Genealogy

Mom’s Chicken and Dumplings

My brother Shane asked me for this after I posted this pic of my bowl of Chicken and Dumplings:

Mom's Chicken and Dumplings

Mom’s Chicken and Dumplings

1 Stewed Chicken

1 1/2 cup self-rising flour

Pot with chicken broth (reserve1/2 cup hot broth)

Debone the chicken, put aside.
Bring broth to a boil. Take 1/2 cup broth and put in 1 1/2 cups of self-rising flour and mix with a spoon very quickly. Drop spoonfuls, one at a time, into the boiling broth; cook until done about 20 minutes, covered. Be careful not to boil over.

After the dumplings are done, add chicken, Mouth watering good.
MY NOTE: I just realized why my dumplings always came out too heavy and doughy. Its the flour! I was always using normal flour and she has here self-rising flour. I’m going to try again doing it her way. I also add veggies, like celery or carrots or whatever I’m in the mood for.

Beth’s Note: I was using Bisquick but it basically melts into the broth. Not good.

My Note: I remember mom using Bisquick also, I think she did that when she didn’t have a lot of time.

How to create an online community that will survive

My genealogical community, Heycuz, has been around since 1998. That’s way back when you had to use a telephone to get online. Today, there are between 900 and 1500 people on it right now. I mean this very second. You can check by the “Who’s Online” widget on the front page. I’ve received lots of comments from administrators of other genealogical communities saying they “wish” they had the group participation that we have on Heycuz. In other words, Heycuz has not only survived but is has thrived!

A virtual community is expensive to launch, difficult to attract visitors (participants), and poorly planned execution will make even a promising start fizzle into thin air. I’m saddened that many worthwhile groups’ and organizations’ websites die out so quickly. I want to help you by telling you how we did it. Being deliberate in your planning and construction of your new community website will minimize the chances of your visitors becoming frustrated with a poorly working or confusing roll-out and leaving your site forever.

KISS your members, don’t knock them over.

Bells and whistles are so tempting. There are so many great toys for web communities available: forums, blogs, galleries, private messaging, video chat rooms, and surveys to name a few. But, I’m telling you now KISS (keep it simple stupid) your members don’t knock them over. The “throw everything up at once and hope something sticks” is a recipe for disaster.
At Heycuz, we started out with a very simple newsgroup format. We used Yahoo groups where members could post and reply to group emails. Since most people know how to use email (in the early days we still had to teach people how to attach files), the resulting conversation was lively. Within a few months, even though we didn’t seek new members, we grew from less than a dozen core members to a couple hundred. As we grew, we began to add features to our group including a website which included the family histories and descendant trees.

Drop What Doesn’t Work, Build on What Does.

One of the first new features we tried was a weekly chat room. The sound of crickets was deafening. We tried different times; we tried different topics; we tried different chat systems; but never more than three or four people showed up. I’m not saying don’t try chat rooms, there are lots of successful ones. But, since my members didn’t enjoy it, we dropped it and no one brought it up again. On the other hand, if you find that a large group of your members are doing something you didn’t expect then build upon it. For instance, say your members enjoy posting their links to videos that they created. Take advantage of that by dedicating a whole area of the site to showcasing your members’ videos. There are lots of open-source solutions to host videos or you can even allow them to embed youtube videos.  If you find many of your members posting links to their blog posts, then give them a reason to stick around by offering them a blog feature right on your group’s website. Not only will they enjoy it, but they’ll help add to your site’s content.

Give Yourself Room To Grow.

Being a genealogy group, documents are important, very important. Unfortunately, the servers that I chose didn’t see eye to eye with us. Can you believe they actually told us we had too many files? When we started I thought that we could NEVER use more than 10 gigs of space. The first time I had to pack up and move the entire site it took me three days AND nights. Talk about zombies. I slept by my computer, jumping up when my computer beeped the warning that I’d been knocked offline again. Now, there are much easier backup systems (which I will talk about later).
Also make sure that the software that you use for your site has the ability to grow. As I stated before, we started with Yahoo groups, so we were (and in some ways still are) at the mercy of Yahoo. About five years ago, Yahoo decided it would no longer save “attachments” sent along with the newsgroups posts. Another set of sleepless nights ensued as I frantically went post by post to download our precious files before they deleted them all. Remember, as I said, in genealogy documents are very important. I already had a backup system, but I didn’t want to take the chance that I had missed anything, so I saved everything again. So, learn from my mistakes, don’t use a system where you have little or no control. These days there are several newsserver systems that can be installed directly on your own server. Since my members are comfortable with Yahoo, having spent more than 13 years on it, I’ve left the newsgroup there, writing a script to send the posts to the website’s forum. It is an awkward work-around, but I stay with it because its working for now. I’m not saying don’t go with Yahoo Groups, some people are very happy with it, but if I was starting out today I wouldn’t go that route. It’s like having a landlord controlling your company.

Ask for donations or finance your site by selling advertising space.

Heycuz is a labor of love, so I never expected to make money with it. In fact, I find it laughable when going through my spam box deleting all the emails I get telling me how I can make money on my website. I know it’s just bots sending out spam, because one look at the site and you know we’re not a profit organization. For years, I was footing the bill for the hosting and cost of the extra software, and never thought to ask for donations. I just chalked it up to be an expense to feed my genealogy addiction. From time to time I would get a prospective member asking how much it cost to join the site because they couldn’t believe that they got all that they got for free. From day one we had always said that our research would be free to all who joined and I couldn’t go back on my word. Plus, I get so much more out of the website. Just think, every day I go to my website and someone has uploaded a never-before-seen family photograph, or someone else just added a complete branch that we’d never knew existed, or another member remembered it was my anniversary and sent me a dancing cow! I have even received beautiful, leather-bound family histories and credit on the dedication page to boot! For those who don’t know, family history books can be very expensive. How can you set a price on that? However, one day one of our members questioned why no one had thought of donating to the website and without even one guilt trip, I received enough money to pay for the entire year within a couple of days (by snail mail, too!) People were happy to give. So, we’ve put a donation thermometer on our site and when the goal is achieved we post it. However, don’t be annoying with your donation buttons. Don’t make your members mad. Don’t put popups that detract your visitors from enjoying and contributing to the site. My response to those sites is to just close the tab. They don’t work folks.
Since the Heycuz site is non-profit, we never had to sell advertising. But, if you’re interested in making money for your group, there are a number of ways to do it. The most obvious is to sell advertising space. There are tons of how-to sites and books that can give much better advice than I so I won’t post it here. But, you should also consider selling membership subscriptions to your site. There are some sites that give some information for free and charge you to get more information or to be able to post information. You can also have eCommerce on your site and offer group memorabilia. If people would proudly wear a T-shirt with your organization’s logo on it, for instance, you can use a site like CafePress that handles the orders, manufactures the items, and ships the product so you don’t have any overhead. When we had a reunion the ability to purchase coffee cups and other Heycuz paraphernalia was very popular amongst our members.

Protect Your Members, Protect Your Data, Protect Yourself.

When someone joins your community and adds personal information its because they trust you. Work very hard to keep that trust. Be honest with your members. Let them know your policy right off the bat and don’t change the policy without having a full discussion with your members. Also, protect your members’ privacy. Don’t sell your members’ list. Let me qualify that. It depends on what your user expects. If you’ve asked for permission or sent out a notification of your intent to allow companies to send out information, that’s between you and your members.
You should also have an email cloaking system on your forums to make sure that bots don’t comb the site and start spamming your members. We protect our members by requiring registration to access many of the features.
Building a community website takes a lot of time and it would be a disaster if all the data was lost because the site got hacked. So, have some kind of security system in place and, just in case the worst happens, have a full-site backup. Ask your web server for the services they have available before you put down your cash. If you’re already on a server that doesn’t offer a backup, which these days I find unbelievable, you can find automated backup systems easily by just searching on the web. Two of the most popular ones are Site-Vault and Handy Backup. You should be able to set up the backup to run automatically on a timely basis.
Finally, protect yourself. Running a website, especially a large community site can be exhausting. Don’t run yourself ragged. Ask for help. Give your members the opportunity to volunteer. Tell them what you need, divide it into specific tasks, and let them know how long each task should take. Not only will it relieve you of a lot of work, but it will also strengthen your community. We all want to contribute in a some way. That’s why we join a community and if we feel vital to the group, we’ll stick around. We all need to be needed.
Protect yourself legally. Heycuz is a family website, meaning we are all related in some fashion, but being related doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. No matter how much you trust your members, you need to have a few legal statements on your site. If you can’t get a lawyer to write a Terms and Conditions statement, you can find some available online. All you do is replace the generic name in the document with your own. Make sure that you include a copyright statement. Plagiarism is rampant on the web because many people are unaware of copyright laws. If you have a copyright on there, you have recourse if your valuable content that you and your members have built up, is taken.
One final word about protecting yourself–it makes me very uncomfortable to even bring it up–but some times things get out of hand. According to Ittybiz.com death threats and hate crimes on women bloggers is escalating.
Unfortunately, I’ve been the recipient of threats, so I feel for you. The advice of one workshop held recently at the Blogher ’11 conference is to document the threats and make an official report to your local police department. I advise you to read the transcript before you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.

Do you love it? Do You Really, Really, Really, REALLY love it?

Love ? I love love love you.Image by doug88888 via FlickrFinally, take a long, hard look at yourself. Go on. Pick up a mirror and do a thorough examination. Remember how you look cause you’ll never be the same. Now, look at the premise of your community just as thoroughly. Is this community one you want to hang-out in yourself? Do you want to hang out there for hours? Days? Weeks? Years? Do you see yourself hanging out there 10 years from now? Still feel as giddy as a school boy? Then go for it! But before you go, please drop me a line and tell me about your community. After all, if you’re still excited about it I might want to join too!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Genealogists You Should Have in Your Circle

Google+ is a great asset if you’re interested in technology with a steady stream of posts day or night, but what if you’re interested in genealogy? Not so much.
What is Google + (or Google Plus)? – Well, its everything! Its like a blog, its like Twitter, it’s like Facebook, its like Google Buzz, its like a photo gallery, its like Instant Messaging, its like video messaging; Its all of those things rolled into one fantastic gathering place. It’s a tool to use to connect to your “circle of friends” and share posts to those in specific “circles” about specific topics. You add your friends into circles and then choose what to share with that circle. Sound intriguing? If you need an invite, just let me know and I’ll send you one.
Without much work at all, I’ve added some great people to my circles. I’ve named my circles: Business Contacts, Family, Following (bloggers who I follow), Humor (people who always make me laugh), Mensans, Friends and Genealogists. You can name your circles anything that you find most helpful.
Every morning, when I startup my browser & Let me rephrase that because In truth I never turn off my browser. So, every morning with I click on my open-all-at-once button that I’ve labeled “DAILY” in my browser bar, the first site to pop up is my Google+ Stream. That way, while I’m waiting for the coffee to brew, I can see what people are up to, read some news, and maybe get a laugh or two.
But yesterday morning, my stream was a little too long to read through it quickly, so I clicked on my circles one at a time until I clicked on my genealogy circle and hit a wall. There was just one post. It was by Marian Pierre-Louis, who writes two of my favorite blogs: Marian’s Roots and The New England House Historian.

I said to my self, “Self? Where are all the posts from all the genealogy blogs you follow?” Popping up to my genealogy circle, I realized that I hadn’t added those bloggers to my circles yet. Thus began my quest. I went to each of the genealogy blogs that I follow so that I could add the authors to my genealogy circle.
I was very disappointed when i found very few of them, exactly two, had any link to their Google profiles. See, they have to have a profile or you can’t add them to your circle. If you’re a fan of genealogy, you know there are thousands of genealogy bloggers on the internet. Genealogists do take their time incorporating newer technologies into their toolbox for some reason or another, but once they find out how the tool will benefit them, watch out. I’ve learned so many research tricks thanks to a genealogist. Take, for example, Twitter, a year or so ago it was difficult to find genealogists actively using the site, but like all bloggers they’ve come to appreciate Twitter for its ability to attract more followers and broadcast their content to a much larger audience.
Here are some of the ways I have found using Google+ beneficial as a genealogist:

Get news of a new blog post immediately (No more missing your favorite genealogist’s words of wisdom)
Let blog followers know about new posts
Get more readers and along with that get more interraction
Ask a research question and get a lot of viewpoints. Most of the time responses are very quick
Share family research news
Coordinate reunions (or research trips)
Private video chatrooms to work on a specific project

Perhaps these bloggers don’t know yet how easy it is to add a Google+ button to their blogs. Whether you’re using blogger, WordPress or any of the other blogging software, it’s very, very easy.

Head on over to your Google+ profile. In the URL bar there’s a number, that’s your profile ID.
Copy that number.
Then, go to WidgetPlus and paste that number in the Google Profile ID box.
Fiddle with any appearance settings you’d like to change and then click “Get Code.”
Copy the code in the text box that appears.
Go to your blog’s design area to add a new widget, paste the widget code and save.

That’s it.

Don’t get me wrong. There are genealogists on Google+, it just takes a little elbow grease to find them. I’ve created a list of the ones who I consider worth adding to your circles. The criteria I used was very simplistic:
Are they actively using Google+?
That knocked off a few immediately including the author of the very popular genealogy blog Dear Myrtle. Although she has a Google profile, none of her posts on Google+ are public so I assumed she was not using it to communicate with her readers.
I made no judgements about the quality of their posts. If your favorite Genealogical blogger isn’t there, you’ll have to find them. Two ways to find people on Google + are to search for their names in the search bar at the top of your Google+ page or go to the Google + directory where you can search for people by tags (keywords).
If you find any genealogists who are actively using Google+, please let me know so I can add them to this list:

Put These Genealogists In Your Circle

Jeffrey BockmanJeffrey Bockman

Genealogical Lecturer and Writer, was a contributing editor for the Everton’s Genealogical Helper.

Tamara JonesTamura Jones

Author of Modern Software Experience

Leslie LawsonLeslie Lawson

Forensic genealogist and guest speaker

Lisa Wallen LogsdonLisa Wallen Logsdon

Author of the Genealojournal and Old Stones Undeciphered

Joan MillerJoan Miller

Author of Luxegen Genealogy and Family History

Chris PatonChris Paton

Author of Scottish Genes Blog and Scotland’s Greatest Story

Susi PenticoSusi Pentico

Genealogy Instructor, Historian and Educational Assistant, Genealogical Research and Educational Chairperson CVGS Conejo Valley Genealogy Society.

Marian Pierre-LouisMarian Pierre-Louis

Author of Marian’s Roots and The New England House Historian

Caroline PointerCaroline Pointer
Professional Genealogist & In2Genealogy Columnist for Shades of the Departed, & Texas Aggie. She also writes 4YourFamilyStory.com

Lorine McGinnis SchulzeLorine McGinnis Schulze

Author of Olive Tree Genealogy Blog

Randy SeaverRandy Seaver
Author of GenamusinsSouth San Diego County Graveyard Rabbit and Geneaholic

Drew SmithDrew Smith

Author of the book Social Networking for Genealogists

Megan SmolenyakMegan Smolenyak

Author of Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History, companion guide to the NBC series. She also
writes Smolenyak’s Roots World

Kirsty F. WilkinsonKirsty F. Wilkinson

Author of The Professional Descendant

April Heath Pastis April Heath Pastis
You are also very welcome to add me to your genealogy circles. I am the founder of the Heycuz genealogical newsgroup.

NOTE: This is day No. 11 toward keeping my commitment to NaBloPoMo to post once a day. Have you joined yet?

911: I’ve been TAGGED!

Transcript of a 911 call:

911 operator: 911 What is your emergency?
me: (sob) Please! Please help me!
911 operator: What is your address?
me: uh, um…let me look….its april at heycuz dot net
911 operator: Excuse me?
me: my email address? The one they got me at? It is april AT heycuz dot net
911 operator: Who got you? What’s your emergency?
me: I’ve been TAGGED!
Image representing Tagged as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase911 operator: We don’t send out a patrol for children’s games?
me: Oh, this is NO game! This is serious stalking! I’m telling you! They don’t stop!
911 operator: Who’s stalking you? Have they threatened you?
me: Threatened me? Are you #sk#9king kidding? Its constant now. Every time I turn on my email they get me!
911 operator: Don’t turn on your email then
me: Huh? I don’t understand.
911: I can tell you’re upset, but I’m not sure how…
me:  I’ve cancelled my account so many times I can’t tell you and THEY keep coming back! On April 11th, I got a confirmation that the account was cancelled…The note does say that they will keep my “profile” for at least six months. Has it been six months? yeah!  But yesterday, it all started back up again! OMG This is so ridiculous! Why won’t they stop?
911: Did you follow their confirmation instructions?
me: Of course, I did. I went to https://secure.tagged.com/account_info.html, and hidden down at the bottom is a link to cancel…Do you think that they re-suckered me in??? thinking I have to re-cancel but I’d already canceled so it extended the cancel time? Is that why they’re emailing me again???
911: I’m not sure I understand?
me: I mean, (sigh) how can they live with themselves? How did they get around my email filters in the first place? Why are they doing this to innocent people??
911: Exactly HOW are they harassing you?
me: Listen to this:

  • 9:52 PM:         Your friends are waiting for you on Tagged
  • 5:40 AM: Please respond to all of your alerts on Tagged!
  • 6:14 AM: JoJo2010 has winked at you
  • 8:04 AM: MannyLvr has left you a message: “Aren’t you going to kiss me back?”
  • 1: 11 PM:  JoJo 2010 has left you an embedded file
  • and at 2…

911: This is really not an emergency.
me: If it isn’t an emergency, I’d sure like to know what is!
911: An emergency is a situation that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or environment.
me: So, my sanity doesn’t matter?
911 operator:  We don’t handle internet emergencies.
me:  (hmph) Can you tell me who can help me?
911: You could try Google
me: (Sigh) Well, can you tell me this. Supposed someone wanted to take out a hit on someone or, say some website…do you know anyone who does this?
911: We don’t help people commit crimes.
me: Oh. Thanks any way.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Hit the Road Capt. Jack

AroundMeImage via WikipediaAre you going to go out of town for the Labor Day weekend? This year, we’re getting four days off. We are going to be visiting with some family at least one of the days. So, its a great time to put my new mobile apps to use. I got an iPhone last Christmas (thank you dear hubby!) and its really made life easier. The “Around Me” app alone really saved us when we were in Texas this summer for my nephews wedding and couldn’t locate the hotel. After the third time around the block, I pulled out my phone, put in the name of the hotel and it showed us exactly what turns to make to get there. Really cool.  Playing with “Around Me” some more, we found local museums and other hot spots. As an addicted genealogist, of course I had to pull up directions for the local libraries and cemeteries.

When we visited the Alamo, I pulled out my trusty “Reunion” app and looked up all the relatives that I needed to do research on and was able to put a personal history twist on the whole tour. Sorry PC users: Reunion is Macintosh software. The staff over at LeisterPro told me they has no intention of making Reunion available for Windows users. I can understand that. There are more lots of genealogy apps for PCs anyway, but Reunion is the king of genealogy software for Mac users.

The Reunion iPhone app works in conjunction with the Macintosh version. It allows you to keep your entire family at your fingertips. Or, if you prefer, you can save only the individuals you know you’ll be working on while out of town.

Since we are planning to visit my husband’s relatives, I decided to install the free “Ancestry” app. It came out in January but Ancestry and I have a love-hate relationship so I put it off until now. Sure enough, I had a bear of a time getting it to work. But, I have a hard time getting Ancestry.com to work on any device.

Ancestry likes my money, but whenever I try to sign on it doesn’t like my account information. Genealogists are very familiar with the question: “What do you mean I don’t exist?” Well, Ancestry, it seems, tries to re-enforce this age-old question every time I try to log in. I have to reset my password every time. I get a lot of password reset requests from the members of the Heycuz.net website, and I can totally identify with them due to the problems I have had with Ancestry. With all the money I’ve spent on Ancestry over the years, I expect them to say “Oh, here she comes again, cha-ching $$$$” and bend over backwards to open all the doors for me, but they still make me jump through hoops just to sign on.
Well, its working now and I’m excited to show Steve’s uncle some records that are easily viewable on the app. In fact, I can see them better on the app than I can on my Mac’s Firefox browser. Specifically, I am going to show him the Passenger ship records of his grandfather arriving in America and the census records that shows where he worked before he opened his restaurant.
Cell phone mobility has made a huge impact on our daily lives,  but genealogists tend to take a while to integrate the new tools into their research arsenal.The whole reason I even got into genealogy was due to this fact. I was trying to convince my mother–who’d been doing genealogy her entire life–to get an email account. I figured I’d show her all the information that was available online and pulled up the old GenWeb site.
She gave me a name and I put it in and found a list of people doing research on that name. I posted a query and amazingly within minutes I had a response. It turned out to be my father’s uncle’s daughter-in-law, but that’s another story. My mother’s eyes lit up with all the information available on that one website alone. So, I figured I was successful and soon she’d be emailing me daily. It didn’t turn out that way immediately. Instead, she sent me boxes of her research and a small note:

Happy Hunting, 


Love,


Mom”

Eventually, my mother did go online and ended up subscribing to Ancestry and buying me a subscription too. The cost of Ancestry depends on a number of factors including what databases you want access to. I had a worldwide access, but it turned out to be a waste because of the limited records available in the areas I was interested in. But the prices averages about $30 a month, which seems to me to be a lot of money to spend on a hobby.But there are some free areas on Ancestry.com so you really don’t have to subscribe at all. Since my mother bought it for me, I feel compelled to continue the subscription. 
Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBaseYou don’t have to have Ancestry, or an iPhone, to take advantage of mobile technology. There’s an entire website dedicated to mobile genealogy where you can find apps for your specific device: iPad, Palm, Kindle, Android, Windows Mobile, Laptops, Blackberry, Symbian, Newton, and on and on… So, hit the road Jack, but head on over to MobileGenealogy.com and get some research apps before you do.

NOTE: This is my second post toward my commitment to NaBloPoMo to write one post a day in September. Although I have not followed their prompts for writing topics, I still think its a great program. Have you signed up yet?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thanksgiving Traditions

Tyler Florence used to have a show on Food Network where he would help people who were trying to recover a long, lost recipe. People would ask for help on recapturing Grandma’s Beef Stew or some other childhood favorite. Taking information about the person’s ethnic heritage, foods available in the location that they lived, and other family history, he’d come into a person’s home with two recipes. One would be a proximity–or best guess–on how the person’s grandmother might have made the dish and then he’d give his own take on how he likes to prepare the dish. I couldn’t find the show listed on the Food Network,  so I don’t think its still on the air. The closest I could find was something called “Rescue Chef.” Since it’s Thanksgiving week, I started thinking about “lost recipes” and other traditions that have gone by the wayside. My Aunt Jo always talked about her mother’s, (my Great Grandmother Anna Ruth Buchanan Sullivan’s) Ambrosia Salad. The recipe was so special that she even had a specific dish that it was put in. My Aunt Jo inherited the dish and when you entered her home, she’d point up to the top of her cabinets to the large ceramic bowl. I have never tasted my great grandmother’s Ambrosia Salad.

It makes me sad because it is a tradition that has been lost. Even though my mother just passed away this year, it won’t be the first Thanksgiving I’ve spent without her fantastic feast. For he last 15 or so years I have observed Thanksgiving with my in-laws who’s Greek heritage comes with its own host of traditions. I’ve gone at least 15 years without my mother’s Turkey stuffing. My husband’s family doesn’t serve stuffing. Instead they have a delicious rice alongside their beautiful roasted bird. Still, this year, because of the loss of my mother, I have been wondering if I’ve already lost the recipe of her stuffing. Stuffing was never a major dish at my mother’s Thanksgiving dinner, but it was always my favorite. In fact, the very first Thanksgiving I spent with my in-laws, I made my husband “swing by” my parents house afterward. I told my mother I was in culture-shock without her stuffing and she packed up a care-package for me. Stuffing was not in my husband’s traditions so he didn’t really get it. All the more for me. 
I see magazine covers touting “traditional” oyster stuffing, or cranberry raison stuffing or some other obscure concoction, but they all seem so foreign to me.
A roast turkey prepared for a traditional U.S....Image via WikipediaMy mother’s stuffing, was so simple it was almost a crime. Its not a recipe she would brag about–and she really could brag about being a great cook. Some of her recipes even won awards. This was just plain ol’ warm your tummy, stuffing. It was simply bread chunks, celery, broth and seasonings, baked until there was a crust on top. Easy, squeezie, lemon peazy. Still, what I wouldn’t give to have a bowl full of it now. 
My husband’s family has a Thanksgiving tradition that’s also slowly dying out. Right after the dinner most of the elderly would gather at one table and play nickle poker. They’d have their coffee and pumpkin pie while vying for the pot. In recent years, fewer and fewer people have gathered at the table. Most of the older folks have passed, and the younger ones want to see the latest and greatest video game being played. It will only be a few more years now when this tradition is no longer observed. 
There’s still hope for the younger ones. Even though my son had never had Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’, he has had my mother’s stuffing. True, I cooked it, but it was her recipe. I didn’t expect the reaction I got, so I only made a little of it. The tradition must be somewhere deep inside his DNA, cause he ate most of it and asked me to make it again the next night. Now, when ever I prepare turkey — once or twice a year — I make my mother’s stuffing. All this is my long-winded way of asking what other traditions have been forgotten?
Enhanced by Zemanta

We’ve Moved, again

You may have noticed that something’s a bit different about Heycuz. We have moved to a new server. I had to do a little reshuffling of my finances and could no longer afford to keep 12 different servers but had to combine them to decrease the bills.
The down side is that I had such excellent support from the previous server. He held my hand when ever things went buggy, let me slide when the bills came due, and kept the bandwidth high enough to let me run amok. The upside is that the new server has more room to run amok and forces me to learn to trouble-shoot my own problems. Having more room is really a plus, because we no longer have to store our files off the site at places like Picassa or Mac’s iDisk.
Some changes:
Perhaps the first thing that you’ll notice when you log on is the community features have been expanded. You will notice the new features in the “My Stuff” menu that appears when you log in. The menu shows you at a glance the photos you’ve added, the articles you’ve added and your favorite ancestor’s if you’ve bookmarked any. I’ve added a Private Messaging System (a different kind of PMS) so we can leave each other notes which is much faster than emailing. The first time you log in it will tell you, you have a message (even if its a generic message saying Welcome to the PMS).
I’ve made it easier to share, bookmark, and search the photographs.
I’ve also uploaded all of the cemetery photographs. I haven’t linked them all, but I’ve been told by some cousins that they will help with that. If you’re interested in doing that, email me (or PMS me) and I’ll send you instructions on how to link individuals in the database to the photographs of their tombstones.
Upcoming features that I haven’t had time to do yet include inputting all the extractions into a searchable database.
Anyway, I hope you don’t run into too many bugs because of the move and I thank you all for the wonderful feedback and the corrections to the family tree.

Happy New Year!

It seems that about this time of year I’m stunned with the fact that another year has gone by. I take stock and wonder if I’ve done enough, or if there was something that I would have done differently, and attempt to set resolutions for the coming year.
This year begins the tenth anniversary of the Heycuz newsgroup, and as I peruse the 19,488 messages and counting, made by Heycuz members since December 2, 1998, I’m overwhelmed. It occurred to me that I can trace the major ups and downs of my personal life just reading our messages. It reminds me that we don’t have just an online newsgroup about genealogy but a huge extended family.
I’m so thankful that you’ve been a part of my life. I can be as emotional as the next gal, but when reading over the messages, I get unusually chocked up. One moment, I’ll be laughing about cousin Gale Ford’s experience with a bull in a cemetery and the next I’ll recall the grief we all felt when James Bradford admitted how difficult the holidays were for him since his beloved wife Kathy had passed. I can “hear” the excitement in our voices when reading the messages about our Heycuz reunion or the Harp cemetery trip and their unorthodox use of dousing rods.
Over the years, we’ve lost cousins and gained new ones. We’ve welcomed new grandchildren and babies. We’ve shared jokes and family stories. In addition, we’ve shared a lot of research. In case, you’re interested you can access the Heycuz archives online at Yahoo groups, if you’re a member of Heycuz. I also have saved a copy of every message on a CD. If you have Microsoft Access, or if you can handle a csv file, I can send you a copy of the archives.
Just to think it all started when a couple of us cousins wanted an easier way to share our research without having to remember to copy all the others in our emails. Still, it seems like there’s so much still to do.
And yet, I’m baffled on how to begin a list of resolutions for Heycuz: There’s brick walls we need to overcome, plans for another reunion, organizing photos and sources, and so much more. Here are some of my genealogy resolutions for the upcoming year:
Getting Organized: One year, I had a hard drive failure and ever since then I’ve become the backup queen. Unfortunately, now I have drawers and boxes of CDs, DVDs, clippings, census records, notes, deeds, etc. I’ve swung too far in the other direction. I need to put them into some manageable order so that I can find anything.
Go to the Family History Center: Ever since we moved, I have not yet been back to an LDS family history center, even though there’s supposedly one in our town. There are also other local resources I want to check out.
Make a schedule: It seems that I’m letting events of my life run me, when it should be the other way around. It feels like I’m jumping from one unplanned event to the next without rhyme or reason. I feel like I’m constantly just putting out fires. I need to set down and figure out a plan, a schedule, where I can actually say on such and such a day of the month, I’m going to work on something specific. For example, I will work on a specific brick wall in my family tree on the second and fourth Tuesdays for one hour minimum.
Anyway, I’d be very interested in hearing your goals for Heycuz. What direction would you like to see Heycuz go? Do you have any genealogy resolutions?
Finally, I want to wish a very happy new year to all of my cousins. May each of us find just what (whom) we’re looking for in 2009!
Your Cuz,
April

Merry Christmas Cousins!

They say that every seven seconds or so, the phrase ‘Merry Christmas” is posted on the internet. Well let me join in on the Chorus and wish all of you a very, merry Christmas!

Your cuz,

April

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Greetings and glad tidings ~

May this message find you well and thriving!

This season, we celebrate a lot of changes at heycuz.net.

Together, we have co-created a new wave of genealogy.  Thank you for joining us on this amazing journey, for sharing your family stories, your research, your special moments, and your heart-breaking losses, for the honor of witnessing what happens when we collectively choose to preserve our family’s heritage.

In deep appreciation I offer this prayer to YOU *

May your brilliance be reflected in the eyes of all you meet.

May the blessings of Life be felt in thought, word and deed.

May you drink deeply from Wisdom’s cup.

May you see the gift in every challenge, the sacred in every step.

May laughter roll your belly as you delight in Creation’s mystery.

May you breathe freely, Love deeply, rejoice wildly and create

passionately.

May you be at peace, whether your bowl be empty or full.

May the Light of Love shine brightly upon your soul.

May you listen deeply within, faithfully heeding the guidance of Spirit.

May you wake to dream each day, remembering NOW is all there IS.

May you feel the energy of co-creation flowing through each hand.

May you remember to honor and give thanks for our Motherland!

May you experience the bliss of a well-lived day …

Forgiving ignorance; releasing regret, guilt or shame.

May you be sovereign, and to thine own Self be true.

May you remember each person makes a difference …

… and that person is YOU!

Many blessings always and all ways …

Thank youFrom your Cuz,April