Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Matrilineal Monday: My mother and music

"Toreador, don't spit upon the floor. Use the cuspidor - that's what it's for!" - this is the song that I can hear my mother singing with great gusto; her bravura piece, if there ever was one.  And she didn't even need a glass of sherry to spur her on (although it often helped).  Bizet's Carmen - what an introduction to the opera.

She also sang to me about scarlet ribbons:

I peeked in to say good-night
And there I heard my child in prayer
"And for me, some scarlet ribbons
Scarlet ribbons for my hair"

All our town was closed and shuttered
All the streets were dark and bare
In our town, no scarlet ribbons
Scarlet ribbons for her hair

Through the night my heart was aching
Just before the dawn was breaking
In our town, no scarlet ribbons
Scarlet ribbons for her hair

I peeked in and on her bed
In gay profusion lying there
Lovely ribbons, scarlet ribbons
Scarlet ribbons for her hair

If I live to be a hundred
I will never know from where
Came those lovely scarlet ribbons
Scarlet ribbons for her hair

She introduced me to true pathos in a song.
And she taught me how to sing harmony with "Starlight Serenade".

In our house, there was always music. The radio was on, or the red-and-white Dansette; my parents had LPs by the Ink Spots, Bing Crosby, and Julie Andrews (what a mix!). Just like reading, my mother always encouraged me to listen to anything and everything, so I grew up listening to Johann Sebastian Bach as well as Brook Benton.
What a wonderful start to a life.


Later, when I was 10 and learning the piano, my party piece was Beethoven's "Fur Elise".  I practised that piece over and over until it drove my mother half-crazy.  Then, when I grew up, I bought her a Mother's Day card one year which played "Fur Elise" when you opened it.  I did it just for a sarcastic laugh - but she loved that card and brought it out year after year...

Sunday, 24 April 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History #17: Pets

Week 17. Pets. Did you have any pets as a child? If so, what types and what were their names. Do you have pets now? Describe them as well. If you did not have pets, you can discuss those of neighbors or other family members.



Well, the pet I remember most when I was tiny was my mother's cat. Jet black and a VERY superior animal, Chloe was in fact a boy cat. And my cousin, when she was learning to talk, called him "Coe the Clat"... Here is my favourite photo of him. He is sitting just out of my reach (I am the baby), and you can just imagine him saying "Humans!" in a very long-suffering way.
After he died (he was knocked over by a speeding motorist) my mother never had another pet.  She had loved Chloe too much.  I remember the night I found him lying in the gutter, and how I ran screaming all the way home (I was six), and how she held him in her arms and just cried.  My mother never cried.

When I was a child, I had two gerbils: Mischief and Garibaldi.  'Mischief' because...well...he was always into mischief; and 'Garibaldi' because his two tiny black eyes looked just like the currants in Garibaldi biscuits.

When I was small, my father used to race pigeons when we lived in London.  Later, when I was older and we lived in Somerset, Dad still kept pigeons, but they were no longer for racing.  They were homing pigeons, and I learned to take care of them - and have solemn funeral services for the chicks who never made it all the way out of the egg.  Maybe that's what sparked my interest in religion? LOL

Friday, 22 April 2011

1700 census: Finished!

Today I completed transcribing the 1700 census of Ottery St Mary.  It has taken me about 6 weeks.  I have sent the transcription to Brian Randell of GENUKI; it will form part of the "Pre-1841 Devon Censuses and Population Listings" project on the GENUKI pages, and will (hopefully) be a help to anyone researching their ancestors who came from the area.

The census itself was not like the later ones, where families were listed, their ages, where they were born and so on.  No, this was merely a list of the men (and sometimes widows or wives living alone); no families, no ages, no places of birth.  So some may say it won't be of much use to anybody.  Well, actually, I beg to differ.  If you suspected your ancestor came from that area, but weren't too sure, it may help you pinpoint him (or her).  And then again, it is just so special for we genealogists who love that sort of thing: to be able to see your ancestor's name - it gives you a sense of connection to the past that we thrive on.  I have found my 8th great grandfather there - and just to see his name gave me a shiver.  You may have heard of the "genealogy happy dance" - well, now here's the "genealogy shiver" !  Here he is: Walter Bastyn:


and I came across many familiar names, whose descendants I have met across the decades in other censuses - they may be 'nothing to do with me', but they are so familiar, they might just as well be friends.  Who knows? they might even have been my ancestors' friends, too! The Peryams, the Menifeys, the Eveleighs, the Churchills, the Blackmores all appear - and I know that the Hudys and the Norringtons are part of my family tree.

I have loved deciphering the Secretary Hand that the document was written in.  As soon as I have finished transcribing the 1841 census for Ottery St Mary, I might just go back for more, and transcribe another parish.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

1700 census: Secretary Hand - help required

I have been working steadily away at transcribing the 1700 census for Ottery St Mary, and I have LOVED it.  it is written in Secretary Hand, and trying to work out what something says when it looks nothing like modern English handwriting is actually very absorbing.  It gives the little grey cells a lot to concentrate on!

Of course, there were bound to be letters, words, names and so on that I could not decipher.  And there are several which are making me frown at the screen.  But I am really stumped at one particular abbreviation that crops up a few times, and wonder if someone else out there can tell me what it means:


It's the first word.  Believe it or not, that is a lower case 'r', followed by a lower case 'p' - or is it?  the census itself only lists men and widows (no families) - so I wonder if it stands for 'relict of'? although in other parts of the document, widows are listed as 'Mistress Clode', 'Mrs Hues' and so on.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Research Toolbox, creation of

Last Wednesday (6th April) I attended another of Legacy's webinars, where the speaker was Thomas McEntee.  The subject of the webinar was 'Building a Research Toolbox', and it was excellent.  Thomas went through the different types of container for your toolbox (which essentially holds your Useful Links that you frequently use and forget!).  There are all sorts of ways to keep yourself organised, and these range from documents on your desktop to containers in the cloud.

Although I have quite a few containers with useful links, I decided to put them all in one place.  Mine ranged from 'that email from so-and-so, yes, that one, now where did I put it, hope I didn't delete it' - which are usually totally unfindable (is that a word?) to browser bookmarks.  Then, because I use Firefox 4 as my browser, I have a useful little add-on to it called Speed Dial, which shows even more of my bookmarks as tiny web pages about an inch high. But both these would be useless if, say, I were researching at the local Family History Library and was sat in front of their computer and wanted to use a particular site whose URL I couldn't remember...

So I chose Evernote.  This is a program of notebooks much like OneNote, but it has an advantage.  Evernote resides on the web AND on your desktop (well, it will if you download it).  It is free (one of my favourite words), and will not only capture URLs, but whole web pages if you want.  You can then build up your list of useful links/pictures of web pages when on your PC at home, the desktop version will sync to the web version when you are connected to the Internet, and then if you are at that computer on the other side of town, you can just log into your account at Evernote and all your useful links will be there!  You can also put your links and images into your web version, and it will sync to your desktop version.  There is no limit to how many notes you can have there, but there is a limit on the free version of 60Mb-of-uploading per month.  I somehow don't think I will get anywhere near that!  There is a paid-for version as well.

And you don't just have to keep your genealogy research toolbox there, either.  I have a notebook on Star Trek useful links, and people use it to compose songs, write novels - all sorts of things.

Now, other people might prefer other ways of building their own research toolbox.  They may want to put other things in it; after all, how many out there (apart from me, that is) are interested in a town museum in the depths of the Southwest of England, or a small local Cornish newspaper when your family comes from America?

But I'm thrilled with my choices - both of container and content.  And if you think "I haven't got much to put in there", like I did, you may be pleasantly surprised.

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