Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Simple Woman's Daybook~June 1, 2011 (Re-do)

This is attempt #2 at getting this to print correctly. I have discovered the problems so there should be no further daybooks with big empty spaces! Fingers crossed.

So, For Today...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Outside my window...it is overcast, drizzling and not a typical June 1st for sure. But then looking back it is like February and May traded places this year. I am tired of being cold all the time but I realize it is all relative and compared to the thousands and thousands that have suffered this winter...it is a picnic over here in CA. So no complaints will be issued here.

I am thankful for...Christopher's safe return, in good health, after nearly a month in third world countries. I am especially thankful for a wonderful daughter (I hate the term "in-law" with all my heart) so can I just say our daughter Melissa? Missy took excellent care of the four kids and everything else while Chris was gone and she just keeps plugging along never complaining. She is one amazing woman! I don't think I would be so gracious, but she is such an even-tempered wonderful woman. And she even had her birthday and Mother's Day without her husband to help out. She is just a doll, we could not love her more.

I am praying for..good results from some medical tests for a couple of my favorite people in all the world. Praying with all my heart things will be all right and perfect. And that the things that have been troubling them will be treated and will go away completely!

From the learning room...We need to just keep trying on the things that are difficult and keep learning an never give up. Big things and little things are all overcome in the exact same way. Work, patience, pryer and tenacity and gratitude for the small incremental successes.

I am reading...the scriptures, some blogs, and lots of genealogy sites to do research and trying desperately to keep up with my blog posting because it is essential to my sanity!

From the kitchen...We made tortellini soup the other night. Jim is taking it to a potluck at his old work place today. I helped him and took some photos. Hope to get the recipe up on the blog soon. We lost a bunch of our really favorite recipes on the computer when Master Cook decided to disappear. I am mourning that after hours and hours of inputting them! So I am trying to recover the ones I can, going through old paper files and planning to post some of them on the blog with photos.

I am wondering..if it will be snowing in Utah for our family reunion in mid-June?? I am wondering if the garden reception being held here in June will get rained out? I am wondering if we will get any windows washed in time for it?? Or plant any flowers?? And I am wondering if we are going to be overrun with wild turkeys here. Saw a mom and a bunch a fuzzy babies with long necks running through the yard and up one of the paths on Friday afternoon last week.

I am hearing...
James Taylor, You've Got A Friend

Today if I could change one thing...that those with hard hearts towards the Gospel and their Savior would repent, humble themselves and avail themselves of the comfort and peace that they could have in their lives if they would only seek it.

I am quoting..."You cannot have the fruits without the roots. It's the principle of sequencing: Private Victory Precedes Public Victory. Self-Mastery and Self-Discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others and with yourself." Author unknown

I am thinking about...ways to help people that are suffering right now. Seeking direction and divine guidance on their behalf.

I am wearing...PJs

I am going...to get a lot done this week.

I am missing...simpler times, times when trials for everyone did not seem to mount so quickly touching every family, every person. things really are accelerating now on every front. I am missing the peace of a boring day once in awhile when things were not moving so fast and no news was good news.

One of my joyous pleasures...Our day trips, they are such a sweet escape from the day's work and concerns. I love the one on one time with my husband and discovering so many great things about the area we are blessed to call home.

Pet Peeves...Working on a daybook and them losing half of it. I figured out how it is happening. I was doing my daybook, publishing it at home and then proofing at the Family History Center...cannot mix formatting of the PC and Mac in the same post. Fixed a few typos and it totally corrupted the posts. Never doing that again. Nope, not a chance!

One of my favorite things...Self-discovery through writing and creative endeavors and designing.

An enjoyable movie I have watched lately...In The Heat of The Night with Sidney Poitier. That man is amazing and has been since day one. The movie is very good and really has held its relevance after all these years.

I am curious about...so many things, the older I get the more curious I am about the complexities of this life! And the more I realize we have to really try hard to lift and help each other through it day by day. We all need each other's support more than we sometimes realize. Just knowing someone is there for you makes all the difference.

Around the house...clean, orderly, decluttered = good. We are getting there one thing at a time.

A few plans for the rest of the week...today is June 1st, my brother, Gary's birthday, tomorrow is Owen's 4th birthday...the birthdays are ever ongoing in May and June. Just trying to make sure I do a post for each grandchild on their birthdays and talk with the adults at the very least. Robert graduates from his Master's Program on June 10, and our anniversary is coming up. And then Father's Day is on the way too. So thinking about all of that and visiting teaching for June this week, paying bills, working towards getting out of the house with all we need, having it ready for Laura's family that will be coming back with us, etc.

Here are some photos and thoughts I am sharing with you today....

43 years ago I walked into this building where I worked for over four years. It is the Standard Oil Building in San Francisco and on June 1, 1968 I had fourteen days before I would be getting married. I am sure that nothing going on the 8th floor was on my mind. I was thinking about what it would be like to be married to my sweetheart. I had absolutely no idea what being Mrs. JPM would be like in reality. Marriage is most certainly a leap of faith isn't it? It seems like a life time ago now.

There are very few things I would change if we had it to do over. By the grace of God we made a good decision and a commitment to each other that has been so sustaining. The blessings of that decision have been a continual source of learning what love really is, even in the times we may not have recognized it or realized it fully. That is one of the blessings of hindsight, it is 20/20. When people talk about the Golden Years, I think that is what they are referring to. Experience is a great teacher.

Reflections~ looking back is always beneficial!

Monday, May 30, 2011

When Clever Artist and Foodie Collide

Wanna Go On a Picnic?

Got Chop Sticks???

Happy Memorial Day, Everyone. I saw the cutest thing on Jen's Facebook page so just had to share. When the weather disappoints with overcast and rain on the first official picnic day of the season... and your kitchen is out of commission because you are painting and sealing your own laminate counter tops to look like granite or marble......

This looks amazing, doesn't it?
She threw in some copper glitter just for me!
(or well, maybe because she loves it too!)

And you have four darling girls that
want to do something fun...

and a hubby
home from work with an actual day off.......
What do you do?
Well, if you are Jen.......
You create......a Chinese Van Picnic!

They made faux sushi roll-ups.

Sweet coconut rice + fruit = Frushi!

~And Sushi Treats~
Rice Krispie Treats and Gummy Fish

These girls will never forget
their happy childhood!

Great job, Jen and Lowell!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Piper Takes The Gold

Piper's Graduation from 6th Grade!

The last day of elementary school!
Piper (left) with her teacher Mrs. I

and her best friend since pre-school, Mitrian.
Middle School, here they come!

Piper last summer

Be forewarned this is a post written by a bragging set of grandparents!!

Our Piper received the Presidential Gold Award for Academic Excellence upon her sixth grade graduation. Only 7 students in her school achieved this award. Can you say proud parents and grandparents? The following criteria is from the Internet regarding this award.


I removed her last name and school for security
note...signed by President Obama

The purpose of this award is to recognize academic success in the class room. To be eligible for the President’s Award for Educational Excellence, students must meet the following requirements: (Gold Medal)

1. Grade Point Average:
Students are to earn an A or A- average
starting in fourth gr

2. Standardized Achievement Test:
Achieve in the 85th percentile or higher
in math OR reading, starting in

fourth grade.

3. Conduct Grade:
Students are to earn an A average
in conduct starting in fourth grade.

Piper in 4th grade
3 years is a long time to work towards something!
Congratulations, Piper!

Piper also achieved this great award from her school.

Her mom wrote, "This is the group of kids that earned the Satch Patch. It's a citizenship award the kids can earn over 4 years for academics, extra circulars, service, citizenship and behavior. Only a handful of kids get it because it takes four years: 3rd-6th grades. It's a big honor for these guys. They work hard for it."

4 years is even longer to work on an award!
Great kids aren't they?

Piper's Terracotta Warrior

Each member of her class sculpted one! We have some replicas of some of the real ones that Jim brought back from China a few years ago and this one she did is excellent! Good job, Pipey!

Annual Art Contest

This painting is done on a very large canvas,
(we happened to be there when she was working on it.)

She got first place in her age group for the art contest this year with the above picture she painted. She also got 1st place in 6th grade for the Writers Olympics this year for a spooky story she wrote.

This is her Faith In God Award

She got this award from church after doing all her
requirements and attending Primary for nine years.
Now she is in the Young Women's Program of the Church.

Piper, this has been a staggering year of achievement for you. You are an amazingly talented young woman and this note from your mom teaches a great lesson. She is a very wise mother, as you well know!

Jen wrote, along with sending all these great photos...

"Just for an added bit of humility, she did try for and do a lot of things this year that she wasn't #1 at, here are a few: lead roll in the class play, science fair, 7th grade application to student council, the track meet, etc. I told her if she participated in a lot of things she would really shine in some and just have a good experience in others and she has been pretty good about that."

Piper, the winning is not the important thing, it is the trying! As your mom has said, if you try a lot of things you will excel in some and just have fun in the others. The important thing is not being afraid to try. This is how you will discover your talents, perfect them and bless others with them. For after all isn't that why God gives each of us some talents? We are to bless the lives of His other children with them. You do a fine job of that.

Another important thing is being a humble and gracious winner and a gracious and happy person when someone else gets first place as well.
We also see these good qualities in you. We love you, Honey! Three cheers for you! Watch out Middle School, here she comes!

All these areas where you have been honored are just wonderful. We are very pleased in the young woman you are. However, if you never won a thing we would love you just as much. Because grandparents love their grandkids completely, just the way they are!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

When Memorial Day is More...

For a lot of people Memorial Day is just a three day weekend. For us it is a day to remember our dead, not just our military people but also all of our family and friends that have gone before. Since we have been working in the Family History Library and rekindling our interest in genealogy, we have been thinking a lot more about some of our ancestors and trying to find out more about them. Dedicating a minimum 8 hours a week to this endeavor has been a great blessing. It has also been a lot of work. Most things worth having are worth working for, don't you agree?

We have ancestors in Sweden, Italy, Canada, Wales and other locations in the UK that are not completely clear to us at this point. We also have some from the US and more specifically the Bay Area, even San Francisco. Jim and his brother, Gary, are not the only guys from our family born in SF. His great grandparents came here and had a baby boy in 1908. We have had oral history on him from Jim's grandmother, but never any documentation. His grandmother was five at the time her baby brother was born. Legend had it that his name was Francesco and that he lived eight days. He was a very large baby, she said 24 pounds at birth. She knew he was buried in Colma a town just south of San Francisco that is mostly cemeteries to accommodate the deaths in the City which geographically is only 7 miles north to south x 4 miles wide. Grandma had made attempts to locate her brother's grave but never had any success. We too have looked at least three times with no success.

We have tried many avenues, all dead ends (No pun intended). Through some detective work we finally discovered that although the people at the old Green Street Mortuary looked in the public records for us, they found nothing because they were looking under the wrong first name. With some clues from a website we found, we solved our mystery on Thursday!

We arrived in the City at 8:30 am ready to find some answers! We had to make our way to the Civic Center downtown so went early thinking parking might be easier. We then decided to go and park at Aquatic Park at the top of VanNess and take the 47 bus downtown. It was just a straight shot and perfect actually.

Plus we got to see this before we went into
the concrete caverns of the downtown area.

This is City Hall. The Public Heath Department
where the vital records are kept on all San Francisco
deaths after 1906 is right across the street from here.

The dome is reminiscent of all
the gilded rooftops in Paris.

Even the Public Health Department is beautifully
appointed with marble walls and antique sconces
and a decorative, high ceiling.

We filled out the paper work and this is Jim waiting
to see if they find anything on our baby boy.
We are pretty excited by this point as they apparently
had found something! At last.

Guess what? The baby was actually named after his father, Pietro. Who had Americanized his name to Peter and his wife was going by Mary even though her name was actually Cattarina according to her birth certificate. So when they were filling out the death certificate his dad said the baby's name was Peter. We also now know his birth and death date and why he appeared so large. He had a fatal intestinal disease that caused severe distention of his abdomen due to swelling, infection, etc. At least that was the diagnosis.

The information we had found earlier that made us suspicious was a cemetery listing for Pietro Franchini, who died in 1908. When I called the cemetery they had no information other than his name Pietro Franchini, a patch of grass, and no headstone. Very frustrating! We knew it wasn't his father as he died many years later in Italy. This wild goose chase was so disappointing until I asked the man at the cemetery, "Nick, do you know at least if this was an adult or a child. "Why, Bonnie, it was a child!" The grave is in the children's section of the cemetery! Bingo! I am so glad we never gave up hope of finding him.

At this point we were pretty sure that the original searches of the records had not been successful because the first name was incorrect and we didn't have an exact birth date. It is not surprising that a five-year-old would not have known that her baby brother's real name was actually Pietro because they called the baby Francesco during his short 8 day life. Both Jim and I started out this day just having a great feeling we would lay our hands on the above document, finally.

Since we were right in the neighborhood we decided to go over to the San Francisco Library to look up some genealogical helps that we had heard about there. We saw this beautiful modern building above built in 1996.

This is a long, stained glass mural of the skyscape on the 6th floor.
I just focused in on the Ferry Building here, but it is much larger.

Back outside we decided to go into City Hall
for a few minute before snagging the bus for Aquatic Park.

This is The Opera House also
on this block at Civic Center

We love to go to The Nut Cracker here every few years around Christmas. Jim performed in the SF Opera as a Super (an extra, not a singer) for an entire season when we were first married. It was so expensive to go I never did get to see him on the stage there! He loved it and the costumes he wore were so elaborate and custom tailored to fit him perfectly.

You don't see a Ferris wheel very often
in the middle of the City!

The other corner of the Center houses Davies Symphony Hall.
We may try to go to the Sing Along Messiah here this year,
another thing on our bucket list.

Entering the City Hall~
A touch of Europe for no flight or fees!

My favorite SF relic~circa 1947!

More of the Rotunda

Seriously beautiful!

The Cupola

Back outside and trying to recover from the
overwhelming eye candy in City Hall,
we waited only two minutes until our bus arrived.
Perfect timing both ways.

Riding back we talked about our new friend and possible relative, Stephen, and how much we appreciated his help these past many weeks. We sent him a photo of the certificate via email and also a cyber hug for all his help. {Italians are like that you know...huggers that is.} We wish he had been here so we could have taken him to lunch to celebrate this victory in finding our baby.

Instead we went back to Aquatic Park and
strolled around a little

and took some photos and then
had a nice picnic

and a nap!

City kids enjoying the warm day and the surf.

Looking straight up from our napping place!

After lunch we wanted to drive over to the house where little Peter was born and probably died. It was so nice to finally have the exact address and not just "North Beach!" It is part of his very short life history.

861 Union Street was his home for his
very short sojourn in mortality!

It was now time for us to go back to the cemetery and actually find the grave in Colma at last.

Our GPS took us through here. Probably the only picture of China Town you will ever see on my blog. Our least favorite part of The City. It is so rundown and crowded and dirty and junky and touristy~with dead chickens and duck hanging in some store front windows. Ugh!

Some big glass cylinders for advertizing that are cropping up around the city. My drive by attempt at capturing one. This one can be found where Sutter collides with Market and Montgomery downtown.

Been here several times, but the anticipation of our
journey's end is mounting this time.

Just up the hill...

After stopping in the office we made our way
to the spot where the baby is buried.

This is the resting place for the babies and children.

His great nephew, now a grandfather himself,
standing in this sacred spot.
An unmarked grave for 103 years of a
precious little baby that belongs
to our family has been found.

And right there where there is no grave marker
one will appear next week with his name on it.
We had already purchased it when we stopped
in the office and we were so happy
we did it when we saw

he was one of very few that did not have one.

It felt like a very sacred and poignant moment
and that somehow we had just gathered him into
our family again, in a real way.

Mission accomplished it was time to go home.

What a beautiful day, every minute of it filled with fun, meaning and adventure and precious moments. I couldn't help but think of Jim's grandmother and how pleased she would be to know we finally found and honored her little brother. The little cross will be inscribed and in place next week. We will go back and lay some flowers there on Thursday and Jim will dedicate the grave. Of course Jim's mom is thrilled and will be coming with us! What worthy, worthwhile work genealogy can be.