May 6, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Today, my dad sent me a true treasure: a letter that my Aunt Dianne discovered, written by my great great grandfather, James Coil, in April 1865.
I didn’t know James existed. James was a Union soldier in the civil war. He talks of the battle at Richmond, VA, April 1865, when the Union re-took the capital of the Confederacy. Pretty important battle.
Here’s the text of his letter, misspellings and all:
Point of Rocks
April 7, 1865
Dear wife it is with mutch pleasure that i take my pencil in hand to let yo no that i am well at this time and hope that these few lines may find yo in good health i will tell yo that we have had a ruff time this week we have run the Rebbles all out of Ritchmond and it is ours
we took about 30.000 prisiners and old lee is in full retreat i will tell yo how i got along in the fite i wet into it on sunday about nine oclock and came out about ten but i was in it long enough to git a slite wound on the left arm just below the shoulder but it is only a slight flesh wound
i think that i am the luckeyest man out when i look about me and see the rest of the men some have a leg off some have an arm off some wounded one way and some another i just got enough to keep me out of the field until they drive old lee to hell or git him
now i must close i dont want yo to git uneasy about me for. i am all rite so i remain yours truly
James M Coil
to Catherine Coil
And here are the images of the original letter (clicking on it opens a gallery) :
Amazing. I know James Coil’s story – at least a piece of it – thanks to the internet.
But I have so many questions. Where did James and Catherine live? What was Catherine’s maiden name? What was their trade? Education? What were their accents like? He wrote the letter from Point of Rocks – which Wikipedia says was home to exiled Unionists from Loudoun County, VA – was that his home? And, of course, what did James and Catherine look like?
When my dad sent me this letter, it was truly a gift. And so I’m inspired to learn as much as I can about my family, living and dead, to expand on that gift and to someday teach my children about their ancestors.
All the Coils and Bonardis and Thomases and Jensens that came before me might not define who I am – but if their stories hadn’t happened in the exact manner that they did: I might not exist. I want to know those stories.
So I’m adding another point to my 101/1001 list:
29. Document my family history.
Family members, prepare to get yourselves INTERVIEWED.
May 2, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Bek and I are having people over tonight. We each stopped by a grocery store after work to pick up snacks.
I bought: a French rosé wine, smoked gouda, chocolate covered pretzels, and green apples.
Bek bought: Doritos Locos Tacos Doritos (the chips) and Coke.
March 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
There’s a scene in one of my favorite escapist books (reads like a rom com and I’m OK with that) in which the protagonist looks at her ongoing to-do list and realizes that 1) she’s written ‘find milkman’ and ‘figure out how to turn on oven’ twice and 2) she’s done nothing on her list because she works all the time.
This isn’t like that – I’m actually crossing things off. So maybe that wasn’t the best opener. But it’s a good book.
Anyway, I heard the phrase ‘reputation management’ the other day and thought to actually do some reputation management (aka see what’s on my website). To my happy surprise, I’ve actually done a few things on my 101/1001 list. Or at least started.
21. Buy a Car
I set out to buy a Civic. I ended up with a VW Beetle convertible. I regret nothing.
18. Become conversational in Spanish
Working on it. Duolingo is helping. I still can’t believe Duolingo is free. A study was just released about language learning that found Duolingo to be quicker and easier than Rosetta Stone when it comes to learning Spanish- AND IT’S FREE. I promise they don’t pay me to rave about them online.
12. Go to the Caribbean
I actually did this in 2006. I taught English (and did other humanitarian stuff) in Haiti. It was a wonderful trip, but not exactly a ‘Caribbean vacation.’ The reason I’m adding it here now? Finally have a trip booked for Puerto Rico in July – one of the only tropical places Bek can go before he becomes a US citizen. Calling it our (very) belated honeymoon.
10. Start and cultivate a vegetable and herb garden and 24. Grow a fruit tree
I live in a rental townhome with no yard. I can’t exactly grow veggies – but I have been growing herbs. Bek bought me a sick starter set of plants to grow for Christmas – and now our kitchen is home to peppermint, basil, thyme, cilantro, parsley, and chives.
And an orange tree. I’m crossing that one off too. Who needs a yard?
7. Give the furniture I own (and hate) a makeover
OK.. I’m not 100% done with this one. I’d like to revamp the dresser in our bedroom as well. I’m either going to be
boring classy and paint it white, or crazy and try a bright yellow or mint. Can’t decide.
I did revamp an awful footstool for our bedroom for a total of $12 (including the cost of the footstool). The fabric is a fan coral print from the flea market (in Raleigh). It’s the best – and it was $6 / yard. I used a little can of white paint that I found in the attic for the base. Can’t beat that.
NEXT ON THE LIST — National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, hug an exotic animal, parasail with the fella, wakeboard, write a novel / short story. Hopefully by the end of summer those will get crossed off.
Hey… help me add to my list. Give me ideas for cool life things to do. Please?
November 12, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Y’all, I got pitched by a company as a blogger.
I’ve pitched a gazillionish bloggers in my life for several different companies, but it’s never been the other way around. Until now. Yehhh.
The customer experience from design to checkout is seamless. The web design is beautiful. The shipping was FAST- way faster than any canvas print I’ve ordered in the past. Extremely impressive for a custom product. You can pull an image from Facebook or Instagram if you choose. I didn’t do that, but it’s a cool option. Here’s a screenshot from the design process:
There’s really no way around saying this… the print quality is just not good. It almost looks like there’s a white film all over it. It’s grayish and washed out. You can’t discern Bek’s teeth from each other – it’s just a blob of color. The picture looks nothing short of blurry. I used a decently high resolution image, but you’d think I snapped a shot with my old 3.2 megapixel point-and-shoot and stretched it to an 8×10. Not so.
Here’s the photo I used next to a picture of the canvas print:
It’s a bit difficult to show you with a crappy iPhone picture of the print. Basically, the colors are muted. The greens are less green. The dark colors look like they have a layer of not-yet-dry modge podge on them. You can’t see our individual teeth, which is kind of creepy. Could be a fluke, though.
I keep seeing this William Morris quote on Pinterest: “Have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” This isn’t beautiful. I wouldn’t buy a canvas from them again, but the customer experience and web design is good enough that I might try their photo prints. Clearly they have good designers, so perhaps this product is just the weak link.
Disclosure: I received a free canvas from Printcopia for my honest review. All opinions are mine.
September 3, 2012 § 1 Comment
It pains me to write this, because I love Target so much. Target’s brick and mortar customer experience is great. No issues there. I’ve never actually ordered anything from Target.com, so this is my first experience with the ecommerce side.
And it was a bad one.
- I was supposed to receive an e-gift card from Target on 8/31. At least, that’s when the order was placed. Their website says egift cards arrive within 4 hours.
- 24 hours came and went, no gift card. I called customer service on 9/1, was on hold for at least 45 minutes, and was finally issued a replacement card.
- 48 hours came and went, and now on 9/3, STILL no card. I called customer service again. They told me to wait another day and call again on 9/4 if it still isn’t here.
Four days for a gift card to arrive VIA EMAIL. That’s awful. Not even close to ‘not great.’ It’s terrible.
And the kicker? I have to convert that egift card into a normal gift card once it does arrive – then wait 4 hours before I can use it in a Target store. I asked customer service why that extra step was in place, and the rep said ‘because Target.com and Target stores are separate.’ Yes, maybe from Target’s perspective, but not from the consumer’s. I can return things from Target.com in a Target store. I can use a giftcard bought in the store on Target.com. Why is this the only exception? Why the extra step for the customer?
Target egift cards need to be re-thought. Their systems and process don’t work for this product. It’s a standard thing that should be offered, but it needs to be improved. And quickly.
May 30, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Starting another task on my 101/1001 list. Wahoo!
I’ve wanted to learn Spanish for years. I even bought Spanish textbooks from my high school when I was 15 so that I could start studying on the side. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s really hard to learn a language from a textbook. Especially if there’s no language teacher to
scare you senseless motivate you.
BUT HOLD ON there is the internet! This time, it all started with my friend M.
And so M opened the floodgates. Duolingo is completely amazing. It’s like Rosetta Stone fo’ free. Or what I imagine Rosetta Stone to be like. Except you also get to translate the web. Yeah. In exchange for developing super awesome language skills, you translate stuff.
What a cool idea. Here’s a little video of me using Duolingo.
Also, I have three invites, so if you want to learn Spanish / German / French, hit me up. I got you. If you’re already on there, my username is ‘taylorsheva.’ Let’s learn together.
May 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Today, I started actually doing something on my 101/1001 list: train for and run a 5k.
My trusty running shoes: I’ve worn this style since I was 16!
I can run a mile, no problem. I’ve run more than 10 5ks in my life. I could probably (maybe) run one without training. But I’m not sure. I thought I’d train for it just to be sure.
So I found this training schedule. But ugh, the first four weeks sounded wayy too easy. So I skipped to week 5:
I guess I knew that interval training was harder than just running outright. I knew it the way I knew the First Amendment in high school. I could talk about it, but I didn’t feel it in my bones. I now feel it in my bones that interval training is harder.
Y’all, that was the hardest 20-minute workout I’ve had in forever. Like, since my swim-a-mile-per-day era. Of course, I was way more in shape (and younger) back then.
This might be harder than I thought.