Monday, May 28, 2007

Week Nineteen: Your Community

It's been two weeks since I've posted a prompt. "Your Community" is the focus this time. You can choose the current community you live in or any of the past communites in which you've resided. Perhaps you will want to write about all the communities of your life. Here are some things to consider:

*Describe your community: the location, including county and state; its size, and if a small one, its relation to a larger community; how long you lived there.

*What do you know about the history of your community? Who were its founders? What were major events of its past?

*What indigenous peoples lived there, and what ethnic groups immigrated to it?

*Why did you settle in this community?

*What do you like about it? Dislike? What would you change? What do you hope will never change?

*List some of the physical features and structures of the community...its parks, community centers, churches, and businesses, especially the ones you frequent.

*List events and celebrations that make this community unique, especially ones you have participated in.

*Write about your neighbors, friends and any family that live in this community, and describe your relationship with them through the community perspective.

*If you are active as a volunteer, committee or board member of your community, write about your experiences and responsiblities.

*What is the economy like? What is the economic makeup of its citizens? What is the rate of unemployment? What is the housing market like?

*What major political leanings does the community have? Major religous denominations? Are you in the majority or minority as a citizen in the political and religious areas? How does that shape your everyday life?

*What do you see as the future of this community, and why?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Week Eighteen: Your Neighborhood

Most people have fond memories of the neighborhood in which they grew up: the hangouts, the haunted houses, the secret hideouts. Rural or urban, every location has something unique and attractive to children. In this busy day and age, most children's lives are very over-scheduled and with the dangers of sexual predators, gangs, and drug dealers, as well as the electronic attractions of computer/video games, cell phones, and instant messaging/MySpace/FaceBook, kids don't roam free as they once did. Leave a record of some great memories for your descendants!

*Describe the neighborhood of your childhood. Was it rural or urban? If urban, what stores, parks, and businesses do you remember? If rural, describe the woods or plains, streams or lakes/ponds that you explored. Or perhaps you lived in a small town or the suburbs, which were a combination of the great outdoors and the community services.

*What was your favorite place to go hang out with your friends? Why? What were some of the things you did there?

*Who were your friends and where did they live? Describe old they were, how you ended up becoming friends, what was special about them?

*Are you still in touch with your childhood friends? Why or why not? Where do they live now?

*What was your favorite place to go to be by yourself? Why? What were some of the things you did there?

*Was there a haunted house or cemetery or some other scary place in your neighborhood? Did you ever go exploring there? What happened?

*Was there a place from which your parents told you to stay away? What was it and why were you supposed to stay away from it? Did you ever visit it anyway? What happened?

*Where did you learn to swim? What was your favorite "swimming hole?"

*Where did you ride your bicycle?

*Where did you go to the movies? or shoot pool? or play video games (before they were available for home use)?

*Where did you go bowling? or rollerskating? or skateboarding? or sledding? or ice skating?

*What kinds of outdoor games did you play with your friends? Hopscotch? Marbles? Cowboys and Indians? Capture the flag? Tag? Jump rope?

*What kinds of mischief did you and your friends get into? Were you ever caught? If so, what were the consequences?

*Was there a house in the neighborhood that everyone gravitated to? You know, the one whose mom didn't care if you hung out there all day, as long as you cleaned up after yourselves? Was it your house, or someone else's? Describe what you used to do there.

*Was there a convenience store, malt shop, Mom and Pop store, candy store, or some other place that all the kids loved to go to get their treats? What kinds of treats were your favorite? Was there an ice cream truck that you used to frequent?

*Did you ever have a lemonade stand? Write about your successes or failures with that.

*If you lived in the country, where did you like to go fishing, hunting, hiking, or ORVing? Tell your stories.

*Did you ever run into wild animals (bears, snakes, etc.) or fierce farm animals (bulls, roosters, etc.) while playing out in the country? Tell about your adventures!

*Did you ever run away from home? Why? Where did you go and how long were you there?

*Did you have a tree house or clubhouse? Was it secret, or did everyone hang out there? Who built it?

Instead of writing down your responses, you could make an audio recording and transcribe it later. I can think of so many stories about running around as a kid, that writing them down would take a very long time! A recording would be simpler and faster. Find some photos of you and your friends hanging out, or of the places you used to frequent to illustrate your written journal.

Next week,we'll expand a bit and on focus on "Your Community."

(P.S. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Week Seventeen: Your Pets

Please take a moment to read my post "May is Here Already!" over at my main blog, AnceStories: Stories of My Ancestors. Life is incredibly busy for me until June 15th, when school gets out. I can't promise to publish posts at this blog every week until my summer break, so I appreciate your patience with me! :-)

The topic for this week is Your Pets. Here are some prompts to ponder:

* Have you ever had pets? What kind were they? What were their names? Why did you name them those names?

*Were they family pets, or did you have a pet of your own? How about your siblings, spouse or children: Did they have their own pets?

*How did you acquire your pets? Were they given to you, bought, or did you adopt a stray? What was your parents' (or spouse's) reactions to having a pet?

*If you had a pet as a child, what were some of the responsibilities that you had in caring for your pet? Were you pretty good in caring for your pet, or did you need a lot of reminding?

*Describe the personality of your pet. Did he or she have any tricks they could perform or special qualities? Do you remember any funny stories about your pets?

*Did you have to housebreak or leash-train your pet?

*Have you ever entered a pet in a fair, show or contest? Did you win any prizes?

*Did your pet ever have any bad behaviors (biting people, getting into fights with other animals, digging, getting into the garbage, etc)? How were those issues dealt with?

*Have you ever taken your pet to a pet therapist?

*Did you ever have a pet run/fly away or get lost? Share their story.

*Did any of your pets reproduce? Tell about your pet's pregnancy and the birth of the baby animals. How many survived? What became of the babies?

*Were any of your pets neutered or spayed?

*Were any of your pets injured or become ill? Did they ever need veterinary services (other than check-ups and immunizations)?

*Who was/is your veterinarian? How did you choose that particular one? What is your relationship with your vet like?

*Did any of your pets die from old age, illness, injury, or by being put down? Write about that experience.

*Was your pet buried? Where?

*If you never had a pet, tell why. Did you or a family member have allergies? Were there pet restrictions where you lived? Did you, your parents, or other family members simply not want to have a pet around?

*Have you ever had a professional portrait taken of your pet? These and/or snapshots of your pet will add to your journal.

*Even if you never had a pet of your own, perhaps you have some sort of animal experience to share. Perhaps you always felt like your neighbor's dog was your own, or perhaps you had a bad experience with a relative's bird or an alley cat. Or maybe you'd like to share what your ideal pet would be if you could have one.

*You can also write journal entries for any pets you remember family members (grandparents, etc.) having. There may even be old photos of them sitting around in family collections! I always enjoy looking at very old family snapshots and seeing pets, wondering about their relationship to the people in the photo.

You can create a free memorial page for any and all of your pets at FindAGrave. You will have to register to be a member (don't worry, it's free and you won't receive spam e-mail). On this site, you can write your pet's story, list the body's disposal (burial, etc.), post photographs and leave virtual notes, icons and musical messages to honor your pet.

To use this site, go to and click on "Add burial records" in the right-hand menu. On the next page, click on "Add Family and Friends." You'll be prompted to set up a free account. Then you can create your page. If you have any difficulty or questions, feel free to e-mail me (see "View my complete profile" in the right-hand menu).

Next time, our topic will be "My Neighborhood." Be prepared to write about the neighborhood hangouts you enjoyed while growing up, whether it was a park, eatery, clubhouse, etc.