About Me

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Riverside County, California, United States
I am a native of Illinois and grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. After dropping out of college, I moved to California in 1973 with my first husband. I married my present husband, Butch, in 1977 and got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me a grandmother 24 times over and a great-grandmother of 13. Three years after I married Butch I returned to school. I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication and was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 to return to school and get my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore and genealogy - and add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play a number of folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I am a Board Certified genealogist and more information on all this, as well as direct contact info, is on my Circlemending website.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Music, music, everywhere!

The genealogy conference in Knoxville, TN was a wonderful experience . . . I did a lot of networking, I met many wonderful friends (some of which were already "friends" via Facebook), and learned some helpful hints to further my business of being a genealogist, speaker, writer, storyteller, educator, and troubadour. Now to find the hours to put it all together. My husband Butch and I have had much to discuss as we have driven across the miles in our now-smooth-running truck-camper (see earlier blogs). My first task when I get home: set up a working schedule for my various projects so that I will not find that a whole day has passed and all I have accomplished is facebooking (is that a verb?).

While I was at the conference I made a special note of how music was a part of the conference. Earlier I blogged about Sheila Kay Adams and her marvelous performance, but there was much, much more. I attended two breakfasts, hosted by FamilySearch, and in at least one (probably both) presentation(s) given, the PowerPoint slides were augmented by (you'll guess this): music! In one program, they showed differences in research repositories in different states, so the music changed to match the venue discussed (we associate music with geographic locations).

The keynote address included music - and the audience got to sing along with the television themes for "Daniel Boone" (representing Kentucky) and "Davey Crockett" (representing Tennessee).

Of course, the use of music was prevalent in both evening events (I attended only one of these, as already mentioned, but my roommate told me about the other and showed me the photos she'd taken of musicians at the museum they visited).

There was music in elevators.

When I went to dinner with some genealogy companions, we were entertained by a busker (street musician) before we walked back to the hotel.

Music was everywhere! (And I am sure that there was a lot I didn't hear - on iPods and MP3 players with earbuds plugging the ears of the listeners.)

My point: music was also a part of the lives of our ancestors. They had their street musicians to entertain them. And music in the parlor when the day was done. And I would venture to guess that a number of them followed the admonition of the 7 dwarfs and whistled while they worked! It just seems that messages are clearer, tasks are less arduous, leisure time is more fulfilling, and getting from one place to the next is made more pleasant by the addition of music. (Of course, if you work in an office, you might want to keep that work whistling to a minimum!)

So here's a challenge: listen to the music you hear in a given day and make note of how many times (or how many different tunes) and places where you are exposed to songs and/or instrumental pieces. I'd love to "hear" what you discover!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Uncle Wiggily



On the road again. I've been rather quiet because of the travel and visiting schedule, but we are spending the night in our newly re-engined RV in a WalMart in Mississippi. Quiet, peaceful. Time to think of a Treasure from my collection back home, to which we are heading after we visit our son in Texas. So here is just such a treasure, a favorite character from my childhood.

Friday, August 20, 2010

FGS conference, Knoxville, and Sheila Kay Adams - keeping the tradition alive


I have been a fan of Sheila Kay Adams for many, many years (we met at a Summer Solstice Folk Music, Dance, and Storytelling Festival sponsored by the California Traditional Music Society back in the 1990s). What a pleasant surprise to find that she was the entertainment for last night's program, "Come and Sit a Spell," at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Knoxville, Tennessee. Not only have the years been good to her (she looks as if time has not touched her since we last saw each other), her delivery is as spot-on as it ever was. This woman has a way with words that is amazing: she can tell a story with a straight face, acting as if it is just as common as anything for her son to also be her (distant) cousin. Sheila shares her stories of her hometown of Sodom in such a way that her listeners feel her experiences and get to know her many relatives (and it does seem that all residents of her village are related). Of course, we can dwell on the stereotypes of the hill people, but Sheila reminds us that these are people of strong stock and solid beliefs (many, many of them, in fact). We got to visit, with her songs and stories, the pioneers of this country that have helped to preserve the oral traditions and tales that bind us together in this generation. You may not have a family from the south, but the elements that connect Sheila's family (value systems, traditions, music, stories, shared history, etc.) are the same ones that tie our family circles together. Check out Sheila Kay Adams at her website, view her YouTube interview with David Holt, or hear her sing "Little Margaret" on YouTube. Get a sense of the mountain people and their traditions that remain alive even today, and hopefully tomorrow, too.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The update of the incredible truck saga

Well, the trip continues. Blessings have been liberally sprinkled over the stressful events of the past few days.

As is told in my blog of yesterday, the memorial celebration of my g-g-grandfather was a ray of sunshine in a very gloomy trip (see earlier blog on the adventure on I-40 out of Nashville). But we set up something of a schedule for ourselves and now have plan B well in operation.

First blessing: our daughter Sandi and sons who helped make the memorial a successful event and one we will always cherish. It was she who secured a shade for us (105 degree temps and blistering sun were unrelenting . . . I still think it was preferable to rain), chairs for those in attendance, and water on ice for everyone! Afterwards, she helped us get all the food out of the RV and into an ice chest or in her car to take back to Atlanta where she would keep the frozen items for us to pick up next week (the cemetery was 2 miles from where the RV was awaiting service). Then she made sure her father and I had food (both of us were suffering from heat exhaustion) - having her sons (what troopers) take turns babysitting the dogs while we ate(what we could) in an air conditioned restaurant. What an amazing woman she is! Then we headed off to a friend's home.

Second blessing: my dear, dear friend from so many years ago I dare not say - Betty Joe (we were introduced by Pernell Roberts and his wife back in 1973). A woman who loves animals, and particularly our dog Buddy. She not only put us up, but our 2 pups as well, and then went beyond the call of duty by providing us with tons of food and then volunteering to dogsit while we ran errands over the next 2 days. She's in Cookeville, midway between where the truck sits in Nashville and where I am attending a genealogy conference in Knoxville.

Third blessing: a new friend, a Pernell Roberts/Trapper John fan (thank you Facebook) who invited us to come visit them when we finished up necessary business in Nashville on Monday, then took us out to a wonderful dinner and uplifting conversation. Nothing like food & friends to get one's mind off troubles.

Fourth blessing: my Ohio friend whose mutual love of Bonanza and Pernell Roberts brought us together many years ago. She is attending the same conference I am and when I called her, was told she had space in her room and I didn't even need to bring an air mattress! So I went from staying in a campground to being bunked at the Hilton. OK, not a bad blessing!

Fifth blessing: the Chevy service manager (who has never seen such an engine breakdown) assures us that the dealership will bring Butch back from returning our rental car to the airport, whenever that happens.

Sixth blessing: the many friends & family members who have kept up with our trials on this entire trip, making the pain of the news re: our Chevy truck just a little less painful.

The verdict is in: our Chevy Duramax Diesel (the engine that lasts forever and is more powerful than a locomotive) needs a new long block (translation: essentially the entire engine!). Now, this would make sense if we had 200,000 miles on it, perhaps (though these engines are supposed to make that with ease), but the 2004 vehicle has just about 120,000 miles on it PLUS we had the engine replaced at 68,000 miles! So this puppy has less than 60,000 miles to its credit. Now the first engine replacement cost us nothing since it was still under warranty; but there is no warranty on a failure of a replacement engine. This one's on us! (Oh, we do get the new engine warrantied ... for 5 years ... wanna bet we won't have it another 5 years? I mean, gluttons for punishment we ain't.) How much is a new long block? Ah, pocket change (for Donald Trump): $11,000+ !

Positive part: we may have the vehicle back by the weekend or certainly the first of next week.

Meanwhile, I am at the Hilton and Butch is at Betty Joe's place with the dogs. I even laughed about it today (or was I delirious?). I owe a big thank you to my Bonanza and Pernell Roberts fans "family" - they have nursed us through this from start to finish. And my genealogy friends who have provided many shoulders for crying upon. And an amazing family, willing to travel many miles just to make sure we are OK. And all those around the world who offered prayers for our safety, etc. (again, thank you Facebook).

More blessings: we are safe. Dogs are safe. Life is going on. There must be a reason for the trial, but I'll blog about that when I figure it out (note: may not be in this lifetime!).

Have a great day, all.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 17 August 2010 - Remembering a forgotten grave, Nathan W. Wilcox

A slightly different "Tombstone Tuesday" - about a tombstone that has been a long time in being placed and properly adorned.




Once upon a time, a Yankee, born in Oswego, New York and relocated to Jefferson County, New York, married the girl next door. That Yankee, Nathan W. Wilcox, son of Peter C. Wilcox and Mary Youker, moved with his bride, and later joined by the rest of his family, to Van Buren County, Michigan, where he commenced to work at his trade, the same one his father taught him many years before: carpenter, joiner, and architect. Michigan provided a wonderful frontier for his efforts, but this Yankee soon wanted a wider territory, where there was a great need for people with his skills. He moved his little family (wife and 2 children) to New London, Henry County, Iowa. There 2 more children were born, though one was buried almost as soon as she came into the world. And, within a couple of years, another child was on the way. Also on the way: the splitting of a nation! So Nathan W. Wilcox went to see the recruiting officer who came to New London and signed up, at the ripe old age of 33, to be an engineer in Lincoln's army. He also recruited about 20 additional men, though probably not all experienced builders. He sent the recruits on ahead while he awaited the birth of his latest daughter, bade goodbye to his young family, and joined the troops in St. Louis, MO - Nathan W. Wilcox became 2nd Lt. Wilcox of Col. Bissell's Engineering Regiment of the West out of Missouri.

In the regiment, Nathan distinguished himself as being one of the few who really knew his trade. He often was sent to other companies to teach and help the men in their efforts to build bridges, railroads, and roads; and then, when the battle was over, destroy those same transportation options to thwart the enemy's advances. (Meanwhile, back home in Iowa, another of Nathan's children died - only three remained of his five babies.) Nathan was advanced to 1st Lt. after the successful building of the canal to advance Union troops around New Madrid, Missouri and Island #10.




Nathan continued to be effective in his duties as an engineer and soon was promoted to Captain. But the war was nearing a crucial point and the Engineering Regiment was joining up with an Infantry regiment, meaning that the engineers would see more battle action and there would soon be a surplus of higher officers. Nathan requested discharge and it was granted, largely due to his poor health from the canal building (causing the men to stand in waist high swamp water at all hours of the day and night).

Nathan was in Nashville, Tennessee when he was discharged and he promptly went to work under contract to the government, doing surveying work. He drew battle lines for the upcoming Battle of Nashville and, later, he relocated to Knoxville where he helped to rebuild the university campus, virtually destroyed during the war (his brother came down from Michigan to help, too).

This is how a New York Yankee became a Tennessee resident. He sent for his family. Lost another child (to cholera symptoms) and fathered another. He designed homes. He helped rebuild the south, but not as a carpetbagger; as a member of the community. He lived in Nashville, Clarksville, Knoxville, and all over Franklin County. His youngest son followed in his father's footsteps, being involved in various aspects of building, and took him in during the Captain's old age. Nathan W. Wilcox died in Nashville in September 1891; he was buried in the "single graves" area of Mt. Olivet Cemetery where whatever grave marker he received disappeared a long time ago.

Enter me, ready to give this man, my g-g-grandfather, the recognition he deserves. On Aug. 14, 2010, with a small group of dedicated folks (it was about 105 degrees that day), we celebrated the life of Nathan W. Wilcox. His tombstone was provided by the Veterans' Administration and the good people at the cemetery placed the stone earlier in the summer so that we could gather around it and dedicate the grave.



In attendance: Capt. Wilcox's g-g-g-granddaughter, Sandra Dodge; his g-g-g-g-grandsons, Tyler Dodge and Brad and Drew Schmidt; his g-g-grandson-in-law, Lynn Hibben; me (his g-g-granddaughter); Abraham Lincoln (portrayed by Dennis Boggs); Kraig McNutt, a local historian who blogged about the event; historian Jim Swan; and, from Ft. Donelson Camp #62, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, bugler Chad Gray and Cpl. Nelson Hughes .


We began with the presentation of colors and flag salute by boy scout Tyler Dodge and, after an opening prayer, learned about the man we honored, sang "Tenting on the Old Campground,"

placed the GAR marker and flag by the stone (thanks to the Ft. Donelson Camp #62 SUVCW and Cpl. Hughes, above with me),


heard some moving remarks by Pres. Lincoln, and witnessed the grave dedication by Lynn Hibben, followed by the playing of taps, courtesy of Chad Gray. It was a moving experience and I am grateful to all those who came to honor my great-great-grandfather.

Sam Gant, of the Ft. Donelson Camp #62, SUVCW, sent me this email:

"Dr. Hibben planned and presented an excellent program for her ancestor, and, in doing so, remembered and honored a soldier of the Grand Army of the Republic whom we of the Fort Donelson Camp # 62 have pledged to perpetuate his memory. Capt. Nathan's basic military information and burial location shall be entered in the SUVCW Graves Registry."

All I can add is "Wow"!




(photos courtesy of Jim Swan & Kraig McNutt)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Are you a Circlemender?


Do you like to find your ancestors and connect the past to the present, trying to complete that family circle so it will be unbroken? If so, you are a Circlemender!

See me at FGS (I'll be spending much of my time at the Genealogical Speakers Guild, APG, and Board for Certification of Genealogists booths) to get a Circlemender ribbon. Everyone who is on my mailing list, reads my blog, attends any of my lectures, or otherwise follows my genealogy and/or music endeavors is welcome to one of these, so be sure to stop and ask me for one to add to your ribbon collection at the conference.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Colors

We are in such beautiful country at the moment - the Southeastern US (traveled through Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee, so far) and have enjoyed the lush greens of the hillsides (though Butch says that it simply means that the area gets tons of rain, which I've never been overly fond of . . . he's probably right). On our travels, we listen to a lot of XM radio - 2 stations, primarily: XM-164, the classic radio shows of Butch's childhood; and XM-15, the Village - folk radio. One day, when we were tuned to the Village, the "disc jockey" (though today's discs sure are different from the ones they used to spin!) played a serious of songs using the word "blue." You can probably come up with a number of the songs that were included. Anyway, I thought, to make it a little broader, about using the theme "color" for today's Sunday Singalong with Circlemending. Last week's theme (food/drink) didn't seem to stir too many into suggesting anything, so maybe "color" will be a little less specific. You can suggest a song that has reference to a particular color, colors in general, or even one that just alludes to a color.

About a year and a half ago we had the opportunity to meet Barry McGuire (The New Christy Minstrels), and so I am going to put down my "offering": "Green, Green." Check out his 2007 YouTube rendition and see how he, like all of us, has changed when you compare it to the one by the New Christy Minstrels (Barry is the lead singer), originally recorded many, many moons ago. Well . . . the green is still there, in spite of the years that have passed (guess that song has received a lot of rain!).

Remember, for your song choice you can list all the lyrics or just a verse and/or chorus (ideally, the one with the color mentioned), or even just the title. Or provide a link to an MP3, YouTube video, or copy of the lyrics. Extra special: tell why the song came to mind!

Your turn. The more the merrier!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Friday the 13th . . . in all its glory



So, I have decided that Friday the 13th can very easily become my least favorite day . . . at least it will bring forth memories of an experience that I can well do without repeating.

It all began a few years ago, actually. We bought a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado Duramax diesel truck on the recommendation of our mechanic, who also owned one (his was a year older). We were pleased with it initially, but now, I'm not so sure. After about 65,000 miles, the exhaust started spewing black smoke with a putrid odor. Every diagnostic came back that it was fine. We drove it another 4,000 or so miles, but then I took it to Chevrolet and demanded something be done. They treated it with an additive and said that it would look and sound bad for a while, then would be fine. Result: within another 200 miles we melted a piston! We had the vehicle (which carries our cabover camper) towed to another Chevy dealer (in Escondido, CA) and were told about the damage - it would need a new long block. OK, and this is covered by the warranty? Absolutely. So, after a month of Chevy and GM haggling about the particulars, a new long block was installed (we had only to pay about $1000 for all the damage done to the hoses and belts when the oil drenched the engine). Not too long after that, we had the truck sort of rebuilt to carry our camper more effectively: a new truck bed with lots of cabinets and a dually rear end. We figured we were set for many, many more miles. Then we started noticing the black smoke again (now the odometer sat at just over 100,000 miles). Our mechanic said that it seems as if the Duramax ate fuel injectors for breakfast & to plan to replace them every 60,000 miles (at the tune of $3000 each time). But if we used a fuel additive, it might prolong the life. We did, it didn't. Or at least, that's the current assumption: then came yesterday.

Heading out of the most recent fuel stop, the engine began to make "that noise." Thank God my husband recognized it immediately: it was the one it made before our engine imploded the last time. We pulled over. Location: mile marker 144, east bound into Nashville, TN on the I-40.

Now, I have been maintaining my AAA membership for 42 years, non-stop. And we have added the RV coverage as well as the "plus" advantages. This has cost a pretty penny every year, but we figured it was a good investment. Yesterday, the investment paid off, but not without a horrendous delay. While our position on the freeway necessitated "emergency" and "priority" - they try to get vehicles on the Interstate removed within 15 minutes of breakdown - we waited 4 hours! The breakdown occurred at 2:30pm. The rescue occurred at 6:30pm. Now, to AAA's credit, they were calling wrecking and RV services all over the territory, but ended up getting in a driver from Murfreesboro (about 30 miles the other side of Nashville - and we were still 60 miles from Nashville, the driver said we were exactly 99 miles from his location). So, how do 2 adults, one with a heart condition, and 2 dogs, one with an anxiety condition, spend 4 hours by the side of the road? Let me share my day with you.

First course of action: get us (and dogs) away from the vehicle. On occasion, drivers not paying attention plow right into vehicles stalled/parked at the side of the road (yes, we were well off the highway, nonetheless, should such an event occur, we needed to be way clear of the rig). Taking cell phones and dogs and some water, we made our way to the grassy area beside the road (note: had this happened 24 hours earlier, we would have been near Cape Girardeau, MO, in a thunderstorm . . . on this date, Friday the 13th of August, 2010 . . . it was merely 100+ degrees and we were in the bright sunshine; OK, another problem, but at least no lightning and rain!). Between the 2 of us, we had 3 cell phones (I know, that's a bit odd, but I'm sure glad of it . . . I am still learning to use my new Evo Sprint phone and have not weaned off my tried & true clamshell with no camera, but lots of battery power. We started calling:

AAA - they'd be there in 15 minutes, yes they understood we had a motorhome
Rental car agencies - yes, they'd reserve a mini-van for us
AAA - still trying to find an appropriate tow rig
Motel - yes, they'd reserve us a room for tonight
AAA - they had a tow company, would call us back
Our mechanic in CA - we done good, call him with the diagnosis, when we get it
AAA - tow company can't handle us, they'll find another
Friend in Cookeville, TN (where we're headed today) - yes, she can put us up, with dogs, in her house
AAA - still looking
Friend who is attending the conference I need to be at in Knoxville on Tuesday - she'll see if anyone needs a roommate
AAA - still looking
Chevy dealer in Nashville - service bay is open till 6pm, but bring the vehicle in at any time, they will help
AAA - still looking
Another friend attending Knoxville conference - left message
AAA-still looking
Geico - yes our insurance coverage completely covers the rental car
AAA - Eureka! Oh, no, false alarm.

And so the day went. But I also got on Facebook with the Evo and put out an SOS. Once we got to the Chevy place in Nashville, we'd need to get Butch to the airport where our rental car was waiting (yes, I know Enterprise picks you up, but they had nothing but tiny cars & we needed to have a vehicle with plenty of room . . . remember, we're in an RV: no suitcases, just lots of clothes & supplies for us & dogs . . . but Thrifty rental car, at the airport, would be able to provide a mini-van). I tried to locate someone who might be able to provide that needed transportation (it doesn't help that we were clueless about Nashville and the surrounding area). Here I have to thank the many who reached out to us, in prayers and physical attempts to get help, calling friends and relatives in the Nashville area. I am so very grateful for everyone who seemed to be right there with us on the side of the road.

Finally we got the call: a tow truck driver from Murfreesboro was on his way! That was about 5:00pm . . . we'd been making cautious trips to & from the vehicle to get more water, chairs, and an umbrella for shelter from the sun, now dangerously positioned where we could not escape. We preserved battery power in the cell phones & when all was said and done, I still had full power on my clamshell phone (not anywhere close on the Evo . . . OK, I'm hard-pressed to ever give up my tried & true). Did a police car ever stop? Nope, not until the tow truck driver arrived. One very nice man in a van stopped and offered to take me into Nashville, but we said we'd rather stay together (remember, Butch has a heart condition and we didn't want to play any games with that . . . plus there are 2 very tired & frustrated dogs to consider). But the van man did park to block our rig so Butch could open a side panel and get out 2 chairs for us. Thank you, anonymous van man . . . we appreciated your presence!!!

Once the tow driver showed up (you know, we never got his name!), and the state police pulled up (he said he'd seen us earlier in the day but had to get to a bad accident . . . rhetorical, never-to-be-answered question: had we not had the breakdown, might we have been IN that accident? Who knows), they got the nitty gritty done - vehicle hooked up, us and dogs into the cab of the tow truck, etc. (Note: those of you who know our chow-mix Buddy know how exciting that experience was for him . . . he was not nice to the driver & we were afraid he'd have to ride in the tilted truck . . . but Butch held him tight and soon he settled down.) We headed down the road about 7:30pm. And Butch needed to pick up the rental car at the airport by 9pm. We were still 60 miles from that destination.

So, here's where the adventure took another turn: The tow driver said he would get Butch to the rental agency. Well, I thought he meant after we'd dropped the camper at the Chevy place, but he decided to take us, camper towed behind into the airport. Some airports are not meant for tow trucks with 12 foot high campers behind them! And he made a wrong turn into short-term parking. Uhoh. He found a safe place to pull over, talked to the parking lot people, and directed Butch to the rental agency. Butch got a car while tow driver, me, and 2 dogs waited. But it didn't take long and soon we had dogs in the back of the mini-van and Butch & I followed the tow truck back into Nashville . . . now, getting out of that parking lot was interesting and it took more time than we had waited for Butch to get the car (or so it seemed). End result: the parking attendant did not charge either of us (tow truck & towed camper or Butch & me in rental car) anything for spending 30 minutes - not really parked - in the short-term lot! What great folks! Off to the Chevy dealer/service.

We followed our rig and within about 15 minutes we were at the Chevy dealer's and soon thereafter, the camper was unloaded into a safe spot for diagnosis on Sat. or Mon. We transferred much of our paraphernalia from the camper to the mini-van (forgetting a number of things, as can be expected) and then we were headed to the motel. We arrived about 11pm, I guess (I'd lost all track of time) and I commenced to scrub off a lot of Tennessee mud. Butch went to Hooters next door (his first time in one of their establishments) and returned with coke and wings and ate our "midnight snack" - of course, we'd had no dinner - and fell into bed exhausted. Of course, the dogs had slept all day & were ready for some play, but we finally quieted them down.

Now we await the next chapter: what is really wrong with the camper? Will the truck need new fuel injectors? new engine? or will we be leaving Nashville in a completely new vehicle? I don't know right now. But I've slept well & most of the symptoms of heat exhaustion have subsided, finally. Butch, the man with heart disease, has held up like a trooper! I don't know how I would have endured the past 16+ hours without him.

Today, while the truck is being analyzed, we are going forth with the plans for the memorial for my g-g-grandfather at Mt. Olivet Cemetery here in Nashville. Then we'll go to Cookeville for the night and handle tomorrow when it arrives.

Let me thank everyone for their texts, facebook posts, and calls to check on us. We were never alone by the side of the road . . . people from all over the country have been praying for our safety. How can we ever thank you all? We are blessed. So am I superstitious about Friday the 13th? I don't think so . . . it brought out the best in a whole lot of folks.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - 12 August 2010 - John Brown's Civil Air Patrol Patches

These belonged to my granduncle, John ("Bun") Brown. He kept an active pilot's license until he was in his 90s! (No, he didn't continue to fly then, but he carried that license with pride.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 10 August 2010 - Kate E. Weaver

Katherine E. Wilcox Ireland Johnson Weaver (Aunt Kate)
b: July 1861, New London, Henry, Iowa
d: 13 August 1936, Dallas, Dallas, Texas
buried: Oakland Cemetery, Dallas, Texas

Sunday, August 8, 2010

SUNDAY SINGALONG - Food/Drink Songs, 8 August 2010

Well, we are leaving Arizona today, after a full day of music and family yesterday - a good combination. The Farmers Market was a great experience (see previous blog) as we played and sang for nearly 2 straight hours while people shopped and sampled at the various booths presenting some of the best produce of the region. Having sampled some, I think I can agree. People enjoyed the music, too, so I guess I would venture to say that music and food can go together. In fact, at most of our music gatherings, refreshments are served somewhere during the event (and sometimes more than once).

So, what songs come to mind that deal with food? Or with drink? (OK, here come the drinking songs!) Remember, you need not include all the lyrics (and maybe just one verse of a song deals with food). A link to lyrics, an MP3 file, or a YouTube video also work. So does a song title. Just share a song you like that deals with consumables.

My offering:

"The Fox" - I love this song that dates back to the 1600s. And the imagery of "The fox and his wife, without any strife, cut up the goose with a fork and a knife; they never had such a supper in their life, and the little ones chewed on the bones-o." I blogged about this song a while back, giving the YouTube link to Harry Belafonte's version (my personal favorite).

Your turn. Don't sing with your mouth open!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Types of Music - It All Comes Together In Payson, AZ

So tomorrow (or probably today, by the time most folks read this) we will be performing at the Farmers Market in Payson, AZ. I was asked to do this program when I connected with an Arizona folksinger friend, Anne James. Anne is involved in a number of folk-type things and always seems to be running in one direction or another, but we were able to stop long enough when we saw each other in Flagstaff to get this program scheduled. Then I learned that we have a 2-hour slot! I'm used to doing programs of historical focus, with the narrative illustrated by songs; but here the audience is not likely to be interested in a lot of narration (people will be coming and going throughout the time). While I have way more than enough songs to keep things going for 2 hours, the variety seems to lack continuity. So these past couple of days I have been trying to connect the types of songs I sing, to make the material flow, and this is what I came up with.

I began learning songs at my father's side, he playing piano and teaching me the words. We would do this day after day, when he'd get home from work and before we'd have dinner. So I learned a lot of kids' songs that way. It was, of course, augmented when I went to school and we had music time (I loved music time . . . it was by far the best part of the week). My music teacher was Mrs. Shaddock and she had been a teacher for one of the members of the Kingston Trio. I'd just barely heard of them . . . she'd tell stories about their music and them learning to blend their voices, etc. We didn't sing any Kingston Trio songs in school, but I learned them when I started to play the ukulele (Mrs. Shaddock, who'd lived a while in Hawaii, was thrilled when I told her I was learning to play uke).

Actually, the uke was not my first instrument; my dad had tried to teach me piano (what a waste of time that turned out to be . . . we didn't know then that I was dyslexic and the notes all just jumped around on the staff . . . it was hopeless . . . partly because I was only 5 years old at the time). But my grandfather played a Swedish zither called a Harpeleik and I fell in love with that (no notes - just chords . . . and those were arranged in groups of strings so there was no fingering issues . . . just find the chord and strum . . . even I could do that). So my grandfather taught me to play his "harp" and at Christmas time he'd bring it to our house so I could play Christmas songs on it all through the season. One year he said we should just keep it at our place . . . I could have it! I was about 9 years old at the time and so excited. So when I moved on to learning the ukulele, it was a continuation of the chord principle and that worked for me.

So now I was getting music instruction at home and at school, but let's not forget the influence of my grandparents. I called them Mema and Deeda (it was Deeda who played the zither instrument). When I'd visit them (they lived all of 3 blocks away), Mema would teach me songs about Jesus ("Jesus Loves Me," "Jesus Loves the Little Children," etc.) and then, when I would sing them to her satisfaction, she'd let me go hang out with Deeda and he'd teach me songs from his 78 rpm records, like "Old Dan Tucker" (I loved that one). He also taught me some Christian songs ("There's a Little Wheel a-Turnin' in my Heart," "Let the Sun Shine in," etc.), also from old records (all of which are now in my collection).

Then, of course, there was music instruction at church - more of the songs I'd learned at my grandparents' home, so I was already on top of the game there.

Then there was the camp experience. I went to a Christian camp for 2 years (connected to my church) and to a YWCA camp for 1 year. We sang all sorts of songs, though those first 2 years most of the songs were religious in nature and had a lot of hand movements, clapping, etc. And there were also songs connected with my brief experience in scouting (as a brownie back when I was about 9 or 10 and then again as a Mariner when I was in high school - I loved the Mariner songs, dealing with sailing, boats, etc.). So extra-curricular activities seemed to exist with music accompaniment!

When I graduated from Junior High to High School I also graduated to playing guitar. I discovered that the best way to learn the guitar (for me) was to hang out with others who also played. We'd teach each other songs and picking styles. I really had no formal guitar instruction until I was an adult, and even that was minimal. But I learned . . . brother, I learned! And with the songs and chords, I also learned to get along with people and become diplomatic. At my high school we had a Folk Song Society and I practiced regularly for my turn to play a song at the weekly meeting. It was an inspiration and motivation for me. But, as happens in all sorts of clubs, there were politics to contend with. The group disbanded for a year and then I helped get it going again, at the same time creating a "song circle" group of my own (sponsored by my church where we met once a week). That's where I learned and got my music "fix."

When I was about 10, my brother started me listening to "The Midnight Special," a radio program on WFMT in Chicago (it's still on, every Saturday night). I heard some great songs and would find copies of them (I still couldn't read music, so I'd get recordings and then work out the chords, or locate the words and chords in music books). A close friend and I would furiously write down the words of the songs we liked, making a carbon copy for the other person, creating our own music books. While other girls were getting together with friends and going to the movies or the mall, my best friend and I would get together at one house or the other and play music together.

So music was happening in my life at home, at church, at school, with friends, in extra curricular activities, at coffee houses, and, of course, by myself, in my bedroom, where I would practice for hours at a time. And the types of music varied depending on the venue in which I was participating. I always took my guitar when I went to babysit for the neighbors, so there I'd play the kids' songs. At the coffee houses and song circles at school and church I'd play protest songs. With my dad (we still did duets together) I'd do traditional folk songs. In church (when I was teaching Sunday School or doing a church program) I'd do the Gospel music. And, when I was alone, I'd often play love songs or even try my hand at writing my own.

So, at Farmer's Market in Payson, I expect I'll be doing some traditional music, some '60s folk stuff, some kids' songs, some pieces from my favorite contemporary composers, and maybe even an original song or two. Somehow I will make the segues from "Marvelous Toy" to "Down by the Riverside." And, hopefully, I'll help some of those in attendance connect with their inner musician!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - 5 August 2010 - Mema's watch


Among my grandmother's things was this "travel watch." The watch can be worn on a fob or chain, but also fits nicely in this little case, that then can be closed for easily transport. I haven't taken the time or money to get it running again, but plan to do that one of these days. Meanwhile, it sits on display in my home, a reminder of my grandmother, Pauline Elizabeth Miller Wilcox - we called her "Mema" - and her insistence that things happen in proper order and on time (I dusted her house every Saturday for a quarter, and I dared not be late!).

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - 4 August 2010 - Mayer children

Norma and Jack Mayer (siblings, children of Edith Dallman Mayer and, respectively, Ray Mayer and Adolph Mayer - no relation to each other, that we know of - see yesterday's post for explanation). Photo, Chicago, Illinois, ca. 1936.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 3 August 2010 - Norma Mayer Strazewski

Norma E. Mayer Strazewski (AKA Strauss) was my 2nd cousin. Her mother was Edith Dallman Mayer (who, interestingly, married two different men, both named "Mayer," making it so her two children, one by each man, able to go through their childhood years with the same surname despite having different fathers.) Norma was the daughter of the first of those men, Ray Mayer. Norma was born 20 January 1926 in Illinois and died 28 July 1993, same state. Norma and her daughter, Elaine, attended the reception following my marriage to my first husband. Elaine is also now gone. Both are buried in Arlington Cemetery, DuPage County, Illinois. Because of the miracle of blogging and Facebook, I am now in contact with Elaine's son, my 2nd cousin, twice removed.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Travel


We are about to hit the road. We're heading to Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Georgia (specifically, though also planning to spend some time in the states between here and there). The RV is nearly packed, the dogs are excited, and the instruments are restrung. I hate the packing and preparing, love the travel and experiences en route, and hate the unpacking and laundry when we get home. But it's that middle part (you know, the creamy center) that makes the rough edges worthwhile.

We will be doing some performing in Payson, Arizona at the Farmers Market there on Saturday, the 7th, so if you happen to be in the area at 9-11am, stop by & say HI! I'll probably blog more about that next week, after the fact. I think it will be great fun to start the trip with a musical experience; it got me thinking about the travel songs that are part of our repertoire.

So here's this week's Singalong challenge: identify a travel song (dealing with any kind of travel - train, plane, automobile, bus, taxi, or unspecified) or possibly a song that you (and your family?) like to sing while traveling. I know some people who sing while they take a bike ride and others who sing or whistle while they hike; that works too. Remember, you need not include all the lyrics (unless you just can't help yourself) - a single verse and/or chorus is fine, or the title or a link to an MP3 recording or YouTube video will also suffice. Your memory or explanation of why the song came to mind will add to the post.

Here's mine (yes, you guessed it, another Tom Paxton song - we love his traveling songs!) - "I Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound." I've been playing and singing this song for almost as long as I've been playing guitar (hate to date you, Tom . . . no hard feelings, I hope). And, in spite of his horror in this admission, I did learn it at camp. But I found the verses the camp leaders left out and love the guitar riff (I learned it from Tom). Here's Tom doing it in live performance in 1994. Enjoy.

Your turn.