About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, 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 25 times over and a great-grandmother of 19. 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 work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega with Genealogy Journeys where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that can be found at http://genaandjean.blogspot.com and more about my own business projects is on my Circlemending website.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

of Christmas, puppies, and other warm fuzzies

Well, Christmas is almost upon us and we have a new puppy at our house. Actually, he's 6 months old and has become as much a part of our lives as our older, more sophisticated dog, Buddy. The new baby is "Klondike," to recognize his unique breed: an Alaskan Klee Kai (miniature Husky). He's only 10 pounds and promises not to get much larger (we are holding him to that). To see photos and even video, go to and click on the "Dogs" tab. Anyway, I can't help but remember another time in my life when I had a puppy. I was about 11 and Lucky (a Beagle-Cocker) joined our household for all of about 6 months. He was around 5 months old when Christmas arrived. Lucky was confined to the kitchen most of the time because of his poor toilet habits. No matter what we did, he simply refused to become house-trained (or even paper-trained, for that matter). So I would play with him in the kitchen, Mom would try to prepare meals with a puppy underfoot, and all of us would try to ignore his whines to be allowed a little freedom. Well, once the Christmas tree was up we decided to give Lucky a shot at visiting the rest of the house. We took him outside first, just in case. He was obviously thrilled to be granted an evening pass and showed his excitement by (can you guess?) squatting in front of the tree before any of us could stop him. Back to the kitchen he went. About a month later we all gave up. I regret that, but I think Mom was on the verge of killing either the puppy or me and none of us were loving him at that point. Of course, this was in the days before crate training and effective methods of housebreaking dogs. I like to think that, after being dropped off at the shelter, a more patient family adopted Lucky.

Buddy (now 9 years old) came to us housebroken (we have no idea where he learned it as he was a stray, about 6 weeks old, when he walked onto our property and simply stayed). We are still working with Klondike, and he is learning (as are we ... that "squeek" he gives actually means something important!). And he loves the Christmas tree and its lights. He also seems to enjoy Christmas music. We think that this is a good addition to our home and look forward to taking him to see snow over New Years (after all, he is a miniature "snow dog"). Klondike also came with a full pedigree, which we plan to frame next to our family pedigree chart. Unfortunately, Buddy cannot claim such a recognized past, but he's just as much a part of the family. After all, isn't love the key ingredient?

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