Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On our Amazing, Ordinary Ancestors

This morning I am again caught up in the wonder of our amazing Colonial ancestors.

They were ordinary, in the sense that their lives paralleled lives of people in England in most ways. They raised crops and ate what was in season. (There were no other choices.) They spun wool and wove cloth, or traded with weavers for cloth, but few could afford tailor made clothing. For transportation, they walked. Men usually had a horse, or a horse-powered farm cart, but few could afford a carriage and carriage horses. Boats were popular for transportation on bays and rivers, but again they were powered by oars and human muscle, and larger boats by sails and human muscle.

In these things and countless more, American Colonials and their European counterparts lived congruently, according to the customs and technology of their times. In their thoughts and beliefs, and how they acted on them, the Colonials were amazing.

They were hauled into court, fined, imprisoned, for disagreeing with the state church of England. Their preachers became wanted men, who escaped from England by hiding their identities. Undeterred, they established towns in the New England wilderness where they could practice their religion unhindered by the government. Of course, being only human, they quickly repeated the faults they had fled. Good Puritans - those who rejected the Roman trappings of the Anglican church, were welcome nearly anywhere. But Quakers were hung in Massachusetts, and at the other end of the religious spectrum, Catholics were persecuted too.

As proven by their all too human failings, our Colonial ancestors were ordinary people leading extraordinary lives. For all their similarities to their English counterparts, early Colonials had no luxuries and often lacked for enough food or shelter. Some few returned to England. The majority remained and built what is today America on a foundation of faith, determination and courage, not to mention raw materials of unequaled abundance, and crucial help from indigenous tribes.

My ancestors were amazing, ordinary people.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

On the Amazing Beauty of Ordinary Things

Have you considered lately, the extraordinary loveliness of everyday household things?

This morning I am appreciating a green bottle. It is dark olive green, about 9 1/2 inches high, squarish but tapering at the top. Until recently it held 750 milliliters of extra virgin olive oil.

Now, stripped of its labels front, back and top, the design pressed into the glass stands out. In a fan shaped window topping all four rectangular sides, the tip of a branch bearing three olives and two leaves bears mute testimony to the purpose of the bottle. At the bottom of all four rectangular sides, within a narrow recess wrapped around the bottle, the letters S T A R are pressed onto an arch decorated with a point to each side. Mysterious letters and numbers raised on what, if it were a column, would be the footing, complete the visible raised glass symbols. On one side is "75 cl 3 51m".

Clockwise around the next side are two large dots in a column, an s under a small dot followed by two small dots in a column, followed by a diamond with a dot at the apex, followed by a high dot, a low dot, and 18. Is this braille? But we are not finished with the raised design. Tip the bottle over and examine the bottom - squarish with a slightly concave center. Raised bars, 3/8 inches long and all tilted left, thirteen to a row, march around the four squarish sides of the bottle. Are they to keep the bottle from slipping should you spill the oil?

Perhaps the 52 tilted bars have a practical purpose, but slide your thumb around them. Does the sensation linger after you stop? Study the bottle from the bottom, and see it is not really a square, but an octagon, with four long sides and four (the corners) short sides.

Lastly, the top - a small, green metal cap, with "FRESH PRESSED SINCE 1898" stamped in gold around it. But consider the sum of the parts - the entire bottle, so green, fitting so well into the hand. It is made simply to hold olive oil, be emptied, and be discarded.



No, it deserves a second life, this work of everyday art which countless designers and fabricators have designed, engineered and produced. It may be the perfect vase for the late blooming gladiolas on our deck. They are budding, and will bloom just before the cold shuts them down. Meanwhile, the olive green bottle sits on my desk, reminding me of the complexity, beauty, utility and value of ordinary things and ordinary people.

Monday, October 6, 2014

What a difference a Year makes!

Wednesday marks my first year anniversary at WikiTree.

I have the September 1,000 Club badge now. It joins nine other 1,000 Club badges (the first two months I was doing tutorials and learning how things went, so they were 100 Club badges). A total of 16,034 points for the year marks the difference I have made at WikiTree - and I am surprised at how many points I have accumulated. Here is the September CK Badge:
So many ancestors, so little time.

The profile for Kustaa Heikkila, my grandfather,was completed yesterday.  The plan is to complete Hilda Nayha's profile and polish their trees for a little book of our ancestors. Then there is my father's ancestors, and Goldibear's ancestors.

We have had remarkably sunny weather recently, but the autumn rains are approaching. Pandas do not like rain. Snow - yes! Sunshine - fine. Rain? Not so much. sigh. whimper.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Nick Hanauer and Pavlina Tcherneva Explain it All

If you have not yet watched billionaire Nick Hanauer's TED Talk on why the pitchforks are coming, you can view it here, or read the transcript here.

If the twenty minute talk is too long for you, see Pavlina Tcherneva's charts showing income gains during economic expansion. It's the picture that is worth a thousand words.

I have often felt that essays on economic matters explained mechanics without illuminating the dynamics. The two items above provided the 'ah-ha' moments that had been lacking.

Without a vision, the people perish. Hanauer and Tcherneva are eyewash: you'll exit with clear vision.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Another club 1000 badge





August was a month for helping Kathy Gunter Sullivan, certified genealogist, improve the Dellinger profiles on WikiTree.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Westward Ho! Project






A new project starting up at WikiTree, Westward Ho! It serves a central directory of all that is going on in the Sub-projects. is a "top level" project that encompasses all sub-projects west of the Mississippi River from 1800 - 1925.

This means it is the place for an Oregon Trails sub-project, which may be starting up soon. Stay tuned.