Friday, December 3, 2010

The Powers of Modern Technology

In my search to find my maternal great-grandfather, I decided to email the States Archive of Saarbruecken where I thought my great-grandfather might have been born. After sending the email, I religiously checked back for a response but there's nothing. Almost a month later, I had given up on hearing back from the Motherland when I received a package from the States Archive of Saarbruecken. I was like a kid on Christmas morning! I spent all day translating legal documents and trying to decipher the old style German.

What I have come up with so far is that my great-grandfather, Heinrich Wilhelm Otto Reuter, was in fact born in Saarbruecken in 1899 and passed away in his home state in 1986, only 4 years after my great-grandmother passed away.

I cannot begin to explain my level of excitement and intrigue that came with this package. I know have a beginning and an end! Now the easy part, figuring out everything else. Now to narrow down all of the Heinrich Reuter's from Germany.....

Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Are you my mother?

I have always been fascinated with history. When I was younger and in school, the common assignment from many of my teachers would be to go home and ask your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles where they were on a particular day in history. Most of these days, if not all, included some kind of life changing event, such as Pearl Harbor, D-Day, JFK Assassination, etc. Those types of assignments always fascinated me because hearing my relatives personal experiences was great and all but I so badly wished that I could jump back into time and experience all of these days on my own. I guess it’s the unknown that bothers intrigues me the most.

The same goes for family histories. I am a quarter German, South Alabamian (if that’s even a term), and a teeny tiny bit Creek Indian. As you can imagine, this has led to many stories about my family and heritage. For starters, my father’s family was one of two survivors from the Fort Mims Massacre back in 1813. I don’t mean to brag – who am I kidding, I love this stuff! So yes, I’m going to brag a bit. After hearing some of these stories, it really makes you wonder. Pretty crazy! My mother’s side of the family has had a more prestigious and romantic background. Her mother immigrated from Germany after the war and fell in love and married a true Southern, Christian Gentleman. With this came plenty more stories of my grandfather surveying Hiroshima days after the Atomic Bomb was dropped, his lineage to old Marietta and Spartanburg and of course the Mayflower. Ever heard of John and Priscilla Alden?! Cha! They’re my 9th Great-Grandparents!

While all of these stories have intrigued me in their own way, for some reason I’m fascinated and fixated on my maternal grandmother’s story. My grandmother, or Oma as we called her, was born in 1923 in Fulda, Germany, a small town an hour and a half northeast of Frankfurt. This may not seem like something out of the norm but Frieda, my great-grandmother, lived in Frankfurt until she was forced to leave during the war. Why would my great-grandmother go to Fulda to have a baby? This is where it all begins! The next question that soon followed for me was, what happened to her father? So the story my mom heard when she was growing up was that my great-grandmother and great-grandfather got married but shortly after my grandmother was born, the marriage was annulled because he wanted to return back to his hometown but my grandmother didn't want to go. Sounds normal right? Wrong! If this were the case, then why on my grandmother's birth certificate under Father does it say "Unknown"?!

Over the last several years, since my grandmother passed, I feel like it has been my calling to figure out who my great-grandfather is. We have found several pieces of the puzzle recently. My mom found a picture of my great-grandmother and great-grandfather at a cafe in Frankfurt. So we have a face! On the back is his name: Heinrich Reuther born 27. Oktober 1899 in Saarbruecken. JACKPOT!!! So I go on, email the Saarbruecken States Archive and yet I've come up with nothing. I've found several records that have been close to his birthday or in the vicinity of Frankfurt but so far nothing. I even stooped so low as to message another member on Ancestry who has an ancestor with information close to my great-grandfather. Can you imagine? "Hi, I think your great-grandfather is the father of my illegitimate grandmother!" Nice!

So I'm now beginning to think that possibly my great-grandfather was a spy or was married back home or some crazy thing like that and had to lie about who he was or maybe all records were destroyed, you know, something more reasonable. Whatever the reason, or who he was, my search for my great-grandfather is not over yet!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What a Summer

Yes, if it has not been painfully obvious, I have been on a bit of a hiatus. This summer consisted of one move, three weddings, and several busy weekends. Yesterday, however,  marked the last wedding for a while. It's sad, I know.

The first wedding of the summer was my cousin's down in Lower Alabama.
There was a taco truck, oysters, Koozies and fun!
It was a great time for the entire family get together! 
I love them!

Me and my siblings
 The oldest Richerson cousins

The next wedding we had was one of my college roommates and best friend
This wedding was here in Atlanta and it was such a great weekend!

She was such a stunning, glamorous bride!

And finally, we had one of my closest friends from high school. 
Her wedding was in Alpharetta and everything was so perfect! 

 All of the high school girls

Me and the Bride

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wonderful Weekend

After a busy second half of the week, I was invited up to Blue Ridge with a dear, dear friend of mine, her hubby, and her parents. It was so nice to get away and what a weekend to do so! The weather was gorgeous on the way up! I had the windows down, sunglasses on, and the oldies a-blarin'!

After all the parties had arrived and we had filled our bellies with many good fixin's, the girls made their way outside to the fire for some good wine and conversation. Two things that ALWAYS go well together! I love talking to different people about issues and struggles that I am having, a: as to not go crazy but b: more importantly, the majority of the time the other person has some very good points to make that you have never thought of. Without giving too much away, it was a very eye-opening conversation for myself as well as insightful on the topic as a whole. It helped me realize that no amount of snide comments can change someone or make me feel some kind of justification in doing so. Most of the time, there are situations where you need to ask for help in changing you, your behavior, or your heart.

Ok enough of the deep mumbo-jumbo. Saturday, the girls ventured in to Blue Ridge while the men were off doing manly, outdoorsy things. We had a delicious lunch of house salads and individual pizzas with Figs, Pecan, Gorgonzola, and Caramelized Onions. SOOO. GOOOOD!!! We then went venturing into downtown Blue Ridge. We did a little window shopping, a little bit of actual shopping, ice cream eating, and of course, gawking at the locals. We did not dare upset them though! We did a little afternoon napping in front of the telly and later had a fabulous dinner; full of Pioneer Woman recipes!! It was so so good!!

I kept repeating it all weekend long, but I was truly impressed with the little town of Blue Ridge. It far surpassed my expectations of other North Georgia cities and I can't wait to go back ;) It was definitely a good start to Spring!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Put this one in your book!

For those of you who know our family dog, Dino (or Pluto), you know his current standing. The poor thing has an alergic reaction to something in our house and therefore he smells stank nasty. Not only does he have this ripe smell that follows him, much like Linus and his dust clouds, but he also has several fatty tumors. They're not cancerous; they are literally large masses of fat lumped together on his body. He has one HUGE one that resembles a boob and I think I might have found another one tonight.

How you ask?

I gave Dino a bath.....yep....that's right! I actually put him in the tub, filled it with water, and touched him. Poor thing, it was like he had spent a day at the spa. As I was scrubbing the stench that is known as Dino, he was enjoying every second of it. You should have seen the pep that he had in his step when he was done. You would have thought he was a puppy again. It kinda made me feel bad for our neglect.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Post-Marked April 1911

My dearest sweetheart,
You simply do not know how very, very much I enjoyed my visit Sunday. I had, I think, the best time I’ve had in my life. You and your folks are so kind to me, and youyou love me so!
Mary and I worked hard on my (guest) list last night, and we expect to finish it tonight. Last night I added most of my Chester and Spartanburg names. This is very interesting business; isn’t it? It awakens old memories and associations and carries us back into the past. As you said, Sunday, I love, sometimes, to visit the past.
Got your delightful letter last night and thank you so much for your love.
When I came back Sunday night, I slept all night – from twelve o’clock – in the day coach with all my clothes on. The Pullman was badly crowded, and the day car looked better to me.
The weather continues very warm, dry, and unpleasant, and everyone wishes for real fall weather.
Breakfast is about ready and I will close. Will write you again very soon.
Thursday A.M.

This was a letter that my Great-Grandmother, Alice Cleveland of Spartanburg, SC, received from her beloved, Wellborn Reynolds of Marietta, GA. (Alice, by the way, is the Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter of John & Priscilla Alden of the Mayflower but that's another matter.) I've found several of these letters around the house and everytime I discover one I am more and more intrigued. In the pile of letters that I found this one in, were also condolence letters from when my Grandfather passed away. In a personally emotional letter, I read as a friend of my Grandfather's told his wife, my Oma, how "no one could have described John any better than Pastor Richardson. He truly was a 'Christian Gentleman'." I had always known how great of an individual my grandfather was but for some reason, I found this letter extremely moving.

Today, in a time where tweets, status updates and mass emails are taking the place of letters and long personal conversations, it makes me want to take a stand and revert to the simpler days.

My father has a theory....with all of the technology that we have available to us, he feels that there will come a time when society just can't take it anymore. They will shut down and basically become like the Romans....need I say anymore?! After he shared his theory, I suddenly had my own apostrophe! Lighting had just struck my brain! It is true, we do have a lot of technology available to us; leading us to know things of far away lands much much quicker. There are people out there who believe the end of the world has begun due to frequent natural disasters and inclement weather. But is it possible that these events have been happening since the beginning of man...well not since the beginning of man but for a while at least.

Deep for a Thursday night isn't it?! I don't mean to rant all night or press my thoughts on you but my point of all of this is simple. When has it become acceptable for people to forgo personal, one-on-one communication? Is it that we have too much going on and find this method easier or do we really want to air our personal business to everyone and their brother!? While, yes all of the tweets, posts, and tags are fun, what will we leave our great-great-great-whatever to read or learn about us?! A printed email?! I just think there is something very irreplaceable about a hand written, post marked letter, postcard, what have you from someone from the past.

This is a subject that I feel very, very strongly about. My Mother's Father passed away when she was 11 months old. Growing up, this was something that always managed to capture my imagination. What was he like? What would he have looked like? What would he have smelled like? How would his voice have sounded? All of these questions plagued my mind. Luckily, he lived during a time, where letter writing was the norm and luckily, my Grandmother, the German, WWII survivor and pack rat, saved a fair amount of his correspondence. I've found letters from when he was at the Naval Academy in NY, letters to his parents and letters from his travels with my Grandmother. All of these allowing me a chance to know the Grandfather I was never able to know.

My Great-Great-Grandmother, Georgia Alden Cleveland, also kept a daily diary from 1890-1914. Come to think of it, there might just be a simple solution to this. This could just possibly be some kind of personal turmoil that I am struggling with. I mean, I've got rather big shoes to fill! My Great-Great-Grandmother kept a diary for over 20 years! I think the longest I ever went was a few months. Think of the history that she provided! She talks of going to the Chicago State Fair in 1898, of the Wright brother's inaugural flight and other events in history. That's huge! I know that I've had relatives who have witnessed other historical events but how many of them have documented it personally. Anyone can tell you the facts, but what about the emotions or even what about the weather of that day (Georgia Alden was known for journaling about the weather)?! I don't think you can find a smiley face to accurate depict any of those!

In my journal from high school, I've got a blank page for September 11th. I think it's time I fill that in now...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What day is it? Where am I?

This morning I awoke to the sound of rain outside my window.

Ahhh…Oh how I love waking up on a lazy summer’s day to the sound of rain falling on a tin roof! Slowly waking up, a couple of stretches before actually making it out of bed and all the while deciding if I want to read a book all day, maybe do some baking or leisurely go through and sort some old pictures (all of which I enjoy doing on a dreary day). I quickly realized however, that it was Wednesday and it was 530am; reality quickly flooding back to me.

I finally make it out of the door and on my way to work
along with all the idiots who come out when it rains. I am still bewildered when I see cars on the road in blinding rain with no lights on. They are asking to get in an accident! On days like today, I avoid the highway as much as possible, especially after I hear that my normal route will increase my commute by 30 minutes--no thank you! My avoid-the-highway-route, takes me down a hilly, somewhat scenic road. For some reason this morning, it was as if I was in la-la land, thinking of everything that I would want to be doing except driving to work.

With Iron & Wine playing in the background, Im envisioning myself in several different scenarios.

  1. Im in a cabin somewhere with not much to do besides read a book, play cards, watch movies, or just sit and watch the rain fall. Frauline...I don't think this was a coincident ;)
  2. Not more than I few minutes later, I was picturing how nice it would be to be in London. Walking around Trafalgar Square, taking in everything and eventually, when I felt the time right, heading to a local Wagamama for lunch! I really wish someone would bring a franchise down here!
  3. Finally, Im in a stucco house on the Half Moon Bay in Akumal, Mexico, laying in the sun watching a thunderstorm make its way into the harbor. I would watch it for a while but eventually would head upstairs, crack my window, close my blinds and take an afternoon nap.

Actual thunderstorm rollin up to Casa Bonita

Keep in mind all of scenarios ran through my mind like Mario after he catches a magic star. The excitement of a new idea and the thrill of the possibility, but sadly, before I was ready, it was over.

Was it the weather this morning and my groggy wandering mind that envisioned these thoughts or was it my subconscious telling me that its time for me to have a getaway trip? Please say the second oneWhatever the reason, these thoughts gave me something to ponder on during my dreary Wednesday.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Happy Oscars

In honor of the Oscars tonight, here are some pieces that make me happy!!

Carrie Bradshaw's jaw-dropping Versace Couture gown.

Gorgeous, Gorgeous shoes that I would love to add to my collection!!

Ever since seeing "Coco Before Chanel" I have been obsessed with finding an authentic looking fisherman's shirt. Any suggestions!?

When I think the Academy Awards, I think elegance and of course, CHAMPAGNE. No other image combines them any better than this Grace Kelly Champagne ad.

I started with her and I'll finish with her. Sarah Jessica Parker at the 2010 Academy Awards. LOVE HER!!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The butter stands alone

For the last few months now, I have been participating in a well known weight loss program. Not because I think I am overweight or because I want to look like a VS model, although that would be nice. It is just simply so that I can eat better and feel healthier. I feel that for the most part, I do relatively well. I eat whole wheat bread, I try to keep my meals balanced, I’ve given up most fast food chains, and I try to exercise on a regular basis.

Last night, I went to a meeting for said weight loss program and in this meeting, other members were talking about things that they enjoy eating. After talk of a steak filet wrapped in bacon which is then packaged in a thick, government-like plastic wrap, the most dreaded, unfathomable thing personally to me was brought up. SPRAY BUTTER. It was at this moment that I realized, I do, like my family likes to tease me about, LOVE butter. This is one thing that I cannot compromise on. You just can’t compare to hot bread, freshly out of the oven with melting sweet butter on it.

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts! ~James Beard

The reference to the butter imposter lead me to start thinking on all food imitations. Why do people feel the need to substitute such basic and simple ingredients. (The same weight loss member who raved over her plastic wrapped steak, later admitted to being a gourmet chef who loves using fresh ingredients such as herbs.) Why do people also feel that in order to lose weight, they must substitute or even eliminate butter, chocolate, cheese and don’t forget about wine and in order to lose weight and eat healthy? Must I too, give up these things?! After a few panicked seconds, the answer was simple. No. I see no reason in giving up said diet no-no’s forever and ever, amen. I will instead make sacrifices in other places in my life—more time in the gym, smaller serving sizes, leaner cuts of meat. Those decisions, I feel, are more realistic in my life.

A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch. ~James Beard

This is not a retribution to those who do use imitation products, this is just a declaration to myself and Fabio that I cannot and will not give up these fundamental elements in my diet and a challenge to eat healthier, the way they did in the good ole days...with fresh ingredients!

We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons. ~Alfred E. Newman

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The day has finally come...

So I have finally done it...I have once again succumbed to another internet frenzy. I have started a blog. I blame this one on my newly acquired internet browsing time and my envy that I have after coming across several, very adorable and intriguing blogs. I do not guarantee that my blog will be nearly as interesting or creative as other blogs out there, but it'll be all me and things I love! I first thought of creating a blog of my mom's nightly recipes that she so easily whips together but then knowing me, I'd stray off topic and end up looking at something fun and shiny! So here's to me not staying on the subject!
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