The formula of marriage…

Marriage has been a hot button issue for at least the last decade when it comes to it definition and who can get married. Traditionally marriage has been defined as a man and a woman uniting their lives in either a civil or religious wedding ceremony. Until recently there was never any question as to what the formula for marriage was… you could ask anyone on the street and they would tell you with no hesitation.

Under the current definition of marriage, anyone can get married. It is a right already established and open to everyone. If you are a man, you can marry a woman — providing of course neither of you are already married (and not part of a religious cult). However now many are decrying that marriage is a right denied to a certain group of people — a group that is self-selected with no means of validation or confirmation — and certainly no proof that it is a grouping of natural genetics. Of course I speak of the homosexual community, who with no changes to laws have the right to enter into marriage, provided they follow the definition. A man can marry a woman. Even if that man has chosen to live a homosexual lifestyle, if he’s honest about his choice with his wife, he can legally marry.

Of course, since the purpose of marriage is to facilitate families – man and woman procreate and bear children, there isn’t really much reason for a gay man or woman to enter into proper marriage — but that would be their choice, that right is not denied to them by anyone except their own decisions.

Nevertheless that’s not good enough and marriage as society knows it has been under attack of late.

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Cleaning the Lent trap…

Nothing like starting out with a bad pun, eh?

But seriously, I’m not exactly sure why Lent has made such a comeback, so to speak, in recent years. It used to be only Catholics and some holdover Protestant denominations took part, but lately it seems everyone is onto the concept of Lent.

Perhaps it goes back to the movie “40 Days and 40 Nights” from 2002 starring Josh Hartnett (of “Pearl Harbor” fame and very little else). Never saw it because it looked terrible, but essentially, the story is that following a break-up with his girlfriend, Hartnett’s character decides to be celibate for the 40 days of Lent. “I’m not a scholar” or anything, but it seems to me that:

  1. The observance of Lent is for people who are committed to their chosen faith.
  2. Actively giving up sin (in this case fornication) is sorta the goal all the time, right? Not something you do during a 40-day period to earn some Kudos.

So Hartnett’s character chooses to give up something he shouldn’t be doing in the first place? Wow that’s tough. That’s like giving up something you already don’t do. I will give up eating squid and granite smoothies for Lent. Go me! Continue reading

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Remembering Al Kitchens…

Today marks 12 years since my father, Alfred Montgomery Kitchens passed away from heart failure. I’m pleased that before he died he became a Christian and I will one day see him again. In the interest of family history and genealogy I’m going to summarize dad’s life as best I can. A lot of this comes from personal knowledge as well as a letter written to him by his godmother Gladys Benford Kitchens.

It was shortly after his death that I made my first stab at tracing my family history, though it didn’t really catch until December of 2005 when I had moved 1,000 miles away from here.

Dad was born February 8, 1937 in Macon, Georgia. He was the son of James Eugene Kitchens and Marjorie Jane Smith. “Margie” was only 15 when dad was born. She got pregnant out of wedlock and James “Red” did the “right thing” marrying her so that dad was not what they called illegitimate. However the marriage was annulled soon after.

James Eugene Kitchens (1915-1969)

James’ parents were Lee Davis Kitchens and Emma Katherine “Kate” Mercer and he was one of three boys and two sisters born to the couple. From some accounts “Kate” was the sweetest woman you could know. From others she was very strict and controlling. I’m sure the truth lies somewhere between the two (as always). James had three marriages that we know of and from each marriage he had a single child. This was the first marriage and the first child and he was never allowed to really know my father and thus my father never really knew him. Likewise we never knew the Kitchens family beyond my dad for the longest time.

Lee Davis Kitchens (1886-1955) & Emma Katherine Mercer Kitchens (1896-1980)

Exit James and my grandmother was forced to live at home and try to take care of the baby. This was hard then as now for a teenage mother. Add in that her own mother had passed and the stepmother Sallie Ryder was a very very hard woman and Margie was forced to put my dad into the Methodist Children’s Home of Macon, GA.

Apparently though while many couples were interested in adopting dad, my grandmother would never let him be. Thus he grew up in the home, occasionally getting out for short trials with his mom, only to yo-yo back into the system.

In 1941, Margie met and married Harvey Wheeler Stacey of Brattleboro, Vermont. He was in Macon during his military service. Harvey was the man I grew up with knowing as my grandfather and of course we never questioned why she was “Gram Stacey” to us (instead of Kitchens) until we were much older. We loved him and he loved us and we saw him as our grandfather. However, from the time I can remember, they lived up in Vermont and would come down to visit from time to time and we made the trek up there once when I was in fourth grade for Thanksgiving. They later moved to Doniphan, Missouri to escape the bitter cold, but I never made it out there to see them — though they came to visit us several times.

Harvey Wheeler Stacey (1919-2006) & Marjorie Jane Smith Stacey (1921-1993)

As dad got older he was able to get out of his home and visit, even in Vermont, but he stayed in the Macon, Georgia area after a short stint in the Army.

Dad in the U.S. Army

In Macon he met my mom Frances Dee Anderson of Franklin, NC. Mom’s family had moved to Clarkston, GA as her dad was a carpenter and Atlanta had lots of opportunity for building during the 50s. Mom was just about out of high school when they moved and then moved to Macon, GA for work. There they met and in early 1960 got married. My brother William was born in Macon in November of that year and Robert was born in May of 1962.

The family moved back to the Atlanta area and I was born in Clarkston in 1966 followed by my brother Jeff in 1969.

As with all marriages, things can be rocky, but in all dad survived his rocky beginnings and he and mom provided us with a stable (albeit nomadic) home life. I would not trade our circumstances for anyone else’s as the past is what makes us what we are. Unfortunately, except for some brief encounters, dad was never able to truly know his own father who died in 1969.

Mom and Dad

I am happy that dad was there for my baptism at 17, my wedding to Cristi, the birth of my two children and through all the other highlights and lowlights in my life up until his death on February 21, 2000. He loved baseball and football and got to see (on TV) his Falcons in the Super Bowl in 1999 and the Braves win the World Series in 1995. He was always good for a laugh, calling out of the blue when he read something funny in the paper. After the birth of our first child, he had saved several clippings of the Baby Blues comic strip for us and gave them to us as a gift. He loved Andy Capp and Snuffy Smith, snickers, Pepsi Cola, and sweet iced tea. And his family.

Thanksgiving 1998

He was a good man. Like all of us full of mistakes, but unlike most of us, full of love as well.

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Well that actually went easier than I thought…

On the way home from church yesterday, we grabbed lunch then stopped by Home Depot to pick up supplies for the big toilet flange repair. I had the extra PVC drain pipe and coupler in hand, was trying to find the right flange to use when one of the associates came up and showed me a new product (that they didn’t have a decade or so ago when we did our other flange fix).

This was one of several different varieties of toilet flange repair devices. This one was designed for where most of the flange is still intact. This sits on top of the old PVC one and secures with 6 drywall screws and washers. They also had one that would clamp onto even less of the flange it yours is so far gone and one that will hold the pieces together (better than duct tape) if yours is just cracked or broken.

I am happy to say that after installing this bracket, the rest of the install went like clockwork (except for a couple of missing finish pieces for the toilet seat).

The final result:

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I blame Hometime… a home repair horror story

Remember “Hometime” that PBS show with Dean Johnson and Joanne Liebler and they tried to make home repairs and improvement look like such fun. Pshaw! It’s rarely fun, if ever…

On today’s episode:

After today’s estate sale, we stopped by Lowes to grab a new toilet to install in the downstairs bath. The one there is the original from when the house was built 26 years ago, so it was time for an update I think. We’d replaced the one in my son’s bathroom last week and liked the model, so back to Lowes to get another one.

But first we installed a ceiling fan in my son’s room to replace a standard light fixture. It was also a teachable moment so Gil could learn how to do this. He helped with the toilet last week and we’ve been trying to teach him some of these household projects.

We installed the ceiling fan three times. What a blast!

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Estate sales are too cool!

The day started out good enough. Went to an estate sale in Decatur run by Old Mills Antiques where Cristi and I met Louis the bulldog. He was only about five (or eight) months old, but I’ve never seen a bulldog with such energy! Bounding around, jumping, getting his leash wrapped around the table. Such a sweet little puppy!

Cristi and I love going to estate sales and have been doing so for many, many years. We don’t really go to auctions, just the sales that are like whole house garage sales. Where children are having to part with the balance of their parents things or sometimes when a spouse is going into assisted living and no longer needs the stuff that has collected over the years. Cristi and I go with totally different goals in mind, though they have changed over the years.

For Cristi it was all about decorating or finding some piece of furniture to restore or a project. She’s found some great vintage sheets that we still use as well as chenille bed spreads that are awesome with their textured patterns. Now she’s more selective and looks only for certain pieces as she declutters our house.

I used to hunt out stuff to sell on eBay, but as selling there has increased in pain, I’ve curtailed that quite a bit. I still like to find oddities to photograph or old things from my childhood era (1970s). One find this weekend for me at an otherwise dull sale was a old Macanudo cigar box full of various rubber bouncy balls. This will definitely get some use in the photo-prop department.

Cristi also found a nice crocheted afghan and a volleyball for Archer, one of our sweet puppies. Archer loves sport balls and he loves to work at them until he gets them apart. This one barely made it an hour…

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Mercer Me! Just found more family via Google…

So this is cool. My great grandfather on the Kitchens side (Lee Davis Kitchens) was married to Emma Katherine Mercer from Macon, Georgia (one of those family traditions held that we were related to the Mercers of the university of the same name, but I’ve never found any proof of that). Anyway, my great grandmothers brother had the (fortunately) very distinct name of Durward Belmont Mercer.

Unfortunately, he was also the victim of a gunshot wound in 1921.

But just prior to his death, his wife was pregnant with their only son: Durward Belmont Mercer, Jr.

I just love uncommon names in genealogy.

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In about two months it will be 1940 all over again…

Countdown to the release of the 1940 Census, April 2, 2012!

The 1940 census will be released online on April 2, 2012.

In two months, April 2, 2012, the 1940 U.S. Census is going to be released to the public. The Census is mandated by the Constitution to be taken every 10 years and the results are made public after 72 years. The last ones we’ve had is the 1930 batch released in 2002 (wow).

My dad, Alfred passed away in February 2000 and unfortunately he barely knew his family. I tinkered briefly with finding my Kitchens relatives shortly after he died, but to very little effect. However, in December 2005, while we were living way out in Olathe, Kansas I decided to get serious about genealogy. So I was living my whole life about two hours south of my mom’s history in Macon Co., North Carolina and roughly two hours north of my dad’s in Macon (city), Georgia and it took being 1000 miles away in Kansas to start my quest.

So when I started the 1930 Census was available and Family Tree Maker included a free year subscription to ancestry.com, so I got that as a Christmas present and started searching. Fortunately Macon Co. NC and North Carolina in general has really great records online, both via Ancestry.com and their own network of genealogy sites that I was able to really get cracking that winter.

More on those individual quests later, back to the census.

My dad was born in 1937 and my mom in 1938, so this will be the first time I’ll see them in the census documents. If you’re not used them before, Ancestry.com makes available scans of the actual documents and indexes them for searching. So you can see, save, and print the actual form that was in the census worker’s hands when they interviewed your relative. In 50-60 years (if we’re still here), I’m not sure how it’s going to work since the forms are so much more boring now than they used to be. But let them deal with that.

The census forms bring to life people you know and people you will meet and discover that you didn’t know existed.

Right now bring on 1940!

There are a lot of questions I have and cannot wait to have answered.

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Memory Card stop staring at me!

So I’m sitting here at my desk and look down and see a very nice Delkin Devices 32GB Class 10 SD Card staring up at me.

My main card.

Problem is… it’s on my desk and not in my camera (Pentax K-5) where it belongs. Which means I’ve not been using my camera recently. Not for a couple of weeks anyway.

Sad.

I’ve got to get my studio set back up and start taking photos again…

Soon.

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