09 September 2012

Sentimental Sunday - A little Past and a little Future

I’m back! I apologize for being away so long…I have an anniversary and then pull a disappearing act…<grin>  The last month was just crazy busy and I simply didn’t have the energy to devote to writing more about genealogy or archives. But I do have a lot to tell you, so here goes:

First, we (my hubs and I) finally closed on the short sale of the condominium I’d purchased with my ex-husband back in 1990. The process was slow and excruciatingly painful; not only were we losing a place we thought we’d have in our retirement, but the years of scrimping and working two jobs to pay two mortgages seemed to all be a waste. At the 11th hour the condo association forced us to come up with even more money for assessments we honestly shouldn’t have had to pay (according to my none too happy lawyer) making the situation nearly unbearable. But, as seems to happen all too often for us, the dust settled and we’ve weathered the storm. Although we won’t have this place to live when we retire, we will always carry with us many happy memories of Sunday mornings with the newspaper, listening to Smooth Jazz, with two very content little boy kitties lounging right along with us:
Sunday morning brunch spot

Sunday afternoon: Chillin' with Butch & Kid
 Second, I had another wonderful trip to Michigan to work with my personal Archives client and do a little research for myself. My clients, Sharon and Ralph Neely (they were kind enough to allow me to use their names), both have long and interesting family histories. Sharon’s maiden name is Streeter, and yes, there is a Streeter Family Association. My role though is to manage all of the personal pictures, documents and ephemera they’ve acquired over the years. As a significant part of that, Sharon has a black photo album that she wanted to share with everyone, but wasn’t certain how she could do that without tearing it apart. I resolved her dilemma in the same manner I did for the Elburn Lion’s Club: a photo reproduction of the book. I’ve scanned all the pages exactly as they are, and after a bit of work to create an appropriate file will have a printer create a replica of the original. This allows Sharon to share copies with as many people as possible, while keeping the original intact. I’ll have an update with photos of the book when it’s complete. This weekend though was devoted to the Neely side of the family. There’s lots going on and with the possible move of one of their children my work took on a new sense of urgency. I worked with Ralph and their son to capture lots of interesting family stories and to go through the large stack of pre-1919 photos his sister had lovingly collected.  With not much time to work, I still managed a great trip out on the lake with the Neely’s son, his 5 year old triplets and 4 year old daughter and a close family friend. I tell you, swimming with triplets is quite a feat, especially when you’re not so hot a swimmer yourself. But we all had a wonderful time, and I know they’re very happy to have had the opportunity to capture so many great stories. 

Just a bit of the Neely material before processing

I ended my weekend by heading back to the Riverside Cemetery in Kalamazoo. I’d had an ongoing conversation with the Cemetery manager, and she was going to meet me at a section in one of the oldest parts of the cemetery. I’d posted a picture of the receipt for the sodding and graves; their location is just awful. There are two headstones in the lot; I still don’t know if the people are actually related to me or not. But I couldn’t stand the fact that an eight year old’s headstone had fallen over and been partially buried, with his father’s buried nearly half way. I spent two and half hours digging to uncover them. In the end, at least the base can be seen on the one stone, but the stone that had tipped over will need stronger means than my arms to get it uprighted. The Cemetery is aware and I’m going to try to continue to work with them. In the meantime, I (we) realized that there is no less than a foot of eroded earth on top of what may or may not be markers for my family member’s graves. The reality is that, even if we took the time and effort to uncover them, gravity will work against us and in another 20 years, they’ll just be covered again. I’m the last person in our family, literally, who has the time to go all the way to Kalamazoo. Once I’m gone, there simply won’t be anyone left to worry about them. I’m taking the pragmatists route on this and simply letting Nature take its course.

Riverside Cemetery, Kalamazoo Michigan. Owner Mrs. G Rathbone, Section E Lot 176. Graves of Henry Fletter and C. H. Fletter. Taken 04 Sept 2012. Before. 

Riverside Cemetery, Kalamazoo Michigan. Owner Mrs. G Rathbone, Section E Lot 176. Graves of Henry Fletter and C. H. Fletter. Taken 04 Sept 2012. After.

Last, but certainly not least, August was Research Report month for our ProGen Study group. For those of you who are unfamiliar, ProGen is a group that studies Elizabeth Shown Mills’ book “Professional Genealogy” through an 18 month course. It’s extremely challenging in that, along with all the other life things that are going on, you still have to find time to get the work done. And, I was wise to start early in the month. Except that I have had a building challenge with ‘test anxiety.’ I thought that I was done with it when I completed my Bachelors’ Degree, but when I started to take courses for a Masters Degree a few years back, I found it reared its ugly head. Now I’m finding that assignments that are due once a month have become anxiety laden obstacles. And this month’s work, combined with the challenges of my personal life (a bit more next), simply stopped me in my tracks. Fortunately, I may have worked out the issue preventing me from moving forward; this month will be the test for that (no pun intended). Good news is the Research Report was completed although it was turned in a few hours late and now we’re on to the editing portion of the course. Moving forward!

One last item. I ‘usually’ don’t stick my nose in other people’s business, but if you’re a smoker, STOP IT. Just STOP. There is no good reason to continue a habit that will kill you. It’s not a matter of if, but when. My 45 year old cousin missed having a heart attack by 1%: his right coronary artery was 99% blocked. He is not morbidly obese, although the doctor told him he needs to lose 30 pounds, and a dietician was surprised at the high quality of his diet. As the doctor said, “it’s just the smoking.” So, please, if you smoke, stop. If you need help, just ask. There are tons of programs out there. Yes, I know there is a cost; but is smoking worth dying for?

Yep, I’m back…


  1. Busybusybusybusy - Laura, your life has been very full lately. But I see that you are completing your projects, following up on your passions, and moving forward. Good on you, as my father used to say! Cheers indeed! As for the no-smoking - my mother died of lung cancer, and my father of severe arterioscerosis leading to many strokes over 8 years before he died. Terrible prices to pay on top of the cash cost of each of them smoking about 1 1/2 cartons (15 packages, that is) per week, since they were about 14 or so. Amazing price. Great post. Keep it up.

  2. I truly enjoyed reading this post. You really have had a full plate. Looking forward to what you have to say in your next post.

  3. Dear Laura, I'm so glad to have the chance to catch up with all that's been happening to you, and all you've done. No apologies needed! We all understand "crazy busy," and it catches us all off guard.

    What stands out for me right away is a vision of you swimming the the 5-year-old triplets of the son of your clients--plus the 4-year-old. There you are scanning photo album pages and collecting stories one minute, and amiably swimming with them the next. A generous professional!

    Speaking of professional, the ProGen couse on Mills's book sounds really rigorous. I know many people with test/performance anxiety and also writer's block. That can be savage. My dau tells me about 80% of the musicians she knows take a bit of inderal (or similar) before a concert--despite anxiety, it steadies your motor and thought skills. Good for you, moving on!

    So sorry you had to sell the condo! Hope you can carry some of the idyllic memories through to the present, especially the Jazz and the kitties. That couch looks comfy.

    Your experience at Riverside Cemetery sounds both grueling and sad. I'm glad you took the pragmatist route--nature will take its course anyway. 17th century essayist Thomas Browne (dense but wonderful writing) says in "Urn-Burial" that "gravestones tell truth but [i.e. only] forty years." Not fair. (A job hazard of being in lit is that quotes keep popping up in your head...then of course you have to say them. :} ) Anyway, so good to hear from you. Was so glad when hubs stopped smoking 20 years ago. He still craves and will stand downwind of a smoker on the sidewalk if he gets the chance. Go figure.

  4. Laura, things have been busy for me also, but I'm anxious to hear if you discovered anything about my ancestor James Martin Richards. Please contact me. Kay (Offutt) Schmidt


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