Monday, November 10, 2014

Dispelling the Hierarchy of Cousins

The Roots of the Leaves in the Trees Series- Episode 1

GENE 101: Intro to DIY Genealogy

For those of you paying close attention to my life, you’ll already be aware of the obsession I have in all things genealogy, whether my own or someone else’s, often at the expense of my writing time. (See me procrastinate during NaNoWriMo?) My obsession shouldn't be surprising: I love puzzles and I love research and I love history, so voila: genealogy

My first challenge with genealogy is still one I face daily. How many ways can I misspell genealogy? An embarrassing number of ways, to be honest with you, and my favorite misspelling happens to be gene-o-logy

Moving past my inability to spell the word correctly, I dive down the rabbit hole of my family tree daily. Sometimes I only spend minutes to tweak a birth-date or marriage date, or just to sync my online tree with my offline tree. Other, I spend whole afternoons, well into the wee small hours of long past time I should’ve been in bed, ferreting out the small details of a distant branch, linking that branch to George Washington or El Cid, or to the plumber up the street, Nick…Nick…Something Greek. I have over eight thousand relatives to keep track of now, as if I didn't already have enough cousins that I can’t name right off the top of my head. And the number grows with each of my visits.

But another challenge I face daily with the study of gene-a-logy is what title to give these blood relations. Mom and Dad, simple. Grandma and Grandpa, still simple. My Aunt's kids are my 1st cousins. Not rocket science. My mom’s cousin is my second cousin. Simple.

Wait. My mom’s cousin? Is she my second cousin or is she my first cousin once removed? Now I have a problem. I spent forty years of my life KNOWING my mom’s cousin Lucy IS my SECOND cousin. I spent the last few months puzzled at the online tree stating in black-and-white, Lucy is your first cousin once removed. Not only that but my mom’s uncle Jasper apparently is NOT my Great Uncle, he is my Grand Uncle.

That sound you just heard? My brain cracked itself open like the egg in that “say no to drugs” commercial from the ‘80s and fried.

But, this is a puzzle I have to solve, so on we go.

For those of you who had this figured out already, I applaud you and I ask you not to laugh at me. 

For those of you in the same boat as me, let me help you row this boat a little closer to shore. Of course, maybe by the time I’m done, you’ll be begging to pull the little stopper at the bottom of the boat so we can surrender our souls to Davy Jones Locker.. 

I’ll start with the easy part. Grand Uncle vs. Great Uncle Jasper.

Well my mom’s mother Lena is my maternal grandmother, right. Lena’s mother Jessie would then be my great-grandmother. 

Parents, then Grandparents, then Great-Grandparents. Check.

Uncles, then Grand Uncles, then Great-Grand Uncles. Check.

It makes sense then that Grandmother Lena’s brother Jasper is my Grand Uncle.

Again, for those of you who had this figured out already, STOP LAUGHING AT ME. I've been calling Jasper my Great Uncle my whole life. This is a tough habit to break.

Now comes the fun part. Cousins. 

We don’t call them Cousins, then Grandcousins, then Great-Grandcousins, so on and so forth. Cousins are instead assigned degrees, like the Master Masons of Free & Accepted Masonry. Okay, it’s not an exact similarity, but it’s just as shrouded in mystery to me, so it’s the analogy I’m going with. These degrees are based solely on where the link actually happens.

First Cousins:
The relationship to me of my Parents' Siblings' offspring.
One step up. Sibling. One step down.

  • Once removed: the child of my first cousin.
  • Twice removed: the grandchild of my first cousin
  • Thrice removed: the great-grandchild of my first cousin, etc.

Second cousins.
The relationship to me of my Grandparents’ Siblings’ Grandchildren.
Two steps up. Sibling. Two steps down.

  • Once removed:  the child of my second cousin
  • Twice removed: the grandchild of my second cousin
  • Thrice removed: the great-grandchild of my second cousin, etc.

Third Cousins.
The relationship to me of my Great-Grandparents’ Siblings' Great-Grandchildren.
Three steps up. Sibling. Three steps down.

  • Once removed: the child of my third cousin
  • Twice removed: the grandchild of my third cousin, etc.

Fourth Cousins.
The relationship to me of my Great-Great Grandparents’ Siblings’ Great-Great-Grandchildren.
Four steps up. Sibling. Four steps down.

  • Once removed: the child of my fourth cousin
  • Twice removed: the grandchild of my fourth cousin

There's a few more steps in-between this that I could go into, but I will stop here because I’m running out of frying power in my brain skillet. And my only real goal behind this post was to be able to explain this someday to my nieces and nephew. Or maybe even my cat, if I can keep her attention long enough to listen.

But, I do have a cheat sheet available for those of you who would like to noodle through this. Feel free to share and distribute this as you want. It’s not fancy, but it might help you out. 

Of course, it might also be what sends you to the Funny Farm, so download at your own risk.

My Roots of the Leaves in the Trees series addresses challenges the amateur or hobbyist DIY genealogists face when attempting to map out their family trees. It stems from a passion I have to solve puzzles, compile research, and bring history back to life. The more we know of our past, the better we can understand ourselves and the struggles of others. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Precipice 2014 - Save the Date!

Precipice III is now available for pre-order!

If you don't want to pre-order, mark November 17th as the day you will buy this third volume of Precipice, the literary anthology of Write On Edge. 

If you want to have a physical, dead-tree, paperback copy because you think your e-book reading device is eating your brain, your date is December 1st. 

If you just want a paperback copy as a companion for your other paperbacks, that's good too. Your date is still December 1st

Precipice 2014 will make an ideal Christma-solsti-hanu-kwanz-akkah gift for those of you who participate in the gift-giving festivities of December.

It'll make an even better "I just had to get this for you because I love you that much" present for any of the other days of the year.

The point, honored guests, that I am trying to make is that you don't want to miss adding this volume to your Precipice collection. 

And if you're a Shelton Keys Dunning fan, you'll want to add this volume to your collection of Shelton Keys Dunning works, because, yes this is a shameless plug, I AM IN THIS BOOK! 

If you're tired of all things Shelton Keys Dunning, Precipice 2014 is your chance to check out amazing authors from the talented Write On Edge community. There is something in this volume for everyone!

This is an immoral imperative. This is mandatory fun.
This is a basic human necessity.
So go get it.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Toast to Love and Wedded Bliss

Last Friday, my husband’s 96-year-old grandmother eloped with her 99-year-old boyfriend.

Friday. October 3, 2014. My husband’s 96-year-old grandmother married her 99-year-old boyfriend.

They wanted to keep their marriage on the down-low. Technically, I’m breaking a family trust by telling this story, but I can’t help it. So the names and locations are omitted to keep confidence.

Their marriage, whether they believe so or not, is a celebration of hope and acceptance. Due to their ages, they are probably more aware of their finite future together than any other newly-married couple in America. And they took the plunge anyway.

When one encounters beauty in this world, the kind of beauty that shakes one at the core and brings one to one’s knees, one cannot keep it bottled up. I cannot keep this bottled up. I have to share.

Because love this beautiful is too powerful to keep on the-down-low.

I have only been in Grandma’s life a little over ten years. But during those years, I never once felt like I didn't belong in her family. She accepted me straight-up with open arms and a welcome home.

And what I have learned from her in those ten years cannot be quantified. She’s the most amazing person that I am privileged to know.

Grandma is fond of military men – her first marriage was to an Army man, the second to a Navy pilot who survived Pearl Harbor -- and her new husband is no exception. Her now-husband was a Rear-Admiral in World War II and for a time during his military career, he worked at the Pentagon. His dry sense of humor is still quick and sharp, and he still enjoys a finger or two of a fine whiskey neat.

I want it known that I admire Grandma beyond measure. I know of the tragedies that have painted her life with devastating sorrow, the kind of sorrows that most would never recover from and no one would blame them for it. Yet, she is the phoenix that rises from the ashes, more radiant and glorious than ever.

And her husband I am equally in awe of. Again, open-hearted and accepting, from the first moment I met him. A man who knows the price of sacrifice, a man who made the call again and again, knowing that his decisions impacted the lives of his men in the Pacific Theater and the lives their loved-ones back home.

They don’t make men like him anymore.  His breed is so rare that I wonder how I could possibly be so fortunate to have met him. And I get to call him Grandpa now.

My heart is so full: I’m having difficulty finding the words I want to say, or even the words I should be saying. I only know that words must be said.

A toast to the happy couple, who represent hope and heroism in their truest, purest form, an inspiration to all; May God continue to bless and keep you, and give you a thousand years of happiness each and every day.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Something Different: A Poem

And I break radio silence to bring you this poem. Weird for me, I know, but it's been one of those weeks.

My Broken Calendar 

I woke this morning and noticed the hour 
And it was then I realized with a mood most sour
That somehow my calendar had skipped a few days
And huge blocks of time have been completely erased

It was only yesterday, you see, that winter begun
But today there is rising a late summer sun
So where, oh where did the missing time go?
On holiday perhaps, or maybe a show?

Or perhaps the days simply weren't included
In the calendar when its publishing concluded
Maybe for April or May I was supposed to pay more
or to avoid interruption, pay a full season before

Or maybe inflation has levied the summer
And shortened the season with no hope to recover
My springs are shrinking as well as my falls
And as for my winters, there's no hope at all

Someone is stealing the time from my clocks
Perhaps in league with the gremlins who steal all my socks
From the dryer. If so, forgive me for being crude
But if they are in cahoots then I'm royally screwed

For I have yet to find a single stitch of heel or toe 
Of any of the socks that a-missing go
So if these same gremlins are stealing my days
I must put an end to their thieving craze

But how is the question I find I now ask.
How does one take sneaky gremlins to task?
How does one stop these thieves so subtle in crime
When to hunt where they hide takes a great deal of time?

Time I don't have for September is waning
And so I guess I should cease my bitter complaining
But I urge you, dear reader, when a new calender you seek
Please make sure it is not missing a single week

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Spambox Sunday: Something Enlightening to Read

Okay, it's that time. Please keep you hands and arms inside the train at all times. Hang on to those hats and glasses, and check that your seat-belts remain securely fastened. All aboard? Here we go again!


whoah this weblog is great i really like studying your posts.
Keep up the great work! You realize, a lot of people are searching around for this info, you can help them greatly.

Thanks! I'm always happy to help.


What i do not understood is in reality how you are now not actually much more well-favored than you might be now.
You're so intelligent. You realize thus significantly in the case of this topic, produced me personally imagine 
it from so many various angles. Its like women and men don't seem to be fascinated except 
it's one thing to accomplish with Lady gaga!
Your individual stuffs nice. At all times maintain it up!

Ah, you've been here before. This is your second visit. I'm starting to think you doth protest too much about Lady gaga fascination.


Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video 
to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste 
your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something enlightening 
to read?

You know, I hate to break this to you but this isn't YouTube. I haven't posted a single video here. And I'm not particularly inclined to do so either.

But don't worry, people make this mistake all the time. Cheers!


I'm really loving the theme/design of your web site.
Do you ever run into any browser compatibility issues?
A number of my blog visitors have complained about my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari.
Do you have any advice to help fix this issue?

You've been here before, too. I think this is maybe the third time? You really need to get someone to look at your Explorer. Maybe drive it to your local Ford dealership and get a Ford certified mechanic to look on it before you take it out on your next Safari? Otherwise, I got nothing

Okay folks, thanks for joining me for this edition of Spambox Sunday. I hope you enjoyed your stay, and you'll tune in next time for some more gems of wisdom from the spambox.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Spambox Sunday: At All Times, Handle It Up!

Some more gems from the Spambox ready for your entertainment.


I'm really enjoying the design and layout of your blog.
It's a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here 
and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create 
your theme? Fantastic work! My site: boston celebrity style

Nope, this is your basic plug-n-play Blogger set-up. I'm technically-challenged like that.


What i do not understood is if truth be told how you are not actually a lot more neatly-appreciated 

than you might be now. You are very intelligent.
You understand thus significantly in the case of this 
subject, made me personally imagine it from a lot 
of various angles. Its like women and men are not fascinated unless it's one thing to do with Lady gaga!Your own stuffs great. At all times handle it up! my weblog

I pledge this to you now, faithful readers: At all times, I will handle it up, despite the fact that I'm not Lady Gaga!


Despite the fact that addiction to pc video games doesn't (yet) 
qualifies to the Diagnostic and Record Manual of Psychological Disorders (DSM), extreme gaming is something which is something which has begun to obtain widespread attention and there's a raging 
discussion on its dangerous side effects.
You are able to customize the body that enables you to change or take away components 
based on your personal preference. Of course, it doesn't demand you to become a 
pro gamer to beat your enemy.

My weblog 

Phew! It's good to know that I don't have to be a pro gamer to beat my enemy. Like any respectable author, I'll settle for having my revenge by writing my enemy into a book. *Insert evil laugh here* 


I seldom comment, but i did a few searching and wound up here 
"Travel Tuesday: The Vista south of San Onofre".
And I do have a few questions for you if you usually do not mind.
Is it just me or does it look as if like a few of the comments look like coming 
from brain dead folks? :-P And, if you are writing on other 
online social sites, I would like to follow everything fresh you have to post.
Would you list of all of all your social sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed,
or linkedin profile?My webpage

Now, hang on a minute. The spambox has several wonderful hacker-type people and scammer-like people and phishing-like people and spambot-like people. You just don't know them the way I do. My suggestion? Lurk some more and get to know them before you call them brain dead. If you insist on this foolishness, you won't make the next Spambox Sunday report. So there. *sticks tongue out and blows raspberry*

So that's it for this installment folks. Tune in next time for more gems from my spambox!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Ordinarily on this day, I would post something profoundly patriotic, an acknowledgment of those who have sacrificed so that I can sit on my duff and blog without fear.

And I would like to post such a thing, especially as the adverts for Memorial Day Sales flood my inbox with deals I can't afford to pass up, and I really can't afford to buy to begin with.

Any drop of blood sacrificed for our sins should be counted and revered. And those gone are not lost from us forever if we honor them and keep them close to our hearts.

This Memorial Day is overshadowed by a tragedy that borders on the peculiar. A man spurned rampaged against those he felt responsible for his loneliness. And the public appears now obsessed with a handful of individuals Tweeting misogynistic dribble in support of this man they feel kinship with at the hashtag YesAllWomen.

The tragedy is three-fold. A broken man. The deaths of the innocent. The martyrdom of one who cannot possibly deserve it by those who should know better.

At first I was loathe to comment, for this sort of circus leaves me uneasy. Participating in blame games at the expense of those burdened with loss and despair is counter-grain to the core of my beliefs. People need their space to grieve and heal and they shouldn't have to see their grief used to fuel any agenda. It's sick and immoral. 

Still, here I am, on this of all days, and I feel compelled to call Humans out on their bullshit..

See, Humans, if nothing else, are predictable in their anti-social behaviors. Individuals said some pretty vile things in the public arena because they're seeking attention. By discussing it, even to point out how viciously flawed their outlook is, we are unintentionally lending them a credible platform for their justification and fueling their frenzy. Negative attention is still attention..

At the heart of this, a deeply troubled man felt justified in taking lives, and while we don't have to condone any aspect of what he did, we can at least agree that his very nature is pitiable, regardless of his motivation. Mental illness takes on many, many forms and any small event can trigger an episode that impacts on a epic scale.

Unresolved frustration leads to anger. 
Unresolved anger will twist broken souls until there is nothing decent left. 

Victims of his violence are to be mourned and given respect, and their families should be afforded what sympathy and support we can provide. Witnesses too, for shock and stress can haunt those ill-equipped to deal with horrors beyond their control or comprehension. Each one of them could have easily been one of us, our siblings or parents, our children or loved ones. 

In short Humans, the lesson we need to learn isn't the lesson anyone else seems to be discussing. We can't move forward as a species until we learn to love each other more, comfort those who despair, heal those who are wounded, and protect those who cannot fend for themselves. And stand our ground against those that insist on perpetuating unconscionable evil. 

Take this time to reflect on the souls we miss. 
Take care of their legacy. 
We are the only ones left who can.