No Dirt, No Tree

Log Designs1

No Mud. No Lotus.

ON a cloudy September Sunday, I attended a Day of Mindfulness, led by the incredible teacher, Thich Nhat Hahn.  His dharma talk examined the nature of suffering, that most human experience that grounds us all.  By focusing on the present moment, he said,  we provide the space in which we can focus on our suffering, to cradle it as we would a small baby.  By paying attention to what pains us, we can transform that suffering, into compassion – for ourselves.  This compassion is the foundation of happiness, joy; a base for healthy communication and compassion for others.  Without this mud – this suffering – there can be no flower – joy, happiness, and compassion. 

This last year has been very, very muddy, and I am looking for flowers, for trees, in fact, with root systems to stop the erosion of this rainy life season….And I keep smacking into the words of Thich Nhat Hahn.

The suffering inside us contains the suffering of our ancestors, who may not have been able to transform their suffering…and transmitted their unresolved suffering to us.  If we are able to understand that suffering and thereby transform it we are healing our parents, our ancestors, as well as, ourselves.

The Art of Communicating

No Dirt, No Tree

I have found the mindfulness exercises to be moments of peace and comfort.  I focus on my breathing and in that space acknowledge my sorrow.  I don’t always feel better, or happy, right then.  But I can tolerate the pain, and see a path forward, and with relief know that I will heal, and joy will come.

This Thanksgiving day I am grateful to have experienced human compassion, a listening ear, a tight squeeze of love.  I am grateful, too, for the opportunity to offer that compassion to others, and to my ancestors, as well.  Their suffering is the dirt of my family’s trees, and with mindful genealogy perhaps I can transform their suffering into understanding and compassion – for my grandparents, my parents, for me, for my present companions.

 

 

 

When Negatives Are A Positive

People may call me a hoarder, a sentimentalist, a pack rat. But I prefer to think of myself as a Keeper of the Lore, continuing the work of my brilliant ancestors who kept receipts, photographs, letters, cards, documents, books, and negatives.  

YES, NEGATIVES ARE A POSITIVE

Today, I felt like fossicking through my closet  family archives, and was rewarded with the discovery of 1950s negatives, treasured by father.  Let me demonstrate why a negative is worth a thousand words.

Original Negative, scannedScan the negative, like it was a photo (jpeg) file, and then use your scanner to modify the file before saving it to your computer.

Adjust color for a negative, scanned.Find the tab for adjusting the color of the photo/negative, and INVERT the color.

Inverted Color NegativeLike magic, an image has appeared without chemicals or dark room!!  Save this jpeg file to your computer, and you can spiff it up with a bit of photo editing.  I prefer to use the online service, PicMonkey.com.  Ultimately, I end my morning with this great shot:

Mystery Man from negativeSure, I don’t know this particular dude, but I do know that he was important to my father.  Even the tiniest peek into his past gives me a shiver of connection.

Anyone else have some negatives to share???

Story by Story

“Do you have any photographs of you, as a kid?”

“Oh, you’d be surprised by what I have,” said my mother.

Indeed.

I inherited fourteen assorted boxes and two trunks of photographs, documents, and special items at my mother’s death.  As I unpacked each one, layer by layer, and recorded its contents, I was swept by regrets and wistful desires.  So many stories, seen too late! Why didn’t she share her doll cradle?  Or show me her baby books?  What tales did she learn on her Aunt Anna’s lap?

I have finally completed this preliminary inventory, and have begun brainstorming a list of archival supplies that I will need to conserve this collection.  And I have shed the regrets for stories lost.  I have enough ingenuity and curiosity to play family detective, as well as, family curator.

First up, the cradle.  Wait and see what I do with that eight inch wicker cradle, Mother.  Its story will be discovered, bit by bit.  The Minor family history will get told, story by story. Image

That’s Me!!: (almost) Wordless Wednesday

Vannoy Family Portrait, circa 1914: Paul, Ivan, Janet. Photographer A.C. "Al" Eckerman in Centerville, Iowa

Vannoy Family Portrait, circa 1914: Paul, Ivan, Janet. Photographer A.C. “Al” Eckerman in Centerville, Iowa

I have scanned a number of family photographs from the early 1900s recently. I paused over this one, and returned to gaze upon this scene, time after time.  The baby of the trio, Paul, appears to have pulled the book, hard, his way, so that he can see what Ivan and Janet are smiling about.  Click on the photograph, to the attachment, and take some time to enlarge this group shot.  The children are not reading a book aloud, to keep Paul still.  They are looking at a photograph of three children. I imagine Paul, clambering up on the table while yelling, “Let me see! Let me see!”  When at last he sits still, photograph in hand, little Paul shrieks with delight.  “That’s ME!”

Then, in that moment of still recognition, Al Eckerman captured his subjects in this beautiful portrait.

From the Kitchen Chair: Genealogy in the Tech Era

My grandmother possessed her gift of writing, a pen, and some paper.  Florette Sayles Strickland also possessed family memories, and using what she had, my grandmother crafted a family history booklet that was then distributed to her children,and photocopied and distributed again to her grandchildren.

That was so pre-PC.

That was so pre-internet.

That was not so long ago.

DSC_1142Last night, from my kitchen chair, I participated in a webinar, arranged and delivered by the Illinois State Genealogical Society. At nine o’clock P.M. EST I sat at my desk, clicked my emailed link, turned up my speakers’ volume, and joined the crowd listening to Harold Henderson’s presentation on The Best Genealogy Present You Can Give Yourself: Citing Your Sources.   I printed out the night’s handouts and scribbled further notes as Harold detailed how I can structure my source information into a well-crafted reference note.  Such citations increase the likelihood that I can find that source again as needed, as well as the credibility of my final story and conclusions.

From my kitchen chair, I can search, write, publish, find like-minded peers, and enhance my research skills.  My grandmother would be astounded!