29 September 2014

Going Ancestral, Part One

I feel like that’s all I am able to write about my experience on ancestry.com after joining a fourteen-day trial to search specifically for Joe Wellington. And there is a lot of information on there. Since I know you’re all waiting to hear if this trial search has reconnected me with JW, it wouldn’t be considerate of me to leave you with just a “whoa”.
Signing up for this trial was actually a bit funny. I couldn’t sign up as myself because I have previously used their database, thus I wouldn’t qualify for a “free” trial. So I had to make one up. Oops. I know, I know, this is not good karma to be dishonest to the Internet gods but hey- sometimes it’s okay to tweak things a bit. Besides, I wasn’t looking for my ancestors.
Let’s get to it.
I typed in ‘Joseph Wellington’ and estimated that in 1998 (when I met him) he must have at least been twenty-one. So that means he would have had to be born in 1977 or earlier. Pretty confident he was born in New Zealand and male.
91,000 results in all categories.
Excited, I filter the search to only look up electoral rolls for New Zealand.
Several results for a Joseph Wellington with residence in Whangerai in 1978. He wasn’t old enough to vote in 1978 or 1981 so I’m going to toss those aside.  
New search of census, birth and death certificates.
Only 9 results from the 1900s census lists… The most current names are Joseph Henry Wellington or Joseph Andrew Wellington. Both results are from 1981 listed as an adult.
So, nothing.
“Are you kidding me?!” I say out loud as I shake my fists dramatically to the cyber gods.
Moving on, I read a newspaper result that seems to be an obituary of someone who passed away in May 2013 in Auckland. It wasn’t Joseph who died but a sibling named ‘Jo’ is highlighted as the search result. I figure it doesn’t hurt to take a look so I click on the link and the web site opens only to say “this obituary is no longer available online.” I could restore it for a fee but since I’m not feeling confident this is the right lead, I close the tab.
Unwilling to admit defeat, I once again type his name into a search only this time I change the filter to “sounds like or similar”. I’m not certain his last name is/was Wellington to begin with, so maybe this will lead me in the right direction?
‘Frederick J. Wellington’? ‘Heather J. Wellington’? Surname ‘Williams’… this does not seem to be the right path.
 Several surname Wellington’s come up for US public records. To get the world package I would have to pay extra. Not interested.
My head beginning to ache, I skim info on family trees containing the name Joe Wellington. Sooo much information I can’t keep up with all of it. Nope, he’s not from the 1600s. Nope, he didn’t die in 1996. Nope, pretty sure his first name isn’t really Lester. Also pretty sure he wasn’t born in Jamaica. Really?
Now the trial is over. And I’m not any closer to finding Joe Wellington. I think I have to concede that his last name isn’t Wellington. So now, I feel like I have to start all over. Actually, I don’t even know where to start.
I will keep writing this blog and I hope you’ll all continue to follow. Remember that if you hear of anyone named Joe Wellington, ask if he is from New Zealand and if he was in San Francisco in 1998. For now, that’s about all the searching I can do.
Unless… wait a minute… what’s this thing called Twitter?
…To Be Continued…

18 September 2014

Father White Pine

My family's favorite lake

My post from June 2014 (Mother Earth) about Jane Goodall was one of my favorites. There was much I wanted to add to that post but didn’t get a chance. One mention I didn’t get to include was who inspired me when I was younger to respect Mother Earth.
That person is my father.
My father has been one of my best friends in my life. I realize that might seem odd to some- but it’s very true. And I think that is why I find it difficult to write about him, even now. Too much emotion.
From as young as I can remember, my Pops (aka ClarkGriswold) would take us hiking in the woods where we could explore, whistle with the birds (he’ll have tough competition in NZ), determine proper scat identification, and hug trees. He was the one taking photos of the flowers: little bluebells, pink lady slippers, lilacs or the fresh dew on the tree leaves. Occasionally, if we were extra quiet, maybe a photo op with a deer (before “selfies” or “ussies” were that cool). And at night, my dad often reminded us to look up at the sky and imagine what might be out there. He put into perspective how teeny, tiny, small we are in comparison to the light of the stars and moon.
I just came back from a trip to the USA to see family and I learned that my father’s favorite tree is a White Pine, which pretty much sums up my dad’s character quite well. The Iroquois in North America refer to the White Pine as the “tree of peace” due to a Peacemaker telling all the warriors to bury their weapons under a planted White Pine. A very tall and tough tree, I’ve also heard it is the symbol of wisdom and longevity. 
A sturdy White Pine
My dad also loves grey wolves and has perfected their howl. The Native American symbolism that I’m aware of, and forgive me for not doing my research, is that the grey wolf represents a deep connection with your intuition. Again, I think this sums up my dad pretty well. He’s always been a quiet, humble, and private (he will probably be embarrassed by this post) man. Some might say he’s shy or an introvert, but he’s always been someone who honors his instincts, stands up for his rights if necessary (someone has to chase the chipmunks out of the garage!), and allows forgiveness where there sometimes should be none.
This is just a glimpse of the bravery and gratitude that my father has passed on to me…  and now to his grandson.
So while I was listening to Dr. Goodall lecture about finding unity with the heart and the mind, I couldn’t help but to think of my dad’s compassion for all living things. And don’t worry, Dad. I’m not putting you on a pedestal. I’ve never searched for perfection from anyone. Except when playing with Barbies.
I’m very fortunate to have the relationship I have with my padre. He is my political sounding board, my music-enthusiast, my movie-watching buddy (gotta love the Back to the Future Trilogy, right?!), my camp fire supervisor, my museum-hopping seeker, my editor and my teacher, and now… he is my quiet, wise guide and my reminder of finding peace within this jungle of life. 
Lake Itasca through the Pines
I just had to say it.
And of course, he’s always cool rockin’.