Monday, March 17, 2008

What I hope to achieve by blogging

As I face yet another couple of fairly major operations, with the inherent unintended consequences that are entailed, perhaps its not surprising that I have been increasingly aware of my own potential mortality in recent months. I have therefore given some thought to what I might "leave behind" me when I am gone. I started a while ago recording reflections and memories and leaving these on my computer. Other reflections remained just transitory thoughts that were never committed to paper. My daughter writes a very entertaining blog and more recently my son has recorded his travels in South America in a most amusing manner. I doubt my own literary style will be anything like as appealing and can only hope that like insanity it might be something that can be "inherited" from your children - well we'll see.

So with these thoughts in mind one project that I returned to a few years ago was to update the family history for the benefit of my 2 children and any grandchildren that might come after them. This has been a rewarding experience and appealed to the social historian in me as I uncovered evidence of the effect of the industrial revolution on former hand loom weavers and agricultural labourers on my wife's side of things. For my part the ancestral line is somewhat truncated by virtue of pogroms and holocaust. This makes searching through eastern european records - where surnames become transliterated whenever borders were crossed and sometimes radically changed to better appeal to a British ear - a little more challenging! Nonetheless tracing both lines back to relatively recent times (200 years ago) does show a common agricultural small village experience supplemented by rural crafts.

The process of compiling details of over 1000 relatives and sharing these with family members through a web site has been rewarding. At times I have slept with clues to someone's past life turning over in my mind and woken up early to explore some new channel of enquiry. This was far better than reading Agatha Christie - I found myself actually writing new stories not just reading them. Other family members have appreciated the results of these enquiries which is in itself rewarding but I hope is only the tip of an iceberg of future family members who will be grateful for my efforts.

Another response to possible early mortality was to invest in wood turning equipment and to try my hand at turning the wood at Quiet Knoll into bowls coasters, egg cups and other potentially useful things that might be passed on to family members to come. Fortunately we have an ample supply of deciduous fruit and flowering trees. Some like Laburnum have a tendency to quickly blunt tools but compensate by producing lustrous finishes with contrasting dark heartwood and occasional flashes of lighter sap wood. I will in time include pictures of some of the results on this blog so you will be able to see for yourself. My grandfather was a wheelwright and I still posses some of his woodworking planes and spokeshaves although I have not used them since I was experimenting as a child. Sadly I disposed unknowingly of a small hammer that he is pictured holding in the one photograph I have of him in his workshop.

So my audience is not only the occasional visitor to this site but family members in the future who I may never know but I hope will feel that they will know me through what I leave behind.

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