Category Archives: Cherryvale

You’ve got a friend

OK, so lets take up from the last blog, seeing I’m not laden with new ideas tonight for a blog, and look at those other friends you get to know through social media, the truly special ones. And no, in this case, I’m discounting all those people you work/worked/live with, or those that its nice to have on your list, but arent bothered about if you meet them, or chat much with them at all. This is about those amazing people, who you discover through social media, who make you feel special.

Firstly, lets start with a couple that I met not through the ‘traditional’ forms of Social Media, but through a writers forum I belong to. One wonderful lady from New England, who not only have I talked to quite a bit online with, I’ve actually had 5 holidays with! Fine, as things stand, this year is going to break the streak, as I just cant see me having the money to do it, unless something miraculous happens, but fingers crossed. Oh, and from the same source, a truly wonderful man from northern New York State too. Yes, the one that invited me over to join his family for my first ever Thanksgiving Dinner!

Anyway, what happened, he found me a budget (relative, this was Boston!) place to stay in Boston, probably the most tranquil week of my life (no TV’s in lodgings, anywhere!), and we made plans that he would come down, during my stay, and we’d have a day together. Then Kate decided that she was going to spoil the visitor for a week around town, staying in a nearby hotel, and taking me out to see the sights. Just one slight snag, they both thought I was a genuine woman! Long story, going back to when I first appeared on the Forums, long before I transitioned, and when I appeared, everyone said Stephanie is here! So fine, I was female in all but transitioning sense, so I went with it, assuming I’d never meet anyone.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, a couple of weeks beforehand, I let them know the situation, in case they wanted to change their minds, as you can tell, neither did. I was told they would probably not have known, but I felt better that way. Yes, such a failure that Kate and I have gone on holiday 4 times since, James invited me over to Albany, and on 1 of those occasions, we met up for a day too, the three of us!

But fine, they’d known me through words, and things, for a while before we met. The next person I’m mentioning, I’d only spoken on Twitter, and Facebook to, before we arranged to meet up, for a guided tour of a small Kansas city. Yes, that one where Louise Brooks was born. The first words we actually spoke to each other were on my cell phone, just as we were arriving in Cherryvale!

Not only did Tina give us a guided tour of the place, she arranged for me to get into the Museum to look around, and also took us out to the lake nearby. We met only for a few hours, and will probably never meet again, but its something I will never forget, for sure.

Lastly, the current Facebook buddy I will probably never meet, is also from New York State. A bit south of James, but north of NYC. So what does she do, she’s always there with a friendly word, and a hi, each day, on Facebook. We throw a few more words about our lives, and stuff, and its great. So yes, its knowing she’ll be there that makes her special, thanks, Stacie.

So, what I’m saying is that those friends you’ve never met, but you know online, they can be so special too. Not everyone on Social Media is out to get you, so true!

The video, a little bit of Randy Newman, from Toy Story

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A look back at 2014 – The US Edition

Yes, I think its fair to say that so much has happened in my life this year, that I can stretch this out to 2 parts quite easily. The UK edition will follow on Wednesday, by the way. A look forward to what I know 2015 holds in store, on New Years Day.

So, lets start with the first trip, the one to Kansas City, and the whole state of Kansas. Initially, the plan had been for this to happen in May, but things never work out quite as planned. Kate’s work got in the way, so it got put back to September. Thankfully, her main concern about doing that, extreme heat, and me, never cropped up. It was very pleasant, 70’s, and 80’s and all that, but no more, so all was fine.

Before we get to the main emotional stuff, I could never have got to Cherryvale without her, and I dont think she will ever realise just how much I appreciated her help in getting me there. But its what happened when I got to Cherryvale that really struck home to me, just how wonderful some people can be to a virtual stranger, that she may well never meet again. One amazing woman, named Tina. Not only did she really welcome us to Cherryvale, home town of Louise Brooks (and Vivian Vance, as she would appreciate me mentioning), she really welcomed us to town. A guided tour, photos of both Brooks homes, and a trip out to see the Big Lake nearby too. But on top of all this, she arranged for me to get into the museum, in town, on a day when it would normally be shut to the public. Someone I’m really glad to have met, and to give me the chance to get close to standing in Louise Brooks’s footprints.

Its fair to say that I’ll probably never get back to Cherryvale, but I will always remember that place, unless dementia gets me first!

On the same trip, after Kate had gone back home (she has a normal life, for heavens sake), I headed off into Kansas City, home town of Jean Harlow, of course. Funnily enough, for quite a while, I got no further than Union Station, on the edge of town. Nowadays the station has one through train (Chicago – Los Angeles), and 2 other services to St Louis, and thats it! Of course, back in the 1920’s, there were a lot more trains, and there is photographic evidence of Jean Harlow travelling by train, so its fair to assume that I very much stood in her foot steps there.

Luckily, I got to take a modern trolley car trip around the city, so did see a lot more, maybe I’ll get back one day, but I’m not getting any younger…

Bur despite all that, its fair to say, that in the end, that wasnt my most emotional trip to the US this year. In November, I went out to Albany (as was always planned), given an invitation by my wonderful friend, James, to join his family for Thanksgiving, a first for me. Really, really glad I did it, despite the snow dump on the Wednesday, about 9 inches. Thing is, the bus service didnt even blink, let alone stop. Over here, an inch, and…rolls eyes.

Thanksgiving Day, and everything surrounding it was amazing, so glad I got to find out what that was like. And no, I didnt go shopping on Black Friday!

But yes, the side trip to New Hampshire. I had discussed the possibility of doing a past life regression with S earlier in the year. There was only about 200 miles between him, and Albany, but getting there by public transport… We compromised, I got the coach to Worcester, MA, and he took me to and from New Hampshire from there.

Lets be frank, much though it would have been wonderful to have discovered I was Jean Harlow in a previous life, it wasnt really likely to be true. It wasnt, though I would love to have seen his face (I was deep in trance remember) when I said I was in Hollywood in 1928! I remember being asked the colour of my hair, giggling, and saying brunette, though of course I had no idea why he was asking me that. Yes, I was, in a past life, a small part actress named Clara Johnson, oh wow!

Sadly, finding anything out about Clara, even with the internet, has pretty much come up blank, apart from one credited part. Small parts never got credited before the mid 30’s, we know she made a decent living, but no more… Sometime, I really must get back to New Hampshire, let him put me under for much longer, and find out so much more about her. But until then, I know who I was, and just maybe, she worked, or played with Jean, when both were just small part actresses.

So yes, those 2 trips have tugged at my emotions no end, but I’m really, really glad I done both, and now know what I do.

Louise got married (at least) twice, Jean three times, Clara, just the once. For each of them, there must have been something of this. And of course, in the title of the group, Hollywood

A day to remember, but a day to celebrate too.

Well, seriously, given the date and everything, what else were you expecting tonight?

Strictly, the centenary of the significance of the 11th November is still 4 years away, but given this is the centenary of the start of World War 1, its a major landmark anyway. And at the 11th hour today, we have, or will (depending on your time zone) remember them.

Not that we just remember those who fell during that awful war, but on the battlefields everywhere, ever since. I suppose, strictly, those who died before too, but its fair to say that 1918 was of course the day that Remembrance Day over here, Veterans Day in the US, is the one that all are remembered for.

No, I’m not going to get political on the matter, though its fair to say that in hindsight, the leaders on both sides in WW1 didnt think too much about planning.

But anyway, for all those brave souls who died then, and since then, I remember, and respect all you did for us, who followed you.

Oh, the celebration? Well, two friends, one long term, one who I have only got to know recently both celebrate their birthday today.

The new one, that wonderful lady who showed Kate, and I around Cherryvale, less than 2 months ago. I think it was towards the end of last year when we first made contact, due to a posting I made about, yes, going to Cherryvale, the home town of Louise Brooks. Finally, I got to meet her in September, and she was just as wonderful to me in real life, as she had been in cyberspace.

Thanks, Tina, hope you’ve had a wonderful day.

Its fair to say I’ve known James a lot longer, though I’m not sure now, just how many years it has been. But in that time, he has become a true friend, a confidant, my editor, to name but 3 things! This man is simply amazing, believe me. Oh, and to top all this, he is the one who has invited me, in less than 2 weeks now, to celebrate Thanksgiving with him, my first time doing so.

So yes, as well as remembering the brave who died fighting for us, I am celebrating the birthday of 2 wonderful people.

The video, well yes, its a war related one, though possibly not one that people would immediately relate to events.

The climax of the baseball season

Yes, tomorrow night, in Kansas City, the culmination of the baseball season begins. Given that the game will actually start at 1.00 am in the UK, on Wednesday morning, I wont be watching. But in spirit, albeit a sleeping spirit, I will be there.

Its a rare treat, in that I have actually been to both stadiums where the games will take place, and actually enjoyed visiting both of them. The last time there was a World Series when that happened, 1993 when Toronto took on Philadelphia. The Toronto stadium at that time, was the once I visited, but the Philadelphia one wasnt, having being demolished in 2004, and replaced by a very modern stadium that well, I didnt fall in love with!
The last Series between 2 teams I have seen play is far more recent, just 2 years ago, when San Francisco played Detroit. I saw Detroit play, in the now demolished Metrodome in Minneapolis.

But these two…

So lets start with where people leave their heart, San Francisco. AT&T Park is probably one of my all time favourites, probably helped by the fact that the first time I went there (have been twice), I went to an evening game, and not only did I get to watch the baseball, in a wonderful setting, I got to see the sunset over San Francisco Bay, and that was worth the money in itself.
But all in all, its a wonderful setting to see baseball played, though sadly, no one hit a home run into the water while I was there. Have seen it on TV a couple of times, but…

So yes, ironically, under any other circumstances, I would happily support them against most teams, but not this time around.

Because they are playing Kansas City!

So far, I’ve only had the one visit to Kaufman Stadium, about a month ago, when they lost to Boston. As was mentioned in the blog at the time, the service that Kate and I got from the staff, was truly amazing. And seeing those famous fountains, at the other end of the stadium…really good!

I must admit, there are 2 ladies who are the reason I follow Kansas City, Brooks and Harlow. One came from the city, one came from the state of Kansas, so all in all…a big soft spot for me. Neither of course saw the Royals play, they only started playing in 1969. Lets face it, pre war, travel made it impossible for teams to play that far west. And when teams started moving west, California became the big target, so…

And before you ask, I have absolutely no evidence that either lady ever saw a baseball match anywhere!

Given that San Francisco have won it all twice in the last 4 years, Kansas hadnt even made the play offs since 1985, when they actually won the World Series themselves, I might have supported KC anyway. But now, probably the first time I’ve really rooted against SF in all honesty.

Hopefully KC will win, as that would be perfect for me. But at the same time, if a National League team has to win it, well, San Francisco might be my call. But even so, I have to say it, go Royals!

The video, well its about KC, and produced in Cherryvale, surely the perfect combination? I have to thank my friend, Tina for posting it on Facebook in the first place.

Oh, and if any manip/photoshop experts out there want to send me a picture of Jean Harlow, in either a Royals top, or cap, I would so love it, and would post it up. I know, wherever she is watching it from, she’ll be rooting for her home town team

Somewhere, over the state line

Yes, somewhere over the state line, in the South eastern corner of Kansas, sits a little city called Cherryvale, I have mentioned it once or twice before in blogs, as the birthplace of Vivian Vance, as well as a young lady named Mary Louise Brooks.

Yesterday, I got there, so glad.

Now, this isnt a big city, total population of just over 2,200 people, but for me, it was one of those places I so wanted to visit, but getting there is a challenge for non drivers, unless you have a special friend like Kate to drive you there.

We got to Cherryvale shortly after 1.00, and I rang Tina, my local contact there, to let her know we’d arrived. She was one block or so away, and very soon a car pulled up, and we met up. What followed was a wonderful guided tour of Cherryvale, showing us all the landmarks, relating to Brooks, Vance, and general Cherryvale life, both past and present.

A picture of the first home Louise Brooks lived in

Louise Brooks 1st home in Cherryvale

Her second home

Louise Brooks 2nd home in Cherryvale

Then, while we waited for the Museum to be opened (just for us, I might add), we were taken up to the nearby ‘Big Lake’ to admire the view, and for me to get my picture taken

Me, at the lake, Cherryvale

After that, back into town, and while Kate settled into businesswoman mode, I took a tour of the museum. Lots of Vance, plenty of Brooks, and far more relating to life in, and around Cherryvale. We even managed to find some pictures of Jean in the old magazines of the 20’s and 30’s too!

Last, but not least, an ‘I was there’ photo, outside of the museum

Me, at the museum, Cherryvale

Yes, the lady in the background, in green, is Kate, my heroine for getting me there!

Finally, just before 3.30 we headed out of town, realistically my one, and only visit in my life to Cherryvale, but I got there. I know Louise would probably just say “so what?” or something along those lines, but I’m so glad I did it.

Finally, huge thanks to Tina for all she did for us, and thanks also to the lady who guided me around the museum, whose name I cant remember. Cherryvale, thanks for such a wonderful day.

Under the circumstances, there were only 2 video options. Given this is probably the ultimate Kansas song, and all that…No, not the Garland version, but Eva Cassidy, a version that I personally far prefer

I’ll find my way home…to Kansas City

So fine, sue me, its a lie, until tomorrow, I’ve never been to the place. Well, not in this life at least! But who knows what might have happened in a past life, and yes, just maybe I’m thinking of one particular person, however unlikely that will be the case, when I do a past life regression later this year.

But yes, for Jean Harlow at least, finding her way home to Kansas City would be a reality, as of course, thats where she was born in 1911. Alright, strictly, Harlean Carpenter was born in Kansas City, in 1911, but with a change of name (and a boost in fame), it was Jean. It was her mother’s name in fact, which is where she took it from, when getting her first audition in Hollywood. And as they say, the rest is history!

Beyond the obvious, I know very little about the city, so it will be interesting to see if I show any amount of familiarity to the place. Mind, given how much would have changed over the 100 years, beyond obvious landmarks (her homes, for example), there probably isnt much remaining that Jean would recognise anyway. But yes, I’m looking forward to seeing the modern city, with interest, I must admit.

Oh, and fine, I know most know it anyway, but the fact that most of Kansas City, isnt in Kansas amuses me no end. Harlow in fact lived in houses in the city, on both sides of the state line.

As Dorothy said, in a certain film, there’s no place like Kansas.

True, not many places are that flat!

But the charms of Kansas, most particularly Cherryvale wait in store for me too. A trip to the birthplace of Louise Brooks is just going to be amazing, I know.

Neither however, will be the first new state for me on this visit, that will be Georgia, if only as a transit through Atlanta Airport. All in all, one state short of halfway, in the sense of visiting US states for me.

Yes, the whole thing is a trip I’m looking forward to greatly, and getting to meet up again with Kate will be super too.

But fine, the video, is a moment where I look at Kansas City on the map, step into Jean Harlow’s shoes, and say, somehow I’ve found my way home.

Apartment hunting

No, not for me recently, but had fun helping someone else find somewhere, not that I’m ever likely to visit it, seeing its in Alabama! Maybe that made it easier, knowing that all I had to do was make suggestions, and let him do the hard work. Glad to say he did find somewhere, indirectly at least guided by my suggestions, if nothing more. But yes, it was fun, perhaps surprisingly so, and alright, I started looking at a few other places in the US that I’d love to live in, but arent really likely to, unless they have a major change on immigration rules, or I win the lottery lol!

To be honest, its over a decade since I last looked for somewhere to live for myself, but like riding a bike, it soon came back to me. Even more so when I got guidelines on the area I was searching in, never having been to that area of the US, let alone that locality. But being honest, I suspect if I’d had to do the footwork, it might not have been as much fun. The main thing that surprised me about complexes over there, as opposed to here, are the facilities provided. But then again, I should know the differences, because its more or less the same as comparing hotels between the 2 countries. Free wi-fi internet in hotels over there is the norm, not the exception, and to only¬†a slightly lesser¬†degree its the same with rented apartments, judging by the ones I looked at, at least. I checked, for curiousity sake over here, and beyond the luxury stuff (and even then…) it doesnt happen over here!

Where did I look, for those who are curious? Well, its a pretty obvious list if you know me, either literally, or through reading this. Seattle, Wichita, Rochester and Albany are all on the list, cant think why. San Francisco would have been, but I know there wiuld be out of my budget, or so I’m told! Didnt look at New England, though that was tempting. Again, Alaska was tempting, but didnt take a peek. And no, for those who know me, there was nothing in Cherryvale, Kansas lol! Judging by house prices around there, renting isnt really a likely option in that area, you’d be more likely to buy.

But yes, apartment hunting would I think be fun again, even more so doing it as a woman for the first time. I’m tempted to try and look at a few places in Seattle next month if I have the time, but suspect that might be tricky without any proof of being able to live and work in the US.

The music, a very tenuous link! But given that I found apartment hunting fun, and they were a great group, we have…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJ2X9SANsME