Going Festive at Texas State Conference

In the vendor hall at the Texas State Genealogy
Conference. Found a fellow Halloween celebratee!

On a rainy Friday, I left Houston and drove three hours to Austin, Texas. No, this Aggie wasn’t going apostate in Longhorn country. She was headed to the Texas State Genealogical Society 2015 Family History Conference, which was held under the safe shelter of the Crowne Plaza.

During the drive I listened to a number of my favorite podcasts: Probloggers, Genealogy Gems, and Extreme Genes. These charming voices were a sense of comfort as the rains intensified and I drove through my first flash flood. I had seen trucks manage to get through the high water and I pushed ahead in my reliable van. After that hair raising experience, two thoughts flashed through my mind. First, I was so glad I wasn’t driving my husband’s little white VW Cabrio. Second, I don’t ever want to do that again.

Soon, I ran into the shelter at the Crowne Plaza without shoes because the rain in the park lot was so high and I had forgotten my umbrella. After filling up on a few snacks, I was ready to learn. The classes, for the most part, were just what I needed. Despite being fairly young, I was welcomed with opened arms to this community of genealogists of many skill levels.

After classes, a lovely appetizer and drinks social was provided by the hotel. Apparently, this was a bonus for conference planners as they surpassed their room booking quota. Way to go planners! Because  I didn’t want to drive in the heavy rain, I had skipped lunch and was now starving. The food was plentiful and filling. (The food was so filling, I didn’t drink anything. Note to self: water and food are the best combination.) Tables were stationed in the vendor hall and I was able to settle down and enjoy the band that started playing. I did sit far enough away that the speakers wouldn’t over power my hearing aides. So glad that was an option. A new friend joined me for this evening social and I felt I belonged in this group. Kudos for all who made it happen.

Devon Noel Lee meets Lisa Louise Cook
Devon Noel Lee meets Lisa Louise Cooke. Gotta love the middle name gals!

One of the highlights, besides making new friends, was meeting Lisa Louise Cooke who I had just listened to on the way in to the conference. What a treat she was! There is something to be said about a ‘small’ conference such as this where a big influencer can and does share large blocks of times with readers and listeners. Something tells me that she’ll be crazy busy at the next conference I’ll see her at, RootsTech 2016.

Lisa shared many lovely moments with me discussing her move to Texas and how great it is for her to be closer to family. I promise I wasn’t a groupie gushing over a rock star, like I would have been in my younger years had I met someone like Jon Bon Jovi. Instead, we had a lovely conversation about her and me and our love of family history. If I ever become as well known as Lisa, I want to treat others the way she treated me. Call me crazy, but I also loved that we were both wearing black and white! Great minds think a like and there is no clothing clash in this great photo!!!!

Cat Woman and Sue Yerby greet registrants on Saturday morning!

After a good night’s sleep, I returned to the conference on Saturday. The rain had stopped and seemed so peaceful. Many who were unable to attend the day before, finally arrived safe and sound. I enjoyed manning the registration table with Sue Yerby, a volunteer at the Clayton Public Library, a genealogy mecca in Houston, Texas. She gave me so many wonderful suggestions for projects I’m working on. What’s more, she was dressed festively. Her Halloween sweater complimented my partial Cat Woman Costume.

Prior to the conference, I asked my Facebook readers if I should go dressed up for Halloween considering that the event was on the holiday. Many weighed, but my daughter played the trump card. “Momma, you have to wear your costume so our family history can tell about the time you were Cat Woman at a genealogy conference.” The ‘do it for memories‘ card nearly always works on me.

My new friend Lisa Mann loved my costume.
Too bad my camera needs some help.

I woke up Saturday morning and panicked. I thought I had left my mask at home, 3 hours away. I wasn’t going to wear my utility belt, complete with plastic gun, because I didn’t want to make anyone nervous. I was wearing a black skirt over the cat suit, because I really didn’t want to have my hiney hanging out for all to see. So, without a mask, I would look a bit weird in a black unitard with black skirt overtop. Thankfully, WalMart was open and I found a substitute. Later, I would wear my black opera length gloves because the conference room was rather chilly and they took the edge off. I would have left them on the entire time but using a cell phone while wearing gloves is a challenge. I also took my mask off at times so that I wouldn’t distract Lisa Louise during her keynotes. (Although, I wonder if I even came close to the most distracting thing she’s seen at a conference).

At the conference, I was pleased to see a few others in the Halloween spirit and they were so fun to let me snap a photo!

Lisa Louise shared two hour long presentations that were very informative about using Google for more than a search engine and using other tech tools. She presented some new to me material that I want to investigate in the weeks to come. I love that she was engaging and personable. Her presence is that of your best friend sharing some really cool things she’s found.

I’ll have to admit one little negative, that is more a confusion on my part rather than hers. She was billed as a keynote, but I don’t associate keynotes with educational classes. I’m not saying I didn’t want to listen to Lisa. I’m just saying, I wish there was a better term than ‘keynote’ because of what that word implies to me. To me, a keynote is more a guest of honor sharing a motivational speech, rather than an educational one.

Best part of conferences, meeting readers in person!


She loved my costume as well!

During lunch, I visited with my blog follower Amanda. Once again, I felt welcomed and loved. It’s hard to go to a conference not knowing any one. Amanda and I prearranged to meet up and it was awesome. (This may sound bad but I texted her during Lisa’s keynote to find out where she was! Shh… don’t let Lisa know.)

After lunch, I attended two more classes before I needed to head home to take my two young monkeys Trick-or-Treating. The classes were great and I left with so many things to ponder and perhaps apply.  Unlike the drive to Austin, the return trip to Houston was smooth and bright and rain free. Isn’t it amazing how weather works in that way?

The next Texas Genealogy Society Meeting will be October 28-30 in Dallas. I plan on attending, if the family will let me go!

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

2 thoughts on “Going Festive at Texas State Conference

  1. Thanks for posting the pictures of us, Devon! And I agree with you that "keynote" really isn't the right term for Lisa's presentations. I would have used the term "general session" for the three she did (as well as the three other "keynotes"). I think that's a better term for a large session all at the conference would attend.

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