Feb 272018
Dabbling in DNA

  You may have seen the Ancestry ad where a man trades in his lederhosen for a kilt after taking a DNA test that shows he is more Irish than German. A word of warning—if you make your wardrobe choices based on a DNA test, you may want to make sure that store takes returns. […Read more]

Oct 222017
10 Tips for Finding Your Ancestor's Town

I admire my ancestors’ sense of adventure and determination to seek out better lives by migrating from Germany to Ukraine/Poland/Hungary to North America. But I curse that same sense of adventure, because whenever they moved, they often left their past lives behind so completely that I can’t figure out where they came from. Since most […Read more]

Oct 012017
Fremont Eatery Walkabout 2017

I feel like I’m on vacation every day. My Seattle neighborhood of Fremont has dozens and dozens of great places to eat within easy walking distance. When I travel, of course, I’m wandering around looking for fun places to eat, and in Fremont, I can do the same. Because restaurants come and go, I occasionally […Read more]

Sep 062017
The C in DACA stands for children

My Grandma Lydia was just 4 years old when her parents brought her to the U.S., an immigrant from what was then the Russian empire. She was pretty lucky compared to today’s Dreamers. Laws about entry were a lot vaguer, no passports required. Germans from Russia were often sneered at as “Rooshians,” but she lived […Read more]

Aug 092017
Fun with the Meyers Gazetteer

As children, we used to share what we did on our summer vacations. As an adult genealogist, I can’t wait to share what I learned on my summer vacation about finding ancestral towns in Germany! The Meyers Gazetteer has gone online (not new news), but at the recent IGGP conference, I learned that it has […Read more]

May 062017
Ode to Travel Shoes

The best shoes ever. EVER. These little beauties draw compliments when I wear them to the office with a skirt, yet are undaunted by the ankle-twisting paths of an African village. They’re right at home at a dressy British theater, yet sturdy enough to tromp through German vineyards or pound eight miles of Dubai’s never-ending […Read more]

Oct 302016
Online Security Crushes My Self-Esteem

I feel completely inadequate in my relationships whenever I’m faced with one of those online security forms asking me to answer a “secret question” to set up an online account. Their predefined set of questions mock me at every turn. Where did you and your spouse meet? (I’m not married.) Where was your first date […Read more]

Oct 242016
Adventures of an Election Observer

My reason for being in Ukraine became abundantly clear in a rundown bar on a Sunday morning in Odessa. I was serving as an international observer at Ukraine’s first parliamentary election after the Maidan Revolution had toppled the corrupt, Putin-puppet president eight months earlier. My observation partner, Kevin, and I had started the day early, […Read more]

Sep 152016
Welcome Back to Osthofen

From the very first email, I felt my ancestral town of Osthofen reaching out to welcome me. The email was, of course, not from the town itself but from my guide for the day, Ursula Feile from the tourist office. Her cheery note: “We’re so excited you’re visiting the town of your ancestors. We’ll show […Read more]

Aug 112016
The Art of the Squatty Potty

In travel, not all toilets are created equal. Some are much less equal than others. Of course, I am referring to the squat toilets found in many parts of the world outside of North America. Some can be gleaming porcelain fixtures, while others are nasty holes in the ground (and lots of variations in between). […Read more]