Tag Archives: family

Extended Family and a Wild Goose Chase

lettersToday I started a wild goose chase.

My family has a treasure.  A cache of family letters from 1892 to 1927 was uncovered several years ago.  The letters are funny and sad and at times horrifyingly poorly written.  Sometimes they are truly charming.  I find them endlessly fascinating.

I started building out the family tree beyond my direct ancestors to try to understand just who these people were who wrote the letters.  Challenges and news in the letters piqued my interest and I started researching the areas in which they lived, what was happening in the country and the world at the time the letters were written.  What was happening where they were, in their world?  A lot happened in those three and a half decades.  Spanish flu, the first world war, droughts, diphtheria epidemics, land grants and migrations west. My second great grand uncle was adamant that the family vote for Weaver in the election of 1892.  Neither my uncle’s campaign nor Weaver’s was successful.

Because I am so endlessly fascinated with the letters I began trying to track down far flung, distant relatives, descendents of the authors of the letters.  First cousins four times removed and fifth cousins and people who aren’t blood relations at all on the off chance that they would find the letters fascinating too.  And I have found some.

So today I wrote them letters, and printed out copies of the old family letters the are written by, or reference their distant direct ancestors.  I have no idea if I will ever hear back from them.  No idea if they will even read the packets I put together.  But it felt good.

Wild Goose Chase Letter_001And maybe, just maybe, it will make someone’s day to get a soft, brown envelope in the mail with words written by their grandmother, or great-great uncle or cousin talking about their day, their life a hundred years ago.  Maybe my own personal community, my village, will expand just a bit to include people I never would have known, but who have ancestors in common, if someone had not decided to renovate a house years ago, and taken the time to call my grandparents and return these letters to our family.

If you are interested in reading a few of the letters you can take a look here.  Letters





















I recently spent a wonderful week with my parents. We are at a point in our lives where things are changing. My mother is getting frail and they talk about slowing down, making the garden a bit smaller, traveling less, and taking less on.

As usually happens lots of stories were told. Old, well-worn stories that just about anyone in the family could tell with the same word choice and inflection, but also new stories. We realized that some of the stories were close to getting lost as memories age and details become fuzzy so we have been working on a family history project. I began to dabble in genealogy last year (my father is an expert) and I started to archive family photos and documents for future generations.

I find that my perspective is changing. People I have known and loved my whole life have entire lives that I have never heard or seen. How our family became what and where we are is a little different than I may have understood as a child. Talk is of caring for parents, not being cared for by them. It is fascinating how the same stories, the same lives and people can be seen so very differently as we age and perspectives change.



mood: tired tired
music: Jason Mraz

I am still working on my resolutions – I really work on them all year long. I realized last year that they are perpetually in draft form which doesn’t get in the way of me working on them and keeps them fresh and vital all year long.

I moved over the holidays from one state to another as well as one job to another which has left me feeling a little disconnected and insubstantial. I left two of my kids in the other state – they are young adults, not kids, but still. They are my babies regardless of age.

My employer has a very rich and robust intranet with all of the customary business related data as well as a lot of more employee focused, not necessarily business related features. One of the articles up this week is focused around New Year’s Resolutions. It has some pointers that you would expect, check your finances, get in shape, track your performance with an eye toward the mid and year end reviews, but there are also a couple of points that made me sit back and think Wow. I really like the company I work for. I know there are underlying reasons – happier employees equal more productivity, yadda, yadda. I get that Mr. Employer is not more concerned about me than about the health of the company. But still. They don’t have to include things like this on the intranet, either. Take a look at these, taken verbatim, but not credited due to privacy concerns.

• Try to be a better listener. Whether at home or at work, listening is a gift you can give that costs you nothing. Listening does not involve solving the other person’s dilemma – that’s their job. When offering support by listening actively you can give family and friends just what they need to approach their own concerns in a new way.

• Reach out to your elderly relatives. They may covet their independence – but still need your help. Open a conversation aimed at finding out what kinds of assistance they might need and would accept. Even simple things like help with lawn-care or shoveling snow can be a good first step.

• For those with young children, try to take the words “Hurry up” out of your vocabulary. Sit yourself down and strategize ways to make your morning and bedtime routines a little slower and saner. Your kids will thank you.

• Consider volunteer work. There is certainly no shortage of need in the world – resolve to do your part to make the world a better place. If you choose a volunteer activity like helping rehab a home for the homeless, or coaching a baseball team, you get the benefit of adding exercise as you help the world.

So, for my 2009 Resolutions as they are right now:

1. Write. Just write. Write something. A poem, journal, scenes, a break out novel, a song, a prayer… write!
2. Work on a richer financial plan
3. Get back to a size where I am comfortable in my clothes
4. Exercise weekly – options
1. Walks with Leah
2. wii fit (but more than just slalom skiing and the soccer ball head butting thing)
3. A Yoga class
4. Salsa dancing
5. Learn to play tennis with Sammie
5. Reengage in life
6. Find a church
7. Volunteer -ideas
1. Reservation
2. Soup kitchen or food pantry
3. JDRF or ADA
4. Voting precinct
8. Laugh out loud every day
9. Hug my monsters several times a day

And thanks to the employer:

10. Work to be a better listener
11. Eliminate “hurry up”, sighs, any passive aggressive communication of a hurry up emotion from every morning
12. Reach out to Great Grandma and Great Grandpa. They may not need much from me but more and better company and I can provide that readily enough – just have to do it.