Finding the needle in the haystack

I’m a genealogist. Now don’t back away and you can lose that look of terror in your eyes. I’m not about to tell you about my great great uncle so-and-so.

I think part of what I like about genealogy is the detective aspect of the job. I like combing through documents and putting the puzzle pieces together. But it can be frustrating, mind numbing work sometimes. So if you ever want to do this, here’s one of the things you sometimes have to do:

You have to take trips to cemeteries looking for ancestors.

In theory, what you’re supposed to do is contact whoever manages the cemetery ask if there are records: “Hi! I’m looking for _____________ and I think he was born in 1900 give or take 5 years and I am pretty sure he died in 1932.” And you’ll get an answer like, “Go to section D, row 2, lot 8.”


This is what usually happens to me:

  1. There is no one to call. The group that took care of the cemetery has vanished into the ether. Or
  2. There are no records. Or
  3. They have records, but your ancestor isn’t among them, except that you have obituaries mentioning the cemetery so you know they’re there. Or
  4. Section D is bigger than North Dakota. The rows are rows only in name and were apparently set out by a wanna-be Crazy Quilter.

But I’m desperate so I head out to the cemetery confident I can find _________ and then I get there and my heart sinks.

Cue something that looks like this:

I square my shoulders and I start off, going down row after row, eyes scanning over tombstones, names swimming past my eyes. Wait, I’ll ask myself, is that one of the names I’m researching? No, not it’s not. And I keep going and a gazillion hours later, I’m giving up and heading back and if I am very very lucky, I trip over the desired ancestor’s name. A lot of the time I’m not lucky.

Usually I go home tired, dehydrated, and annoyed. And if the genealogy gods really want a laugh, when I look over my records, I’ll realize that the grave I decided wasn’t a relative, is a relative. (When I go back, I will invariably be unable to locate that grave ever again. I swear it’s like losing a sock).

This week, it happened the way it’s supposed to happen and IT WAS GLORIOUS!

I found the appropriate contact who had my ancestors in her records and she was able to give me specific directions to each tomb. And then to my utter shock, I FOUND THEM ALL.

To top it off, I started looking around after I had all my names and I FOUND EVEN MORE.

Maybe this happens for other genealogists, but it’s never happened to me before.

It will probably never happen again so I figured I had to brag.

Why I don’t go to ALA

A good friend of mine lives in San Francisco and excitedly told me that ALA Annual is going to be there. This may only make sense if you follow Game of Thrones, but I was proud of how I explained the situation.

The conversation paraphrased with her permission:

Me: I don’t go to that one. I go to MLA and that’s going to run me $1500 this year.

Friend: Why don’t you go to ALA?

Me: Well, it’s just really big and there’s not a lot of — okay, you know how you mostly care about the Team Dragonstone characters like Stannis and Davos?

Friend: Yeah

Me: So if ALA was about Game of Thrones, it would mostly be Dany and Tyrion and SanSan people and maybe if I’m really lucky, I might get to one Team Dragonstone thing [Hey, just like trying to shop the HBO Store!]. But if MLA was about Game of Thrones, it would be mostly about Team Dragonstone. Oh, there might be a few things on people I don’t have a lot of interest in like oh, Selyse or Renly, but it would primarily be about Team Dragonstone.

Friend: Got it (instant comprehension)

Fed Up Challenge – Wrap up

So I made it. Only a few missteps here and there and I lived to tell the tale.  I lost two pounds and I feel good. Am I going to go out and eat a pound of candy? No. But I will be putting honey in my tea tonight and tomorrow if I have oatmeal, there will be some kind of sweetener.

Moderation in all things.

Things I want to keep up: the meal planning, avoiding highly processed foods in general, trying to eat a higher portion of vegetables and fruits, trying to think creatively about cooking.

I might attempt this challenge again. It would be interesting to see if I could go the entire 10 days with no lapses.

If you’re considering doing this, I really think you have to plan it out. It’s good if you know what your trigger foods are–for instance I would avoid having nuts in the house, I think because I can scarf those down by the pound. Also, I found not having something for dessert was an issue. I found one recipe for baked apples that requires no added sugar. I’d like to try, but if I did this over, I think I’d figure out some other dessert options. But this is totally doable.

Thanks for following me on my journey!

Fed Up Challenge – Day 9 and 10

With my last bite tonight, I am done!

Day 9

Breakfast:  Instant plain oatmeal, Chinese 5 spice powder, almonds, raisins, black coffee, and my multivitamin

Lunch: Baby carrots, celery, orange peppers, hummus, apple, cashew butter

Snack: 2 Clementines

Dinner: Salad with leftover roast chicken and 1 tbsp of lemon chive dressing, 2 oz of bourbon, and 2 Clementines

Day 10

Breakfast: half a grapefruit

Lunch: leftover pork tenderloin, greens, quinoa, and roasted vegetables (leftovver)

Dinner: Turkey chili with 1 ounce of cheddar and cornbread, 2 oz of bourbon

Snacks: 1 cup grapes, 2 Clementines

turkey chili

Will sum up tomorrow!

Fed Up Challenge – Day 8

Weekends are usually hard for me and I’m over on fat again. I love almonds and cashews and it’s just too tempting not to snack on them.

Brunch: Matzo Brei – halved and I only hate half of what I made, Cara Cara orange–which looks kind of like a blood orange, black coffee, and my multivitamin.

Snack: 2 Clementines, 1/4 cup of almonds

Dinner: Pork tenderloin with quinoa (cooked in homemade chicken broth) and swiss chard sauteed in olive oil and garlic. Recipe is from the Sonoma Diet Cookbook, but I can’t find it online…

Snack: Cup of green seedless grapes and another 1/4 cup of nuts

So I am feeling much better. I think I have kicked the cold to the curb. I definitely feel less bloated and I have much more energy–I spent most of Sunday doing all kinds of chores I’ve been putting off for days.

I miss honey, though. And bread. Part of the problem with this challenge is that because it’s so restrictive, I find myself wanting things just because.

Fed Up Challenge – Day 7

No pics and no numbers. I’m under on most of them. Not on fat (this is an issue for me) and also a bit high ton the cholesterol.

Breakfast: 2 stone-ground corn tortillas with scrambled eggs, 2 tbsp of bruschetta topping, and an oz. of cheddar. Black coffee and the multivitamin as usual.

Lunch: leftovers – the roast chicken, chard, and roast veggies

Dinner: 3 oz of ham stake, 2 eggs, more swiss chard, tomatoes

Snacks: 2 Clementines, 1/4 cup almonds

I ran into a friend who wanted to know how I was feeling. Again, I’m still fighitng off a cold , so I think that’s part of the issue. I feel good–not bloated. I have energy and I’m sleeping better. I do miss sweet stuff. I would love a teaspoon of honey in my hot tea right now, but I’m not dying for them.

Another friend thought the food had to be tasteless. Aside from the matzo, it’s been quite yummy.

Really, I have no new takeaways here. I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my adult life and I no the lessons: plan ahead; if you take away fat and sugar, you need to add flavor; it helps to plate your food attractively; drink lots of water; only eat food you can pronounce. This is not new to me.

I know what I need to do. This is good for forcing me into better habits and reinforcing those lessons.

Fed Up Challenge – Day 6

No pics. I feel good. Not amazing, not terrible, but good.

Breakfast: half a grapefruit, coffee and the multivitamin

Lunch: Baby carrots with 1 tbsp of hummus. I also about a cup of raw sugar snap peas and an apple cut up into pieces with 2 tbsp of cashew butter (organic, no sugar added). And a sheet of whole wheat matzo. 2 Clementines

Dinner:  3 oz of roast chicken breast, skin removed, with a medley of oven-roasted turnips, potatoes, and beets. Swiss chard sauteed with olive oil and garlic. 2 Clementines. 2 ounces of bourbon over ice.

Really under on all the bad numbers and up on the good ones. It’s a good day.