Monday, June 13, 2011

*tap* *tap* Is this thing still on? it's been quite awhile since I've update this, hasn't it? The main excuse is: life got in the way. Busy is good, but I haven't had the time to focus on the genealogy research that I wish I could.

The last few months haven't been entirely without steps forward, though:
  • We had a family reunion last weekend, where I had grand plans to sit in a corner and scan pictures to my heart's content... and then I had massive technology!fail, and I had to content myself with making color copies. But it was a two day event, with between 25 and 50 people there, and people got to see cousins that they hadn't seen in decades. In my case, I got to talk with family members whom I last talked to when I was about 15. So. That was a lot of fun!
  • We made plans to get my great uncle's research materials (that went into The Family Book) back to my state, wherein I and two of my other genealogically inclined cousins in my generation will sort through it, scan everything we want to scan, snag any originals that might be hidden in corners, and then donate it to... someplace. The Family Book is 900 pages or so long, and while not all of that is Family Stuff, a good portion of it is. So. It's going to be a big job.
  • ...I got put in charge of figuring out how to create a technological way for our family to stay in touch, so now I'm trying to design an easy to use website that everyone in the family can have access to. (It is password protected, so no one will be able to access it without my giving them access to it.) That's what I've been working on today. There's going to be a blog and/or forum for family updates and chit chat. There's going to be a wiki for the family history aspect. And there's going to be a photo album for all of the family pictures. (Does anyone have a family website for their family? Are there things that I should be adding to this whole adventure?)
I think that if I get a website together for this family, I may try to do it for the two other branches I've been researching, possibly without all of the password protected-ness. But that is me jumping ahead of myself again...

I hope that everyone is having good luck tackling those brick walls!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Toys

Week 7: Toys. What was your favorite childhood toy? Is it still being made in some form today?

My first favorite toy was one, I believe, my parents got for me at our church's bazaar. Or some place like that. I'm pretty sure it was hand made. That favorite toy was Pink Kitty. Pink Kitty was, quite logically, made out of pink gingham, and was much (much, much) loved. Pink Kitty also got left on an airplane once, and thrown out, and my dad looked through trash bags to find her. Which he did.

Pink Kitty also had two siblings: Yellow Kitty, who arrived at the same time as Pink Kitty, and Red Kitty, which my mom made for me, when it became apparent that both Pink and Yellow Kitty were going to be loved to pieces. Um, literally.

 Pink Kitty, Red Kitty, Yellow Kitty
(and younger!kitty going: what are these new toys that you have
not shown me before now? are they for ME?)

Then, when I turned three, I got Woofer for Christmas. Woofer was not immediately my new favorite toy, but he was just the right size to wrap my arms around in bed, and by the time I was five, I know he had become the favorite: a spot he never left. In fact, 27 years later, he still lives on my bed. 

Woofer, the loved. (And still in remarkably good shape for being 27!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On the off chance anyone here also uses a mac...

Has anyone used either Dragon Dictate 2.0 for mac or MacSpeech Scribe to transcribe audio files -- for instance, seven or so hours of recorded conversations with grandma?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - TV and Radio

Week 6: Radio and Television. What was your favorite radio or television show from your childhood? What was the program about and who was in it?

 While I enjoyed a whole host of Saturday morning and after school cartoons (particularly the Disney entries such as DuckTales, Tail Spin, and Chip 'n Dale, as well as Inspector Gadget and the Animaniacs/Pinky and the Brain) the block of TV that I remember best was from my pre-teen years, with Saved by the Bell, Hey Dude, and Out of this World.

Saved by the Bell starred Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, and Mario Lopez. At least, these are the three actors that have gone on to have somewhat significant careers post-SbtB. Mark was most recently seen in the show Raising the Bar, while Mario Lopez has become tabloid fodder. After joining 90210, Tiffani can now be seen on White Collar, and has made herself one of the best things about the show. (Which I love a lot.) Her Funny-or-Die video "Tiffani Thiessen Is Busy" made the Internet rounds several months back, and it made a lot of people into fans.

Hey Dude starred several young actors, although the only name on the list that I still recognize is Christine Taylor, who is now Ben Stiller's wife. It was a show about the staff at a dude ranch and was apparently Nickelodeon's first original live action TV series.

Out of This World is about a girl who is half human, half alien, and on her thirteenth birthday discovers that her powers have manifested. One of those powers is the ability to stop time by pressing her index fingers together, tip-to-tip. This was probably my favorite of the shows, and at age 11, all of us went around pressing our fingers together just wishing that time would stop now, now, now.

The one story that my grandma likes to tell about my dad and radio is that one time, when my dad was rather young and my grandparents were out for the evening, he was listening to the radio. Possibly to Inner Sanctum (was that a radio show?). He got so scared, he ran down to the neighbor's house a quarter mile away (this was farm country) and stayed with them until my grandparents came looking.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ancestry: Finding new cousins!

In the last few days I've been contacted by two distant cousins on Ancestry, wanting to know more about how my tree tied into theirs, which is making me feel as if I'm not so much a beginner at this whole thing any more -- even though I totally still am. One of the people who contacted me -- if he's right, it's possible that two branches of one side of my family married into one branch on that same side, probably two generations apart, in two different states.

I've been doing a lot of work with our family pictures (and adding head shots to Ancestry as I go) and my own version of the family history is starting to take shape, oh-so-slowly. I need to start spending more time transcribing my recordings I've made while visiting my grandmother. My oh-so-sneaky plan is to type it up and give it to her to proof read, and then hope that it sparks more stories. My grandma has the best stories, but she usually clams up when she knows that she's being recorded.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Food

Week 5: Favorite Food. What was your favorite food from childhood? If it was homemade, who made it? What was in this dish, and why was it your favorite? What is your favorite dish now? 

My first favorite food, I believe, was tuna casserole. Until I was seven and got the flu after eating it, and I haven't been able to eat it since.

My next favorite food was macaroni and cheese. I love macaroni and cheese beyond the telling. It could be homemade or out of a box, and 9 times out of ten, I will love it. I'm not sure I could eat it every day of the week, but a few times a week, for sure!

My favorite homemade food that my mom used to make for me was baked spaghetti casserole. It's so good, and simple, and she still makes it for me every time I go home.

My favorite dessert used to be flan. I considered myself an amateur custard connoisseur for a time and the two best ones I ever had were at a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant in Corvallis, Oregon, and a coffee flavored one at a sea food (?) restaurant in San Rafael, California.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Home

Week 4: Home. Describe the house in which you grew up. Was it big or small? What made it unique? Is it still there today?

The house that I grew up in was a corner house in the Sunset district of San Francisco. It will probably always be large in my memory, but I don't think it actually was a very large house. It was two stories, with two bedrooms, 1.5 baths, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, and a study downstairs for my dad. It also had a two car garage and a postage stamp of a garden to, I believe, the west. When I was young, it was painted white, but when I was seven, we painted it a peach color. (I was the one who suggested the color; I was very proud of this fact. And, within the next few years, several more houses in our neighborhood were also painted that color. We started a trend!) That was also the year we painted my room, and I opted for a lemon yellow, and my mom made a Monet's water lilies bet set.

I have some very fond memories of the San Francisco house. It had a marble staircase from the front gate to the actual front door, and my mom made that her green house, so there were plants everywhere. There was another staircase going to our basement that I just loved to play on. When I was two and three, in the midst of the imaginary friend stage of my life, I had a "pet" squirrel that lived in the banister.  The living room seemed huge to me, and was an oh-so-wonderful place for me to set up all of my stuffed animals and just play and play and play.

The bad thing about the San Francisco house was that it was on the corner of some rather busy streets, and it wasn't in a bad neighborhood, but my parents wouldn't let me go outside and play by myself, ever. I could go out with friends (once I got to be seven, eight, nine), but never by myself.

Eventually, my parents hit a point where they could put x amount of money into paying for me to go to private high schools in San Francisco, or they could put that same money into a house in Marin that they could retire in while I went to public schools. They opted for the latter (best choice ever!) and we put the house on the market in 1993. We planned on letting the house sit on the market for at least 6 months, as it was a rather slow time in real estate. And then we got 3 offers in a week.

The house is still there, and every time I go home and take the airporter, I peer up our old street and look at it. It looks smaller now, but and it's yellow instead of peach, but I smile every time I go by it.