Stray Genealogy Bits and Pieces

I have two boxes of pictures and decades-old printouts and notes on assorted people in my tree. I’ve been working on my lines for over 50 years and some of this stuff dates from the early days of my research which has been either confirmed or thrown out the window by subsequent research that’s properly sourced. Many of the pictures are duplicates of things I’ve already scanned, filed, and added to my tree. Others aren’t but they’re of people I barely know – and if I don’t know them, I know my brother won’t have a clue who they are. And we’re the only ones left.

I find myself wondering why I’m bothering to review all this stuff again. If the boxes disappeared, no one would know what went with them. I’m not sure I would know after all this time. And I’m not sure that anyone would care. You have to know what they are and whether they fill missing holes to care. I’m the only one who knows what they are and even I don’t care about most of it.

So why am I doing this? Really, why? Is it not enough that I have better images already scanned and sorted? I understand the value of all the scraps of paper that have given me genealogy treasures in the past. And it’s not THAT big a project to go through them all, search online, check files, etc. to see if I already have these pieces in a digital form.

But I just don’t want to do it, which is why they’re still sitting in their folders and acid-free boxes waiting for me to look at them again. I took the first step and moved everything out into the living room, but I still don’t want to do it. Maybe tomorrow.

All Manner of Things Shall be Well

If you know me at all, you know I’m someone who values organization, structure, and order. My brain is wired for this and it’s where I’m comfortable. Being a librarian, especially a technical services librarian, was a perfect fit. Chaos offends and sometimes scares me because I don’t know what to expect, so I can’t be prepared.

Well, I haven’t been prepared for much these last months. I do like the structure of knowing when I have therapy, and knowing when meals are. But I can’t plan next steps for therapy. It happens when it happens, whether I’m ready or not. The therapists know and have a plan, but my body will do what it will do or not do and they adjust accordingly.

Friday I go home, and I’ve been planning out what needs to happen, moved, opened, sorted, tossed, etc., as though that will help me be in control of it – but I’m not. This is another thing that has to just happen with some guidelines and milestones on the way. The MDS coordinator told me today that I’ve planned this all out more than some of them in the business can do, but that I need to be careful not to go overboard and talk myself into panic if I leave something out.

It’s going to work. I can go home and it will all be fine. If there are things left unplanned, we’ll work them out as we go. I use the royal “we” here because it’s mostly me, but I promise to ask for advice and help instead of getting just stuck in a panicked place. My brother is helping figure out the details of legal stuff needed to get my car sold. Me, the reader of fine print, didn’t catch a bunch of important things, but he did.

I’ve learned to live in the moment even if I was stressed at not knowing what was going on. Hmmm, maybe I didn’t learn it all that well but I lived it. I can do it again. No panic needed. “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” (Julian of Norwich)

Happiness is an Organized Freezer

I like organizing stuff. Yesterday as a nice rainy day activity, I took everything out of my standing freezer, cleaned the inside, and sorted the food into categories. I’m a former cataloger, this was easy. It was incredibly full of very healthy things, though some of them had gotten freezer burn or were older than seemed safe to try to eat. But it wasn’t organized and I had no idea what all was in there. Folks, I don’t need to buy meat for months. And now that I know what’s in there, and can find it, I’m looking at new recipes and ways to eat what I found.

This beautifully organized freezer has a divided bottom drawer with meat divided by type, with the oldest in the front so I’ll grab it first. On the right side we have way too many packages of ground beef in 1 lb packages from Sam’s. On the left we have way too many packs of Sam’s chicken thighs. In the middle are random miscellaneous beef such as beef tips, stew meat, and Italian sausage.

In the next drawer we now have frozen veggies on one side (apparently I got a great deal on Birds Eye Pearl Onions, which I love to add to stew but sometimes have trouble finding) and frozen fruit on the other side, heavy on cranberries and blueberries.

Up a shelf we have pre-packaged things such as frozen chicken cordon bleu that I forgot I had. And up one more we find frozen salmon and tilpia, with some portioned out single-serve containers of spaghetti pie and red beans and rice. On the top shelf is a basket with frozen pork tenderloins – I could eat one a week for the next 6 weeks! – and bread things.

And at eye level, organized in rows from front to back, are single-serve containers of things I cooked, frozen, and then sort of forgot were there because I couldn’t easily find them. We have rows of chicken teriyaki, stew, gazpacho, meat sauce, chili, and vegetable beef soup. I don’t have to cook anything for a long time.

On the door are bags of pecans from my yard, a few frozen dinners, and tall containers of chicken and dumplings, soup, stew, and chicken teriyaki. I obviously ran out of individual size containers – gee, I wonder why – so dumped several in one tall plastic container.

I’m feel organized, stocked, and virtuous for doing all of this. I know what’s there and know how to find it. The oldest package of pork tenderloin is defrosting for me to enjoy, and I have plans for a new recipe for Asian glazed chicken thighs in the air fryer, which I have but haven’t actually used yet. Progress. Oh and on the side, I stayed within my food plan yesterday and today. Stringing small beads together, one at a time, for however long it takes.

2019 Research Project Progress Report

That certainly sounds impressive, doesn’t it? But the short answer is, there is no progress because I haven’t been working on it. At all.

My big plan for 2018, which I completed, was to produce a bound book of Ancestors of My Brother from my FamilyTreeMaker data and give it to him for Christmas. Done, in 6 copies – one for him one for each of his children, and one for me. It’s gorgeous.

The plan for 2019 was to make research binder pages with full-page images to be printed and added to binders by some undetermined division of surnames. Each person/section would be supplemented by original documents and photos in acid-free page protectors, all properly identified. Sounded good. Didn’t happen.

What I have is a FTM database of just under 2,000 names with data collected over almost 50 years of research, which was massively cleaned up last year in preparation for the 2018 project. Time well-spent. I also have acid-free boxes divided by great-grandparent surname with original documents or copies such as death certificates, cemetery deeds, wills, letters, and military records. And photos – tho the tiny photos are being handled in another way. Yeah, lots of options. There’s also lots of correspondence, some of it dating back to the early 1970’s, from long-deceased relatives with seeds of information, and from cemeteries and churches with information covering multiple family members.

Also in the boxes are lots of random things, mostly outdated or replaced in digital form such as handwritten transcriptions of census records or abstracted land-deeds, and ancient family group sheets full of mis- or incomplete information. Some serious weeding of all of this was needed.

This week I started going through some of those boxes, weeding and sorting as I went, putting things in lovely clear acid-free sheet protectors and then putting THEM in a binder. I got through material for the Heginbothams, McCormicks, Cookes, Morrisons, and Flanders, which are all maternal lines. Next up are the boxes for my paternal lines, which have way more stuff to look at. But this is important.

What’s also important is coming to the realization that I do NOT want to make research binders with text, group sheets, original documents, etc. It’s a lot of work and I just don’t want to do it. What I want to do instead is make more printed & bound books with full-size photos and documents now in FamilyTreeMaker (which includes census, vital records, newspaper articles, city directory images, etc.). I’m thinking one book of ancestors for each of my grandparents, and one book of descendants for each set of grandparents.

All of these original documents that I’m carefully putting in acid-free storage can still go into binders by surname. I might organize them differently – not by individual person but by category of document, since several people in the same family appear on one page. Everything must be labeled, identified, and dated – because I’m the only one right now who knows what all that stuff is.

The goal is to make sure that all of the research I’ve done and all the material I’ve collected gets organized in a format that will be useful to me and to other family members who might refer to it when I’m not around to explain it.

So that’s the plan.