Thursday, April 28, 2011

More on Freda, the mysterious grandmother.

As I posted much earlier, I have this grandmother named Freda who is a difficult hurdle in my genealogy.  Well I found an update on her and now I have to figure out how to get the info.  I might ask one of my Louisiana cousins who I have never met but seems friendly.
Anyway, I found a criminal court agenda from New Orleans from 1880-1918 and there on it were two cases against a Freda Wederstrand.  I couldn't find a date but since my dad was born in 1914 and put into the orphanage by 1920 I figured out that she had these cases from sometime between 1914 to 1918.  (Keeping in mind the cut-off on the list).  Anyway she's listed as having been pulled in (Freda Wederstrand et all) for having a bawdy house and /or a house of disorderly people.
I can't wait to find out.  What kind was it... I mean it could have been a saloon since Prohibition could have been going on.  She could have a honest story.  But I think she was a someone driven woman with a shadowy past.

Only time will tell.  But it's a little more history on her.

Monday, April 25, 2011

One man's weed...

Found growing in my yard.  We hesitated to cut it down although we knew it was a weed and it was prickly and almost in the way.  We rarely cut down plants until we know what they are and mostly wait until they bloom.  I went searching and found it's a Milk Thistle.  Not only is it used in bird food but it's been used medicinally for about 2000 years. Originally it was a Mediterranean plant, used for liver problems and based on current studies might actually help our poor abused livers. They are also now studying it as a cancer remedy for helping control liver damage form chemo especially in children. It's also good at protecting you from certain kinds of mushroom poisoning.   It's supposed to be edible but honestly it's so prickly I really didn't want to try it.   Ours isn't as tall as most of them - mainly because we walked over it, didn't water it and it was growing in fairly horrible soil.   I'm going to try to collect the seeds and share them with out resident birds and try to encourage the plant to grow in a regular bed.  
Volunteer plants are truly fun.  I've had a number of them in the back yard - not quite as deadly as the milk thistle.  I also, em, help volunteers by collecting seeds in the flower beds at work or near bus stops.  I always follow the gathering rule which is take a few and leave many.  I never strip a plant.  I like to think I encourage plants to reclaim parts of my back yard and of course the birds help. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

On Being Poor.

I am poor.  I admit it. But I don't live in poverty which is a vastly different feeling.  I have lived in poverty... I spent 9 months of my life when young living in the back of a 1967 Ford Mustang.  It was kinda olive green and had bucket front seats.  Michael and I would switch sleeping one night in the front and one night in the back.  During the day we tried to ear money and find food without going to the Salvation Army.  Looking back it was a thing one did in your youth..... we took a car to San Francisco and knew we were going to make it rich.  Landing in SF, we lived well for like a week in a tiny hotel near Chinatown  only to come down to the car one morning and found it broken into and almost everything stolen.  (they left one shoe which still puzzles me and a paint brush from my back pack full of art supplies).  After the hotel we drifted to car living.   We had two spots - in the parking lot of a police storage area and a roadstop in Pacifica.  After almost being killed at the one in Pacifica we realized we needed to come home. 

We couldn't find jobs.  We had no permanent addresses and at that time it was really a death knell to getting established.  (You have to understand that we were a few years after the Summer of Love and the Haight-Ashbury district was suffering from the remains of the whole phenomenon). And both of us we very private and shy people so panhandling, living at shelter and such was not even in the equation.   Michael found a very bad job delivering circulars door to door and I tried to find a job of some sort with no luck. We finally found work picking bell peppers in the farms closer to Santa Cruz which led into our experiences as migrant farm workers.
After that we raised enough money to come back to San Antonio and knowledge of how to get going again. 

As I grew older I always lived between the edge of poor and poverty.  i think that is where a vast number of students live.... You learn to make due on very little and all your friends do anyway so it's normal.  Plus you learn to share.   When I moved to Austin, one late night escaping all the shadows in San Antonio that i had created.... I got real jobs that paid for rents and food and extra - I became more spoiled.  A friend encouraged me to get a credit card and I rapidly fell into debt. It was so easy and I am so easily bequiled by thinking life is simple -- that little card that lets you get things for free.  (And eventually I realised it wasn't really free).  It took me awhile to clear off that debt and while I still have a credit card, it's severely limited and I rarely use it. So now heading to my 'golden years" (as someone once said although I can't imagine why) we (me and my SO) live much more simply. We live on our earnings as much as possible even though the SO thinks he could be the Big Lebowski and could get rich on a quick scheme or two.   I don't normally regret it except I never bought a house which I think I would like and I constantly am trying to figure out where I will be when I truly get old and feeble.

But I don't regret being poor and living simply. After Gene's mom died, we've become better at getting rid of things that clutter our physical house. (Both of us while not officially hoarders can be considered pack rats.) I truly think that as we declutter our house we are decluttering our inner selves as well.  I like that.