Getting the Ball Rolling

I set up this site and made a post in each of the three categories I decided on:  posts about this site, posts relating to writing the book, and posts about the physical aspect of getting ready to travel to England next spring.

Since then I have set up the writing space for my essays and have the first one roughed out. I have decided to try and write one a week and am aiming for at least 1000 words, hopefully more.  Yesterday I put my pedometer in my pocket and did an exploratory walk around my community, scoping things out and figured out that with my stride, there are 2880 steps in a mile.

Having accomplished this, why don’t I feel better?  I think it is too easy, too organized; I’m a master planner and a weak follower-througher.  But interests and habits form, despite our best efforts to get in our own way. I have been researching this family line full-time for six years now.  I am still walking, I have put the pedometer back in my pocket again. I am in a place where I can choose better nutrition for myself; I have a chef cooking my meals. I have miles of wooded walking trails now, not a concrete loop in front of my home where I imagined myself at 85 walking around and around, pointlessly, 10 times to the mile. I have potential walking partners, a swimming pool, wii bowling, a garden in front of me that needs my care.

Care.  That’s the key, time and care:  “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Creating a Physical Routine

When I moved to my new home here last November, I was using my pedometer to count my steps daily.  I found my steps had increased substantially from my townhouse use and set a goal of 3,000-5,000 steps a day and then, for a brief period, insisted I walk at least 5,000 steps a day.

I took the Senior Fitness Test from the physical trainer here and it said I was average (for my age) in everything except the 2-minute step; I have no stamina.  I was a little low on the back scratch (try to clasp hands together behind one’s back, one arm over shoulder, one coming up from the waist) but was above average for the chair-sit-and-reach (I can reach beyond my toes; standing, I can touch the floor flat-handed) and the “8-Foot-Up-and-Go,” where you jump up from a folding chair and race around an orange cone as fast as you can.  That score gained me an asterisk which, “indicates that you meet the recommended fitness standard and should be on track to maintain your physical independence in later years (age 90+) despite normal age-related declines.”

However, I gave up trying to walk 5,000 steps a day soon after I took the Senior Fitness Test; I was getting close each evening but then it would get time to go to bed and I’d have to wander the halls for half an hour getting bored out of my mind no matter my mood or what else I was doing.  I began to resent my insistence and an age-old will struggle with myself ensued.

But I want to increase my stamina so I can walk in Lewes easily enough.  I have asthma and am overweight as well as getting older and all that is not working in my favor.  Spring starts officially today and I want to get a routine of some kind going and believe thinking and writing about it at the same time might help me.

I have belonged to a lifestyle and fitness site, Spark People, for the last 8-10 years and it has all the tools one might need to help meet health, fitness, and other lifestyle goals, and now I have this site for this goal.  I suspect I will be working harder at getting to the SparkPeople site daily and working that site and its tools into my routine.

In addition, my new home location has miles of nature trails just out my front door that neighbors asked have I hiked any of them yet and I have two active grandchildren and their parents who I would like to physically be able to keep up with in the coming years, for as long as possible. Because this is a senior community, the nature trails have benches to rest on and easy paths, well-maintained, and some paved, to follow.  My curiosity is dying to walk the perimeter, ring, road of the community with my pedometer in my pocket to see how many steps it takes.

I took the Senior Test in December of 2015 and plan to ask to take it again this coming December, see if I can do that 2-minute step better. I think I have plenty of ideas to work with; websites like this one to keep me honest and enough small adventures like walking the ring road to mix it up and keep it interesting.

Writing Springboard

I love to research and am good at it.  However, at some point you have to put down the research and start the writing.  I have not been able to get to that point yet because I perceive too many gaps in “the” story.

I came up with the “Walking Back to Sussex” story line over a year ago; I’d write about my research as I worked for a year to get fit and healthy, to be able to travel to Lewes, Sussex, and work on that most interesting aspect (to me) of the story, in person.  But I could neither figure out the writing transition between the research and the walking nor could I get the physical work to be consistent as well as interesting to write about.  I wrote one blog post on my personal web site and then got wrapped up in my personal trials and tribulations for 2015 and am only now getting back to working on how to write “the” book.

Thinking about “the” story this year, themes began to arise, subject groups I either know something about or wish I knew more about.  I realized I could write essays better than chapters of a one-story book; the essays would only have to be loosely connected or date ordered.  I could weave information through and build on it gradually; subtly go over some basic information multiple times from different directions without it getting tedious.

Base genealogy is records of birth, baptism, marriage, military records, death; public, state, and church records of that ilk.  I realized I have some interesting stories surrounding those records; I have a second great grandfather born at sea during the Napoleonic Wars; multiple wills that trace a single heirloom, and heirlooms mentioned that one wishes one could see and are jealous were not handed down.

There’s a death it took five years to find and move from mystery disappearance to Dunkirk, France; a surprising result. The problem with France is they speak French and I don’t.  Just hiring a French researcher to find out the details has been an adventure all its own.

There’s a book of poems by a great aunt’s female business partner with a poem about the sweetness of a younger great aunt, the first’s namesake niece, for whom there’s a confirming 1863 photograph of an 1808 portrait painting; the photograph sent to the author in the United States from her fourth cousin in Australia.

Maybe “the” story does not exist as I would like it to but there are still worthy stories to be told.  My second great grandfather, Richard Edward Cardin (1805-1871) had a son Richard but his line died out in South Africa nearly 100 years ago.  My great grandfather was Frank Charles Cantrell Cardin (1856-1936) and his line is down to my first cousin who only has a daughter.

There are still a couple male 4th cousins with the Cardin name but I am reminded of my third great grandfather’s immediate family, one I call “the lost generation” as only my third great grandfather and his youngest sister married and had children, out of nine siblings.  It makes me think of the punch line of John Donne’s “Meditation 17”:

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. . .

The Year of the Book

This is the year I have set aside to write most of a book of essays about the Richard Cardins (1702-1871), their vague predecessors and immediate ancestors related to me.

This time next year I would like to be planning for a trip to Lewes, Sussex, England, to see what the seventeenth and eighteenth century Richards and their wives and children might have seen and, hopefully, experience a bit of what they might have felt.

My problem is that Lewes main street is a respectably steep hill and I’m in less than perfect physical shape to be wandering up and down and all around it.  As well as the year of the book, this is the year I buy walking shoes and get myself in shape to spend a week walking up and down and all around that hilly street!

So, this new site (March 19, 2016) is to be a documentation of these two endeavors, the writing and the walking.  Enjoy!