Reading Challenge

My annual Reading Challenge over at Goodreads is set at 24, a goal I can Usually meet with ease. This year, however, I have added a new objective: read one book from each section (there are 10) of the Dewey Decimal System. I love non-fiction, so it didn’t seem like much of a strain to accomplish, but as I reviewed the System, I’m realizing there’s a lot more there than meets the eye.

What did we do before a common system of classification was used in the library? It must have been a real pain, especially for someone who was the slightest bit OCD. Enter Melvil Dewey, who had been arranging his mother’s pantry goods since he was a little boy. In 1873, at the age of 25, Dewey patented the decimal system that bears his name, and it began to be implemented in 1876. Called the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), it is built around ten main classes, ostensibly covering the entire world of knowledge.

Each main class is divided into ten more divisions, each having ten divisions of increasing specificity. It is “arranged by discipline, not subject”, so a topic can be all over the place. Given that there are ten main classes, one hundred divisions, and one thousand sections still makes it a bit unwieldy, but the handy-dandy card catalogue became my good friend when trying to do research, as it pulled together the subject of research in a coherent fashion. I mean, seriously, there is a Lot of Knowledge in a library…

I decided to start at Willard Library, partly because it is my very favorite library ever, but I also thought it would be easier to choose a book with less inventory. The 000-100 section is really a lot of reference books, also newspapers, periodicals, Guinness Book of World Records, etc. and it didn’t leave me much choice, so I chose a book called “An Uncommon History of Common Things”. Meh. The Things were common, but I didn’t find their history so uncommon. Does anyone read a book like that all the way through, beginning to end? I don’t, kids, so I skimmed through and it’s ready for return — and it counts as a read, by my rules — and I make the rules here.

More interesting than the book I chose is what I learned about Melvil Dewey, a true example of not judging a book by its cover. In addition to devising the Decimal System, he helped found the American Library Association and the first library school at Columbia University in 1884; he was also the New York State Librarian from 1888-1906. When Columbia University balked at admitting women to the Library School, he started his own school with 17 women and the help of other female teachers. Seems like a real forward-thinking guy for the feminists, right?

Wrong… Melvil Dewey has also been called a misogynist, racist, and anti-Semite. While some biographers credit Dewey with being a champion of women in the workplace – he called for greater employment of women in libraries when most women worked as domestics- it is difficult to grant him that title when multiple women accused him of sexual harassment. He was fired from his NY State Librarian because of his very public refusal to allow Jews to be included in a country club he founded. He paid off several of the women (there were many) who brought charges against him for sexual harassment. In fact, his worldview influences his decimal classifications as he neglected to include any Black history or writers within it. You can notice right away that in the Religion section, 9 of the 10 subcategories are Christianity, with only 1 for “other religions”. Librarians began the work of “decolonizing” the categories quite a while back, and the Library of Congress uses a completely different system that is similar, but more open to changes.

Anyway, I’m ready for the 100s now, Philosophy…just one book? I learned everything I know about Philosophy from watching “The Good Place”…well, almost everything, but you should watch it if you get a chance. (It doesn’t count on the reading challenge.)

I decided to vary the library I visit, so throughout the month of January you may see me lurking at any of the branches, looking for the card catalogue.

We’re off for a Sunday Drive.


Hear Ye! Hear Ye! ‘Tis a Jubilee Year!

Time, Time, Time…see what’s become of me: in February of this year, I’ll turn Seventy…

I’ve been planning a year-long celebration of this momentous occasion ever since last February when I turned 69, wading bravely into my 70th year. At first, I thought I’d begin the festivities on my actual b-day, but now have decided that the entire year must be one of Jubilee. I share passing this landmark with nearly everyone who went to high school and nursing school with me, so I’m in good company. I’m hoping that all my friends – regardless of age — will come together for a Sonnystone Garden Party in July. Mark your calendars for that second week or so, and watch this spot for more info. If that doesn’t work for you, let’s just meet up for lunch sometime this year!

In addition to planning this gala, I’m looking forward to finally taking that Long Drive in Goldie, visiting the New Yorkers on St. Paddy’s Day, and more WDW (of course). I hope to get the Family History printed and there will be changes to the blog. It’s time to pull out the mandolin and brush up on some chords. Bring on fresh piano music! Refresh my reading challenge and strive again for 24 books this year. Maybe Windsor, England? Amtrak sounds like fun. Jubilee years are packed with pleasure, so here we go!

Resolutions? Ha! I plan to stay healthy, happy, and Curious… There’s still so much I want to learn, especially the stuff I thought I already knew…


Looking Back

We had our Family Christmas Wednesday and the Love was Everywhere!

It has been a wonderful year here at Sonnystone! Various and sundry ailments kept us from traveling as much as we would have liked, but we did go to London, a long-time dream! Our gardens weren’t award-winning, but I’m proud of the “new” firepit area that we designed and planted. Most important, we enjoyed the company of Family, Extended Family, and Friends throughout the year. I hope one of them was You, dear reader, and if not, why not?

Onward to 2023, my Jubilee Year!


New York at Christmas…

Christmas, 2022, in New York City,

featuring the Jose’ Family, mostly Emma and Eliza,

in 47 seconds…

Our Christmas plans have Completely changed due to expected winter storms on the New Yorkers’ travel dates.. They’ll be coming in between storms (fingers crossed) on the 26th and we’ll have a Sonnystone Christmas on the 28th. A good thing, too, as I have No presents bought! In fact, I’m headed out now to search for the grandies’ gifts.


The Countdown begins…

The days have been flying by and my excitement is building. The house is merry and cozy, Casey had a great day of birthday-ing on Wednesday, and Samantha and I had breakfast with Santa at the Zoo yesterday.

Nova and her boyfriend, Aiden, (or is it Jaden? Braden?) went to a couple of dances last night; they attend different high schools, so they must keep it even… She is having a great time and that makes me smile.

I’ve hauled out my Christmas clothes and eliminated the ensembles that don’t fit anymore (you know how clothes shrink), so new plaid leggings and a red flannel are on their way to fill in the gaps. I’m obsessing over the weather; we are flying out of Nashville and the drive down worries me. It’s supposed to be wet and cold, but not quite icy and that’s the worst kind, even with my new tires. I’m thinking we’ll do a more leisurely daytime drive the day before and stay overnight. That just sounds less stressful all the way around.

Just think, this very time next week I’ll be walking out of Radio City Music Hall, having watched the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular, heading over to Bill’s Burgers for our traditional post-show meal. For the last two years we’ve had to miss the performance due to Covid, so this will be a sweet reunion.

— 2019 Me, Eliza, Emma at the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular —We were so Young!

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that Melissa and her family moved last August. Their new pad looks zehr cool, even magnificent, in the pictures, and I can hardly wait to stand out on her balcony and watch the sunrise or sunset, or go to the rooftop garden, or play some games in the gameroom. They all seem to be very happy there and I’m so pumped to soak up some Love from my NewYorkers.

In the meantime, I’ve been going through my old Christmas posts and thinking I’ll start a series of “Ghosts of Christmases Past”, but I really don’t have time, so it seems it has been an exercise in nostalgia…and a very pleasant one. We’ve had some Great Christmases, for certain, but I do believe this Christmas is going to be one for the Books.

So we’ll drive down to Nashville on Thursday, fly out to LaGuardia on Friday, Party with the JoseFam, fly back to Nasvhille and drive home on Tuesday. I’ll be in touch.


Still Thankful…

Thanksgiving 2022 was…different… As you know, my New York grandies spend their Thanksgiving holiday in Philadelphia, PA, where they compete in the Mid-Atlantic Oireachtas (pronounced uh-rock-tus); this is a regional championship contest where placements can lead to qualifying for the All-World’s Championship held in April. My local fam, the Jrs, spend Most of their Turkey Holiday Week-end with my daughter-in-law’s family, but they always pop in for the Macy’s Parade and some lunch.

Samantha spent the night-before with us. About 2:30am she woke me up, sick to her stomach. I hoped it was just excitement and that it would pass, but it didn’t. She wanted so badly to feel better, but it was not to be; we made it almost an hour, but that was the longest spell between trips to the toilet. I called her Dad to pick her up around 6am and we called off the get-together. I sent half of the food over to them so I wouldn’t be eating for six. We watched the Parade and that’s about it.

But I don’t need a Day to remind me to be thankful. There are so many people who I love and remember daily in my prayers. I’m just sure you are one of them.

The rest of the week-end we’ve spent putting up the Christmas decorations. We have a busy season planned: NYC from 12/9 – 12/13 (Radio City Christmas Spectacular on the 11th); The New Yorkers then visit us from 12/18-12/23 and we’ll have a Full-Family, All-together-now Christmas celebration on the 21st. This is the first time since 2020 that my entire family has been together! That really cuts short my gift-shopping time, so I’m anxious to get started this week after the crowds die down.

It is my intention to pick up the blogging during this festive season. I’ve been writing/editing over at my Ancestry blog and it’s time to set that aside and share some of my own stories, keeping you up to date.

Casey has a birthday this week, #68. He just refuses to catch up to me! I’ll see you there!


Encounter with Gen Z

I had the Jr. girls out at the Mall on Friday, first time I’ve spent with the 14-year-old in a bit and it was extra-fun. We were at Game Stop and I was perusing a rack of Popmarket Vinyl Figures- you may not have heard of them. There are all kinds of Pop figures in vinyl, covering the current culture of movies, music, anime, and I’ve bought a few Star Wars characters for Nova. My eyes suddenly stopped at a figure in the center of the display and I did a double-take. How did a Frank Zappa figure find its way into that stack of pop-culture heroes whose names I don’t recognize? I was tickled and got a little excited, starting up a survey within the store starting with the youngsters standing at the cash register…

Hey, kids! Do you know who Frank Zappa is? Ever heard of him?

They looked at each other, shook their heads no.

I tried to explain as I picked up the figure and carried it around to the counter, Have you heard of the The Mothers? The Mothers of Invention? (Blank stares) Let’s see, I don’t think he ever had any real “hits” other than “Please don’t eat the yellow snow” and that’s not a good example. He was a guitarist, but he defied genre, playing jazz that rocked…

The young man on the ladder joined in, saying, I like jazz from the 40s… I knew I’d lost them, so decided to mess with them a little… Maybe you’ve heard of his children, Dweezil and Moon Unit? They were laughing now, the girl said, Okay, now you’re making stuff up…No, I’m serious! You know the soul patch? They’d at least heard of that… Well, Zappa Invented that… Now they know…

It just seemed to be so random to find Zappa in that setting and trying to explain his music was difficult. Back in the 70s I saw him three times. Once with a group of girlfriends up in Indy where we were first in line at the doors, hours before they opened. One of my friends convinced the security guards that we Needed to use the bathroom and he let 3 or 4 of us in. At the time, Frank was touring with Flo and Eddie, doing the whole “Live at Fillmore East” album; after we went to the bathroom, we sneaked out to the seats, where we watch Zappa and the Mothers warming up? going through sound checks and deciding on the set list. I loved that concert, one of my favorites. The other two times he was playing with the Mahavishnu Orchestra (John McLaughlin) and it was avant garde, not my favorite stuff. Still, he was Amazing, truly one of the best guitarists of our age and a freaking genius.

Though a lot of it is rated PG, of course, my children listened to Zappa, especially “Dog Breath”, and “Peaches en Regalia” and Even the grandies are familiar with “Call Any Vegetable”… I’m sorry that Gen Z isn’t hip to him, but maybe one of those kids googled him and will become a fan…

So I bought the Zappa figure, even though he looks Nothing like Frank…he looks more like Captain Beefheart (another obscure reference) or Johnny Depp. I’m not sure you could get Zappa’s nose right on vinyl, and his hair was way longer and messy. But it’s the thought that counts, and I’m happy to have him on my shelf…

And I hauled out the Zappa music to welcome him…


Daylight Savings

For the past few weeks I’ve been sleeping a little later in the mornings, as if this old body was preparing for the inevitable “fall back” of the clocks. My circadian rhythms fell right in line today when I woke up at sunrise to take back the hour, seize the day, soak up the sunshine. It was a short one, that’s for sure, but the days will only get shorter until !! Christmas !! In the meantime, I’ll make the best of what’s around…

I used my Nikon to take pictures at the cemetery this week and I am very disappointed that I cannot seem to get the USB cord to transfer to my computer, so… Use your imagination: gravestones, old ones, all in a row, inscriptions barely legible, sitting precariously on their foundations. I failed to find my 2x great grandmother for certain, but I think her stone may have just aged to a point that I cannot read the name. She died in 1876 and despite the care the graveyard receives, time takes its toll.

I was cruising from Albion to Grayville, last leg of the trip, before I realized that my Mom was riding shotgun. Yes, I seriously felt her presence as I pulled in to Oak Grove cemetery where her parents are buried, but of course I would in that place on the 20th anniversary of her death. I paid my respects to Grandma and Grandpa and drove down Martin St. to see the spot where their house stood; it recently burned to the ground. There is a 5th-wheel hooked up there now, so we hustled on by, heading for my cousin Jeff’s house. When I got to the highway, for some reason (Mom) I turned right, knowing full well I should turn left, so I turned back toward the river a couple of blocks away. As soon as I turned, I realized I was on the street where Mom’s sister, Aunt Clara, used to live; that’s when I Knew For Sure that Mom was there with me. We stopped at the corner and stared for a while at the house that holds so many fond memories. It is seriously falling down, kind of sinking, and I wouldn’t want to stand under the back porch from the look of it, but I could imagine the ghosts gathered around the kitchen table, laughing and arguing. It was 20 years ago today that Aunt Clara died- yes, just four days after my Mom -and I was definitely feeling her presence, as well.

Turning back toward Jeff’s, I slowly drove by where Grandma Goodson lived — nothing there now, not even a trailer — but in my mind’s eye I could see the barn where Grandma Eaton kept her cow; her only form of refuge from her nine kids was walking down there every morning to do the milking. I finally drove on, turned again and landed at Jeff’s house.

Though I don’t have any cemetery pictures, I snapped these this evening…

I need to read five more books to meet my Reading Challenge this year, so I found some short novels that are just lovely…and brief…like this blog post.

November looks pretty boring right now, but Maybe I can find some Events this month to entertain us.


All Souls

Here we are, halfway between the Autumn equinox and the Winter solstice, feeling the days get shorter and the nights stretch longer. Legend has it that the veil between the earthly plane and the spiritual world is thinnest at this time, making it easier for spirits to cross over and walk among the living, and vice versa–souls ready to move on easily make their exit. So it follows, that it is easier to commune with spirits around this time, especially those of deceased loved ones.

Twenty years ago, November 2, 2002, my Mom passed peacefully through that thin veil, in her sleep. She wasn’t even sick, just went to bed that night, fully expecting to wake up the next day. It was a wonderful, blessed way to die, but a terrible shock to our family. I have always fancied the idea that her loved ones slipped through the veil and took her into the Afterlife. (Not a hill I’d die on, but a comforting thought, nonetheless.)

The Mexican celebration of Día de los Muertos, observed November 1-2, honors the souls of those who have passed, and on those days their ancestors are believed to visit their earthly families. Celebrants decorate elaborate home altars with flowers, candles and their loved ones’ favorite foods

Festivities often extend into cemeteries, where families visit gravesites of beloved family members, often delivering picnics and playing festive music. I envy this tradition, especially the way it is portrayed in the movie “Coco”; you should watch it.

In their usual way, the Catholic Church appropriated the pagan holidays of Samhain, when the veil thins, and established All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. Despite some really good hymns and naming the folks who died the past year, they fall short of actually acknowledging the Spirit World and the community of ancestors who already inhabit the life beyond this life.

I decided last Memorial Day to start doing my grave-decorating on the Days of the Dead. Remember when we called Memorial Day “Decoration Day”? It has morphed into a Veterans’ Day of sorts and I think the Mexican Way of remembering your deceased ancestors is more appropriate for my purpose, which is to celebrate the continuum of life.

I’ve learned so much from studying and charting my genealogy, not just facts, but a perspective that life is more than just the dash between our birth and death dates; we are on a spectrum that includes what was passed on to us by our elders, what we’ve learned from the times in which we are born, and what we, in turn, pass on to our descendants.

In what I hope becomes a tradition, off I go this Tuesday to take a picnic over to Southern Illinois and hit up some old cemeteries. I still need to find the tomb of my 2x great-grandmother, Analiza McWilliams Kinkade, and her parents; I was soo close the last time I looked and I think I’ll locate it this time. My 2x great-grandfather, Alexander Kinkade, is buried in a whole ‘nother cemetery, and I’d like to visit him, too. Last time I was at the Lick Prairie Cemetery, where 3x great-grandfather Benjamin Franklin Mayne is buried, I didn’t realize how many (a lot) of my other family are buried there, so there are new acquaintances to make. I haven’t visited Grandma and Grandpa Eaton’s grave for a couple of years, so that will be a nice reunion; great-grandparents Goodson are nearby, as well as a slew of aunts and uncles. A world without ancestors would be so lonely.

Of course, I always think of Mom on her death day, but I think of her Every Day. She and Dad are buried nearby and I visit their mausoleum every season – Fall, Christmas, Winter, Spring, and Fourth of July- to keep it spruced up. I think she’d like the idea of visiting the cemeteries on All Souls Day; wish she were here to go along.

The weather is supposed to be nice and the trees are particularly pretty right now. I’m going to visit with some living cousins, too, so I won’t be talking to Just Ghosts.

Where would we be without our Ancestors? Celebrate!



It’s Fall, y’all…

I’ve been down with a sore throat, head congestion, cough, and just generalized misery for three days now. Oddly, it feels like a good old-fashion cold — remember those? It might be my autumn mold allergies, but it’s been so dry here that I just don’t know. The temperatures have jumped from below freezing several days ago to a high of 81 today, so there’s that. Whatever it is, it foiled my plans to see another play today with Lana out of consideration that this crud could be contagious; we really enjoyed last week’s “Measure by Measure” at UE’s Shanklin Theatre. I do love the Bard’s comedies and that one was bawdy, as well, eliciting a lot of LOLs for us. Added plus: nobody died.

JoJo’s Academy of Music resumed after our fall break. Samantha is doing brilliantly at the piano.

The sunlight and leaves joined together with the sunrise this morning to dazzle me with Golden Light…

Even with a head full of snot, I can’t help but feel grateful for such a beautiful day today — and two more on the way! Hope the Sunshine is Splendid where you are!