Pat's Prompts...

Each month, Pat offers a unique prompt hoping to help us record our memories and histories. We hope these are interesting to you and possibly give you the nudge you may need to write something down. Enjoy reading these prompts and some of the responses to them. If you have recorded a memory because a prompt here that you would like to share, we would love to include it here!

Pat's Prompts - March 2023

March is a month for planning the summer’s garden.

If you were planting a flower or a blooming shrub to honor a particular ancestor, who and what would it be and why?

In my family, the fragrance of the Daphne Odora brings our mother to us. In 1948, following the death of a infant son, my mother received a gift of a small Daphne Odora, and for the next thirty-six years, the sweetness of that shrub at the front door welcomed us home. My sisters and I have tried to keep our mother close by planting a memorial daphne in our own gardens. I was disappointed to find the Daphne Odora to be temperamental in this Northwest climate, but have found success with the “Rock” Daphne Cneorum. Now, all summer long, daphne-sweetened air says, “I’m home, Mom.”

A response to the March prompt:

In the early morning spring light, I stepped into our garden and all the roses were putting on their new growth. Each bush was showing the delicate greens, tinged with the pinkish red. A few buds were peeking out. Looking more closely I could see the first blooms of the “gold medal” rose. This special bush had been given to us by our best friends when my mother passed away just two days shy of turning 92. (Mary Elender Kennedy Cariker 1912-2004)

The California sun was especially beautiful that day—clear skies and the warmth seemed to wrap me, as in a cozy blanket. I slowly walked closer to the rose and the memories of my mom came rushing back as I felt the sunshine on my face. I could hear laughter, see her smiling blue eyes and sense her presence.

The rose had been chosen because my mother was from Texas and the “gold medal or the yellow rose of Texas” seemed to match her.  My mother was as lovely as this rose. An exquisite bud just waiting to open to the world. Mom embraced each day with her positive attitude. She always modeled for us that even in tough times, you just put one foot in front of the other and keep going.

In 2016 my husband and I decided on a new adventure and moved from California to Bainbridge Island. As we packed up the house the special family treasures were handled with care.  But what to do about the rose?  It had a special place in my heart.  Of course, the rose was left in the garden with more beautiful blooms to welcome the new owners.

Our new home on the island already had some gardens, but every time we went to the nursery there was a pull to the roses.  Our first rose was a magnificent climber that was planted so the deer couldn’t get to it. (At least not yet!) Several years later we strolled through the Valley Nursery to view more possible roses.  And there in amongst the bare roots was a “gold medal.” I don’t think we hesitated a second before the rose was on the cart heading to check out.  With the help of some deer fencing we now can enjoy the rose-buds to blooms- right outside the kitchen window.

I know Mom is always in my heart and this special rose is reminder of her life, legacy and love for her family. ~ Ann Eklund

bouquet of hearts

Pat's Prompts - February 2023


The name “Valentine” is in more than seventeen world languages. In most spellings, the root is found in the Roman  name of third century Saint Valentine, and appears in many European languages. If, however, you are Russian, you would hail “Valya.” Notably, in Shakespeares’ play, “Two Gentleman of Verona,” Valentine is a central comedic character. The history of this name is extensive. 

This month’s prompt asks questions about your own name or a name from your tree. (your choice)  

Whether the name is commonly used or is unique, it has linguistic history. The list of questions below is not exhaustive; do adapt the process to your research: e.g. “April,” – What is the significance of the month for this family? 

 What is the history of the name? 

  1. Was the name handed down from previous generations? 
  2. Do cousins in the same generation have the same name? 
  3. Did the name come from literature, an event, a song, or a season of the year; possibilities seem endless.

A response to the February prompt:

This woman greeted me at the Ikorum Lodge just outside of Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda. With strong Ugandan accent, she introduced herself as Susan. My immediate response was, “That is my name. Do you know what it means?”
She did not. I let her know, ‘Full of Grace, or Graceful Lilly’.  She was thrilled and we claimed each other as sisters. 
Susan and I spent much time exchanging stories. Our hug goodbye was long and felt good. She said, “what a great hug to start our day.”   
Susan doesn’t really know where Washington State is, but she does know she has a sister on the other side of the world, and her name is Full of Grace.
We haven’t had mail, facebook, or consistant wi-fi for some time. I am glad I have it today to share a prompt from Pat.
Our time is more than amazing. We have learned so much.  We have been to a Kwanjula, and I helped dress my cousin in her Gomez. We have rafted the Nile River through class 5 rapids, going out of the boat 3 out of 5 rapids. We have seen every animal imagined for the Savannah, but for a leopard. We have been refreshed with hand sqeezed banana juice. 
We’ve cruised the Nile to Murchison Falls, and walked on top of the same. 
Today we have moved to Queen Elizabeth National Park and will look for CATS. Especially a leopard. Here I am regurgitating just a touch of where our adventure has taken us. ~ Susie Wood

Pat's Prompts - January 2023

January is the season for writing thank you notes! Who in your history would you like to thank?

A friend of mine says that the first person she thought of was her sixth grade teacher. I thought of my father; I miss our long talks linking seemingly disparate elements found in abstract concepts. He gave me a love of language.


I thank BIGS and Helpline House as my first two volunteer opportunities after I retired.  I joined BIGS in 2008; they were recruiting for board candidates and reached out to all new members.  Since it didn’t require any genealogy expertise, I volunteered.  It has been a rich experience of collaborating on projects and plans ever since.  At Helpline House I worked at the front desk — fielding all kinds of calls and inquiries.  What both of these organizations offered was a way to contribute to community, solve problems, in partnership with others. ~ Betty Wiese


Pat's Prompts - December 2022

Most of us know how precious photos of our ancestors are to us. Pat’s Prompt for December urges us to recall our own memories and preserve them.  

“Choose a favorite photo of one or two persons, of an object, or a location.”  

Write several sentences describing the photo. Not only tell who, what, why or where the photo was taken, also add relevant details that show. 

Below, you will find Pat’s fascinating example and some further prompts to get you going. As always, we hope this prompt will help you in recording your own family history. 

The year is 1976 and the place is Fairbanks, Alaska. The picture is of me with my two sons aboard a passenger car of the Alaska Railroad. We’re on a Pre-School Train trip from Fairbanks to the nearby village of Nenana. The drive on the Parks Highway is 55 minutes, but this round trip by train will take four hours, plus! Long before we boarded, four year old Casey had dibbed the window seat. David, nearly 3, who had never been seen in public without a hat, is riding shotgun when a photographer from the local paper, The Fairbanks News Miner, came down the aisle. The photo he snapped was published in the next day’s paper. Life in a very small town has very big reward.

Here is Andy Hoskins’ response to the November prompt: “What sound do you treasure from your childhood? Do you wish you could replicate the sound?”

“I came into this world on a foggy November morning at Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. The foghorns were calling out from the Golden Gate Bridge as my mother and grandmother hurried to the hospital, so I guess the sounds of the foghorns have been with me even before I arrived. At the time of my birth, my parents were living with my maternal grandmother in San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood, just west of the bridge, above the Golden Gate (the strait that connects the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean, and where the bridge got its name). While there were numerous other foghorns around the Bay, it’s the horns on that famous bridge that I hear in my memory.

 As a child, I loved the sound. It was a comforting, reassuring sound somehow. I remember sitting with my grandmother on the window seat in her upstairs bedroom looking out at the fog and listening to the horns. “The sounds help the ships’ captains guide their ships safely under the bridge, in spite of the fog” my grandmother explained.

Later, I learned that there were air horns on the bridge’s southern-most pier as well as on the center pier. Incoming ships would navigate between the two piers while outbound ships would go to the north of the central pier. Given that the Golden Gate averaged more than 770 hours of fog in a year, the fog horns played a critical role in helping ships avoid colliding with the bridge and each other.

Over the years, when I no longer lived with my grandmother, but visited often, I came to think of the foghorns as part of the romantic nature of my favorite city – the bay, the hills, the bridges, the fog. Now I live on Bainbridge Island, and when I hear the ships’ horns call out on a foggy morning on Puget Sound, for just an instant I am taken back to my city by the bay!”

 This link will let you hear the older foghorns of the Golden Gate Bridge, now replaced with modern technology: