Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Same Age As …… July 9, 2017

Filed under: Artists,David Hockney,Famous people,Painting — Janet @ 8:41 pm

David Hockney Painting  David Hockney painting.  It’s his 80th birthday today.  We’re the same age!  Wish I were as talented!


Portrait of William Howard July 6, 2017

William Howard  William Howard, First Baron of Effingham, 1510-1575     my 12th Great Grandfather

text - william howard             church william howard  St Mary Magdalene Churchyard, Surrey, England


Lost In The Paperwork April 1, 2016

I find myself making printed copies of the various pieces of information I’m finding about my ancestors.  All to be pulled together at some point  into a cohesive whole publication.  Meanwhile I’m supporting the printing and paper industries.  And I’m getting diverted down side lanes and avenue – but of course  all to do with the genealogy.  e.g. I’m currently reading  a book about Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Well there’s a great diversion!  I love it.  A frontier woman and a writer.


Laura Ingalls Wilder cropped sepia2.jpg

Laura Ingalls Wilder, circa 1885
Born Laura Elizabeth Ingalls
February 7, 1867
Pepin County, Wisconsin, U.S.
Died February 10, 1957 (aged 90)
Mansfield, Missouri
Occupation Writer, teacher, journalist, family farmer
Nationality American
Period 1911–1957 (as writer)
Genre Diaries, essays, family saga(children’s historical novels)
Subject Midwestern & Western
Notable works
Notable awards Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal
est. 1954
Spouse Almanzo Wilder (1885–1949; his death)

Continuing the Search for Old-New Relatives February 24, 2015

This is a continuation of my previous blog post outlining the descendants of my paternal grandmother – Mary Murdock Miller – tracing her 5 children who in turn had 10 children, making a total of 10 grandchildren for Mary Murdock Miller.  Her eldest child Myrtle had 3 children , her son Joseph had 4 children, and her youngest child Roy had 3 children.

IMG  her son Joseph with his daughter Ruth, picture taken in March (?) 1926, School Street, Belmont Massachusetts

My grandmother’s life straddled the 19th and 20th centuries.  She was born in 1863 in Crown Point New York, upstate New York near the shores of Lake Champlain Vermont.  Born at the turning point of the American Civil War, she experienced 3 more very significant wars in her lifetime – the short lived Spanish American War when William McKinley was President, U.S. involvement in World War One when Woodrow Wilson was President, and the much greater involvement in World War Two under President Roosevelt.  She died in 1954.

When she was born, Abraham Lincoln was in the Oval Office.  Lincoln was followed by Andrew Johnson ho was President from 1865-1869.  In 1869 Grandma would have been 6 years old, just hazily aware of who was President and the significance of that position.  President Andrew Johnson was followed by Ulysses. S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes (whose wife Lucy was the first First Lady to graduate from college), James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland again, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, and Warren G. Harding.  Harding and my grandmother were approximately the same age.

Following Warren G. Harding, we have  Calvin Coolidge, Herbert C. Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and finally Dwight D. Eisenhower.  It seems like ancient history merging into the modern era.

In a way,  my grandmother’s personal history goes even further back in time than her lifespan.  She can claim to go back almost another 30 years to 1836, the year her husband was born.

Identifying my grandmother by her children and grandchildren –  her daughter Myrtle had 3 children – William, Mary and Nancy; her son Joseph had 4 children –  Bob, Ruth, Nancy, Janet; and her son Roy had 3 children – Muriel, Roy, and Jeanne.


Re-entering the Fray September 20, 2014

Filed under: Book Recommendations,Books,Famous people — Janet @ 5:41 pm

How long has it been since I last posted to this blog?  Where have I been?  What have I been doing?  I’ll try to fill inIMG_3567 the gap, but in the meantime I’ll start with a book I just finished reading.  The Book of Salt by Monique Truong, published in 2003. .  The author, Monique Truong, was born in Saigon but moved to the U.S. when she was six.  I enjoyed the book for its snippets of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas and Paris in the early 1930’s.  It is written from the eyes of their Vietnamese cook.  The “secrets” of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas are interwoven with the life of their cook who was born in Vietnam and lived and worked there until his early 20’s.  He left to see the world and ended up in Paris, just at the right moment to answer a help wanted ad by 2 American ladies for a live-in cook.  He is unfazed by their eccentricities – and indeed has a few of his own.


The Prince and the Nanny April 9, 2011

Filed under: Family,Family history,Famous people,Royal Weddings — Janet @ 9:01 pm

  In view of the upcoming Royal Wedding, this proved to be an especially fascinating read.  The current King of Norway is 2 months younger than I am.  This is a true life journal of the first year and a half of his life, as told by his Nanny.   He was born in 1937.  These were tumultuous years in Europe as King Edward VIII abdicated in December 1936 (the year I was born), Hitler increased his power and plans for conquest, and surprisingly invaded Norway on April 9, 1940.  The Nanny’s journal covers intensely the first year and a half of the young Prince’s life.  When Norway was invaded, the Nanny had previously finished her year and a half as his pediatric nurse.  But in the book she describes the departure of the Royal Family and the flight from the Nazi invaders.  The young Prince and his mum and sisters eventually reached the U.S., via Sweden and Finland,  to spend the rest of the War Years.  The Norwegian Government, headed by the young Prince’s grandfather the King, escaped from northern Norway to Britain and spent the War Years in exile in London.  It is fascinating reading.  The young Prince was/is my contemporary, his parents contemporary with my parents, and his grandparents contemporary with my grandparents. 

So far as I know, my mother did not keep a journal of my daily progress during my early months, but I do know that I was well wrapped up  and put out in the fresh air very early on, just like the young Prince.  And as to what he was fed, I will compare the Nanny’s record with that of my grandmother a generation previous.  I blogged about this a while ago so I will look it up and come back with that comparison. 

Another parallel is that the young Prince married in 1968, the same year Ian and I were married.   I wonder if he and his wife followed Dr. Spock as Ian and I did with our infants.

In 1991, at the age of 54  Young Harald ascended the throne.  Now as the reigning monarch among the last of European royalty, I assume the Prince, now King and his Queen have been invited to the upcoming Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate, a commoner, like the Queen of Norway.


Thinking of Things Irish February 14, 2011


In sorting through some of my postcards this morning, I came across this one of the Zetland Hotel, overlooking Cashel Bay in Connemara, Ireland.  The Zetland Hotel is where relatively new husband Ian and I spent a lovely weekend in December 1968, only a few months   after we had moved there from Kenya.  It was such a treat to find this hotel.  We had a very spacious room, reminiscent of the rooms in the old hotels in Kenya, particularly the Outspan Hotel in Nyeri, where we spent part of our honeymoon.   Since our honeymoon incorporated Valentine’s Day 1968, in a convoluted way that makes this a good card to post on Valentine’s Day – yes it’s still Valentine’s Day here in Seattle, even though it’s almost over in Ireland, 8 hours ahead of us.

The Zetland Hotel is still there in Cashel Connemara.  A very popular spot.  What struck me then in 1968 when I was a newcomer to Ireland, were the lovely peat fires and the friendliness and casualness of the hospitality.  And I particularly remember the open door to the office and the huge pile of money just sitting there on the desk.  I could hardly believe it, particularly coming from Kenya, or anywhere, where such a trusting situation would not have occurred.

The other memory from that hotel was the bright full moon, a clear crisp night, and daylight not until about 10 a.m.  This was December and  my birthday weekend so I have a few anchors there to pinpoint the Zetland in my memory.

A few years later French President De Gaulle came to Ireland and he too stayed at the Zetland.  I wonder if he had that nice front room that we had occupied.

A bit of postal history also from that card.  I like the address to which it was sent.  Roger Casement Street in Cavan.  I can’t make out the postmark.  Maybe my friend Maire can help me here. It looks like CONAGA…..I can’t make out the rest.  The website showing the Irish names for places in that part of Connemara doesn’t have anything resembling that.   But the stamp – the green 2 penny stamp – the first stamp issued by the new independent country the Irish Free State, 1922.  Note that the stamp shows the entire island of Ireland.  The North of Ireland was not officially recognized as being a separate entity.    A lot of history lies behind the design of that stamp!  A history I might add that is very complicated and I still have much to learn in trying to understand it.


Social Networking Time Warp January 30, 2011

Filed under: Family,Family history,Famous people,Memoirs,Memories — Janet @ 9:10 pm

In my Belmont High School Class of 1954 “chat room”, if you can call it that, a number of us have been sharing memories of our school days and classmates and our parents as they then were.  We were very fortunate in Belmont in that we were a sort of dormitory suburb for numerous faculty members of Harvard and MIT.  There were several quite famous people in our midst and we in our innocent youth didn’t even realize this.  Now that we have reached the age and are well beyond the ages that our parents were then, we are getting quite nostalgic in looking back.  One such famous professor was Harold Edgerton, known as Doc Edgerton at MIT.  Now, thanks to the internet and google,  I can find out more about him and his family and read many moving tributes to him and reviews of his many accomplishments.    He was a good-natured friend to all – but to me, and many of us, he was the parent who came and watched our sports activities.

A few years ago when I was in London and either being a tourist or visiting family or attending a meeting, or some combination of the above, I was wandering about in the Victoria and Albert Museum and I just about fainted in the photography section.  There was a photo on the wall – a photo with the caption Harold Edgerton, a photo of his daughter skipping rope, date 1940.  Although I knew he was famous for discovering how to capture split-second moments in speed photography, I still was not expecting to find this memory reminder there on the walls of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  After all, my association with the family was in 1940’s Boston/Cambridge/Belmont.  It was many years since I had left Belmont and/or thought about the Edgertons.

Now for the present.  My memory of his son closest to me in age. was fixed in time for say the 1950’s.  Now I find on Facebook, yes the famous Facebook bandwagon that everyone is joining, that this son is a member – and lo and behold at age 75 he is the image of his father.  My image of the father now comes up on the screen as the image of the son.  It was uncanny.

As a footnote, I’ll say that at my 50th reunion from high school, a classmate that I knew from kindergarten but hadn’t seen for maybe 35 years, exclaimed “you look just like your mother”.  So I guess the genes are there and that’s the way it is.  If you want to know what you are going to look like in 50 years, just look at your parents or photographs thereof.

  from a site on the internet, I found this Harold Edgerton photo dated 1934

  from another site, an Edgerton photo  more familiar one to me


Abraham Lincoln and My Grandmother’s Poem January 24, 2011

I have been writing about my grandmother’s little book of poetry, Late Flowers, written when she was in her 70’s.  The poem I want to quote today is her tribute to Abraham Lincoln.  Having lived overseas for so long I had kind of forgotten my U.S. history or maybe my history lessons slipped to the back of the queue in my brain.  Whatever, now being back in the U.S. on a more permanent basis I am refreshing and renewing my interest in matters historical on this side of the Atlantic.  I recently read the book Manhunt, the 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killers, by James L. Swanson.  One thing that struck me about the book was the fervor with which people reacted to the Assassination.  Abraham Lincoln is an icononic figure in U.S. history but in part it was the fact that he was assassinated that elevated him to such a prominent position.  Now I find a poem written by my grandmother long after Lincoln’s time.  My grandmother was only 2 years old when John Wilkes Booth fired that shot.  But in less than 20 years, in 1882, she married a man who had served his country faithfully in the U.S. Civil War and would have been a Lincoln supporter.  So in that way, by marriage, she was certainly a woman of that era.  Here is her tribute, written in the late 1930’s.


Of the soil a son, yet apart from man he stood,

Although to hew the wood and plow the field

His hands he trained.  His neighbours saw in him

Naught but the country rustic akin to them.

They did not see behind that thoughtful brow

The soul of beauty and the brain of power,

Which as the slow years wound along their way

Urged him to read and study, reaching ever

To those high realms of which the common soul

Knows not, nor cares.  Then came the time of stress.

The man arose and into those brown hands

Received the Nation’s cares.  Prepared was he

By years of toil and grief and by the greatness of his soul

For this vast trust, and through the darkest time

The Nation e’er has seen, he strode upon his way

Ever faithful to his duty, striking the shackles

From slavery’s bleeding limbs; turning ever

At call of human misery to give his aid.

In all the earth before was ever such a man?

He had the understanding of the warrior

Who conquers all upon the battlefield;

He had the wisdom of the statesman who can guide

The Ship of State through perils of the storm,

And over and above his courage and his lore

He had the love and sympathy for all mankind

Which, stronger than his other gifts, will ever

Bind our souls to him in love and veneration.

His work is done.  We know him now and lay

Upon his brow the hero’s laurel.  Ever his life,

So simple and so great, shall be to us a call

To do and dare and suffer for the right.


Recent Elections November 15, 2010

Filed under: Famous people — Janet @ 1:47 am

We felt in the thick of it with the recent American elections.  A new sensation.  Living overseas for so many years, I was even deprived of my vote.  I resented that but such was the law, a married woman’s voting residence was that of her husband.  Imagine.  And the change in that law in California wasn’t all that long ago. 

Being overseas though meant that the news of the American elections wasn’t swirling around you every 15 seconds.  Being back in residence meant that not only was I more aware but also better informed.  This time I even received an invitation to lunch with Michelle Obama – I along with how many others??  at the Hyatt over in Bellevue.  Unfortunately I was busy that day so I could not attend but I would gladly have paid the required $75.  Michelle was here to support Patty Murray in her bid for being re-elected to another 6 year term in the U.S. Senate.

A few days later I had another chance to meet Patty Murray.  Patty was campaigning locally here in Ballard and I was offered an inside track to meet her in Bop Street Records down on Market Street.     

          But again, that clashed with another meeting and I couldn’t go.  Very disappointing.  I would have loved to.   If you click below, you will find an article picturing Patty at Bop Street Records that day.  She was being shown a record by Bob Jacobsen.  Bob later told me that he and Dave had chosen 4 possible records for her.  They had been told by the advance people that Patty would be wanting to select a record for her grandson.  She chose a record of poems by Ogden Nash.  A good choice, my husband says.  Hope the grandson likes it.


For non-State of Washington residents – Patty was re-elected for a fourth 6 year term.  She narrowly defeated the Republican candidate.  A closely contended race and a key victory for the Democrats to maintain control of the U.S. Senate.

These missed opportunities have left me musing over my meetings or near-meetings with famous people.   In 1948, when I was aged 11, Thomas Dewey was campaigning for the U.S. Presidency.  My mother and father and I were on a bridge overlooking the railway track leading to Back Bay Station in Boston.  Just at that point in time, a train came along and a figure came out on to the back platform – it was none other than Thomas Dewey – he waved to me and I waved to him!              Thomas Dewey, photo from Wikipedia