Back in the dark misty times...

Back in the dark misty times...
Genealogy, joyfully discovered ~

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Roundabout Passage to Venice

I never imagined how many people have flocked to my web site looking at my fanciful travelogue, A ROUNDABOUT PASSAGE TO VENICE. One woman told me it was one of the most refreshing travelogues she'd ever read and she reads a lot of them. Therefore, I am glad I decided to make it more than a journal, in that it is written as a story with all the quirks, fun and strangeness one finds on a 3 week jaunt through Europe with one's mother. And the mother happens to be more energetic than the daughter..... I ordered more for my inventory and decided to offer it from my office at a discount since the publisher's price of $34 was astronomically high in my eyes and unaffordable to many of my readers.

ALSO - I will soon have the ability to offer my books through Pay Pal with a credit card or Pay Pal account vs. personal checks. Unsure when this will happen but soon, I hope. Either way, sharing it is my main goal so making it affordable is at the top of my list to do so. Instead of $34 plus shipping, it will be offered at $19.95 plus $3 shipping. It is a hard bound book, 6 x 9 size with 150 pages and filled with pictures too!

No snow in Virginia today (so far) and I'm pumped with the sun out and gardens struggling to push up those tiny shoots. Now, I hope the deer can't find them before they grow up another few inches....
Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How many brick walls are there?

I have realized jumping over one brick wall is wonderful but admit I cannot rest on my laurels. I have passed through four monstrous hurdles since I began my quest to follow in my Spanish grandmother's footsteps from Spain and eventually to America as a young woman. Now, trying to piece together the life she left and the family who stayed behind has become a bit tedious as I sift through the internet sites, hoping for a light bulb to go off for me. The options are limitless but those big, fat bricks keep getting in the way.

It makes me want to get to Spain and go the the little village of Fuentesauco and open the closet door and start tossing out the history I do not need to corral the history that I do. She left uncles, aunts and cousins. She may have left an adopted sister? Why?? Did she stay in Spain because she did not want to leave her brother, Jeronimo? Who's child was she? Was her father the brother my great grandfather left behind? If so, why? Maybe my great grandfather couldn't afford to take her with them? Did his brother die and leave the children with my great grandfather? Or was she a relative at all? All I know is he adopted a daughter named Feliciada and she had a brother, Jeronimo. SIGH. I must study that Spanish language faster and faster so I can find my answers when I arrive in Spain this Fall.

The research is exciting but the hours involved are so numerous, I have lost count. Concentrating on Hawaii now. They arrived in 1911 on ship's passages paid for by the Hawaiian government in exchange for 5 year's comittment working in the sugar fields. I have found more information about that time in Hawaii and contacted the Hawaii Historical Society. I will perservere... Moving on toward fleshing out of those Spanish lives. YES I CAN....

Friday, February 19, 2010

I kicked through the brick wall!!

After months of research, trying to learn what the train system was like in 1911 Spain, I accidentally (isn't that always the way it happens?) found my answers! There was an internet posting about a man who traveled through Spain by train in 1911... Now I have scenery through his eyes, what he saw in the villages and what the train was like. And I felt I was there alongside the man and imagined Abuelita sitting on a bench across from him with all her baggage around her..... twisting to see out those same windows. Lovely! It will make my story real as I take Manuela along her journey, leaving her Spanish home with her family all those years ago. Another step up in my ability to recreate her trip. I am certainly high on this one...

AND a first! The snow is nearly gone and I was feeling particularly blessed as I watched the birds swooping down for bird seed after I filled the feeders today --- and could not imagine what a spot of yellow was on the perimeter of my back garden. A fallen goldfinch? No! It couldn't be... IT WAS A FLOWER! My first flower in Charles City with the sun blending its strength into the soil along with the gentle flowing breezes of 50 degree temperatures. There IS a spring at the end of the tunnel....

And I am proud to say I have finally adapted to that dreadful treadmill. I'm at 15 minutes... trying for 20 and then 25 and then............we shall see.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Back home from the Chesapeake Bay area

Snow is gently melting around us here in Charles City, but up north on the Chesapeake Bay it is a much slower change. What a lovely trip and getaway for us! The 'white' scenery on our route was farmland interspersed with small, quaint towns. West Point and Kilmarnock stood out for me as we passed Victorian houses in spring-like colors surrounded by a railing-edged deck and pinacled roofs stretching in various directions. Pine trees and so many Pyracanthas filled to bursting with bright red berries just waiting for birds to swoop down for lunch.

That reminds me of my own Pyracantha. When I read James Michener's "Chesapeake" when I first moved from Oregon to Virginia, it gave me the spirit and history of Virginia and his description encouraged me to buy the Pyracantha shrub. He made them come alive in bright orange fascination for the ships entering the harbor and seeing those bright berries beckoning. I decided to ESPALIER one on a fence behind our bird garden. That was 5 years ago. It is green, tall and nicely shaped with my clipping but NO BERRIES. Huh. Well, that's my thought for the day. More study needed. Those berries need to feed our birds and I want to SEE them. I need help obviously.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hitting a brick wall but not defeated...

Over the past few months, I have diligently researched the internet (and one of my friends who is a ship architect) looking for a picture of one of the 5 ships my ancestors sailed on from Spain to Hawaii and later the 3 separate ships from Honolulu to San Francisco. Just when I think it's almost there, I am mugged at the pass. I found out the Orteric, my abuelita's ship from Spain, was used as a war ship during WWI and was sunk a few months later. So, there is not much information about it other than the wonderful historical synopsis of their trip in 1911. But, I have been stuck before and I will find it/them one day.

The snow is melting swiftly here in Virginia since we are on the cusp of the storm's southern tip. We have been promised more snow on the weekend but since we have postponed a trip to visit friends on the Chesapeake Bay twice already, I pulled out my boots, scarf, hat, big gloves and luggage. We are going (as of today) and J.D. worries. Actually, he worries enough for both of us, so no reason for me to worry, right?

I am feeling older but fulfilled today. My beautiful daughter is 34 years old today!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


In my pursuit of family history and my quest for connecting with family members I have been out of touch with or have never met (Silvan/Ruiz family), I have found a new insight on my feelings and thoughts: I am a mixture of Spanish (half) and English, German, Dutch and French.... and the Spanish seems to take over since the genealogy bug has attacked me like a virus. I want to speak Spanish, feel Spanish, think Spanish and meet my Spanish family, albeit through documents, records, stories and soon ---- walking on that Spanish soil.

A newly-connected cousin (Ramona) has given me great ideas (she is a Spanish teacher) to rejuvinate my sparse Spanish-speaking ability. I bought 1000 flash cards and a CD and guess what? I understood most of the words. Castillion Spanish is different from many of the teachings but I am ready. My brother (hermano) - Steven (Esteban) speaks it very well and I will never catch up but... I am definitely on a roll... Hola!

Once I began my odyssey into the unknown, I have added some facts that descendents rarely enjoy. My great grandfather Francisco Ruiz had no distinquishing marks of identification listed on the HARPALION ship's manifest, but his son (my grandfather) Ben had moles. His brother (Miguel) had a scar on his right eye and his brother (Juan) had moles above his right eye. See? This changes names into people. Fleshing out families like this and writing about it is golden!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I never imagined that my cookbook, COOKING DRUNK, would create such a stir (no pun intended) and I am delighted. This week, I have already sent out 7 cookbooks and the continued interest is overwhelming. I am pumped, especially since it is not only filled with recipes using wine (etc) but because my three (3) ethnic chapters have a little story attached. My Spanish segment has a picture of me (as a small child) and my Abuelita Manuela and one of her at age 18. Thanks to all of you who have given me such positive feedback. I love to share it and share it and share it. It was such an experience to write and so many people pushed me on its way so I just ordered another 25 books!

Another positive piece of news ~ I sent a letter to as many Spanish cousins as I could find on email and postal addresses and sent them an invitation to stay connected and join me for the ride of finding our ancestor's family history from Spain to Hawaii and California. What wonderful responses I have had and I am seriously researching my trip to Spain in the Fall with specifics AND have connected with a Spanish Ruiz cousin who speaks some halting English!