Friday, December 31, 2010

The Best Laid Plans . . .

I've come to realize over the years that I can plan and plan but that, in the end, I often go astray from those plans. Why? Because I'm human. I don't see the whole picture. God does though. This past year I had to change my plans several times. I'm thankful to the people with whom I was working on the FGS Conference for Knoxville who knew when they needed to help a little more when I was dealing with my mother's diagnosis with cancer, surgery, extended illness, and ultimate death. I had to slow down a bit after a foot injury at FGS caused me to have to stay off my feet a bit more for much of the remainder of 2010. My left foot healed by October, but my right one is just now at a point where I can bear to apply fairly normal pressure on it. I have been able to research in some facilities, but others which required more walking were not an option for me. As far as 2010, our church choir had planned to go on a mission trip to northern Vermont. I was looking forward to going there because Vermont is one of the states that I've not had the privilege of visiting. I was also going to be able to cross the border into Quebec and add another Canadian province to my places visited category. Those plans were shattered when a long-time employee of the church was discovered to have embezzled 1.5 million dollars. Much of our operating funds were frozen for a time while the investigation took place so we were going week to week there for awhile. I decided to see if there were any openings at Samford (which had been a conflict with the choir mission trip) and found that there was one opening in the Military Records class so I signed up and went to Samford instead. I made several research trips to Nashville -- some of those included client work, but many were able to include at least some personal research. All of these were not in my original plans for the year, but it's hard to imagine anything else at this point.

Now - what are my plans for this year which will likely alter over the course of the year?

In the next few weeks I'll be updating the handout for my NGS presentation about Mississippi research. This is a fairly recent handout so it probably won't change drastically, but I like to update them from time to time.

I'm planning to carve out a little more time to work on FamilySearch Indexing projects. This is likely to take place by making myself indexing at least one census image which usually requires about 15-20 minutes before beginning another project.

I want better access to the articles in the journals and magazines in my personal collection, so I'm going to continue to gradually add these to LibraryThing as titles owned, tag them, give the remaining bibliographic citation (journal title, volume, issue, publication date, pages) in the publication field, etc.

I'm planning to take on more client work this year so this will slow down my own research even more. However, I am planning to focus my research on about three of my families. The first of these is my Mosely/Mosley/Moseley family which ended up in middle Tennessee. They are quite challenging because they spent most of their time in a burned county (Giles). I've found records in several surrounding counties. One of the interesting things is that there is another Moseley family in the same area which is usually connected to a completely different line. I want better evidence than has been published by other researchers that the families are not connected and that ours comes from a different line. The other two families are some that landed in Southeastern Ohio -- the Dearborns and the Taylors. I am speaking at a library conference that will be held at Cedarville University in Cedarville, near Springfield, Ohio, in June. I'm hoping that I can spend some time before or after the conference researching these families who lived in Washington, Morgan, and Athens Counties in the early to mid 19th century. (My Rathbone line was also in the area so I may get a little more information on that one although I have a bit more documentation on this family than the others. Also Lovica Rathbone Taylor married Capt. William Davis later, so I may need to spend a little time with that surname as well.)

I have a couple of lectures that I'm extremely interested in developing. I've had them on paper for awhile and need to get them "ready to go." I suspect that finding examples that I can use to illustrate my slides and getting permissions to use the images will be the time-consuming part.

I have one goal which I don't wish to share publicly at this time. I will spend time working on this goal off and on throughout the year. It's actually one that is already in progress. With a full-time job and other commitments, it will likely take longer than this year to achieve.

Will all this be achieved? I don't know, but God does.

This post was composed for the 101st edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Roots of Elvis Presley

This morning I happened to notice an article in the morning paper advertising a new book entitled The Roots of Elvis Presley. I got excited thinking that someone had documented his family's ancestry, but the deeper I got into the article, the more I realized that the book had been mistitled. The book might be a good source of information if you want information on Elvis and his parents, but it apparently has very little to do with genealogy beyond his immediate family. The book came out just in time for the celebration of Elvis' birth which attracts many visitors to the Tupelo area. I suspect a lot of people are going to pick it up with expectations that the book will delve further into Elvis' ancestry and are going to be disappointed.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Push & Shove

I'm still in Mississippi for the holidays. Last night I decided to venture out to a store called Hudson's Dirt Cheap. I've been several times when they had a great supply of closeout books, but I wasn't that lucky last night. I'd been told that they had a lot of Christmas close-outs from Target earlier during the day, but either they were gone or I just didn't find them. (Someone said they'd been able to get a 7.5 foot Christmas Tree for $1.) My mom used to call the store "Push & Shove." That's about what you have to do there. The aisles are too narrow. You can't meet anyone else with a cart on them because the aisles are nearly too narrow for a single cart -- much less for any to pass. I don't have the patience to pick through the clothes which have size labels on the racks which are meaningless. I know a lot of people have found quite a few bargains, but it's too crowded with not enough space for browsing. The electronics in stock appeared to be the ones returned to various stores with problems. All the boxes were damaged as well. There were a bunch of DVDs that looked as though the shrink-wrapped containers had been dropped in a giant mud puddle. The floors are filthy. Many aisles are barricaded with yellow "crime scene" tape (making you wonder what folks did on those aisles). It's particularly aggravating if you get to the end of one of those narrow aisles in the clothes section only to discover that you cannot exit into the main aisle to round the corner to the next aisle. It's no fun backing your cart back up the entire aisle. There's no room to turn around and go forward. While I'm enough of a book addict to take the time to sort through those when available, I'm not willing to take the time to search through other things. Push and shove is exactly what you have to do. I'm not sure why people are willing to put up with a filthy store and all the inconveniences. I guess it is the feeling they get when they do find the bargain. I really prefer to find my bargains in cleaner stores. I'm just surprised that the health department hasn't condemned that one!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

White Christmas

It's a White Christmas in 2010! These pictures are taken from my Dad's house in Mississippi which is where I am for the holidays, but it's a White Christmas at home in East Tennessee too.

Now, for a little look at a Christmas past. This was my very first White Christmas at the age of 10 months.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mom's Cranberry Fudge

After Mom retired, she and Dad traveled throughout all of the lower 48 states. They didn't make it to Alaska or Hawaii, and I think she really would have loved to have gone to Alaska. Of course, Dad had been to Hawaii during World War II in his naval service. While they were in Oregon, Mom came across cranberry fudge. She tried it at multiple places, but the one she really loved came from one lady's shop. She ordered it at Christmas for the family, but after a couple of years, the store went out of business. She ordered some from an alternate location, but it just wasn't as good. That's when she decided to try making her own. She tried several times and finally got a recipe that tasted very close to the one she had loved so much.

Cranberry Fudge

3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 cup chopped cranberries
4 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup chopped walnuts

Combine sugar, cranberries, evaporated milk, butter, and salt in heavy pan. Bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallows and nuts. Stir vigorously until marshmallows melt. Beat until thick. Add 2 to 3 drops of red food color, if desired, for a darker color. Pour in greased square-shaped pan and cool.

Mom used her Kitchen Aid stand mixer to beat the mixture after removed from the heat. It takes quite awhile to get it to a thick enough consistency that it will set. If you don't have a stand mixer, you will want to take turns beating it because you'll get tired pretty quickly! Dad says she sometimes left it for a couple of days before cutting it into pieces.

Monday, December 20, 2010

First Christmas

This appears to be a picture of me enjoying my very first Christmas. I'm probably about 10 months old in the picture. I won't tell how many years ago it was! This was, however, back in the days when we had a real tree instead of an artificial one!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

I've spent some of the last couple of days scanning photos that were at my dad's house. I'd brought a bunch with me to scan this past summer and to return at Christmas. I'd done quite a few, but I still had a lot to go so I buckled down and started scanning.

I honestly do not know who is pictured in this photo other than the notes on the back. There is a resemblance between some of the men and some of the men on the Thornton side of the family. I do plan to ask my dad about the photo when I see him at Christmas.

Let's just say this is one place I was surprised to see a donkey!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

With the cold frigid temperatures, snow still on the ground from earlier in the week and snowing now with the possibility of a layer of ice on top it by morning, I was reminded of this poem that we memorized in elementary or middle school.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Blog Caroling: O Holy Night

One of my favorite singers is Gerald Wolfe who sings lead with the group Greater Vision. There are two Christmas songs that he sings that are among my favorites. One of these is the song written by Lanny Wolfe called "Cherish That Name." I couldn't find a YouTube recording sung by Gerald of it so I opted to go with the other one, "O Holy Night."

According to Wikipedia, "O Holy Night" was composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847, but the version we know came to be in 1855 when John Sullivan Dwight, a Unitarian minister, created a version for singing based upon the French song.


O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

A Simple Christmas by Mike Huckabee

Huckabee, Mike. A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories That Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit. New York: Sentinel, 2009.

I really enjoyed this collection of stories from Governor Huckabee's life that remind us that sometimes simple is better. They also show us the depth of his faith in Jesus Christ. They challenge us to remember the true meaning of Christmas. One of my favorite portions of the book was the introduction. I would have enjoyed hearing him preach that message! Throughout the book, the Governor made reference to many members of his family. As a genealogist, I wanted to go hunting for his ancestors as most of his information on the distant generations appears to have been passed down through oral tradition rather than having been properly documented. I still loved the stories of his family and of himself. One of the most touching stories involved the last days of a family member who died to cancer. Having lost my mother to cancer in the last year, I found myself in tears in that section. While I doubt liberal Democrats would enjoy the book, I do think there are many other classes of persons to whom this book would appeal. The stories are touching. It's a great Christmas read! (4 stars)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Piano Teacher by Lynn York

York, Lynn. The Piano Teacher. New York: Penguin, 2004.

Miss Wilma is a small town piano teacher in North Carolina. Her daughter Sarah and granddaughter Starling arrive for an unexpected visit. Her son-in-law Harper and Jonah Branch turn up just as the body of an officer is found -- just in time for Jonah to be accused of the murder. Sarah, her mother, and her mother's friend are convinced of Jonah's innocence and must work to prove it before Jonah lands behind bars for good. I really wanted to like this book, but it just didn't grip me. I liked Miss Wilma's character well enough, but the story line just didn't hold me. There was also a thread early in the novel about a piano student auditioning that just kind of fizzled out in the midst of the book with absolutely no resolution. I was more interested in this thread about the promising piano student than about the murder investigation so it left me unsatisfied. (3 stars)

Reflections on Genealogy Blogs & This Blog

Most of you are aware that it's voting time for Family Tree Magazine's favorite blogs. As I began to go through the choices -- and yes, I loaded every blog to give all those with which I was unfamiliar as well as those I read regularly an equal chance, I noticed some trends. I tended to not vote for blogs which had almost meme-related posts exclusively. With the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories in full swing, I had to scroll back all the way to November to see non-meme posts for some blogs to see what those writers I did not regularly read brought to blogging which was unique. Blogs that only posted to memes such as the tombstone and wordless ones showed little creativity in my opinion. Blogs with super long entries also did not fare well in my voting. With the number of blogs that I try to read, it would be impossible to read entries like that on a daily basis -- especially if they were not immediately relevant to my own research or to areas in which I spend a great deal of time researching. Blogs that focused almost exclusively on reviews also did not get my vote. I think I've seen too many software reviews lately. One blog that I used to read regularly and enjoyed is so full of software reviews now that I've considered dropping it from my feed reader. It used to be more eclectic in nature.

I haven't been blogging as much lately. There are a variety of reasons contributing to my lack of blogging . . . other priorities, illness in the family, blogging burnout, and working on client research rather than my own. I have good intentions, and I know I need to get back to it, but I haven't. I also noticed signs of this same problem among some of the blogs that were nominated. One blog (which used to be a favorite) had not been updated in the last calendar year. I've at least written a handful of posts in that time. Others were infrequent, having only a handful of posts as well. Other blogs seem to be suffering a little "fatigue." They aren't quite as engaging as they once were. It's as though they were writing out of a sense of obligation rather than having something about which they are excited to share. I'll also confess a little secret to you. I hate the word "geneablog." I prefer to use the phrase "genealogy blog" or "family history blog," a term which is much more likely to be utilized by those looking for genealogy-related blogs than an invented term. I know that the English language is evolving, but that's one term that I'd rather have omitted from dictionaries. It's so prevalent that its use will be continued in genealogy blogging circles regardless of my thoughts on the matter. I think the one thing that bugs me about the use of the term is that I feel "trapped" by it. When I began Smoky Mountain Family Historian back in June of 2004, my intent was never to blog exclusively about genealogy. My intent was to blog about anything that interested me or caught my attention. It was to be a reflection of my whole person. I often shared reviews of books that I read. I shared things about my cat. I shared other things. In order to recapture my enthusiasm, I'm going back to my original intent for this blog. You are going to see many aspects of my life as well as glimpses into my genealogical research. I hope that this change back to the original direction of my blog does not cause you to leave. I just need to recapture my enthusiasm for blogging!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Picky Eater

Yes. There truly is one in every family. It's impossible for our family to create a meal without alternatives around the holidays. It's not the older generation that is the problem. It's the ones under age 35. Turkey . . . fortunately most of the family will eat this. Of course, it is my cat Brumley's favorite part of the holiday meal. Cornbread dressing . . . only those over age 35 will eat this. Fortunately those of us over 35 don't mind because it leaves more for us (until we've had it as leftovers for a 3rd time). Cranberry sauce . . . This is a tricky one. My dad, my brothers, and I will eat this. Mom always served the jellied kind out of the can. I prefer making it myself, but the family eats the jellied kind better because of tradition . . . so I usually suffer. Rolls . . . this is one item everyone will eat. Green beans . . . generally speaking, it's those of us who are older who eat this, but I was shocked when, at Thanksgiving, one of my nephews actually put some on his plate. He didn't eat a lot of green beans, but he ate a few. There may be hope for that younger generation yet. Sweet potato casserole . . . some will eat; some won't. Cheesy potato casserole . . . one of my newer favorite dishes. We started making it because one of my nieces really liked it. We're not sure if she knew it had onions in it when we first started serving it, but she does now, and she still eats it. Mashed potatoes . . . served as an alternative for those who won't eat the cheesy potato casserole and/or dressing. Fruit salad . . . another food that everyone will eat. Carrots with ranch dressing . . . for my youngest niece who is now a senior in high school. Pecan pie, Pumpkin pie, Cheesecake supreme . . . everyone will eat at least one of the choices offered (although why some of my nieces and nephews would ever eat the boxed cheesecake you buy at the grocery store after eating the homemade variety we serve, I don't understand). Chocolate . . . Can you believe that I have a niece who won't eat chocolate? We even have Swiss ancestry!!!!! She needs to learn to embrace her inner Swiss. I always tease her that I'm not sure we're related. Of course, we have coated pretzels, fudges, cheese balls, summer sausages, and other things to munch on during the holidays as well.