All posts by tchistorygal

Hi, my name is Marsha Ingrao. I love blogging, and the friends I've met worldwide. My husband and I belong proudly to Puppy Girl (age 5 years), Mama Kitty (13+), and Scardy Baby (13), who found us living in their neighborhood, and decided to let us stay.

Images of America: Three Tips for Researching and Writing Historical Captions

Marsha's knowledge about Woodlake before researching for Images of America:  Woodlake
A symbol of Marsha’s knowledge about Woodlake before researching for Images of America: Woodlake. (Courtesy of Google.)

You’ve seen pictures of the brain lighting up when ideas enter and make connections to random ideas. Pathways get brighter as the brain connects similar knowledge and experiences until eventually superhighways light up the scan.  You can reach the superhighway of understanding your topic quickly by following these tips.

Hanging with friends1
Woodlake Foundation Fundraiser featuring Courtney and Haley Hengst eating Vince’s Spamtures. (You don’t want to know – trust me!)

 

Tip #1 Offline Research:  Start with Friends – Be Social

You can’t research a community without talking about your project to as many people as possible.  You might as well have fun doing it!  Friends will know something interesting, have a resource you need, or know someone you should contact.  Those synapses will start to spark.  Next be brave and move into unfamiliar territory – schedule appointments.

Bob and Linda

Afterwards, take a walk with your friends and tell them what you learned, and how much you appreciated their lead.  Your conversation will sparkle because everyone wants to know all the gossip you learned – even if it is over 100 years old!  :)

final cover proof

Tip #2   Offline Continued:  The Scanning/ Interview Appointment

Once I got this proof back from Arcadia Publishers, my step-son suggested that I print it up with the first few pictures and captions I had written.   It worked great! The proof primed the pump and assured strangers that I was a legitimate author.  Interviewees helped proof captions, gave more information about  pictures I already had, shared a different perspective, questioned my facts, or confirmed what I knew.

To prepare for the appointment pack your car with what you might need.  Include: your camera, scanner, a thumb drive (don’t forget this!), cell phone, and a computer for taking notes. I took lots of notes on the proofs I printed, too.  If the person I interviewed didn’t mind, I recorded parts of conversations on my cell phone.  Many times interviewees also had written material about their pictures as well:  interviews or newspaper articles, which I scanned.

Hengst3-16
Bob Hengst really was a rocket scientist in high school! (Courtesy of the Hengst family.)

 

A great purchase to make better use of this information is Wondershare PDF Editor Pro.  This software package is about 1/3 of the cost of Adobe Acrobat, and will convert your PDF document like the one above into a searchable document.  Unfortunately, I didn’t discover this until I almost had the book finished, but you don’t have to wait that long if you have read this post!  :)

Abe Dinken's Shingle Factory in Elderwood,  CA  (Courtesy of the Hengst family.)
 (Courtesy of the Hengst family.)

Tip #3  Online Research

Some pictures showed people in occupations I didn’t know much about, like tenting orange trees in the early 1900s.  I found a U. S. patent by Abe Dinkins and Abe Upp for a scale that is still used today for weighing grapes.   Some schools, businesses and service organizations have a history blurb on their website. Google taught me about pesticides and the various methods used throughout history, what and how industries use steel containers, tuberculosis, how to tie grape vines, and many other useful tidbits of information.

Woodlake Elementary School 1923 (Courtesy of Marcy Miller.)
Woodlake Elementary School 1923 (Courtesy of Marcy Miller.)

California Council for the Humanities transcribed interviews of least 7 Woodlakers about World War II, agriculture, and their lives in general, including an interview of Alice (Hawkins) Mitchell.  These documents gave me interesting stories to use with pictures that were hard to describe interestingly because I didn’t know enough. (It might be hard for some to believe, but I didn’t attend school as early as 1923!)  Alice Hawkins is on the right hand side, third row up.  If I had used this picture, I might have quoted her California Humanities interview in the caption about this picture to preview  Alice’s future.

Redbanks (Courtesy of the Tulare County Library.)
Redbanks (Courtesy of the Tulare County Library.)

Research is the key to writing good captions as much as socializing, following up on leads, and appreciating your friends’ help is the answer to gathering MANY usable pictures.  Follow these tips, and your new synapses will glow brighter than your Christmas lights! :)

After researching for Images of America:  Woodlake
Marsha’s brain (popping)  after researching for Images of America: Woodlake (Courtesy of Google.)

If you like these tips join me on my writing journey and LIKE my Facebook Page, TC History Gal Productions.   :)

 

Images of America: Woodlake; Gathering and Organizing Images

 My 600th post! 

Woodlake parade  350
A Woodlake Rodeo Parade picture from an unspecified time period.  (A Bud Kilburn picture courtesy of Lisa Kilburn)

Arcadia Publishing has specific requirements for the photos in your Images book.  You receive a written guideline and an editor that answers questions promptly.  Your success is practically guaranteed – once your get the photos!

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The Edmistons (Courtesy of Robert Edmiston.)

Images of America books are not family history books, so even if you grew up in a community, you must gather pictures.  Multiple family’s pictures in the book are essential to telling the story.

Beginning Woodlake buildings labeled by Marion Legakes.  (Courtesy of Marcy Miller.)
Beginning Woodlake buildings labeled by Marion Legakes. (Courtesy of Marcy Miller.)

In the case of a small community, probably the library will not have enough images to fill your book.   You might have a small museum or historical society that stores pictures.  Even though our museum is not open, one woman has pictures in her home.  Here are the ways I started from 0 and gathered the 200+ pictures I needed for publication in 6 months.

Woodlake parade  351
A Woodlake Rodeo Parade picture from an unspecified time period. (A Bud Kilburn picture courtesy of Lisa Kilburn)

 

  1. Our local Kiwanis magazine put in a free ad for me. – 1 direct call and one referral from her
  2. I walked the streets of Woodlake and talked to business owners, City Hall and Woodlake Police. – 2 donors
  3. Talking to friends in the grocery store  – 1 prospect
  4. Following referrals from friends – 30 donors
  5. Cold calls to businesses – 1 potential donor who googled me to make sure I didn’t have a criminal record or wasn’t a sex offender before he called me too late for publication.
  6. Following referrals from referrals – 3 donors
Laura 112b
The community northwest of Woodlake called Elderwood in the 1940s. (Courtesy of Laura Spalding.)

Organizing was important, and took quite a bit of time as I processed the photos.  These are my steps.

  1. As I started scanning photos, I put the PDFs into files in my document folder labeled by donor’s names.
  2. Next I created a “Woodlake PDF” and put in all of the donor folders.
  3. Each photograph sent to Arcadia was a TIFF file, so I processed all most files, and put them into a separate file with the donor’s name inside a large folder that said, “Woodlake TIFF.”
  4. I didn’t write about every picture.  In order to write, I used an unpublished blog account, because importing each picture to a Word file made Word crash.  It is hard to write about a picture when you can’t look at it as you write, so the blog was perfect.
  5. However, that created another step.  TIFF files are huge, so I resized each photo I used (or thought I might use) in the book and saved it as a JPEG, and created another Donor file and put it inside – you guessed it – the “Woodlake JPEG” file. Then I could upload those files easily to my blog, and the ones I didn’t use in the book I could post to FB or in my  blog.
  6. Then I made files for the chapter titles and copied only the TIFFS into those files, numbering them for the book.
  7. Finally I copied the entire folder, “Arcadia,” onto an external hard drive.  I started to copy all of it to the cloud, but it was very time consuming.
  8. After I submitted the manuscript and pictures, I began copying the JPEG files only to Picasa.  I’m still not finished, and I hope it is worth the effort!  I have them organized by subject rather than chapter, and I have one folder for all the images used in the book along with the caption, so that if I do another book, I will use different pictures, or be sure to credit the book as well as the donor.
Inside the Bank of America circa 1936.  Courtesy of Woodlake City Hall
Inside the Bank of America circa 1936. (Courtesy of Woodlake City Hall)

That’s it.  That’s how I gathered and organized hundreds of pictures in six months.

Twinkle

The six million dollar photo that sold recently captured the perfect twinkle of light and processed it beautifully. These are my $1.00 twinkles taken with my iPhone last year at the NCSS Conference in St. Louis and their different processes.

Twinkle1

First I cropped it to help it adhere to the thirds rule.

Stylized with Glowing Edges
Stylized with Glowing Edges

Then I added filters.   I thought this one was pretty cool because it took it from real and somewhat blurry to on-purpose blurry with some sharp edges.

Filter:  Stylized - Solarized
Filter: Stylized – Solarized

I solarized Twinkle 3, and I like the rainbow of colors.

Distortion:  Glass
Distortion: Glass

Twinkle 4 reminds me of driving through St. Louis with my dad when

rain pelted the windshield unfettered by wipers.  I’m not sure why we lived through that ride.

I actually thought they turned out well considering the beginning photo.  Mr. Snowman, however, reflects my best camera’s capabilities (before I dropped it) – and mine too, for that matter.

SFW Christmas 2012004RT

Mr. Snowman posed beautifully on our tree last year.  Here he poses pretending he is outside in the snow instead of our cozy cottage.  He came back shivering, though.

Filter:  Stylize:  Find Edges
Filter: Stylize: Find Edges

He tried on the Glowing Edges next, and liked the look when he preened in the mirror, and asked for one more make-over.

Fliter: Stylized: Glowing Edges
Fliter: Stylized: Glowing Edges

I threw him into the texturizer, and he came out immortalized as a stained glass window.

Texture: Stained Glass
Texture: Stained Glass

With a twinkle in his eye he asked me to find out from you which of his pictures you like best.  :)  I’ll be sure to tell him.  He’s got his eye on me from the tree in the living room.  :)  He thinks he’d make a good Christmas card.  What do you think?  :)

For more great Twinkle pictures click the icon below

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Images of America: Woodlake; Steps to Finding the Vision That Drove the Book

Just like good sex, writing, even bad writing, starts in the brain.    Before the first word ever appeared on my computer screen, questions etched their way into my consciousness.  Before I even wrote an outline, I questioned the existence of Woodlake. I pictured this foothill community without a town.

Woodlake Becky 6 Sevenson Ad

  1. Guiding Questions  I started with the question, “What makes Woodlake unique, and why did it become a town?”  The vision developed.  I wondered if the people who ranched here, and the Native Americans, the Yokuts, whose culture had survived the early settlers’ arrival objected to Gilbert Stevenson’s dream of a town.  Wondering prompted a several tasks.
  2. Research:  Reading & Interviewing In step two I sought answers the basic questions, and got a feel for Woodlake’s uniqueness.  This was an ongoing task, of course, but first I needed to get an overall vision of the book’s focal points. I could do both tasks simultaneously on Facebook which put me in touch with between 1,000 and 2,000 group members.  I quickly made some friends, only to discover that they lived clear across the United States.  That was bad for face to face interviews, but great for the Woodlake Foundation when it comes to marketing!Woodlake on FB
  3. Create a timeline to identify iconic events and people that contributed to the vision.  Events blurred in my brain, so I started a timeline.  The first years were easiest to order because they had already been documented in two books, and published and unpublished articles.  The later events still remained fresh in people’s mind, but the middle episodes remained fuzzy, except that everyone seemed to LOVE Woodlake and love living here in the 1940s to 1980s.  As events became clear, so did iconic individuals.  After reading entries on FB, Gus West assumed a bigger than life place in my brain.  He was the one man police force starting in 1941.  Most of his clients were naughty boys that did bad things to street lights and outhouses.   He seemed to know just how to deal with them.  I pictured Andy Griffith of Mayberry, and the more I read, the more central he became to the story of Woodlake’s lost middle years. Printable pictures of  Gus seemed non-existent, but his influence pervaded my thoughts, and guided the story of Woodlake.  I wondered, “Would I EVER find a picture of Gus West?”
  4. Rough in an outline of the book.  In a small town life-changing events, patterns and iconic people surface quickly.  In Woodlake the last major event that everyone mentioned was the high school fire.  Since history becomes valid after about 25 years, this 1980 blaze marked the latest date in the book.  At that point I didn’t have any pictures of it, and didn’t know who did, but the vision of what I needed was clear.  Since this was a picture book, all I needed to do was find a source.  Friends recommended the name of a photographer, who was gone.  The search for pictures is another topic, but photographers became somewhat iconic, too.WUHS 1980 FireT
  5. Determine Structure of the book by examining similar books.  Many of the Images books are topical, but my brain works chronologically.  So I combined the two approaches.  Chapters 1-4 are chronological, while the last two chapters deal with influential topics that adhere to the vision. The theme that Gilbert Stevenson and Gus West both wrote in history had a dreamy quality.  Stevenson saw a tourist town.  West protected it.  Celebrations attracted attention to it, and Churches and Schools gave it the solid foundation it needed to become reality .
Woodlake ElementaryR
Woodlake Elementary, built in 1923 at 300 W. Whitney.

 

Finding a vision for the book emerged through the questions that arose in my mind.  Finding answers to the questions, and finding 200 pictures to convey the story created another series of tasks for another post.

 

Images of America: Woodlake, Step One

 

castaway-laptop2

There I was, minding my own WordPress and Blogger blogs, trying to Twitter, connecting to LinkedIn, finding friends on Facebook, and deleting hundreds of emails that I signed up to get.  Everyone had an offer for me to make me better at all those things.  It was offer overload.  I’m not sure why I didn’t delete Ginny’s Wednesday, May 28, 2014 email asking me if I wanted to write a book about Woodlake.

My name is Ginny and I am the California acquisitions editor for Arcadia Publishing. We publish local or regional pictorial history books as part of our Images of America series. I’m interested in starting a similar project about Woodlake and came across your blog while researching potential authors. You’ve got a great style and voice and your experience and knowledge of the area would make you an excellent candidate to author the book. Is this something you might be interested in?

I fell for it almost as hard as I did for my first my spammer compliment on WP.  She sent some attachments about the company, so I wrote her back.

Hi Ginny,
That would be so fun!  Let me look this over, and I’d love to talk to you!
And my friends say I’m shallow!!! hahaha
She called me the next day, and I remember talking to her for quite a while.  She gave me a six-day deadline to complete a 10 page proposal including a book outline with 10-20 sample pictures and captions.   Only she forgot to send me the proposal form!  On Monday she wrote,

Hi Marsha!

I just realized I had not gotten the proposal to you last week as promised! It is attached to this email. The most important sections are the Author Information, Book Information, and Schedule – everything else can come later (including sample images/captions). Please let me know if you have any questions! I look forward to speaking to you soon!

The due date was still Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Among other things the proposal application asked about my background, community involvement, businesses that might carry the book, and dates that might affect the release of the book.
roping1RT
Woah!  Intensive!  I guessed a lot! So I sent her one picture I had scanned from a neighbor, and wrote a caption for it. (This wasn’t it, but it’s awesome, don’t you think?) I wrote a 200 word summary of what I thought I might write, and spent the rest of the day completing the form.  Looking back over the proposal as I write this, I see I missed a question.
Business name Contact person and affiliation to business (if known) Address/City/State/Zip

Phone ###.###.###

Local insight and personal connection
Joe’s Drugs

(pharmacy)

Joe Smith, owner

 

321 S. Main Street

Anytown, DC 98765

(123) 456-7890

Town pharmacy that carries local themed products. Owner Joe is my brother-in-law.

I made my June 4th deadline.  On June 12, 2014 I received this reply along with  450 more words and two attachments of instructions.

Hi Marsha,

I hope you are doing well! I am pleased to inform you that your proposal,Woodlake, has been approved. I am delighted to have this opportunity to work with you in adding Woodlake to our Images of America series!

I had my first opportunity to publish history, starting with 4 scanned pictures out of over 200 necessary.

I hope I won’t bore you, but I want to spend a few posts outlining the steps I took from start to finish to write this book so I don’t forget it.  I sent my final draft in with all the pictures on Monday.  I need something else to do!  hehehe!!!  Along the way, I hope it will help some of you in your writing journey.

Thanks for all your support and encouragement along the journey. NOW, I write histories!  :)

Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge

For being such a 100% gorgeous day, Saturday, November 29th turned oddball early on.  First of all I called my friend’s dad, Clarence.  I know his name is Leonard. I only said it wrong twice. Leonard Hansen was Woodlake’s famous World War II POW.

hansen with flag

He was on the Tulare County Office of Education Board of Education.  I worked there.  I’m Tulare County’s History Gal.  We filmed a video about his experiences.  I called him Clarence.  It promised to be an odd day.

Woodlake Farm

Then I picked up Robert Edmiston.  He had promised to show me landmarks in Elderwood that I didn’t know.  So we went to the Woodlake High School Farm.  I couldn’t see a single crop.  How odd was that?

trees

The 100 year old palms listed oddly

Bill Ferry

California is  in the middle of a drought.  Hardly a drop of water sits idle.  Sally, Linda and I easily amble around the circumference of Bravo Lake in an hour.  Farmers pumped Tulare Lake dry over 150 years ago. The only ferry in Central California is Bill Ferry.

Easter Island of Elderwood

Someone in Elderwood replicated Easter Island. This individual wanted to redevelop the Mini-Ha-Ha Ranch and destroyed the 100-year-old stately palm trees that lines the access road by setting them on fire.

Easter Island2

Palm tree trunks don’t burn well.  This violent act clearly disturb the Plane Gods.

Elda School 2014

Someone left the door open at Elda School.

Blue Oak's last stand

The only native stand of blue oaks left is not in a nature preserve, but sits in a hog wallow field across from an orange grove in Elderwood.

Converging signs

The signs are all there, but where’s the road?  Robert pointed out Lone Oak Mountain in the background.  The lone oak died.

TC history gal bites the dust

I don’t think I forgot to put the car in park.  Sometimes my Prius doesn’t turn off when I press the off button.  Sometimes it doesn’t go into park.  Even so, it shouldn’t have gone backwards.  Usually, when it doesn’t turn off, it goes forwards while I’m still in the car, and I press it again.  This time it sat still as though it was really in park, so I got out and took a picture.  Then I looked around to see the car starting to take off!  I ran towards the car as it moved gently backwards and tried to stop it, but I fell out of the car as I tried to get in.  I don’t know how Robert got in the driver’s seat.  The car didn’t crash.  I bit the dust, but the car didn’t run over me, nor did the open car door jab me in the face.  My camera, which I threw on the ground as I fell,  could still shoot pictures.

Blurred vision

The autofocus doesn’t work any more.  Thanksgiving paid it forward for me.  Another one of my X# lives with only one little scratch on my elbow!

022714-odd-ball Yesterday was odd ball.  Click the icon to see more odd ball responses.

 

 

Black and White Challenge: Glass

I live much of my life behind glass.  My 2006 Prius has  over 215,000 miles, my husband’s 2004 truck has nearly 200,000 miles, and his “new” car, a 2010 Prius has nearly 80,000 miles on it.  Usually I drive and can’t take pictures (or shouldn’t). On our accidental vacation, we had to stop.  So did everyone else.

SFW TAV Herd of Elk 6

Nonetheless, my husband wanted me to stay behind the glass.  Glass protects.  For this picture, he pulled off the road.  Elk grazed on both sides of the 2-lane highway.  Other brave souls came out from behind the glass.  I did too, and fortunately the elk were more interested in the grass than in us.  :)

Randy on Glass

You don’t want to test glass beyond its protective endurance.  Fortunately there was more to this floor than just glass because a few weeks after we took this picture, the glass busted!  Those squares weren’t patterns on the carpet, they were tops of Chicago buildings.

Notre Dame BW Glass

Glass does more than protect.  The University of Notre Dame collected more French stained glass than anywhere in France.  It would take days to notice all the beauty in these glass windows.

Chicago_0462

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, but what about people working in glass buildings?  I guess they can throw anything they want during the daytime.  You can’t see in anyway.  I could have seen a reflection of me throwing a stone off the tour boat, but I was more than a stone’s throw away!

042314-bw-4

If you’re not glassy-eyed by now. Click on the icon to view more of Cee’s friends’ photos.

Doncha Wish You Lived In California NOW?

The cloudless sky, leaves turning bright yellow and red, clean cool air that didn’t blow your hair off; it couldn’t have been a better day for photography.  I wanted a better picture for my book of FJ White Learning Center.

FJ White Learning Center

Ernie Garcia worked with me at Francis J. White Learning Center.  He volunteered to come with me on my photography spree and pose for a fake picture for my book.

 

Ernie unlocking gateBWWe took some great pictures there then he said, “Now where are we going to go?”

History is all about geography, and geography changes over time.  So when someone says to me, “I worked at Redbanks,” I think Dead Rat Saloon, and trees on the hill.  I love it when people want to drive around town with me and point out where things used to be.

entering Redbanks

 

 

Ernie suggested, “Let’s drive to Redbanks.  I haven’t been there in quite a while.”  So we drove to the real Redbanks where Ernie worked in the 1940s before Uncle Sam pointed his finger Ernie’s direction.

Old hotel1

Looking left from the bridge I saw the old hotel that Chuck Hackett told me resembled a Union Station. Over the years Redbanks (and probably others) had used Cottonwood Creek as an equipment gravesite, which lay exposed in the dry creek bed.

old hotel2

Ernie came to Redbanks in 1933, and attended Paloma School.  When we drove in, the manager pulled his pickup next to my Prius.  I started to introduce myself  and explain why we were trespassing, but he interrupted me.  “I know this guy!”  You would have thought Ernie was a rock star!  We were in.

Old hotel3

He and Ernie chatted while I snuck off and took pictures of the old hotel.

Old hotel4

Janet Livingston gave me a little history about Redbanks.  Mary Anne Terstegge Tulare County Historical Librarian wrote in the March 1991 Valley Voice p. 27,

On the north bank of Cottonwood Creek was the ranch headquarters. Immediately west of the road is the two-story manager’s house. Bill Murray lived there from 1921 until 1929. Then the Bill Mayfields moved into it. Wilbur Mayfield was a pipe man from Goshen who served as superintendent until 1934.

old hotel7

Beyond the manager’s house was … the main building which is of Spanish style resembling a Southern Pacific depot. Constructed in 1914. This building had a large restaurant for the workers at its west end.

old hotel6

Immediately behind the dining area was a large kitchen and food storage area with ice lockers in the center directly below the upstairs. The kitchen was presided over by Wylie, a one-eyed Chinese man who was an excellent cook. In the center of the north side of this headquarters building, a hall and stairway gave access to the upper floor.

Old hotel5 In the late 1920s, the east end was remodeled to create offices. West of the headquarters building and near the creek was the shower/lavatory building.

old hotel8

At first there were only rooms for workers up there. Then in 1932, the upstairs has converted into a five-room apartment known as “the penthouse”. The east half of this building contained rooms for bachelor workers. Hence it was referred to as “the hotel.”

Ernie guided me back into the Redbanks complex past the ranch garage for motorized equipment.  Earlier it had been a blacksmith shop area.  Ernie called this next house the “Hindu Building.”  Originally it had been the Hindu irrigator’s bunk house.

Hindu bunkhouse1

Ernie’s brother had his wedding reception in this, once beautiful building.  Looking across the fence to the north we saw Colvin’s Mountain.

Colvin's MountainThe first settler in that area west of Woodlake was Elijah T. Colvin, a stockman who in the early 1860s bought three sections of land on the southern slopes of the hill, which bears his name. At that time Cottonwood Creek still ran due south into the St. Johns River. By 1892, Elijah Colvin was dead and some of his property was sold.

Ernie told me that when he worked here, they could see the vegetable gardens planted by the Japanese that once lived on Colvin Mountain.  The government evacuated them sent them to live in internment camps during World War II.  They did not return, and now orange groves cover the lower part of the mountain.

Cottonwood creek

As we left, I pulled the car over, left it running, but did remember to put it in park this time, and ran back across the bridge to take one last shot of Cottonwood Creek and the Sierra Nevadas.  Ernie taught me more in an hour than I could have mastered reading 10 hours of articles about Redbanks.  Thanks Ernie!

 

 

 

Angular: the Daily Post Photo Challenge

I examined 12 posts before I wrote this.  I don’t usually do that, but I needed inspiration.  I smiled at this favorite .  You have to look past the obvious angle to see the real angle, and wonder where the photographer stood to shoot this single picture post.

Angular1CRT

Angles are easy to find in the city, but what about in the country?  I checked out some of my most recent Woodlake pictures for you from my folder of Buttes and Bridges, and found more angles than I expected.  I love this one because it looks like Jack’s steel beanstalk disappearing into the sky climbing to an unknown giant’s castle.

Actually, the power company decided that detouring the installation of these monstrosities into the country served the better good that marching them up the straight path along a freeway.  Not everyone agreed with that angle of thought, but there were fewer voters to object in the sparsely populated areas.

What’s your angle?  Here is the key to others that I liked.

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Word Press Photo Challenge: Achievement – Zoom Zoom

This isn't Alex, and yes, I really did this, but next to last place is not an achievement I'm proud of.
This isn’t Alex,or me, but yes, I really did this.  However, last place is not my proud achievement.

I achieved something today.  I overcame an annoyance that, for many months, demolished my joy in blogging.  To you bucket list – high achievers, I hope this post won’t destroy what little respect you might have for me when you see how little it takes to make me feel successful.  To Alex Gustafson thank you for showing me the way to success.

Achievement Zoom zoom 1
This may not look annoying. It didn’t to Alex.  But, believe me, it was!

 

So the problem was, my font got too big for its britches on my dashboard.  It took a scroll just to see my stats!

Achievement Zoom Zoom 2

When it came time to post, I felt dyslectic trying to read the names of my former posts.  Even Ed—————- …it was on two lines!  Alex said everything looked normal to him.  Hmmmm… Right…

“Try adjusting the settings on your web browser,” he told me, and gave me a link.  That’s link, not wink!   https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/96810?hl=en

So I gave it a try.

Achievement Zoom Zoom 3T

Don’t you wish that the buttons they tell you to select had a big sign on them like this???  At any rate, I felt very intelligent that I was able to find all the buttons in the article.  And it worked.  My browser was the culprit all along, and now I know how to fix it if poltergeists every come in and switch it again!

Achievement Zoom zoom 4B

So what underwhelming achievement have you accomplished recently?  Make me feel better, and I won’t tell you the struggle I had putting a border (simple, simple) on this last bit of media.  Poltergeists, I tell you!  :)

Wait for it!  Wait ....  She's coming...  Keep waiting...
Wait for it! Wait …. She’s coming… Keep waiting…

For more stunning achievements click on the WP icon.

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An Odd San Francisco Hotel Room

It is odd to make a spur of the moment decision to go to San Francisco for the night on the way home from Redding instead of Sacramento, but I had my reasons.  I arrived at about the odd hour of 10:00 p.m. with no reservations.  This is what I got – a room with a very odd view.

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It had a bit of an odd bathroom to go with it.  :)

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For more odd ball pictures click Cee’s icon below.

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Travel Theme: Belonging – Colonial Williamsburg or Not?

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Life is defined by belonging:  our family,  town, organizations, belongings, even the time into which we are born.   I attended a teachers’ institute at Colonial Williamsburg a few years ago.  That town preserves what belonged to another time period, so that we, of the 21st century could understand somewhat what it felt like as patriots and loyalists, all British subjects, clashed, and then hashed out new plans in the taverns, church, and legislature all situated on the mile long walk down the main street.

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Our trainers immersed us in the life of the time.  Four of us from Tulare County joined six others from California, a few from Pennsylvania, some from Georgia, one or two from New York, and we lived as a group for one week.  We belonged together for a week.

 

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Our guide, Bunny, embroiled us in an 18th century court case in which a Baptist minister was tried  as a criminal because he preached from a  Baptist pulpit, not from the one true church the Anglican Church.  “The law of the land from 1624 mandated that white Virginians worship in the Anglican church (Church of England) and support its upkeep with their taxes.” ( Religion in Early Virginia.) We had to decide his fate.

 

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One of our members, Jami Beck, volunteered to participate during the trial.

 

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We learned how to fire cannons and muskets.

 

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We danced, and sat around a properly set dinner table sharing the latest colonial gossip.

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We visited with tavern owners who served George Washington on a regular basis.

 

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Slaves let us enter their farm-house, feel the tobacco they harvested, smell it hanging in the barn.  But in all the authenticity of belonging to that time period.  There was always something that didn’t belong.

 

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Actually there were many things.  What do you think belonged, and what didn’t?

I Write Histories

How does that sound for a marketing line?  I am 99% finished with my first published book, Images of America:  Woodlake.

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I hate to SOUND so proud, but I AM proud.  I can’t believe this is really happening.

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In the process, I have found that so many organizations, even schools, don’t know anything about their history, and don’t know where to find the information either.  As I dug for Woodlake history, I found some amazing treasure chests of people, who were just waiting for the opportunity to share what they had with someone who could use it.  I now have more adorable pictures than I can use, but with permission to share them, they can go to the library and to the museum, where other writers (or me) have access to them.  My new friend Robert Edmiston calls me with new finds and new questions.  His enthusiasm for this project has increased the fun exponentially.

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Sally Pace and I walk often, and she shares new leads almost daily.  I love Sally.  I have followed them all – more treasures, one of the most recent – Lisa Kilburn who just sent me 155 pictures that her father took.  This picture from one of Sally’s birthday parties in the seventies is much too risqué to go in the book!

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Ellie Cain took the time to put together a book and send it to friends and relatives.  Robert Edmiston shared it with me.  I contacted the address pasted in the back of the book, and she emailed me.  She is sending me a CD of pictures for my book.  Her family will live on, and people will be blessed to enjoy adorable pictures like this one.

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This picture was glued on a poster board in 1984.  The ink from notes written on the back has soaked through.  These pictures were all the church had to share with me.  Only one of the 14 churches in our little town have their history written.  The little church my first husband pastored – no history that I know of – (but I have tons of pictures that no one knows about).  One church took a picture for me, and one church gave me pictures a book and video about the history of their church.  Which one got the most face time in our Woodlake history book?

So I see a need, and maybe you do too in your neighborhoods and areas of interest.  Organizations need a history.  CCSS has one book of our history.  Yeah!  SJVCSS does not.    Huge need!  Without history – even if we are still there, no one knows who we really are.  I guess that’s good if we are dishonest, but for most organizations, they are just too busy to take the time.

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That’s where I can come in. How does that sound for my new business venture?  What new ventures are you trying this week?

Found – One Odd Day

Today I planned to drive up to Salinas to have Meg Ryan put some finishing touches on a dress she made for me, only the zipper didn’t come in, and she couldn’t finish the dress.  So I stayed home and finished Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. Am I the only one who hadn’t read the 2003 novel about the MAN who saw dead people?  I’m not a big fan of supernatural books, but I can’t resist Koontz even if I am 11 years late.

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What I loved about this book were his descriptions.

For example, I would never have written this memoir if I had not been commanded to do so by a four hundred-pound man with six fingers on his left hand.

What better reason to write?  When I get back to Girls on Fire, that is my first order of business – to try to describe.  The first problem with that is that I am not observant.  Another problem is that I don’t remember much of what little I see. In addition to that, I struggle to figure out how to string together simple words, like “twinkly-eyed smile”, let alone remember to use words like rubescent.  Here is a fitting description that 36 highlighters noted.

At sixty-three, having added a few pounds, having acquired the seams and crinkles of seasoning experience, she possessed the deeper beauty of the beatified: the sweet humility and tenderness that time can teach, the appealing glow of care and character …

Since tomorrow is my sixty-third birthday, I can quit worrying about the five pounds I gained in Hawaii, and the ten I gained over the summer before I even got to Hawaii.  I can enjoy the seams and crinkles seasoning my experienced life, and waft gently in the appealing glow of my humble and tender character that is rapidly developing deeper inside my beatified body.

Odd Thomas lived in Pico Mundo, CA, located in the heart of the Mojave.

Pico Mundo is not a skyscraper town.

Isn’t that a classic understated sentence?  He follows that by a short description of the weather.

The Mojave sun is not a timid little Boston sun or even a don’t-worry-be-happy Caribbean sun.  The Mojave sun is a fierce, aggressive beast that isn’t going to be intimidated by the shadows of five-story apartment buildings.

Instead of saying, “I was so scared I could hardly walk,” Koontz wrote,

As if magic suddenly overruled physics, the moonlight seemed to acquire weight.  I felt the burden of that lunar radiance with every step.

How do I learn to even think like that?  The moon never did anything so dramatic to me.  Characters in his book didn’t escape his metaphorical scalpel.

He psychological engine didn’t have a go-easy gear.  “Well, damn it, he’s such a freak.” (describing the protagonist standing right next to her.)

I’ve know people like that who say whatever pops into their brain no matter who is listening, but I never attributed it to anything but their weak frontal lobe.  I guess I needed to listen to more “Car Talk” to get the gear connections.  By the way speaking of popping into one’s mind, I am so sad that the Car Talk guy, Tom Magliozzi, passed away.

Girls on Fire has me leashed to my work-ethic upbringing, but after that, unless, my brain kicks into overdrive, I’m sticking to non-fiction.  One last post-mortem, unrelated ramble before I close this high recommendation for Odd Thomas.

Mark and Marsha

Twenty years ago today, my two best friends in the world, Jean and Darlene, helped me through the last day of my first husband, Mark’s, life.  I seldom talk about him, though we were married for just over twenty years.  He was a good man who endured much with few words of complaint.  He had a great sense of humor, read voraciously and could tell the funniest story with a laser-straight face.  We moved to California so he could pastor the Ivanhoe Church of the Nazarene, and I’ve never regretted that decision.  I was proud of who he was.  I dedicate this review to Mark Alvord, he would have loved the book.

Oh My, What Have You Done?

Nothing is not the right answer.  Blogging is not it either.  I wish it were.

Branding Time

Do you get roped into things?  Do you sometimes feel like you’ve been branded as the girl who says yes to too many things at once?

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Sometimes I feel like I’ve kicked up so much dust, that a can of worms might be a good thing in comparison. Today I talked to our CPA and learned about 501(c)(3), and I hope we’ve filed all out paperwork.  I created a program for our Western Regional Breakfast that’s happening at the NCSS Conference in Boston next month.  I found out about awards for the program.  I learned about the Woodlake Rodeo.  I did laundry, made lunch and dinner, cleaned the kitchen, took a walk, went to the post office and mailed a letter to a 10-year-old P.O. Box and I hope to find the person who owns the bottom picture to get her permission to use it, so promise me that you won’t steal it.

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I posted important stuff on Facebook for CCSS.  So the truth is that today, I’ve done a lot, but can I remember it when my husband comes home and asks me what I’ve done?  I do, but that was the wrong question.  Does he really want to listen to me list it all?  I think you know that answer.  That’s why I’m telling YOU – and guess what?  He’ll end up reading about it on Facebook tomorrow.  hehehe  :)

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Right this second I’m feeling a little light headed (yes, I did get my hair cut, but only about 2-3 people even missed the 5-6 inches I’ve chopped off) But that’s not why I’m light headed.  I’m dizzy with excitement because I’m almost finished with my book, Images of America Woodlake – 15,894 words out of a total possible of 8,000 to 18,000, and 192 pictures out of a possible 200. What I’ve learned cannot even come close to a limit of 18,000 words. That has been the hardest part. Collecting pictures from those whose names I get from friends, and of those, the ones who return my call or email. Those are the ones whose minute pieces of the story get in the book. Some people have given me hundreds of photos. Some only one. I have to leave out so much, and someone’s feelings are bound to get hurt when the book is published. There is SOOOOO much more to tell. But, that is not my story – at least not for this book.

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So what did you do today?  Do you need someone to listen to your list?  Write it in the comment section.  There, doesn’t that feel better?  You really did do something today!

Long Time Users Learn More About Using Facebook

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I think Mrs. Robert E. Lee knows I’m a Yankee. Confederate President Jefferson Davis doesn’t is more interested in the photo op. :)

History gals can learn new tricks!  Out of necessity, I have become one of the Facebook queens. After three years of using it regularly, I still find that I constantly learn something helpful.  I use Facebook in three ways.

  1. A personal page.  This is the easy first step to Facebook. I joined with a valid email account, and I post pictures and make comments.  I don’t really care ( and by that I mean report to anyone about) about statistics other than it’s a nice pat on the back when someone comments or likes something I post.  I have to admit that I like likes.  :)
    1. What sets this account apart from the others is how random it is. Whatever strikes me at the moment, I post, from a lost dog picture, to Christmas photos, blog entries, unusual weather and trips.
    2. I try to avoid posting yawn topics like, “I got up at 6:07.48 am and brushed my teeth.”
    3. Something that can be disconcerting is that a personal page can be full of personal messages might be better sent as an instant message, which is private.  But it is my page, and if I don’t care if the world knows that my all my underwear was locked in the washer full of water for three days, then I guess ….
    4. This account is important in a business situation when I want to reach someone and I don’t have their email address.  Today I searched on Google for for presidents of state councils for the social studies when I didn’t have a website for the state.  I found two or three people that way.  They don’t always respond, but I try to be open and let them know who I am, and most people respond eventually.

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  1. A professional page.  I’ve started several of these from my personal page, and I’m not sure how to do it otherwise.  As an administrator, I can invite others to be administrators.  Only administrators can post on these pages, but viewers can comment.  I was frustrated at first because no one posted or interacted.  In my experience this page is more for pushing information than interacting.  This account is focused – or it should be, but it can still be personal.  The face of the company or organization has personality.  If a member of our organization has a good experience at school that they post on FB, I will sometimes share it.  I have to cut and paste their post or it shares on my personal page.  Usually the biggest hits on this account are upcoming events with a flyer or any information about legislation that affects us as an organization.
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This might be interesting to the group “You Know You’re From Woodlake If…”
  1. The group page.  I joined groups as an administrator before I really understood the purpose of groups.  Since then I’ve been involved with a writing group and several groups from my town of Woodlake.  I have found this form of Facebook most interactive for several reasons.
    1. There is a moderator of the group.  What impressed me most was when the moderator introduced themselves and welcomed me personally and asked others in the group to do the same.  Several of them did.  Then some of them became friends with my personal account.  I also get a lot of likes on my personal page from some moderators.
    2. There seems to be more open dialogue on the posts, almost like a personal account, but more focused.  People don’t necessarily know each other when they start talking, unlike on a personal page, but they get acquainted quickly.  Sometimes the conversations veer from the topic of the original post, but usually an outsider can read it and know what’s happening.
    3. Because group pages are moderated, the moderator can delete comments that might not pertain to that group.  I have deleted posts and ultimately people from the group who post advertising on our California Council for the Social Studies group page because their ads don’t fit the purpose of the group page.  The moderator can also add questions, comments or contests that will encourage others to participate.

All three types of pages have their uses, as do other types of social media.  The trick is using the right page for the right impact.

WP Photo Challenge: Refracted Light

The underground gardens in Fresno gives shows off refracting to the maximum.  This hand dug castle took years to create, and served it owner as a garden as well as a home.

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His guests could drive right in.  We had to park on the street with the rest of the tourists!

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You can imagine how much the trees loved this filtered light.

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If I’m down, I just need to look at this next picture to feel up again. My brother took this picture at Navy Pier in Chicago when we traveled for his birthday last October.

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For more ideas on refraction click the image below.

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Travel Theme: Broken – Rattlesnake Hunting No More!

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near Success Lake outside of Portervile, CA

We didn’t travel far to experience the fastest breaking the trainer had ever seen.  The rattlesnake trainer travels all over California, and maybe the country, breaking dogs from sniffing, hunting, attacking or otherwise annoying rattlesnakes.

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Kalev is not particularly aggressive towards rattlesnakes, but because of her size, we didn’t want to take any chances. It was time to break her of any latent tendencies towards rattlesnake hunting.

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The process was simple, and took about 5 minutes once her number was called.  The trainer cuddled her for a second to gain her trust as he slipped a shocking collar around her neck.  She fell for him.

  • First he took her on the porch where a small dead rattle snake lay curled in a little circle.  It didn’t smell like cow pies or a dead mouse, so she avoided it.  It probably hadn’t been dead long enough.   No shocker collar action for her on step one.
  • Next the trainer led her to some big scary rocks where a fake snake sound rattled from between the boulders.  Again, she showed extreme disinterest.
  • Then the trainer had a real treat, snake smells rubbed in the grass.  He coaxed her towards it, and she took the bait.  He zapped her instantly telling her to avoid tempting snake smells at all costs.
  • To pass the test she had to run across the grass containing a live snake and come to me while avoiding the snake.  She started out to make a beeline for me, but screeched to a stop when she smelled his venomous body hidden in the tall grass.  She gingerly stepped aside, and ran towards me.

That was three years ago.  Today, she will still hardly walks on grass – even ours.  She balances on the rock wall rather than touch the manicured lawn until she gets to just the right place, then she tiptoes over to take care of business, jumping back to the safe rocks when she finishes.

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The training area

I think she’s broken.

To see more ideas about broken click here.