Archive for April, 2010

The grumps

One morning on my way to work I found myself following two black SUVs in tandem. They look like a convoy of FBI agents. One is larger than the other, a huge BMW, the other is smaller and follows the larger. On arriving at work I spotted them pulling up beside one another at my work place. A man got out of the large SUV and a woman got out of the smaller one. At the time I felt what a complete waste of petrol (especially SUVs) – why couldn’t they have car-pooled? Then I thought perhaps they have different hours of work or one had plans afterwards.

I’ve since seen them a couple of times and again this morning. Every time the man drives in front and the little woman follows behind in her little black SUV, even passing other cars to stick to her man. They were speeding this morning to get to work on time, presumably. I didn’t, and I ended up arriving at the same time as they did. I looked over in disgust. One person in each SUV obviously from the same household, obviously starting work at the same time. Even if one person did finish work earlier than the other you’d think they’d work out a car-pooling system. But no, they have to have their own hideous polished SUV and drive in tandem. Pathetic.

I’m grumpy this morning, as you might be able to tell from my rant about SUVs (which I hate with a passion). I did a mini grocery shop yesterday after work and found I was grumpy and impatient. I went to Spanish and was ok and went home all ok. Last night, however, I had a dream about abusing rude people. There was a rude woman who turned and walked away from me and I went up to her and slapped her and wanted to bite her hard. Quite bizarre. There’s some hidden anger there somewhere and I have no idea what it’s all about. I woke up tired, headachey and grumpy once again, sour-faced as I watched the black bastards speeding ahead.

Perhaps I should have stayed home this morning, but the headache is not quite severe enough to warrant a day off. I just have to persevere and pretend I’m interested in working. I’m not today. Everything today will be half-hearted.

Grumble grumble…


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The meeting

I went to a genealogy meeting in town last night. For some bizarre reason I thought that paying for a year’s sub to the national society would entitle me to attend local meetings. Hahaha. How naïve!

I entered the old wooden hall and was presented by a line of tables with old ladies behind them as if it were an entrance to an exhibition. I explained to the first woman that I was a national member but she said I would still have to pay as a visitor. The second woman said “Have you signed the visitors’ book?”. If course I hadn’t, I’d only just arrived and ascertained I was one. Just as I was about to sign it, she plonks a form in front of me and says “Before you sign the book, fill in this form” (pause) “please”. I felt like I was back at school. I obediently signed the form and gave it to the first woman who then said “$22 please”. I said I didn’t have $22. The form, it appeared, was for subscription to the local society. No-one had any change for a $10 note for the $3 visitor fee, but luckily the raffle lady (the third woman) exchanged the note for coins. The first woman gave me the form “Keep this and you can pay $22 when you come next time”. Finally, I was permitted to enter the other room. I was called back however. The second woman asked “Do you know where everything is?” I had no idea what she was talking about and of course I didn’t know, having only just arrived for the first time. She guided me through to another room in which, apparently, they had their library. I had a cursory glance (it all seemed rather sad and old) before being guided into the actual meeting room.

I was swept back in time to when I attended a few rose society meetings with my mother. It had the same feeling, the table at the front with the chairperson and secretary and rows and rows of white-haired people. I sat down at the back on a wooden chair from the ark. It was probably designed by a strict protestant who did not approve of comfort. It was the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever sat on. I squirmed the whole time trying to get comfortable, without success. Of all the seated, there were three of us under 65, it seemed.

The meeting itself was fairly interesting. First a woman I recognised from high school got up and did her speech about why she wants to be on the national council (I gather they’d just been voting for new councillors so her speech seemed rather redundant), then a dear old lady got up and talked about the horse-drawn carriages before the motor buses started in 1910. Then, because it’s near ANZAC day, several members went up and talked about their family members who had served in the army during WWI or WWII, some were killed, some were lucky enough to return. One chap got up and talked about an ancestor who was in the Boer war and had a photo and a bayonet to show. He read excerpts from letters the ancestor had written and they were full of humour. All the members seemed to have clear files of scanned photos and maps all neatly printed. What a contrast to my material at home.

It now seemed like hours had passed – I thought it must be 10.30pm by the time the last person sat down and the chairperson ended the meeting, but it was only 9.15. I don’t know how old bones could stand those chairs – mine certainly couldn’t. Unfortunately there were plenty of the chairs stored in a corner and they’ll probably last centuries, so no hope of them being replaced.

I hovered around the back looking at their displays – all very sad – excerpts from diaries and letters before men were killed. No-one approached me, so I went home.  I would’ve liked to have talked to the woman I’d recognised but she left early.

The experience had been a bit like the Twilight Zone. I knew the majority of members would be elderly but I hadn’t expected them all to be quite so decrepit.

I won’t be back. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it’s not my thing for the moment. I felt like I was slowly dying. Perhaps when I’m 65….

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New blog

Instead of buying an exercise book  to commit my unorganised scrawls to regarding researching the family tree online, I’ve decided to do it in blog form, hence the new blog.

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I decided today that I want to be paid for fulltime genealogical research – my own, of course. Over all the years I’ve done it, it’s necessarily been done in dribs and drabs – a bit here and a bit there, with long intervals in between, so that by the time I get round to doing it again, I’ve no idea what I got up to and often re-do the same searches because I noted things down on bits of paper which have since been mislaid or misfiled or lost. I aim to get an exercise book to record religiously what I’ve done when and the result. As well, I need to go through everything and organise it all better. But time, you see, is what’s lacking. It takes time to organise stuff and to even think through what I’m going to do, hence my decision above.

If only.

I was lent a couple of DVDs of the Australian series of “Who do you think you are?” I watched Jack Thompson’s last night and found it fascinating – more so because I have family connections in Sydney and NSW so I feel connected. It makes me want to delve more fully into my Australian history. I need to get myself properly organised so that on a trip to Aus I can visit cemeteries and towns and take photos of headstones and houses where ancestors lived. Why I haven’t done this before, I don’t know – probably because I’ve always travelled with the girls and they would have found that all rather dull. Now they’re older and mildly interested (thanks to the TV series) they might not. But then I don’t have to go with anyone, do I. It’s unfortunate that no family members live in the town where most of my ancestors used to live, and the rest of the family are spread in Melbourne, Sydney and Queensland. Each time I go to Australia I have to choose which set of relatives I might visit.

Anyway, I did a bit of searching on my week off and didn’t find anything. It’s very disappointing and frustrating when you keep getting “0 results found” even when searching on a paid site. Ho hum. They make it all look so simple on TV, when of course it’s taken months of research by professionals ahead of time.

In the meantime, it’s back to the job I do get paid for…

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I feel I’ve just wasted $79 on joining the NZ society of genealogists.  The member benefits were said to include

“extensive list of research facilities on joining and have exclusive access to the Society’s research services which include:

  • Access to the indexes for civil registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages in England and Wales. The Society also provides members with an efficient and economical purchasing service for these overseas certificates.”

What I find, in fact, is that all these supposedly wonderful resources are only available by sending a printed out form of enquiry.  There are no indexes online.  For example, I have a stray birth certificate – ie my brother bought a certificate thinking it was our great grandmother’s birth certificate but it was not.  I’ll send it to NZSG but you’d think there’d be an index of their stray certificates.  No – you have to print out a form and send it with queries without knowing what surnames they have.  Ok, so there might be thousands of surnames – but list them online!  It is a member’s area after all.  Other indexes are supposedly on an NZSG index CD but where is this CD?  Does one buy it? Apparently not – it’s not on the small list of sale items.  Does one borrow it?  No idea – the search engine for their library leaves a lot to be desired.  Rubbish.  I also filled out my surnames of interest and wanted to look at other members’ interests.  I couldn’t find them.  There are interest groups for which you pay an additional $8 (via snail mail of course) for supposedly a newsletter with bugger all of interest in it.  I did finally find a page for members’ interests via Google.  It was a search box.  Fair enough.  Unfortunately all my family is ex-New Zealand so the results yield, unsurprisingly, nothing (except my own).  Ho hum.  I’ll find out about local meetings and actually talk to someone who knows what’s available where, because their website is horrible.

What I should have done is put the money towards a year’s sub on ancestry.com ($240 for a year) which would have been far more useful.  One lives and learns…

I’ve done various genealogy-related things online this morning and it’s now after midday!  So time-consuming…  What did I achieve in that time?  Not much.

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Time off :)

Yay, the Easter break is finally upon us. In the previous two years I’ve travelled to Tauranga at Easter for the National Jazz Festival, staying with my “friend”. I haven’t seen her since. This year I’m staying home.

I missed the last belly dancing class on Tuesday as I felt too tired from lack of sleep. There is supposed to be something on at the belly dancing teacher’s house tomorrow night. My last Spanish class for a couple of weeks was last night. I’m actually quite enjoying it. He’s a good teacher (and very patient with the less able students). He’s given us heaps of homework so I’d better get on top of it sooner rather than later.

I’ve been watching “Who do you think you are?” on TV. They seem to be mixing up British and American versions each week. I much prefer the British version. The Americans insist on repeating themselves and telling you what’s coming up, with frequent ad breaks, so that the “hour”-long programme is actually more like half an hour. I finally borrowed series 2 of the British programme from the public library. I had tried to get this series (the only one out of 4 the library has that I hadn’t seen) for the past year but it was always out. I got round to putting a reserve on it and it was one week overdue. Got it now – yay. I watched Stephen Fry’s one and it was very sad – his maternal grandfather’s sister’s family died in Auschwitz. What a ghastly thing to discover (although the family had an idea something like that had happened). Anyway, I’ll be watching the rest of the DVD over the next week.

I’ve ordered a DVD of Serena Ramzy (Arabic drummer, Hossam Ramzy’s belly dancing wife who is just a joy to watch). I’m hoping it’ll arrive in the next few days while I’m off work.

I was going to get another couple of Jeeves and Wooster books for the break (having finished an Aboriginal story I didn’t particularly enjoy) but the ones I wanted were out! Damn!

On Sunday, H and I are having lunch with H’s ex-boyfriend’s mother who is up this way over the weekend. It’s her birthday and she’s organised lunch at a pub for friends up this way. She’s a pleasant woman and there are no hard feelings from her family over H dumping her son. I haven’t heard from him lately. He’d been emailing me from Nelson where he’s studying at the local polytechnic. I guess he’s been busy. I hope he does keep in touch. He’s a good lad.

Not much else to write about. I’m hoping I can get back into the genealogy thing over my week off. Watching “Who do you think you are?” always gets me enthused. I must organise my information better – perhaps write a mini bio of each ancestor I’ve got something more than a birthdate for. I would pity anyone trying to make sense of all the material I’ve got if I weren’t around to explain.


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