27 November 2010

To Addie and Elyzabeth

27 November 2010
Dear Addie,
It's Thanksgiving time again and you are in my heart, as always. Uncle Carl said the prayer. First he did his school principal thing. I can't remember the words he said, but all the grandchildren responded with eyes on him and mouths silent. Even the adults were quiet. I was stirring the gravy, and so many people were milling around the kitchen, but Carl was close enough for us to see and hear him in his end of the kitchen where the table is. The food everyone brought filled the table and the countertops. Uncle Brad just finished carving the turkey. Aunt Amy made rolls over here the day before Thanksgiving; Aunt Jenny brought pies; Aunt Anna made two kind of potatoes. Well, maybe it was Uncle Alan. You've never met him, but you'll like him. He's a sweetheart. He brought his twin girls (just a couple of years older than you are) and his son Brandon into our family.

Uncle Nate set up the tables and he and Julia set up her beautiful centerpiece that she made in college last year. It hangs above the table--good thing because the table is covered with good food and beautiful plates. Grandpa and I got out our wedding plates with the silver bands around them as well as the ones I got from Grandpa Whitney (when he died 5 years ago), and also the ones with pink roses ones that we were using when you left.  Everyone has been talking, laughing and having a good time greeting each other.

We were late starting because your cousin Zack had his tire blow-out on the freeway on his way over here.  (Yes, he's driving.) Aunt Amy is still feeling a little shaky about that. Your mother Rachel is always on our minds at holidays and any accident brings that little tummy pit, thinking about how she was killed.
Back to the prayer. Uncle Carl thanks Father for our family and the bounty we enjoy. He remembers Mark and his family and asks that they will be blessed and know we love them. He pauses and Aunt Anna says, "And Shelby." Cousin Shelby is in Alaska this year, in her own apartment.

Carl asks, "Anyone else?"

"Matt and Erin and the girls," I say quietly. Your parents and you and your sister leave a big hole in any get-together. I wish I knew what you are doing right now. I wish you knew how much I love you. I wish you all could come and ride on the trolley and see the Christmas lights with us tonight. It's Julia's birthday today. Her 20th. She misses you so much too. We all do.
Happy Thanksgiving, sweet granddaughter. I love you.

Dear Elyzabeth,
Yesterday I found a magnet on the floor of the archive room. It must have slipped off the file cabinet. It is a picture of you as a baby. Grandpa and I took you to Kiddie Candids to get your picture taken in your blessing dress and with the beautiful handmade quilt your great-aunt Beth made for you. You're special to her, you know, because your mother named you after her. After her and my mother, that is. You have a beautiful name. I'm not sure if I like the way your new mom changed the spelling, but that's okay. New moms have new ways. I'm glad you have a new mom. I would never have wanted you to be without a mother to love you and hug you.

I remember those first weeks after your Rachel mom died.  You were only 3 months old . I was up with you in the nighttime and walking the floors with you during the day. We kept a log of your feedings and your distress or calm. You were passed back and forth between Grandma Janis and I and also Aunt Anna and Aunt Amy so we passed your log along too. How we love you! We held you and we kissed your sweet hair and we cried too--for your mama.

This Thanksgiving we put your little cousin Alex in your old crib. My heart skips a beat whenever I get it out. It makes me think of you. It's been a long time since you've slept in a crib, but since I haven't seen you since you were a baby, I still remember you at that age and stage. How I long to talk to you and to know you now.

I'm thankful for you and for Addie, but my heart reaches out for you every day. I love you both and miss you tremendously. Until I see you again. (I have faith that will happen, no matter what your mom and dad do to keep us apart and only let you have one mother and one set of grandparents.) I'm here. It's Thanksgiving and you aren't far away and inaccessible. You are in my heart.
Love to you both,
Grandma Joy

16 November 2010

About the Crash

"It's not if, it's when." I have heard that so many times about a computer crash, but I had never had a really big crash happen to me. Until now. This blog is being posted from a borrowed computer. I've been computerless for several days and I'm still not back in business. Maybe today.

So was I backed up properly? I've learned that it could have been better. I have a mirrored hard drive (Raid 1), so hopefully everything is ok when I get it back. The guy just came and installed the 2 new hard drives. The rest is up to me and my pals in India. Deep breath. My second on-line helper, Ravi, who diagnosed the trouble told me I'd have to re-install everything, but they would help me get it back. Then he panicked a little. He panicked a little because I panicked a lot. In fact I began to cry. "Don't cry, mum," Ravi begged, "Please don't cry."

I handed the phone to my husband so he could give Ravi our address. "Tell Mum not to cry," he told my husband. My husband grinned.  "Okay," he thought, "but I've been telling her that for 43 years and it hasn't helped yet."

I have my book files in Dropbox, a "cloud" program that syncs my files and helps me when I work with my sister on her Mac and then come home and work on my PC. I use Ancestral Quest, which allows collaborative files that our whole committee can share. I've gmailed docs and photos back and forth to my cousins and those I work with so those files are available to me in gmail's huge storeroom in the cloud. I have back ups on external hard drives. All these things have been helpful to me. But while my computer has been down, I haven't been able to use some of my programs that are on the hard drive of my crashed computer. My friend who replaced my hard drives today told me that it is possible and very handy to install such programs on an external hard drive. Then they are both portable and usable in a situation that I find myself in. Check out Dick Eastman's blog for his expert recommendations. They can be low cost or free. They just take some thinking ahead.

09 November 2010

Tombstone Tuesday

This headstone marks the resting place of Jacob L. Workman,
buried in Virgin, Utah. According to the stone, he was born
July  7, 1812 in Overton County, Tennesee and died
July 28, 1878. "From this old oak sprang many branches."
(Photos taken by the author.)

Asmus Jorgensen was a stone carver of some renown in the backwater towns of Utah. He put his partially finished gravestones in a wagon and set off to peddle them along old Highway 89. This stone is found in the small southern Utah town of Virgin. The life-like dove perched on top of the carefully carved stone base delights those who appreciate Utah folk art and that includes me. And I really love the fact that he's my 2nd great-grandpa.

08 November 2010

More about Family History Blogging

There are a couple of different types of blogs. You may want a journal format like this blog or a website type blog for a particular ancestor or ancestors (like the one I'm working on for my worst brick wall--Samuel Wilson). It's important to think through what objectives you have in mind for your blog. Do you want to get your family history out there in hopes of collaboration with someone? Are you envisioning a website that a group of people will work on?

A blog type website requires less technical knowledge. You won't need special software because it's available on-line and can be accessed from any computer. Multiple people can work on it at the same time because it's flexible and pretty easy for a beginner. A home page or front page will make the site look more like a website than a diary and gives you more control over the layout you want. Besides the blogger.com technologies, check out WordPress, Joomla! or Drupal or you could use a web-based genealogy program specifically designed to set up a website. I'm familiar with TNG (The Next Generation) but there are others. It's possible to keep your genealogy "in the cloud" to simplify collaboration, to work on it and have access to it wherever you are and to keep it always "backed up."

Questions can be answered by on-line help and by user forums. Our friends at Geneabloggers (the genealogy community's resource for blogging) remind us above of the fantastic resources they have made available. Be sure to suggest your blog for their blog roll to help your blog get better known and to garner suggestions from the experts there. I'm going now to get some information at their primer and resources sites for my new blog. See you there!

07 November 2010

Publishing an ancestor "website" blog

"Can I put the certificates and stories I've collected on-line?" It was the question of the day. The answer is yes, yes and please do. A very easy-to-do no-cost platform to use is found at www.blogger.com. It's simple to create a blog. Just create a name (The Samuel Jones Family Tree), check out the name you would like to use (SamJonesGenealogy@blogspot.com) to see if it's available. Do the word verification game and then you're already picking your template. Choose something simple to begin with, then you can spend some time customizing the look or just start blogging. Begin with a simple paragraph describing the purpose and scope of your blog, what you wish to accomplish and where you will go next. Then add to it on a regular basis. You can describe your research efforts and publish the results. You can put up photos, documents and histories.

Play around with the design of your blog, adding gadgets that will fit your purpose. Take care to protect names and facts about living persons, including yourself. Divide the blog by categories for each person if you would like and add information from the reports section of your personal genealogical software. Or choose your own means of presentation. Read widely from the many many blogs on-line, looking for examples you want to use, instructions and suggestions for blogging in general or for setting up your particular type of information. Make comments and become involved in the genealogical community. Come on in, the water's fine.

03 November 2010

Wordless Wednesday

My grandfather, Marcus Joy Christensen, went by MJ as an adult, though his family and friends always called him Joy. He got his name because his mother Annie (pictured with him as a child) thought she would not be able to have children. Imagine her "joy" when she delivered a live infant. She gave him that name to express her delight. Her husband, Christen (CN), left for a mission soon after the baby's birth and was gone for two years. The letters she wrote to him, dated from 1900 to 1902 are filled with her love, gossip of their hometown of Brigham City, Utah and tales of little Joy's growing up. The year after CN returned home, Annie miscarried once more and lost her own life as well as the infant's.

01 November 2010

Write Non-fiction in November

Here it is--November 1st.
Quoting from the website Write Nonfiction in November:

Today marks the beginning of the fourth annual Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) challenge and blog. All over America and possibly the world, nonfiction writers are starting a variety of projects—books, e-books, booklets, articles, essays, information projects, book proposals—with the intention of finishing them in 30 days (Nina Amir).

Nina has presented a challenge to all of us who are writing nonfiction. And I'm assuming that our family history writing is nonfiction. Family history writing does present some unique challenges, however. Like memoir, it is story. Some fiction writing skills apply to writing family history. We need those skills as well as research and succinct writing abilities. Nina invited Linda Joy Meyers, a memoirist, to guest blog on her Write Nonfiction Now site on the topic: "The Top 6 Questions that Memoir Writers Ask." One of Linda Joy's insights that hit me very hard was this sentence, "People who read memoirs want to understand themselves better by entering into someone else’s story to find out how they lived and worked things out." If that doesn't sing to a family historian, I don't know what does. I believe we appreciate story about our own ancestors, "how they lived and worked things out," more than story about anyone else in the world. I think that makes our task as a family history writer very profound.

Nina's first entry in November is about building a platform for your writing. This is important for a family historian as well as a commercial writer. Why are we writing if not to be read? Even if we do not make money from our work, we do need to be known. Luckily, this happens very naturally as we do our research among cousins and other family historians. We share what we have, we collaborate on our information, and this generates interest. I keep a running list of family contacts and forward emails and phone calls continually asking about how to obtain our published work to our faithful committee treasurer. She has taken the burden of order fulfillment, an important piece of family history writing that needs to be considered early in the process of publishing family history.

Another successful tip. Involve family members in the work. Some will do transcription from handwriting or audio files. Some will read and critique the work. The job of proofreading has to be done by someone with "new" eyes, and this is another excellent way to involve family members who will then be interested in the finished project. Building blogs and websites is important too. I recommend Nina's insights. Adapt them to your own situation.

I'm taking the challenge to blog every day in November. What is your goal?