Thursday, September 4, 2014

Living In The Past

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I spend much of my time in the past. Reading history will do that. Studying genealogy will expand it. Reading Romantic and Victorian Era writers will exacerbate it. When I get home at night my mind is geared towards times no closer than 50 years ago.

Last night I hosted an on-line, back-to-school party for my high school class. This was held at our class Facebook page (which I created). 25 people showed up, with about 15 of those contributing posts. That's out of a group membership of 106 out of a class of 725. So not a great attendance, but I think all who posted had a good time. We came from two different junior high schools to the same high school, so there was lots of cross-town rivalry stuff going on. Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the eve of our starting junior high (not really; we started the Wednesday after Labor Day, which in 1964 was Sept 8; but seeing as how today is the Wednesday after Labor Day, it was an anniversary of sorts).

That took a lot of time last night. As group creator and host, I felt I had to be there and contribute. By the end of the evening we had over 300 posts. Those who didn't contribute will some day stop in the page and see what we all said.

Then, I've been beta-reading/editing the memoir of a cousin of mine—a memoir of childhood. At least the first part is. I've read up to the teen years. I believe the latter half moves into the adult years, but for now it's all about events more than 50 years in the past. I know the people mentioned. I know some of the circumstances which this cousin has shared with me. But the details are new. I'm enjoying my reading; and I enjoy editing. Tonight I can spend enough time on it that I'll either finish it or get close.

My current reading has been of old works. I just finished my second reading of Thomas Carlyle's Chartism, in preparation for a publishing a book on the subject. Lynda and I, in our reading aloud, are reading through the Sherlock Holmes canon. So my reading is of things old. When I'm not reading those, I'm reading my Bible. Talk about old. Next, however, is a couple of magazines I bought last time I was in Barnes & Noble, so I'll be shifting to reading something modern. Plus I have some articles to read in a back-issue of a literary magazine, from several years back. Maybe this reading will tug me into the future.

The other thing that causes me to dwell in the past is my genealogy work. Ever since I've been writing creatively, genealogy has taken a backseat. Every now and then, when a relative contacts me, or I sense an urge, I do a little work on it. That's what's happened recently. Yesterday I took time to prepare two new family group sheets, based on new information, and to edit the one for my family. Two of these three are to present accurate information to a newly found relative; the other information about that relative. This reminded me of how much work I have to do. My genealogy notebooks are a mess. I have unproven information in them that is speculative enough that I need to trash it. I have trial family charts that I later updated, but haven't discarded the older versions. I need to spend hours doing nothing but that.

Then, the last month or so I've spent time with old photographs. I may have mentioned before that my house has become the accumulation point for old photographs from both my and my wife's families. We have them in boxes and bins. Some are labeled, some are not. None are inventoried. These go back to our great-grandparents, in some cases older than that. They are for five or six family branches. Some I know I have, but haven't seen them for years. Add to this are all the photographs Lynda and I have taken over the years. They are scattered throughout the house: in dresser drawers, in boxes, in albums that are incomplete and mostly not labeled.

Oh how I want to inventory our photos! Put them in a database that will: identify the photo and who or what is in it; identify who took it; indicate if a negative is available, and if so where the negative is; indicate the family branch it came from; identify or speculate on the date the photo was taken; state where the photo is in the house, including which album if it's in an album. Unfortunately, that task is so huge I don't think I'll get there this side of retirement, and perhaps not for twenty years into retirement, should I live so long.

So, right now I have my feet firmly planted in the past. Writing tasks await me. Writing is a current activity, though of course my Civil War book is of a past activity. Hopefully I'll come back to the present sometime soon. But for now, I'm enjoying my time machine.

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