About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Pledge Allegiance . . .

Well, it's hard to believe that February is nearly over ... and my last blog was on Feb. 1!! I am terrible at this. But I believe in the old adage, "if you don't have something nice to say, say nothing." In this case, it's more "I don't have anything to say"! But today I do.

In the past 6 days I have given 3 presentations and at each location I had the opportunity to face the American flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Yesterday, when I again put my hand over my heart and said those words, repeated throughout my life so many times, it occurred to me that most people, as adults, rarely have the chance to repeat that Pledge. When I was in school, each day was started with that oath. But once we reach adulthood, unless we belong to an organization that includes that recognition of our freedom and liberties, we probably do not have occasion to remind ourselves of what that flag represents. I am grateful to have, as my occupation, one that allows me so many opportunities to repeat the Pledge and think of what it means.

This month was one in which we paid special tribute to our past Presidents with a holiday, originally setup to combine the birthday recognitions of Lincoln and Washington, but now arranged more as a time to celebrate a day off from work and special prices at everything from appliance to pet stores. I thought how sad it is that our holidays designed to recognize the importance of our freedoms and honor those who stood for them and, in many cases, died for them, have been reduced to days off work and specials at merchandise establishments.

Just some thoughts I've had of late and a feeling of thankfulness when I face the flag and recite that Pledge I learned originally so many, many years ago.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

On Groundhog eve

It is the eve of groundhog day . . . it appears that (in California) tomorrow will be sunny, which will be nice to experience but which will cause any groundhogs to see their shadows, giving us 6 more weeks of winter. That is not a pleasant thought (and even less so for those of you in the east).

We returned from our tour of Northern California and Oregon and had a marvelous time! The weather was perfect (no snow or rain, until the last day, coming home from Sacramento). We met up with family and friends throughout the entire trip. My programs in Napa, CA and Medford, OR both went well, as did our experience at the folk festival in Florence, OR. We had a great visit with old friend Tom Paxton and enjoyed some marvelous music.

Now back in Southern Calif., we are preparing for my annual gathering of friends from all over the world (furthest traveler this year: from Guam) to view videos, eat, visit and tell stories, and do some singing. This occurs every year at about groundhog day, but won't happen until the weekend of Feb 6th. I have also been busy writing our annual groundhog letter (akin to most people's Christmas or holiday letter, telling what has happened with the family over the past year). To read this letter, go to Groundhog Letter.