Until I spent the weekend with my 92-year-old grandfather, I assumed that the epitome of one’s past, present and future was reflected in the children. But after being with Grampa, it’s definitely him more than my two little ones that shows me this.

Grampa reminds me of what I used to be: a little girl drawing pictures of flowers and writing, “I LOV YUO GAMBA” in squiggle crayons. Grampa reminds me of what I am: a 44-year-old woman who needs to remember that being 44 is just a number. Grampa reminds me of my future: if I take care of myself, I’ll hopefully be 92 and working and taking care of a house and running circles around my 44 year old grandchildren.

Grampa taught me so much this weekend about our family history, about him, and even about myself. I think it’s a rare treat for a family historian to come home from a family visit with her 92-year-old Grampa with 485 scans, 602 stories, and a lifetime of memories.

Thanks, Grampa.

Grampa and his sister Harriet


I had a Water entry all planned out where I was going to tell you about family trips to Santa Cruz, swim lessons in Minnesota, and my encounter with a past life regressionist who informed me of my fear of water.  However, since this is about me and I get to choose, I’m going to instead tell you about our recent trip to the beach in Maine.

To begin, I first have to tell you about our dear friends from Ohio.  We met on the internet through a mommies email group of women all pregnant and due the same month as my daughter.  Sheri and I bonded.  When our girls were five, our families met in Chicago one year and it was almost too good to be true that ALL of us got along.  Since then, we’ve shared a family vacation in California, I’ve been to Ohio a couple of times (and brought my daughter with me once!).  In our co-genealogy work, we’ve also discovered that we are cousins.  My 5-year-old son has dubbed us FUZZINS (they are friends who are also cousins).

This year was another co-family vacation, but in Maine.  We rented a beautiful beach house in Kennebunkport, just a short distance from Goose Rocks Beach.  The house itself had a nice third story loft area that we decided would be a nice place to banish allow the kids to play.  The second floor had two baths, 2 bedrooms with twin beds, a master bedroom and another large room with a queen bed.  The bottom floor had a dining room, a kitchen, and living room and a front room.  The perfect amount of space for our two families.  We were afraid by the description that it was going to be too far from the ocean, but it’s literally right around the corner and we could hear the waves while we were sleeping.

Goose Rocks Beach was also perfect.  There were enough people there so that you knew it was fun, but not enough to call it crowded.  At low tide, you can walk out to an island that is inaccessible a high tide.  There were also several of Signa’s favorite areas where she found hermit crabs, sea snails and other living critters.  The waves were gentle enough that Will could play in them, but strong enough that he WOULD play in them.  Marc and I even joined our friends in boogie boarding one hot afternoon.
The water was amazing.  So different from what I’m used to at the Pacific Ocean’s Santa Cruz beach.  It was warmer and clearer.  I had never been in an ocean where I could see my feet through the water.  Some days the water was colder than others, but all in all, it was definitely warmer.  And I definitely liked it that way!  I loved lying on the shore and jumping in when I needed to cool off.  I loved watching Will frolic in the ocean, punching, jumping and screaming at the waves.  I loved seeing Signa run off with Daddy with her empty bucket and come back all smiles with a bucket full of “friends” (that would then die in said bucket throughout the heat of the day…).

But most of all, I loved being with my Fuzzins.

Speaking of airlines, it’s amazing how much they have changed.  I remember flying Pan-Am as a child and getting treated like royalty.  It’s not like this anymore.  Here is the letter I sent to the CEO of Continental after our trip:

Dear Jeffery A. Smisek:

There was a short “movie” at the beginning of the flight today during which you announced that Continental and United are doing a good job merging.  You also note that one of your main priorities is customer service.  I, however, am not sure that your staff shares your priorities or your view of the merger.  From the outset of our flights for this vacation, we’ve had nothing but problems and cranky staff from those of both United and Continental. 

I work in the customer service industry and so I know how difficult it is to maintain professionalism and friendliness in the face of mergers, pay-cuts, and the public in general.  However, I strive to make sure that my customers know they are my priority.  However instead of feeling like we were someone’s priority for this vacation, we were made to feel like we were cattle- a necessary evil with no deserving respect.

In San Francisco, we waited in line for 35 minutes for a kiosk labeled, “Continental”.  Since our tickets were clearly marked “Continental” we had no reason to believe we should be standing anywhere else.  When the kiosk didn’t work, we flagged down a woman in a Continental uniform who was clearly irritated by us and told us we had to see the United representative.  She gestured to “That Guy over There.”  He was, we were told, the only person who could help us.  So my family of four went and stood in another line for 25 minutes for “That Guy over There.” 

“That Guy over There” proceeded to check our baggage only part way through our trip (it stayed in Cleveland while we continued on to Manchester).  He also failed to give us all the boarding passes for the day.  At LAX, we had to run and scramble to get our passes from a gate attendant who treated us like we were stupid.  We asked where our next gate was and he told us to look at the board.  But our flight, a Continental flight, was not listed on the board.  Finally we asked someone else and they told us (with irritation) that we needed to look at the United board.  We now had very little time to make it to our gate for our next flight.

In Manchester, we found that our luggage was lost and would be delivered around 2pm the next day to our hotel.  Our luggage was not delivered until midnight and that was only after making several dozen calls.

On our trip home, the flights were all “over-sold” and the attendants were rude and overworked, rolling their eyes at us constantly.  At every airport we’ve visited this trip (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Manchester) all your staff have been frazzled and rude. I realize that I’m not a frequent leisure traveler, but I’ve not experienced this level of poor customer service with other airlines when I travel for business.  I usually go the cheapest route, regardless of airline.  This was my first United/Continental experience and, in the future, I will keep this experience in mind and choose accordingly, despite costs.  It was extremely disappointing and I hope that your merger straightens out soon so that you can work on the customer service aspect of your flights.

Deborah E. Mascot


I was fast-forwarding through commercials the other evening when I experienced a flashback through my whole body. I felt like I was transported to another time. I quickly pressed replay to see what it was that set me off. It was this:

A commercial for a show called Pan-Am. I hadn't seen that logo since I was a child when Dad worked for them for a decade or so. Back then I saw it on everything. Our duffel bags. Mom and Dad's winter coats. Our toothbrushes. The notepads we drew on. The pens we drew with. Etc. On E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. That logo was more familiar to me than I even could explain in words. And yet, if you asked me to describe it, I wouldn't be able to. It's a logo that is a FEELING more than a THING. And now they are making a show about it. I can’t decide if I should record it or slap my forehead in horror. So I think I’ll do both.