Sunday, November 29, 2009

Family, Friends and the DreamBoat Baby Ian

We joined Doug's Aunt Jan and Uncle Allen as they arrived in Bullhead City at their winter home. We spent a couple of days helping them get settled and deal with some electrical issues. We had a wonderful visit and enjoyed a great prime rib dinner together.

It is always more than fun to join Jim and Masayoshi in their beautiful place in San Francisco. Masa is a superb cook and we are superb eaters. We took long walks on the waterfront near Jim's workplace. He tells people that we have been friends for 50 years but I beg to differ - it has only been 48 years.

Heidi and I often mused on how her girls would grow up. We were certainly right about one thing - they are all beautiful. Melissa and Ali joined us for dinner in Concord with Leah and Andrew at their lovely home. Baby Ian was the star of the show. Doug dubbed him the DreamBoat baby. He is a watchful and alert cuddle bug with a wonderful disposition. He tolerated everything with a stately charm including being dressed in the funny hat that Aunt Jan knitted for him.

Life is beautiful.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Some Old and Some New

One of the joys of aging is meeting those who follow your youthfulness. First it is the children and then the grandchildren. Heather, daughter of our friends, Wayne and Martie, has been a delight to watch as her life unfolds. At about 13 her father referred to her as a "praying mantis" not because of a proclivity for religion but rather for her slender build which she still maintains. Although Wayne advised Heather to specialize in pathology, his advise well went unheeded and she practices family medicine in a low income clinic.

We had the joy of visiting Heather, Mark and their children, Joshua and Julia when we passed through Illinois. Mark cooked a delectable grilled lamb dinner and we had the opportunity to have a good visit. I learned about the Wimpy Kid Diaries from Joshua and learned the names of members of Julia's stuffed animal menagerie. Doug became the resident story reader for Julia. We thank Heather and Mark for the visit and wish them safe travels as they visit her parents in Singapore for Thanksgiving.

The Western Plains through Oklahoma and Texas are an interstate blur with too many miles that looked so like the last miles. Then the terrain changed and we stopped for a moment in Cline's Corner, New Mexico where Jan's great-great-great uncle ended his freight line. As the family story goes, he had been a Yankee prisoner-of-war held Andersonville following an early Civil War battle. When the war ended and he was released he made his way home to Illinois and found his family had thought him dead. His younger brother had married his sweetheart and had taken over the farm. Great uncle struck out in a new direction and established a freight line from Wichita, Kansas to Cline's Corner, New Mexico. Thank you to Grandma Grace for preserving so many family stories.

Our next stop was Phoenix, Arizona to visit Jan's longtime friend, Heidi and her Bill. When Jan and Heidi met, Heidi had three girls under the age of two, Renee, Leah and Melissa. The girls have since grown into three beautiful women who still keep in close touch with their Aunt Jan. The eldest, Renee lives with her husband, Al, and their children, Trey and Ella in Phoenix. They live a short distance from their Oma, Heidi. It was such fun getting to know Trey and Ella who are characters in their own right. Al and Renee are delightful. Hopefully we will spend time with Leah and Melissa as we conclude our journey. We had a wonderful time and look forward to Heidi visiting us on the boat in the late spring. Plans are being made.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Good Old...

Good Old Places to Honeymoon could be no other than Niagara Falls which we visited from the Canadian side of the river. It is spectacular and spellbinding. It is unimaginable that people have gone over in a barrel and lived. Fits the definition of stupid.

Good Old Ideas that Changed the World
are found at Seneca Falls, New York that is the birthplace of the Woman's Movement as well as the home of the Finger Lakes wine country. The fall foliage was a leaf peeper's dream and the wines were quite good.

Good Old Boston Meets Japanese Fusion Paintings at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Time to catch some culture. We met our friend, Mike Moran, at the Boston MFA for an excellent brunch followed by a viewing of the Japanese painting collection procured by Jan’s brother Jeff and his partner, Bill. This amazing art of the Showa Period is collected from the Japanese Emperor’s Exhibits in the 1930’s. Each of the paintings fuses elements of the Japanese culture with Western influences.

A Good Old Boyhood Friend of Dougs and his charming wife, Bonnie, shared beautiful upstate Pennsylvania with us. Their daughter, Megan, showcased her fine baking skills with a delectable apple pie (crusts by Alan) and molasses cookies. Alan, Doug and Jan visited the Corning Glass Museum in Corning, NY for an astounding display of glass through the ages and a two great demonstrations of glass art.

We ended this part of our trip with five days in Indianapolis with Doug's daughter and son-in-law, Shari and Ryan. They have a newly installed light in their kitchen and pretty new Roman shades in the living and almost finished in the kitchen. It was fun to work together with both of them. Shari runs a compassionate sweatshop and we are happy to help them again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who's Your Daddy? Your Cousin? Your Great-great-great-great grandather?

Part of our journey's purpose has been to spend time with those we love, reconnect with friends and family and to explore our roots in this great land. We have seen those we have been missing and reunited with family that we have not been with for many years.

We had a wonderful visit with my Dad's brother, Uncle Russ and his wife, Joanne. Cousin Jodi and I spent the day browsing shops near St. Louis. That evening we were joined for dinner by her family including beautiful twin daughters, Amanda and Erin and granddaughter, Nora. They brought their charming and handsome men with them with the exception of Tim and Jodi's son, Tom, who had class that night.

Shari, Doug's daughter and her husband, Ryan moved to Indianapolis last February. Shari knows that to keep her Dad around it is a good idea to have projects. She did an excellent job and now has a remodeled bathroom and new brake pads on her car and they had a wonderful time working together. Shari so resembles Doug in so many ways!

Our very best go to Deanna and Ron Larson and their son Tim and his wife Mary. The family owns a publishing company and Ron has long been a text book author of college and k-12 math books. We spend a lovely evening enjoying their hospitality in Erie the night of the 21st. We were all saddened to hear that Ron's Mother, Harriet Larson passed away in the night. I often think of her Christmas letter last year and all that I have heard about her. What a remarkable woman! I can only hope to ride my last camel in Eqypt at 95 and to be spoken of so lovingly as is Harriet. Sorry for no pictures.

I have long heard of Doug's cousin, Steve, who is an artist now living in upstate New York formerly from New York City. We contacted his mother, Betty, to obtain an address for him. She told us that he owned a wall paper company and that some of his wall paper was in the White House. But I did not imagine that Steve's company was selected to produce the wall paper used in the restoration of the Lincoln Bedroom. He produces original wall paper for museum quality restoration. Not only is he artistic, he is an excellent chef. It was fun to go through the business and see the house they built.

During our travels we went to Bishop Hill, IL where Jan's Swedish ancestors came to exercise religious freedom in the winter of 1847-48. The Bishop Hill Colony was one of several religious communities in that area including the Amana Colonies (German), the Mormon Colony at Navoo and several Mennonite Communities. The Bishop Hill Colony included many notable historical members not the least of whom were Carl Sandburg's sister (who taught school) and Olaf Kranz, the well known primitive artist. Olaf Kranz painted life at Bishop Hill including portraits of notable First Settlers. Jan's Great-great-great-great Grandather, Han's Dahlgren, was among those and his portrait hangs today in the Bishop Hill Museum. If you knew Jan's father, John, you can probably see the resemblence.
As a note, we met a man who knew Jan's Great-great-great Uncle Hans who was the son of aforementioned Hans and who died in 1949. The man told us a story about Hans and commented that Hans was both a good farmer, a good neighbor and a character. As the story goes, Han's came to the bank to purchase the Root farm which was located south of Bishop Hill. He placed a bag on the counter. When the banker counted the money, he told Hans that there was too much cash. For a moment Han's looked puzzled and then he replied, " I must have picked up the wrong bag."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

This Land is Our Land

As we left British Columbia and our summer on the boat, the view from the Sydney Harbor was spectacular. The next part of our journey is a trip across the continent where we are daily reminded of our great diversity. We left Olympia on October 4 early in the morning on a spectacular fall day.
Our first stop was Manson where we lunched with dear Maria and Lia and had dinner with old friends. The excitement of harvest was everywhere. Bob harvested grapes as others harvested apples. Our thanks to Nicki and John for their hospitality and how wonderful it was to see the Castrodales and the Barkleys for dinner. Happy Birthday to Kristina.
The next part of our journey took us to Bozeman, Montana where we were reminded how early winter can come in the foothills .
Doug spent his first six years on the family farm in North Dakota. As we spent the night with the farmer, Charlie Shope, who bought the land from Doug's dad. Charlie's stories, the wheat, the cattle and the oil rigs made North Dakota come alive for us. Doug's grandfather lost part of his land to the flooding of the area through a new dam. The trees he planted on Aunt Sarah's farm still stand.
Next we went to Gimli which is in Manitoba. Early in the 20th Century the Canadian government gave the Icelanders the right to establish their own government in Manitoba. The first settlers arrived in the 1880s. My family settled their in the 1920s but times were hard and they left a few years later. Several years ago my mother's family were reunited with a sister who remained in Gimli and her two children, Judy and Gary. We visited Aunt Violet in the assisted living - how much she resembles her sisters and her mother. The picture of Gary and me bears some family resemblence.
Our good friends, Mary Lee and Jerry hail from Wisonsin and we were privledged to spend several days in the 1905 farm house where she lives on the dairy farm her brother and his son work. It has been in her family for 6 generations. Our wonderful visit was cut short a day by several inches of snow and more in the forecast. Winter comes early to the prairie states.

I don't know what kind of farm people we might have been had we stayed on the prairie in either Doug's North Dakota or my Manitoba. But our lives would have been very different that much is certain.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Bear Who Viewed the People

In Bute Inlet boats of tourists arrive daily to watch the grizzlies from various viewing stations. One bear wanted to return the favor...

Our early rising guests, Carly and Gerry, were startled to see a grizzly bear standing on a nearby abandoned dock structure looking at them intently. The salmon carcass intended for crab bait must have been a tantalizing smell. The bear sniffed for a while considered the situation and turned his attention to doing his own fishing.

The four of us spend part of two days watching grizzlies and the enjoying the majesty of Butte Inlet.

On our final days in BC. more records were broken. Gerry caught the biggest coho that we have caught - 16lbs. Carly is pictured with our record breaking prawn pull.

Our last days in Desolation Sound once again denied Captain Vancouver's name for what he determined was the most desolate place on earth. The weather was magnificent and the sunsets and sun rises glorious. A nice ending to a wonderful season of boating!

Enjoy the video of the us viewing the bear and know that turn about is fair play - our turn to view!
We hope you enjoy the video of the bear preparing for winter. Quite a show!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lefse, Ling and Octopus Soup

All season Doug and I have longed to catch ling cod and have had an ongoing contest for catching the biggest rock fish.
Rick shattered my record rock fish and caught more and bigger ling in a few days than we caught all season. AND he has pictures to prove it!

However, we ponder the question of which has the bigger mouth Rick or ling.

We have few pictures of Beck and Rick's time with us because we feared water damage to our camera equipment. It poured for most of four days.

Beck braved the elements to shuck oysters that are reportedly for Dale.

It may surprise some of you who know Beck that she tasted (and professed to like) our octopus soup. I am not sure she enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed the lefse she brought to share with us.

Next year we will try for better weather and the hope that Rick breaks our record salmon of 38 lbs.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Would There Be a Naturalist Aboard?

Jeff and Bill joined us in Campbell River for four days. The first day was spend in Bird Cove gathering oysters, crab, prawns and clams for our foray up into Pendrell Sound that has waters that exceed 70 degrees. The Sound is the major producer of oyster spat for British Columbia. We swam, ate, laughed and ate some more.

For those of you who do not know Jan's brother, Jeff, it may come as a surprise to you that he was a gifted student of marine biology at age 10 and began taking college courses in junior high. His knowledge and personality made him a favorite with the older students who were somewhat amazed that he was first in the class.

During his stay we never managed to send him to research to identify the various species we encountered. Often he shared the Latin name as well as genus and phylum information. Just like biology with Mr. Smith.

After several days of fun and a last supper of paella, we returned our guests to Cortes Cove where they caught a float plane home. The nomads motored to Bird Cove where we used to live.

Soon after our guests returned to real life, we were stumped with a strange starfish found in our prawn pot. Neither of us had seen anything quite like it. A photo shot through the internet. Our own personal naturalist identified it as a rare basket starfish. The tendrils were wrapped around a sea worm with a hard shell. I fear that lunch was interrupted.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

First Nations Culture

Throughout the Broughtons there is evidence of aboriginal First Nations people.

Some of the best petroglyphs are found on Robber's Knob in Port Neville. Robber's Knob is built on a huge mound of clam shells (a midden) thought to be more than 8000 years old. It is easy to picture Aboriginals eating clams as they carved sea monsters and creatures into the rocks.

Unlike a petroglyph, a pictograph is painted on the rocks using natural pigments. Aboriginal artists selected white lichen free and south facing cliffs. Two exceptional examples are found in Allison Sound. One pictograph shows a three masted vessel with several long boats. Occupants of the long boats carry guns and wear broad brimmed hats. One of the longboats has a sail and the other has 12 oars. There is an orca whale off to the side. The second shows six small canoes facing a larger vessel.

Both Allison Sound pictographs are thought to commemorate the attack by the Nakwaktok Indians on the Thornton in 1868. In retaliation for the attack the Thornton shelled Village Cove in Mereworth Sound.

Modern first nation culture can be visited at Alert Bay. The Indian Cemetery has commemorative totems as head stones. There is dancing several times a week in the long house which seats 1000 people. Dancers range from three years of age to adults. Global BC was filming the dancing and interviewed Debra and Jan. The clip has aired and to date there have been no movie offers.

As soon as I become a more proficient editor, I will put a dance video of the Welcome Dance at Alert Bay.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Delectable Prawns and Sunsets

There are few things more enjoyable than eating prawns and watching a beautiful sunset. British Columbia has an abundance of both prawns and sunsets. The sunsets are a gift and the prawns require more work.

British Columbia has 25 species of prawns and we have caught five. The most common, spot prawns can grow to 10 inches from tip to tip. The next most common type is the tiger prawn which is more delicate and smaller. There is a tiny hairy prawn that we have not identified and a large brilliant red prawn that is tasty.

Prawns are found in about 300 feet of water and have a keen sense of smell which leads them to the delectable fish fertilizer and prawn bait concoction that seeps from our pots. They have brilliant golden eyes on stalks that darken when they are out of the water.

British Columbia prawns are sweeter and more flavorful than others we have tasted. We tend to cook them simply. A Carolina Skillet where you just put the prawns in a hot skillet and cook them in their own juices, a simple fry or perhaps seasoned with a touch of garlic and a scampi.

An interesting prawn fact is that prawns live for three years. Their first year is as a juvenile, the second is as a male and their final year is as a female.

I wonder what our world would be like if humans changed from juvenile to male to female in their life cycle.