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Saturday, December 16, 2017

'Tis The Season !

And it truly is. There isn't any snow on the ground around here and we are not expecting any, but there still are signs that it is Christmas time. We have put up some of our holiday decorations and will even put up a few more this weekend.

Actually, the weather is beautiful at times during the day -- like today it is sunny, bright but a little cool and getting windy (which we have learned is dangerous).


On the front page of our local paper today -- The Press-Democrat -- was the above picture which pretty much sums up the season for thousands of folks in our area. (photo by Derek Coleman)

This Santa Rosa family posed in front of the remaining chimney of their leveled home. How awful must it be to recall rosier times experienced in that same location.

Of the thousands of lots now being cleared, many families have chosen to sell the land and start over someplace else -- some in California and some in other states.

Unfortunately, Southern California is going through the horrors of the wildfires right now, just as we did in the past couple of months.

It will take several years for neighborhoods to rebuild and families to begin establishing their residences and for sure never forgetting the nightmares of October 2017.

It is somewhat embarrassing to relate the next story, though there is a relationship in timing due to the wildfires here locally.  Gail & I opened  had installed an early Christmas gift.  The project was delayed a few times because we were not sure if we would have a home or if our part of the town would be "gone".

Fortunately, we do have a home and this last week the delayed project was completed:


We now have what I describe as an "indoor hot-tub" -- actually it is one of those "walk-in" tubs that you see all the time on TV. We have tried it out and it is "NICE" and as we get more accustomed to it I'm sure we will say "we couldn't live without it" . . .

There are some things to adjust to though -- like running out of hot water while in the filling stage. Also setting aside the time necessary to have a relaxing experience is part of day planning.

And, Dino is not sure what we are doing as we have mostly been "shower" people. The warm and bubbly hydrotherapy action was really soothing with the after-glow satisfying as well.

I can no longer say "that I haven't had a bath in years . . ." and who knows, maybe later today I'll even have another one.

So, while parts of three days this week were devoted to overseeing the tub install, parts of two days were spent going to the post office with a load of packages.

It actually was not "that" bad with respect to the lines. In years past, there have been lines "out the door".  Lines were only three or four deep this last week.

I think that we are done with having to mail things via the post office for this year. Any other things will be directly sent by the company -- most likely Amazon.


Receiving packages this week also took up a fair amount of time as well.

This year the main delivery companies are working hard to make sure all packages get to their destinations before Christmas.

Since Christmas falls on a Monday, this puts pressure on deliveries to happen often by the Friday before. Though there will be deliveries happening on Saturday and Sunday as needed and as paid extra for . . .

Since we have deliveries on a lot of our basics as well as gifting purchases we have accumulated a "ton" of cardboard boxes. I keep a lot of them for a while "just in case", but am under pressure to get rid of them -- which I'll do probably at the first of the year.


Sadly, in the realm of genealogy, I was looking forward to the "Finding Your Roots" episode that featured Garrison Keillor.

Per an article in Dick Eastman's blog, shown on the right, I learned that that episode has been pulled.

I can't imagine what recourse some of these folks have if they are truly innocent of the accusations.  In this case, I think there was only one accusation and it sounded like "something inadvertent" -- but then we don't know the realities of what went on.

I do not feel bad for the truly guilty and the repeat offenders at all. It is time to stop all that business of harassment.



And so, I'll work on expanding my genealogist Christmas Tree.

During the week I jump into Ancestry.com and start working on some of the thousands of "hints" that appear in the form of shaking leaves on the tree.

I regularly add folks during the week and many times have deleted both duplicates and sometimes "wrong" folks from the tree.

Since I now have thousands of folks in that tree there is always an abundance of shaky leaves to check out.

And I look for photos of the folks as well. There is a great deal of satisfaction in putting a face to a name.

And this week again I have been sent a large number of DNA matches -- I can hardly keep up tracking them.


And so, that was a bit of our week. See you all "in a few" !









Saturday, December 9, 2017

Fifteen Days & Counting . . .

We have  all some of our gifts wrapped. How is possible that two people could have that many items to wrap. Well, some of us shop throughout the year and like the squirrels -- well, we accumulate. It is time to "empty" the closets. Besides, what else do we have to do?


While the display is colorful and pleasing to the eye, the paper clean-up can be imposing if not handled correctly, not to mention the management of the shipping boxes . . . oh well.

The time crunch is here and even though we have known about it -- it still is intimidating.

Not only do we have to endure the trips to the Post Office, we have to manage the receiving of shipments as well.

The report of "porch pirates" is on the news every day now and it is a real fear at this time of the year especially. We do have the "Ring" doorbell and camera installed this year which is quite interesting.

Anyone coming to the door or just to the porch area is caught on camera, Also we here a chime announcing their presence. Dino knows to go the front door when he hears the chime, but he never barks -- just observes.

We are home -- most of the time when deliveries arrive so we do not leave packages out for display. But on occasion, we are "out and about" and hope that anything delivered will still be there when we return. So far we have received three mis-delivered packages, which we have re-delivered. We hope that the same is done for us . . .

Thought you'd like to know -- Pantone, a U.K. company has deemed "Ultra Violet" the color of 2018.

It seems pleasing enough and it will be interesting to see what commercial companies do with this.

I still like "Bluetiful", the new crayon color announced earlier this year. I am not sure why colors seem to impact more on me these years . . . I should probably wear a few of the numerous "Hawaiian" shirts that I still have hanging in the closet, but on the other hand, maybe not.


This week especially it has been a bit strange in terms of the temperatures. In the early morning hours and the late evening hours, the temperatures have been in the low 30s and even into the high 20s.  Then during the midday, it has been in the high 60s and even the low 70s . . . this is December . . .

While the temperatures are strange, the winds in California are so much more strange this year. We in Sonoma County, of course, experienced very frequent high winds which helped bring about the fire disasters -- NOW -- Los Angeles and even San Diego areas are experiencing the wrath of the winds and fire. Sad to see areas that I have lived in and others in my family, being destroyed.



One slight bright spot in the news lately -- the San Francisco Forty-Niners won their 2nd game last week -- unbelievable.

They are playing the Houston Texans -- in Houston -- tomorrow. the question, of course, is -- will they keep the streak going.

Houston won in baseball this year and would like to have a chance at football as well.

We'll see how that game goes.


And just thinking about the news in general -- lately, there has been almost nothing of a positive nature except that it is positively disgusting.

We read every night and sadly, three of the books that we have read this year have been authored by men who have been caught up in the harassment frenzy. Some are more deserving than others, to be caught for sure. I don't see how anyone in this predicament can ever be socially productive again. Who will be next . . .


And if you run out of ideas for gift-giving . . . do what so many celebs did back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s --

I have shown this ad before but it never ceases to amaze me that just 50 years ago -- this was acceptable.

I'm sure that relatives must cringe when they see ads like this. And we have to ask, what ads running currently by celebs will fall into this category in coming years -- I can think of a few.

As a society, we have come a long way from the days of "smokes" being advertised, even to the point now that it is unsettling to see a smoker in public.

While I don't think I ever gave this kind of a gift, I certainly did participate in the consumption and I have to say liked it.

But that was almost 50 years ago and am so glad to be able to remember it as a mistake of youth.

That is a bit of our week, see you all "in a few" !








Saturday, December 2, 2017

Meanwhile, Day 336 through Day 359

These are the fastest moving days of the year -- for adults. It is hard to fathom how the days can move along the way they do at this time. Not to mention the disappearance of all Thanksgiving leftovers, including the cranberries. (There are 3 small containers of turkey soup in the freezer though that will be consumed soon)
It is amazing that so much activity will occur in the coming 23 days -- finalizing decorations, shopping, wrapping, mailing, and planning holiday menus -- don't ya' just love it . . .


The newly installed outdoor laser lights bring pleasant viewing throughout the evening. It was such an easy task to do -- pretty much, plug in an extension, aim the laser, set the timer, enjoy. I could see how people get carried away . . .

Now, back to the tasks at hand -- online shopping. Even in the middle of the night when an idea pops into your head, it is up and at 'em and hitting the right keys to make the purchase that you just thought of . . . unbelievable.

I find it exhilarating to be able to shop at several different stores in a few minutes -- without having to find a parking spot.

Granted, the "net" slowed down some this week during the heavy buying times, but nothing like hearing about lines that formed just waiting to get into "brick & mortar" stores.


And then let's hope that the incentive of "free-shipping" continues. A lot of the shipping comes quickly as well -- often in just two days from the big online companies. On our street we are inundated with delivery trucks -- Dino is fascinated as well.

To the left is just one day of receiving shipments. Some days there are multiple deliveries because orders are often broken down into multiple shipments.

Today, for example, we received five items shipped individually and we'll probably receive a couple more later in the day.

 Some of the deliveries are for everyday items and some are for gifting.

Shopping has changed since the advent of companies like Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Ward.

What will the next evolution of shopping be like for coming generations? Can only imagine.


 And we have already set up the folding tables for the "in-home" wrapping station.

We choose to wrap our own gift items as opposed to having them wrapped, except if we have items directly shipped from the retailer -- then we have them gift wrapped.

There is always a sense of satisfaction to see a "pile" of home-wrapped gifts appearing after struggling with the paper, tape, and scissors.


BUT, a dose of reality, especially for those of us in California and a few other states -- tax reform.

Depending on the final version of the current legislation, we in this state will probably lose the deduction of state income taxes when filing our federal return.

And, there is a possibility that there will be a reduction in the amount of home mortgage interest that could be allowed -- these two deductions might have an impact on holiday gift giving to some extent.

In the next few weeks, we will be made aware of what's what. I can only imagine the turmoil about to hit in the world of "tax preparers". Gail and I combined, spent 43 years working in the tax preparation business as secondary and retirement type jobs (Gail did that for 33 years).

Tax prep firms are saying that they are not worried -- with change comes the need for professional advice. And, everyone will still need to "file" some form of a tax return.

And lastly, we focus on the kids in our tree during this time of year. These days probably are the slowest moving days of the year for kids, as they count down each and every day with "are we there yet" questions . . .


Some of the above are still kids, while others are "young-at-heart" so to speak. It doesn't make any difference for a lot of us -- we still feel the excitement of the season.

Enjoy your week, see you all "in a few"!







Saturday, November 25, 2017

Shop / Decorate / Left-Over Eats

The most fun four days of the calendar seems like one very enjoyable holiday followed by three Saturdays. Here in Healdsburg we truly are thankful as the fires skirted around our town. We are still unloading the car from having it full of evacuation things. Every day there are numerous events designed to help those less fortunate and who are having to start all over.


But, if you watch the news it is all about -- shopping. How many folks, how much spent, how much saved, how little parking, systems down, free shipping, deals out of stock, shopping small business Saturday, gearing up for Cyber Monday . . . I love it.

The truth be told for us -- 99% of our holiday shopping will be ONLINE, as it was last year as well. The difficult task is tracking all the shipping and making sure that what was ordered was sent and received -- so far so good.

We heard tales from some who ventured out to the mall -- which reinforced our decision to shop online. What will they do with all those mall shops in the coming years? Will the malls be reborn with a whole new vision and purpose -- we'll see.

And another way to "push the fire out of our every waking moment" is to decorate for Christmas.

We have put up our 18 foot inch pine tree lighted with delicate white lights and are ready to surround it with this year's bounty.

And we have added a new tree this year -- a fully decorated action-packed ornamental tree -- "Wonderland Express".


It is very attractive and it plays Christmas music (if you want) and has three moving trains -- very soothing to watch. It satisfies the tradition of having to set up a train to go around the tree. What will they think of next . . .

We also put "lights" up outside again this year. Only we changed tactics -- we are using lasers to highlight the shrubs and walls of the porch. So easy, yet so attractive to the eye. We'll feature those lights in a coming post.

We weren't the first in the neighborhood to add outside decorations, there are several homes that have had lights up for over a week. This year lights may really help to lift spirits.


Beautiful bird! Great soup (and three or four super dinners)!

Our turkey this year turned out perfectly. On Thanksgiving day we ate dinner around 5 pm and had all the traditional trimmings, including moist turkey, cornbread stuffing (from inside the bird), fresh green beans, twice-baked mashed potatoes (in the shell), gravy, cranberry sauce (with the can markings still visible) and delicious rolls.

After dinner, we took most of the remaining meat off the bones and started a large pot of turkey broth that will be used to make turkey barley soup this weekend.

We already have had two dinners from the turkey and expect two more along with the remainder used to make the soup -- good eats. The soup might last midway through Christmas if we don't tire of it.

After a few days, we portion-freeze the soup and then microwave as needed. We have a few unidentified containers of soup in the far reaches of the freezer -- but that just makes it more interesting for lunches.

At Thanksgiving dinner we were even able to "talk turkey politics a bit -- but not to any great depth.

The search continues throughout the "Gillett(e)" branch of our tree.

To the left is just one of hundreds of news reports about the death of King Camp Gillette.

We still do not know exactly how he is connected to our tree but we are still searching for that answer.

He certainly was a very interesting person in that he authored several books as well as invented.

He only had one child, King Gaines Gillette, who lived until 1955 and died in Newport Beach, California.

My family used to ride our bikes to Newport Beach frequently and heard many stories about the Gillette family there. More details to come.



Still searching, DNA Matches continue to pour in as more and more folks get tested.

Just from one of the three places that we have tested, Ancestry DNA, I have been given 540 4th cousins or closer -- so far.

And there are just as many from the other two services as well. It is impossible to keep up and to try to figure out the connections.

I look forward to eventually getting software or an "app" that will make more of the connections for me.

It still is very exciting to see the possibilities that DNA offers.

I am just getting used to learning about where my paternal ancestors came from and to where they migrated. All from DNA results and matching:


On the left, in green, are some of the places in Germany that some paternal ancestors originated. Interestingly -- I have been to some of those locations -- never realizing (only sensing) that this was our "fatherland" so-to-speak.

On the right, in blue, are some of the locations that some of these ancestors settled and their patterns of migrating further within the United States.

All very encouraging information -- to me -- to answer some of my questions. But there are so many more questions now . . .

That is a bit of our week, see you all "in a few" !










Saturday, November 18, 2017

Traditional PreFestivePeriod

This is probably the fastest moving part of the yearly calendar. Once it hits Thanksgiving the following weeks fly-by. Maybe not to the younger generation but for us -- it screams past.

There are but five days until Thanksgiving and about 32 days until Christmas and New Year's just a week later, which finishes off 2017. Amazing.



This is one of the ways I view the coming weeks -- large packages of protein. Of course, there might be changes in the menu in actuality e.g. to a turkey burger, ham sandwich, or a hot dog-on-a-stick . . .

Whatever the meals are, we will enjoy the season. So to start we will be going out today or maybe tomorrow to begin the poultry selection for next week's "big" dinner and of course all the trimmings.

It is of course -- TRADITION.

Unfortunately, we are daily reminded of the recent fires and the thousands of stories and realities that must be dealt with by so many.


The above picture appeared in the "Press Democrat" and it is a picture taken by Will Chubb who has shared this photo in the media to hopefully provide some comfort during this period of loss.

The "Red Barn" was built in 1899 -- burnt to the ground in October 2017. It was a sight most of us viewed daily or weekly as we drove to Santa Rosa. It advertised Fountaingrove, the area of homes that lost thousands.

Thanks to Will and the "Press" for sharing this iconic image for all of us.

A lot of my research time this week and for times in the past have been spent searching among the branches of the "Gillett" family tree. It is from the Gilletts that so many of our connections can be traced, so it is not uncommon to spend so much time rooting around there.


The above is just some of the many many Gilletts that I have researched and put into the tree. Every day almost something or someone new is added to the Gillett branch.

Interestingly, growing up in our household I almost never heard of the Gillett name as being related to us. It was even only after I started working on family history that I found out about James Norris Gillett, Governor of California in 1907.

And now I have been able to add so many more interesting Gillett folks into the tree. Just like there is a "HILES" Wisconsin, there is a "GILLETT" Wisconsin. just north of Green Bay. I'd like to visit that town some day.


AND I have been a user of Gillette products for years. My daily shaving involves several Gillette products. The Gillette family may still be involved in the company, I do not know, but P&G owns the Gillette brand these days.

The company owes it's starting to King Camp Gillette.

The "e" on the end of the surname used to keep me from pursuing searching, but these days I have uncovered the fact that even within a family, there may be GILLETT and GILLETTE being used by the members, for whatever reasons.

So, lately, I have been researching this branch. There certainly seems like there must be a connection and maybe we'll uncover that.

And, wonder of wonders -- the Niners won their first game this past week.

They are now -- one win, nine losses. It might even get better as the last few games may include the new quarterback  . . . we'll see.

There have been other well-known head coaches who have started with poor seasons, only to become long-term winners.

While the postseason will not include the Niners, we'll look forward to a few good games played by some other favorite teams.

Lastly, a word of caution -- "Be careful out there" as this is the season:


Such are the dangers while holiday shopping, it can be a spur of the moment thing.

That is a bit of our week, see you all "in a few" !





Saturday, November 11, 2017

Reminisce -- Remember -- Recall

This time of the year I find myself doing all of the above. But today especially I try to focus on what it means for veterans and what it means with respect to their time of service. As I have mentioned in previous posts, most military records are associated with war. And our country has been involved in  many.


The celebration of Veterans Day, or Armistice Day as it was named back in 1919 to commemorate the end of World War I, is now in remembrance of all the wars and times served in the military.

Our family tree has many many veterans in it. When searching these vets, the ones who served primarily or only in peacetime are often overlooked in terms of readily available facts and details.

And as mentioned before -- the great fire in the St Louis Military Records Center in 1973, destroyed about 80% of those records for those who served in the Army between 1912 through 1960. That, unfortunately, included the records for my father -- who served in peacetime and then had his records destroyed.

For my father, I can recall some family information about certain places and events that he was involved with -- e.g. patrol along the US/Mexico border, service in Hawaii -- Hickam Field, and hospitalized in Plattsburg, New York after an accident that caused him to lose a kidney.

But I have no official documentation of his military records. I do have a few photos of him during military service, but not much detail. There may be some records "out there" and maybe they'll surface at some point.

And in very recent memory:


It has only been one month and a couple of days since the devastating fire destroyed 6000 or so homes -- some only about 15 minutes away from us.

We actually have not attempted to take a drive near the remains of those homes. We do remember one of the homes that burnt as we had had a couple of dinners and other gatherings there, but for another, we had not yet visited and so we'll have to wait a few years to visit if they rebuild.

The recent rains were and are welcome, but they brought concerns about toxic waste being spread into the water. The entire area has to be cleaned out and taken somewhere for disposal before any
rebuilding could start.

For whatever reason, there are examples of untouched homes in the midst of blocks and blocks of ashes. These families have to endure going and coming to their homes in what has to be the most depressing of daily routines. They have a huge need for consideration for having to put up with the entire situation. They are lucky in that they still have their belongings and memories, but their daily lives are impacted none-the-less.


And, I remember when "Black Friday" really meant something and had a real impact.

Nowadays that impact is lessened due to there being "Black Friday" deals everywhere and already having taken place.

Black Friday started being the day after Thanksgiving and was given to super pricing on popular items. I have always enjoyed the day after Thanksgiving for a variety of reasons -- shopping and leftovers are a couple of reasons.

The good news is that there are many more deals out there and the ability to take one's time to be selective on what deals to take advantage of . . .

Since 99% of our purchasing comes online, along with free shipping, we are satisfied. We still have to venture out to "brick & mortar" stores for perishable items -- but that is changing as well.

I still remember going out shopping with my grandmother in Chicago, before the days of the "supermarket" and discount stores. She would visit, the produce stands, the butcher shop, the grocery store and of course -- the bakery.

Mamie had a two wheel cart that she pulled and it was an adventure (for me) to go along with her on those trips. I particularly remember the scents and smells associated with each store. And usually,
there were some extra treats purchased at some of the stores and maybe even some samples handed over the counter -- like a slice of summer sausage maybe.

Speaking of scents -- recently I opened our cupboard that houses the recycle and garbage and immediately was transformed to another time and place -- primarily the alley behind our grandparents home in Chicago -- the scents of decaying elements from dinner preparation needed to be removed.


DNA, it's what's for dinner learning about some very interesting details of ancestors.

The maps to the left are from Ancestry.com's DNA section and it gives a nice display showing the migration patterns of some of my ancestors.

On the bottom left it clearly shows that most of the HILES early immigrants did, in fact, come from Germany. This information is validated by the various folks who match my DNA -- and there is an increasing number all the time.

On the right side is a more detailed look at where the immigrants landed and started their early lives in America. The regions around Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois and as time went on, Wisconsin and points all over the map.

I still struggle with trying to connect many of the matches to folks in the tree -- but that will eventually be done. Part of the problem is that many of the matches do not share information about their trees that would allow for a match-up.

But the future is bright as it pertains to connecting folks. I think about the genealogists of just a couple of decades ago the did everything via snail mail and/or physical visits.

And then just reminiscing . . .

Hey, we eat raisin bran (albeit Kellogg's) every morning.

But who wouldn't want to collect these Western Badges found in their morning cereal boxes?

Hopalong Cassidy was one of my favorite shows growing up (William Boyd, I think) and he rode a beautiful white horse (Topper, I think).

So, we don't get badges in our cereal but probably one of these days we'll see these "badges" being offered for sale on Antiques Roadshow or on Pawn Stars.

That is a bit of our week, see you all "in a few"!







Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Timely Fall (For All)

What could be more timely than a time-change -- this time, falling back one hour and it feels right. We have already been getting up a bit later each morning and so we will fit right into the new zone. So tonight we'll begin the task of resetting the clocks, our semi-annual chore. We'll adjust much easier than the spring change . . .


We even had some rain this week. Less than an inch, but it felt good to not have to water the lawn this week. The rain though is presenting some problems due to the debris left from the over 6000 homes that burnt to the ground recently.

Toxic materials from the charred remains are the object of filtration and keeping them from emptying into our water supplies -- if that is possible. There is more rain forecast for next week and most likely in larger amounts. Drinking bottled water is the desirable way these days.

One event that happened last week produced the picture to the right.

The Houston Astros won their first ever World Series Championship.

It happened to be one of the most exciting collections of seven games ever.

Houston deserved to win with their performance.
Congrats to that hurricane recovering city!

The unfortunate thing for us is to how to fill in the void of almost nightly baseball viewing. It won't be until almost the next time change (March 11, 2018) before we'll get to watch another baseball game. We'll make-do -- there is always MMA -- NOT!

The other event that happened this week was of course -- Halloween -- and what an event that was . . . In days past a couple to the left are shown celebrating the dress-up affair at SFUSD.

Thanks to Aura for sharing the remembrance of her and Gail as they put on one of their remarkable events.

I think we probably still have that bow-tie around here somewhere, Gail has maintained a cache of costumes, just-in-case . . .


And now, what to do with all those pumpkins . . . actually this year
we forgot did not display any pumpkins but that doesn't mean that we can't make some pumpkin soup . . .

This is now soup weather and that is such a good thing. We have all the ingredients to make several different kinds of soup and we'll start in a day or two probably with chicken soup and work our way to pumpkin or other heavier soups, all to be served with maybe cornbread or another muffin-type.



And of course, one of the most fun activities for me is communicating with -- COUSINS.

And there was a lot of communications with already known cousins and then some communications with newly found cousins.

A few years ago, in a post in this blog, I had written about a favorite cousin of my mother -- Charles Keith Bumgardner.

And recently some relatives of "Keith" wrote comments relative to that post. And I'm happy to say that we have shared some emails back and forth and I have learned some new facts and have met some new cousins.


In my post of a couple of years ago, I wrote about Keith and his second marriage which took place in Japan. I knew that he had been married earlier in the U.S. but I only knew the first name of his first wife.

Now I know the full name of his first wife -- Christine Sutherland, and I know more details of their child, Eunice June Bumgardner (1928-2006). Eunice eventually married and had four children. It is with two of those children that I communicated with last week.

It is amazing the power of the Internet which allows for this type of communications. In the "old" days, it would be highly unlikely that such random connections would have been made. I know that there are so many more cousins to meet . . .

And to add icing to the cake, so-to-speak, this week's Wednesday's webinar at Legacy was on "Taking Your German Brick Walls Down Piece by Piece".

So timely now that we are pretty sure that on our paternal branch, we came from Germany . . .

I might even have to try to brush up on my college German -- though that may be troublesome. I think that I'll have to rely on Google translations . . .

So, that is a bit of our week, see you all "in a few"!