The Family Tree Grows

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I’ve been working on my family tree since Christmas.  Here is a little update on what I’ve found.  I have found it to be fascinating (like seeing an actual copy of a great-grandfather’s 1917 draft registration card with his own signature on it) and frustrating (like painstaking time spent translating Dutch to English with Google Translate).  I can now recognize the Dutch words for birth, died, married, none, municipality (of), female, male, year(s), month(s), father, mother, bride, groom.  I can read most of a Dutch birth, marriage or death record and get the gist of it.  Deciphering the handwriting though — well, that’s something else completely. Totally random, but remember the Burgermeister Meisterburger from the 1960’s stop-motion movie Santa Claus is Coming to Town? He was the cranky fat man who outlawed all the toys.  Okay, so a Burgermeister (pronounced: bur-ger-mice-ter)  is a real person.  I mean, it’s a real thing.  He was basically the village clerk keeping the official records. 

~ I got a hit on my DNA with a possible distant relative.  It seems we share a common ancestor 5 generations back on my tree, or what would be one set of my great-great-great grandparents; 3rd or 3x great-grands.  This “match” appears to be closer to my parents age.  I’m guessing based on the number of branches that follow after him (3: kids, grands, great-grands) compared to my own (2: kids, grands).  I understand the website’s need for privacy for family members still living on the trees built on the site, but it would be nice to have some names and birthdates for what seems to be a 4th Cousin. All I can see is PRIVATE in box after box after box.

~ 4 new babies have been born and added in the last month from one First Cousin and then two Second Cousins. Thanks to Facebook I saw the announcements. People don’t mail birth announcements anymore, do they? One thing hasn’t changed, and that’s the tragedy of newborns who don’t survive. Medicine and NICU have come so far and despite all the interventions some babies just aren’t strong enough to overcome.

~ 1 mystery was solved regarding a Nellie, who wasn’t illegitimate after all (WHEW!) just in the wrong place.  When a repeated first name shows up and you don’t know if the last name given was her maiden or married name it can get confusing. The 1800s are rife with repeated and reused names.  It was not unusual after a child died to name the next one born the exact same as their dead sibling. And unlike George Foreman who did name all of his boys George I, II, III, IV and V these people didn’t specify which one came first or second.  I spent some time digging through Dutch records to find out who she was. This Nellie was wrongly placed on the tree under her married name.  Once her maiden name was figured out I just had to make sure her parents were correctly listed. If you don’t remove the wrong ones your relative would hang on two separate branches and then things get really messed up.

~ Four (so far that I know) have served in the US Armed Forces during WWII, Korea, and peacetime between and after that. My great uncle (grandfather’s brother) served as a clerk in the Marine Corps from his enlistment in April, 1943 until April, 1946 achieving the rank of Technical Sergeant. I didn’t know he was in the military until I was in my 20’s and I saw his USMC tattoo on his arm. My mother’s brother served in the Navy after Korea in peacetime. He spent time in Japan.   I wonder if my very straightlaced uncle has a Navy tattoo hiding up his sleeve.

~ A 3x great-grandfather (Albertus, b.1818) was married 4 times and had 11 children. Four of whom died between birth and age 6.  Sadly each of his wives saw one of her children die.  I’m thinking he must have been wealthy or how could he be in his mid-40s (somewhat old in that era) and marry a young woman.  The eldest child was born in 1844; the youngest in 1878. I have not found out if any of the later wives had been widowed, or had children from previous marriages.  Finding them would be a curiosity, more than a necessity.

~ My 2nd great-grandfather (Karst, b. 1844), the eldest son of the one I just mentioned, was married twice and had 10 children.  Likewise he and his first wife suffered the loss of two young children; a third died at age 30.

~ A 1st cousin 2x removed [my grandpa’s 1st (half) cousin — I’m 2 generations away so that make it 2x removed — or also: 2nd great-grandfather Karst’s grandson through his second wife — you know in case you weren’t confused enough already] was an international champion billiards player (who I knew about, just didn’t know what branch he hung on). He served in the Army during the Korean Conflict.  I don’t know if he saw combat.  He died at age 37 of cancer.

~ And to make this 2nd great-grandfather’s legacy even more interesting we have this: With Wife 1 he had a daughter called Nellie (her given name was Lummigje); Wife 2 had a son called John with her first husband.  John and Nellie, he was about 17 and she 13, became step-siblings in 1892 when their parents married.  They got married to each other in 1897. He was then about 22 and she was just shy of 19.

The biggest scandals would prob’ly be the folks who left the Dutch Reformed Church for the Christian Reformed Church (yes, that really was a big deal), and a couple of shotgun weddings in the 1800s.

Some thing I have come to realize was the importance and necessity of marriage for the females of the time.  Women couldn’t work enough to support themselves.  Men needed a wife to take care of house, home and children, and if she died there was no one to do that job. Men had to remarry in order to have someone help raise the children left behind. All this makes me wonder how ‘blended’ families from the 1800s got along. Think about it: eleven children with an age gap of 34 years from oldest to youngest.  Did the sons from Wife 1 feel more entitled than the ones who came later? Did the younger ones even feel a familial bond of any kind with the siblings who were old enough to be their own parent? Maybe the concept of family was different when second cousins and step-siblings married each other. Today is just seems kinda creepy.
The digging for more family roots continues.

Taking a Break to Make Decisions

I’ve just gotten off the phone with a friend who was asking if I’d be using or be interested in selling a science text book we have. She wanted to know if we’d be using it for Sugar Bug when she gets old enough.  I told I was still thinking about sending Sweet Pea to the co-op class that’s starting in a couple of weeks, which would use the book.  Problem: no money to sign her up, or pay the class fees.  She’s a good friend, and would probably let me make installments over the semester, all I’d have to do is prob’ly ask.

There’s a history/Lit/Bible class also offered.  It would be worth 3 high school credits, which Sweet Pea needs to have.  She wants to go to MSU and go through their Veterinary Medicine program and, well.. be a vet.  She loves animals, but thinks she wants to take care of large ones– horses, hippos, elephants, giraffe.  I think she’d cry just as much as any family to have to put a sick or injured animal down.

Sonny Boy has been tolerant of his parents of late.  He’s convinced we’ve screwed up his life, which isn’t entirely true.  We (read: I, me) have made some mistrakes with parenting and schooling decisions, and they can’t be undone.  I need to sit with him, have a long talk and ask for his forgiveness.

I was trying to work hard at getting caught up on a lot of housework that’s been pushed aside for a very long time when I got that call. I decided to take a break, grab some lunch and write. Only I haven’t eaten yet.  I think I’m actually making progress– with the housework, but I’m not nearly done.  I’ve decided to save laundry folding for later tonight, after sunset, so I can do it and listen/watch some TV. I’ve got stacks of books that need to be sorted and re-organized into subjects.  That may be a good job for tomorrow, after my walk.

Tomorrow is my next long (group) training day.  We have 14 miles on the agenda, but I may do 16.  Last week was supposed to be 16, but I didn’t see that until after I was home, showered and ready to devour a side of beef.  I wasn’t going to go back out to finish those last 2 miles.  I’ve realized the marathon is just 7 weeks away now! I have fundraising to do still– almost $1500. Any takers!?!  No? well, how about $30 or $50? As much as I’d love for an anonymous stranger to just 15 Benjamin’s into my lap, I know that’s not realistic– well, as realistic as winning tonight’s Mega Millions $134 Million jackpot.

So, to recap, I’ve decided: A) Sweet Pea should take the co-op classes.  I’ll have to find the money from somewhere. B) I need to talk to my son, really talk to him and apologize for not being the parent he needed. C)  Fold laundry during Numb3rs tonight D) Go eat some lunch, then scrub the kitchen floor.  E) Resist the urge to spend $1 on the voluntary tax that is the Michigan lottery.

Must dash off now, hunger beckons, and the cookies are screaming Eat me! so I better find something healthier than that.

Politics and Pipe Dreams

I have been reading “The Case against Barack Obama” and find it to be very compelling and revealing. I know hardcore devotees will think it as lopsided propaganda, but I do suggest you read it, even if you are one. If there were one on John McCain I’d read it too, just so you’d know.

Up until the book, I was somewhat neutral on the man and his campaign. I’m beginning to dislike Mr. Obama and his legislative track record the farther into the book I get. Many of the people who could complain the loudest are Democrats, and they won’t rat out one of their own. The Republican’s who are speaking out are being accused of running a smear campaign. The author is letting Mr. Obama’s record speak for itself. And for the record, the “record” isn’t just how he voted on legislative issues; it includes his campaigning tactics, his candidate endorsement record, among other things.

The farther into the campaign season we travel, the more I dislike both sides of the aisle. Michigan ends up being kind of “purple”— Red in the West and U.P and Blue on the more populated East side. There has been a growing trend of voting Blue on the West side as of late, but I still think we’re more Purple.

I wish there was a viable party that fits what I believe in. One that supports and values all life; holds corporations to good stewardship of the environment without radicalism; believes the gov’t is meant to lead and assist but not be primary source of income for individual citizens. I want equity in education spending, and pay based on performance of teachers. There are districts paying some of its tenured teachers $75,000+, and still the students are failing. Would it violate the rights of citizens to require teachers to send children to the schools in which they teach? How much would change then? Don’t police officers have to live where they serve? Judges too? It will never happen because the teachers’ unions are too powerful and politicians know where the money comes from.

There are days I wish PAC’s could be disbanded too. It seems the lavishly funded ones are the ones telling the Senator’s how to vote, because of the campaign contributions made and therefore expect the favor of a vote in return. That’s not “of the people, by the people, for the people”.

I also think the system of 2 Senators, and 435 members in the House in DC do not adequately represent the population as a whole. The Senators are overworked and hold too much power when partnered with their like-minded representatives in the House. I don’t like that Representatives serve two-year terms. It seems they are always stuck in campaigning mode and can’t devote enough time to the work at hand. Of course the requirement of 2 Senators and the two-year terms are written into the Constitution (Article 1, Section III and Section II, respectively). Just imagine what fun both Houses could have with 150 Senators and one Representative for every 250,000 citizens. With a population nearing 305 million, our Rep’s are representing just over 701,000 people—EACH! If the ratio were brought to 1:250,000 we’d need to elect 785 more to the U.S. House of Representatives. The Constitution provides that there may not exceed one per 30,000! I’ll do the math for you real quick: that comes to over 10,166 Representatives in Washington DC. Even if the ratio were moderate at 1:500,000 there would still be over 600 elected officials in Washington. If there were that many working for the people, do you think the Political Action Committees would carry as much clout? I don’t think so; they’d still exist, but with less strength.

Currently Michigan has 15 officers elected to the H of R in DC, ranking 8th in population according to the 2000 U.S. Census. These places have only one, (estimated populations in parenthes.)

Alaska (670,000)
American Samoa (60,000)
District of Columbia (580,000)
Delaware (854,000)
Guam (174,000)
Montana (945,000)
North Dakota (635,000)
Puerto Rico (3,960,000) [Rhode Island has 2 Reps in DC, with a population of about 1.1 million]
South Dakota (782,000)
U.S. Virgin Islands (109,000)
Vermont (624,000)
Wyoming (515,000)

That’s 9,908,000 people, nearly the same as Michigan in 2000. All things being equal, Puerto Rico should have 6 Reps in DC, yet they have just the one.

If we reconfigured for the 1:250,000 ratio, Puerto Rico would have 15, Michigan would jump to 39 and California to 153. I suggest the district lines be redrawn to make them larger with multiple Reps per district, so the work load can be shared, with staffing and office needs reduced. *Thinking to self: Perhaps even limiting the total number of districts per state*

If people aren’t voting because they feel they aren’t being heard, would changing the number of Representatives in Washington DC make a difference. We won’t know unless someone successfully runs for office, implements the changes and makes it happen. Pie in the sky dreams, aren’t they.

All that said, because I started reading a book about one candidate…

Lobsters in my Swimming Pool

Have you ever had dreams that just stick with you, no matter how bizarre?

Last night I had lobsters in my swimming pool. Even in my dream I thought that was very odd, since it’s not a salt water pool, and yet, they seemed quite content to be there, and stranger still I wasn’t freaking out about having them there.

The house was mine, but not the one I live in, and the pool was mine, but not my real backyard. My “neighbors” asked if they could have pictures taken by our pool, but they never said what kind of pictures, I never asked and I was quite happy to let them. That’s when we found the lobsters—hundred of them—and the water had been drained about 2 feet.

My neighbors show up in wedding attire: daughter in a gown, tuxes, flowers; the whole kit-and-ka-boodle. They also changed from black to Latino somewhere between their yard and mine. They were annoyed at the lobsters, and helped to fish them out, which then threw off the entire wedding schedule and dinner party. We suggested they cook the lobsters and serve them instead of whatever else they had planned. Everyone was very happy; we had lobster for everyone!

There’s more to the dream, and it makes even less sense than lobsters in a fresh water pool. The “neighbors” revert to being black, and it becomes day time, sunny, blue skies—all the previous events happened in the misty dark of night. My yard no longer exists and we’re now at a posh resort. I’m beginning to wonder why I’m even part of this celebration since I hadn’t met my neighbors until they asked to use our pool for a backdrop, but I am feeling very comfortable and welcomed.

The party ends with guests driving away in very big, flashy cars of indistinct make or model. I begin to walk home, and find one lone lobster trying to crawl down the street, heading for the open water of the sea. It’s trapped under a ball cap and my dreamer’s perspective changes and I am now an observer, not a participant. I look up to the observer “me” and I know the look. “What do I do with a lobster? I hate lobster!”

I wake up.

I wonder what tonight’s is going to be…

One. Word.

one.word.

I got tagged in this game, and now am going to play.

One Word
You.
Can.
Only.
Type.
One.
Word.

Not as easy as you might think!

1. Where is your cell phone? Purse

2. Your significant other? Arnold

3. Your hair? Disheveled

4. Your mother? Survivor

5. Your father? Married

6. Your favorite thing? Sleep

7. Your dream last night? Forgettable

8. Your favorite drink? Water

9. Your dream/goal? Unfound

10. The room you’re in? Family

11. Your ex? Somewhere

12. Your fear? Widowhood

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Content

14. Where were you last night? Festival

15. What you’re not? Debt-free

16. Muffins? Naaahh

17. One of your wish list items? Apple!

18. Where you grew up? Michigan

19. The last thing you did? Read

20. What are you wearing? Glasses

21. Your TV? Basement

22. Your pets? Three

23. Your computer? Full

24. Your life? Good

25. Your mood? Fair

26. Missing someone? No

27. Your car? Old

28. Something you’re not wearing? Socks

29. Favorite Store? Target.

30. Your summer? Fundraising

31. Like someone? Definitely

32. Your favorite color? Yellow

33. When is the last time you laughed? Ummm?

34. Do you cry a lot? Easily

35. Who will/would re-post this? Nobody

No Time for This

A friend of mine just TAGGED me with a “ONE WORD” game. This is just so not fair!

I’m sitting here eating a plate of leftover green beans and hashbrown casserole ( I didn’t want to cook) from a MOPS dinner earlier in the week, trying to check emails and see if anyone had donated to my Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fundraiser. I was going to quick look up the 4 mile run I created on Map My Run and go head out. But no, I had to get tagged! And being the kind who loves to play games I had to read it.

I’m not going to repost the game–yet. I am going to go for my run, and then try to get some fundraising done. After that, I’m going to find a way to fill the rest of my afternoon before getting ready for a date with my DH. We’re going to dinner with friends and then see Spamalot! THAT I will make time for.

I’ll get you for this Rain. I don’t know how; I don’t know when– but I’ll tag you with something and it’s going to mess with your plans too. [cue sinister laugh: bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha]