Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

PreMemorial Day Visit May 31, 2017

On the weekend before Memorial Day I was visiting home territory in Boston Massachusetts.  While there I visited the cemetery in Winchester where my father and my maternal grandparents and great aunt are buried.  I had been wanting to do this for a long time.  My last and only previous visit to the Winchester cemetery had been 60 years ago in August 1957, the day of my grandfather’s funeral.



A New Angle April 5, 2017

   My grandmother’s self-published book of her poems

What does my paternal grandmother’s family tree look like.  My paternal grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Murdoch, was born in 1863.  The Civil War was raging.  She lived to experience 4 more wars in her lifetime, the Spanish American War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean War.  She married a Civil War veteran and bore 5 children.  She became a widow while the children were still young and at home.  She was an educated woman, she loved reading.  She wrote poetry.  I propose to explore her life in as much as I can from the genealogical records and what few scraps I have of her personal letters and family memories.

Dad's childhood home Buena Vista Hill Newark Ohio  My grandmother’s home in Newark Ohio where she raised her children

  My grandmother and my father, 1943

IMG  My grandmother and me, 1948, in Raleigh North Carolina

IMG_0014  My grandmother as a young woman


I Could Write A Book…….. March 28, 2017

Beachmere Inn   1930’s postcard from Ogunquit Maine

I could write a long book about the memories stirring in me as I view this postcard from Ogunquit Maine.


Freya Stark, 1893-1993 July 12, 2016

Filed under: Artists,Authors,Autobiography,Freya Stark,Travel,Writers,Writing — Janet @ 7:51 pm

freya stark           freya stark 2      Freya-Stark

A fascinating writer and explorer

I have just finished reading a biography of her – Passionate Nomad, The Life of Freya Stark by Jane Fletcher Geniesse.  Including a new Epilogue.  A surprise twist on a true story.  A very good biography.  What a woman!  I came away from reading this book with more information than I really wanted …….full of admiration……but……not necessarily a woman I would have chosen as a friend.  And I don’t think she would have chosen me.

freya stark


Rose Wilder Lane May 20, 2016

RoseWilderLane01   Rose Wilder Lane – Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter was an experienced editor and novel writer.  Much has been written about her role in the writing and publishing of her mother’s books.  This mother/daughter combination has given so much pleasure to millions of readers with the Little House on the Prairie series on pioneer life in the America Mid-West.


My Struggle June 10, 2015

Filed under: Ageing,Authors,Autobiography,Childhood,Norway — Janet @ 5:13 pm
Tags: , ,

10 june 080  What a series.  I started with Book 3 which focused mainly on Karl Ove Knausgraard’s childhood.  Fascinating.  Then I read Book 1, which actually picked up where Book 3 ended.  Equally good.  Now on to Book 2.

The series consists of 6 books, all written in Norwegian of course.  They are slowly being translated and published in English. The English edition of Book 4 has just  been issued in hardback.

Karl Ove Knausgård.jpg  image from Wikipedia,  the author Karl Ove Knausgaard age 46


Long Awaited Autobiography June 17, 2011

Filed under: Autobiography — Janet @ 1:01 am

This long awaited autobiography to which I refer occasionally in this blog, continues to mushroom the longer I put off the final revision and putting a printed copy out there in the public domain.  I seem to shy at the last hurdle.  This is partly because I am lazy about revising and editing and getting ready for a definitive printing and publication.  Meanwhile time is marching on so there is more that I can add, and I keep getting new ideas about how I want to do this.  e.g. A print-run of 100 copies?   A limited production of say 5 copies for close relations?  Should I use the Espresso Book machine? 

And now my latest interruption is some big repairs to our house, as well as a number of blows of sad news regarding close friends and family members.

In my general sorting of memorabilia, photos, old papers, etc., I have come across the following, now 10 years old.  For a while I kept a journal – this was in pre-blogging days – and here is a mock-up of a cover that I used to print the one copy of my journal for 2001.  This was the year we went to Dubai to visit son Andrew and wife Amanda.  The photo was taken on a beach near their home.  Note the Kilternan Market bag.  Ever useful, this bag from the Market in Dublin.  That sunshine in Dubai was most welcome but my oh my, it was hot.

      on the beach in Dubai, the sun was strong but the breeze made the heat more bearable

I also used to keep a copy in print of the list of books I read in a particular year.  This was my mock-up of the cover for that one-off publication for the year 2001.  I assume this is a sunset in Dubai.

I’m glad now that I did these little publications for my records.  In more recent years I have  still kept track of things via the computer but haven’t got around to making any print copies.


In One Of My Forays…… May 16, 2011

In one of my forays to the Couth Buzzard, my venue for trading my old books for credit and possibly buying new-books-to-me, I found this book.  The Blue Hen’s Chick, an autobiography by A. B. Guthrie, Jr., the author of The Big Sky and The Way West, among other works of merit.  This book hit a chord with me in 3 very specific ways: one, A. B. Guthrie Jr. was awarded a Nieman Fellowship to attend Harvard University in Cambridge Mass. in 1944-45.  I was 8  years old, living in the next town.  With his family he spent 2 nights in the Hotel Commander there in Cambridge – the Hotel Commander where I used to visit my Grandfather and his sister, known to the family as Auntie. 

While at Harvard he associated with many eminent professors and particularly one Frederick Merck – that man’s son was in my class in high school and is very active still today in convening the reunions of our high school class.

Third, in the early 1950’s Mr. Guthrie attended the Bread Loaf School of English near Middlebury College in Vermont.  1954-58 was my vintage at Middlebury.  I just love finding other people with similar memories and associations.


Compelling Reading May 5, 2011

Filed under: Autobiography,Books,Genealogy,Knitting,Sweaters — Janet @ 11:37 pm

  The Clothes on Their Backs by Linda Grant.

Linda Grant is an author that I like.  According to the Wikipedia entry she is a British novelist and occasional journalist.   i.e. She writes novels and occasional other pieces.  It is her novels that I have read mostly.  The novel pictured above I found on the shelves of Oxfam in Dundrum in Dublin and it has since been sitting on my shelf  or shelves on both sides of the Atlantic just waiting to be read.  It along with about 100 other books.  The line of “unreads” doesn’t seem to diminish at all although I am nibbling away at them.  The problem is I tend to keep buying more books before I have read all the ones I already have.

This book seemed to fit in with what I have been trying to write myself, namely the research into my family history.  So as a break from my writing and fiddling with photographs I spent an enjoyable hour or so finishing this Linda Grant book.  My family history doesn’t have much in common with Linda’s but still, the idea of memory and place and the confluence, if that is the right word, of family members all contribute to the inspiration for writing.

Here is the cover for the little booklet I am working on.  Inspired by Grandson Kyle’s family tree, that’s kind of the line I am taking.  Most of the material has already appeared in my blog posts under Family History.  I am just recrafting it for hard copy to be printed, probably for limited circulation to family members.  This is the spin-off from that autobiography I’ve written and have been trying to work up into more readable form.  In addition to The Miller Line and the Friend Line in the Genealogy I find that since I’m at the center of this little booklet and I do get married, now I have added The McKee Line – and I haven’t  written very much yet about the genealogy on that side of my life.  For Kyle’s project we did find quite a few photographs so I should be able to cobble something together.

And as part of this show and tell, I’ll show you my current knitting – another jumper.

  body of the jumper, on a circular needle size 3.25 mm.  2 strands of yarn, Socrates and a sock yarn of suitable colour – from the stash


My Father’s Childhood House February 10, 2011

Filed under: Autobiography,Family,Family history — Janet @ 12:42 am

 My father was born in 1891.  He was one of 5 children who grew up in this house on Buena Vista Hill, Newark Ohio – photo taken 1960.

By coincidence my sister Nan spent a year in Newark from March 1960-1961.  At that time, a relative of my father by his first marriage, contacted my sister and told her where my father had lived in his youth.  So my sister went and found the house and took this picture.  One thing she remembers my father telling her was that in the winter the children used to go sledding and his older sister would pretend to be hurt and need to be pulled back up the hill.  And one thing I remember is that when the children had been naughty their mother made them select their own switches from one of the fruit trees so that she could punish them accordingly.  My impression is that she was quite a mild person and I would like to think that she was strict but that her punishments were not too severe.  There were 3 boys and 2 girls to try to keep in order.  Her husband, my father’s father, died in 1897 leaving her with the 5 children to raise.  I asked my sister what our grandmother did then to support the family.  Nan said that Grandma would have had my grandfather’s Civil War Pension.  And she worked at Newark County Court House, presumably doing office work.  Eventually the children grew up and dispersed but I don’t know at what point the house was sold and my grandmother went to live with her daughter Myrtle who was living in Raleigh North Carolina.  The oldest daughter, Aunt Ruth, was in Indianapolis Indiana, twice married but no children.  This is the research thus far on those early years on that side of the family.  Those unknown aunts and uncles and cousins.