Wednesday, January 09, 2013

January continues...

Yesterday most of the holiday decorations were taken down and stored away in the Christmas Closet. We decided to leave the tree up, since there are numerous packages for Michelle & the girls unopened beneath it. And they are coming home today!

The weather was bright, cold, and windy. But picturesque. Minnesota is my home state, so snow is appreciated, enjoyed, as well as endured. Now, most of my time in the snow is spent shoveling. Must convince Frank to get a snow blower! Since we have a long double driveway, there is lots to shovel whenever it snows. Then I shovel a path to the bird feeders so I can keep them full for my feathered friends. Frank shovels a path to the heat pump - so it can easily be reached for repairs, should they be needed. It's amazing how our minds work so differently!!!

I've spent a goodly part of the past two weeks (without babies) doing genealogical research. The 1940 US census records are up on, and I receive notifications of various ancestors (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) census records. Occasionally I'll receive information posted by another researcher that adds considerably to my own. And less often yet, I'll get an email from a distant family member researching a branch of the family tree.

My grandfather was an amateur photographer, and I'm the family 'scribe.' In order to save the family photos dating back to the 1890's, I've been posting them on for any & all family members to have access to these special artifacts.

My maternal grandfather, Herbert Llewellen Buck (1881-1973), a Mayflower descendant

On the flip side, I've seen my family photos sold as zines to artists who then use them in various art forms. To me, the good outweighs the bad in these situations. So what if someone else profits financially in some small way from selling our family memorabilia? Many other family members have precious photos of their ancestors they otherwise would not have. To me, that is what is important.

When I was a youngster & we lived with my grandparents, PopPop told me that we had ancestors from England, Wales, Scotland & Ireland. He also said our family tree could be traced back to the Mayflower. As a grade-schooler, who wasn't fond of history in any way, that meant next to nothing to me. I put the information in my tiny family tree for my school project, and promptly forgot it until my own children were doing the same projects in grade school.

It took nearly two years for me to track back the Mayflower side of the family and document that for our whole family. I became a member (for one year) of the Mayflower Society and began researching the many other branches of the family tree. I spent a number of years working in libraries and I truly love to research. So it is that I have spent the past 20 or so years playing with family and discovering the true meaning of history.

As we age, it becomes apparent we won't live forever, our stories will fade & die along with us - unless we choose to save them for future generations in some way. My grandfather chose photography as his way to contribute to our family history and I am so grateful that he did. I have followed in his path, much to my family's chagrin. I have albums from the 1940's up to the year 2000, when I stopped putting the photos in albums & put them in boxes instead. That stopped a few years later with the digital camera becoming my camera of choice. Few of those photos are in hard-copy. But most are on a separate hard-drive for secure keeping.

My great-great-grandmother, Mary Jane Paden Stephen (1832-1914), a Mayflower descendant

Unfortunately for any future researchers, my photography includes far more than family history! I have thousands of albums and heaven only knows how many digital files. The subject matter includes family members, of course. And documentation of my art. And landscapes, flowers, birds, texture studies, rocks, water, pets, snow, industrial sites, yada, yada, yada...

Some will say I was undisciplined with regard to my interests. I was told back in college to stick to one medium and one subject matter. Research deeply and excel in one area to do well as an artist and as a person.

Alas, my nature is not conducive to limitations - rather, I love to explore, experiment, play, and move on in art and in life. I'll never be a great artist or a well-known anyone. That is no longer important to me. I am true to myself and follow my heart - and that IS important to me. I'm finally comfortable in being myself rather than trying to be what I think others want me to be. There are some benefits to aging!

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