Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book of Me #9 - Halloween

Yes... I skipped ahead! I'll come back to prompts 5, 6, 7, & 8 since Halloween is today! The shorter days and work stress over the past couple of weeks haven't been very conducive to my writing at all. So instead of writing a big flowery post about my history with Halloween with all the cute pictures that I know are around here somewhere... this is what's speaking to me now. There's always next year (and the year after... etc...) to write of Halloweens past.

The writing prompt:

This week’s (Week 9) prompt is Halloween

Have you ever participated in a Halloween event?
When was it?
Where was it?
What did you dress as?
Trick or treat?

In a nutshell, I've participated in Halloween in one way or another pretty much every year since I was born. Princess, Witch, Gypsy, Cowgirl, Leopard, Go-Go Girl, Southern Belle. My sister had the BEST costume when she was one year old. She was a Ladybug! That's me in my Princess costume (at least, I THINK I'm a Princess?). I look a little shellshocked. Ha!!

I always have a different costume, never a "sexy" anything (nurse, pirate, etc). I think I was in Jr High the last time I trick-or-treated, and until just recently I was never home to pass out candy to the local kids. 

Every year, I run into the same issues when October 31st rolls around. I'm always a few pounds heavier than the month before, with no get-up-and-go and a candy hangover. You see, once Halloween is on the horizon, every store stocks their candy aisle with about a zillion pounds of sugary goodness.

Here's the Halloween Candy Aisle in Walmart a couple of weeks ago. I usually shop at Target, but theirs is broken up into 3 short aisles and was harder to take a picture of. Even the little grocery store up the street from me has a big display right when you walk into the store. It's everywhere!

Every year... year after year... October rolls around. (shocking!) The days get shorter and colder. The world outside gets begins to die off and lose summer's lush green luster. Flowers wilt and fall. It's pitch black outside when my alarm goes off in the morning and nearly dark by the time I get off work. Then one morning, there will be frost on the lawn and the garden is done. The trees lose their leaves. The spiders move inside. Everything slows down, including me. My coping mechanism? CANDY.

After a month of mourning the loss of summer and losing myself in the bottom of a bag of Chewy Nerds, I feel like crap. I'm exhausted and on Sugar Overload. About 13 years ago, I actually spent a Saturday afternoon on the couch watching TV while my roommate and one of our mutual friends carved pumpkins in the dining room not 10 feet from me. And the sad thing is that the more I eat, the more I want. I can polish off a bag of jelly beans in one sitting. So, when the time comes to pick out a Halloween costume, I feel terrible. Fat, pasty, and puffy. My requirements for the perfect costume? Something that's roomy and doesn't show any skin.

Here I am as the Perky Viking in 2006, the last year I did the Halloween Pub Crawl in Chicago. It's about 10am and we're taking the L ("el"... Chicago's elevated train) in our costumes. (That pub crawl needs it's own post!)

This year, I had an epiphany!! After about a week's worth of candy temptation, something clicked. I was driving home from work one day thinking about my history with this time of year and wondering what Halloween was like when Mom was younger, it hit me. They were probably lucky to get any candy at all. I flashed back to the old movies that I'd seen that showed (literally)... a kid in a candy store. One slim penny in hand, trying to pick just ONE piece of penny candy. 

Times just aren't like that anymore.

The thing that I really liked about becoming an adult (although I'm not sure when that happened, exactly), is that I could do whatever I wanted and no one could tell me "No". I could spend my time and money on whatever I wanted. I could go wherever I wanted, spend time with whoever I wanted, and stay out as late as I wanted. I went through a period of time in my 20s when I had a pretty well paying job and I would talk different friends into going to Red Lobster with me. I literally ate there 3x a week for months! Sure, I got REALLY good at cracking into crab legs with a surgeon's precision... but was it the best financial decision? Probably not.

The same thing goes for Me & Candy. It used to feel like a treat... then a coping mechanism... but sometime in the past month, it turned into a punishment. Here I am, feeling bad about myself and the weight I've gained over the past 20 years and my "treat" is to completely saturate my system with jelly beans? That's right. It's not just Halloween. It just STARTS with Halloween. Then it continues with leftover candy through to Thanksgiving when I gorge myself on food all day and stock up on Christmas Candy. Then by the time Christmas actually rolls around, I can barely eat my Mom's homemade candy... peanut brittle... chocolate clusters... and my favorite, Butter Toffee.... YUM.... After THAT, I go on a health kick about mid-January until they bring out the Easter Candy (my personal favorite) and that completely derails me for another month. THEN I find out that ShopKo sells giant bags of Starburst Jelly Beans YEAR ROUND and it completely throws my program off. One bad day, and BOOM! Candy hangover. By the time Spring and Summer roll around, I'm worse off than the year before.


I made a pact with myself that day in the car. CANDY is a TREAT. Not a dietary requirement. I promised myself that this year, I would only have candy ON the holiday. Not the month leading up to it and then nonstop until New Year's. So I didn't buy any. And I told Dane that he couldn't, either. He finally broke down this week and got some tiny Crunch bars and Butterfingers, which is fine. They're not my downfall. And since I've been eating GOOD dark chocolate occasionally this year, I found that I don't even LIKE Crunch bars anymore! Not a huge fan of Butterfingers, either! 

And boy... I actually feel pretty good! Sure, I'm run down by the changing seasons and work stress... but physically, I feel pretty great! I can still feel my collarbone and see the muscles in my calves, so I'm doing pretty good! We aren't dressing up in costumes this year, so I don't have to worry about what to wear. But after putting on my fleece pants this week and actually having to cinch them up, I'm feeling pretty good about myself. I'm not bursting at the seams, and that's good enough for now.

Last night on my way home from work, I stopped at ShopKo and got a few bags of candy for the kids tonight. I want to say that I ate maybe a dozen little pieces... a little bag of Whoppers (malted milk balls), a few little rolls of Spree... a couple of pieces of Laffy Taffy... and a few packets of those SweeTarts that melt in your mouth. I tried some Milk Duds, but the caramel kept sticking to my teeth and drove me nuts. The kids are getting those FIRST. 

Tangent: Now, the question of whether I'm doing these kids a favor at all by giving them candy is yet to be seen. But I'm sure not going to be like this lady who's going to hand out a note to obese kids.

This morning, I feel pretty good. My eyes feel a little swollen from all the sugar last night, but the good news is that I have no intention of pigging out on candy today. It doesn't even appeal to me. I might have a few pieces tonight, depending on how I feel... but I'm not going to go crazy. 

Tonight, we're going to sit around and watch a good movie and turn on the porch light and get to know the neighbors a bit. We're going to give candy to their kids and let Max join in. I think we only got about 25 Trick-or-Treaters last year, but we waited to decorate until the "day of"... maybe since we've had them up for a few days now, we'll get more? Either way, I will NOT be chowing down on the leftovers for weeks to come. Anything we don't hand out will be out of the house tomorrow.

Heck, maybe I'll sell it to the dentist in town who's paying $1 a pound and then donating it to the troops. It's a thought... 

Anyway! Happy Halloween, everyone! Maybe I'll get my stuff together and catch up on the writing prompts... if not, no biggie. I'll just do it next year. =)

Update 11/1/13 - I would call last night a success! The trick-or-treaters started coming way before it was dark outside... between 6:30 and 6:45, we had already had a group of three... a redneck treater that hopped out of a red truck when it squealed to a stop in front of our house... and a group of 10 kids from a couple of houses down. Then there was a lull... at 7:20, we had a couple more... at 7:35, we had 5 pre-teens... and at around 8:00, my sister Karen stopped by with her Cowboy kids Makenna and Skylar!

We sat and talked with them while the kids jumped on the mini trampoline and forgot about the neighborhood kids for a while. Then at 9:20, a straggling group of 4 stopped and we shut off the light after that. 27 in total... I think it's about the same as last year. We were the only house that we could see on the block that had our porch lights on. My KUNZ cousin, Diane, and her husband live about a 7 minute walk from us in a nearby neighborhood and they had 112!! So I'm not sure what our game plan will be next year.

Oh, and on the candy front... success, as well!! I had a couple of little rolls of Spree and that's about it! I didn't even want it, really, so that helped a lot. Skylar let me pick 2 pieces of candy out of his bucket, so I have a Snickers bar out on the dining room table for later. I did have a Halloween Hello Kitty cupcake for dessert, so that probably helped fill me up. =)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday - Dynachrome Home Movie Revealed!

Two weeks ago today, I set out to discover finally what was on this Dynachrome Color Film that Dad had with his things.

See the post here:

I finally decided to take it to a local business called Shramek's Video Productions. It's run by a former Lincoln Police Officer and his wife and I'm a big fan of small businesses and they do their thing in-house, so I didn't have to worry about it getting lost during shipping. The owner, Grant Shramek sat down with me last week when I dropped the film off and went through all of the options. We actually had a nice conversation and he ended up telling me about the time he played a Russian in the Kris Kristofferson movie Amerika. hahaha...

We finally decided to have the movie put onto a thumb drive so I could copy the file onto my computer and edit it. More importantly, so I could upload it here and share it with family and all of you! The final cost was $35.28 including the thumb drive that has a lot more space than this needed. If/When I find another movie to digitize, I can just take in the same thumb drive and they can add it for about $15 or so. Not too shabby!

+~+~+~+~+~+~+~ Putting out the vibe for more movies!!! ~+~+~+~+~+~+~+

I dropped it off last Wednesday and they called me Tuesday to say that it was done. Of course, I forgot my cell phone that day so I didn't get the message until I was all the way home. But yesterday after work, I went right over to pick it up! Grant Shramek was there again and he's going to send me some links to help with editing the movie. He didn't give away what was on it, though. I'll gladly recommend their service to anyone and everyone in the area and use them again in the future!

So, finally... Dane and I just watched it this morning. My "friends" on Facebook had teased me long enough about how they hoped it wasn't x-rated after all of this. Lol!! I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed in the content... I had REALLY high hopes that it would be my parents and my sisters & brothers in the movie. And that it would be like an hour long. Lol! I miss my Dad so much that I had really hoped to see him in action again.

It is my extended family, though. And to be fair, my cousins have gone much longer without seeing their mother. Maybe they can help me identify people in the movie? I recognized Cousin Bert Kennel right off the bat... and later on, Aunt Vivian (my Dad's older sister) makes an appearance. I think I saw Cousins Dee and Del, too. The cameraman doesn't make an appearance at all, but hopefully someone remembers this day and can put it into perspective for us? Who, What, Where, When, Why... that's what I want to know. ;-)

I definitely want to learn how to go frame-by-frame to catch a picture of the people in it. Every time I try to pause it to get a good picture of someone, it's all blurry. I'll put that on my "to learn" list... I've wanted to do that for quite some time now, so it'll be nice to have something to practice with.

Oh, and there's no sound. Were home movies silent back then?

Without further ado...

(here's our family tradition of cutting people's heads off in pictures. Lol!)

I'm more than willing to copy this and send it out to any family members who want a copy. The file is 73.5MB, so it'll probably have to be on a thumbdrive or I can burn a copy to a CD? Maybe a DVD? I'll have to play around with that and see if I have the right software on my computer.

I hope this brings back happy memories!! 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Genealogy Goal Setting Rant

I was just checking in with some of my favorite genealogy blogs and ran across this post by Ros over at GenWestUK about setting genealogy goals. Her thought process was so much like mine when I first started researching, that I had an immediate reaction to it. 

Especially when she said "I can’t seem to stop looking everywhere, and focus myself somewhere."

So I started typing out my thoughts on the matter in her comments section. And typed. And typed. And stretched out the reply window again and again. Until finally, I decided that this is something that obviously struck a nerve with me, so I should probably just write about it here.

Here's how I feel about genealogical goal setting:

I've found that goal setting doesn't work for me... not only in genealogy, but in life. When I first started researching my Dad's line back in 2009, I set a goal. I wanted to write a book about my 2nd great grandfather, William Henry Waits.


  • I took a book that I read long ago (700 Sundays... sorry, Billy Crystal!), fashioned a "book cover" for his book, and taped it right over the top.
  • Beginning with the end in mind, I placed that "book" right next to my computer monitor and set out to discover as much as humanly possible about him so I could Write His Book. 
  • I dedicated a special page on my blog just for him (it's in my drafts here in my new blog, unpublished).
  • I announced it on my blog like goal-setters do, publicly making a declaration of my intention. 
  • I asked for stories and photos (and received the awesome photo that you see displayed proudly on the cover). 
  • I found out as much as I could about where he settled nearby here in Ruby, NE after the Civil War. 
  • I went to the Ruby Town Hall where residents today still vote.
  • I walked along the Tishue Block in Seward NE where he worked on the foundation as a stonemason all those years ago. 
  • I gleaned as much information as I could about where he was during the war and what his days were like. 
  • I even bought a book about writing a book! (awesome book, by the way)

I felt like I collected so much information, and yet nothing that really meant anything about how his life was. What was he actually like? Surely there were more photos out there than the measly 3 or 4 that I had. More paperwork from the military? More anything? I got so caught up in the details that I just... stopped. Eventually, when I focus on just one thing, I run out of gas. In genealogy, information becomes more and more scarce. For me, linear thinking just doesn't work.

It's more like this:

Left brain genealogy activities:

  • Goal Setting
  • Analyzing Census data
  • WHO: William Henry Waits
  • WHAT: b. 29 Sep 1845
  • WHERE: Miami, Clermont, Ohio, USA

Right brain genealogy activities:

  • Trying to figure out the WHY... the context... he was the 4th child, the 1st son. What did that mean to his family? What was his home life like?
  • Pondering the HOW... was he born at home? who was there? what was childbirth like back then? did she have an easy time of it? 
  • Using INTUITION to guide you to the next motherlode of information. 
  • CURIOSITY to help you dig deeper.
  • YEARNING for answers and hoping there's a secret stash of letters or a diary somewhere and if you talk to enough people, maybe... just maybe... you'll get a glimpse of what life was really like back then.
  • The tidalwave of EMOTION when you stumble across something with their signature on it.

And if you're trying to write a family history, you need CREATIVITY and an open mind to let the words flow out. Too much left-brain thinking stifles the right brain and makes writing sluggish, stale, and boring.

I was really hard on myself back then. I didn't finish my task at hand. Somehow I had an internal clock ticking that was keeping time and leading up to an imaginary alarm that could go off at any minute, announcing that your Time. Is. UP! I didn't realize it at the time, but a few months (or even a few years) is NOT enough time to write a thoughtful, cohesive, truthful account of someone's entire life. Creativity is on it's own time schedule... and it takes time to dig up the past, even in an electronic-immediate-gratification age.

And writing a truthful account of someone's LIFE is so much different than writing Fiction. You can't just make it up as you go along. There's a lot of pressure to get it right, along with a little fear that someone will be offended by what you have to say. And just wait until the skeletons start falling out of the closet!

Since my unsuccessful book project, I've really made an effort to follow my intuition with my research. I don't believe in coincidence. If someone pops into my head, I follow that clue. Unless I'm definitely on the trail of someone, I take a minute when I open up my family tree. I clear my head and set my intentions to learn something new. After a minute or so, one of the names will stand out from the rest and I'll go down that road. My seemingly willy-nilly research methods don't always make sense at the time... and I might not feel like I've accomplished anything... but down the road a bit, something comes up out of the blue and helps me connect the dots. Sometimes, I follow families that are offshoots of my ancestors and then a couple of months down the line, someone emails me and makes the modern day connection.

Whew... I've been holding a lot of that in for a long time...

How's this for a change?

I hereby solemnly vow to stop beating myself up about goals unobtained (that should totally be a word). I pledge to follow my heart and instinct in everything that I do. I promise to always do my best and to let that be enough. I promise to safeguard the covenant I have made with my Scanner self and to honor this oath forever.

Now, back to Ros's blog.

I did like the response that Alex Coles made. She suggested that she try a Gen version of NaNoWriMo (which starts in November every year) with no research for a whole month. I think that might bring out more of the Right Brain thinking that it takes to put together an engaging story. But I also think that the book will happen. All in due time. There may be some grand discovery just around the bend that's preventing the book from being written at this particular moment in time. Ros, ask for divine intervention. Put it out in the world. Ask for the words and the story to come to you. And then... WRITE. It doesn't have to be a complete story, or even perfect. Just put everything you know and feel down on paper and see what comes out. It just might free up that little extra storage space in your brain to let new information in. Nature abhors a void. Mentally download that story and get it in black and white (or green or purple). Then, just move on. You'll come back to it when you're ready.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Angeline Harris Project - Reason Waits Red Book

I feel like I got something done today! After posting about Angeline Harris's files this morning, I got right on it and took the plunge! I started with her husband Hugh's line going back to Reason Waits. This is the book that I found their names in, so it seemed like a good place to start. Also, it's the only one of the bunch that she made into an actual "book".

Here's the scope of that project!

It took me an hour and 19 minutes to photograph every page, not counting a break half way through. That's an average of bout 30 seconds per page! MUCH faster than scanning on my printer/scanner! See that? 173 photos for a total of 695 MB. Wowza. I'm going to go through them and change them to .TIF format, though. After previewing them all like they're shown and then rotating some of them, I'm already down to 582 MB. .JPG photos lose their pixels the more you look at them. I knew that...

Next time, I'm also going to reduce the resolution on my camera to 10 megapixels instead of 18MP. That'll be big enough for something of this nature.

This book was mainly Family Group Sheets with a few other treats worked in with it. A couple of recent photos, a couple of funeral cards, a birth certificate, a couple of old letters, a few genealogist-to-genealogist letters, and a guide on how to follow ancestors that were in the Gold Rush like Reason was.

It shows that it would take 4 to 5 months to take a wagon from Independence, Missouri to the San Francisco area. That's actually really close to where Reason and his family were at the time. Interesting! 

The Genealogical Legacy of Angeline Harris

I have a confession to make. I am the keeper of the WAITS research records from Angeline "Angie" Harris. Her daughter sent them to me after Angie passed away back in 2010 and apart from briefly going through them to get a feeling for what I would be able to find, they've been sitting here. Tucked away in the closet in my office... largely untouched. I did move them from the shipping box they were sent in to one of my filing totes that was magically the exact size needed for the job.

At a glance, it is VERY organized! Labeled folders and some bound notebooks for each family group. Family Group Sheets. Supporting documentation. Photos. Newspaper clippings that have been photocopied. All obtained through good old-fashioned research. Letters, phone calls, and trips to various locations. Angeline didn't use email (she had her daughter email me) and didn't have anything up online. She actually printed out all of the files that I mailed to her on a disk. There's about 2" worth in the back of the James G Waits folder shown above. =)

Leafing through the filebox, I see lines that I didn't know existed. Family Group Sheets. Photos. Letters. Notes. Photocopied book pages and newspaper articles. Headstones. Obituaries. Military pensions. Here's the photo that I remembered seeing "somewhere" that I only had a cropped copy of. This is genealogical GOLD.

The only picture of James G that I thought I had:

The one I just found in Angeline's File Box (does that say "Jim Waits"?!). It's James G flashing gang signs and holding a big hammer. Ok... ok... he was a stonemason and I'm pretty sure his hand signal is a sign that he was a Freemason?

(Jim... I wonder who wrote that. I wonder if there's something in the box that refers to him being called "Uncle Gus" like I've seen others online refer to him. I'm so glad that this copy is more crisp than the other one.)

And that's just the first thing I saw when I peeked in one of the folders. There are probably thousands of papers here. Like this one that I just pulled out... it's a photocopy of a letter from James G (my 3rd ggf) to his brother Reason (Angeline's husband Hugh's 2nd ggf). It written on Sept 28, 1865 and was photocopied along with a typed transcription. I've never seen or read a letter from James G before! Only between his brothers and sisters and a couple that referred to him (that it turns out, Angeline transcribed)

He had beautiful handwriting, didn't he? Nice flourish!

The more I think about it, the more I think that it was just too much for me to take in. I was still kind of reeling from her passing when I got all of this. Kicking myself for not reaching out again. Feeling a little guilty for having such a reaction to losing someone I'd never met and only spoke to once (and emailed a few times). It wasn't her as a person that I knew so much as the respect that I had for her knowledge. So, to end up with all of the knowledge that she deemed important enough to type up on an actual typewriter... it was a little overwhelming. Especially considering that I wasn't used to finding true historical documentation like that. Here it was, a veritable gold mine. The only thing missing was a big red bow.

It took me FIVE years to dig into my Dad's paperwork. Three years for this isn't tooooo terribly long to wait... right?

I shudder to think of the money I've spent on and the like, and all the time I've spent searching for clues... when they've probably been 10 feet from me the whole time. (this is me shaking my head and rolling my eyes at myself)

So, in the spirit of the Organized Genealogist Facebook Group... I think it's high time that I get to work scanning and preserving and attaching and uploading all of these to an online tree to share with the Waits community at large. I've decided that she needs to have her own tree with her own research made available for public knowledge. Maybe by doing so, I'll fill in the holes in my own tree. But more importantly, her legacy will live on and be a benefit to the countless cousins who go searching for their roots.

I think that if I'm going to get through this, I need to start at the beginning and methodically work my way through each file. If I keep pulling out the "good stuff" I'll never get it finished!

I'll just need to be kind to myself and not expect it to be done immediately. I have a feeling that it'll take longer than I expect if I go about this the right way and only touch each piece of paper ONCE. Especially considering my Scanner nature. All in due time... all in due time...

Thank you for this gift, Angeline! I will treasure it always...

10/20/13 Update: 

I wrote all of this last night, set the autopublish for 10am, and thought I would sleep on it. Woke up bright and early at 6am (thank you very much, Max. You need a doggie door!) Since I was up, I immediately came into my office and started digging through the files looking for a good place to start. I found the Family Group Sheet for Angeline and her husband Hugh, and started a new tree called ANGELINE HARRIS MEMORIAL TREE on my account. I thought about how nice it would be to include the link to that tree in this post, right?

Two hours later... here's what I got done. I entered the FGS, added the photos of AH, filled in her profile with the censuses that popped up, and added just the information on hand for her immediate family. Then the shaky leaves caught me and I found a wedding picture and another one from their later years. Here's a crop of Hugh Harris, my 4th cousin once removed. There is definitely a family resemblance there.

OK. This is going to take a while.

And now... I'm sitting here thinking. Is really the best place for this? I already have a Fleming cousin who keeps getting locked out of her guest account. And unless I specifically add people to my tree, they can't see it. Not to mention the copy/paste people who don't care if the information makes sense or not.

Then I stumbled on someone else's tree while looking for Hugh's obituary (see how sidetracked I get?). They use TNG. Back in 2009, I actually bought TNG during my blog-dentity crisis and got so wrapped up in trying to customize it so it looked like the rest of my site that I didn't actually get it installed completely. I got frustrated and gave up.

So here I sit. In order to use TNG, it needs to be hosted. There's a Wordpress plug-in, but I'm pretty sure that in order to use it, I'll have to get a host again and be locked into monthly fees, which is something I don't want to do. Le Sigh...

I also have Family Tree Maker 2009 that I think I installed once on an old computer but never really used. Does anyone know if I'm able to create webpages with that? Ones that don't need a host? That shows documents and photos? (which I think is what led me to TNG in the first place... it's an actual database program)

I think I know why I haven't dug into this yet. It's "too easy" to just log into, search for documents, copy the info to the tree, upload photos, etc. If only it wasn't locked behind logins and crap that normal non-techie people can't figure out. I get caught up in the details too easily.

OK. I think I know what I need to do to keep the ball rolling.

  1. Photograph/Scan Angeline's files one page at a time, making a small mark indicated that it's been scanned.
  2. Add information from each page to MY TREE at There's no sense in keeping it all separate. It will save time to add it to my existing tree rather than entering duplicate information. Any new information will be absorbed into my tree and then exported at a later date if/when I find a better solution.
  3. Keep it mostly about the data at hand. Ignore shaky leaves.
  4. Photograph/Scan photos and supporting documentation.
  5. Add ONE photo of the person to (maybe one other thing if it's really special, like the letter above)
  6. Upload photos/scans to my external hard drive
  7. Rename files to match content
  8. File appropriately, then move on to the next page.
  9. KEEP GOING until all paper has been digitized. (I would be heartbroken if something happened to it and it hadn't been backed up yet!)

I can keep looking into the perfect solution for how to share with family and the genealogical community at large. My current thought is TNG with a backup at (I need to upgrade to a bigger plan, though. If you sign up for dropbox, please click my dropbox link and they will gift me 500MB for the referral).

The moral of the story is... I can't let the technical details stop me.

I need to keep to the task at hand and Scan, Scan, Scan!!

Update #2 - 10/20/13 - 1pm
I modified my system a bit and wanted to make a note of it. Right now, I'm just taking photos of a bound history one page after another. I couldn't scan it and the photos are actually coming out really well! I have the resolution on my camera set as high as I can so it catches the details and I can zoom in on these 8x14 sheets. MUCH faster than scanning, so I may do this for the whole shebang.

I'm charging my camera now, but once I get up and running again, I'll finish photographing the book. Then I'll load the pictures into a big folder on my external hard drive. It'll take quite a while to get all of the data input into my tree.

I need to keep reminding myself that the most important thing is to digitize and backup. The data entry can wait.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Book of Me #4 - My Favorite Season

I knew this would be an easy prompt for me! My favorite season is definitely SUMMER! Long, warm, sunny days make me want to spend every waking moment outside! The flower and vegetable gardens have really taken off by then and we start to bring bright, fragrant bouquets and fresh produce inside.

Living in Nebraska gives Summer a whole new meaning, though. At the beginning of July, the thermometer quickly climbs to 100+ temps with sometimes 100% humidity and stays there until after Labor Day. After working inside with cranked up air conditioning for eight hours, I can't wait to go out to my hot car and let the warmth envelope me, sinking into my bones, cooking me to my core.

My favorite place to spend a Summer day has to be at a beach in Southern California. Nice 80 degree days, full sun, and a cool breeze coming in off the ocean. That's where I feel the most FREE. The most MYSELF. I was reminded of this last year when Dane and I went to Huntington Beach.

Here's a video of our encounter with a Seal (no! a dolphin!) hahaha... I could spend every day for the rest of my here. Bring on those lazy, hazy, crazy days of Summer!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Mystery Babies!

It's my 100th Post! What better way to celebrate than to honor all of the babies who came before me. Lol!!

Of all of the old photos I inherited, the babies are the hardest to identify! White dresses were standard issue, so it's hard to tell if it's even male or female. I have my best guesses, but I thought I'd put it out there and see if anyone else has any ideas? Maybe one of my Cousins has the same pictures, but the names were actually written on them? A girl can hope!

These were from Grandma Freda FLEMING WAIT's photos that my Dad had, so I'm going to assume they're either Flemings or Waits for now?


*inggaard (unreadable first letter) - Seward NE

WD Givens - Seward NE

Here are a few more that were from the Grandma's Photo Albums that Cousin Lisa sent me! The last two have to be from the generation before the rest, since they're on GLASS. My genealogy friend Susan is beyond jealous of those. ;-)

And finally... my great grandparents, Frederick Hiram WAIT (1876-1955) and Uella Jane BAKER WAIT (1883-1967). I thought it would help for comparison's sake.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Grandma's Birth Announcements

Right after Dad passed away and I inherited all of his old photos, I found a packet of old birth announcements. At the time, none of the names were familiar to me but they were such cute little things that I must have decided to hang onto them. I've thought about them now and again and halfway looked for them, but wondered if I'd given them away to another family member along the way.

Last weekend's visit with sister Nancy prompted me to go through the closet in my office and dig out all of the old photos I could find! I pulled out albums that I forgot had photos in them, boxes of assorted pictures, and even the big storage tub with all of the snapshots that Dad took over the years! Little by little, it piled up... and pretty soon, I had a pretty good display of family history for Nancy to browse through. I knew there were quite a few pictures of her in there and wanted to share that with her.

Then I started digging through Dad's storage tub... and there, buried in the bottom of it, were a couple of boxes that I hadn't seen in a while. Tons of pictures, and yes... the birth announcements tucked away in an envelope! Mostly birth announcements, but also a few baby shower, birthday party, and wedding shower invitations thrown in as well.

I spent some time this week scanning, labeling, and them so I could share with my cousins that I DO recognize now! There are over 40 of them, so it took a bit of time. But I'm done! I even uploaded them to my Google Photos account! I unfolded the unfoldables ones to keep it in one image, so picture yourself folding it back up.

Now! Feel free to browse them and let me know if you know any of these folks! Now that I have them scanned, I'm not attached to them in any way. If some belong to your parents, cousins, etc... just let me know. I'd rather have them go to someone who will really treasure them.

You can click the slideshow to go to the gallery page for them. They're moving pretty fast. ;-)

Here is an Index so they will show up in search engines and the rightful owners can find them. The ones with a * are those that I've found in my family tree and added! Pretty darned good!

For those of you new to my blog, the following people most likely would have been in the Seward or Lincoln Nebraska area during the 30s-60s. Please use the contact form above if you have any information regarding the unclaimed ones. Thanks!

Unclaimed Birth Announcements (party invites, etc)

BULS Dean Wayne
HARWOOD Eunice (friend of Aunt Vivian)
SHAW Marelyn
WAIT Ayline
WHITE Arlene (friends of Aunt Vivian)
WHITE Nathan Floyd (friends of Aunt Vivian)
WHITE Sharen Lee (friends of Aunt Vivian)

Vernon E - Skating Party invitation sent in 1957

Claimed & Sent Birth Announcements!

*ALDAPE Larry Lee
*DAAKE Jeffrey Alan
*FLEMING Janet Ruth
*GOEDEKER Dale Martin - claimed!
*GOEDEKER Joan Marie - claimed!
*HILL Donald C - claimed!
*HUEY Richard Allen - claimed!
*HUEY Terri Lynn - claimed!
*HUEY Vickie Lee - claimed!
*PERRINE Sherry Michael - claimed!
*PRATHER Glenna Marlene
*PRATHER Pamela Kay
*ROY Susan Jane - claimed!
*SHAW Doug - claimed!
*SHAW Teddy Roy - claimed!
*WAIT Nancy Jean - claimed!
*WAIT Shirley Ann - claimed!
*ZIMA Linda
*ZIMA Sandra Joanne

Pat - Thank You card mailed from Yuma AZ in 1967 - claimed!

(updated claimed items 10/20/13)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday - Dynachrome Color Film

This is one of the mysteries that I found when we were going through Dad's things after he passed away. One lone roll of Dynachrome Color Movie Film.

I have no idea what's on it. I don't think I remember anyone ever having a video camera around as I was growing up? And there's not a whole collection of them as far as I know... just this one.

What do I want to see on it? Dad and Mom in their prime. Together. Happy. It would be awesome if at least one of us kids were in it, too. Or grandparents. Or anyone else that I'll recognize immediately.

Moving pictures are so different than plain old pictures. You can hear voices, spot mannerisms, discover personalities, and get a more 360 degree view of the world they were in.

I'm calling the local camera shop that does things like this today. It's time. What do I expect to see when I convert it to digital? I expect to see exactly whatever it is that I need to see. I'm sticking with that.

Maybe some of my aunts and cousins can help me out? Do you remember anyone using movie film like this? Who had a camera? During what time period would this type of film have been used? The 60s or 70s? That's what the box looks like to me.

Anyone else have any guesses?

I'll post an update hopefully next Thursday with answers. Assuming that I can, in fact, get this transferred to digital in this time frame.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Weekend of Sisterly Love - Day 2

When we left Fremont Saturday night, we had pretty much decided that Nancy and her husband Bob would come and visit us in Lincoln. They would probably bring their son's car. We would meet here sometime after 11:30 and then play it by ear once they got here. Rose wanted to see old family pictures and we might take a trip out to the Ruby Cemetery to see where the Waits are buried. I sent a quick message to Karen and Brian letting them know that the day went well and that she would really like to meet them but understood if they were busy. I warned them that it was an emotional day for all of us.

Dane and I were pretty wiped out Saturday from the drive to/from Fremont and my frantic freak out session. We pretty much just crashed on the couch and watched Ally McBeal for some brainless entertainment and went to bed early. Then we were at it bright and early the next morning! It hit us that we had company coming, so he picked up the house and I started a pot of chili. 

It's amazing how strung out all of the photos can get once you take them out and start organizing and scanning them. So it seemed like I was pulling them from every nook and cranny in my office. I even pulled out Dad's pictures that he took in the 80s and 90s and realized that I had stashed some oldies under all of the photo sleeves in boxes. So THAT's what happened to the old birth announcements and the other pictures of Nancy and Mark! I had even, at one point, started separating them into stacks that I separated with notebook paper labeled Brian, Kathy, Karen, Nancy & Mark, and Old Old Pictures. I had completely forgotten! I ended up with quite an impressive array of ephemera that we could paw through.

Shortly after noon, they pulled up in James' smaller RV and we knew that we were in for a treat! Out poured James and his wife Amanda, along with little David and Matthew... Rose and MaryAnna... and Nancy and Bob! The youngest, Charis and Charity got to stay behind and man the booth at the Gathering. We sat around and talked for a bit while Max gave everyone the sniff-down. We showed David and Matthew how to throw the ball for him (which immediately went straight into the HDTV). We would have been more worried about the TV if Dane hadn't done the same thing a couple of months ago.

I finally suggested that we go through the old pictures and we dragged them all out to the dining room table. I could tell she was a little disappointed that it was just us again, but I assured her that it was either because they were busy or because of me and to not take it personally. 

Pretty soon, I was surrounded by the girls pointing to people in pictures and asking who everyone was. Some I knew, some I didn't... as is always the case with unlabeled photos! It was so much fun for me that they were so curious and interested in who all of these people were. And just then I heard Dane in the living room... "Hun? You've got more company!" I practically jumped for joy! We poured out into the living room as Skylar and Makenna came through the door into a sea of strangers. Ha! I could hear Skylar yelling for me... "Aunt Kathy? Are you here?" hahaha...

Pretty soon, Karen and Chad came in and we all crowded around and made introductions with them trapped in the entryway. Then I noticed that Stephanie and Aniston made it, too!! Nancy was just beaming and had tears in her eyes and there were hugs all around! 

The best part was when David came over to Skylar and introduced himself by trying to wrestle him to the ground! Little Skylar looked almost twice his size, and it took everything he had to stay on his feet. He didn't know what to think! James pulled David away and showed Sky how David only has his daddy to wrestle with, so he can take it. Skylar looked around at all of us and said, "He's tough!!" hahaha... Man, I wish I would have had my camera handy! That was priceless!! 

So, Karen joined us girls in the dining room while everyone else migrated to the living room and the kids got to know each other. She helped explain who people were and helped me remember stories. She's better at that. Then I showed them the photo album page that Dad had made a collage on.... there's Dad with a collie dog back in about the 50s... there's Kathy and Karen and Tony and Brian and Nancy and our long lost brother, Mark. And here's another kid. Hm. Wonder who that is? We had no idea. Still don't. But I'll share that page in another post. We think it was Aunt Doris who got mad at Dad once and said, "At least I can throw a rock in a schoolyard and not have to worry about hitting one of my own kids!!!" Boy, did we laugh over that one! 

Eventually, we each had about a spoonful of chili and Karen and her family had to leave for Makenna's volleyball game. Then the Balyeats had to mosey on down the road so they could get back to the awards ceremony at the Gathering. We agreed that this wasn't going to be the last time that we would all get together like this and talked about maybe meeting up at the National Old Time Music Festival next August! That one has TEN stages of entertainment and even a Tipi village! Not to mention that it's also the home of Blue Bunny Ice Cream. ;-)

I think we all breathed a sigh of relief that the weekend turned out so well. We did all we could to make Nancy and her family feel welcome in our family... In other families, it might not have gone so well, but in ours? We're good like that. We're easy. 

I have to tell you... I got an email from Brian's mom, Laurie tonight. She read the first Sisterly Love entry and wrote to tell me that she's glad that I wrote about it and shared it on Facebook for everyone. She said that reading about it was healing for her and that she would like to meet Nancy someday. How's that for accepting? I think that sounds like a great idea. =)

Now! Photos of each generation!

Karen, Nancy, & Kathy

Makenna, James, his wife Amanda, Skylar, Stephanie, MaryAnna, and Rose!

And my favorites... 
Stephanie's daughter, Aniston
with James & Amanda's boys, David, and Matthew!

Um, Mom? Things are getting kind of wild down here... 

Really wild!

Isn't genealogy great? =)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Weekend of Sisterly Love - Day 1

My little big sister!

Whew! What a whirlwind weekend! It felt so natural to meet Nancy and her family that it's hard to remember how panicked and afraid I was that morning! And BOY was I freaking out!! I'm sure I was running around the house with a pained look on my face trying to power through it and just get out of the house. I had to take a break for an hour or two and document the road leading up to this. It really helped getting it all out of my head. See, I live in my head a lot, so it's only when I can sit down and write about it that I can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

What would she think about me? Her family is really religious and our family just never was when I was growing up. As an adult, that's not a path that I took at all. I hoped that she wouldn't consider me to be a bad influence on her beautiful daughters. From what I could see, they always wear skirts or dresses and I'm a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. What do you wear to meet a long lost sister for the first time? Just be yourself. Jeans and a Husker t-shirt. Be comfortable. Just be yourself. 

I also had a freak out session when I realized that I was the only one going to see them. Since I asked for this weekend off, I worked 9 days with just one day off and it's been really stressful at work. We're understaffed and gearing up for Christmas. Plus, they're totally revamping my section. Toxic combination. So much to do, so little time. I've been so exhausted and stressed that I can't remember who I told what to. I tried to call Brian and left him a voicemail earlier in the week, but hadn't heard anything back. I called Karen and left her a weird voicemail because I hadn't done my iPhone update and the call waiting rang and I thought it was her. It wasn't. And she didn't call back, either. I did talk to Tony and Naomi, but she was in a piano competition and they were busy all weekend. Karen and Brian were having a tough time with this anyway. It's funny how a new sister brings up all of the issues you've been pushing down about your shared father. We'd known about this for several months and suddenly I realized I was the token Wait. 

What about going to the cemetery? She wants to go see Dad's grave! When and how do I tell her that he's not actually buried out there? How do you tell someone that your Dad's ashes are still in a box in your office? Do we save her a trip and take him along? Just in case she doesn't make it to Lincoln?

Which made me think doubletime about how it's really about time that we bury him. The ten-year anniversary of his death is coming up pretty soon... it's time.

Thankfully, Dane took all of my crazy behavior in stride (as he does) and kept me from totally going off the deep end. 

The Balyeats were performing at the Old Time Rural Music Gathering up the road a ways in Fremont, so Dane and I hopped in the truck to see them. It would be a special bonus to see them perform, so we had a road trip mentality and treated it like any other trip to a concert while we listened to the Huskers beat the Fighting Illini 39-19! The familiar sounds of the cheering crowd and the play by play by the announcers kept our minds occupied as we saw rural Nebraska flying by from the comfort of his truck. 

After a little over an hour, we finally arrived. I had to take a few minutes again to calm my nerves and texted them to let them know that we were in the parking lot. We thought we saw them a couple of times, walking across the parking lot to a big RV and as we walked towards the building, Nancy and her daughter MaryAnna were actually walking in at the same time. So we stopped and introduced ourselves before heading into the Christensen Field House where the event was being held.

It was a little awkward at first, as is is most of the time when you meet someone new as she introduced us to her family, at least the ones who still travel with them. Her son James, his wife Amanda, and their cute rowdy kids David and Matthew were there along with the girls Rose, MaryAnna, Charise, and Charity! Beautiful family!! There are 4 more older kids that aren't at home and don't travel with them. We didn't get to meet them this time. They showed us their booth where they sell CDs and Nancy's artwork, too. They're great hosts and showed us around a bit before we went out to the privacy of their RV so we could get to know each other and we could meet her husband Bob. 

So there we sat for the next couple of hours talking and telling stories and trying to understand what transpired all of those years ago. She grew up being the lone blonde in a sea of brunettes and was under the impression that she had never met her birth father. Her Aunt had sent her the photo of her Mom with our Dad and let her know who he was. Other than that, she only had a receipt for a crib with Dad's name on it and some other random pictures that she inherited when her Mom passed away in the 80s. Little did she know that the little blonde boy brushing her hair in that picture was her brother. 

Back when she was 12, her stepfather (and the only father she ever knew) told her that he knew how to get in touch with her birth father and asked if she wanted to meet him. Being TWELVE at the time, it's not something she was really ready for and declined the offer... over the years, she thought about trying to find him, but times were different then. It's only with the progress of the internet and the genealogy nuts that information like this is even out there now! Plus, timing is everything. Things need to happen in their own time. As was apparent that the very first day that her daughter MaryAnna really looked into Dad was the day that she found me. First shot! When it's right, it's right!

There were tears shed and old wounds opened again. But hopefully some of those old wounds can heal properly now. We talked about going out to the Ruby Cemetery to see Dad's grave, but before dragging her around Nebraska to visit graves, I just had to tell her...

ME: "Dad's not really buried there. He donated his body to science and we didn't get him back for a few years." 

(picture 10 sets of huge eyes staring at me...) 

"Then where is he now? "

ME: "He's in the truck."


That sure broke the ice. 

By then, it was time for them to start getting ready for their performance. So Dane and I went in to watch some of the acts while they prepared. I looked around to see if Aunt Irene and Uncle Perry were there, but they weren't. It seemed like something that would be right up their alley.

Finally, it was time for them to go on! They were a lot of fun to watch and the crowd loved them. Instead of trying to describe it to you, I'll just post one of their performances that I recorded. Due to the format of this particular show, they only had 20 minutes. We really enjoyed the rest of the acts that we saw, though. John Rex Reeves is the nephew of Jim Reeves and performs his songs in their original format... and Terry Smith, who wrote the Johnny Cash song Far Side Banks of Jordan. Good times!

We stayed for a while afterwards and talked, but we'd had a long tiring day and still had a drive ahead of us so we left at around 8pm and headed home. Nancy agreed to come and visit us at our house on Sunday and we would play it by ear on whether or not we would make a visit to the cemetery! That's a whole other story... =)

Here are some of the pictures that I took on Saturday. I wanted to post a video, too, but it keeps erroring out. It's too late to work on it now, so I'll post this and then load the video another night. Good night!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Long Lost Sister, Nancy

Today is the day that I will meet our long lost sister, Nancy.

Six months ago, Dane and I were sitting on the couch watching TV. It was a night like any other night. I checked my email on my phone and was surprised to see an email from someone named MaryAnna Balyeat and the subject line: Ancestors. I occasionally get emails from various cousins as they run across my genealogy blog, tree, or my contributions to So it wasn't unusual... until I opened the message.

date: Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 5:43 PM
Dear Kathy, 
My mother just asked me to day if I could find her biological father. 
I have no idea where to start, but had had some luck with find a grave website in my Dad's family tree. 
But, I don't know if he is even dead yet! 
So I looked him up, Roy Wait, and found only one that could be possibly him; that one was added by you. 
All we know about Roy is that he was married, had children, and divorced before my grandmother had mom. Grandmother and Roy were never married and Roy was gone before Mom was born. All we have of him is a pictuer and a recipt for Mom's crib with his name. Oh, also they lived in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

I know that they are probably not the same, but I had to start somewhere. 
Thank you for your time.  
His only,
I am apart of the body of Christ therefore, the BRIDE of Christ.

I froze.

My jaw dropped to the floor.

My eyes glazed over.

I handed my phone to Dane so he could read the message.

I pulled up Dad's old pictures that I scanned a while back with photos of his daughter, Nancy, that he lost track of when she was probably about four years old. I've known about her and another long lost brother, Mark, for a long time and actually tried to find them right before Dad died. I was unsuccessful.

Here is the picture that always stood out to me. Grandma Uella with our brother Brian and Nancy. They sure look like brother & sister, don't they?

Then I did what any other 21st Century girl would do. I googled them. It wasn't difficult, considering that their family band has a website with a lot of pictures.

And here she is, all grown up:

She definitely has a "WAIT" look about her, Karen pointed out that she looks a little like Grandma Freda (Dad's mom).

I sent her the picture of Brian (above) and a couple of pictures during that time frame that I found in Dad's things.


And she sent me these. That's right. Pictures of "our people" that I'd never seen before. A different pose of the same picture of her mom Phyllis... the picture that made me cry of my Dad and her Mom looking ecstatic with the "biological father" caption... a picture of her with Brian... and another one of her with my grandparents Freda & Roy.


And there it was. Without a shadow of a doubt... Dad's long lost daughter had found us at last. 

It's been a long six months since she found us. I've only told a couple of people about this so I could let all of this sink in. I can only speak for myself, but you'd be surprised at the feelings that a discovery like this will bring up. I know that I had to work through a lot before I felt like I was up to unleashing this on the rest of the family. I wasn't ready for the questions or opinions or helpful advice. I just needed to let it simmer for a while and let it become what it would.

Nancy and I have emailed several times during all of this. I've tried to share what I've been told about the events back then. And I've tried to make her feel welcome in our family. I keep trying to put myself in her shoes. How would I feel if I grew up not knowing my father? And what if, suddenly, I found him, but he had already passed away? What would I want the experience with the rest of his family to be like? 

I don't know that I've handled this perfectly (like anything else in my life). I've gone too long between emails, letting it sink in. Maybe I've shared too much of the hearsay from the situation between OUR Dad and her Mom. It's hard to say. Part of me wants to just curl up in a ball on the couch and let this weekend pass so I don't have to actually confront it all face to face. But time isn't going to stand still so I can get my shit together. They're HERE. In NEBRASKA. Just an hour away. There's no time like the present. 

It's what Dad would have wanted. I can't imagine what he went through privately all of those years knowing that he had another daughter and son somewhere out there. Not knowing how they were or if they even knew about him. I remember asking him about Nancy and Mark when he was sick in the hospital and it was becoming apparent that he wouldn't recover. All he could do was shrug like "Well? What can we do?" 

So I'm doing for Dad what he couldn't do himself. I'm going to meet Nancy. 

That's what's keeping me going. It's what got me up off the couch. It's what's going to get me into the car. It's what's going to calm my nerves. And it's what's going to sustain me for the next couple of hours. Once we actually meet and get through the niceties, it'll be FINE. Until then, he's my driving force.

So, here we go. We're going to turn on the football game on the car radio and just... GO.

Ready or not, here we come!