Monday, September 8, 2014

Aunt Janet's Photos

(Above:  Aunt Janet and Uncle Howard, March 1, 1973.)

Steve and I volunteered to scan the photos Aunt Janet had at the time of her death and upload them into a Flickr! album so that everyone in the family could see, print, share, enjoy, etc.  The task has been completed.  The album is HERE.  (For those of you unaccustomed to Flickr!, these images can be individually opened by clicking on the desired picture.  They can also be viewed in a slideshow format by clicking on the icon in the upper right corner of the computer screen ... under the listing that there are 262 photos in the album.  The icon is a rectangle with a right facing arrow inside of it.  Click it ... a slideshow will commence.  There are arrows at the bottom of the slideshow screen to proceed more quickly to the next image or to go back to an earlier one.)

Aunt Janet

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Aunt Janet's Memorial

Aunt Janet was everyone's "favorite aunt".  Maybe this was because she and Uncle Howard had no children.  We could all imagine what it might be like to call them "Mom and Dad", to live on their farm, and to bask in the warmth of their love and laughter.  What they really would have been like as "parents" was up to our imaginations.  Nothing but "wonderful" was the result.

Aunt Janet is impossible to talk about without also including Uncle Howard.  They were inseparable even though Uncle Howard died on March 28, 1995.  As teenagers, they were married one weekend by a justice-of-the-peace in Kentucky.  (This was the weekend after they tried to get married in Ohio ... which was the weekend before being told they were "too young" by a justice-of-the-peace in their hometown of Huntington, West Virginia.)  No one remembers a cross word between them.  Everyone remembers the best country cooking, the amazing fields of daffodils, the down-to-earth practicality that ran their lives, and the fact that they paid cash, in advance, for absolutely everything they ever owned.  We all loved them.

There are too many fabulous stories about Aunt Janet and Uncle Howard to share in a blog post.  My favorite, however, is on my left hand.  It is the gold band that Uncle Howard gave Aunt Janet on their tenth anniversary ... because obviously two eloping teenagers in the early 1930s didn't have such a token of fidelity and love.  On September 12, 1981 the platinum rings with which Steve and I were supposed to get married were temporarily lost (for four months).  I got married with Aunt Janet's ring.  I tried to return it after the ceremony and she said, "Well, somebody finally got married with the old thing!  You might as well keep it!"  I will always cherish it.  Who wouldn't want to be married with such a ring!

Well, now Aunt Janet and Uncle Howard are united.  Below is her obituary.  The memorial service was very touching and attended by people who knew her from Woodlawn Retirement Community, her church, her garden club, her dear neighbors, and plenty of family members.  The flowers were amazing.  Aunt Janet would have liked them.

Above is the arrangement given by Uncle Larry and Aunt Gloria.

This is the arrangement from my parents, Henry and Linda Lenz, and my grandma (Aunt Janet's sister-in-law) LoraDell Baker.

This arrangement was from my sisters and their husbands (Sonya and Vipin, Erica and Tim, Wanda and Reinhard) and Steve and me.

After the memorial service, the funeral director and cemetery employees went to the grave site.

From the distance, we could see the coffin being lowered into the ground.

We went to another part of the cemetery ... to where "Mom and Pop" are buried.  They were my great, grandparents ... Uncle Howard's parents ... Aunt Janet's In-laws.  Also buried here is Elma, my grandmother's sister who died right before her sixteenth birthday and Grandpa Baker.

We brought the single red rose that my sister Wanda ordered.  She generally has one for Uncle Howard's grave every Memorial Day.  Instead of placing it there, we took the rose and the flower arrangement from my sons, Mathias and Alex, and their cousins Vincent, Tony, and Nicole ...

(Above:  Arrangement from Mathias, Alex, Vincent, Tony, and Nicole.)

... to this area ...

... where I tried them first on one side of the family marker ...

... and then the opposite side.

In the end, I don't remember which side got the bouquet but I do know that the rose was left here.


Please know that though this day was solemn and prayerful in many ways, it was also a time to celebrate and laugh and remember Aunt Janet and Uncle Howard.  They will always be loved and missed.

In Memory of

Janet Frances OSWALD

December 13, 1914 - August 4, 2014

Janet Slone Oswald, 99, widow of Howard E. Oswald, died Monday, August 4, 2014 in the Woodlands Retirement Community. She was born December 13, 1914 in Ashland, KY, a daughter of the late Garfield M. Slone and Wilhelmina Meyers Slone. In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her beloved husband, Howard E. Oswald and her only sister, Mary Madeline Richardson and her husband, W.E. Richardson “Rich” of Huntington, WV. She is survived by her sister-in-law, Lora Dell Baker of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, a special niece, Mrs. Henry Lenz, of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania and a nephew, Larry Baker of North Carolina and their families, who have many wonderful memories of growing up with aunt Janet and uncle Howard. Janet loved growing flowers and horticulture and designing flower arrangements with them. She gave seminars on her techniques and taught many in our area. She was instrumental in the annual Daffodil Flower Show and the annual Rose Show in the design divisions. Janet was a life member of the National Garden Club as well as the Huntington Garden Club and the Beverly Hills Garden Club, of which she served as president on two occasions. She was an Emeritus Master Flower Show judge and gave inspiration to many. A friend tells the story of going for a walk in the woods with Janet and how exciting it was hearing her talk about the things found in nature in the language of the principles and elements of art and seeing Janet’s soul emerge as she spoke with wonder and amazement at God’s Creations. She was a member of the Central Christian Church serving in many capacities but particularly as a Sunday school teacher and as president of the Christian Women’s Fellowship. Burial will be in Woodmere Memorial Park. There will be no visitation. Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, August 7, 2014 by the Rev. Kevin Snow in Woodmere Memorial Park’s Abbey of Remembrance. Those who wish may make expressions of sympathy to the Central Christian Church.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Nutcracker, birthdays, anniversaries, and a college graduation

(Above:  LoraDell Baker raising her champagne flute in a toast to her 95th birthday.)

I've got plenty of wonderful family news to share in this post!  December 2013 will most assuredly prove to be memorable!

(Above:  Natasha Oughtred, Mathias Lenz Dingman, and Miki Mizutani as the Sugar Plum Fairy, The Prince, and Clara in The Nutcracker.)

Steve and I flew to England for a wonderful week of Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of The Nutcracker.  In different casts, our elder son Mathias danced the role of "the prince" and his girlfriend Laura-Jane was Clara.  We were thrilled, of course ... and flew back to the States in time to immediately travel north to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.  It was a BIG, BIG weekend!  

(Above:  Linda Lenz and Gloria Baker on Friday, December 13th ... Linda's 75th birthday!)

It started on Friday the Thirteenth ... my Mom's 75th birthday.  We had a great time at Lenzelhof, her lakeside log cabin home.  Aunt Gloria (who turned 80 last September) and Uncle Larry came out.  My sister Sonya and husband Vipin were there too.  We talked about the coming day ...

(Above:  Tony's graduation from Slippery Rock University ... beside my mom and Dad, professor emeritus.)

... my nephew Tony Papley's graduation from Slippery Rock University.  Dad donned his gown and The Ohio State University hood to walk with the faculty as a professor emeritus.

(Above:  My sister Sonya after Greystone Manor's committee room had been transformed into a beautiful birthday setting.)

Bright and early on Sunday morning the committee room at Greystone Manor was transformed into a a beautiful birthday setting.  My sister Sonya went out of her way to make every detail special.  The place mats were reproductions of a foxy photo of Grandma in c. 1965 on the Atlantic City boardwalk.  This image was used on Grandma's 95th birthday cake too.  Sonya found Grandma's cloth napkins and punch cups too.  She also made little gnome-like party favors for all 30 seats and brought bags of recycled and natural materials to decorate the table.  Feather boas, twinkle lights, spray-painted twigs and pine-cones and an assortment of tablecloths and lace were used.  It looked FANTASTIC! 

(Above:  Grandma's photo collages.)

From Grandma's storage area, collages of family photos were retrieved and displayed.  Everyone was in at least one picture!  Grandma was brought to tears and it was so much fun to remember former occasions for other grand celebrations.

 (Above:  JPC Event Group catering.)

With so many people coming, it only made sense to hire a caterer.  Jen was great!  Not only was everything hot, delicious, and perfectly served ... but she put up with Sonya, Joann, Emily, Steve and I as we moved around the furniture and worked on the party decorations.  We were often in her way but she "went with the flow".  She had no problem working with the fact that we were doing the tables ... including the tablecloths and napkins ... and deducted some of this normal expense from the final bill.  Jen even cut and served the cakes that we brought.  Not many caterers are so easy-going, friendly, fast, and flexible!  Thank you Jen and JPC Event Group!  

(Above:  Birthday dinner for 30!)

The meal was great!  The conversations were hilarious, and Grandma was definitely "Queen Bee".

(Above:  The "cake table" ... featuring carrot, marble, and decadent chocolate on three different cakes ... one for Tony's graduation with his football photo, one for the 55th anniversaries with a photo taken less than a month ago of Mom and Dad with Uncle Larry and Aunt Gloria celebrating their years together, and one of Grandma ... obviously the decadent chocolate one.)

We had a special table for the cakes but also another special table for punch and champagne.  We all toasted the big occasions before the meal began.  (See first photo on this blog post of Grandma!)

(Above:  Residents of Greystone Manor at Grandma's 95th birthday reception.)

The brunch when from 11 until 1:30.  From 1:30 until 2:00, the table settings and food were cleared and the room was transformed once again ... this time into Grandma's 95th birthday reception with all the residents of Greystone Manor.  Everyone had a great time.

(Above:  The party's over!)

The last visitor left about ten minutes before 4:00 PM but Grandma insisted on staying until the very last minute.  It was her day ... and she left with a basket of cards and candy and covered in balloons.  (All the other presents were already transported to her fifth floor apartment.

The photos here are only a sampling of those I snapped.  To see the entire set on Flickr!, CLICK HERE.
Yet, I also took eight videos.  Why?  Well, my sister Wanda wasn't able to attend.  I know she missed being with everyone and really wanted to feel the joy, love, and Grandma's excitement ... so I shot videos.  Unfortunately, my camera doesn't take videos that coordinate with Windows Movie Maker (despite attempts to add software to alter that fact).  Thus, I can't create something with titles, credits, transitions, and other editing ... but I was quite capable of uploading all eight to You Tube!  (If I'd watched them before uploading ... I'd have realized that # 7 and # 9 are only three seconds long and the result of forgetting that my camera was set to "video" mode instead of "photo" mode! LOL!)

Video 1
Video 2
Video 3
Video 4
Video 5
Video 6
Video 7
Video 8

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mathias and LJ's summer vacation photos!

Mathias and Laura-Jane booked passage on the ferry to France for their "mini" and for themselves.  They spent nearly two weeks traveling through World War II bunkers, historic towns, vineyards, and sunny beaches.  They returned to England in order to wash clothes before going on to a friend's wedding in Scotland.  The photos from these adventures were shared on Facebook ... and now they are on "My Family Blog" ... so that my Mom and Dad can see them too. 

CLICK HERE for a Flickr! set.
Dad ... Flickr! has changed.  I can't seem to find a link directly to the slideshow.  Just click the link above and then click on the first photo.  You will see an arrow on the right side ... so that you can go to the next image.  It is easy!  You don't even need Mom's help!  Try it ... You'll like it!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Alex's Longboard Event

(Above:  11:00 AM ... Skaters arrive.)

It's been since February's Pub Night, a fund raiser for Columbia Music Festival Association (CMFA), since Steve and I have seen or heard from Alex.  We've heard he's working ... frying chicken at a place called Zaxby's.  We know what building he lives in with his long time girlfriend Erica.  The bank tellers at Arthur State Bank have told us that he still has an account there ... and that he's nice and friendly.  We've also heard from friends that Alex still helps out at CMFA.  We knew that the Jasper Magazine release party was at CMFA this past Friday night.  Ordinarily, we would have been there but this past weekend found us in Washington, DC.  We were at Wolftrap listening to the National Symphony Orchestra play Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Orff's Carmina Burana.

We couldn't help but to think of Alex.  He knows both pieces very, very well.  (I used to promise to buy him a Beanie Baby toy if we could get the entire house cleaned by the time Carmina Burana was over.  It is GREAT music for house cleaning!  Alex was also involved in a 2005 joint art/music project between the visual arts community and the local philharmonic featuring Pictures at an Exhibition.)

(Above:  Alex talks to the assembled skaters.)

Steve and I wondered if Alex was at CMFA ... and we sort of got our answer when Steve's cell phone started to vibrate just as the final "O Fortuna" was about to be sung.  Obviously, Steve didn't answer.  Later, we noticed Alex's number ... one we got back in February.  We called and left a message.

(Above:  Alex telling the skaters that helmets and gloves were required ... to walk up the side of the road and beware of any cars ... and to have lots of fun.)

Well, yesterday evening Alex called again and invited us to a longboard event he was hosting today.  Unfortunately, the start time was 11:00 AM ... during regular business hours.  So, only I got to go.  I snapped these photos.

(Above:  Three skaters climbing the hill.)

I learned that Alex organized and publicized the event on Facebook.  It was called The General Lee Slide Jam and Birthday Bash.  Alex rounded up prizes and served as the judge.  This meant he didn't actually bring his own longboard to the event.  He was too busy watching the others and determining who would win.  

(Above:  Alex on a borrowed long board carrying water to the top of the hill.)

The parking was about three blocks away from this steep hill.  Alex explained that the pavement was "icy" ... which meant it was "slippery".  He told me how some of the wheels are softer than others.  Softer wheels allow the rider to do different tricks.  Harder wheels make for faster conditions.  Several of the skaters brought two boards ... one with soft wheels and another with hard wheels.  It sort of reminded me of Steve's bowling days ... when "scratch" bowlers (those good enough not to have any scoring handicap) brought several balls that reacted differently to the way the lanes were oiled.

(Above:  Going to the top of the hill.)

Some of these longboarders came from out-of-state ... looking for a new, interesting hill to try.  Just the day before several were in Atlanta at another event, including Alex.

(Above:  Climbing the hill.)

Most of the skaters also wore heavy knee pads.  They all wore the required helmets and gloves.

(Above:  Alex returning with a bottle of water for me.)

I saw most of the older skaters do lots of fancy slides and footwork.  Alex brought me one of the bottled water container before it started to rain.  It's been raining almost daily here in Columbia for over a month.  These longboarders still skate in the rain ... but the conditions change, of course.)

(Above:  Robert E. Lee ... the birthday boy for whom this event was organized.)

I also got to meet Robbie, the birthday boy.  He's twenty-seven today.

(Above:  The group waves good-bye.)

I didn't stay too long.  After all, it was a regular "work day" at Mouse House plus the rain seemed to be coming and going.  I drove to the top of the hill for this last photo.  Alex asked everyone to wave to his Mom.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mathias and LJ leaving for a French vacation!

Mathias and LJ are on vacation in France.  They posted this photo of them leaving England via ferry ... with the White Cliffs of Dover in the background!