Thursday, February 23, 2012

Peeking into the Past

I've been dabbling in some genealogical "research" - if I can call it that. The problem seems to be that the more I go into it, the less I know, or it seems that way, anyway. Of course, most of what I know comes from online sources. I know that I would probably have to travel to local historical societies to get more - or hire someone. Neither my or my husbands families saved or even had any documentation from their families except for on one side, a copy of a marriage certificate, and on the other, a birth certificate. On one side, traces of the family go back to mid-1700's America and even in one branch, back to Tudor England. On the other, I am stuck in the 1800's.The information I have is simply a few dates and names so I at least know they existed. In a few cases, I know their professions. How I would love to have a picture of them! A letter, an idea of where and how they lived and what they did. I have to face the fact I may never know - maybe just guess from other historical information of the times. When we read historical novels, there is so much description there that we feel we are there, too. It's remarkable that those authors are able to create this kind of world in fiction.
 I would say, if you have any really old people in  your family, ask them about what it was like when they were young, and what they know about your family members. Somebody might want to know, someday. Especially about specific people. My mother talked a lot in general about her relatives in the past but after she was gone I realized that maybe I should have tried more to pin down some of her remarks because when later I tried to research these people, I then found I didn't have anything concrete to start with. One of her most frustrating remarks was that her grandmother "went by the name of Smith" . But apparently she was from a family with a very different name. Why didn't I question that? I suppose I just wasn't interested at the time. She talked a lot about this part of the family - Hugenots - but later I realized it was all in general terms, nothing a researcher could get their teeth into. At least this researcher. I'm sure she knew more, if I had asked the right questions.
But the history of families, in general, makes good fodder for stories. Even if it is not a historical novel, the past still casts long shadows over us. We just don't always know it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Throw in the clutch and let's go

I thought I was done with clutches but not so. I have an automatic car, yes. But recently the washing machine repair man had to be called and when I described the problem he (eventually, but that's another story,) said he would bring a new clutch for it. I had visions of myself driving the washing machine down the road. He said, yes it was just like a car (the clutch, not the washing machine.) For some reason, though the repair people kept writing down on their work orders, "no final rinse." When the repairman showed up the first time, he complained that the problem I had with it was not the one he had been told about and therefore had no part. So on to phase two. I kept saying, about the "no final rinse" description,  "that's not right, I get too much water  in the towels because it doesn't spin it all out of them."Then I guess the work order was changed to, "water remaining in bottom of machine". How can we both speak English and yet fail to communicate? I also explained this concept at length but I think the "man listening to woman" ear problem kicked in, i.e., the ear automatically turns off. So, today, the repairman is back with a clutch, in spite of his workorder which still reads "no final rinse" He is really the nicest man and tries to help. He has replaced the clutch now and says that the problem was really not all that bad to start with. Well, maybe this is a philosophical question, now, as to how bad is bad? He says sometimes people don't call until their washer refuses to spin at all. I'm feeling a little like a wimp, now. I haven't "toughed it out" until my washer sat there sullenly with its belly full of wet clothes swimming in water which has not spun out. The man left saying they would send a bill. I wonder how the problem will be described there? Not that it matters - we'll still have to pay it. Maybe I should write a mystery around it. In the style of Stephen King, repairman is drawn into washer and disappears. In the style of Agatha Christie, neighbor comes in and gives him a cup of tea laced with arsenic. In the style of Tom Clancy, the machine is wired to send a code to the upstairs computer which forwards it to a foreign nation. Well, maybe none of those, we'll see.

Monday, February 6, 2012

How About Those Giants?

Yes, I'm talking about football. I have to say that I seldom if ever watch football - mostly because I know very little about it and seem to have trouble picking it up. My father watched European football (don't know anything about that either!). Any other males in my family seem to have slim to no interest in explaining anything. The females? Excuse me while I laugh. So, crying and moaning over with, I did watch the Superbowl game this past Sunday, and what a game it was. You didn't need to be a football expert to appreciate the battle between two top of their game quarterbacks. It's a privilege, really, to be able to see a game like this, where play by play, strategy by strategy, each team gave everything they had and in the end, as is usual in such contests, just a small margin decides the winner. The leaders (quarterbacks) were cool and calm and determined. I always feel bad for the loser in this case and feel they should have shared the glory. But then we wouldn't have the glory, would we? We usually in our family, root for the Eagles since we live not far from Philadelphia. Of course, we are really New  Yorkers (in spite of living in New Jersey!) So Giants, you rock!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

By Hook or By Crook

If only people who were good at something, did it, not much would get done. That's my excuse, anyway, when it comes to crochet. I work at it from time to time as the mood strikes me. The problem is, I never really know how it will turn out in the end, much like a novel, actually. The thing seems to take on a life of its own. It gets bigger and smaller in turn, seems to create its own stitches, which I swear I never intended. The end is usually a surprise. Well, once in a while it may turn out OK. Not great, mind you, but all right. The way I have to approach it is just to enjoy the process, the range of colors, textures, design (assuming it works out.) Directions frequently seem to be wrong and I don't have the expertise to figure out what to do so I just go onwards and hope for the best. It's all good.