Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Trouble with Procrastination

This blog post has to be corrected. Thanks to Facebook and updated Ancestry records, the truth is in a more recent post! 🙂


I have been planning a “Family History” trip to California for a while. After a few hiccups, I am finally going in less than two weeks. The word “excitement” cannot even begin to describe me right now. All of my family is finding me increasingly annoying.

I will be leaving the hubby and son behind to guard the homestead. I will fly into Arizona, steal my mom away and then be off to southern California.

I’m not always organized, but with this kind of thing, I’ve needed to be. I’m making lunch dates, sending emails, taking calls and being very grateful for the wonderful people in my life making this adventure possible.

My mom had asked me to do one thing for her. It is to take an old interview and convert it from video tape to a DVD. We went to Mexicali in 1991 to interview her aunt, Tia Cuca (Maria de Refugio Palacios de Escalante). She wants to share it with the aunts’ children and grandchildren, if they are interested.

[Side Note: One of my great shames as a woman of Mexican-American descent is that I cannot speak Spanish. So during this interview I had absolutely no idea what was going on. At all. I trusted those around me to provide me with the “A-ha Moments” they heard. Well, we never really talked about it again.]

My handy husband got the interview converted. I watched it, pretending like I could understand it. And then I heard a few names that I did recognize. I stopped ironing and rewound a few seconds. I had to do it several times to get it.

23 years later, my “A-ha moment” came! Rufina and Lupe were sisters to Cuca’s uncle by marriage, Jose Maria Valenzuela. Shut the front door! I had known that my great-grandmother Rufina had a sister named Lupe. My paper trail helped me figure that out. Then after an interview with Tia Cuca’s son, he mentioned that his mom was related to Lupe via marriage somehow.

The ironing had to stop. I took over the computer that lovely Sunday afternoon to see if Ancestry could help me.

And yes. Yes, they could! Jose Maria Valenzuela married Armida Palacios, Tia Cuca’s aunt. They were from Santana, Sonora. They lived in Mexicali for years. Their children would have been my grandfather’s first cousins. AND there was even a picture on his manifest! Rockin’ the moustache.

Jose Maria Valenzuela's travel manifest, 1927.

Jose Maria Valenzuela’s travel manifest, 1927.

It took me 23 years to sit and watch this video. And about 23 minutes to find him.


In sending out my emails, I’ve asked family for assistance to get us into Mexicali to the cemetery where Tia Cuca is buried. Other family is supposed to be buried there and I thought we might do some hunting. Well, back in my photo archives I found a picture of the cemetery.

Panteon Municipal No. 2, Mexicali, Baja California

Panteon Municipal No. 2, Mexicali, Baja California

My lack of Spanish skills had me internet searching for a “cementario” rather than “panteon.” Again, I had procrastinated in not looking at this picture, which I had taken to help me remember.

[Side Note: When you do an internet search with the correct words, you will probably find what you are looking for.]

There is a searchable site for this cemetery. It includes grave locations and a map!! The Escalante’s I’m searching for are NOT there. But that is good to know before I get there to save me some time. But guess what? My “new-to-me” great-uncle Jose Maria Valenzuela and his lovely wife are there.

When we get there, I’ll be introducing myself. “Hello there. I’m Edwina. I’m your great-niece. I’d have come sooner, but I have a small procrastination problem.”