I'm so glad you could stop by. This is my personal blog of daily life and my journey through life. You will find a strong emphasis on family and friends as well as finding my ancestors through genealogy. Unlike my other blogs this blog is more of a catch-all so any topic is fair game.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Scenic Tour

southern most part marker for United States
Southernmost Point Marker
January 16, 2008

The total number of pictures taken during our entire vacation was 640 so I have plenty for scapbooking. We loaded up on sunscreen, doned on our hats then took a scenic tour of Key West on the scooter stopping to take many pictures and check out the many interesting shops. The sun was bright sending warm kisses over our bare skin. What a treat for us to be wearing shorts and sandals this time of year! Just to give you a visual, my husband has this classic summer look of Hawaiian shirt paired with short that sometimes don't match the shirt, Birkenstock sandals and straw hat. This is the way he looks from the time the snow melts until the snow flies with the exception of special events like weddings or funerals or when golfing where the sandals are replaced by golf shoes. He has a closet full of these kind of shirts and well over a couple of dozen straw hats in various shapes and colours. His straw hat of choice for the trip was similar to this one but turned up at the back. I was dressed in striped capri, a sleeveless shell topped with a 3/4 sleeve blouse, sandals and sun visor. We likely looked rather funny on the bright red scooter as my husband is quite tall so there wasn't a lot of room on the scooter for me. And I don't think anyone thought we were tourists either with the camera constantly ready to snap a shot ;)

We toured the entire perimeter of the island which is about 2 miles by 4 miles. There was a light breeze that grew stronger as we neared the southernmost point of the continental United States. It's only 90 miles from Cuba closer that I thought. By the time we reached the point my husband hat had to be held in place then finally removed. The wind was quite strong! To the right of the fence, not show is the Naval Air Station Key West (NASKW). The air base is located within a National Marine Sanctuary and as such a large component is integration with the environmental concerns of the Florida Keys eco-system. We arrived back at Captain Tony's Saloon in time to meet with our tour guides for a walking tour highlighting Jimmy Buffet.

Captain Tony's Saloon is a rather interesting place, one to be expanded up on in tomorrow's entry so please check back.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Key West Chickens

Key West chickens
Key West Chickens
January 16, 2008

As mentioned in the past couple of entries, we were introduced to Key West chickens during our visit to Key West. These birds are protected under the Key West Bird Sanctuary and Preserve so allowed to roam freely on the island. Tourists find them charming, quaint and photogenic. Locals find them annoying pests because of their droppings and crowing. Somewhere in between a few enterprising individuals saw a market for souvenirs depicting the Key West chicken for tourists to take home to remember the island while the locals still mutter their dislike. We heard of many enterprising ways to rid one's yard of these birds.

The chickens were originally brought to Key West in the mid 1800's for food and cock fights by Cuban immigrants. They were released and became feral so their descendants are now found throughout the island. There are no natural predators for the chickens so their population is continuing to rise. The current estimation is about 2,000 chickens and given the size of the island is only 2 miles by 4 miles that's a lot of chickens. They are protected by city ordinance and you cannot lure, entice, seize, molest or tease these birds. The penalty for do so could end up with jail time. However, a permit can be obtained for the destruction of birds that become obnoxious or destructive. The city of Key West employed an official chicken catcher to trap and transport 900 wild chickens at $20 each but local chicken lovers foiled his plans. Recently there has been the concern over avian flu so the days of the Key West chicken free rein may be numbered. That remains to be seen. In the mean time the island is divided between the chicken lovers and the chicken haters. A good site that captures both sides of the controversy is The Great Key West Chicken Debate!.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lazy Thoughts

This is a photo of the second story veranda of Cypress House in Key West. If you look towards the far end of the second photo you will see the two wicker rocking chairs and chest outside our room. The swing porch and more wicker furniture is outside of the other room that shares the veranda. Sitting swinging lazily on the porch swing, lazy thoughts wafted in and out of my mind. It was very, very relaxing! I am now effectively hooked on porch swings so will be trying to fit one in at home. It won't be on a porch but it will be very similar.The long end of the veranda fronts onto Caroline Street while the short end fronts onto Simonton Street. Now both of these are very busy streets so I do have to mention that you will hear sounds from the streets however we heard nothing from Duval Street a short block away.

The Key West chickens will wake you early in the morning but we only heard them once at the inn so there aren't many nearby. These are protected birds in Key West that folks like us (tourists) find very interesting and novel yet folks that live in Key West view the birds as pests. I'll post a picture of them tomorrow. We heard several novel ways of ridding one's property of these birds without leaving any incriminating evidence. The ice cube in a sling shot was quite a good one that according to the source works quite well. Another comment was that when the next hurricane hit the chickens would be left to their own devices. All kidding aside these birds are a protected species so as much as I understand that the locals aren't fond of them there are fines for harming them or their nesting sites. The birds do add a certain uniqueness to the island that can't be disputed.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Five Stars

Front Gardens Cypress House
January 15, 2007

I mentioned we stayed at Cypress House in Key West in yesterday's entry. This historical must stay at Conch Mansion built in 1888 bed & breakfast is on the corner of Simonton and Caroline Streets in Key West a block from Duval Street. We stayed in The Blue room (Room 5) the original master bedroom of the main house. The romantic room is painted pale blue and has the most amazing painted scenery on the ceiling! The adjoining bathroom is a lavish 14' x 14', large enough to make most people wanting to renovate their home baths. Two doors lead from the room onto the large second story veranda with lots of comfortable wicker furniture and a porch swing. The photo was taken from the veranda looking down on the lush front gardens. More lush, tropical gardens surround Cypress House, Simonton House and the pool area turning the property into a tropical oasis. I'm telling you I was just itching to talk gardening with our wonderful host Dave the innkeeper. Ben, Gabi and Lady Bug gave a warm welcome and love to be petted. A continental breakfast was served daily and it is quite good. Happy Hour from 6 to 7 pm was on the patio beside the pool. There were free snacks and drinks combined with a lot of laughter and chatter as guests got to meet each other.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Back Homeside

flying Over the Mountains
Flying Over the Mountains
January 15, 2008

We are back safe and sound no thanks to last night's weather from our winter vacation. I didn't say much about it because there were a lot of things going on and my recent health problems threatened to cancel the trip. We were scheduled to fly out January 15th but only got the clear to travel for me with restrictions on the 11th. So I best let you know what we've been doing for the last ten days.

We stayed at a motel with park and fly the night before our flight to Fort Lauderdale. The picture above was one of the very few I could take from the plane window because of cloud cover. It was warm but cloudy when we landed after an uneventful flight. Oh wait a minute, the real funny point was when this guy aka Mr. Important came into the bar where we were eating breakfast. It was a morning flight and since my husband insists on being at the airport three hours before boarding any source of amusement helped to pass the time. Now get this, Mr. Important came in with another guy who seemed quite normal and he very pleasantly listened to Mr. Important talk on his cell phone for the majority of the time they were in the bar. Mr. Important pulls out his cell phone immediately and proceeded to tell everyone within listening distance via his cell phone how security took away his $100 cologne, toothpaste, soap and deodorant. Why? Apparently Mr. Important can't follow airport security rules! Now this just struck my funny bone because the more this guy went on about it, the madder he got to the point he was going to go give security a piece of his mine. Ya right, that would help [get him tossed out of the airport]. I dang near snorted coffee out my nostrils at this one! Guess what [drum roll please] I can mimic him much to the amusement of fellow passengers which means I have a bit more talent than I thought. Anyway, we did see him board and were thankful he wasn't sitting behind us but the humour he left behind will be shared :)

Ok, so back to what I was talking about. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale then took a shuttle to pick up a sweet little red convertible then we headed to Key West. It was a pleasant drive despite what we had heard. This is the first trip that besides the night before flying wasn't a motel trip. We stayed at the historical Cypress House only a couple of blocks from Duval Street. Seriously this is a must stay at bread and breakfast, one I will be expanding upon. Talk about a beautiful area! We even rented a scooter to get around. Now Key West is laid back but it could seriously tire you out. We had a lot of fun there and are already planning our next visit. We learned about the Conch Republic, the endangered Key deer and the lovely Key West chickens. We enjoyed a Jimmy Buffet tour much embellished by our tour guides and enjoyed our share of rum. Then we were off to No Name Key where we visited with my husband's aunt and uncle. They cut us a coconut from their own trees along with some star fruit. I was down right determined to get that coconut home and through Canadian customs AND I did :)

From No Name Key we travelled back to Fort Lauderdale. There we rented a condo which really is a wonderful way to go. It was on the ocean so the view was quite lovely and we could see the inter-coastal view as well. It had laundry and cooking facilities so I took advantage of cooking breakfasts. If you want to read more about what we ate and cooked in Fort Lauderdale check out my cooking blog. We even had a one day in where we lounged in our pj's between the patio and tv in the name of football! Compared to Key West, Fort Lauderdale was really low keyed with little traveling and more homelike. I'll talk more here on this as I really enjoyed going the condo route.

We arrived at the airport for our 3 HR Tour . Hey, I still had a sense of humour and what the heck. Aside from a really nasty [few adjectives added here] waitress at Nathan's Famous at the airport. Now apparently Nathan's Famous does not take responsibility for there employees and their nastiness towards paying customers but you can try to contact them here. Not that that will do a lot of good but if I were you I would definitely boycott Nathan's for lack of service, poor quality and failure to respond to complaints. I will be blogging about this issue as it unfolds. But corporate office is already working on that one. Did you know, one negative comment on a blog can really have an huge impact? Blogs have a bit more influence that some think and one negative experience can really get the word out. In the meantime, be sure not to let Sonija serve you. Honestly, she really does not know what food service is all about. So good or bad you will hear me blog about it and really this girl is more than two thumbs down and needs to be fired for poor customer relations and a down right piss poor attitude.

Ok, so I've done my rant, that was the bad. We hooked up with a couple from Australia while waiting. They were really a fun couple waiting for their delayed plane as well. We will keep in touch. The plane was about an hour late boarding but it seemed to be a rather uneventful flight even though the stewardess said it was a rough landing. I was dressed in cold weather clothes because I am always cold but my husband was in his trademark shorts, sandals and Hawaiian shirt. He quickly had to change with the almost 2 inches of snow. Travel home was horrid! It took almost 4 hours to get home something that would normally take us about 2 hours. So there you have it in a nutshell. We had a lovely time and came home to very cold weather so stay tuned for what we did in between.

Reality hits and I'm off for tests tomorrow but in the meantime I'm relaxed and we have sun here today turning the lawn to a thousand diamonds. Life is good!

Monday, January 14, 2008

On Vacation

January 14 - 24, 2007

Wordless Wednesday - February Flowers

grandbaby's socks
February Flowers
February 2, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Not so Good

Autumn Days
September 28, 2007

It has been an extremely eventful week, some good but most not so good. We are on the final countdown to leaving on our winter vacation. So I've been focusing on genealogy and packing. Tuesday I noticed something wasn't quite right so called my doctor duly noting the problem. I did not like what I heard but went in anyway. This has been a problem since the week before Christmas but with so much going on it was rather easy to gloss over. Yesterday my doctor sent me for ultra sound that I have to admit is so much nicer when you are not expecting. As of 1:30 pm yesterday our vacation plans were within a hair of being cancelled. So the end result from something I thought was benign was "probable problem" with "medication" (just what I need) and rather strict restrictions on our travel plans and other activities. Plus I have to go back for more tests the day we get back. So I'm not out of the woods yet but at least I can go. I'm not a happy camper and I will tell you this has been one heck of a wake-up call! Honestly, I eat quite healthy, am reasonably active, live a fair healthy lifestyle SO apparently I did not choose my parents very well. Dang it all, my husband could easily survive on junk food. I'm very particular about what I eat. Who has the cholesterol problem? ME! Despite the pain I got my 30 minute walk in today. Ok, enough about my problems.

We got the phone call that one of our good friends was in a traffic accident Tuesday. He was driving a Toyota (aka coffin on wheels) when he hit a deer. Now my husband hit a deer several years ago and it totaled the car. That car was considerably bigger than a Toyota so even the thoughts give me shudders. Our friend is in intensive care at the trauma centre. He is scheduled for surgery early this upcoming week but they are having a difficult time stabilizing him. The prognosis is dismal at best. We will be cutting our vacation short if we get a call from his wife to say things have worsened. He's way too young!

I'm asking all my internet friends and anyone reading this blog to please send healing thoughts and prayers to our friend. He really needs it now as does his family. Let him know there are many out there thinking about him now and during his (will be) long recovery. Pray that his family will have the strength to help in this process. Please, please even if you don't believe send healing thoughts! Let them enfold him, hold him, heal him. Let him know how much he is loved and needed not only by those here now but also by those to come. Please...

Friday, January 11, 2008


sunset from the kitchen window
Sunset from Kitchen Window
January 3, 2008

I have to be the first to say we are so very, very blessed to live where we do. This is a typical view from my kitchen window many nights. Washing a few larger pots and pans couldn't be more pleasant!

I let things bother me more than I should. I know that and yet it happens especially with genealogy. Last night in the wee hours of the morning worried about medical tests to be faced today I poured over the ships manifests images. It would have been so nice to have my great great grandparents reveal themselves. They didn't. My eyes were getting very tired yet I couldn't sleep then I came upon an entry. This was a family from England - father 41, mother 38 and children 19, 16, 15, 13,11,4, 3 and 3 months. In perfect script beside their names was the notation "to be deported". That meant the family was going back to England but to what? Not only had they travelled 7 days to get to Quebec they would have to travel 7 days back to England with nothing to go to. They had already given up their home, their jobs (if they had them), sold off most of their possessions so they wouldn't have to move them and raise money for the trip, and likely spent the last penny they had to buy tickets for the family to go to Canada. Once there all the hopes and dreams were dashed! I can't help but wonder what happened to them and I couldn't help shedding a tear knowing full well that things likely did not turn out "peachy keen" for this family.

Back to the search...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Persistence Pays

January 5, 2008

My husband surprised me with a bouquet of roses so I'm sharing their beauty with you. These vividly coloured roses found a place in the centre of the dining table bringing the room to life. What a contrast they provided against the greyness of the past few days. He always has such good taste :)

A lot of information can be gathered from one source even if that source is only two lines! Yesterday after a few days of searching through ship manifests I found my great grandparents! They travelled from their home in Leicester, England to Liverpool, England some 151.16 km northwest as the crow flies. The departed on June 18th 1909 aboard the Empress of Ireland owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway. There were a total of 1189 passengers. The SS Contract Ticket number is given. [A clue for searching antique shops.] No British Bonus was paid to the steamship booking agent. They arrived in Quebec on June 25, 1909 at 2:30 pm with twenty dollars in cash. His and hers occupations in England were given. This was already known but one more piece of confirmation. My great grandfather continued that occupation in Ontario however the ship's manifest indicates their final destination was to his father's. They settled in that community and remained there until their deaths (confirmed information). His father's occupation in Ontario is given something I already knew but this confirmed it. What isn't known is if my great grandfather worked for a brief time with his father (likely) and I'm assuming they lived with his parents until they were settled. She did not continue in her occupation in Ontario but rather set about having a family but from the date of the birth of their first child, they waited to get settled. The religion was listed as Church of England (Anglican) for both and that remained the same in Ontario for my great great grandfather. Some of the children and my great great grandmother converted to Baptist. I'm not sure why but in due time this information will be uncovered as well. So this record gave me new information as well as confirming information already known.

This record did not uncover the reason for immigration but knowing the underlying dynamics of English families I can say that my great grandparents immigrated because my great great grandparents had already immigrated. What I don't know is the exact date or ship by great great grandparents arrived on nor do I know why they immigrated or why they chose the area they did in Ontario to settle. So I'm now going through the ship manifests for the approximate year of immigration based on my great great grandfather's obituary notice. That means I will have to check the year before and the year after if I don't find them but all indication points to 1907 as the year of immigration. Hopefully when I find the record there will be some indication as to why they immigrated to Canada. Again I can make educated guesses based on information collected but I'm looking for actual proof.

I ordered the war records for two of my great uncles from another line on Monday. Apparently there can be a lot of great information including letters home in these records. My great great grandparents [noted above], a different line had two sons who served in WWI. One was reported missing but was later found in a French hospital. So when we get back from vacation, I will order both of their records as well. There should be some pretty interesting information some of which will provide more clues. And so the search continues...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Search Continues

snow on the fields
Snow on Fields
January 1, 2008

January holds the promise of a new year ready to fill with love, laughter and memories. For the most part it is cold and dreary perfect for indoor activities. This is the time of year I swing into high gear for genealogy research and will continue at this pace with the exception of our winter vacation until planting time. Don't get me wrong as genealogy is always on my mine but this is the time of year to attack those brick walls from a fresh perspective. Sometimes what is needed especially with research is to step away. December is such a busy month that it provides a bit of a break from thinking about my elusive ancestors.

Most of the time in January will be spent doing online research at Ancestry.com, the PRDH and Library and Archives Canada. Most of the research involves visually scanning microfilmed records not online family trees that at best are usually full of errors. I tend to keep very odd hours and get little sleep. The frustration level increases each time I draw a blank on one of my brick walls. In terms of genealogy, a brick wall is where you get to a person on one of your lines and suddenly you are at a standstill. There are no leads other than perhaps the name and the time frame. It is as if that person never existed! At the moment I have two brick walls of concern. One couple is my third great grandparents and the other my fourth great grandparents. What is frustrating about both is they were both French and Catholic. Anyone doing genealogy knows you can't get much better than that for records. Even more frustrating is I can trace down from the founding ancestor of my third great grandparents and upwards from me to my third great grandparents. And I've only been searching for the past six years for information on this one couple. The only thing I'm missing is the connecting generation. But I uncovered a very minute lead on my fourth great grandfather so perhaps it will lead to something.

The past few days I have been trying to find the ship my great grandparents and great great grandparents came from England on. [These are not related to the grandparents mentioned in the last paragraph.] I already have a lot of information on them but still haven't found the ship. According to the information I have my great grandparents married in England then emigrated to Canada arriving at their final destination in June of 1909. Well that narrows it down a bit considering in 1909 there were 203 arrivals from England. Each ship's manifest lists the names of the passengers and crew. For each manifest there can be upwards of 40 or more images to scan through in the hopes of finding your ancestors. That means scanning upwards of 8,000 images! The writing and quality are not the best at times but it is better than going through rolls of microfilm at the Archives and printing at home is a lot cheaper. If you would like to see a sample of what these records look like click here. That means massive eye strain from long hours in front of a computer screen viewing images with the full knowledge that perhaps the date is off by a year either way that could mean visually scanning upwards of another 16,000 images and I still might not find them.

Seriously my eyes look like I've been crying as the lids are swollen coupled with allergy shiners accented by lack of sleep circles. I should look right purdy by the time we leave for vacation. The good news is we are meeting up with some of my husband's relatives aka genealogy mecca :) My family knows I'm alive because I still cook for them and occasionally do the happy dance having found a new clue or the really excited, yelling "I found it". My husband stands in total awe that the blob aka his wife who is so engrossed in genealogy can actually show signs of life over a "name" or some other "clue". And so it goes, the search continues...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Canadian Geese

Canadian Geese
January 2, 2008

The new year has started peacefully surrounded by family, friends and nature. It hold all the promise of a great year ready to unfold all of its wonderment. The Canadian geese have been visiting us lately. They make a lot of noise but it is rather interesting watching their interactions. It is a rather large flock with only about a quarter of it being shown in the photo. Yesterday they were visiting while it was snowing. Such a pretty picture!

Garden Gnome

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Snow on Boxwoods

Snow on Boxwoods
January 2, 2008

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year