nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for May 2014

beet pink

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Last week, I tried dyeing some wool roving with the juice of pickled beets …

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Yesterday I opened the jar and rinsed the wool in cool water.  Looks like a lot of the colour still went down the drain …

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And the final result?  A pretty pink.  Reminds me of the pink batts of insulation we installed in our walls! The wool is not scratchy at all, but soft and fragrant.

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Gradually I am building a rainbow of colour on my drying rack …

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from right to left: wool roving prepared with alum as a mordant; wool dyed with Tansy; wool dyed with Old Man’s Beard lichen; and wool dyed with pickled beet juice

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I am still working on the poem to capture this experience … it’s not quite ready to share.

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

May 9, 2014 at 10:34 am

searching the newspaper archives

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Still on the trail of my great-grandfather, I have turned for a short time to the wonderful source of the newspaper archive.  This may not uncover any new leads about my relative, but it is a fascinating way to search.

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I know from my Aunt’s earlier search for information, my great-grandfather (Frank Norman) and great-grandmother (Ella Hawk) were married in Laramie, Wyoming on July 24, 1886.  I have written before about my great-grandmother Ella and her father, Josiah Hawk, who was a shoemaker in Pennsylvania (https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/occupation-shoemaker/).  In 2002, we drove out to Laramie as part of a vacation adventure, and saw where Frank and Ella were married.  It was amazing to know I was standing where they did so long ago!

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My present search for Frank has taken me to the pages of the ‘Daily Boomerang’, a newspaper in Laramie.  This was a four page daily paper, reporting local and national events and providing advertising for Laramie in the 1880’s and 1890’s and beyond.  It included lots of local tid-bits in the ‘Personal Paragraphs’, ‘Personal Points’ and ‘About Town’ sections.  The ‘Laramie Boomerang’ continues today.

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In 2002, when I visited Laramie, I spent part of the day looking at the fragile paper archives of the ‘Daily Boomerang’.  Although my time was short, I was able to find out a little about the Minister who married Frank and Ella.

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Now, a little more than a decade later, I am able to access, online, every page of the paper.  This is thanks to the Wyoming Newspaper Project.  The project has converted over 800,000 pages of Wyoming newspapers into searchable digital format.  Today, all I have to do is type the searchword ‘Norman’ to find if Frank or Ella are mentioned in the pages of any of over one hundred Wyoming newspapers !  To search these papers, have a look at http://www.wyonewspapers.org .

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I know this effort may turn up some results since I already know of one article, found by my Aunt, about my great-grandfather.  On July 26, 1886, only two days after their wedding in Laramie, Frank receives a short mention in the ‘Daily Boomerang’.

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Just a little below the center of the page above, under ‘About Town’, it says:

Frank Norman, while out riding yesterday, was thrown from his horse and had his collar bone broken.

I know from later records that Frank made his living as a ‘hod carrier’, part of a bricklaying team.  The ‘hod carrier’ is the worker who carries bricks on a hod – a v-shaped wooden carrier with a handle, carried over the shoulder.  A collar bone injury would have been a hard turn of events for someone whose work involved carrying heavy loads.  It must have been a tradgedy for the couple newly married.

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I have a little work ahead of me since I want to look at all possible entries in the newspaper about Frank or Ella from the time of their marriage to about 1892 when Frank and Ella were living in Denver, Colorado.  There may be nothing more to find, and the search is made complicated because a common breed of horse for sale in Wyoming at the time – the ‘Norman’ !

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I will keep you up to date on my search for information about my great-grandfather.  Have you ever used newspapers to search for information about a member of your family?

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Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

May 7, 2014 at 12:39 pm

snags in the search for my ancestors

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I have spent a lot of the weekend searching the genealogy records for information on the whereabouts of my great-grandfather before 1887 when he married my great-grandmother.  It seems he had a common name and a simple search turns up a bewildering array of possibilities.  Also, some of the facts do not seem to aid in the search.  For example, I know he was born in Bethany, Missouri, but the only person in the census record with his name is about 10 years too young.

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To find my great-grandfather, I have looked at endless family trees, searched through long lists of possible relatives on http://www.Ancestry.com and looked at every person who lived in southern Wyoming and vicinity in 1880!  I have come to know, quite well, at least three families associated with a person of the same name and age as my great-grandfather only to discover a fact that makes a connection with my family impossible.

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My post for today is only to appeal to you to think of your future family when you keep the records of your own life.  Someday, my descendants will look for me (I hope they will be interested) and they will be frustrated by three mistakes I have made in record-keeping:

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1. they will be disappointed to learn I have not been very consistent about my name. First, in my work, I used my maiden name as well as my married name. Second, I have always been called by my second given name but government documents refer to me by my first name.  Only last week, I was almost turned away for an appointment at the hospital because I forgot they might list me by my first name.

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2. they will be dismayed to see that, although I have nice, legible handwriting, I have not always been careful about filling out forms.  In fact, I know I have been very sloppy on several occasions.

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3. they will cry when they find all the photos I have taken over the years.  I have only identified people and dates in a small percentage of our home photos.  When I look over our photos, I try to add information, but often I only  scribble the first names of the people in the photos and I frequently have to guess at the date a photo was taken.

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When I look at my own assemblage of family information, I encounter these problems quite often.  For example, who were the young women whose photos I have in my family history collection?  My Mom thought perhaps they were friends of her grandmother at nursing school in Boston.  I treasure their photos, but I will never know who they were.

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And I may never find, with any certainty, the whereabouts of my great-grandfather in 1860, 1870 and 1880.

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Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 5, 2014 at 7:38 am

beet red

with 7 comments

For my next dyeing project, I want to use beets as dyestuff.  Although my writing project is called ‘harvesting colour’, there no beets in my garden and none in the store where I shop.  So I have decided to see what commercially available pickled beets will contribute to my experience of dyeing.

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My eagerness to use beets for dyeing is due to the encouragement of a friend of mine.  When I asked her to do an evaluation of my project for artsnb she wrote about how she loves the colour of the water after she cooks beets.  She also said how much fun it would be to keep the ‘ruby red water’ on the windowsill in a jar.  I hope to be able to capture an experience like this in my poetry.

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First, I bought a jar of pickled beets.  I read the label carefully, just to make sure there is no artificial colour added to the jar.

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Eating the beets is a side-benefit of this project.  The taste reminds me of my Mom’s pickled beets.  I remember her showing me how to boil the beets and how easy it was to slip the skins from the boiled roots.

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The beet juice is a bright rosy-red, clear and jewel-like …

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For this project, I used a length of my alum-treated wool … I have learned these mechanically-carded lengths of wool are called ‘roving’ …

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I had a scary moment when I realised adding the wool to the juice was not the best idea – danger of overflow!!!  Fortunately, the wool absorbed the juice and I had to top it up with water.

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Now, again, I have to wait to see the results.  I expect the beet juice to turn the wool red or even pink.  But who knows what colour will emerge?  I will show you the results in about one week’s time.

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I spent a while today working on drafts of a poem to accompany my beet-dyed wool.  First, I thought about my friend’s comment about how wasteful it seems to pour the beautiful beet colour down the drain.  Then, I focused on identifying a real-life experience to fit the metaphor.

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Since I have been working on my family history lately, I know about lost and wasted memories … I wish so much I had paid better attention when my Mom told me stories about her family.  Sometimes I can remember a snippet, or a name, but the story never seems complete.  Because I didn’t listen carefully to her stories, I wasted her words the way the colour is wasted as it pours down the drain.

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Once I think about what I want to express in the poem, I explore the ideas in a rapid-write.  With this first step, I often find the poem begins to take form.  I hand-write several drafts (usually six or seven), refining the poem’s structure and ideas.  After the third or fourth draft, I begin to vary my word choices and ‘press’ on certain words to make them work harder in the poem.  At some point, the form and words of the poem have become clear to me and at that time, I type the draft into the computer.  Once the keyboard takes over from the pen, I concentrate on line length and punctuation.

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If this all sounds very mechanical, I will say that I believe the poem found its life in my head, before it ever reached the pen and paper stage.

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It will be while before I finish the poem and feel like it is ready to publish.  Like the chemistry occurring in the mason jar of beet juice and wool, my poem will take time and patience.

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Copyright  2014   Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 2, 2014 at 10:28 pm

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