Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Some cemetery success

Kind of hard to read, which is why I was always confused by this stone marker. The only Mrs. J.H. Perry that made any sense was Lucinda Perry, wife of James Hood Perry, my other great-grandparents on my dad's side. I took this photo two years ago when I first found it. Yesterday, I used the chalk technique but that didn't help a lot other than making us think the death date might be 1931 instead of 1881, which is how I'd read it previously. The timing just wasn't right for Lucinda.

But, Susie's contact at the church called her last night and confirmed that according to their records this is indeed Lucinda, who died in 1931, and that there are two unmarked graves beside her. One of those is her husband, James Hood Perry, and while the other was unknown to them, it's most likely James Perry's mother, Martha Caroline Perry who is also supposed to be buried here. So -- one more mystery solved. And solving mysteries is what genealogy is all about.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Walking Cemeteries

Met my cousin Susie in Rockmart early this morning and we set off in search of long-dead ancestors at three different cemeteries. Actually, there were ancestors at only two of them -- the third is one I was looking for to help a different cousin.  That was our first stop, and we didn't find them even though I found photos of the headstones online a couple of days ago.

At the second stop, in the community of Wax, we had better luck. Susie actually knew where these were so finding them was easy. I have been to this cemetery twice in search of them, but didn't find them. Looking at the photo, you might wonder why it was so difficult -- but it's actually old and very hard to read. I used a cemetery survey trick I learned from the cemetery preservation group I belonged to, and used plain old sidewalk chalk to highlight the raised areas, making everything nice and clear. These are my great-grandparents on my father's side.

Then, we went to another cemetery I've been to a couple of times before and neither of us had any luck in finding anyone. But, this is an old cemetery and there are a lot of unmarked graves, so that may well be our problem. Since it was a weekday, we went to the church and Susie got a phone number of the person who has all the old cemetery records. We'll see what comes of that.

And then we headed on into Rome just because we were close, had lunch, returned to Rockmart and I came on home. And I'm pooped, but it was a good morning and I was glad to spend time with Susie and to find at least one grave.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A new project for me

I've been getting a bit bored with so much time on my hands and so little interest in doing anything really active, so I've found a new pastime: helping index the recently released 1940 census. As you might suspect, this involves reading what's on the hand-written pages then entering that information into a database form. I've done 5 or 6 pages thus far, and I must tell you that I have a new-found respect for the people in past years who have transcribed various censuses, many of which I have made good use of.

As a researcher, I'm well aware of how difficult it often is to read the handwriting on the original forms, but when you're looking for a specific name, it's a little easier to decipher sometimes. Here, because I feel an obligation to other researchers to get it right, and I struggle to do so, but sometimes it's pure guesswork. Fortunately, the pages where I have to guess get sent off to be reviewed by someone else, who may or may not have more luck reading the written word.

And, to top it off, the last page and a half I transcribed had the pink 'cursor' off kilter -- traveling a line above the one I was supposed to be entering, thus forcing me to be even more careful to get the right info off the right line. And yes, I'm sure the cursor was on the wrong lines. On the last page I did, it began with 'line 1' actually highlighting the printed column headers rather than the first line of data, and I made certain that the line numbers I was entering corresponded with the line numbers on the form. I opted to stop for the time being in the hopes that next time I login they will have this issue fixed.

Want to help? Click here and then click 'get started'. You download the software, sign up for an account, and get going. I found it interesting that this begins with the official 1940 census page, but when you want to pull up the first batch to work with, their 'priority' projects have nothing to do with the census. You need to select 'see all projects' in order to get to a larger list that does include unfinished portions of this census. I opted to work in Georgia, for my fellow locals. I'm guessing the 'FamilySearch' group is actually the LDS Church, which is fine by me. The information will be distributed to other genealogy centers.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Shoemaker's Wife

This has to be about the best book I've read in a really, really long time. And I mean, the best in every way. Story, characters, structure and  the writing style of a master.

As the quote on the cover says, 'utterly splendid'. Not a sour note anywhere. And, can you believe the cover photo is from Harper's Bazaar, 1949? It is timeless.

Interestingly enough, the story has a basis in reality (don't they all?). The author's grandparents were born in the Alps of Northern Italy, as the main characters in this book are, and it's clearly written with intimate knowledge of the towns and topography of that area. Not to mention a more than passing knowledge of Italian food! Everything rings true -- well, aside from some convenient meetings between the two characters in New York City. But that's not enough to spoil it in any way.

So read it -- you'll love it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Movie Poster for Jayne Mansfield's Car

Lest you forget, the 'town' in this movie is Cedartown, so I've been keeping my eye open for news of a possible release date. It was in the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, and I'd think that Billy Bob would want to get it out before the end of this year so he'd be eligible for the Oscars. In scouring the web once more today, I found this.

So, it finally has a poster, which led the movie site from which I stole this to hope it would be released soon.

Also found this on an article discussing the cameras used in the film -- good old Main Street, in Cedartown.

In true Hollywood fashion, my guess is that it'll be released on at least a limited basis in this country late this  year. I wonder if there is still some discussion about having some kind of premiere here in Cedartown? If so, it's being kept mum. But then, I'm hardly in the loop for these things!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Life is good again

In case anybody's wondering, after a good night's sleep and a productive day, I am relaxed and content, chowing down on some good old pasta ajo y ojo (olive oil and butter, plus copious amounts of garlic and freshly grated parmesan) hot off the stove. Yum.

Went to our local state employment office and was pleasantly surprised to see how much these places have changed since the last time I visited one, in Oregon. Not packed with people. Everything done on a computer except the interview, for which I did not have to wait more than a few minutes. Turns out I'm eligible (if approved) for more $$ than I expected. I told the woman I didn't expect I'd get approved because of the two angry employers, and she said it wasn't all up to them. I told her what happened yesterday and she smiled, told me to tell the person who'd call with final authority exactly what I'd told her. Especially the words 'get out!', and that I was trying to the best of my ability. So, we'll see. It'll take a few weeks to be approved or denied, but if I get it, it'll be retroactive. She also gave me a couple of good websites for job searches that I didn't know about.

Then, WallyWorld, the library, and to Kroger, where I posted a flyer I made this morning offering free-lance bookkeeping services. May or may not do any good, but it can't hurt.

My nice, clean paid for car! And no, all those odd dotted black lines do not exist in reality. They are merely a figment of my camera's vivid imagination. Maybe the glare from the shine was simply too much for it to handle. And the sun's hiding so the shine doesn't stand out all that much.  I should have taken a 'before' shot, for contrast. But trust me, it's clean.

And then.....I came home and washed my car. I know, I'm as shocked as you are! I think I've washed it once, and not very thoroughly. It had a good cleaning late last summer by a detailer who did some work for us, but it was looking pretty rough. Now, it sparkles, at least on the outside. Didn't have the interest/energy for the inside, but that's not so bad.

And then.... I put the bike rack on it because my friend and ex-fellow-employee at the insurance agency (my ex-real estate agent) is coming over tomorrow morning and we're gonna explore the Chief Ladiga Trail in Alabama, I imagine. We'd talked about a leg that's about 13 miles over unknown terrain that I know to be largely rolling hills, so we're gonna do a car shuttle, leaving one at each end so we don't have to backtrack. That's part of the beauty of having two people -- along with the company and conversation, of course. We may do some other trail entirely, I have no clue, but that's the one we last talked about. It runs between Anniston, AL and the first parking area on the Georgia side of the state line, which is less than a mile from the state line.

So -- all of yesterday's ugliness is wiped out. History. Gone. The past.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Forks in the road

I was a little intrigued about my friend Dennis's comment on my last post regarding job change, and having taken the 'wrong' fork in the road a few times in his life. This happens to be something I've thought a lot about over my life, which has been filled with choices to be made, and often abrupt changes in direction.

I've often made poor employment decisions, for some reason. Maybe, as in this time, I was so desperate to get out of a bad situation, or merely desperate for a job of any kind, that I simply overlooked the red flags that popped up. I tend to be an optimist in those situations, thinking I can deal with anything. There are a few industries I've learned over the years to avoid: insurance, personal injury law, and property management, to mention three. Right there, I should have known better than to take this job. In fact, I did turn them down the first time they offered it, but was swayed with the second offer.

On the other hand, in more recent years since I've studied and practiced Buddhism, I've learned to open my mind and see that each situation we find ourselves in -- particularly situations that are less than pleasing -- are filled with opportunities to learn things we need to learn. I approached my last job that way, and truthfully, I think I learned the lessons I needed to learn there and can see the wisdom in needing to go into another situation where there is much to be learned. I just need to change my attitude, open my mind and heart. And little by little, I'm doing that.

But back to forks in the road. I've often wondered how different any of our lives would be if we had taken different forks along the road of life. We're offered choices on a regular basis -- smaller choices on a daily basis, larger choices less often. With a life filled with choices and changes the way mine has been, there have been countless opportunities to have taken different forks since I was 18. It's something I'll never know, of course, and I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it, but it's still an interesting philosophical question. I haven't regretted leaving many jobs in my day, but I have for many years regretted leaving my work in marketing at Beringer Vineyards. I left just before the company exploded in size, and the potential for growth was high. And, right after I left Napa (4 years after leaving Beringer) and moved to Atlanta, I heard through a friend that one of our suppliers had a job open that he wanted me to fill -- wonderful job I would have loved, paying $40,000 (a fair salary in 1986). It's not one of those things I spend time regretting, but it's one choice I'd certainly make differently if I could go back in time.

What are the forks in your life that would have you in a totally different place today? Think about it. My guess is that there are lots of them.