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Cousin Bait? August 17, 2015

Posted by Robbie in Musings.
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Jill Ball’s great GeneaDictionary has a definition for Cousin Bait – “you’re fishing for cousins so you can compare information for your respective family trees” – which she attributes to her friend Amy Coffin.

I have heard fellow researchers mention that they often write or post pictures in the hope that their “bait” might flush out an unknown someone who was related to them.  These same researchers have often said they are careful about where they dangle their bait and just what it is they have on their hook.

It’s a shame that there are those out there in internet geni land who think that once something appears on the internet, that firstly it’s free to take and secondly, that it’s true! How many of us have seen publicly posted trees and family heirloom images snaffled up and suddenly appearing in all sorts of places? No ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘may I?’, ‘are we related?’

This wholesale harvesting of often unsubstantiated information makes for the perpetuation of misinformation, rumour and sometimes downright lies.  Its hardly good research practice no matter which way you twist it!

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Good genealogy (and good family history writing) depends on the quality of the research – always check the sources of the information you are gathering and then check again!  Assuming that family oral history is absolutely true is also risky – stories can be coloured  and embellished to make things seem better than they really are; they can be deliberate deceptions to cover up something that was shameful or socially unacceptable at the time. Check, check and double check.

I have always been somewhat cautious about the level of information that I place in the public arena having fallen foul of the infosnitchers in the past.  However, within this blogging environment, I find a more conducive atmosphere where a small part of the family story, as I understand it, can be shared.  I write and post these stories and images for my own benefit as well as the small number of people who happen to show interest.  I don’t put it out there into the ether as cousin bait as I haven’t really expected I would find any!

The past week or two have seen me spend quite a bit of time corresponding with a second cousin who discovered my images and posts – a second cousin whom I had never met.  It seems she had no idea I existed either!  We have swapped pictures (other than those already in the public arena) and compared notes about various family stories. We have managed to more correctly identify the people in some of the images we both share and we have the beginnings of a meaningful collaboration as well as face to face family connections to build.

So, deliberate cousin bait or not, my stories have given me the ‘catch’ of a lifetime – a whole hitherto unknown (in a personal sense) family branch to meet explore and get to know.  How lucky are we both?

tz2hG

Looking Back… July 21, 2015

Posted by Robbie in Musings.
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Researching family history is not a competitive sport yet there are some out there who evaluate their success as family historians by how many people they have in their tree or by how far back they have managed to trace their various lines. The further back you are able to go, the more points you score.

I think not!

For me, its not the numbers nor is it the distance back in time I can take my trees.  Its all about the stories, the people, the memories, the contributions they made, the trials and tribulations they faced and how these stories have helped to shape who I am and those who come after me.

21 July is my father’s birthday. If he was still with us, we would be blowing out 87 candles this year. It is my plan to spend this day writing and researching a little of my father’s story and making pancakes for breakfast.

Why pancakes?

Because the tradition of birthday breakfast pancakes is a part of my story and that of my siblings and their children we owe to Dad.  It was Dad’s way of celebrating our birthdays.  He would storm into the kitchen early and announce to all and sundry that he was making breakfast for everyone and especially for the birthday girl or boy.  There would be messily mixed bowls of batter on the bench, spoons dripping excess onto the kitchen floor, lemons being cut into wedges and the smell of hot butter melting in the frying pan.  Enthusiastic sprinkling of sugar usually resulted in a delicate crunch underfoot.

It was loud, messy, sticky and delicious!  They were never the best pancakes in the world as Dad’s cooking prowess was a trifle suspect, but who cared?  It was a special way to start a special day and we loved it.  We have carried this memory into our own family’s lives and shared it with our children.  This little piece of ‘history’ for our particular family makes our story just that little more about the people as people not just another name on the tree.

Gerhard Douglas Noel Stockfeld 1928 - 1997

Gerhard Douglas Noel Stockfeld 1928 – 1997

 

Wordless Wednesday July 15, 2015

Posted by Robbie in Wordless Wednesday.
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Winter feeding

Winter feeding New Holland Honey Eater……

Wordless Wednesday July 1, 2015

Posted by Robbie in Wordless Wednesday.
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Sundew

Sundew

National Volunteer Week May 13, 2015

Posted by Robbie in Musings.
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Are you a volunteer?

Many people contribute to the welfare of our communities by generously giving of their time and skills for the benefit of others. Some 20 years ago I attended a function in Melbourne Central celebrating the contributions of volunteers.  At that event the contributions of volunteers were estimated to be worth many millions of dollars to our economy.

The Country Fire Authority and Meals on Wheels were the main organisations mentioned for the work they do in helping our community.  If the work done by these organisations wasn’t voluntary, our community would be significantly worse off.

Not all voluntary work is about providing health and welfare services that would otherwise be the responsibility of government. Many people contribute skills in event management, driving, personal care, financial skills, editing, writing, researching, translating , mentoring, teaching, cooking, childcare, building, fundraising, gardening ….. the list is endless!

Twenty years later and the value of the work of volunteers cannot be underestimated.  It forms a significant part of our economy.  Volunteers may not receive financial remuneration for their work, but that doesn’t make it any the less meaningful or worthwhile.

I volunteer.

I have volunteered in one capacity or another for as long as I can remember.  I have been asked to speak on Friday at a function celebrating and recognising volunteers in my local area.

What to say?

I would be speaking to people just like myself ….. people who love to give of themselves for the benefit of others. I couldn’t imagine that there was anything I could say that would be ‘enlightening’.  I’m still struggling with writing my ‘speech’ but I realised that what was important was to share the pleasure and the joy in being able to make a difference to someone’s life.

This year’s National Volunteer Week theme is “Give Happy, Live Happy”.

Luckily for the community, there are lots of happy volunteers out there who give …. and give…. and give….. and give!

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