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, January 30, 2011

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Songs to Celebrate Special People

Every year, sometime before the end of January and the beginning of February, I open my home to fans of Pernell Roberts. We visit, learn about each other, watch videos of our favorite actor, and eat way too much. It is a merry time. This year we have felt the loss of this talented thespian: he passed away just over one year ago. While tears have been shed, we have spent more time celebrating his life, enjoying the fact that he left such a wealth of television and movie appearances from the mid-1950s till the end of the 1990s, many of which are now on DVD.

Missing a loved one is not something unique - most of us can identify with the feelings of loss, often mixed with the feelings of being blessed for having that person (or those persons) in our lives. It is important to celebrate those special people who have touched us. These people might be ancestors, close relatives, friends, or even people in celebrity status.

So here's the Singalong Challenge: A song that reminds you of someone no longer living, but that reminds you of that person in a positive way. And share why it is a special song in that way.

Since I am currently sitting here with fellow Pernell Roberts admirers, I would have to select a song that reminds me of him. An old English ballad called "Early One Morning" was one he sang on Bonanza as well as in a brief scene on Diagnosis Murder and recorded on a Bonanza cast album. In one of our last visits, we sang it together, giving me a lasting memory of a special time. To hear this song, check the YouTube recording of our local high school chorus - the Corona High School Madrigals - as they performed it in 2008.

Your turn - a song that reminds you of a special person, no longer living. It can be a listing of the lyrics, a link to the lyrics, an MP3, or a YouTube recording.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Countdown to St. George Family History Expo - 4 Weeks

It is hard to believe that only 4 weeks from now I will be rejoining many of my genealogy pals in St. George, Utah for the 5th year (of their 7 years doing this). The new website for the organization can be enjoyed by clicking the logo above.

To learn what is happening throughout the event, click on the logo below, but for those who are accompanying their genealogist family members but are not interested in family history research themselves, see further down for some ideas of what to do in the St. George area.

Inside the Dixie Convention Center is a most amazing museum! The address of the conference center is 1835 Convention Center Dr., St. George, Utah 84790. The Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum gives us all a reminder of the fragile nature of our world. As you walk through the museum it is as though you will be experiencing the different parts of nature first hand. An interactive children's section will be of particular interest to the young people in your family. There is also a wonderful gift shop where books, photos, games, and other educational items can be purchased to allow the experience of the Rosenbruch museum to continue long after the weekend is over.

For those looking for a change of scenery, a hike, or an opportunity to get away from the city, Zion National Park is about 40 miles from St. George. The weather may be a little cold yet there, but the park is a great place to enjoy nature, no matter what the climate.

Check with the St. George Visitors' Website to find more things to keep people busy even if they are not genealogists. So bring the family with you, enjoy the atmosphere and the less harsh winter weather than much of the country will be experiencing, and experience a fabulous genealogical event. More on that last in the weeks to come.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Family History Expos!

At the Mesa Family History Expo right now. Great classes. Great music (yup). Great people. Great fun. It has met expectations. But already we are counting down to the St. George, Utah Expo the end of February - 5 weeks from this weekend. Are you planning to attend? As with all the Expos, there are lots of exciting events, exhibits, and speakers planned. In the coming weeks, I'll give more details on what is scheduled, other things to do in the St. George area, a set of classes for beginning genealogists, and a run-down on the presentations I'll be doing. Meanwhile, if you are nearby or able to travel, it's well worth the time and money to attend!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Countdown to Mesa Family History Expo - 1 Week

One week from today I will be enjoying the company of genealogists from all over at the Mesa Family History Expo. What an exciting event. I love going to Arizona because it means I get to see family, but besides that, at least for people in other parts of the country, the weather is amazing and the opportunity to get out of the snow, even for just a couple of days, is not to be missed.

So what am I looking forward to, besides the things I mentioned in previous posts? Well, there are many classes I would like to attend, but I know I will also be spending a bunch of time in the exhibit hall, hanging out with some of my blogging buddies (Booth 321). I will also be checking out what's new with RootsMagic (Booths 201, 203, 300, 302). Of course I want to get the latest from FamilySearch (Booths 101, 103, 105, 200, 202, 204) on all the changes going on over there and check in with Lisa Louise Cooke and all she's up to with Genealogy Gems (Booth 205).

There are also a number of vendors there to introduce us to different ways of displaying, sharing, and maintaining our family history information, experiences, and treasures. If you are looking for help in organizing your genealogical finds, you are likely to find a number of options to make your task less overwhelming.

I'll be hanging out with those bloggers and the Ask the Pros (Booth 317) much of the time (as well as doing the classes I mentioned a couple of weeks ago). If you are there, please come by to say "hi"! I would love to meet all my blog readers (eventually). And for all who are traveling in from faraway, safe travels! See you in Mesa.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Beginnings

I am well aware that we are over a week into the new year . . . I am almost used to writing 2011 on things. However, it still feels as if the year has just begun. Beginnings are part of all aspects of life. We begin new adventures - classes, jobs, hobbies, trips, etc. And our lives also include less public beginnings - embracing new philosophies, starting a new book (writing or reading), diets, etc. Then there are the beginnings that we don't realize have been part of our lives until we've passed the beginning stage (I once mounted a few pictures in a creative way and before I knew it, I was a scrapbooker!).

So, how about a song about beginnings (starting something, the initiation of an activity, etc.). Use your imagination. It can be an older song, but it can also be something more contemporary.

How about the beginning of the end? I love Bob Gibson and Dave North's song "Let the Band Play Dixie." It talks about the new beginning the US experienced when the Civil War came to an end. President Lincoln devised an ingenious way of starting the mending process and it is immortalized in this song. Here is a YouTube recording of Bob Gibson (1931-1996) singing this song that was written for the play The Courtship of Carl Sandburg. Check it out!

Your turn - a song about a beginning of something, etc. Just the title is enough, but a link to lyrics or MP3 or YouTube also works. Let's start the year with lots of music!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Countdown to Mesa Family History Expo - 2 Weeks

It can certainly be difficult to break through brick walls that involve foreign languages. I know people who have tried to learn Italian or Polish or Spanish just to find out who their ancestors are. Are you one of those? It certainly can be frustrating, can't it? Well, if your brick wall, or maybe just minor missing details, involves a language you can't read, it certainly puts up a barrier.

Yes, you can take the letter or document to the fine folks at the Family History Library in Salt Lake, and they will translate the material for free, but only up to a point. I had close to a dozen letters, written in German, telling all about the family that had remained behind in Bohemia in the mid- to late-1800s. I could read some names and dates, but not the specifics (who did what on a given date). Various translators either could not read the old Gothic script or charged me a fortune to decipher (all well worth it, I must add). Then I met Julia and Gina Raddatz - two young German natives who could read the script, translate the information, and help place the data into historical context! I think I have died and gone to Heaven. I have added a couple of people to my family tree plus gone back another generation and learned the death date for my g-g-g-grandfather (along with the specifics of his last day on Earth).

If you are coming to the Mesa, AZ Family History Expo and would like some German to English (or English to German) translation help, these two young ladies (who work together to come up with their translations, sometimes doing it "double blind" for accuracy) will be at the "Ask the Pros" booth to assist for free. And you don't even have to pay for the Expo experience to enlist their help. If a translation job is longer than they can do at the time, they will provide you with contact information so you can get the work done (for a fee) at a later date (they will have a scanner set-up there for the convenience of scanning documents to translate after the Expo).

So bring your German documents, letters, cards, etc. to learn what really happened with your family in the Old Country! And plan to have a great time in Mesa.