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#WeekendCoffeeShare Reaching Conclusions

March 25, 2017 8 Comments

horseshoes

horseshoes

horseshoes

horseshoes

If we were having coffee this weekend I would invite you to relax and take in the jasmine scent, still going strong in my front yard. I have ordered more tea (not that I was in need), so the selection has grown to epic proportion. The lazy Susan pantry literally groans under the weight of all the tea.  I am digging a new blend called Hugs and Kisses, with a rose/caramel aftertaste that drives me wild. I also ordered a black passion fruit flavored tea that tastes delicious iced. We drink iced tea all year, but in summer I brew in the sun daily and we consume mass quantities. If you like, I can brew you a hot cup of roiboos jasmine to go with the flowers in the yard. It is one of my favorites, and there is a little chill this morning that will make a hot beverage feel just right. Please, make yourself at home while I fetch your drink of choice, and tell me how your life is.  I want to hear what you have been doing, and how your writing is proceeding.

I have been trying to finish a non-fiction story that has unfolded over many years by creating a happy ending in real life.  This is the nature of non-fiction, being just the truth.  It limits one to facts.  As I struggle to make my real life ending happen I am writing some fiction and poetry as a relief. I am a neophyte at both genres, and, if I do say so myself, pretty shitty at both.  I like to practice to improve because I do find it liberating to just make up stories rather than try to influence hard reality in favor of a heroic outcome.  It is so much easier to imagine an alternative vision than it is to bring one into being on the earth.

I spend a lot of time investigating my genealogy, discovering facts about my family tree. I have attempted some short historical fiction based on some factual data I know about my ancestors.  I think this is a direction in which I could take my writing that would not only make use of the years of research I have done, but also allow me to create stories based on facts, but not limited strictly to them.  All that has happened already, so there will be no changing the historical facts.  Embellishing the truth, imagining the dialog and the settings, then bringing them to life seems like something I could really enjoy.  I have a very famous poet ancestor, in whose honor I write 30 poems in 30 days in April as part of #NaPoWriMo.  It is a challenge, but I think I owe it to her to give it a whirl for one month a year.   She provided her DNA and poetry about her life and children (of which I am one).  She was religious and wrote in olde English, so there is that.   There are a couple other poets in the tree who lived in Tudor England.  One was beheaded by Henry VIII.  I tried to write a comedic ditty about his death a couple of years ago..it was one of my worst poems ever…but I published it.  When I become an accomplished poet I will edit and spend much more time finishing each piece. Reaching a conclusion for a poem should be creative journey that has a universal ring. Someday I aspire to do that. My poetic muse has a short attention span that needs to be expanded.  The fiction one is in the same boat. They are lazy, so they like to jump to conclusions rather than work it.

This year I am gearing up by writing some warm up poems and collecting some interesting images to use for illustration and inspiration. All I do is publish a poem each day. I only hope to improve over time and stir my genetic muse to awaken and say something profound and poetic. I keep the bar very low for quality, but do find lots of great ideas by reading the work of the other participants.  I have finally finished my tax preparation and have returned to some written correspondence with a my new pen pals from February. I loaded up on stamps and plan to hand write and mail some of my shitty poems to my pen pals as a fusion of #NaPoWriMo and #InCoWriMo.  They will be on great post cards, so even if the poems suck the presentation will be artful.  This is the major lesson learned from the #InCoWriMo peeps, who tend to also be bullet journal, #BuJo, peeps…presentation counts, so don’t slack in that department.

Please join us on the weekend to sip and savor digital beverages with kindred spirits around the globe. Nerd in the Brain hosts this jolly group of writers.  Please visit the party here to read, comment or submit your own post.

#WeekendCoffeeShare

#WeekendCoffeeShare

 

 

Phantom Limbs in the Family Tree

May 12, 2016 3 Comments

my ethnicity map

my ethnicity map

My research into family history started after both my parents had died. They each left some written material about their families, but neither parent had been particularly interested in genealogy.  My father said he was Scots-Irish, which is in part true.  Both parents had ancestors who immigrated to America from the British Isles in the 1600s.  The DNA survey on ancestry shows that my DNA is 85% from Great Britain.  When the survey was much younger and fewer participants had contributed my ethnicity was estimated at 99% from the British Isles.  My “trace region” is the Caucasus area of Asia.  The Asian genes may be a fluke, as explained in the accompanying material.

my tree

my tree

I am sure about the first three generations I have listed, but my maternal grandmother was an orphan adopted in Mississippi in a county where the courthouse burned to the ground.  We have no way to find records of her natural parents.  She moved to Texas with her adoptive family.  Some of the branches are easy to research and verify.  Others have me at dead ends. My most irksome dead end is my third great-grandfather, Thomas Peterson, born in Indiana in 1825.  I keep looking for answers about his parentage but have not found any records of his birth.  More official historical records are digitally added all the time, so I could still find something new that would break the case for me.  It bugs me that I can trace his nephew’s line back in time, but not Thomas’.

Along the way I have discovered my own mistakes, and have also had problems pointed out to me by other ancestry enthusiasts.  It is always a drag to find errors because it means you need to remove the phantom family and start again at the point you can verify the data.  I have lost a few big limbs this way.  I had become fond of many of the members of my unverified people.  It is funny to give them up with such great emotion, since they were not really my ancestors, but I can tell you that this feels awful.  I still think about them in history too.  Sometimes I am angry that I made such mistakes in my research, but usually I am glad I met them (historically) and held them in my memory.  When my first cousin gave me the news that I had the wrong John Taylor as my 3rd great-grandfather I was very upset.  I had to admit that she had a point.  This involved chopping down a limb that I had built back to the middle ages in England, with many illustrious stories along the way.  Alas, they were all built on specious data.  Now I am back to Jonathan Aaron Taylor, who fought in the Revolutionary War and was discharged in South Carolina..not born there. I suppose I am happy to have him even though he is not who I thought he was.

Jonathan Aaron Taylor (1760 – 1820)
3rd great-grandfather
John Samuel Taylor (1798 – 1873)
son of Jonathan Aaron Taylor
William Ellison Taylor (1839 – 1918)
son of John Samuel Taylor
George Harvey Taylor (1884 – 1941)
son of William Ellison Taylor
Ruby Lee Taylor (1922 – 2008)
daughter of George Harvey Taylor
Pamela Morse
I am the daughter of Ruby Lee Taylor

Have you ever attempted an ancestry study?  It is really easy now that Ancestry.com is there to guide you.  Just be careful as you roam around in that data. Not all of it can be verified, especially the family trees.  Don’t copy another person’s data until you examine it carefully for errors. The ancestors have much to teach us..and one of the lessons is VERIFY your facts before you swallow them whole. Save yourself the heartache of saying good-bye to bogus relatives.

 

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