November 23, 2013


Some time ago, I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test and discovered that I am an ESFJ (that's Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging) Personality Type.

"The Supporter"
Photo via PersonalityMax

Some descriptions of this personality type attach positive-sounding names to it like, "The Caregiver," "The Helper," or "The Supporter" to summarize our altruistic qualities. But, if these same assessors were to observe actual people who are identified as ESFJs, such as me, they'd probably assign us the more accurate label of, "The Pain in the A**" or "The Dream Crusher."

For instance, here's a positive-spun ESFJ trait:
ESFJs feel a sense of personal responsibility for other people's needs, and are usually eager to get involved and help out. Typefinder, ESFJ

Lovely! Who wouldn't want to know this person? I'll tell you who, the people who know this person:
"I'm currently helping my parents with some personal business - and by "helping" I mean stressing them out and dashing their hopes of achieving their dreams."

And another "positive" trait as outlined by Wikipedia, ESFJ:
They are serious about their responsibilities, seeing what needs to be done and then doing it. Generally proficient at detailed tasks, they enjoy doing little things that make life easier for others. 

Yup, that rings a bell with me, but I can tell you it doesn't always elicit the sunny outcome you might imagine:
"I've 'supported' my daughter and her husband on occasion by doing some unsolicited 'light' cleaning and rearranging 'a few' objects in their house with the intention of making life easier for them...and by 'making life easier' I seem to have meant...making them feel inadequate in their housekeeping and decorating skills."

To be sure, I don't intend for these negative outcomes to the time I'm dispensing my "services" I actually believe I'm helping these people I care about!  In fact, if I had to guess, I'd bet money that the saying, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions," was inspired by an ESFJ!

Oh well, they say the first step to recovery is discovery... wish me luck!

If you'd like to start your own journey of discovery, you can take this 98-question version of the test here at Typefinder to learn which Personality Type you are!

November 21, 2013

Watch It!

So...I found these watches that Grandma included in her piano bench gift to me...
Then, as I was rooting around through some old photos, I noticed that, in the picture above (c.1960s), it appears that Grandma and Grandpa are actually wearing these watches that I now have in my possession! I saw a cute little trick on Pinterest where you pop the backs off of old watches and insert a photo for a one-of-a-kind photo bracelet. So that's just what I did...
I had to enlarge the photo so Grandpa's face would fit in his watch frame and reduce the photo so Grandma's face would fit in hers. Maybe later I'll put Grandma's face in Grandpa's watch and vice versa...but of course any photo will do. All in all a pretty easy way to remember them and still find a use for those old watches!

November 20, 2013

The Top of Grandma's Dresser

Some time before my Grandma Hallmann passed away in 1998, she told me she was wanting to get rid of some of her things and asked me if there was anything I might want to have. Without hesitating, I shamelessly blurted out "Everything on your dresser!" I told her how whenever we'd come over to visit, that was the first place I'd run to see what new things had been collected there.

Grandma laughed out loud and was so surprised by this! (I was surprised that she laughed out loud because, though she was always a very loving grandma, she was also generally a serious grandma!) Nonetheless, after that conversation, I couldn't stop thinking about our talk and the things I remembered on her the point that I wrote a little verse* about it. Then, a few weeks later, I was presented with this:

It's a piano bench that Grandpa Hallmann had made. He had died in 1993 and, as sentimental a gift as this was, I couldn't help thinking of the talk Grandma and I had and wondered why she chose to give me this. I suddenly realized how terribly rude I had been to ask for my Grandma's personal things. I was truly grateful she thought to give me Grandpa's bench...I hugged and thanked her for it. 
Then Grandma said "open it..." (the bench opens?!)

There, inside, was everything from the top of her dresser; hankies, gum, necklaces, rings...she even included personal notes and cards she'd received from friends, just as I remembered seeing when I was a girl. Here were all her things, inside Grandpa's bench! The one difference now was that the school pictures from her dresser were not of me or my cousins, but of my own children - her great-grandchildren!
I was overwhelmed with love and memories of Grandma and her dresser. To this day, when I open that piano bench, the smell of the soaps that she included in it are as fragrant as ever and I'm just a little girl at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

*The Top of Grandma's Dresser
The top of grandma's dresser was wonderful to me.
There were so many things on top of it - I couldn't wait to see.
Each time we'd come to visit, I'd have to rush right over
To her bedroom to examine it - but I'd do it under cover. 

I knew I shouldn't be looking at my grandma's private things
So until the talking started, I'd have to wait to see her rings.

The top of grandma's dresser was first seen from mother's arms...
Then later, on my tiptoes, I'd behold the dresser's charms.
Sometimes my mom would catch me - she'd scold, "now don't you touch!"
But with all the candy, scents and jewels, this was asking way too much!

One day it finally happened, as I reached up for a look,
I knocked some things off - with a crash...was hauled off like a crook.

The top of grandma's dresser was like a treasure chest;
There were earrings, chains and bracelets...let me tell you all the rest:
There was Beeman's gum, some smelly rub, and pictures of me and my cousins...
And pretty soaps and lotions, and pennies by the dozens!

There was a hairbrush, comb and mirror, some cough drops - just like candy - 
(forget the honey lemon - the cherry's really dandy.)
Sometimes there would be hankies... or cards for different reasons, 
The top of grandma's dresser seemed to change right with the seasons!

The top of grandma's dresser was beautiful to see,
And because it was off-limits made it more mysterious to me.

November 17, 2013

Bookshelf Styling for Kids

Because of recent changes to my work routine, I needed to rearrange and reorganize my office bookshelves. Part of that change includes having a 3-year-old who visits frequently, so I wanted to dedicate four shelves for her use when she comes over and I need to do some work. She's always liked being in my office and we recently discovered she likes to play "office" for herself. I follow these four steps whenever I need to organize and/or arrange things in my home:

1. Identify Goals: The goal was to provide a place where Maia would have access to some of her books, supplies and treasures to play with in my office while I worked.

2. Gather Items:
Some of her favorite books...
Since I was going to have to see them a lot, I chose some of my favorites too!
...and some of her favorite toys and treasures...
Tea parties are routine!

3&4. Assess and Install

then arrange them on two of the lower shelves in the bookcase
in an easy-to-grab and aesthetically pleasing way.
The two baskets on the lower shelves make great storage for smaller,
less attractive items. In my office these are dedicated to my projects
but can easily be employed for kids' use if need be.

And Repeat...

For the other two shelves, I gather kid-friendly office supplies...
How many promotional notepads come your way? Kids love 'em! 
How about promotional mail labels, cards and stickers? Toss those in too!
Tuck them all in an easy-to-tote box and you've got a nice little office kit.
She can spend long periods of time putting "mail" together.

and arrange it all within her reach.
Include a small spiral-wire photo holder where smaller works of art
can be regularly updated and displayed!

Let's get busy!

Click here to see the full shelf display project.

November 16, 2013

The Elites

e.lite (ey-leetn. the choice or best of anything considered collectively, 
as of a group or class of persons.

According to census reports and other statistical data, it's estimated that less than 4% of US marriages make it to their 60th anniversary., mom and dad are celebrating their 61st, making them part of a remarkable and elite group of people.

November 16, 1952
Donald Hallmann and Fern Cain are wed in Green Lake, Wisconsin!

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!
Thank you for all you've done and still do,
We love you!

November 15, 2013

Fridays with Maia

Since Maia's only request for the day was that it involve time at a park and because I had heard rave reviews about the children's playground at Upper Lake Park in Port Washington, it was an easy decision to make our way on over to the Ozaukee county seat.
The Port Hotel (foreground) and  Ozaukee County Courthouse (background)
have been staring each other in the face since 1902.

We headed straight to the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan to start our morning 
watching the sun climb up the sky...

Rise and Shine!
The Breakwater Lighthouse greets another day, just as it's been doing since 1889.

Further back on the bluff, the Possibility Playground - designed with accessibility for children of all physical abilities - roped us in for over an hour!
The verdict...
                             This...                                               is...                                       awesome!

All that fun worked up an appetite so a quick snack was in order... 
Two thumbs up, by the way!
and we capped the morning off with a closer look at the Pebble House, 
which is some serious inspiration if you happen to love collecting rocks - as Maia and I do... 

Oh....this is so good!

In these here parts, we call this a "bubbler."

Yeah, it's really is Cooler by the Lake!

November 14, 2013

Annie Hall's from Chippewa Falls

I was thinking of a quote from the movie Annie Hall as I was going about my business the other day and remembered that Annie's* from the Midwest, specifically, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. I hadn't thought of this movie for such a long time but now remember laughing at Woody's view of Midwesterners and their comparisons to New Yorkers...i.e. this funny little sample of Woody's 1970s Midwest stereotyping in this YouTube scene from the Easter dinner at the Hall residence in Chippewa Falls:

The movie won the 1977 Oscar for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Writing, and Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. Here are just two more reasons why:

Yep, it made it to book of quotes!
There's an old elderly women are at a Catskill Mountain resort, and one of them says "boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "yeah, I know; and such small portions!" 
Well, that's essentially how I feel about life... full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness...and it's all over much too quickly."

Alvie, you're incapable of enjoying life, you know that? 
I can't enjoy anything unless everybody guy is starving puts a crimp on my evening.

I gotta sit down and watch this one again!

*The character Annie is based on Woody Allen's relationship with Diane Keaton but it's believed her character's hometown of Chippewa Falls was inspired by Allen's friendship with folk singer, Judy Henske, who was born there.

November 13, 2013

We are Family

My obsession with family history began in March 2008, when I went on with the sole mission of trying to figure out why I was sitting in the middle of a blizzard after the 5th straight day of snow and 8th straight day of zero sun in Wisconsin. I mean, for crying out loud, we all need sun don't we?!

Ahem...anywho, not only did my quest allow me to fully appreciate the reasons my great-great grandparents pointed their compasses toward Wisconsin, but it also became clear very early on that the search for my "family" was going to take me back further than I had ever intended to go.

To be sure, I had been taught the stories from the Garden of Eden and the stories of evolution, but before I began horsin' around on, I had never fully comprehended the reality of the fact that we're all, indeed, related to each other!

Whether you like to trace yourself back to biblical Adam and Eve or genetic Adam and Eve, this interesting graphic found on Forty Mile View lays it out pretty simply for us:

So just remember as you go through your day...every day's a family reunion...say hi to the cousins for me!

November 11, 2013

Here we go again...

"...and their hearts were filled with dread."

Thanks Veterans!

There's a saying that "all history is family history" and when we consider our family members who've served our country in times of war, that statement truly hits the mark.

Today, for Veteran's Day, as we acknowledge the sacrifices made by all our veterans - past and present - on our behalf, I'd like to shine a light on three of my direct-line Cain* ancestors and their contributions to our country's early history:

American Revolution - English Colonists vs. Great Britain / 1775-1783
Jacob Brown (1755-1831)
Born in North Carolina / Died in Indiana
Served in 1776 - age 21 
Jacob was "disowned" by Quakers for "taking up arms in a warlike manner"
My 6th great-grandfather

No photo of Jacob Brown's Tombstone Available
Tombstone location is Flatrock Friends Cemetery
Liberty Township, Henry County, Indiana, Est. 1830
Cemetery Record lists Jacob Brown as a "Veteran of the Revolutionary War"

War of 1812 - United States vs. Great Britain / 1812-1815
Otis Ingalls (1790-1856)
Born in New York / Died in Wisconsin
Served in 1814 - age 24
Private in New York Militia, 118 Regiment
My 4th great-grandfather

Otis Ingalls Tombstone
Eureka Cemetery
Eureka, Rushford Township, Winnebago County, Wisconsin
Image upload via (Lady_De_Anna)
Footstone of Otis Ingalls
"Father" with a War of 1812 Emblem
Ingalls Family Plot in Eureka Cemetery
Image upload via (Lady_De_Anna)

American Civil War - Union vs. Confederacy / 1861-1865
Benjamin Franklin Ingalls (1838-1922) - (Son of Otis Ingalls above)
Born in Wisconsin / Died at Veteran's Home in California
Enlisted in 1861 - age 23 
Corporal in Company A, 16th Infantry, Regiment Wisconsin, 
Promoted to Sergeant, Promoted to Full 1st Sergeant
My 3rd great-grandfather

Benjamin Franklin Ingalls Tombstone
Los Angeles National Cemetery
Los Angeles, California
Image upload via (Lady_De_Anna)

Military Taps... click here.

*Note: These ancestors follow back through the line from my grandfather Royal Cain, to his father William Cain then his mother Henrietta (Ingalls) Cain. Benjamin F. Ingalls is Henrietta's father. Jacob Brown is Henrietta's great-grandfather on her mother's (Carmelia VanEaton) side.

November 9, 2013

This Just In...

It's part of a series of furniture pieces that Andy's building, customizable to color, size, detail, etc. This end table awaits the final distressing and sealing coats...I love it already! More to come...

November 8, 2013

Fridays With Maia

Wisconsin may never be mistaken for The Sunshine State but this morning, here in America's Dairyland, it's a pretty fabulous and sunny fall day! Sunny and 41 degrees...I'll take it! (Wisconsin Secret #1:  All you have to do is say the word "sunny" in the weather report and we Wisconsinites will think it's going to be a great day - no matter what the temperature - particularly in the fall and winter, because we know what long stretches without the sun can do to people.)

So today, Maia and I seized the day and took a walk through the beautiful City of Cedarburg...
Swishing through the leaves.

Warning! History Lesson

to its recently opened architectural gem of an art museum, the Cedarburg Art Musuem.

The museum building was originally a private residence built in 1898 by the local mill owner as a wedding gift to his daughter and son-in-law and is an artistic masterpiece in its own right.

Detail of Front Door Medallion

The graceful interiors are sublime backdrops for the beautiful works of art from artists, both living and dead, who were born in, live in or otherwise hold a connection to Wisconsin. In fact, my late uncle Marlo D. Cain, has at least two of his Wisconsin landscapes on exhibit here.

One of the exhibit areas. Shelby Keefe happens to be one of my favorite local (Milwaukee) artists.

The children's drawing room is situated within the turret and is the best seat in the house!

even the mansion's stairwells offer their own works of art...

Aren't museum gift shops great? You get to take a piece of it home with you!

"Can we come back again, Gigi?"