Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Day Out with Mom: Mom and Dad's Honeymoon

"We traveled around in Lake County on our honeymoon, and my dad stayed at our place to make sure nothing was stolen," Mom says. Before age set in, before the Alzheimer's/dementia, before the stroke, Dad drove some sweet rigs down the highway, Mom sitting beside him. Some of those rides we kids also rode along on trips to the ocean or trips to the Sierra Nevadas.

The photo above was the rig Dad pulled on Mom and Dad's honeymoon. Looks like a great set-up! I believe Mom said there was a cooking station in the back and a bed before it, but it took some arranging to get it all set.

Mom had lived some in Lake County as a little girl. I later lived in the area at Cobb Mountain in my early 20's. Mom and Dad were married in August, so it must have been hot for camping, but the mountains must have provided some coolness from the elevation.

I love the convertible Dad was driving. Anybody know the make and model? Remember that Mom never drove because of her poor eyesight.

This was in 1946. I have this picture in my mind: Mom and Dad newly married, their family waving them off from their new home, the top down, the sun bright and hopeful. 

I'll ask Mom about it, though. It's a wonderful story--not much money, so that's why they camped. The whole world ahead of them.

We shouldn't just count our blessings; we should savor them, savor our moments of glory. 

It's like the words of the Navaho Night Chant:
May it be beautiful before me.
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.
May it be beautiful all around me.
In beauty it is finished.
In beauty it is finished.
May every day of our life be a beautiful honeymoon, the highway open before us and calling.

This blog post was inspired by Mom's narration from A Day Out with Mom, from the chapter entitled "Engagement and Marriage."

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Another Day Out with Mom #1: Were My Mom's Parents Gangsters?

1944-45: Earl Sanders (Mom's uncle), Mom (18 years old), my Uncle Harry and his first wife, Mary Lou
My mom was adopted when she was first born, and she has always said that the people who raise you are your parents, your family. There are a few things I've been thinking about, considering the stories Mom has told me about her parents.

First and foremost, my grandparents on my mother's side met in Kansas City, where my grandma ran a dance hall and my grandpa was in charge or the bar. Now, Prohibition began in 1920 and ended in 1933. My first question is this: Did my grandparents move to California because Prohibition made them shut down their business, or did they move to California because the law Kansas City was closing in on them? Did they own a speakeasy?

Second, I'm watching Ken Burns' jazz documentary right now, and even though I know my grandparents met in Kansas City, I also know that my grandma was from New Orleans and part French and part Cherokee. I imagine, then, that she could have considered herself a Creole. She was a good cook and ran a restaurant in California and also cooked for a private girls' school somewhere in the Coast Ranges of California. According to the Ken Burns documentary, New Orleans was a pretty diverse city with lots of loose living but also lots of conservative, church-going folks. It appears that there were a number of folks living in New Orleans who enjoyed both a robust night life and going to church. I'll have to ask my mom more about her mother's early life.

My grandfather was born in Arizona, partly of Hispanic descent. During his life, as many workers during the Great Depression, he had many jobs. I know he was a cowboy and had been raised on a ranch. He worked in the lumber industry, in an underground mine in Oroville (the Lucky 7), worked on a gold dredger, and evidently had run a bar. He and my grandmother had been unable to have a child, adopted my mom, and then were happily surprised when Harry, my uncle, came along. Grandma was always very protective of my mother because my mother had been blind as a little girl and even though Mom regained most of her sight, she never really had good vision.

My grandma had another cook in her family. I'm not certain who. He retired and was feted by the US Forest Service as being a great camp cook, working up at Angels Camp in the Sierra Nevadas for a long time. Before that he worked at two night clubs in California in the Oroville area--The Palms and The Crystal Palace. These night clubs must have also existed during the Prohibition era, so they could very well have been pretty rowdy places. Mom said they both burned down, and that's probably why her uncle (or great uncle) moved on to cooking for the forest service. I once asked her if it was her uncle's fault as the cook that the night clubs burned down. "Oh, no," she said, laughing.

My grandparents' restaurant in Oroville was called the Gilmore Inn. I believe Mom said it was on Feather River Blvd. I think Mom said it also burned down. It seems like a lot of restaurants burned down in the 1930's, especially ones connected with my mom's family.

I have a lot of questions for my mom the next time I see her. It will be fun to keep her engaged, to sit on the sofa on her left side (next to her "good" ear, the one with 12.5 % hearing without her hearing aid), and listen as she tells me the story of her youth.

When I get some more specifics on my gangster grandparents, I'll pass them on to you. In the meantime, you might want to read my first book,  A Day Out with Mom, to find out what I've discovered about my parents so far.

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Days Away from My Computer Were Days Out with Mom

Finally my blog is functioning properly again, after about two months of my URL not connecting properly. It was not time lost, though, because I spent those days out with my mom. I spent those days finishing my book A Day Out with Mom, now available online.

Yes, I compiled the book, polished and established continuity and unity, received feedback from beta readers, and fixed formatting and editing errors. I even asked Mom for feedback and was given a few clarifications and additions. That was fun--reading chapters to her and having her comment on them!

Now the book is available at the CreateSpace store, on Amazon, and Kindle. (It may take a day or two for the Kindle version to be ready.) Of these stores, The CreateSpace store (as printer) provides the best royalties for me, so please consider that first if buying a paper copy.
I recently had a local artist and his wife say this about my book:
"There are many, many Baby Boomers out there with elderly parents. Your book will speak to them."
It was a funny thing living with my parents as an adult for over seven months. Yes, I had the priceless opportunity to get to know them again. In a strange but real way, though, I also got to see myself in them. That was a little strange and a little wonderful. seeing those powerful beginnings of who I am today.

I hope you choose to spend a day out with Mom, too. She's quite a character.

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What I'm Learning from Writing Daily Press Releases for Maharishi School

The writing isn't much different than what I've been doing for five years on my own blog, nor is it much different from the two non-fiction books I've written.

What is different is what most journalists experience: get it the way you want it now. (And the way your editor wants it.) Not next week or next month--now!

That's providing me with the opportunity to work on my focus--moving through rough draft to revision to proofreading, all with the intent to get the article finished ASAP. Not a bad lesson in self-discipline for any writer.

Here are my challenges (and successes):

  • Keep it new. I have to keep reading my words as if I've never read them before, not assuming the words I wrote are correct, but ensuring they are by close attention.
  • Using active voice. Short articles have a point, and the subject should move through the transitive verb and reach the direct object. (Some writers say this should be the case always, no matter how long or short the piece.)
  • Editor or beta reader. I'm lucky! My boss is a good editor and finds needful places for me to revise. My personal challenge is to lower her suggestions for revision to as near zero as I possibly can. (Corollary to this is to learn from her suggestions.)
For years I "larn'd the kids good." Now it's my turn. Go, Tom!

Copyright 2014 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Blogging Trials and Tribulations of Tom Kepler

My blog has not been working for about two weeks.

The URL redirect connection was broken somehow, and it took some deep digging to discover how and where.

Part of this digging was due to the fact that my blog was set up originally through Blogger, and I bought my dotcom URL and had it set up just by touching a button on the Blogger site. All is fixed now, so I happy to be back in touch.

This has led me to considering how I contact readers out in the electronic world of reading devices. I'll be writing more about that later--establishing a newsletter and looking closely at Facebook possibilities for more absolute connections.

For now, the most foolproof way to receive my blog posts is to do an email sign-up. On my blog's sidebar is "Easy Email Way to Follow." This just sends an email of my posts to you. There is also a link on the title, so you can read more easily and see any images.

You are sent a confirmation notice to ensure the request is not spam or phishing.