What, Me? Committed?  About Those Resolutions…..

What, Me? Committed? About Those Resolutions…..

2015_16So I took several posts to share my plans for the New Year.  My resolutions, if you will.  Then I sort of fell off the virtual earth.  Been awfully quiet around here, I know.  So, after taking a peek back at what I said, I think it is only fair to share what I actually did.  Here we go.

I’ll start right away with That Temperature Scarf.  I’ll admit I did get a bit behind.  I used my most recent road trip as an excuse.  Who wants to haul 8 balls of yarn around?  In any case, I found a great website, wunderground.  It’s a weather site, and the fun part is that people who have home weather stations can post all kinds of weather-related activity.  So, I found one right near my house, and, funny world that we live in, I actually know the folks who are sharing their data.  She’s a talented (read: published) novelist and they have two super-smart sons.  Daughter used to play tennis with the older one, back in the day.  But I digress.  I printed up a blank calendar, and, from their weather station, I jot down the high and low temperature for each day. Since each day is only two short rows of knitting (it is a scarf, after all), I sit down every week or two and get the needles going. Since it was so cold, I decided to make a daily low scarf.  Perhaps later I’ll make another for high temps.  I’m pleased to say not only is January complete, but based on one month’s worth of stitches, it looks like my scarf-of-lows will be a bit long, but not freakishly so.

Good for me!

Now, let’s talk about Taming the Paper.  I’m proud to say my kitchen counter is clear, the shredder is busy and I fill my recycle bin each week.  I do have a couple of paper projects to finish. I need to send that registration paperwork for Rosy the Therapy Dog (and AKC Canine Good Citizen!).

paperworks needs to be done- stack of papers, folders and envelops

A bunch of bill-paying is set to automatic now, wish I’d done that ages ago.  Taxes are nearly done, FAFSA will be finished right after Uncle’s stuff gets e-filed.  What is FAFSA, you say?  Lucky you!  Someday when your offspring head off to college, you’ll know the pleasure and pain of FAFSA.  Simply put, FAFSA is an annual online entry of a bunch of information you’ve already shared with the IRS.  Your child(ren) don’t get any financial aid if FAFSA isn’t done.  Magazine piles are gone – yay me!  Why am I still getting magazines?  Oh well, they’ll all expire eventually.  I’m using all the time I’m saving to plan a big trip.  Anyone have good hints on cheap car rentals in Europe?

So far, so good!

Those Genealogy Files.  Well, I’d kind of vowed to go through and remove errors and get everything organized and beautiful.  I made some progress, I really did!  I’ve got an indexed list of everybody and another list of all the things that need rechecking.  I’ve added a bunch of photos to dead people’s profiles.  I made it through a major genealogical panic when it looked like my software was going kaput, and found a solution and rode out that storm with only a few chewed fingernails.  I’ve backed up and got caught up on correspondence.

But the occasional search is just way too tempting.  And how can you deny me the pleasure of finding treasures like this?   I mean, honestly, this is just too fascinating to let go.  The_Escanaba_Daily_Press__Escanaba__MI__4_May_1948__Tue__death_of_Helen_Duprie_at_age_36I’m not exactly sure who she is, but I’m almost certain she’s related to my great-grandfather.  This clipping is from 1948.
So, not only must I find some time to figure out exactly who she is, but I must, must do a little digging and see if they found out why she died after eating a hamburger.  Did she choke?  Was she poisoned?  Did the counter clerk hit her over the head with a brick for non-payment?  Seriously, this merits attention.  Then I’ll get right back to organizing and cleaning my genealogy files, I promise.

Now, about that long list of Random Resolutions.  There were twenty of them.  I won’t bore you with every detail, but I have managed to keep on top of 18 of them.  I even scheduled the damn mammogram.  It is so very difficult to not yell at the tv, what with this being an election year, but I’m trying.  I’d say 50% success on that one.  I’ve blown it completely on baking cookies more often.  In my defense, however, I’ve been getting my fanny to the gym and just snagged a treadmill.  Why would I bake cookies when I’m working so hard to remove the sweets deposited on my hips?  I will make a batch soon, and it will go straight in a box to be sent to Daughter at college.  My plants are watered, I knit and write and read nearly every day, and I watch His shows without whining too much.  And I’m giving that forgive thing a great effort.  I’d say mostly a win on Resolutions 2016.

Granted, it is only February.  I may have to revisit this in a couple of months.


More from Random Resolutions, The Genealogy Files

More from Random Resolutions, The Genealogy Files

1925 Adolfo Petteruti 7 - Version 2
Grandpa’s Vaudeville Days

I’ve been gathering my family genealogy information for about two decades now.  Pell-mell and random, but there must be some semblance of an accurate family history in there somewhere. Another Random Resolution – to organized my piles of paper and electronic genealogy files and to verify that they’re accurate.  I’m not going to hunt very many new leads until I get all of what I have in order.

Big plans for 2016! Wish me luck.

So this far-more-knowledgeable-than-I-am genealogist out of Australia posted 27 Golden Rules of Genealogy.  Here is the link: 27 Golden Rules of Genealogy  Below, I’ve copied some of the text and added comments from me, a long-time but still beginner very disorganized family historian.


  • Don’t expect to find your whole tree online.
    • If you do, it almost certainly has piles of inaccuracies.  I’m still trying to sort out the two nearly identical families of 11 or 12 kids, four generations back, that are apparently not actually the same families.  Wot?
  • In fact if you find information online, don’t assume it is accurate.
    • See above.  This is why I am going to go through all my stacks of paper and files.  I got caught up early on when all that great information became available online, and I accepted and downloaded way too many files without checking them.  My OCD self (CDO for those of you who get that) hates that my family history is probably riddled with errors and lovely stories that have no actual merit.  What?  I’m not the great-great-great grandchild of the lost czar?  How did that happen?
  • Don’t show living people in your online tree unless you have it hidden and Private.
    • Do I even have to say anything here?  Well, maybe that I can go back and make the people who’ve died visible now.
  • Don’t take information or photographs from others and not give anything back.
    • Common courtesy, right?  Such short supply of that, these days.
  • Don’t expect that you can do it ALL for free.
    • My Ancestry subscription has been worth every penny.
  • Don’t be a name-collector. Look for the stories that MAKE the people.
    • Just like world history, names and dates are just plain boring, if there isn’t some real life behind them.
  • Don’t believe everything on a Birth, Marriage or Death certificate.
    • Not everyone is honest when they fill out forms.   I found out not too long ago that the father on a birth certificate had actually adopted the baby, and had been nowhere in the vicinity when conception occurred.
  • Don’t give up if you hit a brickwall. Take a look at it from a different direction.
    • Yeah.  I’m so very guilty of that.  Perhaps this year I’ll find the tools I need to smash the biggest ones.
  • Don’t write on a chart in pen until you are 100% sure of the details.
    • Pen?  Are you kidding?  Hello, graphite!
  • Don’t assume that if you can’t find the data you’re looking for on a website, that it doesn’t exist. Especially if that website infers that it would be there. Not everything is indexed or digitised yet.
    • And check back again later.  I’ve found searches that turned up empty provide all kinds of stuff just a few months later.  Somebody somewhere is ensuring that everything ever printed will someday be digitized.  I suppose I should thank them.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of people willing to guide you on your genealogy journey.
    • I’ve been a loner all these years.  Time to start finding some communities.  Plus, best to get the stories from those remaining relatives before they’re gone.
  • Don’t forget to write your OWN history. Afterall you know your own life history better than anyone else.
    • Guilty.


  • Always start from yourself and work backwards.
    • Okay, I did do that.
  • Get organised: both on your computer and your paperwork.
    • Did I mention this is my goal for 2016?  I’ve found some resources that I sincerely hope will keep e on track.
  • Join a genealogy group or society. The more you mingle with other researchers the more you’ll learn.
    • Perhaps if I can find the time.  I know there is a group that meets here in town once a month.
  • Do your homework and learn the social history of the area your ancestors came from.
    • Fascinating the things you can find out.  I’ve known the names of the (former) villages my Italian relatives came from since I was a little girl.  I only learned, accidentally that they’re all on the edge of the Pompeii crater.  Seems kind of a fascinating thing to have overlooked.
  • Honour family members wishes when they give you (or let you copy) photos, stories and other information. Not everyone is happy for it to be online.
    • Ummm… back to that common courtesy thing, right?
  • Learn to expect name and date variants. EVERY family has name variants.
    • Boy Howdy, this is true!
  • When filling in a pedigree chart, the male line is always on the top with his wife’s details in the box below.
    • Okay, I could step up to the sexism soapbox, but it has to be one or the other, so why get worked up over it?
  • Be consistent in the way you record your data.
    • Yup – that is back to the whole Big Organization of 2016.  When I started it was paper and pencil and postage stamps.  Now all is digital.  Lets get this stuff integrated.
  • Verify everything with at least two separate sources for each piece of information.
    • Did I mention something about a big project this year?  This is a key component.
  • Back up your files at least once a month and have a copy OFF of your computer, and preferrably a copy at a different location.
    • I’ve got backups that are as old as my last entries.  And my computer has redundant backups on hard drives and in a cloud or two.  But not everything is on paper.  Man, better invest in a few ink cartridges.
  • Expect surprises. It is truly amazing what you’ll find out about your family.
    • The guy who supposedly died, but then (maybe) turned up a few miles away with a different wife and family?  I kid you not, these little gems are so much fun to chew on.  That one is going to be fun.
  • Use ethics when you do find out shocking tales about a family member. Not all stories need to be aired to everyone.
    • Very possibly applicable to the item directly before this one.  But we’ll have to see… if true, a couple of generations are already dead and maybe I have some really cool cousins.
  • Visit as many living relatives as possible to get their stories now. Often family stories have some truth in them. But don’t believe them till verified.
    • I used to get so frustrated when relatives didn’t want to share.  They came here to escape hard things and who wants to talk about that?  But every now and then I’ll find a subject that sparks stories.  Don’t waste your time on this one -people pass away and take all kinds of wonderful antectdotes with them.  I didn’t know my grandma was called “Sarge” (long story) until a family gathering at her funeral.  Oh, what I would give to hear her side of the story!
  • If a document exists, read it. Every detail that is written on it.
    • You’d be amazed at the connections you might find.
  • Learn to record your sources of where (or who) you obtained information from. The sooner you start doing this, the better. And later you’ll be thankful that you took the time to note it now.
    • Then you won’t be going through this massive fix-my-past-mistakes project like me.




Tame the Paper, from my Random Resolutions

Tame the Paper, from my Random Resolutions

paper clutterI know I am not the only one who’s been buried under an avalanche of layers of material formerly known as trees.  Daily, the contractor-of-the-week crams loads of things I may get around to in my mailbox.

Catalogs, I get catalogs. Loads of them. I could wallpaper my entire house with glossy photos of ridiculously overpriced fancy food, clothing designed for someone half my size and age, housewares that will never have a home in my house, furniture, baby toys (what?!), art, geeky gizmos, saddles, puzzles, electronics.  No Thanks! Ads and Coupons and Flyers?  Sheesh, if I need it, I’ll go online and find a coupon.  Thank you bunches, retailmenot.com.

Magazines?  Well, yes, I still get a few.  The ones from my insurance company, the local hospital, the auto club… seriously? Does anyone actually read those?  The worthy magazines (cooking and genealogy) – they have homes.  One or two in the car for those long waits at the Costco gas pump.  One lives right next to my tv-watching spot for the times when we enjoy an hour or so of something he likes.  And, yes, one within easy reach you-know-where.

Newspapers….. are you kidding?  We stopped getting that daily paper accurately deposited in the only puddle on the driveway forever ago.  The weekly local throwaway gets a quick glance to catch people I know and their kids, but thats it.

So this is what happens, and I bet it isn’t so different from what goes on at your place each day.  I pull out any actual correspondence from real people and read immediately.  I review the statements and put them in a pile, and the rest goes in a the stack that grows and expands and becomes more precarious as real life robs me of any free time to wade through all that stuff. Then, when company’s coming, the I grab the slithery mess and deposit it in a closet or in the laundry room or maybe the guest room.  Six months later, give or take, I wade through the pile, taking a moment to glance at each item before pitching it in the recycle bin. Puffed up pride of accomplishment fades rapidly when I notice that I forgot to use that 80% off coupon last September.  Nuts!

I do almost all of my “paperwork” online these days, just like you.  So why do I let this pile of periodicals clutter up my house and take up space much better used for yarn or fabric or art supplies or good books?


Time to Tame the Paper!

Hello, Shredder? Let me introduce you to Scanner. And to my right, Blue, the Recycle Bin and yes, Wastebasket.  Let’s get to it!

Here’s the new process:

  • Sort mail in standing next to the recycle bin, glancing and dropping as efficiently as possible.
    • If it says “standard mail”, don’t even open it – deposit directly into the blue bin.
    • Swear silently at the marketers who feel it is necessary to include non-recyclable items in their correspondence.  Fish that stuff out of recycle and deposit in the trash.
    • Don’t even open the catalogs. Toss them all. Well, except the ones that look interesting, those can go in another pile.
    • Open the bills.  Discard envelopes and any other junk they’ve included.  Set aside for review.
    • Mutter over the items that look just legitimate enough that I have to actually open them.  Then into the recycle they (almost always) go.
    • Credit card offers – put them in the bill pile.  Don’t worry, there’s a good reason. It’ll be clear in a minute.
    • Circulars and offers and all forms of weekly, monthly, daily ads…. straight to you-know-where.
    • Actual real correspondence from real people… well, duh.  Read it.  If it is worth saving, put it on that pile with the bills.
    • Those magazines that I do want to read?  Yup, put them in with the bills and credit card offers.
    • Take that other pile of catalogs and dump them en masse.  Remind myself of the tons of money I just saved.
    • Absolutely Do Not fish those catalogs out of the blue bin!

By now I have a full recycle bin and (hopefully) a smallish stack of paper that actually matters.  On to the next step.

  • Take what’s left up to my desk and…
    • Put the magazines where I’ll read them.
    • While I’m at it, take the magazines that are already there and fling them into the nearest recycle bin. Yes, I have recycle bins all over –  in the kitchen, by my desk, next to the crafting table.  And I fill them regularly.  The wanton wastefulness of our society is fodder for another post on another day.
    • Verify statement accuracy and that I’ve got online payment set up.  While I’m at it, make sure that I can access the information electronically.
    • No electronic payment possible?  Crap. Dig through the drawer where I keep things like checkbooks and telephone cords and forever stamps and that old palm pilot and envelopes and such.  Write the check, stuff, address, stamp and set aside.
    • Rarely, and I mean this hardly ever happens, dig out a card or stationary to respond to something sent to me by an actual person.  Put it with that one stupid check you had to write.  Have you noticed how much stamps cost these days?
    • Take that one annoying statement that doesn’t have an online or email counterpart, and scan it.
    • Shred everything except those envelopes I now need to mail. Now those credit card offers are itty bitty crosscut pieces of confetti. Take that, fraudsters!
    • Since I have to walk to the mailbox anyhow, write a quick note to great-aunt Vivian, who’s 102 now.  Or to mom, it’ll make her happy.
    • Now, shred everything else.
    • Take a quick stroll, deposit the envelopes in the box.

Look at me, full of productivity and virtuousness! Smile with me if you will. I’m fat with pride.

Wait. What? Repeat tomorrow?! Merde!


outline template


outline templateHow does this happen?

I swear I could have been born with an empty outline in my brain, complete with nice capital letters, roman numerals, and perfect five-space indents.   I like my things to be organized.  I want to be able to find it, whatever it is, right in the logical location where it belongs.  I do not see a problem with alphabetized spices (yes, mine are) or color coded closets. Yes, in fact I do have tupperware with identification of contents in my pantry.   I think my label maker is one of the most fun gifts I’ve ever received.

How, then, did I manage to spend years without getting my virtual world put together? Why is it, then, that I am overtaken by pell-mell gobs of virtual information, messages, posts, requests, emails, stuff, every single day?  How am I supposed to get things done?  Time to tackle the overload.

Today is virtual organization day.  I’m taking on email, to start.  No more will I depend on search to get to the one message that matters.    Yes, I know there are apps that help.  I’ve spent lots of hours checking them out, too many dollars buying them,  and more time than I should implementing them to find them not quite just right.  Back to the basics time!  Hello rules and folders and subfolders and unsubscribe and block.  You are my newest friends.

Perhaps it will have to wait a day or week or month or so, but I’ve already begun on Project Organize Recipes. And of course I have about fifteen thousand (yes, that many!)  photos that need face-tagging, date sorting, keyword adding.  Oh, and all those genealogy files, photos, dates and names?  Yup, they’re waiting for attention, too.  Can’t forget the various research projects… thank you Evernote for allowing me to organize all that stuff I collect as it comes in – so much faster that way!  But why oh why won’t my Evernote saved recipes just import without manipulation into my recipe software?  Nuts.

If I don’t answer, you know where to find me.

Tomorrow will be a more efficient day.