Ups & Downs – CoronaLife Day 677

As the saying goes, life has its ups and downs. This week my daughter tested positive for Covid. She’s doing okay, mostly just congested. She had one day she felt terrible, with a horrendous headache, but that was the second day of symptoms and has eased off considerably. Now my husband and I are waiting to see if we get it from her.

So that’s the down.

The up is that the genealogy book I am working on is nearing completion! Remember how I had thought I would need to cut a whole lot of pages to fit it into an affordable price range? The text of this book was clocking in at a whopping 290 pages, while the earlier book I did was only 180. Therefore, I spent a few days trying to cut it down, despairing of ever getting close.

Then I had a bright idea. I decided to look at the final PDF of the first book, to see what the final page count was after I added all the photos, trees, and title pages. I almost fainted, because it was 500 pages! I immediately knew that even with all the inserts added to the 290 pages of text, this book would not be 500 pages. Which meant I did not have to try to cut any text out!

What a relief!

I will finish compiling the PDF tomorrow, then I need to upload that to the printer so I can get a cover template for the book. The final large project will be designing the cover once I have the template. I already know what I would like to do for the cover, so it will just be a matter of getting it done. Then I can send it off to be printed!

Almost there.

How’s your January going?

Genealogical Proof—CoronaLife Day 670

Ask and you shall receive! I got my proofreading copy for my genealogy book back last weekend, so I have been diligently making or rejecting changes.

There’s a lot to look at.

Some are genuine mistakes. Some are things perfectly clear to me that confused readers who have not been immersed in this for 20+ years. Some are things I decided not to change because they weren’t actually mistakes.

One thing I should have explained to the proofreaders is that ages and spellings are elastic until after 1900, and even sometimes then. Many people were illiterate, so spellings were at the mercy of whoever was taking the dictation. I once had someone write an ancestor’s name as “Eva Murray”, leading to a long chase for an Irishman in early 19th century Germany. Turns out her name was Eva Marie, and her immigrant husband’s heavy German accent was misheard by the clerk.

Ages floated a lot, too. People lied to go to war, to get married, to appear younger than their husbands. Many people honestly didn’t know their exact birth year. Until Social Security, it really wasn’t necessary to know. So genealogist get accustomed to a certain amount of drift in ages. Ancestors are simultaneously 40 and 37 and 52—it all depends when you look.

Schrodinger’s relatives.

Still, the proofreaders did a fantastic job. I am inching my way through. I have 4 more chapters to do, then all the photo and graphic captions. I hope to have it completed by Monday.

I will still have to go in and edit it severely to bring the page count down. I hate to lose so much fun historical stuff. So I am considering keeping the longer version and making it available as a PDF giveaway with purchase of the book. We shall see.

How is your new year kicking off?

Happy New Year 2022—CoronaLife Day 663

Happy New Year, everyone! I feel a bit like life is just on repeat: here in NJ we are in the middle of a COVID case spike that dwarfs the original wave in 2020. When the pandemic started, I began the counting of CoronaLife Days. I never thought I would still be counting the days almost two years later.

2021 was in many ways, a year of waiting for me. Waiting for illustrations for my YA book. Waiting for the proofread of my genealogy book. Waiting for this pandemic to end. Lots of waiting.

My hope for 2022 is that it will be a year of action as the waiting ends. I will get my illustrations. I will get my proofread. Both those books will be published. And I hope with all I have that we will also finally see this pandemic burn itself out, and life can return to normal—although with over 826,000 dead and hundreds of thousands more permanently disabled from COVID, life will never again be normal for many of our neighbors.

Living in the uncertain limbo of the last few years has been stressful for me. Many times I have just wanted to scream from sheer frustration. I am hoping this year I will find some relief, and that I will have the mental and emotional space to work creatively again.

I wish you and yours a safe and happy New Year, and hope 2022 will be healthy and productive for you!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

The past few weeks have been hectic, as this time of year often is. Add a sick child in, and it’s a little more fraught than normal.

I am awaiting my family history book from my proofreaders. I have gathered all the title pages, trees, and photos, so once I clean up the text, I will be ready to go. I may have some significant trimming to do, as I realized that this book is 290 pages, while the other one I did was only 145. I don’t mind the book being longer, but I am afraid the price point would be prohibitive.

I just hopped on today to wish everyone who celebrates a Merry Christmas! If you celebrate something else, enjoy your holiday season! And I wish everyone a happy, healthy, and safe New Year!

See you all in 2022!

December Already?!–CoronaLife Day 628

How is it December already? As often happens with me, October dragged, and November flew.

I have had a rather productive week. Since I am expecting the proofread of my genealogy book back soon, I put my shoulder to the wheel to get everything else I needed finished.

I completed all the title pages. I had already had the chapter tree charts done. And today I finished up the photo pages I will be including in the book.

I ended up with 26 pages of photos. Hopefully I will not need to cull them for page count.

Aside from any fixes I need to make from the proofread, the only other thing will be the cover. I can’t do that until I begin the publishing process, when I will be given a cover template to fit the page count. I know what I want to do for the cover, so once I have the template it should go quickly.

So here we are on the other side of Thanksgiving, with the end of the year barreling toward us. I have other projects I need to wrap up in the next couple of weeks, so I will be busy as an elf for a while.

I hope all of you had a warm and safe Thanksgiving. I enjoyed getting together with family once again.

What end-of-year projects are you working on?

Happy Thanksgiving–CoronaLife Day 621

These past few years have felt like one very long grind, but there are still things to be thankful for.

First, health. We lost an uncle to Covid and an aunt to other medical issues this year, and my husband experienced a health scare that luckily turned out okay. But that just heightens my gratitude that, right now, my family is healthy.

Second, semi-normalcy. Things are still not normal, which in some ways is harder than when they are crazy different. But some normalcy is creeping back. My child is back in person at school. She is back swimming. We can visit with my parents spontaneously again. I was able to visit safely with a friend from out of state. We are inching toward normal. It feels like a slow-motion springtime, as the world opens like a hesitant flower.

Finally, I am thankful for the gathering in. This Thanksgiving is with my mom’s family, about 40 people strong. Vaccination and precautions have allowed us to gather safely again. I am grateful to the scientists and doctors that have made it possible for us to once more enjoy the warmth and joy of family gathered together to celebrate life and love.

I wish everyone warmth, safety, and comfort in this Thanksgiving season.

Saving A Crumbling Past—CoronaLife Day 614

This week I finally finished up watching sessions of the conference that was held the last week in October. Because it was virtual, all sessions were recorded and we had access to them for 60 days.

So in my new free time, I turned my attention to scanning the two family albums I finally got from my mom. As hoped, they did clear up the mystery of Caroline vs. Annie, and they had several pictures of relatives I did not yet have. Jackpot!

One of the albums is the kind where the photos are glued onto black paper. There were few photos in there of interest to me, but I noted that the album was in bad shape.

Although only from 1952, the binding had broken, some of the pages were loose, a number of the photos had come unstuck, and many of the black pages were crumbling to the touch.

So I decided to scan the entire book.

My aunt had written on many of the pages, some with identifying information, but also some notes showing her sense of humor. While the photos could easily have been saved and placed in another album, the living context of them as a collection would be lost with the destruction of those pages.

So I scanned the whole book today. The pages are too large for my scanner, so I had to do them in 2 or 3 chunks, depending on the photo layout. I will need to stitch them together again.

Stitching them together will not be hard. The scanning is the tedious and time consuming part. But now the book is preserved, and now that it’s digitized each of her 6 children can have digital copies of it. Although since it consists mainly of 10,000 photos of my aunt’s first child, I’m not sure how the other 5 siblings will feel!

Next up is the other album, which has so many photos I want that I will no doubt end up scanning that whole album as well. I am trying to get everything scanned by Thanksgiving so I can return the albums to my cousins.

Next week is a hectic week for me, so if I do not manage to get on, Happy Thanksgiving!

Stamina–CoronaLife Day 607

Every day at bedtime, my daughter complains that her legs ache. This is not a surprise. After 18 months of mostly being home, combined with being on crutches all of August and in an ankle brace all of September, she is tremendously out of shape. That 40 minutes of exercise in gym every day has her muscles balking.

I sit here watching her swim laps, working on her endurance with the rest of her class…and I realize she is not the only one in need of more stamina.

My daily fatigue has been with me since the pandemic started, and I attributed a lot of it to my anxiety levels being through the roof. My anxiety often manifests as deep fatigue. Add to that the fact that I often only get about 6 hours of sleep a night, and it made sense.

But now I think there is another factor. As we move back to a more normal-ish existence, I am going out more. Socializing more. Interacting more.

And my mental and social muscles are flabby. I have no stamina.

The 45 minute drive to my folks’ house, which used to be nothing, is a grueling trek.

Going to a meeting in person makes me want to hibernate.

Focusing for 4 hours at an online conference drains me.

I need to build my stamina again.

I find myself working in bursts, trading spurts of productivity with times of scrolling mindlessly online or napping.

Concentration and socializing skills need exercise to stay in shape. This is the “learning loss” I have experienced during this upheaval.

While my daughter works on her swimming endurance, I will continue to work on getting myself back in mental shape.

I hope I can, because I am tired of not feeling like myself. It will take work, time, and patience–which is just another way of saying stamina.

Book Fair Spring 2021–CoronaLife 593

Book Fair is one of my favorite times of year. I love getting books into the hands of kids. Their glowing faces, the excitement… It never gets old.

This year our school has a brand new preschool program, so seeing the 3 and 4 year olds amid the books was new. I had totally forgotten just how little they are at that age! So sweet.

We had no Book Fair last year, for obvious reasons, and I think the kids really missed it. Even the too-cool-for-school 8th graders were spending money on books! And this was the first-ever fair for pre-k, kindergarten AND first grades in our school.

As good as it feels to be back, my aching feet and legs did not miss it, LOL. But it is worth it to see the smiles as kids carry off their books as if they were precious gems.

Because working at Book Fair 4 out of 5 days this week isn’t enough to keep me busy, I am also attending a 3-day conference for school board. Luckily, it is virtual this year, with all the sessions available for 30 days, so I could squeeze them in around making kids’ book dreams come true.

I will be busy with course work at the conference all day Thursday, then back to Book Fair all day Friday. This year’s fair has been out of this world!

Entitlement—CoronaLife Day 586

I have finally gotten around to working on the title pages for my mom’s genealogy book.

Working with the image I chose to use for my title pages proved a little more difficult than I had anticipated due to my own software limitations, but I figured it out and am now proceeding happily.

I had decided to use a basic outline map of the British Isles as my title page backdrops.* My mom’s lineages come mainly from Ireland and Scotland, so I divided the book into sections. The Country Title page has the appropriate country as the backdrop.

Then, with each section, I have the surname chapters. The appropriate county is still the backdrop, but in gray, with color highlighting where the family came from in that country.

I figured since I am paying for a full-color book, I should make the most of it! Using  this scheme is a great way to have the reader oriented without having to use a separate map page. Since many readers may not know where these places are, and are not familiar with the geography, I had wanted a way to provide this info.

Hopefully the title pages look nice as well as being informative.

*Thanks to Base map © maproom.net

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