Tuesday, 4 August 2015

In Loving Memory: Lynne Raley (1941-2015)

Margaret Doris Lynne RALEY was born 5 Aug 1941 at the Ottawa Civic Hospital to George Simpson RALEY (b. 1 Aug 1890 - d. 6 Jun 1979) and Margaret Phyllis Aline (nee KILMARTIN), a second daughter and third child (of four). Her arrival was announced in the August 6th edition of The Ottawa Citizen newspaper.
RALEY -- At the Ottawa Civic Hospital
Tuesday, August 5, 1941, to Mr and
Mrs George S Raley a daughter
Both well.
The baby, known as Lynne (for no one seemed to be called by their first given name in this family!), was baptized 7 Sep 1941 at St. George's Church, Ottawa. About seven years later, on 28 Apr 1948, Lynne was also confirmed here in the Catholic faith. 
ABOVE: Image of the original parish register detailing Lynne's baptism and confirmation via Ancestry.ca. 

No. 51

On the seventh day of September, nineteen hundred and forty-one
We, the undersigned priest, have baptized Margaret Doris Lynne
born on the 5th of August last the legitimate daughter of George S. Raley
who has signed hereunder, and of Phyllis Kilmartin of this parish. The
godfather was Edmour Landry who has signed hereunder, and the godmother was
Mrs. Percy Allston who has signed hereunder.
___________________________________________ )             James R Murray

___________________________________________                        Asst Priest
___________________________________________ )
Confirmation in St. George’s, Ottawa April 28, 1948 by Archbp Vachon
Marriage _________________________________________________
Although they did not sign "thereunder," Lynne grew up knowing her godparents to be Mrs. Percy Allston and Joseph Edmour Melville LANDRY. Called Edmour by his peers, Lynne's godfather was the husband of Lynne's mother Phyllis' sister, Doris Kathleen KILMARTIN. Lynne affectionately called this woman her Aunt "Dode". In the later years of Dode's life until her death, it was an adult Lynne who diligently and lovingly, though sometimes crankily, looked in on her and ferried her about to doctor appointments.

But before we get ahead of ourselves...

Lynne fondly and frequently reminisced about her childhood spent in Brittania trying to keep up with the boys, lamenting her many injuries, scrapes and grievances as if they'd only occurred yesterday. She spoke of how she loved to sing with the choir, run after the streetcars, swim at the beach ("they weren't all polluted then!") and ride her bike which "one of [her] idiot brothers" stole. She griped about a neighbour putting a snake down her shirt and complained about breaking her thumb, it turned black and moved freely in its socket before anyone would believe she was hurt. She boasted about climbing to the very tops of trees because she felt like it and eating handfuls of raw ground beef because she liked the taste of it.

Perhaps Lynne chased this Ottawa street car #823 from the Brittania Loop, ca 1951.
Photo credit: Unknown.
Image credit: Ebay Auction User dfwu
Link to Listing: HERE. 
A definite tomboy, Lynne said she felt closer to her father than her mother as a child. She loved superhero comic books and played hockey in the footsteps of her maternal granduncle, Angus Duford (1891-1950) whom, she proudly related, played as a Center Forward for the *original* Ottawa Senators from 1913-1916. A family resemblance (especially to Lynne's nephew, Wade RALEY) is definitely apparent in the photo below.

Lynne's uncle Angus is the player seated to the far left, on the end of the second row.
Digital image courtesy of Lynne's personal collection.
Original photo from The Ottawa City Archives (CA 6124).
More about Angus Duford HERE -- coming soon!

Despite her cursed allergies, Lynne always had a soft spot for animals. She spoke fondly of a dog she loved as a child, though its name escapes me now; she always made a big fuss about "having" to pet any fluffy fur-baby that ventured toward her vicinity and also immediately needing to go wash her hands afterward. She got a kick out of playing with all the family pets even though she "wasn't supposed to". She will certainly be missed by playful Georgie and Gahra Pizzati as well as Murphy and Maxie Mohr, Jackson Mohr, Farnsworth and Boomer Crawley and the Hough furbabies (Molly and Mojo). Georgie, in particular, would always get visibly excited when told Auntie Lynne was coming over, having played finger-hide-and-seek-in-the-couch with her since he was a tiny fluff ball.

Lynne and her god-daughter, Lisa-Dawn CRAWLEY, circa 1987.
Crawley Farm, Stanger, Alberta, Canada.
Photo credit: Michael Crawley.
Crystal MOHR and Lynne on New Years Eve (31 Dec 1993) at a party hosted by Betty's sister and brother-in-law, Shirley & Peter McCarthy. Kanata, Ontario, Canada.
Photo credit: Lisa-Dawn Crawley.
Lynne also had an affinity for children, a quick connection with the young-at-heart. Many a child has cackled hysterically at her fierce bear hugs (subsequently peeing her pants) or silly sing-song sayings -- "up yer nose with a rubber hose and in your ear with a poison spear" or "pop pop fizz fizz oh what a relief it is" or "cob on the corn" or "pidayduh" (potato). Indeed, Lynne left school early for financial reasons and ended up babysitting to earn income. She recalled many fun outings herding myriad rugrats here and there all at once and thought herself pretty darn good at rearing youth, though she never bore any of her own.

Lynne didn't like to be wrong. Ever. She was infamously a poor loser, sometimes even a poor winner. She had a stubborn streak, too, but also a bit of naivete. She was a sucker for gadgety, gimmicky, As-Seen-On-TV quick-fix products. She always believed, wholeheartedly, whatever the "professionals" told her and did exactly as instructed. She could not bluff. She didn't like to be the centre of attention and could not laugh at herself (even with ketchup all over her face and down the front of her blouse in the middle of a restaurant... for the second time). She was proper to a fault (she refused to admit she passed gas outside of the bathroom even when alone in her apartment). She was adamantly allergic to her own hair (I didn't buy this one, even as a tiny child). But these quirks were small(ish) in comparison to her huge, soft heart.
Lynne always made goofy faces to make the photographer laugh when she didn't want her picture taken. Didn't stop me. Taken August 2010.
Photo Credit: Lisa-Dawn Crawley
Loyalty and generosity permeated Lynne's relationships all her life -- perhaps even when she should have exercised less patience or tolerance. But that was Lynne. Lynne was giving and loyal, kind and proud, honourable and dependable.

As such, she of course wanted to be there for her siblings and their families whenever they expressed a need. Lynne was a witness at the wedding of her sister, Rita Mary "Dianne" (1937-1984) to Joseph PATRICK. She frequently drove the wife (Lucille aka Lou/Lucy, nee RAYMOND) of her big brother Charles Ambrose William "Bill" (living) to her hair appointments (they shared a hairstylist for a time) and other errands, exchanging occasional emails. She happily chatted to her little brother George Phillip (living, and actually called by his given first name!) on Facebook and was looking forward to driving him to a canoe event the weekend of her death. Until nearer the end of her life, Lynne babysat when called upon and always spoke proudly of all her nieces, nephews, "the greats," their families and accomplishments. Indeed! Someone was always graduating, getting married, having a baby, starting a new business or doing something else of note. She bragged about it all!

ABOVE: Image via Ancestry.ca of the original parish register detailing Lynne's sister Dianne's marriage. Note Lynne's actual signature at the very bottom.

In 1964, at the age of 23, Lynne entered a commerce school program to learn such skills as shorthand and typing. Here, fate introduced her to classmate Patricia "Pat" PRICE (now MOHR) who remained her close friend, a sister-by-choice for over 50 years until Lynne's death.
Patricia and Ken MOHR and Lynne, ca early 1970s.
Photo credit: TBD.
In 1965, Lynne became a civil servant at the Department of National Defense. It is at DND where she met another of her good friends, May Hoey, whom she spoke of fondly, often and with whom she never lost touch. Lynne worked at DND proudly until her retirement in the early 1990s, relishing every opportunity to offer up the popular spy movie phrase: "If I told you what I do, I'd have to kill you". Sure enough, to this day, nobody is very clear about what exactly Lynne did for the government. Something about various ships and their tech upgrades, weaponry or the transport of supplies/soldiers -- that was the vague impression with which most were left. Perhaps that was the topic of the correspondence she handled. It might at any rate hint as to the purpose of her much enjoyed, much talked about road trip to Halifax.

In her mini cooper. The mini cooper she once owned and longed for ever after? You must have heard of it. It was red and a "great little car" that she once caught four large guys carrying out of a Hamilton parking lot after a football game the Ottawa Rough Riders won. Yes, above all, Lynne loved to drive. She loved road trips and any opportunity to get behind the wheel, often volunteering to play chauffeur and airport taxi. She was offended if you didn't ask her! Despite many fender benders, Lynne took excellent care of all her vehicles; woe was the oblivious teenager only after a quick buck who agreed to clean it under her watchful eagle eye. However, generations of students do have Lynne to thank for their driving skills and clean records. It must be noted, though, that her ferocious and verbal impatience for ignorant drivers and poor driving skills did not get passed on to all of her pupils.
Lynne ca early 1970s.
Photo credit: Michael Crawley.
Speaking of football... Lynne was always quick to brag about her famous, athletic ancestry. Sure enough, her claim to her grandfather's fame was true: Ambrose "Amby" Timothy KILMARTIN (1884-1944) did indeed play with the Rough Riders in the early days of the Ottawa Football Club.  Unfortunately, he played during a decade (the 1910s) in which the team declined and was not very competitive.

More about Alby Kilmartin HERE. -- coming soon!

Long after her grandfather's death, Lynne shared season tickets to the Ottawa Roughriders with friend Elizabeth "Betty" STANTON (now CRAWLEY) for eleven years. Even though Lynne was adamant that she did NOT want to meet Betty at first, fate again made its mark. Not only did Lynne, at Pat's request and ultimate introduction, end up driving Ms. Stanton (who was recovering from toe surgery and unable to take the bus) to her work with Ms. Mohr at the Canadian Nurses Association, but she got stuck with another close friend and sister for almost 50 years. Thus, the legend of the three musketeers began.
Lynne was Maid of Honour at Elizabeth and Michael's wedding (both right) in Ottawa. Fall 1978. Colin SMITH (bottom left) was Best Man. Both ended up being godparents to the couple's first born child.
Photo courtesy Elizabeth Crawley's personal collection.
Photo credit: TBD.

Lynne, Pat, Betty and Ken at Lisa-Dawn and Brad's wedding in 2012.
At the wedding, Lynne read the Prayer's of the Faithful with the groom's godfather, Pat read a reading during the ceremony mass, and Ken was a groomsman.
Indeed, both Pat and Betty's extended families, later to include their own children, seemed to envelope Lynne as a permanent fixture at Christmases and other holidays and in their lives. Betty's youngest sibling, Pam, recalls first meeting Lynne when she was only five years old. She claims innocence when Betty and Lynne drove up to find her sitting on top of her next door neighbour "friend" on the front lawn, pummelling him in the chest. That same little boxer is all grown up now with one of her own daughters getting married this August! Pam says she specifically remembers Lynne poking her playfully in the belly when she was little and has a hard time recalling a family Christmas gathering where Lynne was not present, "at least after gift-opening". Lynne, herself, talked about going to the Ex with Betty and nieces, Laura and Vicki when they were small. She had stories about all the family babies... and then their babies, too. They, in turn, recall her silly sense of humour, her spikes of pain and funny outbursts resulting from her various ailments, debating whether they were real or imagined. She is remembered fondly as a kind, although at times perhaps curmudgeonly presence.
Lynne (seated, far right) at the trailer with (L-R) William Stanton, Loretta Mitchell, Kevin Crawley, Robert Stanton, Jennifer Stanton and Lisa-Dawn Crawley, ca Summer 1992.
Photo courtesy Elizabeth Crawley's personal collection.
Photo credit: unknown. 
Lynne enjoyed (watching) golf and almost anything else athletic. Alongside sports, she was a lover of music (especially Barbra Streisand), film (her favourite movies were The African Queen and Casablanca) and literature of all kinds; she was a voracious reader. To the chagrin of many, she tended to like everything a little more if it was from "the old days" whether it really was better or not. Lynne was a night owl, too, and was frequently caught "resting her eyes" amongst company in the evenings when she claimed to have been up until dawn finishing her latest tome or enjoying some sporting event on the boob tube. It must be mentioned that two of her favourite things to do were to go "see a show" and to munch on Peanut Buster Parfaits (which she once requested, to her humiliation, as a "peanut puster barfait") from Dairy Queen. 
Caught in the act on Boxing Day at Pat & Ken's!
Photo credit: Lisa-Dawn Crawley
Ms. Raley also liked to try to keep up-to-date with all of the latest technology. She liked to try to fix things; she fancied herself handy. Whether she was or she wasn't, in fact, handy seemed to be determined equally by the task and her mood - but she would always offer to give it a try! In fact, one had to be wary of taking too much advantage of Lynn'e's generosity because she liked being needed. She liked to help people. This good will extended toward many long-term friends but also to many in her apartment building, especially her buddy Robert McArdle and (the late) Loretta MITCHELL (nee GARDEN, formerly STANTON -- yes, Betty's mother). Lynne would choose to mention here her pal Nicole Zabik (Ottawa) and her friend, (the late) Audrey Rogers (Richmond), whom she accompanied all the way to England on the trip of Lynne's lifetime (made possible by an inheritance received courtesy of heir hunter, Tim Howse (Toronto).

Lynne helping to blow up balloons for Brad's 30th birthday party in St. Catharines, Ontario, March 2007.
Photo credit: Lisa-Dawn Crawley.

After an insidious decline over the past three years, Lynne Raley died not unexpectedly but still suddenly on Friday, 17 July 2015. She passed peacefully in her favourite ergonomic chair in front of her big screen smart TV in her long-time home on Carling Avenue. Special thanks to the superintendent on duty that day who reacted quickly and professionally when called upon.

View this obituary online, HERE.
To my knowledge this obituary on the Funeral Home website is the only one that has been published publicly.
The guest book has been signed twice so far (as of 4 Aug 2015).
A private wake was held for family at Alan R. Barker Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Carleton Place. As per Lynne's final wishes, the Mohrs and the Crawleys were included. A public funeral mass was held on 28 July 2015 at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Carleton Place. Cremation and inurnment to follow at Notre Dame Cemetery, Ottawa. Lynne's nephew, Wade, gave a touching eulogy.
Card given out at Lynne's funeral.
Pat and Betty were very touched to be included and to be specifically sought out by Scott Raley.
Canada Day at Pat & Ken's, Richmond.
Photo Credit: Lisa-Dawn Crawley

June 2012
Much love is now and always extended from: Shirley & Peter McCARTHY and family (Ottawa), Donna STANTON & Kevin SHAUGHNESSY and family (Ottawa), Edward & Mary STANTON and family (Ottawa), Cindy & Alan HARVEY and family (Nova Scotia), Pam & Dennis ROY and family (Buckingham, QC), the extended HOUGH family (Ottawa), the extended MOHR family, the Rogers family (Ottawa) and the Pizzati family (Welland, ON).

It goes without saying that Lynne was adored and will be terribly missed by Patricia & Ken MOHR of Richmond, Heather MOHR (Kevin HOUGH), Jordan and Erika of Bridlewood, Kanata; Crystal MOHR of Bridlewood, Kanata; Elizabeth CRAWLEY (late Michael), Lisa-Dawn CRAWLEY (Brad PIZZATI) all of Glen Cairn, Kanata; and Kevin CRAWLEY (Brittany MILLER) of Nepean.

Chrsitmases, Easters, Thanksgivings, birthdays, our annual Cookie Baking Day and EVERY day will not be the same without you, Auntie Lynne.

You were loved.
You will be missed.
And you WILL be remembered.
Photo credit: Lisa-Dawn Crawley.

It should be noted that this blog post has been hampered by a few things: emotion, memory in an emotional time (let alone its usual fallibility), availability and accessibility of suitable photos (you can never find exactly what you want WHEN you want it!) and the overwhelming desire to get this exactly right, to include everything immediately, in time to publish for her birthday. One measly post is insufficient to give tribute to such a person who had such an impact on so many lives, nor all the aspects of it I desired to touch upon. Nevertheless, it's something.

A proper source list and citations will be added ASAP.

Additional photos may be added herein or to subsequent posts.
All mistakes are my own; therefore, dates and credits subject to change.

Photo credit: Lisa-Dawn Crawley.
Digital image credit: Lisa-Dawn Crawley.
A list in Lynne's own handwriting of dates important to her.
Regardless of biology... all family.

Added 5 Aug 2015
The following memoriam notice was published in today's edition of The Ottawa Citizen on page D6.
The link in the add leads to this blog post.
The link to the online memorial and guest book (please sign!) is HERE.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Ottawa's Mini RootsTech: A Quiet Success

Having used up all my genea-monies to trek to the REAL RootsTech in Salt Lake City this past February, I begrudgingly missed the 2015 OGS Conference "Tracks through Time" in Barrie, ON. Knowing I will also be missing OGS Scottish Special Interest Group's SYMPOSIUM and the One World, One Family conference (both held in Brampton, Ontario) coming up in August, I made a point of busting my furry hump to get to Ottawa's FREE, mini [very, VERY mini in comparison] version of RootsTech: the "Voices from the Dust" conference hosted by the Ottawa Stake Family History Centre. I had to forego the semi-regular FREE Professional Development webinar hosted by Gena Philibert-Ortega on the same afternoon for The National Institute of Genealogical Studies [see Information > Virtual Learning Room for the list of upcoming FREE live meetings] but placated myself with the knowledge I will be able to watch the recording at a later date. 

I have been to Ottawa's FHC before on a tour for a class taught locally by Lesley Anderson and [shamefully, only...] a couple of times since then to do research on my own. Those times, one could only enter through a back door indicated by a Family History Centre sign. For this event, all doors to the church and remainder of the facility were accessible.* It's a nice location, set back from the East side of Prince of Wales Drive (#1017) and surrounded by trees. There are two entrances/exits from the road - the Northern one usually being used as an entrance. Then you can drive around the whole building to exit from the drive on the other (south) side. Ample FREE parking surrounds the facility.

Inside, some of the decor is a little dated but the facility is clean, cool, quiet and peaceful. When you arrive to research, you don't have access to much of the building -- just the research room, a couple of the rear rooms (including a Mother-Baby room) and your gender-appropriate washroom. I knew there was more to it but didn't expect it to be was quite so large. There are multiple class/meeting-type rooms, a gymnasium with a stage (avec drapes), a simple and serene chapel and probably more that I did not encounter. Although there were signs on the walls indicating which presentations were taking place within, it was a bit of a maze finding my way around. Once I got over the fact that I would have to wander and nobody cared if I stumbled into the wrong room [and realized the place wasn't so big I would be forgotten in the abyss if I did get lost], all was well.

Since the event was open to all and advertised as a FREE event, I expected the bare minimum -- rooms with chairs and presenters. Which was perfectly fine with me. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to meander into a mini exhibition hall which remained open throughout the event: 
Mini Exhibition Hall
Ottawa Stake FHC, "Voices from the Dust" Conference
Photo taken (with blurry camera phone) by LDC, 20 June 2015.
Opposite view of Mini Exhibition Hall.
Ottawa Stake FHC, "Voices from the Dust" Conference
Photo taken (with blurry camera phone) by LDC, 20 June 2015.

Societies local to the Ottawa area and a few relevant, local vendors displayed their swag. Display and information only, no sales. I think I got all of them, except for the one or two vendors who did not show (empty tables). In the order I pulled their pamphlets out of my purse, they are:

At the far end of the exhibition hall, a table offered lemonade or bottled water. Another table offered a small selection of finger foods like cheese and crackers, fruit and cookies. Not surprisingly, this area was always crowded.
View of the crowd at the food table in the Mini Exhibition Hall.
Ottawa Stake FHC, "Voices from the Dust" Conference
Photo taken (with blurry camera phone - hey at least I don't have to worry about identifying people!!) by LDC, 20 June 2015.

As you can see, it was not a huge crowd of participants (at most 100 souls over the course of the day, perhaps) so the atmosphere was relaxed and accommodating, probably less intimidating for newbies. I heard at least two individuals exclaiming that this was all new to them, their first time attending a conference - so, clearly, even smaller efforts like this community event should be given their due merit.

I think there were six attendees, MAX, who could have been close to my age, including two presenters, two hosts of a display table and one bored kid on his laptop in the lobby. This is not a new experience for me as far as Canadian/Ontarian genealogy events go. I'm usually the youngest in a sea coloured shades of grey.**

I arrived a little late and missed the opening remarks [which I didn't even realize would be happening, that's how low-key I thought it was going to be]. I will know to arrive on time next year! Three live tracks for each session were scheduled with an additional track showing select videos recorded during RootsTech 2015 (and available for your FREE! viewing pleasure HERE).

Session 1
A) FamilySearch.org: A Place for You and Me by Shirley-Ann Pyefinch 
B) Parish Records – A Resource For Family Historians by Gloria Tubman
C) Your Family History in Book Form as an Enduring Heirloom by Magdalene Carson
D) RootsTech Video: You've Mastered the Census and Basic Search, What Next? by Karen Auman

Session 2

A) Keeping the Past: Storing and Preserving Family Archives and Memorabilia by Kyla Ubbink
B) Doing Family Tree Research in Your Pajamas by Ken McKinlay 
C) Genealogy Resources and Services at the Ottawa Public Library by Romaine Honey 

D) RootsTech Video: Family History on the Go Using SmartPhones and Tablets by Rhona Farrier and Crystal Beutler 

Session 3 

A) Researching Your Family History at Library and Archives Canada by Sara Chatfield 
B) Learn FamilySearch Indexing by Brenda Bowman 
C) Overview of the City of Ottawa Archives by Grace Lewis 

D) RootsTech Video: Building a Genealogy Toolbox by Thomas MacEntee

I thought I'd end this post by sharing a few of the tidbits that stood out for me from each presentation I attended. The quality of all presentations I attended was excellent and I can only assume the rest followed suit.

Parish Records – A Resource For Family Historians
by Gloria Tubman
- parish records are the best substitute for civil registration
- civil parishes are NOT necessarily the same as ecclesiastical parishes
- another reason for a large gap in dates between a birth and a baptism is that some churches charged a fee to perform religious rites

Keeping the Past: Storing and Preserving Family Archives and Memorabilia
by Kyla Ubbink
Rockstar Preservationist presenter, Kyla Ubbink getting started!
Ottawa Stake FHC, "Voices from the Dust" Conference
Photo taken (with blurry camera phone) by LDC, 20 June 2015.
- use acid free boxes and folders, please!
- get artifacts and pictures out of yellowing plastic immediately!
- use spacers and/or stuff gaps with cotton to reduce damage of artifacts stored in boxes
- use Mylar (brand) polyester clear plastic envelopes, sleeves, folders, etc
- use ONLY a Stabillo Marking Pencil to write on the backs of photos
- store photos vertically (not stacked) to avoid pressure which = heat that ruins them
- do NOT use bubble wrap when storing your items
- little white dots on books and shelves = book lice [*scratch scratch*]
- supplier recommendations: Chris Green Stamps (Bank & Second, Ottawa), www.carmcclean.ca, art supply stores (but NOT student materials!)
- visit the Canadian Conservation Institute for more information: www.cci-icc.gc.ca
[There really were sooooo many tips and tricks that I can't do her talk justice by only showing these few but I don't want to steal her stuff either!]
Kyla Ubbink demonstrating how to safely remove photos from those awful "sticky" albums. HINT: dental floss!
Ottawa Stake FHC, "Voices from the Dust" Conference
Photo taken (with blurry camera phone) by LDC, 20 June 2015.

Overview of the City of Ottawa Archives
by Grace Lewis 
At this point, I have [shamefully] not done any research at the City of Ottawa Archives on Tallwood Drive although I have attended a couple of DNA Day events there.
- open Tuesday through Saturday
- free parking
- sign in at security, then make your way to the third floor
- purpose is to collect and preserve corporate and community documents
- community collections include: Billings Estate, Ogilvie Family Papers and much more including over 3 million photos
- partner collections include: United Church of Canada, BIFHSGO, Ottawa branch of OGS, UEL library, Railway library.
- free, in-archive access to newspapers.com, British Newspaper Archive, Ancestry and more

All in all, it was a very informative day for me. I left, once again, marvelling at just how much I do not yet know - in general and about our area in particular. Wondering if I will EVER feel as though I have a good enough understanding of ANYTHING to speak about it... [not that I want to]. And with yet another list of blasted books I need to buy!!!

Yes, The Asterisks Mean Something

* I mention this because, when you arrive to do your research and park far from the door actually used as the entrance to the FHC part of the facility [yes, okay, like I did], it's a pain in the buttinski. 

** I was going to say "lone brown spot" in a sea of grey... however, number one, that's not true - there were many attendees without greying follicles and, number two, that phrase led me to imagine floating poop and, although I may at times exude my fair share of smelliness, I refuse to label myself a piece of bobbing excrement. 

Thursday, 18 June 2015

I Hate Father's Day

I don't normally begrudge my fellow human beings their loved ones. But, then, I don't normally have my missing family member shoved in my face either.
My dad died when I was eleven. So, for 24 years now I have not had a father to celebrate. You'd think I'd be used to it by now...

I don't have any grandfathers to celebrate either. My paternal grandpa passed long before I was born. My maternal grandfather died when I was eight and I never met the man who was biologically my maternal grandfather (who died in 1994 anyway).

It's not that I'm unappreciative of the fact that other people have fathers whom they love and wish to honour [they do! and they should!] It's not that I want to take a holiday away from anyone. I don't want people to boycott or disallow celebrations or to be a Father's Day Scrooge*... But I have to say -- when you don't have a father to celebrate and your husband is not a father yet, Father's Day sucks.

It's not that it's just one day. I could probably handle one day.** It's the month-long lead-up to Father's Day which starts immediately after Mother's Day. Tell us how special your dad is! Take a photo of the fun activities you like to do with your dad! Why do you love your dad? Make your dinner reservations for Father's Day now! Blah blah blah. It's like society rubbing salt in a wound.
Perhaps I'm over-sensitive because June just happens to be an extra sh!tty month for my family where Dad is concerned. Not only does Father's Day occur in June but so does the date of my Dad's birth (June 11th). As does the date of his death (June 23rd). Reminder after reminder after reminder that my Dad is not here, that my dad is gone, that my dad is missing, that other people get to celebrate and love their fathers on a special day (and every day, frankly), that other people didn't miss out on having their dad there while they grew up and hit milestones, graduated and got married...

After Dad died and we'd moved off the farm to be nearer to my mom's family, the first Father's Day my mom spent away from my brother and I sticks out in my mind. Thoughtful, loving, caring Family friends invited Brother and I over for dinner that night so we wouldn't be alone. I was and still am touched that they thought to do such a thing for us. But it was awkward. It was awful. I felt like we were stealing the proverbial thunder of the father in our presence. I wish we'd just stayed home. I don't recall any of the specifics - just the pervasive yucky feeling of the experience. And that I hadn't expected to feel that way.

Similarly, my in-laws used to just assume I'd be okay going out to dinner with them and their extended family on Father's Day. It was nice of them to wish to include me but there was an absence of thought that, maybe, just maybe I would prefer NOT to go, which I resented. After Hubby's own father died, he unfortunately started to understand where I was coming from.

It's like when you happily attend a wedding and - oh boy! - here comes the Father-Daughter dance! You're supposed to think oh!, isn't it so touching?! when all you can think is "Why did that asshat get to live to dance with his daughter and my wonderful father didn't??" It's awful and uncharitable but it's a feeling and feelings can't be helped; feelings just are.

So... Sorry. I don't want to be included in someone else's celebration.  I'm happy that you have a dad and that you love him - but your dad is not my dad. I don't want to make a special effort to acknowledge your dad. My special day to acknowledge your dad, should I choose to do so, is called his BIRTHDAY.

I tried to come up with some happy Father's Day memories to share instead of this Post of Gloom and Negativity but I don't really recall how we used to celebrate Father's Day -- which is to say that I don't recall one in particular, except the one I've already mentioned. I imagine we celebrated much like we did for birthdays... perhaps breakfast in bed made haphazardly by us enthusiastic but domestically-challenged kids... There likely would have been gifts presented to him after his specially requested dinner (likely pork chops and potato puffs) was made and served by mom... chocolate cake (anything sweet!) served for dessert. I doubt there would have been any special activities... maybe fishing. We were out in the country where feeding the cows and avoiding gopher holes was as close to golf as we got -- and I kinda doubt my dad would have been into golf anyway. He was into horses and cowboy stuff, camping and the outdoors, building and fixing things... He was rugged. To think of him swinging a silver stick at a tiny ball on serenely coiffed grass is just wrong.
THE scene from the 1982 movie The Man From Snowy River, a western set in Australia circa 1880, starring Canadian Tom Burlinson. I was very young when we saw this film on VHS in our farmhouse living room but I still remember my cowboy Dad whooping at this scene. #MovieAddict #ThisIsMyDad
I do remember the first time Dad's birthday came along after he died. My brother, who was eight at the time, insisted we have a cake with candles in Dad's honour. This made me extremely uncomfortable and I hated it with a passion. It felt stupid and unnatural. But mom explained it was important to Brother and I was made to suffer through singing Happy Birthday. Yeah, it was really happy. I don't recall who blew out the candles. Thankfully, we were not at home but in a neighbour's kitchen. But we're talking about Father's Day, not birthdays... Suffice to say, it doesn't feel right to write a tribute to my Dad in a Father's Day post when I don't have any particular (good) memories about that day and another feeling casts such a predominant shadow. Surely, the day to sing his praises would be his birthday anyway. And a summary of his life on the anniversary of his death...

To be honest, I've had most of this post written for some time but it has remained incomplete amongst the rest of my many unpublished, half-finished articles. I've struggled with publishing the privacy of my feelings which the general population doesn't seem to share. I am still struggling with spreading the gloom... Or maybe giving in to my own is more accurate at this point. I don't like to be negative.*** I prefer to find a silver lining... to suss out whatever is good about a situation or person... to come up with positive spin and work that angle... to spread love, light, goodness, kindness, happiness, optimism and good karma [*barf* ...but true]. I consider it a challenge and I don't like "failing" at it. I should be able to provide some kind of constructive suggestion instead of being cynical, defeatist and pessimistic. But I don't really have a Polly-Anna for this particular instance... The closest I've come is proclaiming June to be, henceforth, My Daddy's Month of Super Powers. Surely, he must be up there wielding his mighty lasso of superpowers (a la Indiana Jones) to bring us goodness [and special treats? I dunno...] in this particularly unpleasant segment of the year that excludes yet simultaneously exudes his presence!...?

I want to say I miss my dad. And I do. But it doesn't feel exactly right to say that either. Because I never truly knew him, not as a person. I knew him as infallible. I knew him as my protector. I knew him in 2D. [He would have LOVED Jurassic World, btw, and the cowboy-esque character Chris Pratt plays].**** I miss what I remember having a dad in my life felt like. But at the same time, I can't translate that into my life as it is now -- I don't know what it would feel like, as an adult, to have a father in my life. So I can't say I miss it. I miss what little of his personality I do remember. I mostly miss that I didn't get the opportunity to know him better, to have him present in my life.

So it's not that I go through every day of my life thinking about the loss of my Dad. I don't. I am aware of it in general and of how not having an adult male figure in my life has likely affected me overall -- just not pointedly, on a daily basis. Father's Day, lately, seems to be a day to feel sorry for myself and to mourn and lament what is "missing" from my life -- and I really hate that. I would not be who I am today if my dad hadn't been who he was while he was here and if he hadn't passed -- and, while I would love for him to still be here with us, my life would be utterly, totally and completely different. I likely would be just like most of you - unaware that this is even an issue for some people.

It was Laura Hedgecock's post "What's Your Father's Day Story?" (published on my dad's birthday, I shall point out) that pushed me to click the Publish button on this post. Not everyone has the same, happy story; all of them should be recorded. And, further, to quote Ron Perlman (of Beauty and the Beast, Sons of Anarchy and Hellboy fame): "The reason we're here is to talk about what we did... no matter what it is I'm going through, I'm not the first one, and I'm not gonna be the last".

I hope this post, my feelings, my experience resonates with others who have similar stories. I hope it spreads awareness that Father's Day, for me and many others, is kinda like Valentine's Day when you're single and don't want to be. Oh, it's going to be such a special day with your sweetheart and, oh, you can show this person how much you love them and how much they mean to you! And, oh, you're going to have such a good time and you will make memories and blah blah blah. Shut the eff up already! I don't have a Valentine!

Yes, The Asterisks Mean Something

* I've tried making lemonade out of lemons but this just doesn't feel right:

It feels like an injustice or even blasphemy to celebrate my mom instead when my dad was a good dad for the time he was here. Likewise, it just doesn't feel right (or good) to make a point of celebrating and remembering a guy who's not here anymore on a specific day when everyone else's IS. There's a hole in that theory. It's a missing person. It amplifies the loss, not the person. And it's the person who should be raised up on their special day.

** Hell, let's be real. I can handle it all. I'm just venting. And recording another viewpoint for posterity and my own family history.

*** I definitely don't always succeed at avoiding negativity!! But I try, at least, to say nothing if it can't be nice. Especially on the internet. Where, without a second thought, everyone complains publicly about whatever is bothering them -- bad service, some annoying colleague or schoolmate, a Kardashian or some seemingly arbitrary decision to cast Ben Affleck as Batman [I think he's a solid actor who will pull it off just fine, btw]. CHOOSE NOT TO SPREAD HATE & NEGATIVITY, PEOPLE!! C'mon!!

**** Jurassic World... which we saw in 3D [there's the thought connection that may have seemed missing above...lol] We saw it on Dad's birthday, too, now that I think about it. Funny how seemingly unconnected things fall into place serendipitously and you realize they were connected all along...


Perlman, Ron. Easy Street (the Hard Way): A Memoir (Boston, USA: Da Capo Press, 2014), p120.

Buy it on Amazon, HERE!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

St. Patty's Day Memories

I don't recall ever doing anything especially noteworthy for St. Patrick's Day as a child. In elementary school, we cut shamrocks out of green construction paper, combed the playground for four-leafed clover and coloured-in leprechauns and pots of gold at the end of rainbows with crayons, later coloured pencils. I remember learning about St. Patrick in school... We may well have made circle streamers and other decorations to display at home and my mom surely baked and dressed a thematic cake but no memories pop out distinctly.
The only St. Patty's Day memory from childhood that I recall with much clarity is one I remember quite fondly. Full of the mystical wonder of childhood on a bright spring morning, walking with my mom and brother down our long, curved, tree-lined, rural Alberta driveway to catch the school bus we speculated about the sneaky habits of the leprechaun. Where did they live around here? How could we set a trap? What would we wish for if we caught one? All while searching for tiny leprechaun footprints in the snow.*
As an adult, I never felt the need to party on St. Patrick's Day, to drink green beer or to get drunk.** The only adult St. Patrick's Day story I have to share is only a SPD story by default. I planned a surprise party for hubby's 30th birthday; it happened to fall on the green holiday. We had some green hats and streamers but nothing over the top. I told him a friend was having a stag and doe party on the day and that they ended up needing his assistance at the last minute with something I couldn't do for some reason. I don't remember the exact lie but I remember he REALLY didn't want to come and I had to pretty much beg until my friend piped up beside me to say she'd pay him. That did the trick. Needless to say, he was surprised.
Purchase Leprecadaver, the leprechaun zombie gnome on Etsy from RevanentFX!
My Irish heritage was something I've always known about though it was never really celebrated within my family like it was in the families of some of my friends. Perhaps that's because my Irish relatives have been in Canada for well over 150 years now. Also, probably, because it was only my mom's paternal side that was Irish and we didn't have much to do with them on a regular basis.

I knew my Irish ancestors came over because of The Potato Famine (I had yet to learn there was more than one famine), that there were two brothers - one who settled on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River and the other who settled on the Ottawa side. Annnnd that's about it. To date, I have a copy of other family members' work on our shared genealogy but have not entirely verified everything for myself, to my own satisfaction nor that of the BCG Standards manual.

Yes, The Asterisks Mean Something

* Yes, spring with snowbanks. Such is weather in Canada and Alberta. Fun, eh?

** I've never been a drinker, to be honest. I'll maybe partake of a daiquiri or a beer or a glass of sangria once in a while but I've never been drunk in my life and don't particularly plan to be... although one New Years Eve at home with hubby I did actually TRY to get drunk. I drank a couple of beer and almost an entire bottle of champagne by myself, but... nada. Nothing happened. No tipsy. No woozy. No hangover-esque feelings the next day. I was disappointed, stupidly, but I've never tried it again. Realistically, I think I'd just find a corner, curl up and go to sleep anyway.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Twitter: Follow Friday Lists - Good or Bad?

I hadn't really thought of the #FollowFriday or #FF list being seen as a (potentially) bad thing, until just now... when I tagged Judy Webster in my #FF tweet and she thanked me graciously but directed me to this post. It made me think!

[If you don't want to be bothered clicking over, the gist is... some people really dislike Follow Friday lists posted to Twitter. The general consensus seems to be that these lists are automated by apps or programs (thus, impersonal) and aimed only at getting more followers].

Right away, I think it's worth noting that not all people who post a list of people to follow on #FollowFriday (#FF) are using an automated service. While I don't usually signal out only one person per week or per tweet, I create all of my lists personally with my own two hands and most of my fingers! Random tweep lists with no discernible meaning have been a pet peeve of mine so I try to include an appropriate and descriptive hashtag along with the people in my #FF list I'd like to mention that week. I choose them because they caught my eye or I just like the person. I try to group tweeps by theme or topic. Sometimes I like to do more than one list - sometimes with a more specialized hashtag, sometimes not.

It's easy to get overwhelmed by Twitter - I did at first too!* - but I think it's meant to be a short, immediate tool for seeing what's going on in general in the world or re certain topics, not a comprehensive news feed or communication device. That's why there's a character limit, a follow limit and the list feature!

With that said, everyone should use it however it works best for them! Of course. I am not the President of the Tweeter or its Tweeps. #DUH

If you don't want to be included or don't want to bother responding or reading tweets you're mentioned in I think that's totally fine. I certainly don't have time to read every tweet by everyone I follow. I follow people who generally post about things I'm interested in. I put a lot of people I don't follow on topical lists that I check periodically. And then I check Twitter and scan whatever tweets happen to be passing by whenever I get a spare moment or am following something Live. If I am really interested in a certain topic, I search for a particular hashtag or keyword. I hardly ever read all of something, let alone everything that goes by... (including the post and comments I was directed to which prompted this post of my own LOL ... which you can devour in its entirety or scan as quickly as you please)!

If someone I follow posts a #FF I may or may not check it out, whether they highlight one person or a list of people. I certainly agree that posting only one Tweep per #FF with a reason WHY they are included CAN be more effective than a list. I've used that option too! I guess it depends on how and why you're using Twitter. And that depends on my mood sometimes too. Also, I just don't always have the time to be more explanatory... or I want to give a shout out to as many people as possible in the time I do have. I generally feel like it's better/nicer/funner** to tag someone than to not. I like it when someone tags me, after all! Even if it's a stupid reason, it's still a reason to smile! But, again, including a reason for a #FF doesn't guarantee a look because Twitter is a fast-paced tool. I think of it as an If-It-Catches-My-Eye type of game.

And I don't think of #FF as a way to bring in my own followers AT ALL. I have no idea why anyone follows me. And, as soon as I stopped worrying about what to post and getting followers, people started following! Go figure! I post links to things that I'm interested in. I comment on my personal life, my professional life. Sometimes I post things for a reason, sometimes on a whim. I don't focus on one particular subject although there are a few I tend to focus on. I post what I want. If you like it, cool. If you don't even see it, cool. If you don't like what you do see, also cool. No one is forcing you to follow me or to read every single one of my tweets.*** If you have someone else you'd prefer to stalk... go for it! Just allow me the same courtesy, please.

So, yeah. I don't think it's rude to not reciprocate a #FF or any type of twitter recognition. But I do see how people can feel that way because I used to as well. Generally, I try to star/favourite, reply or thank people for mentioning me but if I don't get to it or it's too much of a hassle I don't bother. I would like to respond to everyone but then I think about the celebs who have millions of followers and realize they certainly can't be responding to everything and they're not assumed to be rude... so maybe this tool is not meant to be used like that.

To be honest, I initially thought it was kind of rude to be directed to this post because I, too, assumed everyone thought of and used Twitter like I do. But now I understand and appreciate that there are differing viewpoints out there (aren't there always?! We just don't always think about them unless we're forced!)  and I don't feel offended at all. It's a good conversation to have! (Although I'm nervous about the possible comments I might now receive...)

Anyway, however you choose to use Twitter --- please just don't assume everything is automated and, even if it is, remember you have to choose what people or, at the very least, types of people to include in such automated systems (I'm learning this now because I was just investigating one today). A mention takes time and a decision, whether you do it at the time of the post or ahead of time when automating. I personally feel that it is better to be mentioned than not! It's a flattering thing however it happens.

And, for the record, I've been looking into automation thingies because I have family in other time zones who don't get any of my tweets when we're on opposite schedules. So I thought having something automatically repost some of my tweets  when they're awake and I'm asleep (or supposed to be) would be a good thing.

I'm @elle_dee_see in the Tweet Zone!


Yes, The Asterisks Mean Something

* I recall, when I first joined Twitter (waaaaay back before Ashton Kutcher live-streamed his run for the first millionth follower and Perez Hilton was "attacked" by Will.I.Am)... that every morning I would get up and scroll to the bottom of the list of new tweets posted by all the people I followed. I would, religiously, read it allllllllll the way through until I was current again and only had to keep up with the new tweets. I couldn't figure out how people did anything else with their day if they followed more than 10 people and had real obligations!! How could Mr. Kutcher keep up with his million?? ... And why would he want to??

I didn't understand the hashtag... Who decided what funky saying everyone would use? How did people find out which one to use once someone decided???

WTF was a RT anyway??

And then I realized... 

** Dear Spelling Police: I used the word FUNNER improperly on purpose. Sincerely, Your Fellow #WordNerd

*** Only my hubby is legally obligated to listen to and read every single word I write, everywhere, anytime, forever. #joke #LikeHeWouldEvenIf

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Rules for Attending RootsTech

Rule Number One for attending RootsTech -- DO NOT promise to post to your blog every day of the conference. It's just not gonna happen.

Rule Number Two for attending RootsTech -- DO NOT promise to post within any particular time period. If you're like me, post-con germy-germs will overtake your depleted immune system and do their level best to zombify you prematurely. You will need all your strength to defeat these tiny-but-mighty warriors.

Rule Number Three for attending RootsTech - DO write your blog posts about the trip, no matter when you get to them. Because A) You want to document your own experience and B) even though they might not be "on-time" anymore, people who are attending other conferences will find them helpful whenever they find them and co-attendees will appreciate the "flashback".

I'm currently working on Rule Number Three.
Stay tuned!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Be Prepared to Wing It!

I think this is my number one tip for attending conferences: be prepared to wing it! Because, inevitably, something always happens to keep you on your toes.
Yup, there are many reasons for which you may be forced to alter your carefully constructed conference schedule:
  • The rooms for your top session choices may fill up before you arrive;
  • You may oversleep, your alarm might not go off, you might not receive your wake up call;
  • You may get lost or stuck in traffic, especially in a new city;
  • A speaker may have cause to cancel their appearance -- ie, flight delayed, death in the family, illness, death of self (god forbid! although it did happen at the 2014 OGS conference I attended), etc;
  • There may be a problem with the building, a particular room, facilities or the tech required for the presentation;
  • A natural disaster might rear it's ugly head (the Zombie Apocalypse may erupt);
  • The conference organizers may reschedule or cancel things for reasons they don't make public.

There are other factors which you shouldn't discount either: 

a) You will be tired, mentally and physically. And this will become a bigger burden the further along you get. Even if you do not have to travel far, a conference is a lot of activity. All of your senses are engaged more than usual. You are expending more energy or at least expending it in a different manner than usual. For multiple days in a row. Meeting new people and networking in general takes effort for most people; moreso, if you cope with disorders such as depression or anxiety or both.*

b) You just may not have the physical stamina to walk all the way to the other end of that building one more time in order to attend that particular lecture. Especially after multiple full days of conference-going. Especially if there is a huge crowd in attendance. Especially if you cope with any type of chronic disease or are fighting off an acute illness. This will likely be somewhat dependent upon the particular venue and how the event is laid out within it by the organizers -- and you won't know this until you arrive. Even if maps are provided beforehand.

c) Yup, you heard me right -- you may catch a virus. Think about it. Hundreds of people from all over the world in close contact. Not all of them as hygienic as you. Maybe also unaware they are incubating communicable evil. Lots of new germs for your body to discover and pick a fight with - making you tired or otherwise feeling unlike yourself. I'll throw food-poisoning into this category too. Maybe it turns out your tummy is not as enthusiastic about the new cuisine as your eyeballs, eh?

d) Time of Day - some people can't function early in the morning or stay awake after lunch, let alone comprehend new material. This may be unexpectedly exacerbated by exhaustion, excitement, anxiety, illness. You may find yourself unable to concentrate, especially if it's a difficult subject. Additionally, don't forget about any time change that might affect you -- jet lag can be a PITA in the best of circumstances.

e)  Your mood will likely be affected by all of the above as well. Mood affects ability and willingness to listen and learn. If you're crabby after waiting in line somewhere, missing your bus, fighting crowds, dealing with an ornery vendor... Or if you're overwhelmed by a previous presentation or particular speaker (or a celebrity sighting!!!)... Or you're anxious about something... you may not feel like sitting cooped up in a classroom for an hour. And, to be fair, it's probably best in this circumstance to give up your seat to someone more ready to be present.

f) Speaker / Presentation Style - I once chose to see a couple of sessions by the same speaker only to be underwhelmed by his presentation style at the first class. I'm not interested in listening to someone recite their syllabus handout verbatim nor someone who clearly knows a lot about their topic but just can't seem to clearly articulate a theme so that their speech is effective as a learning tool. I'm not going to sit through additional torture just because I chose it in advance!
I'll throw accents into the mix here. For some reason, I'm not great at understanding accents without some serious concentration up front.
Similarly, technical issues can arise that make streamed-in presentations intolerable. I certainly wouldn't return for a second bout of torture.
Alternatively, a speaker you see early in the day or conference may be so good, so informative that you want to see them again. He or she may mention a presentation they will be giving in the future at the conference that didn't sound as good in the description but for which you gain a new appreciation after seeing what the first talk was all about.

g) Although I can't imagine this, I have read frequently that attendees of cons like RootsTech intentionally skip sessions! They skip sessions in order to attend the marketplace, presumably to network as well as browse. So here is where I tell you to keep in mind that you may feel compelled to create extra time for Expo Hall shopping, socializing, networking.**

h) Presentations by vendors in the marketplace must also affect attendee decisions to forego scheduled classes. For this upcoming RT/FGS con, I know Maureen Taylor, Lisa Alzo and The Chart Chick are presenting a brief series of classes at their booth. There are also special things going on at the FindMyPast booth. So, now, after all of my original lecture scheduling I must go through and figure in the mini-classes presented in the marketplace! AHH!!!

i) Special events like society meetings, organization or group gatherings and company focus groups may be scheduled by their organizers during conference hours. These may be your only chance to connect with like-minded people you see only rarely in person or have only ever communicated with online.

j) Access to special facilities may impact your conference decisions, too. A research room offering complementary access to helpful commercial websites and/or individualized help is a popular phenomenon at conferences here in my neck of the woods. Additionally, there may be repositories specific to the conference's destination that demand some of your attention. You will have to judge how your time will be most wisely spent.

I'm sure there are many more factors which may affect the way you choose to spend your conference time. Some you may be able to prepare for ahead of time - others not so much. So, make like Mr. Elastic*** and stay flexible!

Yes, The Asterisks Mean Something

* Remember, depression and anxiety are not faults nor weaknesses of character - they are just factors to take into account! Acknowledging your limitations takes strength.

** I began writing this piece before attending my first RootsTech (2015). Stay tuned for more on this Expo Hall / skipping sessions subject!

*** Mr. Elastic is my name for Mr. Fantastic from The Fantastic Four. Drives hubby crazy when I refer to the dude this way but I think my name for him is more appropriate. Because he is stretchy. That's his super power. So, duh.