Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Old dog, new tricks

I'm copying and reposting this quote from my review on Eudora Welty's biography on my book blog because I like it so much. Near the end of her life, Eudora tells of a letter from an old friend:
"She said, 'I'm 90 years old now, and I feel like there's somebody else living inside my skin and not a friend.' I loved that! Isn't that wonderful? I know what she means. I understand. I guess she feels her body is not obeying her. She didn't mean an enemy but not a friend." from Eudora Welty: A Biography by Suzanne Marrs.

I love the way Eudora enthusiastically seizes her friend's description.

I've been trying to master technology and not succeeding very well. Maybe it is just a matter of moving so slowly and painfully. Like everyone else, my favorite learning is where I make great leaps forward. I read directions in the Photoshop book and have no idea what has been said, and often don't know the terms used. This program is so far over my head and above my needs...

Have also been struggling with some geneaological research. I do like research, but find myself sitting down at say, 3:00 and suddenly finding that it is 5:30, and although I've covered hundreds of census records, I've not made that much progress. It is a fascinating activity to someone who enjoys research, but after getting caught up for hours, your eyes are tired, your back and shoulders ache, your neck is riveted in place.

Ancestry.com is an interesting program, but it, too, requires a lot of getting used to.


  1. I feel like my files are full, & it's harder to cram information into the drawer!
    I also feel like time is moving faster & me slower, there are so many things I want to accomplish, but the sands of time are slipping faster & faster through the glass!

  2. :) Deb, I know what you mean. Entire days vanish so quickly, but even scarier are the weeks and months that are gone before you can properly turn around!

  3. I am amazed to think of my single days, getting two small girls off to school and high-tailing it to a very demanding job, year after year. Wears me out to think of it. I move in slow motion now. Which is why I put a large banner on my sewing room wall that says, "Sew, very old one; sew like the wind!" I feel like I'm racing Old Age--and there's no way Old Age will lose! I am not to the stage of feeling there is someone inside my skin who is "not a friend" but there's definitely a stranger looking at me from my mirror.

    Jen, I've been a genealogist for nearly 20 years. I'll help if I can.

  4. Jane Ann, I love your banner! SEW LIKE THE WIND ;)

    Eudora was in her late 80's when she wrote that (her friend was in her 90's), but I liked the fact that the friend said "not an enemy" just "not a friend." When you are young, your body is a friend of sorts, quite willing to take a lot of abuse (that's why we have children when we're young!), but right now, mine is less friendly, less accommodating, a little slower to respond.

    I appreciate the offer! Since I am just beginning and using the program Ancestry.com offers, I'm putting in what I know and going through census, birth, death, and marriage records. Any suggestions would be appreciated as I am a novice.

  5. If you figure out Photoshop, let me know. I have the exact same feelings about it. Like "say what?" Irritating.

  6. Debra --I don't think there is much chance that I will figure it out. I have had an offer of help, but right now, too much on my plate to add another frustration.

    I'll let you know if I figure anything out, but it won't happen on my own.

  7. Jen, I can't take credit for the phrase. My wise-ass first-born sailed past me one day a few years ago, as I bore down on the sewing machine, murmuring, "Sew, very old one; sew like the wind!" I burst out laughing because it so fit my mindset--I started sewing late in life and I gotta catch up. She said it was a line from Martin Short's "The Three Amigos." When I was able to create my own sewing palace, I knew I had to put it on the wall somehow. I typed it and took it to Kinko's to blow it up, and felt it needed some type of explanation to the dude behind the counter. He cut me off and said, "Oh, yeah. That's a great one. We love that one around here." So evidently it's a catch phrase among a certain set! You can see it here in a mid-November post: http://sewgrand.blogspot.com/2005_11_01_sewgrand_archive.html

    As for the genealogy, don't do what I did in the beginning, which was to ignore siblings. I thought, "Oh, who cares about them? I'm just interested in my direct line." Only later did I realize all those people help to confirm that you are indeed looking at the correct records for a certain family. I had to retrace some steps. And yes, you will be astounded at how much time you can put into it. But it's a great chase that will lead to reading more history than you ever dreamed of. I would also warn you not to believe everything you see in print. We tend to believe the printed word but I have several instances of first-hand knowledge that have been noted incorrectly in printed genealogies. (One of my grandmothers, for goodness sake, is named as an aunt in one book I found.)

  8. Jane Ann-- Well, I guess I revealed myself as not only an "old one" but an uncool old one, but I'm glad to have been educated as I love the phrase. The banner looks great, and so do the old patterns you have framed underneath!

    Siblings really slow things down, I'm discovering; each previous generation had more children. And I'm finding lots of errors in names on the census records. I sat down about 10 last night and didn't get quit until 2:00 this morning! I must be an especially slow (and easily diverted) researcher.

  9. Genealogy is a lot like quilting, in that there is a lot of repetitious motion, and sometimes you do a lot of work and don't have anything to show for it, and sometimes you can work for a little while and wind up with lots to show for it. The fact that you can get so absorbed and lose long periods of time is the key. Enjoy the process. Take your genealogy where you want it to go, rather than what is "supposed" to be. There isn't any genealogy police either.

  10. I've always found it easy to get involved in certain kinds of research. I am enjoying this aspect, but your comments about getting down the personal, the artifacts, etc. is perhaps my favorite part. The important thing will be keeping my commitment to this consuming project.


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