Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday 55 & Da Count-Passing it Down

FRIDAY 55
(an exercise in composing a story or poem in exactly 55 words)

A barely decipherable scrawl skipping important information.

A yellowed and splattered index card from eons ago.

A printed, titled card with careful lists and instruction in nearly perfect handwriting.

A bundled set of painstakingly typed notes to fit in a 3x5 inch space.

A 3 page handwritten letter with explicit secrets.

Generations of family recipes.

*image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/brighterworlds/301705464/


DA COUNT
(counting the good things we have instead of bemoaning the things we lack)

I'm recycling that Friday 55 from about a year and a half ago but my count for this week is new. My mother's side of the family has been good about making sure there is a genealogy that is kept current. However, it's been kept practically under lock and key with one or two individuals. One of the caretakers misplaced a significant chunk of her copy of the records. There are family recipes which have been handed down to the one or two cousins who specialize in a particular dish, while other recipes have been lost. There are family stories which are retold at each gathering and others that come as a surprise when they are shared, although it was assumed everyone knew the tale. There are old photographs which are cherished by those who hold them and coveted by those who lack them.

In the last couple of years the family matriarch has taken up writing. She has been reluctant to share her stories with people because her sisters looked down their noses at her efforts. She showed my brother, who is a published author, and he gave her words of encouragement. She has ventured out tentatively to show a few others one at a time. This past Christmas I was brought into that circle. I was delighted and honored. It is interesting to note she has chosen mostly the cousins in my age group. We have all encouraged her to write more and continue sharing. She said with some embarrassment that her sisters thought it was a waste of time. I told her to ignore them and write for herself and for the generation who is hungry for her words. She beamed....and within a week I had two stories in my mailbox.

This week one of my younger cousins sent out a mass email to the family requesting whatever genealogical information they have so he can plug it into some good software and make it available to all of us electronically. I responded quickly telling him how happy I was that he was doing this. We discussed photos and recipes back and forth and I agreed to try to collate as many family recipes as people were willing to share. I'm really excited about this effort.

Quite some time ago, Lecram gave me two domain names. I regret to say they have been dormant since he so generously bestowed them upon me. I will eventually move this blog to one of them. The other I am planning to give over to my family so we can move our genealogy, recipes, photos, and stories into the digital age so everyone has easy access to whatever they want.

This week I am counting another cousin's vision to do something combining with mine and Lecram's gift which can facilitate that.


28 comments:

Desmond Jones said...

Oh, I think genealogy and family history are just fascinating!

Thanks for this. . .

Jeni said...

Speaking as one who is very interested in family tree research, I very much appreciated this post today! I have four trees on my computer -two for my dad's parents lineage and two for my Mom's parents linage. I've put a lot of work into these projects and it is very frustrating when trying to keep them as up-to-date as possible as cousins drift apart, don't bother to share data -their child marries, they have grandchildren, in some instances even great-grnds too but unless they give me the information, the tree becomes a bit barren over time.
When I began working on family trees for my Dad's family, his sole surviving sister got very angry with me about my asking questions -names of family members -nothing drastic or out-of-line. Her opinion was "What the hell good does it do to look for the names of a bunch of damned dead people?"
For me, it was a means of getting more information however meager, about my Dad who died when I was less than 3 weeks old. Never knowing him, growing up mainly with my Mom's family, I never really knew who I was in the sense of what traits I had acquired from my Dad and his ancestors. Doing family tree work helped me learn a few snippets about my Dad, other than his height, eye color, employment and that type of general stuff, as I found a few cousins who were old enough when he died that they actually had memories of him.
My Mom's cousins will tell me that oh, it's nice you are so interested in the family tree work and such but then, just totally blow off any requests I make for updated information on their individual families, even to providing addresses for their kids, grandkids and such. It's frustrating -very frustrting -as I know, if they would even just call me and tell me some of the stories THEY know about our ancestors, it would make for a really great family heirloom to pass down to the younger -and future generations along with giving them access to valuable medical data too of issues that can frequently be genetic.
Hope you have better luck with your family than I have had but it does sound like you're getting things off to a really decent start now.

Shadow said...

what a poignant 55.... i could picture them in my mind.

MIke Kilgore said...

Recipes and storiesare the stuff of heritage, Lime-keep at it! mines up...

Cocotte said...

Good for you and your cousin (as I feel guilty about all the info I have in an upstairs closet in envelopes). I need to get organized with the genealogy stuff too.

furiousBall said...

have you seen geni.com? very simple, yet great idea

Maddy said...

Genealogy starts off as this delightful little foray, soon to become a frustrating dead end or blind ally, so then we move into other branches of the family and before we know it, we're well and truly hooked. Hope you keep toiling with that one.
Cheers

S said...

Persimmon pudding, wow!!!

As far as family lineage goes, my dad has traced our family waaay back. At first we were Scottish, then Irish, and lo and behold, we are now from Norway! (Take that, RennyBA!) ;)
I just think it is fascinating.
Of course my moms family history was much easier...Canada...England.
Not sure where before that.

We dont have recipes collected, but relied heavily on Betty Crocker. Thank goodness the Betty Crocker cookbook has been updated to eliminate evils like lard, too much sugar, and other bad stuff.

Pretty cool that you have been entrusted with some of those family goodies!

:)

S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
g-man said...

Excellent 55 Trini!!!
Family recipe's have such an aura of mystery surrounding them that it's quite comical.
You are always willing to share, and thats what helps make you the Damn Fine Human Being that you are!
Thanks for playing, and have a Wonderful Week-End...:-)

lecram said...

:) How exciting! Genealogy, recipes, photos, and stories! Hmm... I'm thinking there could be a movie or several in all that treasure.

Breazy said...

I love the family recipes. Great 55!

I didn't make it over yesterday so I scrolled down to check out your clips. I love the color of your kitchen and you have a really nice voice.

Have a great weekend!

Suldog said...

Ah, so many things I've thrown out that I wish I had now! MY WIFE thinks I'm a pack rat, but really I don't think I save near enough of the old things.

Mary said...

Great 55! I treasure the recipes that were handed down to me from my grandmother.

Pouty Lips said...

My aunt has editorials my grandfather wrote and she guards them like the Dutch Goldmine. All of this information needs to be chronicled for future generations. I am currently trying to write memoirs, and I do not write, but I'm trying anyway, for two women age 76 and 83 who lived during WWII in Europe and had to leave their homes because of Hitler. It just has to be passed on Limey! Yay!

Eaton Bennett said...

I love the way you described those recipes. You gave them an aura of secrecy, that I guess they really do have for you. :)

barman said...

We have never done genealogy for our family. My Dad's sister did trace back part of their family. It would be nice to have something like that.

The photos are special too. I know once not to long ago I had some actual photos from a family reunion. I never bothered to process the film. Well many years later I processed and printed it. There in several of the photos were pictures of a cousin who had since died. So I gave copies of the photos to the family hoping it would be appreciated and not hurt anyone. I do not have a lot of family photos but what I have I suppose I should get onto CDs or DVDs to share with others. Who knows, I might even be able to use my unused domain name. See you are not the only one.

The stories are wonderful. There are always the story tellers in a family. The problem is if others do not take interest and share those and other stories then the stories die. Putting the stories down into electronic form one way or another makes so much sense. The whole time I was reading you post I could not help but think how wonderful a nice electronic scrap book might be to bring together stories and photos, maybe an occasion recipe or other such things. Of course when you think about it, isn't that pretty much what our blogs are or could be. Just think, years from now you can come back and watch the making of Fastnachts or more importantly your kids and your kids, kids can do the same thing. It was wonderful seeing and hearing you in you series of short films. It will be even better for people in the future.

The recipes are a wonderful thing to gather and share. I have been doing a little of that with our family recipes but not near as much as I should. A while back my SIS in Law put together a cookbook. She put out a request for people to share. Everyone thought it was great and said they would share. Many months later and practically no one shared things. Even I had not done anything. She was getting frustrated. So I put together 3 or 4 dozen recipes, with most being really simple recipes. My Mom added to it, my Sister, my SIS in Law and a few others contributed a little but basically it was very one sided. Most of my recipes made the cookbook including the milk can stew which I figured would never be printer. Afterward another side of the family decided they wanted to put out a second addition... that was probably 5 years ago. It is not that hard to do but people are either reluctant or just do not want to put the effort in. Funny thing, I use the cookbook all the time to look especially to look up my own recipes.

Sorry for getting so long winded but I really think this is such a wonderful idea. I wish you and every luck in gathering and sharing all this wonderful information. Not everyone will appreciate it but I bet many will love it. It will be the others loss.

Jocelyn said...

I have the feeling that much of your life story hinges on this premise: "And then I gave someone a tidge of encouragement at just the right moment, and it made all the difference."

Would that not fit on a tombstone?

Casdok said...

Very good idea to put everything on line.
Super 55

the walking man said...

I inherited my grandmothers recipes. They are in a 3x5 box. I know that lemon meringue pie recipe is in there. A mountain of meringue, scorched slightly at the tips and edges, that creamy lemon filling. I never liked lemon pie much but I need a favor from my brother and it was his favorite.

Kaknu said...

Oh that is so cool. I don't think we have recipes that were handed down, but we do have a ton of pictures. My grandparents were both photographers. ;-)

RennyBA said...

Thanks for sharing - I loved it too as I love learning about your recipe.

Wishing you a great end to your week :-)

Lulda Casadaga said...

You are so lucky to have all the receipes from your past family members. I do find geneology fascinating and I cherish any history I find out about my family.
Will you post some or no wait... VIDEO some receipe in the future? :)

tsduff said...

I am lucky enough (like The Walking Man Mark) to have inherited my Grandma's little 3 x 5 box of recipes. I'm a lucky gal I don't owe them to anyone - but sometimes I have a definite advantage over those that don't have...

NYD said...

Recieving two domains for free is quite a gift.
Hope that your plans to use them come out as god as the fastnachs looked.

San said...

Genealogy is fascinating. In particular I enjoy the way women keep the generations connected with all of those recipes and stories and quilts and such.

Your 55 is a soulful tribute to these things. Lovely.

Moosekahl said...

I so wish my family had been the type to write things down. Even the recipes would be greatly cherished but they cooked with a "little of this" and a "little of that". I made mom tell me how to make some of our favorites but you should see how they read...taste to this, add to that.

citizen of the world said...

My stepmother rectly put together a book of her recipes and childhood photos of all of us girls and distributed copies at Christmas. I thought it was a really cool idea.