28 November 2004

Thanksgiving went pretty well, and I finally have a few moments to sit down at the keyboard. Had dinner this year with John and Sherry, who each had their parents in town. We did another non-traditional Thanksgiving, with steak and grouper, and tofu for the vegetarians, and we even had the canberries out (that processed log of cranberries which has become traditional for some reason, though I've never seen anybody touch it). The food was excellent, and fortunately timed with Connor's nap, so we were not pelted with food throughout the whole dinner. His little brother, Sean, is now six months, and is huge. He was born a month premature, and has more than made up for it. He recently saw other babies being fed solid food at daycare, and raised a fuss until he was fed the same thing. On top of that, he insists on grabbing the spoon and trying to feed himself. Fortunately, he settles for holding the first spoon while Sherry feeds him with a second, though Lord knows how long that trick will last. I have never been very comfortable with children, but so far I seem to be OK with John and Sherry's kids. I guess it's because they are part of the pack.

Time to start thinking about Christmas, and today I took care of my online shopping and travel arrangements. My only corporate gift this year is a Master and Commander DVD for my brother. Mom is getting a print by an artist I found online named George Boutwell. He specializes in Texas scenes and has done two paintings with family significance. The first, which I gave Mom last year, is of Osterman's General Store in Windthorst, a landmark right up there with the parish church and the house she grew up in. The second pertains to my previous posting about the Last Picture Show, and is a painting of the theater in Archer City as it looked in the 50's. It even shows the cast from the movie going inside. Here is how it looks today (1995 actually):

No, north Texas in winter is not very pretty.

20 November 2004

Today I'm experimenting with posting photos.

My mother and brother visited Tallahassee this past August. Here is a picture of Mom holding Connor, the two year old son of my friends John and Sherry, and the closest thing she has to a grandson at this point.

Here is a picture of me with my brother, Nathan. People say we have the same smile.

16 November 2004

Proquest has just made Revolutionary Pension claims available online, and I have found two records concerning my ancestors.

Here is a belated Veterans Day salute to the known family vets:

American Revolution

Cpt. George Waterhouse

Sgt. Sherburne Sanborn

War of 1812

Pvt. Dowrst Rand

Civil War-USA

Pvt. George R. Dow (8th New Hampshire)

Pvt. Johan Bernhard Jansen (44th Missouri-Provisional Enrolled Militia)

Civil War-CSA

Pvt. Heinrich Schneider (17th Texas)

World War I

Pvt. Joseph E. Zihlman

Between Wars

Pvt. Fred P. Rogers (3rd Cavalry)

World War II

Pvt. Ben Schneider (506th Infantry)

PO2 Red Zihlman (USS Cassieopeia)

and my father, William Eli Rogers who joined the Navy out of High School and served on the Sub Tenders USS Bushnell, and USS Holland. After his discharge he enlisted in the Air Force in the late 60's and became a helicopter mechanic. The military lineage ends rather pathetically with my one semester in Jr. ROTC.

13 November 2004


I received an email from Susan this morning, who just started a great new job in Arlington. She was excited to see Max Cleland in the elevator. It got me thinking about how most people go nuts to meet movie stars and musicians, but only people like us would be excited to meet a certain politician (or even recognize one). This reminded me of a conversation I had at a party. I was telling people how thrilled my mother was to meet one of the Dixie Chicks, and get an autograph and photo taken. When Texasville was shot near her home town, she collected autographs of anyone who was connected with Hollywood. I compared her collection to my own, which consists of people like Michael Moore, Jello Biafra, Julia Butterfly Hill, Susan Faludi, Howard Zinn, and Alejandro Escovedo. Maybe the lines between politics and entertainment are blurring more than usual. We're certainly in for four more years of political farce.

A note on Texasville and the McMurtry family. Larry McMurtry is a writer who won the Pulitzer Prize for Lonesome Dove, and many of his books have become hit movies. He has retired to his hometown of Archer City, Texas, and pretty much turned the whole town into one big bookstore. Peter Bogdanovich filmed two movies based on McMurty novels in Archer City, The Last Picture Show and Texasville, both of which give you a pretty clear picture of the kind of town it is. My mother grew up in an even smaller town called Windthorst just a few miles away. The McMurtry's had a ranch right next to my uncle's dairy farm, and one of my cousins apparently had a crush on Larry's sister. However, Protestants never had much to do with the German-Catholics, and that was all there was to our families acquaintance. However, ever since the filming of Texasville in 1988, and Larry's retirement, he has hosted a musical showcase for singer-songwriters in the building next door to the burned out Picture Show, where Sam the Lion used to run his pool hall. My mother has been volunteering to work this monthly showcase, known as the Late Night Lazy Boy Supper Club. Along with updating me on what the family in Texas is doing, Mom calls to tell me that Larry did this, and Larry did that, and gives us something else to talk about when there is no more gossip about our family. A few years ago I located an account of the County Commission race my great-grandfather, Lukas Zihlman, won in 1902, and noticed that one of his opponents was a McMurtry. Whenever I worry that my mother is needlessly pestering the McMurtry's out of misplaced celebrity worship, I think of Lukas and my poor Scheffe cousin and think that it feels right somehow that these links, indirect as they are, should be continued.

I myself have only had one encounter with Larry. I was browsing his store over the Christmas holidays one year and recognized that he was working the counter that day. Mom keeps pointing him out to me, but I refused to be impressed. This time I approached him, pretending to not know who he was, and asked where he kept the local history books, hoping an interest in Archer County might provoke a conversation, but he just pointed them out and went about his business. I should not be surprised, for although Larry is a brilliant writer, history takes backseat, and sometimes a shot in the back, when it comes to his plots. I consider myself more of a historian than a writer, and though I am frequently appalled at the liberties he takes, I can read the Lonesome Dove series over and over again without getting tired of them.

11 November 2004

Still pretty stunned about the election. I have this persistent, nagging feeling that America came to a fork in the road and has taken a one-way turn onto the wrong path. I have therefore been very welcome for a retreat into the past. A cousin I have been corresponding with in Massachusetts had very kindly sent scans of the records I found. The one for Ferdinand Rayer shows the spelling was not misinterpreted, but could have been Royer, which can be anglicized to Rogers. His parents were listed as Bartholomew and Malvina. Looking at the 1881 Canada Census, I found a Bertalmi and Malvina Royer with a son Ferdinand of the right age. Looking further in Rootsweb, I found extensive genealogies for Barthelemei Royer, Elie Dionne, and Celina Caouette. There should be plenty to keep me busy, and we'll see how much good I can get out of one C-minus semester of French.

Last Saturday we helped Allen unload a shipment of goods he received from Vietnam. Allen is in the business of Fair Trade wholesale, in which he brings handmade goods into America from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Bali, and makes sure the workers get the full benefit of their profits. He has opened a store in the Tallahassee Progressive Center, another project of his. The idea behind the Center is to provide a central location for progressive groups to have office space and meeting rooms, as well as having a chance for them to talk to each other and maybe share ideas on organizing that could benefit everyone. They are still in a bit of funding crises in trying to buy the building, but things are picking up for now (they are able to pay their monthly utilites). A fund raising effort is being organized to allow them to make a crucial payment, which I'll post details for, even though I think there are only three people who even know about this site. Speaking as a liberal organizer, this is a major task, as liberal organizing has been compared to cat herding. For every one liberal, there are five organizations, and all these organizations hate each other.

01 November 2004

Got talked into seeing Michael Moore at the Civic Center tonight. Pretty much just a pep-rally aimed at the young college voters, with a very shrill Roseanne Barr added in. He's finishing his 62-city tour in Tallahassee, "the scene of the crime." I can't say I learned anything new, I've dabbled in propaganda myself and Moore is definitely propaganda, even though I happen to agree with him. He had the three State Dept. diplomats who resigned over the war with him, though, which added some needed depth. There was a meagre collection of Bush/Cheney supporters outside as I left. Couldn't resist telling them "You can go in, they're not going to throw you out." Received a vague retort about there being too many homos in there. Classy.

Cautiously optimistic about the voting tomorrow. There seems to be such a wave of outrage against Bush. At best he polls about 50%, which is not good for an incumbent. Plus, the Democrats seem to have shaken off the Gore malaise and are willing to fight back. No predictions, I'm just hoping to sit back and enjoy whatever surprises appear as political theater. Earlier this week, Jon Stewart said something like "If you don't believe voter fraud will be a factor in this election, well, you're officially adorable."

Election night will be celebrated at Tallahassee's Progressive Center, a project started by former roommate, Cpt. KAOS himself, Allen Joseph. I'll explain more about it in a future posting. We've tried to get Michael Moore to join us, but I'm not sure if we ever got through to his people. Beer will be flowing, at least four bands are playing, and we'll probably have a drunk tank set up in one of the unused areas of the building. I've taken Wednesday off from work to either recover from one hell of a victory party, or plan a move to Canada.