Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tika & Trivia Today

When my daughter and I visited Old Sturbridge Village (supposed to be an 1830s New England village) there was one house where you could lay upon the beds and pick things up.... a "touch and feel" house. So I did plop down on this bed!

This was a rope bed and it was surprisingly comfortable. You've heard the expression, "Sleep tight tonight?" Well (as I understand) it has to do with these ropes.... when company came the ropes were tightened up making a less-saggy and more comfortable bed. Now you know..... would you enjoy a rope bed?

Tika was quite overwhelmed when I explained to her:  Folks living in many different countries are enjoying Tikas Teachings......... U.S., Canada, France, Turkey, Russia, Latvia, Japan and Malaysia. Would love to know what those folks think of Tika's blog really.

Tika says, "Did you know?  A mile on the ocean and a mile on land are not the same distance. You will burn 7% more calories walking on dirt than pavement. Only male turkeys gobble. And you burn more calories sleeping than watching TV. Well now you do!"

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tika & Glass

I photographed these glass windows at the House of Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts, last May. Both my daughter and I were fascinated by the irregularities in the glass which, we were told, were original. Did you know that glass is made mostly from sand melted at a high temperature? This famous old house was constructed in 1668 so they knew how to make glass for windows, albeit crudely, even way back then.

In the earliest times and especially on the frontier, our ancestors' homes did not have glass windows. The reasons for this were two: it was heavy and fragile to transport and it was expensive to buy. Some places, some cultures, put a tax on the number of glassed-windows in a house.

Glass windows are a luxury that we today totally take for granted. Not so in days gone by.

"Phooey," says Tika. "I'd rather my glass be sandy places where I can run and go swimming!" 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tika & Unusual Moms & Dates

Few days ago in our local paper I read the short article about the world's oldest known wild bird.....a 62 year old albatross on Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.... is now a new mother again.

The bird, a Laysan albatross whom biologists have named Wisdom...... received her first ID band during the Eisenhower administration in 1956 and since then has worn out five ID bands.....always returning annually to Midway and raising her chick. Pretty darn amazing.

This little story begs the question: could a 62 year old woman birth a baby? Which, Tika was teaching me, is why we must scrutinize those dates on our family charts because it's more than rare for a 62 year old mother to be correct on those charts. And we know that sometimes those kind of date scrambles can show up!

Another baby-mom bit that I recently came up was printed in The History of Barnstable County (MA): Town of Brewster.  On page 897-8 it speaks of one Thomas Crosby who came from Eastham in 1700 to become one of the first settlers of Barnstable. With his wife, Sarah, he had twelve children..... including a set of triplets, Mercy, Ann and Increase.  While the blurb does not say if all twelve children lived to adulthood, the fact that the triplets were named suggests that they did. And how unusual is it for a set of triplets, born in the 17th century, to live to adulthood????

Tika continued her teachings to me:  A mini-dachshund litter litter of puppies is typically never more than four, "and that's plenty!" Tika said.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tika & The Heat: What To Do When It's HOT

When it's this hot here in Spokane, Tika says, "Let me in! Let's go chase some Ancestry wavy leaves!" Good idea, Tika.

What do YOU do when you have a totally dead-end brick-wall ancestor that seemingly beamed down from some planet? No wavy leaves on this guy........... James R. Nelson, born about 1880 in Nebraska. With Claudia Fish had five children between 1901-1907 and then in 1909 they got married in Topeka, Kansas. And then the five children were placed in an orphanage and given up. Stories say he was the proverbial travelling salesman. Talk about a dead end.

Rendezvoused with Julie at our downtown library today; this is her family history problem. But it's my brother-in-law's lineage too, so we had to meet and talk and share.

Good thing to do on a beastly hot July day...... but what do you do if there are no wavy leaves?????

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tika & Differences in Ancestry & FamilySearch

Tika was with us out fishing on Williams Lake (southwest of Spokane). While Handy Man fished (and got five nice trout) we took a swim and enjoyed the scenery. We were happily sitting in the bow of the boat, looking at these basaltic cliffs when Tika asked, "Wow. Two towers in one cliff. Isn't that a good image to teach about using Ancestry and FamilySearch?"

Tika knows I enjoy teaching entry-level genealogists and am always looking for easy ways to illustrate a point. She was right-on about these cliffs!

Beginners will ask, "Which website should I start with? Which website is better? Ancestry or FamilySearch?" I shall use this picture to show that Ancestry (on the left) and FamilySearch (on the right) are two parts of the same cliff..............they are the two bestest websites for beginners (or anybody else, for that matter). Both of those rocky cliffs contain the same basaltic rocks. Both of those websites contain the same sort of information. Yes, there are differences, just like with the rocks making up these cliffs. But the information contained in Ancestry and FamilySearch are the same:  information on our ancestors.

"Besides," asked Tika, "isn't FamilySearch free?"  Tika is one smart little dashchund.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tika & Psychometrics

Tika was asking me the other day, "Is there another word for genealogy or family history?" Remembering a talk I heard a while back, I hesitantly told her, "Yes, I think there is; it's called psychometrics." Here's how Wikipedia explains this new word or concept:

Psychometrics is the field of study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement,
which includes the measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, and educational 
measurement. The field is primarily concerned with the construction and validation of measurement instruments
such as questionnairestests, and personality assessments.

Tika said, "Huh?"

Being a word person, I do like words, especially new-to-me words. So how does this word apply to genealogy?
Well, wouldn't we like to understand more about our ancestors' knowledge, attitudes, abilities, education and 
personality traits? Is there a way to understand their lives better by just digging into the records they left behind?
Guess it would take an expert in this field to explain it to me. It does sound fascinating, doesn't it?

After explaining all of this to her, Tika said, "Let's talk about something fun!" So here goes:  "What does it mean 
to be "all of a twitter?"  Wanna guess? 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tika & Thumbies

Tika was looking at (well, laying on) a brochure that I carried home the other day. I'd picked it up at Heritage Funeral Home and it was offering Thumbies: Fingerprint Keepsakes. Ever heard of these?

The brochure reads: "Meadow Hill helps you create keepsakes of the people you love and the times you want to remember. Three-dimensional Thumbies are crafted from fingerprints, footprints or handprints using the time-honored process of  wax casting. The finished pieces are ever so touchable, making real our memories at each stage of life's cycle."

This company, Meadow Hill, takes the fingerprint or footprint (like of a tiny baby) and creates a pendant either in a round or heart shape. Or smaller round circles for charms on a bracelet. Or even rings.  "A keepsake for all ages and stages."

Tika is not endorsing this as a product but just bringing a new wrinkle to your attention. In fact, I could find no website listed on the brochure but a Google search for "Meadow Hill Thumbies" will bring you the information. P.S. They are not cheap.

Tika wanted to know, "Do dogs have fingerprints? Pad-prints?" I honestly did not know the answer.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Tika & The Fish

This is Fish. He is a Japanese Fighting Fish so he lives alone in his bowl. I've put some ivy cuttings down into the bowl to give him a more natural environment. The first picture shows him in all his colorful glory:

This next picture shows the point of today's lesson. I feed him once daily with proper fish food which he gobbles up. (I've trained him to come to the surface when I spoon-bang on the rim of the bowl.) One day I thought, "well, he is a fish and fish like insects so I'll feed him a tiny bug." Ha! He eyed them and circled them but did not recognize them as food (even the live ones squirming in the water) and did not bite at them. Finally I took a spoon and removed them...... and fed him fish food!

Here's the point of the story: are we, as working, practicing genealogists, so bound by tradition or custom or whatever that we do not recognize a new opportunity when it's presented to us????? Do we "bite" to use a new website or a new technique or do we circle and go away??

Tika says that even a dumb fish ought to have been able to recognize such a great opportunity. "And you're smarter than a fish!" she said emphatically.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tika & July 4th & Cemeteries

Spokane has two military cemeteries; one is the small Fort George Wright Cemetery and one is the brand new military cemetery southwest of town. I enjoy taking Tika and walking the Centennial Trail which runs past this spot. We always pause to remember why the cemetery is here and remember those resting therein. Thanks to the Spokane Historical website for the sketch of  the Fort George Wright cemetery. (My pictures from fall 2012.)

When Fort George Wright was constructed in the 1890s, effort was made to ensure a proper final resting place could be afforded the men who died there during in military service. A peaceful spot was selected away from the main base, overlooking the Spokane River. In 1900, remains from Fort Sherman  (in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho) and Fort Spokane (west of Spokane on the Columbia River) were disinterred and moved to the Fort George Wright Cemetery. 

Families of active duty soldiers were allowed in the cemetery, and you will notice a preponderance of infant and small child  graves throughout the grounds. This is owing in large part to the high mortality rates of late 19th and early 20th century children. Advances in modern medicine would cut these rates dramatically. But they now serve as a sad reminder of a time  before modern medical practice. 

Veterans of all branches of the military are represented at the cemetery. The cemetery was always integrated, as shown by the black veterans of the Spanish-American War that are interred here, such as Andrew Booker and William Morris, whose 25th Infantry fought alongside Theodore Roosevelt during the famous battles near San Juan Hill. Navy men such as Eugene Alfred Gideon are buried here. Gideon died during WWII after serving onboard the U.S.S. Denver, a light cruiser which served during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. US Army Ranger Infantryman James Francis Clopton is here interred. He fell in battle during the infamous "May Massacre" during the Korean War, during which the 23rd Infantry was hit with friendly fire followed by a massive Chinese attack. 

Throughout the grounds you will notice trees marked as "Gettysburg Address Sycamores". These were planted from the seeds of the very old Sycamores that overlook the Gettysburg battlefield. These are just some of the improvements made to the grounds by Fairchild Air Force base, which still maintains the cemetery. Behind the cemetery, make sure to take in the spectacular view of the Spokane River below. The peaceful nature of the location is perfect for quite reflection and remembrance. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tika & Hawaiian Bells & Birth Announcements

Leaving Tika happily with Gramma Kay last February, we enjoyed some time in Kauai. We visited the museum near Waimea Canyon and I was fascinated by display of the Bell Stone. That's me tapping the stone and it really did ring like a bell!

Once home, and reading an old booklet Legends of Wailua, I learned much more about the importance of the Bell Stone to the ancient Hawaiians:  "Whenever the King wanted more men of strength to be added to his family..... he would send word to the common people that any expectant mother who knew (from their Kahuna) that she was going to have a son, would be permitted to walk the King's Path to the Holo-Holo-Lu Heiau and have her baby there. ............. After giving birth to the child, she would be sent back to her home as she was a commoner and could not stay in the Wailua (sacred) area. Her child, however, was left in the care of the priests.

After the birth, the baby's navel cord was cut and wrapped in a tapa cloth and placed in a crack in a big rock, called the Navel Rock, where it would remain for four days. After that time, the Kahunas would look to see if the tapa bundle was still there. If it was not, the Kahunas believed that rats had stolen the navel cord and since rats are thieves, the child too would be a thief and therefore the child would be executed. If however the cord was still in the Navel Rock it was a sign the child would be good.

When the cord was found intact, there was great joy and celebration. The Kahunas would march in a line on the King's Path to the Bell Stone. While marching they would chant prayers of rejoicing. Upon arrival at the Bell Stone they would chant different prayers while tapping the Bell Stone in such a way as to produce a ringing sound. This was the announcement to the people of Kauai that a child had passed the test and a new high chief had been born to a commoner."

Tika says to us, "And how did you announce the birth of your child?? And what if that baby had been a girl? And seems to me the Hawaiian genealogy is just as mixed up and uncertain as any other lineage."