A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

When You Can't Read What They Wrote

            My guest for this post is Peter who comes to us from the German transcription/translating service Metascriptum.  Most of us will probably never need a service such as this, but you never know and it never hurts to find out what's out there.  Maybe Peter will give you some ideas about where to turn concerning some of the documents you own.          

  A Brief History of German Script

German script has undergone many changes over the last several hundred years. Like the German language, it has changed and evolved, and seen many different dialects. The standard German known today is much easier to understand, but it leaves older documents for those specially educated to decipher.

The history of German script is an interesting one. The script used today has been in place since 1941, when Hitler mandated that the more traditional scripts were not to be taught in schools any longer. However, the history and changes of German script began long before this time.

The History of the Different Forms of Kurrent

Kurrent was developed in the sixteenth century from the old gothic script. By that time, there were many different forms of gothic script, and the need for a uniform German script was emerging. The form of writing developed and matured over the next two hundred years, until the “modern” form of Kurrent was established.

However, this Kurrent writing was hard to learn and harder to write for young people in school. In the form of writing there are many straight lines, sharp angles, and abrupt changes in direction. In the nineteenth century, Ludwig Sutterlin developed an easier form of Kurrent for school children to learn. It had more wide curves and fewer sharp angles. This form of Kurrent was adopted in all German schools by 1934.

Sutterlin Kurrent writing was taught in schools as late as 1954 as an elective afternoon course in some German schools. However, its use has faded out to the point where no one today uses the old German script, and few can read it.

Why Kurrent is no longer Current

In 1941, Hitler proclaimed that Kurrent was Jewish, and therefore taboo. It was mandated that Kurrent no longer be taught in German schools. The real reason for this was that the Germans were finding that people of other countries they were occupying could not read the Kurrent script, and therefore it was causing a language barrier not easily surmounted.

This resulted in Kurrent no longer being taught, and instead a more uniform form of writing was put into place, which is the script that is common today. After Hitler was no longer in power, some schools brought back the script as an elective course to encourage students to keep the form of handwriting alive. However, even this later became nearly nonexistent. Today, there are some courses found if you search far and wide that teach the old German script. However, most of the world cannot read it or understand it at all.

It is very possible that documents written in Germany prior to 1941 cannot be read by those who possess them. You can easily discover the information within these pages, however, by contacting someone who is knowledgeable in the various forms of Kurrent. These educated professionals can transcribe your documents into modern German or translate them into English. Thus the information and history hidden in old German script can be recovered.

Metascriptum offers the transcription and translation of documents written in old German script.  Link to   http://www.metascriptum.de/german-handwriting .

         Do you have any documents written in older German Script?   Do you have documents in any other languages where the script used is difficult for the modern reader to decipher?   How's your handwriting?  

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Memories of Mighty Mouse

          Jennifer Johnston Crow writes a helpful blog called Pivot.   She also writes memoir.   Today is one of three guest posts she will be contributing to Wrote By Rote.   Watch for the next installments on October 20th and November 24th.  And be sure to visit her blog to say hello.

Memories of Mighty Mouse  

I haven’t ridden much for years, but Charlie and I have talked about going riding someday soon. When I do, I’ll ride dressage. It’s elegant, sedate, and very upper crust. Now, all that means is that I sit on a fairly small piece of leather atop a horse’s back and hold the reins in two hands. We walk, trot, canter and perform the usual horse show moves. It’s a relaxing way to spend an hour.
There was a time when I sought a little more excitement in my weekly communion with horses – it involved jumping over hurdles. Big ones. I was just a teenager then, and I knew no fear.
“I hope I get Mighty Mouse today. I just love that horse.”
“Mmm, hmm,” Mom said.
“He’s that big buckskin, you know? The one I got to ride last week?”
“Mmm, hmm.”
My mother was giving me lip service, no doubt lost in her own thoughts as we drove the 15 miles to my weekly riding lesson. I’d ridden Western for a while, but didn’t like that, so I turned to jumping. Now, THAT was more like it. No more trotting dutifully around a ring; jumping offered speed, excitement, accomplishment – just what a teenager needs.
“He just hurtles,” I said.
Mom looked at me. “Hurdles?”
“No, I mean, he just zooms. He flies. He’s sooooo fast and powerful,” I said, not missing a beat. “He is such a perfect jumper.” I looked out the window at the autumn landscape and the clouds of dust rolling off our wheels. Once we hit the dirt road, it was a matter of minutes. “He has heart, you know? He’ll try and try and try. He’s a great horse.”
I jumped out of the car almost before it stopped. “You can watch if you want from that room with the glass windows,” I said for probably the 50th time.
“Don’t worry. Go on,” she said, laughing. “I figure Mr. Handlan and Mrs. Jones are here. I’m sure I can entertain myself with them.”
Sure enough, my name was next to Mighty Mouse’s on the board. I was in the saddle and ready to go in no time, black boots gleaming, fresh jodphurs tucked in neatly.
“OK, canter around the ring to warm up.” Mary was probably my favorite instructor. She had a nice smile, and I always understood her directions. “Here’s the course. Around the ring once, then the two hurdles along each wall. After you come off the last jump, take the center hurdle.”
One by one we started. Elizabeth was riding her own white Arabian. “Go for it, Liz,” I said.
She gave me thumbs up and took off.
“OK, Jenny!” Mary gave me a nod, and I squeezed Mighty Mouse with my legs and tightened the reins. Off we went.
We flew effortlessly over the course. One jump down. Now two, three, four. I heard Liz shouting. “Way to go!” Even Mary’s, “Nice job,” edged into my consciousness.
“OK, Mighty Mouse,” I whispered. “It’s the last one.”
I turned his head toward the hurdle and urged him forward, although it was hardly necessary. He knew exactly what to do. Rising in the stirrups, I positioned myself over the Mouse’s neck to take weight off his back so he could clear the jump. It was business as usual. He took off, cantering faster, faster, faster, and then slam!
We stopped.
Well, he did; I didn’t.
The one weakness of jumping hurdles on horseback is that when you’re poised in the stirrups over your horse’s neck, there’s no good way to stop that forward momentum. You just have to hope you and the horse arrive on the other side simultaneously.
“Oh, no,” I said. I just knew we wouldn’t arrive at the same time. I heard a collective gasp from the class. From my unique vantage point – upside down at the apex of my rotation over the hurdle – I saw Mary’s hands covering her mouth.
And then it was over. I was standing on the opposite side, puffs of dust settling onto my polished boots, the metallic taste of blood in my mouth. I looked down at my hands. “I still have the reins,” I thought. I looked up to see Mary running toward me.
“Are you hurt?”
I touched my lip. “Am I cut? I taste blood. I think I should have someone look at it.”
Mary shook her head. “It’s OK. Why don’t you get back on and try again? I don’t know why he refused that jump. It’s not like Mighty Mouse.”
I still tasted blood. “I think I need to see how bad this is.” I had visions of blood all over me, stitches, bandages, sympathy. “Maybe…”
“Let’s keep on going,” Mary said. “Here, I’ll help you up.”
A little reluctantly, I let her boost me into the saddle. I knew what she was doing; get back in the saddle so you won’t develop a fear of riding. I’d ridden for years and been thrown more times than I could count. I doubted I’d be scared.
But with the taste of blood in my mouth and adrenaline in my system, we tried again, Mighty Mouse and I. He cleared that center jump as if it were a mole hill.
Just like that, the lesson was over. Sure I was covered with blood, I jumped down and walked into the tack room to find my mother. Apparently I wasn’t, though, because she didn’t even rush to my aid.
“Ready? Did you get Mighty Mouse?”
What? You weren’t watching?” I asked incredulously.
“No, I sat in the tack room with Joe and Margaret, talking. Sorry. Did I miss something?”
“Not much,” I said, a bit surly. “I think I’m going to change to dressage. I’m tired of jumping.”

Jennifer Johnston Crow is a personal coach and a writer/editor with the federal government. She offers insights and commentary for living through her blog (pivot-coaching.com) and through individual and group coaching events. This year Jennifer captured second place in the West Virginia Writers Spring Writing Contest for her memoir, “Fear.” She’s passionate about storytelling, especially when it’s real, honest, and personal. A little humor doesn’t hurt,either!

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Genre Favorites Blog Fest

Genre Favorites Blogfest, September 17, 2012
One blogfest, four favorites!
List your favorite genre of:
And a guilty pleasure genre from any of the three categories!
Visit all the participants at Alex J Cavanaugh and keep in mind that if you've arrived here before the official start date, I've posted early--most posts won't be available until Monday September 17th.

      I enjoy talking about favorites so this is the kind of blogfest that I can't resist participating in.   Now what's my favorite today may not be my favorite next week or even later today.  My mood also can influence what I consider a favorite.    For me taste can be fickle, but I'll stick with some generalities that have consistently stayed favorites with me throughout the years.

Movies -- One genre that I consistently enjoy watching and am a sucker for any new one that comes along is TIME TRAVEL.  From those early Twilight Zone episodes involving time travel to the cheesy show Time Tunnel to the great Quantum Leap I've always loved the concept of moving through time.  A favorite movie of the genre is the 2007 Spanish film Los Cronocrimenes (Time Crimes).  It's a mindbender that only involves traveling  an hour into the past, but it raises some interesting conundrums.  I'm still waiting for the English version.

Music -- I'm fanatic about music and love nearly all kinds.  From childhood I've always loved classical and now that's what I listen to much of the time.  In my teens, during the British Invasion of the 60's, I acquired a tasted for modern rock and roll.  A favorite genre in popular modern music is alternative/progressive rock.   This covers a very wide span for me.  A group that I've discovered recently thanks to blogger Deniz Bevan is a Welsh band with the odd name of Gorkys Zygotic Mynci.   They sound like a group from straight out of the early 70's--my favorite modern era of music--though they started releasing their recordings in the 1990's.

How about a sample of their sound:

Books -- When I was a teen I mostly read science fiction and mysteries.  After I got into college I became interested in Southern Literary Fiction and that is still a big favorite.   I enjoy William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, James Dickey, and others.   But my biggest favorite of all is the great Flannery O'Connor--her influence holds sway over much of my writing.

Guilty Pleasure Genre -- From Movies it would be Musicals!  I love musicals:  Carousel, Oklahoma, An American in Paris, Cabaret, Evita--there are not many I haven't liked.   I especially like the old films with Fred Astaire and the dancing spectaculars staged by Busby Berkeley.   If there's a juggler in it that's an added bonus.   Since I grew up in show business I can appreciate the nostalgic draw these old films have for me about the lifestyle, and these old films capture the spirit of show people and the lives they lead and I can identify with these films.

             So there you have it.  My favorites are probably way different than most of the entrants, but I guess it's partly a factor of age and upbringing.   If you haven't experienced some of the things I've mentioned by all means check them out.  They've rewarded me.  Perhaps you will find some of your own rewards in them.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

HOW I ALMOST KILLED MY MOTHER: Guest Post by Denise Roessle

           I first discovered Denise Roessle in a guest post she did at Linda Hoye's blog A Slice of Life Writing.   She immediately caught my attention when she opened her story with a quote from my favorite author Flannery O'Connor.  Denise has an interesting story to tell in her book Second Chance Mother.  Today she provides a bit of insight about her book and the story behind the book.


A Guest Post by Denise Roessle

I came close so many times — at least according to my father.

My murderous attempts on her life began when I got pregnant at 19. In the sixties, no greater shame could befall a family than having a knocked-up, unwed daughter. Since my boyfriend promised we’d get married, I postponed telling my parents. By the time he announced that he had changed his mind, and in fact didn’t love me, I was more than three months along.

Dad’s initial anger at my shameful behavior soon gave way to disappointment that I hadn’t confessed in time to have an abortion. Although this was still years away from being legalized, my parents would have gone to any lengths — an illicit procedure in some doctor’s backroom or sending me oveseas — to have the whole disgraceful mess erased. Plan B was to get me out of town before I started showing.

“If any of our friends find out that you’re pregnant, it would kill your mother,” my father said.

Unable to find a maternity home that could take me right away, he located an attorney who specialized in private adoptions. Within a week I was on a plane bound for another state. The lawyer placed me with an uninvolved family, where I did babysitting and light housework in exchange for my room and board. He set me up with a doctor who would oversee my prenatal care, deliver the baby, and defer payment until after the adoption.

My parents told my younger siblings that I was away at college. I had already confided in several close girlfriends about my condition.

“Don’t tell anyone else,” Dad ordered. “No one can be trusted. People talk, and if this gets out, your mother would die of embarrassment.”

Alone, afraid and ashamed, I complied. For the next five months, I struggled against the urge to bond with the new life that swelled my belly and twisted just below my heart. I entered labor with the anxious resignation of a surgical patient scheduled to have a burdensome growth removed. Only when my son’s body was pulled from mine and I heard his gurgled cry did the loss take hold. But by then, I had accepted my fate. Everyone insisted that giving my baby up for adoption was the best thing for both of us. He would have a stable, two-parent home and opportunities far beyond those an unwed mother could provide. I would be reborn a virgin, go back to college, meet a nice man, get married, and have children I could keep. They said I would forget and move on.

I moved on, but I did not forget. That failure led me to believe there was something inherently wrong with me. So I buried my feelings and continued to keep the secret. Although I finished college and married, I never had more children.

Twenty-five years later, my son and I were reunited through a mutual-consent registry that reconnects family members who had been separated by adoption. Elated by this second chance at motherhood, I told all of my friends, as well as my sister and brother. I hoped that enough time had passed that my parents would see this as a good thing. Dad voice bordered on joyful when he first heard the news, but once he’d shared this with Mom, he was back on guard. He warned me not to tell our extended family.

“Please don’t tell the relatives about Josh. That would kill your mother.”

I struggled with this for another year before deciding that I had lived with the secret long enough. After reuniting with my son, my loyalty to them changed to him — and to myself. I shared my reunion openly and began writing my story.

Once I had a decent draft, I offered copies to my sister, brother and father. Dad said, “Oh gosh, I have such a stack of things to read right now, I probably won’t have time.” I could hear the meaning behind his words: He couldn’t have that book in the house. My mother would die if she found out I’d written it. My sister read it and said it explained a lot of things. My brother also read it, and true to our family tradition of secrecy, he emailed me: “You can’t publish this. People will be hurt.”

“Bob,” I wrote back, “people have already been hurt.”

He told me to never speak of it again. For the next several years, I didn’t mention my book — not to any of them — until it had been accepted for publication.

My mother didn’t die after any of these egregious acts on my part. In fact, my refusal to comply eventually forced my parents to accept my son or lose me forever. If only I’d realized that I could have stood up to them and disobeyed sooner.

She passed away in 2004, eight years before “Second-Chance Mother” was published. A blood clot took her while she was still in the hospital, two weeks after a successful back surgery. Although we’d never discussed what happened, nor the impact of adoption on me and Josh, by then I had made my peace with her — secretly, in my heart.

Second-Chance Mother is available as an ebook and in print on Amazon: http://amzn.to/MWalYG
For more about the author, visit her website: http://secondchancemother.com
Denise is also among 14 memoirists featured in the recently released anthology, “Loving for Crumbs” (edited by Jonna Ivin): http://amzn.to/PBWIfc


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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ask Me First!: Guest Post from D. G. Hudson

         After reading a very fine recent blog post by D. G. Hudson, I invited her to come join us with more of her helpful insights about documenting past history through personal collections and retained heirlooms.  I'm pleased to welcome her here today.

Ask Me First!

Thanks, Arlee for allowing me to write about an aspect of documenting one's family history that may not occur to many parents.  I'm referring to a child's right to say yea or nay about his 'stuff', some of which may become his own future collectibles.   

At NASA, they collect Rockets for a Space Garden

Does your child have a collection which he treasures? Regardless of how age inappropriate it may seem, don't give away those items without his permission. Let the owner of that object decide its fate, perhaps after beginning elementary school.  The concept of ownership has to be understood.

A child's collectibles can be driftwood, badges, favourite books, games, train sets or a special comfort toy. Doll collections, action figures, signed toys, a favourite teddy bear, all are reminders of our past. On the serious side are collections of coins, stamps, sports cards, or sports paraphanalia. If an item has heritage significance to the child, such as a gift from a doting relative, ensure the child is aware of the value and background. Some early collections may turn into a main interest in a person's adult life or perhaps influence a career choice. Don't stifle that urge to hold onto a moment, nurture it.

Have a keep and a recycle box, just like in Toy Story, and let your kids decide what is to be given away. Don't get the boxes mixed up, and never keep collectibles in a garbage bag. It might end up at the curb (just like in the movie). Always keep collections clearly marked in boxes or bins, protected from dust and damage.

Kids may become more involved in the winnowing process, if they are going to be selling the toys that are no longer wanted. Recycling toys at a kids' swap meet with your child is a great way to teach several lessons at once. Packaging the items that are small in ziplock bags keeps them clean, and teaches little ones how to display the items, determining prices for the objects teaches value, handling small sales (with supervision) for the younger ones, and helping sort money promotes a basic understanding of our money system. Don't forget to have a 'float' of small bills and change and be prepared to bargain (older kids can do this). The trick at swap meets is to let the kids keep the money they make or agree to share the profits.

This post originated with the idea that a child should have the right to decide what's important in their 'stuff' and not have it given away as if it's communal property. I've heard my hub's sad tale of loss of a collectible electric train set and hardcover comic books which he had slowly acquired. He was never asked, when these items were given to children of his parents' friends. His regret at losing the early collections spurred him to start anew.


Think of your own childhood toys or items like chairs, cradles, wagons? Do you still have any of them?  Have you ever been to a kids swap meet or had your own toy yard sale?

What did you collect as a child?  Do you collect anything now? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Related posts from DG Hudson's blog:

Tips on saving and sorting those boxes of memories, and a 'Memory Quilt' overview, a free-style version.

Keeping family records and stories alive, collecting that information, and protecting your history for your descendants.


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