Disasters – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
Oct 11th, 2011 by Jessica

Week #10 – Disasters: Did you experience any natural disasters in your lifetime? Tell us about them. If not, then discuss these events that happened to parents, grandparents or others in your family.

The Flood of ’86.  That’s what it was called.  Saginaw, Michigan was under several feet of water.  They sold t-shirts and bumper stickers with the words, “I Survived the Flood of ’86” emblazoned across them.  On September 10, 1986 the Tittabawassee River flooded after the Tri-City area received 14″ of rain in about 12 hours.  It was quickly classified as a 100-year flood.

Our basement flooded literally halfway up the staircase.  I remember trying to go down there and DaD absolutely panicked.  He must have been terrified at the thought of me wandering down into the water and drowning.  I didn’t realize how dangerous it was.  We lost everything that was downstairs during that flood.  For years afterward, my DaD tried in vain to salvage hundreds of photographs and documents.  Most of it was far too damaged to be salvaged.

I remember standing in the living room looking outside to the neighbor kids floating around in the street on intertubes.  There was nothing but water in every direction, with trees sticking out where the woods stood across the street.  I wasn’t allowed to go outside for the same reason I couldn’t go downstairs.  Our home was elevated approximately 3 feet off the ground, which is the only thing that saved it from being completely destroyed.

Read more about The Flood of ’86 here.

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Oct 5th, 2011 by Jessica

Our prompt in class tonight for our free writing session was to start a poem with the line “After your death” and see where it takes us.

On my mind this evening was the untimely death of Steve Jobs, one of my personal heroes.  The man was a genius.  It makes me really sad to wonder what changes he would have brought to our lives had he been here to see his continued visions turn into reality.


After your death
the media circus fell
from the sky as you ascended.

Every member of the press,
bloggers and tweets from around the world
published their two cents (as did I).

Many of them did so
from an iPad or a MacBook Pro;
the haters doused in guilt
and the lovers bowing their heads in sorrow.

The news launched faster than 4G
could afford – from the USA to central China,
from the western Irish coastline to the wonders of Australia –
in milliseconds, thanks in large part to you.

Your life was a full one –
full of genius and mistakes;
full of theory and practice,
of passion and contemplation.

After your death,
I cried in sorrow with the world
you brought together during your brief time on Earth.

Steve, may your vision live forever.
Rest in peace, my friend.

by Jessica M. Green
October 5, 2011

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guilty pleasure
Oct 5th, 2011 by Jessica

Our prompt for this week was to write a poem at least 30 lines in length, with no more than 5 words per line.  It’s harder than you might think!

guilty pleasure

intricate sculptures carved
from pumpkin flesh
set ablaze with kerosene
the frenzied flames lick
and spark, a fiery celebration
of impulse

eyes framed in black glitter
crimson lips, severed and wet
black fishnets
enshroud my legs
a timid façade
of seduction and mystique

jet veil of crinoline
and bloody velveteen robes
trail in my wake
the shadows of obscurity
seek me with the promise
of excitement

visions of spirits
cloud my thoughts
shrieks of adult revelry
vibrate my senses
reverberating through me
tiny tremors of exhilaration

advancing through the crowd
my seduction
emits in flashes
a sparkler on the prowl
one glance from my eyes
one caress from my lips

my cloaked indiscretions
a wicked, guilty pleasure

by Jessica M. Green
September 25, 2011

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Sounds – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
Oct 4th, 2011 by Jessica

Week #9 – Sounds: Describe any sounds that take you back to your childhood. These could be familiar songs, jingles, children playing, or something entirely different.

6th Grade School Portrait, days after my first concert, Huey Lewis & The News, August 1988

6th Grade School Portrait, days after my first concert, Huey Lewis & The News, August 1988

The sounds that come to mind when I think of my childhood are related to music.  My DaD used to play a lot of music by Yes and The Who on our stereo at home.  I played a lot of CDs in my Sony Discman player with my headphones in my room, usually Madonna, George Michael or Enya.  My Mom used to play 1950’s and 1960’s tunes on the radio up in Mio.  Music was a huge part of my childhood, and it still is today.

My first concert was Huey Lewis and The News in August, 1988 just before my 11th birthday.  I still remember him singing The Heart of Rock and Roll and yelling DETROIT!  The crowd on the lawn at Pine Knob Music Theater (now DTE Energy Music Theatre) went insane with applause and screams.  The energy at that concert was nothing short of infectious.  I will never forget it.

While staying with my Mom in the summers in Mio, Michigan I spent a large amount of time in the Mio Saloon where she worked.  She usually closed the bar, working 6:00pm until 2:00am.  I would sit in the bar most of the time and shoot pool, play darts and put quarters in the jukebox.  They also had an old untuned piano in the front window that the drunk guys would listen to me play.

I played piano from the time I was 4 until I moved to Arizona when I was 17.  I had two piano recitals in junior high school.  The first one in 1988, I played a song called Two Roads.  At the second one in 1989, I played Ballade Pour Adeline by Richard Clayderman.

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Excerpt from Memoirs: Chapter 34
Sep 30th, 2011 by Jessica

Here is an excerpt from my autobiography, “Memoirs of a Black Rose.”  This is from chapter 34.

During the first weekend of October, my sister Kathleen came out to visit Arizona to attend the Creating Keepsakes Scrapbooking Convention with me, October 1-3, 2009.  The event was held at the Renaissance Hotel Glendale, next door to Westgate, Arena and the University of Phoenix Stadium.  After a very delayed, very rough flight, things didn’t look too good at the end of the first night for us.  Kathleen persevered through intense motion sickness, and we got things underway Thursday morning.

We had a very nice time at the convention, attending various classes, buying tons of stuff on the sales floor and cropping in our adjacent hotel rooms.  We got a lot of scrappin’ accomplished together!  Kathleen was working on the kids’ trip to California, and I was working on our tour of the UK and Ireland.  I even bought a Cricut Expression and Kathleen showed me how to set it up and use it.

I didn’t even bring a camera, and Kathleen never used hers.  How ironic is it that we attended a scrapbooking convention and didn’t take a single picture?  Regardless, it was lots of fun!  I’m so glad she was able to come out and join me for the weekend.

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Technology – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
Sep 27th, 2011 by Jessica

Week #8 – Technology: What are some of the technological advances that happened during your childhood? What types of technology to you enjoy using today, and which do you avoid?

Technology defines my life today and it has since I was four years old.  There were so many technological advances in the late 1970’s through the early 1990’s that it is impossible to discuss them all.  I have chosen several that have shaped the course of my life and society as a whole.

Personal Computers – DaD got our first computer, a Commodore VIC-20, in 1981 when I was four years old.  He upgraded to a Commodore-64 in late 1982 and we never looked back.  I was hooked on computers.  He taught me how to program in BASIC and he would pay me to learn how to do new things like flash specific colors on the screen, code easy else-if statements and repeat text in patterns.  I learned how to type before I learned how to write.  I have always typed fast.  That is still very true today; I still type at an average of 85 words per minute.

VHS – The ability to record something playing on television and play it back on a VCR was an incredible concept in 1983.  Before VHS, there was no way to do this for television or movies at home.

Playing on our Packard Bell 386, 1988

Playing on our Packard Bell 386, 1988

Modems – We upgraded to a IBM PC 8088 and then to a Packard Bell 386 and 486 models over the next few years throughout the mid- to late-1980’s.  With these new powerful personal computers came the advent of a personal modem.  Our first modem was 1200 baud, but we quickly upgraded to 2400 then to the lightening fast 9600 baud rate.  With this device you could use your telephone line to dial up to a bulletin board system (BBS) to interact with other users.  One of the most popular BBS’s in the Tri-City area was called The Chocolate Malt BBS, run by Brian Gano in Bay City, Michigan.  I used our modem for hours and hours every night, tying up our phone line playing games and posting messages for my friends on The Malt.

Video Game Consoles – Nintendo Entertainment System launched in 1985 and on Christmas 1987, my DaD gave me my very own console.  I endlessly played my favorite games like Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 2, Super Mario Bros 3, Tetris, Metroid, Legend of Zelda: Adventures of Link, Dr. Mario, Bubble Bobble and Milon’s Secret Castle.  I was always trying to get my DaD to play with me but he hated games.  I was so good at Super Mario Bros that a condition of him playing the game with me was I had to play backwards looking in a hand mirror propped up on the coffee table.  I played the game by reverse image and still beat it easily without thinking twice.

Pagers – In the late 1980’s my DaD was issued a pager by General Motors for work.  This brand new concept involved a little black rectangular device that used a wireless signal to retrieve “pages” from thin air.  All I had to do was dial DaD’s “pager number” on the telephone and punch in your phone number, and it would miraculously show up on his pager a few minutes later.  He would get the page and call me back.  Before pagers, if you needed to get ahold of someone and they weren’t at home you were just out of luck.  You could leave a message on their “answering machine” and when they got home, they would call you back.  If I needed DaD to call me back right away, I just added the number 911 to the end of the page, i.e. “7774564911.”  Usually it meant that I wanted him to know Kathleen was being mean to me, or to ask if I could have a bowl of ice cream.  I’m sure DaD must have hated his new technological wonder because it meant that I could bother him at work, and work could bother him at home, all hours of the day and night.

Getting my Nintendo on Christmas day, 1987

Getting my Nintendo on Christmas day, 1987

Microsoft Windows – I remember back in the disk operating system (DOS) days, my DaD sat next to me at the computer and said, “Someday soon, we’ll be able to run more than one computer program at the same time.  We’ll be able to flip back and forth between two programs without closing them.”  He was talking about Windows 3.0 – the future of home computing.  I sat there in amazement.  It was hard for me to conceive of a time when you wouldn’t have to close the first program before loading another one.

Hard Drives – Oh, how I don’t miss the days of 5 1/4″ and 3 1/2″ floppy disks.  The invention of the hard drive for home use made it practical to store files without accidentally demagnetizing or breaking the floppy disks when they were laying around your house.  Hard drives came with their own cons though, with data corruption and frozen disks causing headaches for the first few years.  As they evolved, we started producing more and more data.  Moore’s Law kicked into high gear in the 1980’s.

Keyless Entry – This isn’t a technological advance that many people think of when computers, cell phones and the internet are involved.  Keyless entry was an important change in the mid 1980’s.  Today we couldn’t imagine having to get out your keys and physically unlock your car door every time you want to enter your vehicle.  Before this technology became mainstream, that’s precisely what we had to do.  Now we just pull out our keys and push a button to unlock all the doors or open the trunk, and we’re off and running.  Newest advances in this technology mean you don’t ever have to push a button at all.  Just get near your vehicle and it will recognize you automatically, unlock itself, start itself and adjust the settings to suit your desires.  The future still holds many advances in this area of technology.

Compact Discs – The demise of the record, album and cassette tape was begun by the introduction of the compact disk (CD) in the mid 1980’s.  The ability to have beautiful quality sound repeated continuously without stopping to rewind the tape or reset the record player was a wonderful advancement.  I remember going to DJ shows with my DaD playing wedding receptions and parties with his gig Rainbow Music prior to the mainstream use of CDs.  We had two record players and two cassette tape players and would rotate between them playing music for the parties.  Nowadays, DJs simply set up a laptop computer and queue up MP3 files.  Instant party!  What a difference 15 years has made.

ATM & Debit Cards – This is another advancement that often gets overlooked.  When people think of technology today they often do not think about payment methods.  When I was in junior high school, if you wanted money you drove up to the bank and withdrew it from your account from a live teller.  If the bank was closed, you were out of luck.  In high school, banks began installing automated teller machines (ATM) and issuing ATM cards so that you could access your money from the machine even when the bank was closed.  By the time I got to college, many businesses began accepting those ATM cards, rebranding them Debit cards, for most purchases.  Cash was pretty much a thing of the past by the time I had a job and the ability to spend my own money in 1995.

These are just a few of the incredible technological advances that occurred before I got out of high school.  In college it was a whole new ball game: Email, the Internet, cell phones, DVDs, digital cameras and flatbed scanners all came into my life during my undergraduate studies at Arizona State University between 1995 and 1999.  It was a fast and exciting time for technology throughout the world.

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When Excellence Isn’t Enough
Sep 23rd, 2011 by Jessica

Our week #4 poetry assignment was to write in list style without any verbs.  The poem had to be no more than 30 lines long.  Verbs and rhyming were strictly prohibited.

When Excellence Isn’t Enough

a new vehicle concept
classic design parameters
lightweight construction
aerodynamic lines
optimum engine
outstanding suspension technology
maximum efficiency
perfect harmonization

extreme construction
the most robust materials
lighter than aluminum
high-strength carbon fiber reinforced plastic
the best ratio between weight and stability

highest average speed
functional aesthetics
tradition and modernity
passion and inventiveness

eighty years of experience
a higher level of innovation
one dream sports car
seventeen miles per gallon
only four cup holders

by Jessica M. Green
Written September 14, 2011

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a message from Edward Payne Cole
Sep 21st, 2011 by Jessica

In my Poetry class, our Week #3 assignment was entitled Breaking the Sentence: “Either write a love poem that uses words that sound harsh or repugnant (e.g., screech, sludge, pus, wretched, frump) or a poem that goes on the attack with sweet or gentle sounds (e.g., breeze, sway, glide, loft, smooth). Let the sounds guide the poem.  As you work on this poem, reflect on the difficulties you run up against as well as the “happy accidents” that occur. We’ll talk about this work next time.”

a message from Edward Payne Cole

‘Twas the seventh day of June in 1877
scraps of fallen timber littered the woods
beyond the property line owned by old E. P. Cole
the soft whistle of wind through the Pecan branches
echoed through the somber town of Chesterton
the sweet scents of blueberries and buttermilk
wafted two farms down the way
the honey bees flittering about his head
accompanied the melody of dirt on boot

the barn door creaked slightly
as he strode casually inside
the horses swayed among the haystacks
their docks swishing at the flies
as old E. P. lifted his pencil
he carefully placed it
against a single sheet of white paper
silently, he composed his final wishes

the lead pouring out, his heart beating calmly;
steadily – pitter pat, pitter pat
a pacific gesture of tranquility
he scripted his reflections of his halcyon life

reposeful, he placed the wooden pencil
down on the workbench
secured the letter under a rope
and reached slowly for the logging chain
clinked it softly against the saddles on the floor
as he fashioned his own crafty noose
patiently attached it to the rafters above
after a few quiescent moments, old E. P.
whispered goodbye to this world
and hung silent, motionless
quietly awaiting his discovery

by Jessica M. Green
Written September 11, 2011

Reflections on: a message from Edward Payne Cole

I found this poem to be very difficult to write.  I didn’t have any trouble writing about sound and incorporating that into the poem as adjectives.  The problem came when I tried to use the sweet sounds to describe something “on the attack” which really didn’t make sense in my brain.  The only thing I could think to do was describe something awful happening in a serene and peaceful way.

One of the challenges I gave myself for this poem was to use a few new words.  I found these by using the thesaurus for words that were familiar to me.  I then looked each one up individually to get the definition and found its use in an example.  Then I tried my hand at incorporating them into the poem.

  1. quiescent – In a state or period of inactivity or dormancy
  2. pacific – Peaceful in character or intent
  3. halcyon – Denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful
  4. reposeful – restful: affording physical or mental rest

The issue with this challenge was that I felt like I had to use all of the words to be successful, which should not have been the case. They ended up all bundled together somehow, and I’m guessing that passage will overwhelm the reader who is not well versed in these terms. Also, since I was not familiar with them, I have no idea if my readers are going to know what they mean.

Some of the words I chose are beautiful on their own such as pacific and quiescent.  In the context of this poem and the subject matter presented they could certainly be used successfully; I’m just not sure I was able to capture the essence of the situation because of my unfamiliarity with the terms.

Jessica M. Green

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Toys – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
Sep 20th, 2011 by Jessica

Week #7 – Toys: What was your favorite childhood toy? Is it still being made in some form today?

Ceramic Cabbage Patch Kids at Grandma Cole's ceramic shop in Portage, Indiana, 1985

Ceramic Cabbage Patch Kids at Grandma Cole's ceramic shop in Portage, Indiana, 1985

Everything within my grasp became a toy to me, regardless of its purpose in life.  I could make a toy out of a calculator and a screwdriver, and if you ask my parents I bet they will say I probably did at one point.  I was very curious about everything around me.  I wanted to know how everything worked.  Let’s take it apart and see what’s inside!

Some of my favorite classic toys were my Cabbage Patch Kids, one of whom I officially had renamed George Michael. I wanted to marry George Michael.  (How was I supposed to know he was gay?)  If I remember correctly, my mother had a hell of a time securing George at Toys ‘R Us for me.  They were the most popular toy ever and I think she paid about $25-$35 for him which was a lot of money for a toy in 1982 when I was five years old.  They were sold out everywhere but somehow Mom got one for me.  I LOVED my Cabbage Patch Kid.

I also adored playing with my Barbie dolls in the basement.  My grandparents gave me a wooden dollhouse around 1981 that my DaD started putting together and then lost interest in the project.  I played with it anyway; unpainted, unfinished… the stairs lay on the desk partially glued together.  I would stand up the stairs and hold them so I could shove my barbie up the hole to get her onto the second level, then set the stairs aside until I needed them again.

Cabbage Patch Kids and Barbie dolls are both still available and are also very popular today.

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Radio & Television – 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History
Sep 13th, 2011 by Jessica

Week #6 – Radio & Television: What was your favorite radio or television show from your childhood? What was the program about and who was in it?

I watched television like it was going out of style in the early 1980’s.  I had dozens of favorite shows, especially on Nickelodeon.  I watched all of the Saturday morning cartoons.  Some of the shows that stand out in my memory are:

  • Kathleen, Melissa Reynolds and me hanging in the living room, 1986

    Kathleen, Melissa Reynolds and me hanging in the living room, 1986

    You Can’t Do That on Television

  • Mr. Wizard’s World
  • Smurfs
  • Snorks
  • He-Man
  • Inspector Gadget
  • Danger Mouse
  • Punky Brewster
  • Silver Spoons
  • Diff’rent Strokes
  • Alf
  • The Cosby Show
  • Reruns on Nick at Nite of Mr. Ed and The Patty Duke Show

When I was very young, my mother won a VCR from a local radio station in a contest.  VHS was the technology of the future!  It allowed you to record a television show at home and play it back on tape any time you wished to do so.  Soon came Movie Rental stores where you could rent a movie on VHS and bring it home to watch on your own time.  Our VCR was a luxury item in the early 1980’s.

The only time I ever listened to the radio was when I visited my mother up north in Mio.  She often played 1950’s and 1960’s music and that was one of the only forms of entertainment I had.  She didn’t have cable and we never watched television at her house.  She had one; I just don’t recall ever watching it.  We spent our time playing card games, Yahtzee, board games and listening to the record player.  Mom had a few albums I used to listen to while she was working at the Mio Saloon.  One of them was the single from the group Chicago called Hard Habit to Break.  I would set the record player up to repeat and listen to it over and over again when I was bored.

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