Sunday, January 4, 2015

Resolutions, Reflections and Requiem

I woke up this morning a bit like a kid on Christmas Day.  

I had worked like a navvy yesterday to try and clean up my desk so that I could be prepared for the Genealogy Do Over.  

 I have literally put all my old research behind me.  


See!  There are all my old lever arch files.  I won't show you all the crap that is now lying in the hallway waiting to be chucked.  

Honestly - I am in heaven.  

This was my mother's desk.  And I've had that bookcase on top of it for the past 20 years. It worked well but I do love having all the desk space to work on rather than only half of it.

The way it is positioned now, I can talk to Robert in the kitchen face-on, if I need to....and if he can hear me, over the sizzling saucepans....see?  And I can also see people straight away when they come to the front door.  Yay!  

I can also see all the photo albums that need to be sorted...oh well... you can't have everything.

I decided that I'm only going to have genealogy and local history books in my nook from now!  Who knew I had so many?  It's been a great exercise sorting out all my magazines/journals and all my books....I'm a bit embarrassed how many I have....

Do you see any titles you recognize?  

So - I'm pretty chuffed.  Re-energized.  All that sort of stuff.

I even set up a Control Journal for goodness sake.  That took me all day but made me very aware of how easily I get distracted by the next shiny object.....hmmmm.

I looked at my New Year's Resolutions from last year.

Of course, I was completely over-ambitious and probably completed only 6 out of 12 of my resolutions.  

I did study and attend workshops regularly.

I kept scanning family photos and finding out as much as I could about them.

I corrected and tagged Trove articles where possible.

I created a Graves page on my blog and a bit more too!

I presented a talk to the family history group at the library where I work.

I participated in a genchat.

In my blogging I reported on genea-adventures, Trove discoveries, continued to contribute to Sepia Saturday and The Book of Me.

So for 2015 I hope to do all that AND.....

Review magazines/books on my blog.

Go on more genea-adventures.

Publish a journal article or equivalent.

Participate properly in a Google Hangout.

Catch up on Gene TV shows.

Report on study I have undertaken.  

This afternoon I went a bit mad at Officeworks and bought, amongst other things,  a Dymo labeller - I feel like a proper grown-up now with a label maker (they're probably soooo last millenium now).  

And yes, one of those drawer organiser thingys.

i also bought an Olympus Digital Voice Recorder to record some Oral History interviews.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Oh and did I mention that my daughter said she would give me a DNA test for Xmas?  So I ordered that a couple of nights ago too.  

Wow!  I'm really excited about 2015 already.

Having said all that, I need for you to know that I went to a funeral on Friday.  

It was for a friend with whom I had lost contact over the years.  

She was only a couple of years older than me.  

It was a beautiful ceremony and lovely to see so many "old" friends.  

But heart-wrenching to witness their grief.  

One of the memorial items given out at the church was a bookmark. 

It had a very salutary quote on it from Neil Gaiman....

"You get what anybody gets - you get a lifetime."


A reminder to all of us to get our skates on.

My happiest memories of my time with Megan were our jazz ballet efforts to the tunes of Michael Jackson in the early 80s - followed swiftly by collapsing in front of the telly and laughing at Joan Collins' antics on Dynasty.  Sad but true.  

Lots of giggles.

Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is no mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself.
                                                                                       Havelock Ellis

Vale Megan Orchard.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Do-Over Down Under

Last month, Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers advised the Genealogy community that he was starting over.  He invited us to join him on a 13-week journey where we put our old research to one side (physical and digital) and....start again.

Thomas has set up a Facebook Page and a new website with a schedule and resources.  You can sign up to receive Genealogy Do-Over emails here.

This kinda appeals to me.  I've always set New Year's Resolutions despite my negative inner voice forecasting doom and gloom.  And yes I'm not a shining example of success - I'm still overweight and I could do more exercise and I could drink less alcohol but hey....if you don't set goals you don't have a direction do you?  And in life I choose to lean on the side of positive rather than negative.  So I'm in Thomas!  

I was going to say "In like Flynn".  That prompted to ask myself the question "Who was Flynn anyway?".  Being a good Genealogist, I
 researched (googled) the phrase and thought better of it.  Flynn apparently refers to Errol Flynn [1]  The phrase means having quickly gained a goal or quick access particularly with regard sexual adventures.  Hmmm.. I have enough family history to deal with already!  Also, this decision was not made lightly and the phrase does not reflect the attitude that I want to bring with me to research. 

So – how am I going to approach these 13 weeks?  This week is about:

1.   Setting Previous Research Aside
2.   Preparing to Research
3.   Establishing Base Practices and Guidelines

In terms of setting previous research aside, I am going to take the modified approach.  I want to focus on organising my files properly – physical and digital.  To that end, I took advantage of Thomas’ discount offer and purchased the Mastering Evernote and Getting Your Genealogy Groove Back Bootcamps from the Hack Store.  The Getting Your Genealogy Groove Back Bootcamp includes the Managing the Genealogy Data Monster handout and Genealogy Resolutions Handout - very useful indeed.

In preparing to research, Thomas encourages us to think about we have researched in the past.  Is there room for improvement?  Hell yeah! I laughed with self-recognition at Thomas’ stories of unplanned research squeezed in before dishing up dinner or at 2am with insomnia.  I want to be more methodical in my research endeavours.  I do want to keep a log of unsuccessful as well as successful searches (AND search terms).  I do want to remember to search for all surname variations.  And most importantly of all I do want to SLOW down and FOCUS.  I am notorious for doing eleven things at once.  Jumping all over the place like a frog.  Listening to a podcast, whilst writing a blog, reading several blogs AND talking to my husband.  Remove distractions or at least be aware of my distracting behaviour.  Tools that might help here are some Podcasts by Genies Down Under e.g. Episode 4 – Planning stuff for Genies and Epiosde 39 – Mistake Stuff for Genies.

Base Practices and Guidelines

I love acronyms or a key to remember how to go about things.  This is after all a Do-Over. 

ACTIONS speak louder than words.  So this is my acronym for how I propose to move forward in my family history research.

A is for Applying what I have learned. Don’t just read about it and think “Oh yeah. That sounds a great way to go about things.”  Actually DO it!

C is for Controlling my environment and the way I behave.  So being conscious of my actions, distractions and the like and curbing impulse behaviour.

T is for Testing theories.  Not just jumping to conclusions.  Really examining my assumptions and the way I think.

I is for Improving wherever I can.  Not just doing things the way I’ve always done them. 

O is for Organizing – myself, my environment, my approach.

N is for Navigating.  Not just leaping in wherever and whenever but having a plan, charting my course and referring to the stars and other guides along the way (without getting distracted of course!)

S is for Sharing my work so those that come after me can find their way more easily and not make the same mistakes.

So...are you in?

[1] Wikipedia ( accessed 3 January 2015), “In Like Flynn”

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Accentuate the Positive Geneameme 2014

picture of tan or pink coloured mother with four eyes - two on top wings and two more marked (edged in black) on bottom wings
Emperor Gum Moth

Lovely Jill Ball of Geniaus encourages us to reflect on our achievements again. I am particularly keen to embrace this challenge as today is my blog's third Anniversary - who'd a thunk?

1.  An elusive ancestor I found was

Zip really in this regard but I'm not complaining because it was a very full and productive year all round.

2.  A precious family photo I found was

There were lots of precious family photos found this year on my husband's side of the family.  You can read more about the discovery here.  The important thing I learned was to go through everything carefully e.g. old papers....what might look like crap e.g. old newspaper articles might be protecting something more valuable....

Alexander Duncan and mate

3.  An ancestor's grave I found was

No graves found this year but I did discover that Royston George DUNCAN has no known grave but will be commemorated on several occasions this year at the Australian War Memorial as per this blog post here - one of those occasions was at 1am this morning!

4.  An important vital record I found was

I am very grateful to Jill for pointing me in the direction of probate.  I found out a stack of stuff about my 2nd great-grandmother here.

McLoughlin Family Reunion

5.  A newly found family member shared

My lovely McLoughlin cousins shared so much at our family reunion as per this blog post here.

6.  A geneasurprise I received was

Winning the Qld Passports Index CD published by QFHS at the Unlock the Past seminar held in February as per this blog post here.

I also won a book about British Newspapers as per this blog post here.

I was also surprised and delighted to be nominated again in Jill Ball's and Inside History 50 Best Genealogy Blogs.  

7.   My 2014 blog post that I was particularly proud of was

I've really enjoyed researching my husband's ancestors photos of WW1 soldiers - probably particuarly the ones about Alexander Duncan.  It was such a big story, I had to write it in three parts.  

8.   My 2014 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was

The post that received the most page views was Calling Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart, Sydney and Perth! 633 page views. The blog post that received the most number of comments was my Sepia Saturday post for 8 March about, of all things, backyards!

9.  A new piece of software I mastered was

Ummm...I can't really claim anything here....sad I know.

10. A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was

Facebook has probably become more important in my life for keeping abreast of all developments geneawise.

11. A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was

Oh so many...see here  On Death and Burial, here for Fortune and Misfortune, here for Inmates, Asylums, Prisons and Hospitals.

I also did a great course on World War Research with Pharos Tutors and Simon Fowler in November.

12. I am proud of the presentation I gave at/to

Hmmm...I don't know that I'm all that proud of it but at least I did it.  I promised to speak to our family history group at the library where I work.  I am worried that not all our resources are as visible as they could be.  I wanted to highlight some that are kept behind the counter for safe keeping.  This necessitated providing a kind of index or table of what was available by location and I hope that this helps our researchers.  

13. A journal/magazine article I had published was

Oh dear....

14. I taught a friend how to

I could probably do more in this regard...I think I helped work colleague Shirley navigate Trove more effectively.  Or at least print articles more effectively.  

15. A genealogy book that taught me something new was

The truth is that I am still wading my way through a plethora of genealogy books - I purchased Christine Rose's Genealogical Proof Standard.  I've borrowed Paul Thompson's The Voice of the Past - Oral History and am reading that in conjunction with the UTAS Open University course on Family History I am currently undertaking.  I am still committed to learning from Shauna Hicks Your Family History Archives.  

Museum of Brisbane

16. A great repository/archive/library I visited was

Finally I got to see the Museum of Brisbane in its new location and was very impressed by their displays.

I didn't visit as many as I would have liked and am determined to change that this year.  

On reflection I just LOVED the exhibition The Lost Diggers of Vignacourt at the State Library of NSW when I was there last year.  It's a travelling exhibition put together by the Australian War Memorial and is truly extraordinary.  Very powerful. It's on until 18 January in Sydney.

17. A new genealogy/history book I enjoyed was

I read a couple of history books this year: The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport, Pozieres by Scott Bennett, In Tasmania by Nicholas Shakespeare, The Story of ANZAC Avenue by  Merv Ewart and Pat Fairhall and Innocence Lost the Last Man Hanged in Queensland by Jacqueline Craigie.

Caitlyn and Alex

18. It was exciting to finally meet

The Lovely Caitlin and Pauleen!

19. A geneadventure I enjoyed was

Troveia - it was all a bit mad and rushed and my head just about burst trying to stay focused for the evening but great fun was had by all I think.

20. Another positive I would like to share is

We had lots of fun "pimping" our blogs in August as per this post here. It was a good bit of spring cleaning and should probably be an annual event.

So all in all a great year.  


And if you're wondering about that photo at the top - I popped it on Instagram
a couple of days ago.  Isn't he pretty?  I researched his family took me a while to figure him out...the CSIRO's website was most helpful.  It was the fourth link down after a Google search using the terms "moths Brisbane".   

I think this is him here.  Those of you who know me well will know that Science is not my strong point.  Meet the Emperor gum moth otherwise known as Opodiphthera eucalypti from the Saturniidae family.  You can read more about them here. Suffice it to say that our friend does not feed after he hatches and has to survive on what he ate in the cocoon.  So he only lives a couple of weeks and has to focus on reproduction.  Makes me feel a bit better about how  much time I have to devote to family history really.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 24 December - Christmas Eve

Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

How did you and your family spend Christmas Eve? Did you attend church services, perhaps a children’s service with a pageant? What about food – was there a special meal or did your family hold an open house so friends and family could stop by?
Share your memories of Christmas Eves gone by.

I don't have many strong memories of Christmas Eve apart from my mother being in the kitchen for what seemed forever.  She was often cooking the ham or the pudding until midnight and up early to get the turkey on.  My job was to wash up or help any way I could.  Even if that meant discreetly leaving her so she could have space to think.

Tonight we seem to have carried on that one enormous chicken for tomorrow and the other chicken will be cooked in the morning. 

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 23 December - The Meaning of Christmas

Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

If someone dropped out of the sky and was unfamiliar with the concept of Christmas, how would you explain it to them? Can you put the meaning of Christmas into words? What does Christmas represent to you and is it different than when you grew up or from the meaning it had for your ancestors?
Tell us what Christmas means to you and your memories of Christmases past.

If I wanted to be facetious I could say that the meaning of Christmas was Pudding.

But of course it's so much more than that.  It is the power of an extraordinary story to still captivate people's imagination all these hundreds of years later. Even if they don't believe in the exact details of the story, I think they believe in the sentiments it expresses - love, peace, joy, giving and possibly above all, hope.

Perhaps that is why Christmas can be so fraught - hopes are dashed, expectations aren't met.  It is, after all, just another day.  A day when we often eat too much, drink too much, hope too much.

May you get a little bit of what you need on Christmas Day - a bit of love, a bit of peace, a good story and the joy of giving.

Oh all-right - and a bit of pudding.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 22 December - Christmas Homecoming

Thomas MacEntee of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

Families are often far apart at Christmas or have to make special efforts just to spend Christmas together. The Christmas Homecoming can take many forms, even a virtual one via Skype or a phone call. What are your memories of homecomings at Christmas? If you could have any one family member – present or past – come home for Christmas, who would it be and why?

Here's my lovely Mummy in our then "new" home.  She's holding Caspar, our son.  He was born on Christmas Eve and we moved house the same day.  My waters broke and the removal truck turned up shortly after.  My poor husband, daughter and parents had to do the move without my help.  

Caspar was concentrating on getting out of a different type of "house" and I was trying to help.  

We came home eventually a few days later and had a belated "Christmas" with family and friends. Having Christmas in hospital was quite fun.  Caspar was a caesar baby - just like Bel.  He was a bit late - 3 weeks I think from memory.  We were very pleased to see him when he eventually came out. Although I couldn't stop shaking - the effect of the anaesthetic. 

Our cat, Rambo, was moved too but he was very unsettled - mostly because I wasn't there I think.  He kept going home, looking for me, poor possum.  He wasn't there when I got home and when he didn't return for I think about ten days, I thought we'd lost him.  

And then I heard a meowing one day in the back yard.  He'd finally navigated his way back to the new home (God knows how - I still think it's a miracle) - Our reunion was a bit like Cathy and Heathcliff in the backyard. It was only a distance of 5 kilometres from the old place to the new but there was a freeway between the two.  Here he is, looking rather chuffed with himself and coming over to say hello.  Dear old thing.  He's long gone now.

We look forward to catching up with Caspar via Skype this Christmas as he improves his Japanese in Kyoto.  Miss you mate.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - 21 December - Christmas Wishes

Gift from Crystal

Thomas MacEntee of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories says:

Some wish for specific things while others help make the wishes of others come true. Most of us probably wish for peace, prosperity and good health. Do you have a special Christmas wish that came true, or that you are still waiting to come true? Have you ever helped others fulfill a wish at Christmas?
Tell us about your own Christmas wishes and your memories of Christmases past.

 "Be careful what you wish for", my husband always says.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

When you wish upon a star....

Makes no difference who you are....

Finally an Irish Blessing...

Wishing you always...

Walls for the wind,

A roof for the rain

And tea beside the fire.

Laughter to cheer you,

Those you love near you,

And all that your heart may desire

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at