Week 297 December 7, 2019

Sometimes people must leave a place and return to it to learn about it… at least this is true for me this past week as I pursued genealogical records of one of my great-grandfathers in my home town. As you might surmise, Loren and I were still in New York at the start of this week. After I filled out the necessary paperwork, I noticed the pen I was using had an image of the city logo attached, which made me curious about what the years on it meant. The city was incorporated in 1917, but its earlier history includes 1683 when the land for the city was purchased from the local Native Americans, and, 1776 when the State of New York – renamed from the Colony of New York, ratified the Constitution. Therefore, my home town is known as the Birth City of the State of New York. I am duly impressed by this history.


While downtown, I was also moved to take photos of a few remaining older buildings so familiar from the first half of my life. One is of City Hall where my grandfather took me as a child to watch parades from its balcony, another is where my grandfather had his office, and the other, just down the street, is where I worked for my first full time job.

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Our last visit this week with my brother and his family was going to see the movie Ford vs. Ferrari which was as outstanding as some Loren’s and my other favorite uplifting movies — like Seabiscuit for one. Then we went to dinner afterwards and bade these dear ones our fond farewells.


The next day the predicted heavy snow and sleet storm arrived. My plan to attend It’s A Wonderful Life Radio Show featuring a fellow yogi in the performance was canceled. The snow finally stopped but with the cold temperatures creating icy conditions it was a good day to stay put inside. The next morning more snow had fallen over the ice, so we canceled our plans to drive to New Hampshire to have lunch with friends and dinner with other friends there. The question remained, should we stay put in New York and wait out the prediction of more snow or would we brave it to keep our AirBnB commitment that night in New Hampshire to be closer to my cousins and our intended visit the next day? 

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With my success driving through Wisconsin’s and Ohio’s Arctic Blast, we chose to drive at a cautious pace during the warmest hours of the day when the plows, sanders and salters would provide the best driving conditions. We made it just before dark, and just as the AirBnB host was using a snow blower to carve out a parking space for us. We had conversations with a couple of other AirBnB guests from Arizona about the storm. They were supporting a Democratic Presidential candidate who was also in town. In the morning we awoke to find “Winter Storm Ezekiel” that had been predicted to “keep hammering parts of New England” had dumped a lot more snow overnight. 


Our AirBnB host — with his snow blower — was nowhere to be found at checkout time, but Loren shoveled and I helped scrape the car, and we slip-slid our van onto the plowed street to make our way to my cousin and her husband’s home nearby, as planned.


The next day there was no further precipitation and we four spent a good part of it visiting New Hampshire’s State House in the capitol city of in Concord. A cornerstone commemorates the history of the building, which now turns out to be 100 years. And my cousin found a portrait of one of her ancestors on her mother’s side. That evening another cousin joined us for dinner and it was nice to catch up with her too.

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I was delighted to learn the history of the eagle that adorns the cupola was redesigned from facing left — signifying for war, to now facing right, signifying for peace. 

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The next morning while our cousins kept an appointment, Loren and I walked around the neighborhood. It was more than a little surprising to find one neighbor’s political signage include a different sort of request…


That afternoon it was most meaningful to experience helping to make homemade ravioli. The dinner included meeting neighbors of our cousins to share in the wonderful meal.

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After another sad farewell to people we are so fond of, Loren and I have now driven on to Washington DC. It is the first time we have driven through Delaware on our Journey…

Week 295 November 23, 2019

Loren and I began this week taking leave of our AirBnB in Ohio, where reminders of the Arctic Blast decorated unharvested corn fields. We drove further east to see a dear friend of ours who lives near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We thoroughly enjoyed a few rounds of the rummy game, May I, with each of us reigning as champion in the end, though point-wise our friend was the ultimate winner, while devouring her wonderful homemade eggplant parmegiano.


While visiting with her we went to Lancaster to see President James Buchanan’s Wheatland estate. We learned that he reluctantly served just one term in the White House after a successful career as a Representative, Senator and Ambassador, but his legacy as our 15th President serving just before Abraham Lincoln, was second to that of his niece Harriet Lane, who competently and confidently stood in as his “Hostess,” or First Lady. During Buchanan’s term, seven southern states seceded from the union.


From Pennsylvania, Loren and I drove to near Albany, New York, to visit special friends. We saw the new home of our friends son and his wife, then enjoyed a delicious dinner together. The next day we celebrated our friend’s retirement over a memorable lunch. That evening Loren and I had a meaningful conversation over dinner with our niece who is in collage at SUNY-Albany, but I neglected to take a photo. Loren and I stayed overnight nearby in Colonie and awoke to a thick, wet, heavy coating of snow over our car, the roads, trees, everything. But it didn’t deter us from heading further north to Canajoharie, said Cana-(as in Canada)-jah-hairy. In native Mohawk language that means “The pot that washes itself,” referring to a gush of Canajoharie Creek that circles in a Boiling Pot before it cascades into Mohawk River.


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I visited Canajoharie’s village records office to see if I could learn more about the great-grandfather on my father’s side whose name and birth location I had discovered the last time Loren and I were in New York. I am still hopeful the clerk will uncover his records… While I was in the office, Loren discovered the village history of a 2006 flood, and learned that the massive abandoned plant we saw across the street was formerly used by the Beechnut company. At the suggestion of the town clerk we visited their library, where a section of reference books related to local history proved interesting – I found listed a few names of ancestors on my mother’s side with whom I’d previously been familiar.

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We stopped back to have a fun lunch with our friend near Albany at the farm store where she manages the kitchen. A surprising exchange occurred when Loren was practicing his Spanish language with one of her coworkers who is originally from Mexico. I usually follow along a little with his Spanish, and was smiling as I tried to understand the pleasant conversation. I realized I didn’t follow at all when she kindly said something about palabra mala, which means bad word. Our friend and I could hardly control our laughter when Loren then explained to us that in trying to say he would like to someday come back to “pick” apples at the farm, he actually said he would want to come back to fxxx the apples, where fxxx rhymes with pluck…

That evening Loren and I arrived at my brother’s lake house where we will stay with much gratitude through Thanksgiving weekend. The next day we were off again in search of my ancestry, this time a great-grandmothers who was born in High Falls, New York — wife of the man from Canajoharie. We had no luck with the town clerk as their records only go back to 1881, but, we made a stop anyway at the local cemetery where her maiden name is well represented, I just an unsure which, if any, are my ancestors. 


From there we returned to Walden where I had been successful last time we were here and thanks to the Canajoharie village clerk making a couple of phone calls, I now knew that Walden’s Clerk has the record of one of my great-grandfather’s death, which record has given me names of my father’s ancestors still further back – all the way to one of my 5th degree great-grandparents.

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This week we also enjoyed a day with another special friend. From having brunch together, we visited the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers. What attracted us was the exhibit of artist James McElhinney: Discover the Hudson Anew.

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We also enjoyed the rest of the museum, including a tour of the Glenview Mansion all decked out for the holiday season, a permanent children’s display, as well as

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an exhibit of photos from lunar landings.

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One showcase especially caught my attention – it is of photos from Lick Observatory which is in the San Francisco Bay Area. My story is that I made a point to visit this site in 1991, because it was 100 years after the one great-grandmother who I had the privilege to know until I was 12 years old had visited this same place in 1891 with her parents.


Other than my joy at seeing loved ones and researching about ancestry in New York, I have not enjoyed the early cold we have experienced from as far back as Nevada, that causes static electricity, dry skin, finger chapped and raw, with tiny cuts so that they feel like sandpaper… Ok, enough complaining. I’ll conclude with my further reflection that as Loren and I have traveled east across the country I have been disappointed to have had to pass by so many appealing brown signs along highways and interstates that advertise historic sites, local parks and recreation areas, nature preserves, points of interest, and other venues that I would like to visit, but cannot, because we need to push on to arrive when we are scheduled to be someplace. Such is the yin and the yang of life, huh?

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Week 170 July 1, 2017

Happy Fourth of July weekend! Loren and I began our week still at a friend of mine’s home in Pennsylvania, which in some ways seems to be ages ago. We had quite humid weather there which to me feels very unusual – more like the “dog days” of my childhood August’s than June’s. The sweltering was relieved by an entire day of on and off torrential rains. So, we spent that day indoors, enjoying our friend’s outstanding Italian cooking of eggplant parmigiana, tortellini salad, and pasta fagioli. In between we played cards – specifically a version of Rummy called May I. We finished off our last day together of this visit with my childhood friend and I watching True Lies with her cats, while Loren coached her daughter on speaking Italian, a good review for him.
From Pennsylvania, Loren and I drove to New Jersey where we visited President Grover Cleveland’s birthplace. This is the second of two Presidential museums we visited of distant relatives of mine, so it was quite special to find a hand made cross-stitch there by his first cousin, Anna, and, the cradle in which he was rocked to sleep. I had no idea that there is a United States $1000 bill, and that Cleveland’s image is on it. Did you know that?
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While in Jersey overnight I had to laugh at an old taunt from my New York childhood: “Whut ahr ya, ah Joisey Drivah?” when someone operating a motor vehicle made a faux pas. While actually driving in New Jersey this time, and within the span of less than 24 hours, we encountered exactly 3 Jersey drivers making ridiculous or dangerous choices with their vehicles… It is a good thing that I make it a point to drive defensively. Loren and I then arrived into New York City to attend a Sunday service at the historic Unitarian Church of All Souls on Lexington Avenue, for our first time there.
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Afterwards Loren and I drove upstate – I always smile at that word, remembering my first experience of a friend who had moved far enough south of my childhood home to say that she was coming “upstate” to see me when I was in High School. It taught me a little bit more about world perspective. But I digress. We drove to Westchester County for a most memorable evening in joining my sister-in-law and her daughters in celebrating my brother’s 50th birthday for his wish of a sunset dinner cruise on the Hudson River.
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Our evening featured fireworks near the Statue of Liberty and over the New York City skyline, which was all decorated for the current Gay Pride parade. We felt so fortunate that the weather was perfect for a night out.
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The next day, we enjoyed a lunch date with my brother and sister-in-law who came to their house on the lake where we are staying. Another highlight this week was when Loren and I watched the first annual NBA Awards night. Our own Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green was presented with two awards, Klay Thompson won one, and our newest star on the team, Kevin Durant received one as well.
Loren and I then spent a full day in New York City, starting off with visiting President Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace. In addition to some of the history of the United States during his presidency, I came away with two interesting tidbits related to his name – the Teddy Bear was named for him, and, his last name was originally Van Rosenvelt, Dutch for of the rose field. I had learned at President McKinley’s museum that as Roosevelt was VP he took over the office of President when McKinley died. At Roosevelt’s birth home, I learned that President Taft – the third of my Presidential relatives, had served in Roosevelt’s War Department. And, I learned that Roosevelt was beginning his political career just before Grover Cleveland served his first Presidency. In other words, Roosevelt worked closely with the three Presidents who are my distant relatives. Interesting!
Still in New York City, we visited the site of an Eleanor Roosevelt tribute at Riverside Park, then had a beer in the newly reopened Tavern on the Green in Central Park.
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Our evening that day was another memorable one, spent with good friends. We started with a Midsummer-Night-Swing Salsa lesson at Lincoln Center, and finished at Bricco’s Italian restaurant, where, along with numerous other women before us – our friend and I left our lip marks on their ceiling! Loren and I then dashed off to catch our last return train from Grand Central, and made it with just 4 minutes to spare.
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On my brother’s actual birthday, we enjoyed another celebratory dinner with he and his family, for another wonderful evening together.
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Loren and I finished our week visiting a little around the city where I grew up. As we walked around downtown, I pointed out the old Armory. Taking the time to read the plaque there, I discovered that White Plains, where I was born and lived for the first half of my life, was also where the State of New York was born – well, ok, proclaimed!
Happy 4th of July!

REPOSTING in Progress: Weeks 2 to 109

This place holder is for the entries from our original blog to be added, eventually. Please check back – this re-creation is a labor of Love and will take a bit of  t-i-m-e- which, while still traveling, we do not always have a lot available to devote to this.