Monday, October 20, 2014

Life is too short to...

Random thoughts...

Digital Artistry by Deb Rohne.  Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Digital Artistry by Deb Rohne.  Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Have a Nice Trip...See ya in the Fall

October is to photographers what April is to accountants.

So many little time.

Photo by Deb Rohne.  Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Photo by Deb Rohne.  Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Life's Too Short to Miss a Lunar Eclipse

The images of the blood red moon haunted my dreams.  Prior to bed, I had checked a website for the estimated eclipse time in my area and glanced at some of the photos of a previous lunar eclipse on the site.  Hence, my sleep was restless at best.  Not wanting to oversleep my alarm, I kept on the edge of wakefulness glancing often at the time and conjuring up pictures in my head of what the moon would look like when I ventured out.

Finally no longer able to stay under the covers, I arose, dressed, grabbed my camera and extra battery, and quietly slipped into what looked to still be the dead of night.  I was surprised at the number of houses already illuminated inside.  Several cars with high beams engaged met me on the highway as I drove keeping one eye on the road and one eye on the moon.

Photo by Deb Rohne.  Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.Heading west, I was trying to think of the highest spot on a nearby country road that would be devoid of all farm security lights.  Finding one fairly quickly, I parked and turned the car lights off.  I immediately became aware of how alone I was. The excitement of capturing a lunar eclipse was overshadowed by fear.  I tried to remain calm, but images of lunar eclipses were replaced in my head by clips from a slasher movie.  I snapped a couple quick shots and kept driving west.

About five more miles passed before I found a rest stop, where unfortunately there were more lights, but I felt a little less nervous about my surroundings.  The progress of the eclipse seemed to slow to a standstill, and I began to wonder if I had actually missed the best part of it.

With the absence of a telescope or even a high-powered telephoto lens and tripod, I don't know what I was hoping to accomplish by heading out into the wee hours.  Living in a flat land region, I don't even have a spectacular view to showcase an event like an eclipse.  I guess it was just the idea of not wanting to miss out.

I finally gave up and drove back home where I walked out onto our back patio and watched the moon through the trees and over the top of my neighbor's house now feeling fairly foolish about the big deal I had made out of the event and not sleeping through the night.  I walked halfway around the block still watching the moon before coming back home and getting back in the car.

A field drive not far from home provided an ideal spot to catch a few shots of the moon in the west as the sun rose in the east.

Photo by Deb Rohne.  Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Photo by Deb Rohne.  Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

Photo by Deb Rohne.  Copyright 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

I may have missed one of my only shots at a lunar eclipse, but every sunrise is special and a gift from God, when you consider how short our lives are.  I'm glad I was given another day and have the pictures to prove it.

If you like these photos, I invite you to check out some of my other photos on my Casual Day Images Blog.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

National Blog Writing Month? Hello?

I gave a holler down the hallway at the NaBloWriMo page, and just heard my own voice echoing back.  Is anyone participating this year?

I, for one, would like to get my writing game back on; however, I have a new blog page I'm trying out where this year's posts will appear.  Currently, my "Life's Too Short To Fold Underwear" blog comes up on the blog roll over on the NaBloWriMo page, and with no one manning the ship, I'm not sure how to get my new blog page on the list.

So for anyone interested, the new blog is Casual Day Images.

See you there :)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Life is short...

  • it
  • love is rare...grab it
  • anger is bad...dump it
  • fear is awful...face it
  • memories are sweet...cherish it

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Life's Too Short to Have Only One Blog!

The more blogs, the better...right?

Here are the links to my other blogs:

Drawing from my own experience and imagination as a mother of two children, I turned a stressful bedtime ritual into an easy solution as well as a self-published children's book.  Learn more about this.
In my spare time, I enjoy creating jewelry from my own inspiration of using recycled denim jeans to make the beads in my designs.  Check it out!
Highlighting several of our family's activities in 2008, I devoted a whole page to share with family and friends in the form of an online Christmas letter.
Vacations are brief periods in life that I feel need to be recorded so details will not be forgotten.  I have created separate trip journals  for 2009, 2010, and 2013 just for the purpose of memorializing those excursions.
And, finally, my latest creation is a page showcasing my photography and my various views on life through the images I capture.
In the past, I have used this blog as well as my jewelry blog to participate in both NaBloWriMo and NaNoWriMo occurring in October and November, respectively.  There is no doubt in my mind that I will enjoy those activities again in the future.  
I once asked a psychic if I would ever be a published author, and her response was that I needed to write everyday.  With these blogs, that's exactly what I intend to do.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Inspiration About a Story to go with the Letters

I just finished reading Sue Monk Kidd's latest book, "The Invention of Wings."

Before reading this book, I had been all set to just publish the Grandma and Grandpa letters as is with no story.

But after reading the Author's Notes in the back of Kidd's book and learning that the story is based on real events that occurred, I am re-thinking writing my own story to go with the letters.

I need to be okay with allowing myself the artistic license to distort some of the facts and come up with a story based on the letters even though I know all the facts and how their story ended.

New inspiration can be very energizing! :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Following in Grandma's Footsteps

The tax season is winding down, and that is good news for me. I have been doing data input for a local tax attorney since the first week in February to earn a little extra money. Probably only a couple more weeks of that, and then I can get back to my IMPORTANT, not-for-pay projects, like making jewelry in my new studio, finishing the rug I started hooking in December, cleaning out the daughter's old closet and organizing my craft studio...oh, yeah...and getting back to editing and publishing the Grandma & Grandpa letters!!

It occurred to me at some point that my part-time job with the tax attorney is quite similar to the temp typing job Grandma did with the Donnelly Corporation just before and just after she and Grandpa eloped.  I know they had their share of hardships, but if my life can be as full and rewarding as Grandma's was, I will count myself richly blessed.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Hardest Blog Post to Write

It is with bittersweet emotion that I write this post.  I have obviously been avoiding this one, as it has been three days since my last blog entry.


Because, about three days ago, I folded up the card table I have been using to sit at and type letters.  I moved it out of the furnace room and back to its spot behind the door in the laundry room.

Yes, I regret to have to write that I have transcribed the last letter found between my grandma and grandpa.  They both wrote letters to one another on 3/13/31...the last letters in the shoe box.

Grandma's work at the Donnelley Corporation in Nevada, Ia. was to only last the first three months of 1931. She then quit and went back to live and work on the farm in Marshalltown with the letters back and forth, of course, ceased.

However, my journey with these letters is not complete.  I now have before me the task of editing and writing in some back story from what my mother remembers as well as adding in information about some of the relatives mentioned in the correspondence.

When I began the project, I gave each character a voice by changing the font of each letter depending on who was writing.  As the letters became more intense, I stopped taking time to change the font, and just vigorously typed listening to their voices in my head.  So, one of my arduous activities will be going back through all the letters and making sure they have the correct font.  And while all the letters have been transcribed, I absolutely must include samples of their handwriting throughout, so will need to scan several letters to intersperse in the compilation.

My job will not end there.  Finding an appropriate way to publish the compilation and making copies for the family members will be the last step.

I want to thank everyone for following along here with this letter project, and I hope you will check back in now and then to see how the final step of the project is progressing.  It is the most beautiful love story I have ever read.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Letterhead Stationery Said it All

To earn some extra cash in January of 1931, Grandma went back to work for The Reuben H. Donnelley Corporation in Nevada, Iowa.  By this time, Grandma and Grandpa had been married for just over a year, and Grandpa still had dreams of making farming their livelihood.  The cash to fund his dream was not coming easy, so Grandma did the only thing she knew could earn some money--type.

Making seven cents a page and typing 65 pages a day, grandma contributed what she could so they could buy cows, pigs, and chickens to raise.  Meanwhile, Grandpa tended to the livestock chores and gardening while working at the Skelly Oil Company in Marshalltown.

Grandma would get a ride home or take the bus on Saturdays and Grandpa would drive her back to Nevada on Sunday nights.  The bus ticket cost Grandma $1.10, and she agonized over the fact that the round trip ticket would not cover two trips from Nevada to Marshalltown, but was only good for a Nevada-to-Marshalltown-and-back-to-Nevada trip.

The letters from Grandpa showed his exhaustion and frustration.  They were not the relaxed, poetic works of heart he had written to Grandma from California.  They were short, sloppy, and contained numerous spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.

"Recieved you letter yestidy.  I was ver much astonish.  Howsomever you mad 1 mistak.  I worka from middy Sat. to sun by Sun.  I will brung the whash in Sat. Mourn.  Well this will be all fer awhile."

During the week, Grandma and a couple other girls working at Donnelley's stayed with a widow lady in Nevada--a Mrs. McCullom.  Apparently Mrs. McCullom was a lonely woman and loved the company of the young girls...

"...she wants to play cards or something every night.  Monday night when we came home from supper she had popped corn and had apples; Tuesday, gum, apples and candy kisses; tonight apples and popcorn.  Something every evening.  She serves real good breakfasts.  Have just been eating an apple at noon but tomorrow will have to get something else or will be appled to death."

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Salutations and Greetings

Now that the news of the nuptials is known, the salutations are sweeter.

From Grandpa to Grandma the greetings have progressed from "Little Girl" to "Little Wifey"...

  • Dear Helen
  • Dear Little Girl
  • Dear Girl
  • Dearest Little Girl
  • Dear Little Sweetheart
  • Dear Little Sweetheart wife
  • Dear Wife
  • Dear Little Wife
  • Dear Little Wifey
The openings from Grandma to Grandpa include...
  • Dear Florian
  • Dear Kid
  • Dear Little Boy
  • My Dear Florian
...however, the latest pet names have me mystified.  In a letter dated January 21, 1931 Grandma writes to Grandpa "Dear Pudi" and closes "With Love & Kisses, Buji"...

I would love to be able to ask them about the meaning behind these names.  I can find no reference to these names as historical characters, so can only assume they are just cutesy names they made up to call one another.

More later about why there are still letters back and forth now that the two are married...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Cat's Out of the Bag

Apparently Grandpa had to break the news of the secret marriage to Grandma's mother and Grandma's grandfather all by himself.

In the letter dated March 31, 1930, Grandpa tells Grandma...

"Well, it's all over now.  I went over to see your mother.  She said that she thot we were married when she heard they had a shower on you but that she couldn't figure when, so I told her when.  She said that she wished us lots of good luck and I said 'thanks, maybe we'll need it.'  She didn't seem angry in the least, I didn't tell her where we went or who went with us tho.  You'd better pass the candy and get ready to quit Sat."

Friday, January 24, 2014

Looks Like the Honeymoon is Over

If the letter contained bitter words and anger, Grandma's bold, block lettering was a telling indicator compared to the penmanship on other envelopes as pictured below.

I have mixed emotions about sharing the contents of the latest letters.  

The dates of the letters are now post Grandma and Grandpa's elopement, and they are certainly not what I would expect to hear from two newlyweds.  It would appear that they definitely had a rocky start to their semi-secret, impromptu nuptials.  Again, I have to remind myself that the ages of these two individuals (whose letters I'm reading now) were only 19 and 23 at the time.  Florian and Helen were not the 60-something grandparents I met when I came on the scene.

From their letters dated January 28, 1930:  instead of enjoying a honeymoon, the couple agonized over money and job issues, former love interests, relatives, and feelings of humiliation and uncertainties.

Rather than divulging the unpleasant details of these two particular letters from 84 years ago (almost to the day), I will leave you with these findings...

Grandpa used the word "cribbin" in his letter:

"Check out up there this week end.  If you don't I'll know your cribbin on me."
In looking up the word "cribbin" in the online Urban Dictionary, there are several definitions--all of which seem to be slang for more current-day activities.  I did find one definition that could be related to what Grandpa was saying which was Definition #4:  "The act of staying in ones area of residence or comfort zone."

...and then this finding...

Grandpa's first letter to Grandma after they were married was written on Kiwanis Club stationery.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Proposal?

The dates on the letters from today's transcribing are November 11 and November 14 of 1929.  They are still spending every weekend together and writing during the week.  I really wish I could fill in the blanks of what happened on those weekends!

In Grandpa's letter to Grandma he writes:

"There are a lot of things I'd like to ask you so you answer them, will you?"

...but then he doesn't go on to ask anything in the letter!

In Grandma's letter to Grandpa she writes:

"When you said in your letter that there were a lot of things you would like to ask me and for me to answer them, I got already with my answers but found that there were not questions.  Nevertheless one answer is 'No.'  Now I think that is one H _ _ lish of an answer because it should be 'Yes.'  Saturday night I might ask you to be my Husband and wonder what the answer will be."
I can only imagine that on Saturday, November 16, 1929 in Marshalltown, Iowa, one of my grandparents proposed to the other and the answer was YES!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Over the Hump

Some important milestones have been acheived this week.  If you've been following along since November (NaNoWriMo), you know I was posting a daily word count on what I was getting typed of the letters.   Well, THIS WEEK, I surpassed the 50,000 word mark!!  I also got curious and did a count of the number of letters I have transcribed as well.  The answer to that is over 75!!

All of a sudden the goal of having the letters ready to publish by December 7 of this year seems totally attainable now that I have those major numbers under my belt.

The other exciting factor that is a known in this whole equation is the date Grandma and Grandpa eloped (12/07/1929).  The letter I transcribed today was dated July 22, 1929.  Even though Grandma and Grandpa don't know it (in their letters), I know they will be tying the knot in just six months from that letter.  It's a wonderfully strange feeling as I'm reading the letters knowing that these two lovers will be getting together and will share many years and raise a beautiful family.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Some Observations

While the intensity of the letters has cooled off somewhat since Grandpa returned from California, the feelings of love and devotion are ever present.  Grandpa's yearning for home and to be loved and trusted by Grandma have been replaced by his feelings of inadequacy and day-to-day living issues.

I continue to gain new insights into my grandparents' past as well as knowledge about history during the late 20's.


  • Grandpa apparently was sick a lot with one ailment or another--colds, cold sores, boils to name a few.
  • Grandma has always been competitive on every level--not just weight issues but typing speeds and physical strength as well.
  • Grandpa made brooms (he mentions it in two different letters).
  • Grandma's obsession over her hair was ongoing from at least age 19 and probably earlier and continued into her 90's.  
  • Grandpa loved fishing and tinkering with cars.  He mentions test driving a Graham-Paige.
  • Grandma only made $15 a week some weeks at her typing job for Reuben Donnelley and apparently hated the work.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Corn Belt Oil Company and Reuben Donnelley Corp

Only 32 miles separated my grandma and grandpa when they exchanged letters in early 1929.  Grandma had taken a job with a marketing company in Nevada, IA and Grandpa was back at the service station.

From the letters and my mom's knowledge of her parents' courting history, Grandma would get a ride from Nevada to Marshalltown (usually by hitchhiking) most Saturdays and Grandpa would take her back on Sunday evenings.

Grandma roomed with two other girls--one of which was her cousin Velma.  Grandma and Velma would go "to the show" some evenings--a great way to relax after a day of typing.

"Keep well my 'Sugar Hearted Dumpling' until you see your Cherry Hearted Papa."

Friday, January 10, 2014

The MIA is Back in Action!

The holidays took their toll on my letter transcribing project.  Days turned into weeks, and I began to feel like Grandpa must have felt those last few weeks in California...will I ever get back?!?

The hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, family gatherings, New Year's Eve and my 50th birthday celebrations, in addition to the basement room remodeling project sidetracked my letter project.  But I'm back...with a fistful of New Year's goals that demand my attention.  Specifically, I want to transcribe two letters a day until this project is complete!

It felt so good today to sit at my little makeshift desk in the basement furnace room typing out the familiar scrawls of Grandpa's pen.  It was like coming back home.

As of my last blog post (nearly a month ago), we found Grandpa working on a highway paving crew in Iowa in April of 1928 and writing letters to Grandma from Waverly.

Today's two letters were both postmarked "May 25, 1928."  One was from Grandpa and the other was from "Walt."  In my blog post from Nov. 16, I alluded to a letter with beautiful penmanship "oozing scholarly romanticism."  One of today's letters was THAT letter.  Here are a few of Walt's flowery phrases for your reading enjoyment...

"My dear Miss West:  Of all the nerve, you will say, that long-eared, cock-eyed, bowlegged nut writing to me, the Queen of Sheba, or maybe the queen of Iowa, or at least of Marshalltown, that thriving garrulous city in the heart of God's poultry kingdom; but this much conceited and inestimable gentleman is going to write regardless of your feelings which he wouldn't hurt for anything on this green place called 'Hinterland'."

"I was egotistical enough to believe you might write me to come to Marshalltown and incidentally to look over its present color of paint."

"I suppose you think I am about 100% Scotch.  But, never let a little thing like that worry you my dear brown eyes, for I have yet to meet a 'tight' Scotchman.  Usually they never buy enough to get that way."

"At least ye might give the steady a rest for a minute or so, and drop me a line, not too hard now dearest, and tell me just how thy little big heart responds to this scratching of mine pen.  Don't you think that would be fun?  Ain't we got no fun?"

"Perhaps you will pen me a response rapidly if not much sooner than you receive this wretched piece of unmitigated conceit."

I absolutely LOVE Walt's way with words.  I'm sure he had quite the way with the ladies in person, as well.  Why don't people write that way anymore??