Friday, February 26, 2016

Harvesting Shaky Leaves

What to do when you don't feel like doing anything?

I'm in that kind of malaise when a soul doesn't want to do anything, a brain can't seem to engage in productive work, and yet the body doesn't want to just sit still and do nothing. If I were a crafter, I might knit, or bead, or do something monotonous, just to feel better about this dark mood I'm stuck in. After all, if nothing else, it helps to pass the time.

But alas, I'm not the artsy type, so I look for other tasks to fill that work bill. Fortunately, I've got just the project: going back through my Ancestry account and reviewing all those shaky leaves that have popped up since my last journey down that branch of the family tree. Yes, all twenty two thousand of them.

How did that happen?

Somewhere back in the most reptilian recesses of my brain, that many shaky leaf hints translates into a gargantuan to-do list. And I don't do well with to-do lists. So I need a system to vanquish this avalanche of genealogical obligations.

Normally, what I would do is review a specific branch of each family tree, insuring that all is in order and no hints have been left unturned. However, those shaky leaves have a way of sneaking up on a soul, come the springtime of every fresh addition to the Ancestry document collection. I may have finished my run through a specific family line...only to discover, just a few days later, that the very document which could answer my questions has been brought online and is awaiting my review.

These things have a way of piling up, over time.

So, while I dutifully turn my attention to the next branch on down the family tree hierarchy, a storm of shaky leaves is once again strewn in my path.

Today was a great candidate for the mind-numbing review of going back through all the hints in a more comprehensive manner. I called up the drop down menu under the name of the tree I was working on—at the time, it happened to be my mother's line—and clicked on the choice, "View All Hints Page." There, in name order for each ancestor—as well as ranging from most recent hints backwards in time—were arranged all the hints that had drifted in while I wasn't looking.

Since I have a system for how to deal with hints in general—I don't incorporate the "hint" from other Ancestry family trees into my own tree, as the reference is too generic to be useful, and I don't plug in photos from other peoples' collections, nor flags nor other sentimental gizmos; I only go for solid documentation—it was a simple matter to go through the pages one by one and delete the icons of the items I knew I wouldn't be using. In this more universal manner, I was able to dispatch a few hundred such hints to "ignore" status.

Even so, that leaves nearly sixteen thousand hints for my maternal tree alone. I have five other trees to go. It looks like, if I ever need more mindless work to do, I have ample supplies to keep me occupied.

Above: "In the Forest" by Serbian artist Nadežda Petrović, circa 1900; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. Remember the days before the Internet when we wished for something to come along that would say, "Hey You, here's something that might be useful to you. Here's a clue." Now it's another annoyance, right up there with a slow microwave.

    1. The worst of it is...sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't. Never know unless you check. But then, it takes time to check, and...

      Somehow, this reminds me of Schrödinger's cat...

  2. Another great article! It leaves me speechless!

  3. Ah, I've been wondering why "suddenly" I have hundreds of "new hints" - doh... newly indexed stuff!

    But yeah, it's a work out checking them all out - even for my small trees.


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