Back in the dark misty times...

Back in the dark misty times...
Genealogy, joyfully discovered ~

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Separating Assumptions into Fact

Another full week of genealogical research for my upcoming book, MANUELA'S PETALS, has created another 'cousin' link and with it, some delightful baby and little girl pictures of Aunt Jenny (Grandma Manuela's baby sister), pictures of delicately crocheted doilies from years past and CASTANETS! These are brown cup-shaped wooden rounds held together with leather pieces. A pair is required for the la Jota dance and other Spanish dances, where the dancer holds them in the palms of their hand, raises their arms above their head and 'snaps' them in time with the music while simultaneously.....gently stamping their feet. These were Aunt Jenny's and I smiled so broadly when I received them from her granddaughter, Nita (the picture, not the castanets) that I smile now as I write this, feeling the rush all over again.

During our email correspondence notes, Nita mentioned a few pieces of information she received from her mother (Theresa), who had repeated over the years, the information she'd heard from her mother, (my Aunt Jenny). Two of the many stories she shared with me did not ring true based on my documented research and proven information, so I called my Aunt Millie, who has been a massive fund of information... When I told her how excited I was about seeing pictures of Aunt Jenny's castanets, she calmly replied, "Well, I have Grandma's castanets." What??? I guess when I was last in California, I hadn't asked all the right questions. Ha... So, the story gets lovelier as I seek and find. More cousins. More documents. More pictures. One of the most precious pictures were (1) Aunt Jenny's baby picture and (2) Aunt Jenny standing on an antique bed (gorgeous) at age 5 or 6 next to baby brother, Celestino! Wonderful!!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Deeply imbedded in the writing phase

I am posting this just so you all know I'm still working on my genealogy! I am deeply inside my story and having the time of my life 'meeting' family and 'living' through their eyes. As of today, I have written over 160 pages of MANUELA'S PETALS and feel good!

Yesterday, I received a nice fat envelope for Cousin Vicki G. with a B&W picture of the Rock of Gibralter! I immediately inserted it into the page of my story where our ancestors sailed from Spain, from Gibralter.....their last site was that rock! Thank you, Vicki! On the internet, I had colored pictures of this and that, then and now, but nothing like this wonderful 1940's shot. It was perfect.

Today, I spoke with my Aunt Carnie about her Uncle Agustin Silvan --- she was close to Uncle "Gus" and gave me some insight into his life and his love of fishing to add to John Hyatt's version... I found out that Uncle Gus, loving fishing as he did, was wheeled down the pier by Jerry Potter, his nephew by marriage --- onto the boat and he caught the BIGGEST FISH caught that day in Homer, AK. While Aunt Carnie's son, Mark, and husband, Jerry were cleaning his fish, Uncle Gus had a heart attack. It was the last day of his life. And he'd spent it the best way he could imagine. It was a good day. I LOVE these stories to add flesh to the family I did not get to know!

Back to writing. It makes my heart sing to create their life in words through their eyes. I have a new motto ~ PROPEL YOUR LIFE WITH OPTIMISM. YES!!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The gift of wine keeps on giving... Wicked Vines

The wine!!
I must tell you about the wine my cousins brought to us from their recent sojourn in Maine! When Linda gave me the cobalt blue wine bottle I smiled because I LOVE that color and I would have been happy with an empty bottle to show off in my blue and yellow kitchen ~ However, it was definitely filled with Johannesburg Riesling from their friend's vineyard called, WICKED VINES. The owner, April Swett, uses white hybrid organic grapes for most of her wine and I can tell you her wines rock! When Linda brought in her Calypso Blanco, we shared a glass and it was just the right touch, sweet enough to warm us through and through.

I am selfishly saving the blue bottle of wine to celebrate the publication of MANUELA'S PETALS... I must thank April Swett when I finally drink it. Thanks to Linda and John, I added another great adventure to my quest for family history and writing!

Today, I plan to lay a new walkway with shale rocks my neighbor was kind enough to donate. I couldn't pass up the price and I've procrastinated long enough....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Silvan cousin arrived for a visit....

How delightful it was to watch a very large camper back into our long driveway Monday afternoon, knowing my second cousin was behind the wheel! Once he (John) and his wife (Linda) got out of the cab, we hugged as if we'd known each other always. Their smiles and eagerness matched mine as we lingered a moment to survey our gardens and then I led them into our home. It was the start of an adventure and I couldn't wait to begin.

John has my great Grandpa Juan Francisco Silvan Hernandez's blue eyes, although he is about 10-11" taller than our grandfather. He has been told he resembles Grandpa Silvan and it would be no surprise since his mother was Grandpa Silvan's daughter. However, my mother tells me (when she saw his picture) that he's the image of a young (Uncle) Celestino Silvan ~ Ah, heredity is a wondrous thing and DNA links are quite amazing.

Our visit included stories he shared about Uncle Agustino (Gus) and Uncle Celestino (Cel) and parts of his young life spent with them. I learned Uncle Gus loved fishing and baseball, specifically the San Francisco Giants; and John painted for Uncle Gus to earn money during his teenage summers... plus fishing, fishing and more fishing. He remembers Uncle Cel's love of motorcycles and seeing him and his wife (Aunt Mary Louise who just died a couple of weeks ago) in their 'leathers'. AND John and Linda told humorous stories of their life in Spain during his military years. Little bits of information will definitely go into MANUELA'S PETALS, such as the straw-tick mattresses that resembled a large pillow case and the corded rope strung between the 4 bed posts to hold the 'mattress'. Spain was a little backward due to Franco's influence in the 1970s and I have found progress was stunted to a degree... so in 1911, our ancestors probably slept on the same types of bedding!

All in all, we had a wonderful visit and I have great pictures to prove it. To top it off, Linda showed me various ways to market my books; she was filled with ideas about author events, a wine bottle with COOKING DRUNK book cover decoupaged on it, and........more.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fuentesauco ~ The Cemetery and beyond

Today, I was hit by a quiet calm. It was surprising. It was amazing. It was as if I stood among my ancestors and I have yet to stand on Spanish soil.. I found a photograph of the entrance to the cemetery in Fuentesauco on the internet. I stared through the gateway, knowing my family's plots lay within. I knew they were not there. It wasn't actually their home. It was just the address we, the living, use to find where they were laid to rest. Seeing the high, stone, whitewashed wall around the perimeter and the higher arched stone that held the steel gates, I stared as if I had already walked into the opening that was barely discernable. I picked up my ever-ready magnifying glass and peered through the gates and a large calm descended over me. It was almost sluggish with a quietness I didn't recognize.

I yearn to see the cemetery wall, the gates, the stone tablets that must lay in harmony and balance inside and hope they include my ancestor's names etched and waiting for me. Could they be in a row as a family? Would they be disjointed but still connected with other inhabitants before them? Would I find Silvan stones that looked like little pieces of rock, upright and bold or sculpted in relief with a religious symbol? Would the names be worn down and unreadable or still visible to the naked eye?

Through the eye of the global internet, I feel like I've been there and the images of their life before they were taken through those stone gates entice and lure me to Spain. I want to see it for myself and wonder if I will feel the same calmness or more.... or less? Why do I want to see the stones at all? That answer is a simple one. They are part of me and our family. We left them behind in 1911 and now we, the descendants, want to touch a part of the soil, the air, the village, the memory if just for a few moments in time.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Meeting cousins soon...

I am most anxious to meet my grandmother's nephew (John) and his wife, Linda soon. John is the son of Grandma Ruiz's youngest sister, Juanita (whom I called Aunt Jenny). They are on a moose hunt in Maine and I receive updates every few days..... and the last email showed a picture of Linda with her moose. Since I am so not a hunter, this will be a new adventure for me. Will the moose be tied to the top of their car? Will it be cut up and in bags? Will the horns be tied on top? Are they called horns? It takes me back to my Uncle Ellis who lived in Skagway, Alaska for most of his life. He was definitely a hunter.

When I was 18 years old, just after I graduated from high first trip to Alaska was filled with excitement, ice-topped mountains, a 6 hour ride on the Malespina Ferry from Juneau to Skagway and my grandmother Terry's disdain when I put on a two piece swim suit to go to Black Lake with newly-made friends. It was cold. But the sun was out..... When I got home, I was shivering and my Uncle Ellis decided it was the perfect time for pictures. With his moose horns. (He called it a 'rack'.) Anyway, he held the camera and couldn't stop laughing. I picked up the 'rack' and every time I tried to hold it UPWARDS so it looked just right, they'd slip and roll downward and my knee would pop up to hold them upward again. And he laughed some more. They were huge! But the memories were indelibly scanned into my memory bank. My sweet uncle was one of a kind... The 'rack'. Alaska. Moose. Mountains. And now I'll meet my peer who shot one all by herself! Smiling still......