Wow…that went quick. Time flies by so fast these days; I must be getting old.
Wait…I am getting old! This year was the big six-five. I’m on Medicare now. Honestly, I hadn’t looked forward to a birthday so much since I first hit double digits. After decades doing battle with health insurance for the self-employed, I’m finally swimming in a big risk pool. I’m grateful—-very grateful—for good health, but it’s a huge relief to know that I’m no longer one crisis away from crushing medical debt.
Back in the Dark Ages when I was on a high-school debate team, the 1964 annual topic was “Resolved: That Social Security benefits should be extended to include complete medical care.” I wouldn’t know in advance if my team would be arguing pro or con at a particular meet, but I got my highest scores when I was on the negative team. I had the kind of passion that you get when you’ve got many facts at your fingertips, but not a whole lot of wisdom to temper them.
An old-self/new-self conversation would be worth the price of admission.
When I wasn’t counting the days until my birthday, I was, once again, immersed in preparations for the Embroiderers’ Guild of America’s national seminar which was held in October, in Louisville, KY. As much as I love embroidery and embroidery classes, it increasingly appears that I enjoy seminar committee work more. That—or I really don’t know how to say No when asked to do something that falls inside my skill set.
Writing-wise, 2013 has been the year to ask myself What tale, if any, would I tell, were I my only audience? It’s not been an easy question to answer and there were more false starts than I’d cared to count throughout the year. A few months ago and, truly, when I’d just about given up on the whole enterprise, I began gathering characters and story threads that didn’t dissolve. It’s too early to say, but I’m excited about what I could be writing in 2014.
Since July, when I wasn’t reading through a barrage of Medicare options, working for the EGA, or burning through story ideas, I’ve been exploring a new hobby: genealogy. I never thought I’d succumb to the ancestry bug; there have always been tales of irregularities in my family tree that I wasn’t comfortable untangling. But my good friend, CJ Cherryh, and a first cousin (once removed), Walt Blenderman are both devoted genealogists, so I suppose it really was only a matter of time.
I joined Ancestry.com and got to work on the tangles. Much to my relief, digitized data from the UK censuses have reassured me that I am, indeed, an Abbey. But my great-grandmother Julia was woman who got around quite a bit there in London’s East End at the end of the 19th century; and my great-grandfather, for reasons the census cannot explain, wound up living around the corner with Julia’s mother. Right now, I’m trying craft a definitive connection between us and an Arthur Abbey who, in the mid-18th century, was the huntsman for the Cottesmore Hunt, the oldest hunting club in the United Kingdom!
Things have been easier on my mother’s side of my tree—in no small part because that’s where my first cousin (once removed) has been hard at work for decades. I could have simply imported Walt’s data, but I decided to see what Ancestry.com and I could put together on our own.
Much to my surprise, when I got back to the Hamlin/Hamblin/Hamblens of early 18th century Massachusetts my tree and Walt’s began to diverge (due to an abundance of Eleazers). Being clearly out of my depth, I turned my sources over to Walt who examined them with a practiced eye before concluding that I’d stumbled onto a better path through the Eleazers, a path which has led not quite to the Mayflower, but to the Fortune, the next ship to arrive in Massachusetts.
It turns out that through Eleazer Hamblin, my mother (and I) are related to a good many of the families that gave their names to a good many of the landmarks that I’ve visited countless times while vacationing on Cape Cod with my family.
It’s so nice when the path becomes a circle.