"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Friday, June 29, 2018

June Books

The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman -- I've now read all three books that my library has from this author, and I like her. This book is somewhat the story of her own family. Her mom grew up in Nazi Germany, and the author depicted what an ordinary German family had to go through. Not everyone supported Hitler, but they suffered regardless.  I hate to think of people being drafted to serve that monster!  It gives a look inside Christine's family as they struggle through the war as Germans who do not support Hitler, but still must serve in the army and struggle to survive. 




The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier -- a very clever story behind these tapestries!  At first I wasn't so sure about this Nicolas des Innocents, but I grew to enjoy this story. I liked reading chapters by so many of the characters.



Brass Ring by Diane Chamberlain -- After Claire tries to talk a suicidal lady from jumping off a bridge, she starts having flashbacks that bring her pain. Meanwhile across the country in Seattle, her estranged sister Vanessa - whom she hasn't seen since their father took Vanessa with him when their parents divorced thirty years prior - struggles with her own demons. A rather interesting book.  I believe I have now read all the books by this author that my local libraries offer.



The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough -- Rather odd, rather interesting at times...an amusing ending. This is the story of the Bennet sisters about 20 years after Darcy and Elizabeth married.  Mrs. Bennet finally dies and Mary is free from taking care of her mom.



Laura Ingalls is Ruining My Life by Shelley Tougas -- an easy read about a 12 year old girl who moves to Walnut Grove, MN, where her single mom tries her hand at getting inspiration from Laura to write about a girl on the prairie.  Charlotte takes us through her time of trying to fit in at school.  Pretty cute.



Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda --  After the loss of her first child due to the fact she was a girl, Kavita vows this will not happen again.  When she gives birth to another daughter, she tricks her husband and takes the infant to an orphanage many miles away.   Back in the US, a couple struggle with infertility and look into adoption.  This story speaks of life in both India and California; a pretty interesting look at one couple's struggle and one adopted daughter's outlook on life. 



Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters  -- a friend sent this to me for my birthday; it's an Amelia Peabody mystery which kept me entertained while at the beach and while Zach was playing nearby at the splash park yesterday (6/11) and hopscotch park today. I finished it there. 



Through the Heart by Kate Morgenroth -- this story is told with alternating voices of Nora, a thirty-something back home in Kansas, living with her ailing mother, and Timothy, the rich, progressive New Yorker (utterly a shallow jerk in my opinion - at least for much of the story.)  I chose this book because it looked short and easy to read, and it was.  And for the most part, I enjoyed it even if I didn't like Timothy much at all.




Child of the South by Joanna Catherine Scott -- Eugenia returns home to Wilmington after the Civil War; she tries to find out more about her true mother. Was it her father's wife - or a slave they called Tilde?  This story also talks about black people influencing the North Carolina constitution and being elected into the government. 




The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin -- The first in the Sunrise at Normandy series; this is the story of the "Wren" Second Officer Dorothy Fairfax, and a Texan named Wyatt Paxton who meet in London. Both make plans for the Navy's strategy off the coast of Normandy.



Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson -- I enjoyed this book about a Mrs. Harriet Westerman in Sussex, and her rather reclusive neighbor, the local anatomist named Gabriel Crowther and how they joined forces to solve murder mysteries!  I see a couple more books featuring these two so I will check them out of the library soon.




The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick -- I decided to take a break from her series and try this stand-alone book.  The Promise sisters -- Joanie, Meg, and Avery -- were famous in their younger years as their mom exploited their story (some of the first babies conceived via IVF); years later they deal with the aftermath of the fact that they didn't end up as the gifted artist, writer, and pianist as their mother Minerva had envisioned.  A pretty good book. 





They Did it with Love by Kate Morgenroth -- When her husband Dean asks her to consider moving to Greenwich from NYC, Sofie surprises him by agreeing right away.  In the "country" Sofie is invited to join Priscilla's book group - a group that read mysteries!  When one lady in the group is found hanging, Sofie puts her detective skills to work trying to figure out if the victim's husband is to be blamed.  I enjoyed this book!





Anatomy of Murder by Imogen Robertson -- another Westerman-Crowther murder mystery. This time they are in London where Mrs. Westerman's sailor husband is recovering from a terrible blow to his head while serving his country.  Harriet and Gabriel are asked to look into the murder of a guy from the theater who may be part of a spy ring.  (This takes place when the rebels across the Atlantic are fighting for independence from England.)



The Seakeeper's Daughters by Lisa Wingate -- While Whitney is struggling to keep her restaurants in Michigan open, she gets news about her stepfather being hospitalized so she travels to the Outer Banks in North Carolina where she deals with memories and family secrets.  Pretty good book. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

May Books

The Mapmaker's Children by Sarah McCoy -- a neat look at the work of Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown who was hung in (now) West Virginia prior to the US Civil War.  It also follows the story of the contemporary couple Eden and Jack who move into a house where the Browns stayed at one point.  A pretty good book. 


Necessary Deception by Laurie Alice Eakes -- sometimes I try new authors hoping that I'll discover new books that I like. This book just didn't hook me into this Daughters of Bainbridge House series.  This story focused on the eldest daughter, 26-year-old widow Lydia, who is in London trying to get her younger sister married off after her Season.  Lydia becomes involved in some spy mission, and it just wasn't that great to me. 


The Truest Pleasure by Robert Morgan -- another good story by this author. This time it's told from the perspective of Ginny who grew up in the mountains and worked hard with her family.  This book had one of the saddest endings to me. 



Appalachian Trials by Zach Davis -- "a psychological and emotional guide to successfully thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail"; Andrew mentioned this book which I put on my Amazon Wishlist, got for my birthday, and read.  Nothing amazing, but an easy read.


Beneath a Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- Helena Bingham runs a matchmaking service in Massachusetts. When over a dozen men from a Kansas town request brides, she decides to travel there with her assistant, Abigail, with hopes of teaching these men some manners and how to treat women properly. What an adventure awaits! I saw this on the new books list online and requested it since I've read all the others by this author.



The Widow's War by Sally Gunning -- It took me a few pages to get into this story, but once I did, I really enjoyed Lyddie's war on 1791 patriarchy in Massachusetts.  After her husband dies in a boating accident, she shows us how her status changes as a widowed woman - and she wars with the status quo. Kudos!


Counted With the Stars by Connilyn Cossette -- My mom read this book which she checked out of the library.  It's somewhat the story of the 10 plagues on Egypt (by God through Moses) and the story of the Hebrews leaving Egypt as told from the perspective of an Egyptian slave who left her home country with these children of Israel. It's book 1 in the "Out From Egypt" series.



So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore -- such a cute book by an author I'd not read before; The story alternated between the voices of 50-something Archivist in Massachusetts and a 13 year old girl who was researching her family tree for a school project.   I enjoyed this book. 


Words Unspoken by Elizabeth Musser -- After her mother is killed in a car accident, Lissa struggles to move on with life. In an attempt to do that, she takes driving lessons from Ev McAllister, and befriends him and his wife, Annie.  The story also involves the mysterious anonymous novelist, S.A. Green, a stock broker named Ted, and an Italian man in the US working to make money to help his family.  I liked the reminder of forgiveness and being careful of those voices in our heads, especially those that condemn. 


The Housemaid's Daughter by Barbara Mutch -- Set in South Africa near the time of apartheid, this story is about Ada, the daughter of a handmaid, and her Madam Cathleen.  Told from the perspective of Ada mostly; this was a pretty good book. 



Shadow of the Storm by Connilyn Cossette -- second book in the "Out From Egypt" series; this one focused on Shira, the Hebrew friend of the main character in book one.  The story takes place during the year they were living at the foot of Mount Sinai after their escape from Egypt.




Birds in the Air by Frances O'Roark Dowell -- I saw this on the new books list online and signed up to read it. It was a very easy read, pleasant, with a decent message.  Emma and her family left Chapel Hill, NC, to move to a small (fictitious) mountain community where they struggle a little to fit in.  Emma finds a quilt in one of the trunks that were left in the attic of the house they bought to fix up.  I looked up several quilt patterns that were mentioned in this book. 




The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth  -- A neighborhood in Australia filled with interesting characters. You think your neighbors' lives are normal and nice, and yours is not?  Well, you never know what is going on in that family next door. This book follows the lives of Essie as she struggled with PPD, and Fran through her manic-jogging routine. What is she hiding from her husband?   And what's with this new neighbor, Isabelle, coming into the 'hood with no family?   Easy read; I enjoyed this one.




Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China by Jung Chang -- I got this book for Christmas from an old blogger/Facebook friend, and I decided to start it on my birthday.  I wasn't sure if I'd like it, but I wanted to read it to learn more about this lady.  It took me three weeks of reading off and on - at least a little every day - and I finished it the morning of May 20th.  Not everything was super-interesting, but for the most part, I really enjoyed this look into China's past, and into the life and cultural events surrounding this era of China.  Cixi is an interesting lady. I like that the book has several pictures, as I enjoyed looking at certain people mentioned throughout the book.




Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette  -- might as well read book 3 in this Out From Egypt series since it's there at the library. This one dealt with the Hebrews as they were taking the land from the Canaanites.  Alanah is a Canaanite woman captured during a war with the Israelites.  Pretty interesting story. I liked this one better than book 2, and it may be my favorite of the three in this series. 



The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore  -- that summer when all your adult children - ok, there are just three of them - come back home for various reasons. One with his pregnant spouse, and one with two little children.  Things just got busy and messy and loud! 




The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty -- While calling someone on her cell phone, while driving, with a stray dog that she and her best friend had just picked up, Kara hits and kills a schoolmate in a small Kansas city.  This book deals with the immediate and few-months-later aftermath of that. 




Best Staged Plans by Claire Cook -- I was in a local library recently (not my usual one), and saw this book. Looked like a small, easy read which it was.  Professional home stager Sandy Sullivan gets a staging job and heads to Atlanta to stay with her daughter and son in law for about a month.  Haha...her daughter has to go back to Boston (where she grew up) for training so Sandy has to stay with her son in law while her daughter goes to stay with her dad and brother.  It was a pretty cute book.



The Martian by Andy Weir -- I received this for my birthday, and decided to start reading it on Andrew's birthday (5/18) - a little per day because I wasn't sure how I'd like it.  I admit some parts made my eyes glaze, but over all, it was a rather cute, interesting book. I liked Mark's sense of humor and his BRAINS as he figured out how to survive life on Mars. Oh, his crew thought he was dead after a piece of equipment impaled him, but somehow he survived that only to find out his companions had had to abandon him on Mars.  I read quite a bit of this while Sophie played at area parks and museums during her recent visit, but I finished it last night (5/26) before bed.  The author is a big ol' nerd who figured out all this physics and math stuff - incredible!



What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman -- Izzy is a 17 year old, starting a new school after being transferred to a new foster family. Clara is a young lady from years ago. She didn't obey her father as he wished so she was committed to an asylum until she can straighten up.  Two story lines; an interesting book. I liked this one though it's disturbing! Some people should never have children.



One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline -- I went into the library hoping to find a couple of good reads and saw this one in the new book section. I see there are many books by this author, but I'd never read her before. But this was pretty good.  Chris Brennan is the new AP Government teacher and assistant baseball coach. But his identity and backstory is a lie. He's trying to get close to certain kids to pump them for information. What's up with that?  Does he have criminal intent? 



Brave Enemies by Robert Morgan -- this is a "novel of the American Revolution" featuring Josie under the guise of Joseph Summers joining up with a ragtag band of rebels. Josie didn't seek out a group to fight with, but after her family life is messed up, she ends up in Cowpens, SC, fighting the British. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Dirty Girl

Sophie came for a two-week visit recently, and we had a great time going to area parks and museums.  We've been under a humid air mass for nearly the whole last three weeks, and perhaps that contributed to this.





Let's take a moment to appreciate the way a sweaty Sophie attracts sand.  It's caked on her!

She didn't want me to take a picture

...so I zoomed in for this one




She played hard, and fell asleep on the way home.  Before I got her out, I took the opportunity to take a few close-up pictures.




Isn't she precious? 



Pictures from The Hopscotch Park* on May 21, 2018





* Beth Schmidt

Friday, May 4, 2018

Family Letters from China

Several months ago my mom gave me a small manila envelope that had my grandmother's handwriting on it.  It said "Inf. on Dan's Mother;" Dan's mother being my great-grandmother Prudence Ruth Cooley Truax who died in 1930 at age 28.  She'd given birth to her fourth child, her first daughter, a couple of days prior.  My grandpa - the one I called Pop - was just four when his mom died.  Pop is the smiley little boy below, pictured with his parents and older brothers, David and Carlton.  (Pop was born April 8, 1926, so this picture was probably a bit later that year.)






The envelope had some interesting things which I wanted to photograph and share with family members partly because the paper is so thin - and what if I lost the letters somehow? 

If you are interested in reading Edgar Allen Truax's letter to his mom, about his wife's death, here you go.   I think if you click on the pictures, you can read it better.












Also, another family member wrote this about her burial. Apparently Prudence's mother wrote folks back home (I'm thinking "back home" was Iowa) with this information.







This was written on the outside of the above (2nd) letter.  






Finally, a wedding announcement for Pop's mom and dad's marriage.



Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Family Found through DNA Testing

This is part of a paper I typed recently. I edited a few things, and changed the name of my new cousin to protect his identity.


In July 2016, I purchased an AncestryDNA kit from Ancestry.com.  After getting some surprising results, I decided to have my parents tested to see which one of them gave me that high Italian/Greek heritage, according to the test (my dad.)

Because both of them were tested, I can look at my DNA matches - and then filter that through theirs, seeing which relatives belong to my dad, and which belong to my mom.

I’d seen a few known cousins show up on the appropriate lists, and I’d contacted others in the 2nd to 4th cousin range who verified that they were daughters to such and such great-uncle, and “how are Helen and her family doing anyway?” 

So, I had pretty high confidence in that part of the test - matching families - being accurate.  Still not sure about the Italian/Greek thing, though.  😄

Periodically, I’d check the DNA matches, and Bob* had a picture associated with his profile (many do not), and I noticed he had a rather-sizable public family tree. Oh, great!  Let me see how we are related.  His profile says he’s from California (where I knew I had Truax connections) plus he’s in the close matches to my mom, and he looks like a Truax: thus I concluded confidently that we would have matches there.  But, nope, no one! 

After a few weeks of wondering, I decided to message him through Ancestry’s message system. A few days later, he replied about a story concerning his father’s birth certificate, we exchanged messages, I asked questions of an Los Angeles-area cousin, I told Bob of shared DNA matches we had with Wilkinson and McDaniel family members (who are related to Charles C. Truax’s wife, Jessie Margaret Wilkinson).  After Bob found evidence of his grandmother and Arthur living in close proximity several times, we were confident that his grandfather was, in fact, Arthur Kenneth Truax who died in 1991 in Los Angeles at age 90.

Arthur was the younger brother of my great-grandfather, Edgar Allen Truax, who died in 1974.  Which makes our relationship like this:

Charles and Jessie Wilkinson Truax -- married
Edgar and Arthur -- siblings
Dan and Bob's dad-- 1st cousins
Sharon and Bob -- 2nd cousins  (which was Ancestry DNA’s “extremely confident” conclusion)
Susanne (me) and Bob's kids -- 3rd cousins



 You can see pictures of Edgar, Arthur, and their parents and siblings on my post from last week.


---------------------------------------------------------


Have you met any new family members through AncestryDNA - or any other DNA testing service?  Bob said he did the DNA test thinking it would help with his research. Instead he found a whole new family he knew nothing about. 




* not his real name





Tuesday, May 1, 2018

April Books

A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer -- An easy read and predictable book, but OK for when the kids are visiting.  When Hannah Richards is gifted a dressmaking shop in a small town in Texas, she meets J.T. (Jericho) Tucker and his sister, and the other folks in town.  Hannah struggles a bit to find customers in a small town not accustomed to high fashion dresses. 



Threading the Needle by Marie Bostwick -- This continues the Cobbled Court series about a small town in Connecticut. When Madelyn's husband is arrested for running a Ponzi scheme, she is left with little money and only the house her grandmother left her in New Bern, CT.  A place that holds a lot of bad memories.  Madelyn decides to turn the house into an inn and gets to know the quilting circle introduced in earlier books.




A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer -- Eh, not that great (too predictable, not very exciting.)  Stone Hammon is a retriever hired to locate a 9 year old who was taken by her teacher Charlotte Atherton.  It was really rather silly and boring to me. 




Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead -- A story about a privileged single mother in New York City and her daughter over the years.  Pretty good...a bit odd, but over all, I liked it.



The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig -- yes, I do indeed enjoy her stand-alone novels much better than the one I read that starts her Carnation series. Granted, the one I didn't like was her first book (I believe) so she probably improved as she wrote more. This book was much more interesting.  It's the story of modern-day NYC lawyer Clementine Evans and how her life relates to that of her Granny Addie and this mysterious Bea.  The story takes place mostly in New York and Kenya with a little bit of London thrown in there. 


Before Versailles: A novel of Louis XIV by Karleen Koen -- pretty good if you need a longish historical novel about kings and princesses and lovers at court, affairs and such things. Whew. Fairly interesting; it did have me looking up these people!  



Tales of a Shirtmaker: A Jewish Upbringing in North Carolina by Frederick L. Block as told to Susan Taylor Block -- I found this at Southport's free little library so right near Wilmington where this guy grew up. It was OK.




The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green -- a rather interesting way to learn about the French settlement in New Orleans, Louisiana. Whew, what a tough life for Julianna throughout this book. First she's accused of murder because a mother dies while delivering her child, and later her sentence is traded for life in exile - in the New World. But she must go as a subject of France to help populate this settlement. So, she's forced to marry another convict.  Ugh! 



The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh -- This book started out interesting, then I got mad at most of the characters and didn't like it, but then it redeemed itself and I found it a good read overall.  After her father's death, Frances Irvine is left impoverished with no good prospects: be a nurse to her aunt's many children or marry Edwin Matthews, a doctor who lives in South Africa?  For sure, her English uncle, Sir Hamilton won't take her in.  Frances decides to sail for South Africa, and meets a charming diamond smuggler while en route.  Can William Westbrook change her situation for the better?  Read it and see. 



The Road from Gap Creek by Robert Morgan -- sometimes you just need an old-fashioned Southern mountain story as told from a middle-aged lady's point of view. This is that story by Annie Richards Powell. It has been awhile since I read the earlier story about Gap Creek, but some of the names were familiar.


The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman -- After living her whole life in the attic of her family's home - because she's some sort of monster according to her parents - Lilly is sold as a freak to the circus!  A generation later, Julia inherits her parents' estate when they die - and she uncovers all these secrets. 


While I'm Falling by Laura Moriarty -- Veronica's parents divorced during her sophomore year of college, and life seems such a struggle since then.  She's failing at her job, she's trying to figure out chemistry to stay in her premed major, her mom is acting weird, she can't even do a weekend house sitting job right. What gives?  Pretty good book. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Old Family Pictures

Here are a few family pictures that I wanted to save in case my computer dies.  Most of these I acquired only recently from cousins across the USA. 

This is my great-grandfather, Edgar Allen Truax's family. 

His parents are Charles Sylvester Chilson Truax and Jessie Margaret Wilkinson Truax, originally from the Midwest (him - Minnesota; her - Iowa).  He died in Minnesota whereas she lived nearly 35 more years, and died in Los Angeles where several of her children and grandchildren lived by then. 

Their children L to R:  Arthur Kenneth Truax, Edgar Allen Truax, Charles Murray "Ray" Truax, Esther Truax Patton.  I believe this picture was taken in Boone, Iowa, in 1919. 





 Charles Truax and Jessie Wilkinson Truax



Charles C. Truax with his son Ray (Charles Murray Truax) and his grandson, Charles Joseph.  1919





 Jessie Wilkinson Truax with her daughter in law, Mae, and daughter, Esther  (R)






Esther Truax Patton









Jessie Wilkinson Truax's mom, Elizabeth McDaniel Wilkinson, and her grandson, Lafe, in 1900.  She's my great-great-great grandmother. Born 1836 in Missouri. Died 1905 in Minnesota.  I am not sure about Lafe just yet. 


 This is Jessie Wilkinson Truax around 1950. 






Undated picture of Laura Murray Truax, mother of Charles Sylvester Chilson Truax.  Born in Ohio in 1839, and died in Minnesota in 1910. 
 As a cousin wrote on our Truax Family Roots Facebook page:

From left to right: Laura Murray Truax, wife of Moses Olds Wright Truax (a forefather of Grandpa Edgar Truax), Florence Truax Robinson, her Father Frank Truax, baby Russell Robinson. In the photo on the table is Mrs. Mary Eliza (Sinclair) Murray Nichols mother of Laura Murray. Photo is dated circa 1908.






my mom's singing group in college



my grandmother's graduating class


Arthur Kenneth Truax had this picture among his genealogy collection


Arthur, closeup

What Arthur wrote on the back of the above picture

Said to be Jessie Wilkinson with her brother Clifford


Clifford and his first wife


The two final pictures were shared with me by a couple of Wilkinson ladies whom I met through Ancestry DNA matches.  I've met a few new cousins that way!