States and Countries I Have Visited or Lived in

Randy Seaver, in his most recent Genea-Musings blog (  said, “1) A meme on Facebook has been circulating about what states, countries and other places you have visited. [What other places would there be if not a state or country?] The average for Americans is 8.

“2)  Copy the list from this blog post and denote your places visited with an X, and add states or countries you’ve visited not on the list.  Then total it up at the end of your list.

“3)  Put your responses in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook.

Here’s mine:



Arizona State License Plate Clipart

Arizona State License Plate

Arizona X
Arkansas X
Belgium  X
British Virgin Islands
California X
Canada X
Castaway Island
Cayman Islands 

Colorado X
Connecticut X
Costa Rica  X

Czech Republic
Delaware X
Denmark X
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
England X

Finland  X
Florida X
France  X
Georgia X
Germany X
Guam XGuam_map
Guatemala  X

Holland X
Hong Kong
Iceland X
Idaho X
Illinois X
Indiana X
Iowa X
Jamaica  X
Japan X
Kansas X
Kentucky X

Kentucky Statehood 1792 Black and White OutlineClipart

Kentucky Statehood 1792


Louisiana X
Luxembourg X
Maine X
Maryland X
Massachusetts X
Mexico X
Michigan X
Minnesota X
Mississippi X
Missouri X
Montana X

Nebraska X
Nevada X
New Hampshire X
New Jersey X
New Mexico X
New York X
New Zealand
North Carolina X
North Dakota X
Norway  X
Ohio X
Oklahoma X
Oregon X
Pennsylvania X

Puerto Rico
Rhode Island X

Saudi Arabia
Scotland  X

Coat of Arms Clipart and Illustration

Coat of Arms Scotland

South Africa
South Carolina  X
South Dakota X
South Korea
St Marten
St Thomas
Switzerland X
Sweden  X
Tennessee X
Texas X
The Netherlands  X
United Arab Emirates

US Trust Territories X
US Virgin Islands
Utah X
Vermont X
Virginia X
Washington X
Washington DC X
West Virginia X
Wyoming X

Bronze statue of rancher Wyoming

Bronze statue of rancher Wyoming

Wales X

My score:   71

All clip art from, a free- use site

Finding Your Story

I just read an interesting article entitled, What To Do When The Story Is Stuck Inside Of You, by Devon Noel Lee (}.

question marks-1316632__180 by PixabayFor some of my writing and genealogy students, this is a common question, so I have offered ideas for generating questions that resonate with them to get them started. Some of the best memory joggers are writing prompts that others have created. I have referenced websites that have multiple prompts and have seen great stories develop from them.

One writing prompt I recall concerned the most influential people in your life up to high school. While many people would include their parents, grandparents, and other relatives, others included specific teachers and music programs. One woman, who grew up in New York City during the 1930s and 1940s, mentioned an actor on Broadway who exposed her to a big, undiscovered world. The stories read in her home came alive when she saw them acted out on stage. When she read her story, others in the class expressed a desire the redo their stories to think deeper about those personal influences.

Devon Noel Lee said, “You could search online for ‘personal history writing prompts,’ ‘pageant interview questions,’ or “character interview questions.’ Many of these questions are perfect and since they’re not in a bound book, they are more causal.” These reflect some of the ideas I shared in class, so I was glad to see that the author went on to clarify her ideas.

Sometimes when reviewing these prompts, I find that they are too broad or they don’t reflect my life. I like to narrow the focus of such prompts to fit what I recall and that is what Ms. Lee states as her first clarification.

Second, she says that you only need to respond to the questions that resonate with you. I cactus-1398026__180 from Pixabayfound this true with a question about what I thought of the seasons of the year. I grew up in Southern Arizona and didn’t know seasonal variations like people who grew up in the northern states. I ignored that question for quite awhile until I thought of all the advantages I took for granted in being able to play outside all year round and not have to plan too often for indoor activities to replace snow or heavy rain days.

In a sense, I modified the original question to fit my memories when I talked about the seasons. But there are other modifications you may need to do to create a story that reflects you. For example, nowadays, we take the internet for granted. However, not too long ago, it wasn’t available and it wasn’t where we first turned for information and news. We reflect our generation with some of our answers, but sometimes we don’t follow the majority. Computer use is an example for me. I took classes in computer programming and worked as a computer operator in the late 1960s. My first job was as a computer programmer for Shell Oil Company. I taught computer programming for the University of Guam in the early 1970s. Fast forward to the 1990s and I taught memoir writing and genealogy. I referenced the man using computer-1352025__180 by Pixabayinternet and discovered many people my age or older, hadn’t had any computer experience and were afraid of it. So, I visited them in their homes and gave them lessons on getting started. Using a simple document program allowed people to create stories and make corrections without re-typing the whole thing. What a boon to speeding up production. Watching these people transition to using computers brought me great joy. Their families received the benefit, too, by reading more about the family history than they had previously known.

Thank you, Devon Noel Lee, for reminding me of the need to dig deeper to pull out the stories still within me.

Arizona Thunderstorms Don’t Scare Me

Our family moved to southern Arizona shortly after I turned six. We came from Sacramento, CA—city living. The high desert brought new experiences at every turn. We moved to an area outside the north gate of Fort Huachuca, an unincorporated patch of barren desert. Or so I thought.

My parents and I took every opportunity to get acquainted with the area, hiking and picnicking almost every weekend. Buffalo stilled roamed in the area, so I had to learn a healthy respect for those beautiful, but huge animals. We met ranchers and learned about this new vegetation and various animals we had yet to see in person.

One day a couple of months after we arrived, my mom opened the door to our trailer so she and I could go to the car to drive to the closest town for shopping (about 35 miles away). Coiled on the front stoop sunning himself was a rattlesnake. Mom calmly closed the door, went to the bedroom, loaded a rifle, returned to the door, and when she opened it, took aim and shot the snake. After returning the gun to its normal place, she grabbed the broom and swept away the remains. I don’t remember any conversation about the incident, but I’m sure we talked about it. Just part of settling into this new home.

We had arrived after the rainy season, so were not aware of the danger that we could face when the rains did come. The following June, humid and hot days followed one after another. Absolutely miserable weather. No one had air conditioning, so we ran fans. They just stirred up the humidity. I think we all got a little cranky. At least I’ve been told that I had cranky down pat.

In July, the rains started falling. What blessed relief. The humidity only came shortly before the rains but departed afterward. We heard stern warnings about not driving through what we called “dry washes.” These could fill rapidly and create a wall of water. On more than one occasion, we saw 5-10 feet walls of water rush down these washes and pick up anything in its way. Every year, at least one car, often occupied, washed away because the driver couldn’t get out of the way fast enough.

But, I soon discovered the best part of these rains was the thunder-storms. Our home was almost a mile high in elevation, giving us an uninterrupted view of a hundred miles across the desert floor. We would sit at the front window and watch the clouds gather and then march across the length of the desert. Often we’d see sunshine on either side of the storm, but other times it would gather such force that it would cover the whole area. Huge bolts of lightning would cut through the sky and we would count to determine how far away they were.

Initially, I was afraid, but my mom didn’t want me raised with fear, so she sat next to me or held me on her lap so we could watch the storms together. She wasn’t one for making up stories about the thunder or lightning, but spoke softly and confidently about the awesome power of God to create this show just for us.

Fast forward thirty years. We were visiting my parents, who now lived in a house in town. A thunderstorm developed and our three-year-old daughter got scared. I asked my mom to do with Karen what she had done with me. She took her hand and walked her out on the back porch and sat down. Mom picked up Karen, placed her on her lap and wrapped her arms around her. She spoke softly, just as I had remembered. Before long, Karen pointed at a lightning flash and then clapped her hands in glee. She never feared lightning again.


Do you have something in your past that once brought fear, but no longer affects you the same way? I’d like to hear your story.


(1) Picture from Google Images found on Tried to request permission from the owner of the photo, but got no response.

(2) Picture from Google Images found on This weather site encourages uploading of photos but gives no indication of ownership, therefore, I could not ask for permission.

(3) Picture from by jasinmasin. No contact information provided.