Posts Tagged ‘life’

You know the end of the semester is approaching…

when craziness breaks out on the drag. My friend, Mister “I had a lot of fun”, sent this.



Somewhere, Carl Orff smiles in his earthly repose.


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more Heber

My WW post this week is a photo that was taken in Heber City, Utah during the 2002 Winter Olympics. This steam locomotive is run by the Heber Valley Railroad. During the Olympics they used it to take visitors from Heber up to Soldier Hollow where the cross country events were held. Once there, they had mule drawn hay sleds to take you from the platform to the entrance of the venue. It was pretty cool. Literally, it’s in the mountains. There was snow on the ground and a brisk, cold wind was blowing. There were people dressed in 19th century frontier clothing doing 19th century stuff like cooking in dutch ovens and working a forge.


Upon our return, I positioned myself to take a photo of the engine. There was a family already posing for a picture. I waited while they got their shot. Suddenly, the engine chuffed and a big cloud of steam enveloped them. I managed to take a photo of them fleeing. Yes, it was rather loud. No, it wasn’t dangerous, just incredibly funny. The guy with the camera never put his camera down, so somewhere there must be a sequence of photos capturing the event. I have always wondered if the engineer took an opportunity to teach 21st century folks a lesson about standing too close to a steam engine.

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Just call me Nasturtium

I just read this post at Traversing the Midlife Minefield. It struck a chord. She decided to revert to her maiden name after divorce and her sister laughs, “What does it mean to you?” It seems to me that the only person a name should mean anything to is the one who bears it.

I’ve had my own problems with names. After almost five years of living together, my husband and I decided to go down to the sub-courthouse and make our partnership official. It seemed the thing to do for legal reasons, insurance coverage, etc. There were no children. I didn’t change my name. It didn’t seem necessary after all that time and hubby didn’t care one wit. Then, about a year and a half later, we moved 1,000 miles away to a very, very small town in bfn. Suddenly total strangers felt the need to voice their opinions regarding how I signed my name. I might add that the largely Hispanic population had their own unique naming customs but it didn’t seem to matter.

I quickly caved in the interest of keeping things *simple*. When I went down to get a new driver’s license, I put my name down followed by a hyphen and my husband’s surname. For example, Jane Marie Doe became Jane Marie Doe-Smith, wife of John Thomas Smith. I thought it would clarify things. Ha! People couldn’t deal with the hyphen and my name ended up recorded a dozen different ways.

When I got my driver’s license it read Jane D. Smith. When we went to buy a car, I specifically told the salesman that I was putting my name down exactly as it reads on my driver’s license and I wanted the title to read the same. It didn’t matter, he wanted my legal name, Jane Marie Doe-Smith. Finally, I thought, someone cares about getting it right. The car ended up titled to John T. Smith and Jane M. Smith. Now I was driving around in a car titled to Jane M. Smith, insured by Jane M. Doe and carrying a driver’s license for Jane D. Smith. That was just the beginning.

Of course all these permutations of my name were similar enough but it made my credit report look like a felon’s with a bunch of aliases. Furthermore, there were people who felt the need to lecture me about the need for consistency, for legal reasons you know.

My attempts at achieving consistency were thwarted by different rules for “name changes” at different places. One place might take your word for it and just make the change. At another place, the computer system wouldn’t accept characters, like hyphens, in the name field and one name per field please. Some places had two name fields but most had three. You are lucky to get three name fields, four is out of the question. Many times the second field only accepted one letter. Other places required that you send original documents to prove the name change. You want me to put my marriage license and my driver’s license in the mail to you? And it will take 6 to 8 weeks for processing? I was frustrated and decided to keep the name with which I was born but suddenly, hubby cared. He thought we should have the same last name. I told him that I was going to change my name to Nasturtium (one name like Cher) and be done with it. He wasn’t amused.

After almost two years in that small town, we moved to a large city in the same state. No one seemed to care which name I used. I happily continued using the name I had used for twenty-eight years before moving to bfn. The mailman might have been a little confused. I received mail in different names for years. They lingered on my credit report. Just call me Mrs. Jim Doesmith. When questioned about it I sweetly, slowly launched into a long, involved explanation that quickly bored the listener. They decided that they really didn’t want to know and were sorry they asked.

The name thing, as it came to be known, later became an issue in my marriage despite the fact that for years he never thought twice about it and he knew what a hassle it caused me when I tried to change it. I suspect that as he got older, Mr. I Am Not A Joiner succumbed to some sort of good ol’ boy peer pressure. We divorced after thirteen years of marriage and…you got it…he used the name thing as proof that I was never fully committed to our marriage (after eighteen years together?). I laughed hysterically.

Of course the lesson is, do what you wish and others be damned. You can’t please anyone but yourself.

I recently moved and experienced deja vu for the first time in a long time. Apparently my city is known for its odd street names. I had no idea. When I tried to get the utilities turned on at 123 N. 18 1/2 St., I was advised that my address is not in their database and therefore not in their service area. I live in the center of a large city, how can that be? Until I can give them a “good” address, they can’t help me. What?

It took me two or three days to figure out what the problem was and get it straightened out. It seems that some address fields don’t take special characters, like forward slashes. My address is different in different computer systems: 123 N. 18 1 2 St., 123 N. 18.5 St., 123 N. 18th half St., 123 N. 18 and one half St….

My life strangely loops back upon itself.

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I finally decided what I wanted for my birthday and since I was on my way to see the folks, I figured there was no time like the present…for presents.

Me:  “So, I decided what I want for my birthday.”

Dad: “Yeah, what’s that?”

Me:  “Your DNA.”

Dad: (smiling) “What?”

Me:  “You are the only one here with a Y chromosome and since you didn’t give it to me at conception, I would like it now please.”

Dad: (grinning) “All right.”

I wasn’t surprised that he was up for it. Dad’s a genealogist and family historian as well but we never discussed the subject before. Some people are leery of the swab. I went ahead and pointed out that if he had reservations about giving up his genetic material, he has a couple of male double cousins that should carry the same markers, paternal and maternal. No, he was game. So much so that the swabs came out immediately and the envelope was on its way to Houston before I hit the road to go home.

It seems genetic genealogy can be as addicting as the regular kind. We haven’t seen the results and we have already started planning further tests. I love maps. I can’t wait.

Randy Whited of Family Tree DNA gave a presentation to the Austin Genealogical Society last year. Here’s a sample of their reports.

International Society of Genetic Genealogy

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I found this post at The Genealogue validating and enlighting. It is about a jazz singer that relied on her intuition and music to help her past a genealogical brick wall. I’ve often wondered if I am crazy for some of the things I do to try and get unstuck. Sometimes they work. 

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Because I have been spending so much energy on this genealogy thing lately, I have not been attending to my studies as I should. I was sitting in pathophysiology class last night daydreaming about family history. We were discussing congenital and genetic disorders. The subject of the first part of the lecture was mendelian genetics and inheritance. (It was a review for me so I felt ok about daydreaming.)


<boredom alert> 


In a nutshell, each one of us has two chromosomes, one contributed by mom and one contributed by dad, for each trait we inherit. Some chromosomes are naturally dominate. Let’s consider eye color. Brown eyes are dominate, blue eyes are recessive. In order for you to have blue eyes, both parents have to carry the recessive chromosome and pass it along to you. (Gregor Mendel didn’t know about chromosomes and genes so he called them alleles or traits, same thing for our purposes.) Let B represent the trait for brown eyes and b represent the trait for blue eyes.

BB represents someone that inherited the brown-eyed trait from both parents. This person has brown eyes.

bb represents someone that inherited the blue-eyed trait from both parents. This person has blue eyes.

Bb represents someone that inherited both traits from their parents, one from each. This person has brown eyes (they’re dominant) but also carries the blue-eyed trait that can be passed along to their children (the grandchildren).


I’m still daydreaming but now I’m watching the professor drawing on the whiteboard.


When calculating the probability of producing a brown-eyed child or a blue-eyed child, it starts to look like this.


BB   +   BB   =>   BB   BB   BB   BB

Both parents have brown eyes with no recessive trait for blue eyes: 100% of their offspring will have brown eyes, none are able to pass along blue eyes to their children.


bb   +   bb   =>   bb   bb   bb   bb

Both parents have blue eyes with no dominate trait for brown eyes: 100% of their offspring will have blue eyes, none are able to pass along brown eyes to their children.


Bb   +   BB   =>   BB   BB   Bb   Bb

Both parents have brown eyes, one carries the recessive trait, one does not: 100% of their children will have brown eyes with 50% inheriting the recessive trait for blue eyes.


Bb   +   Bb   =>   BB   Bb   Bb   bb

Both parents have brown eyes, both carry the recessive trait: 25% of their children will have brown eyes with no recessive trait, 50% of their children will have brown eyes with the recessive trait, 25% will have blue eyes.


Bb   +   bb   =>   Bb   Bb   bb   bb

One parent has brown eyes and carries the recessive trait, one parent has blue eyes: 50% of their children will have brown eyes with the recessive trait, 50% will have blue eyes. (Here are the light Jordans and the dark Jordans, 50/50.)


Here’s where I actually become engaged in the lecture.


James Jordan, according to the family oral history, was fair, red-haired and blue-eyed. Martha was darker, raven-haired and brown-eyed. Some in the family say Martha was native american indian. If she was 100% indian, the children would have all looked like her because she wouldn’t have carried the recessive traits for blue eyes and red hair.

A few years ago, another researcher provided some info on Martha’s family. Supposedly, (I say supposedly because I have no evidence as yet. I’m still stuck in Arkansas and Texas.) her father was Robert Bull, a physician of English descent. Her mother was Susannah Sullivan, the daughter of a man named Sullivan and a Creek mother. This makes sense and validates Aunt Jip’s claim that the Bulls were English. It also validates the story that Martha was indian.

I’m taking notes now. This is strictly speculation.


                               Sullivan father          Creek mother

                most likely Bb or bb          +          BB   (Is Sullivan Irish?)


                   Robert Bull         Susannah Sullivan

   most likely Bb or bb      +       BB or Bb   (Most likely Bb if dad was bb.)


James Jordan          Martha Bull

         bb            +            Bb       


9 children – roughly half resembling Jim and half resembling Martha


The big question is, did Martha have siblings with blue eyes or were they all brown-eyed? This is where my esteemed professor, while still lecturing, wandered to the back of the room and glanced over at my notes. Was I the only one writing furiously? <nervous grin>

I think I’m ready for the exam now.

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“Be careful, you might find a bunch of horse thieves.” My grandfather startled me with his response. Years ago, when he was still alive and I had not begun to map our family history, my mother and I were having a conversation about possibilities.

My grandfather was not one for political correctness. He loved prodding sacred cows and much to the dismay of my grandmother, could find humor in the darkest of situations. He was serious about the horse thieves though. I thought it out of character for him to express any sort of anxiety about anything. Looking back I think he was trying to say, “Don’t ask questions for which you do not want to hear the answers.” It takes a certain bravery to go looking for what was forgotten.

Humans are extremely resilient and adaptable creatures. Often the mechanism for overcoming adversity is to repress.  It hurt, so I will forget. That which we do not acknowledge cannot hurt us. I think about my great-grandparents living near the coast during the 1900 Galveston hurricane which destroyed their home and took their firstborn. Lives were destroyed and some survivors literally walked away and never returned. (Does that remind you of anything more recent?) I think about my great uncles who served. Even decades after the war, they would not discuss their experiences beyond a certain point. It was as if the story just ended in the middle.

Fortunately time heals even generational wounds. Descendants have the benefit of looking back without the pain of individual experience. Perhaps my grandfather underestimated me. I like to think that I strive to live with open eyes, an open mind and an open heart. I want them all, rich and poor, horse thieves and heroes, beauty queens and beggars, cowboys and indians, slaveholders and slaves, politicians and clerics, midwives and morticians, the sane and the mad. They all belong to me.

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