Monday, August 18, 2014

Smiles...On the Cheap...Pass it On

I’m just going to warn you right now, this is going to be a stream of conscious or in my case lack of conscious piece.  I was backing my CRV (not one of those stupid big ones) out of the parking space at Albertson’s supermarket and checking for people I might accidently run over. 
I saw a lady two spots to my left loading her trunk and paused to consider her and smiled.  She looked back surprised and grinned. 
I don’t know why I thought I might run her over.  It would be quite a feat if I did.  My vehicle would have to go sideways and accomplish a 180 degree turn.  You never know. 
Ever since I backed out and tapped someone’s bumper a bigillion years ago I’ve been hyper-vigilant.
I looked over my shoulder at a couple in the lane behind me, which included a nice lady who had complemented me as I left Albertson’s.  I had smiled at her as we were walking to our cars. 
She brightly responded to the smile, “I love your blouse.”
“Thanks, I said.  “It’s so comfy.”
“It looks it.  When the wind blows, it moves; you must get plenty of air.”
“I do.”
I wanted to tell her that on top of that, I was just wearing a black tank top underneath and no bra which made it really comfy.  On top of that, because of the cut I believed it made me look thinner or less fat and that I can’t remember where I bought it, but I didn’t think it was expensive. But I kept going and smiled.
She was loading her car with a man who might have been her husband, secret lover, roommate or brother.
I can get into it and people don’t need to hear it all.  I have to keep my mouth in check and it isn’t easy.
I have a point to this and it has something to do with smiles.
Several weeks ago I wasn’t in a great mood and was pushing my cart to the car. I parked it behind the trunk.  A young man appeared and walked towards me around the car next to mine. 
My suspicious social worker and correction’s background trained mind gave him a hopefully “I’ll kick you’re a……..”  glance to be sure he wasn’t a thieving murderous punk.
“Can I take your cart back for you miss?” he asked with a nice, not at all druggie looking smile.
I finished unloading and surprised said, “Yes, thanks so much!”  (The miss endeared him to me.)
He took my cart and pushed it to the ‘proper cart parking space’.
He certainly cheered me up and renewed my faith in young men.
I pulled out aiming my car down the lane to leave and noticed him walking back to the car that had been next to mine.  He pulled out keys and opened the door.  So, it was his car. 
Whether he took my cart because he was afraid this insanely beaming lady would dump it unceremoniously (maybe he thought I was on old lady drugs) and the cart would drift and ding his or he didn’t want to wait for me to push it to a safe spot or he was just a gentleman, I’ll never really know.
 But, I think he was just a nice man.
And, that’s how I see my world.  It’s a world of preferred kindness, of people who do the right thing, of people who respond to smiles, of people who need and want smiles, of people who will smile back, if only given one.  It takes one to get one. 
Last week, I was leaving Albertson’s with groceries; walking with an umbrella in rain and thunder. 
Approaching my vehicle a man hopped out of his and smiling and said, “You must have been a girl scout, you’re always prepared, aren’t you?”
“Well no, I’ve already gotten drenched” I laughed.
I had come from my doctor’s, just around the corner, and impatient to leave because I can’t sit still and wait; braved a five second walk in a lightning and wind driven downpour to my Honda to make a quick stop to the grocery before driving home.
 I brought the umbrella I always kept in the car into the grocery.  I left the house with straightened blow dried hair and now had a messy, damp bob.  But, I was the only person leaving the supermarket slowly, casually, unperturbed, with an umbrella.
“Well, you girl scouts are always prepared.”

        I smiled.  I have had to learn not to explain that no, I didn’t know we would have a sudden violent lighting thunderstorm...blah…blah.  Damn it, yes I am a girl scout. 
I notice when you smile at people even if they don’t smile right away, they smile back.  More often, they smile right away.  And I think a good smile makes everyone feel better. 
When I was in my 20’s, men (never women) would say, “Smile, you have such a pretty face”…or, “why aren’t you smiling”…or some variation of that…and I would smile. 
For some years in my 30’s or 40’s I’d ponder that.  Why would these strangers tell me to smile?  How annoying?  Who the hell are they to say that to me, they don’t even know me?
Funny how life comes full circle.  I don’t like people telling young people to smile. They have their own lives and young girls aren’t puppets who have to smile on cue.  But, I understand.
At my stage of life, I find that a smile helps many other people, especially older people, especially people who are alone, especially older people, especially younger people, especially people who need validation, especially children, especially babies, especially abused children, especially people who’ve had really difficult lives,  especially anybody, so I am giving them out for free, so screw it.
Smiles are contagious.  Babies smile and you can’t help but smile back.  I’m not a baby.  But I can smile too.  I get around more than they do.  I’m sure you do too.  Spread the smile and live the life.  And forgive my inability to focus.  It’s a part of that smiley charm.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Are you trying to find your Irish roots?

I don’t mean your dark, blonde, or gray roots; I’m talking your Hibernian or Celtic roots.  Well, let me share with you some on-line resources to help you.  Many are free.  The ones I’ve listed below that are not, I have annotated as such.  Site such as of course, are not free and you do need to have some idea where your ancestors, Irish or not, came from and ideas of dates and areas of birth and/or residence to make progress, but they can be very helpful if you can spend the money and might be a good kick starter place.  You can keep the information once you leave the site after your subscription ends. 

Good look with your search.  Check back with me in the future for how to find your Mexican and Hispanic roots as that is my next venture.


1:            Ask About Ireland           Griffith’s Valuation – A free searchable database of tenants and landowners in Ireland from 1848-1858.  A great resource.

2:            Irish             This just came on-line and is free.  I haven’t used it much yet, so can’t vouch for accuracy as yet or usefulness.

2:            Family            This is actually another search site of the Latter Day Saints, who do the Ancestry Site, but it is free, but it has different records…oddly, and it has free family tree software and an option…if you chose to upload your own family research for other people to compare their records to.

3:            National Archives, census of Ireland      Now has records, earlier ones more limited, for the years 1821, 1831, 1841, 1851, 1901, and 1911.  The earlier records are very limited, but helpful.

4:            From             Free Irish records search   Has sections on different counties, plus one large one on Dublin; sections on civil records and gravestones, etc.           

6:            Find my Past                                            

7.            Bob’s genealogy webpage  Free record search

8.            The Landed Estates Web site    A free searchable, online database of all Landed Estates in Connacht and Munster, maintained by the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies, National University of Ireland, Galway.


9.            Rootsweb Guide to Irish Genealogy            A guide to Irish genealogical research is a project of the Fianna Study Group for Irish Genealogy and was begun as a study project for  Genealogy Course #33 at Virtual University for the fall 1997 term, and is being added to constantly.  Searches are free.

10.          Ellis Island Web site       Free search of emigrant arrivals                      

11.          Failteromhat     General free Irish search resource with varied banks of information including lists of Irish flax growers and their home regions, land owners in 1876, and multiple trade directories


12.          United States Government         family research and genealogy research website

13.          The National Archives   US Government on-line searchable database includes United States Census records, military records, etc.                                                                                                             

14.          Compilation of Genealogy Search Links for Irish Counties  

15.          Ireland’s history in maps              Ancient maps of Ireland’s topography and counties

16.          Roots Ireland     Lots of information and links, but searches aren’t free; take a look anyway for yourself.  Great if you need help with things like Irish naming conventions, pet names and translations and/or are looking for official records and need the on-line links to go to.


17.          Leitrim Roscommon Genealogy Page     Free searchable on-line search site with links for other Irish and American websites for family searches


18.          My Naughton Family line in Ireland        A webpage built by Bill Naughton, who was researching his own family roots in Ireland.  He gives a wonderful history of the Naughton family/ancient tribes in Ireland back to ancient times and illustrates how he went back several generations to find his routes.  A very helpful man.

19.          The National Library of Ireland        

20.          Irish Genealogy Toolkit                       

21.          Genealogy Forum                                 

22.          The Irish Times       

24           Ireland Genealogy Projects Online                

25.          Cyndi’s List         Free Genealogy Link List      

26.          Genebase                                                                 

Monday, June 16, 2014

I have an account on  I hadn’t planned to renew, but missed the date when my current subscription expired and thought I was good for another month.  They renewed it for me!  I didn’t realize they do this automatically.  I will not be renewing again.  Today the site has been down all day long. 

At least twice a week, it goes down or gets tangled up in the midst of using it, for no reason at all.  This isn’t due to my browser, I’ve used different browsers.  I have contacted them in the past and tried contacting what I thought was their customer resource section and never got a response.

On television, the commercials make it sound, well, a happy person says, “Just type in a name and my family came up!”  Please, not so much. 

You actually do have to have some basic information, the more the better, like name, dates and/or estimates for births, locations and other associated relatives to find connections.  I was lucky enough to know the area where my ancestors are from overseas and to have inherited basic genealogical information.  Even so, I used census and information from many other sites to help me build the tree I do have now in Ancestry. 

In Ancestry, I will get those infamous leaves (you’ve seen them in the television commercials) popping up during the most inscrutable times.  For example, I will have put in John Doe, born 1897 in Fairfield, Virginia as an ancestor and will get countless hints about other John Does, born in the 1800s, in Fairfield, Virginia…or in England or a Doe Franklin born in 1987 from Vicksburg as a suggested match! 

Ancestry has no way for you to search using combined information from two or three people to get a better match, so it is rather tedious. 

Spelling is funny and records are missing that are available on their “sister” free site, Family Search. Org.   

When you put in search criteria for spelling that is phonetically similar, you may get someone with the name Becky Johnson coming back when you are looking for Benson James.  If I am looking for a particular name, and indicate I want that exact match, it will include other similarly named people, if they happen to be, let’s say, one of the witnesses, even if their date of birth isn’t displayed and they aren’t the subject of the record.  So instead of getting 150 Becky Johnsons, you get 1000, because you will also get any person born, who happened to have someone stand up for them who had a name that was somewhat similar to Becky Johnson, like Beacon Jackson.

The records themselves are limited giving basic information, i.e. in a marriage record, the names of a groom and several possible brides, unless you are looking at a church record.  Birth records show the place where the birth is registered, in for example Ireland, not where the person was actually born, and not the date they were born as births were registered quarterly since the mid 1800’s.  A person could be born May 2nd and perhaps the parent or an uncle reported it that month  (or next), but maybe it wasn’t registered in the official records till the next quarter, so your birth date comes up something like July-September, and the year. 

Some records are shown to be available, but only if you access them through Fold 3, which you must sign up for and pay for.  Census records you can get online for free yourself with much more information than you get on ancestry.  One of the few valuable assets of ancestry is possibly bumping into other people researching your ancestors and meeting new relatives.  It did happen to me, so for that I am grateful

It is very annoying though to experience a lack of accessibility to this site for which I am paying well for.  You would think they would credit their “dues paying members” but they don’t. 

Hey Ancestry, get user friendly, will you?  People are talking and they’re not dead.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Have you seen the girl I was?

Have you seen the girl I was?  She looked somewhat like me.
If you see her would you let me know?  I forget and need reminding.

I remember vividly the teenage me, that one I could do without…the agony, the ecstasy, the wonder, the yearning, the heartbreak, the rollercoaster…I couldn’t survive it today.

The girl of yesterday, the one of my 30’s and 40’s had a heart that would jump with joyous anticipation every time spring arrived.
You see she just loves the sun and all the things that she remembers that follow the month of May.

When she hears that old Beatles tune, “Here Comes the Sun”, she remembers the young girl who heard it for the first time and felt that sentiment so deeply.

She, I… still thinks fondly about the beach, the sand and waves and lazy pleasurable feelings you get just from laying on a blanket under a hot sun.

Today, I’ll think a little about how the sand scratches and the unpleasantness of burned skin as you put on some bit of clothing to get back to wherever you came from after your day of salt water.

I conjure up Cool summer evenings chilled by warm, slightly pink and tanned skin when I think of yesterday.  I see nice dinners, balcony views, love, travel and warmth.

This girl got so happy and excited about Christmas and decorated the house for fun and for others.

But the last two years she set up the tree and couldn’t do the same for her spirit. 
This girl lost so many people, as you do, once you reach a certain age that you don’t get to be with the same ones every holiday, you can’t even pick up the phone to call them anymore.

This girl used to have people over for dinner, liked to have an occasional party and looked forward to so many things.
Don’t get me wrong, life isn’t or wasn’t always fluffy puppies or cotton candy at state fairs.  The child I was and the very young woman I was saw some sadness but life moves on anyway, doesn’t it?   Things smooth out and you do remember the good things.

But today’s me persists in thinking the girl of yesterday seemed to have more surprises, gathered more flowery wreaths around most corners – that girl had the world ahead of her.

I thought I saw the girl I was the other day, but she just peeked out of the corner of my eye and looked around at my world today.
She stayed just a while.
Though I wanted her back, she dove under covers.  I still look for her and wish for her company.

The woman I am today sees the senior I am becoming in the future, the older person I am today…no longer so sprite, so flexible, so filled with the future and possibilities.

The woman I am today lives so much more in the past and in memories, than the girl I was yesterday.

The woman I am today is so much calmer and happier in very simple things.
The woman I am today has so many more answers, but still can’t predict the future; some things never change, do they?

Today, I am happy on a rainy day and just sitting in my favorite chair, reading, doing a puzzle, petting my dogs, writing, surfing the internet, doing nothing.
I don’t have to be on the move all the time, or go someplace every day or have plans.

I still miss her, she was fun.  But she could be tiring.  She was always going somewhere.  She thought too hard and too long.  She let too much hurt.

There is something to be said for serenity.  I’ve earned some wisdom and perspective.   It makes life less painful, more measured, less dramatic. 
I really have the time and the ability to stop and enjoy the butterfly flitting about, the tiny hummingbird in my yard, pretty colors, and a nice nap.

Now, tomorrow, I will blend the two of us and the new us, into me; WE will go forward into the exciting new future of my older years.

I don’t know how many I got, but who knows, I could be around 20 (hell I’d better be with all this yoga I do), 30, maybe 40 or more years.

Maybe, in another 20 years, I’ll meet another me and lust after the person I am today.  In the meantime, I’ll just march on to my own little beat, be it ever so odd, it is me…after all.

How lucky am I, to be here, to think about this, to have been the girl I was and to keep on becoming the person I will eventually be.

Pat's Guide to Spring Organizing

We’ve been in our house for 15 years and today I worked on cleaning out clutter in our office.  The goal is to get some organization going.  I’ve been getting around to doing this for about a year but one thing or another got in the way, like my lack of will.  God help me, focus and order are not my strong suits.

I usually…sometimes… can lay hands on what I or someone else am looking for, but it might take an hour or day or two.  Occasionally, I stumble upon a “lost” object long forgotten about several months after I’ve forgotten about it.  Needless to say, I could use a new method of being…shall I say.

My husband thinks I have too much stuff.  I won’t agree with that, at least not to his face, but secretly to myself I have to say that is part of the problem.  But it’s not because I buy too much.  It’s because I think I don’t have a particular item and buy it…only to find I do indeed have a pair or three of scissors, but one is in the junk drawer and I couldn’t see it, one was in the office under a pile of what nots and the other was in the bathroom drawer.  Oh, well, you see my problem?

I do know all the rules of putting things back where they belong and making sure things have a home, I just don’t follow them.  There seems to be so many other more pressing things to do…like, ummm...I can’t think of anything right now but I’ll let you know.

Anyway, I haven’t finished straightening out the office yet, but I did spend a good two hours on it today.  I threw out a bag full of absolutely useful stuff and paper items I definitely no longer need; no one does.  I set aside some articles to donate.

The result: my living room has one large plastic storage bin full of old work books, training materials and files, a wicker basket with some writing materials, an empty leather carry tote, two bins of photographs, a box of stuff to carry to the garage and a folder full of random paper stuff I must figure out what to do with.

I feel good.  Tomorrow I organize the living room.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Annual Havanese Dog Spring Fling and Reunion


I’ve been entranced with my Havanese boys and so preoccupied with getting into the rhythm of being owned by these creatures that I haven’t had time to write.  Alright – truth be known - I’ve been a blooming sloth this year…it’s a periodic situation.
        Anyway, this weekend, the boys, Miki and Finn, the husband (the “G”, he’s not into fame, so I omit his true identity) took to the highway at 10 a.m. Saturday and headed for Chandler.  We couldn’t check into our hotel until 2 p.m. so we stopped for lunch at Uncle Bear’s Brew House Grill. We got there just in time. 
The waiter told us there was a large group coming in at 1 p.m. and if we were okay with that, we could sit at one of the low tops, the rest of the available outdoor seating being high tops.  Since we have midgety dogs, high tops don’t work well. 
This family style, friendly eatery is dog friendly and has dozens of pictures of its canine customers framed on its walls.  Finn and Miki were promptly served refreshing bowls of water though they slobbered for a burger.
About 12:15, we realized we were in the middle of an artsy event sponsored by an organization called “Uptown”.  I cleverly deduced that, as people wearing tee shirts with the aforementioned name came in with easels and paints and began setting up.  No matter, we had plenty of time to eat and the activity kept the dogs occupied watching. 
After lunch, we headed to Mesa to visit the G’s cousin Vivacity, (an alias I shall give her so you can’t track her identity to deduce G’s). 
Our demure polite dogs bustled right in uninvited as soon as the door opened, no introductions needed.  V’s daughter, Angela, sat on a sofa in the living room and within a few minutes, Miki settled his head on her leg for a nap, only looking up, with reproach mind you, when she spoke and interrupted his dreams.  Finn alternated between jumping between me and G, checking out Vivacity, cooling his boys as he sprawled double jointed across her kitchen tiles and clicking down the hallway to check out one of the bedrooms on the QT.
Later we set out to the hotel, explored and unpacked.  We spent the weekend last year at this Windmill Suites across from the Chandler Mall with Finn and it was a good fit for us. The accommodations are dog friendly and provide  a one bedroom suite with a kitchenette.  Breakfast is free and includes a waffle grill, always a welcome amenity.
Curiously, at home Finn can’t jump up on our king size bed; he must be picked up, carried like the prince he thinks he is and placed atop it.  Away from home he develops super dog powers and easily hops onto the bed. (Hmm…am I being had?)
We took a walk around the dog path and then had chill time before heading back out, this time to Glendale.  What’s in Glendale you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Only the best German Restaurant in Arizona, Haus Murphy! 
We try to make the trip way there at least once or twice a year.  The food is authentic and great, with all the requisite schnitzel dishes, spatzles and red cabbage …along with great German beers, apple streduel and the yes…perky,  but seldom experienced in the desert…OM PA PA BAND!
To make this an even more special place, they are dog friendly.  The restaurant boasts an open air patio with about 25 tables.  The waiter brought out a big mug with cold water for the pups and offered meatloaf, which they promptly accepted, but of course.  Finn spent much of his time checking out the other patrons and trying to figure out what they were eating.  Miki chose to hide out from the clamor so as to be closer to dad and dad’s food.  They both appreciated, as they are true attention hounds, all the greetings and oohs and aahs from patrons – truth be known, they actively seek out notice.
Later that evening, after our after dinner walk, we watched TV, chewed on bully sticks and dessert. 
Sunday morning we drove to Mesa for Lancaster’s annual puppy day and what I refer to as the Annual Spring Fling Doggie Reunion.  Finn got to see his brother Joey,  mom Coco and his first love Lucy.  Miki was besieged with all his sons and daughters and loved seeing his people.
We headed back to Tucson Sunday afternoon and the two slept the whole way home.  It isn’t easy being a dog with an active social schedule after all and one must get one’s rest when one can.  They are happy to be back and as I write, they nap…as only dogs can do.