Cue the Twilight Zone theme

26 11 2014

This is a long story about how two people who met 40-something years ago met again recently. But first some back story…

Very old history

Between 1890 and 1903, an English family had six children — four sons and two daughters. We’ll ignore the two girls for this story as one stayed in the same English town her whole life; the other came to live in Australia, but she isn’t part of this story.

Two of the sons went to Canada as young men and joined the Canadian armed forces. One (Alfred) died in World War One while fighting for Canada in Belgium; the other (Fred) was declared medically unfit for service and remained in Canada for a while. Another son (Jack[1]) emigrated to Canada and joined Fred, then Jack[1] emigrated to Michigan to work and to start a farm. Meantime, Fred went back to England and then he and the youngest son, Charles, emigrated to Western Australia (1923).

Charles was my grandfather, and Fred and Jack[1] were my great uncles. Fred died in Western Australia in 1967, so he’s not part of this story either. Jack[1] remained in Michigan his whole life, although he did take a trip back to England in the 1970s to meet up with Charles and the sister who had remained. Jack[1] died in Michigan in 1995, aged 95. Charles lived in Western Australia from his arrival in 1923 until his death in 1981.

Mid-20th Century

Jack[1] had three children — two sons (H and C) and a daughter (J). All lived in Michigan for much or all of their lives, with only C moving to Florida and then later Iowa. All married and had children (my second cousins).

For those who know I have family in Michigan, it is H’s family whom I visit.

1970s and 1980s

In the early to mid 1970s, some of the distant family from Michigan were living in Sydney, Australia and on their circuitous way back to the US, they stayed in Western Australia with my parents for a few days and then with me (in Perth) for a few more days. I was never quite sure how we were related (like most teenagers, I had no interest in the family tree then), but have since found out that Jack[2] was a nephew or cousin of Joan, who was married to C. Jack[2]’s wife at the time, Judy, was with him, and it was Jack[2] and Judy who visited me. In other words, they were likely 2nd or third cousins once or twice removed! And only related by marriage to C. Judy was even further distant as she was related by marriage to Jack[2] and then he by marriage to C. It’s complicated…

When Jack[2] and Judy were staying with me, they gave me a sweatshirt from Michigan State, a sweatshirt I wore with pride for several years before it wore out! At that point I had never been to the US — and nor had most Australians — so to have a sweatshirt from a US university was a ‘big thing’ 😉 This sweatshirt appears again later in this tale…

In the mid-1970s, I lived in Carnarvon, Western Australia and would occasionally go out fishing with friends. Yes, this is relevant…

Skip forward to the mid-1980s, which is when I lived in Canada for a year. I visited my Michigan family twice that year — once at Easter when I first met many of them, and then again at Thanksgiving (or thereabouts). I spent most of my time with H and his family, including my great uncle Jack[1], but never met H’s daughter S as she lived away from home at the time.

Are you still with me?

1990s and 2000s

During the 1990s and 2000s, I had the opportunity to travel to the US on numerous occasions, and whenever I could, I visited H’s branch of my Michigan family. At some point, I eventually met my second cousin S and her family. She moved around a bit in the intervening years, but eventually settled in northern Michigan, some three to four hours’ drive from H and the rest of his immediate family.

Early October 2014

In the week before I left on my recent NZ and US trip, my husband and I were watching an Australian food show — ‘Paddock to Plate’. The host/chef was in Carnarvon and showing the produce from there, including some pink snapper he had caught. During the 1970s when I lived in Carnarvon, I caught a couple of magnificent pink snapper and told my husband that the TV host’s fish were just tiddlers compared to what I’d caught. I went to my old photo albums and found a photo of me proudly holding up my pink snapper, which I showed him.

His first reaction was ‘Is that you?’ followed by ‘Why are you wearing a Michigan State sweatshirt?’ So I briefly told him that some people called Judy and Jack[2] gave it to me and that they were from Michigan and had spent time with me in Perth many years ago (about 40 years ago!), and that they were distantly related somehow. Neither of us thought any more about it, though I did wonder what had ever happened to these distant relations of mine, and thought I should ask how they were related to me when I got to Michigan in about 10 days’ time.

To be honest, after that sweatshirt went into the ragbag, I had completely forgotten about Judy and Jack[2] in the intervening 40 years. When you’re not even 20, you really aren’t that interested in relations from afar 😉


Mid October 2014

I hadn’t been staying long with H and L (his wife), when L mentioned that Judy was now working for S in her store in northern Michigan! And when I later got to S’s town, I met Judy again, some 40 years after last seeing her! She is S’s right-hand person in the store, and they didn’t know each other or that they were vaguely related by marriage until relatively recently.

Judy had been a customer of S’s for a while, then S offered her a job. At one point after they started working together, something came up about a school (a small high school in rural Michigan, three hours away), and they did the ‘Do you know so-and-so…?’ thing and found out that S’s uncle C and his wife were related to Jack[2], Judy’s ex-husband of many years.

That was freaky enough, but when S mentioned to Judy recently that her cousin Rhonda from Australia was coming to visit, they put two and two together and Judy realised that it was me — the person she had stayed with in Perth all those years ago! Much squealing and ‘OMG’ing ensued, I believe 😉

So after 40 years, I got to re-meet the person who had given me a sweatshirt that I remember so fondly. Judy and her husband had dinner with us the only night I stayed with S and her husband, and we marvelled at how spooky it was that we’d caught up again and the circumstances. Especially as I’d only talked about her less than two weeks before.

As I said, cue the Twilight Zone music about now…

Judy and I are now Facebook friends 😉

Santa Fe dogs get treated really well

23 11 2014

There are dogs everywhere in Santa Fe. Not street dogs — well cared for dogs, on leashes, with owners in tow, and, if it’s cold, with little jackets on. Many are allowed in shops and galleries, and some places cater to dogs (see photo below).

Surprisingly, there’s no dog poop on the sidewalks! Which I guess is why the city has no problems with dogs in stores.



23 11 2014

While going through my photos from the trip, I spotted this one that I didn’t realise I’d taken. I was trying to capture the landscape outside the bus, and in the process I captured the reflection of me looking outside the window.


Photos from my trip to NZ and the US

23 11 2014

For those who’ve been following along… here are the links to most of my photos on Flickr from all the different aspects of my recent 6-week trip to New Zealand and the USA.

The only photos missing from this list are photos of my Michigan family — I don’t post pictures of family. Ever.

Christchurch, NZ photos:

TranzAlpine train trip photos:

Michigan (general):

Houston (general):

NASA tour:

Houston International Quilt Festival: (227 photos)

Houston IQF class work I did (or teacher samples):

QuiltVenture trip (after IQF): (760 photos, including one video of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsal we attended!)

Logan, UT: (where I stayed after the others left, and where we got snow!)

And just because they are everywhere, an album of patterns: (spotted in carpets, wall coverings, curtains, cushions, architecture etc.)


Big wheels turning

23 11 2014

Spotted on the drive home from the airport last week… check out the size of the tires, compared to the size of the tires on the truck carrying this load!


Training them well

18 11 2014

I observed a gratifying bit of chivalry and kindness today.  I was seated on the shuttle bus between the Sydney international and domestic airports when a lady got on. She was probably in her 70s… perhaps a little older or younger.

A young man  (in his late 20s or 30s) gave his seat to her and moved to stand in front of where I was sitting.  His boarding pass was in his jeans pocket and I saw his name. He was Darren Glass from the West Coast Eagles (I don’t know if he’s still playing); I recognised his face after spotting his name.

When we got to the domestic terminal,  there were a few stairs to climb.  I was struggling to balance my carry-on luggage along with my newly acquired Duty Free liquor for my husband,  and he offered to help.

No doubt the upbringing from his parents had a lot to do with his behaviour,  but I think the Eagles did too. He was the only younger person on the entire bus who offered their seat to an older person. It was good to see that basic good manners aren’t dead yet.

Winter wonderland

18 11 2014

My last two and a bit days in the US were spent with some friends who live in Logan,  UT,  some 90 minutes drive north of Salt Lake City. Mostly we just hung out in their lovely house,  as there was quite a bit of snow on Friday night and it was very cold on Saturday night (about 4F… which is about -15C!!). On Saturday we went for a drive up Logan Canyon,  which was quite spectacular.

Like Salt Lake City,  Logan is surrounded on two sides by mountains,  which makes for some stunning views.

Thanks for  a relaxing couple of days,  Dana  and Karl!





More photos: