July 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Venice Water Taxi Thrill

July 11, 2010

Family Ancestry Inspires Travel

My mother's side of the family comes from a long line of hardworking people who lived by the sea.  In 1890 my great great grandfather sailed his ship to Washington state and stayed to raise a family.  Go further back to the 1700s and they could be found in remote areas of Maine and on Orr's Island.

[sketch from family book]

My first job out of college was for the Oceanic Society here at Fort Mason, in San Francisco.  It didn't pay much but one of the benefits was practically unlimited sailing opportunities.  I love being on or near the water.  Early on I only knew of my Washington state family history but a few years ago I was introduced to my great great grandmother.  My great great grandmother wrote a journal for each of her two daughters, and my great aunt's daughter gave me a photocopy.

I read a story of family that tells of hardship on the islands during the Revolutionary War to records of second marriages because of death by scarlet fever or because a spouse was lost at sea while out whaling.  My great great great grandmother could sew an entire sheet by hand in one day!! Keeping a journal is nothing new, only rather than a blog online it was kept on paper with a fountain pen. The copy I have includes watermarks, corrections in the margins and lines crossing out names of deceased or lost family members. 

The stories of early life in this part of our country and the tough women in my family, inspire me to get my butt across the lower 48 to explore Maine.  I've only been to Sabago Lake in Maine so I've got a lot of land and sea to cover.  I think in movies so I'm wondering in my head...will the experience be The Shipping News? Whales of August? Perfect Storm? Moby Dick (Gregory Peck version)??

July 2, 2010

My sister went to Europe and all I got was this sweet story.

My sister went to Europe and all I got was this sweet story.  Thanks goodness.  Truthfully my sister went to Europe and bought loads of souvenir t-shirts that said "My mother went to ____ and all I got was this lousy t-shirt".  However lucky me, they are for her kids and grand kids. Bullet, dodged.

It has been a few days now that everyone returned from the big three week trip.  My ears are burning from all the stories and my brain is trying to keep track of the different versions and who said what.  Here are 10 short highlights:
  • No one died
  • No one broke any body part or needed paramedics or late night pharmacy run
  • They had a great exchange rate for their dollars
  • British Airways didn't stop them at the gate or turn the plane around because of their drinking
  • Everyone took photos - but my mom never took her date stamp off the front of her pictures
  • My sister spent the most money on souvenirs and gifts
  • Except for a little inclement weather in Paris, they had fabulous temperatures
  • My mother stayed in her room to avoid everyone - only on the last day
  • My sister and mother only got into one real fight, over laundry
  • I've got loads of stories and photos to share with the world
 [My sister makes the BEST tourist. She poses, she asks to take photos like this & she buys the tote!]

Funny Family Stories:

My mom got pulled aside at Heathrow during their connection to Paris, for secondary inspection.  She clearly looks suspicious or maybe someone caught her giving her daughter-in-law the stink eye. Anyway she had to go downstairs and have all of her stuff gone through. Even with that, they still made their connecting flight without a problem.  Yeah, taking only carry on for a three week trip, really made a difference.

My brother, the CFO and classically trained nerd, had my mom and sister keeping track of their purchases.  He then had them convert them from Euro to GBP to US dollars and grouped into a dozen or more categories.  When they returned to the US, he had them fill out - in detail - the Customs form with the extra section for overflow items!  Seriously. Why, as my mother would say, "on God's green earth" would they need to give a detailed description of their stuff?  It's not like my sister has a shop in Salinas and she is going to sell those "lousy" t-shirts, or those ten Windsor Castle cloth ornaments my mom bought are going to bring in a tidy "undeclared" profit in Tucson.  Besides, anyone who brings back a few hundred US dollars in souvenirs, simply writes (in the four lines provided) Candy/Cookies $20 Misc Souvenirs $100 Burberry Scarf $175. Done. And you just keep the receipts in a Ziplock or something if the Customs officer asks.  Which of course he didn't.  Because my brother had her so worked up my mom told me three different times how surprised she was when they were just waved through to the exit.  Since he paid for their trip, maybe my brother felt justified and got some strange pleasure from forcing them to do all of that math?

My sister, after eating strawberry tarts and loads of bread and butter, actually lost 11 pounds. Not the GBP kind of pounds but weight.  She called me and was OVER THE MOON with disbelief and joy all mixed together.  All those stairs up and down Notre Dame, Edinburgh Castle and Arc de Triomphe paid dividends!  Getting up at the crack of dawn to take the train to Versailles before the crowds arrived paid off.  The swollen ankles will soon be a distant memory.  She burned off the daily bottles of Coca Cola and now she is pumped.  I'm so happy for her to see that the classic "burn more calories than you consume" model still works.  Especially since both she and my mom learned first hand that Large - XL on a label in Europe is usually a Small-Medium size for an average American.  Fortunately my mom has a friend she can give that black t-shirt with the crown outlined in sparkles to. Bullet, dodged.

Stay tuned for more family stories....until they stop me.
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