Sketches of Ancestors

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Last week I was up against the clock. I hadn’t a thing to contribute to the genealogy writers group that I attend at our local library. Our meeting was impending and I felt pressure to be an active participating member by reading my writing.

In the wee hours of the morning, I suddenly awoke with a glimmer of a thought. As I lay in bed tossing and turning, mental images of my maternal grandfather were brought together as I recalled what my mom had told me through her storytelling. Finally at 2:30 in the morning I got up and began to put words to the depiction I had created in my mind of my deceased grandfather.

As I wrote I sipped a cup of chamomile tea, hoping that once I had put my thoughts to rest on a piece of paper, the tea would relax me and help me fall back asleep. No such luck.

I was so content with the picture I had painted with words of my maternal grandfather, the rest of the night I lay awake pondering it.

My maternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother both passed away when I was very young. Their presence is not in my childhood memories of thanksgiving tables my family and I have shared together. However through the tales of my mother, I can bring her parents alive through my writing.

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Writing about the legacy and values of a family is never time wasted. It becomes part of our heritage.

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Links to Past, Present and Future

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My first duty is to write a gripping yarn. Second is to convey credible characters who make you feel what they feel. Only third comes the idea. ~ David Brin

Did you read Friday’s post on All Things Fulfilling about stitching yarns together? Today we are going to continue the conversation from a slightly different angle.

In my first publication, the award-winning memoir called Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, I wrote a first hand account of my memories.The facts were all there as best as I could remember from my childhood.

For years I have been told some interesting stories about a character of interest on my mother’s side of the family tree that I did not write about previously.  The tales could be full of baloney because they are a bit sketchy. I need to determine if they are fact or fiction.

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In order to find out the truth of the matter I recently joined in with a genealogy group at the Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs, Colorado to see if I can stitch together the vague pieces of information that I have been given my mother. If there is some truth to the matter, this figure from my heritage could prove to be a fascinating fellow.

Great resources are available at my finger tips! The Bud Werner Memorial Library (BWML) is an affiliate of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Some people find great fascination in tracing their family back many generations, I am not sure if I am up for the task. “But how will I know whether I’ll find that kind of research fulfilling or not if I don’t begin somewhere?” I ask myself.

I’ll keep you posted….

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, EVVY award-winning author of the memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

Little Things Remembered

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Last fall after I did a book signing in my hometown of Towson, Maryland. My life-long friend, Chris, handed me a handwritten missive that was so meaningful. To get a hand-penned letter in this digital age is something special to begin with. The letter contained her memories of our times spent together as children. I couldn’t believe the little things that she remembered, many were the very same memories I’d retained all those decades since my childhood.

However, there was one event that I didn’t recall at all. Here is what she said:

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“A surprise birthday party I gave YOU?” I questioned Chris after reading her words in the letter. “I don’t remember it!” My sister doesn’t either.

“What!!” said Chris, in amazement. “You’ve got to be kidding! You went to all kinds of extremes to lure me over to your parent’s house that day so you could surprise me!”

“Nope, I have no recollection at all,” I said. Obviously, the surprise birthday meant a lot more to her than it did to me.

people remembering how you made them feelThe point of this blog today is that we never know if an event or person in our lives will take up residence in our hearts and never leave us. S0, try hard to be nice to others because you never know the impact a friendship might have on your life.

This blog is brought to you  by the award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. For more information on Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and Short Stories: Lessons of Heart & Soul, visit http://www.allthingsfulfilling.com/about-the-book/.

 

 

 

Handwritten Memories

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Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” ― L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl

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If you had given me a stack of 10,000 letters without any signatures, I could immediately tell you who this note was from with one blink of an eye. I’d know the handwriting from anywhere – it’s from my friend Chris. We’ve been best friends since 1st grade. We probably passed at least 400 notes back and forth to each other on little scraps of paper, in classrooms, throughout our years in elementary, middle school and high school together. I know her handwriting as intimately as I know my twin sisters’.

Last weekend, Chris, Jan and I had a wonderful reunion. She and her husband came to my book signing in Towson, Maryland. Ever since I left for college we have been geographically separated by 500 miles or more. Our visits have been sporadic and infrequent. My only excuse for not seeing her more is a very poor one. The busyness of life often got in our way. Does that ever happen to you, too?

When Chris saw me at the book event, we hugged each other so tightly! She handed me a card and said “read this later.” It was a three page letter of her memories of our fun times we spent together from age 7 to 18.

Chris’ memories are a gift to me because she remembered some things that I had forgotten. There is also some insight into what happened to my twin and me when we were dealing with separation anxiety issues due to my pioneering heart surgery.

When I read this note from Chris to my mother she immediately began reminiscing. Mom said “whether you know it or not, Sue, your sister was more of a “basket case” then you were and you were the one going through the hard stuff. With Jan, I had I much more to deal with.” My memories of that time in my life are included in my memoir so my mothers comments were not surprising.

DSCN2778Above:  Chris, Sue & Jan – friends since lst grade. Here we are now. In my memoir we are pictured as much younger women.

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Above: Joined with Linda, another childhood  friend. I think Linda was dreaming about our elementary school daze!

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This blog brought to you by the award-winning author of “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected,” Sue Batton Leonard.

See you on Monday!

Garbage Disposals, Houdini and Bulldozers

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“…goats is just like a bulldozer.” ~ Christine Genevier

goats on picnic tables 2Goats! What is it about their need to be atop sheds, dog houses, tables, cars, and everything else they are not supposed to be on? I don’t quite get it.

And talk about garbage disposals! We never had garbage disposals in any of  the kitchens of our three childhood homes even though my Dad’s company built custom homes with fancy features. We didn’t need them!

Our infamous goat, Hanratty, ate everything and anything in sight. Tin cans, fishing gear, toys, all the other animal’s food in our menagerie, whole turkey carcasses and more, in what seemed like one fell swoop! Everything went through that animal’s intestines including plastics but, the animal never needed a vets attention.

Every time you turned around, he was out of the pen and into something. Didn’t matter that we had just secured the pen, he found his way out.

If you are a baby boomer, you’ll remember the TV star in this minute or two video clip and you’ll know this catchy tune. Come on, sing along!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dny_JDlwGFM

This weeks blogs may be rather varied, without any particular theme. I’ll been using my stream of consciousness literary style once again. Wondering what that is? Here is a link to an article that you might find interesting if you are trying to find your own literary style.http://bit.ly/1nO4Bz2. Although I may be jumping from subject to subject most of this weeks blogs will be coming from childhood memories that keep cropping up. I’ll see what else I can dig up that you’ll enjoy from the days of what many describe as the “golden era.”

This blog brought to you by author Sue Batton Leonard. For more information on the award-winning book  Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, visit this link http://amzn.to/1rNoUTm.  The book is available in audio, paperback and e-book for your reading pleasure!

 

 

We’ve Got Ya Covered

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Travel is more than the seeing of sights, it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of the living.”   –Miriam Beard

I’ve always had a penchant for covered bridges. I suppose it began during my childhood years when our family spent time on Lake Champlain in Vermont for many summers. Every time we passed by the Shelburne Museum, I saw their covered bridge and loved it.

When I was in college and moved off campus, I had to cross a covered bridge every morning and evening on my way to campus. Sometimes it was by way of foot and sometimes in my old hand-me-down station wagon. The girth of the car took up the entire bridge it was so wide. Only one car at a time could travel through it.

If you are a fan of covered bridges, you’d love Vermont, and you ought to visit the State. Leaf peeping (aka fall foliage) time is the best. Colors of golden yellow,  vibrant orange and firey red from the maple trees are a sight to behold along with the contrast of verdant green in the fields and meadows. From the northern border which touches Canada to the southern part of the State, bordering Massachusetts, vibrant color is everywhere.

Crossing over that covered bridge in Johnson, Vermont every morning and evening gave me warm, fulfilling feelings. As it turned out, this girl who originated from the south of the Mason-Dixon Line had found a place in the North Country that she would call home for three decades.

Covered bridge near Chaffee House

Above: Covered Bridge at Rt 100C, Johnson, Vermont

This image and more wonderful Vermont images can be purchased through www,hansonstudio.com

Johnson State College  http://www.jsc.edu

Below Photos: Shelburne Museum   www.shelburnemuseum.org

shelburne museum1Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont.Shelburne_lighthouse1shelburne museum3Shelburne Museum 5

This blog brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. For information on the memoir, please visit this website

http://amzn.to/1oj1hjW

Horse Sense

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“Be true to your work, your word and your friends.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

The phone rang last Tuesday night. It was Mary Grace calling – my childhood friend who is featured in one of the chapters of my memoir “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.” I hadn’t spoken with her since my book was published and sometimes decades pass by between our telephone conversations. Yet every time we talk it’s like a only a day has gone by since I’ve seen her.

“Sue, I want to buy some copies of your book.  Oh – and I need one for myself.”

I was delighted and of course, we had to take a trip down memory lane while we were speaking.

“Do you remember the time we cleaned your fathers garage out?” She asked.

“No, I don’t.” I replied.

“You don’t remember that?” Mary Grace asked in astonishment.

“No, why did we do that?” I inquired.  After all, kids typically have better ways to expend their energy.

“Because a radio station was giving away a pony, and I was going to win it!” Mary Grace said.

“What?”

“That’s right,” said Mary Grace. “My parents said they wouldn’t have it.”(the pony Mary knew she was going to win).

It didn’t surprise me that her parents said that. They had enough stuff going on at their house . They were a big Catholic family with even more kids than the Battons.

“So you, Jan (my twin sister) and I,” Mary Grace continued, “had determined we were going to clean out your garage of all your fathers construction and building equipment so I could put my pony in it. We wanted to be prepared for the horse’s arrival. We were certain it would be arriving momentarily, as soon as I made my call to the radio station to claim it.

I cracked up laughing on the telephone because I didn’t recall the incident.

As Mary Grace recounted the disappointment she felt that she didn’t win the pony, I couldn’t help think how she has had a very fulfilling life even though that pony didn’t come through for her then, not until decades later.

Mary has always had horse sense and knew to follow her interest in animals and built a very successful veterinary practice. Now she is semi-retired and has turned her focus to wildlife. She is studying and documenting black-footed ferrets in their natural environment. They are currently on the endangered species list. I hope some day she will write about and publish her research.

As we ended our conversation, I was buoyed by the fact that our friendship in still in tact after all these years. Mary, I hope to scout you out toward the end of the summer with some good news that my sister is going to take a trip West so we can have our own reunion. Today I’d like to say your friendship has always been a gift to me, and I’d like to express my heartfelt gratefulness.


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 Mary taking riding lessons as a young teenager as

her mom looks on.

Photo compliment of www.unbridledimages.com

mary kellogg with horse as adult

 Mary as a veterinarian with her beloved horses.

Photo credit: www.unbridledimages.com

Check out the Facebook Page for Unbridled Images, too! http://on.fb.me/1lYBreC

Do return tomorrow. I’ll be blogging about sisters of the heart. I will be posting a photo of me and my twin sister that I had never seen before last Friday. It will have historic value to my family. I can’t wait to surprise them.

This blog brought to you brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.Sue’s memoir