Sunday, September 28, 2008

TFA - Towne Family Association

I did something new this weekend. I've been a member of the Towne Family Association since January 1990 [that's the first date shown on my quarterly newsletters].CLICK FOR LINK TO THE TOWNE FAMILY ASSOCIATION WEBSITE. This weekend was the 28th annual meeting of the organization. This meeting was held in Branson Missouri. The previous 27 meetings had been held in:

  • MA 9 times
  • VT 3 times
  • NH 2 times
  • ME 2 times
  • NY 2 times
  • VT 1 time
  • CT 1 time
  • CA 1 time
  • OR 1 time
  • SD 1 time
  • NB Canada 1 time
  • IN 1 time
  • WA 1 time
  • LA 1 time

The Indiana and Louisiana meetings were fairly close, geographically, to me, but this was the very first meeting I've attended.

I've been corresponding with some of the members for years, via USPS mail and then e-mail, but this was the first time to meet my "cousins". My husband went with me, and we drove to Branson via the backroads so he could have some photography opportunities. We arrived in Branson Friday afternoon and took a bus to a dinner theater variety show. Saturday morning was the business meeting for the organization and in the afternoon there was an excellent DNA Workshop with an explanation of our on going TOWNE DNA PROJECT, given by Margaret Press. Saturday evening was a banquet with acoustic guitar and singing entertainment.

This was also my first visit to the city of Branson, and it will probably be my last. I was really not impressed. It seems to be a town that has been scraped from the hard rocky Ozark mountains with entertainment/theaters plopped on every corner. It might be someone elses cup of tea, but I guess it isn't mine. The drive through the Ozarks to get there was quite pretty though.

My new cousins were all so nice and they all had the common hobby of researching our TOWNE line. I volunteered for a couple of committees; I'm going to submit an update to our family DNA from 37 to 67 markers.

The meetings they held in Massachusetts allowed them to visit sites associated with the Towne family - Rebecca Nurse's homestead, among them. In the meeting in Branson, I think it was missing that component. The association has made a couple of trips to England to visit sites associated with William Towne. I think I would have preferred that kind of meeting. I guess it's a trade-off in being able to afford to drive to Branson and not having to buy a plane ticket to Massachusetts.

Here are a few pictures of my new cousins:

As much as I enjoyed meeting new cousins, I have to say that the meeting left me a bit dissatisfied. I think I wanted more genealogical "meat". I wanted to talk about OUR research. I wanted to talk about the branches of the family as they have spread across the U.S.. It would have been nice to have a member of each group talk about the research challenges for each of the children of William Towne. I guess I just wasn't ready to drive 6 hours to attend a regular business meeting. I guess I was looking for more genealogy. Maybe all those things were discussed at the previous 27 annual meetings and I just missed it. I guess every group that collects money from its members and has expenditures has to account for that money and get consensus for new monetary distributions, but it just wasn't what I had expected. Oh well, I have a survey form to send in, and I know if you want something done, you can volunteer to do it, but making next year's meeting [it's in New Hampshire, I think] will be a little difficult, so my volunteering will be limited this time. Oh well. It was a new experience, and a good experience to meet some new relatives.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Fun Software

I've been playing with a couple of pieces of free software. One is all new and the other is just a new version. The all new software is the new browser, Google Chrome. I've been using it a couple of weeks now and I think I'm going to continue with it as my default browser. Years ago I used Netscape, then changed to Internet Explorer and the last couple of years had been using Mozilla Firefox. In Firefox and Internet Explorer, my home page had been the Google Search site for years, then Google brought out iGoogle, where I was able to customize my home page with any RSS feed, giving me instant news and genealogy information. I can still do this in Chrome, but it offers a few more interesting things. The default home page (and this can be changed to look like something more familiar to you) is a page of thumbnails of your most often visited web pages. You just recognize the page and can instantly click on it. No need to type in the web address, or even go to a menu and click on "favorites". Another big difference is that there are not separate bars for typing in addresses and for searching for topics. It just "knows" which you want. That took some getting used to. It is a tabbed browser just like Firefox and IE, so nothing is lost there. There are other new features, but I'll let you discover those for yourself. You can find Google Chrome here: GOOGLE CHROME

The software that is a new version is Picasa 3.0. Picasa is the software created by Google to organize, edit and publish your photos. Now it will handle your videos as well. This version has added new spot editing capabilities that compete with many photo editing software packages, for which you pay $$. Picasa is really an amazing piece of software. I suggest you give it a try. You can find it here: GOOGLE PICASA

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Another Fun Family Day

This family reunion thing is getting to be fun. I attended the PARRENT Family reunion in Eddyville, Kentucky in July; all my children have been home at least two weekends since July [they came down from St Louis Missouri and Knoxville, Tennessee]; today I attended a GRAY family get-together in Eddyville, Kentucky; next weekend is a GRAY family group again for an aunt's 90th birthday in Eddyville, Kentucky, and the weekend after that is the TOWNE FAMILY ASSOCIATION meeting in Branson, Missouri; AND the weekend after that is my 40th high school reunion in Tallahassee, Florida [don't know if I'm going to make THAT one]. It's really nice to see my cousins. One of my mother's sisters had SEVEN children, and they were ALL at the GRAY get-together today. What a neat picture that is of my first cousins. The oldest in the group of seven will be 70 the end of this month, and the youngest will be 50 next month. Here's the pic:

All the pics of the GRAY folks from today can be seen here:

Pictures of GRAY get-together

Monday, September 1, 2008

It Brings Tears To My Eyes

Twice in the last couple of weeks I've teared up at the sight of two different frail little old men in one piece jumpsuits leaning on their grocery carts, all alone, in the grocery store. Their thin, short, white hair and their bruised, wrinkled arms and faces and the shuffling walk as they tried to find what they wanted in the newly reorganized grocery store that was probably familiar to them last week.... Yeah, it's been one of those weeks and those little old men reminded me of my dad who died in 2003. Then I remember how impatient I was with my mother (who died in 2000), as I hear the same impatience in my own son's voice and wish there were "do-overs". Then I was re-reading my daughter's blog (she posted this entry last year) and the dam of tears broke. It's very eloquent and I'm going to post it here - I'll tell her later. She wrote it so well and it speaks of a captured moment of time, regret and happiness.

"If I could take a snapshot of my 20 year old self that would encompass everything I thought I was at this point in life this is what it would look like:

An above-average height girl, still slim, but without the athletic edge to the look anymore. Fair-skinned and proud. Eyes more green than ever. Her mother's nose, still dotted with some childish freckles. Slender fingers just beginning to show age. Two crooked pinkies from years of basketball. Thick golden brown hair with a slight red hue in the right light, barely touching the middle of the back when straightened. A comfortable smile . . . and semi-straight teeth thanks to high-school braces :-). An aura that lets you know things have, if even for just a little while, fallen into place. Call it my own paranoia, but those laugh lines and crows feet have started to show. I personally, find them endearing. They show that you have actually lived-and enjoyed it! But, I will note that I purchased my first tube of anti-wrinkle face lotion: gasp!

There are so many stories that only my eyes and soul can tell, and they too will one day be lost with time. I could write out a poetic or catchy paragraph about all the profound things I've experienced and seen, but that wouldn't suffice. Overall, I realize that I too have stories and images shaping my thoughts that no other person has. I never knew my grandfather as anything but the good ol' Kentucky man, who loved his wife, loved his religion, loved his one piece jumpers and his buttermilk with cornbread. He lived a whole lifetime before I knew him. I didn't know him as the war veteran, as the prison guard, as the boy flirting with my grandmother and playing ball with other kids, and teaching my mom how to drive a Volkswagen bug up a hill in Tallahassee. I remember him as an avid Cardinal's fan, a man who cried because he couldn't fix his own meals because his wife was no longer there to do it for him. A frail, right shoulder slightly drooped, man who had trouble holding conversations with his own brother in the same room because he couldn't hear him very well. That's not the man he was in his own eyes. In his eyes, he was still the man that I never got a glimpse of.

I won't always be the still slightly slim girl with a freckle dotted nose, and red hue to my long hair, but to me, that's who I am, that's who I'm going to always be. My eyes and soul will always have the same stories and experiences to share . . . until I no longer can." -- by Riley Atchley

Teaching Genealogy

I taught my latest installment of "Getting Started in Genealogy" for the Tennessee Genealogical Society. We had a good crowd in attendance. It's always such fun to introduce a person to genealogical research for the first time, or to give something new to those who've been doing it a while.

Now I'm gearing up for a Kentucky Gray family reunion in September and the Towne Family Association meeting in Branson Missouri at the end of the month. I've been a member of TFA for MANY years, but never attended one of their yearly meetings, since the meetings were usually held in New England. I'm excited about this one. I'm also putting together a presentation on Advanced Genealogy Research Using the Internet for the Tennessee Genealogical Society's November Seminar. Sometimes I think I should say "just go through Cyndi's List - you'll find pointers to what you need", but I think everyone likes to hear or be shown some of the exciting places to go.

Something I've found in teaching, in general, is that people who are not totally comfortable with computers, often lack the confidence to "play" with the computer, or with websites. It's this "playing" that teaches you what you can do, what's on the site, and how best to use the site. You can't "break" the site OR the computer. You can always get out of what you're in and start over if something "hangs". No harm is done. I often end up teaching about folders, files, printers and right-clicking as much as genealogy when sitting with a new person. Particularly on I stress MISSPELLING surnames in order to find other possibilities. I usually give an example of searching for my Guynn's, where I found them listed as GIVIN in the index. Their name was spelled GWIN on the actual document and the "W" had been misread as an "I" and a "V" by the indexer. That one was found by reading the WHOLE index and reading for FIRST names. Those are "genealogy happy dance" moments.

I visited the grandkids a couple of weekends ago:

Now if working full time just didn't get in the way of my "life"!!