Category Archives: Writing

Italian Anyone? A Different Type of Family tree


Today is a little different type of blog post. I’m going to write about a new Family Restaurant that opened today, 16 Feb 2016 in Merrimack, Hillsborough, New Hampshire.

Portofino Italian Restaurant

It opened in the old “Florence’s Italian Restaurant” location next to Domino’s and CVS on Daniel Webster Highway. the name of the new Italian restaurant my husband has been anxiously waiting to open is called…

Portofino  Italian Restaurant Just click on the link to see the amazing menu choices offered.

My husband, Michael D. Butka and I, June Stearns Butka, decided to visit if they were open. The opening was delayed until all permits were in order, like all new starting business. When we entered the doors we were greeted with a familiar face, Janet. Janet was a waitress at Florence’s Restaurant for 26 years. Her friendly, welcoming smile was a pleasant sight to see. She informed us we were their first customers. Right then and there I knew I would be blogging about this restaurant. Janet offered us any seat in the house, took our photo with Mike’s IPhone and gave us a brief overview of the menu.

I looked around the restaurant to see what changes were made. I think the achieved a nice balance of the old and new personalities of the restaurant. Yes, there is one cork bottle wall, proudly presenting the outline of Itlay, boot and all. Come in and see the blending of the restaurants.

We asked her recommendations, she introduced us to one of the new owners, Maria Mastantuono. Maria gave a delightful history of their food experience and a synopsis of the menu. Maria and her husband, Giuliano (the chef) are familiar faces to some of us in the Merrimack/Amherst area. They owned until last week, PastaAmore. I love the idea of supporting local businesses, families and giving them a shut out for the new adventure they are starting. Check out their website or their Facebook Page for menu and history.

1st customers of Portofino Italian Rest_ Merrimack NH 2 Feb 2016

Mike posted our picture to the Merrimack Forum Facebook Page, within an hour there was 78 likes and multiple post. Several asking for a review of the restaurant. Here is my review as promised.

I must state up front that my husband is the one who likes Italian food. I’m more of the local diner or Thai food person. Maria explained each of the main entree’s to us, including the fact that they have both fresh and dry pasta options. If you are not a meat eater, I found several choices to choose from.

We decided that we would order appetizers to go; Meatball sausage side dish for Mike and Crab-Spinach Carciofi for me. Late night snack time.

Mike choose to order the “Parm Lunch”- you had a choice of Eggplant or chicken smothered in Marina sauce and mozzarella cheese. Mike choose chicken over Penne Pasta. The chicken was tender and the Penne al-dente, just the way Mike likes it.

Pharm Lunch_Chicken


I choose Pasta Firenze with Angel Hair pasta with mushrooms, spinach, garlic, onions and broccoli in a white wine sauce.

Pasta Firenze at portofino's

After ordering we were surprised with fresh made bread with a homemade spiced olive oil. Not too spicy, just enough to give a tingle.

Fresh baked bread_Portofino

Did we do dessert? Oh, yes, we did. The two side menu provides a delicate and not so delicate palate choices for you. It was a very difficult decision. We started out thinking we would share one, just to sample something. We ended up both ordering.

Mike- a Chocolate filled Cream Puff

Cream Puff_Portifina

I decided to go with the Guava mango Flute

Guava Mango Flute_ Portofino


I can’t wait to go back and try the Lemoncello Flute or one of the sorbet offerings.

I don’t think I need to tell you that Mike and I will be returning to Portofino’s again to sample more of their menu.

Please remember the menu is new to Janet. Have patience, as with any new business, kinks need to be worked out. The friendly atmosphere, people and food are all worth the time and patience. Our food was served in a timely manner, hot or cold as it should be served with a smile and helping answers to all our questions.

It is nice to have another lunch choice in Merrimack, New Hampshire to go to. I still have my favorite places to eat, but one can’t live on the same type of food all the time. After-all variety is the spice of life.

Bon Appetite!




Filed under #365daysofJune, Writing

Data Clean-Places: Finally Getting Organized


Data Cleaning your family tree program is a must to keep yourself organized. If you do a monthly data clean on your tree, it will help reduce duplication as you proceed. It will also pace your clean up of your older tree, as you work forward. I know that my, FTM2014 and Legacy, still have clean up needs from when I first started putting information into them. I was overwhelmed with the repairs that were needed. Pacing myself makes it manageable. Choosing one type of Data clean at a time.

Doing the first five generations with last years Genealogy Challenge from DearMyrtle’s and Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over/Go-Over, helped me learn the importance of starting from my root person, me, and working with my known family members first, moving on to lesser known families members gave me the confidence to pace myself. I will always find new information on my ancestors. I will add that information, to the best of my abilities, into my research excel to-do list with proper citation, links and notes, so that when the time comes to add them to my family tree program of choice, it will be the most accurate. Doing the monthly Data Clean, reminds me of the importance of recording correctly in my To-Do list. It will also limit the number of tree in my database. I should not be adding people to my database until I know their family relationship. I will have the information at my fingertips when needed.

Dear Myrtle may not have mentioned this in her getting organized blog, YET, I’m sure she will for whatever family tree program you have. I have down it for my other two programs; FTM2014 and Legacy. I just uploaded my “My Heritage” family tree GEDCOM to my Roots Magic tree. I have been working on this tree, so I felt confident it was fairly accurate in its files.  When I did the Data Clean overview, as per the webinar instructions, I found my Place names were not that bad. A good place to start.

However, missing information Data clean will be a challenge that will take several days, if not weeks or years to resolve.  Many are unknown surnames for the wife, date of birth, date of death and/or marriage/divorce. I knew my distant generations were missing information, but 23 pages of missing information surprised me. What also surprised me was that I have 46 trees in my database. I thought I only had one tree. When I saw 46 I was in shock. Then I thought about it. I have several people I found that I believe are related but was not sure how. Each person is not linked in my tree, but are in my database. It make sense why I have 43 trees, most with 1 – 5 people (a family.)

Data Clean-Places: Finally Getting Organized

Places Data Clean

Places Data Clean

I decided while waiting for RootsTech 2016 to restart the afternoon Live streaming I would check my RootsMagic program place names for errors.

I watch the Cleaning Your Family Tree in RootsMagic webinar #7 previously. I started with the Data Clean drop down menu under tools. I had 53 Place problems. [Sorry no photo.] I corrected the places; mostly were missing United States, had an extra punctuation marks, and the Street Address was not in the description.  I did have a few with duplicate county entries (Hillsborough and Merrimack Counties for the same location.) I noted the time period for that record added the current county it is listed by and placed the Historical/Parent County in the description box. I pressed clean places, closed out when it was done and finally re-did the Data Clean search for places. I did a, Happy Dance, when the screen popped up without problems.

Source citations:

Richley-Erickson, Pat “Finally Get Organized,” Dear Myrtle, DearMyrtle’s Genealogy Your Friend In Genealogy since 1995 Blog, 31 Jan 2016. Access 2 Feb 2016, checklists.

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First Day of the Month = Backup time


1 Feb 2016

First Day of the Month = Backup time

Special Day Calendar

Special Day Calendar

You will most likely see another posting about the importance of backing up you work. I plan my backs the first day of each month. It is a SCHEDULED day that is easy to remember.

What do I back up? Everything!!!

  1. to the cloud product of choice. icloud, Evernote, Dropbox, OneNote, I’m sure there are other cloud that you may use, like, Backblaze,  My back up of choice has been a mixture of all listed above and Google Drive.  This past year was a learning curve of what works best for me. I learned I need to K.I.S.S. , Keep It Simple and Straightforward, [you can read more about it here.]
  2. My Microsoft Word Documents, photos, and backup FTM2014 are all backed up on 2 external drives, on-line Google Docs and a Flash drive sent to my sister offsite. If I find that I have added a large amount of work I will do a weekly backup as needed.
  3. I have on-line Trees with [most up-to-date],, and [soon to be up-to-date.] I have tried many other online trees; I will be keeping these three trees the most current.
  4. I’m using FTM2014 as my primary program[using FTM since 2002]. Legacy and RootsMagic are still in the learning stages. All three have pluses and minuses to each. [The three trees have a difference of 100 people between each of them. As I clean up and merge duplicates that number is shrinking. To date my FTM2014 is the most accurate numbers and ancestors.

    I’m in the process of transcribing my paper files and Microsoft Word files to my FTM2014 program including media. I will maintain original, certified documents and discard that is easily found on line.

My goal is to continue to stream line and organize my research so that both, my genealogist friends and family members with have a copy that makes sense to them. Citations with improve for my genealogy friends. Stories will entice my family to read about their ancestor’s.

My surname Binders are available for everyone to pick up and read in house. I also have created several family books and calendars for those who are not into my passion.

Family Tree Interviews

Family Tree Interviews

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Day of Rest-Sorta


Day of Rest-Sorta

I’m writing a quick blog about my usual “Day of Rest”, Sunday.

Sunday is the day I catch up on my Emails that was flaged during the week for review later. It is a day of checking in on my Facebook and Google + Groups, I joined. It is a day of scheduled scanning, sometime on my own and sometimes as part of the Facebook Group Sunday ScanDay .

Breakfast at my local eatery, Charlie’s Homestyle Diner, is time to enjoy the news of my community and the special of the day. In this case, Apple Stuffed French Toast, made from scratch.

Apple Stuffed French Toast

Apple Stuffed French Toast

Last Sunday I spent the day with family and Friends, playing Bingo. Janice won about $200, my sister Vickie sadly called bingo too late, my niece won $30 and I didn’t win but enjoyed the company of my loved ones.


Today’s goal are to stay home, relax, and catch up on Emails and social groups. Breakfast of Shredded Wheat, made like my Dad always had it; Run under hot water, drained and a pad of butter. Simple enough to bring back a fond memory of breakfast with my Dad, Nelson. Scan my husband’s photo album and cuddle up with Ninja Buddy.

The weather forecast for this last day of January 2016 is for temperatures in the mid-forties. Here in Merrimack, Hillsborough, New Hampshire at 11:20 am the temperature read 45 degrees on the overcast Sunday morning.

I end this post stating goals met, including 4 loads of laundry. It has been a productive morning since I awakened at 5:30 am. [A late start for me.] I will sit down with a lunch of homemade apple salsa, baked cranberry corn chips and a cup of hot spiced apple cider. Ninja Buddy is anxiously waiting for our cuddle time.

Enjoy whatever you decide to do today. Just remember to take time for family and self.


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Finally Getting Organized with Dear Myrtle’s – Update


Finally Getting Organized with Dear Myrtle’s – Update

I'm Doing It!

I’m Doing It!

January has been a very busy month both Genealogy-wise and home commitments. Some weeks getting organized was harder to stay on task than others.  Here is a summary of my first month progress with some personal feedback. I will post the links to Dear Myrtle’s weekly Checklist and my blog post links.


  1. FINALLY Get Organized! Jan 3rd-9th 2016 Checklist and Myrt’s confession

I was ahead of the game in week one. I completed most of the requirements in December; just ordering a few last minutes supplies. You can read about my progress on my blog Damegussie Genealogy Rants- Organized, Me? It might happen in 2016.


  1. FINALLY Get Organized! Jan 10th-16th Checklist

I like Dear Myrtle have both paper and digital copies of my work. I do have a strategy for backing up my data; reducing my paper files to keeping only original documents and decluttering my e-mails, too.  I use a surname/maiden file backed up on my desk top, on-line tree and a copy sent monthly off site to my sister. That way there is always a back no older than one month if all other backups are lost. One can never predict the future, so like Girls Scouts and Boy Scout you should always be prepared.

Dear Myrtle speaks about the importance of cloud storage I’m using Google drive and Dropbox for my backups. I did win a Backblaze door prize, a year ago, at my local genealogical Society meeting. My husband chose not to put it onto my computer. He did feel comfortable using Google drive and Dropbox. I do have iCloud that that is used more for our smart phone photos. I already met my maximum allowed on the free program.

I use Legacy, FTM 2014, currently learning how to use Roots Magic 8 four my genealogy management programs I will continue using family tree maker 2014 is my primary program. I have been using Family Tree Maker since 2002 and more consistently since 2014.

I have my first five generations of direct ancestors completed as per challenge of dear Myrtle a year ago. I am now working on feeling in the lateral family lines for the first three generations. I have done so in regards to basic information so that I now have the siblings, their spouses, their children, and date of birth, marriage dates, and death dates if appropriate. This will be continued as more information is found for each new family member. It is a never-ending process and building your family tree.

I have both three ring binders and digital file folders for all generations that include: family group sheet, any documents, and images of censuses. Photographs of importance. My confession is I had already done this in the past year with Thomas MacEntee’s genealogy Do Over/Go Over. Thomas now has a printed version available. Just click on his name for the link.

I scanned photos on a weekly basis for all generations that I come in contact with. Reviewing my old files weekly. Sometimes just 15 minutes in the morning scanning any new photos digitally to each surname/maiden name. This will be an ongoing process. I have received new photos from relatives that I never knew before existed. I’ve even blogged about finding a photo of me as a child with my parents that I had never seen before.

I have also created memory books yearly for the family, some are specific events, some are an overview of the year, and others are about my progress from the past year. The past year projects are social books from my Facebook and blog to print in regards to my Damegussie blogs. My family is not so much into the digital family history or family tree program; they just want the story.

My genealogy will has been completed. My daughter will be taking over my work. Her statement was I will do like you did I will keep it safe until I have the time in retirement continue on your work. Knowing my daughter, Tyna Butka, she will be adding little books of around along the way. My photos and other documents have been an archival safe containers since I first heard about them in the late 1980s early 1900s. It’s nice having a librarian as a friend.


  1. FINALLY Get Organized! Jan 17th-23rd 2016

Transcribing everything is the Key! I continue transcribing any documents that I find in my possession, stories I remember, even as this blog talks about the artifacts need to be transcribed, so that future generations know the importance of a ring, a dining needle, or even a little skeleton key. Yes six skeleton key or even a railroad tie may have a story behind it I have written about both in my Damegussie blog over the years. I transcribed any documents into my family tree maker 2014 program, my Microsoft Word program for the person, and save a digital image of what I am transcribing. I follow basically the same set up that dear Myrtle describes in her January 17-23, 2016 blog post.


  1. FINALLY Get Organized! 24th-31st Jan 2016 (sorta)

Finally getting organized week 24 to 31st of January 2016 was another easy week for me. I have been a beta indexer for about a year now. I browse any records more often than using an index. That’s how I learned there were no indexes when I first started using the Internet. An index does help find your ancestors more easily. Not all records have been index to date, volunteers are working daily to increase the numbers which is why it is important to be a volunteer indexer. I continue to update my records on my siblings their families as added or loss, both in digital and family datasheet binders.


What did I learn? I learned a great deal about my sister’s husband side of the family, my husband’s cousins, and even was surprised to find more information on myself on the Internet than I thought was out there. Yes myself. When you are researching it’s just as important to research oneself, as well as, the rest of your family. You never know what you will find.

A good example all something I found out about my dad, which I blogged about, was the name of the young man that accidentally my dad while hunting in the woods. His name was Luis M. Putney. I found that through in a newspaper article about a Waltham young man with charges being brought against him for abandonment. Don’t just look in the town where your family or ancestors lived. Look elsewhere as well. Elizabeth Shown Mills said it best, the F.A.N principle; friends, associates and neighbors. You never know how they are related or intersect your life.

I’ve given you links to not only dear Myrtle’s finally getting organized checklist so that you may follow along and do your own getting organized. I’ve also given you the links to what I blogged about. It is another source, another way of backing up the information of your family and ancestors in your family tree. I find my families reading more of my stories, then they did of my genealogy blogs.

Check out your family stats. It is fun to see what months they were born, their zodiac sign or what year (century) they were born in.

Birth and Zodiac Signs

Birth and Zodiac Signs

They want to hear about the child that died and you still remember; the day your father/grandfather was shot; the first wedding ring of your mom/aunt/grandmother; or maybe even about a ceramic lower and white cat sitting on the shelf of your aunt carries home when you were a little kid that you weren’t allowed to touch. Why couldn’t you touch the May ask, it was a urinal. Yes a urinal for my uncle Wilson. Now I’ve made you smile. Go find your stories and transcribed them for future generations and make them smile.


New England Roots

Organized, Me? It might happen in 2016

De-cluttering = Disencumbering Your E-mails, too!

The K.I.S.S Method of genealogy-My Way!

Snapshot of my Family Stats

Shooting in the Woods: He made it out alone!

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Teenagers and Haunted Places


Teenagers and Haunted Places


Phelps Mansion

Phelps Mansion

Phelps Mansion, Stratford, Connecticut demolished in 1972

Pre-teens and Teenagers always seem to migrate to scary places. Sometimes it is intentional to scare their friends. Sometimes some “strange” things happens to them.

My inbox greeted me with the article from my husband, Michael D. Butka, who lived in the area of Stratford, Connecticut. I will allow him to tell his story when he is ready.

It reminded me of my youth in Saugus, Massachusetts. Our family was temporally staying with my Aunt Eleanor [Stearns Duncan] and cousins, Lillian May Duncan and Jean Reid Duncan, after our house burned. Cousin being cousin we always shared ghost stories with each to see who could gave the best story. Sometime ones imagination can seem like reality. I was upstairs in the back bedroom I shared with my sisters, Vickie, Marjorie, Eleanor and baby Susan Stearns., look for my shoes under the bed.

I remember seeing a dungaree overall with a red plaid shirt rolled up into a ball. Thinking it was one of my sisters play clothes I reach to grab it. It moved, I felt a cold hand push me away. I pushed back thinking it was one of my sister’s or cousin playing with me. A cold chilly voice said leave him alone, we will leave you alone. I stood up walked downstairs; I confronted my sisters and cousins. I wanted to know who is playing games upstairs with me. I suddenly realized they were all downstairs. So who was upstairs?

I retold the story to my aunt and mother, Shirley Stearns Pease, who suddenly both became very pale. Strange reaction, I thought. My aunt then told me the tale of the house.

It was originally belonged to a mariner and his wife. She was a fouled mouth mean old women, it is told, and that finally had enough of her husband’s antics. She took the kitchen butcher knife and sliced off his ear. He died shortly after. Rumor be told that the house was haunted by the mariner and his wife.

I was not convinced of the truth of this story. I did return to our upstairs back bedroom that night. I was awakened in the middle of the night feeling cold hands around my neck. It was my sister sleep walking. She was trying to strangle me for blaming her for something I did that day. At least that is what my mother told me.

That was the last time I slept in the upstairs bedroom. I slept on the couch in the living room until we moved to our own home. This was in 1969. My aunt and cousin continued to live there. My cousin Lillian still does. The back bedroom is used only as a storage room.

Teenagers, imagination and ghost stories can create for an interesting story. Don’t you agree?

Maybe I should do a Historical house genealogy on that home in Saugus, Massachusetts.

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From A Distance: The Challenger Remembered 30 Years Later

From A Distance They Soared High: The Challenger Remembered 28 Jan 1986 – 28 Jan 2016. It has been thirty  years since the Challenger Tragedy. The History Channel Challenger Disaster Video 

They saw the earth from above. They were the voice of Hope.  The view of Education. They lives touch us all in that one moment in history.

My heart still aches for all who lost a loved one on the day. This was not the first time that a historical event touched our hearts and soul. Yet, I feel it touched more of our core to a greater extant than just watching famous people. These were our friends our, neighbors, our teacher, someone we knew in our day to day lives. In my case, Christa McAuliffe, once was a favorite teacher to my sister, Susan Ruth Stearns. I remember Sue’s voice, a voice of tears, sadness, almost a whisper from unbelievable shock.

Christa McAuliffe continues her teaching through the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.

Wikipedia provides a better history than I can give. My emotions are still blocking my expressing my feelings.

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