Just Shelley Photography

This is my Mom

My Mom must have had over a thousand photos, some dating to the 1800s. It will take me months to scan them in and identify them. She had all my Dad’s WWII photos, her family, his family, and my brother and I.

I gave her a Nikon Coolpix years ago, when she expressed an interest in digital photography. Of course, she wasn’t that interested in getting a computer, so the Coolpix didn’t get much of a work out.

I grabbed it and the lenses when I was back there. It’s a fun camera and I thought it would be a good walk around camera. I tested it out when I got home.

Mom had one photo on the memory card. This is my Mom.

Just Shelley

Sandpoint, Idaho and Good-Byes

Sandpoint Ski Lodge

The Friday after we moved into the new house, the very day after we unpacked the last box, I got a call from my brother: my mother had died. What followed was a frantic two days trying to arrange for a potentially long trip to Sandpoint, Idaho, in the midst of a snow storm here in the Midwest. Both my brother (who lives in Indiana) and I scheduled a flight out on Delta the following Monday. Delta sent his delayed notice out before he went to the airport, but I was already at Lambert. Fifteen hours later, we both finally crawled into Spokane, and got the rental car 15 minutes before they closed.

Luckily there were no moose, elk, or deer on the roads during the car ride, because I was too tired to miss them if they suddenly appeared. We got to Mom’s house, found the key hidden by the neighbor, and fell into beds.

The next day, I looked around, overwhelmed at all we had to do. My brother took on the work to arrange the funeral, while I started going through the paperwork I could find. I was Mom’s executor, and needed to find the will and other papers. Mom had an interesting filing system. Some of the papers were in a file folder, some in a desk, and rest squirreled away among her paint supplies.

Mom didn’t want a funeral, I didn’t want a funeral, but Mom’s family…we had to do something. So we settled on a short, simple, ceremony in the funeral home’s chapel, with a very nice minister who worked very hard to create a personal speech for a woman he had never met.

My brother has work responsibilities and had to leave for home that weekend. I was left with a house full of furniture and memorabilia and paintings from a life lived 82 years. This, on top of all the paperwork that has to be managed. I didn’t know where to start. That’s when the neighbors appeared. They brought food and offers of help; especially Sam from two doors down and Colleen across the street.

As I started clearing material out, Sam would appear with his truck and take what couldn’t be salvaged to the dump. He also suggested the Panhandle Animal Shelter’s thrift store for the clothes and kitchen stuff, and Habitat for Humanity for the garage and garden stuff. And he and his wife, Lisa, would stop by with their dogs, their gentleness, and their stories of Mom. I fell in love with Siri, their 13 year old dog.

Colleen knows everyone in Sandpoint. She suggested Home Sweet Home for the major furniture and collectibles. Rich from the store took most everything except for what I affectionately referred to as the monsters: the electric organ, the piano, the 171 pound rear projection TV, and this nine foot tall lamp with three large glass lotus shaped lights that hang over you. As Sam noted: it reminded you of a pink, glass, alien monster from space. No one, but no one wanted the monsters.

Colleen went to town. She found folks to take the beds, and when the young couple showed up to take one, the woman spotted the lotus lamp. When last we saw it, it was sitting in the back of a truck, her proudly holding on to it, big lotus flowers hanging over the cab. Sam was walking his dogs when they went past. The look on his face was priceless.

But Colleen wasn’t finished. The TV and organ went to a bible camp, for youth activities, the beautiful, mother of pearl accordion went to the music conservancy, and the piano went to a friend of hers, who needed a bit of cheer, herself.

We needed movers for the monsters. There were the Millers at the country store nearby. Mennonites. They also had a moving company. Monsters were helped on their way to their new homes on gentle but incredibly strong and capable arms.

Between clearing out a house that has a remarkable number of closets and cupboards, having to stop from time to time to look at a photo or puzzle over a possession, I went to Mom’s lawyer and trusted him immediately. Mechanics of probate in his capable hands, I set out to change the status of a life I didn’t really expect to be over so soon. And everywhere I went, I was greeted with gentleness, helpfulness, and sincere expressions of condolence. The city clerk who handled the records helped get Mom’s accounts set over to my name. The post office was sincerely sad they couldn’t issue a change of address until I got the probate letters, but they did let the mail deliverer know to hold the deliveries when I gave the word.

(I met her my last day in Sandpoint. She told me how nice my Mom was, and how she’d see her walking her pups up and down the street. The pups preceded Mom in death.)

My brother’s daughter joined us for the funeral. It was nicely done, with several of Mom’s paintings on easels in among the flowers. The minister was very sweet, and kind. But it was awful. I fled as soon as I could. I pleaded the need to lay out the sandwiches, veggies, and fruit for the lunch at the house following the ceremony.

It was nice seeing Mom’s family who I hadn’t seen in years, but it was a strain for an introvert who just wanted to finish closing the house up so I could go home. Mom’s sister made it, though I know she hasn’t been well. She matter-of-factly told me this would be a final parting as I hugged her good-bye.

Brother, niece, and I went out for dinner night before they left. Sandpoint has excellent food, definitely gourmet quality. And the proportions are lumberjack sized, as befitting an town that attracts skiers in the winter, and hikers and adventurers, year round. Beautiful town, wonderful people, extraordinary food. It’s easy to understand why Mom retired to the town.

A week of non-stop work and we—Colleen, Sam, and I—had the house cleared. I hired a cleaning crew to make it sparkle, met with the realtors, gave them the keys, and took one last look around.

Good-bye Mom.

Just Shelley

Good-Bye Mom

February 27, 2015

My Mom died.

March 1, 2015

I’ll be leaving for Sandpoint tomorrow, and probably not be back for three or so weeks. I’m Mom’s executor, and I have to set everything in motion to handle her estate closure remotely.

Internet access will be erratic at best, so I may be quiet for some time. Again, thank you all for your kind words. They help more than you can know.

March 4, 2015

Services are tomorrow. I think Mom would like what we planned.

We have had wonderful help from neighbors. We are gifting some stuff to friends and family, having antique place take some others, but habitat for humanity us getting most of the furniture and the panhandle animal shelter is getting the small stuff for their store. Goodwill is getting clothes.

Found wonderful lawyer to handle probate. First of real estate agents on Friday.

I think I can come home end of next week.

March 6, 2015

I an flying home a week from today, thanks in large part to the extraordinary kindness of my Mom’s neighbors.
When I returni have so much to say about the Ringling decision.

March 7, 2015

My brother found this in a box. My Mom made all my school dresses in grade school. She kept the fabric scraps and made this comforter.
Is it cool or what?

March 10, 2015

Rich and his son from Home Sweet Home took most of the furniture and the cabinet contents. As usual, they are extremely nice. Nicest town in the world.

So tomorrow, the movers take the big stuff, I have one or two trips to Panhandle animals shelter with stuff for their thrift store, and Sam, another neighbor is taking one last load to dump.

Thursday cleaning crew comes in, hopefully I have probate letters and manage rest of stuff including signing real estate agreement.
Discovered today my Mom didn’t have house insurance. A desperate call to agent providing car insurance and we’re covered

I am so bone tired, but I’m coming home Friday

March 14, 2015

My Mom’s home is now officially listed. The realtor didn’t take the best photos, but I feel people will be pleasantly surprised.

Zillow listing

March 16, 2015

Sandpoint, Idaho and Good-Byes

April 2, 2015

Wow, we got an offer on Mom’s house. And it’s a good one.

May 7, 2015

Mom’s house sold, and the new owners are moving in today. The Locust tree in the front yard bloomed yesterday, just in time to welcome them to their new home.

I hope they find the two bottles of wine I stashed in the cupboard for them.

Just Shelley

Home Sweet Home Outside the St. Louis Inner Loop

The last few months have been a blur of activity as we found, and bought, our new home. We’re now proud owners of a 3 bed/2 bath in unincorporated St. Charles county. I’m writing this from my office in the new home, watching the sun rise, sitting in its light by the window. The photo of the backyard is from the realtor’s photos. I’ll take some of my own when the weather clears.

One of the moving company people and the cable hookup guy both talked about how quiet the area is where we’ve moved. “Unlike St. Louis county and its recent troubles”, was left unsaid. I hate the thought that folks think we’re leaving St. Louis county because of those “black problems in Ferguson”. We picked the location because a) it’s close to Roomie’s job, and b) the housing is still relatively affordable where we moved.

But, it is true that we we also wanted to move away from Shrewsbury, though not for the reasons some would assume. If Shrewsbury is not Ferguson now, it will be in ten years. It has the same problems Ferguson has: too many police for too small a population, many of whom suffer much of the same arrogance demonstrated by the Ferguson police department. I haven’t seen any racism, but if other communities are any indication, it’s there, just under the surface. Compounding the problems of racism, and too many police stations under too loose a civilian control , is the fact that the generally liberal, white leadership in this area is the most astonishingly insipid group of people I’ve ever come across.

The attitude of the leadership is don’t rock the boat, don’t speak out; if you must protest, do it quietly and try not to disturb those attending the Cardinals game. Where the rural, conservative leadership in the state encourages people to speak out and to make a noise (as long as you’re speaking what they want to hear, and the noise suits their agenda), the leaders in the liberal urban communities surrounding St. Louis do the opposite: just shut the hell up and do what you’re told, people. You will vote for this candidate. You will follow these rules when you’re unhappy. Above all, you never question the leaders, because the leaders know what’s best.

It’s no wonder that Missouri swiftly tilted from purple to red in recent elections: the blue blood in our veins is thin, and anemic.

Now, in our new home, we’re surrounded by conservatives. We’re unlikely to agree with our neighbors on anything. But at least we’ll be surrounded by people who aren’t afraid to speak above a whisper.

And we have trees in our backyard.

JavaScript Writing

JavaScript Cookbook 2nd Edition: Live and Personal

JavaScript Cookbook cover

The second edition of the JavaScript Cookbook just went live at O’Reilly. If you’re wondering why I haven’t been writing about technology as much lately, it’s because I was saving all my tech writing mojo for the book.

We went a somewhat different path with the second edition. I spent a lot less time on syntax, and a lot more on JavaScript in use. When I wrote my first book on JavaScript, in the dark ages that was the mid-1990s, syntax was about all you had with JavaScript. Now, JavaScript is everywhere. It’s the programming language that ate the world.

Well, nibbled the world. JavaScript is still that friendly, approachable language, even with the new ECMAScript additions. JavaScript has never roared; it’s meowed and purred its way into our lives. Good kitty. Nice kitty. Here, have a closure.

In the new edition of JavaScript Cookbook, I covered JavaScript in the browser, and re-visited our old friends (Ajax and the JS objects), yes. But I also spent a considerable time covering JavaScript in the server, in the cloud, and in our mobile devices. The only environment I didn’t cover is the open source hardware, DIY, wearable world, and that’s because I feel these need more preliminary introductions to the environment, so you don’t do something like fry your new Raspberry Pi. Or Computer. Or shirt.

I will never join with those who are critical of JavaScript. I have always had fun with this language. There’s just so much you can do with it.