Thursday, May 12, 2011

Time Sinks

Once again I have neglected posting to my blog pages. I really admire people who have the discipline to post at least once a week, and am in awe of those who post every day. With pictures even. I thought I might wait a few more days to make it an even 2 months since my last post but by then I probably wouldn't have any readers at all.

I've gotten involved in 2 activities that have taken up pretty much all of my time. First off, I decided to rewrite the web pages I maintain using WordPress. For those of you already using WordPress, you're probably asking "so what's the big deal, it's not that complicated" and you're right. Except that when it comes to computer programming, I am never quite satisfied with the options that are presented to me and always want to make it do exactly what I want it to do. That involves getting into the programming behind the scene. I know just enough about computer programming to be dangerous and it's not something that you can just pick up where you left off the last time you worked on it. At least at this age, where the unused information in my brain tends to sneak off and hide somewhere, there is a pretty steep re-introduction period. Yet it's something that really grabs me, like a huge puzzle waiting to be solved. So eventually I will be moving this blog over to WordPress (but don't hold your breath, it may be a while).

So that's the first activity. The second is working on the genealogy of my family tree. My Mother started working on this several decades ago, back before there was so much available on line. She did a lot of letter writing and document research. I remember one time when she came out to visit and we went down to Washington, D.C. to the Archives and spent hours looking through microfilm copies of ships' passenger manifests trying to find the names of my great-grandparents. The information was that they arrived in 1882 from Ireland. I don't remember if we knew their point of departure, but it was probably Liverpool. We spent hours searching through copies of handwritten logs of the hundreds of ships that arrived in New York but never found them listed. The question that we wanted answered was this - was my grandfather born in Ireland, on the ship, or after they arrived here.

My Mother worked on this for several years, but eventually gave it up when the family lines all went back to Ireland, Germany, Canada, and Scotland. That made it even more difficult to get information. She gave me the box of folders and I entered into a genealogy program, and then stuck the box into a closet. Until several weeks ago when I received a phone call from my aunt whose son was interested in the family tree information. I dug out the box and began going through it, thinking I could just type it up and send it off. But just typing it into a word processor quickly led to smaller and smaller boxes as the tree went further and further back.

I went online to and started typing the information in online. They have this little lure - when you type in a name that already appears somewhere else, a little flag starts waving at you, a hint to some information. If you click on the hint, it immediately wants you to sign up for the subscription (not cheap). Ms. Tightwad isn't willing to pay so she follows some other leads to another online source run by the Church of the Latter Day Saints in Utah. They have free software and a boatload of free information. I began to use that software to type in my data. They have lots of census data, even copies of the census forms that were filled out by the census takers, written by hand as they went from door to door gathering the information. It's fascinating to look at these logs. They also have copies of the ships' logs and once again I was sucked into looking through those logs, looking for my great-grandparents' names. No luck. But now the mystery had deepened because census data listed the dates of their immigration as 1882. My grandfather's information (from various sources) had him as being born in 1882 or 1881 or in Illinois or in Wisconsin.

So by now I'm really hooked and I buy the Family Tree software that comes with a 3 month subscription to Yesterday I started uploading the data I already had, and the little flags were waving all over the place. I've already found at least 5 other public family trees with my own ancestors, leading to people who are my cousins many times removed. My Mother would have been beside herself with excitement if she had been able to access this information right from her easy chair.

So have I been doing any art? Nope. The best I can come up with is that I have a piece on display at the Riffe Gallery in Columbus, Ohio until July.

Life Lines
47" x 38"

I also have had 2 quilts accepted for The Art Quilt Experience at the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in Cazenovia, New York. I will be shipping these next week for the exhibit that goes from June 12 through July 31.

54" x 37"

Looking Out
61" x 41"

I was very pleased to have both pieces I entered be accepted into this show because of the high quality of the jurors, in particular Jonathan Holstein, who is a noted collector and author. His gift, along with Ardis and Robert James', to the University of Nebraska Foundation, was responsible for the formation of the International Quilt Study Center. Those are the kinds of eyes I want seeing my work.