Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Genealogy

Genealogy is a full-time and never ending job!  In 1989 I drove to Salt Lake City to research my past.  I  looked through films for my parents' names.  It was exciting finding their names, but I had no idea how to proceed. One thing I did learn was that in Arvada, where I live, there is a Morman church where I can obtain the same information!

Looking for ancestors took a back-burner in my life until I happened to be talking with a cousin who was working on genealogy. Her father and my mother were siblings so we decided to join forces. In 1993 we drove to our hometown of Greeley, Colorado to visit an 83 year old relative.

 My Second Cousin Lucy Tenorio Gonzales

Her memory and stories were vivid and this gave me a foundation to begin my research. In 2007 the researching cousin and I drove to New Mexico in search of more information. We traveled to Villa Nueva, Santa Rosa, Pastura, Puerto de Luna, Ft. Sumner and Santa Fe. I returned to New Mexico in 2008, met new cousins, and found interesting information pertaining to my ancestors. I learned that everyone has their own version of things that happened in the past. In 2010, my cousin and I attended a Genealogy Seminar in Albuquerque and met more cousins. A highlight was visiting San Jose church in Laguna where my ggggrandfather had donated an altar screen.

Altar Screen donated to San Jose de Laguna Mission
by my ggggrandfather, Jose Manuel Aragon

Since then I have visited cemeteries, spent time in libraries and cultural centers, used the Internet, read books, located other cousins, attended seminars, and written letters to help me compile facts for my family tree. The Denver Public Library has a large research area and much of the same information I found in New Mexico. My huge regret is that when my father and mother told me stories about the past, I never listened. This seems to be the lament of many of my cousins.  My advice for a person interested in digging into the past is to find the oldest relative and get all the information available from that person.

My mother would always say, "Mi abuelo era de Espana." (My grandfather was from Spain.) Research going back to my ggggrandfather is that they all lived in New Mexico. Many Spaniards arrived in Mexico (New Spain) and settled there, possibly for two generations, and then made their way to New Mexico. I have been able to substantiate my ancestry to my ggggrandfather but am having problems locating his father.
There seem to be conflicting records of my gggggrandfather because of the similarity in names and dates.

On my father's side, he would say, "Mis padres eran de Chihuahua, Mexico y mis hermanas nacieron en Mexico.  Yo naci en Nuevo Mexico."  (My parents were from Chihuahua, Mexico and my sisters were born in Mexico.  I was born in New Mexico.) I found records of my father being born in Garfield, New Mexico in 1905. I also have my Grandfather's Declaration of Intention when he entered the United States in 1904. Does that mean my Grandmother was pregnant with my father when they came to the United States?  On the document, the typed 1904 has been crossed out and the year 1899 written in.  Additions or corrections on documents make research difficult!

Another cousin of mine, had a tin type photo and we had it restored.  This, as far as I know, is the only picture of my maternal grandmother.  She is pictured with my great-grandmother and my great-aunt.

My Great Aunt Conrada Ortiz,
my Great Grandmother Luciana Urioste Ortiz, and my Grandmother Valentina Ortiz

Finding bits and pieces of my parents' lives  gives me a better understanding of who they were and how they lived in the past.  I look forward to uncovering and solving more of those old mysteries that are intertwined with my life.




Monday, February 27, 2012

Working in the Fields

During summer vacation, my mother would take my brother and me to work in the fields around Greeley. To a nine year old, it was fun because there was singing, camaraderie, picnics, and it didn't matter how much money I made.  Even at that, it was hard work. Sometimes my knees would feel sore from kneeling in the dirt rows and thinning beats with a hand-held hoe. My favorite field work was filling up sacks with the aromatic onions and getting twenty five cents for each burlap sack filled.  A machine would dig the potatoes up and workers did back-breaking bending to pick the lumpy potatoes. The sun would be hot on my back and a straw hat protected my face. Sometimes, I would be sent to the edge of the field to get a water jug placed in an irrigation ditch under a lone cottonwood tree.  I enjoyed lunch as everyone gathered around the tree and exchanged stories and bragged about how many sacks they had filled. I recall someone making a comment about washing hands before eating and hearing, "It's not the dirt that goes in your mouth but the dirt that comes out that will hurt you!"  The cool shade dried our sweat until it would be time to return for another round of tackling the field! Luckily, we only did this type of work a couple of summers, yet it gave me a sense of how hard field hands need to work for very little pay.

Cycle of Work
by E. Moscoso

Sun on back
thirst in throat
fill the sack
fill the sack.

Knees on ground
blisters on hand
hoe that mound
hoe that mound.

Sweat in beads
rolls down face
pull those weeds
pull those weeds.

Energy sags
body drags
lift those bags
lift those bags.

Shoulders hurt
fingers sore
shake that dirt
shake that dirt.

Time to eat
time to break
cold lunch meat
cold lunch meat.

Too tired to move
rest on bed
same groove
same groove.

Stiff and sore
back aches
same as before
same as before.

Long hours, small pay
life of a field hand
day after day
day after day.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lent


As ashes were placed on my forehead on Wednesday, the Lenten season began. Ash Wednesday has been in my life for seventy some years reminding me that I am dust and to dust I shall return. It seems as if every decade or so, I experience different feelings and thoughts during Lent.
In the late forties, my Mother and the Victory Noll nuns made sure that children (me) went to church on Ash Wednesday. Very few public school students had dirty foreheads and I was embarrassed at having a smudge on my forehead. What I remember is giving up chocolate for those forty days and I believed this was the least I could do to make up for my sins! On Holy Saturday I'd gorge myself with chocolate!

In the fifties, my attitude changed.  There was something very special in having a religion that stood out from other religions by a mark on my forehead. The smear on my forehead in the shape of a cross was displayed  with pride. I knew it was a time to do spiritual housecleaning by penance, helping others, and being sorry for sins committed. During the forty days I strived to become a better person. Ash Wednesday reminded me that for the next forty days I would spend more time in prayer and religious acts. I prayed daily to become a better person. I wanted to be just like Our Blessed Mother, pure and without sin. I continued giving up chocolate for Lent.

In my early thirties, most of my friends were non-Catholic and I did not attend Ash Wednesday services.  Lent came and went and for me those were ordinary days. At times I would feel a pang of guilt but not enough to get me to go to church. During this time of doubt, I attended mass on Sunday out of duty but  did not receive communion. Once on Ash Wednesday, a bunch of my friends were hanging out when a fallen-away Catholic decided we all needed to have ashes on our foreheads.  He gathered the smokers' ash trays, mixed up the ashes, and placed a round spot on our forehead.  How we laughed at his antics in the dimly lit bar with the smell of beer!  Vatican II had a lot to do with my confusion as I became disillusioned with my faith.  I had removed myself from my faith, yet in an abstract way, I believed in God.

As I grew older, I yearned to return to my roots in Catholicism.  Emotions weighed heavy on me and as I thought about what Lent meant, I could not control my tears.  During the Station of the Cross I felt as if I was present at Jesus' Crucifixion. I felt terrible that I had caused our Lord's death in such a cruel and agonizing way. I attended mass daily.  I realized that during Lent I could erase sins lurking in my thoughts or actions. I remember on Easter Sunday how happy I felt knowing that Jesus had ascended into heaven.

On my journey, I have believed whole heartily in the teachings of the church or at times I became a skeptic.  My closeness to God has never wavered even though I have scoffed at religious views and ideas. Old habits die hard and I still cannot say "thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever, Amen," at the end of the Our Father because this was a protestant ending when I was growing up. I still feel guilty  about eating meat on Friday. I prefer to receive communion from a priest. I had a priest tell me once, "Don't try to be holier than the church."

Slowly, I am learning more about my faith.  I have traveled to different shrines and envy persons who seem so devout. How I would love to have their kind of faith. This year, when the ashes were placed on my forehead I was given a purple bracelet to remind me to deepen my love for God and neighbor by prayer, fasting, and alms giving.


I hope to prepare for Easter by daily meditation.  I will go to confession and on Easter I will celebrate Jesus' ascension into heaven. Lent is the time to delve into my faith, try to overcome any doubts, volunteer at a food bank or a shelter, and pray that the Holy Spirit guides me along my Lenten journey.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Forty Nine Years Ago

In this day and age, rooms at a hospital for expectant mothers, are warm, cozy and pleasant. What I remember is drab cement walls and a dungeon like room with green curtains separating each mother who entered St. Joseph's Hospital. While I waited, I could hear every mother brought in and taken out. It seemed as if every other woman could give birth, but not me! Every sound could be heard, every moan, every scream, every word spoken and every prayer. The year was 1963, St. Joseph's was under construction, and this was my first child being born. What I remember is a lot of pain that lasted from around midnight on the twenty-third of February until I was given a whiff of gas to put me out.  I did not follow my doctor's instructions of breathing normally and counting backwards. Instead, I held my breath.  When I could hold my breath no longer, I took one great big gulp and I was out. I awoke on the twenty-second around noon with my husband on one side of the bed and my mother on the other side.  I could hear my mother saying, "This is not normal, she should be awake, she has not even seen her baby." Once I knew I was alive, I continued to sleep.

By the time I awoke, my little baby was starving and letting everyone know with his crying.  The nurses gave me a crash course on how to breast feed and what I needed to do to get my beautiful baby to latch on and begin drinking.  It took a few attempts but my son and I soon got the hang of what we were supposed to do. The feeling of pride, joy, and love, as I held my baby, filled me with happiness. Giving birth is truly a miracle!

A Mother's Ordeal

Lying here, in this darkened room
I shiver.  Is this my doom?
Across my body, a cramping pain,
if I scream, what will I gain?
I grit my teeth and hold my breath,
I know this pain will be my death.
I must be brave, I must be bold,
for there it is again, taking hold.
A invisible hand grabs my insides,
ripping and tearing, then slowly hides.
It is now worse, where does it hurt?
It is now gone, does pain with me flirt?
Each time it comes it gets worse.
What can I do?  "Oh, help me nurse.
Make this unberable pain flee,
please, come and help me!"

On wheels so slow I am rolled away.
A child is to be born to me today.
Into a brightly lighted room I go
as pain within me continues to grow.
My tortured body can take no more,
there isn't a spot that isn't sore.
My breath is gone, I can only gasp,
"Put me out, let me into sleep lapse."
Masked figures whisper calm and low.
My face and hands with perspiration glow.
A gentle voice: "Push with the pain."
I groan, moan, my body aflame.
God, oh God, help me in this hour of need,
help me deliver this painful seed.
As I am put to sleep relief is felt.
Into peacefulness, my body does melt.

I hear a cry, so loud and shirll.
This is the answer to a mother's ordeal.
All pain is forgotten, all in the past,                                          
Only love for this baby is all that will last.                       

E. Moscoso
February 25, 1963

To my son:  Remember that the love parents have for their child is special and never-ending. Today on your birthday I  hope you have a wonderful day as you celebrate your 49th birthday!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Beauty

In 1959, I wrote a poem called Beauty Queen.  At the time I wrote it, I thought I was being clever and funny. Friends who read it got a good laugh and I never gave it another thought.  Fast forward to the year 2012.  Somehow, I don't find Beauty Queen as hilarious as I once did!

Beauty Queen

I was in college,
my second year,
when I saw her,
what a dear.
I eyed her from a distance
until it paid off --
sheer persistence.
Five feet four
and free from sin.
On her thrity-eights
she wore my pin.
White teeth
like pearls of the sea
and a tiny waist,
just right for me.
Long, blond hair
flowing in the sun
and green eyes
sparkling with fun.

We dated, we wooed,
we fell in love,
me and my
little turtle dove.
I asked her to
be my wife
and be with me
the rest of my life.
She agreed
and we set a date.
I sure give thanks
for my wonderful fate.
She's a perfect beauty queen,
the prettiest girl I have every seen.

On our wedding day
I knew I'd soon be
with my lady sweet.
The one I loved
from her head
to the bottom of her feet.
As we crossed the
threshold of our room
I faintly smelled
her arousing perfume.
She looked at me
and whispered low,
"Get comfy, dear,
let the champagne flow.
I'll be right back,
now, don't go away
for it's time to relax today."
I crawled into bed
to patiently wait
the coming of
my beautiful mate.

"Here I come,
my handsome groom,"
she said, as she
entered the room.
In her hand she carried her hair,
a pink lace girdle
she tossed on the chair.
Her thirty-eights slipped
down to her waist
until her middle was
completely erased.
She stumbled around
and finally found
thick glasses
with frames so round.
Pulling out her partial
she smiled at me,
and lisped,
"Ohs darsling,
I'ms so hasppy."

E. Rodriguez
May 6, 1959 






Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sudoku

About four years ago when I was on a plane, I happened to be sitting next to an Asian man. He was working on a Sudoku puzzle.  I told him I had tried to figure out how Sudoku worked and had never been able to learn the secret of the puzzle.  His reply was, "I am not good.  My daughter is excellent.  She look at puzzle and can almost figure out in her head.  I have to study."  He proceeded to explain the concept of  Sudoku. It did not make sense to me.

I purchased a Totally Easy Sudoku booklet and tried to follow the directions in the book. "To solve, place a number into each box so that each row across, each column down, and each small 9-box square within the larger diagram (there are nine of these) will contain every number  from 1-9.  In other words, no number may appear more than once in any row, column, or smaller 9 box square.  Working with the numbers already given as a guide, complete each diagram with the missing numbers that will lead to the correct solution."

No matter how hard I tried, I found that for every ten puzzles I attempted I might get one correct. I set the Sudoku puzzle aside and went back to working crossword puzzles. That was about two years ago. This morning I picked up the Sudoku book and studied it.  I worked the first puzzle correctly. It did not seem so difficult so I went on to the next puzzle.  I again finished it correctly.  What had happened in two years? Did my brain retain what I had learned before?  Why did it seem easier now that I was giving Sudoku another chance?

I do not know why or how I am now able to figure out a correct answer.  I still am not a whiz at working the Sudoku puzzles but I am so much better than I was two years ago.  Is that weird or what? My brain never ceases to amaze me!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feliz Cumpleanos!

Palm Tree and Flowers
Last year, around this time of the year, I relaxed in a wooden beach chair and looked out at the beautiful bluish-green ocean.  The rhythmic slapping of the sea on the shoreline lulled me into a peaceful trance.  For the past five years I have met a friend of mine, from Guadalajara, in Puerto Vallarta. I have known her for over fifty-four years, ever since meeting her in the late 1950's. Two other friends help celebrate her special day.  Evelia lives in Tepic and Raquel is fortunate enough to live in Nuevo Vallarta.  This year I was unable to meet them in the beautiful tropical bay.  Even though we correspond on Facebook and by e-mail it is not the same as being there.  I find myself wishing I could be with my buddies enjoying the good food, the music, the weather and their friendship.  The closest thing I can do to be near them is to look at my photographs and relive those fun visits to Puerto Vallarta.


Dolores and Erlinda boat sitting!

  
Erlinda, Dolores and Raquel

Peaceful village of Bucerias

Good Times



Laughter is the best medicine!

So many wonderful memories of my favorite vacation spot of Puerto Vallarta.
Even though I am not there in body I am surely there in spirit. 
Hope my friend  has a super 75th birthday drinking a glass of red wine
and eating a tres leches cake with strawberries on top!
Me and a shark!



PV is known for its sunsets! Adios amigas!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Dejavu

Who would have thought that after twenty-five years I would again be sitting in a noisy gym watching girls on a volleyball team.  When my daughter played volleyball I attended matches for about ten years in a row. While in middle school she played for the North Arvada Knights and wore purple and white. In high school she was a Redskin in a red and white uniform and in college she was a brown and gold Ranger.

My daughter in her Regis uniform.

One of the things I remember were the noisy gyms.  I sat on hard bleachers and could hear the noise reverberating with all the cheers, yells, and balls hitting the floor, walls or ceiling.  The noise was magnified if more than one game happened to be played in the gym and loud was an under statement!  From around 1979 until 1988, I was a devoted fan attending most of the games played and even driving to New Mexico or Kansas to watch my daughter play.

Now, the year is 2012 and I took my granddaughter to her volleyball practice. Twenty-five years have gone by and here I sat in another loud gym. Immediately, it was dejavu! Four teams were practicing simultaneously in the small gym. The only difference I could see was that my granddaughter's uniform was dark green, but the noise was exactly the same! My granddaughter would love to be a setter, just like her mother, but it is too early to tell what position she will play. I was told that there is a comparison between a setter and a football quarterback in how important they are to the outcome of a game.

Memories push their way into my mind as I watch the young girls jump, spike, serve, hit the floor and return the ball. I can tell that my granddaughter is a strong server.  She bounces the ball on the floor a few times, holds the ball in her left hand, tosses the ball high into the air and as it begins to come down, she swings her right arm hitting the ball with the inside bottom of her palm.  The ball flies over the net and lands on the opposite side of the net. The serve, to me, looks like a tennis serve but without the racket!

I will not be able to see any games because she lives in California and I am in Colorado.  I hope her parents  video tape her games and post them on Facebook so I can see my granddaughter play.  One thing I know for sure is that I will not miss the noise created by spectators and players in an indoor gym!

My granddaughter on her way to a tournament in  Rancho Cucamonga
                                                              

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pablo

Not too long ago, I overheard Grandma Erlinda say that she was reading a book called The Art of Racing in the Rain and the story was from a dog's viewpoint. I thought I would give it a try and tell you about what happened during the first week in February.


Something was going on.  Lots of movement.  Coming in, going out, doors opening, doors closing and cupboards banging.  When I saw Grandma Erlinda walk in, I knew something was up because she lives in Colorado and I am in California.  I glanced out the front door and saw our camping trailer in the driveway. Excitement ruffled my white fur; we were going camping!

I headed for my round, comfy bed in the corner of the room and relaxed. From my bed I would pretend to be asleep but I could watch and hear everything. Soon, I realized I would not be going camping. Neither would the girls. Grandma Erlinda had come to stay with us while Mom and Dad went to a place called Arizona.

The time had come for Mom's gourd artwork to be sold. She goes to gourd shows a few times a year but this year they seemed to be going far away.  I remembered curling up near Mom's  feet and watching her work on her gourds. She amazed me at how she could take plain, tan gourds and make monkey, dog, zebra, lion, or antelope faces They looked so real I wanted to bark at them.  She also created flowers, people faces, birds, modern art designs and fancy carved bowls out of oddly shaped gourds. I watched as she carefully photographed each piece and then packed each art work in crates.



When the house got quiet I got up and went out the open front door just in time to see the trailer roll out of the driveway. As hands waved good bye, I wagged my tail!  Being left for someone else to take care of me is not fun.  My feeding goes off-kilter because either they forget to feed me or they are too busy to fill my water dish.  Eventually it gets done, but it is not my regular schedule.  No one played with me and a quick pat on my head is all I got. I felt lonely and a bit depressed so I slept a lot. When the door opened I knew it was time to go outside. I found a sunny patch on the porch to stretch out. You would have thought I was a cat looking for a warm spot to relax! I am eighty-four years old, if it is true that 7x12 equals my age, and I need lots of warmth and a soft bed.

Hours would go by and the house was silent. I was happy when I heard  Grandma Erlinda enter with the girls. I stood at the door and smiled and wagged my tail until they let me in. I went directly to my bed and fell asleep. Sleeping on my bed is so much better than sleeping on the porch!  After the girls left for school, Grandma Erlinda took me for a walk.  This is one of my favorite pass times.  I love walking in the neighborhood!  She walks slower than anyone I know but it gives me more time to sniff at the grass, bushes, posts and trees. My favorite is a fire hydrant and I give it a big squirt!  How I enjoy those smells and then right in the same spot I raise my leg and mark the spot.  When she pulls I brace myself and I won't budge.  Doesn't she know I am not finished with my marking technique?   I try not to poop on other people's lawns because I know no one likes to clean up after me.  Even though Grandma Erlinda carries a plastic bag to clean up my mess, I try not to do anything on our walk.

After our walk, I am thirsty and drink lots of water. Sometimes, one of the girls will take me around the block.  I miss Mom.  She  pets me a lot, tickles me, picks me up, cuddles me, talks to me and takes me for long runs.  When we get back after one of her energetic runs, I am exhausted.

The week was over before I could say "woof."  We were all together again and conversations turned to what we did and how the gourd show turned out. It sounded like a fun show! I love to see them all seated around the table eating dinner and sometimes food drops to the floor. I love people food and anything that falls on the floor is an extra treat for me!

Now we are back to normal.  I  enjoy sleeping on my soft pillow, getting dog biscuits every once in awhile, and back to my daily routine. What a fun time I had telling you about my adventures on that first week in February of 2012. Maybe I should tell more stories.  What do you think?

Here I am with Grandma Erlinda.