Sunday, August 23, 2015

Summer's Over, New Australian Adventure


We're packing today for a ten-week trip to Australia.  After a barbecue with Zivolichs (newest PLHS grads to Sonoma), and season-ending rounds of golf tomorrow at Windsor and Tuesday at Indian Valley, we'll take the Sonoma's AirportExpress to SF International on Wednesday.

Thanks to Ken, Dianne, and Dusty for coming up from LA.  We hope the garden gets even more gorgeous with the fall colors.  We'll post what spring looks like north of Perth in the next couple of weeks.  Here's a Google Map with our route and points of interest.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday, July 20th, Festival Return


It's the people.  Tattoos, braids, tie dyes, hawaiian shirts, all things neon, hula hoops, wheel chairs, strollers, short lawn chairs, blankets, coolers, and lots of grey hair.

Dancers, wigglers, movers, jerkers, sitters.  And there was room for all, and courtesy abounding.

Four days and nights (with some sleep between 3am and 8am) of regional and international newbies, partly due to new local management (The Center for the Arts), and slow visa administration restricting many international regulars.  The crowd roared their approvals each day, as band after band thanked the new owners for the opportunity to appear.

Young and old, and lots of in-betweens, enjoyed the wide variety of music, food, crafts, information, and new relationships being circulated in the Sierra foothills.

To review the photos taken throughout the Festival, click on California WorldFest 2015.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday, July 17th, California WorldFest Music Festival


Thank you, Buffy.  You made all the hard work and frustration of the past two days worth it.  You made the running around town on Wednesday afternoon when I should have been helping Pat clean out the Airstream worth it.  The running was to replace four wingnuts and two short cables in the battery system of the Airstream, and I had to go to an Auto supply store, Home Depot, Orchard Supply, and Harbor Freight store to complete the purchase.  I also had to retrace the entire route only to discover that the lost wallet I was searching for had slipped down between the seats in my car.

And Thursday's three hour wait on the I-80 Freeway between Vacaville and Dixon, while two separate emergency car repair calls try to rescue us from a flat tire on our rented tow vehicle pulling our Airstream.

So when your voice capped the Thursday evening lineup of great musicians at the 19th Annual California WorldFest at the Auburn Fairgrounds last night, I was reminded of how many years and songs you've dedicated to the cause of keeping our planet safe and secure.  And how clear and powerful have your words been when others tried to confuse us, and to persuade us that one more lunacy in search of peace was justified.

Thank you, Buffy Sainte Marie, for not wavering in your support of peacemakers.  And for making another old guy's troubles seem small and insignificant, and tolerable.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday, July 10th, Hudson


The past week has been very exciting.  Stepping forward a few centuries, this part of the trip was designed to spend time and conversations with present family members.  In Whitesboro and Hudson, New York.

Before catching the train on Saturday for the ride down Lake Champlain from Montreal, we spent the day at the Gardens, Insectarium, and Biodome near the site of Montreal's Olympic Stadium.  Just a short Metro transfer away from our hotel, we took in many garden designs, an immense variety of insects, and a large indoor array of climate-controlled environments containing animals we've seen in their original habitats.

Our favorites were the sloth enclosure (featuring two nearby couches of sloth people waiting for the baby sloth to emerge), and an exhibit of stick-like insects which were really difficult to detect amidst the green twigs they inhabited. Montreal is an easy city to inhabit, and extremely tolerant of the large mixture of international cultures, lifestyles, and social classes.  Now if it could just do away with the winter snow, I'd consider spending more time there.

Pat's cousin Jan Kuta, and wife Maryanne, picked us up from the Albany train station.  Their three days hosting us could not have been more gracious and welcoming.  Most of Pat's relatives dropped by during our stay, and so much family history was discussed, I could not have dreamed of a warmer, more inviting embracement.  We hope we can repay their generosity in the future, and will certainly incorporate the family history data we discussed and shared into our Ancestry family tree.

On Wednesday, we drove a rental car down to my Aunt Kitty's house in Hudson, New York, and have spent the last few days getting to know better her life and friends.  As you'll remember, she's only four years older than I, and we grew up together in my early years living in La Jolla with my grandmother.  More like an older sister, she made sure I was safe and cared for before I went off to a military academy in the first grade.   I owe her a lot for the guidance, and we've stayed close over the years.

One thing that was a bit overwhelming throughout the entire region is the lush green lawns, gardens, parks, and forests.  There is no such thing as a drought out here, and we're jealous of the results.  Not so jealous that we aren't aware of the downside, as increasing snowfalls in the past years attest.

These little towns all around us certainly are works in progress.  The old buildings are undergoing renovations, receiving new occupants, and helping create new places for the community to meet and socialize.  My aunt works in bookstore/ale/toyshop combination called Spotty Dog, where we enjoyed a great evening last night and met several of her close friends.
On Sunday, we'll drive down to Jackson Heights in New York to have lunch with one of my cousin's family.  Their new daughter, Luela, is the newest addition to my Ancestral tree.  She's the descendant of royalty in five countries, and the founders of two democracies, and I aim to make sure she grows up appreciating those genes, and understanding the work it took to get her here.  We all should do to think about what others have done for us, and know how much we are all one big family.

Here are links to the photos taken over the past week:

Saturday, July 4th, Montreal
Monday, July 6th, Whitesboro
Thursday, July 9th, Hudson
Friday, July 10th, Hudson

ps.  We'll be flying home early Monday morning, so don't expect any public appearances until at least noon.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday, July 3rd, Montreal


We're back from a day's walking through the Old Town District of Montreal.   We used the Metro from the nearby University of Sherbrooke to wander around dowtown.  The highlight of the day was Point A Calliere. a terrific museum focused on the archaeology and history of Montreal.  The exhibits included an extensive collection of Aztec stone carvings, and the photographs, videos, and products contributed by residents when asked about their experiences with Canadian snow.  Afterward, we had dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant (linguini and ravioli, mixed and chef salads, and a pitcher of Sangria).

Tomorrow, we'll take the Metro to the Jardin Botanique and Insectarium, and the Biodome.  You'll notice that these last two days before we take the train south back into the U.S. have nothing to do with family history.  That's because we finished a blitz of very successful, and personally satisfying, visits to genealogy centers, old homes and properties, and lots of cemeteries.  I've decided not to share with all of you any more lengthy descriptions of the lives and exploits of heroic members of my family.  And also the many photos of gravestones and pages in old record books.

But wandering through the gravestones, and talking with the center researchers, and reading the volumes of records, I'm struck by how blended are the families who lived in this area.  It's clear that the building France's New World wasn't done by the Cloutiers or Gagnes alone.  Over the last four hundred years, the dozens of family names populated the cemeteries in every possible combination, confirming the community's extensive social connections. My journey provided me with all the details I wanted on my fifteen generations of my ancestors here.  And I discovered how much the families who inter-married into their circles shared their skills and resources to build the community. I appreciate those contributions, and it's added to the success of the adventure.

I do want to thank the staff at the Geneaology Center at Chateau Richer and Daniel Carrier, Director General of the Societe d'histoire de genealogie & centre d'archives regional at the Societe du Patrimoine des Beaucerons.

On Sunday, we'll drop off the car near the airport, and take the train to Albany.  Pat's cousin Jan Kuta will pick us up for a short visit.  After, we'll rent a car and continue on to hudson for a visit with my Aunt Kitty.   They are both very special family members, and we're looking forward to it.



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday, June 30th, Deep into Family History Territory

In the last two days, we’ve seen most of the towns where my Canadian ancestors lived and died.  The Cloutiers began their stay in America in 1634 when Zacharie Cloutier and his fellow craftsmen were contracted by the French government to bring their skills to the construction of France’s New World, which would later become Lower Town in Quebec.  The Gagnes followed in 1643.  When their work was finished, they brought their families over and founded new homes up and down the Saint Lawrence Seaway and on an island in its middle (Ille d’Orleans).  

For a hundred years, Cloutier and Gagne families populated the area.  Both families moved from the original family home at Chateau Richer, just outside Quebec, to towns they established along the Seaway.  Led by the Gagnes in 1760, and followed by the Cloutiers in 1810, they both eventually moved southwest to St Joseph de Beuce.  There in 1847, Emerentienne Cloutier and Joseph Gagne were married, the first blending of the two families.

In California, the Bear Flag Revolt had begun.  In the mid-west, my Norwegian farm ancestors were sailing across Lake Michigan, on their way to North Dakota.  In Cumbria, Northern England, my father’s great-grandfather was working in the iron mines along a railroad linking the area with Liverpool. 

But three generations later, a Gagne granddaughter would marry the descendant of the first recorded European born in America (On the Mayflower in the harbor), and my family would become one of the very few who could claim to have helped found two countries.

Tomorrow, we’ll visit the original ancestral home at Chateau Richer.  Later this week, we’ll be following the family timeline to St Joseph de Beuce and Disraeli.  Toward the end of our trip, we have a special visit with my aunt Kitty, who shares this ancestry with me.

By the way, I mistakenly posted a link to the wrong album for the House of our Ancestors Museum yesterday.  Sorry guys.

Here’s some of the photos taken where we stayed last night: Monday evening

And a link to the Google Map I’ve been keeping of the trip:  The green icons are where we've been, red is where we're headed.

By the way, the Women's World Cup Semi-Final (USA vs Germany) has just begun.  Go USA!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday, June 28th, Quebec


Two days into this, everything is going very well.  We spent Saturday visiting Quebec's Old Town, with most of the time spent walking, touring, and learning about the Lower Town section where my ancestors put in their indentured contract service ensuring the survival of the early colonists.  While I was happy to learn a few years ago about how enthusiastic were the French residents of Montagne au Perche (they put up stain-glass windows, and plaques in the Church picturing the accomplishments, and funded a history museum dedicated to the group), I wondered if anyone over here even knew about "Company of 100".  And more importantly, would anyone be able to provide me with more information on the 400 years of family history in this area?

Canadians are very proud of their early settlers, and the role that French beaver trappers, carpenters, and farmers played in establishing their New World.  The research we've done, both before we arrived, and while we've been here, has allowed us to connect with locals who have improved our knowledge of my Cloutier and Gagne family history considerably.  In particular, two resources should be recognized for their invaluable help so far.

The first is the Musee de la Place Royal in the main square in Lower Town.  They provided an excellent tour which gave us a sense of what life was like in the area in the 1600 and 1700's.  Special recognition to Jean Louis Nouvell, who looks pretty good for his 300+ years, and related to us his insights into marriage, merchanting, civil defense, and public hygiene.

The second is the Maison de Nos Aieux in Sainte Famille on the Ille d'Oleans.  Laurent Bernier and Marie-Pier Grenier provided me with an enormous boost to my understanding of Gagne, Gagnon, and Cloutier family history on the Island and surrounding areas.

Before we return to finish the work of discovering more about my ancestors, we'll be heading up to the Gaspe Peninsula for a few days.  It is so beautiful out on the edge of the Canadian eastern coast, that we have to go back after many years to check it out again. When the main museum in Chateau Richer (on the northern Saint Lawrence Seaway coast east of Quebec) opens for the season on Wednesday, we'll be back to visit and query staff.  It's the main residence of my family for 300 years, and contains most of our historical documentation.

And for our recommendations on where to dine in the area, we are especially recommending Chacon Dingue (the name means "Silly Pig"), for a nutritional, yet fast food experience on a restaurant-row street (McGuire Street) in Quebec.  I had a small seafood pot pie, with a salad containing sliced tomatoes, watermelon, feta cheese, and dark grapes.  Pat had a large poached salmon salad with vegetables.  The atmosphere was cheerful and the service was prompt.  Best of all the parking was free, and right out front.

For more photos taken yesterday and today, click on Saturday, June 27th, Quebec and Sunday, June 28th, Ill d'Orleans.