A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

An Open Invitation

English: Mary Pickford writing at a desk
English: Mary Pickford writing at a desk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
           Since I'm away from the computer this week I'm going to keep this post brief.      

         Once again I'm calling on readers to sign up for guest posts.  If you have something memoir related that you would like to share on this space, let me know in the comments or email me at jacksonlee51 @ aol (dot) com.   I'll work with you in setting up a date.

         If you have a published memoir that you'd like to promote, I'd be happy to give you the space here to do that.   Or if you would just like to tell us about something that has happened in your life, relate a story about someone else, or offer ideas about writing memoir, I'm offering you an opportunity to do so on this blog.

         Guest posting is a great way to draw attention to your blog or something else that you are doing.  Everyone is invited to make a suggestion.   I love having guests over at Wrote By Rote.

         I hope to hear from you!

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanksgiving on the Road

Thanksgiving Day Greetings
Thanksgiving Day Greetings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
         In all the years before I became an adult I don't think I ever spent a Thanksgiving away from home.  Every year my mother would fix essentially the same delicious traditional dinner.  Over the years she may have added a new side dish, but I don't think there were any she stopped serving.  Thanksgiving was one of my favorite days of the year and other than a couple of exceptions, the table was almost always set for just my parents and us kids.  Since we were far from relatives most of my time growing up we didn't have any other family to join us.

        Then when I went on the road with a touring theatrical company in my mid-twenties, I started missing those meals that had meant so much in my early years.  During the 80's our tradition became eating at some buffet restaurant in Hendersonville, Tennessee since every year we were booked for a Thanksgiving evening show in nearby Gallatin.  

         I would take the cast members and treat them to dinner.  The food was decent and nicely priced.  And it was all-you-could-eat which was appreciated by a young troupe of low paid actors.  It wasn't my mother's Thanksgiving dinner, but at least it was a notch up from the typical road food we usually ate.

         Over the past several years I've fixed a meal very similar to the one my mother used to fix since now I live in Los Angeles and she's in East Tennessee.  In recent years their meals have been mostly potluck affairs since my mother doesn't do the big cooking events that she used to.  As our kids have moved away far across the country from us, our Thanksgiving dinners have become smaller.

        This year we won't be having a dinner at our house.  Instead we'll be traveling to visit one of our daughters who lives closest to us, though still over a thousand miles away.  Not sure what will happen for dinner, but I'm sure we'll think of something.

         It's been a while since I've had Thanksgiving away from home.   I'm looking forward to the road trip though.  There's something about a long driving trip that stimulates my mind.

         Do you have Thanksgiving at home or away?   Will you fix dinner or does someone else do it?   Have you ever had your Thanksgiving feast at a restaurant instead of someone's house?

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hidden Treasures: A Pocket Full of Memories and More

English: A picture illustrating a flap pocket ...
English: A picture illustrating a flap pocket on a grey lounge suit jacket (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
         Over the past couple of months we've looked at all sorts of storage places where items that jog memories can be found.  That's been the purpose of this series.  Where do we find the inspirations and documentation that can help us to reconstruct the parts of our lives that we want to put into memoir form?  Rummaging through those places where we store the artifacts of our lives can be like a treasure hunt sometimes.  And sometimes the treasures can be found in odd and unexpected places.

          More than once I've heard the story of someone who buys an old coat at the thrift store and discovers money or something valuable in a pocket.   I'm sure you've heard those kinds of stories as well.  I've never found a true cache of value in the pockets of clothes hanging in my closet, but sometimes I wonder.

          I can recall times when I've had considerable amounts of cash that I've hidden in places where I figured no one would find it.  Paranoia can set in sometimes and I've done irrational things especially when money was  somewhat abundant.  I can be absent minded at times.  Sometimes I wonder if maybe I've hidden a wad of cash somewhere and have forgotten where I put it.  I get these strange feelings sometimes.

         Occasionally I'll find some change or maybe a dollar bill in a pocket.  No great find there, but these finds fuel my suspicions.  I've never gone through all of the clothes in my closets to undertake a grand search for lost treasure, but I'm pretty good about checking pockets if I'm putting my clothes in the laundry basket or giving them away to Goodwill.  It's unlikely that anyone would find money stashed in anything I donate.

        Now and then I'll find old receipts or something on paper that will bring back a memory of someplace I'd been the last time I wore an article of clothing--typically a coat or jacket.   If one has a lot of clothing this is not especially an unusual occurrence.   I have a lot more clothing than I ever wear or probably really need so finding things in coat pockets can happen.  Maybe I need to check a bunch of pockets and cart a load off to Goodwill?

         It's possible that one day I'll find something more interesting than an old receipt in a pocket.  In these days when money has been tighter I wouldn't mind finding a roll of bills absent-mindedly stashed in a pocket, a shoe, or some other long unworn wearable.  It could happen.  I just hope I'm the one who finds the treasure.

          Have you ever hidden money or other valuables in pockets of clothes hanging in your closet?   Have you ever found valuables in a pocket?   Have you used shoes as hiding places?   

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Memories Are In The Air

Downtown Morgantown, WV from atop a hill near ...
Downtown Morgantown, WV from atop a hill near North High Street. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         Does the feel of the air ever bring back memories for you?

         Autumn especially evokes remembrance of times and places of my past.   I recall the smell of burning leaves and the feel of the crisp fall mornings.  The dry midday warmth and the chill in the air as the sun begins its descent below the horizon.  As gray days of November lead toward winter, the colder days become the norm with expectations of snowy days to come.

         Any potential bleakness is cheered by the holiday seasons.  The savory scents of Thanksgiving dinners being prepared makes mouths water and hearts fill with warm feelings brought by memories of family gatherings and the promise of gatherings yet to come.  Food smells waft in the air to touch the nerves that tap into recollections.

        The first frosty morning.  The silent snow of night that creates a magical crystal landscape that greets us when we rise.  Visible breaths in the icy air.  The atmosphere which we cannot see but feel, seizes what we see around us so that later when we experience the similar feel of the air we might remember a snapshot of some captured yesterday.

          Those are things I no longer experience where I live now, but I remember them.  When I go home for holidays I welcome the chance to experience these wintery things once more.  Memories to carry home with me so they can be plucked from my mind like I would pluck up a photo album off the coffee table.  If the memories cannot be lived then they can be perused with reflection.

         There are refreshing summer mornings when the feel of the air takes me back to a morning in Morgantown, West Virginia as I stepped out on my grandparents' porch to feel that same feeling of air.  It's a connection made across the decades locked in my mind to be let out when I feel the air in that special way.

          A brisk cool breeze rushes down my neighborhood street on a sunny Southern California morning and I am momentarily transported to a pull-off on a desolate West Texas highway where a friend and I have stopped for a break after driving all night.  As I step out of the van I am greeted with an unexpectedly chilling wind that takes my breath.  It is July and though a chill is in the morning air, I know in a couple hours it will be blazing hot.  These memories delivered in a morning breeze years later.

         There are memories in air.   Times of day.  Seasons of the year.  Unexplainable moments in time when memories are drawn from the deep well of the past.  The invisible force that we breathe, bask in, and sometimes fear in the power that it can wield.  The wind blows and we are caught up in it.

          Does a feeling in the air ever bring back special memories for you?   What does the smell of burning leaves remind you of?    Are you ever struck by a long forgotten memory because of something in the air?

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Thinking Inside the Box

Mann House 2008
Mann House 2008 (Photo credit: CedarBendDrive)
       Space for storage can be found in many places around the house and when home does not suffice we may look to outside storage solutions.  When we've got a surplus of stuff that we feel compelled to keep then we need to find someplace to put it all.  And after all, for the memoirist or personal archivist or however we want to term those who retain material goods for some purpose related to posterity, things have value that can bring a tangibility of times past.

         However a physical place for keeping our memories or things we think we should keep is not quite the final solution.  Just throwing stuff into a room or some enclosed space is not practical from the standpoint of cleanliness, organization, or preservation.   It's best to have some sort of means of containment so that stored items can be kept safely within and then the containers can be easily moved and organized when it is time to place everything into their long-term storing space.

         In times past a common solution for unitized storage was the trunk, chest, or wooden crate.  Steamer trunks filled with old clothes and other items were stowed away in attics and basements.  Now we can often find steamer trunks used as coffee tables or for other furnishing purposes.  In my garage I have a nice trunk that I used to use for a dual purpose of coffee table and storage chest.  I was single then.  My wife prefers more conventional furniture.

       For many years cardboard boxes have been a standard answer to keeping things organized in storage areas.   When I was still living with my parents we usually got ours from the supermarket  or from products bought.   Christmas saw many new boxes as large gift items were put into use and the boxes those items came in were put to work for storage.   Cardboard boxes designed especially for storage purposes can also be purchased from places like office supply stores or large discount stores.  I have a number of these labeled and stacked in closets in my home.

      Plastic storage boxes have become the most common storage solution in the past few decades.  They come in many forms--tubs, bins, drawers, modular plastic units, barrels and many more.   Like the character Ben in The Graduate is advised by his parents' friend, the future is in plastics.  We know now that this was very true when it was said back in 1967.  Plastic containers are everywhere and come in every size and shape.

       We have plastic containers and drawer units throughout our home.  They are often stackable, durable, and don't look too bad for the most part.  Some are clear so that you can see the contents inside.  Some come in colors.  Convenience is the key here and the plastic containers keep things safe from dust, moisture, and other damaging elements.

         I guess if we didn't have the plastic containers we might be more tempted to get rid of stuff.  The plastic may be as much of a curse as it is a blessing of convenience.

         What types of containment devices to you use for your storage solutions?   Do you use any storage items in a dual role of furnishings?   Where do you usually get cardboard boxes if you need them?   Have plastic containers been a storage salvation for you?

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