Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Synopsis: 2011April 17th

A very quick post for tonight!   Back to work on the McPherson saga and the reunion.  I am in the process of copying and printing pictures as well as making copies of the DVDs of the information garnered in Wisconsin last November.  I am not a craft-sort of person, so activities such as this project is truly a labor of love.  I have the copies of DVDs completed and a goodly number of pictures to take to the reunion  --- as well as the wealth of info on my laptop; also have the release ready to hand out or mail to those not attending. 

Plans for this week are to keep working on my ongoing list which includes the following:
  * Continue drafting bios on my father's siblings
  *  Outline progression steps for completion of the book of Uncle Ralph's letters.
  *  Finish the rewrite of "Clay" and "Lessons from the Pencil Sharpener;"  submit for publication.
  *  At least 2 additional blog posts.
   ** AND HAVE A GREAT TIME TALKING WITH MY AUNTIES AND COUSINS THIS WEEKEND!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Manifesto -- Or Perhaps a Rant

My desk is cluttered with debris of the morning calls, last nite's late writing frenzy, and left-over filing from two days ago --- so what am I doing now? Can't get an idea out of my mind. 

“Why,” I ask.

The answer bubbles forth, unwanted and in bad timing, and worst of all, in question form, “Who do you think you are?”

'Tis the universal asking: What is my purpose? Why do I do what I do? Why do I care about dead people who lived long ago – or in some cases, not so long ago. Why do their stories matter to me?


“Yes, great universe,  but why am I driven to the page today when I have a fistful of “must do” tasks? “

“Convergence.”

“Give me a break. What in the world does convergence have to do with this sudden anxiety?”

“You know, it is within you.”

“Okay, already, convergence. Ok, convergence of my brick walls, those places that hide the stories from me, along with the shallow commerciality of WDYTYA, and my ambivalence about the historical precursors to the Civil War, or any war for that matter.”

“Come on, old girl, get on with it. What's eating at you?”

“It's the smug genealogists who spit out facts, dates, places and people as though GG (Genealogy God} speaks from on high. It just genealogy for god's sake. Lives are not at stake. We humans make mistakes, and then have to correct our mistakes – or not.

“I am a historian by training and inclination. History is a messy thing that is told by scourged ruins, scraps of paper, pieces of clay, remnants of lives. And Genealogy even messier, as it is also told by the same tools, but also in old  documents that are hard to verify (because people long dead wrote and transcribed) but most of all because much is molded by memories of the past and the desires of the now. Historians revise, history quite often and what is in taken for fact may be laughable the next decade or so, until the original view comes back into style. Unfortunately many genealogist take on the academic persona with bludgeon in hand. Right is Right, by God and Genealogy. As a historian, I appreciate good solid research. However, in family history, the stories of the past, I care as much for the humanity not only of my and our ancestors, but for our humanity towards the living and the dead --- they are not so far apart.”

For me, I strive for understanding and a soul-deep caring as I research, tell and write the stories of individuals long gone, of their lives and times. And in return, I am overwhelmed with love and joy of being connected to those folks and their lives – whether in my family line or not. I hope to leave each reader with  understanding, caring, love and joy that flows from me to the page.

Now that I got that out of my system, hopefully without ruffling too many feathers, shaking too many bones, I can go back to work, clean my desk, do my filing and maybe even do a bit of work on the book.

Sunday Synopsis:Not quite under the wire, 2011 April 10th

The good and the bad;  The good, I have been busy and fairly productive; The bad, busy and productive but not necessarily on the tasks intended.  One rather exciting occurrence this past week was and unexpected contact from a "cuzin" on my Keyes-Brown line.  I have been so envious of other bloggers who have been contacted by unknown relatives via their blogs.  Never happened to me, and I had just about given up hope, when I got a wonderful email.  She not only found my blog post on Sarah Almira Duty Brown, but she had been going through old related blog posts.  Giddy I was!   I have a number of pictures of her great grandpa, 2xgreat and 3x grandmother, but my real pleasure was being able to pass along some treasured pictures of her great grandpa.  These pictures were rather like orphans  for me --- not in my direct family but close enough I knew them, but not their descendants. Now I have a home and a family for these old photographs. Over the next few months, I hope to go through my pictures and find more bits of this new "cuzin's" past to pass along to her.  A very good part of the week.

Another plus for my week was having a blogger friend coach me through some worrisome things about Picassa.  Then some "while away" hours seeing just what I could do with this new creature Picassa.  I don't believe I will be able to use Picassa as I had intended for  adding the pictures to the book on Uncle Ralph's letters, but every bit of new information, program, technology is good in and of itself.  Regarding the book of letters, I have unearthed the copy desk that I will be using for the next few weeks.  And so sad to say, but not surprised, I evidently did not get an Archive.com grant --- t'would have made the finish work for the book so much easier.  Now, head down, and plow ahead.

Finished draft on Harold's bio and have sent it out for comment and suggestions.  Started on one of the aunties.  I am amazed at how much information on my McPherson kin just rolls out ---  a really great benefit of having to go thru my dear Uncle Ralph's letters three and four times, i.e., great hunks of McPherson history just sit in this fuzzy little brain, just waiting for a chance to burst forth.

I also made a list of 50 To Do's to move the finish/publishing this book along (which sort of covers my "progression steps for the book" --outlined major project hunks, as well as listed little details and phone calls.  This week I have contacted four  cuzin's for various bits of information and spent quite a bit of time trying to track down "lost cuzin's."  The List of 50 actually made that happen for me, so I am happily clickiing off items that I might have put off.  It's good to have a list which includes those little things that just take 15 minutes or less --- those are the ones that I put off til later--- and "Why?" I ask myself.  "Well cuz I dinna have a list that included little jobbies.


Okay, enough blather about what I did this past week and on to what I dinna do --- oh, my!  Dinna post to blog, dinna finish my re-writes, and need to finalize the Release form and letter.

This coming couple of weeks are going to be very busy --- writing group, appointments, yard guy, and the reunion looming in the too near future.  Therefore, I am not adding anything new to my weekly intents --- just hope to keep to the tune of my drummer.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Synopsis:Just under the wire, 2011 April 3rd

I am not sure whether I was MIA or AWOL --- whichever, after March 17th I was not fully present here at Roots'n'Leaves.  Even tho blogging fell by the wayside, I have been more or less on task - sometimes more and sometimes less.

In my ongoing effort to keep on track, I need to take stock of my wayward ways and failure to post for over two weeks and missed two Sunday Synopsis postings.  Things that I did accomplish;  hosted a critique group; attended another crit group; attended a screenwriting workshop; wrote a short essay, Lessons from the Pencil Sharpner; and have my dad's bio nearly done --- only have 10 or so to go.  I have also been in contact with cousins regarding the upcoming reunion in Red Bluff.  Mostly, life happened and my attention and efforts wandered.  Now to get back on track.

My intent for the coming week is the following:
  *  Finish the bio on my dad
  *  Finalize the Release form and letter (a must do, as I need to present it to folks at the family reunion in April)
  *  Draft at least one more  McPherson bios ( I would like to have 10 done by the reunion, but starting a bit late.)
  *  Finish the rewrite of "Clay" and "Lessons from the Pencil Sharpener;"  submit for publication.
  *  At least 3 blog posts.
  *  Outline progression steps for completion of the book of Uncle Ralph's letters.