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,

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!


Random Resolutions

Random Resolutions

2015_16Hello 2016, I see you peeking around the corner.  I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions, and I imagine you know why.  Honestly, each year we vow to lose weight, save money, go to the gym, become a perfect human being. Who are we kidding?  Who am I kidding?  Before I turn the calendar to February, the diet is toast, the exercise machine is a coat rack and that oh-so-perfect budget is badly broken.  So this year, I’m making some random resolutions.  Not necessarily for the New Year, and some of them not likely to get much attention.  But, I think they’re attainable and perhaps, come next November, some of the items on my little list will be a regular part of my life.  Thats the plan, anyhow.  Wish me luck.

Okay, here they are.  In no particular order, the little things that I hope to turn into good habits.

  1. Write for an hour each and every day.  Doesn’t matter what, but write something.  Fiction, brainstorming, outlining and blogging all count.  Texting, Tweeting and Facebook posts do not.  Set the alarm clock and get it done.
  2. Knit often.
  3. Shave my legs even during those months when others won’t notice.
  4. Appreciate others, and let them know I do.
  5. Keep the stash of made-ahead breakfasts ample and ready.
  6. Call or write (for real, on paper) an old friend at least once a month.
  7. Send a college care package now and then.
  8. Feed my kombucha at least twice a week.
  9. Forgive.
  10. Quit yelling at other drivers, tv newscasters, and debating politicians.  They don’t listen anyhow.
  11. Hug and kiss hubs more times than he expects, every single day. See item number four.
  12. Read daily. Texts, Instagram, Pinterest do not qualify.
  13. Travel.
  14. Forget the photo-a-day challenge and just take a shot when it makes sense.  Then do something with the photo.  This could come in handy when trying to complete item number one.
  15. Moisturize.
  16. Bake cookies or make candy at least once a month.  Share them.
  17. Watch his television shows without complaining.  Smile and use that time to complete item number five.
  18. Answer the phone even when I know it is a car salesman.  When I finally make a decision, I’ll be glad I did.
  19. Water the plants before they wilt.
  20. Schedule the damn mammogram.  Keep the appointment.