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.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Six Weeks Later . . .

Candlemas, or Groundhog, Day was February 2. In Punxsutawney, PA, Phil reported that the sunny day caused him to see his shadow so he retreated to his hole for another 6 weeks. That 6-week time period will be up on Tuesday, March 16.

Like the groundhog, Butch & I retreated to our "hole" on Feb. 2 and are just now emerging (along with the springing forward we did this morning). Spring is almost here. Our hills are sprouting wild flowers (which, in about 3 weeks, will become brown weeds we will need to have cleared to provide us with proper clearance distance to increase safety from wildfires - you know the adage "spring wildflowers bring summer wildfires"). And so it is time to finally bring forth our annual family missive: the Groundhog Letter.

The Groundhog Letter is our family tradition, like the holiday letters we all receive, and many send, around Christmas time, informing friends and family what has happened in the previous 12 months. When I was going to school in the 1980s, I discovered that holidays were overrun with obligations: shopping, baking, cooking, term paper writing, studying, finals . . . adding a holiday newsletter to the stack was one obligation that I could do something about. We decided to postpone that one task to the next year, and Groundhog Day seemed to be the perfect time (it gave me all of January to do the writing and, since classes didn't start until the end of January, it was timed perfectly).

When I became a college professor, the holidays continued to be stressful - now I was giving the final exams, plus grading them and the final essays, and having to get all the grades turned in by the required deadline. It was so hectic at that time period that I completely stopped all holiday baking.

Now that I am no longer taking or teaching classes, I have really enjoyed the holidays - no baking, no holiday family letter, kids grown and on their own - so we have kept the Groundhog Letter tradition and are quite content with it. But this year was a hard one. When I would normally be writing the letter, I was preparing for a couple of major seminars, then was sent into depression by the death of my friend Pernell Roberts. There was no way we could get the letter out by Groundhog Day so we decided to be like the proverbial groundhog and take refuge in the "hole" for 6 weeks, giving us a chance to catch up and recover (and since we both ended up with respiratory infections, the recovering was quite literal).

We did it. We are on the verge of spring and the Groundhog Letter is completed. You can find it on our website. Give it some time to load as there are a lot of photos. And Happy Spring, everyone!

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