Author: ruserkurt

What’s a Vacation, a Trip, a Hike?

I was thinking about my neighbors the other day. They have a couple of small-ish kids – 6 and 9 years old. When summer hits, that family is ON THE GO. This past year they’ve experienced hiking in the Rocky Mountains, an incredible trip to Disney World, a couple of camping trips in local (a […]

Why Do We Take Pictures, Anyway?

Why do we take pictures? Why do we save them? What do we do with them? If you’re reading this, the chances are that YOU have a phone filled with photos you’ve taken. You might be of an age where you have a box (or more) of physical photos, still tucked into the envelopes along […]

Life Through the Windshield

Sometimes a story just strikes a chord. This one did so for me, both literally and figuratively. The story is an interview with a 97-year-old concert pianist. It aired on CBS Sunday Morning and was charmingly reported by correspondent Mo Rocca. Her name is Ruth Slenczynska (pronounced “slen-JEN-ska”), and she had recently (as of April […]

Scrapbooking, Turbo-Charged

Are you ready to take scrapbooking to the next level? You do that through famsourcing. It’s not a typo. I’m talking about famsourcing – a new word we have coined that means “sourcing from everyone in the family.” It’s a play on crowdsourcing but a lot more personal – to you, to your family, and […]

Photos and the Great Comment Conundrum

Read this if you’ve ever been at an event or on a vacation at which pictures have been taken, and especially if YOU have ever been the picture-taker at an event or on a vacation. Serious question: How have those photos been shared? Casually? … Thoughtfully? … Willy-Nilly? … All of the above? Scroll through […]

A Disaster is Coming. What Do You Grab?

My heart might have broken, just a little bit. I happened to see some news coverage of some storms that hit the South pretty hard, and one of the camera shots was of someone picking an old family picture up out of the rubble, shaking it off, and saying something on the order of, “I […]

The Next Best Thing to Being There

Sometimes you just can’t be there in person. It happened to me recently. The event was a book launch. The author of the book being launched, Betsy, is a first cousin, once removed. (If you’re not familiar with genealogy kinship terms, Betsy is my first cousin’s daughter.) The book, a graphic novel titled Amelia Erroway, […]

When Stories Take Unexpected Detours

The TightKnit Story Album had an appropriate title: 1969-70 Jam Sessions. All the photos in the album captured the party atmosphere that surrounded the five guys performing jazz and swing tunes from the 40’s and 50’s. Two of the musicians were my uncles – one playing trumpet and the other controlling the dynamics and providing […]

Thanksgiving Recipes and Stories

You wouldn’t think the game show Family Feud could inspire a blog post, I bet. But a question on a “Fast Money” segment in a recent episode caught my attention:  “Name a Thanksgiving food for which you have an old family recipe.”   The first person up answered “gravy.” Meeep. No points for that one.  The second person […]

Yes, Your Stories Are Worth Telling

How did you react when one of your parents or grandparents told you a family story that you had never heard before?   Think about that for a moment as you conjure up one of those stories.   Was it a surprise? Disbelief? Heartwarming? Hysterical? Historical? Revealing? Revolting? Unforgettable? Educational? Intriguing?   Of course, how you reacted depended entirely on the story and […]

Who Will Champion Your Family History?

You can do a quick Google search and turn up lots of good articles that offer advice and “how to” guidance for capturing and preserving your family history. For example, I recently became aware of a piece published by AARP titled, How to Create an Oral Family History. It’s well written, gives you some good […]

“I Never Realized…”

Kate Hellmers has been receiving a lot of emails from relatives and friends lately. That, by itself, is not surprising. Each of them expressed some form of gratitude for her efforts to capture and share family stories.   What IS surprising is how many of those emails also acknowledged new discoveries – things previously not known to the senders – that were almost always introduced with the phrase, “I […]

Today’s Happenings are Tomorrow’s Memories

What’s happening?   We talk a lot about photos, heirlooms, and artifacts from the past, I know. And sometimes we all lose sight of a rather important fact.  Today is tomorrow’s past.  Whoa. That seemed deep, didn’t it? Bear with me here…  The neighbors went off to Colorado with their two kids, climbed some mountains, did […]

The Dash

A good 20 years or so ago, I attended a business conference. One of the speakers on the agenda was Lou Holtz. Well known and highly regarded as a successful college football coach, Lou is also a terrific motivational speaker.   I recall him being both entertaining and inspirational – delivering cleverly crafted one-liners interspersed with meaningful life lessons. But there’s one thing I remember very specifically. During […]

Documenting Family Stories

Is it worth the effort? In short, yes. But seriously, how hard can it be?   Let’s take a look at that. But first, we’ll begin by understanding what makes family stories so worthwhile.   Deep down, you already know. In fact, you probably don’t even have to dig that deep. You can probably just scratch through the surface – like a gardener gently moving some topsoil […]

Family Questions with Answers for a Lifetime

Think about the last time you sat down with a family elder (or a bunch of them) and you passed around some old family pictures. Maybe they were of people and events familiar to you, or maybe they were recently unearthed photos that you were hoping to learn something about.   What comments did you all make as the conversation took place? What questions did you ask?  […]

A Box of Family Pictures: The Flux Capacitor in Your Attic

Time travel has always been a popular topic for science fiction. You find it in books, like The Time Machine (a true classic) by H. G. Wells. Or A Wrinkle in Time, the first in a series authored by Madeleine L’Engle, that I read aloud to my kids at bedtime – a chapter a night […]

Family Heirlooms: The Vase We Don’t Understand

Do you have a family heirloom but you’re not sure why it’s an “heirloom”?  The time had come for Mom and Dad to downsize. Their modest home had barely seemed large enough while they were raising six kids. But now… decades later… it was more than they really needed, and definitely more than they could […]

Photos and Stories and Families, Oh My!

Ah, the magic of old family photos. You look at one and, in an instant, neurons start firing in your brain as you vividly recall episodes from your past. Your memories can trigger a whole spectrum of possible emotions: Love… as you relive special moments from your wedding day photos, Anxiety… as your knees grow […]

Family Photo Books Don’t Breathe

Do you like to create photo books? I got to thinking about photo books last week when I received an email from Google Photos inviting me to “make a photo book in minutes.” You might like to make photo books. A lot of people do. Judging by the number of places that are vying for […]

On Your Mark… Get Set… _____ (fill in the blank)

How did you fill in the blank?  It depends on what you are getting set to do, doesn’t it? If you are going to run a race, you fill in the blank with an enthusiastic Go! At least you did when you were a kid. Especially after you purchased a new pair of tennis shoes, which you knew […]

Will the Future Appreciate the Past?

Will the future appreciate the past? Good question. It was the subject of a conversation I recently had with a friend, and she was deeply concerned about it. I’ll come back to that discussion in a bit. First, let me give you some context. “The future” is a reference to those who stand to inherit […]

The Rest of the [Family] Story

And Now… The Rest of the Story  Does that phrase stir up any memories for you?   If you spent any time listening to the radio during the 30+ years spanning May, 1976 through February, 2009, you instantly connected The Rest of the Story with the distinctive voice of news broadcaster and radio personality, Paul Harvey.   With a little help from […]

The Living, Breathing, Truth

There is life in old photos. Just ask Ken Burns.   I am sure you are familiar with Ken’s works. “He has been making documentary films for over forty years. Since the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, Ken has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made.” The Ken Burns website  And, in […]

Your Family is History

Say what? Is that a thinly-veiled threat?   Like the kind you might hear while watching an action-packed episode of a good police drama? Where the good guys have just concluded a thrilling high-speed chase and collared a notorious drug kingpin who, as he’s being led away with his hands securely cuffed behind his back, suddenly stops and turns to the hero cop, piercing his captor with a […]

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