Sunday, August 15, 2010

A bit of rhyme

A flat tire needn't be cause for much care,
when one has a spare.
So too if in the middle of nowhere,
if the spare holds enough air.
But a flat tire on a road with no shoulders,
and a spare that carries no air,
could mean hauling a spare with one's "holders"
if not for a stranger to care.
So to Chuck and Diane
from down York County way
I wave my hand,
and drive on my way
with thanks in my heart
for the goodness of people who start
to middles of nowhere each day.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Messages from a cousin of ours

Message from Eleanor Grotjahn, July 5, 2010

Hey, Doug! I just ran across a note from Christine, dated June, 1978, from Pasadena, CA. She commented on the visit she'd once made to see my mom, in the Bothell days, but probably was responding to some earlier family question of mine. I quote:"I couldn't remember Grandfather Clarke's name. I visited my youngest brother Maxson, in San Marcos recently, and he had this information from Mary--Chester Sterman (?) [but we know that's not right!} married Ophelia Stillman." She goes on: "I remember him speaking to me in front of Grandmother Clarke's house in Alfred and being told by my family to stay indoors! He used to write me and send poems." Could he have been considered a possible child-abuser???

At the time she wrote, she was getting ready to head for a visit to her daughter's home in Westboro, MA: Dan and Mary Anne Button, with a son Daniel , who had just graduated from Cornell, was about to get married, and then attend MIT.

Just thought it might have some interest for you. Cheers, Eleanor

Message from Eleanor Elder Grotjahn, from June 12, 2010

Hi, Doug, Thanks for your response to my recent query. Yes, I have a copy of that book, but it wasn't until last evening that I took your suggestion. Son Doug had jotted down that Henry's middle name was Brown, which was of great help, and if I had read more closely the print-out I'd made on the Clark Museum, I would have seen that for myself. So there he is, on p. 157 (#244). Doug got to work figuring out what the connection might be between Chester Smedley and Henry Brown. Doug believes the common ancestor to have been Joshua, which would have made them something-or-other cousins, I guess.

At the time Doug was visiting in Chicago, and had asked the museum curator for info, she'd gotten quite intrigued by the whole idea his question raised. He picked out about 10 pages of particular interest, and took off for Kinko's (at 10:00 p,m, last night) to photo-copy to send this gal.

Email addresses you're interested in:

Douglas Grotjahn:

During this past week, I had the pleasure of Doug's company; his trip north was actually my "Christmas gift" from last year, but it had taken him this long to figure out how to fit it into his busy schedule. He travels out and about a bit, giving presentations at various colleges (for ex., Marquette, and U of Ill-Chicago)
That trip was last month. Then he's collaborating in a couple of projects, one with a friend at the U. of Pittsburgh Med. School (they communicate via weekly telephone conferences, Doug, on one end, and his friend + his lab group on the other). This week's conf. lasted three hours!

Another project is with an oncologist at the UC San Diego who's trying to develop a vaccine for cancer. Doug's specialty seems to be catalysts--developing something that will work with what those other guys are working on, to produce desired results. Suppose there's a Nobel-prizewinner in there somewhere?

Doug's visit also brought me the good news that Bonnie will be coming to Bvue in mid-August for her 25th high-school reunion. (AOL had me all screwed up, and B's emails to me weren't getting thru, so Doug had to forward to me what she'd sent him. All cleared up now, though I am so pleased she's able to come. (The big stumbling block for awhile was the much higher airfare of this summer., but she's somehow bitten the bullet, and is able to work it out.)

Summer seems finally to be slowly working its way here. Highs in the 70's today--which is good.

Enuf already. My regards to your family. Eleanor

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dad gets inducted

Our Father would perhaps be embarrassed by all this attention. But he would enjoy talking with so many friends, if he were here tonight.

Our Dad was raised by a single mother (and grandparents) during the Great Depression, so he started out learning how to get along with very little for himself. His life ended in an age when many people are accustomed to getting most any thing their hearts desire – at least material things.

When asked what he wanted, Dad’s answer was always an accommodation to what the other person wanted. This was sometimes annoying to some of his children. Perhaps it was annoying even to his two wives (they were serial, not concurrent, wives, for those who were wondering).

Dad spent his life helping people of all sorts, sometimes when his family felt they needed him more than other people did.

When Dad was not able to do much for other people anymore, life lost some of its interest for him. When taking care of his own needs became a challenge, Dad just didn’t quite know how to deal with others taking care of him. So his leaving this life was probably well-timed, but still unexpected and sad for us. His was a life well-lived.

We sincerely hope that this tribute to our father will be an inspiration to others, for years to come.

Thank you. (GDC)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

sacred and profane, art and life, ecumenicalism

This video is specifically about a particular man's death. He was active in the NYC arts scene and affiliated with Judson Memorial Church which sits on the South side of Washington Square, just a few blocks from my apartment in the city and the library. Dad enjoyed the work of Al Carmines, a 1960s preacher there, as I did. Carmines did a musical based on the work of Gertrude Stein that Dorothy and I went to with our friend Richard. It was playing further West in the Village, what is today called the West Village. This isn't a short video by YouTube standards but about half way through, the preacher starts giving the sermon that he'd intended to do until Kontoukos died. It's that part especially that makes me think of Dad, particularly of the ritual we had that he said of "this is the most ecumenical service I've ever been to." And if I remember right, it was all because Ian said that we should do a ritual.

P.S. Sorry about so many uses of "specific" and "particular" and derivatives therefrom.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

the carillon rings for spring ... and for mom

Wednesday was Dad's birthday. Doug and I had lunch at Texas Hot in Wellsville and cracked our coffee cups together in Dad's honor. Clinking cocktail glasses wouldn't have been nearly as appropriate. And today was Mom's day.

I had a late lunch or early supper and, after doing the dishes and feeling rather stuffed, I decided to go out for a walk around the Pine Hill subdivision. As I walked, I became aware that the carillon was playing -- the first time this year, I think. The warm temperature must have made it warm enough to be at the keyboard. I was only going to go for half of my normal path, just around the Pine Hill subdivision, but continued around Fraternity Row. The bench below the carillon was in the sun so I slipped and slided up to it and sat as the sun set. No clouds so it was just a golden glow, not a dynamic crash of color. The carillon was so evocative of Mom and her love of the carillon. I know Dad and Gram, and probably other relatives, really loved the carillon but I associate it mostly with Mom.

After the sun set, it got chillier pretty quickly. I stayed for another work or two or three or four but then continued my walk home. I can hear it from the house but not so compellingly as right under it. It was really wonderful.

Being in Alfred is mostly a quiet remembrance for me. Most of the memories of places and people are general but then there's a moment like this one. I think Doug is getting so that it's easier to be in the house as my presence begins to make itself known.

Oops, the seven o'clock chime just rang in Gram/Aunt Dora's clock. Time for the Barbara Walters pre-Oscar special. I don't watch much TV but I think I'll do the Oscars.