The Family Project

Sometime ago I mentioned my good fortune in being able to rescue my Great-Grandparent's things. There were several boxes. Some are filled with pictures. Some contain deeds to property that has been parceled out and sold off, as well as property that has somehow managed to remain in the family despite hardships and uncertainties. One box, though, contained something even more precious. Letters. Stories. Postcards. Poems.

Now, most of these loose items had already been gathered and packaged together in the past. Two spiral-bound books, Penciled Points and In the Words of Arthur E. Spencer, had been distributed among the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the very same Arthur E. Spencer. These spiral-bound books, their pages protected by a thin layer of clear plastic, are treasures.

They are also very difficult to display. Their spines are too flexible, their pages too weak, to stand on their ends. Laying them down on an end table or a shelf only invites disaster. This means they're stored away, safely removed from sticky fingers or pop can condensation. It means they never get read.

I've had these two spiral-bound books for years. Maybe as many as ten or fifteen. Perhaps even longer.

I'd love to display them.

So, with the permission of as many family members as I could reach through Facebook and e-mail, I began retyping them into a more print-friendly format. I plan on republishing these bits of family lore through Lulu.

Of course, the original stories are only part of the family's story. It seems there are many in the family who would like to take pencil to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and put their own family stories into the compilation.

First things first, I need to type up the originals. Right now, I'm about halfway through In the Words of. Next is Penciled Points. After that...a quick look through the loose papers that didn't make it into the first editions. Then, only then, will I put out a call to the family for their stories.

I can't tell you how amazing this journey has been already. I can only imagine what wonders I'll continue to uncover as I retype and reorganize.

A Meager Update

So you don't think I'm dead in a ditch, here's the latest and greatest:

  • The boys are back at it again. Our mini-vacation from practices and games has come to an end. We're now running up to the fields behind the Jr. High almost every night of the week to pick them up from football practice. I have no idea what positions they will be playing. Even if I knew the names the of positions, I still wouldn't have a clue.

  • I'm hoping to get into an independent study course where I'll be discussing literature with students from Kazakhtan. I guess space is limited for this online reading group, though, and I might not make the cut. We'll see!

  • I actually managed to attend a Red Hot Writers critique group meeting on Sunday. Poor Myron was the only one to brave the critiquing waters. Next time, I will read, too. I just need to fix a couple things first.

  • I'm avoiding the synopsis I need to write. I'm going to have to force myself to get this critical piece of the puzzle written and polished, though, or my publishing aspirations will never see fruition.

  • Reading Grendel. I don't know what I expected, but this little book has been a pleasant surprise. It offers such an interesting perspective of the Beowulf monster.

  • For the last few weeks, I've really been on a reading kick. I think it's the knowledge that fall semester is fast approaching. It makes me overly eager to put a sizable dent in my to-be-read shelf.

More later. Perhaps I'll backtrack to Chicago since I left off on day 2.

Chicago - Day 2

It only makes sense that our first full day in the city started out at the Field Museum. After all, it was because of Gage's wish to see dinosaurs that we had even considered Chicago as this year's vacation destination.

You can hardly tell that it was raining. But let me assure you that this was the only picture taken on the way in because I was worried about raindrops hitting my camera.

Here we are with Sue, the museum's world famous T-Rex. As you can see, there weren't a lot of people around when a friendly passerby offered to take a picture of the whole family. This is one of the advantages of being married to a man who can't sleep in. You start your days early. Very early.

Of course, the museum is comprised of more than dinosaurs. There were stuffed creatures of every kind, an excellent exhibit on Ancient Egypt, and even a 3D movie on the life and times of Sue the T-Rex. We spent most of the morning and a bit of the early afternoon wandering around.

After lunch and one last visit to the Hall of Dinosaurs, we decided it was time to go. Luckily, the rain had stopped and we were able to walk back to our hotel. I say luckily, but I'm pretty sure the boys thought they were being punished. Walking in high humidity was not their idea of a good time.

Still, I'm glad we did. Our walk took us through Grant Park where we were able to get a couple of really good pictures in front of the Buckingham Fountain. I plan on putting a few of said pictures on my wall.

After root beer floats, e were also able to visit the Bean and the water fountain artwork in Millennium Park, too.

After our walk back to the hotel, we went swimming and out to dinner at Giordano's. This famous Chicago-style pizza was worth the hour wait. I'd show you pictures, but by the time we left the hotel that evening I was tired of the camera strap rubbing on my neck, which means there are no pictures to share. Trust me, though, when I tell you the pizza lived up the hype. It was amazing.

Chicago - Day 1

We're back!

It was lovely and over much too soon. Not that I expected the vacation to feel long and drawn out. Quite the contrary. I knew we were going to be busy each and every day, which is the perfect recipe for an oxymoron of long days that pass quickly.

We woke up early Monday morning and boarded the Amtrak. (Thanks, Dad, for driving our car home!) We packed heavy since the train allows you to bring your own food on board. The smallest suitcase? Full of snack food for the train and hotel. The cooler? Full of cold stuff we could eat and drink. Not that the kids wanted lunch on the train. They weren't hungry for sandwiches.

However, by the time we got into Chicago, they were definitely interested in finding somewhere to eat. Since our room wasn't quite ready, we checked our bags and decided to go looking for our first meal in the big city.

Maybe we should have stopped at the Melting Pot because the Hard Rock Cafe was insanely expensive. On the upside..the boys took pictures of every guitar in the place.

The hotel we stayed at had two wings. Our room was on the 14th floor of one, while the rooftop pool was on level five of the next. This allowed me to get a pretty good picture of the pool area from the elevator hallway.

After settling into our room, we decided to head over to the John Hancock Building. I wish we would have read the website a little better, though, because our City Pass was also good for the Sears Tower, which is where the glass floor is at. We thought it was at the John Hancock Building. We were wrong. So, I'm sorry to say, you will not be seeing any pictures of our feet suspended above the city.

I must admit this bummed all of us out. I think that's probably one of the reasons our oldest got a bit of an attitude at this point. Well, that and getting up super early, riding a train for 5+ hours, and walking in high humidity.

Thankfully, that was the first and last bad attitude we saw the entire week! Impressive, yes?

Okay, more later! Time to go help the little man put together a souvenir.