Sunday, August 19, 2012

Time for Retrospect

Could you tell someone your life story? 

What were the main turning points?   Do you remember?  Here are some ways to collect those memories.  Retrospect means looking back.
Images (photos, video)

Visuals excite our brain as we try to identify what we see and match the image to personal memories.  Have you looked at old family photographs and wondered who those people were?  It takes a minute or two to identify who, when, where and what (event) on all visuals before we file them away.  Identify online with a caption or tag and group items together (the maternal or paternal side of the family, distant relatives, family or school reunions, family trips).

Vancouver, Burrard Inlet seals sunning, by DG Hudson

To get started, sort photos and gather paper collectibles in a storage container.  Discard or repack what you can't use, but retain a sample of concert programs, tickets, posters, sports books, travel maps, special cards or letters.  A flat-bed scanner is useful for enlarging the images taken with small format or older cameras.

Record Known Facts

Where the family name originates (both sides)
-Newspaper clipping of an event which helps establish time period
-Family tree known connections (use a template or record free hand)
-Heirlooms or special family treasures; include history, if available

Collect Memorabilia

Family get-togethers or summer visits with relatives are the ideal time to collect those memories by using your camera or getting someone else to do it for you.  Include a beloved t-shirt of your fave band, autographs, old school records or class photos.  Don't forget, this will be a cumulative project and you're the curator.

Mother-in-law c.1940s - DG Hudson Collection

Break the task into smaller chunks

Transcribing family stories can be done in small bits; determine main ideas and what you want to include.  Match photos to event.  Be creative in your display.  Make collages.  The final format can be print or digital, but consider whether you need multiple copies for any interested siblings or only one for your family. 

No gender specific skills required
Men and women can do this.  Quality of presentation is subjective.  I made a birthday photo album for BIL (brother-in-law) of his childhood and teen photos.  BIL was surprised and pleased seeing photos he had forgotten about.  Keeping track of memorabilia isn't always high on men's 'what to do' lists, but at least make a minimal effort.  You may be glad you did.  Blogger Arlee Bird recently wrote a post on storing some of these memory collectibles


Memory quilts (sewing skills required)

The design of a memory quilt should reflect the style of the person who will receive it.  What does that person like? Do they have a hobby or interest that suggests a theme?    You can design-your-own or purchase a pre-cut pattern at sewing stores.  I design my own layout and mix and match patterns with a related colour or theme.  To personalize, add applique to some squares and use needlework for the reverse of the quilt.  A very basic outline of steps for crafting a memory quilt follows.

Crafting a Memory Quilt

  • Make a list of elements to be included on memory side of quilt, calculate size required and purchase amount of fabric needed.  Play with design of front and back on paper first.  Use fabric and colour to enhance design.
  • Cut squares.  I used a pattern for 11in x 11in, (metric=28cm x 28cm).  The size of the squares will determine how many are needed for a finished quilt.  Photograph design layout after basic squares cut, this can be used as a reference. One side consists of 11 x 11 squares; the reverse side is a solid piece providing a background for personalization.
  • Stitch vertical rows of squares, then join the rows together to complete the large inner square section of the front.  Applique and machine stitching detail are added at this stage.
  • Design the needlework needed for the back memory part of the quilt. (freehand or stencils). Complete needlework stitching.  Tiny sew-on charms, heritage lace, buttons or antique doilies can be used as embellishment. 
  • Sandwich the front and back together, overlapping back to front to form the edge binding.  Add basic stitches by machine or hand to secure the front, back and fiberfill layer.  Voila!  (That's the short story.)
  • Handwashing the quilt is recommended particularly if some items are vintage. 

Destroyed or overused Baby books or albums

They can be salvaged.  Take apart at the binding, carefully cutting the pages along the spine with a sharp knife.  Each page can be inserted into the top opening clear pocket pages of a scrapbook.   Other small collectibles can be kept in these as well ( a lock of baby hair, a baby bracelet, etc.)


Additional References:

It's Your Life - Prove it!  Ideas and Information to get you started from an earlier post of mine.

Check out Arlee Bird's blog, Wrote by Rote for more ideas about memoirs and taking care of family history.


Friday, August 3, 2012

PARIS - Postscripts

The Hotel de Vendome

A private residence in the 1700s, this building reflects its 1714 modifications.  In the photo below, you can see the delicate wrought iron railings, and the details of the building design.  Each arch was topped by face plaques (sometimes called grotesques).

Hotel de Vendome detail, Paris, by DG Hudson


Oscar Wilde's Tomb
The back of Oscar Wilde's tomb in 2010 illustrated the need for protecting the surface of the monument. The family arranged to have the tomb cleaned and protected by glass, while still allowing the view of the design.  For more information, refer to this post on Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Wilde's Tomb, Back view 2010, by DG Hudson

W=Wilde Thing (My blog post April 2012, A to Z challenge)  Oscar Wilde, wiki

Walling off Oscar Wilde's Tomb


Old Paris Cityscape

A miniature of Paris in the 1700s behind glass in the Musee Carnavalet.  This style of building didn't allow for light to penetrate to the street.  If you were fearless, you could try using the interconnecting rooftops for your getaway.

Museum miniature of Old Paris, by DG Hudson



Bronze Dalida, Singer, in Montmartre, Paris by DG Hudson

Dalida, an international singer performed and recorded successfully for 30 years in many languages:  French, Arabic, Italian, Greek, German, English, Japanese, Hebrew, Dutch and Spanish.  She spent her early years in Egypt as a member of the Italian Egyptian community, but lived her adult life in France.  Her career spanned the years 1956-1986.

Refer to Personal Life at the link below for the tragic details of her lovers and husbands. Dalida’s private life was marred by a series of failed relationships and personal problems. On Sunday, May 3, 1987 Dalida decided to end her life and left a suicide note.  Monday, May 4, 1987, near noon, her body was found. She died alone at her Montmartre residence in Paris. 

Dalida was buried in 1987 in the Montmartre Cemetery.  Alain Aslan, the sculptor, also made a statue on display outside her tomb.  The bust of Dalida in the photo above is on display near her previous residence . 


Is any of this new to you?  Ever heard of Dalida?   Do you like people or location photos?  Please share in the comments.



All photos by DG Hudson in Paris, 2010, unless otherwise noted.  Biography details of Dalida, wiki
and Personal Life  Famous singer, Dalida and her music Hotel de Vendome, Paris, wiki  Carnavalet Museum