Another year older

Last week I turned 33. I have officially started what my Dad likes to call my Jesus year. It’s my year to make an impact in the world or … die trying? I’m sure he only means the first half. I have a tendency to interpret too literally sometimes.

What will 33 bring? I have big plans, but yet no idea. By the time I turn 34, will the world know my name? Not likely. I’ll take small victories. Like maybe 100 readers. Or maybe a complete novel?


Of Royal Descent (Just like Oprah!)

So, in the process of researching THE DAMN BOOK*, I have become obsessed with tracing my family tree. Call it procrastination if you want. I’ll prove you wrong, one of these days.

I started this months ago. Sitting in my bedroom at the Bethsaida volunteer house, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I took to the internet to research my Scottish ancestors. Makes total sense, doesn’t it? To aid my search, I bought a membership to, and all the resources they provide.

If you haven’t used a site like this, here’s how it works: you enter the info you know, and the site searches its records databases and the trees of other members to offer hints as to who these people are, who their parents & grandparents might be, and who else you may be related to. It is so addictive. I played with it for months on end, building a beautiful tree. Then I reached a bit of a plateau. Ancestry had no more to offer me, and neither did my family records.

Of course, in a process like this there are so many chances of making errors – particularly when you make a leap and decide that your great-aunt Sue must be this other person’s great-aunt Sue, and so you link your tree and share info, without realizing that this other person’s great-aunt was actually Sally, not Sue and so you are off in a very wrong direction.

Add to that the fact that the Scots were far from creative with their baby naming (John, Malcolm, Angus, Norman, Flora, Margaret, repeat…) and you are bound to go wrong somewhere.

So, a few days ago I logged in, started playing around, and noticed that there were almost 100 years between the birth of one Norman MacLeod and his son. Something was not right. So I looked and looked and there appeared to be two generations in a row of Norman MacLeod’s who married Janets, and I had picked the wrong one. Did some digging, fixed it up, and suddenly the hints were coming fast & furious. In the process, I also discovered another great website on the genealogy of Clan MacFarlane. So much information!

So, amazingly, with the help of both sites, I have traced the ancestors of my Paternal grandfather (a.k.a. The Duke) back to the 12th century. Seriously. All the way back to Olaf “the Black” Godredson, born in 1117. I could have gone farther, but was out of time. I will go back.

Who was Olaf, you ask? Only the King of Man and the Isles. The Duke is right. He could have aimed much higher.

One expects you all to treat one with more respect, henceforth.

*Perhaps attitude is a problem here. I’ll never finish THE DAMN BOOK at this rate.


I’ve decided I want to write more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now. I will be posting on this blog once a week for all of 2011. I hope to keep it interesting. 🙂

Beyond that, I have started a new blog, One Book Per Week, where I will be reviewing books. How many books – well, read the title. One per week. I have been reading for ages after all. I have lots of reviews to post. I also want to read more, so of the 52 reviews I post at least 26 will be of books read in 2011. Fun.

Also on the writing theme: WRITE THE DAMN BOOK. The book. I started it last February, made slow but significant progress, took some research with me to Africa and made even slower progress, and then it dropped off my radar in the fall. Draft 1 will be done this year. It doesn’t have to be published or read by anyone or anything else. Just draft 1, complete.

And the final resolution: Progress on my student loans. In fact, I want the smaller one, the one I took out for my Investment Management diploma at NSCC, completely paid by the end of the year. It’s only about $2500, but combined with my earlier loans for my Bachelor’s degree, the payments are so small I feel like I am spinning my wheels. We don’t have a car payment anymore. I can channel more money towards it and just get it off the books for good.