Saturday, November 14, 2015

Genealogy is about a lot more than collecting names and facts.  It is about research, analysis, organization, documentation, and more.  Ultimately, it is about putting all of those things together and writing.  I have joined the recently formed “Writing SIG” - a special interest group organized under The Austin Genealogical Society, ably spearheaded by Robin Raben who also edits the newsletter and is employed full time - Yikes! She embodies unbridled energy and the soul of a writer.

Last Thursday night (14NOV2015) Robin had found someone to speak to us about publication.  Sharon Foley, who has published multiple BIG genealogy books, shared with us her process/insights/tools/opinions/experience in doing so.  It was a life-changing moment, perhaps for more of us than just myself.  Her information had, in fact, as big an impact on me as learning about Tich Nhat Hanh and “present moment awareness” many years ago….(trust me, that was BIG!)

Perhaps I have not been alone in my struggle to find "the perfect" genealogy application.  In these last years, I have worked with Family Tree Maker (FTM), RootsMagic7 (RM7), The Master Genealogist (TMG) and Clooz3, and even downloaded Legacy8 because of its reported interaction with Clooz3.  Other than just taking a look at it, however, I didn't pursue Legacy8 because it seemed "just another  application" to learn and that would slow me down.  

Indeed, it might slow me down, and it is "another application", but it is not JUST another genealogy application.  Legacy8's publishing capabilities are a standout. The logical culmination of genealogical research is publication.  I liked what I saw.  Today I have gedcomed two genealogy files into Legacy8 and am working on getting up to speed as fast as I can.  I may, in fact, put the manual under my pillow tonight and hope for an Edgar Cayce-like miracle of knowledge transfer. 

The thing about any application, particularly a genealogy application, is that I can't really get a feel for it until I start to use it.  There are so many considerations - ease of input is first, but there needs to be  logical transfer from one information group to another.  The visual display of associated information is another key factor. So far, I like what I am seeing. The first Gedcom worked beautifully.  (God and the Universe should put major blessings on not only the person who created the gedcom concept and process, but also the interim geniuses who have kept it the little miracle that it seems to me to be.)  I found the Repository and started inputting some Source information.  I edited family members whose names were flagged to indicate a problem.  I changed the family display so that the children's vital information shows, not just their names when I look at a family view....And it has been pretty easy.

I've thought about writing more about this journey with Genealogy.  There are a bazillion things to discover and equally as many to learn,  I'll keep you posted....


Sunday, January 4, 2015

The following was written in 2009 - I was new to blogging and somehow it never got past the draft stage.  After everything in quotes, I have written "the rest of the story"  ( or maybe it's the "wrest" of the story?. . .

"OK - So I'm going to 'build' a family recipe book. (period).

I sent emails yesterday to folks whom I'm hoping will contribute.

In 1966, my parents launched an Italian Food Takeout restaurant named 'Berto's' (a nickname from my dad's New Mexico childhood) in Santa Barbara, California (Did I tell you that I NEVER abbreviate my Home State's name because I am so in love with both the place and the sounds of the name?). In any case, I don't exactly know how long Berto's was open, because I was in the process of getting married and moving to Louisiana, and when I move, I sort of dull down emotionally for an indeterminate period of time and am, therefore, more than usually disconnected with what is going on in the everyday world.

In any case, my dad, Albert(o), spent weeks leading up to the launch of the restaurant developing recipes for the delectable food they would prepare and sell. I particularly remember him trying many iterations of pizza dough - it had to be JUST SO - not too thick, not too thin, not at all doughy, and just crisp enough - and it DID turn out to be pretty great! The end result was that Daddy and Mother had some pretty fantastic tasting stuff by the time the restaurant opened. The recipes were so good, in fact, that they had to hide them from the restaurant supply salesman everytime he came.

At some point, on an afternoon when I'm sure the restaurant was not open, they sat down and hand-wrote the recipes to send to me (Mother/Bette did most of the writing), and I've had them for all these years, unsuspecting that I was the only one who had possession of them (I later discovered that this was a fallacy.)  So, I decided it was time to share them. . .

Realizing that I am Albert's daughter (the older of two) and that I have inherited his love of detail and process, you'll understand that I couldn't just sit down, type them up and email them to everyone - after all - these recipes are part of our heritage!

When you combine these recipes with those that come from the Louisiana side of the family, and a few more favorites for good measure - we could, and will, have a pretty nice collection.

Now enter my lovely Austin daughter Stacy who just happens to work at a scrapbooking store - and remembering that I have TONS of inventory leftover (as I fear many do from being direct marketing scrapbooking supplies sellers), we decided that, rather than do this digitally (which would be ever so much easier), we should use the supplies on hand and create something memorable."

It is now 2014.  The cook book has been created and distributed.  It would never have been completed without the support of my Sister Ann (who it turned out contributed stories and recipes from here Swedish heritage and Christmases past.)  Getting recipes was the easy part.  Deciding the "how" should have taken longer,  and making the decision to hand scrap book was probably the worst decision I could have made.  Decisions I made at the start that I should have not (and why I should not have):

  1. To hand scrap book (making 8 books is daunting and there were too many other things I could/should/would have been doing - Fortunately a friend gave me a premade cookbook into which one is supposed to record recipes.  It was plastic coated and very colorful - even had magnates to affix recipes to the 'frige, so I scrambled to acquire 7 more and was very lucky to do so.)
  2. That each of the recipes should be in a plastic cover so it didn't get soiled from use. (Putting the recipes in clear covers meant pockets had to be created to hold the clear covered cards.  This required "pockets" in which to put them.  At first I though we could make them (ha!) We could, but that would have required handmaking thousands!  Then I decided to use Paper CD holders - even found them in colors to go along with the empty cookbooks we ultimately used.  Although the end result is functional, it is certainly not as attractive as I had visualized when I started the project.  And I've discovered that soiled-from-someone-you-love-having-used-them-recipe-cards can be a real treasure!)
  3. Not to use an on-line publishing source.  The cookbook would have been completed faster, looked nicer, required loads less time and been infinitely more shareable with cousins who have since asked.  The future can only tell whether I will re-do the cookbook in either digital or on-line format - but it is not a priority TODAY!
One little "PS" - Many wonderful people are gifts in my family life - and I consider them, well FAMILY.  I do not use "in-law" to differentiate them as it IS to me an unnecessary descriptive addition.
Two days into the New Year and I am making progress.  Last week, I once again, sat at my computer to add documents and their citations and was completely flummoxed by a) trying to figure out what the proper format for citation was, and b) working on a single monitor which forced me either to print out a copy of the document (oh no!  wasting paper!  wasting time!  then what to do with it? file it?  trash it?  oh, no!) or remember the data to input on the citation (need I say, IMPOSSIBLE!)

So, wonderful Hubby, took me to find a second monitor - YAY!

I can now have the program, or file (Roots Magic7, FTM2014, Tom McEntee's terrific  Research Log (for example, albeit modified slightly ) into which I am inputting data (sources, citations, etc.,) on one monitor, and the actual document on the other.  Oh my gosh - this is Heaven!  And, no, even the Windows 8.1 capability of splitting the screen vertically didn't resolve the issue.  There are lots more things I need to see. I use a free App called Fences that lets me group shortcuts to similarly typed programs or folders, or files on my desktop.  I have Genealogy related programs in one "fence" on the left monitor, and on the right, is the "fence" with my most frequently used Genealogy folders.  That was yesterday

This evening my friend Jaime came over and we "played" with Roots Magic 7.  What a terrific program. And what a terrific guy!  He has the gift of "process".  By that I mean he can analyze something that needs doing and put together a process for a human to do it - given all of the contexts in which it needs to be done.  What a gift!  And What a brain!  So we worked on RM7 and inputting data and customizing the program to create the best output - time will tell. . .

It is now the morning after Jaime came and the only thing I want to add at this point (so I can get onto projects) is - Jaime also showed me how to use the "sticky note" app - it makes me smile just thinking of my facilitated capabilities with this computer and genealogy!