Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm taking a Challenge!

Are you up for it? I am taking the Homemaker’s Challenge (link: It is fun for the homemaking, cooking, baking, wife, simple living mom, organizing, decorating, money saving, fashionista, and blogging “expert” in all of us!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Who is Eating My Cats?

Nothing beats having a good kid dog.  We are lucky to have the sweetest, dumber than a rock puppy named Diego who loves nothing in the world than following my little children.  He would do anything for them I know it.  Diego was getting a little lonely because our sixteen year old Aussie died last fall (more on that later) and he needed some company so he would quit running off to the headquarters to play with the blue tick hound so we bought him a girlfriend.  She is precious.  She is a red Australian Shepherd with beautiful green eyes and we named her Chispa, which means 'spark' in spanish. (or so I've been told b/c I don't speak spanish....yet).  But deep down, I am a cat person.  If I'm ever left alone to my own devices in my old age I will be the hometown 'catlady'. 

Unfortunately, now my cats are disappearing or I guess have officially disappeared.   These are not house cats so don't pull out the tissue yet and I was the only who even knew their names.  They were recycled versions of four generations of barn cats without a barn.  They lived in the pasture, underneath the broken down jeep or in my garden.  They wouldn't let me tame them or pet them unless they were in labor with kittens.  Isn't that weird?  I fed them everyday, much to the chagrin of my husband who thought I was ruining them.  I tried to explain that there wasn't much more ruining you could do because if you can't love on them and talk baby talk to them or buy them sparkly collars, they were pretty much useless to me.  I'm not even sure they hunted or kept away the snakes.  I guess we'll find now out won't we?  Because they're all gone.

The evidence was left in the middle of the dirt road going up to our house.  Daisy had met a bad end but made a coyotes dinner.  Tom disappeared entirely.  Bob was run over and left her kittens underneath a catclaw bush for me to try my luck with.  I can't even begin to tempt them up to the house.  I hear a big owl at night trying to find them as well.  So now this is exactly what I need.  I go out every night with my flashlight and a bowl of cat food and try my best to get these kittens out of the catclaw so they will eat and not be eaten.  As if I don't have enough to worry about.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sewing together your past

One of the many things that kept me busy this summer was trying to finish up the genealogy projects I started a year or so ago. I am from a long line of history nerds so when I got bit by the genealogy bug it became almost an obsession. Seriously, it’s almost what we Christians call a ‘stronghold’. I don’t fit the typical demographic for this hobby, so most of the people I can share this addiction with are over fifty years old. I call it my old people sport. We trade emails and secrets and mutually feel sorry for our neglected family members who barely tolerate our habits. I’ve met some really neat people through this hobby.

Unfortunately, my research is limited to what I can find on the internet. It would be nice to travel around the U.S. looking for documents and taking pictures of old headstones, but as of now I have to rely on the research that others have done. I was surprised at the massive amount of information that is readily available online.

I originally started my husband and my combined family tree so that someday my three small children would know their family history. My husband’s maternal tree was relatively easy because he comes from a well documented and historically interesting old Texas family. Through I was able to piece together his history relatively quickly. However, there were huge missing links in my own tree and his paternal family tree, some of which I may never find. It goes with being rural, migratory and poor. It’s very discouraging to not be able to find the missing pieces of the puzzle.

This is what it’s like for African Americans who try to sew together the fabric of their history. Most of us, if we know what we’re doing, can trace our family tree back to the early 1700’s or earlier. African Americans can barely trace their families back to the late 1800’s, if that. While slavery existed Africans and mulattos were listed only as first names on ledgers of inventory, not allowed to marry, attend churches and not documented when they died. It didn’t get much better during Reconstruction, especially in the southern states. What little information came by way of Census records in the later years of the nineteenth century. That is while oral family history is so important to African American researchers.

While on my family search I had the misfortune of viewing many, many family documents online which list slave ledgers, wills and estate documents of my family. This was invaluable for my family research as far as documenting names and dates of my family members, but it was a cruel reminder that I am a by product of a slave holding legacy. And as one who is interested in African American history and the origins of slavery, it is ironic and painful for me that one of the progenitors of my American family was a man who brought the first Africans to the New World.

I realize that I am not responsible for the sins of my forefathers any more than I’m responsible for the transgressions of my parents or grandparents, but it was lesson for me. What does it mean to be an American? I think all of us carry the collective history of our forefathers. None of really know who we are. So as much as we think we are one color or nationality, we can always be surprised and educated by our past.

My search for my ancestors made me both sad and proud to be American. For me it meant that I am the slave and the slave owner, the Native American and the Indian Scout, the pilgrim and the unwanted immigrant, the land owner and the sharecropper, the sinner and the circuit riding preacher, a culmination of the hope and tragedy of the history of the New World. I am an American. My tapestry is colorful, torn, ragged and valuable and whether we are black, Hispanic, Asian, Indian or Anglo we can all say the same of the garments we carry.