Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Is this the Curse?

kipling bag
In an earlier post I mentioned that I am looking for the perfect bag to take to Germany and Switzerland with me this fall. One that will function as a purse while at the same time enabling me to safely carry my DSLR camera with its large lens. Thus the Curse. I think I may have found it today. I was at Macy's and had asked the clerk about whether a purse I was looking at had a way to make the strap longer as I want to wear it across my body. When I explained to her what I was hoping to accomplish with the bag, she steered me towards the "kipling" display. I had briefly looked in the area but thought the purses were all either too small or too much like back packs. I overlooked this one altogether.

What I like about it is that the bag is made of nylon, so it will be easy to clean and somewhat water resistant. It is also very light weight, which is important as I will be loading it up. It has several pockets on the outside, including ones which may work for a small umbrella and a water bottle. There is a secure zippered area inside the purse as well to keep my money and passport safe. The adjustable strap means I can wear it across my body or shorten it for a different look.

So what don't I like about it? It is a little more casual than I was hoping for, and it looks a bit like a camera bag. But the biggest issue is that it does not have any dividers inside, allowing me to keep my iPad separate from my camera. Are these things deal breakers? I am not sure yet. For now I will haul my stuff around the house in it to see how it feels on my shoulder.

Added bonus of this bag? A cute little ape hanging off the side. I think he needs to go abroad, don't you?

let's go ape!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Finding New Leaves on the Family Tree

Things have really been moving on my genealogy trip to Germany this fall. Family Tree Tour reps Kathy and Matthias have found people in both Germany and Switzerland who are willing to do some research on my family and also meet with me when I arrive. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the volunteer in Insheim is looking for my Metz family records. He will also accompany me to Steinweiler where my fourth great-grandmother was from, though she married my fourth great-grandfather Andreas Mez in Insheim in 1777. The volunteer sent an email with a document about this couple, which lists 10 additional children that my cousins and I did not know about! It was in German, so I ran it through a translating program in Gmail. I got a chuckle out of the fact that the program translated Apolonia Schwein to Apolonia Pig. Somehow, I don't think she would have appreciated that!

Meanwhile down in Switzerland, volunteer Rolf has been a busy bee! He has taken photos of over 400 documents to share with me. Wow! But perhaps even more exciting is the fact that he has contacted 25 members of the Kubler family in the area, and they want to have a family meeting with me. This is so above and beyond anything I could have imagined! We are still working out the logistics, but I believe I will leave my tour group in Boppard, Germany and take a train to Busserach on a Thursday. I have no concept of how long that will take by train, but it looks like it is about four hours by car. Then on Friday Rolf and I will go to the research center together and look at records, and Saturday will be the family gathering where we will talk about what we have found. At this point I am not sure if I will take the train to Speyer, Germany to meet up with my group on Saturday night, or if I can stay until Sunday. Currently I am scheduled to go to Insheim on Sunday to meet with the volunteer there, but Matthias is checking to see if we could do it on Monday instead.

Near Busserach is an inn called Gastof zum Kreuz where I hope to stay. My ancestor in 1854 sold his house and his land to finance his voyage to the United States. He left Switzerland after February 1854 with four children. We are uncertain at this time what happened to his wife. But how amazing would it be to stay at an inn that is part of my ancestor's history?

Yesterday I attended a workshop on writing your family history. While I have written other books, writing about family is another animal altogether. Trying to take dry statistics and turn them into something others will want to read is a challenge indeed. But I have a feeling that after my trip this September I will be able to find a way to make two of the branches come to life.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Vacation...All I Ever Wanted...

marina at Table Rock Lake
When my nephew died unexpectedly in January, my siblings and I talked about how it seems that we only get together for weddings and funerals. We decided it was time for a Kubler family reunion. My sister grabbed the bull by the horn and got things rolling. She knows us too well - a lot of talk and not much action. Because she and her husband own a time-share down in Branson, she booked a week for all of us to stay at one of the resorts there. I will be the first to admit that Branson is not my favorite place, mostly because I do not enjoy spending half of my vacation stuck in traffic on Highway 76. However, I would have gone back to No Town, North Dakota again if it meant spending time with my brothers and sister and their families.

So on the 13th I drove to Union to pick up my sister and brother-in-law, and we rode down together. Jim came down later in the week on his motorcycle as he had some meetings he couldn't get out of. My brother from Texas and his wife arrived that night along with their daughter, her husband and their two children. The rest of the family trickled in as their schedules allowed. At the peak time we had seventeen people spread out among six condos. My children we unable to come as getting to Branson from Los Angeles or Washington, DC was costly and time consuming. Plus they didn't want to take vacation time to go to Branson. I understand that.

The condominium setting was quite lovely, with four outdoor pools and one indoor, and a nice fitness center which I actually availed myself of on three occasions. The units were appointed with everything you needed, and I made breakfast each morning in mine. The rest of the time we either made lunch at my sisters or ate out. We had several evening meals there as well. Trying to go out to eat with that many people was a challenge, but we managed to do it a few times.

home of Laura Ingalls Wilder
I guess the beauty of Branson is that there are so many things to do. (If you don't mind sitting in traffic trying to get there.) My sister, niece, great-niece and I drove the hour and a half to Mansfield to see the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum and grounds. That was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. It was fun to see the houses where she wrote her books, as well as the memorabilia like Pa's fiddle.

Ten of us went on the duck boat, which takes you around first by land and then onto Table Rock Lake. We had a lot of fun on that. The guy who drove our boat was probably the best guide I have ever had on a tour. Not only was he knowledgeable and personable, he was hilarious. He really quacked us up!

my brother and sister-in-law make the most of their quackers

my great-nephew steers the duck boat
But the best part of all was just spending time together and catching up on what everyone has been up to since we last met. We packed a lot of memories into seven short days.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Curse

In preparation for my genealogy trip this fall, I have been analyzing the type of bag I want to carry on a daily basis. Normally I use a backpack that was specifically design to hold a DSLR camera. It has adequate space in the top to carry my billfold, reading glasses, small notebook, umbrella, rain jacket, etc. Bottom line is that there is no need to carry a purse, so this backpack is what I normally use when I am out shooting photos. And it has the added bonus of a pouch on the side to take along a water bottle. What it doesn't have is a spot for my iPad. First of all, I don't know if my hotel room will have a safe so that I can leave it in there during the day. Second, since this is a genealogy trip, I will definitely be hauling my iPad around to check my facts and take notes. Also I am not sure I am comfortable with having the bag on my back subject to pickpocketing.

Now, I could also carry a smaller purse along with the backpack. Then I could keep my iPad, billfold, passport, etc. in the purse and just have the other items on my back. But that means hauling two bags around each day. Do I really want to do that?

So I did what any red-blooded American woman does in this situation - I asked advice from Google. Wow! So many options! They do indeed now make purses that are designed to carry your camera as well. And some of them are super cute. But I think the co-pay at the hospital for the delivery of my first baby was less than some of these purses are going for. I also don't know how much most of the bags weigh empty. I don't want the bag alone to add 5 pounds on my shoulder. A cross body style with a padded strap would be ideal. Then I could carry all the items I need in one bag that would be in front of me so I can keep my eye on it.

I am glad I started looking into this early as I don't think a decision is going to be too easy for me. If you need me, I will be sitting at the computer searching for the perfect Curse.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Independence Day

Webster Groves Parade
We are having a relatively quiet 4th of July around here. Thursday morning Jim and I went to the parade as we always do when we are in town. It is such a great experience. We met a really nice couple who sat on the parkway next to us. They have four children, and the younger two were with them while the older two walked in the parade. It ends up that their 10 year old daughter is best friends with the family who moved in next door to us two years ago. We kept our opinions of them to ourselves. But as we talked about other things I learned that the woman's mother is first generation American from Scotland, while her dad is from Switzerland (and the two met in Africa!). The husband's mom is from Ireland. It is rare to meet anyone who is first generation these days, at least in my little world. Since we arrived at the parade route early in order to secure a coveted spot in the shade, it helped pass the time conversing with new people.

 Later in the day we went to the lake house of Jim's business partner, located a mere 45 minutes from our house. I brought some snacks and a Patriotic Bundt Cake, and we had fun boating and enjoying the grilled shishkabobs and later the fireworks. It was different sitting in the middle of the lake on a boat as the fireworks were set off. I did miss our fireworks in Webster Groves though. They always put on a good show.

Friday I began the day with a tough work out at the fitness center, and then ruined it all by having a margarita with chips and salsa at the Hacienda. We met our old next door neighbors for lunch there, and it was fun to catch up with them and all their activities. Then today we took our bikes out to Route 66 State Park and road for about an hour before it got too hot. So far it has been a great holiday! Happy 4th!