Sunday, July 19, 2015

Just a little something I wrote about our trip to Guernsey and Alderney

that might get published in a local Alderney newspaper, thanks to the "impromptu tour guide" mentioned in the piece.

My sister Louisa (who lives in Wiesbaden, Germany) and I decided to visit Alderney during a one week trip to Guernsey we had planned earlier. I live in a small town in Ohio, USA but I knew I’d be working in Germany for a few weeks (teaching German to a group of students from my “home” University, Miami University in Oxford, Ohio) and so we decided to go ahead and book the trip. We flew from Stuttgart to Guernsey.

One of the main reasons we wanted to go was that we both have vivid memories of our mother, New Zealand-born Cherry Lockett Grimm (who wrote write fantasy and science fiction novels under the pseudonym CherryWilder) regaling us with tales about our fascinating and far-flung family, which included many references to the Channel Island Le Mesuriers, who had been granted the government of Alderney by Charles II.  (Until they resigned the patent to the Crown in 1825).
I took up genealogy more seriously as a hobby a couple of years ago and have been pouring over the family pedigrees handed down to us by our mother ever since. I have an active account on and have made quite a few contacts with newly found cousins since I’ve started studying the family history.
Our Le Mesurier connection is through our great great great grandmother, Elizabeth Le Mesurier. She was born on Alderney (this was confirmed for us by the wonderful librarians at the Priaulx Library in St Peter’s Port, Guernsey, to which I had already made a pilgrimage) in 1792. Her father was Peter Le Mesurier, who was governor of Alderney from 1793 till his death in 1803. A very nice portrait of him hangs in the Alderney Society Museum, which also has a plaque at its entrance which informed us (in French) that Peter’s father Jean/John had had the building built as a school, when he was Governor.
(The Priaulx Library, St. Peters Port, Guernsey)

Plaque at the entrance of the Alderney Society Museum, mentioning that our 6th great grandfather had it built in 1799.

We took the bumblebee boat over from Guernsey and thoroughly enjoyed the laid-back and very friendly atmosphere of the island and also meeting our impromptu tour guide as we tried to track down the grave of Sapper George Onions. The weather could not have been more perfect and it was fun to simply walk around and soak up the historical yet nevertheless still lively atmosphere of the streets and houses of Saint Anne. (“town”).

Bumblebee boat to Alderney
Sapper George Onions
Wandering the peaceful and quite ancient streets of Saint Anne.

We did also make a point of visiting St. Anne’s Church, the renovation of which was paid for by Elizabeth’s nephew (the son of the last governor), Rev. John Le Mesurier, and the walls of which were adorned with gold plaques of the Le Mesurier Governors.  
St. Anne's Church, Alderney
Reverend John Le Mesurier

All in all it was a wonderful albeit short trip and we’re very glad we made it! I hope sincerely to return one day to both  Guernsey and Alderney, where the landscape is beautiful and where life in general seems to move at a slower and more contemplative pace.
Beautiful Guernsey

I am also very interested in any further information anyone can provide about the Alderney Le Mesuriers—especially our grandmother Elizabeth and her husband, Major General Ambrose Lane, who at some moved to Castel, Guernsey, where they raised their family including our great great grandmother, Charlotte Lane Mackenzie Taylor.   

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Off-the-cuff remarks on hoarders, or "Stuff and nonsense"part 2

I'm obsessed with hoarders. Not exactly sure why but I guess I do have a strange fascination with how people "arrange themselves" in their everyday lives, their Alltag.
In German hoarders are called "messies" and are said to be suffering from the "messie-syndrome".

As far as I can tell there seem to be two subtypes of hoarders: the actual hoarders, junk collectors, (and obsessive shoppers) whose collections get out of hand, and then the true messies-people (more often women than men?) whose inner turmoil has led them to turn their living spaces into literal trash heaps. (E.g. the lady who feeds her pets from the can and throws the can on the ever-growing heap in her bedroom). The extent of their messiness is truly mind-boggling, not to say dangerous.

The German wiki describes the messie-syndrome as a “Wertbeimessstörung”—which is a fantastic way to describe it imo—a disorder connected to in inability to accurately or realistically assign value to objects/things. 

I can relate to this in the sense I sometimes tend to make mountains out of mole hills (not literally like some of the hoarders) which is probably one reason why they fascinate me. My own compulsions lean more towards an obsessive desire for symmetry and neatness,or to do things in a specific order. 

Perhaps I’m more obsessed with obsessive behavior than with hoarders specifically. More on that another time. In the mean time here is a link to my ”People and Things I’m obsessed with Pinterest board. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Stuff (and nonsense)

Stuff (and nonsense)

Would actually be a good name for a blog…anyway/how/who the 365 project is still going on just not here—but rather here. Check it out! Figured out a way to do it all on my phone, since I’m committed to not taking the laptop with me to Germany. It’s too heavy and too distracting and not taking it will give me a good excuse to buy pretty German notebooks to write in….
We’re buying a house! Bill will move “us” in while I’m in Germany. I’m talking myself into him being ok with that. (He says he is…)
The past semester has been fun but very busy. Teaching a work-intensive “big” course on German film. It’s a blast because well German film!!! but because it’s the first time I’m teaching this exact course with almost 65 students (some a perpetually absent) I haven’t finagled the logistics yet to the point where the workload is more manageable. It will happen, but right now I just need to get through this semester.  
I leave for Germany to teach a section of the Miami Summer German course on May 18. Before then a lot of things need to happen—packing, grading, resting-up (ha!), quality time with cats and Bill or should I say Bill and cats. I also need to get a clearer sense of what I want to look for during my week long sojourn to Guernsey in June, where my sister and I will trace our Le Mesurier ancestors, plus also hike the cliffs and eat lots of yummy fish and chips. It will be good. I’m wondering how strong the pull will be to see Alderney-which is where the Le Mesuriers were Governors till into the 19th century.

Maybe I’ll get into writing/updating on here a bit more frequently…stranger things have happened as my mother used to say…..

Thursday, April 16, 2015

DAY ONE of a new year in pictures! 04/15/15--04/15/16

So I've decided to kick off another year in pictures--one a day for 365 days. Start date is 04/15/15. This is a shot from the Weekly German coffee hour, which takes place on the King library cafe every Wednesday from 4-5:30 ish pm. Students from German classes or who just like to speak German come and chat about everything. I try and bring German goodies and have made my bobble-head Freud the mascot. Next semester I might try and bring a flag or something to identify us more clearly.

I just realized that updating the blog won't be as easy in Germany--I'll be there for some weeks in May/June. I think during that time I'll just upload and share the pics to flickr and instagram. But during the times when I'm at home and have easy internet access I'll post the pictures here too.  We'll see how it goes....