“She wakes up each morning feeling like she has nothing to do. No routine. No purpose.”
Lisa Genova: ‘Love Anthony’
I read these words this morning and thought, that is exactly ME. That is me when I wake without that feeling of excitement about hurrying to a sewing, writing or art project, or without an appointment, or wanting to return to a novel that is drawing me with the power of the tide.
I do enjoy sitting, apparently doing nothing, but my mind has to be engaged in creative thought for me to relax.
I keep a pile of six to eight library books on hand to alleviate the desolate feeling of nothing-to-do. Mind you, there is always housework or organizing a closet or room, but at this stage of my life – been there, done that.
Our journey thro this life is tumultuous with its constant ups and downs, its real or imagined slights. We all barter, in one way or another, to maintain a relatively consistent feeling of well being.
I thrive on passion – for opportunity, creativity, my family.
The alternative to feeling purposeful is, for me, depression. So, in order to ward off that monster, I always have a multitude of projects on the go.
Early in my marriage, it was one project only – needlework. Then I needed a new interest and, for a few decades, it was researching and publishing our genealogy. With that completed, I felt lost, until my creative juices latched onto sketching with pen and painting in watercolour. Florals are my thing.
Gradually, after several years, I began to feel I had said all I could in that media. My search was on for new artistic horizons.
I don’t know if it is because I am now in my early 70’s, but I now seem to flit from one project to another. Whatever it is, I am artistically all over the place – a true jack of all trades, master of none.
But there is nothing as satisfying and addictive as waking to a passionate urge to create.
That is what keeps my juices flowing and keeps me loving my life.
Hello and thank you to followers of Inknpetals.wordpress.com who have stuck by me during a long blogging drought.
The past few months, I have been reinventing myself (again), thinking a lot, and planning. That takes a lot out of you 😉 . I haven’t painted in about a year. Instead, my creative juices and reveries are leaning toward sewing and quilting. This is a big leap. I haven’t sewn in 40 years. As a result, the challenge has been a kaleidoscope of a learning curve – becoming familiar then comfortable, with a new machine, re-learning to work those oh-so-tricky bobbins, choosing fabric (such gorgeous, juicy colours and patterns to choose from). Everything is new.
I buy fabrics that I absolutely love, and find projects simple enough for a beginner, ones I hope my five kids will like as well. You see, I don’t want to put a lot of money and work into an item that ends up in a drawer. I realize that, even if you know them pretty well, guessing someone else’s taste is a crap shoot. As a result, my fabric stash is growing so I think have something for everyone.
The biggest dilemma I have faced is deciding on fabric colour and pattern combinations. It is more difficult that one might think to achieve a pleasing, balanced and artistic combo of colours, values and patterns. Following are some of my first attempts at combining fabrics …
More learning curve frustration occurred while working on early projects – gobs of tangled and knotted threads on the underside of the fabric and my machine jammed constantly. The result of this was hair-pulling frustration. Ultimately, after putting out SOS signals, I discovered I was filling and inserting the bobbin incorrectly. 😬 😂
Eventually, through determination and two refresher courses at the store where I bought my machine, I finished my first sewing projects in about forty years … a baby quilt, two hobo bags and a little black bag:
Then, I tackled Christmas presents. That will be my next post.
What an amazing, happy way to wile away the hours.
Bette Davis’s pronouncement that “Old age ain’t for sissies” is certainly true. I have experienced more, painful, falling-apart symptoms lately but have been happy as the proverbial pig in sh*# with my drawing and new project in my Midori – art journaling. Following, are a couple more attempts. And, if you are not already doing something similar, consider giving it a go. Enjoy!
In 1968, my third child was born in as many years. I loved my babies and had always wanted a large family. My parents had eight and ten siblings, yet for the first eight years of my life I was an only child. That is another story. However, I was lonely. Every night on bended knee beside my bed (remember when we used to do that?), I prayed for a little brother or sister.
So, here I was with my sweet ‘rosebud’, Stephanie, a sister for Caroline ‘Carrie’ – not yet three, and Andrew, not yet two years old.
I began to wonder what genes they inherited to make them who they were and, in part, who they would become.
My mother’s line was familiar to me. Grandma Letittia May Wood King, kept photos and documents of both her and her husband, Ernie’s relatives and ancestors. She was so happy and grateful when I asked her about the family history. She was anxious that her information would not be lost, so she lovingly provided documents and relayed information.
However on my father’s side, ‘though I well knew and loved my Robertson grandparents … I knew Grandpa Robertson‘s father had come from Scotland, and knew Grandma Robertson‘s family was ‘Deitz‘ … I didn’t know much else. But Dad was an amateur photographer and loved creating family albums, and I had those for dozens of long dead relatives. But, as with many found photos, they were not identified. My Mother and Aunt Mazel helped with some.
The ancestral roots of my husband, Greg Paupst, the father of my children, were also unknown to me.
The lingering question in my mind would not go away, ‘What kind of people did my children come from? What genes did they inherit?’ So, in the fall of 1968, my 4.2 decade-long quest began.
My father-in-law, Charlie Paupst, was also passionate about his roots. He was able to rhyme off names and stories on his maternal lines. On his paternal line, he knew of a distant uncle / genealogist who had traced back five generations from my husband. Charlie’s cousin had a copy which she generously shared with me. Then I researched farther.
My mother-in-law, Bridget Denvir Paupst, was Irish. She and nine siblings had immigrated to Canada from County Down in 1925. There was a huge family still in Ireland and through many Atlantic Crossings, we all came to know and love each other. One cousin Moira Gilmore, was instrumental in helping retrieve copies of precious documents and photos to augment the Denvir story.
I bought a large scrap-book and began.
I began with myself. I read in a 1968 Chatelaine magazine article that it is always best to begin with yourself. I listed my birth date & place, education, marriage date & place, and to whom – then, on a separate page, I listed the same information for my husband, Greg.
I began at Generation 2 – Greg + I, was completed. (Generation 1 – was for my children.)
Generation 3 – our PAUPST, ROBERTSON, DENVIR + KING parents (4 ancestors). Below my information, I recorded my parents, dates, places, other pertinent information, interesting facts, stories. Then I recorded my husband’s parents and their parents, etc. following his data.
Before long, I was becoming confused with repeated first names in every generation of every family – all the Robert Denvirs, the John and Scott Robertsons, and so on. I had to devise a way to see at a glance whether that John was a direct ancestor, or a cousin or uncle John in a collateral line. So, I used ‘upper case’ for my children, grandchildren and each of their direct ancestors. Now, ‘JOHN’ was an ancestor; ‘John’ was a brother, cousin, uncle, etc. In addition, I attempted to always write the person’s birth date after their name. That also helped identify which JOHN it was (see above photo of the four generations).
I always identify women by their maiden names. This is so important for tracing their ancestors, and it establishes an identity separate from that of their husbands’.
What I soon realized, is that the number of ancestors doubles each generation you go back. A genealogist friend, Doris Lemon, gave me the following chart.
Over time, I progressed to a typewriter to organize my data, then, by the 1980’s Greg bought me a spanking new, high-tech, Commodore computer. Over the years, Greg and I spent thousands of dollars on computer upgrades, printers, scanners, hundreds of reams of paper, ink cartridges, phone calls to distant family for information, photo developing, photocopying at Kinko’s. I progressed from a scrapbook to binders for the four primary families – my husbands’ maternal & paternal lines, and my maternal & paternal lines.
The binders contain ‘family sheet’ records, documents, original photos. I have these today, but I have also disposed of a ton of paper, notes and printed revisions at each stage.
The first ‘real’, edited and formatted, 645 page genealogy, contained all four families. It was a definite milestone. I published it in 2000 …
My intention was to create beautiful books, well-organized and thought out, filled with visuals, that my family would be interested in picking up, perusing, and to which they would feel a personal attachment. I created a Dedication, a Forward, Introduction and Contents pages; lovely Title Pages, a complete Index listing every person in each genealogy.
I realized that our family, like any other, consists of all manners of people – various religions and no religion, various ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, occupations, professions – “diversity to broaden our minds and woven together to create a rich tapestry of humanity.” And that makes me proud. I am also proud that my children embrace the diversity with open minds and open hearts.
And then … the real work began!
To this point, I had concentrated on the direct ancestral lines back from Greg and I. But I knew, that to appeal to distant cousins in each branch of the family, I needed to publish separate volumes with more coverage of collateral lines. Collateral family lines are those containing the siblings of your direct ancestor in each generation, and their descendants.
I began compiling our King family book first. It seemed logical to begin there because I had easy access to each branch of the family and because most of Mom’s ten siblings were still living. So more research began – appeals for up-to-date birth and death names, dates and places, any particular stories they would like included, and current photos for each family.
Formatting was a huge job for me, but it became easier as I learned what my new computer was capable of (dangling participle !!) Again, my goal was to have consistency on every page, in every section of the book.
I created charts. Ancestral Charts showed my mother and her King ancestors,
and I created Descendant Charts – from my Grandfather, Ernie King, down to each descendant born by my publishing date in 2003.
I scanned in thousands of photographs, being sure to have one of every current descendant so he or she could experience a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves, and see at a glance where they fit in this family.
I emailed and snail-mailed letters to every family member I knew and some I had not ever met. I explained my genealogy book-in-the-making, provided sample pages, a price and an order form. I explained that there would not be a second printing. I required orders up front so I would know how many copies I would create.
Next came serious Editing! I printed several copies as I made editing changes. But I was too close to the project and was missing things. I sent 80 pages at a time to Timmins, Ontario where my nursing classmate, Della Fellows Milne generously offered to do the necessary editing. And boy was she tough. She didn’t let me get away with anything. Every number had to be written in full; grammar, spelling, run-on sentences were noted, circled in red and sent back for correction.
Printing was the next huge phase. I have used Family Tree Maker genealogy soft wear since I began, regularly upgrading as I went along. But once I had established a format, I didn’t want to upgrade further in case it distorted pages. So, whether it was that, or whether my current computer was again at capacity, or whatever, I was unable to print the entire 436 pages in PDF format, so getting a printing company to print the document was impossible. One sweet man eventually spent a lot of time and ingenuity for me, and, with his staff, got the job done against company protocol.
Next, I delivered my newly printed KING manuscripts (80 of them) to a bookbinder who worked with me to achieve the results I wanted.
Finally, exultant, I began delivery of the finished product. Many of the King family were in North Bay, Ontario, so I drove to my Mom’s and hand-delivered orders there. I mailed other orders C.O.D. (cash on delivery) via Canada Post – to Ottawa Ontario, Nova Scotia, and so on. That was 2003.
Then, I went through the same process three more times!
DENVIR (523 pages) was published in 2004.
ROBERTSON (529 pages) in 2006. And after a breather and more problems,
PAUPST (620 pages) was completed in 2010.
In 2011, I received the honour of a lifetime. Several cousins, my brother-in-law, my children, grandchildren and my husband all submitted letters nominating me for the Order of Ontario in appreciation of four decades of genealogy work. There was a long list of nominees more worthy than I, but in truth, it really is an honour just to be nominated. I was blown away by their thoughtfulness. That, and the wonderful letters I received from family in the United States, Ireland, Ontario, was concrete evidence that my labour of love was appreciated by many.
My appreciation to all who assisted along the way, especially fabulous family; my husband’s cousin, Moira Gilmore of County Down, Northern Ireland; and my friends Pat Tennyson and Doris Lemon. It has been a trip!
I hope some of you will begin your own genealogy project. It is filled with creativity and sloothing. And it is never too late to start. You don’t have to work on it for four decades as I did – just record what you know, realizing that once you die, your knowledge of your parents, grandparents and possibly even a great-grandparent or two, dies with you. This is important to consider.
When you do begin, question the oldest relatives first. They can often provide insight into one or more generations back, even specific knowledge of other names and dates or the specific parish, town, country where prior ancestors originated.
So have fun. Begin your own family’s genealogy and leave a legacy for your descendants.