Writing research

I wrote about doing some research on the history of our property back in April (Playing detective).  I mentioned that it was requiring a “HUGE amount of *finesse,” but that finesse has paid off!

I was researching the family that had lived here in 1930 on Ancestry.com, and was having difficulty following the information due to the number marriages between the two prominent family lines and similar names. I’d contacted two family members that had posted trees, but they did not have any helpful information.

However, I did receive an email from a family member I had not contacted. He turned out to be the great-grandson of the previous owner. He said his mother was anxious to speak with me regarding the horrific events that took place on the property that involved her mother’s family. Since that time I have exchanged many emails with various family members who all live in the Mid-west. I even received a packet of family photos, some taken on the property!

This afternoon I’m sitting down with two elderly ladies who lived in the area during the period of time that the previous family lived here. Funny, but I would have never known to speak with these two ladies (one still lives in the area, the other is here visiting relatives) without receiving that contact through Ancestry.com.

My research finesse level:  Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert

What’s your research finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Are gray skies making me fat?

I heard a report on the news last night about a study linking insufficient levels of vitamin D to weight gain. I have to admit that my ears perk up anytime I hear of anything that might cause weight gain other than poor choices. Hey, it’s not the chocolate and lack of exercise – it’s the lack of sunshine!

The study, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, found those with insufficient levels of vitamin D in their blood gained about two pounds more than those with adequate levels of the vitamin. Two pounds?  At this point I’m thinking this isn’t really news. I can fluctuate up and down two pounds in a week easily.

According to an online article, the study involved more than 4,600 women age 65 over nearly five years. “In the group of 571 women who gained weight, those with insufficient vitamin D levels gained more — 18.5 pounds over five years — than women who had sufficient vitamin D,” said study author Dr. Erin LeBlanc, an endocrinologist at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. “The latter group gained 16.4 pounds over the same period.” LeBlanc went on to say that although it was only 2 pounds, over time that can add up.

I’m always skeptical of studies, so I did a little math. According to the article, 78 percent (or 3588) of the 4600 study participants had a vitamin D deficiency, yet only 571 (or 12.4 percent) gained weight. If a lack of vitamin D is the reason for weight gain, then why didn’t a higher percentage of those with the deficiency gain weight? And why did a percentage of the 571 who gained weight do so in spite of having sufficient levels of vitamin D?

I’m the first to admit that I’m not a researcher, doctor or scientist, but this study doesn’t appear to prove any solid link between vitamin D deficiency and weight gain. Am I missing something? I don’t think so, but just in case I am, I think I’ll go outside and enjoy some natural vitamin D!

My wellness *finesse level: 
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What’s your wellness finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Travel planning with Finesse

It’s that time of year when we think about vacations. Because we own timeshares (which work very well for us, by the way!), we tend to plan at least a year in advance. However, there are always those fine details to be worked out as the vacation gets closer.

We spend a great deal of time in Central Oregon at Eagle Crest Resort and have seen and done a lot of the different touristy things, so we’re going to dig a little deeper and maybe get a little more adventurous this summer. I don’t see us climbing Smith Rock, but we are planning to head south one day and explore Crater Lake National Park. I’m a native Oregonian and the husband has lived here since he was two-weeks old, but neither of us has ever been to Crater Lake.

A quick glance at the website seems to indicate that all photography requires a permit – even if it’s just a pose of the family in front of the lake. This might require a little more research, but that’s all part of travel planning. The website also mentions boat tours, which sounds like fun, but there wasn’t a link with information on the cost, times, or length of the excursions. Also missing is the amount of time it takes to drive around the lake.

I’m not easily deterred, so I “googled” again and found the Crater Lake Lodges Xanterra Parks and Resorts site offered much more information.  Only a certain number of reservations are accepted for the nearly 2 hour tours, saving the remaining spots for first come, first served purchases on the day of the tour. These sell out quickly, so if we aren’t able to snag a reservation, we should plan on arriving early. It’s also not just a short little hop to the boat ramp. We’ll need to hike a little more than a mile on a trail that drops approximately 700-feet. It’s not the drop that concerns me as much as the ascent on the hike out, which is equivalent to climbing more than 70-flights of stairs! The same website also lists the menus of the cafes around the lake. Given their offerings, I think we’ll pack a picnic.

I’ve learned to keep digging. E-mail or make a phone call if necessary to get accurate information. Keep surprises at a minimum. Avoid disappointment with a little planning *finesse and maximize the fun!

My travel planning finesse level: 
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What’s your travel planning finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Buried in boxes of photos

I had good intentions and followed through pretty well during the first few years of marriage. Shortly after getting our photos developed, I’d place them neatly on the adhesive pages of photo albums with clever captions below. When we started having kids I envisioned photo albums for each child, creatively capturing each milestone from first steps to graduation.

Something went very wrong between the visions and reality and we now have boxes of photos. The ones that did make it into those old adhesive photo albums have been removed, but some are very badly damaged. I invested in several photo-safe boxes and began organizing the photos by date. I’m glad they are safe from further deterioration, but this still doesn’t seem to be the best option for preserving memories long term. Honestly, it’s all a little overwhelming.

I used a new approach with the pictures of my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding. I used an online photo book service and was very pleased with the result. I have to say, the layout options were a little less intuitive than I would have liked, but workable if you have some photo editing knowledge. The same company offers scanning of photos, but I’m not comfortable sending irreplaceable memories through the mail.

Organizing digital photos can be equally frustrating. We recently updated our computer’s operating system and can’t get our photos to transfer. If they aren’t safe on the hard drive, then they have to be stored elsewhere.  Print them? Burn a CD?

A simple internet search yields a lot of results for how to organize photos, but I’d like to know what works for you. Have you found a great solution?

My photo organization finesse level: 
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What’s your photo organization finesse level?

Playing detective

I’ve been researching the history of our property and it’s requiring a HUGE amount of *finesse!

I’d heard stories of a murder-suicide involving the owners in the 1930s, and was able to dig up the account from The Oregonian. It’s a pretty interesting read, especially the style of writing, which would never pass for journalism today.

I wanted to find out more about the family, so I plugged their names into Ancestry.com. I wasn’t having much luck until I entered the name of the half-sister of the owner listed in the newspaper account. I was really excited until I started finding the same two surnames repeated over and over again. It appears this German family wanted to maintain their blood lines and married cousins.  

I was able to contact two of the family members that posted the family trees by email, so I’m hopeful they will respond and help me unravel the tangled twist and turns.

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

My research finesse level: 
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 What’s yours?