Well, it seems I do nothing but bellyache!

(Notes from Alexis: We all wonder what hell may be like, I think Mom has found it.)

April 23. 1992

Dearest Lex,

I sat down at the table with warm sunshine spilling onto me and the table, but Granny got up to eat, and I lit out for the computer room. I can’t take the belching, farting, groaning and grunting. That way may be my fate some day, but I can’t take it now.

Well. I’m sorry you weren’t here for the circus. You would have died laughing. I decided to fix up Mom’s trailer. Dad and I both hated the couch, so we were going to take it out. Sounds easy when you say it fast. We tried it every which-a-way, upsides down and backwards, – no way Jose’.

We finally found one way that was within a couple of inches, and decided if we took the trellis off it would go. Nope, but we gained – just 1” to go…! I even took the doorknob off. The post that supports the roof wouldn’t let the door open flat against the trailer as the door knob hit it.We took the knob off and with brute strength, and ignorance, was able to get it out. We put it on our sun porch, so now we have a hide-a-bed on the new sleeping porch.

We cleaned up the living room of her trailer (not mine, it is still a mess), and it is beautiful. I am going to get a sewing table and set up my sewing machine in her living room so I can sew up those three or four quilts I have cut out. Also, I’m going to clean out that rats nest that Dad has made of the barn. I hate it all junked up, and I’m going to do something about it.

Well, Dad went back to work on the 13th, and what a hassle. First off the computers are Reynolds & Reynolds and totally different from ADP he was used to, not one thing the same. Then there are seven or eight different lines of cars, and he didn’t know six of them. Then they don’t have parts books; it is all on the computers. The same computers he doesn’t know, right?

They were so busy that nobody had time to train him. Just threw him in, sink or swim. Then on top of everything else they set him to returning parts. They have about $30,000 worth of obsolete parts that have never been returned. Now these are not all neat and tidy on shelves. Parts thrown into boxes, so he has to dig through and fish them out, clean them up, and box them, then get the computer to print out a return slip (if he can).

Boy, that first week he nearly died. Then on Friday his boss had time to work with him, and teach him at least how to get in and out of some of the main functions. Now he has decided he can learn it, and he feels a lot better. There for that first week he wasn’t sure. He also sees that he will certainly be earning his wages.

Speaking of computers. Comptalk finally figured out the reason Calcastar & Formsort wouldn’t work. It seems that they were set with a top memory of 512K max so when I upgraded to 640K I went out of their range. Well, weird things do happen!

After walking around the problem of how to replace my data programs, I realized that sorting is one of the things I do really well. When I was a child, we called it ‘filing,’ so I just put them into Wordstar and got on with life. No problem.

Of course, I had lost a week and a half, all told, so I was way behind with my work. During the time off is when I conceived “the plan” to use Mom’s trailer as my rec room. Spending a day or two with her is like hell. At least Hell won’t come as any surprise when I get there -I’m all prepped.

I’m nearly through with “Shipwreck John” I have another five days indexing. Indexing makes me cross and cranky, so I am trying to think of fun things to do. Wait! Wait, I’m thinking!

Today a genealogy-computer friend is coming over, and I am going to show her how to set up her program to do Genealogy. Oh, and I’m cooking rhubarb in the crock pot. Maybe I need some yarn and a knitting project.

Well, it seems I do nothing but bellyache, and I am sick and tired of bellyaching, but like all addicts I won’t stop it until I can replace it with something better.

I have found a new author. Ann Orysdalei, ‘Faint Heart Never Kissed a Pig,’ which I haven’t read because I can’t find it. And ‘Pearls Before Swine’ which is a tad hard to get into, because she is British, but persevere because her stories are just delightful.

Well, Cheerio and all that rot.




Virtue is it’s own reward, and now I have proof!

Notes from Alexis: Back in the “Good Ole Days” when a publisher wouldn’t publish your books, the next option was to print and bind them yourself. That is what she did for the next 10 years.

(How nice to have e-books today)

March 23, 1992

Dearest Lex,

Virtue is its own reward. I have been told this many times, but now I have proof. When I went out to the pump house to get your steam trays, I found the crock pot. Dad got it with bonus points years ago. It came in the summer and was too hot to use, so after one time I put it away and plumb forgot about it.

Dad had been nagging for Boston baked beans, but it always seemed too much bother. He found a recipe in the Frug’s book called New England Baked Beans, so I made up 1/2 the recipe and boy was it good. I also made celery bread (hold the celery seeds) and what a treat. Then I made chili, and it was super good, too. We are going to try deep fried cheese, and sopapillas next. I don’t like to deep fry in the house because of the grease smell, so we will cook on the porch.

This is spring vacation and Little J. is coming out Tuesday night and staying until Saturday afternoon.

I got the book binder and wow, do I love it. It is easy as pie to use. I say that after making all kinds of horrible mistakes, but once I settled down it takes me about 15 minutes to bind a book, and are they ever lovely.

I am enclosing the new book label for you to see. I loved everything about the ones you made except the “Solo Press,” so I bought some new letters and fixed that. I am going to let Little J. make a book with the letters, and bind it while he is here.

Dad’s last day at Cascade will be the 31st. Then he will take off until the 13th when he will go to work at West One. They begged him to stay at Cascade. When they saw his mind was made up, they told him if he ever wanted to come back, to call them. He felt better about it and that there were no hard feelings. It felt good that three places wanted him.

The weather has been blowing hot and cold, and is now threatening rain, but it’s probably just a threat.

Mom said today that she felt pretty good and might try going over to her trailer. I told her that during the day when I try to nap, she wakes me up talking to the dog and banging around. So if she wanted to go over for an hour or so, it would help me. That’s the worst time of the day to be around her, that and her eating. She has started eating her dinner about 3 PM, which is when she likes to eat anyway. I’ll tell you one of the nicest gifts I’ve ever gotten was not having her eat with us.

TV has been so awful I’ve been going over & working on jigsaw puzzles, and what lovely peace and quiet that is.

Well, I’m about out of anything to write, so will close for now & get this funny book off to you. I got such a kick out of it. His writing is just off the wall, and I find myself tee-heeing all day long. I don’t like doctors as doctors, but I love doctor-writers.





Are they really a hobby or the embryo of a business?

Notes from Alexis: I love her “process” for writing a book, and you will love her new hobbies.

Jan 22, 1992

Dearest Lex,

I woke up this morning and thought: I have to tell Lex to stop drinking wine. When I was 25, I had to give up all alcoholic beverages because they gave me such horrendous headaches. I have never liked beer or wine, but I did drink cocktails now and then, but it got to the point where I was having my hangover fifteen minutes after I had my drink.

The thing about wine is it is all chemicals. There may have been a time (back in Ceasar’s day) when wine was made from grapes, but no more. Now it is all chemicals, as I found out when I tried making my own. We watched a program that told all about it and boy; it was enough to scare the pants off you. My advice is to keep off the wine for a month and see if the headaches stop (but, of course, keep up your other programs). Headaches can, and often are caused by more than one thing and sometimes the mix just becomes too much.

I keep checking on S.F. and her new “Gallery” opening.  Dad heard this guy on the radio, who is the photographer that is going to open the gallery with her. I drove by to see it. All her files of index cards had been moved out, and there were a ladder and some buckets. Two weeks later, ditto. She gets all this great media attention, but then doesn’t know what to do with it, and nothing ever comes of her endeavors (notice I didn’t say efforts). Not that I think there has ever been a plan or purpose to anything she does.

I haven’t been able to work on “Shipwreck John” for a week, I will go in today and work on him. I have discovered I have an MO (modus operandi). First, I have to have a name. This is just a working name, and I am perfectly happy and prepared to change it later if it doesn’t fit, which I did with Henry.

Next, I have to do a cover, which I am also prepared to change. Nevertheless – ‘Hello’, there has to be a cover. Now there is a real ‘sure nuff’ book that merely needs to be written and put between the covers. This was true with all my books. It’s as if I have to have something concrete to hold in my hand before I can believe there is a book in the future. I read about writers who write every word in their head before they touch pen to paper or finger to key. Not me. I only have to have a name and cover, and I’m off and running.

So, therefore, there is a “Shipwreck John” but no Dorsett or McGuffin yet, (but getting close), because I haven’t taken the major step of the name and cover. Still too much research.

I now have a hobby. A hobby being something that never can be turned into a business, right? I collect. What I collect has doubled in the past week. I now collect two things. First, I started off with purse wallets, and as you know I have a nice collection. You only saw half of them because at the time I was a closet collector, but now they are out in the open in a box.

My second collection, which I have only just now recognized, is moisture absorbers. You get them in every bottle of pills, and they come in all sizes and shapes. But what to do with them? They lay around on counters and in drawers, and there is the thought underneath; ‘Maybe I should keep them’?

I see things clearly now. A museum of moisture absorbers! Someday in the future, it will attract tourists who will come from all over the universe. Well, that isn’t too far-fetched right, if people would go to see a giant stuffed mouse, why not moisture absorbers? Of course the purse wallets may also be in the same class, however, I keep thinking someday I may actually use one, so there is that to consider. Are they really a hobby or the embryo of a business? Worry and fret. Nothing in this life has been ever simple.

Well, I got all my stuff out of the drawers and into the shoebox to get ready for taxes and that’s step one. Step two is to list everything on a sheet of paper. Step three is working with the form. I am particularly eager to get some money back because Dad gets more disillusioned with his job every day. J. had nothing good to say about J. T. (the new boss and owner of  Honda-Chevrolet dealership) right from day one. But I reserved an opinion until I had met him, which I did at the Xmas party. He made me no convert. He is a slippery eel. He will look you right in the eye and with great sincerity say, I don’t lie. All the time the hair on your neck is standing up. Last night Dad said he was going to start actively looking for another job. It takes him a while to get moving, and he won’t make a move until he is sure, but then he never looks back. So we’ll see.

Well, granny is her usual self. I have had some revelations that I will tell you in person as they are l-o-n-g stories, but anyway, it has helped me cope with the situation.

My chest is feeling better, but I only have half-day strength, while having full-day jobs. About the only way I can manage is to just lie down. Fortunately, I can do that, but I want to get with the program, have things to do.

Well, sweetheart must close as ‘Shipwreck John’ is calling.



I even forget to be thankful for electricity and “self-come water!”

Notes from Alexis: She is a powerhouse of “doing.” Books for genealogy that require enormous “Index’s”, hunting stories, and dreams, fill the winter days.

November 7, 1991

Dearest Lex,

Well, the mole has finally surfaced and is blinking into the daylight. In other words, I have finished the “INDEX” for Henry Tuthill – 16,562 data entries. I tell you it’s worse than taking inventory or weeding onions. I really dread an “Index” and this one took two weeks, and this with the greatest index software imaginable- SKY3. It does most of the work, but still…!

Consequently, I hardly know anything to write about because all I have been doing is the index – day and night.

However, one or two items. Dad’s job situation is getting “curiouser and curiouser.” First the company that bought D. Chevrolet out came down and told L. (Dad’s boss) that they wanted him and all the crew. They said they would build a new building out by their old one and in the meantime; they would rent the building from D. Chevrolet, and they would stay where they are until then.

Then another dealership talked to L. and told him they want him and the crew to come and run their parts department, and would build a new place for them. So all is in an uproar, especially since Co. 1 heard that Co. 2 was dickering. So all is speculation. L. had Dad and P. Z. (the other main parts-man) over last night, to discuss it all. In any case they are leaving it up to L. He always seems to land on his feet, so we’ll see what comes down.

I’ll tell you a couple of dreams because they were so funny. First: Dad had a nightmare up at the hunting camp. He dreamed a big hairy monster attacked him and was biting his finger. He screamed out loud and woke up everybody. O. got up to see what was going on and realized Dad was dreaming, so he stoked the fire, and that woke Dad. He swore his finger was still hurting after he woke up. It sure stirred the guys up and gave them a laugh.

Second: I dreamed that I was baking Oreo cookies, but I couldn’t decide whether I needed six cups of flour, six cups of cocoa or six cups of cornstarch. But the real problem was how to get that design stamped on them. I tell you it is probably a good thing we aren’t able to take the top off our heads and look into the inner workings. What we can see is strange enough.

No, they didn’t get an elk, and the trip was too much. It snowed on them going up, and after they had got there, the temperature was zero practically every night, warming up to twenty degrees in the daytime. They camped in two feet of snow, and all had a grand time. They gave up and came home a day early, vowing no more winter hunting.

Today I will probably go to town and work up my title page for my latest book. Do you realize this is my ninth book to publish, with three more in the works. It staggers me when I think of it. Remember that dream I had where I saw a stack of my books but could not see the titles. Good thing. What do you suppose I would have made of ‘Descendants of Henry Tuthill 1612 -1650” or “Guide Through DataStar/ReportStar?”

You know we need to win the lottery or something as I am about to outgrow my two cubby holes. I really envy your nice big room to lay out your materials and go off and leave it.

I tell you, I am sick and tired of having to move something, so I can do whatever I am doing, and then twenty minutes later have to put it all back. What a waste of time and energy.

See what I mean about doing the index? It makes me cross and cranky and besides that I feel so sorry for myself that sometimes I even forget to be thankful for electricity and “self-come water.”

Well, sweetheart, I don’t know much but am getting ready to print the “INDEX” so must close for now.