In a Fog with Busy Fingers

I have been in a fog for nearly three weeks.  My close co-worker is in a downward spiral, sinking, sinking to death.  Every day Fanny is able to do a little less.  Fanny is my old computer, of course.  And this has left me in a fog.  Louise, my new computer, is trying to fill in and finally take over, but it’s been slow going. My fingers have been flying over both sets of keys, trying to save what I can and transfer it.  (Many of you may recognize that “fog” and “fingers” are suggested prompt words for blogs.)

One of my last projects on Fanny was to go through all the email on my primary account.  It was established in 2007 when I installed a new internet server.  I went wireless and thus began an eight-year collection of emails, stored in Fanny’s deep recesses.  Well, I didn’t want to lose all those addresses, so how much trouble would it be to go through them, check each one, copy down addresses, forward some to one of my own other email addresses (more recently established), and even delete some that were so old they would no longer open. Videos, for example, just don’t last.  As I checked the numbers, it looked like I only had 294 emails. How long could that take to check out, after all?

For four days… FOUR DAYS… I went down the list, or up the list, or by name or by date, or by subject matter, or whatever, trying to move out those 294 emails.  By the fourth day, when the number became seven, I finally realized it was not seven emails, but seven pages of emails. How many were on a page?  I had no idea.

So, you’re asking, why did you save so many?  Haven’t you heard of the “handle it once” theory?  When a piece of mail comes in read it and dispense with it to its final location, whether that be in a folder or in the waste basket.  Shouldn’t the same apply to email messages?

Yes, I say, but think about this.  From now and into the future, biographers will not have the personal correspondence (actual letters) of their subjects to pour over.  How will their stories be told without this vital primary source?  I had saved these pieces of correspondence in defiance. I was doing my part to save history.  And now I had become the biographer pouring over the remains.

Hmm.

However, by doing so several facts came to light. l For one, l came to realize that the child who had moved several time zones away kept in frequent touch.  I have had the feeling that she rarely gets in touch, hardly ever calls, never writes, and probably doesn’t even remember who her mother is.  Not so!  There were hundreds of emails from her, some quite long, and all imparting information about what she’s doing and expressing interest in what I’m doing.

I also learned that an elusive first cousin may move from place to place and not give me her mailing address, but she emails.  She also comments on my activities on my Facebook page. Yes, I do hear from her.  And from my sister-in-law as well, who is a busy, busy lady.  How could l not realize this?

I’m a paper person, I guess.  And the fog I’ve been in is a lot older than two or three weeks. Pardon me, ladies, for not recognizing that you are truly keeping in touch, except that you are doing it in a present-day way.  But I still like the old way – going to the mail box, having the thrill of receiving a hand-addressed envelope, opening it and holding several handwritten pages of news.  In this instance, I am not keeping up.

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Fanny, Fanny Goodbye; I Made Do; Death Comes to an Old Co-worker; On Knowing When to Change; (Reprise) Fanny, Fanny, Goodbye

It’s hard to put a title to this piece, but let me start at the beginning.  Last week was just awful for me, well, for my co-worker too.  This co-worker and I had been together for years.  Years!  She was very reliable early on, but as she aged she became a bit erratic.  Still, she always delivered. Together we had created some great work. (Strictly my opinion, of course.)

Friends and family kept telling me I needed a new co-worker.  I told them I was committed to Fanny.  (That’s her name.  There’s a song and movie by that name and the haunting melody stayed with me all week, though the lyrics did not.)  People said she was old and tired and slow.  I said she was steady.  They repeated that I should get a new co-worker. I said my parents were from the “Make Do” generation and it had rubbed off on me.  Even after the dining room chandelier fell on her, gouging her exterior and blowing off the lids of three keys, she had continued to work. How could l just throw her aside?

This is about my computer, of course.  I must admit that Fanny would probably fall in the range of ancestor in people time.  She’s ‘way beyond grandparenthood.  Frequently someone would call her “obsolete,” but no!  She was still viable.

Back to last week.  Fanny began to falter.  I had assigned a task to her and she could not comply. It meant a download of a new program, she flashed “virtual memory,” then wouldn’t you know?  All sorts of AdWare came with it. So, I began to uninstall some of those nasty things.  Well, that was just too much for Fanny.  She closed down and when she opened up again no icons were to be seen.  No Start button.  Nothing but the screensaver picture – a nice, calm view of the ocean with a small island inhabited by three palm trees.  I was not calmed.

Fanny agreed to open in Safe Mode where those icons appeared at triple size. But she would not restore to an earlier time.  I asked twice.  By Friday afternoon I was desperate.  Fanny was dying before my very eyes.  What to do?

That’s when Louise came into my.  (I tend to name inanimate objects and Louise is slim, sleek and shiny.  She looks haughty like a Louise should look.)  Still, she is a new computer that needs everything downloaded into her just the way Fanny had been.  And that has created a new problem.  Some of the programs Fanny sheltered (even though I have the CDs) are too old. Unreadable. Nothing will ever be the same.

Perhaps I should have listened to friends and family and known when to put the “old girl” away. No, this is not an endorsement for buying a new computer every two years, but it’s certainly something to think about.

Oh, Fanny, Fanny – Goodbye.

P.S.  Seeing that I now have a new, ‘way overdo computer, I would say that I’m sort of keeping up.

The Harmonica Is Good Enough for Me

I like music and once thought it would be fun to be really good at the harmonica.  It’s small, it travels well, I could play along with everyone, even to the car radio when we travel.  So I joined a group of wannabees.  The leader was excellent, and maybe one other member was a fair harmonica player, but the rest of us were just making noise.  Nevertheless, we made several appearances at senior citizen locations. Those folks were easy to please!

harm2We all played the basic instrument, key of C, ten holes.  Our leader owned half a dozen harmonicas, and when he played them for us, he was pretty good.  We all aspired to something more, so most of us bought a second one, bigger, more expensive.

Harmonica playing takes time.  Practice.  Keep  at it.  My best performance was “Oh! Susannah.”  Non players may not know it, but that’s the basic song.  Everybody can play it.  I didn’t realize that at the time, so when I attended a concert given by an extraordinary harmonica player (harmonicanator?) I bought his CD and as he signed the cover I mentioned my own accomplishment.

“Hmmpf,” was his replay. What a put down!

Eventually I dropped out of the group, but found a once-or-twice-a-year outlet for my talent.  My older daughter plays piano very well and at holidays she gets together with a neighbor who plays the ukulele. They play carols and other sing-along tunes for the party goers.  Recently I joined them with my harmonica.

harm1

I’ve got rhythm.  When I play I’m all over the place with my body movements.  So, the applause and laughter (even the uke player broke up) proves that I’m doing pretty well.  My music is great!  It can be heard and I can be seen.  My daughter and her neighbors look forward to our concerts.

There’s one other thing I would like to say about harmonicas.  (And here is a history lesson…)  Back in 1858 when Stephen Douglas was the Democratic candidate for the Senate seat from Illinois and Abraham Lincoln was the candidate for the Republican Party, they met in a series of debates.  Douglas would show up at the event in a grand carriage, dressed in his finest, complete with a brass band and a cannon salute.  Lincoln came by train, walking from the depot to the site of the debate.  His apparel was not as fancy, and now dusty from walking the dirt street.  Often his coat was ill-fitting.  There was no brass band for him.

Once, when asked what he thought about all the pomp that Douglas brought with him he responded, “The harmonic is good enough for me!”  (Thus today’s title.)

I had occasion to use this quote when I spoke at an educational event on the debates between Lincoln and Douglas.  After quoting the former I whipped out my harmonica and played the first few recognizable notes of “Oh! Susannah!”  I can’t say that I received a standing ovation for my tune, but lots of surprised looks, then smiles and finally a clap or two!

So, what’s the point of this?  Well, maybe that simple things are still good, but that everything takes work, takes effort. Yes, I must get back to practicing the harmonica.

harm3

It’s a simple instrument, but can play wonderful music in the right hands.  Is there a lesson in there somewhere?

Maybe.  I am always trying, and sometimes I’m even keeping up.

Postcards in My Life

Somebody said this was “Postcard Sunday.”  So I thought about it and recalled three postcards that support some facets of my life.  Not all, of course, for I am a multi-faceted person (!).  (Sorry, that should have been a smiley face.)

So, first of all, I love to travel in my travel trailer.  My husband drives it, for I do not tow well.  One of the trips west we took crossed the Oregon Trail.  What a thrill to walk along trails those intrepid pioneers took.  So, here is the first postcard.  Kind of funny, we thought, when we bought it.

Rush Hour

 

Another of my all-consuming activities is the historical society in my community.  The Society owns an old house that’s on the National Register.  Among the postcards that were made locally from 1909 (which seems to have been a banner year for postcards) is this one.  We love the message, “Here I am in Fairview taking in the sights.”  The sights, as you can see, are a few businesses along one street. Houses and churches filled the secondary streets.  Not much has changed, except that now the road is paved.

Here I am

 

Finally, a long-time activity of mine is writing a comprehensive biography of a showman who wintered just down the road from Fairview.  He was the biggest thing in show business (circuses, actually) for about 20 years in the mid 1800s.  One of the cities that loved him was New Orleans.  Well, I found this postcard in an antique shop; the explanation on the back indicated that the house had been there for nearly 200 years. As I bought it I thought to myself, “I’ll bet my guy walked these streets, stopped into this house and visited with the folks who lived there.”  I like to think so, anyway, and it gives me a closer connection to him somehow.  Someday I hope to finish this biography and find a publisher!

DR postcard

 

And now, as you can see, fellow bloggers, I’m trying hard, and barely keeping up with the assignments!