After a long flight with a layover in Montréal (the Québécois French and accent is more different than I expected, I had difficulty understanding at times) we landed in Vancouver and spent the night with my Dad and Colleen before getting up early the next morning to do the Vancouver to Spokane drive (my grandmother's funeral was that day). Unfortunately the border crossing took nearly 3 hours with the queue and then there was "a problem" with Macsen's passport. They had us go into the immigration building where the officer paced back and fourth with Macsen's French passport in his hand, chatting quietly to other officers with concerned looks on their faces, occasionally looking up at the both of us and then typing away on his computer. This went on for 20 minutes at which point we began to get fairly nervous. Finally he came back to us and said, "There's a problem with this passport, it's not machine readable and you're now required to have a machine readable passport in order to enter the U.S. We cannot let you in without it unless you have a good reason. A funeral is a good reason, but we're trying to figure out how to get you out of having to pay the $300 fine." At that point Macsen said, "I have my British passport in the car which is machine readable, would that help?" A look of relief came over the officer's face (we saved him a great deal of paperwork no doubt) and he told us to go get it, when we did the officer sitting next to him wryly asked, "Just how many passports do you have in the car?" Fortunately it was just a rare instance of immigration officer humour and they became chatty and friendly, asking us about the attempted car bombings in London and telling us about the one in Glasgow airport which was the first we had heard about it. He then proceeded to tell us about a group of Iraqi police they had been recently training about border control, "..but they don't care, they let anyone through anyway." he finished with a shake of his head. Not exactly eager to get into a political discussion we apologized for the trouble and went on our way. This cost us a lot of time and we didn't arrive until after my grandmother's ceremony at the cemetery, but the family were very happy that we had done the 32 hours travelling just to be there, my grandfather especially who held me for a long time.
This is the park that I played in as a child with my cousin, Aaron. He now has a one year old baby boy. Everyone's growing up.
I used to be able to swing high enough to touch the branch with my toes, but now the tree has grown more than I have.
chilling in Mom's herb garden
my aunt Cindy's bruschetta which she's made for me since I was a child + a mojito
My cousin Scott. He and his long-time partner, Gary, used to be very active in the Seattle music scene, often performing their music in clubs. I love Scott's singing voice and they had some pretty amazing electronica going on. Sadly I learned on this trip that Scott has been diagnosed with Parkinson's.
Mya and Audrey feeding the chickens (my cousin Pamela's daughters)
my aunt Cindy and rooster
Macsen pretending to accidentally walk into the frame. ;)
my grandfather, my mother
My grandfather is a woodworker and has created everything from ornate chess tables to lamps and children's toys. Each of his pieces are beautifully handcrafted, often in rosewood or cedar. This visit he gave me something very special, a large cedar jewelry box (it has a wonderful cedar aroma every time I open it). It was fortunate that this visit I took my giant suitcase as I had so many gifts for all of my family (including lots of cheese -- no relation), otherwise I wouldn't have been able to bring it back to London with me.
best.thai.food.ever. from Linnie's Thai, Spokane (yes, Spokane).
& pork tacos with mango pineapple chutney from The Elk Public House
We discovered Linnie's Thai a few years ago thanks to some food loving family members of mine, it was some of the best Thai we've ever eaten and it's just a little nondescript restaurant in a stretch mall in Spokane. It is family run, headed by a small strict looking Thai woman (Linnie herself?) This time we went in just before closing time and rushed through the menu trying to decide what to order for takeout when she walked up to us and said, "Last year when you were here you ordered #15, Green Curry with Peas." Our mouths dropped open, not only did she remember us from a year ago, but also exactly everything we had ordered. She ended up being quite friendly and we chatted with her for awhile, turned out she used to live in Kent, England of all places. We took our delicious food to my mother's house and had enough to eat for 2 days for only $26.
it was it was hot (104 F / 40 C), we stayed in the water
A face for Dave Gorman ... salmon tacos at the Adrift, Anacortes
The Business, still going strong.
My grandfather (dad's dad) used to build a model railroad in his garage. He worked on it every day for years, the thing grew big enough for my grandparents to attach a dedicated building for it to the garage and moved it there (but then it started to expand into the garage again to my grandmother's exasperation). He was always so inventive with it; using tree bark for mountains, lichen for trees, and adding minute details to interiors. He hasn't been well for the past year, barely getting out of bed most days, so my grandma has begun selling off pieces of the railroad. She asked me what buildings I would like to have and I immediately said, "The brothel!" Yes, the brothel. It may seem like a strange choice, but he made it so amusing complete with little topless can-can dancers. "Oh, I'm sorry honey, I already sold the brothel." (!!!) I surprised myself at how upset I was about that, but fortunately several other buildings I loved remained. Still, choosing them wasn't easy and it was hard to not become too emotional in his workroom piled high with paintbrushes, bottles of varnish and glue, unfinished buildings, and a wedding photo of me displayed near the door. I only lost it when next to a collapsed carousel, with its little plastic horses scattered out over the table, I saw a calendar still left open to the year 2005. I chose the Pine Cone Cafe.
While in Anacortes we met up with my childhood friend, Neil. We lost contact with each other when we were 18 and it was always a big regret in my life. We reconnected in the past year and a half and have met up a few times since then. This time we went out for drinks and then dropped his girlfriend at home before going to the donut house, buying two each and chocolate milk (talk about reliving childhood. ;) I sat with he and Macsen on the beach while we talked and reminisced while looking out over the dark water. Suddenly a rent-a-cop walked up and told us "the beach closes at dusk".. the beach closes? He escorted us out because clearly 3 adults talking and laughing while eating donuts and chocolate milk on a beach is a disturbance to society. We moved on to the top of Cap Sante with its views over the town and ocean and continued talking and stargazing until the early hours of the morning, we even saw a brief showing of the Aurora Borealis dancing red and green across the northern sky. Neil and I always used to enjoy stargazing together so I think this meant a lot to both of us. And then a cop (a real one this time) drove up to us and told us to move on, the park is closed. He was friendlier than the first and didn't feel the need to hang around to make sure we left, but all my life we had been able to sit on the beach or Cap Sante at night, sometimes even sleeping out there under the stars, without being told it was illegal. It seems nowadays there is no such thing as free entertainment, not even enjoying nature. Either go out to a proper establishment and spend your money (not that anything is open late at night in a small town like Anacortes) or sit in your house. Land of the free?
I intended to throw these sunflowers out to sea for my grandmother (her favorite flower) as Macsen and I did with carnations for his grandfather, but as we began to drive out to the beach I turned around and went to my paternal grandmother's house and gave them to her (keeping one for myself to press). It seemed more fitting to celebrate the living.
Arg, I know, getting a decent fish taco on this side of the atlantic is near impossible! That's why I know exactly what I'm going to order immediately if it's on any menu in America. Out of desperation I have started making my own at home, including salsa as most British supermarkets seem to think "salsa" is supposed to be some kind of sickly sweet tomato relish. ;)
I hope you're having fun with the lemurs! :)
again again, so many wonderful pictures :)
even for the other francophones, if we don't *focus*, some québecois people can be hard to understand
(i'd love to know, some day, how their accent grew so different from the other ones..)
nice post, your family and its stories is fascinating
It was bittersweet, but it was also "easier" than I expected. I was concerned that my Mom was going to be overcome with grief, but she's been handling it well and I've handled it better than I thought I would too.
When I get a house I want a swing in the backyard, I think it's very therapeutic. ;)
On July 26th, 2007 07:42 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
Beautiful, beautiful post! I love the photos of you in the swing. :)
You made me laugh with this: "a rare instance of immigration officer humour" Remember when they made you say, "Massachusetts Mazda"?
You even made me miss Anacortes... Neil & the Business - Awww... & those donuts - mmm!
Also, I'm glad to see your dad is still painting.
Haha - I forgot about "Massachusetts Mazda", the scary thing about that instance was that the officer wasn't joking. :)
It is strange, this was the first time I went back to Anacortes that I didn't miss it at all. I mean, I never really longed to live there again after I left, but when visiting I would sometimes get little nostalgic tugs at my heart. Now it feels so foreign to me, the only things that make me remember it as "home" is the nature. My grandparents might be moving into a home closer to the Canadian border and it's odd to think that if they do I will have virtually no reason to ever return there unless I make a dedicated trip to see Neil. Though there is something special about the musical talent that has come out of Ana and the world seems to be discovering its uniqueness too -- its when I listen to that music that I feel that nostalgia again.
p.s. I got a maple donut of course. :)
Hi, Naomi. I see that you had a wonderful journey. Nice nature and delicious bruschetta. I think that you were very happy during your travel. I always smiles when I went to the past, to the childhood.
I hope that you have a nice London time now. :)
Hi Krisochka, thank you for your comments (and to my Yann Tiersen post, didn't think anyone read that. :) I will reply to you there too.
I was very happy, it was an important trip for me and my family. I've learned a lot about myself and changed a great deal in the past year -- for the better I think -- and my family noticed. Being so far away makes me appreciate the small simple things more and I cherish every moment I get with them in person.
London is London, always the mixed feelings about this city. But I am enjoying it while I am here. :)
Thanks for letting us into your colorful world once again. My sympathies for your cousin's diagnosis. Glad to hear that the passport situation turned out for the best, especially considering the state of heightened terrorist threats these days.
My favorite part? Remembering the height of the trees and reflecting on an age gone by. Brilliant to capture that.
We seemed to just miss all the hassle with the airports and immigration. Breezed through Heathrow leaving London which is highly unusual, only 30 mins from entering the airport to being at the departure gate.. the next day Glasgow happened and suddenly there was heightened security in all airports and the queues were out the airport doors again (which is how I'm used to seeing Heathrow these days!) We also happened to fly into Canada instead of America which made dealing with immigration much easier. And now with the flooding in London many flights are delayed, people having to queue out in the torrential rain with no cover (they were actually handing out raincoats). Ah, London. ;)