Posts Tagged With: roots


DSC07840 (Copy)Two big projects keep me busy and off-blog. I’m organizing and selling a huge stamp collection. And, I’m completing my mother’s genealogy. Before she died, I promised her I would submit five generations with proofs, that she had worked years to complete, to the Mormon Genealogy Library. It is one of the largest in the world. However, the old days of submitting a pedigree book with hand or typewritten information, following your lineage for five generations, the only amount the library would accept, is no longer done that way. Meet Debra Newcum, left and Jean Oliver from the Family History Center at the Latter Day Saints Church in Murphys.  Debra is doing her Mission in the area for 18 months. Jean is head of the church’s  Family History Center. I made an appointment with Debra over a month ago, choosing what I thought was an open spot in my calendar. I figured three days, it would be done. A vast new world awaited me. Genealogy is done on a computer and uploaded on-line. It is through their free program with multiple tools that can take you back to first recorded records. Jean, for instance,was able to trace her descendants to the 1600’s. Debra had to go to Britain to physically get her records at great cost before this program was available. In the Mormon faith, when multiple marriages were encouraged to increase the clan and colonize, following a family tree is more complicated than most. I was blown away. I suspect I will be spending a year on my project.  I’ll try to make it interesting enough to get you started on your family tree. I also recommend the PBS program, Finding Your Roots which is done with amazing insights into famous people who know nothing, or very little, about their descendants. Last week they found a first. A descendant that was burned at stake for being a witch. More interesting than fiction.

DSC07841 (Copy)Getting my stamp collection organized for sale, I also considered a week at most.  I had forgotten how massive my collection is and how much work I’d left to be done. I kept buying stamps as I was raising kids and living a demanding life, thinking I’d get back to it “later”.  Later is here and I’m stunned. There is much work involved, but I’m enjoying my stamp collection for the first time in years. I’d forgotten how much history there is surrounding stamps. And, how much family and friends seep through from simple handwriting, addresses and post marks on envelopes.

A local store is named “Stories In Stones”.  There are stories in stamps and genealogy both. What an adventure I’m enjoying.

I must limit this entry because I have a tenant moving. Refurbishing it after  seven years of one occupant, driving to Oakland, considering paint, new counter tops, upgraded cabinets and so on. Decisions to be made and attended to. Life is never static. Ciao



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DSC07631 (Copy)Jim Hightower writes the Hightower Lowdown, a national newsletter that exposes injustice in America, only he calls it exposing bushwackers, bullshitters, gooberheads, plasticized morons, moon howling…well, the adjectives, some invented by him, are numerous and humorous. He says he is an agitator…”the center post of the washing machine that gets out all the dirt.” And, right now, he doesn’t like the hucksters running a Democracy where 4 people, all of them hedge fund managers, each earned 10 Billion dollars last year, where 108 Kindergarten teachers split 1 million. The hedge fund managers pay taxes at a rate of 15% and the teachers pay at a rate of 35%. Democracy works best from the bottom up and includes everybody. That’s you and me folks. Its revolution time for people tired of being the fire hydrants for all of those top dogs. And, the chorus sang, Hallelujah.

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They did, but it wasn’t quite in that order. First, the Mother Lode Martin Luther King Jr. Chapter, active in our area for 23 years, drew over 500 people to hear Hightower speak. Amazing because this is a very white, rural community.

The program began with Martin Luther King Jr.’s last speech on a movie screen. I had forgotten what a powerful and passionate speaker he was. It was an emotional moment to turn back the pages of time and remember, the women who died in a baptist church, Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus, little girls being escorted to all white schools by the National Guard in the fight for equal rights for black Americans;  a fight that is on going to this day, 48 years after his death.  Hightower reminded us that Katie Stanton, and the jailed and punished suffragettes didn’t get the right to vote that they fought for either, but WE got it because of them.

And, that my friends is his point. Money now flows upward and the rich have so much money they can air condition hell while the poor and middle class struggles to make ends meet.

“We don’t want charity, we want economic justice. And Congress, the House and the President is stealing from us with a fountain pen.” He pointed to the current NAFTA agreement where 500 corporations and that included the Koch Brothers, met in secret, and hammered out an agreement and stuffed it down our throats without one member of a Union or anyone from the middle class and small business sitting at the table.

Hightower believes that people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who don’t accept money from the big super pacs can overcome the moneyed elites who have corrupted our politics and rigged our economy to squeeze the life out of the middle class.

Bernie’s average donation is $23. Hightower says, you can’t buy a presidency with $23. His campaign is about We The People. Hightower convinced me that, with Bernie, its time to rock the boat.

No one addresses him as Senator Sanders, he is just Bernie, and one of the poorest Senators in the pack. He hasn’t parlayed his position to great wealth like most national office holders have.

He came from a low-income working class family in Brooklyn. He first worked as a carpenter, then film maker, writer and agitator. An agitator in college during the 60’s, he moved to Vermont and began exposing Burlington money boys who ran the town for their own fun and profit. Then he stunned everyone by winning an election for Mayor in Burlington. Bernie has never abandoned his working class roots. I’ve changed my position to clearly stand with the candidate who says: “I can’t do this, but WE can.”

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The program ended with everyone singing the song:  We Shall Overcome. Hightower was available to talk to people at a reception after the program.

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Two paths lead from the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge parking lot, high on a bluff, to the five mile long spit where a lighthouse beckons. It is a working lighthouse, and a great beach hike. we took the primitive path through the woods which is rainforest in nature.

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It isn’t an exaggeration to say the woods are being eaten up by rot, mosses and fungi of one sort or another.

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And, we see beauty in the process.

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The forest is heavy, dark with sunlight streaking through in places. You feel like you are alone in the bower of bushes and trees brushing and closing in all sides.

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Then, from an overlook, you get a magnified view of  the lighthouse at the end of the spit with a day full of sun, blue water and sky.

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Down onto the beach, there isn’t much to see but driftwood for miles. Huge tree roots and smooth washed branches, along with a few gulls and the never ending tidal laps.

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Like kids, we played while enjoying our luck to be outside walking a sand spit rather than sitting in front of a television or worrying about the bad news it injects into your life daily.

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Many of the trees have roots and we pondered where did they come from? Is this yellow cedar?

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Jim drew a heart in the sand…DSC09721 (Copy)

“It’s been a long time since I did something like that,” he said.

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Our goal was this upright piece of driftwood. Who would take the time to stand up a tall heavy dead tree like that, we asked ourselves.

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The upright drift wood, didn’t drift here. The tree was still attached to the ground like the surrounding stumps, a sentinel of what the area may have looked like with a forest closer to the water at one time in the distant past.

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A popular pastime for some people is to stack stones into cairns, or build shelters from the driftwood.

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I climbed up the grassy embankment and the lighthouse is still just a small bubble on the horizon.

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And a look back from whence we came, the tall bluff. We walked about a mile on the beach.

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Then returned to civilization for lunch at the golf course in beautiful Dungeness, figuring since there is a dungeness festival coming up we could find some good crab. I had the lightest, tastiest crab cakes at Stimmies, but there chowder left a lot to be desired. It is always an adventure.  From there to the Organic Farm Store for produce and home to read and relax.

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Check out this sunset. It was predicted to rain, but didn’t.






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Leaving the Cousineau’s farm, a quick hug with Bernice before she went to work. Warm good-byes to Marie and Mark. We left with a mixture of reluctance and joy at the great memories we forged and excitement to be back on the road again, looking for what’s around the bend. We headed for Iron Mountain and Kingsford, another place I lived and where my grandmother Lydia Moore Kraus lived before she died. Her funeral  was the first time I had ever been to one.

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From Karen Halderson Bruchman we learned my other best pal, Judy Gedvick Orler lived in Quinnesec. I love the name Quinnesec, and  Keewenaw, Ispeming, and so many other Native American names that dot the Upper P. And, of course, I love Pasty. We had a brochure like this one on our dashboard and bingo, there it was in Quinnesec which is on the way to Iron Mountain.

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We pulled in and enjoyed an early lunch. I can honestly say, this was the very best pasty we’ve tasted so far.  Moist, enough meat, flaky crust. Scrumptious. We bought two extras for the freezer and if there had been more room, I’d have filled it up with pasty.  A full one pounder for $4.24. How can you beat that?

Since Karen gave us rudimentary information from memory about Judy’s whereabouts, her married name, Orler. She lived on a street that sounded like Maple but wasn’t, probably Mapes?  I asked to borrow a phone book at the Pasty Oven but they didn’t have one. At lunch, Jim whipped out the computer and checked Google Earth. No maple or mapes, but he found a street a short distance from the The Pasty Oven called Marpe.  We drove up Marpe St. about a half block when I spotted a guy outside working near his garage. I walked up and asked him if he knew the Orler family, I was looking for Judy Orler a childhood school friend.

“The woman across the street is a Judy, about your age. I don’t know her last name, though.”

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And, it was the right Judy from Longfellow School in Foster City. She didn’t remember me but I remembered her and Karen with such great fondness. No one knows how meaningful a childhood friendship can be or what affect a person you meet along the way will have on you or you on them.  She and Karen would periodically come to mind and I would think about my school days, and wish that someday I could see them again. I would  wonder what happened to them and what their lives were like. Serendipity twice. It was a full circle for me of pleasant surprises, and I am so grateful that on this trip to Michigan I found them both. I really believe that memories light up our lives.

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Jim gathered his pillow, computer and assorted items and packed into the motor home. He lives light and likes it that way. The farther he goes, the bigger his house grows. New England his mansion in 2010. Louisiana, his yard, was spread with flowers and critters and rivers all over the ground. A deepening home, with no barbed wire to hold him back. No weeds grow on his wheels. As solid as a rock.

A lifestyle of many “G’days” and as many “G’byes”.

He happily rolled out of the driveway, with the music playing: “On The Road Again…”
While parting has its sadness, I’m content to slip back into my old life for awhile,. Looking forward to a round of holiday parties, attending to my yard work, weeds and all, and solidifying my roots. As solid as a rock.

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