or worse, the whole Brit thing pops up in my family on both sides, no surprise as both sides are firmly rooted in British colonies of Jamaica, Barbados and to a lesser degree in Trinidad. My maternal grandmother Adele never gave up her British citizenship. My father used to razz her about it all the time. 'You love that damned John Bull, don't you? What's that flag and crown ever done for you, eh?' Indeed!

Daddy probably had a point. Still, whether it did anything for us or not, the Brit influence might just explain my fascination with the Beatles and Harry Potter and wine gums . Really – you have no idea.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Rum is a very clever kitty. I mean, he's wild as a hare, but really intelligent. Several years ago, I had him locked in the house so his injured paw could rest. There was a sliding metal pane that covered the cat flap - guaranteed to lock your pet in or out. Rum, when released from the back room, sat in front the pet flap, staring at it. Then quickly, he put a paw under the metal sheet, expertly flicked it up, as if he'd been doing such a thing for decades, then he raced through the opening before the metal sheet could guillotine his tail. It took that kitty-bugger 20 seconds to figure out how escape through a cat flap that was guaranteed to thwart your pet.

On to new kitty challenges.

The kitty flap is long gone. Now there is a pair of French doors. Rum has to 'ask' to get in. He grabs the screen with one paw and whacks it against the glass door. I had company one day who asked, 'who's that knocking to get in your back door?'

Well hell, it's just the damned cat telling me to get a move on, he wants IN.

Over time, Rum's claws have torn up the screen door. So, the horse being already stolen so-to-speak, I decided to protect the last few strands of screening (yes, I am much slower to catch on than Rum is). I used binder clips to hold a sheet of thick plastic over the door.

"Ah ha!" I grumbled. "Let's see you deal with THAT Mr. Rum-kitty." Now the little hairball wouldn't pound on the door because he could not get at the screen behind the plastic sheet.

Tonight I came home; plastic screen lying flat on the back porch, binder pins flung far and wide. So - what am I to think? That some complete stranger came round the back, tore down the plastic and threw the binder pins around? Or did Rum have a kitty 'Ah ha' moment, stuff his paws under the plastic and pull hard, making binder ricochet off the porch steps.

I'm hoping it was an inept burglar.

Try and lock ME out... %^*$%&.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Happy 100th!

Today is my father's birthday - or at least this is the day it would have been celebrated. One Hundred years ago today My father was born in Colon, Panama. He didn't make the journey from the womb alone - he had a twin brother who was stillborn. Thinking on that still gives me a wrench. I always wondered how much time, if any, my father might have spent wondering what life would have been like had his twin survived.

From Home to Medicine Mountain, painting by Judith Lowry

This painting is from a children's story book, Home to Medicine Mountain by Chiori Santiago. I have the original painting used in the book. At first I wanted it because... well, just because liked the animal images in the smoke. But later I noticed it keeps reminding me of my father. I see Daddy as the older child on the left, facing his mother, Caroline. Caroline clutches the lost twin protectively at her side. This painting is my father, now reunited with his brother, and with his mother who is telling tales to her boys. I like to think some day I'll be there, no doubt poking a stick at the smoke animals.

I said my father's birthday would have been celebrated today, not because he is gone, but because he never knew his actual birth date. He was delivered by a midwife who only made the trip into town every few months to report the births she participated in. By the time the midwife made the trip to report my father's birth, she was no longer exactly sure of the date. The midwife put the birth down as having happened in April, but my father's mother - Caroline - thought he had been born in June. So you see, this celebration may just be two months premature. Anyway, Happy Birthday Daddy.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Climbed into bed last night, and dropped into sleep almost instantly. Then it started; nightmare, after spine tingling nightmare, one following the other, on and on. In between horrors I'd wake up, marvel that I was still in my own bed and there was no slash murderer crawling through the window, no band of marauders beating at my door. Then I would drift back off to sleep and slip into the next misty debacle. By the time I woke this morning I felt battered and a tad wrung out. Still, as there were no gremlins clawing at my bedroom door I was home free.

My first question of the day was why the nightmares? I did NOT consume peperoni pizza with anchovies at bedtime. Last night I did NOT watch the Slasher Mania Film Festival. I did spend the afternoon in a meeting at work that was set up to politely chew up a few naughty workers who have been making merry when they ought to have been working, but as I wasn't one of the merry makers, I don't think I was mentally affected at all.

So, what caused my night in the 9th level of H-E-double hockey sticks? I spent a few morning minutes wracking my brain - what the eff? Then it came to me. It's the only possible explanation for my nocturnal visions of creepy entities attempting to slime through my home's portals in search of... in search of... MY MONEY!

I forgot to do my taxes last weekend. Guess what I'll be doing today?

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Two nights out in a row - during the work week. Yes, I'm burning my night light at both ends now. Tonight was supposed to be our docent's meeting but the ranger was ill. Instead I went over to fellow docent & friend, Linda's house.

The object of the visiting with Linda was to teach me what we've been calling 'bright white light': chakra healing. Obviously all very new age, 'woo-woo' which I would deride and make fun of it were it not working for me. Anyway, Linda gifted me with a lovely amethyst crystal and lead me through a guided imagery exercise. Great stuff and as a nice side event I got a tour of Linda & Lou's beautiful blue Victorian house in downtown Sacto.

Linda's a really neat lady. She is cheery & funny and geez if she hasn't had some wonderfully bizarre things happen around her. You can read about them on her blog Free Leggings. I decided that Linda and my friend Inez really have to meet at some point. It'd be a meeting of the minds if I ever take Linda north to Crescent City. As I met Inez at a California Indian basketry at a Passports in Time event, and I met Linda at the State Indian Museum, the two have quite a number of things in common.

Epilogue: My knees and Achelles area ligaments have given me very little trouble this past week. My mind, as usual, is a work in progress. All considered, my chakra lesson was a success!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Had a great evening last night. Mommy Nancy and I were guests at a charity gig; the main event being a performance of Cyrano de Bergerac. Right after work we walked the 4 or 5 blocks over to the theater, not knowing if we were to be fed or not. Honestly, if the excellent performance hadn’t been enough to thrill us, the reception hors d'oeuvres would have done the job; Italian sausage stuffed crimini mushrooms, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, grilled shrimp bearing petite sprinkling of capers, apricot studded brie … *burp*

Then we entered the theater itself; a smallish venue located in the same area as the Music Circus. The stage set was beautiful - and it grew more so as the play progressed. I have always loved Cyrano, because I can totally relate to the hero. I can see that many people would. It’s not that everyone is as heroic and full of poetry and skill as Cyrano, but anyone who ever thought ‘I can’t tell him/her what I feel, they’ll laugh at me’ is a kindred spirit to de Bergerac. *wistful sigh*

Anyway it was a great play, well presented and the guy who played Cyrano was deh bomb! And the petite desserts at intermission were to die for.