Sunday, December 29, 2019

Upstate New York

My favorite upstate New York small towns

Go Big Red

Lake Placid
Do you believe in miracles

Any town north of NYC is upstate New York

Those are the only ones I’ve really spent time in, I’m sure the rest are fine.

Happy New Year 馃お


The Life of Eva Peron

First time in Buenos Aires this week and learned a lot about Eva Peron. Despite being avid theater-goers, I have to admit that I never saw Evita on Broadway so only had a loose understanding of this person. 

In a nutshell, Eva was born poor, became a singer and actress and met and married an Army Colonel, Juan Peron, who was later elected President of Argentina. Eva became First Lady at the age of 26 and became an outspoken advocate for the poor (the shirtless ones”) and for women’s issues. She was immensely popular and announced her candidacy for Vice President of Argentina. While she had tremendous support, she ultimately withdrew her candidacy when she was stricken with uterine cancer. She died in 1952 at the age of 33 but the Argentines still revere her more that 70 years after her death. 

Amazing to have had such an impact in such a relatively short life. 


According to Wikipedia:

Mar铆a Eva Duarte (7 May 1919 – 26 July 1952), better known as Mar铆a Eva Duarte de Per贸nEva Per贸n and Evita, was the wife of Argentine President Juan Per贸n (1895–1974) and First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She was born in poverty in the rural village of Los Toldos, in the Pampas, as the youngest of five children. At 15 in 1934, she moved to the nation's capital of Buenos Airesto pursue a career as a stage, radio, and film actress.

She met Colonel Juan Per贸n on 22 January 1944 during a charity event at the Luna Park Stadium to benefit the victims of an earthquake in San Juan, Argentina. The two were married the following year. Juan Per贸n was elected President of Argentina in 1946; during the next six years, Eva Per贸n became powerful within the pro-Peronist trade unions, primarily for speaking on behalf of labor rights. She also ran the Ministries of Labor and Health, founded and ran the charitable Eva Per贸n Foundation, championed women's suffrage in Argentina, and founded and ran the nation's first large-scale female political party, the Women's Peronist Party.
In 1951, Eva Per贸n announced her candidacy for the Peronist nomination for the office of Vice President of Argentina, receiving great support from the Peronist political base, low-income and working-class Argentines who were referred to as descamisados or "shirtless ones". Opposition from the nation's military and bourgeoisie, coupled with her declining health, ultimately forced her to withdraw her candidacy.[1] In 1952, shortly before her death from cancer at 33, Eva Per贸n was given the title of "Spiritual Leader of the Nation" by the Argentine Congress.[2][3][4] She was given a state funeral upon her death, a prerogative generally reserved for heads of state.
Eva Per贸n has become a part of international popular culture,[5] most famously as the subject of the musical Evita (1976).[6]  Cristina 脕lvarez Rodr铆guez claims that Evita has never left the collective consciousness of Argentines.[3] Cristina Fern谩ndez de Kirchner, the first woman elected President of Argentina, claims that women of her generation owe a debt to Eva for "her example of passion and combativeness".[7]

My Top Moments of the Year

As the year (as well as the decade) comes to a close, I feel like I’ve accomplished quite a bit. Reflecting on the year, here’s what I think were my biggest accomplishments of 2019. 

1. Graduating high school
It took a long time, and a lot of work, but I managed to survive high school, which I think is quite exciting. 

2. Finishing my first semester of college
This was something very different and exciting, and there were a lot of changes that I had to adjust to, but my first semester of college was pretty damn great. I’m 1/8thof the way through my college experience, which is kinda terrifying. 

3. Getting into an a cappella group
My experience with my group, The Chordials, has been completely amazing for this whole semester, and it is one of my most exciting accomplishments that I know will continue to bring me joy throughout college and beyond. 

4. Working my first real job
I worked as a summer camp counselor this past summer, which was at times an exhausting or rewarding experience, but I’ve never had a real job prior to this (not counting babysitting and tutoring), so that felt like an accomplishment. 

5. Visiting my last continent
I haven’t technically done this yet, but as of tomorrow I will have visited all 7 continents before the end of the decade, which is something most people don’t do in their lifetimes. I feel really lucky and I’m so excited to have this opportunity. 


The Story of Rufina

Yesterday, as we were touring the Ricoleta Cemetary in Buenos Aires, we came upon the Baroque-styled tomb of Rufina Cambac茅r猫s. Rufina was a young socialite at the turn of the last century. As the story goes, she was all dressed up and heading out to the opera when a friend came and told her that her mother was having an affair with her boyfriend. She then passed out on the spot. Three doctors confirmed her death. True to Argentinian tradition, she was buried within 24 hrs. The next day, the crypt keeper came by and noticed that her coffin was out of place. He investigated and saw scratch marks on the inside of the coffin and supposedly the deceased Rufina had bruises on her head. The conclusion was she had not initially died, but rather had catalepsy, and was buried alive. So the story goes...

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Revisiting the Grinch

Every time I think I've had enough of this Christmas classic, I always find myself charmed by it all over again.

Which of course brings me to revisiting my favorite rendition of the Grinch song - the one sung by my son in all of his charming goofiness.


Reed Rosenberg -- You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

Friday, December 27, 2019

Predictions for 2020

We will know who killed Jeffery Epstein; the next mystery is who killed his murderer (it’s Jack Kirby)

Baby Yoda is cancelled for some reason, probably force chokes Mando in the finale, also for some reason.

Scorsese agrees to direct a Marvel film to “show everyone how it’s done, you bitches”

Kumail Nanjani stops being funny because he’s ripped now and you can’t have everything 

Mike Pence is reported missing after moving into his new home, but his wife just couldn’t see him blending in with all the cardboard.

Eddie Murphy has 11th kid. Guy fucks.

James Dean becomes the first actor to win the Oscars for both best actor and best visual effects in the same season.


Image result for 2020

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Climate Change Deniers

When you’ve lived in the same place for the last twenty years or so, ask yourself if the weather has changed over the years – more storms? More drought? Bigger and longer-lasting wildfires? Other extreme weather? Did you ever ask yourself why “100 year storms” and “500 year storms are occurring more frequently than every 100 and 500 years respectively? How is that statistically even possible?

When you watch the news and learn that grape growers in California are changing which grapes they plant because they are noticing hotter temperatures trending in their vineyards and want to be able to grow grapes that will thrive in ten years, do you think they are being political?

When Greta Thunberg, who has actually read the various climate change reports that many countries and many, many scientists have researched and written, travels by sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean to present at the UN and plead with officials to change their nation’s policies, do you think that is just child’s play?

Why am I talking about this now, the day after Christmas?  The answer is because I was just reading the itinerary for our upcoming trip.  In it, the company lets us know that the naturalists are going to point out where Climate Change has changed the environment we are going to be in.  Just like that. No “possible” no “maybe” – just “this is different than it used to be and we know what we are talking about because we do this every day”.

It’s political you say! It doesn’t really exist!

Well, I’ve got news for you: we travel the world and for years have been talking to locals wherever we go.  They are not Democrats, they are not Republicans; most are not even Americans.   In Alaska, if you go to Mendenhall Glacier, you sit through an informational video and afterwards, with much dramatic effect, the movie screen raises and behind it appears a curtain.  The curtain parts and the fantastic view through the window is….a pile of rock. No beautiful glacier – oh wait, it’s over to the far right.  That is how far it has receded since this theater was first built not so long ago.

If you go to Africa, and are hoping to see the snowy peaks of the legendary Mt. Kilimanjaro, the locals will glance toward the mountain’s direction and wistfully remark, there is not nearly as much snow as there is supposed to be on the mountain top this time of year.

If you go to Costa Rica, the tour guides who hike the volcano rim each and every day will tell you they used to have to wear gloves every day to do their job. No more.

If you go to Colorado, the rangers will tell you that they are finding animals moving elevations to adjust to the new weather patterns.

These people have no political agenda, no skin in the national game.  They are just living their lives and making observations.  Look around you, open your eyes – absorb what you see and hear.  How much will it take before you get it?

That is all.


Image result for mendenhall glacier

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

My Top Movies of 2019

1. Knives Out
This movie was really fun to watch. I always like mysteries, even really predictable ones that you can figure out before the movie was over. But I liked this movie because there were enough twists that it wasn’t totally predictable and obvious, which is even better. Also, it had a really stacked cast that was fun to watch (especially Chris Evans of course).

2. Jumanji: The Next Level
I only saw this movie two days ago, but it is worth putting on the list. The first new Jumanji (not the one with Robin Williams) was really excellent. It was absolutely hilarious, a really interesting and aesthetic concept, a little romance, and a great cast. The second movie was the same kind of great humor, but a creative concept change that was fun a different. I really enjoyed this movie.

3. Endgame
I had to include this movie even though it drained me emotionally and moisturized my skin with my own tears. I had happy tears and sad tears, but seeing the whole MCU coming together gave me chills and made me so happy after so many years.


Image result for knives out key art

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

"Growing Old Is A Gift"

My family and I saw a recent movie where one of the characters who starts the movie complaining about growing old ultimately realizes that getting to his advanced age is really a gift.

Most people who know me know that I lost my father when he (and I) were very young.  Yesterday would have been my father’s birthday – he would have been 86.  Sadly, he left us at 56.  Amazingly, he’s been gone now for almost 30 years.  30 years!!!!  I’ve been without him for more than half my life, longer than the 27 years I’ve been married, and the entire lives of my kids.

I don’t take growing old for granted. 

Among the many things I learned from my father, his illness and death drove home that despite best laid plans, there’s no guarantee that the future will work out as you hope, or even that there will be a future.  Heavy stuff, I know.  But rather than letting that realization get me down, it’s had the opposite effect on me. 

I try to find something to laugh about everyday.  When given the choice to smile or not, I smile.  I spend time with friends.  I travel.  I talk to my kids and tell them I love them.  If not everyday, then nearly everyday. 

If I ended up with less time on this planet than I hope to, I’m sure I will have regrets.  But I’m trying to keep that to a minimum.  Everyday, every week and every year, I try to live the life I would aspire to.  But rather than aspire, I do it.

Happy Birthday, Dad!  And thanks for the lesson.


Monday, December 23, 2019

Rise of Skywalker: Another More Correct Review


Episode 9 is kind of a mess. The first act flits back and forth from location to location, slice of cheap fan service to another slice. We meet some boring new characters while some of the older and more interesting ones are sidelined; Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) can’t come on the adventure because she has to something something help an awkward looking Leia. Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata says some wise-sounding stuff and that’s about it. Billy Dee Williams shows up as Lando to make sure everyone stays friends.

They really just plugged Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) in there. It definitely feels like there was an overall lack of direction and consensus regarding who the big bad was. Some of his evil “plans” just flat out do not make logical sense and invalidate what happened in the prior episodes.


Palpatine still has a really cool voice. I hope I sound like that when I’m that age (how old is he?).

Droid technician Babu Frik is fricken awesome. Simple and funny, Babu is perhaps one of the better character additions in Rise of Skywalker. That’s high praise, but there’s also a low bar. I hope he does not get a Disney+ spinoff series. Give me mystery. 

But seriously, Episode 9 works best when it taps into its inevitable nostalgia. I know, that’s the same thing everyone criticizes as an easy way to make fans happy, but if there’s a place to let the nostalgia rip, it’s in the grand finale to a series of films spanning decades. 

In short, Star Wars content should not be made if it is made safely. I don’t want another Star Wars movie if it doesn’t piss off toxic fanboys.


Image result for star wars the rise of skywalker

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (as viewed by a mild fan)

When I say a “mild fan”, I mean that (full disclosure) I have not seen all of the Star Wars movies, and of the first two trilogies, the ones I have seen were a loooong time ago and I have a very vague memory of any of them. Fair warning, I may accidentally spoil something in here, not knowing it was a secret in the first place, so from this point it’s not my fault if you see something you don’t want to. You’ve been warned. Anyway, I just saw the final movie in the third trilogy tonight, so I figured I’d share my opinion on it, in the hopes that semi-fans like me might see this and know that there are others out there like them. Side note, I would still categorize myself as a fan, because of the movies I’ve seen/remember seeing, I have no memory of disliking any of them, so I think that counts.

Anyway, I really liked how the movie wrapped up the whole Skywalker storyline. I overall enjoyed the whole “Rey and Ben ending up together and then he dies” thing, mostly because it wouldn’t have worked out logically and he would’ve never been completely redeemed if they tried to do a “happily ever after” sort of thing. I thought that C-3PO getting his memory partially back by means of R2-D2’s memory storage seemed a bit rushed, but I was happy he wasn’t left clueless and lonely without his memories. I also wished that Rose had been in the movie more, since she was a lot more heavily featured in the last movie. I liked the cute hug at the end of the movie. It just made me really happy. I felt like they tied up the whole “lack of Carrie Fisher” thing quite well, and a bunch of characters got to say their goodbyes to her through the metaphors of their characters, which was bittersweet. Overall, I really enjoyed the movie and thought it ended the series storyline very well.


Image result for star wars the rise of skywalker

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Packing It In

Traveling with my family is one of my absolute favorite things to do.  We all leave the craziness of our regular lives and spend quality time together in new surroundings.  Love it.

A necessary but important part of that is packing.

Let’s just say that I love that…less.

I get that we can’t go on our cool trips without packing for them.  I do.  But with 4 busy people moving in multiple directions at the same time, it is often a challenge to make sure everyone has packed everything they are supposed to for a given trip. 

We all know that different types of trips require different packing.  A wintry ski vacation demands different clothes and gear than a sunny beach vacation.  And when you travel places that require many different wardrobe changes, packing gets that much more complex.

One of the ways we reduce the stress is by keeping a master packing list on our computer.  Aside for all of the usuals that accompany us on most every trip (e.g., passports, phone chargers, etc.), we have sections that identify gear we’ll want depending on whether the trip is warm/cold, casual/fancy, active/passive, etc.  There aren’t even clothes on our master list since that would need to be catered to every different location.

Another thing we do that adds a level complexity to our packing is that we don’t each just pack our own suitcase.  We spread some of everyone’s clothes into everyone else’s suitcase.  So just in case one of our bags gets lost in transit (and we HAVE had luggage lost on trips before), you only lose half your underwear rather than all of it.  Our practice of doing this is helpful in those situations but it also has a downside.

Whenever we get to where we are traveling, inevitably one of my family members asks “Where are my pajamas/sneakers/make up bag, etc.?”  And my answer is always the same – “I haven’t a clue.”  Whenever we arrive where we’re going, we always spend 30 minutes or so emptying out our suitcases and giving other family members the clothes and items we transported for them.  Then we each repack our own bags with our own clothes and can find whatever we want/need for the rest of the trip.  Once everyone has their own clothes/gear in their own suitcases at our destination, my stress level goes down considerably.

I will note that while our practice of mixing up our clothes in each other’s suitcases is helpful if only one bag gets lost, it doesn’t do anything for us when ALL of our bags are lost.  That happened to us in Panama a few years ago.  After our flight from NY got canceled and we got rebooked to fly out the next morning, we arrived in Panama to connect with our tour but none of our bags could be located.  To make matters worse, our tour was taking us into the rainforest the next day, far away from any malls or stores and we had only the clothes on our backs.  We ran to a nearby mall in Panama City and bought everyone a pair of sneakers, a package of underwear and some t-shirts.  Luckily, we got reimbursed for these purchases by the airline and our bags were eventually found (and caught up to us in the rainforest) two days later.

Fortunately, that type of thing hasn’t happened to us that often and we’ve all taken to packing at least one set of clothes in our carry-on bags to help in those situations in the future.

Despite the challenges of packing and dealing with luggage issues, I wouldn’t give up traveling for anything.  So while it’s not an aspect of traveling that I can say I’ll ever enjoy, packing will always just be the necessary evil we’ll have to put up with to get where we want to go.

Thanks for reading.


Image result for overstuffed suitcase

Friday, December 20, 2019

'Tis The Season

I just finished wrapping lots of presents. I like wrapping presents.  It’s very neat and organized, but the best part is it is a creative form of expression. You see, I love wrapping paper: the colors, the patterns, the endless interpretation of the season.  I have classics like wreaths, Santas, “Happy Holidays”, classics with a twist like wreaths necklacing safari animals and Santa riding a bicycle to more unique designs such as narwhals wearing Santa hats and Santa zipping around in a spaceship.  

There are different kinds of textures to be had, too.  I have velvety wrap and foil wrap with patterns. There are also glittery wraps but I stay away from those (unless I buy them by mistake). This year, I bought a wrap made out of sustainable material – rock.  It actually smells a little like petroleum but is the smoothest cut you will ever come across!

The hardest type of wrap to find, and therefore the most coveted, is black-based wrap.  At first one might not think black-based wrap would be festive, but in fact it really is quite striking.  I have one black with gold and magenta wreaths on it and one black with white snowflakes on it.

I buy new wrap every year.   Yes, I know what you are thinking: you buy new wrap every year as well.  But I don’t use up my supply every year.  I just like to have new paper to put in the mix.  In addition, I don’t like to use the same wrap twice when I am wrapping so this helps with that.

Some years, I’ve wrapped family members presents in theme – deer patterns for my mom, evergreens for my brother and so on.  I have that much wrap.

Not everybody has the wrapping gene, but my daughter definitely does.  Nothing makes her happier during wrapping season than being the first person to use a newly purchased wrap. 

Well, enough pontificating for now on the joys of wrap – time to wrap it up! (Did I mention I enjoy a good pun as well?)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!


Image result for rolls of christmas wrapping paper

Thursday, December 19, 2019

My Favorite Christmas Movies

Since I’ve been trying to get in watching all of them before the actual day of Christmas, I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite Christmas movies. Not sure if I’ve written about this before but it’s important nonetheless. Here they are.

1. Tied for first place are The Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. To be clear, that’s the Jim Carrey version, which is a hilarious and cinematic masterpiece. The style of all of the costumes and the set really capture the flavor of the book.  The Polar Express has amazing music that I’ve loved since I was little and continue to love now.

2. I of course love the The Santa Clause movies (all three of them), and the Tim Allen classic always makes me feel nostalgic and happy since I’ve watched them since I was little as well.

3. Not sure how to classify them, so I’m going to include all of the claymation classics that play on repeat on ABC’s 25 days of Christmas together. This includes The Year Without A Santa Claus (love me some Heat Miser and Snow Miser), as well as the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Burgermeister Meisterburger is easily one of the greatest movie villains ever, solely for his name.)

4. Finally, Elf is of course a classic, and is incredibly quotable and fun to watch with friends (especially while eating chocolate chip pancakes).

Let me know what your favorites are!


Image result for jim carrey grinch

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Getting Sprung

The brightness and humming buzz of the fluorescent lights wake Pedro from a pleasant dream.  In it, he was on the outside, free.  Coming and going as he pleased, every day filled with so many options and possibilities. 

He has one more moment to savor that feeling and then reality kicks in.  Still incarcerated. 

Like yesterday and the day before.  He’s been locked up for going on nine months now and the boredom is the worst part of it.  Occasionally he gets ahold of a newspaper or magazine from one of the guards.  He’s one of the lucky ones.  Bubba, the big guy in the cell to his left, can’t read and only looks at the photos.  Poor son of a bitch. 

There’s a TV on the cell block but it usually doesn’t work.  When it does, they limit the hours it’s on anyway and the stupidity of most daytime television makes Pedro’s head hurt if he watches too long.  Growing up, his mother used to curl up on the sofa and watch TV constantly.  Turned her brain to mush.  Pedro doesn’t plan to let that happen to him.

After taking a piss, Pedro starts his morning exercise routine.  Not much room in his cell to move around but he makes it work.  Time outside in the yard is heavily restricted.

Before long, it’s chow time.  Most meals are served in the prisoners’ cells.  They pretty much get the same thing everyday but it’s edible.  Pedro once heard a guard say that there’s a lot less fighting when the cons eat in their own cells.  He’s OK with this, actually.  Pedro’s kinda small and occasionally gets roughed up by the bigger inmates in the yard.  In his own cell, he can eat as slowly or as quickly as he wants without worry that someone is going to jack his food or pick a fight.

Tyler, in the cell to Pedro’s right, has visitors today.  Pedro can’t recall if Tyler’s family has ever visited before.  Their conversation starts slow and muted.  They feign happiness at seeing Tyler.  In return, Tyler’s voice notches up an octave as he puts on a happy face to mask his depression.  Pedro hears him crying in his cell most nights after light’s out.  Pedro already told Tyler that he’s marking himself as a victim when he does that, and boy do those bigger cons love when they can identify a new victim.

To his surprise, Pedro gets some visitors today too.  He doesn’t know them but he recognizes the kid with the family.  They’ve been here before visiting another inmate.  The parents call the kid Marcus.  They chat for a while, mostly small talk.  He’s seen people like Marcus and his family before.  They come by the jail house from time to time to visit the inmates and try to cheer them up.  This kid Marcus seems OK.  Bright eyes, big smile, and not afraid to make eye contact.  Some people come here and avoid eye contact.  Are Pedro and his fellow inmates so pitiful that visitors can’t acknowledge their existence?  Fuck them.

Marcus’ parents walk out of the cell block to talk to the guard and leave him there with Pedro.  What kind of parents do that?  True, the inmates are all behind bars.  But who leaves their kid in a cell block?  Now Pedro feels a sense of responsibility for the kid.  Now he’s got to keep an eye out for Marcus until the parents return.  Pedro doesn’t really mind.  Marcus is good company.  Unlike most kids, Marcus is pretty easy to hang out with.

After a few more minutes, Marcus’ parents return and they ask Pedro if he’d like to come home with them.  What???  Is this some sort of half-way house program?  Early release for good behavior?  Pedro doesn’t get it but isn’t going to look this gift horse in the mouth.  He tells them he’s in and Marcus’ parents do some paperwork with the guard.

Before he knows it, the guard unlocks his cell.  Despite the fact that he’s getting sprung, the guard slips a leather restraint around Pedro’s neck.  It’s not too tight and Pedro doesn’t mind it – small price to pay for early parole.

They walk out of the jail together.  Good riddance!

They find Marcus’ car in the parking lot.  His parents open the back hatch on their car and pat the inside cargo space, indicating that Pedro should jump up.  It’s a little high for him so they offer a boost.

As they pull out of the parking lot, Pedro takes one last look at his jail and silently prays never to see that place again.  He turns and sees Marcus smiling and looking back at him.  Without even knowing he’s doing it, Pedro wags his tail, happy to be heading home with this kid.

Thanks for reading.


Image result for foreboding prison

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Finding Your Roots

Today I am definitely stumped on what to write about.  I looked over my family’s many entries over the years and came across one my daughter did a while back about top ten vacations we ever took.  And, seeing as I am knee-deep in the packing process for our next trip, this is kind of on my mind.  My twist on it tonight is trips we’ve taken to places from which my ancestors hail.

Birmingham, England A few years ago, we spent a long weekend in London & Birmingham.  The whole adventure was very fast and short, but I managed to carve out an hour at the (then) brand spanking new Library of Birmingham, up on the top floor where the ancestry archives are.  Although one is supposed to make an appointment far in advance, I managed to wangle my way in and got one of the researchers to pull a few books off of the shelves.  In them, I found some of the names of my great grandparents and their jobs, etc.  It was pretty cool to see names that I know in print.  I would love to go back there (more prepared) and see what information I could dig up.

Garbarino, Italy I had been to Italy before, but this time I was determined to visit the hilltop town of my maternal great-grandparents.  We hired an Italian speaking driver, drove up a nausea-inducting winding road, and then started knocking on random doors.  Some poor woman was in the shower but hurriedly finished and came down to talk to us.  We asked her if she knew where the Garbarini’s lived.  She said they are all named Garbarini living up there.  Even after all these years, the family did not comingle with other folks enough to start getting other surnames showing up there.  While I do not genetically know if the people I met were my cousins, the probability is high.  And just as we were about to hop into our minivan, the woman we spoke with eagerly informed us that Frank Sinatra’s mother is from “our” town.  So basically what I am saying is I might very well be related to Ol’ Blue Eyes.

Belleek, Ireland Are you catching on that I am very northern European?  Anyway, this particular adventure was absolutely crazy.  Like Italy, I had been to Ireland before, so when it came to be that we were going to head there again, I insisted that we go to where my maternal grandfather was born – Belleek.  This time, I tried to prepare in advance and figured the best place to start was to contact the local Catholic Church.  Easy enough, right?  Well, I simply could not find one online.  This seemed very strange to me but I decided this might be because of Ireland’s and Northern Ireland’s history with The Troubles – maybe they didn’t want people to know what they are doing, where and when (as a website would most likely say).  Out of desperation, I emailed the Belleek Pottery factory and asked if they could give me a contact and also what is the name of the local church?!  A kind woman gave me lots of info, including the name of a person who turned out to be a poorly speaking minister of a Protestant church.  After many attempts at communication, the nice minister gave me the name of an elderly man who is a local historian of sorts.  We email back and forth and agreed to meet at the pottery factory when I got there.  This man, indeed, was a fountain of knowledge.  He was in his late 80s, and knew the history of the town like nobody’s business – replete with aerial photos and a history book he had written.  I had brought pictures of my great-grandmother and he said “oh that same picture is on the wall in the factory” and then proceeded to show me the very same picture from over a hundred years ago. Based on the uniforms, he could tell me what her job was, etc.  He then took me to the equivalent of main street and showed me the building my family once owned – and here is the capper – his father used to rent the property from my great-grandfather!  And, he was able to tell me what my great-grandfather did for a living: he was a blacksmith and owned his own business.  The last thing that we did which what really cool was go to the church (finally, we found the church!).  As luck would have it, he used to be the record keeper of the adjacent cemetery and could show me where my ancestors were buried.  Very fascinating indeed!  Talk about finding a needle in a haystack.  I am very grateful to that generous soul for helping me to bridge the gap of time.

I know what you are wondering: is she finished?  The answer is no – I have one more place to my list: Baden Baden, Germany.  I have been to Germany twice, once to a location an hour of Baden Baden, but could not get there on that visit.  Next trip, I will make it to that town and I promise to update this essay!


Image result for world map