Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Rifling through the possessions

I have the arguable privilege of going through the possessions of a good friend. A good friend who was less organized than a house mouse. Good man -- but oy.

I find that the lettering stuff is with other lettering stuff, but not with all the lettering stuff. Same with the quills, calligraphy nibs, mechanical pencils and seemingly dozens of high school and college graduation announcements -- or maybe there have simply been dozens of locations, I'm not really sure.

But although I have to go item-by-item and page-by-page through his possessions, and it can be tedious, there are payoffs.

There is a piece of artwork known well by his high school and post-high school friends -- I found some of the original sketches.

Other artwork is complete, but was hidden away. It seems intended to have been given to one person -- It is a signed and dated watercolor. There's intent in that painting. Intent that's buried in the midst of files stacked with unwanted photo prints and tracing paper and ancient blueprints from high school.

Although it's a job I never wanted to do, it's very interesting. I'm glad I can do it, since I know some of his background. But it's quite obvious that my knowledge is limited. I am completely baffled by some things I find. But that's okay.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The comfrey is about to bloom

My yard is fruitful and green and the bumbles are having a blast. Today I finally got out with a basket and harvested comfrey (which I'm nearly out of in the dried state), yarrow and pineapple weed.

The comfrey is about to bloom. The bees will be on it. I'll watch it because I like to see all the kinds of bees etc. that hit it. I have it in strong sun, not full sun, and it's already four feet tall. Heh heh.

The pineapple weed likes to grow in gravel and nasty soil, so I had to actively avoid mowing it on the Dreaded First Mow over a week ago, when much of the "lawn" was 12-14 inches tall.

Then, because I have the snoopiest and most bored cat in the world, although he is more mellow than I've seen cats be, I put the greenery in one layer in wicker baskets. Those I put atop the microwave, which is in turn, atop the refrigerator. It may be safe. I haven't seen him jump that high. ... Yet. Fortunately, he's laid back aka lazy.

It's a cool, breezy day today. I have curtains on the line. I bet they're already dry although I just put them out about 10 minutes ago. Last night I left a rug outside and forgot it overnight. Fortunately no bird plopped on it. And as I carried it off the line to put the curtains on the line, I caught a whiff of horse sweat.

I'm puzzled by that. But I did get the rug secondhand and I don't know its history. *sniff*sniff* Hmm.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My metaphysical, genealogical fantasy

Since I last posted, I have new genealogy issues. A death in the family prompted me to make sure someone will be buried, who may not have been buried.

My own father was cremated and who knows what happened to the ashes. I don't pretend to be attached to my dad's ashes, so that's not it.

The more recent death is in a different branch of my family, but between dad's death in 1988, and this one in March, I want to know more about my deceased relatives, including where they ended up.

Dad is in a mental limbo for me. There's no stone, no location, no anything for his final resting place. I'm sure it's all kinds of cultural for me to be at this point where I want folks to have a location. Dad's lack of burial seems to be very amorphous, vague, and disorganized. He's nowhere. He's in my memory and the photos I have of him, and in the curiosity I have for random things, and the oblivious way I can be all kinds of a smartass and not realize I may need to defend myself suddenly (long story).

I tried for months to find my great-aunt (as you may have read in this blog), and finally succeeded in discovering where she was buried. And I learned how it happened, and I know it's her there. It mattered to me.

This recent death created an opportunity for this man not to be "lost" like Dad seems to be. Many of his relatives are buried in one of two adjoining counties, and the family gets to them all periodically, or at least *they can.* If he was cremated and put into the river, there'd be no place to visit. So I discovered suddenly that I wanted a LOCATION for this person to BE, even though we don't know where the dead go, not really. We can look at the (future at this point) stone and read the (future) inscription and know a little about him, if they care to. And folks can ask: Why does it say *that* on his stone?

So basically, I'm indulging my own metaphysical fantasy. I'm good with that. This man was important; I don't want him to be erased or lost in time, either one.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Tradition? Traditionless? Starting a tradition?

I had to laugh when a read a blog, hopefully called "Eating with my ancestors," that said this: 

"There is NO cookbook on Wales [in her library]. I mean, yes, they *exist* but they don't *exist* here, which is weird because there are a lot of Welsh descendants here. Heck, there is a Cardiff right down the road. You think they pulled that name out of their asses? No! They were Welsh!" -- (You go, girl!)

Her subtitle is: "Learning about the foodways of my ancestors, one plate at a time." I had thought of this the other night, and tonight found Gina's blog, which amused me enough to read it aloud to the disinterested *the sound of a lead balloon falling*

Our family didn't pass down any ethnic foodways, Welsh, English, Prussian, Polish, German, nuttin. But it doesn't mean I can't come up with something as a family tradition. Tradition starts somewhere! Traditions are adapted, right? Sing with me like Fiddler on the Roof: "Tra-di-SHUNNNN!"

I want to start when the sub-Arctic blast leaves us in the 30-plus temperature range, not this minus-zero malarky.

But here, these are Glamorgan sausages. No meat. Don't get too excited, men. They are shaped like sausages, but are leek and cheese patties rolled in breadcrumbs and panfried. I think I could do that.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Dave from Wales

I recently found some really nice photos of some of my relatives on Ancestry.com, and whoever you are (descendants of this little girl), thanks for posting these valuable bits of history! This is the first time I've ever seen a picture of this man.

This is David H. "Dave" Davies, who was born in Wales in 1833. He joined two sisters, and another sister joined the family when he was six. (And yes, his father's name was David.) (Have I mentioned how you cannot swing the proverbial dead cat through the Davieses in Wales without hitting multiple David Davieses?) (I really do mean multiple!)

He married Elizabeth Ann Thomas in 1854 and had two daughters and a son, but the 2nd and 3rd children died young. He himself worked in the coal mines until purchasing a butcher shop in his village. They had a fourth child in 1860, and by the time the family had grown to seven children, he and Elizabeth had decided to emigrate to the United States. They were Baptists, raised small livestock, and felt strongly about family and education. Elizabeth died in an accident in 1885. 

Once in the US, his fourth child, daughter Sib, married another immigrant, Samuel Mahood of Ireland, and this is a photo of David H. and his granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth Mahood. It was probably taken in Columbus, Nebraska. He was about 63 in this photo, taken about 1895.

A few years later, he died at age 66, of pneumonia.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

It's not good enough!

I had a really helpful and cheerful person in the Oakland, California, area work with me over the past couple weeks to figure out if the Mary Davis Nickerson in his cemetery was mine or not. There was already a photo of her headstone on findagrave.com. So he very helpfully (cough) took a high-res photo of it, after he (with my help) found it. I guess he thought that's what I wanted, despite what I told him.

I thanked him and told him I appreciated his trouble and his work, but mentioned that I needed some information about that woman, so I'd know it was my relative.

His comment was: What are the odds that there would be another Mary Davis Nickerson in this county? And my thought was: Do you know how common those names are? Mary? Davis? and Nickerson? Really. California had five million people in it in 1927, when (we think) she died.

He really *was* as helpful as he could be, but just matching a name is not good enough.

I come from a family with a common name, too, and it's not good enough. I could tell that boy stories to curl his hair about names repeating down the generations until your eyes cross and you stutter just talking about them all.

Also, no researcher worth her salt would accept "Oh it must be her" as good enough. For pity's sake.

So I'm still on the trail of Mary.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bits and bobs of hunting the fam

I am currently on the track, I hope, of a great-great-aunt's final resting place. She is the only one in her family to leave our home state, and the only one to not be buried here.

Unfortunately, she has a very common name, Mary Nickerson, and about six of them died in California in her same time frame. But I'm tracking down the matter of IF the one I'm chasing is actually my relative, by pestering (oh very politely) the funeral homes and the cemeteries involved. By the way, the Nickersons seem ALL to be from Massachusetts.

In other news, I've found that the website Findagrave dot com has been helpful, but has missing information in this case. I had no idea anyone was ever buried without a birth date OR a death date! Why?

Once I realized that Findagrave is a wiki, I began connecting family "dots" to one another. That's rather fun. I added a life story in one case, to an uncle, and an obit, in another case.

Some kind person responded to a request for a photo for another relative, upon the posting of the photo of the tombsone, I also found out that this person has a less-than-accurate birth date on the tombstone.  As a newbie, I can only assume that wrong dates are much more common than I had imagined.

When a death occurs, questions are asked and answered, and sometimes the information is just in error.

AND I found Nun's name in a diagram of the family cemetery. Haven't found out yet if he's really there, but why else would his name be on that map? Questions, questions!