Scotland 2014 – Part 3

Day 8, June 3:
Got up around 7am, had breakfast on the boat, then departed from Fort William around 8:30.  Made it to Gairlochy locks at 9:30am.  We were apparently the first folks through the Moy Swing Bridge since the lock tender cranked furiously to get the bridge open for us.  Pretty neat to see that work.  We made it to Laggan Locks by 11:30am and made a quick stop to drop recycling before heading on through Laggan Avenue, a beautiful pine tree lined section of the canal.  I had some time to relax and knit since we had sailed this way before and I knew what to expect.  We hit Cullochy Locks at 2:00 after a short stop at the Great Glen park to have lunch at their pontoon.  The morning’s rain had mostly stopped by the time we were far enough from Fort William and it was shaping up to be a really pretty day.  From what we heard from others, it ALWAYS rains at Fort William, so our experience was pretty well average.  We also stopped at the Well of the Seven Heads again (it’s a pretty spot to tie up) where we were greeted by two swans and a batch of cygnets!  Papa swan was having nothing of our being there and demanded bread from the boat.  He almost didn’t let Doug off the boat since they were right up against the stern with their cygnets – there was some hissing and lunging involved.  We made Kytra lock at 3 and took our time getting to Fort Augustus by 3:30.  Doug made a spectacular parallel parking job (at the end of the time lapse below), and the boat behind us was so impressed that they recruited Doug to help with locking down.  The Lisa, the large sailboat behind us, had a crew of four seniors (pensioners if you’re British), and Doug was more than happy to lend a hand for such a lovely vessel.  We met the crew later for a pint or two at the Lock inn and hung around with them till about 10pm.  A great time!

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Day 9, June 4:
Got up early to catch a shower before the facilities filled up.  The shower facilities at Fort Augustus stink like wet sheep, but are still usable.  No other facility was quite as clean as the Gairlochy facility (except Caley’s marina), so I was a little bit spoiled I suppose.  We did a little backtracking this day because we had made such great time to Fort Augustus.  We took our time getting going in the morning and got underway around 9:15am.  Made it to Kytra Locks at 9:45 where we saw Linda again and got another gold star for proper life vest use.  Went through Cullochy at 10:45 after a short wait for another boat coming through.  Stopped again at the Well of the Seven Heads for a rest and a snack then turned back around to Cullochy Locks where we stopped and got out to see the Bridge of Oich.  We went through the lock at 1:30, then made it back through Kytra by 2:30 where we stopped to set up a little barbecue lunch with a single-use barbeque tray.  The lock tender’s dog was pretty interested in what we were doing and came over for some head scritches.  We made it back to Fort Augustus and went right down through the locks, having made it just in time for an opening.  Going back down that staircase is definitely quicker than going up.  We tied up at the bottom at 5:30, took a walk, had a pint at the Lock Inn, then it was back to the boat for a Doug-cooked meal, fajitas!

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Day 10, June 5:
We slept in a little, but were up for breakfast by 8:30 and pulled away from the pontoon at 9:30 into a drizzly, foggy, but very calm Loch Ness.  Loch Ness is probably one of the longer segments of the trip, so we only made it to Urquhart Bay Harbor at 12:30.  We stopped there to make lunch and then we were back off into the fog at 1pm.  The fog was finally starting to lift a little, but it had gotten pretty chilly.  It was still raining when we made it to Dochgarroch Lock at 2:30.  Shortly after leaving Urquhart Bay Harbor, we picked up two stowaways – two Mallard ducks had flown over and landed on the roof!  We fed the very friendly ducks a slice of bread and they hung around with us for about an hour, preening and drinking rain water off the roof before flying off.  After Dochgarroch Lock was the Tomnahurich bridge, and then we slowly sailed back into the Caley Cruisers marina.  A crew member came out to refuel the boat, then we tied up and were all settled with the bill by 5:30pm.  Made dinner, packed up, and relaxed for the evening.

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Day 11, June 6:
Got up, had breakfast, and handed the keys to the boat back over.  The VERY kind staff at Caley Cruisers offered to take us to the train station which was really VERY nice of them!  We hopped a train at I think 9:45am and took the four hour trip back to Edinburgh.  Pretty uneventful train ride, and we were both kinda bummed to be leaving such a great week behind.  Back in Edinburgh, we took a cab to the Grassmarket Hotel (it was MUCH warmer in Edinburgh and neither of us were interested in walking with our big backpacks.  The room wasn’t quite ready at the hotel, so we had a pint at the White Hart Inn, and then got settled in our room.  The room was a lot smaller than the previous room (three sides of the bed were flush up against the wall), but it really didn’t matter since we were just going to be sleeping there.  Headed off to see about finding some whisky to bring home (two half-liter bottles in addition to the Ben Nevis 10).  The shop keeper even let Doug fill his own bottle out of the casks lined up on the wall.  Walked around a bit since we hadn’t seen much of the other side of Edinburgh beyond the train station, and ended up at the Cloisters again for dinner.  Back to bed early since our flight was supposed to be at 8am.



Day 12, June 7:
Woke up to get ready for our flight when Doug realized that the flight had been delayed two hours.  Instead of rushing to get ready, we took our time, had breakfast at the bar next door, and settled up with the hotel at a leaisurely pace.  Hopped a cab, and made it to the airport with plenty of time since the flight had been delayed further – the inbound flight was late, so the departing flight on the same aircraft was running behind.  We finally boarded and headed back home, sad to leave such a great vacation behind.

Final Thoughts
We had some lessons learned on packing and grocery shopping that I’d like to share in case anyone reading this is looking for tips.

Things to Pack:

  • a deck of cards
  • clothes pins for hanging towels up
  • binoculars to help sight buoys and wildlife
  • a flag to represent your country or persuasion of piracy
  • male to male headphone cable for your mp3 player to plug into the jack on the stereo
  • inverter for the cigarette lighter port on the dash

Things we forgot or almost forgot to buy first round included paper towels, tissues, salt and pepper, sugar, cream, tea, and coffee.  Keep a journal or ship’s log!  It helped me go back and write up the blog posts and is just a fun way to remember what happened over the trip, even if it’s just a few lines about how neat the Moy Swing Bridge was or how far you travelled that day.  Don’t plan too much – the bridge/lock openings don’t run on any sort of schedule and it works best to take them as they come and not worry about time.  We had PLENTY of time to get there and back and could’ve even taken longer getting out to Fort William with no problem.  Overall?  I’d do this again in a heartbeat!  I didn’t at all like the one big Caribbean cruise we went on (too much structure, too little to do on the boat in between ports), but this really had the right pace of sight seeing and relaxation time.  Too much relaxation time (like at an all-inclusive resort) is SO ANNOYING to me – I like to go-go-go and see everything there is to see, but at the same time those go-go-go vacations never really feel like a vacation once you get home.  This felt like a vacation and, I keep saying it, but it was really just the right mix of time to relax and running around seeing the sights.  We’ve already started looking at taking boating holidays in other places around the world since this seems to be a pretty popular thing to do in Europe and there are a bunch of no-license-required waterways that allow novice boaters to have at it.  So, that was our Scotland vacation!  Can’t wait for the next one.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

One Local Summer 2014 – Meal 2


This kind of involved cobbling together a bunch of things from the farmer’s market.  I had the chicken in the freezer and had gotten the zucchini and other vegetables fresh from the market that day.  Wrapped the chicken (a whole breast, ribs and all) in a little bacon, just on top, grilled that with the zucchini and tossed the rest of the veggies in an aluminum foil pouch.  Added some dill to goat’s milk yogurt to make a sort of tzatziki sauce (minus the cucumbers and onions), and we had ourselves a meal!  A friend from college days past was in town to visit, so it was really nice to be able to share a One Local Summer Meal with her!

Zucchini – Jack’s Farm
Mushrooms – Oley Valley Mushrooms
Broccoli – North Star Orchard
Garlic Scapes – Jack’s Farm
Dill – Jack’s Farm
Onions – Jack’s Farm
Chicken – Mountain View Organics
Bacon – Country Time Farm
Goat’s Milk Yogurt – Shellbark Hollow Farm
Non Local – Salt, Pepper, Olive oil

Sepia Saturday 237: Ballet Dancers, art, poses, chiffon



This was another tough theme for me – there are no ballet dancers or artful poses in my collection of family photos.  This was the closest I could find to fit the theme, using the chiffon part.  The image above is of an unknown woman named Ann.  I have no other details about who she is and can’t seem to match her to any family member.  I have a hunch that this might be Anna Plansky, Earl Powis’ first wife, but can’t be sure since there aren’t many photos of her in the collection to compare with.  There’s no photographer studio listed on the photo and no other details to narrow down who she is, just a quick note, “With Love, Ann,” at the bottom of the cardboard photo holder.  The shoes make me think this is somewhere in the 1920s (love those pretty t-strap shoes!).  Going on the assumption that this might be Anna Plansky, she was 28 when she married Earl in 1920, which fits pretty well.  Despite all my hunches there’s no way to prove the woman in the photo is or isn’t Anna Plansky!  I have to admit that while I love going through these photos from the trunk of family pictures, it does sort of pain me a bit that we can’t connect a good number of them to anyone because there were no names/labels on the backs of the photos.  I would LOVE to connect this photo to living descendants and share the find with them, but without names/labels, its really impossible.


Sepia Saturday 236: Hair, drying, beauty, nails, strange headgear

2014.06W.63A really interesting theme!  I found something from another branch of my family tree that works for ‘strange headgear’ though not necessarily all that strange if you’re Catholic.  We have a nun in the family tree!  My mother, while born to two Catholics, was not raised in the Catholic church, so the religion and customs weren’t passed down, however it was clearly the prominent religion in that branch of family.  I also have somewhat of a penchant for the stories of people who never had children.  They’re just as important as the folks who did pass on their genetic code and ought to have their history shared as well.


L to R: Unknown, Sister Mary Emmerana, Norma (Innocenti) Rachocki, Unknown woman and child

Sister Mary Emmerana Brykczynski was born Veronica Brykczynski on 26 Jan 1892 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I’m not entirely sure that she was born in Milwaukee since I haven’t located her birth certificate yet, but I’m going based off the 1900 Census.  Her other siblings were born in Poland, as were her parents, but she seems to be the first sibling born in the USA.  I have a wild collection of misspellings for the surname Brykczynski – it was spelled Brewczynska at the parish where she served, but I’ve also seen Brewzynski, Brizzinsky, etc.  Brykczynski seems to be the most accurate spelling I can find, and the one other descendants used.  After 1900 I lose track of her on paper records and can’t seem to find her on any census after 1900.  I went on a hunt recently to find information out about where she lived and when she died since I didn’t even have that yet!  I knew from her sister’s obituary (my great grandmother, Annie Brykczynski) that she lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the 1950s.  I contacted a convent in Kenosha, hoping it was the right one, and sent along a photo and what details I did know.  They emailed back and said that she wasn’t associated with them, but her habit seems to be associated with the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Elm Grove, Wisconsin.  They passed along contact information as well, so I called and within 15 minutes, I had an email with her file information (looks like a rolodex card) as well as a scan of her obituary.  Incredible!  The obituary is really a treasure because of the kind words of her fellow sisters.  It opens a little door into her life as a nun and gives me a sense of the sort of person she was without ever having met her.  My mom has some memory of her and recognized the photos provided by the SSND order right away.  In the above photo, while there’s no date, she’s likely visiting the family in PA for her brother’s funeral in 1957.

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GoodeBox – July 2014


Another month, another GoodeBox!  This one is kinda mediocre for me.  The one product I have no use for (Softcup), but there’s one I’m REALLY excited to try (the hair oil).  I might have to go back and re-check my preferences (EDIT: I did mark “NONE” on Feminine Hygiene products), but I have a feeling that everyone is getting the Softcup, so that’s probably not something I could’ve avoided anyway.  The nail polish remover pads are kinda weak as a sample since there are only three, but i’ll no doubt use them.  The box did arrive late, but that was likely due to the July 4th holiday messing up shipping.  Anyway, on to the product list!

  • Evofem Softcup – 14ct/$7.99-$9.99 – This is basically a disposable Diva Cup.  Since the topic is feminine hygiene, you can stop reading here if it makes you uncomfortable (though it shouldn’t).  tl;dr – I have no use for this at all.  I was a long-time Diva Cup user until I no longer needed the Diva Cup (I’m trying not to get into personal details on a public blog, so stick with me here).  I still don’t need my Diva Cup, so I have no use for these either.  Really though, the Softcup doesn’t make sense against the Diva Cup, and if I did need to use feminine hygiene products again, I’d just go get a new Diva Cup ($30 each) instead of disposable cups that still cost more over the long run.  There was also a $2 off coupon availble for this product.
  • Balanced Guru No Frizz Balancing Oil – 1oz/$25 – I’m super excited to try the sample, but the second I saw the price, my heart sank.  The sample size is .5 oz, so half the full size which means that almost pays for the box itself.  It’s got a great scent, somewhat herbal, lemongrassy, and has none of the bad ingredients I won’t use on my hair.  It is basically just oils, so if you’ve got greasy hair to begin with, this won’t help, but my hair is SO dry lately, oils and creams are practically a necessity.  It feels like a little goes a long way though, and there’s a coupon for 20% off.
  • Lauren Brooke Finishing Powder – 6gm/$17 – Sample size is 4.5gm which is kinda small, so I can’t really see paying $17 for something just slightly bigger unless it really is amazing.  The color is about right, and if it helps absorb oil, it isn’t really something I need, but is something I’d be willing to try.  A quick test on the back of my hand shows that it’s light and not heavy at all, with a matte appearance.  The product card also has a 20% off coupon code.
  • La Fresh Eco-Beauty Nail Polish Remover Acetone-Free Pads – 20ct/$10.99 – I had nail polish on, so I decided to give this a try right away since the polish was starting to fade anyway.  Acetone-free means more environmentally friendly, but it also means that they just don’t work that well.  It took MUCH longer to take off the polish, and while the scent is really nice, it leaves behind this gross oily residue that I couldn’t apply new polish over anyway.  I’ll still have to go back over with acetone remover just to get the residue off and prep my nails for new polish.  So, these are a total NOPE for me.
  • Avitalin Gentle Micropeel – 15ml/$55 – Holy expensive batman!  I did miss trying this on the last box, so I’m glad I got it this time, but I’d never buy it at that price.  Still, it will be fun to try.
  • Diva Clean Organic Body Wash – Full Size/$20 – This wasn’t on the product card which was weird!  It doesn’t really have a strong scent, but having small body wash samples to throw in my travel bag is great, so no complaints from me.  Still expensive for a body wash, so unless it does something really amazing (which, body wash?  c’mon), it’s not worth the price.  It does still use SLS, so it’s really no different from any other body wash.

I did see the Neuth creme on the card again, and I was a little bummed I didn’t get the Kari Gran Tinted Lip Whip (I love lip products).  The theme of the box was the guest curator, Mommy Greenest, Rachel Sarnoff.  I’m not a mom and have never heard of her blog, so it didn’t really mean much to me that she was the guest curator.  I did take a quick peek at her blog though, and a lot of what she said in her about page made sense to me – better choices without judgement.  Just like the Nail Polish Remover pads, they don’t work for me, so I’m going to stick with my acetone remover, but I might use it with a three-free polish instead.