We received word, last night, that Dean’s cousin, Nancy, died on Sunday night. We didn’t know she was ill, so it was a shock to us.
We’d not seen her in many years — perhaps as many as 16 — possibly more. The first time I met Nancy was during my first visit to San Francisco. We met her and some of her friends for sushi (I think I avoided sushi at that time) at a restaurant in Oakland. I don’t remember much except that Dean needed to eat a hamburger after the sushi dinner. That and we had a really good time. It seemed so different from the good times we had in Pittsburgh. More grown-up perhaps? More cosmopolitan?
We spent our last night in Northern California that trip at Nancy’s Oakland home before we went to the airport.I vaguely recall that the house wasn’t in the best of neighborhoods, but don’t remember being worried.
In 1993 we visited San Fransisco again, this time with children and my mom. Nancy was celebrating her birthday (maybe her 50th?) at a Middle Eastern restaurant complete with a bellydancer (who chose me to “dance” along with him).We sat at low tables, on cushions on the floor. It was an interesting evening — but our times with Nancy always were interesting — and much different from what we normally experienced.
Nancy belonged to the same spiritual group as the folks who wrote Laurel’s Kitchen, which was also the spiritual group that my teenage friend Cynthia belonged to. (And Nancy’s sister, Joanne, helped edit the cookbook).
What I remember mostly about Nancy was her smile. She always seemed to be smiling — and not just her mouth, but her whole face. And she was the first person I knew who wore lip liner — I think of her every time I apply it.
The Internet is pretty cool when you want to research something. A number of years ago I found a website dedicated to a branch of my ancestry. The family name McCornack is not that common, so anyone with blood connections to that name is probably a blood relative of mine. That site, and Mr. McCornack himself, were helpful when I was planning our 2002 visit to Scotland. I’d always wanted to see our ancestral home and maybe meet some Scottish relatives – but never really thought I’d get the chance. Here was a man that had done it – he visited Annabaglish in Kirkcowan, near Newton Stewart (which is in Dumfries and Galloway), Scotland and was willing to assist anyone else who wanted to do the same.
My mom was along on the trip – it is through her that I am related to the McCornacks. Her father’s grandmother was, I think, a McCornack. I’d have to check the family tree to be sure.
Anyway, we visited the farm and met the current (non McCornack) owners. They said that every so often Americans stop by to visit the ancestral home. They invited us into the house and onto the grounds where we had a bit of a look around.
A couple of years after our visit I looked up Annabaglish, hoping to get to the McCornack site again, but misspelled it Anabaglish. I was taken to this site (no longer working but try this instead). It turned out that a distant relative of mine, Jane Freeburg, had also taken the trip to Annabaglish and used a photo of the house as the cover of a CD she and her band, Queen Mab, released. After a couple of false starts I ended up getting in contact with Jane Freeburg. We exchanged a few emails and she sent me a small handmade book she’d put together about her trip to our ancestral home.
I also bought a few copies of the CD – one for me and one for my mother and aunt. I love Celtic music so this was a perfect find.
Listen to some samples of some of the songs from that CD. (no longer working but you can find these songs here.)
An Phis Fluich
Back to the Hills
The Morning Dew/Toss the Feathers