27 April 2007


Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

The words are gone that speak
where kisses have grown silent
and lips grow still and helpless
to tell the secrets longing to be told
trapped within our hearts

Dan Wilson

26 April 2007

Just Sharing

Back to blogging after the weekend.

Marc Chagall is one of my favorite painters for his sensitivity, humor, and the sheer creative joy of his work. If for any reason these don't appeal to you (HUH?), you can still find something to your taste on one of my favorite commercial sites on the web. Fulcrum Gallery. You can find anything to fit your pocket book from posters to limited editions, just plug in your favorite artist and go. Even if you don't purchase, it's just a good place to stop and dream about the ones you would like to have on your walls someday.

Marc Chagall - "My name is Marc, my emotional life is sensitive and my purse is empty, but they say I have talent."

Marc Chagall was a Russian-born French painter and designer, distinguished for his surrealistic inventiveness. He is recognized as one of the most significant painters and graphic artists of the 20th century. His painting style drew on both Cubism and Orphism. He used these styles to create his spatial dislocations and prismatic color effects. Chagall grew up in a deeply religious household, which inspired the subject matter for the majority of his paintings depicting Jewish life, folklore, and Bible stories.

25 April 2007

How Women Got The Vote

I wrote this movie review back in April. This is just a reminder that there is one action that is both a privilege and a duty for every single citizen. Whomever you select, don't forget to vote.

Remember how women got the vote

The women were innocent and defenseless. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 helpless women wrongly convicted of "obstructing sidewalk traffic."

They beat Lucy Burn, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the "Night of Terror" on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms. When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because--why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie "Iron Jawed Angels." It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

There was a time when I knew these women well. I met them in college--not in my required American history courses, which barely mentioned them, but in women's history class. That's where I found the irrepressibly brave Alice Paul. Her large, brooding eyes seemed fixed on my own as she stared out from the page. Remember, she silently beckoned. Remember.

I thought I always would. I registered voters throughout college and law school, worked on congressional and presidential campaigns until I started writing for newspapers. When Geraldine Ferraro ran for vice president, I took my 9-year-old son to meet her. "My knees are shaking," he whispered after shaking her hand. "I'm never going to wash this hand again."

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes, it was even inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was. With herself "One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie," she said. "What would those women think of the way I use--or don't use--my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn." The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her "all over again."

HBO will run the movie periodically before releasing it on video and DVD. I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum. I want it shown on Bunko night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order. It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy. The doctor admonished the men: "Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity."

Reprinted from Houston Independent Media

24 April 2007

Dance Me To The End of Love

I've been staying away from the political for awhile simply because it's bad for my blood pressure and I don't want to get into a firefight with any of the regular readers. For those who support the current administration, know that I don't think less of you for having an opposing opinion, and I hope you will take the time to read to the end.

To know where I'm coming from, you should know that my principal obsession is genealogy. At least one male member of my family has served this country since before it was a country. There were men in the French/Indian wars with George Washington. There were men with those "well ordered militias" in the 1700s. There were men among the Revolutionary soldiers and yes I could join the DAR if I wanted to do so. There were men on the U.S. side in 1812 when the British wanted to take us back.

Both of my great grandfathers were in the Civil War/War Between the States (take your pick as there was one on each side). There was family with Teddy Roosevelt on San Juan Hill. Even the Scottish branch got into things with WWI.

My father was career Army and served in WWII, I never met my father-in-law because he died at Chosen Reservoir during Korea. Various cousins were in Viet Nam. My son was career Army just like his grandfather. He served in Gulf War I and he still works overseeing the delivery of the Strykers to units in Iraq to keep those men and women as safe as possible. So whether the country was right or wrong, my family has either volunteered or answered when called. They have followed civilian leaders into fire simply because that is what military families do.

This is only to explain why if some right wing idealogue who has never served a day in their life wants to accuse anyone in my family of "Cut and Run" or being a "Defeatocrat", they have a fight on their hands. Having said that, if you wanted to express my attitudes toward this President, you would have to set your keyboard on "Caps Lock" and use the whole top row at least twice: !@@##$$%%^^&^&&***(*()_)_++_))(**&^^%$%$##@! simply because he is a total obscenity and the sooner he and his totally inept, criminal cohorts are out of office, the better off this nation will be. I've been aware of Presidents since Harry Truman. Some I liked and some I found lacking from both the D & R columns, but this one is simply the worst. He has no business being in that office. He has cost this nation both lives and treasure for the sake of his own ego.

Now I happen to be upset with all the Democrats who voted for entry into Iraq as well. Way back when I was saying that anyone who knew anything about the Middle East, who knew even a small piece of the history of Iraq, who had even a grain of common sense would have known that this invasion was a truly bad idea. Following 9/11, I had been for the invasion of Afghanistan and told everyone I could tell that Iraq was not the next logical step. It is one time when I wish to hell I could not say, "I told you so!".

The result of that lack of research, failure to investigate, and total bullheadedness in pursuit of a failed policy is shown below. There are families out there. They have folded flags of men and women who have done their duty simply because it was their job to do it. They get up every day and assist those with missing limbs and fight a bureaucracy that forgets them when they can no longer be thrown to the wolves. They deal with divorce and mental illness caused by family members who have seen too much death and destruction and bring those problems home.

American Military Casualties in Iraq and Counting:

Since war began (3/19/03): 3,334
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03) 3,195
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 2,873
Since Handover (6/29/04): 2,475
Since Iraqi Election (1/31/05): 1,897

American Estimated Wounded: 24,764

Just turn on your TV. The numbers of U. S. dead are growing at the rate of over 200 a month while George Bush refuses to even set the most minimal of "guidelines" for bringing them home. The numbers of iraqi dead and wounded are horrifically higher. How much hatred can we stand to create?

A commenter on a recent post below suggested that I listen to a song I had never heard simply because it's title was the same as a painting I love: Dance Me To The End of Love. It is a beautiful video and a wonderful song. It is not specifically anti-war. It is just about endings. Iraq needs to come to an end before too many more brave families are required to say Goodbye.


23 April 2007

Happy Birthday Will

Born 23 April (Maybe) 1564

When it comes to creative writing or speaking, there's something rotten in Denmark:  
Bernard Levin said it best with the following -

"If you cannot understand my argument, and declare, "It's Greek to me", you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger, if your wish is father to the thought, if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool's paradise - why, be that as it may, the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare.

If you clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop); without rhyme or reason, then to give the devil his due - if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare.

Even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I was dead as a doornail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then - By Jove! O Lord! Tut, Tut!; For goodness' sake!; What the dickens! But me no buts - It is all one to me


22 April 2007

Earth Day

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~Native American Proverb

Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
For strip-mined mountain's majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.
~George Carlin

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir




I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. ~Essays of E.B. White, 1977

21 April 2007

Photo Hunters - Steps

Wynding Ones Way

These pictures were taken while walking through Edinburgh before taking the tour of The Real Mary King's Close. If you like strange and spooky, this is one walk not to miss.

Edinburgh is a city that in its earliest history was built on a mountain with another city built over it. The result are these steep Wynds and Closes that connect one part of the city to another. The most spectacular is The Castle Wynd Steps that climb a steep incline to the top of Castle Hill and the entrance of the Castle Esplanade. With a total of 187 steps split in two half way up by a terrace, it is a steep shortcut for the healthy.

Photo Hunters Blog Roll

20 April 2007

Positive or Negative

There was a choice to be made for April 20. It is the anniversary of the Columbine shootings. Given recent events in Virginia and the desire for notoriety by these sociopathic/psychotic people, I decided not to add to the fame following in the wake of heinous acts.

There is another anniversary today that has led to the salvation of millions of lives rather than ending them.

On April 20, 1902, Marie and Pierre Curie successfully isolated radioactive radium salts from the mineral pitchblende in their laboratory in Paris. One year after isolating radium, they would share the 1903 Nobel Prize in physics with French scientist A. Henri Becquerel.

Marie Curie began studying uranium for her doctoral thesis. Pierre Curie joined her in her research, and in 1898 they discovered polonium, named after Marie's native Poland, and radium. While Pierre investigated the physical properties of the new elements, She was awarded her doctorate of science in June 1903. In that year with her husband she became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.

On April 19, 1906, Pierre died in an accident in the Paris. Marie Curie was appointed to her husband's seat at the Sorbonne, becoming the university's first female professor. In 1910, she finally succeeded in isolating pure, metallic radium. For this achievement, she was the sole recipient of the 1911 Nobel Prize in chemistry, making her the first person to win a second Nobel Prize.

She became interested in the medical applications of radiation. Beginning in 1918, the Radium Institute at the University of Paris began to operate under Curie's direction and from its inception was a major center for chemistry and nuclear physics. Marie Curie died in 1934 from leukemia caused by four decades of exposure to radioactive substances.

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less." Marie Curie

18 April 2007

She Walks In Beauty

Today seems like a good day to concentrate on beauty.

George Gordon, Lord Byron.

Every once in a while the brain goes into "stream of consciousness" overdrive. Todays came as a result of this being the anniversary of the death of George Gordon, Lord Byron. Now this led to thinking about "She Walks In Beauty", one of his more famous poems shown below. So how do you get from there to 1950s television, graphic depictions of a surgery, and an example of the advances in medicine while encouraging someone to read poetry and check out some fairly salacious history? Why you live through the 1950s that's how.

One of the first of the TV medical dramas was Medic starring Richard Boone who later went on to play Paladin in Have Gun Will Travel. For the time, Medic was unique in that they regularly used films of actual surgeries inserted into the dramatic action. One episode was called "She Walks In Beauty" about a girl born with a club foot and it showed the actual surgery. The closing scene was the young girl walking down a staircase to go to a dance while a voice over recited the poem "She Walks In Beauty".

Richard Boone

Now this brings us back full circle to Lord Bryon who was born with a club foot that at the time could not be corrected. Despite this birth defect and his sensitivity about his lameness, the very handsome young man carried on a rather scandalous series of love affairs with both sexes, one of which was rumored to have been his half sister Augusta Leigh. If your taste in books runs to the bodice rippers and rambunctious historical fiction, the life of Byron is much more fascinating and absolutely true.

by: George Gordon (Lord) Byron (1788-1824)

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

Wordless Wednesday - Shake Rattle and Roll

Check down below for an earthquake story
April 18, 1906

Wordless Wednesday Blogroll

It's A Mystery

April 18 is the anniversary of the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

South of San Francisco on that day an elderly woman was trapped in the bedroom of her massive home as a result of the quake. It took the servants several hours to find her because she never slept in the same bedroom, but moved every night. Once rescued from the terror of the quake that had destroyed almost four stories of her seven story home, she made sure than all rooms were visible from outside the room and resumed building just as she had for years before the quake.

SARAH PARDEE WINCHESTER (1839 - 1922) was a woman of extremes. One of the wealthiest heiresses in Gilded Age America, she spent nearly 40 years as a recluse, building a mansion so bizarre that even today The Winchester Mystery House draws millions of visitors from around the world eager to decipher its many mysteries.

Following the death of her husband Sarah feared that the spirits of all of the people who had died as a result of her husband's Winchester rifles were trying to kill her. A spiritualist medium convinced her that if she never stopped building, the spirits could not reach her. The result is 160 rooms built over 4 acres with an intriguing hodgepodge of stairs that lead nowhere, second floor doors that open to outside empty space, mysterious slogans and words entwined on tiffany windows and in elaborate mantles, and spy windows built into floors to view the rooms below.

Do take the time to click on the link above for general information and video below for a short tour. Should you be in California, this relic of the Victorian age and California history is not to be missed.

17 April 2007

Hooray For Hollywood

"Art for the sake of art."

On April 17 in 1924, Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and the Louis B. Mayer Company merged to form Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, or MGM. By the early 1930s, MGM was the most prestigious, glamorous, and financially successful studio in Hollywood, maintaining a stable of stars that included Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, James Stewart, and Elizabeth Taylor.

To understand why this is a significant date, you need to know that I was the only child of divorced parents who moved constantly. As a result, a great deal of time was spent "at the movies". This wasn't the modern multiplex of in and out in under three hours. This was an all day event of newsreels, travelogues, short subjects, coming attractions, latest episode of a serial, two cartoons, two movies, and an invitation to visit the lobby during the intermission. This was what I did on Saturday and Sunday. Most children have home towns and childhood friends. I had MGM, Paramount, and 20th Century Fox.

The impact of this is best typified by a glance at my DVD collection. These are the favorite MGM movies (Paramount and 20th would be equally long) made between 1944 when I was born to 1961 when I married that are important enough to have gone from tape to DVD simply because they are the dearest of childhood friends.

Meet Me in St. Louis, Anchors Aweigh, The Harvey Girls, The Pirate, Easter Parade,Take Me Out To The Ball Game, Neptune's Daughter, On The Town, Annie Get Your Gun, Royal Wedding, Show Boat, An American In Paris, Singin' In The Rain, The Band Wagon,Kiss Me Kate, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, The Student Prince, Brigadoon, Athena, Kismet, High Society, Silk Stockings, Gigi, and Bells Are Ringing.

How could you not believe anything is possible after watching Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling.

14 April 2007

A Taxing Situation

During his life, Leonardo produced thousands of pages of notes, sketches, and designs. These pages are called codices, manuscript pages that are bound together in book form.

Leonardo Da Vinci was born on April 15. Now over 550 years later, Mo presents a taxing situation and wants me to tax my brain using a computer. Now how in the world can you bring together Da Vinci, Computers, and taxes? Why you do it with a little known gambit on the Washington Use Tax now referred to as the "Da Vinci Exception".

In 1994, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates (he of sending pixels through windows) bought a Leonardo da Vinci manuscript for $30.8 million. One page of the Codex Leicester is shown above. The following year, Richard Ford, Gates' attorney at his father's firm of Preston Gates & Ellis, sought to create an exception in state tax law for local collectors whose out-of-state art purchases serve the public good.

Ford drafted a bill that would appeal to the interests of citizens across the state, not many of whom have had the chance to see a da Vinci manuscript firsthand. The idea was to offer a tax exemption for collectors whose artwork was available for public viewing, say at an art museum.

If Bill Gates had to pay nearly $3 million in taxes to bring the da Vinci manuscript into this state, why would he? He has eight or nine homes. He can leave it in a state without paying a use tax. Applying the use tax to art collectors would result in someone either not bringing (the art) into the state or not purchasing it at all.

Well this little bill before the legislator opened up a can of worms that no one wanted uncovered. It seems that some collectors weren't paying the use tax on art purchases anyway, and they didn't want the subject mentioned. So Gate's attorney dropped the matter with a legislator since there was no desire to irritate other collectors. Why create a problem where there is none? The use tax is theoretical until you get caught. If you buy a small piece of art and bring it home on an airplane who would know?

Gates allowed the Seattle Art Museum to display the da Vinci manuscript, known as the Codex Leicester. He also paid full use tax on the purchase, according to a spokesman for the Gates family thus ending the matter except that the State of Washington now pays a little closer attention to exhibits on the just in case there is a little bit of tax to be had.

13 April 2007


There are some good superstitions. Whether you actually believe them or not, you want to believe them. Mine is that every Friday the 13th something unusually good happens. Since something good happens on almost every day, and since I get to declare "unusual", this is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Still it does give me a reason to look forward to the next time thirteen lands on Friday.

Today's "Unusual Good Thing" is that Stine of Mother's Home has tagged me as a "Thinking Blog" which I genuinely appreciate. I suppose this means that the brain will have to be kept in gear just a shade more often than usual if only to live up to the appellation.

Here is the badge.

The really good thing is that I also get to tag 5 other thinking bloggers, and pass the award on to them... I hope you will visit them and get acquainted.

Colorado Bob of Colorado Bob. This is a truly eclectic blog by a man with an interesting past and present. He blogs about everything from weather to leather working and makes it all interesting.

Aging Hipster of Aging Hipster. A thoughtful voice in the wilderness whose little paragraphs are windows on a life. Each one can make you smile, make you think, or just nod in recognition of the moment.

Arabella of Tick Tock Goes The Clock. This young woman is the kind of person you want to see take over the world. She is thoughtful, funny, smart, and delightful with a truly unique voice and perspective on the world.

Many of you already know Pissed Off Patricia of Morning Martini. She often lets Fred the Cat do her talking for her and Fred always has a way of inviting you in to a world filled with nature, endangered animals, geography and friends.

Claire of A Little Piece of Me. This is one of our British friends. Whether she is taking you along on one of her great hikes or asking a question that elicits a variety of responses or inventing games and puzzles, Claire is always worth a visit.

11 April 2007

Rock Around The Clock

On this date in 1954, Bill Haley recorded "Rock Around The Clock"

Fifty years ago, Rock and Roll was an underground form of music. It was a music style the general public knew nothing about. Beginning in 1951-52, a growing number of recordings started to make audiences either sit up and take notice or dive for cover. But Rock and Roll was still an underground music form, enjoyed primarily by black audiences and those relatively few whites like Alan Freed who braved the racial intolerance of 1950s America to visit the back of the musical bus, so to speak.

All that changed in 1955 when "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets finally broke down the barriers that prevented mainstream America from enjoying Rock and Roll music. "Rock Around the Clock" wasn't the first Rock and Roll record. -- Bill Haley's own "Crazy Man Crazy" had hit the charts in 1953, and he scored a major worldwide hit with "Shake Rattle and Roll" in 1954, months after recording "Rock Around the Clock" which was at first considered a commercial disappointment. Meanwhile, an obscure truck driver in Memphis named Elvis Presley started to generate some buzz in the summer of 1954 with his own brand of rockabilly recordings out of Sun Records in Memphis. But it was "Rock Around the Clock" that finally opened the floodgates. No less than Paul McCartney and John Lennon (among many others) have acknowledged the influence of Bill Haley and "Rock Around the Clock" on their careers. "Rock Around the Clock" was in many ways the perfect Rock and Roll song (if such a thing is possible), and it was simply the right recording at the right time. And the world has been rockin' ever since.

I couldn't find three versions of Rock Around The Clock, so here are the three hit versions of Shake Rattle and Roll featuring Big Joe Turner, Bill Haley, and Elvis Presley.

Big Joe Turner - Shake Rattle and Roll

Bill Haley - Shake Rattle and Roll


How much a difference the rock revolution made can best be seen by the Hit Parade top hits for 1950













At the bottom of the the page is a picture of David Alan Durward. In the middle of the page is his namesake David Alan Denchfield. I thought you might like to see how we got from point A to point B

1 David Durward
b: 21 Jul 1853 in Scotland d: 11 Dec 1907 in Scotland
+Jane Gilbert Turner
b: 19 May 1860 in Scotland d: 16 Apr 1929 in Scotland

2 Janet Jamieson Turner Durward
b: 07 May 1894 Scotland d: 29 Dec 1934 in Los Angeles, CA
+William Hunter Gibson White
b: 13 Aug 1892 in Scotland d: 13 Dec 1971 in Los Angeles, CA

3 Robert White
b: 24 May 1918 in Scotland d: 20 May 1981 in Phoenix, AZ
+Mary Ellen Pifer
b: 09 Dec 1918 in OK d: 14 Jun 1961 in Los Angeles, CA

4 Janet Jamieson Durward White
+Raymond Clifford Denchfield, Jr.

5 Christopher Alan Denchfield
+Georgia Ann Warrix

6 David Alan Denchfield

Wordless Wednesday - Play Ball

09 April 2007

Scandals and Tragedies

There is a marvelous place on the web for genealogists to be entertained run by Gordon Johnson of Kin Help. In the midst of all the questions without answers, ancestors without parents to take you back one more generation, you can always go to Kinhelp for "and that was the way it was" in the Old News.

You can also submit stories from your family history for all the gossip long before CNN thought of "I Report". You can read several of the issues of the "Newspaper" for all the exciting goings on from centuries long gone. Harlots abound. Bailies arrest. Tragic deaths, suicides and murders crowd the pages. Bills come due and debtors prisons are filled. If you think today's scandal rags are lurid, just take a peek at what the ancestors were up to.

There's nothing like a 350 year old murder to spice things up: 2nd December 1669, Edinburgh. Paul Clerk alias Cameron, prisoner within the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, convicted and sentenced to be hanged for the murder of Finlay Clerk his brother, and for a robbery. The day of his execution is the 9th of December inst. (Records of the proceedings of the Justiciary Court of Edinburgh, 1661-1678)

David Durward, my great grandfather and the gentleman at the top of the page, appeared in an edition of the "Old News" several years ago by unfortunately getting himself dismembered in a train wreck. His obituary: Died in Rail Accident at 6:50 AM at Hieldmuir Junction, Dalziel age 54. Usual residence: Clydesdale Place, Hields Road, Dalziel. Gordon was kind enough to dig up the details on the allotment from the railroad given to his widow and nine children.

If you happen to be doing Scottish research and need some help, I would recommend Gordon in a heartbeat for generosity of knowledge without charge and expertise for extensive research for a fee. I've known of his existence for more than ten years. He has been an invaluable aid in research and in a world of scam artists, it is nice to know a decent and honorable man who believes in service.

In the meantime, enjoy his version of the National Enquirer.

08 April 2007

Snap It Up and Make It Snappy

At the beginning of this weekend, I wrote about slowing down and enjoying the company of family and food. Then along comes Mo with a click of his fingers produces the SNAP!!!

Naturally this made me think about where did all this hurry up and stop life we lead begin. When I was young, we sat down at the dinner table every night at six. A simple meal was cooked at home each weekday and then Sunday dinner tended to be a little more labor intense. Going "out to eat" was a major occasion.

There were fast food places of a sort for the burgeoning automobile society, but even the drive ins meant the food was cooked after you drove up and ordered from the girl on rollar skates.

Then virtually everyone had a television. Now the dinner table was replaced by the TV tray. Still the whole family in one place, but now staring away from each other at the screen in the den.

At school children were still served by food cooked by the cafeteria lady. They might grab french fries after school on the way home with their allowance, but being allowed off campus at noon to do it ... dream on!

This heralded the growth of the suburbs and the automobile culture grew even more. The freeways made it possible to get farther faster. Gas was cheap and you could live quite a ways from work with only two traffic jams per day. You want fast? California 1962 able to drive 90 MPH down the Ten. Don't cry, just cause you are sitting there breathing fumes at 10 MPH if you are lucky.

Now the children were coming home to empty houses while both parents worked. The freeways got fuller, the free time more scarce, and the families more disconnected. It was so much easier to just grab a bag to take home. You used to have to go inside and stand in line, but now you can just drive through to grab your carbs and sugars.

Feeding a family is now a snap! All we have sacrificed are marriages, families, peace, our bodies, and the environment. So go snap up the comfort food. You'll need it.

It has nothing to do with the article, but I just felt like throwing in some snapdragons.

06 April 2007

Family Tradition

Saturday is one of those "smell the roses" days. The family is going to "Tea". There will be three generations enjoying the delights of slowing down, sitting still, chatting and laughing quietly while enjoying good food in each others company. We go to "Steeped In Comfort" in Lakewood, Wa. Each table is perfectly set with fine china, silver, and fresh flowers. It is a small place with tables full of people talking quietly so as to not disturb the other diners with a background of gentle instrumental music. High tea is one of those incredibly civilized experiences that tend to get lost in our fast food, franchised restaurant, everything to go world.

Normally, in the U.S., this is an adults only experience, but many, many years ago, I started taking my children one at a time to a tea room in Santa Monica, CA. Being a single mother raising children alone, it became the way to spend time with each child as an individual while teaching them manners in a public place. It's amazing how quiet a child becomes when bribed with a tiny raspberry tart. It also gave me time to talk to them without a brother or sister demanding my attention. Now we do it as a way to catch up on events, books, and music.

If you would like to find a traditional tea room near you, the information is available on The Tea Map

Latter Day Saints

As everyone knows by now, I love to tie historical events to current happenings. Today we have a biggie in that regard. It is the 77th anniversary of the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). As you also know we now have the first Mormon, Gov. Mitt Romney, to run for the Presidency of the United States. Barring the late entry of someone more interesting, if I were a Republican (used to be not any more), I would probably vote for Mitt, if only because he seems to be the most decent and basically capable man in the race.

While I am not a Mormon, I did spend a great year in Salt Lake City and loved the area. Second, anyone who pursues genealogy owes them a great big smacking kiss. Because of one of the tenets of the faith to research their families, they have the single greatest depository of genealogical information in the world complete with copies of original records.

For a price that ranges from absolutely free to a minimal charge for microfiche rental or computer use, they make all of the records gathered by the church available to everyone at any of their Family History Centers worldwide and most libraries. (If you want it available from your home computer there is a reasonable yearly fee). Members have spent thousands upon thousands of hours indexing parish documents and recording cemetery information from the eras before civil registration. Then they have just handed this information to the world.

So catch up on a little history, take a look at a pretty good candidate, visit Salt Lake, and if you get a chance thank a Mormon for those records.

P.S. The angel at the top of this page is named Maroni. The beautiful building at the bottom is the LDS temple in Salt Lake City. If you get a chance you should see both up close. The music is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

1830 : Mormon Church established

In Fayette Township, New York, Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion, organizes the Church of Christ during a meeting with a small group of believers.

Born in Vermont in 1805, Smith claimed in 1823 that he had been visited by a Christian angel named Moroni who spoke to him of an ancient Hebrew text that had been lost for 1,500 years. The holy text, supposedly engraved on gold plates by a Native American historian in the fourth century, related the story of Israelite peoples who had lived in America in ancient times. During the next six years, Smith dictated an English translation of this text to his wife and other scribes, and in 1830 The Book of Mormon was published. In the same year, Smith founded the Church of Christ--later known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--in Fayette Township.

The religion rapidly gained converts, and Smith set up Mormon communities in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. However, the Christian sect was also heavily criticized for its unorthodox practices, such as polygamy, and on June 27, 1844, Smith and his brother were murdered in a jail cell by an anti-Mormon mob in Carthage, Illinois.

Two years later, Smith's successor, Brigham Young, led an exodus of persecuted Mormons from Nauvoo, Illinois, along the western wagon trails in search of religious and political freedom. In July 1847, the 148 initial Mormon pioneers reached Utah's Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Upon viewing the valley, Young declared, "This is the place," and the pioneers began preparations for the tens of thousands of Mormon migrants who would follow them and settle there.

04 April 2007