Sunday, September 7, 2014

My New/Not So New House

Wow - a year passes quickly and I realized I haven't written anything here in at lest that long!  So much has happened that it's hard to know where to even begin.  Genealogy wise I haven't done anything much on my own ancestry but thanks to the Calabria Exchange, Facebook group and all my other sites I've been approached by so many people that I did take on several clients who I managed to help this year.

In other news - the basement reno is still going on. What started out as replacing the old knob and tube wiring a couple of years ok has turned into a full blown remodel of my now oldest son's place of residence. Since we gutted all the walls and ceiling anyway we decided to change the whole layout downstairs and add a shower to the old two piece bathroom.  We moved the old duct work from the center of the room to the side, added a walk in and linen closet, expanded the laundry room and are now working on a new staircase.  Most of the work is being done by us but time is definitely a factor and to be honest renovations are not as easy as they used to be. Maybe it's because we're older but the energy and sense of urgency is just not the same as it was ten years ago!  Of course living with one toilet for almost a year with 5 people in this house was next to impossible so we finally got that put in!

Six Layers of shingles
Of course the basement wasn't the only giving us trouble.  We had the roof from hell which has been begging for a do over for a couple of years.  Flat roofs really suck because they are so hard to maintain and very costly to repair so it's hard to find reputable companies to take on the job but after the extremely 'wet' season we had [which began last fall] we realized we could no longer wait to have a new one put in - especially since my daughter's room, the skylight, hallway and stairway ceiling was now showing obvious signs of water damage.  There were also signs of mold on the old skylight which had dropped 4 inches from where it should sit.

Alpine Roofing
We were lucky to find a great company who specializes in flat roofs with an excellent reputation    [and yes, I would totally recommend them] that sent a crew in and had the roof, shingles, skylights and all downspouts replaced in a couple of days. These guys were amazing! They never stopped for a minute and were there until well after 10 pm the first night. For the first time in years I no longer cringe when it rains and while the cost was close to a second mortgage all on it's own I am so relieved it's done!  Will post more pics of the renos soon and am really looking forward to spending some time researching this Fall/Winter in my nice, dry office!

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Buon Ferragosto everyone!
August 15th marks the start of this holiday which  commemorates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary—the actual physical elevation of her sinless soul and incorruptible body into Heaven. 
For those of you that are lucky enough to be in Italy right now (like my dad) you're probably enjoying a much needed vacation with family friends.  Calabria becomes quite crowed during this time as so many choose to vacation on the beautiful beaches and enjoy in the festivities.   Since the South tends to hold onto to a more traditional way of life it is not uncommon to see people dancing in the streets or in their homes dancing the tarantella to accordion music after the religious parades are done.  These parties last for days and is without doubt the single most looked forward to holiday of the summer months.
So enjoy the August fun while I sit here and extract some very interesting court documents in which the crime actually took place 109 years ago this night in 1904.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Enough Already

Summer is turning out to be not what I expected.  Since I hurt myself at work in May I've been home which wouldn't be so bad except for the fact I can't do much.  I just know it's going to take me days to write this.  Typing with one hand is not fun..  So I have been filling my days (and nights since I am up almost all night every night it seems) reading.  I've learned a lot and it really has been great to be able to catch up on things but I have also seen and read a lot of things I wish I hadn't.

By now the whole genealogy world knows, has heard of or is talking about the whole  Cindy vs Barry "thing".  This is where one person files a lawsuit against another person for copyright infringement and  the other person counter sues for defamation.  The outcome - both sides have dismissed all claims with prejudice. why then can the rest of the world not just let this go?????  People this has been to court where it has been handled and both parties are not to talk about it and since no one has paid the 'big bucks' to actually see and hear what happened during the trial we should not be talking, judging or continuing this conversation.  Period.

I am not siding with one person or the other - at least not publicly.  I only know what I have read online which as far as I am concerned without the actual trial details (which I am not about to pay for) is only speculation. I understand people are upset - really I do but I think the whole genealogy community seems to have let this takeover their lives and have lost focus.  The only people who are being quiet about it are the people who were directly involved - maybe we should follow suite?  If you take issue with what someone has *supposedly* done then don't support them or their site. That's YOUR choice but please - stop with the public insults and accusations. It's not also wrong but very unprofessional and I am sure not totally legal either.

Unless of course you want to end up in court yourself for defamation or liable.  Then that can be YOUR choice too.

Just saying...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Me and My Kobo

Ok so I know I kinda fell of the face of the earth so to speak but I really haven't been far at all.  My kids decided to buy me a Kobo Arc for Mother's Day which is definitely one of the BEST gifts anyone has ever given me.  I've always loved to read - actually growing up it's pretty much all I ever did since there wasn't really too much else to do.  I remember getting up early on Saturday mornings in the summer of '71, racing over to the parking lot near P.S 23 and waiting for the Bookmobile to show up so I could sign out my books for the week.  I read over 25 books from there that summer.. not bad for an 8 year old.  I still have my certificate of achievement they gave me that year tucked away safely in one of my binders.

When we had our children we spent a small fortune on books.  The kids weren't allowed to write their names on the books- books were sacred and writing anything in them ruined them. At one point we had so many I made DH build extra shelves and bookcases to hold all of them all until we finally ran out out room.   Sadly as the kids grew up the books took over the house and so most of them are now safely stored in totes for them to take with them when (and if) they ever move out.  Of course they each kept a few of their personal favourites.

I felt kinda strange at first - I have to admit I LOVE BOOKS and the thought of not actually holding a real book made me feel like a bit of a traitor but I have discovered this last month or so that it's actually not as bad as I first thought.  I have managed to read about 6 books since I got it and the prices are probably a bit better than actually buying a hard copy.  Since I hurt my wrist last month and am limited to what I can do, the Kobo has literally saved my sanity.  I don't have to hold it or control a mouse.  The touch screen makes it easy to read anything.

So other than emails the books I have read include
  • The Inheritance by Marianne Perry (which takes places in 1900 Calabria) which I was really able to relate to but disappointed at the ending.  I really hope there is a second part because there are so many loose ends that it literally left me hanging. In spite of this the author seems to have done her homework and researched the period and area fairly well. Sad and beautiful all at the same time. 
  • Out of Time books  by Monique Martin - Loved this series although Part One was still my favourite.  Time Travel and History have always been two of my favourite subjects and when you add a bit of a love story and some humour in the mix you got me hooked!  While I have read better series I did enjoy this series very much and would recommend it.
  1. Out of Time
  2. When the Walls Fell
  3. Fragments
  4. The Devil's Due 
  5. Thursday's Child
Of course I am still reading all my genealogy books too - and will be back to researching (and writing) more once my injury has healed.  I'll try to actually write more in depth reviews about the books I read instead of just a short paragraph going forward.  Meanwhile if you don't already own one, get yourself an E Reader.  You definite  will enjoy it!
**Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed in this post are my own with no compensation, monetary or otherwise received at time time or by anyone.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

RootsTech 2013 - Can I weigh in here?

After reading the post written by the Genealogy Nitpicker on her critique of RootsTech 2013 I couldn't resist the urge to jump on the bandwagon and add my two cents - for all it's worth.  It seems the author was not overly impressed with this years selection of Official Bloggers chosen nor did she seem keen of the conference itself and so decided to knock pretty much everything about the event. 

I want to start off first by saying that she did make some valid points.  The selection process and  criteria used may have been slightly skewed and unclear.  Most of the bloggers chosen were repeat bloggers with a few 'locals' thrown in for good measure.  And there was no clear requirements outlined as to posting.

Ok, Miss Ginger - I hear you on this one.  Being a blogger for a selected  community can be frustrating.  Top anything is usually given to the same sites/people year after year.  Making the Top 10, 40 or even 100 list is virtually impossible since the better known and heavier trafficked sites fill up most spots.  I rarely bother to read who 'makes' the cut anymore because I can pretty much guess who will be in there.

While I don't dispute the content of your post I do have concerns about your delivery.  Attacking people you call 'friends' not only doesn't earn you any brownie points but isn't productive.  Your issue is with the selection process and the organizers of the event and not the people who attended/didn't attend.  There are lines between critiquing, nitpicking and just down right bitching. A critique I enjoy - the other two - not so much.

Your comments against Thomas MacEntee were simply uncalled for and unkind.  I do not 'run' with Thomas. We don't buddy up for coffee and I am probably number 500 on his dance card. The man IS busy.  He pours his heart and soul into whatever he is doing and without ever stepping on anyone's toes.   When I began blogging it was he who welcomed and introduced me to the world of Genea Bloggers.  Since then I have messaged him several times for all kinds of advice or with stupid questions and hair brained ideas.  He has ALWAYS found the time to reply (usually fairly quickly) and tried to answer every question thoroughly, with patience and without ever making me feel stupid or out of my league.  My question to you is just what the hell is a cat herder?  I have a few ideas but if any of them are correct then you just basically slammed every geneablogger out there.  Way to earn respect, Ginger.  In spite of this Thomas replied with class - as always.  To read his reply visit his post titled  Dear Diary: It Seems I’ve Been a Bad Official Blogger .

As for Dear Myrtle  how dare she not live up to your expectations and choose to do more video interviews instead of playing Ernest Hemingway for your amusement! And to actually stop and have a proud mama moment and watch her daughter instead of blogging about the conference - well the shame of it all! After all when you are an Official Blogger you should not try and enjoy any of the event for fear your readers will miss something.  Doesn't she know she has responsibilities? Maybe she should have checked with you first to ensure her priorities were in line with yours?   Oh but I do have one complaint with her blog - the font is too small.  No wait - that's just me. My eyesight is going so no, I don't have any complaints about her blog. 

I'm not going to get into the rest of them because my post is just going to get sillier.  I don't know you nor have I ever heard of you before this and you more than likely don't know me.  Do I tweet - yea, kinda - when I can figure our how to use the hashtags and when I have something worth tweeting about.  Do I blog - probably not very well or enough to make a difference but again, yea.  Facebook?  I rock that - I can share a thousand pics with my friends.  Do I live, sleep and breathe genealogy - unfortunately no. I am a mom first with a full time job. This is my hobby which I have been doing for several years.   Have I ever attended RootsTech - nope.  Would I like to?  YUP one day.  Would I care that it catered to newbies (like me)?  Not at all.  If it didn't meet my expectations then I either set then too high, or I should find a new genre to excite me..

I would have continued to read your blog - you are an excellent and interesting writer.  But looking back through your posts it really does have negative feel to it. My feedback to you is if you want to be selected, recognized or respected by those who share your passion then earn it.  Give out as much as you would like to receive and then add 100% to that.  Expect nothing and be kind.  The rest will follow.

And for the sake of everything that is sacred to you - learn to enjoy life and quit nitpicking.  It doesn't become you. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy Valentines Day/Family Day

Happy Valentine's Day
Hard to believe it's mid February already! Weren't we just celebrating Christmas/New Years?  It's been a crazy few months here with all the renovations and mom having had her recent surgery but I'm happy to report that the electrical work we've been doing for the past 10 months is FINALLY complete! There are still some minor fixes required but all the major stuff is done.  Of course there's still a lot to do - the bathroom has been gutted to make room for a new shower and the old kitchen is gone.  The laundry room has been extended as well (yea, no more folding clothes on the dining room table!). Then new drywall on the ceilings and new flooring - I think we may actually finish this by summer.
This is one of those times I wish my dad was younger and in better health.  He was quite the handyman when he was younger.  I remember him putting in the new addition to our home  in New York in the mid 70's - 1200 sq. feet (plus the foundation which he dug himself) consisting of new bedrooms and a bathroom for us!  Growing up in an Italian family back then you learn a few things so I am looking forward to laying some new tiles and helping out with the drywall (does that sound insane???) I really just want to get things back to normal here - we're living out of totes which really helps keep the dust out of all the clothes and everything we wanted to keep but weren't using has gone into a storage unit.  20 plus years and five people mange to accumulate a lot of crap so lots of things have gone to the poor or the trash.  Even much of my paper files are gone.  I tried to digitize most of the important stuff.  Once all this is done I'll be ready to construct my built ins  - which I plan to do myself this summer.
Gente di Mare Italian Genealogy
Looking forward to getting in more research.  Found a lot of interesting things I can't wait to share!  But for now I've been concentrating most of my efforts the last few months re designing the sites and adding info to the Facebook Pages.  The Italian Surname Database has also had a facelift.  You can search two ways keeping many of the spammers away making it easier for me to filter out much of my emails.  I've also included a widget to the Italian Surname Blog so all updates can be seen right in one place. 

Time to go extract some records and catch up on emails.  Loving the fact this is a long weekend here so I plan to take advantage of it!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 - A Year in Review

Christmas Eve 2012
The year is almost over and I can't say I'm going to be overly upset to see it end.  It's not been the best of years for our family - in fact, it's been one of the worst I can remember.  It started out fairly quiet and serene but less than 5 months into the year it seemed we must of pissed off the Gods above who in turn showered us with mis fortune & for lack of a better word, plague.
Last year this time my neighbor's (from hell) were selling their home & I had a few offers from people to sell mine - I thought it was funny then.  I  never liked living here but we bought it almost 20 years ago because it was close to my parents & we only had one child. I planned to live here for no longer than 5 years and then upgrade.  Two more children followed and just like that we had out grown the house.  Less than 4 years later my parents sold their home of 25 years and moved out of the city.  It was about the same time my husband informed me he liked living here and had no intentions of selling.  I was trapped. We decided to make the best of it and renovations began.  I took a full time job and we worked hard to make this house a home.  Almost everything was upgraded and we planned on an addition to give use more living space. Unfortunately the addition took a back seat when hubby became ill and as the kids grew up this house began to feel more and more like a sardine can for me.  For 5 years we didn't (couldn't) do anything more to the house until son number 1 - now an adult - decided to renovate the basement. It needed new drywall and he wanted to add a shower to his bathroom.  He had been saving for a few years and so the reno's began yet again.
The first problem came when we noticed some knob and tube wiring in one area of the ceiling. How did we miss that? We would need to hire an electrician for that. Might as well move the electrical box then and upgrade the circuits. 
Second problem: My insurance company calls out of the blue and says they want to come over to do an inspection.  "Why?", I ask. We've never put in a claim.  Some new routine thing they were doing. I have a bad feeling about this but ok.  The inspector shows up, camera in hand and begins snapping pictures. WTH?  Again, routine. We get to the basement and he takes out this thingy and points it to the ceiling. He asks if I am aware we have knob and tube wiring.  Yes, I'm aware.  What are our plans? Are we going to fix it?  Duh!  Anyone with a half a brain can see we are in the middle of reno's - of course we're going to fix it. When?  A week?  Month?  Before next year?  I'm not sure but yes, definitely before next year. Ok next question - why don't I have a handrail on my basement stairs. Well (you moron) my stairs are only 28 inches wide and both sides have walls with ledges to lean on. Why would I need a handrail?  The roof is next - I inform him we just fixed the roof .  Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors?  I have them on every floor and in each bedroom which is more than I need legally.  Furnace? New.  Kitchen and upstairs bathroom?  New. House alarm? Installed. After another 30 minutes of questions and alot of snapping he leaves.  Relieved I get back to cleaning.
A week later I get a call from my insurance.  Seems I have a lot of upgrades in my home - my insurance rates are going to increase.  Unless of course I don't fix the knob & tube wiring and put a handrail on one side of my basement stairs - in which case my insurance policy will be cancelled.  I have 6 months.  Oh and I need to fix my roof and upgrade my smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.  I flip out - the roof and detectors are new and I have receipts to prove it.
And so we are now almost at the end of our 6 months grace period and still under reno's.  Since the time the insurance has been out we managed to have our car breakdown, get into a car accident, & have an attempted B&E where my son was beaten and stabbed to highlight a few.  Yup - I should have sold this house.
On the up side - I have great new neighbours...