I don’t have a “Real Job,” so I have to do my “Unreal Job”

Notes from Alexis: Mom and Grandma will always be at odds. I think daughters and mothers just have that problem. I speak from experience.

Sept.4, 1991

Dearest Lex,

Well, I’ve done it again. I’ve angered the paper – feeding gods; this time on the copier. One of the wheels broke and had to be replaced to the tune of $58. Gosh, publishing is such fun.

Well, of course, I’m teasing and it is fun. Last night I got a call from a McGuffin descendant (not my family), who is going to send me a lot of good stuff. Yesterday, I found out my great – grandfather’s middle name and that is something I have been looking for five years, and all kinds of tidbits from the library. I keep saying it, but it’s true – I am just extra-ordinarily lucky. I must be doing something right, and Lord knows it’s about time.

I cleaned the carpets while you bums were camping and having a good time. Dad helped me wash the windows over the Labor Day weekend, so let it snow.

Remember I told you to put your hard hat on when you ask for something because things just fall out of the sky. I know how you feel about the “learning” part of your business. Sometimes I just get to the point where I can’t bear the thought of learning one new thing. But look at it this way, we both know business IS taxes, so you need to know taxes, so you can help your clients plan their tax strategy. Anybody can fill out the form, but planning is Job #1.

Yes, Mom has moved to her own home. One day I realized she felt better than I did, so I suggested she try spending a night at her home, and see how it worked. I explained that I was wearing out and that if I got sick, she was in BIG trouble.

She was home in a flash, and life has become almost bearable again. She had one attack the other night, but took her Nitro pills, and then slept on the couch and was fine the next morning. I think she felt better knowing she could sleep over anytime she wanted. I believe that will be the pattern. She will always have periods of good, and then have attacks. She will never be healthy again, but she has started painting again so she has something to do, besides bellyache, that is.

We froze forty packs of beans and gave them away to S. and J., and finally just gave up. I told Dad to let them go and we would have a meal of dried beans.

The birds got all the cherries and are working away on the apples, and Dad is working on the grapes. I’ll probably not get a really ripe one, because he likes them sour, and won’t wait. Dad gathered and gave to P. a wash tub of zucchini squash, from across the street. She bakes bread and gives it for Xmas.

Well, other than medical and Genealogical news, I don’t know much.

Well, got to run and do books. As S. says, I don’t have a “Real Job,” so I have to do my “Unreal Job.”




Going into a wounded quail act, whenever she thinks someone is looking.

Notes from Alexis: Grandma is back home after a heart attack, and everyone seems to find ways to put up with each other, in a rather funny, sad, way.

July 11, 1991

Dearest Lex,

Well, further news from the battlefield. I sincerely meant to call, but then I found that almost impossible, so am writing instead.

Mom came home from the hospital a week ago, and now has settled in on our couch forever. Dad got a bonus, so we went right down and got another recliner. Our idea is that we could take out the couch in her trailer, and put in the old recliner, and then she would have a comfortable place to sit in her trailer.

Meanwhile, we brought in a new one and set it beside the old one, and put the exercycle in my office, where I like it very much. I can quit working when I get tired and tense, and go over and ride for a few minutes.

I made the mistake of telling Mom that the old chair was hers, and we would put it in her trailer when she went home. She refused to sit in it at all because she never plans to go home. She did eventually sit in it a couple of times and the dramatics would have won her an Oscar. It was obviously so horribly uncomfortable, so painful for her, that only a monster would have forced her to suffer in it. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been so sad.

The first week was very hard because she takes medicine at all hours of the day and night. I had to be awake at 10 & midnight to give them to her, and I was so tired I wanted to go to bed at 8pm, so I had to set the alarm. Dad gets up at six every morning and gives her that dose. Since then, thank heavens, she has taken charge of her medicine, and I can go on to bed and get some rest. She sits up most of the night reading and sleeps most of the days, which suits me fine. Speaking of medicine, the first batch cost $208 which almost gave me a heart attack.

But anyway, I am tired of bellyaching. I have always said all she ever wanted to be was a kangaroo in her mother’s pouch, and now she is one. She is happy as a lark. She’s here in the house, waited on hand and foot. Couldn’t be happier. Hence, too, is happier. It has been so funny. He really does take care of her—-follows her to the bathroom and sits outside the door until she comes out, and sleeps all day and night with her. The two of them are good company for each other, and he takes a lot of the guff off of me, I’m sure.

One of the things that has bothered me the most is the oxygen. She qualified to have Medicare pay for oxygen, so they sent out a compressor for the house and a portable tank for the car. The compressor sounds like a refrigerator that runs all the time, only about four times louder. Most of the time I’m out of the room and can’t hear it.But if I sit in the front room and try not to listen to it, I have to turn up the TV three or four notches. You can probably hear our TV a quarter of a mile away.

She also qualified for the visiting nurses, and they have been out two or three times a week. Mostly it is just a farce, but it makes her feel better and it’s free, so I just count it as keeping three awfully nice ladies gainfully employed.

Rehab turned out to be even more ridiculous than I had expected. R. from Rehab scheduled me for a session and she explained about the heart and the medicines, the names of all of them, and what they were for, on and on, and on. Then we got a 15 minute video showing happy people walking and having barbecues after heart attacks. Then she scheduled another session, which was a repeat of the first with a 2nd video, and would you believe a third session! I was fit to be tied.

When Mom came home the nurse set out a schedule of all the medicines and times. I numbered them and put the numbers on the bottles. She takes No. 1 and No. 4 at such and such a time, etc. and that’s all any of us need to know.

We can’t go to a drug store and buy the medicine without a prescription, and you can imagine what we would be told if we called up the docs and said she needs some Lasix or Captopril, so it’s all garbage. But then every time the nurses come out they go through the whole song and dance, minus the videos until Mom made some comment. The nurse was a young gal about your caliber, that is sharp, and she said, “I see you are about maxed out on meds.” Since then, Mom has shown them her paintings, and her rock collection, and everybody’s happy.

I have been able to get back to the computer and the books, but going out to do research has proved difficult, as has shopping. It doesn’t seem a good idea to leave her more than an hour or two until she has been cleared by the docs. So I have been going at night when Dad is here, which is hard for me, because I don’t function too well at night.
The big problem is there isn’t always someone up at the Family History Center at night, during the summer. Mainly because most people have other things to do, and they have a hard time getting librarians lined up. Which would be fine, only I ordered three films BHA (before heart attack) and I need to read them before the time is up, or I will have to pay extra.

If it isn’t one thing it is another, right? Speaking of that how’s the job situation? I do hope your business and the job hunt all works out Ok, as I’m sure it will, but meanwhile back at the ranch. Right!

The reason humans are the dominant animal is because we are so adaptable. I can’t get over how quickly I adjusted, especially once I could get back to the books. I am still tired, but each day I feel a little better. Those books have certainly saved my sanity.

Little J. came out and spent the night and day, and got to see Grandma. We know how worried he has been. We explained about the heart, and this and that, – whatever an 8-year-old can take in, and we think he feels better.

She goes into her wounded quail act whenever she thinks someone is looking, but hops around pretty frisky whenever she thinks no one is watching. Little J. got to see that too, and gave me a look that told worlds. Dad has been listening to me bitch for five years, but hadn’t believed me, but now he sees her more and knows the score.

We have been eating like kings out of the neighbor’s garden because none of them will touch veggies that their Dad grows. I look at that household and I tell you the truth, I would keep the wounded quail, rather than move over there. There is an old saying: “If all the world’s troubles were hung on a tree and we could have our choice, we would end up choosing our own.” So true. I have a lot to be thankful for, and so far I don’t have more than I can handle. If that day comes, perhaps a solution will present itself.

Thanks again for coming down. You were a tonic and just the support I needed. Dad is really good with her, but he doesn’t always say the things that need to be said. Sometimes just getting to talk is vital, and I don’t think men understand that. My, I feel better already, just by dumping the garbage on you. From now on the messages will be, “Same old thing, as long as the situation holds steady. Write when you get some time and energy, and I’ll do the same.



Nothing but gnashing of teeth, and wailing from me.

(Notes from Alexis: She is thrilled by CD’s and not so thrilled with a new scanner. Makes me laugh, thinking about CD’s being new, sort of like 8 tracks being Wonderful!)


Dearest Lex,

We were so sorry to hear about your misery. I know you don’t want to hear anything about being too thin and needing to gain some weight to hold your bones together, so I won’t mention it. I’ll tell you about our vexations, not that they compare with yours, but just to give you something to think about.

First of all Dad lost the electricity to his shop. He has dug up two spots he thought to be the problem, but still nothing. He is totally baffled and guesses he will have to dig up the entire line to find it. This makes him sulk, and he is hard to live with when he sulks. I don’t blame him for it, it is just too aggravating.

I am enclosing a page out of a catalog, since you have heard nothing but gnashing of teeth and wailing from me, ever since I bought the ink jet printer. I thought you might like to see that I was not alone. Someone else was as upset as I was and did something about it. I ordered two packs, but haven’t used them. Out of sheer perversity the cartridge I have in there has now outdone itself.

I told you I had ordered a scanner. It finally came, and the software didn’t work. I called their 800 number and they said they would send me a new disk.

It came yesterday and I started it up and it worked fine, only the scanner, she no scan. It was almost impossible to press the start button, so I packed it up and sent it back this morning. It was a disappointment and I almost gave up on the project. But you know me, as soon as I gave up, the wheels started turning, and I plotted an end run. Scanning is a much-needed project, and lovely to behold, but oh my gosh is it ever going to be work. Perhaps my 5-year project.

Of course, I am still plodding along with my other books. They just have to be worked at every day. I went in yesterday and worked for two hours, and just as I started to move my finger to the save key, the computer blinked, the electricity evidently had spiked. Of course, my surge control stopped it (and the juice to the computer) so I lost two hours work, but I did gain an instant headache, so that was something. Lately, we have been having a lot of flutters and spikes. Do you think we have angered the electrical gods? I took an Advil and a nap, and ate some cherry pie and felt better.

I can’t remember if I told you about Mom’s latest project. She made state bird and flower quilts (150 blocks) and got tired of them so I came up with a brilliant (even if I say so) idea of butterflies. I found a book with good pictures and she set to with great enthusiasm. She told me yesterday she has now made 35 blocks. I’m ahead of her, though, because when I cut out the blocks I cut 100, and didn’t tell her about the other 50.

I started putting the first bird & flower quilt together and it is lovely, but I had to stop 2/3 of the way along and put up the sewing machine to print books. Everything is stop and go, put up the machine and get out the copier. I dream of having rooms to wander into and work, without first having to dismantle them from some previous job.

Dad bought a new stereo and we have been listening to CD’s, tapes and records. I swear to you, all our tapes and records sound brand new, and some I don’t even recognize. I had never heard CD’s before, so it has been pure pleasure to hear them.

I have to apologize to you. I gave you some bad advice when you were a young girl. I told you to learn bookkeeping because you could always get a job as a bookkeeper. I should have told you to learn office equipment repair. I called around to find out how much to have my IBM Selectric III cleaned, just cleaned mind you. I was quoted $85- $125 because it would take an hour or an hour and a half. Just think, you could be a thousand-aire by now if you had just been given good advice.

My computer doctor tells me my hard disk (which I bought from him and the warranty has now expired) has low level problems, whatever that means, and could go at any time to the tune of $275 replacement. I live on the edge, all the time, afraid- I’ll lose it, but Dad says not to worry – use it until it goes. (Are we talking my mind or my hard disk?)

I spent my birthday money from Mom early on a catalytic converter. Somehow one doesn’t get the same glow from a catalytic converter as from a stereo, so to get revenge I play it all day (the stereo, not the converter). Dad only gets to listen to it at night.
We had 1-1/2 days of spring Saturday & Sunday, but now black clouds and wind are threatening rain. Which may not be all bad. At least it keeps Dad in the house instead of working himself to death.

We don’t plan too much of a garden. M’s father, (across the street) is putting in three, that’s right, three gardens, and since nobody over there would touch a vegetable if their lives depended on it, we’ve already got dibs. There is nothing that pleases L. as much as seeing how thrilled we are with his garden produce. We plan to eat like kings.

Well, sweetheart take care or yourself and get well. I’ve got to get back to work. My fans are clamoring for my new book. Write when you get the time and energy, and I’m glad to hear you have some clients. The others will come, too.




“Looney Tunes” of a friend, and he isn’t wrapped too tight either.

(Notes from Alexis: All about friends, family and saga’s of life! Sad but true.)

 March 1, 1991

Dearest Lex,

Well, finally, finally, I have a day where I can sit down and write. Up until now I have been going at a full gallop, or sick, and not going at all.

I placed my ad in the ‘Genealogical Helper’ for December 15th and with it was just a lovely review of my “Tuttle” books, that I had already published. What I hadn’t realized, until I got the first order, was that everybody would misread both ads. In the advertising game, an ad that goes in a magazine has to be to them three months in advance. In September, I only had “Vol I” done, so that is what I sent, figuring I would send the others along as I got them finished.

I have reread the review and my ad, and it all seems ‘perfectly clear’ to me, that there are four volumes. However, people still seem to think there is only one, so I have had to hold their checks and write them asking for the name of their ancestor, so I can send the right volume.

The upside is that three people have ordered more than one volume. For some reason, Vol IV has been a slow seller, but I’ve had to reprint the other three volumes and will have to reprint Vol IV next week, I think. It’s fun to have the orders and the letters, but it caught me unaware, and I’m glad it has slowed down somewhat.

All along I have been toting and fetching for Dad, Grandma, and the dawg, as well as doing research on the “McGuffins” and working on “Henry Tuthill.” Which means, more letters, and lots of work.

But enough about me. How are you doing? Hope you are well and happy, and sipping tea in the tea house (greenhouse). We were able to have lunch in the sunroom Saturday, which was lovely.

So here is the latest soap opera: the trials and tribulations of J. You may recall that JS., who was living in the garage, and babysitting for J. & Je’s kids, got mad at her son Z. and beat him up.

OK, so J. made him leave and JS’s stepmother, came over and loaded up most of his stuff and put it in a mini-warehouse. About two weeks ago J. found a summons taped to the door of the house. It seemed that JS. was taking J. to court, saying he had taken his stuff.

So family and relatives all went up to the courthouse at the appointed time, but it wasn’t a judge, but a mediator. He was trying to get them to settle the thing without going to court, but JS. wouldn’t listen to it, so they set a date for the next week.

Now comes court day, and you need some background information. JS. suffered a stroke some years back, and one side (forget which) is nearly paralyzed. He doesn’t have good use of his hand or foot on that side, and doesn’t speak clearly. Add to this a long grungy beard and mustache and you get the picture. Plus, he tends to rave and rant unintelligibly, and wave his good hand about. We know that a lot of it is just frustration at not being able to make himself understood, but to others, he appears a wild man. Of course, he isn’t wrapped too tight either. The stroke did affect his brain, there is no doubt of that. He takes medication for the stroke, drinks, and takes dope, so all in all, he not only appears weird, he is weird.

J. thought they were going to small claims court, but it turned out to be circuit court. The judge said since they were there, they might just as well get it over with, and he would hear the case. JS got up and ranted and raved and flailed about, until finally the judge asked J. to explain it all. So he did. He said the cops had told him to get JS’s stuff moved out of there pronto after he beat up Z. He also told him to get a restraining order, which J. did. He told the judge about moving the stuff to the mini-warehouse.

Then he told how J. had taken JS. up to the house, and made him take all the odds and ends out, then he read off the list of things taken. JS. said he didn’t remember going up there and getting anything, but you better believe J. made a better witness than poor JS.

Well, the judge said he would ponder on it and send them a letter giving his decision. When J. got the letter, he called me – he had won. The judge said that it amounted to abandonment, and since J. was not JS’s landlord, he was entitled to keep anything left behind.

End of story? Of course not. There is never an end of looney tunes like JS. J. called Dad today, and said JS. had told his dad, that he was going to sue the judge, which gave us all some comic relief.

Well, guess I’ll stop for now, and write a couple of more letters for today’s mail. Oh, by the way, Dad said to tell you how pleased he was with the mystery series audio tapes. He is rationing them out, so he doesn’t hear them all at once. What a neat gift. You always come up with good ones.