Genealogy can be like packing a rat hole with sand!

Notes from Alexis: Genealogy has taken over her writing world. Grandma has taken over her living world, and printers go amuck!


Hanzi Superdog’s 2nd birthday

Dear Lex,

Did Dad ever tell you about Mom’s hearing aid story. As you know, I took her down to the Klamath Speech and Hearing, and there I saw L. He wanted to know how you were getting on, and I gave him your number.

Now to the hearing aid story, just in case he didn’t tell you. Dad gets all kinds of sportsmen’s catalogs, and one of them had the Bionic Ear. It has earphones; big padded things just like Mom and Dad have for their TV’s. It has an amplifier about like a flashlight. You put on the earphone and point the amplifier in the direction of the sound & WOW – sound! I can hear M. across the street (if she is outside). Dad can hear the big TV which doesn’t have a plug for earphones. He misses a lot, especially the British plays. There have been just one or two small problems. One: It is a large, cumbersome arrangement. Two: The amplifier is so sensitive that moving it around produces too much sound and breaks the eardrums, so it is best to lay it on a pillow which locks a person into one place.

One night I saw a Masterpiece Theater play where this old lady had on small earphones with an amplifier pinned to her blouse. The next morning I called the KS&H and hauled Mom in before she could come up with 50 reasons why she couldn’t go. We took the Bionic Ear ($75) in so they could see what we wanted, and there was L.

Mom has a hearing aid that fits in the ear and whistles and screeches so bad she can’t stand it, and it only just produces enough sound, so we don’t have to shout. She hates it so much she “forgets” to wear it and makes me mad.

We wanted something like the old lady on TV. I told Mom I couldn’t understand the logic (or illogic) that makes it OK to wear a setup to hear music (Walkman), but not to hear “talk”. L. listened to us and said yes indeed there were such things available, but if he put it together, it would be very expensive. He suggested we go down to Radio Shack and get something that would work fine for not much money. He thought about $50. We smoked a trail down to Radio Shack and within a half hour walked out with “Horn’s new ear” — $29.50. We were so thrilled we went to Nibbley’s for coffee and cake.

Mom was just like a kid with a new toy. She told the lady about it, and she was so surprised. She had assumed it was a Walkman. Now we can talk just like real people. She still doesn’t listen – never has, never will. She is only interested in what she says, not what anybody else says.

One of the truly saddest things about hearing loss is that we lose small talk. All the unnecessary words are cut out. I will yell the one or two vital words in a sentence, but not all the little words that are basically unimportant, but add the sauce to the meat. This is the first time in years she has been able to hear the conversation. I still talk a little louder and a little slower, but I don’t prune as much off as before. She has had the earphones for her TV all the time, so at least she has had that, but nothing beats real people talk – right?

Now I must tell you how surprised and thrilled I was to find you were interested in our Genealogy. I had no idea you were even slightly interested. It has been such fun for me and just a bit scary because I have had phenomenal luck. Of course, I seem to have a knack for it too. I believe I have the kind of mind that lends itself to this business. I just look in the right places sometimes.

Still, I give the lion’s share to luck. I have gotten help from so many very kind strangers (relatives) who have shared information. Of course, I and the Mormons believe those old dead ancestors want to be found, or you can’t find them for love or money. I just assure them that I don’t care what happened in those long ago days – it’s OK with me.

I was never told anything about my family. Mom was told a lot of bull, but what I have found is just so much more interesting than the made-up stories. We are lucky that our folks just happened to be in the right place at the right time to have an eyeball view of some of our greatest history.

One of the things I do, is read any and everything about the time and place where I’m looking. I don’t have all the pieces yet. One of the best and worst things about genealogy is that you never get all the pieces.

It’s the best because you never run out of research subjects. It’s one of the worst, because you could scream at not getting some things you yearn to learn. I handle this problem by looking for everybody all at once; this way something is always turning up, and I don’t get so frustrated. Now that I’m getting older, I can’t do ten things at once, like I used to. It breaks my heart, but there it is. I am down to about two things max, of course, these two things are monstrous projects. When I’m not researching our ancestors and reading up on the history and mapping out the book “All Roads Lead to Texas,” which is the working title of my book, I am working on the Tuttles.

Volume II is to the point where I am ready to start the Index. A two week “dawn to dusk” work detail, at least. This is just a “maybe” timeline, because I have no idea how many more volumes I will end up with. Vol II takes care of William’s two sons, John and Thomas. There are still four sons left to write about, and I am going on the assumption the other four will fit in one volume, based on nothing more than wishful thinking.

I get so worn out working on the Tuttles because it resembles packing a rat hole with sand – just no end to it, but then I sincerely believe it is a work that flatters. Let’s hope I’m right. I would hate to think I’m doing all this for naught.

This letter has ended up being a book, but I have ONE more story which is just too good to leave out, and I think you will appreciate it. You better or I’ll be miffed! When I told Dad, he just stared at me and changed the subject. This is a scary story so brace yourself. It concerns my DeskJet printer. Some time back, I was working away and printing, and I did something that caused the printer just to go bonkers. I figured out what I had done, but I’ll spare you the gory details. The results are what this story is about.

All the lights on the printer began blinking, and the print cartridge slammed over to the left side in a gut-wrenching manner. We are such slaves to our machines, whether it is a pump or a car or washing machine. To have my printer suddenly go crazy right in the middle of a print job is scary. I looked in the book and did everything it said and nothing helped, so I took it to the hospital. M. kept it for three days, then called me and said, “Mrs. Campbell we can’t find a thing wrong, we’ve run every test, and it prints perfectly.” It cost me $25 to get that good news, but what a mystery. I brought it home and sure enough, it printed perfectly.

Monday I was working away and did something (again, I know what I did, and it was a totally different “something”). I thought about that last time and just turned the printer off and waited a couple of hours, I went back and turned it on. All the lights were blinking, but the print cartridge only went half way and stopped. I turned it off for two more hours then tried it again and this time the lights weren’t blinking, but it wouldn’t take orders from the computer. Two hours more and I ran a self-print test and there it was working fine, and it took a print order from the computer.

I spent the whole day in a total cold sweat terror – was it terminal? expensive? what??? Now the really scary thought hits me: It cured itself once it was turned off. That is just a bit much for me to swallow, but it has happened twice now and I must consider it.

Believe me, I’m not complaining. I am in the middle of the book, with several others out there in a holding pattern, and all of them are geared to the DeskJet. It would not be simple to change printers, but Lord, to think of it curing itself is beyond comprehension!

I think that’s mainly a funny story— today — now. It wasn’t a damn bit funny Monday. In any case, I thought it deserved more reaction than a stony silence. Ah well, computer stories, like Genealogy stories, have to hit a receptive audience don’t you think?

Well, I’ll close for now and get this down to the P.O. We are all fine and hope this finds you the same.

Love, Mom, Dad, Grandpa and Hanzi Superdog – full of bones