Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas 1953

I have been doing a lot of Family History/Genealogy work during the last three months. I went through the boxes of papers that I found at my father's house after he died, and I found a lot of interesting artifacts and photos. Some of the photos I already had in my collection, but I recovered a few that were in better condition than the ones I had. Here are some from a Merry Christmas from my past.

These photos were taken in Lordsburg, New Mexico, in 1953. I turned six in October, and Jill turned three in November. We look mighty happy here. You don't see tinsel on a tree anymore. I don't think you can even buy it now. I loved to watch the old bubble lights on the tree, and the tinsel shimmer and wave in the air currents. Ah, the by gone days.

My Christmas letter for 2015

December 2015
Merry Christmas from Mike and Chris:
We have been into our main floor remodel for over a year now. We were hoping to be finished by Thanksgiving. Then it was by Christmas. Now it is, “When will this be done?” The walls are painted, the carpet is in the bedroom and office. The flooring for the dining, kitchen and living room is waiting to be installed, which should happen this weekend. The cabinets are supposed to be ready, and all the appliances are at the warehouse waiting to be delivered. The master bath hasn’t been started, and all the electrical has not been completed. There are three other bathrooms we can use, but it is hard to have a bedroom and walk-in closet without lights. Shall we hope for MLK’s birthday or Presidents Day?

My dad died last in January, so we made two weekend trips down to California for two different memorial services. One in La Mirada, where he coached football for so many years, and one in San Diego where he was living. The tributes that came in from former students and his many friends were overwhelming. La Mirada High School dedicated this year’s football season to him. All the home games were played in Goodman Stadium at the high school.
This picture was taken twenty or so years ago. That is Rachel and Rebekah at the top.
Chris retired in June and is busier than ever. She has been our general contractor on the remodel which is using up a lot of her sanity. She volunteers at her old school once a week and is directing the school play again (there goes the rest of her sanity). Two days a week she takes care of three-year-old Gabriel. It is not tending-it is a four hour play date twice a week! He commands total attention; no playing by himself. He is a charmer and a cutie, but he has occasional manifestations of terrible temper. I call him my little “frumious Bandersnatch!”

Alexander and Isaiah are enjoying high school. They love the activities, especially the sports events and parties. Isaiah is in honors math, and Alex is in honors English. They are both in French, and sometimes they let me tutor them. I still drive them to school on my way to work, and pick them up on my way home. The high school is about three blocks from my school. Alex was one of only three freshmen to make it into the fall musical. He had no speaking lines, but he had a one line solo during one of the chorus numbers and was in most of the dance numbers. The play was Urinetown. The play was very strange, but it had some nice songs. Alex was fantastic, of course.

I am retiring at the end of this year. After 43 years I am throwing in the towel. I have been teaching longer than 90% of the teachers and all of the administrators at my school have been alive. I stayed this year because I wanted to have one year in the brand new school building. My last day is June 4th. I wrote my retirement letter last week. It felt a little disconcerting to actually put it down on paper. Counting all the years I was a student and all the years teaching, I have been in school around 62 years. It’s about time I graduated.

Chris and I had our cataracts removed and new lenses put in both eyes. I am amazed at how beige the world was before the surgery. Everything now is so bright and colorful, and the distance vision in my right eye is so clear that I can see details in the mountains that I never knew were there. And that is without glasses. My left eye is better, but still blurry and will always be that way from laser surgery scars on the retina. But my vision is so improved, that I can drive without glasses. We both still have glasses, but they are mainly for reading and computer and to correct a little astigmatism.

The kids are all well and working hard. Rebekah just returned from a three week cruse around Australia and New Zealand. She had a wonderful time, but said there was too much time at sea and not enough time in ports. She will move up from a 30 hour to a 40 hour position at the library in January. She has been waiting for those ten hours for a long time.

Emma is an administrative assistant at a home health and hospice agency. She recently got a part time job at a multiplex theatre complex to make a little extra money. She gets to go to movies free. The only problem is she has no free time to see any.

Rachel has been doing some work on her home. She was able to pay off her new windows and put on new shingles and rain gutters. Exciting stuff! She still hosts fantastic programs for children at her library and gets to spend lots of money on BOOKS.

Joe got a promotion in the Murray water department. He is an inspector. He still does his old job, but he also inspects. What he inspects I don’t know. Joe has really done a lot of work on our house. He did all the new siding on the addition, finished the fantastic gabbled porch, insulated the addition main floor and basement, and at lease a hundred other things on our remodel. We couldn’t have done it without him.

Hyrum and Emery are always happy to jump in and help us out when we need it. They are installing the new floor in the kitchen and living room with Joe. They are real troopers and always cheerful. Emery is still working from home doing accounts and invoices and whatever else for the steel company. Hyrum builds houses all over the place. Sometimes he has to spend weeks away from home with his crew building in the Utah outback.

So, except for a few scrapes and bruises, we are all healthy and happy to be busy; and we are hoping you are too. We wish you a Merry Christmas and happy 2016.
They finished the floor a few days before Christmas, and we were able to do a little decorating.
The piano nook.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Stain Glass Poppies

My wife, Chris, and I, with the help of one of my wife's teaching colleagues, Steve and his wife Cynthia, made a stain glass window for our home. It started as an item on our daughter-in-law Emery's Christmas gift wishlist. She wanted a stain glass window for her kitchen, Steve is a master glass artist, and with Cynthia they have made many beautiful windows and perhaps hundreds of stained glass mandalas with his students over the years.
As we thought about getting a window for our daughter-in-law, Chris asked Steve about costs for his windows. He totally surprised us when he said, "Oh, why don't you come over, and I'll teach you how to make the windows. You can make one for her and one for you. I'll give you the glass, and you can pay for some of the supplies."
Well, we know a great deal when it slaps us in the face, so we took him up on his offer. We found designs that we liked, and Steve made some artistic design improvements. We learned about pattern preparation and looked at a lot of glass. The we started cutting pieces of glass and grinding the edges. Then came foiling all the pieces with copper and soldering them together. When the windows were soldered on both sides, we brushed on a acid that turned the solder black. Steve did most of the work, but he let us think we were doing more than we were.
    The finished window ready to install at the top of the stairs.
 The pieces of glass laid out on the pattern.
Almost finished with the glass cutting before foiling and soldering.
Still have to do some adjusting of the window it fit the casement. It looks different each hour of the day as the sunlight and cloud shadows change.
This is Emery's window.

Steve and Cynthia generously gave us some glass working tools, so we can make some more windows. There are several designs I would like to do. I have now started our next project, which I need to work on quickly if I want some help and advice from Steve. He is retiring at the end of this school year and they are moving to Phoenix. Steve gave us more glass for the new project. He says it makes it less glass he has to move.

Two Pinterest Boards

Well, after several months of perusing Pinterest, I put up two boards; one for my ATCs and one for mail art. We Canyons District middle school librarians have started a board for our combined libraries to encourage reading and library activities throughout the district. So, I decided it was time for me to practice with my own board. I titled my boards, "Enveloping the Word" for mail art and "Big Art: Little Spaces" for ATCs. I hope someone will get some ideas from my pins.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Two ATC Posts

My first ATC trade for March was a quick trade Mayan mask theme. I found this Mayan head in an old art text. After trying it out on several backgrounds , I decided this black and white op-art was the best fit. I especially like the way the black and white appeared in the eyes. I sent the card off in the hand made envelope below.

The second trade of March was a pattern card. My trade partner likes kaleidoscopes, so I wanted to use the patterns in the form of a kaleidoscope. Along the way of experimenting, I thought of a Victorian puzzle purse as an extension of the pattern theme. I have never before now made a puzzle purse that did not start with a square piece of paper. Rather than cut of the extra parts under the top folds, I had to adjust the folds so that the purse would open to show the pattern on the inside. After a lot of trial and error, this is what came to be.

I made tight creases on the inside folds so that it easily collapses back into the shape of the card.

I sent this trade in a single sheet folded into an origami envelope. I created the page on the computer. I used this paper, because I felt that the collage fit with the pattern theme of the trade.These envelopes generally make it through the postal machinery, but sometimes they get chewed up. I usually ask the post office to hand stamp these types of envelopes and hand sort them. They will often hand cancel but then throw them into the sorter anyway.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

February Mail Art and ATCs

Because I have been so busy doing family history/genealogy work and scanning family photos all winter, I have not done any mail art or artist trading cards since last Fall. I started to swap again in February with some Valentine ATCs, a decorated paper trade, and a mail art swap. Here are my little creations:
This is the envelope (front and back) that I decorated for the paper trade. The decorated envelope was not part of the trade, but I like to do mail art whenever I have some time to do it. My wife says it is a little too much to decorate the return envelopes when I send out the bills. I only do that once in a while. I had to ad another 

The theme for the first Valentine ATC trade I did this year was to alter a King, Queen, or Jack of Hearts playing card. Several years ago, I found two movie star (Clark Gable and Greta Garbo) playing cards on the internet. The cards were of diamonds, so I already had to alter them to use them in the trade. I cut out the heads and the bars with their names on them and pasted those pieces on the hearts cards. Only one card was required for the swap, but a king must have a queen, and since I had the two movie stars, I made a pair, and added a couple of heart "jewels" to them. I also made the envelope in which to send them, which was also not required for the swap..

Below is the second Valentine ATC trade and its envelope. I used to make the word collage heart. My swap partner said on her profile that hot pink was one of her favorite colors, so I colored one of my op-art backgrounds with a high lighter and added a tiny jewel heart at the center of one of the spirals. I tiled the tagxedo heart on an 8½ X 11 piece of copy paper, folded the envelope, and added a few other things.

The following envelope was for a thank you note. I made the stamp, showing my grandson, at Each stamp costs twice as much as a regular first class stamp, but it is worth it for a special letter when the recipient knows "my" baby.

The purple dots look a little like Mickey Mouse ears. By the way, if you happen to see this young lady at Disneyland, beware. She is one of the pick-pockets from the 1630 French painting, The Fortune Teller, by Georges de La Tour. I have used her as a decoration many times. Thanks, Georges.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tempus Fugit

Wow, I haven't blogged anything since last October. There was just too much to do in the last five months, I suppose, to have time to compose something that is half way intelligent. That's not to say that this blog will have any semblance of intelligence either. But one may always hope for a good out come. I have spent many hours working on genealogy/family history this winter, staying up way too late each night at the computer prowling through the records on, et al. I have been able to reconnect with long lost, to me, cousins throughout the U.S. I was not able to attend Roots Tech in Salt Lake City this year because of, ironically, concurrent, important family events.

My father passed away on January 29, at the age of 91. His coaching buddies wanted to get together for a memorial service to remember his life and career.. So very early in the morning on Sunday, the 15th of February, my wife and I flew out to Long Beach, California, Julian Smilowitz, one of my father's former football players who had also become a fellow coach with him, picked us up at the airport, took us to church, fed us lunch and got us to the event center behind the La Mirada City Hall in time to help set up the room for the memorial service. At 3:00 p.m., about sixty former students and coaching buddies arrived at the memorial service. My sister, Jill, and brother, Mark, drove in from San Diego and Riverside, and were among the last to leave. The last of the crowd didn't depart until after six. There was a lot of visiting among old friends, many of whom had not seen each other for years. Monday morning we flew back to Salt Lake City. We were gone for about 30 hours.

We are having another memorial in March at the assisted living facility where my father was living. All my children and grandchildren are driving down with us to San Diego from Utah, and all the rest of the family from Southern California will be there as well. It will be the first time everyone has been together at one place since my mother's memorial service twelve years ago.

I had hoped to inter their ashes in one of the wall niches at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Point Loma, but it is full. The last place was claimed in May of 2014. I suppose we could have them at Miramar National Cemetery on the north end of San Diego. But Rosecrans is such a beautiful place overlooking the bay.
Senior photo, Withrow High School, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1942

Army Air Corps, Air Supply Command, China, Burma, and India, 1943-45

Coach "Goody"
The last photo of my parents together, October 2001.