22 February 2009

The Sunday Spook

The sounds of the little neighborhood by the train tracks were typical of your everyday, working-class neighborhood. Children’s laughter and screams of “Tag!” and “You’re IT!” were heard from every corner, while adolescent strife played out in the music as the teens washed cars and shot hoops. Dogs barked at the threat of any intrusion upon normal life, followed by their masters’ admonitions to be quiet.

Life was good in this not-so-sleepy town of Ghostly Hollows. That is, it was good if you lived here. And if you didn’t? Well, not so much.

The four streets leading into the Hollows looked normal enough, and they were actually in quite good repair. But just let one misplaced soul cross its boundaries and the basis of the development’s name is soon made clear.

Upon the touch of a stranger’s shoe, the road will roll up, swallowing the intruder whole.

Upon the roll of a stray car’s tire (or truck or motorcycle or golf cart, if you will), the street lights bend at the base, pounding the invading machine into the ground, never to be released from the grasps of the souls beneath the tar.

Upon the breeze made by a migrating bird the trees suddenly spring to life, snatching the poor critter right out of the air before it can even make a sound.

Yet in this strange little hamlet the residents came and went as they pleased. Life was normal for them and no one thought things strange. In fact, they liked the privacy the Hollows provided, and were often praise-full when they thought about the reason behind the strange occurrences at the slightest hint of a stranger’s breath:

The fact that the neighborhood’s inlets were few, and the ones that came through were accessed only by crossing through one of the cemeteries planted at each of the four corners of Ghostly Hollows.

16 February 2009

I Interrupt This Program

I have a special announcement for all of my geneablogging friends, my non-blogging friends, my readers and anyone else who stumbles across this post. Most of you are aware that I am fanatical about my dog, Izzie. So fanatical, in fact, that he has his own blog. I’m a fan of dogs, and hate to see any animal suffering.

The economy of late has been, as we all know, rather tight lately. People are losing their jobs, their homes, and quite possibly, losing weight as they struggle to keep food on their tables. Thankfully, there are food programs to assist with the latter for many families.

The same is not always true of our pets. Dogs and cats are being abandoned or surrendered at alarming rates. Often, it’s foreclosures that do the pets in. Often, it’s simply the cost of providing for them. A 2007-08 survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturing Association estimated basic annual expenses for dog ownership run $1,425, and cat ownership $990 (Maryland Newsline Business).

Many, if not most, animal shelters try to provide struggling families with emergency supplies of food if it means the difference between one more pet "in custody" and maintaining a pet’s home. But many, if not most, animal shelters use donated food to feed the pets in their care and cannot meet every need for every family.

Tucson is lucky. There are a couple of food programs to assist with feeding pets when families are struggling. I am lucky, as well, to have an opportunity to help feed Tucson’s pets. The Hermitage Cat Shelter in Tucson has been around for over 30 years, and one of their programs is called Food For People’s Pets. Its aim is to provide some relief to families who struggle to feed their pets (cats and dogs), in hopes that the families will be able to keep the pets as opposed to surrendering, or worse, abandoning, them. This program is in need of some re-vamping, and I hope to work with the shelter’s staff to do just that.

There is now a blog dedicated to the Food For People’s Pets program. I hope to make it a place for people to learn about pet nutrition, the prevalence of animal hunger, solutions to the problem, events of the program, and spotlights of the program sponsors. While hunger in animals will be addressed, it will be done so in a respectful, family-friendly manner; no “shock and awe” tactics such as graphic photographs will be used.

Please, bookmark the blog at http://www.feedingpeoplespets.blogspot.com/ and visit often. It’s just getting off the ground, but I want to make it a true showcase for the good that people’s donations do. I also, admittedly, hope to make it an accessible way to donate to the program. Towards this end there is a link on the blog page to the “Network For Good” badge that is assigned to The Hermitage Cat Shelter. From this badge, one can designate donations to the Food For People’s Pets program. I also have this link on my other blogs and here, so please, if you can, donate $5 to the program. Or donate a bag of pet food to a program in your area if you have one. I would be crushed if I had to surrender Izzie for lack of food, and I hate to think of something so simple being so far out of reach for pet owners everywhere.

Thanks for listening. I now return you to your regular programming.

09 February 2009

Ancestral Delectables

The Geneablogger cookbook is HERE! Thirty-Five recipes from Eighteen geneabloggers! Wow. What a feat. It is available via download at THIS SITE! It is in .pdf format so you will need the Acrobat Reader to view it. You can choose to print it up yourself, copy it to disc and have a copy place print and bind it, or use an online service such as lulu.com to upload it, print it, bind it, and ship it.

This wound up being a bigger project than I had imagined, and I enlisted the help of a few geneabloggers to assist. Special thanks to Julie Cahill Tar, footnoteMaven, and Thomas MacEntee for their assistance with editing, graphic design, and technical guru.

I hope you enjoy the submissions, the photos, the stories, and of course, the recipes. I can tell you I've already tried one and it was delicious.

08 February 2009

The Sunday Spook

The library at the end of the street was a popular place. There was a huge children’s section, and volunteers were on hand every day after school to read to the children and conduct activities related to the stories they’d read. There was a room with several computers for people to use on a sign-up basis. There were tables and chairs in the middle so people could bring their books and papers back to conduct research. There was another room with newspapers and magazines, and comfortable fabric lounge chairs. Finally, there was a big section in the back with microfiche films and machines. There were archives of newspapers, family biographies, and computers with access to genealogy websites. This was indeed a very popular place.

This library was different from others also in that it was open from sun-up to sundown. But because of legends of strange happenings when darkness took hold, they were pretty strict about not letting a soul through the doors before the morning dusk was whisked away and just as strict about ensuring every living, moving being was out the doors before the sun took its final bow. This created quite a problem with the staff of this very popular library.

You see, the no-one-enters-this-building-before-daybreak-or-after-sundown rule was enforced even with the staff! The manager opened the door for the workers at the same time as they opened the door for the patrons. The manager kicked out the workers at the exact same time as they kicked out the patrons. It didn’t matter at night if the library hadn’t been cleaned up and if books were all in-disarray. The whole building must be emptied every evening before dark without fail.

It was said that the library looks quite peaceful in the darkest hours of the night; the architects and engineers who built it made it so the lighting took on a special glow at night that was intended to bring calm and peace. And calm and peace it did bring. To every area of the library but one:

The genealogy section.

This section was too busy at night to be peaceful and calm. While the other areas of the library were silent and unmoving – a situation that would be ideal for the dedicated patron seeking a retreat from the noise of the day -- the spirits that took hold of the genealogy section were hard at work. While researchers spent valuable time each day poring through the films and print to find just one tidbit of information, the spirits spent valuable time each night relocating and hiding the data that was removed during the day, making sure the genealogists would never completely finish their work.

The movement within the library after dark was quite spooky; hence the strictness in obeying the hours of operation. The spirits, though, knew just what they were doing. If the genealogists couldn’t find the information they sought, they’d have to come back. The spirits, you see, were not scary spirits, just lonely spirits. They were content to scare off the patrons at dark, knowing they’d be back for more at the sun’s first morning kiss.

01 February 2009

The Sunday Spook

A strange phenomenon took hold of the World Wide Web’s GeneaBlogger community. It all started on November 1, which is also the day many cultures recognize those who have passed on.

Linda was visiting the Christian Cemetery in Williamsport, Pickaway County, Ohio on a dark and gloomy day. She was busy reading the inscription of one marker that honored veterans of past wars. She wanted to take a picture of the stone, and while she was preparing her camera, a stream of light appeared over the stone that sat in front of her. When she looked up, the sun was nowhere to be found.

Meanwhile, Midge was over in Bridgewater, Massachusetts looking at a gravestone of a WWI veteran, Dudley W. Stewart. It was as dark and gloomy a day in Massachusetts as it was in Pickaway County, Ohio. Suddenly, as Midge took a photograph of Mr. Stewart, a light shone down with no source to be found.

In Mississippi, on a gloomy and dark day, Janice was photographing granite memorials to war heroes, including one from the Revolutionary War. She too experienced the eerie sensation of a stream of light amidst the cloudy sky.

Diane in British Columbia, Canada experienced a similar phenomenon while visiting the granite memorials dedicated to the local high school’s war heroes. It was, again, a dark and gloomy day, except for that moment of brightness.

That night as all four genealogists were home uploading their photos to their Cemetery blogs, the realization hit that four people from four different parts of North America felt a strange phenomenon of a burst of light at four different cemeteries on a dark and gloomy day.

Linda, Midge, Janice and Diane were a little freaked out after the events of the day were over. They were glued to the television news as they waited for an explanation for this very odd phenomenon. Nothing was reported, however, and the genealogists were left wondering how long it would be before they returned to any cemetery on a dark and gloomy day.

The next day brought more of the same in terms of weather in British Columbia, Ohio, Mississippi and Massachusetts. It also brought four more trips to military graves from four dedicated genealogists seeking to honor soldiers who’d passed.