Michelle Ule's Blog

June 23, 2017

My family’s genealogy consumed me for more than five years.

What started as a simple question: just how are we related to Abraham Lincoln, blossomed into a passion.


At one point my husband asked how long I was going to be stuck on this subject?


“Only until we jump the ocean,” I explained. “I can’t read my Italian relatives’ handwriting now, I can’t imagine reading it 200 years ago.”


Oh, how little I knew.


While my mother was born in Sicily and thus I’m a first generation American, my father’s family reached all the way back to the dawning of colonists on the continent.


Who knew?


No one in my immediate family.


The quest for genealogy information

I visited genealogy libraries in Hawai’i (where I lived at the time–perfect for examining colonial Virginia history, ha!), San Francisco, Fort Wayne, Washington D. C. and the granddaddy of them all in Salt Lake City.


The DAR research libraries in Honolulu and Washington D. C. provided terrific information, along with the LDS Family History Library at Waipahu where I ordered and examined material on microfilm and microfiche.


Invaluable clues broke open the research at the DAR in DC, but only because I’d picked up one photo at the Allen County Library in Fort Wayne’s Genealogy Center.


I spent hours in Fort Wayne hunting and that one clue made all the difference.


I’ve written before of the breakthrough frenzy at the DAR that came in my last half-hour there.


Genealogy, biography, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, Family research libraries, what does genealogy have to do with writing a biography?

18 hours later, I exited a babbling idiot–but with information! By Ricardo630 (Wikimedia Commons)


Gleaning through mountains of material was the key.


I spent 18 hours over two days in the Salt Lake City LDS Family History Library consulting the indexes of every genealogy book in the counties where my lines lived.


My husband finally dragged me out, babbling, on the second day.


I drew the line on research there, and finished my book, Pioneer Stock. (Think we could be related? Check out my genealogy page here.)


What does American genealogy research have to do with writing the biography of an English woman, Mrs. Oswald Chambers?

Nothing.


Everything.


Halfway through those five years I asked myself why I was wasting so much time investigating people long dead.


It meant nothing to my real life of four kids, Navy guy husband, Hawaiian sunshine and greater family issues.


How did all that time in libraries glorify God?


Shouldn’t I have been volunteering for the church’s VBS program? (I did–recreation).


Maybe I couldn’t answer the question then, but I can now.


I learned many research techniques during that five year apprenticeship/writing experience.


Research techniques are applicable to both genealogy and biography.


Document, document!

You can meet distant relatives while working on genealogy.


Some of them are the unwitting key to questions about your own grandparents, etc.


Several distant cousins worked with me on specific questions.


One, Glenn Gohr–my fifth cousin twice removed we figured out–was an experienced genealogist even twenty years ago and is an archivist at an historical center.


Genealogy, biography, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, Family research libraries, what does genealogy have to do with writing a biography?We shared a lot of information together over the internet, debating who was related to whom and why we thought so.


One day he sent me a note: “You’re a fine writer, Michelle, but you need to document your research.”


I felt humiliated–as a former reporter, I should have known to do so.


I started that day.


When I finally self-published Pioneer Stock, it had more than 900 endnote citations.


I’m thankful for Glenn’s admonition because it was crucial when I wrote Mrs. Oswald Chambers.


A biography requires details and you need to let others know where your information and sometimes your conjectures come from.


Mrs. Oswald Chambers “only” has 250 endnote citations.


Because of the genealogy research, however, I felt completely comfortable with keeping track and using them.


I also learned other techniques I used extensively while writing Mrs. Oswald Chambers.


Triangulation, however, deserves a blog post all its own. (It’s complicated, but it will come!)


End result?

Abraham Lincoln’s lineage always will be murky.


Because the family name is Nancy Hanks, I may or may not be the fourteenth president’s second cousin four times removed.


But who’s counting?


Hunting for the possible connection taught me enough skills to discover information no one knew before about Biddy Chambers.


Plus, I wrote my own family history.


I didn’t waste five years at all.


Tweetables


How genealogy research helps write a biography. Click to Tweet


Using genealogy techniques to write Mrs. Oswald Chambers. Click to Tweet


 


 


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Published on June 23, 2017 05:08

June 20, 2017

My friend Karen Barnett launched a new “vintage” National Parks historical novel series this month.

If you love history, national parks, romance and the surprising political events that touch the parks, you may enjoy her books.


Barnett is certainly enthusiastic:


“I’ve always had a passion for our national parks and for wilderness, and I actually had the honor of working at Mount Rainier when I was in graduate school. The parks are filled with such beauty, history, and potential dangers—could there be a better place to set a story?”


Barnett set the first book in her series, The Road to Paradise, in Mt. Ranier National Park in Washington State.


Rangers 90 years ago were strong men accustomed to fighting fires and patrolling back country trails. Adding a well-educated, flower-loving, city woman to the mix created immediate conflict.


In addition, local businessmen suggested building golf courses, toboggan runs and ski jumps.


Reflecting the story of the park’s early years made for a poignant read, coupled with relief cooler heads ultimately prevailed!


Life as a National Parks ranger

Barnett spent a summer working in Mt. Ranier as a ranger. Her love for the parks shines through in her books and words.



national parks, Karen Barnett, The Road to Paradise, Mt. Ranier National Park, Yosemite Yellowstone, what do park rangers do? National Park research

Karen Barnett in her ranger hat with her new book.


“Mount Rainier was an automatic choice for me since I’ve always felt like a piece of my heart still lives there. Even during my ranger days, I imagined stories that could take place in the park.


“Working as a park ranger gave me a deep appreciation for the need to protect these fragile natural areas. There is a profound sense of honor in the job. It doesn’t take long to realize that as soon as you don the uniform, people—kids, especially—look up to you.


“It’s often said that rangers are paid in sunrises and sunsets, and that’s somewhat accurate. The pay scale is pretty low, the hours aren’t great, and the duties aren’t always rewarding. But most people who become rangers wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.”


What makes the stories vintage?

“The Vintage National Parks novels are historical romances with a touch of suspense, featuring some of our nation’s most scenic treasures and the people who care for these places.


“All three books are set in the 1920s and 30s, somewhat of a magical period for our parks


“The next two books will be set at Yosemite and Yellowstone. They both have unique histories, landscapes, and stories to tell—and since they’re two of the most popular parks, many people have strong emotional ties to these places. I hope that will help readers connect with the stories at a deeper level than they might otherwise.


She set The Road to Paradise in 1927, a time when officials wrangled over the type of development allowed into the national parks.


The argument–which goes on today–centered on whether national parks should be maintained as pristine wilderness or developed for the sake of tourist dollars?


Yosemite’s 1929 story involved tourists in the park spending months living there. Events changed by the Great Depression–the time period for Yellowstone’s tale. In the third book, Barnett features the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps and its effect on the park.


Enjoyable research
national parks, Karen Barnett, The Road to Paradise, Mt. Ranier National Park, Yosemite Yellowstone, what do park rangers do? National Park research

You can follow Barnett’s buddy, Ranger Bear at rangerbear_adventures on Instagram!


Barnett watched documentaries and reviewed online databases for historical information and photographs.


She also took trips to both Mt. Ranier and Yosemite National Parks, with Yellowstone on the docket for summer, 2017.


To ensure historical accuracy, Barnett spent time in the Mount Ranier archives, reading reports written by rangers in the 1920’s to understand the type of work they did during that era.


She’s also enjoyed the “incredible” research library at Yosemite. “I had a great time digging through the park archives and looking at old back and white photographs and microfiche documents that rarely see the light of day.”


The former naturalist laughed, “You can’t beat on-the-ground research, so it was a joy to visit each place and walk the trails and smell the air.”


Indeed, Barnett encourages readers to visit the majestic parks and see God at work within the wildness of His creation.


Loving the natural park life

Barnett still owns her park service hat, and loves to visit national parks–whether on research or for pleasure.


“I visited Yosemite last summer and it quickly soared to the top of my all-time favorite places list. People often describe the first sight of Yosemite Valley as almost a religious experience, and I’d have to agree.


“I’ll be revisiting Yellowstone National Park this summer. I can’t wait!”


101 years of the great outdoors

2017 marks the 101st anniversary of the national parks service.


I’ve visited many of them from Hawai’i to Alaska to Maine.


I can’t pick a favorite with so many happy memories.


But how about you? Which national park is your favorite?


Tweetables


Appreciating the US national parks with a novel series. Click to Tweet


Mt Ranier history in novel format! Click to Tweet


Mt. Ranier and The Road to Paradise. Click to Tweet


Every month in 2017, I’m telling the stories about God’s leading and my blessed–and astonished–reactions while writing Mrs. Oswald ChambersOswald Chambers' Bible, Wheaton College Special Collections Library, what Bible did Oswald Chambers use? Lecture outlines in the Bible


June’s newsletter came out June 20: How an Australian surprised me out of mourning Oswald Chambers.


Sign up for my newsletter here.


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Published on June 20, 2017 05:05 • 1 view

June 16, 2017

I turned the pages of Oswald Chambers‘ Bible several years ago at Wheaton College’s Special Collection Library.

A black leather  Bible he bequeathed to his student Eva Spink prior to leaving for World War I in Egypt,  Oswald’s King James Version was well worn.


(Eva treasured the gift the rest of her life. It wasn’t his only Bible, of course; leaving for a war meant he downsized his possessions.) Oswald Chambers' Bible, Wheaton College Special Collections Library, what Bible did Oswald Chambers use? Lecture outlines in the Bible


The Bible was a living document to him and Oswald used it every day for his devotions, study and as he lectured.


He was the principal of a Bible Training College (BTC) he founded and his wife Biddy ran.


Oswald Chambers’ Bible lecture notes

Oswald spoke extemporaneously on the League of Prayer circuit and while teaching at the BTC.


That does not mean, however, he did not pray, plan and outline his talks.


You can see outlines in these photos taken of his Bible.


Oswald Chambers' Bible, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, Michelle Ule, Bible study, Bible Training College, My Utmost for His Highest


Oswald Chambers' Bible, Wheaton College Special Collections Library, what Bible did Oswald Chambers use? Lecture outlines in the Bible


 


 


Clippings in Oswald Chambers’ Bible

Oswald Chambers honored the Bible, but wasn’t above cutting it up in his studies.


Years later, his daughter Kathleen remembered, “He used to have one Bible and cut it up and stick in the one he did special studies with.”


The interviewer commented, “Some people would think that was heretical.”


Kathleen agreed: “Completely.”


But it served his purpose. Here’s a photo of one page with the clippings pasted in.


Oswald Chambers' Bible, Wheaton College Special Collections Library, what Bible did Oswald Chambers use? Lecture outlines in the Bible



 


Oswald Chambers quotes about the Bible.

Obviously, as the principal of the Bible Training College, Oswald thought and talked about the Bible all the time. Here are a few select quotes from his books.


“The Bible deals with what no ordinary mind sees—the scenery behind the things that are seen.” (Baffled to Fight Better)


“In the Bible it is never—Should a Christian sin? The Bible puts it emphatically—A Christian must not sin.” (My Utmost for His Highest, August 15)


“The Bible reveals that apart from the Spirit of God men have no moving emotion towards God, they are described as “dead.” (Biblical Ethics)


“We are not asked to believe the Bible, but to believe the One Whom the Bible reveals (cf. John 5:39–40 ).” (My Utmost for His Highest; May 6)


“If the Bible agreed with modern science, it would soon be out of date, because, in the very nature of things, modern science is bound to change. Genesis 1 indicates that God created the earth and the life on the earth in order to fit the world for man.” (Biblical Psychology)


“We make prayer the preparation for work, it is never that in the Bible. Prayer is the exercise of drawing on the grace of God.” (My Utmost for His Highest, June 26)


“Faith in the Bible is faith in God against every thing that contradicts Him—‘I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.’ “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”—this is the most sublime utterance of faith in the whole of the Bible.” (My Utmost for His Highest, October 31)


To read about Biddy Chambers’ Bible, click here.


Tweetables

What did Oswald Chambers think about the Bible? Click to Tweet


What kind of Bible did Oswald Chambers use? Click to Tweet


Oswald Chambers’ Bible: clippings, quotes and drawings. Click to Tweet


Every month in 2017, I’ll be telling the stories about God’s leading and my blessed–and astonished–reactions while writing Mrs. Oswald ChambersOswald Chambers' Bible, Wheaton College Special Collections Library, what Bible did Oswald Chambers use? Lecture outlines in the Bible


The next newsletter comes out June 20: How an Australian surprised me out of mourning Oswald Chambers.


Sign up for my newsletter here.


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Published on June 16, 2017 06:38 • 1 view

June 13, 2017

A research library can be more dangerous than you think.

I, for one, have felt my life potentially in danger while visiting three.


Let this be a warning to you. Researchers may look nerdy and pale, but behind our flashing glasses we could be superheroes.


Here are three tales.


A Midwest Research Library.

I spent a week there, scanning documents and photos.


I’ve never lived in the Midwest and am unused to extreme weather in the summertime.


But it caught up with me one day.


Three of us worked at long tables filled with material.


A young library worker was filling in for the archivist at lunch.


In the silent room, a ping sounded, she looked at her phone and gasped.


“Oh, no! We’re supposed to be in the basement!”


The German man looked over the top of his glasses and the New Englander of Japanese descent startled.


I asked the obvious question: “Why?”


She bit her lip. “There was a severe tornado watch and I didn’t check my phone. I was supposed to take you downstairs immediately. This is the all clear.”


We all turned to the windows. It was windy.


“I’m driving into the city after this,” I said. Am I safe in the car?”


She smiled eagerly. “I’m sure you are.”


I survived.


A Big City Library

Fifteen minutes after I arrived at a research library in a big city, the loudspeaker announced,


“This is a drill. We are practicing. This is a drill. An active shooter is on campus. Please hide, immediately.”


Research Library, danger in the library, extreme conditions for researchers, active shooter attack, tornadoes, UCLA-USC rivalry, scholars

In the stacks


I grabbed the six hundred page dissertation on the shelf in front of me.


Down in the basement, all I could hear was the air conditioning hum. I’d seen no one else on the floor.


I found a door with a lock and a closet behind with another lock. Inside the cement cell were six chairs. Perfect.


I locked the second door and set up my scanner and the books–for two hours.


At one point, I heard someone moving around outside in the stacks and my heart raced. Was this part of the drill?


I stayed quiet, wished I had stuck my sweater beneath the door to hide any possible light and waited, holding my breath.


When would the all clear sound?


In the cement bunker, I couldn’t pick up a cell signal nor send a text. I drank my water, ate my granola bar and shook my head.


After two hours and with my appointment with the archivist upon me, I snuck out of my hiding place.


Upstairs I whispered to a woman happily working on her computer, “Is it safe to come out yet?”


At her horror, I laughed. They hadn’t announced the all clear over the loud speaker–90 minutes before.


We were all safe.


The librarian, however, wanted to know where I’d hidden so successfully!


A rival university research library

I’m a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, the second of three generations of UCLA graduates in my family.


My parents raised me to be suspicious of “the other college,” also known as the crosstown rival.


But their library system, which is wonderful for online researchers, had an important volume I needed to examine.


My daughter is a graduate student there, so I visited in search of my book.


Which turned out to be on microfiche. They had to search for it.


“It will take a little time,” the kind woman said on the phone. “Let me call you back when I’ve got it.”


I gave her my phone number and sat back to admire the gorgeous library.


And then I realized the danger.


The ringtone on my cell phone is the UCLA fight song, “Sons of Westwood.”



Everyone in Los Angeles recognizes that song.


This particularly cross town rival has a white horse statue displayed in the quad outside the gorgeous research library.


The halls would soon echo with the music that always compels me to action.


I hurried outside to a quiet corner where I adjusted the phone’s volume to low.


As soon as those opening notes sounded, I answered the phone: danger averted.


Alas, they couldn’t find the microfiche, but I escaped with my life!  

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Published on June 13, 2017 04:15 • 5 views

June 9, 2017

Someone recently asked me about Biddy Chambers’ Bible.

I’d forgotten all about it.


(So you won’t find it discussed–her Bible–in Mrs. Oswald Chambers.)


As it happens, I’ve seen Biddy’s Bible, paged through it, took photos and marveled, at Wheaton College‘s Special Collections Library.Biddy Chambers' Bible, Scofield Reference Bible, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, Bible notes, Bible commentary notes, writing in your Bible


No surprise, she wore it out.


What version was Biddy Chambers’ Bible?

Wheaton has a copy of her 1909 Scofield Reference Bible.


First published in 1909, the Scofield version was the first Bible that included annotations and cross references.


Today, comments are commonplace, but at the time it was a revolutionary idea.


Using the King James Version, American Bible student Cyrus Scofield organized it.  He sought to explain Bible passages for students, not be controversial. His version, however, did popularize dispensationalism, particularly among fundamentalists.


In the photo below, you can see two sections of Biddy’s worn out Bible.


She owned an earlier Bible before the Scofield, of course, but this is the one we still have and in it she wrote notes.


 


Biddy Chambers' Bible, Scofield Reference Bible, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, Bible notes, Bible commentary notes, writing in your Bible


 


What kind of notes were in Biddy Chambers’ Bible?

Ah, there’s an interesting question.


All sorts.


Biddy actively engaged with the Scriptures. On one page she wrote:


“I wish and pray the Lord would harden my face and make me to learn to go with my face against the storm.”


Biddy wrote many of her notes in simplified shorthand, or a mixture of the two. It certainly preserved her privacy.


Biddy Chambers' Bible, Scofield Reference Bible, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, Bible notes, Bible commentary notes, writing in your Bible


Writing in your Bible

While many people write notes in their Bible to mark meaningful dates or verses, I’m not one of them.


I realized years ago that if I underlined passages, I tended to read them and neglect the rest.


The notes were a distraction.


Biddy didn’t do that often, but it was interesting to see where she responded to Hebrews 12, three different years:


Biddy Chambers' Bible, Scofield Reference Bible, Mrs. Oswald Chambers, Bible notes, Bible commentary notes, writing in your Bible


The dates were March 1-2, 1915, some time in 1917 and June 1933.


All of those periods were a time when Biddy chose to make a deliberate decision–as to how she would react.


The Bible passage from the Scofield Reference Bible is familiar to most Bible students.


“The walk and worship of the believer-priest. IV. Jesus the example. 1 WHEREFORE seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run- with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and ‘finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Scofield Reference Bible, 1909).”


In March 1915, Biddy and Oswald concluded (after much prayer) that Oswald should apply to the YMCA to be a chaplain.


Biddy’s note didn’t indicate when in 1917 this passage was meaningful to her, but she did underline in her note “run patience the race.”


In June 1933, she was dealing with her mother’s slow decline and changes at work in her publication practices–including My Utmost for His Highest being published in the United States for the first time.


What did the notes in Biddy Chambers’ Bible mean?

Only she knew–and it should be kept that way.


What about you? What types of things do you write in your Bible?


Tweetables


Examining Biddy Chambers’ Bible. Click to Tweet


What kind of Bible did Biddy Chambers own–and write in? Click to Tweet


(I’ll be writing about Oswald Chambers’ Bible next week.)


 


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Published on June 09, 2017 04:52 • 4 views

June 6, 2017

Slides, how to sort family slides, slide projector, family history, how to decide which slides to keep, history, genealogy, historical society, familySorting my family’s ancient slides took a few days to accomplish.

My brother unearthed them from the attic and we were curious to know what was in them.


The other brother bought a single slide viewer–no one had a projector anymore–and I went through the batch.


Our slides were kept in a long box (not the round slide box used in carousel projectors), about four dozen per box.


We had about a dozen boxes and several dozen more in smaller stacks.


It took several days.


Here are suggestions for sorting your family’s old slides.
Slides, how to sort family slides, slide projector, family history, how to decide which slides to keep, history, genealogy, historical society, familyDecide in advance what you’ll do with the slides.

“I don’t think anyone but the three of us and maybe Bonina will care about these photos,” my one brother said. “So we should throw out most of them.”


He’d gotten a sneak peak. When I looked through them, I agreed.


“You can get better photos of the Grand Canyon off the Internet,” my other brother said. “Toss them.”


That simplified the job considerably.


Look at all the slides

As I’ve posted before, the job may be tedious, but it’s important you look at everything.


You simply don’t know what you’ll find.


Hidden among the infinite number of photos of Half Dome in Yosemite, I found shots of my pregnant mother.


Here were my grandparents young and svelte.


There were the other grandparents, actually appearing together in a photo.


I had to look at every photo to find the gems.


After a while, I easily knew what to toss and what to keep.


People are most important

After some 70 slides, I realized I only wanted to look at faces. I didn’t care about much else.


Shots of the construction of the Vincent Thomas bridge in 1960?


Slides, how to sort family slides, slide projector, family history, how to decide which slides to keep, history, genealogy, historical society, familyI’m an historian. My brother teaches history.


“Better keep those,” he said. “The historic society might like them, or our local Facebook page.”


“But it’s a slide,” I said. “Too hard to post on Facebook.”


I couldn’t toss those, I kept them in their own pile.


It was the people, however, that we cherished.


I couldn’t throw away anything with either of my parents in them–they’ve been dead too long.


Review the background

People were important, but so were some of the background.


“Here’s our living room,” I said to my daughter. I turned the single slide viewer so she could admire the fireplace.


“Here’s the front yard, look at all that mud!”


She smiled politely, but my brother took a close look.


“What am I doing holding a puppy?” I asked my brother. My parents never let us have a dog.


Neither of us knew.


Give the job to the oldest and mark the slides

If I couldn’t remember what the slide depicted or who the people were, my younger brothers wouldn’t have a chance.


Using a fine tipped Sharpie, I wrote what I knew with the year on each slide (also noted which end was up).


I explained several family facts to my brother that he didn’t know.Slides, how to sort family slides, slide projector, family history, how to decide which slides to keep, history, genealogy, historical society, family


Some were important, most were nostalgic, but at least they’re now viewable.


Now the slides are sorted, what’s next?

My brothers will go through the sorted boxes–reduced to seven in neat order–and decide what’s important.


We’ll have them transferred into disks we can  access from our computers.


I’ll further cull slides from there–and make books for us.


Some I’ll print. We could each finally have a baby book, now!


What have you done with your family’s slides–or if you’re young, do you know what slides are?


Tweetables


Sorting the family slides–a how to. Click to Tweet


What to do with the old family slides. Click to Tweet


What do I do with my father’s 1000 slides? Click to Tweet


 


 


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Published on June 06, 2017 04:09 • 4 views

June 2, 2017

high-rez photos, low-rez photos, high resolution, pixels, sepia prints, old photos, clarity, high resolution definition, Oswald ChambersHigh-rez photos are “high resolution photos.”

High resolution photos are needed for sharpness of image when printing.


It’s based on the number of pixels–the higher the number, the more dense the photo, the clearer it will print.


While writing Mrs. Oswald Chambers, I discovered how important they are–especially for research.


Low resolution

While researching Oswald and Biddy Chambers, I found a superb site for photos at the Cadbury Research Library in Birmingham, England.


There, a collection of World War I photos from the YMCA‘s work in Egypt provided plenty of sleuthing.


An Australian, Peter Wenham, found my blog posts about Oswald Chambers and informed me of the site.


Wenham also sent me photos of Oswald Chambers’ burial.


We’d not seen them before and I stared in amazement, trying to make out who was in the photo.


He pointed out his grandfather -which is how he discovered the picture–but no one else was clear to me.


Here’s the photo from Cadbury Research Library’s digital file on line:


high-rez photos, low-rez photos, high resolution, pixels, sepia prints, old photos, clarity, high resolution definition, Oswald Chambers

The low-rez photo taken off the Cadbury Research Library, Special Collections, University of Birmingham (UK) website


Low-rez and the sepia color make it unclear.


I blew it up to see if I could recognize anyone and made a few guesses, but it just wasn’t as clear as my eyes needed.


Wenham pointed out his grandfather, and I saw him, but wasn’t sure about anyone else’s identity.


High-rez instead

My publishing house, Baker Books, required all photos for Mrs. Oswald Chambers to be high rez.


I contacted the YMCA-UK for permission to use their photo and then sent that permission to the Cadbury Research Library.


A few days later, on November 16, 2016–or exactly 99 years after the photo was taken–I received my copy.


Oh, my!


Here it is:


high-rez photos, low-rez photos, high resolution, pixels, sepia prints, old photos, clarity, high resolution definition, Oswald Chambers

(Cadbury Library)


 


WordPress won’t let me post a photo with such high resolution.


Here are details I could see in high-rez:


 


high-rez photos, low-rez photos, high resolution, pixels, sepia prints, old photos, clarity, high resolution definition, Oswald Chambers

(Cadbury Library)


 


The man looking at the camera is Wenham’s grandfather George Shapley, a YMCA chaplain newly arrived in Cairo during the war.


In the background on the right, you can see the officers who served as the 100-man honor guard that escorted the artillery caisson carrying Chambers’ body.


They are leaning on their rifles–which, of course, will be fired in salute at the end of the service.


In the next photo detail, you can see the pall bearers (in uniform) who shouldered Chambers’ coffin into the cemetery for burial.


I believe that is missionary Samuel Zwemer on the right with his back to the camera and not in uniform. He conducted the service.


high-rez photos, low-rez photos, high resolution, pixels, sepia prints, old photos, clarity, high resolution definition, Oswald Chambers

The service (Cadbury Library)


And, the last detail that jumped out at me.


Where was Biddy Chambers?


Draped in black and standing beside Lord Radstock, the senior British YMCA official in Cairo at the time.


high-rez photos, low-rez photos, high resolution, pixels, sepia prints, old photos, clarity, high resolution definition, Oswald Chambers

Biddy standing beside Lord Radstock (Cadbury Library)


Daughter Kathleen is not visible in this photo, but would have been standing beside her mother.


The woman in the white dress beside Biddy probably was Eva Spink–who accompanied her on a trip to grieve immediately following the service.


This high-rez photo will appear in Mrs. Oswald Chambers–along with 39 others.


Tweetables


High-rez photos of Oswald Chambers’ burial reveal guests. Click to Tweet


The importance of high-rez photos in biography. Click to Tweet


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Published on June 02, 2017 06:15 • 3 views

May 30, 2017

Our young friend Composer David Voss, composed an Easter cantata this year.

We had a long conversation about how he composed it and I saw parallels with the writing life.


So, that’s what this post is about–composing and the writing life.


It also will introduce you to a fine composer and his music.


Who is Composer David Voss?

Original Photo by Elise Aileen Photography


A 23 year-old pianist out of Santa Rosa, California, David studied composition and music at Lawrence University in Wisconsin.


(Yes, he was cold).


He’s about to begin a master’s program in composition at the State University New York, at Stony Brook.


I’ve watched him grow up, have played and sung with him for years. He’s an excellent pianist and accompanist–plus a great deal of fun.


How David began writing an Easter Cantata

This is how he did it:


“My cantata The Resurrection Promise came about as a result of a generous commission from a friend of the family. They requested I compose an Easter cantata for their church choir, giving a few requests regarding length, instrumentation, difficulty level, and musical style.


“While I had never really considered writing a cantata prior to this commission, I set to work on the project, using my past experiences writing for vocalists and organ to guide my writing.”


I’ve published six novels and written a biography. I understand planning a project, but how did he put together both lyrics and music?


It started with the lyrics.


“I thought a lot about the form I wanted, particularly in terms of the lyrical, textual content of the piece. Since I didn’t want to summarize the events of Holy Week , I chose to focus  on Jesus’ resurrection, with references to his ascension.


“I divided my cantata into three movements, the first one containing Old Testament prophecies of Jesus’ coming and salvation, the middle movement containing Jesus’ own words about his death and resurrection as well as the events of Easter morning, and the final movement focusing on the promise of resurrection for all who believe in Christ.


“Once I settled on this form, I was able to approach every other aspect of the creative process.”


I begin a writing project the same way–figuring how how long it should be and dividing the ideas into chapters.


See how writing and composing are similar?


Which came first, lyrics or music?

Composer David VossSince composing is taking an additional step to writing–adding music to the words!–I couldn’t imagine how this worked. David had personal parameters which helped.


“The words came first. Once I  settled on an overarching form and structure, I looked for passages that fit  various sections. Also, being a sacred work, I believed  the words were of the utmost importance and solidified the text before I composed a single note.”


He honored, too, the meaning of the words.


“I decided to set solely biblical texts. Having no experience writing about Christianity or theology, I didn’t want to write my own text and wind up saying something contrary to Christian teaching or doctrine.


David combed through hundreds of verses online, using either the English Standard Version (ESV) or the New International Version (NIV). He sought verses that fit his “storyline,” but also would work with the music he planned.


Since he also incorporated well-known hymns into his cantata, he adjusted some lines.


“I  took some writings by Martin Luther and Saint Augustine and turned them into rhyming phrases, more suitable for the hymn melodies.”


Technical writing issues cropped up I never would have suspected:


“Since the Bible isn’t written like a poem, it’s often difficult to find a regular meter and finding a rhyme is almost as miraculous as some of the miracles the Bible contains!


“As a result, I had to use the natural stresses of the English language to guide my musical setting, trying to stick to a regular metrical meter whenever possible.”


Finally, the music!

Once Composer David Voss established his text, he could turn to his real talent: writing the music.


“Most of the music that I used in my cantata was original.  I wrote some music specifically for the cantata, whereas other pieces were based on musical motifs and ideas I wrote years ago..


“As a composer, you often come up with a snippet of music you  like but it doesn’t fit with whatever you’re writing at the moment.


“This cantata allowed me to go back in “the vault” and use some of my older ideas.”


Repurposing other music

How did he come up with such diversity of sound and music in only six months of writing?


He adapted music he didn’t write, but which Easter traditions recognize.


“Two of the pieces in my cantata were actually based on preexisting melodies. The second part’s melody is actually an Eastern Orthodox chant often sung in Orthodox Easter services. Other portions  are derived from an 18th century American hymn in the Sacred Harp singing tradition.


“I wanted to bring in other Christian musical traditions, celebrating the diversity of our faith and bringing new sounds to my work.”


How did Composer David Voss orchestrate the music from his keyboard?

“I was familiar with the [particular] church’s music program and knew what instruments to write for.Composer David Voss


“I couldn’t write for a small orchestra like Bach does in his cantatas, so I focused on what I knew would be possible. A choir and an organ were obviously mandatory.


“From there, I included limited handbell parts, writing them so choir members could sing and play the handbell parts without too much difficulty,. I included a trumpet part, which seemed appropriate for Easter. I wanted to keep the instrumentation small so  it would be manageable easier to program for other churches.”


He used the music notation software Sibelius to create a professional and easily legible score of the work.


“I wrote most of the music down on paper as I went along, using Sibelius closer to the end of the process and inputting what I’d written into that software.”


Influences?

I asked if Handel’s Messiah or Bach’s cantatas influenced his work.


“To write a cantata without listening to Bach, the master of the form, would be a tragic oversight! I went straight to Bach!”


He listened to Bach cantatas 140 and 150, as well as more recent sacred works like Pepper Chopin’s, Come Walk With Me and Dan Forrest’s Requiem for the Living.


“With this context of old and new, I was able to base my work within the long cantata tradition while  seeing how contemporary composers worked within the form.


David noted Handel’s Messiah is five times as long as his cantata as well as being an oratorio. He didn’t compare himself to the classic Easter work, except for one section.


“I found myself very much in Handel’s shadow while working with Job 19:25-27: “I know that my redeemer lives…”


“Nearly 300 years before me, Handel  set these words in his Messiah, so it was difficult  to get his music out of my head when working with that particular text.


“I think I managed it.”


We’ve read through David’s cantata. It’s wonderful–even though it hasn’t been performed or recorded . . . yet!


Tweetables


How a young composer wrote an Easter cantata Click to Tweet


Which came first: the lyrics or music? An Easter cantata. Click to Tweet


Sacred Harp, Handel and Jesus influence an Easter cantata. Click to Tweet


Composer David Voss doesn’t have samples of the cantata, but here’s a lengthy Youtube video of his senior recital at Lawrence University.



The post How Composer David Voss Composes appeared first on Michelle Ule, Author.

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Published on May 30, 2017 04:35 • 5 views

May 26, 2017

Oswald and Biddy Chambers’ celebrated their wedding on May 25, 1910.

A small gathering met at Walford Green Memorial Wesleyan Methodist Church in Eltham, for the nuptials of Miss Gertrude Annie Hobbs and Mr. Oswald Chambers.


An almost ideal day, the weather provided bright and clear skies, a cooling breeze from the north and a high of 62 degrees.


Guest included the families of both Mr and the new Mrs. Chambers.


The bride

Gertrude Annie Hobbs, the 27 year-old daughter of the late Henry Hobbs, gas clerk, and his relic Mrs. Emily Hobbs, was escorted down the aisle by her brother, Herbert Hobbs.


She was attended by her sister, Edith Mary Hobbs of London, and the sister of her new husband, Miss Gertrude Chambers of Dulwich.


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May 25, 1910: Percy Lockhart, Edith Hobbs, Gertrude Chambers, Herbert Hobbs, OC, Biddy and Doris in front.


In addition, her new husband’s niece, Doris Chambers, served as flower girl.


The new Mrs. Chambers carried a large bouquet of sweet-smelling roses.


She wore a white high necked gown with lace yoke.


Miss Hobbs and Miss Chambers wore pleated matching dresses and black hats with feathers.


Mistress Doris Chambers wore a white dress like bride’s and a white hat that tied under her chin.


The couple were married at Walford Green Memorial Wesleyan Methodist Church because the bride’s home church, Eltham Park Baptist Church is not yet licensed to hold weddings.


The Reverend Arthur Chambers of Eltham Park Baptist Church, the new Mrs. Chambers’ pastor and brother to the groom, performed the ceremony.


A graduate of the Pittman Stenography course, Miss Hobbs grew up in Woolwich and is a stenographer in London.


The groom

Mr. Chambers, a 36 year-old lecturer for the League of Prayer, is a native of Scotland.


The son of the Reverend Clarence Chambers and his wife Hannah, Mr. Chambers was attended by his League of Prayer friend Percy Lockhart of Dunstable, and his new brother-in-law Herbert Hobbs of London.


Wearing the white collar suitable for his position as a noted Bible teacher, Mr. Chambers plans to open a Bible Training College in the future.


His wedding groomsmen wore cut-away morning suits as is customary.


He is a graduate of London’s National Art Training School with an Art Master’s Certificate and attended the University of Edinburgh, as well as Dunoon College (Scotland).


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RMS Coronia (Wikipedia Commons)


Honeymoon

Following an outdoor garden reception at Reverend Arthur Chamber’s parsonage, the couple left for Liverpool. They will set sail next week on the RMS Coronia for New York City.


The new Mr. and Mrs. Chambers plan to spend the summer traveling up and down the American sea board attending camp meetings, where Mr. Chambers will speak.


All their friends wish the newly married couple God’s richest blessings for a happy life.


Tweetables


What was the Biddy and Oswald Chambers wedding like? Click to Tweet


May 25, 1910: a happy wedding day for Mr. and Mrs. Oswald Chambers. Click to Tweet


 


 


 


The post Happy Wedding Day, Oswald and Biddy! appeared first on Michelle Ule, Author.

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Published on May 26, 2017 07:41 • 5 views

May 23, 2017

We had to put down our feisty cat recently.

Kali was 21.5 years old, a feral native of O’ahu.


She and I had a love-hate relationship. Everyone else in the family loved her.


The only cat our daughter every knew, the whip-thin, yowling tortoiseshell Kali survived and reinvented herself at least four times.


Hawai’i

I chose her out of a litter box at the Honolulu Humane Society.


As my family liked to point out, I couldn’t complain about not getting a kitten because I selected a “teenage” cat.


Owing to the animal quarantine issues then in place, we’d had to leave behind our terrific 16 year-old cat, Cleo (with friends). We’d been petless for more than two years.


The children were excited.


Kali–rhymes with “pali” the Hawai’ian word for cliffs– fit right in. Confident, proud, efficient and oblivious to anyone’s feelings, she soon captured our attention.


She climbed palm trees,  escaped marauding moongooses (I know, but the dictionary says so), walked on the roof and slept with one child or another.


Her feisty personality became obvious and this cat prefered to vex me.


Other people could feed her, why did she constantly yowl at me?


Interlude–or a summer in Los Angeles
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Kali on the move–always


When my husband retired from the Navy, we returned to the mainland where we spent the summer traveling.


Kali stayed with my brother and his family.


Cowed by the trauma of riding in the luggage hold of an airplane, she behaved in a reasonable manner that summer. At least they never complained–but maybe they never saw her?


A small town in northern California

We bought a house surrounded by acreage in northern California and Kali was in her element.


She hunted small rodents in the yard, avoided wild turkeys and quickly learned to climb to the rooftop to escape our new dog.


One torturous night when I had a 4 am wake up call the next morning, she slipped through the open door with a bird she’d found somewhere.


I woke, heart racing, to squawking and thumping.


Finally, I dragged Kali out from under the bed and took her to my husband working late on the computer.


He locked her in the garage, retrieved the bird and set it free.


An hour later the two returned, thumping, squawking and chasing through our bedroom.


My husband apologized and locked Kali in the bathroom–where she yowled.


It was a tough drive to San Francisco the next morning.


Kali also developed an uncanny knack for finding–under her paw, can you imagine?–the hamster, Phil, every time he escaped.


A city in northern California

After four years in the wilds, we returned to suburbia.


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The only cat my daughter ever had.


Kali adapted with the blink of a yellow eye.


More birds to catch–these of the plump and stupid kind–raccoons to avoid and a picket fence to travel.


Neighborhood cats threatened, squirrels chirruped from the trees and then we got a Gordon Setter who liked nothing better than to point her out.


(My husband always disappointed the dog because he never shot the cat).


She didn’t climb on that high roof much, but she did get sealed into the wall when we remodeled the bathroom.


(When the builder stopped by that night, we asked, “how do get our cat out of the wall?”


(He laughed, until we took him to the bathroom and he heard the crying. A man seldom without words, Jim’s jaw dropped.


(Our daughter coaxed her out from under the house–which was how she had gotten in).


Kali put up–grudgingly–when our son’s cat came to stay for nine months. Shadow remained an indoor cat locked in a room while Kali roamed.


One son often woke in the night to find Kali perched beside hamster Phil III’s cage, keeping watch, just in case.


(Phil III disappeared one night, never to be seen again).


The children all peeled away to college from that house and Kali was stuck patrolling for a comfortable bed to share.


She often ended up with my husband and me. He loved having her.


That’s because Kali always wanted to sleep on my feet, next to my pillow, in my face, or across my chest.


I didn’t like it and regularly shoved her off the bed.


The final house

One summer all the children and grandchildren but a handful returned–along with Shadow the other cat–to live.


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It helped the dog was blind in this photo.


Kali gratefully escaped with us to the new house.


Here she sat in the sun, put up with obnoxious blue jays who liked to pick on her, and guarded the catnip from pirating neighbor cats.


Our veterinarian niece advised special food for her delicate stomach as she ended her teens.


While picking up that expensive food, I purchased a special “aged cat” food to help her joints.


Kali liked the food designed for “elderly cats over 12 years,” and soon showed signs of friskiness once more.


I’d hear the blue jays going wild outside, dive bombing the feisty cat.


(It finally occurred to me they probably had a nearby nest).


One day, however, the cries became more hysterical than ever.


A muttering Kali ran through the open door and up the stairs.


She surprised me–I didn’t think she could move that fast anymore.


But above my head I heard a thump, a smash, and screaming blue jays at the windows.


When I followed the noise, I found a gummed-to-death blue jay beside my side of the bed.


I didn’t know to be proud or horrified; the twenty-year old Kali had successfully hunted once more.


Why do pets die?

Kali reached her end a few weeks ago, and I admit, I cried.


She was one of ten aged pets my friends and I have lost in the last three months.


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Kali loved beds–and getting down from them!


We all cried and mourned those companions.


Perhaps having a pet with a much shorter life gives us perspective on our own lives.


Have I lived the life I’ve been given to the fullest?


Our feisty cat flew over an ocean and moved from house to house.


Kali loved her kids fiercely, and in recent months wanted nothing more than to sit beside one of her boys and watch him work on his laptop.


She’d often lounge on his lap and watch the cursor move.


A pet who dies prepares all of us for death–that is especially true for our children.


The sadness a child experiences losing a pet means tears and questions, but it helps them process life.


Talking about our cat, our dogs, our hamsters, prepares us for the big conversations that will inevitably come.


That’s important.


Rest in peace, oh feisty Kali.


I may have complained about you–just as you yowled about me–but I always admired your independent spirit.


You loved my family well. And we–all of us–loved you, too.


Thank you.


Tweetables


The death of a feisty 21 year-old cat. Click to Tweet


Why do pets die before us? Click to Tweet


 


 


 


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Published on May 23, 2017 05:41 • 5 views