Saturday, August 30, 2014

Serendipity. Or Thanks, Dad.

Dad called me on a Wednesday evening.  Wednesday, August 22, 2012 to be exact.  He told me that he’d decided to stop his dialysis treatments.  We all knew this meant not only limited time, but marked time, so my brother and I jumped on a plane to Oregon that Friday.  We stayed the weekend and had a wonderful time.  He was in the best spirits and absolutely unafraid.  He was happier than I’d seen him in years and we talked about “after.”  Having not grown up with many beliefs, this was a new topic for us.  We also talked about genealogy, which was not a new topic for us.  My dad and I were the genealogists of the family, often emailing for hours over our findings.  I asked him to look up Miles Price when he “got there” and find a way to send me his parents’ names so that I would know it was from him and know he was okay.  He laughed and said he’d do what he could.  I knew that if I found something on Miles, it would have to be from another realm, as that information is just not here on this planet!

I left Dad on Sunday, with plans to be back for the remainder of his time that next Friday.  On Monday afternoon, the mail brought me Miles’ death certificate.  I’d ordered it over a year before along with two others.  I got the other two instantly, but Miles’ didn’t arrive.  Until that Monday.  And it had Miles’ parents’ names listed (Jacob and Rebecca).  Genealogical serendipity.

At first I was a bit upset.  NOW how was I going to know Dad was okay?  Then it clicked to me.  Maybe, if I believed this stuff, this was Miles’ way of saying, “Of course he’s going to be okay, you idiot third great granddaughter!  We’ve got him covered.”  Regardless, I still didn’t have anything specific to ask Dad for now.

I called Dad on Monday night to tell him and we laughed together.  He said, “Shorty, if I can find anything when I get there, I’ll pass it along.”  I talked to my step-mom on Tuesday night to see how she was doing.  I talked to Dad Wednesday night just to say goodnight and I reminded him that I’d be there Friday and I was staying.  “You’ll be stuck with me for awhile, Dad.”  “Well, Shorty,” he said, “I don’t imagine there is anyone better to be stuck with.”  Those were the last words I heard (out-loud) from him. 

Now comes more serendipity.  Thursday morning as I was checking my email for my updated flight information, I got an email from a woman named Penny.  She was doing some research for her best friend and had microfilm from Salt Lake City.  She Googled her friend’s family and my information on a blog posting from over 2 years ago came up.  She wanted to correct some of the information I had.  Oh, and by the way, did I want copies of the baptismal records from Germany and Wisconsin for this part of the family?  And since she had them, would I like it for the paternal line that didn’t coincide with her friend’s?  She’d be happy to make copies for me.  And also, it’s all in old German script.  Would I like it translated, since her college major was German with a concentration in old German script?  I received three full manilla envelopes of trees and original records. 

Later that day, as I waited for my transfer flight in Seattle, I received another email.  This time from a gentleman noting that he’d found a note I’d made in 1999 on a forum asking about Mr. Fisher, my husband’s birth father.  Did I still need information about him?  Did I have these photos of his parents?  These were the first photos my husband ever saw of his paternal grandparents.

I stayed in Oregon with my step-mom for two weeks and every single day I got new genealogical information from all parts of our family- maternal, paternal, birth, adopted, from EVERY PART IMAGINABLE.  As I got in Dad’s car (that is now mine) to drive the long drive home, I put my hand on the shifter to hold his hand, a habit I still continue, and said, “Dad, I love having this connection to you, but I really think I’m going to need a focus.  Can you send me something that you would wish I would focus on?”

When I got home and emptied the car, I found the plastic file folder holder that Molly and I had emptied and I decided to keep for one of my many failed organizing projects.  Stuck inside was a moldy torn photograph. 

I can almost promise that this was not there when I said I’d make good use of the file folder.  Who are these people?  Over the next month or so, I sent the photo around to family and no one recognized them.  A few weeks later, Google Alerts sent me a notice that my ongoing search for “Mariani” AND “hardware” had a match.  I clicked the link and this is what popped up:

I decided that was my focus.  And a mere two years later, this is the result:
 Thank you, Dad.  I can’t believe it’s been two years since you passed away.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Goal Check-in

Time for A Goal Check-in

Here are the things I planned to do in 2014:

·         Write a book about the Mariani family.- DONE
·         Update my website with all new features. – DONE
·         Visit Sacramento- 1) 2nd great grandparent's house; 2) Roots Cellar Library. – I am planning to attend the Sacramento Archives Crawl in October.  This will get me to #2 and I’ll research before then on where the Hulse House is located.  Perhaps combine those OR just visit Hulse House during a business trip.
·         Write a book about my dad and my personal history.- This will be a multi-year project.  I want to get all the writings I do have into Scrivener the remainder of this year.
·         Take classes at National Institute for Genealogical Studies.  This requires money.  Once I have enough to spend, I will continue my classes.  I took one class so far this year.  I hope to take a lot more next. Moving this to 2015.
·         Write a book about Miles Price.- I am moving this to 2015.  I have the pension file to transcribe and I just don’t feel like it this year.
·         Find out more about Miles Price’s parents. – Not sure where to start on this one.  Putting it to 2015 for now.
I’m adding one, since I’ve put off a few. 
·         Organize my home office, including working in Scrivener, getting Dragon Naturally Speaking to work, and putting items in boxes away to files and scans.


Debbie’s Master List of Genealogy Things to Do

Lucas County, Iowa where my Conner and Price families lived
Capa, South Dakota where my grandfather lived.  Preferably WITH my grandfather.
Haakon County, South Dakota where my 2nd great grandfather had a homestead
Sacramento- 2nd great grandparent's house
Sacramento- Roots Cellar Library
Massachusetts- New England Historic Genealogical Society
Massachusetts- Plymouth again
Indiana- Allen County Public Library again
San Francisco- Sutro Library
Salt Lake City- Family History Library
Motor home the Civil War route that Miles’ took
Carluke, Scotland
Go on a genealogy cruise

Write a book about my dad- in progress
Write a book about Miles Price
Write a book about the Mariani family- in progress
Complete a genealogy scrapbook
Enter footnotes to Duke’s book
Write a 5-generation book of the kids' ancestors
Write my personal family history book- in progress
Picture book of Christmas decorations
Revisit blog posts and update to provide source info

Roots Tech
FGS conference
NGS conference

Find out more about Miles Price’s parents
Take classes at National Institute for Genealogical Studies
Learn to do presentationsOngoing
Learn Photoshop
Learn inDesign
Learn how to do a for-family podcast
Update my website with all new features
Map and pin where ancestors were from and lived

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Who is Vera and Why Did I Write About Her Chicken Wings?

A lot of people are asking me what my book is about.  Is it about ancestors?  No.  Is it about cooking.  No.  So what is it about?

On July 10, 2011, I wrote this for this blog:

In my recipe box, there is a recipe of Vera Mariani’s called, “Mrs. Scott’s Delicious Cake.”  I remember Vera making this cake many times.  It strikes me as prophetic that the cake I think of as Vera’s is actually Mrs. Scott’s.  Who was Mrs. Scott? When did Vera taste her cake, find it delicious, and get the recipe?

As I pondered on this one day, I realized that there may be a day far in the future when my children’s children’s children see my recipe for “Vera’s Tuscan Chicken” and wonder who this Vera was.  There isn’t a Vera to be found in our family tree, so they will wonder about this Vera, just as I do about Mrs. Scott.

I then wrote a short two or three paragraph story about Vera, with no intention of taking it further.  I just wanted a note in my recipe box so that there would be no unanswered questions.  However, after writing those paragraphs, I figured I should tell how I knew Vera.  That made me tell the story of the Mariani Ranch.  Which made me tell the history of Vera's dad.  And brothers.  And then their children.  And so on until I had found Louise Mariani and written a book, which I was able to present to her on her 100th birthday:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Louise Turns 100 *AND* Book Release!!!

Today is the day!  It’s the day that our beloved Louise Mariani turns 100!  And in honor of that, I’ve decided that today is the day I release the book about her family.  Louise has been such a wonderful addition to my life since I found her just under a year ago and because I adore her and this book is for her, I decided to always remember this day.  The day she turns 100!

Louise has lived in San Francisco almost all of her life.  She had a brief stint in New York, but quickly returned.  She is so vibrant and healthy and she attributes that to walking 40 San Francisco blocks every day for several decades.  

Louise is my treasure and I hope she enjoys the book.

(Photo courtesy of Marc Mascot Photography)

If you’d like to purchase it, the link is below.  It's a hardbound book and so a bit pricy at just under $30, but proceeds go to purchasing copies to put in the local libraries.  I want to make sure that if anyone else ever wants to learn of the Marianis, they find my book and me, so that we can say hello!

Thank you for 100 lovely years, Louise. This post, and this book, is for you!

Vera's Chicken Wings and Peas, by Deborah Conner Mascot

Thursday, August 7, 2014


My blog has gone woefully neglected for the past couple of years really.  I can't tell you all the things that have gone on in my life, as this forum is too public, but suffice to say that there have been deaths, sicknesses, a fire, and family issues.  I have put the locusts on the calendar as pending, because surely they are coming any day now.

But in the face of all of this, there has been some good.  The children are wonderful.  They are my saving graces, those two.  My older keeps me steady as she is so steady already at 11.  She's got a good head on her shoulders and it frightens me a little that she will end up like me:  independent and yet everyone will always depend on her.  I

My younger keeps me smiling.  He's still young enough to say silly cute things and yet old enough to also be quite insightful.  He keeps me filled with love.  No matter what, I can say, "My son loves me."  No matter what.  And that is a true gift that I rely on each and every day.  It is a wondrous thing to be able to experience the truly unconditional love of a little boy.  

I also managed to write a book.  A book about the Mariani family and I am quite proud of it.  I believe that throughout I've had the help of my dad from Wherever he is.  I've had odd assistance when it was most needed and strange insight when I was at a stopping point.  So it's been nice to have Dad close by.  Even if it's really not him.  (I just wish he'd help with some of the big stuff instead).

But now that the book is done, I have goals to revamp my website and blogs.  I want to have a Homeschool Blog for next year, a genealogy blog and then a family blog, as well.  I may merge the homeschool and family blog, though.   We shall see...  But the point of this is to ask you to please not give up on me.  I will  be back.  With a plan and a vengeance!