Sunday, January 31, 2010

For Better and For Worse

Last night, my dear friend Gail
got married. The bride and groom's adult children,
her son and daughter and his daughter,
all participated in the ceremony,
attended by a few dear friends and family.

"Sweet Spot" © 2010 Meri Arnett-Kremian

At times like that,
when people are pledging their lives to each other
and picturing shared dreams
and growing old together,
it makes you think.

And so it was really distressing
in the conversational time after the cutting of the cake
and all the food munching and champagne sipping
to hear the story of one of the guests,
a nice man whom the groom has worked with
for some three decades.

Mr. X had a bone marrow biopsy 
to confirm or rule out  multiple myeloma
only two days before the wedding.
His wife decided she'd vacation in Hawaii
rather than be there for the test.
And when the doctors began to mention
treatment protocols to him
and he called her to talk about it,
she told him he should move to his childhood home
to be with his elderly mother,
because the wife refused to take care of him.
After all, she said, she has a job.

I thought of my own marriage
and how totally, unabashedly, completely
 I loved and adored my husband
even after I decided there wasn't room in our marriage
for me AND his paramour
and set him free.

I flatly just couldn't identify
with being so disconnected from my spouse
that I would be unable to muster compassion
and caring at a time that he must be
so frightened and overwhelmed.

Their marriage has been on shaky ground for a while,
he conceded,
and he's really only happy at work.
When he's home, he's exhausted and only wants to sleep.
And I know that there's always another side,
and it's not my place to judge, 
but still. . . .

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sepia Saturday: John J. M. Biggs

The photo today is grainy and blurry,
the result of scanning and trying to enlarge 
a tiny photo taken by my paternal grandfather
 Lloyd Arnett when he was a teen.

The man with the horse and buggy
is John James Madison Biggs.
Lloyd's mother was Mary Biggs,
daughter of John and his wife Dicy Reed Biggs.

John James Madison Biggs was born March 5, 1837
in McCracken County, Kentucky to Elijah Biggs, Jr.
and his wife Mary "Polly" Brown,
the fourth of eight known children,
though there were said to be ten.

The family moved to Illinois when John was a boy and
his father Elijah died when John was only 12.
About a year later, Polly Brown Biggs married Larkin Cantrell.
For whatever reason, shortly after her marriage,
she farmed out the boys to a local Williamson County family,
J.W. McCreery and his wife. 

All the Biggs boys were said to have served
in the Union army during the Civil War,
but I've never found John's records. 

John married Dicy Caroline Reed 
in Moultrie County, Illinois on November 25, 1858.
I don't know why they married there, 
as I can't establish a connection between Moultrie County
and either the Reeds or John Biggs. 

In 1860, they were living in Fayette County, Illinois
near Dicy's parents, Abner Reed and Temperance Moutray Reed.
I can't find hide nor hair of them in the 1870 Census,
but by 1880 John and Dicy were living
 in McDonald County, with their five youngest children.
Their eldest daughter, Mary, my great-grandmother,
had already met and married Anvil James Arnett.
She was 13 years old when she married.
(Can you imagine?)

John and Dicy continued to live in McDonald County
until their deaths, as far as I know. They're
both buried in a church cemetery in Rocky Comfort.

Dicy died in 1912.
John died in 1924.

But here's the weird thing:
apparently neither died in Missouri,
unless they died under assumed names.
There are no Missouri death certificates for either,
though they were required in that time period.

About half their kids were living in Missouri;
half in Oregon, but they didn't die in Oregon either.
It's a mystery.

I figure that the horse and buggy shot of John Biggs
 was taken around 1920, about the same time
 as this photo of John and his older brother,
Christopher Columbus Biggs.

Christopher Columbus Biggs
died in 1921.

Maybe someday I'll find obituaries
that tell me where Dicy Reed Biggs
and John James Madison Biggs died.
If I'm really, really lucky.

For other Sepia Saturday participants, click here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Self Portrait and Six Things

So I need to tell you six more
little known things about me.

2. I got to attend a film makers' breakfast
hosted by Robert Redford a few years ago.
(and his Levi's were 30/30s if I remember right
 and yes, ladies,
he had a great tush).

3.  I have an addiction to books
and should never be let loose at or Powell's Books in Portland.

4. I made my living writing for six years,
though at the time I considered it "practicing law."
I did legal analysis and wrote decisions and orders
for the Department of Energy's Office of Hearings and Appeals
in Washington, D.C.
(No clients, except pro bono ones, and
possibly the world's most boring set of legal regs.)

5. Right now I have two malfunctioning HP printers.

6. I was really bummed when Dreyer's
discontinued Ultimate Caramel Cup ice cream.

7.  I sometimes dream of things before they happen.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Is Anyone Still Doing Self-Portrait Wednesday?

I haven't seen a self-portrait post on anyone's blog
for a long time, but I always loved them.

Most of us hate to be the subject
of a photograph,
captured for all time
the way someone else sees us.

Bloggers, especially, at least the ones I know,
vastly prefer to be the one seeing through the lens.

But I told Relyn of Come Sit by My Fire that I'd take up
 the challenge to tell at least 7 things about myself
that aren't widely known.

So here goes,
complete with a self-portrait from last August
before those journeys of discovery
that were supposed to transform me.

1. When I was a 20-something and a feminist activist,
I won ribbons for my cooking at the State Fair of Texas.
A third place ribbon for salad (potato) the first year.
A third place ribbon for drop cookies,
a second place ribbon for spectacular desserts (puff pastry),
and a first place ribbon for salad,
the second year.

One of the salad judges came and told me that
it was an outrage that the Waldorf salad
was given best in show
because mine should have taken it,
but the other judges thought my salad
 was too expensive to make.
(And, I'll note, it had no mayonnaise.)

Ah - politics in the cooking world.

But I have to admit,
the third place/white ribbon
for drop cookies was the one that thrilled me most.

You see, there weren't many entries in the salad contests
or the spectacular desserts
or even the casseroles, a category in which I never competed.

Cookies and bread were the two categories
in which you had to be damn good
in order to win,
because the sorority of cooking women from
East Texas had those categories nailed.

Now. . . .
the admissions.

I had never made cream puffs from scratch
before the contest and I don't think I've made them since.
(I made a from-scratch French vanilla custard filling
and topped them with sifted powdered sugar).
And for those of you who are wondering
what I would have done if they hadn't been
 all tender and puffy and creamy delicious,
well. . .
I would have been licking a wooden spoon
for a long time and I wouldn't have gone to the Fair that day.

I've lost my recipe for the drop cookies.
They were a very delicate cookie made mostly
from shortening and sugar
with orange extract for flavoring.
They were very thin and you had to make sure
you kept a close eye on them
and snatched them out of the oven
just before the edges started to brown
so they were a lovely pale whitish color all over.

I don't have the recipe for the potato salad either.
It's one of those "a little bit of this and a lot of that"
recipes that require a lot of tasting and adjusting
and then I scribbled the "recipe" down
per contest entry requirements.

Now I laughingly say
I only cook for ribbons.

And since I've bored the snot out of you
telling you this long rambling story
about one thing
that is little known about me,
there's not room for the other six.

I'll save them for another post.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mosaic Monday: Barn Owl

I usually go for a thematic or color mosaic
when I do them,
but I got some great shots of this guy
and wanted to share.

To see the mosaics of some wonderfully creative folks,
go to Mary's Little Red House.
You can wish Mary happy birthday
while you're at it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Daniel and Cyrene

It's another Sepia Saturday,
so I'd like to introduce to you
Daniel Clayton and his wife Cyrene Moore Clayton.

Daniel, son of John and Elizabeth (Elly) Clayton,
was born October 14, 1824 in Richland County, Ohio.
He was probably the youngest in a family of ten children,
though the birth order is a bit hard to pin down
because census records were not particularly detailed
during his childhood and adolescence.
It was only in 1850 that individual members of a household
were named in a census and their ages given.

That having been said, we do know that Daniel married a local girl,
Mary Craig, when he was 21. They married March 10,1846
in Richland County, Ohio and Mary Craig Clayton died
 on December 17, 1846, in Allen County, Indiana.
Given that her death came just over nine months after the marriage,
I'm guessing that she died in childbirth, though I don't know for sure.
Daniel's father John died a few months after his daughter-in-law.

About two and a half years later, Daniel married for the second time.
His young bride was Miraba Depew, daughter of Isaac Depew
and Margaret Williams. Daniel and Miraba wed in Allen County
in June 1849 and had a baby daughter Minerva in February 1851.

Only eleven months later, baby Minerva died.
 She's buried in the Old Leo Cemetery in Cedar Creek Township
 in Allen County. About ten months later,
Miraba Depew Clayton died. I don't know how she died,
 but the cause of death was likely illness
 or complications of childbirth. If the latter,
 the infant did not survive.
Miraba, like Minerva, was buried in Old Leo Cemetery.

So by the ripe old age of 26, Daniel had buried two wives,
an infant daughter, and possibly two stillborn or infant children.
He pressed on, moving with several family members to Iowa
in about 1854, as the 1856 Iowa Census indicates
 they'd been  in Iowa for 2 years.

On October 17, 1855, Daniel married for the third time.
 His bride was Cyrene Jeraldine Moore,
 daughter of William and Priscilla Ayers Moore,
Cyrene (pronounced Sah-reeny) was almost twelve years
 younger than Daniel. Marriage records erroneously
 listed her surname as "Moon" rather than Moore.

This time the marriage took.
Cyrene Moore Clayton proved hearty in childbirth.
 She had seven children. The first child, Albert,
died as a toddler while Daniel and Cyrene
 and other family members, including Cyrene's parents
 William and Priscilla Moore and their children,
were waiting for a wagon train to leave for the journey
along the Oregon Trail.

When the wagon train left for the west coast,
 Cyrene had given birth  a few weeks before to William Curtis Clayton.
 Daniel prepared a bed in the wagon for his wife and baby son.
 He tied a cow behind their wagon and milked it
 to have extra milk for the baby. Cyrene did not fare well
on the journey, and by the time they reached Oregon,
 family members feared she would die before they reached
their final destination, Walla Walla in Washington Territory.
She surprised them all by surviving the arduous journey.
which took slightly more than four months.

Once in Walla Walla County, Washington,
the elder Moores obtained homestead land
that is now in an area of fertile vinyards.
It is not clear where Daniel and Cyrene first lived,
 though after a few years they patented land
 in what became Columbia and Garfield Counties.

Children born after arrival in Washington Territory included:
Rosalia Clayton (who married Charles A. Ruark)
Allen Sylvester Clayton (married 1.Myra Lewis 2. Bessie Birdwell Schultz Hart)
Priscilla Jane Clayton (died at age 7)
 Thomas Perry Clayton (married 1. Clara Van Ausdle and 2. Lucy Stocking)
Sarah Emoline "Emmy" Clayton (my great-grandmother - married George D. Lile).

Thomas and Emmy were twins.
Twins seemed to run in the Clayton family,
as several Clayton cousins were twins.

Daniel's sister Elizabeth Clayton Roop had one set of twins.
His sister Mary Caroline Clayton Hursh had three sets of twins.

I didn't get the "twin" gene.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Birthday Greetings

You've met my friend Adrienne.
She and Sarah and I did the girlfriend trip to Mexico.
Then she and I did a photo workshop with Jan Phillips.
Adrienne's great to travel with: fun, flexible, funny, unflappable.

So (shhhh......) today's her birthday.
Tonight she and her friend Lisa and her niece Jenny and I
are having dinner and then going to see Xanadu.
(I'd better go put the tickets in the car before I forget).

But I just wanted to say,
Happy Birthday Friend!

How old is she?
I'll never tell.

Redheads like to be mysterious.
And I don't want to get her Irish up.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

{Echo} Faces: Thank Heaven for Little Girls

In the spirit of collaboration
(and because I don't have much to say today)
I decided to join in the Flickr group bi-weekly project
started by Chrysti Hydeck

The gist of the Echo project is that
people partner and each pair posts a photo diptych on his/her blog
that illustrates the chosen theme for the bi-weekly meme.

This week's theme is Faces.

Because I don't have a partner yet
(anyone interested?)
I'm doing double duty.

Big sister.
Little sister.

Isn't it fun to have photogenic subjects?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

These Are My "Best of 2009"

I've been sorting and discarding
(sort of a photo purge)
but these are some of the keepers from 2009.

Hope you enjoy the show.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tickled Pink

Such a girlie color.
One of my favorites.

Top row:  Chrysanthemum showoff
one of my Cinque Terre prints
Latin Dance Poster in Fremont District, Seattle

Middle Row: journal page collage background 
reflection photo taken at Seattle Center
reflection photo taken in Cabo San Lucas

Bottom row: one of the "Dancing" series images
Chihuly glass image layered with a reflection image
Seattle skyline taken through a glass panel
 at Seattle Art Museum's 
Sculpture Park

To see the rest of the lovely MONDAY MOSAIC play-alongs,
go to Mary's blog Little Red House.
She's the hostess with the mostest.
At last count, there were 98 people participating.

How about you?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Another Sepia Saturday

These three darling children
are first-generation Swedish Americans.

Oscar (left), Mabel and Elmer Miller
were the children of Samuel Philander Bengtsson Miller
and Wilhelmina Blomgren Nelson Miller.

Last week, I introduced you to the children's maternal grandparents.
The little boy on the right (circa 1906 or 1907)
is my maternal grandfather.

He was the first child of the marriage,
though he had two older step-siblings from his mother's first marriage.
She married Samuel after being widowed by the time she was 30.

Elmer was born in the Frenchtown Precinct, Walla Walla County,
Washington on October 5, 1900.
For those of you who don't know the area,
"Frenchtown" is now the home of the L'Ecole No. 41 Winery.

Samuel and Wilhelmina were living on homestead land
 that Wilhelmina proved up after her first husband died.

Samuel had staked a homestead in Wallowa County, Oregon,
perhaps 100 miles away from Walla Walla, Washington.
Sometime around 1902, the couple and their children
loaded up their belongings in two horse-drawn wagons
and set off through the Blue Mountains to Samuel's homestead.

Elmer grew up in Wallowa County. Oscar came along in 1903.
 Mabel followed in 1905. Herbert joined the gang in 1907
 and the "baby" Stanley was born in 1911.

My grandfather was full of stories.
They didn't often come out but he sat down
 with my brother and told him the highlights of his life
when my brother was taking an oral history class in college
and needed to interview someone.

One of the stories he told was about seeing his first auto in 1909.
He and his father Samuel were in a wagon pulled by two bay mares,
taking a trip into Enterprise for supplies.
The car came chugging around a bend
and about scared the horses to death.
He said they went racing up a hill adjacent to the road,
trying to escape this source of terror.
Samuel was able to get the team stopped,
but he had to buggy whip them to get them to return to the road.
My grandfather said that the older generation of horses
never got used to cars.

After law school, when I was living in the Maryland suburbs
of the District of Columbia,
my mother brought my grandfather Elmer
(who we grandkids called "Daddyguy") to visit.
I took them to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
on the Mall in D.C.
One of the galleries was about early aviation
and the barnstormers.

It was one of the highlights of my life
to walk around the gallery with him
and look at the old posters that would have been
affixed to barns and watch early films of aerial acrobatics
and hear him tell about being a boy
and being beside himself with excitement
when the barnstormers came to Wallowa County
with their new-fangled planes.
He'd seen many of the aviation hotshots featured
in the exhibit.

With the exception of his first two years,
Elmer lived his whole life in Eastern Oregon.
He died in 1994 after an active, outdoorsy life.

I'll introduce you to his wife,
my grandmother,
in another post.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Riding the Rails

"Raspberries" © 2009 Meri Arnett-Kremian

One of my neighbors to the north
and fellow blogger Delorse
 did a post about rail graffiti not too long ago.

She called these spray-painters "the cowboys of the Art World"
and likened boxcars to an art gallery riding the rails.

Now, as you can see, I was intrigued by boxcar graffiti last summer.
So I'm wondering --

would anyone play along if we had a day
(preferably when we'd all had some warm weather to go out shooting)
to post boxcar art photos?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Coming Alive

Don't ask yourself what the world needs;
ask yourself what makes you come alive.
And then go and do that.
Because what the world needs 
is people who have come alive.

-Harold Whitman

Sometimes it seems all too easy to go through life on autopilot.
Letting the busy take you from place to place,
not giving yourself a moment to consider
whether there is any quality in your harried life,
whether this is the way you really want to live.

I come alive when I stop and focus 
on the little surprises all around me,
when I let the sacred speak to me and through me.

When I connect with nature, even briefly.

When I am in a place that has a veil of holiness.

When I really listen to the sound of waves
dancing onto the land.

What makes you come alive?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One of the Things He Did Well

On my way into the grocery store yesterday,
the fancy store that's like a field trip,
I had to pass between rows of metal pails
filled with cellophane-wrapped flowers.

I frequently succumb and take home
 a bunch or two, just because I love their cheery faces
and their sensual perfume.

But instead of tempting me, for some reason 
they just reminded me that flowers
were one of the things
my darling "wus-band" did well.

He brought me flowers, arms full of flowers, frequently.

Not every week, but often.

Oh, of course he'd send me grand arrangements
to say
Happy Mother's Day
Happy Anniversary
I Love You
what have you.

He even sent me gorgeous arrangements
on Valentine's Day the first two or three years
after we split up.

But he knew that I love to peel the wrappers off bunches
of Gerbera daisies and sunflowers, freesias and roses,
chrysanthemums, or just about anything floral,
choose just the right vases from my stash,
trim the flower stems and arrange them.
So in the twenty-some years we were married,
he'd often come home carrying treasures,
knowing I'd be delighted by his offering.

Don't get me wrong.
He had his shortcomings.
He broke my heart too many times.

But he did flowers and romance spectacularly well.

As Martha Stewart would say,
"It's a good thing."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another Photo Montage: Shades of Gray

Don't want to bore you
but a lot of you seem to enjoy
these photo montages.

This time I'll tell you where I took the photos and give a context.
And though there are mosaic builders on the web,
this one was done by hand from a template I created.

Upper left: detail on Manhattan building
Upper center: tree branch, Wright Park, Tacoma
Upper right: machinery gear parts, Fremont district, Seattle

2nd row left: garden angel from my garden
2nd row center: view through the clock window
at Museé d'Orsay toward Sacre Coeur, Paris
2nd row right: marina on Lake Union, Seattle, in the fog

Lower Left: sunflower at farmer's market, Tacoma's Proctor District
Lower Center: Building detail, Manhattan, about a block from Times Square
Lower Right: art installation in window in Belltown neighborhood, Seattle,
featuring fishing line with suspended CD's

It seems really appropriate today,
a totally gray and rainy day.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Burst of Color

Don't feel like using my words today,
except to say
I hope these color your world.

"Just Another Wallflower" © 2010 Meri Arnett-Kremian 

"My Mother Hasn't Named Me Yet" © 2010 Meri Arnett-Kremian 

From the "Unfolding" Series - not yet named
© 2010 Meri Arnett-Kremian

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sepia Saturday

I paid a little visit to Kim's Mouse Medicine blog this morning
and saw she was participating in a play-along called
Sepia Saturday
started by a guy named Alan whose blog is called
News from Nowhere.

So I decided to jump into the photo pool
with an ancestor picture of my own.

Let me introduce you to Johan August Jonasson Blomgren
(known to his descendants as August Blomgren)
and his fetching bride Charlotta Jonasdotter.
They were my mother's paternal great-grandparents.

August was born in 1833 in Halleberga Parish, Kronoberg County, Sweden.
Charlotta was born in 1833 in Madesjo, Kalmar County, Sweden.
They married on April 11, 1857 in Madesjo. 

Swedish parish records tell us that August was a blacksmith.
He probably also farmed. Charlotta bore eight children: Emilie,
Jonas Joseph,  Carl, Adolf, Wilhelmina, Frans,
Anna Charlotta, and Aron Gottfried Blomgren.

Emilie, Carl, Adolf, and Frans all died in childhood or adolescence.
As the family accumulated funds, each of the older children
was sent to the United States. Each sibling went first to Nebraska,
where August's brother Jonas "James" Blomgren was living.
James worked for the railroad and helped the boys find jobs.
Wilhelmina worked as a nanny for a local family
and I suspect Anna did the same.

By the first decade of the 1900's, all four kids had worked their way to
the west coast, either eastern Oregon or eastern Washington.
All proudly became American citizens.

August apparently wanted to become an American, as well.
He filed "leaving papers" with his Lutheran parish
and actually traveled to the United States in the 1880s or 1890s.
I don't know how long he stayed or how many of the children
he visited. I don't know if he saw his brother
 in Dannebrog, Nebraska. Since he was traveling by train,
he probably did. But at some point,
 he went back to Sweden.
His wife was adamant that she wouldn't leave her homeland.

August died in Sweden sometime after 1907,
because there is a 50th Anniversary photograph
of them in front of their home taken that year.
 Parish records of deaths for that time period
aren't available so I don't know the date.
Charlotta died in February 1923 in Madesjo.
She was just six weeks short of her 90th birthday.

Friday, January 8, 2010


I had to let my little Shadow go yesterday.
Her kidneys were failing
and she wasn't eating.
I couldn't sit by and watch her starve.

She was the sweetest cat you could ever imagine.

She stole my heart as a tiny kitten
when she climbed into my purse and told me that she'd adopted me.

She was indifferent to catnip, learned to hold her ground
when the dog wanted to play, was incredibly talkative
and the most gentle of souls.
Her green eyes were luminous.
The orange stripe on her nose was her unique beauty mark.

People always were amazed at how friendly
and affectionate she was.

She was the grande dame of kitties.
I'll miss her.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

And Since I'm in a Blue Mood. . .

Here's some blue for you.

Camera Angles

I was cruising through my photos, looking for my favorites,
(I've been laying out a photography book to publish)
and I noticed that I had taken two compositionally-related images
at very different places.

Step Pyramid at Saqqara

Museum of Glass, Tacoma

And if the cone of the hot shop looks like it's leaning,
it's not an optical illusion.

It's leaning.

But what makes me catch my breath about each of them
is the blue, blue sky.
It's been in short supply for the past few days.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Maybe it's the box of Satsumas
that's got me thinking this color.

But here's a color splash
of some of my "orange" photos
in the past year.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I drove up to Skagit County on Thursday
after hanging some mixed media pieces at Dragonfly in Seattle.
And an unexpected site greeted me as I drove toward
  my favorite little "shabby chic" place.

I first thought they were snow geese,
but the necks are too long.
So they're either trumpeter or Arctic swans,
here to winter in the Skagit Valley.

Any bird experts out there?