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Archive for August, 2010

Writing Memoirs II

I found a book on the topic that turned out to be very helpful.  How to Write Your Life Story (teach yourself series) by Ann Gowthore.  It’s from England.  One thing it had that other books did not, are lists of questions to ask.  I meant to start asking my mother some of the questions, but, once again, I procrastinated.  We ended up talking about something else.  I also forgot to purchase some index cards.  In the book it recommended writing a memory on each card although I might just type it on a laptop and then rearrange it.

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We did get to go on a trip.  We nearly didn’t.  And that would have been okay because we wouldn’t have gone because the person’s daddy is not well.  It is all very sad.

But we did go because the person knew she needed some type of (good) diversion before she has to go back to school and face a horde of teenagers.

So we went.  On Sunday the eleventh of July (World Cup final day and wouldn’t you know, Angus had borrowed a cell phone so he could see the game live AND had a friend tape it for him.  He was rooting for the Netherlands, something about William the Orange or something like that and the Spanish Armada.  I tuned him out like I always do when he’s talking history stuff.  It’s like what happened two hundred years ago was yesterday.)

Well, I just got off topic didn’t I.

Drove to North Carolina and then Tennessee.  Saw a lot of Nascar trucks.  Visited our first National Park Site of the trip – Stone River Battlefield.  They had a path made of cedar trips.  The person nearly inhaled the whole thing in her nose she liked the smell so much. 

Ended up camping in Cedars of Lebanon S.P where we nearly drowned when it rained so much our campsite (nice and flat and not downhill of anything) turned into a pond.  It was very horrifying.  I thought I was going to drown.  Even Angus looked a bit traumatized, but he didn’t faint, just bleated a few times before paddling away.  Who knew sheep can swim so well and do the breast stroke at that.

We survived the rain, but left as soon as we could the next morning.  It took about two hours to get to the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway.  This parkway follows the route of the Natchez Trace, a trail made first by Indians ( the North American kind) and then by colonists like the ‘Kaintucks’ who boated their goods down the Mississippi from the Ohio River Valley to Natchez or New Orleans and walked back home.  This was in the early 1800’s before steam boats toot tooted up and down the Mississippi. 

The parkway is nearly 450 miles long. We didn’t do the park justice, but we had to be back by Thursday so that left only two and a bit days to travel it.  My advice – take longer, it’s worth it.  There are many pretty pretties such as turkey sightings and pheasants and deer and other delectables.  Oh, there are flowers too and waterfalls.  You can walk on portions of the trail and we did.  I have photographic evidence of this.

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Travel Books

When my sister visited from San Antonio, we went to pick up flowers from friends of my parents.  While there, they showed us a book their children had made for them for their sixtieth wedding anniversary.   It was one of those photo books, the kind you can buy at Wal-mart and CVS and, probably, hundreds of other places.  This one is from an Internet site blurb.com.  My sister later looked at it on her iPhone and we both found it interesting.  I thought this would be something useful for my father, maybe something to help him remember what he’d done during his life.

With that in mind, I picked up the first photo album on the shelf and took it home so I could scan in the pictures.  The album picked was my parent’s trip to Russia in 2000.  I scanned about sixty pictures noting that while my mother had made sure to take pictures of my dad, he sure hadn’t thought to take any pictures of my mom except for one.  Somehow I don’t think she’ll want that particular one in the book, but I scanned it anyway. 

The next step is to ask my mother for memories so we can include them.  After I write them up, I’ll send the photos and writings to my sister.  I want to make this a family affair with everyone contributing.  My nephew, who loves making little movies and mashups, can put the book in order.

I going to take all this as practice for any travel books I write (or Pawnee Kitty writes since her ‘writing’ is more interesting than mine when it comes to nonfiction).  I always take quite a number of pictures and now with my new digital camera I take much more.  In the last big trip I’d taken, I snapped over a thousand photos.  In my last trip (four days to the Natchez Trace) I took only a hundred, but I would have taken more had I more time.  In fact the trip gave me an idea for a book.   At the visitor center book stores I wanted a guide of the parkway and found none and this trail is crammed with history.  A nice guide book of the entire parkway and the surrounding historical sites would really come in handy.

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On Memoirs

I’ve been thinking for a long time already to write a memoir of my mother’s life.  I’ve been procrastinating for a while now, but I really need to get a move on.  In May my Dad had a major stroke.  It’s too late to get his story.  Not that he would have told it to me because that isn’t, wasn’t his way.  We only know from other people what my Dad did before my Mom met him.  It was from someone else that we learned how he escaped from Czechoslovakia in the fifties.

My Mom is eighty.  I know much more about her family then my father’s.  We lived a year with my grandparents when my father went to Vietnam.  She grew up during World War II, in Germany in the Rhineland.  Her stories always fascinated me and in the last years I’ve been jotting things down, but it’s not enough.   It’s time to start asking more questions.

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