Friday, February 15, 2013
Sunday, September 02, 2012
Monday, May 14, 2012
Originally uploaded by katzeye
I just got back from two weeks in the UK.
My dad is Scottish. My mother is Scottish-Dutch-Danish.
My Dad’s Scottish parents/ancestors are named Wilkinson (or at least, that is his closest Scottish relative, there are many, many other Scottish names because they have all come from there, and some of them during my lifetime). My mother’s Scottish names are Barnes, and Beveridge, and Moffat, and her Dutch name is Van Schoonhoven. Her Danish name is Nelson (her grandmother direct from Denmark).
So, there are some names. But what’s in a name?
Apparently a lot if you’re in Scotland. Before going there, I knew that the name Wilkinson is the result of marriage between the Scotts and the Norse, way back in those Viking invasion days. Having talked to various Scottish ancestry experts from time to time, I understood that the Wilkinson line came out of that kind of intermarriage, and that they were part of another clan, which may have been part of yet another clan. Apparently there were so few of them that they had to be adopted in or something.
But while exploring the Highlands, and the Isle of Skye, I learned a few more things. But let’s begin in Edinburgh, where I spoke to a gentleman in a shop there that sold clan stuff.
I asked him if he had anything Wilkinson. He nearly became angry, declaring that Wilkinson was not a Scottish name, with the “son” on the end indicating Scandinavian.
I found that interesting since my son and I had gone to the Scottish Heritage shop in Old World in Huntington Beach the night before my dad’s funeral. My son wanted to wear a tie in the family tartan to the funeral, and the store’s owner was kind enough to let us in after hours. He pointed out to us that the Wilkinson line had, as I had been told before, been kind of adopted into another clan. He told me MacDonald, and so we chose a tartan from that clan for the funeral.
So, there I was in Edinburgh being told that a name with “son” at the end was Scandinavian and not Scottish, even though I was seeing, on his rack of tartans, “Wilson,” for example.
He was tellling me that whoever told me that was just trying to sell me something, and so therefore was lying to me. I was pretty jetlagged and found that I was near tears at his harsh way of addressing me. When I told him of other Scottish names, Beveridge, Barnes, Moffat, and Wallace, he completely changed his attitude. Especially with the mention of the name Wallace, which seems to be pretty sacred in those parts. I almost wished I had thrown the Wallace name around a bit more, as many more doors might have opened and maybe a free dinner or two! But I left his store after laying those names on him, and did not buy a thing!
As Mark was witnessing our exchange, he said not a word. And he had already secretly purchased for me the keyfob pictured above, which has not only the Wilkinson crest, but the tartan on the back. So he knew that the guy was just being rude.
But it made me start to wonder. Were the Wilkinsons black sheep in the family of Scots?
So, we continued on, into the Highlands, and the Isle of Skye. From time to time, I would look into records, such as war records in the Edinburgh castle where I found many of my family’s names, except Wilkinson.
In an information shop, I found Wilkinson in a list of clans. It said that the name was originally MacQuilkan. MacQuilkan! I recorded it in my book for future reference.
Then, at an old, beautiful church, on the bank of a loch, in the highlands, there was an older gentleman in a kilt sweeping the stone floors inside the church. I asked him about MacQuilkan and his eyes lit up.
He told me about how Quilk is the origin of Wilk, and that Quilkan was the same as Wilkin, or Wilkan, or Wilken. Quilkan is the original spelling from way back. So, that would make me a Quilkinson, essentially.
He said that many clans lost the Mac, or Mc from the beginnings of the names. He also said that there are not many MacQuilkans left in the world. He thought there was one in the film industry in California! He said that some of the MacQuilkans were asked to change their name to Cameron.
I wish that I could remember the stories as to why this was, wish I had recorded him. It was something political as I recall. Some of the MacQuilkans/Wilkinsons did change their names to Cameron, which means that I might be related to more than one clan member in the film industry. Some refused to change their names, and some went back to their original names after changing them under pressure.
(Sounds like a nightmare for future genealogy that I do on this line.)
And he confirmed my earlier knowledge that the MacQuilkans had been taken into the MacDonald clan.
While doing all of this, I was emailing back and forth with my son who was very interested in all of this. I would send him some names to look into and he would email back with some new info, etc. I found it amusing to read about his research about why the MacQuilkans married Vikings. They were tired of being attacked by them so decided that intermarriage might bring about the end of warfare.
Some of these ancestors worked, generation after generation in the coal mines. I found myself a little sad/offended that there is a jolly, amusing coal mine tourist attraction in Edinburgh.
There was another Scottish line that I forgot to bring with me, and that is one of Scottish Royalty. My sister had sent me information on this one guy, a benevolent king. I wish I had brought that with me, because we went to so many castles that I can’t remember which was which now, and will need to sort out my notes. I may have found evidence of him, too, somewhere. Perhaps a royal name would have opened some doors for us, too.
But it’s just as well. Even if he was benevolent and promoted literacy, as I have heard, I think it may have made for a different kind of trip.
This trip was about immersing ourselves in the culture and people, and even picking up some expressions and a wee bit of an accent in the doing so (I still hear it; all those Scottish conversations in my head). And we did immerse ourselves. And it was rich, indeed.
Except for that one shop owner, we found the Scots to be kind, courteous, warm, and generous. We stayed in their B&Bs all across the Highlands and it was like being in their homes.
And Mark even tried haggis!!!
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Originally uploaded by katzeye
I think I love blueberries as much as I love life. I love my failing eyesight, too. It makes it possible for me to see the blueberries in the sunny morning and capture them in the image above. And blueberries are good for my eyes. It’s a good thing I love blueberries.
When I go to restock the pantry, I always check to see if there are any fresh blueberries in stock. They are almost always not in season, and so, once again, I get a bag of frozen ones.
I was doing just that when I approached the frozen section recently at my local Spouts. I should add that I am not one of those people who loves to go grocery shopping. I enter the store, and it is as if from the moment I enter, I am lost in some kind of wicked maze and my job is to find my way out again with an adequate amount of groceries to keep us going for another week.
My plan, this time, was to get the really big bag of blueberries, hoping they might last for a while. I went straight to the frozen fruit and found an apparently frozen woman, just standing there, her chin in her hand, sighing and staring at the bags of frozen blueberries.
I had to kind of contort to look around her and when she noticed me, she sighed, without moving at all, “I know, the other ones were a better deal.”
I gave her a polite smile, not really comprehending her plight, and wanting to just get my blueberries before the crumbs I left to lead me back to the exit were gone. It was then that I noticed she had a grocery flyer crumpled in her slightly blue fist. She never did move, and I reached around her and grabbed the huge bag, and I thought that I saw her eyes dart about nervously as I did so.
I then made my way along the rest of the frozen foods, and back to the deli for the cheese I forgot, and back to the cereal aisle for whatever else it was I forgot, and then I got stuck in the toothpaste aisle for some reason. Maybe there was something shiny there.
I think my blueberries were starting to thaw as I made it to the check-out line.
I was behind about four other people, so, I occupied my time observing their purchases. Vegetables I had never seen before in my life, and some kind of animal body part, and a jar of green sauce. I resisted going back to the sauce aisle to examine the green sauce more closely. Green spaghetti sauce? Well, maybe a pesto sauce but in a giant glass jar? That could be interesting.
Oh, my turn. As I was uploading my groceries there was a clerk on a telephone of some kind, standing inside my checker’s space. He was trying to get someone to find some of the blueberries that the frozen blueberry lady was looking for. I heard him say, “Yeah, she is still there, in the frozen aisle.”
Probably pretty much a blueberry, herself, by then. She had a coupon for a particular bag of blueberries and none of the others would do, and she would wait.
I walked out into the sunshine and thought about the blueberry lady. I love blueberries. I really do. But I love life even more. I think we sometimes get stuck in the frozen food aisle or whatever other aisle in our lives that seems to be of most import at a particular time and we miss out on something else. Like walking out into the sunshine, the grocery chore done until next week, and ready to do something else like talk to a little kid, smell the ocean, write a letter to a friend, soak in the gratitude of a beautiful day.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Originally uploaded by katzeye
The word denim comes from the phrase "de nime" because that is where they first began to create and indigo-dye denim fabric, which was then made into jeans in SF by Levi Strauss as a pant that miners' could wear comfortably, and that didn't wear out as fast as whatever else they were wearing.
I have loved denim since I was a little girl, and jeans were called "dungarees." And I also love that they were created by the people of France and San Francisco, along with sourdough baquettes! And indigo is my favorite color, and not just because it matches my eyes!
I remember coming home from Kindergarten, where I was required to wear a dress or jumper, and socks and maryjane shoes, or tights, and changing immediately into a pair of jeans.
In fact, I recall being in HS and coming home and changing from my dress or skirt into jeans. (Just imagine, my entire educational career from K-college required that i wear dresses and skirts to class albeit, on many a frigid winter morning, I wore a pair of jeans under a long skirt that I whipped up the night before on the apartment sewing machine, and a wool maxi coat over that!)
So, it is not at all surprising that jeans are still my uniform of choice. I have been wearing jeans for at least 60 years!
I find that they are comfortable, durable, and that if I wear a darker wash, I can dress them up, even! I can wear skinny ones tucked into boots, I can wear bootcut ones over boots, and I can wear wide ones over platform sandals, and I can wear any kind with ballet flats, toms, converse, or flat sandals. And they don't get stained as easily as other pants, and the older ones are like old friends.
So, it shouldn't be surprising that they are my favorite travel pants as well. I like to wear a fairly bulky, comfortable pair of boot cuts on the plane, train, bus, or in the car because i find that comfortable. But having discovered the newly reformulated knit jeans, I am in heaven! I used my ll bean bonus coupons on a pair of knit boot cuts that feel like jammies but look like jeans. I will wear those to travel in FOR SURE!!
But, a while back I began a search for jeans that don't take 48 hours to dry. I want jeans in my suitcase, but with our being on the move as much as we will be on this trip, they need to pack well and dry well if I feel a need to rinse them in a sink! I recall, when we were in Swtizerland, that I did wash a couple of pairs of jeans, but they did take 48 hours to dry. Fortunately, we were staying in one place for the most part. Unfortunately, those jeans were hanging around on the radiator for two full days!
So, I found some places that have jeans that pack up light and dry overnight. OVERNIGHT?? That would mean I would wear one pair of jammie-like knit jeans for flying, and pack a pair that I could wash once or twice. But, alas, these jeans were costly. One pair costs about 125.00. My favorite ones (because they look the most like jeans) are about 100.00 but they would be 135. with shipping because they are made and sold by a company in, wait for it, wait for it, Scotland! They have a store in Edinburgh that I would love to visit! (they have stuff for adventure travel, rugged looking, but nice, stuff that is durable and dries overnight, etc.)
Some would argue that regular jeans, if they are any good, cost that much or much, much more, so what is the big deal? Yeah, I've seen jeans that cost 800.00 and up. But I am on a budget. I don't want to pay over 100. for a pair of jeans unless they are the only jeans I will need for the rest of my life! (or pretty close to that.)
So, in my DIY spirit of experimentation, I have been hand washing various jeans that I own to see how long it takes for them to dry. 48 hours for most of them.
I went back to see what the quick dry ones were made of. They were cotton denim, but only about half or less. The rest of the content was made up of other things, usually synthetics similar to polyester. The ones in Scotland are made up of mostly a high-tech fabric of their own creation. And they have a secret zipper pocket, too!
So, that is the secret to jeans that dry overnight then. The content needs to include a large enough portion of a fast drying high-tech synthetic. I began to read the labels on the jeans that I own. The ones that I always reach for the most are all cotton. Some have a touch of spandex and other synthetics.
The ones at the other end, the ones that I haven't worn as much had a higher content of synthetics. I rinsed a couple of them in the sink yesterday and they are almost dry now, already wearable, but they have a couple of hours to go before it is 24 hours.
EUREKA!! There's the secret! Get a jean with a higher content of synthetic and they dry faster! So, of course, I will try on the ones that are nearly dry now. One pair I will not take because they are very dressy looking denim trousers with no pockets. I do not travel with any kind of pants with NO POCKETS!
I went online to look at the fabric content of various jeans, but, the percentages are not given online. I will have to read labels and try on a variety to find the perfect travel jeans that can dry in 24 hours or less!
And that makes me want to just order the ones made in Scotland and be done with it. Maybe.
Oh the irony. It is because of my Scottish blood that I am thrifty, right? That is what makes me think that I may be able to find some jeans with the right content to travel with, and at a sale price of say 20-40.00!! I am confident that if I put in the time and effort, I may succeed! But the ones that are tempting me the most are from Scotland. How dare the Scots tempt me to toss aside my thrifty heritage!
(I ignore the fact that jean fitting is nearly a science, especially if one is petite, but needing an inseam around 31-32", nearly impossible to find! Petite jeans tend to be around 29-30" and the rest tend to be 33-34"!!!)
I notice that the jeans in Scotland come in a 31" inseam as their regular size!! Do women in the UK have shorter legs than women in the USA? Their petites are around 27"!!!
So, bottom line, I will definitely get out there and look for the jeans in the right fabric content to make them dry overnight. When I find them I will be in jean nirvana!
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Originally uploaded by katzeye
Do you prefer to swim in the ocean, or in a swimming pool? I think most people will say, “swimming pool!” and list many reasons to support that choice.
I prefer to swim in the ocean. And I have many reasons why that is the case.
Yesterday, I spent more time in a swimming pool than I generally spend in one in years. There were the grandkids who needed to get wet. So, there was a lot of bobbing and floating and splashing mixed in with some whining, etc.
Then, last night, I thought it might be a good idea for Mark and I to take a swim, because he recently had knee surgery, and needs to exercise.
So, we dressed for a swim and wrapped up in towels and such to make our way to the pool in the rather cool breeze. The water in the pool was probably warmer than the air, but still, there was something difficult about fully plunging. I was cold and my every instinct told me, in every cell of my body, that to be wet would be colder.
While some might say, “I want my mommy!” I was saying, “I want my wetsuit!”
But no one wears a wetsuit in the pool. It was probably freakish enough that I was wearing a tank top and board shorts. Hey, if guys can do that, who says that I am required to wear the female equivalent of a speedo anyway? Especially after 60. I just want to be comfortable. And in any case, the tomboy in me totally favors the comfort of a pair of board shorts.
Mark simply jumped in feet first, which is usually the best choice. But it’s a shallow pool. It only goes as deep as 5 feet. I can stand in the deep end and my hair can remain dry on top, which makes me feel absurdly tall, as if at a pool at Legoland.
So, Mark’s feet hit the bottom, hard, when he jumps in and that sets his knee rehabilitation back about six weeks. So he goes and gets into the Jacuzzi.
Meanwhile, I am still getting used to feeling cold, and still determined that I will swim laps. Or something.
While Mark is saying, “Ahhhh….” I am doing a sidestroke across the pool. Then I do a backstroke. Then I do a dog paddle. I am feeling strangely winded, and that is quickly followed by intense boredom.
I try getting across the pool in any kinds of strokes that I can invent. I would like to just do a deadman’s float and lightly kick my feet until I reach the other side, but I don’t want that much chlorine in my soft contacts. Then I realize that it is the chlorine that is making me feel winded. I am allergic to chlorine. Duh. I try to limit my exposure to it. We have filters on our showers to eliminate it so that I can go all year long without a breathing treatment. As a kid, I would get asthma after a swim in someone’s pool, every time.
Okay, so now what? I float on my back. I try to see stars in spite of the intensely bright pool lights.
I finally get out, feeling like a popsicle and sink into the Jacuzzi with Mark. In the Jacuzzi, I continue to swim, albeit, with much less room, because, unless I am reading, I am not that good at just sitting there. Soon another couple joins us, and then another, so it’s rub-a-tub-tub, three couples in the tub. And I am no longer even remotely swimming, but just sitting and trying to act like a grownup and stop playing with the bubbles.
Not exactly my idea of getting exercise: doing a slow roast in a Jacuzzi while talking for hours about the HOA, and politics, etc.
So, here are the reasons why I prefer to swim in the ocean:
I can wear a wetsuit and not look like a dork, unless the water temp is 75 and the air is 113, but in that case, I would probably be lying on the kitchen floor with a wet towel placed over my head and shoulders. The wetsuit, after the initial plunge which is usually taken care of at the first powerful wave, keeps my body temp better regulated. And the wetsuit helps keep me from getting sunburned.
I am a native of Cali, and have lived in Huntington Beach for about 35 years (and Newport Beach before that, and Seal Beach in between), but my ancestors come from places not known for getting tans.
My dad’s Scottish ancestors intermarried with the Norse invaders, and so that line is Scandinavian/Scottish from way back. Add to that that an Irish woman married one of these norse/scots and you get pale skin that freckles for all who come from this line.
My mother’s ancestry is Dutch, Danish, Scottish. I got my blondish/light brownish hair from her, but my skin from my dad. I can tan, if I am willing to make it a full time job. It takes at least three months of daily hours holding still on the beach to get one. And in two days of not doing that, it fades in a hurry. And for the first month, it will mostly be peeling and increasing the freckle count.
When I swim in a pool, I am dressed differently and parts of me that are not used to sun instantly burn, sunblock or not. And I think all that reflection there just increases the entire effect. So, in order to swim in a pool, I either need to wear a wetsuit, put on prescription strength sunblock that looks like clown white face, all over exposed skin. Or work on getting a protective tan.
None of those are all that enticing, so, board shorts, rash guard, etc. Anyway, what do you do in a pool? Especially one that is only 5 feet deep? Back stroke, side stroke, dead man’s float?
I prefer to swim in the ocean because there are always things you can do there. You can swim, paddle, or, run like mad toward a fresh set that is coming in. You can dive under a wave. You can float on your back up the slope of a slick wave, and down the other side. You can be pummeled to the point that you are eating sand and telling yourself that you WILL find the surface again if you just relax.
You can watch dolphin swim by. You can dodge a surfer. You can catch a wave that takes you on a long and exciting, or long and pleasant ride. You can share a wave with your buddy, or a seal, or both.
You can stay out as long as you are not turning blue, and you don’t get winded from breathing chlorine fumes. You can burn a lot more calories than you will doing a half-hearted sidestroke in still water.
My parents loved to swim in the ocean, and we did it often. I can’t recall the first time they took me into the Pacific. And I do recall my infancy (see a previous blog). It had to be when I was just a baby. I do have some memories of being held in their arms while they rose up over waves and down the other side, and their responses to these experiences were positive, so, I am certain that I began to love being in the ocean as a baby.
As children, we would often stay in the water for 8 hours at a time. We were blue prunes! As a teen, I would borrow surfboards, until I had my own, and ride waves for as long as I could.
So, what can you do in a pool anyway? To me, with my expansive experience in the vast pacific, a pool seems like a bathtub.
I guess I’ll just take a good book the next time I go to the pool. That is what I do in a bathtub.
Either that, or I will wear a wetsuit to the pool, bring a body board, and yell KOWABUNGA as I throw myself into the water. Acting like a grown-up is so overrated, anyway.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Originally uploaded by katzeye
We’ve all heard the saying about not judging another human being until we have walked a mile in his or her moccasins. It is so very true.
Recently I was at a social event where a group of people were labeling a woman as being crazy. I patiently heard them out, and they all got a good laugh out of it, but inside I was experiencing turmoil.
You see, I have known this woman for quite some time. So, on the one hand, I was experiencing some pain because I know what is good about her and hated to hear her being judged so harshly.
And on the other hand, I also wondered how many times I have been with a group of people who were dissing someone that I did not know, or barely knew and I accepted what they were saying as being unbiased truth.
All too often, we judge people on the most superficial things, such as appearance, mannerisms, etc. And we also judge too quickly based upon gossip, rumor, and distortion.
Don’t we also harshly judge those who wrong us? The ultimate in compassion is to strive to understand those who are unkind to us, and to forgive them.
As a photographer, I do a lot of editing. I look at a lot of faces up close. Sometimes I edit a photo wherein a smiling, seemingly happy person, is not looking that happy up close. Sometimes I see the sadness, rough experiences, disappointments in people’s faces, when I see them much closer.
My daughter and I, from as far back as I can remember, have shared heart pangs with each other. For us, heart pangs are when we see a human being, usually a stranger, who is experiencing loss, confusion, humiliation, pain, or any of the human emotions and plights that make us feel vulnerable: the experiences and situations that we usually keep to ourselves.
When we see something like this, we call it a heart pang. Our hearts are tugged. We experience compassion and the pathos of being a human being.
Every human being has had, or will have some really rough experiences, things that will bring us to our knees, things that will test us, make us sob, make us feel abandoned, alone, hurt. We all experience harshness, adversity, troubles. We are all vulnerable.
Every human being has a story to tell. Stories that break our hearts. We need to pay more attention. We need to look more closely. Behind every smile there is a sad face. We pick ourselves up, and we move on, and we keep trying. We smile ‘though our hearts are breaking.”
As for that conversation about the woman deemed to be crazy. Sure, she might be a little bit. But I stuck my neck out and told them what I knew about her. About her triumphs and her sorrows. And afterward, there was a quiet moment. The laughter ceased. I think and I hope that they understood her a bit more, and have some compassion for her now.
I know that I am determined to withhold judgment more often and to have compassion more often, and to want to hear others’ stories more readily. Knowing people’s stories is a way to walk in their moccasins. And once we have, we will have compassion and love for them.
And isn’t that what it is all about?