Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Diane the Tenacious

Thank goodness I'm too easily-distracted to really get addicted to things, but I do have my little obsessions from time to time. My latest is, the site where you can research your family history, create a pedigree chart, and then download it to your computer on a GEDCOM file, ready for further research.

Family history has always been interesting to me. I like history in general, but it's much more fun to know the human side of it. Genealogy research on my mother's side has been fairly extensive, more recently thanks to my cousin Susanne's husband, Neil. On my father's side, however, things have not been painstakingly recorded, and for the longest time I only knew about five generations back on the Dahlstrom side and two or three on the Chaffee side.

Between finishing fellowship and starting work in San Diego in 2005, I took a little trip to Sweden and Denmark to do some on-site research. I was spurred on by those faith-promoting stories that are published in The Ensign telling of people who travel great distances to find their ancestors and just happen to run into the one person who has the key to the archives, or who is a distant cousin. I really thought that would happen, but I was thwarted at almost every turn. Not that it wasn't really cool to see the towns these people came from and revel in the beauty that is Sweden in the summer, but I was really bummed. I tried to get some information from the main Family History library here in San Diego a couple of years ago, but that was also practically fruitless.

Working at the temple for the last six months inspired me to go back to work on my genealogy. That, and the feeling that if maybe I focused my work on my more immediate ancestors, things would fall into place. About two months ago, I finally sat down at my computer and tried It is free for the first three days, then you have to sign up for either a month or a year subscription. I admit to using all three of my email addresses for free trials at first, but I finally broke down and bought a month's subscription.

Within about fifteen minutes of being on that site, I had made contact with a distant Dahlstrom cousin, Carma Russell. She sent me pictures of my Swedish pioneer ancestors, family group sheets and a family history that explains how we really ended up being Dahlstroms, not Carlsons or Barnecos.

The best thing about is that you put in your pedigree chart information, then the site searches its entire database for any matches. From that, you can extend your pedigree chart further, without having to do more than double-check to see if that's really your ancestor and the dates and places make sense. Last week, Rowdy's Aunt Jeanne sent me a package of Rookstool genealogy. I entered it into Ancestry, and discovered that Rowdy is a descendant of Pocahontas. Who knew?

Spurred on by that discovery, I went to work on an ancestor of mine on my dad's side, Amanda Alexander. I have tried to follow her line several times, but last Sunday, things finally opened up. I was able to follow her line back to the Plantagenets and beyond. I'm a descendant of (among other people) Fulk the Rude, Pepin the Short, Marc Antony, Aminhotep, some random Turkish woman, and several concubines as well as Ruth and Boaz, David and Bathsheba, Jacob and Rachel (and Leah), Isaac and Rebecca, Abraham and Sarah!! Once you hit royalty, whichever side of the blanket your ancestor was born on, you can follow the line back in perpetuity. And I mean that literally, because yesterday I followed that line back to Adam and Eve.

Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints my entire life, I have always had an intellectual understanding that all of the human race is related, that I am a literal descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that Jesus Christ atoned for everyone who ever lived. I knew that temple work was important to seal families together. But I didn't really have as strong a testimony of all those things as I do now, from the seemingly cheesy process of doing genealogy by clicking a computer key.

Now the kings, queens, emperors, pharoahs, blacksmiths, serving girls, farmers and Coca-Cola bottling plant owners that I come from are real to me. Reading the scriptures means even more to me. Temple work has become an even greater priority. I'm even more grateful for the lineage I come from and more aware of how important every single person ever born is to our Heavenly Father. The scripture reference of "turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to their fathers" makes much more sense now, because my heart has been turned.

Fulk the Rude...hmmm...wonder what he did that made people mention his rudeness specifically?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

And Thaaats a Soooonnng ooooof Teeeennnnn!

Note to Karen: there is a scary part at the end. Go hide behind the green Barcalounger.

I have been able to set up an actual countdown clock (such as it is), obviating the need for further Sesame Street counting posts. Too bad, really. Not being a computery person, I don't know how to resize the clock to fit the sidebar, but it seems more logical to me to have it over there, rather than as a post that will be pushed down the page with successive posts.

So, there you have it. Ten days to go!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

On the Twelfth Day to Rowdy...!

Less than two weeks left!

Rowdy hasn't been able to post for a few days because of satellite problems (the main problem being that his boss didn't pay the satellite bill). He's starting to feel better mentally knowing he only has five days until he leaves Iraq, but physically he's had some problems. He's exhausted and has had some GI issues that he doesn't feel are related to Crohn's--maybe it's an amoeba. We don't know for sure. Nothing will stand between him and coming home, though.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Continuing the Countdown!

If I were very clever, I would figure out a way to post a countdown clock with the days/hours/minutes/seconds until Rowdy gets home. Instead, please join me in enjoying the incomparable counting stylings of Sesame Street.

Daddy (and Mommy) Dear I Love You So!

About three weeks ago, my parents came for a short but very enjoyable visit. We went to Coronado (which was a first for all of us), ate good food, did some nice shopping and shot the breeze. I have been doing a lot of family history work lately, which prompted my parents to tell stories about themselves and our extended family. Some of the stories I'd already heard, but it was still nice to hear them again. I think this put Dad in a nostalgic mood, because a few days ago, he wrote this biography for his high school class memory book:

High School Memories

My best memories are of the great friendships, the sports, the student government and how everything seemed hilariously funny. I’ve never laughed as hard as I did in those days.

I had the great good fortune to be assigned to Miss Hanson’s geometry class my sophomore year. After the first grading period when I received a well-earned “D”, Miss Hanson pulled me aside after class and told me to either do better or she would remove me from her class. The thought of the humiliation of being kicked out of her class got my attention. At that moment, she taught me a great lesson…that if I focused on the task at hand, I could do well. Vivian Hanson was simply the best teacher I ever had, at any level. I owe her a great deal.

The last 50 years

The years immediately after high school consisted of dropping in and out of college (wasting my parents’ money), military service, of living with my parents, of working in the family business, and of merrily accumulating the wages of a misspent youth.

In October, 1960, my life changed. I met Noreen Bright (PHS ’58). We were married the following March. With the change in marital status came a renewed focus. I received a BS (education) from ISU and two years later, an MS (Mathematics) from the University of Oregon.

Professionally, I worked in the computer software industry until my retirement in 2000. There’s not much to report of my professional life since I’ve never felt defined by what I did for a living. The only job that had any importance to me was that of a parent.

Noreen and I have three daughters, all wonderful, gifted, and decent human beings:

Dayna, a cancer survivor and computer software contractor, lives in Austin, Texas;

Diane, who after completing her fellowship in Interventional Radiology at Cornell Medical School in New York City, is practicing her specialty at Kaiser Hospital in San Diego, California;

Karen, who lives in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., is a senior copywriter for the advertising company, Organic, in mid-town Manhattan.

In 1991, Noreen and I became empty-nesters. We took a fateful trip to Oslo, Norway and upon return to Boise, we loaded up the necessities in a U-Haul, sold the remainder at a yard sale, and began our great adventure by moving (without jobs) to the hill country of Texas.

So…here we are, a couple of transplanted spuds, our roots now deep in the soil of that wonderful, wild, dynamic, funky, diverse, musical, whacky and weird city of Austin, Texas…living happily forever after.

My dad, Basil, grew up in Pocatello, Idaho, the only child of Reed and Irene Dahlstrom. His childhood sounds pretty idyllic. My dad pretty much could go and do whatever he wanted, so he and his friends had quite the rollicking time in that little town.

Noreen, my mom, grew up in Preston, Idaho (of Napolean Dynamite fame) and Pocatello. She and Dad met at a batchelor party (!). No, it wasn't my dad's party, and she didn't jump out of the cake. It was pretty much love at first sight. One of the things my dad said when they were here was that Mom was the first girl he'd been out with that wasn't superficial. She really talked to him about things. And she was good-looking to boot!

I love my parents so much. To paraphrase a Primary song: I'm very glad that he's my dad (and she's my mom); and I know (they) love me too!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

How Clean Is Your House?

As of last Monday, I am an employer. Silvio the Gardener doesn't count. Silvio comes once a week and does our yard along with several others in our neighborhood. But I finally have a housekeeper. Oh, sure, she cleans at least two other homes in my neighborhood. But unlike Silvio, Olivia actually comes into my home and sees my dark secrets.

Housekeeping is not my forte by a long shot. I don't think that I'm dirty, I'm just cluttery. And when I clean, I'm not really detail-oriented. I just don't have the attention span. When Rowdy is home, he keeps the house pretty clean, but both of us have better things to do with out time.

As much as I love having things so beautifully clean, I have to say that I felt a little uncomfortable being someone's employer. I'm not at all interested in supervising anyone. And then there's the whole squeamishness about, I don't know, about being someone with a housekeeper and a gardener. It's weird to have people "doing" thing for me. The staff at work do things for me all the time, and even after two years of that, it's still a little disconcerting.

Olivia has been cleaning my friend Renee's house for about ten years. Renee had nothing but good things to say about her, and their house always looks great, so I decided to just go for it and hire her for twice a month.

The house looked absolutely gorgeous when I got home yesterday. The slipcover on the sofa was completely straight. All of the carpets were vacuumed. There was no dust anywhere. The bathrooms gleamed. But this is my favorite part.

The stovetop was so disgusting from everyday use. There was burnt-on stuff on the burners that I could never get off, try as I might. All she used was some Easy-Off, and they look like new.

I'm so happy about it that I haven't cooked a thing for a week.
My Rad Life!