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.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March, Music, and Mucous

March has certainly come in like a lion for me. I started the month (March 1) attending an amazing concert by Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen. This is an incredible duo who perform together like hand in glove, but who also perform their separate songs with perfection. I like their technique - when one is going to sing solo, the other slips off the stage to give the whole spotlight to the performer. Very effective and courteous, in my opinion.

The next day we attended the Orange County Calif. Genealogical Society BASH (which I call "Big Ancestor Scavenger Hunt") where I represented the So. Calif. Chapter of APG and also gave two presentations. I also tested out a new song on the inspiration - professional genealogist Barbara Renick - detailing the woes of a migraine sufferer. She approved, though will probably do a little editing of the final draft.

That night we attended a Songmakers meeting in Laguna where I introduced the Migraine Song to the group there and was validated by many attendees who also suffer from the malady.

The next day, in spite of all my hand washing and refusal to shake hands at any event, I came down with a cold. As is traditional with me, the cold slid right into my lungs (I believe this tendency is courtesy of my parents, who were non-stop smokers, resulting in my being raised in a cloud that, in my opinion, destroyed my lung strength). Regardless, I discovered that my illness, though confining me to my bed, coughing up all sorts of disgusting stuff from the dark recesses of my respiratory system, gave me lots of thinking time.

Before I was bedridden three or four days, I wrote another song - this time about being sick when I was a child. In those days (the 1950s), understanding of the negative results of smoking was unheard of. So, while puffing on her cigarette, my mother would care for me in the best ways she knew how. The things we remember about our childhood are largely tainted by such elements as our understanding at the time; our physical, as well as mental, size; the memories others have shared; and our adult perspectives. What I remember of being sick as a child includes a bottle of nose drops that, as I recall, had to have been the size of a half gallon. And there was also a large, ceramic vaporizer that was filled and emptied from a large hole in the front and could only be filled in the bathtub. I remember being sick and hearing that apparatus being filled, knowing that soon I would be enveloped in hot steam.
(Hankscraft Vapor Master photo from http://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-porcelain-hankscraft-vapor-132082892)

Other such memories made their way into the lyrics of this song of sickness, which was finished within short order, but my own laryngitis means that I have yet to actually sing it!

With a good dose of antibiotics, which I hate to take because of the danger of developing a tolerance to them, I was much improved within a little more than a week and we attended another concert, this time by Lou and Peter Berryman. This comedy duo sings songs that I feared would cause me to laugh, resulting in fits of coughing. I was lucky - only one coughing fit (but lots of laughing). Their song of the artist who starts many projects but finishes none was an inspiration to me. It reminded me of the people who start researching one ancestral line but then move to another and another, soon confusing the different clans. I have some fodder for another song, but only have the first few lines, which I will not divulge here. But I hope to get it completed while I am spending some time in Salt Lake City at RootsTech and other meetings before that.

My conclusions: being ill gives a person time to think. Some of the thinks are not very positive ("will I survive this one?" "how much will the doctor visits cost?" "I miss my life," etc.) but, at least for me, I've had time to put together some song lyrics. I don't write many songs, mostly because I lack the time to do so. I am not hoping for more illness, but at least I made good use of the time with this one. Maybe now I'll have enough material for my next CD!

Now I have to go cough up some more "stuff" and take a nap. Then pack for Salt Lake. I think March will be going out like a lion, too!