Thursday, 16 July 2009


We've been away -- you may have noticed this blog went quiet. I had a bunch of posts drafted and ready to finish, but I downloaded the wrong pictures and I was quite busy on this holiday any how.

I may have mentioned that I found some family members through my genealogical research and other contacts on the internet. This resulted in our being invited to visit them in Michigan (they formerly lived in Oklahoma). Bill chose the 4th of July for the date. He says he likes to be over for the 4th just to check that they hadn't changed their mind about independence and all. I think he just likes the sense of community, the food and the fireworks!

I met my mother's cousin, John, whom she probably never met, and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know his family as well as staying at the huge cabin he has right on Torch Lake. Although that family has not previously been hugely involved in family history, I did my best to give them the bug and think I may have managed reasonably well.

After that we went to stay with a woman whose grandmother was my grandpa's sister. Norma never met my Grandpa, either, but she remembered her dad talking about Jake. I remember my Dad talking about her parents. Norma and her husband, funny enough, also have a very big house that sits on a creek in a suburb of Minneapolis. There was also a family get together one afternoon and that evening her son, Spike, took us on a major tour of the city.

I now have a far greater appreciation of how wonderful Minneapolis and Minnesota are as well as enjoying the sayings and mannerisms of the northern German culture that I haven't heard since my teenage years.

Norma is the most avid family history researcher I've met other than my cousin in Perth, Sharon. Norma's records are all on paper, as she did her research long before the internet made it so much simpler. She has spiral notebooks for each branch of the family. Although she says she no longer does that research, she put it aside when one of her sons contracted leukemia (and survived, thank goodness!); I did see the note she'd made on Grandma and Grandpa's page of the date I first emailed her and my contact details. She was, like John's family, very generous with all the family information and pictures she had and I came away with a ton of fabulous stuff and quite a few pictures (not to mention taking over a 1000 on my camera alone, with Bill clicking away beside me on his new toy).

I have to say I was well impressed with both sides of my new found family and though it was always unlikely that Mom and Dad would have stayed in touch with their extended families because of distance and divorce, I am sorry that I didn't know I had such amazing family a long time ago. Still, I know it now and look forward to keeping in touch and knowing them better.

I was rather astounded when they invited us to stay at their respective homes, sight unseen (I must write very compelling emails, huh?). Then I was a bit apprehensive about how we would feel staying with strangers. It was a lot of work, but not in the way I'd expected. The main effort was to spend as much quality time and to know them as well as I could for the few days we imposed on their hospitality. I can't remember the last time I paid that close attention for such an extended time and it was rather tiring, but definitely worth while.

The last couple of days (one more than we were supposed to have -- we now have had the experience of showing up 24 hours late for our ticketed plane; I'm placing the blame squarely on Bill, though I should have trusted my own memory or at least checked, but I didn't) we spent in Chicago. I knew there would be plenty to see and do but was a bit intimidated by the place. We wound up staying out in Skokie and taking the train into downtown two days in a row to do 2 hour walking tours of the architectural wonders, first the modern and then the art deco sky scrapers. That would account for about 20% of the pictures, perhaps. Now I just have to find that thingy to download them...

So, I have lots to share -- the posts I drafted before we left and all the stuff we saw! Stay tuned!

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