Let me first say that this post is long, long overdue. Way back in September, a fellow blogger was kind enough to pass on the One Lovely Blog Award to me. I am so very grateful and frankly ashamed that it has taken me this long to officially accept it. The rules as I understand them are:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to his or her blog.
2. Share seven pieces of random information about yourself.
3. Nominate and link to seven more lovely blogs.
So first, thank you very much to Bruce Goodman (aka Bernhard Piers-Gûdmӧnd) whose blog A Story A Day is far lovelier than mine. You will enjoy Bruce’s blog because he really does write an amazing new story EVERY DAY!
The second part of the award is what has been giving me a little pause because this blog isn’t really about me. Well, okay, it’s sort of about me, but it’s mostly about history, and sometimes a little silly stuff I made up. So I decided that it is in this tradition that I will share my seven things, with a little history, a little of me, and maybe a little silliness sprinkled in.
1. In 1860, then teenager Joshua Slocum decided that a life of boot-making and babysitting a growing brood of brothers and sisters wasn’t the life for him. He struck out on his own, taking to life on the sea and eventually becoming in 1898 the first man to successfully complete a solo sail around the world. Slocum wrote a bestselling book about his adventure. Then nine years later, vanished while out to sea because he had never bothered to learn to swim.
My first job as a teenager was as a summer camp counselor and it provided me with the opportunity to earn my Red Cross Basic Sailing certification, which came in handy a few years later when I worked as a program director at a different camp on a much larger and MUCH windier lake. Thankfully part of the training is learning how, in the middle of a choppy body of water, to right a “turtled” boat (that means completely upside down in case you haven’t yet earned your Red Cross Basic Sailing certification), a skill I used often enough that I don’t think I will be writing a bestseller based on my sailing adventures anytime soon. But fortunately I do know how to swim.
2. Cuban violinist and composer Enrique Jorrin introduced the world to his song “La Engañadora” in 1951. It’s believed to be the first cha-cha-cha ever composed and it ushered in a new dance style that soon took the world by storm. Nearly fifty years later my husband and I performed a cha-cha for our first dance as a married couple. Then we took the world by storm.
3. In 1804 Meriwether Lewis and William Clark struck out on a great adventure to explore Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase, leaving from the newly acquired city of St. Louis for the eventual destination of Fort Clatsop in what would become Northern Oregon. With the help of the local Native Americans, the exploration party survived a tremendously dismal winter during which only twelve days failed to bring rain. On January 1, 1806, Lewis wrote in his journal: “The expedition is homesick. The rain goes on and on.”
Likewise in August of 2010, our family struck out on a great adventure from just east of the Mississippi River and moved to Oregon. Like Lewis & Clark, we found beauty beyond our imaginations and met friendly Oregonians without whom I’m not sure we would have survived. But after a couple of tremendously dismal winters, our expedition grew homesick and in February of 2013 we returned to St. Louis. Lewis and Clark were told upon their return, “It is like you have just returned from the moon.” Our friends and family in the Midwest expressed much the same sentiment.
4. In 1846, after improving the designs of the bass clarinet and developing a series of valved bugles that would eventually lead to the widely beloved flugelhorn, Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax received a patent in Paris for his newfangled instrument that he oh-so-cleverly called the “saxophone.” Several years later in 1988, an unflinchingly patient band director named Mr. B. put an alto saxophone into my hands and despite his growing headache, listened to me squeak out a few notes with an encouraging smile plastered across his face. I played regularly for the next nine years and I’m happy to report I got better. In fact the famous composer Hector Berlioz, a good friend of Adolphe Sax, once described him as “a man of lucid mind, far-seeing, tenacious, steadfast, and skilled beyond words…” which is probably pretty much what my band directors said about me.
5. Born in Poland in 1867, Maria Sklodowska, remembered most often as Marie Curie, was the youngest child of two teachers. For many years her father Vladislav taught mathematics and physics and her mother Bronislawa ran a prestigious girls’ boarding school. Of the couple’s five children, four survived into adulthood. One became a teacher. Two became physicians. And one became a twice awarded Nobel Prize winner in both physics and chemistry. Like Madame Curie I am the youngest child of two teachers and I have three quite successful older siblings. I haven’t been awarded my Nobel Prizes yet, but there’s still time.
6. Originally a gold coin depicting King John II of France on a horse, the franc was first introduced in 1360 and was used to pay the ransom of the king who had been captured by the English during the 100 Years War. Over the years, France’s monetary system stabilized and though the currency itself changed, the name stuck and with the exception of a period of about 150 years, was used in France up until the complete changeover to the euro January 1, 2002. It happened that I arrived in Paris on that day to find long lines as vendors struggled to calculate exchanges between the old currency and the new. I didn’t ransom any kings on that snowy New Year’s Day. Instead I used my shiny new euros to buy a chocolate crepe and an overpriced stocking cap.
7. Young Joseph Banks enrolled at Oxford University in 1760 and determinedly pursued as much natural history study as he could manage. A few years later in 1768 he departed with Captain James Cook’s first voyage to the South Pacific aboard the HMS Endeavor. Along with botanist Daniel Solander and artist Sydney Parkinson, Banks collected and documented over 1000 animal species and more than 3,500 plant species, many of which were previously unknown to science.
I also studied as much natural history as I could while in college, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology in 2000, after which, I worked in the camping industry and went back to school to study literature. Okay, so maybe I haven’t contributed as much “scientific discovery” to the world as Sir Joseph Banks, but I do sometimes harbor a secret desire to sail away to some exotic island and discover a never-before-seen subspecies of newt. I bet with my intensive training in the art of basic sailing, I can probably make that happen.
And finally, the third part of the award is the super fun part, because I get to nominate not one, but seven lovely blogs. These are a little varied in their scopes, but each is lovely in its own way. I hope you’ll think so, too. The nominees are: