A Reunion and a Mystery

A few weeks ago, my dad and I attended a family reunion with 100+ strangers.

Let me explain.

About a year ago, as I was doing some genealogy research, I learned that a family reunion was being planned for August 2015 in the town where my mom grew up. The reunion was actually for my father’s relations, but he grew up a couple of towns over from my mom.

The reunion was for the descendants of William Bloom, my sixth-great-grandfather. I knew that I wouldn’t know a soul, but I had high hopes that my dad would find a long-lost cousin there (he had many aunts and uncles).

I also thought that the reunion would be a good excuse to visit Pennsylvania again. I have many good childhood memories of traveling to see my grandparents and great-aunts in Pennsylvania (my parents moved to New York when they married).

We started off the trip with ice cream at 10:00 am. Hershey’s ice cream…








It’s not the most exciting drive, but I relished the journey’s traditions, such as clapping and hooting as we came upon the Welcome to PA sign.

I was saddened to learn that “the Indian store” had closed. It was a shop that sold Native American crafts and candy, and we would always stop there to get gas. I was also saddened to learn that we were no longer able to drive through “Stinky Town,” a town with a huge paper mill at its center. Now the highway goes aroouund the town.

We stopped and visited with my aunt and uncle on the way to check in to our apartment rental. It was great to listen to them talk about people they grew up with. Lots of drama in those small towns!

On the way to the reunion the next day, we stopped in downtown Curwensville. All of the places we used to visit were long gone. Buzzard’s candy store, the Tastee-Freeze. The only shop that was open was the Dollar Store and it was packed.

The reunion was held at the town park. When we arrived, there were probably 100 people there already. As we ate our lunch (it was bring your own) we made small talk with our neighbors at the picnic table. Many people had traveled from other states, which surprised me.








The one descendant to whom we were all related had 14 children. So someone was taking photos of each child’s descendants. My dad and I laughed when it turned out that we were the only people representing poor Elizabeth Bloom. I was glad that we were there to represent!

After chatting with people for a couple of hours, we headed back to the apartment. I walked downtown to scope out a restaurant for dinner. Even though we were staying in the county seat, the place was a ghost town. I saw exactly three stores and a few restaurants/bars. I found a nice-looking restaurant. And I also found this:

A relic from long ago...
A relic from long ago…









Yes, a video store! My dad and I went in and I bought three previously used DVDs. Oh, how I miss browsing the movies at a movie rental shop.

All in all, it was a fun trip and my conversations with some fellow genealogy nerds inspired me to restart the research.

Oh, what’s the mystery, you ask? Well, it has nothing to do with the reunion…

When I visited the Bahamas a few months ago, I was looking to buy some tea at the grocery store. I picked up a box of Twinings “Nightly Calm” tea. I’d never heard of it, but it looked interesting. I ended up loving it.

I’ve been looking for it in stores and haven’t found it yet. So imagine my surprise when I was poking through the bathroom cabinets in the apartment and found this:








A. What is a tea bag doing in a bathroom cabinet with toiletries.

B. What is the tea that I’ve been searching for for months doing in a bathroom cabinet with toiletries.

I do not have the answers to these questions. I took this as a sign of… something…When I came back home, I ventured to the Twinings website and learned that a grocery store near me should carry it. Hooray!

I leave you with a photo of the open road:

Heading back to Rochester...
Heading back to New York…

The Alchemist Who Crocheted While Listening to Edith Piaf

I’m a bit behind on the birthday list because of a little thing called 102 inches of snowfall. However, I managed to check off three items in the past couple of weeks:

1. Read The Alchemist

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is not on the Modern Library’s Top 100 list, but it is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read for years. It was a quick and delightful read with an inspirational message (Follow your bliss…create your own destiny, etc.). As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”

2. Took a crocheting class

I walked into the class knowing that it might be a disaster because I’m left-handed. So I wasn’t overly disappointed when it turned into a disaster. The instructor was nice but didn’t know how to instruct me. It took me two hours to get this far:









I bought two big skeins of yarn, so I am going to try teaching myself. I’ve reserved library books about crocheting that feature left-handed instructions and I’ve found a few YouTube videos on the subject. Wish me luck.

3. Bought an Edith Piaf album

Every year, I choose a musician I don’t know much about and buy one of his/her albums. The album I purchased is a random album of her popular songs. When I listen to it, I’m transported to a French nightclub during World War II. It’s awesome.

Twenty-six items left and three months left as of tomorrow!




“There is great happiness in not wanting, in not being something, in not going somewhere.”

—J. Krishnamurti

So, about this blog. It has no defined purpose at the moment. I don’t know what it is about, or where it will go. It will most likely start out as a hodge podge of thoughts, and may remain that way! I would like to attempt to chronicle the journey that this year’s “birthday list” takes me on.

For those of you who don’t know about the “birthday list” phenomenon, I shall explain. I was slightly traumatized about turning 30 and being broke, single, and not being on anything remotely resembling a career path. (Ask me how I feel about being in the same situation at 34!!)

So in order to distract myself from the impending doomsday, I decided to do 30 things I had never done…in the 60 days leading up to my date of birth. Quite ambitious, no? Needless to say, subsequent birthdays have not been much easier to handle. Therefore, I have continued on with the birthday list phenomenon. This year, I embark on my sixth birthday list journey.

The 60-day deadline proved to be stressful, so the following year, I changed it to 90 days…and somehow it morphed into a 365-day thing last year. This year, I think I am going to start now, and that will give me four months to complete 35 things. We’ll see how that goes.

Over the years, some “traditions” have formed. Each list includes visiting a place I have never been for my birthday (I’m always careful to leave on the trip BEFORE my actual birthdate, so it’s legit). I try a food or drink I have never tried. I read books and watch movies I have never read or watched. I explore parts of Boston that I have never stumbled upon. Sometimes I do cheat, and if I randomly happen to do something really cool, it goes on the list!

This annual undertaking has been quite effective in distracting me from thinking about my aging process, and I highly recommend the practice.