18 December 2007

If Someone Had Said That I Would…

liberty in window
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
If someone had said that
I would one day leave my Island,
the rocky islets, the sunrises on the sea,
the olive groves, the caper fields and the vineyards;
and I would no longer hear
the singing of cicadas during the summer heat,
or wasps buzzing around the pergola
or lizards hiding
In the cracks of walls, but…
I don’t know.
I have brought along with me so many things,
but the dearest and the most precious things
I have left on that Island,
and they appear in my thoughts,
when my misty memory
clears away.
Planted in the islands,
we have uprooted out children
Only to have them grow elsewhere.
In the vineyards now there are only weeds.

Antonia Famularo

Why Did They Leave?

Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
Before leaving Ellis Island, there was one last thing I needed to check. I had been told that my great-grandfather's name was inscribed on the Wall of Honor that runs along the north side of the museum.

And yes, near the bottom of Panel 399 was his name: Salvatore Seminatore.

Is your ancestor commemorated on the wall? You can check here.

searching the wall

16 December 2007

From Island to Island

front entrance
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
I don't know how an empty building can capture one's fascination for four hours, but that's exactly what happened.

A couple of months ago I learned about a special exhibit titled, "Sicilian Crossings," that would be showing at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum for only three months.

Visiting New York City has long been on my personal travel list, and when coupled with low air fare and generous friends who provided a bed for me to sleep on -- how could I pass on the opportunity?

Ellis Island has significant meaning to me because my great-grandparents immigrated from Sicily to Pennsylvania via this port of entry. So in the forefront of my mind during my time there was the experience Angela Marie, her three children, and her brother may have had as they were processed among thousands of other immigrants.

The baggage room was on the main level just beyond the entrance. New arrivals were instructed to leave their trunks here while they continued upstairs to the Grand Hall on the second floor.


The Grand Hall was often referred to as the Hall of Babel due to the cacophony of foreign tongues that filled this space, all vying to be heard and understood during a process that could often be fraught with uncertainties.

grand hall

The floor of the Grand Hall was lined with row after row of wooden benches, where immigrants would sit and wait for medical inspections.


full hall

Following their clearance, they would exit the Grand Hall down one of three stairways. The door on the left lead to the ticket counter for passage to New York City. The door on the right was for those leaving for other destinations. And those who were filed through the center door were being detained on the island.

three doors

If you were a single woman, or a married woman traveling solo or without a chaperone, you could not leave the island until your husband or another male relative came to claim you.

14 December 2007

The Heart in a Suitcase

27 November 1908

It is a Friday in the chill of winter, and a 37-year-old woman arrives in New York Harbor for the first time. Her name is Angela Marie. She is short of stature with a dark complexion, brown hair, and grey eyes. Three of her children are at her side: Maddalena, age 13; Giacomo, age 9; and Gregorio, age 3. Her youngest brother, Cateno, has also made the journey.

She has come to join her husband, who is working in the coal mines in western Pennsylvania. He first left their home in 1902, recruited by a sub-agent of a steamship company promising economic opportunities abroad.

It is the first time they have seen or touched land for several weeks. They left their small village in the Sicilian countryside by two-wheeled, horse-drawn carts for the capital city of Palermo. There they boarded the San Giovanni and endured weeks among 1,800 other 3rd class passengers bound for America.

They are hoping to leave behind them harsh economic conditions: the destruction of the vineyards by a root-eating aphid, foreign competition in the tuna industry, a crisis in the local sea-salt mines, antiquated sulphur mining practices, and difficulties exporting citrus fruit.

One month after their arrival, an earthquake hits Messina on December 28th, further devastating the island. It kills 60,000 residents and displaces another 80,000 people. An estimated 20,000 of those rendered homeless will find their way to the USA.

Angela Marie is also leaving behind two children, Lucia and Mariangelica, who died in infancy. Her parents, two brothers, and a sister will also anchor her heartstrings to Sicily while her sights are on a future in America.

13 December 2007

Saint America

from a distance
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
When the ship passed close by
I saw that she was a woman.
Below her there were so many boats
that I thought it was
the Madonna of Porto Salvo.
She was dressed like the statue
of my mother church;
at least it seemed to me.
It didn’t matter that she had
a stern face and a strange crown
on her head with threatening spikes.
I knelt down and started to pray.

A barber from Palermo who arrived
in America for the second time told me:
“Get up stupid. It is not a Saint.
It is Liberty.”
But I was unable to understand.

I cried like a baby at the thought that
soon I would be reunited
with my husband and children.

By now Sicily was faraway
and also her Saints.
I decided that she was my new Saint.
It was America. Saint America!

I remained on my knees
and continued to pray.”

(From the diary of an immigrant woman, 1907)

Miss Liberty

10 December 2007

New York State of Mind

Lady Liberty stencil
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
One week ago, I was awaiting my first trip to New York City. And today I'm back and reflecting on my whirlwind tour of a city that moves at breakneck speed. I have much to share, but that will have to come in bits and pieces.

In the meantime, here's a stencil of Lady Liberty from one of the walls at the Ellis Island Musem.

23 November 2007

In a Blur

Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
What happened to November? I hardly remember, the days slipped past so quickly. Work had me on the road 15 of the first 20 days of the month.

I started out in Klamath Falls, where I snapped this very apropos shot of a train along the banks of the Upper Klamath Lake as the sun was beginning its rapid slide into the horizon.

From there, I journeyed to Portland, Eugene, Medford, Woodburn, Forest Grove, and Canby. For those of you checking your odometers, that was a little over 1,501 miles behind the wheel.

Travel for work in on the decline for December, but picking up on the personal side with my first trip to NYC and a holiday in southern California with family. I'll be back with pics and hopefully some stories!

28 October 2007

Chicago on Two Wheels

Chicago bike tour
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
When doing a little research prior to my trip to Chicago, I happened across a company that does bike tours of various neighborhoods.

I thought this sounded like an engaging way to see parts of the city that were new to me, and get some physical activity before spending the rest of the day on a cramped airplane.

We covered 7 miles on our Schwinn city cruisers in three hours. A leisurely pace, to be sure, but a fun to way to meet others visiting the city and learn a little history along the way.

25 October 2007

A Step Back in Time

Balch Hotel
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
Earlier this week I was working in the rural town of Dufur, Oregon. Our training site was the Balch Hotel, a historic site recently renovated and opened as a bed and breakfast by Samantha and Jeff Irwin.

With a population of about 600 people, this area is predominantly focused on agriculture and also serves as a bedroom community for The Dalles, Oregon. Each August, the town holds an annual Threshing Bee where you can inspect and admire horse-drawn and steam-powered farming equipment.

entrance tile

On a crisp autumn day, it's hard to beat the beauty of Mt. Hood as your backdrop and the company of Kahlua and Tucker, the resident dog and cat padding about the hotel.

the view

06 October 2007

Six Pic Saturday: Cubicle Cleaning

work corridor
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
It started as a gray day, and I hoped it wouldn't remain that way.

With the wind and the low temperatures, I decided it would be the perfect day to implement Project Cubicle Scrub and Clean. I've been struggling with the loss of daylight and the stifling office atmosphere. It's squelching my creativity and making me yearn for the bike rides of summer.

Earlier in the week I came across a cubicle makeover featured on another blog, and was inspired to try my hand at infusing a little dose of light and organization into my workspace.

Doesn't the office always look different when it is deserted?


It's not pretty, folks. Although a quick tour around the office floor will reveal worse! As you can see, I'm a chronic piler. Need to remember where this is? Create a new stack. Can't forget to attend to this? Start a new pile. Can't be bothered with filing this now? Shove it in the corner.

lobby display

After a while, I needed a break for a dose of daylight. I walked over to the building atrium and lobby, where there is currently a display about domestic abuse. A side effect of the cube maze and our unfortunate location is the lack of any natural daylight...

parking lot market

For lunch, I wandered over to the Saturday Farmers' Market which takes up residence in a state parking lot each weekend from April through October.

gluten free cookie

I had never noticed the Taste and See booth before. Lindsey Shockey has been producing gluten-free cookies and mixes for the past two years since her diagnosis with celiac disease. I'm not gluten intolerant, but I've been reading blogs about it for the past couple of years, and like many gluten-free products. And if you have celiac, it can be a challenge to find food products that are safe for your consumption.

clean and clear

Clean space, clear mind! I still may add a couple of touches to my cube, but already I think it has been worth the investment. My 4' x 8' x 6' x 5' space feels much more spacious now that the clutter has been cut out. (I've added notes to my cubicle pics, so click through to Flickr to read more details.)

29 September 2007

Six Pic Saturday: A Crafty Renegade Affair

Renegade owl
Originally uploaded by Katherine H
15 September 2007

Feeling assured that I could find my way back to the hotel, I set out to explore the Renegade Craft Fair in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago.

I must admit a bit of a fascination with an online website for all things handmade. Twice a year, the crafty folks at etsy, host two Renegade Craft Fairs. I missed the one in Brooklyn, but the one in Chicago? Uh, sure, I could make that one.

blue line buddha

The CTA Blue Line Buddha greeted me each time I emerged from the underground station to catch the #8 bus on Halstead Street.

ricotta tart

A quick stop at the Milk & Honey Cafe on Division Street yielded a tasty ricotta tart for breakfast before I hit the pavement to explore the booths.

three sheets

One could find all manner of handcrafted items to expend their hard-earned cash on. Myself, I'm a little partial to letterpressed cards and stationery. This booth had lovely linen pillow slips, canvases, and bags.

hardy boys

This trio of college students was gleefully searching the bins for old Hardy Boys books deconstructed into spiral-bound journals.

business cards

It was almost as much fun to examine the unique business cards I collected from the vendors once I returned to the hotel!

13 September 2007


calla lilies
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
In a handful of hours, I will leave my car in long-term parking and settle into travel mode as I point myself eastward toward Chicago. A self-imposed break, of sorts, although I need no reason nor excuse to fuel my wanderlust.

Why Chicago? I could cite a list of opportune circumstances convening to make this possible, but none of them will reasonably explain the trip. A cheap plane ticket. Free hotel nights. A reluctance to let go of the carefree days of summer and succumb to the fading daylight of autumn.

I have been to the Windy City once before, on an extended weekend trip with my sister. We stared upward at architectural icons, and gazed downward across Lake Michigan. We ate deep dish pizza and admired exhibits at the Art Institute. We took a boat tour on the river and watched Buckingham Fountain. We walked a lot.

This time, I want to see the city in a different light. And so, with recommendations from a friend who calls the city home, I am off on a solo trip…

09 September 2007

The Extended Summer Season

Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
Today I ventured to southeast Portland for the Belmont Street Fair. Held every second Saturday of September, it easily evokes the spirit of summer even though school doors have opened and work schedules resumed.

This neighborhood street fair seems to say, "Hey, we can't get enough of that summer silliness! The calendar may say you have to settle into a routine, but there is still fun to be had!"

September is often a glorious weather month in Oregon, and today was a terrific example of blue sky and sun. It was perfect for walking the blocks while admiring art, inhaling the aroma of street cuisine, and listening to local bands.


The fair was my first exposure to Tingatinga paintings. I loved the vibrant colors and distinctive, lyrical painting style that originated in Tanzania.

01 September 2007

Summer Road Trip: The Road Home

Parma Police
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
20 August 2007

After ten days, it was time to turn westward and return home.

By the numbers:
  • Miles driven: 1,825
  • Speeding tickets: 0
  • Contented travellers: me!

Visual Serenity

Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
19 August 2007

A short list of highlights from my time in Utah:

  • Sun-warmed plums plucked off the neighbor's overhanging branches (thanks, Alycia!)
  • People-watching at a packed outdoor concert at the Gallivan Center
  • Pedal-pushing up City Creek Canyon with a stunning view of Capitol Hill and downtown
  • Grazing at the bread buffet at the Farmers' Market
  • Art-hopping during the monthly Gallery Stroll
  • Four-legged lovin' from Mikey (cat) and Lulu (dog)
  • Reconnecting with some of the most interesting, independent, and vibrant women I know! I am lucky to have such friends.

Six Pic Saturday: Salt Lake City

18 August 2007

9th East House

Alycia and I set out this morning on foot along 900 East, the first street I lived on when I moved to Salt Lake City as a new college graduate.

I lived in an attic apartment, one of four spaces created out of the house. I had a Pullman kitchen in the corner of the living room, recessed into the wall and hidden behind two metal doors. The ceiling of my bedroom followed the conical shape of the front roofline, and the only place to stand up in the shower was directly underneath the showerhead -- the rest of the tub was tucked beneath the eaves. After a year and a half, I was ready to move on to more space. But for my first solo adventure, it was a great place to start.

I was happy to see that the owners have stripped off the ugly siding to reveal the original brick, and are applying a fresh coat of paint. New windows, too!

craft market

Our second stop of the day was the Farmers' and Artisans' market at Pioneer Park. I've written about this before, but I never tire of visiting. Today's purchases followed a theme in green: zucchini, green apples, wasabi peas, and dill cottage cheese bread.


A popular attraction at the market: the greyhound adoption booth.

Rico Market

Alycia and I had to get our burrito fix from Rico Market. Frozen and packed for the trip home: Chicken mole (yum!), Potatoes con crema, and Black beans/rice/cheese. I also highly recommend any of their banana leaf tamales.


The afternoon found us in West Valley City to watch Heather perform along with her troupe at the 27th Annual Belly Dance Festival.


True to tradition, we completed the evening with some gelato and a quick stroll through the booths at Ferragosto. A perfect Saturday in the company of good friends.

24 August 2007

Summer Road Trip: Boise to Island Park

bacon bread
Originally uploaded by
Katherine H.

11 August 2007

I'm a sucker for a local farmer's market. So my morning in Boise started with a quick trip to the downtown Saturday market. My tasty acquisitions: bacon bread, bleu cheese spread, and a new pair of shoes (oops, not from the market!).

By the Numbers:
•Vehicles spotted with bikes: 12
•Vehicles transporting watercraft requiring a paddle: 7 (4 with kayaks, 3 with canoes)
•Pit stops: 1

•To wash the car windshield again!
•Must pump your own gas in Idaho!
•Sales tax in Idaho!

Miles travelled: 346

Summer Road Trip: Bend to Boise

pit stop
Originally uploaded by
Katherine H.

10 August 2007

A few months ago I decided to do something I had never done before: drive by myself to Idaho and Utah. This excursion has become my annual August trip – a last hurrah to see family and friends before returning to the escalating rhythm of training season.

Usually, I travel by plane. This year, however, I figured I had the time for a leisurely drive and a little exploration. I mean, what says summer more than a road trip?

With energy and eagerness, I began my journey in Salem on Highway 22 headed east toward Bend. This route is familiar territory to me. Nothing new here, just beautiful scenery and a slow climb through the Santiam Pass behind fellow vacationers.

It was the stretch beyond Bend to Boise that I was eagerly anticipating: The Road Unknown. For someone who travels the byways of Oregon regularly as part of my job, it’s still exciting to traverse new territory.

And the landmark I was searching for? What has become known as The Shoe Tree, a cropping of scrubby trees lassoed by dozens of shoes between mile markers 126 and 127 along the Malheur River. There were mostly sneakers, a few boots and flip flops -- even a pair of ballet slippers and ski boots. Apparently, not much to do around here but mark your passage with an abandoned shoe or two.

shoe tree

By the Numbers:
•Fellow Mazda 6 drivers in hotel parking lot: 2
•Times driven around the same block in Boise: 3
•Number of aggresive RV drivers towing Hummers: 1

•To wash the car windshield
•Cotton swabs
•Water reservoir for Camelback
•Water pick
•Change to MST while still in Oregon

Miles driven: 449

07 July 2007

Six Pic Saturday: A Ride Along the Rail Trail

Originally uploaded by Katherine H.

Today I pieced together the perfect Saturday itinerary. It started with a stop at the Beaverton Farmer's Market, where I found buckets of vibrant sunflowers.

There were early Walla Walla sweet onions, too.


My next destination was the trailhead for the Banks-Vernonia Rail Trail.

Banks Vernonia

I had picked up a brochure about the trail last April, and so it had been percolating as a ride destination for some time. The trail was created from a section of abandoned rail that once moved lumber to Portland. It runs for a length of 21 miles, connecting the towns of Banks and Vernonia.


I started at the Manning trailhead, which takes you along a gravel country road for a couple of miles past fields and homes until you connect with the paved segment of the trail.

paved segment

The pavement is misleading -- it is a subtle uphill climb the entire way! In fact, it took me twice as long to climb up the trail as it did to coast back down to my car.

wedding setup

Along the way you'll pass the Buxton Trestle, which runs 600 feet in length and stretches upward for 80 more. On this particular Saturday, they were preparing for a wedding ceremony in the meadow. I saw both road bikes and mountain bikes on the trail, although further along the pavement gives way to gravel and soft earth. It was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours on a mild, July afternoon!