Sunday, December 04, 2011

What Holiday Legacy do we leave behind?

I just saw my umpteenth commercial for greedy holiday shopping. You know what I mean.

The one where someone asks "Can you read my list?" and the man says it is all crossed off and the woman makes what I guess is a victory noise. Or, the other where the woman sits smugly in the chair eating Santa's cookies and drinking Santa's milk. Really? Is shopping now portrayed as a competition? A competition with Santa? It's the only commercial I've seen with Santa, excluding the man who looks like him and sells cars. Is nothing sacred?

Just for the record, I love to give and receive gifts. Gifts given with the right spirit and intention are a blessing for us all. I am all for the dollars flowing through and building our economy. Unfortunately, every commercial I see features competition, crying and images that a phone and 4G are gifts. This disturbs me.

I know, I should turn off the TV. I normally watch PBS and multitask through show after show. However Sunday I wanted the background distraction of football, which is part of my family history, to catch updates of the Green Bay Packer score. But I digress.

Which brings me back to my original thought. What legacy are we leaving for our families for the holidays? Are we stressed with over-shopping and overindulgence? Will our children remember our exhausted faces or will they remember how family came first? Or will the competition to out do Santa Claus overtake us? Can we as a nation honestly answer this question?

This makes me revert back to the Stephen Covey principle...Begin with the end in mind. How do you want to look back at the holidays in January? Relief that you made it through? Or delight that you spent the best time with your family in years. I vote for the later.

Choose now to reduce the stress, maybe do a few less things than you intend. Sit. Talk. Reminisce.
Share your family stories of when you were a child. Share the stories your parents told you years ago. Ask questions such as what was the best book you read this year? What is the best Christmas song of all time? What was your favorite song of the year? You might be surprised by some of the answers and learn more about your family and friends just because you asked.

Share your family history and build the right traditions which will create a legacy of the true holiday spirit for your family. You can't stop your family from seeing these commercials but you can live the holidays in a simple, relaxed and celebratory fashion.

So, turn off the television and talk. At least when the Green Bay Packer game is over.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Happy 5 Year Anniversary! The Making of Value Meals on the Volga.

RECAP OF MY PRESENTATION OF "The Making of Value Meals on the Volga" on November 2, 2011 at Barnes & Noble, Pima & Shea, Scottsdale Fiesta Shopping Center.

Good evening everyone. And thank you for joining us tonight at Barnes & Noble.
Our theme this evening is historical fiction and family history. These are two of my passions. I write both and dabble in fictionalized versions of true events. I also write two blogs. One “Value Meals on the Volga” focuses on family history research and tips. The other blog is Write to the Heart of the Matter, which features updates on writing, analysis of writing techniques and book reviews. However tonight I will discuss my first published book Value Meals on the Volga.

This book celebrates its five year anniversary this month. But the making of this book started when I was about eight years old.

During my childhood, other kids in school, and in my neighborhood, told me about the things they did with their grandparents; traveling, visiting relatives, celebrations and so forth. I only had one grandmother and I didn’t understand genealogy at that point, so I asked my Dad, why do I only have one grandmother?

He told me I had another grandmother and two grandfathers, but they had died before I was born. Of course, I then had a million other questions about who they were, where they lived, when they died….suddenly I was fascinated with my genealogy and a family historian was born.

Among the many questions I asked was prompted by a homework assignment. Every student in my class had to go home that weekend and find out where their families came from.
Again, I went to my Dad and asked, “Where did our family live before we came to the United States?” He immediately answered “Germany,” then paused and said, “But they lived in Russia.”

I was stunned. Russia? When I was 8 years old there was a COLD WAR with Russia. The Berlin Wall was firmly in place. How could we be Germans from Russia? My dad saw the look on my face and said, “Let’s ask your grandmother.” On our regular Sunday visit, my dad asked my grandmother about “where we came from.” She explained the story which begins with a German princess named Sophia.

Sophia Augusta Frederica was born in Stettin, Pomerania in 1729. You may recognize her by the name she used when she ruled as empress of Russia, Catherine II or Catherine the Great.
Pomerania in Prussia was one of the many Germanic states that existed in the 1700s. The actual country of Germany was not formed until the 1860s. Instead there were Hapsburgs and Hohenzollern and many different lords and princes in charge of each state. These states were fiefdoms and provinces which often battled with each other for land and serfs. Whoever won the latest skirmishes often dictated religion, language and culture of the province. Some years the official language of the province was German, a year later it could be French. Sometimes the province was Lutheran and if a Catholic prince won the land, everyone would convert to Catholicism. After the Seven Years war ended in 1760, the German people were tired of famine, death, mandatory military service and cultural shifts.

Catherine was a wise woman and a survivor. She knew the people of the Germanic states were strong industrious individuals who could help settle her vast expanse of land. She made an offer that was difficult for these people to refuse. In 1763 Catherine issued her second manifesto inviting foreigners to settle in Russia. She offered free land, freedom of religion, language, culture and exemption from military service. Many of these Germans were intrigued with her offer to farm the land. My ancestors accepted and ultimately moved to the villages of Reinwald and Mariental along the Volga River.

There are many more stories I have learned over the years about Germans from Russia…how they maintained their language, religion and culture for over 200 years. And, a big part of their culture was FOOD. It has been said that Germans from Russia do not dine, they eat! They were simple farmers, who ate simple food. The women passed down recipes from generation to generation teaching the skills and techniques via demonstration.

Value Meals on the Volga chronicles how my mother learned these recipes and how she, in turn, taught these recipes to me. I grew up with this food. I helped my mother as a child and she helped me as an adult to remember and fine tune these recipes for the next generation. Many traditions revolve around meals. There is nothing like gathering the family together around a hot oven to spur memories and conversation.

Value Meals on the Volga
not only describes my unique ancestry, but it gathers together German Russian recipes so we can re-create and savor the food our grandmothers used to make. With step-by-step instructions and full color photographs, you can create delicious meals whether you are a novice or gourmet cook. The soups, entrees, and desserts will help you to re-connect with your own past by relaxing and taking time to enjoy a great meal.

Take back time with your family. Find a way to talk with your loved ones by sharing stories of your own family history. The first sentence of this book is “How will your grandchildren remember you?” Let Value Meals on the Volga help you find the answer.
Happy Fifth Anniversary!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy 5 Year Anniversary to Value Meals on the Volga! Join me to Celebrate Nov 1 at Barnes & Noble

Happy Anniversary Value Meals on the Volga! It was published five years in November.

To celebrate this events I will discuss the making of Value Meals on the Volga at Barnes & Noble on Tuesday, November 1. The theme of this event, sponsored by the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers, is Family History and Historical Fiction. Join us for a fabulous evening.

Here are the full details:

WHEN: Tuesday NOVEMBER 1st , 2011 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. – Free Event
WHERE: Barnes and Noble Booksellers - 90th St., Shea Blvd., west of the 101, Scottsdale

Saturday, August 20, 2011

South America Here I Come!

Today I experienced a South American adventure. My vacation was over weeks ago, but does that have to stop me from having an adventure this weekend?

It began with an email from the Volga German Roots web list. Gerardo Waimann of Buenos Aires, Argentina, a descendant of Volga Germans from Russia, sent us the following message:

“Dear members of the list:

Under the auspices of the German Embassy in Argentina, the Provincia Bank has published 3 magazines (of tourism and history) about the 3 Catholic colonies of the district of Coronel Suarez: Santa Trinidad (also named Colony I), San Jose (Colony II) and Santa Maria (Colony III).

The digital edition of these 3 publications can be downloaded (at no cost) with a click from the following URLs:
Santa Trinidad
* San Jose
Santa Maria
Another possibility to download them (in two steps, a little more complicated
for non-speakers of Spanish) is from the Volga German website of Raul Wagner:
Santa Trinidad:
San Jose and Santa Maria:

Best regards to all the VG cousins in the northern hemisphere.”

Coronel Suarez was one of the many places I visited in Argentina in 2008. When I saw this email and checked out the links, I knew I had some more exploration to do. I settled into my chair and decided to turn on television and relax next to my dog, Harrison, while I read the magazines.

As I turned on PBS , I saw Bob Ross finish a painting. I checked the next PBS channel. I normally do not watch or know what is on television Saturday morning, but I wanted some background noise as I read my email and kept company with my dog Harrison who rested in his crate. He had a hectic week as he underwent surgery, a Femoral Head Ostectomy also known as FOH.

One of the things I didn’t mention about my vacation was the Harrison incident. During a routine nail clipping, the technician called and told me Harrison had sprained his ankle. When I picked him up from the appointment, he was noticeably limping and in pain.
Since I was unable to get him to my vet on Saturday, we had to wait until Monday to have radiograms.

The ultimate diagnosis was hip dysplasia and arthritis, a chronic condition. Harrison is only ten months old so the doctor recommended a specialist review his x-rays to determine if surgery was needed.

No matter what happened when his nails were trimmed, the provider mishandled the communication and situation. They did ultimately offer to pay for my vet visit. The check has not arrived in my mailbox but I have not lost hope of receiving it. Corporate America is slow to move on reimbursements.

On Tuesday, three anxious weeks later, the specialist contacted us. The verdict was surgery. I was nervous when I dropped him off for surgery yet Dr. Drager increased my comfort level. Now that Harrison has been back home for two days, I am still nervous. So, as I watch Harrison slowly heal, I am thrilled to have a South American adventure.

From Travelscope to Rudy Maxa’s World to the Seasoned Traveler and Passport to Adventure, my mind soared across the countries. Their excursions in Argentina from Buenos Aires to Mendoza and from Chile to Peru inspired me.

As I watched some of the brief histories, I wondered why we do not learn more of about South America in school. Why do we focus on European and North American history? Didn’t the Spanish, French and English explorers settle in the southern hemisphere, too? Why does the United States act as if they were the only country to import slaves? Why can’t North Americans instinctively draw a relatively accurate map of the countries in South America? Why don’t we know our southern neighbors better? For that matter, why don’t we understand Canada better? When I traveled to Argentina, one of my fellow tourists said, “I always thought Canada was one of the United States.” I laughed until I realized she was serious.

When I see wonderful shows like those on PBS today, I understand how much I need to learn despite my knowledge of Canada as a country composed of provinces and separate from the United States. During Harrison’s recuperation over the next six to eight weeks, I will have ample opportunity to continue to explore the South American continent from the comfort of my chair. And to dream of that next trip. I have my eye on the wine country of Mendoza.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Cleaning house is a lesson in family history-Part II

Tuesday when I updated this blog, my desk was in the entryway to my home office. My daughter and I were prepared to move it to the garage and ultimately to the curb for recycling. But she was at work and I never leave well enough alone. I decided to try to move the desk myself.

I wanted to make quicker progress on my room renovation. Earlier in the day, I checked out desks online at Fry’s Electronics. While I did not find the desk of my dreams, I wanted to get to the store as soon as possible to view the desks “live and in person.”

So I edged and pulled and pushed and yanked and shuffled and backed up and tugged the desk. About one third of it was now in the hallway. As I analyzed my next move, I realized the desk needed to be propped up vertically on the short side to make it into the hallway. And, even with that Herculean effort, the top half of the desk still would be in the way of rotating it fully. Then Ashley and I would still need to navigate the turn to get it into the garage.

I decided the only way the desk was moving anywhere was to remove the top shelves. I grabbed a screwdriver and used it as a crowbar between the joints. Nothing budged. I searched for a hammer in the toolbox, the laundry room and the kitchen to no avail. (This is where I typically blame my children. But how often do my daughters use hammers? And one daughter no longer lives here. OK, let’s just not go there).

So I stood in my 120 plus degree garage and looked for any tool which could help me . My father, who had worked at the Kohler Company, had given me many tools most of which are somewhere in my house. I found one hanging on the wall and my faded memory tells me it was used on cast iron bathtubs. (Kohler is a small village in Wisconsin, located west of Sheboygan. I grew up in its shadow with three of my uncles, an aunt and many other family members earning their livelihood from the Kohler family).

Could I swing this hammer on steroids and remove the shelving? It was worth a shot.
I methodically hammered the edges I wanted to remove and within five minutes the shelves were separated. I dragged the shelf to the garage, pleased with my accomplishment. Now onto moving the desk.

When I returned and looked at what remained, it suddenly didn’t look too bad. Wasn’t this better than what I had seen on the Fry’s electronics web site? Why didn’t I think of this before?

There stood my desk, barely ravaged from the hammer, and ready for a new life. I have no idea why I didn’t just slam the tool into the desk and smash it to pieces. Now instead of buying a desk, I can spend my money on bookshelves, frames, paint or whatever else strikes my fancy. An antique Kohler hammer transformed my desk and with a few more little touches, I will have exactly what I need for my new office. I may just believe in reincarnation.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Cleaning house is a lesson in family history

I am on vacation this week. Everyone asked me where I was going for the week, and I proudly announced, "I am staying home.'

I feel less-stressed simply because I am on vacation. I go to sleep when I want and wake up when I want. But, the real sense of freedom comes in knowing I am cleaning my own house, putting my own life in order. My goal is to save only what I absolutely need, and to give away or toss the rest. And I hope to locate my copies of the Reinwald censuses.

Like most genealogists, writers and artists. I work on projects in spurts, start new projects before others are done, and continue this cycle through books, family histories and genealogical searches. Add to that some research trips, a day job, and real life day to day living, and piles of "stuff" accumulate. I define "stuff" as something important which is a part of what you experienced or know you will need later in your research. I have rooms full of "stuff."

This week, I tackle the "stuff." I have discovered some of it is really good "stuff." While cleaning out a desk, I discovered office and school supplies to outfit two children for three school years. I discovered reams of paper, a key from my house in Tennessee, software for operating systems long past, and all of my credit cards from the 1980s. I saved the best "stuff" and tossed the rest. This desk, long past its Sauder lifetime, will be gone soon thanks to the Chandler Recycling department.

I think I will miss the desk. It sits poised at the entryway of what we always called "Grandma's room." The desk is empty for the first time since 1995, the room empty since June 17, 2010. I know once the desk is out of my house I won't actually miss it, I will simply miss the thought of it being in my mother's room when she was there. She remains in my heart and that is where she belongs. She is not in the desk.

It will take more time than this week to complete, but I feel cleansed just by starting the process.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Seed and Harvest Gene Update: Let there be seeds

As I mentioned to you in my March and April updates, spring resurrected my "Seed and Harvest" gene. This gene, which so long had lain dormant, was bequeathed to me by my ancestors. While it dominated my springtime, the gene experienced a bit of a drought during the summer in Arizona.

My landscape and garden classes are in hiatus. So, the last few months I considered which outdoor projects I should tackle first. After my classes, I realized I wasn't ready for a full fledged garden. I filled pages of "to do" lists for inside and outside my home. Where should I begin? The choices were vast and beyond my skills.

What I need is a "Master Plan" to follow for the next couple of years to transition my yard into my gardening paradise. A plan which uses my skills and invites the talents of others when I need support. Let me assure you, I am not as organized as a Master Plan would lead you to believe. I know I need a Master Plan, and there are lots of images floating in my head, but nothing has been committed to paper yet.

But, I wasn't going to let lack of a plan stop me.

In May, I bought a few plants. I dedicated my early evenings to check their growth, to water when needed and to make sure Harrison, my eight month old puppy, had not devoured my treasures. I was on "weed patrol" each night and the daily walks through the yard have improved its appearance. However, it has not been all fun and games.

My strawberry plants flowered and then withered in the Arizona sun not a berry to be seen nor eaten. Harrison ate my peppermint plant, its remains strewn across the stones of my backyard. The elephant food is the sole survivor and I have yet to plant my loofah seeds. I am a far cry from my ancestral roots of living off the land.

So, my latest plan is to let monsoon season and triple digit temperatures pass. In autumn, I will test my hand and plant fall and winter vegetables. The elephant food will be transplanted from pot to earth and I envision an ocotillo in the north east corner of my yard. And, yes, that gate I want to build to save the vegetables from Harrison, well, that is further down on the list.

In the meantime, I have discovered how to get that "home grown" harvest satisfaction without the soil and toil. There is an organization called which brings locally produced fresh fruit and vegetables to its participants. The program is run by volunteers who coordinate all of the orders, meet at pre-assigned locations and distribute the food.

I signed up for the co-op and picked up my first basket last Saturday. I was delighted with the kale, tomatoes, broccoli, pears, peaches, grapes, strawberries and watermelon. Yes, watermelon.

When I brought my basket of goods into my kitchen both times, I pretended I picked these items from my own backyard. If my own "Seed and Harvest" gene did not grow these delights, I could enjoy it like it had. I washed and dried the items, saving the watermelon for last. I used my serrated knife and sliced it down the middle.

Inside, there was an oval shaped ring of black seeds. If you read my blog of Sunday, June 12 , you understand how watermelon played a role in my family history and triggers memories of each generation. How odd that I find my bountiful basket watermelon is filled with seeds. Now I only have one more comment.

Yes, Ashley, watermelons have seeds.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

July 4, 2011 - Independence and Intrigue

My grandfather, Fred Herzog, was born on July 4, 1882 in Reinwald, Russia. He gained his independence on April 9, 1907 when he arrived in Philadelphia aboard the Haverford. He traveled alone and his destination was Wisconsin. Like many immigrants, he came to live with other German Russian families on Erie Ave. in Sheboygan.

He lived with the Reimer's who were also from Reinwald. In 1913, he married their youngest daughter, Sophie, who was widowed in 1912 and left with two small children. He accepted the children as his own which tells us much about his character. He and Sophie are in the picture above, one of the three photographs I have of him.

Fred was always a mystery to me. His death certificate shows his birthplace was in Reinwald, Russia and lists his parents as Casper Herzog and Marvin Kauger as does his obituary in The Sheboygan Press. Yet, I could never connect him directly to the 1857, 1850 or original settler's Censuses for Reinwald. There are plenty of Herzog's listed, I simply never got close enough to 1882 to build the complete line.

The ship’s manifest lists Fred’s birthplace as Haviza, Russia. I assumed this was a mistake, but one can never be certain with these records. I searched for Haviza and found nothing that matched. Could it have been a temporary place he stayed in Russia while he earned enough money to travel to America? Or, could it have an illegibly written version of Starista, the Russian name for Reinwald?

Fred died in 1941 when my mother was only fourteen. She was so young she never asked for details about his life in Russia. I do know she was his “little angel” as he called her that the last time he saw her when she was in her beautiful white confirmation dress.

On Saturday when I chatted on with my friend Ale Müller of Argentina, he mentioned the village of Rosenfeld. Ale and I share family ties to Reinwald. We have known each other online since my trip to Argentina. Ale told me some of his family moved from Reinwald to the daughter colony Rosenfeld as families grew and needed to expand to new land. He shared a copy of the 1862 Rosenfeld census* with me. Could this census be my link back to the Herzog's in the 1857 census? I skimmed through the pages and saw Herzog's and Reimer's among the recognizable Sheboygan family names.

On page 7, there are three Herzog families listed as follows:

Household # 20
Name.............Relationship to Head of Household.....Age
Peter Herzog.......Head..........................30
Margaretha Wagner......Spouse............29
Magadelena ...........Daughter..................5
Anna Katherina......Daughter.................3
Georg Andreas.........Brother...................23
Margetha Enders.....Sister-in-law..........21

Household # 21
Name...................Relationship to Head of Household.....Age
Friedrich Herzog........Head....................43
Magdelena Gauger.....Spouse.................40
Maria Elisabeth Gauger....Daughter-in-law......19
Maria Katharina.........Daughter................7

Household # 22
Name...................Relationship to Head of Household.....Age
Kaspar Herzog............Head.............39
Christina Knaus..........Spouse..........37
Maria Elisabeth..........Daughter.........7

I focused on the two younger Kaspar boys, ages 1 and 3, who would perhaps be the one to have fathered a child born in 1882 since they would have been 21 and 23 years old respectively. Kasper Herzog, age 39, would be 59 years of age in 1882, which certainly makes him a possibility but not the most likely candidate.

I also noticed there is a pattern of Herzogs marrying Gauger women. By the way, Gauger, when written in Russian, begins with a K. Am I on to something here?

Well, it is back to the Reinwald Censuses for a comparison of the Rosenfeld household numbers to the Herzog household numbers. The intrigue continues and my research begins anew. Today in honor of my grandfather’s birthday, I will celebrate the friendship of people like Ale who keep the momentum of family research flowing. I will celebrate Independence and thank my grandfather for coming to America. And, I wish my grandfather a blessed anniversary of his birth wherever it actually took place.

*1862 Census of Rosenfeld am Nachoi in the District of Samara, Russia, Dated January 10, 1862. Translated by Brent Mai, Concordia University, Portland, Oregon.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Family Secrets-Are you sure you want to know?

I recently listened to the book, "A Secret Kept" by Tatiana de Rosenay. When I picked out the book, I knew little about the story or author except what I read on the back of the audio cover. It sold me and I checked it out of my local library.

After I inserted the discs into my CD player, I was hooked before I finished the first paragraph. The characters of Antoine Rey and his sister Melanie piqued my interest. Their weekend getaway to a seaside hotel resurrected long-forgotten memories of a woman they barely knew, their mother. The memories spur them to investigate and interview family members to uncover the life and loves of Clarisse Rey.

There is much more to the story than genealogical and family history research. How the characters communicate and respond to each other tells more than some psychological thrillers. Yet, one of the most poignant moments for me is when Melanie tells Antoine she doesn't want to learn anything more about their mother. Melanie focuses on the remaining time with their father while Antoine carries on the investigation. As Melanie tells him, whatever he finds out, she simply doesn't care to know.

Many of us have experienced moments like these. You uncover a child born out of wedlock, a marriage filled with abuse, or a wayfarer who never returns home. Heartaches can put an end to a researcher's enthusiasm.
I understand the dilemma.

In "A Secret Kept" Melanie chooses to spend her time with people alive now and Antoine decides to continue to search about his mother's life. It is a balancing act family historians face every day. This book offers insight for family historians and challenges us to question how well we know the people of our present and our past. Read it this summer and you won't regret it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Toby was a good dog

Dogs become a part of our family history because they are part of our days, our nights and our homes. For years, I ignored dogs because I was told I was allergic to them. I knew first hand how hard it was for me to live with cats, and I assumed dogs would cause me the same turmoil.

When my daughter Becky brought her new dog Watson to my house at Christmas, I feared the worst yet learned the best. I could live in a house with a dog. Perhaps their dander wasn't as strong as what I experienced with cat litter boxes, or perhaps the shorter hair was easier on my breathing.

Once Becky and Watson left, Ashley and I missed them. We started the new year and I attended the Family History Expo "Where Ol' Dogs Learn New Tricks. Thanks to Holly Hansen, I blogged in the Blog House. Why were dogs everywhere I turned?

According to Chinese Astrology, I was born in the year of the Rooster. Since the 2011 astrological year belongs to the Rabbit, I discovered I needed the protection of a Dog. Was it a sign? I don't know but I borrowed my friend's Dog charm and kept it close. Was it my imagination, or did it really help?

Near the end of January I visited the Maricopa Animal Care just to see how the dog adoption system worked. Two days later, I brought home Harrison. He has been my walking partner and friend ever since. Within a few weeks I learned my nephew Steve had adopted Toby.

I only met Toby once, on Memorial Day when Steve and his Kool Pak truck stopped in Casa Grande for a short layover. Toby greeted me by jumping up, placing his paws on my shoulders and looked me straight in the eye. He smiled at me with his huge dog grin. He was happy and friendly, just like you would want your dog to be. He jumped in my car and made himself comfortable.

It was a short visit but I know he was a great companion for Steve. So, yesterday when my sister Joan told me he was killed, my heart just broke.

Toby was a good dog and he will be missed. He was only a part of my extended family for a short time, but he will not be forgotten.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Watermelon: Sowing the Seeds of My Family History

I found five black seeds in my seedless watermelon today.

Most people notice the black seeds and remove it without another thought. They certainly wouldn't bother counting nor would they blog about it. Yet, every time I scoop the red fruit out of the green rind, memories flash through my mind.

My first memory is of my Grandmother Bauer who hated watermelon. When she told me this fact in the early 1960s and I was appalled. How could anyone hate watermelon? It was refreshing and light and it meant summer. She understood and started to tell me a story about herself as a young girl growing up in Russia.

Her family, the Herrmanns of Mariental, Russia, lived off the land. Everyone was part of the harvesting work force once they were old enough to walk in the fields. Grandma said she had seen and lifted and harvested more watermelon than she had ever cared to in her life. If she never saw a watermelon again, it would be OK with her.

My second memory is of my mother who loved watermelon. For most of her life, she bought seeded watermelon and scooped it out in small melon balls carefully removing all of the black seeds. She would be upset if my Dad found any black seeds in the small perfectly sculpted melon balls. This was how watermelon was served for years.

When seedless watermelon arrived in the grocery stores, my Mom served watermelon more often than ever! In the later years, the small melon ball utensil was replaced with an ice cream scoop.

Today I dug into my watermelon with an ice cream scoop. Memories intact, I said to my daughter. "Hey, there are five black seeds in this watermelon!"

And, she replied, "I thought watermelon were supposed to have seeds."

Life goes on.

My Family Tree on Disney

I saw a commercial on Disney Channel entitled "My Family Tree." It focused on a young girl and her family who traced their ancestry back to early California. Their journey included a visit to her great grandfather's home (there may have been more than one great) which he built many years ago.

I was excited to see Disney "commercializing" family history and genealogy so I went to the Disney Channel web site for more information and initially found nothing. I did a google search and discovered these two vignettes on and realized I had seen both air on Disney Channel, too.

I had no luck finding the California search but I did find other blogs such as Thomas MacEntee's Geneabloggers at which talk about the forthcoming show...but what happened to the actual show? Most blogs indicate the "show," not a series of commercials, was to debut in November 2010. Maybe it did?

If you have heard more about this show, please share any information you have. I am curious about this one.

Monday, May 30, 2011

New Kind of Memorial Day-Honor the past, savor the present

I love three day weekends. This one is no exception. Saturday and Sunday were fabulous days. And, it's going to be even better today.

I am thankful and honor all of the veterans who served our country. Whenever I think of Memorial Day, two people always come to mind. My father, Joseph, a World War II Navy veteran and his brother, John, a Marine who gave all in the Battle of Saipan.

As a child, the tradition on this day was to visit the cemeteries for all of our relatives and place flowers on the graves. Then we would grill bratwurst and enjoy a meal with our family.

Today, I am fortunate to have my daughter from Palm Springs on her way to Arizona to uphold the grilling tradition. Along with her boyfriend and my other daughter, I was looking forward to fun, family time.

But as fate would have it, my nephew Steve just happens to be in Arizona for a few hours today. So I am heading to Casa Grande to pick him up so we can spend some time together. I haven't seen Steve since last July when I was in Oregon. It wasn't exactly how I planned to spend my day. Who would miss a chance to spend time with family? Not me.

So, my message today is a bit shorter than my previous Memorial Day blogs, but not any less heartfelt. I honor the past and savor the present on this commemorative day.

(In picture above, Fred Bauer, Joseph Dalhaimer, Clementine Dalhaimer Bauer, Gottlieb Bauer, Zeaman Dalhaimer, in front Susan Dalhaimer Oehldrich Schmidt).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

If the world ends today...

I have to admit, I don't think the world will end today. But, if it does, have you considered these perspectives:

1) We will be re-united with all of our ancestors.
2) Our genealogical quest will be over because all of our questions will be answered.
3) We no longer have to buy lottery tickets and dream of the big win.
4) Dog poop will not be a factor in our landscape design.
5) We only get in half of our weekend.
6) All those little home repairs we didn't get to, well, we just didn't get to
7) While our current physical world may end, our spiritual world continues
8) Isn't that why we are here anyway?
9) So, why did so many people want to leave this world hungover?
10) Isn't the real point to live everyday fully, be kind to and love everyone? And for every hour of every day, treat others as we would want to be treated? Don't we always want to respond to others as if it is the last time you will see them?

Because you never know when any one's world will end. So enjoy and love every minute of it. No matter how long it lasts.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Bittersweet May 7, 2011

Bittersweet is the word for today, May 7, 2011. If I said I was looking forward to it that would be a lie.

The week was ordinary enough with some fun on Wednesday for my daughter’s birthday. I enjoyed planning and preparing food for her party. It reminded me of how my Grandmother Bauer single-handedly made all of the food for her Christmas Eve Open House. The process is a lonely but extremely gratifying when the guests arrived. So it was with my small gathering. My refrigerator is now empty, not a leftover to be found.

By Friday I was ready for my work week to be over, to have free time and relax. Perhaps to draw or write or something to distract me. But in the back of my mind, I recognized my dread. Could even a bit of fear lay there unacknowledged?

When I arrived home last night, I walked Harrison and afterward I sat in my chair exhausted. Whether I was truly tired or dreaded the thought of today, I don't know. Thoughts can be funny that way. They linger and linger then fade away only to be revived at the oddest times.

I live in a great house, even if it isn't completely paid for. I have a good job and can get out of bed every day. My green thumb has been put to good use this spring. I have killed only one tomato plant. The elephant's food and strawberry plants are doing great, knock on wood. There is so much to be grateful for.

But, the weekend is bittersweet for me. Many people are looking forward to Mother's Day. I am not. This is my first Mother's Day weekend without Mom. And, today was her birthday.

Now I am not ready to hide in a closet and know I am certainly not the first person to experience loss. There are many people who never lived with their mothers, who didn't have a chance to spend most of their life with them. Or, unfortunately, their mothers were not like the kind, loving woman my mother was. But my thoughts turn to her often.

My eyes tear up as I remember the one year anniversaries of hospitalizations and doctor appointments. I realize this is a private journey with grief. My first year without my mother has its road bumps and I’ve hit a few curbs so far. Such as when I saw the Mother's Day card display and inadvertently headed to it wondering which one I would pick. I stopped flat in my tracks and headed the other direction. So how can I best explain how I feel about this weekend?

One of my hardest struggles is that so much of what I did - the writing, sharing family histories, and the genealogy - was just so much more fun with her. I miss the conversations we would have about each blog and the joy each memory or new discovery brought to her. I loved how she learned to use the arrows on the computer, but still had to ask me every time which key to push to scroll down to read the entry. Often I experience a writer's block because I realize I will no longer see or hear her response to my work. Of course, I do believe she knows what I write and what I do. But, to imagine her response is not the same as to witness it.

So, it is bittersweet. It is a beautiful spring day here. I will have breakfast at Liberty Market this morning, do errands and maybe jump in the swimming pool this afternoon. I will go through my day remembering her.

And in the late evening, I will sit on my patio and raise a toast of Kahlua Mudslide with milk to Mom and the time we had together. And do my best to keep writing.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Seed and Harvest" Gene Kicks In

Spring has arrived and it has sparked my "seed and harvest" gene…the gene I tried to leave dormant for most of my life. It rose to the surface a few times during my life. I planted a small garden in Wisconsin where I grew tomatoes and zucchinis. I also designed my backyard landscape for my beautiful home in Tennessee. Since my German Russian ancestors lived off the land for centuries, I felt a strong connection to my family roots when I gardened. I remember my grandmother’s flower beds, the stories of my step-grandfather putting nails into trees to feed them iron, the raspberry bushes which edged the east boundary of Mr. Martin’s huge backyard garden. Part of my history...part of my family’s history.

Arizona is another matter. I’ve lived here for nine years but still don't have a sense of confidence about desert plants. The Sonoran Desert is a completely different climate and landscape. Until recently I had never heard the word “xeriscape.”

The seed gene began to sprout over a month ago when I registered for the "Pruning and Maintaining your Landscape" workshop led by Cathy Rymer, Water Conservation Coordinator for the City of Chandler. When I started the workshop I could name three of the plants in my backyard: palm trees, rosemary bushes and weeds. Now I can name about half of the plants. Best of all, this workshop was offered free by the City of Chandler.

My next venture was the Landscape class conducted by Ron Dinchak. He has been a Life Science Instructor at Mesa Community College for over forty years. For more information, check out His passion and enthusiasm for using plants native to an arid climate is infectious.

During Dinchak’s sessions over the past three Tuesdays, I have learned many things including: 1) I now recognize many more plants; 2) I know that the loofah does not come from the ocean; 3) and I have measured my yard completely so I will limit my selections to plants which will fit in these spaces at maturity. I am also the proud owner of elephants food and tomato plants. I also own loofah seeds! Check out to find out more about the loofah plant.

So, the climate and landscapes may change, but the deep desire to put down roots may be grounded in my agrarian genes. Whether it is growing wheat, sugar beets, grapes or palo verdes, the German Russian adapts to the soil and climate of their surroundings. I may even be inspired to learn to become an Arizonan Master Gardener. The seed is firmly planted now, waiting to see how much I water it and let it thrive in the desert. The "seed and harvest" gene wins every time.

P.S. According to, Xeriscape is defined as “quality landscaping that conserves water and protects the environment.” There are seven principles associated with Xeriscape landscapes:
1. Planning and Design
2. Soil Improvement
3. Appropriate Plant Selection
4. Practical Turf Areas
5. Efficient Irrigation
6. Use of Mulches
7. Appropriate Maintenance

Sunday, February 27, 2011

To roux or not to roux-the beauty of cast iron skillets

I decided today was the day to cook for the whole week. This is not unusual for me because I don't like to cook after working 10-12 hours at my weekday job. Sunday is the perfect day to create meals. I enjoy planning meals which can withstand refrigeration for the week and offer succulent flavor through the last helping.

I wanted something old and something new so I chose to make Green Bean Soup, Seaford Gumbo, banana bread and pumpkin bars. The seafood gumbo recipe was a new venture for me as I found it yesterday in Marilu Henner's Party Hearty cookbook on page 107.

Seafood Gumbo falls under the Mardi Gras category. I know Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday are weeks away, however I always anticipate these days to be in February. My internal calendar was ready for Mardi Gras food even if Lent starts March 9 and Easter is in late spring on April 24.

So I dove into the new experience of cooking Seafood Gumbo. The recipe said, "Combine the remaining 1/4 cup margarine and the flour in a large iron skillet." I was surprised to see the iron skillet mentioned and I thought I misread it. After some consideration I realized I owned a large cast iron skillet passed down from my grandmother to my mother and then to me. I bent on my knees and searched the kitchen cabinet behind the casserole dishes, the 9 inch pie pans and the electric fryer. I found and dragged out the cast iron skillet.

The next sentence of instructions read "Make a roux by cooking it over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the roux is the color of chocolate." Roux? I never heard of the term. I asked my daughter Ashley to google it and she read the following:

Roux (pronounced /ˈruː/) is a cooked mixture of wheat flour and fat, traditionally clarified butter. It is the thickening agent of three of the mother sauces of classical French cooking: sauce béchamel, sauce velouté and sauce espagnole. Butter, vegetable oils, or lard are commonly used fats. It is used as a thickener for gravy, other sauces, soups and stews. It is typically made from equal parts of flour and fat by weight. Retrieved February 27, 2011 from

I started the roux and immediately recognized that this thickener was quite similar to the broth mixture for green bean soup. I recalled the stories of how my great-grandmother passed the green bean soup recipe to my grandmother and my grandmother passed the green bean recipe to my mother.
The paternal grandmother descended from the Herrmanns of Mariental who moved to Russia from modern day Luxembourg. Of course, the country of Luxembourg did not exist in the late 1700s when they immigrated. It was a province or territory ruled by Spain, France or Germanic prince depending on who won the latest war. Who created this cooking technique? Could this technique I considered German -Russian cooking stem from the French influence in Bitsche,Luxembourg, the ancestral home of the Herrmanns?

When I set the seafood gumbo to simmer, I started the green bean soup. Of course I used the cast iron skillet again. My mother loved this skillet. Mixing the roux and the green bean broth in it made me finally understand why. The cast iron built an even heat and its sturdy structure was a welcome break from modern frying pans which disintegrate too easily.

The broth for green bean soup is created as follows: "In a separate frying pan, place 2 tablespoons of of butter and 1/2 cup flour. Warm this mixture on low heat while stirring occasionally. Heat until the flour browns and butter dissolves." From Value Meals on the Volga, Sharing Our Heritage with New Generations.

Is it a coincidence that this soup thickener is used in French and German Russian cooking, or do all cultures have a similar recipe?

Whether Russian, German, Italian, French or Spanish, this cooking technique demonstrates we are a global community so matter how we look at it. To roux or not to roux, in whatever language, it's just good cooking.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Historical Markers of Williamson County, Tennessee

I have not seen all 162 historical markers in Williamson County, Tennessee, however I believe I have seen at least half of them.

When I moved to Franklin, Tennessee in 1993, I was focused on acclimating to a new town, raising my children and building my career. There was not a lot of time devoted to visit each marker. My regular commute from Franklin to Nashville meant driving often on Hillsboro Road, Mack Hatcher Parkway and Franklin Road. Between horse farms and beautiful brick houses, I saw many of the markers and savored the history first hand.

When my parents visited for a month, their first stop was the Franklin Welcome Center in the former surgeon's office downtown. There they received the brochure about the Historical Markers, and they were on a mission. Mom and Dad were the first ones in my family to visit the Carter House, Carnton Plantation, to track their days by the number of markers they could see. They shared the stories of the Battle of Franklin, Tad Carter, the cemeteries, and the communities. I remember how excited they were when they found the last one. It was a small plaque unlike the larger markers on poles. It was against a wall. I remember the day, and wish I could remember which marker it was.

So, I pulled a few books off the shelf, namely, Back Home in Williamson County by Lyn Sullivan, National Register Properties Williamson County, Tennessee published by the Hillsboro Press and A Photographic Recollection Franklin. Books to help me remember all the places I used to call home.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I enjoy every episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” but usually not for the same reasons as most of the viewers.

Last Friday’s show was no exception. Tim McGraw, famous country singer and husband of Faith Hill, lives in Tennessee near the same area where I lived for ten years. History is a part of everyday life in Williamson County. Historical Markers dot roadsides to commemorate Hood’s Retreat. Homes like the Carter house and McGavock Cemetery at Carnton Plantation stand stalwart and resonate the echoes of battles long past. Yes, I love the landscape and history of Tennessee.

Tim’s family history did not begin in Tennessee. He grew up in Lousiana yet his ancestors made an impact in a number of states between the 1700 and 1800s. For the WDYTYA show, he retraced their steps and traveled to the Shenandoah Valley, Washington D.C. and New York City. places I have gone, too. My favorite part was when Tim saw the place of origin listed for one of his great, great grandfathers and asked,“What is a Palatin?”

I realized most of the audience probably asked the same question Tim did, yet my heart soared as I saw a connection to my own heritage. As a German from Russia, I knew the Palatine and I knew why so many people chose to leave such a beautiful section of the world in the 1700s. I was ecstatic to know that the story would be part of prime time as it would be explained to Tim.

"Palatines are people who emerged from the Palatinate which is described as
The Palatinate or German Pfalz was subject to invasion by the armies of Britain, France, and Germany. As well as the devastating effects of war, the Palatines were subjected to the winter of 1708 and 1709, the harshest in 100 years.

The scene was set for a mass migration. At the invitation of Queen Anne in the spring of 1709, about 7,000 harassed Palatines sailed down the Rhine to Rotterdam. From there, about 3000 were dispatched to America, either directly or via England, under the auspices of William Penn. The remaining 4,000 were sent via England to Ireland to strengthen the protestant interest.

In 1710,three large groups of Palatines sailed from London. The first went to Ireland, the second to Carolina and the third to New York with the new Governor, Robert Hunter. There were 3 000 Palatines on 10 ships that sailed for New York and approximately 470 died on the voyage or shortly after their arrival.
Retrieved February 12, 2011 from 2011 from

Tim’s Palatine ancestors sought refuge west while mine sought refuge east. His family headed to England where they were promised free land in the New World.
They sailed for New York a bit earlier than the Germans who accepted Catherine’s Manifesto invitations to Russia. Both of our ancestors left for many of the same reasons, but mine left after the Seven Years War. Invitations to migrate from the Palatinate offered hope of food and a new life through all of the 1700s.

Such a fabulous history lesson this show provides! I can hardly wait for the show to begin tonight.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Life Goes On...Random Stream of Consciousness for February 5, 2011

Someone mentioned the White Album on facebook, and ever since I have been singing "Oh Bla Di, Oh Bla Da," in my head. I hear you thinking, "Thank you for not singing aloud," and I offer a hearty "You are welcome,' in return. Its the "Lala how the life goes on" phrase which is particularly poignant to me as my mind races with these thoughts.

Stream of consciousness thought number one- I saw Paul McCartney perform that song live for the first time ever in the United States last March at the Glendale Arena in Arizona. Tickets were sold out early and when my sister Joan and I found a couple of good seats for sale, I said, "If you go, I go." We went and never regretted a moment.

Stream of consciousness thought number two- I was brought to tears last night when Vanessa Williams discovered she was not the first trailblazer in her family history. One of her great grandfathers was a Civil War enlistee for the Union side. He risked his life and his freedom in this cause. He also helped to spread the word of freedom to former slaves in the South. Another was a State Representative in Tennessee and a famous educator. Since her father was orphaned at a young age, he missed learning these family stories. Vanessa was able to share the history with her mother and children which touched my heart. It was also the first episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" that I watched without my mother.

Stream of consciousness thought number three- It's Super Bowl weekend! I always love it and am still trying to decide on what food to serve. However, the best part is my all-time favorite team, the Green Bay Packers, are there! My connection to the Packers goes way back and while I know I am dating myself, one of my favorite memories is Green Bay training camp. My Dad and my sister Joan chased Packer players from the Lambeau field locker room to the practice field across the street. I got autographs from Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Jim Taylor, Fuzzy Thurston, Jerry Kramer, Don Chandler, Zeke Bratkowski, Max McGee and many others. Joan also got Vince Lombardi's authograph. I saw him but missed the autograph. One of my friends at work gave me a copy of a letter this week from Curly Lambeau dated August 1, 1944. I will be so wound up tomorrow, does it matter what I eat? If you hear screaming from my house, just keep on going or join me if you can stand the noise. This will be the first Super Bowl in many years that I will watch without my mother.

Stream of consciousness thought number four- I am serving as a judge for the Desert Rose Romance Writer 2011 Golden Quill Contest. As such, I have four romance books to read and critique over the next couple of weeks. CONFESSION: Karen Wierach, formerly of my writer's critique group, wrote the last romance book I read. I have read very few Harlequin romances. This could become a secret, guilty indulgence. My mom would be proud.

Stream of consciousness thought number five- I have a new puppy, Harrison...CORRECTION: my daughter Ashley has a new puppy, Harrison. He is a chihuahua shorthair mix we saved from the pound. He is cute and wonderful despite the biting and the house training. His first vet appointment was today and he did quite well, despite the fecal test. He also received his first puppy pedicure! Life around the house will never be the same again.

Stream of consciousness thought number six- February is the month of remembrance. both of my paternal grandparents. Clementine was born on Feb. 2 and Johannes was born Feb. 3. 2011 marks the 117th and 123rd anniversary of their births.

Stream of consciousness thought number seven- This is also the anniversary weekend of my mother's first visit to the hospital in 2010. Of course, I remember every detail. We did get to see the second half of the game at home on the new large screen television which was our Christmas gift from her. And, I know if she were with us today, she would be cheering on Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers with gusto.

So, I have only one question. Do they wear Cheeseheads in heaven?

Life goes on.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My favorite food growing up...

My favorite food growing up was the German Russian fare made by my mother and grandmother. And, because my ancestry is German Russian, and we love all foods, I have to pick my favorites by category:

1) Soup--Green Bean Soup=made of dumplings, green beans, and potatoes with thick broth. Yum!

2) Main course- Cottage Cheese Mauldasha --Called by many other names, this was made with a basic dough cut into squares, filled with cottage cheese mixture, pinched together into a square, boiled and served with butter. It is our Christmas Eve tradition!

3) Pink Peppermint Cookies -- Shown in the picture above, these treats were peppermint delights in pink cookie form. I remember when we drove over to my grandma's house, I always hoped she had baked these cookies. Usually she had a batch waiting for us in her kitchen.
Now I am definitely hungry!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Day to Relax, Recoup and Reminisce on a Great Family History Expo

After a busy two days at the Arizona Family History Expo, I slept late. I plan to savor and record all of the great information and ideas I can pursue in my family history.

Holly Hansen's concluding remarks helped to wrap up a fabulous event. The opportunity to get to know her better during the last two days was a distinct pleasure for me. Since I lived in Tennessee for ten years, I understood her dilemmas of tracing Georgia ancestors.

Thanks to those who attended my workshops. Arizona is not a hotbed of Germans from Russia. It is always a risk to discuss a narrowly focused topic such as "Discovering Your German Russia Roots" but one I was willing to take to help fellow researchers. The attendees were very interested and asked good questions. I also met someone from my own ancestral village of Mariental!

The "WRITE to the Heart of the Matter for Genealogists" was also a great experience and I think all of us walked away with new ideas on how to approach our family history stories. Let's keep in touch so we can continue to encourage each other on our writing journey.

Special thanks also to Ashley, Frank, Ed and Judy who supported me this week when I needed it most. I truly appreciate it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

BLOG Mania!

At the BLOG house again this morning. So many people are stopping by and learning what a blog is, how to set one up and how to share their family history research. For all who ave stopped by, thank you.

Everyone is raving about the photography class Gary Clark just conducted entitled, " 19th Century Paper Photographs: Discovering When the Pictures Was Taken."

There are more workshops this afternoon and I plan to attend "Mark Twain's Death Solves a Family Mystery: The Value of Using Newspapers in Family Research, United States Newspaper Research." What intrigues me about this class is the Mark Twain angle. Did you realize Twain's autobiography was just published? Yes, indeed. He wrote it when he was alive and insisted it not be published until 100 years after his death.

That might be the way to keep those family skeletons in the closet from wreaking havoc during your lifetime.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Skeletons in your closet?

M Bridget Cook was the guest speaker at the Friday night dinner for the Family History Expo in Mesa this evening.

Bridget is a focused and spiritually mature woman who knows how to deal with adversity. Her vast writing experience on difficult and sometimes appalling topics make her the ideal choice to explain how to deal with skeletons in our own family history closet.

Should real names be used? Yes, if it is a record for your family alone. If you are going public with your story, you need to protect the innocent, and sometimes the guilty, too.

Bridget was a great inspiration to all who heard her tonight. As I imagine she is to everyone she interacts with on a daily basis. Sensitive issues beyond what most of us have in our family background require expert understanding which Bridget certainly provided. I was glad my daughter was able to join me in such a memorable event. Find out more at

Ultimate Google Search Strategies

Basic search symbols can make or break your google searches And Lisa Louise Cooke shared her techniques for getting the best out of your search engine.

You probably know the AND and Or and - (minus) features. These features are crucial if your - family name is Coffin, Ivory or All (as indicated by one of the attendees).

Quotation marks - If you want an exact phrase, use quotation marks around your words. Adding a date can help, too. You can also go straight to the Advanced Search on the google page.

Tilda search - To get the best results, on a synonym search, use the Tilda in front of your words to let google know you are OK to have synonyms used in the

Asterisk search-insert an asterisk if there could be a word inserted between the phrase you use.

Numrange Search - especially helpful to use ancestor's name and the years as 1790...1830.

Advanced Search Strategies include:

Find a great family website? Find out who linked to it by copying the URL and go to google and paste the URL and the word link with no space between link and the URL address. You will find others who could be relatives!

Related search-Use the word relate instead of link and you may find related websites.

Key words and symbols: plus the URL Home Page can find information faster especially in

The syllabus details more of these searches. Be sure to check the left column on Google to see the latest options for pictures, photographs, drawings when you are searching for images.

Google Books, especially those out of copyright, can be downloadable. Good historical information for any genealogist. Also check which searches all libraries.

Photographs: A Mystery to be Solved

Rebecca Kremer Harvey stopped at the BLOG house and shared her beautiful photo album. She received it from her dad's mother. Unfortunately, she does not know all of the people in the pictures but wants to find out more.

Irene Winterburn recommended trying Google Picassa for the face recognition tool. Will it work? Rebecca will let us know.


Bloggy the dog joined us a few minutes ago. You need to visit us at the Blog House to meet him.

Irene Winterburn and I have already met great people at the expo.
** We met a man who started researching his family after a visit to Nova Scotia and he has discovered over 13,000 ancestors since last October.
**More people blog this year than last. After Dear Myrtle's session this afternoon, those of us at the blog house will help attendees set up a blog.
**The big question from one of the attendees is: Can anyone read and translate Yiddish writing? And be willing to help a fellow genealogist who is willing to pay for services? Let me know if you can help.

Family History Expo in full swing!

Holly Hansen and Lisa Louise Cooke kicked off the Mesa expo with a bang! Thank goodness the weather is beautiful.

Both of them inspired us old dogs and new puppies to consider where there is a need, there is an ability to learn.

Think about the transitions in just the past few years:

**Bulletin boards
**Oover 30,000 downloads in one month is possible
** it out! And, embrace the new technology

Let the Expo excavation begin!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Countdown to Family History Expo: One!

My busy week is about to get busier! Tuesday night at Changing Hands was fabulous. The group who attended the presentation shared their ideas and projects so it was interactive and inspring for all.

Tomorrow is the big day in Mesa, Arizona. My workshop "Discovering Your German Russian Roots" begins at 4:30 p.m. but you won't want to wait that long to get to the expo. You can buy tickets at the door for both days, one day or for an individual workshop. And, the Friday night dinner will be a wonderful event to meet others who share your passion for family history.

M. Bridget Cook will not only speak but give you a copy of her new book! There are still tickets available for this event. Tickets are $33 and include dinner, dessert and a signed copy of Bridget's book.

Here is more information on the event:

The link to registration for the Friday event (registration ends Thursday at 10am MST)

I look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Changing Hands and Can Ole' Dogs Learn New Tricks means a busy week for me

I am glad I have a three day weekend. It guarantees me time to watch football and to put the finishing touches on three presentations for this week.

The first presentation is on Tuesday at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona. I will present a workshop entitled, "WRITE to the Heart of the Matter" with Dee Dees.

Is one of your goals for the coming year is to write down your stories for your children or grandchildren, this is the workshop for you. This session is packed with writing exercises and discussion to inspire you to achieve your writing goals. For more information and to register/prepay, visit

The second and third presentations are at the Family History Expo at the Mesa Convention Center. On Friday, I present "Discovering your German Russian Roots: Tracing your Ancestry on Three Continents."

This workshop helps those with ties to Germans from Russia trace their ancestors. German Russians are individuals who relocated to Russia at the invitation of Catherine the Great in the late 1700 and early 1800s. Descendants are now located throughout the world. This session introduces the latest technological resources available for research.

The final workshop is "WRITE to the Heart of the Matter for Genealogists." Not an encore presentation, this is designed just for genealogists. You’ve carved your family tree, now jump start writing your family history. Genealogists know birth certificates, census records, cemeteries and passenger lists. Writers know plotlines, point of views, and characters. How do you bridge the gap to turn your maze of facts and documents into a family history? Learn the techniques I use to make your family research come to life. Come ready to write!

You can register for daily passes at or workshop passes for $12 each at the door.

Stay tuned for updates on all events.