Thursday, March 28, 2013

(Easter) Bunny Food

I've decided to downsize the number of supplements I've been taking, one of which was to maintain the alkalinity in my body. I thought I would just focus on eating more foods on the alkaline scale. But I'd been putting off getting out my list of foods and actually stopping the shipments until this morning, in my e-inbox was this article on the perfect alkaline food: Romaine lettuce! Yum! Costco here I come!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Knowing your place

I read an interesting blog post here on the link between family history and children's self-esteem. A study done by MARIAL followed several families with children aged 9-12, recording how often the family discussed ancestral stories, including stories of the parents when they were young. They discovered that the more children know about their family's history (family stories, hardships, occupations, triumphs, anecdotes) the more psychologically resilient they were. The children who participated in dinnertime and casual conversations of family stories had higher self-esteem, fewer behaviour disturbances and a greater sense of their ability to positively affect the world around them.

Do you know where you came from?  Your place in history? Here's a photo of "Grammie" Ethel Grant surrounded by her extended Gilchrest family. Ethel is the young girl center front.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Field trips!

For a presentation in April at the Timberland Regional Library Friends and Boards Forum, I will be talking about doing genealogical research in the field. Literally. This gravestone rubbing is one that I made back in 1988 when my dad and I drove from Massachusetts to Vermont on an ancestor hunt. We knew the cemetery was on the "Old Niles Farm," which, of course, no longer exists, but undaunted, we headed out to the small rural community of Halifax, Vermont. After a few false starts, and asking directions along the way, we parked the car alongside a promising-looking field in the general vicinity of our destination. It was summer--hot and muggy--and as we caught sight of the cemetery, the mosquitoes caught us. Swarms of them! We reversed our steps, drove back into the village and bought mosquito repellent, then tried again.
The cemetery consisted of about a dozen stones, in varying degrees of decay, fallen over and forgotten among the weeds, but sheltered under the trees.
This rubbing, made that day, is of Sarah (Frink) Niles, my 5th great-grandmother: "Late Consort of David Niles, who died in the revolutionary service, at White Plains in 1776."
As important to me as this find was, more important was the occasion to experience it with my dad. He was gone from us six short years later, and I cherish the memory of that adventure with him.

Perfect Timing!

I started participating in EveryMove, which gives you points and rewards for exercising. One of the first rewards I chose was an Elite membership in Runkeeper (I've been using the free, limited version since last fall). It's been a back-and-forth for a couple weeks now trying to redeem the reward and get the Elite version working on my account, but today it went through and I got to look at the fitness plans and goals they offer. I picked a training plan for an "under 2:15 half-marathon." Rich and I had previously set a goal to participate in the Lakefair half-marathon in Olympia, WA and as I looked at the training plan on Runkeeper, if I started next Monday, I would have exactly 16 weeks (the suggested training plan schedule) to the day of the event!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Heirloom story

I'm teaching a class this morning about Genealogy and Family History (do you know the difference? Answers here) and mentioned the importance of family heirlooms. Here is a photo of a photo of my grandmother, Ethel Frances Gilchrest Grant, at age 18. As a homemaker, she would wear a housedress during the day to do her cleaning, cooking, etc. Then right before her husband arrived home for dinner she would change into a new (clean) housedress. She made two quilt squares using fabric scrapes from her housedresses, but they never became a quilt. I put these wonderful heirlooms into hoops to preserve them and the story of her life as a conscientious homemaker.

[Below is a photo of "Grammie Grant" as I knew her, in the early 1960s]
Tribute from her son, Donald: "My mother was a very easy-going person, always finding the good side of people. I never heard her say anything bad about anybody. She would say, "if you can't say something nice about a person don't say anything." She loved people and was always a pleasure to be with. She was a good mother to all us kids and did most of the bringing up of us alone because Dad worked nights--4 to midnight--for over 20 years. She was a good-looking lady and a nice soprano singer. She sang in the church choir and taught Sunday School. She also was quite a poet and wrote a lot of poems and read them over the radio station. She played the piano and sang at home practicing for church. I remember my dog would howl every time she sang; she had a very strong high voice and when she hit the high notes that dog would go nuts! I'd say, "Ma, he can't stand your singing!" and she'd say, "well then, put him out!"
She was a great mother and I wish she could have lived longer so I could better repay her for what she did for me. She never got to go anywhere or do anything because my father was either working or hunting or fishing and the lack of money and us kids kept her tied close to home. She was a very religious lady and got a lot of comfort and pleasure from her church. Your mom lived with my parents for a year before we got married and for the two years that I was in the service in Germany. They were very good friends. I remember one day I was giving Annie heck about something and my mother grabbed me and said, "Now you be good to that girl and don't you hurt her!" So from then on I was out-voted.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Luck of the Irish

The PageTurner library discussion group I lead this past week was "Into the Beautiful North" by Alberto Luis Arrea. The last discussion question was, "Where did your ancestors emigrate from? Do you have any family stories from your heritage?" I shared some stories from my Irish immigrant ancestors, which were fresh in my mind today, St. Patrick's Day, and prompted me to write them down here to share with my own family.

Denis and Bridget (O'Brien) Connolly lived in Skibbereen, Cork, Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine. They toughed it out through the worst of it, but by the 1870s, the future for 11 children was bleak. Seven (Cornelius "Con", Patrick, Dennis, Thomas (my great-grandfather), Dan, Tim, and John) of the 9 boys and Ellen, the oldest girl, had all emigrated  one-by-one, to Massachusetts. They didn't stay in the city, but moved out to the rural communities of Dunstable, Pepperell and Groton to farm. In the 1890s, Thomas, now married to Ellen Kiely with 3 children (3 others died in infancy), caught Gold Rush Fever and traveled to the Yukon to stake a claim in the Klondike. He was there for two trips and a total of about 5 years, just eking out enough to pay off his farm before coming home. [I have the letters he wrote to his wife while he was away.]
Ellen (Kiely) Connolly was not very pleased when her youngest son, Francis Gregory, fell in love and married a French Canadien, Beatrice Edna Hawley. She had picked out a nice little Irish girl for her son, and although Bea was Catholic, it wasn't enough to prevent Ellen from treating Bea poorly for the first few years of their marriage. For financial reasons, Bea and Francis had to initially live with Thomas and Ellen for those first years. Bea worked in a shoe-string factory in E. Pepperell while Francis worked at the Ford Motor Company in Fitchburg, repairing engines. Bea's shift went late into the evening and she would come home after dinner had all been cleared away. Ellen would greet her with, "there's cold potatoes in the ice box. They've been cooked once, I'm not heating them again!" and leave Bea to fend for herself. Bea's daughter, Anne (my mom) remembers Ellen staying at their home for extended visits and as a child, didn't notice any ill will--Bea never said anything negative about her mother-in-law--so Ellen must have worked out her issues eventually.
Bea and Francis left a legacy of hard work and determination. They build their own home using free "hurricane" lumber (harvested from the local forest, blown down by the strong winds), then helped three of their own sons to build their homes. During World War II Francis, too old to serve in the military, served as an Air Raid Warden in his local community of Dunstable. He was issued a helmet, a whistle and a flashlight, and would patrol the area looking for Germans (Dunstable is located near the former Army Base of Ft. Devens.)
Mom grew up not realizing she came from a poor family, as they always had food to eat (slaughtered their own pigs and chickens) and clothes to wear (hand-me-downs from her older sister, and gingham dresses made from grain sacks provided by the town.) It wasn't until she took a job in the "big city" of Fitchburg and saw how others lived (running water, flush toilets, electricity) that she realized how primitive her life in the country had been. Maybe that is why she became a hoarder of hats and shoes...I love you, Mom, Happy St. Patrick's Day! I love my Irish heritage!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bright side

Home concentrating on pain management:
• getting TLC from Husband
• instructing Husband on the fine art of green smoothies (including how to cut an avocado.)
• finally making progress with the audio book version of Atlas Shrugged.
• watching back episodes of Bunheads
• nope. I've got nothing else...

Friday, March 1, 2013


Pre-op visit to the hospital this morning, I still wasn't convinced I should go ahead with it. I admit, I was looking for a sign, some answer to my decision. I visited with Dr. Brumley (right) and turned to leave him to head to Pharmacy for post-op drugs when Dr. Tubb (left) happened to come down the hall. Dr. Brumley identified him to me as the surgeon who would do my surgery and introduced us. Dr. Tubb was very nice and explained further the need for surgery. What are the odds?