Posts Tagged family

Grandma’s 102nd birthday in Seattle!

8 November 2016

Since Grandma was turning 102 and still loves big parties, we had another birthday party brunch for her at her house in Seattle this year, so I embellished a Costco cake into an impressive peacock-feathered creation, Glen accompanied me this time, and we even had a chance for a few hours of sightseeing in Seattle! Check out the full photo gallery at the end, too!

Glen did his best Shatner at the EMP museum Trek exhibit in Seattle…hahaha! While it rendered it had messages like “Please wait, rendering evil smugness…amplifying Shatnerosity…” Hilarious!

Click through to see the full gallery!

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A Hundred Years of Helen

17 December 2014

The birthday girl and me at the pre-partyI have been working since 2006 on a biography project for my last surviving grandparent, and when she was turning 100 this year, I absolutely had to finish the project in time for her birthday! This has been a lot of work even before 2014, but this project has been about 140 hours of work in just the past 8 months. I hadn’t started counting when I reviewed & imported all the video interviews and scanned most of the old photos before then. I have taken about 800 media “assets” of interviews, old films, scanned vintage photos, digital photos, narrations, including my own singing & playing for the soundtrack, and compressed a chock-full interesting 100-year life into 2 hours 9 minutes running time.

Slideshow at the big partyEven with my day job, my eye surgery in the spring, hosting 4 summer movie nights, a 2-week Hawaiian vacation with Grandma, and giant Halloween The full video premiere at the after-partypreparations this year, I finished a single digital copy complete with all music and transitions in time for the party! I made a short slideshow with a couple video clips to show as large as possible on the wall during the big party, then I set up my projector in the living room back at her house to premiere the full video at the after-party, far enough away from competing with the football game on the TV in the family room. We had a decent dinnertime audience who really enjoyed hearing stories even close friends and family hadn’t heard before. :)

After the premiere, my cousin Stephen told me he had some of the missing photos my grandma couldn’t find, so he scanned those for me, I added in what I could to the video and mastered a DVD-ROM to include all the photos as files for other generations to use, plus I transcribed and formatted everything into a book to accompany the video. I couldn’t fit as many photos into the book, and I took a couple screenshots from the old family films, but that’s not the same as seeing them in motion. The hardback book is available on the Lulu Marketplace here, but the DVD is only available from me. :)

You can now watch the full video “A Hundred Years of Helen” online, broken into the five chapters. There are easy links at the end to click to view the next chapter. The full story is just over two hours long, and Chapter 3 is the longest section at 40 minutes. All the soundtrack songs are classics my grandfather used to play, performed by yours truly on vocals, steel-string guitar and baritone ukulele.


A Hundred Years of Helen
The Story of Helen Marie Bergstrom Clouston

Chapter 1: Childhood in Minnesota
Chapter 2: From the City to the Farm
Chapter 3: Starting in Seattle
Chapter 4: Travels Around the World
Chapter 5: A New Chapter

My mom beat me to blogging the pre-party with pizza and out-of-towners at the house, the big party with 101 guests to help the birthday girl celebrate, the after-party at the house with dinner, and the day-after Peterson cousin fun, so you can read what she said here:

Gary & Diane’s Adventures: A Hundred Years of Helen

I’ve added my own photo gallery here below, plus some videos my cousin’s husband took of my singing with the hired accordion player per the request of the birthday girl. Grandma said it isn’t a party without music, and she loves that I can carry on my grandfather’s musical tradition, so I obliged in belting out some classics my grandfather used to play. :)


You Are My Sunshine

Red River Valley

End of Don’t Fence Me In





Here’s one more bonus song because it’s too cute. My cousin’s kids sang Christmas carols last year with me, so little Abby was looking forward to singing with me again. Lo and behold she is a Frozen fan, so we sang our best “Let It Go” while I fumbled around try to play it on the old electric organ, and she was adorable! 😉

Abby & Britta Singing Let It Go


home again

31 December 2007

We had an uneventful drive back to California…well my dad drove the entire time of course since it was HIS new toy. 😉 We saw the beautiful fresh snowfall over the Siskiyou Mountains as we drove on the clear & safe road, Mt Shasta stayed hidden behind clouds, and the worst driving weather was between Weed and Dunsmuir through Shasta National Forest, but thankfully the snowfall was light along with the traffic so no problems for us. The weather stayed misty the entire way back down into the Central Valley, much gloomier than bright snow, but Christmas was over anyway. 😉 We got back at dusk with enough time to unpack the essentials, pack my car, and go to my brother’s house for his presents and dinner out together. I left his house after 10:30pm but missed traffic that way, so I was back home with my kitties even unpacked before 1am. They so far have not gotten mad at me and are plenty cuddly & fun, but I also haven’t left the house for any extended length of time since I’ve been back, since I was getting all my Christmas decorations packed away. We’ll see what happens when I have to leave them to go to work again in 2 days!


Siskiyou Mountains in southern Oregon – taken out the RV window while moving on the I-5 freeway!

I now have all the photos in a Gallery album if you’d like to see how the giant front windows of the RV let me take a lot of pretty landscape photos while we were in motion. :)

Never fear, I will start the new year with cute kitty photos again. Happy New Year everyone!

on the road again

28 December 2007

By the Thursday afternoon my uncle’s family had all caught a cold so we were uninvited to Bend anyway. We picked a good day to drive today though, since rain all day but no snow, and Seattle is scheduled for snow again Saturday & Sunday. My dad is still not letting anyone else drive the RV even though he’s complaining about being the only one driving, and I keep offering to drive! 😉 We’re south of Medford for the night, with wifi included at the RV campsite. My dad still insisted on using his Verizon aircard instead as I easily connected to the wifi & was showing them all Nora the Piano Cat I had just stumbled upon last night. Am I the last person to see Nora? I wonder if my kitties will play piano like that…haha! My mom & I played Scrabble again tonight after a yummy pizza dinner, but she caught up past my early 20 pt lead playing QUAD on a triple word score for 42 pts, and I was stuck with only one vowel each turn thereafter! I caught up so I wasn’t so far behind & was able to play all my letters on my last turn – first time for me ever! – but she only had a G left which was only 2 pts, so she still beat me by less than 10 pts. This is two games in a row we’ve played until 1 letter left, which is shocking for us, but maybe it’s a normal occurrence for more frequent Scrabble players? Since we play one game in a blue moon maybe we just don’t know it happens more often. 😉

Tomorrow is hopefully all the way back to Roseville, but we still have to cross the Siskiyous and get past Mt Shasta…wish us no snow please!

White Christmas!

27 December 2007

Lo & behold, a white Christmas! My grandma’s house is very close to Puget Sound, so the warmer coastal air very rarely lends itself to snow even though the inland Seattle area might get it more often. We have seen some flurries the 23rd or 26th before, but actual snow on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day has only happened once ever before in my mom’s entire life in the Seattle area, and that was in 1990 when we were all there! We couldn’t believe in the early afternoon on Christmas Day when fluffier blobs started coming down along with the rain, not sticking to the ground until about an hour later. My parents’ new black Lab mix Elsie, only a year-and-a half-old, was wondering what this weird white stuff was coming from the sky & on the ground! I was hearing Jack Skellington’s “What’s This?” song in my head as Elsie sniffed & ran around in the snow. 😉


White Christmas in Woodway, Washington!

We obviously did get here safely, but the RV got stuck in the mud in my grandma’s backyard when we arrived after dark, so the morning of Christmas Eve was spent waiting for the Good Sam winch truck that never arrived, with me helping my dad work with long scrap wood, concrete stepping stones and lots of digging, and we eventually got it out & parked on more stable ground. My grandma kept announcing incredulously that I was the youngest person here for Christmas! 😛 She would much rather have some young kids around for Christmas, and so would I, but that wasn’t to be this year. We still had a fun family Christmas, especially when the snow arrived. Since she lives in Seattle, my cousin Kristina on my dad’s side came to visit this afternoon with her son Anders who I hadn’t seen since he was a baby and her 7-month old daughter Solveig I hadn’t met yet. What a cutie! No snow here today, not even any rain, but several inches of snow is forecast for tomorrow for Seattle and all along I-5 south through Oregon, let alone the more easterly route over Snoqualmie Pass we are planning on going to stop by Bend, OR to see my mom’s brother & his family on the way back down to California, so we’re staying at my grandma’s house an extra day. The forecast is back to rain by Friday so hopefully that will be safer driving in the giant RV. No, my dad has not allowed me to drive the RV yet, even though I have earned my keep researching in all the documentation for possibilities why the hot water heater wouldn’t work and figuring out the little-did-we-know-how-highly-useful walkie-talkie system that came with the RV, and in ice & snow he is not going to let me drive his new toy anytime soon. That’s fine with me as long as he stays awake driving the whole way! My parents have no schedule except New Years parties, lucky them, but I have to get back to work on Jan 2nd, let alone get back to my kittens!

I hope everyone has been having a nice Christmas!

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