Last week’s snow even caught in the dried weeds on our covered front porch.
Lest you think after yesterday’s post that my genealogy research consists of neatly organized and photo-worthy little objects, I’m posting some photos today of what I’m actually DOING these days in genealogy. After 20 years of researching obsessively- and 5 more years of slipshod sporadic research- I ended up with piles and files of papers and a computer database full of information- and not much to show for it all. I’m not getting any younger, so I decided it’s time to put my papers (and computer files) in order so that my descendants can make sense of it all- and perhaps make a few photo books.
Easier said than done.
Being an only child has its benefits and drawbacks. I have SO MUCH STUFF! And it falls to me to organize it all. In the background you can see just one of several big tubs of photos and family papers- and my new little portable scanner that I just love. I can actually scan photos while watching TV! The photo on top of the stack is of my father- one of a zillion I inherited (not all as cute as this one). What to do with them all???
Below is a project that I am so proud to have made headway on in the last month. I’m following a system of organizing and color-coding my genealogy paper files that makes finding things so much easier- especially for family members that may inherit these papers someday. These files still take up the same amount of space (two very full, deep file drawers in the garage), but I don’t feel so overwhelmed when I look at them now. Each color represents the family line of one of my grandparents- and I’ve done the same for Lonnie’s family. The yellow files actually take up more room than any other color and continue on into the next drawer. These are my New England forebears and my elusive Canadian Peaslees (lots of research but no definitive answers yet on that line).
Now that the files are organized by color, I am working on one branch at a time, mostly just up to my great-great grandparents. I’m checking sources, organizing digital media, writing bios for those that don’t have them- and noting what is missing in the files. I’m working in a very limited and structured way, so that I don’t go off on tangents. I am taking a break from researching in order to organize what I have. And it looks like it could take a few years. . .
My resolve has already been tested this week by the discovery by a distant cousin of the parents of one of my three most challenging ancestors (Lonnie’s great-great grandmother, Lucy Crump). After some screaming and jumping up and down, I noted the information and passed it on to another researcher- and am now trying to ignore the barrage of emails coming my way with more leads. Genealogy can be lots of fun when information just falls in your lap!
When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with the antique gold pencil that was kept in the chest that held the good silver. My mother said it belonged to a great-great grandmother, but that I was not named after her- which was obvious to me, because Melinda was SPELLED WRONG! My mother was not particularly interested in family history, but I was, even at a young age. I wondered who that Malinda could be (and why her named was spelled wrong).
Of course, I didn’t realize at that time that variations in spelling are the norm rather than the exception in genealogy- as are inaccurate family stories. When I started doing genealogical research, I discovered that Malinda Tucker was actually the second wife of my great-great grandfather, Luther Bean, whom he married after my great-great grandmother died. My mother’s mother would turn out to be Luther’s only heir after her aunt died, so we have quite a few of his things.
As you can see by examining the photo, he was in the Civil War as a surgeon. He grew up in New Hampshire, and he and my great-great grandmother, came from a long line of New Englanders- going all the way back to the early colonists (right AFTER the Mayflower). Later in life he moved to Waukegan, Illinois, where he continued to practice medicine.
Another inaccurate (I think) family story was that I had a great-grandfather who was in the battle of the Monitor vs the Merrimack, which I learned about in school. I remember being proud to tell my sixth grade class all about it- minus the name of this mysterious great-grandfather. I have searched and have yet to find him, the most likely candidate being Luther- but there is no record of this in his service record that I can find. This story may be as false as the story that my husband’s grandfather was “half Indian”- and his mother grew up on a reservation in Oklahoma. Wrong!
Oh- about the spelling of Malinda/Melinda– on her gravestone, her name is spelled with an E, like mine!
Photography note: the gold lines under the pencil in the top photo are reflections.
Yesterday we woke up to a couple inches of snow on the ground- which quickly became 4 or 5 inches at least, as it snowed steadily all day. It is super cold, as it was during and after our last snowstorm, so snow is still on the ground- unlike in our first two winters here, when it all melted away by noon. We are experiencing a real winter in the Arizona high country!
Around noon, my husband spotted this hawk sitting quietly on one of the birdhouses. It was snowing lightly at the time, and the wind was blowing. I’m not sure if he was just resting or was waiting for the birds that frequent the bird feeders in this part of the yard. I posted a shot of him on Facebook, and it was suggested he was either a Copper’s hawk or a Sharp-Shinned Hawk. I didn’t enter the debate (I have no confidence in this area), but I did read that even experienced birders have trouble telling them apart.
For the above image, I cloned out all the distracting branches and the rocks on the hill in the background, and then added a texture at low opacity to make the background less stark. Below is a more natural photo- with the branches and background clutter. Both photos were taken through a bedroom window, and he was definitely aware of my presence!
My little AAUW photo group was discussing gesture in photography- a term used by Jay Maisel all the time to describe what he waits for when choosing a subject for his photograph. I can’t say that I fully understand the concept- but I usually know it when I see an obvious example. It seems to be a quality that makes the subject unique and isn’t only limited to living subjects. Even Scott Kelby was having difficulty understanding the meaning when interviewing Maisel.
To my eye, this tulip exemplifies gesture; in fact, it seems to have a definite attitude!
There was still a lot of snow on the ground as we stepped out of the car on our way to one of our favorite Italian restaurants. But the area around this bench was snow-free, and the orange leaves on and around it seemed to create a little autumn vignette. I quickly snapped a photo with my iPhone, edited it in Snapseed, and called it done.