A Fresh Start

Thank you Lisa for sharing the 52 Week Blog About an Ancestor a week challenge. Lisa wrote a great post about her restless Great-Great-Grandmother Lucinda here. I recommend reading it. She inspired this genealogical newbie.

I began swimming in the ancestry pool after my grandfather passed away this summer. His passing marked a monumental shift for our family. He was the last grandparent living on either side of my family. I was no longer the grandchild. My daughter is. I was no longer the middle child. I am a mom.

I wandered around those Northern Michigan maples and oaks for a long time that week pondering how to be.

I needed to know everything.

So, after having been on this genealogy binge for about 6 mos I am happy to report I know very little in relation to my well of swelling questions. Every question answered leads to 50 more questions! The search is dizzying. But in a beautiful psychedelic-spin kind of way.Byron Tannery Mercersburg PA

For instance, my 2nd Great Grandfather, George W Sharar (b. 1854 d. 1926), hails from Mercersburg, PA and worked at Mercersburg’s Byron Tannery his whole life. Between him and his son, my Great Grandfather, Norman E Sharar (b.1875 d. 1943), coming of age their surname changed on the records 5 times! I had to check and double check children’s names, addresses, and occupations because even the birth dates weren’t totally reliable. It was a vortex of places, numbers and names. But every hole has its rabbit.

I kept looking and verifying. Then I noticed George’s son, Norman, worked at the Koenitzer Tannery in Saginaw, MI his whole life. And no one in our family has tanned hides since, (except maybe mine and my sibling’s from time to time… lol) but oddly enough, my older brother is an accomplished and self-taught leather artisan for LARPies. He makes leather armor, helmets and other accessories exquisitely. And he’s a welder! No schooling for leather working. So where does the talent come from? Could our talents and desires be tied to our genes and ancestors?

Finding connections like this are moments that make the data come alive. The dates become someone’s deceased memories reborn in my mind. I have got to believe there is a reason I am the way I am, and unlike so many others. My siblings and I are all practical-patties, we want the truth and get angry with the lies. We all work with our hands and take pride in doing what many deem “small” jobs. We are content wearing blue collars, but thirst deeply for success and perfection at whatever we do.

I’m discovering under every leaf at ancestry.com (and many other helpful record keeping libraries and sites) that I’m wired a certain way because my folks are wired a certain way because their folks were wired a certain way because, well.. you get the gist.

So, I guess the whole process feels like a “fresh start” in a way. Like that little girl who can’t hardly go to sleep because she’s too anxious to greet a new day. Fresh.

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Do You See? [free write exercise]

What Do You See?

Baubles blue and green

Sunny shore

Tie it tightly

Knee, knocked knee


Red and Orange

Froth and Myrrh hide between

Flick a flea, please

And love beneath


Purple maze

Crazy daisy

May I never always

Kites fly over


Surmise I

Great and Powerful

Bumbling, stumbling

grasping for thread


Posted in The Chronicle | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Family Portrait – Totem Pole Style

Family Portrait - Totem Pole Style

A dear friend is getting hitched this week so I thought a family portrait would make a nice gift. After thinking for a while, it came to me–

Ask each person in the family what their favorite critter is and sketch them with some unique add-ons in the shape of a totem pole.

Historically, totems often represented the family’s genealogy with patron spirits intermingled between the relatives. However, not all is historically sound. A thunder bird is quite inaccurate to the true totems of Native Americans in Western America. But, as in-accurate as a thunder bird on top a totem pole is, I went ahead and put soon-to-be dad right on top, arms stretched out. How could I not?! He chose a flying squirrel, people. LOL! Quite often elders were near the bottom holding everyone up. I know, I know- what about the whole “bottom of the totem pole” cliche? Well, research showed me that is kind of a farce and just 19th century american’s lack of understanding.

Any who, so here’s a poor picture of it. I need to scan it and will this weekend. Cheers!

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Don’t mess with my fairytales…

Exactly. Well written article shoving back at society’s current leanings.

See, there's this thing called biology...

I’m fed up, fed up I tell you! When did we become so pompously obsessed with our own versions of objective reality? For centuries humans have used myths and legends to hand down history, preserve language, share the wisdom of our elders. Here we are in 2014 and it seems as if we’ve decided to spit on a few thousand years of human tradition. Somebody has declared war on fairy tales.

First fems decide Barbie doesn’t reflect reality. Did you ever consider that some of us girls like to engage in a bit of fantasy? Who wants to dream about frumpy Barbie? I know I don’t look like Barbie and I never will. I also will never be a robot, a dragon, or have the ability to fly. I think in the name of fairness and equality, I should be able to sprout wings, but life doesn’t work that way.

Next fems…

View original post 494 more words

Posted in Illustration and Art | Leave a comment

Research for Writing Children’s Books: Stereotypes

After reading this article I began to think, for the first time, intentionally and critically about the subject of stereotypes in American Children’s Literature.

In this post I’ll be using naughty words like racism, oppressive and I’m sure you will locate a few more. When I do, beep your nose. Yes, I said “beep your nose”. I work with children all day– don’t judge me.

As a white Midwestern American female (I can feel the stereotypes stirring in you already, resist the dark side, Luke.) I feel I’ve been inoculated with a great ignorance concerning my own use of stereotypes. Until now. After reading the above article, which basically was a complaint, I feel like I’m a retired logger admiring the trees in the forest for the first time.

So how do I use stereotypes? Like many Americans, I’m not aggressive with my use. It’s more, or less, used in passing. Like when I am joking with friends and drop the, “well that’s because you’re [enter stereotype].” Or when I’m speaking about some politically significant world-event and end the subject with, “well, that’s because they’re french” or “a Jew” or whatever other nationality representing millions of individuals I just lumped together into one disgusting baked stereotype.

I want a war. A war on Stereotypes.

Who’s the enemy?

Stereotypes, the harmless and the profane, both are breeding grounds for racism and seeing others as less-than which abhorring-ly gives us a sort-of  “exceptional” view of ourselves. A prominent world leader pointed this out about Americans last year. Russia isn’t our enemy, we are.

Does this subject upset you? It angers me. My anger is two-fold though: 1) How am I suppose to joke now? Is there no room for satire? 2) Stereotypes seem to narrow our view of the world. Having a skewed view of anything upsets me, i.e. feeling ignorant of the world around me. (I’ll be writing more on question two than one. Maybe some folks reading can duke-it-out about satire and editorials in the comments below.)

Well, let’s define our terms. A stereotype is a lot of things. In printing “stereotype” describes the process of making a copy of the metal type, or type plate, by pouring or pressing another material like papier-mache over the plate and peeling it off to be used for printing. But we’re talking about people, not metal. Here’s how Dictionary.com defines stereotype:

“a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group: The cowboy and Indian are American stereotypes.

Well that’s ironic, like rain on your wedding. (to kill your Alanis ear-bug click here)

For those who needed to kill a bug, welcome back. Now, focus.

The exact stereotype that offended the author of the article above is used to typify stereotype in the dictionary! Maybe this is meaningful? Maybe her complaint is valid?

Now, I need to ask some different questions. Instead of asking, “can’t people take a joke?” I need to ask, “can I make a joke that people actually think is funny?” Or, better yet, “can I make a joke that edifies others instead of smashing them into a type plate?”

It’s commonly known that people are not nice neat little malleable type sets. We aren’t sorted and neatly placed into type-labeled drawers on the earth’s surface-print shop of countries. We are unimaginably different, yet surprisingly knit together with similar threads of emotions, likes, dislikes, etc. Stereotypes just don’t leave room for people to surprise us. And, they are oppressive.

Stereotypes, at best, passively oppress people. Pressing them like papier-mache into a metal type plate, forcing them, squeezing them into every faulty assumption our exceptionally-narrow minds can make. This kind of thinking butchers creativity, mutilates beauty and beheads discovery.

Trends (I’m beeping my nose!) seem to be the bastard child of stereotypes, not creativity. Is it okay to like a trendy (beep) thing? Of course. But what makes a trend trendy? When people who really don’t like or care for a certain band, brand or movie feel pressed into the mold by ridicule and rejection simply because they don’t share you’re enthusiasm. Yeah, I’m talking to you(and me) who hate and judge and huff all over your(our) latte(s) when someone doesn’t like what you like. Stop it.

Stop judging people and making them feel inferior because they don’t like something you do. Likewise, don’t let their distaste deter you if those purple skinny jeans and V-neck is really what you like to rock. Haters gonna hate. But that doesn’t mean we’ve got to be jaded by it. If we hate people for hating we’re only giving in to the culture of hate. (resist, you must resist the dark side, Luke!)

Stereotypes are assumptions we make about groups of people by pressing them, disregarding their individuality, into our small-minded molds. If you’re like me (beep- that could be a bad thing..) you may think, “well, stereotypes help us to make sense of the world and people in it.” Well, I would like to respond to myself (and others),

“People aren’t that simple. We are the most complex creatures walking, climbing, crawling, wheeling on the planet! And when you love someone or something, you try to understand them, or it. You ask questions, stop assuming to know and please reject your own innate desire to judge everything! People don’t need your opinion about them. If they do want your exceptional opinion, wait for it… they’ll ask!”

Okay, done yelling. I’m getting too excited. (beep)

This is just one way to love people better. Quit judging and stereotyping and forming opinions about them. Let them surprise you.

*     *     *

I attribute this revelation about “loving people better” to the life-altering sanctification of God’s Spirit in my life. I am sorely faulted and sinful offending both God and others daily, but because of his gracious love shown through Christ’s life, death and resurrection, I believe he is helping me to love people better everyday. If anyone has the right to judge, it’s a perfect creator, but he chooses to be slow to judge and patient with us. Every breath is a gift. Don’t waste it.

If you want to expand the conversation please comment below and we’ll talk! This is more of an introduction to the subject. Maybe later posts we can dissect it further, like answering questions about satire, politics, editorials, etc.

Happy Reading everyone.

Posted in The Chronicle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Peter Newell, The Hole Book

This book from 1908 is a great read! Inspirational.

Link | Posted on by | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Introducing, Dande.

Introducing, Dande.

Here’s an original character I’m working on for a children’s book. He is Dande, [DAN-dee], the tiny and cynical dandelion gnome. He plays a major role in my story idea as a guide for the protagonist.

This is one draft of many.

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments