Putting Fire To Memories

That's what I'm doing tonight. I could be practical and say that some paperwork I burn (like old bills and phonebooks) are my assurance of preventing identity theft but the truth is there is a psychological satisfaction in setting those bits and pieces to blaze.
We have a little fire pit and it was very pleasant outside despite the cold to get another big bucket of old papers turned to ash. I don't know how many phonebooks the average person accumulates over the years but in 4 decades I had acquired about a dozen. Yesterday I purposely went out to buy a new one and transferred all the old addresses into it. Not a pleasant task. There were many people whose names I can't put faces to anymore and so many I had lost touch with. I kept the names I would like to find the people for on a separate list taped into the new phone book. That's just how it is- a sign of being older. I am going through a bit of a depression with this- it ties into the photographic work I'm doing which consists of scanning old photos of long dead people because I am interested in my roots.

A nice photo of someone my father knew a long time ago or possibly a relative.

Old pictures

I want to go to Europe at least once in my life to see Austria and Germany and also Switzerland, which is where my husband is from. I have lost the phone numbers and addresses for the few relatives my mother kept in touch with from my father's side and this is chewing away at me and what prompted the big phone book ordeal. I wish everyone had e-mail but they don't. I wish Canada Post was more reliable but it's not. I got a postcard from my cousin in Austria last year that said 'ein brief folgt' which means she was intending to send a letter shortly but that letter never came. And of course she didn't put her address on the back of the card so I'm left wondering where the hell in Oberwart she is - if she died or Canada post lost the letter.

The photographs I'm now putting online are scanned from negatives my father had tucked away. I consider them mine to do with as I like and will probably make them available as stock as well as forming the basis for making up a family tree. The story I'm sensing from the images I have is of a man who bought a camera and learned to use it for the purpose of remembering his homeland- I really think he knew he would be leaving Austria and possibly not returning. Money was tight back then after the war- you can see in the photos that the people worked hard to build roads, and clear forests and were proud of their homes. They look happy in these pictures- taking joy in simple pleasures like sharing a meal together- and with those smiles of people who know they're being photographed they make me smile.
There are some depressing images as well- what looks like a bombed out farm with stray chickens running around- chronicle of damage from the war on a person's now useless home.

Alongside all this imagery are family papers that I can't read much of which seem to tell a tale of people getting married and having children and lands changing hands. There is a lot of buying and selling going on and the family names are misspelled quite a few times that it's not always certain if Köhler is Kehler or Kheller or if Meisl is Meißl or Meusl. Maybe they're the same people or not. Some of these people were related to nobility it seems but there’s not much online to look up noble names. Evidently the Austrians and Germans decided to outlaw the use of hereditary titles which kind of kills the desire to put that info online- German people tend to be sticklers for authority but fortunately we aren't constrained in Canada from advertising that kind of information. Genealogy is fun but frustrating so the more sources there are to learn from the better so I'm posting anything relevant online on my website to make it available for others researching their family history to learn from.

This is not mine but is part of the collection- the best example of certificate done in the old style of pen and ink with ornamental lettering.

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On other artistic fronts most of my photos for 2008 are up for stock and I'm working on the 2009 pictures. There are lots of subject matters so if you're looking for good stock shots check out the site.

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