Archive for the ‘Everyday Life’ Category

Love you, Merry!

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Hard to believe this was six years ago…

Happy Anniversary, Joel and Blake!

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During a brief visit to my parents’ home earlier this month (with Steve, Jenna, Tim and Merry), Mom shared a humorous story regarding what was probably Granddad X.T.’s last term as Tax Commissioner of The State of Iowa (about 1967). It seems that for many years, property and personal taxes were calculated after an unwelcome, personal visit and inventory of an individual’s possessions by an agent from the County Assessor’s office. Homeowners’ taxes were based not only on the value of their homes, but also on all of their possessions inside the home — including their air conditioners!

In the heat of summer that year, my parents’ window-unit had stopped working and they were lucky to find a previously owned, reconditioned air conditioner for the bargain price of $25; however, when it came time for their visit by the agent from the County Assessor’s office, he wanted to tax them $75 for it. Mom was appalled that a $25 air conditioner would cost them $75 a year in taxes, but the man insisted his chart showed a greater value for that model and year, and he was merely basing the tax on the figures in his chart. She then told him she’d just call the Tax Commissioner to find out if that was right. The man scoffed and snidely retorted, “What makes you think you’ll ever be put through to the Tax Commissioner of the State?”  To that Mom replied,  “He just happens to be my father-in-law, that’s why!”  Without further comment and seemingly in a state of shock, the gentleman from the Assessor’s office hastily put all his papers into a briefcase and rushed out the door.  Upon reaching his car, he placed the briefcase, unfastened, on the top of his car while he unlocked the door.

As if an omen that justice would be served, a huge clap of thunder, accompanied by pouring rain and a blast of wind blew his briefcase to the ground, scattering papers everywhere! After retrieving them in the wind and rain for well over an hour, the Assessor’s agent left the neighborhood, never to return.  The following week, the story was related to Granddad.  Shortly after that, the practice of going to the home and taxing personal property was abolished.  The $25 window air conditioner functioned for many years after that — without ever being taxed!

Adding to the story, Dad said that one of the things within a home that could affect taxes substantially was whether or not one had made improvements to the basement, and that even if not fully finished into additional living, bedroom, or utility space, certain other improvements could raise taxes, such as a ceiling or improved flooring.

When I was a kid, we did like to use our basement for recreation or just to cool off on a hot summer day, but for financial reasons, finishing our basement like our neighbor had done was not a priority.  One of the disadvantages to having an unfinished basement was that there was no ceiling to help eliminate cobwebs and dust in the overhead floor rafters and bracing, but in order not to increase the amount of those dreaded personal property taxes in addition to our house payment, we opted instead for multicolored tile flooring (covering just some main sections of the floor) and a home decorating suggestion offered by Dad’s brother Richard (Dick) who owned a hatchery and egg business with Granddad.

Cardboard egg flats stapled to the rafters apparently did not qualify for any improvement tax increases, and Dick said he could furnish all that we needed (each flat, designed to hold three dozen eggs, was used by their business to make up cases of thirty dozen eggs). Once attached as a “ceiling,” his idea from someone who had already done it, was to paint the flats for an “interesting antique effect.”

With stacks and stacks of square egg flats in our possession, we attempted to staple them to the rafters. No matter which direction we turned them or how creative we got, they didn’t easily fit. Finally the main rooms were covered, but flats were constantly falling and having to be reattached. Needless to say, we were not pleased with the results and never completed the entire “ceiling.”

As a child, the basement was my playhouse. I played with my friends and dolls in my child-size kitchen and roller skated on the concrete.  When Tim and I were older, we spent many hours in the basement shooting pool, entertaining friends, and playing albums and 45s on the stereo.  We even had furniture, a TV, freezer, and an extra shower there to use when needed — and if I pulled the cord into the stairway, sat on the steps and closed the door, I had a perfect phone booth. Mom did our laundry and mending there, and I found the pool table made a pretty good cutting table for my own sewing projects later on. After Tim and I grew up and an addition to the house was built, the basement wasn’t used much anymore. Still unfinished, it now only houses the furnace, water heater, dehumidifier, miscellaneous junk and family memorabilia — and a few egg flats stubbornly attached or dangling from the rafters here and there.

Growing up, the unfinished basement and its egg flat “ceiling” looked okay to me. None of the flats were ever painted for the antique effect — those that remain achieved antiquity by sheer perseverance.

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Happy Father’s Day


Dads, Granddads, and Uncles!

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Julie's Mom

Steve's Mom

Zoe's Mom

Happy Mother’s Day


Moms, Grandmoms, and Aunts!

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I’ve had so many issues with my Family Tree Maker program this past couple of weeks. I had version 16 working smoothly for a couple of years, but my genealogy file got corrupted somehow after recent new data entries. I was able to restore most of it, but will have to re-enter a few things. Well, the restored copy got corrupted again, so I had to resort to my Time Capsule once more and purchase the new 2009 Family Tree Maker. It all seemed to be working smoothly and a couple of days ago, after much frustration, I FINALLY had success in uploading my 17,000-plus person tree to Ancestry.com — no thanks to their technical support team who never did follow up on a promise to upload it for me after several failed attempts.

Eureka! My tree is now online, but you need Ancestry.com membership to view, and my upload duplicated some record sources for many individuals or put a few things in weird fields, so there’s some cleanup to do and some additions to make over time.

Okay, so now I’ve noticed a quirk in the new FTM…

Because my tree is so large that my family lines reconnect here and there, and even with my husband’s several generations back, my relationships with people become very complicated. The new program is supposed to list my closest family relationship with each person, but (I find this pretty humorous actually) the siblings of some of my direct ancestors become distant cousins for some reason instead of varying degrees of aunts and uncles. For some lines it seems to confuse my farthest relationship with my closest. For example, my mother’s natural siblings should simply be my aunt and uncle, but instead, my closest connection with them is listed as being 23 generations back, making us twenty-third cousins 6x removed! This has happened in one of Steve’s lines too, and I don’t know how to fix it. I’ve emailed again for technical advice, but haven’t yet had a response. Did their tech support pack up and leave, or what? (This problem only affects the program, and doesn’t reflect in my online tree, thankfully.)

I joined a freelance genealogy site and have been bidding on research jobs for others now too. My first bid was accepted a few weeks ago and I delivered on the request right away. I’ve also been connecting with several people to collaborate on my own family research, so with all that, I’ve been feeding my genealogy addiction rather well. I’m now in the process of uploading photos and documents to my online family tree, and writing stories about various family members, so for those of you who are interested, be expecting those to be posted here as well.

I’ve been up all night again.


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I’m terrible at sending cards, but I’m good at a few other things. 🙂

Love you, Mom. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

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Here’s lookin’ at you, babe! Happy 51st!

Way, way back when...

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Lucky 21!

Twenty-one years already?! Hope you have a wonderful birthday, honey.

We love you!!

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Houston Zoo Aquarium Tube

Here, fishy, fishy, fishy...

Joel emailed a dozen photos he took of Zoe this afternoon crawling through the aquarium tube at the zoo. He thought maybe I could try animating them. The frames aren’t quite perfectly aligned, but this was a fun “assignment.” 🙂

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