Friday, October 27, 2006

Sahha Malta, Merhba America...

I am back in the , got back on Tuesday evening and am still trying to get back into my life here. I really got a jump start on some things I want to change about my life here while I was over in Malta. Every night since I have been back I have woken up thinking I am still there and then realize I am not, so sad.
Anyway, I wasn't to update you on the my last night in Malta. I had dinner with the family I didn't even know I had. I met 3 of my second cousins and their parents, who I guess are my Mom's cousin and her husband. Noel (one of my cousins - I will drop the "second" part, because it is too much) and his Dad, I will call him my Uncle, Frank came to get me and a hotel around the corner from my apartment. They pulled up and must have just known it was me, Frank jumped out of the car (the most exuberant 78 year old ever) and said, "Are you Katie?" when I said yes, he clapped his hands and jumped up once and said "Ha! I knew it!". He got in the back seat and I got in the front, Noel kissed each of my cheeks and was so happy the entire drive to meet me. We got to Frank and Mary's house in Naxxar and Mary and my other cousin Marlene met us at the door and greeted me with kisses and hugs. They have a pretty small family without very many visitors from the relatives in Australia and us from the U.S.A. They told me that they never thought anyone from America would ever come to visit because my Grandfather died so long ago and they though the culture must have been lost, etc. I told them different. I told them I have always known I was part Maltese but wanted to go there to learn about it, and hoped to find family. I shared photos of all of you and my family with them and then Frank said he had a surprise for me. I went with him to his office and he had his photo album open to a page and it had my Mom and Aunt Margie's graduation photos in it along with wedding photos of my Mom and Margie and notes about the family mentioning me and my brother. I told them about Emily and made sure they had all the names correct, etc. in order to keep everything updated. Frank showed me photos of my entire family from WAY back in the day in Malta. It was incredible to see photos of my Grandpa and photos of his sisters, etc. He said he had another surprise, it was in the stairway where there were some photos, it was a photo of my Great Grandmother Emilia. The funny thing is, I had a photo copy of the photo that I traveled with and used that to find family and there was the original hanging on the wall. Of course, they had to take my photo next to it, so funny! I had a wonderful time. My cousins there and I decided that we would keep in contact and I would come and visit again next year. We both have small families so we think it is important that we stay in touch, etc. Since we were out of communication for so long.
I want all of you to know that none of this would d have been possible without me meeting Joe Calleja on the internet. He was the one person that answered my mass email about finding family in Malta and he said he would help me and he did! God bless Joe and Carmen and their family.
Anyway, the flight home was awesome, smooth and mellow. Malta to London was quick (3 hours) and I had about 4 hours to wait in London. I recommend anyone traveling to Europe to travel via London, the airport was incredible. It is like the best mall in the world, Chanel, Gucci, Armani, Paul Smith, etc. I was in heaven. I spent some money there that I had left from my vacation. I got a bagel there for lunch and walked around shopping with a sesame seed between my two front teeth too, classy huh? I didn't notice the seed until I was on the plane. London to San Francisco I had the row to myself, awesome! I had my bag on the seat next to me and watched movies, worked on my journal and drank tons of water since I didn't have anyone to ask to move in order for me to use the toilet. It was incredible!
Tim came to pick me up and there were tears! He would kill me if he knew I wrote that, but it was very, very sweet. He missed me. I came home to fresh sheets, clean towels and a tidy apartment, my favorite way to come home.
Wednesday, I had the day off. I went an appointment I had at 8:00 AM and had the rest of the day open. I went to get a cappuccino at Peet's and drop some pastries and coffee off at Tim's office for the department he works in. I slowly brought the steaming cup up towards my nose and knew I was in for a disappointment, and I was. I tasted the bitter coffee that was so good when I was in Malta and literally almost started crying right there in Peet's Coffee. I thought maybe it was because I was not sitting facing the sea, but that wasn't it. It wasn't good at all. I drank it any way, I needed the buzz, but it was a sad buzz. I visited Tim and work and delivered the treats and went to Target. In the afternoon I went to the beach and slept for a couple hours and read. Vacation is over is such a sad thought. I am trying to grip on to the things I learned about myself on my trip and carry them through my life here and pray that I can return to Malta next year and see my family and all of the places that made me feel like I was at home there on that limestone rock in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.
My dreams take me back there at night and that will have to hold me until my next journey.

Monday, October 23, 2006


One more day would be nice! The weather has been perfect the last three days and I need more time on the beach, I came all the way here and have no tan to show for it, but have had the time of my life.
Saturday, I went sailing with Father Ray's friends, Anthony (Tony) came to pick me up and I wasn't sure what to expect when we got to the yacht yard, but the boat was incredible. It was a 50' sail boat. There were 3 others there to help sail, Mario, Daniel and Jonathan. Then Marsa and her husband Patrick showed up with a big ole pot of something and bags of food. James and Denise and their 2 kids, Christina and Matthew (6 weeks old). We took off from the harbor in Valletta and sailed to Saint Pauls islands and dropped anchor to swim, eat and chill. The Maltese know how to do it up, first they passed out wine, white to start. Then they opened nuts and chips. Then Marsa started cooking in the kitchen (yes, there was a kitchen on the boat and 4 bedrooms with bathrooms!). She made pasta aubergine (eggplant), it was INCREDIBLE. I helped shred cheese in between trying to get my balance, which was hilarious after a couple glasses of wine. The guys all swam, the ladies were not hot enough, it was cool out there, I had a sweater on the entire time. We ate dinner and then there was a cheese course with crackers, bread and two kinds of hard cheese that I have not heard of in the states. After the guys cleaned up (yes, they cleaned up!) we had coffee, cake and cookies. It was never ending. We were on the water from 1:45 PM - 8:45 PM, we came into Valletta harbor after dark and it was breath taking! I had so much fun. When we were done, everyone left. I helped Tony and Mario clean up a bit and then we all took off, Tony drove me back home. Sailing was incredible, the wind was really good and we went 7.4 knots at one point, I guess that is pretty good for sailing. The boat at times would tip and it would feel like you were going to get wet for sure, but then it would rock back to the other side when they switched the sail. It was amazing, I would love to learn how to sail. Being on the water was great and I didn't get sick, I did take my Dramamine though!
Yesterday, got up at 4:45 AM for my ride at 5:30 PM to the port to go to Sicily. I slept the entire time on the boat. The day was so packed, it was insane. A little too much if you ask me. There were so many people and the bus, ugh, need I say more. Next time I think I will take the boat over and stay a couple days to make it worth it. We did go to Mt Etna which was active, so that was cool. We could see it really well after dark.
Today, I got up, went shopping to spend the last of my Maltese money and laid on the beach for the afternoon. It is now 4:57 PM and I need to get back to my place so I can take a shower before the long lost family members come and pick me up for the evening. I called the guy I am renting from to confirm my ride to the airport tomorrow at 5:45 AM - ugh, I seriously thought about changing my flight to Wednesday, but also wanted that one day between coming home and going back to work.
Anyway, love you all! I just ate my final lemon sorbato! BOO HOO! Next year, I am coming for 2 whole weeks, maybe 2 1/2! And, alone again - ha ha! It was the best trip ever, no one else's agenda, just me and my shadow and Flowey (my stuffed buffalo).
Ciao Bye!
Please pray for a safe journey home for me tomorrow!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

More from the Homeland

I called Father Ray last night and he is so sweet! He has two things set up for me and I am so excited. Today, his friends Anthony and some other dudes and dudettes I hope are picking me up to go sailing on Father Ray's boat! I was so excited last night I was listening to my iPod jumping around like Liv Tyler in "Stealing Beauty" when she is in her Tuscan bedroom! Unfortuatly, Father Ray has 4 funerals today and is very busy this weekend, but that didnt keep him from making plans for me and letting his friends take me out on his boat. Geeze, I hope I dont puke - Wendy you freaked me out about getting sea sick, actually you, Tim and Andrew. I have never gotten sick before on a boat, but this is the Sea, a little different than rivers in Vietnam and Lakes in Michigan - please pray for me that I dont make fish food over the side of the boat today. I have my alarm on my watch set for 12:30 PM to take my Dramamine one hour before departure. He said that they would bring me back to my apartment tonight around 7 PM or so if that is OK with me. OK with me? I practically peed myself in the phone booth when he told me about it. I get a personal tour of the islands on the boat belonging to a relative of mine who is a man of the cloth? God is here all over the place, I love it!
The second thing he set up for me is his Mother (Mary Rose) and his Father (Frank) are going to pick me up on Monday evening at 6:30 PM and take me out for my last night, I have no idea really what the plan is but I am game. Also, Frank is really into making family tree's and he is making me one. He had it complete up to my Grandfather Carmelo, but then it stopped until I came here! I know, I am gushing, sorry! I am bummed that my trip is coming to an end, but I have fun plans the last three days. Today sailing, tomorrow Sicily (I just went and got my Euros so I can spend some money) and Monday, more shopping at Marks and Spencer and evening with my long lost family and then my ride comes at 5:45 AM on Tuesday to take me to the airport. I will be back here for sure! I may even have to cash out all of my savings and stock options and move here for all I know. It would be easier for me to get residency than some others who have no family here. Tim would love it too! He could work securtiy at the Cafe where Carmen's friend Sherry works, she saw his photo and asked me if he wanted a job here!
Well, I better get the rest of my pre-Sicily errands run (snacks for the early morning boat ride, more sunscreen, etc.) and then I will have to be getting on to the Preluna Hotel where my ride (Anthony) is coming to pick me up. I dont even know this person, but since my 3rd cousin or whoever he is, is a Priest and he set it up, I am sure it will be AWESOME! I hope we get to fish, I want to catch a Lampuka - the National fish of Malta. Oh my gosh, I wonder if they are going to let me jump off the side of the boat into the sea? It is clear and SUNNY today too, about 85 degrees for once.
I could go on, but I wont, plus I onlu have 2 minutes left on the computer before my time is up!
Love you all!

PS - Wendy, you get your cookie and your Luzzu when I get back!

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Eagle has Landed - we have contact!

I met family today!
I met Father Ray Toledo today and we are related! He got his Mom and Dad on the phone and there was a lot of 'Carmelo Calleja, America, Katherine, Katerina, Katie his Grand Daughter, she is here! Carmelo, his daughter Emilia, her daughter' followed by a lot of squealing, hala hala hala la la noise, etc. I wish I understood the language - what a pity. Anyway, my Great Grandfather Giuseppe had a brother who died young (about 40) and Father Ray's mother is his daughter. I know it is confusing, who ever can tell me what kind of cousins we are, etc. or if Ray's Mom is my Mom's cousin, etc. I will give you a cookie. I am confused and so excited at this point and cant believe I have actually met someone I am related to. Father Ray is a very busy Priest, I am supposed to call him tonight at 10:00 PM to see if we can get together with his parents on his boat tomorrow night or Monday. That would be really nice. I am so glad I brought photos, etc. Everyone who has seen the photos think my Dad is Maltese too, they are very interested in his background - I tell them he is Mafia from Sicily and I cant talk about him, just kidding!
I just had a driver take me back to Grandpa's house so I could get a close up of the sign on the house and see if the church was open, but it was not, another pity, it is supposed to be beautiful.
Yesterday, I found out that Marks and Spencer carries cool jeans that actually fit me, dangerous. I bought one pair but am dreaming of another. I have also seen some really nice shoes but haven't bought any.
Mom, I have been trying to get the lace you wanted, but what they have here is not that nice - I don't like it, it looks like it was done on a machine and has colored flowers embroidered on it. Perhaps I will go back to Valletta on Monday and look some more.

Wendy, if my memory about your European adventure last summer serves me right, you loved chocolate chip gelato - am I correct? I couldn't remember what flavor you said, but think it was that one. I saw some being made yesterday, they piled the white heavenly creamy part into the silver freezer container and while they piled it in, they would take chocolate and make stripes all over it and it would freeze. I must have been foaming at the mouth because the young man assembling it gave me a taste and it about knocked me down. Damn it was good.

Angela, thanks for your comments you are so sweet! I am glad you are keeping up with me.

Wendy, one more thing, seriously, I read more than half of 'The Book of Bright Ideas' last night. I love it and couldn't put it down! Thanks for the great read. I am sure to finish it tonight. I love not having a TV but cant help but wonder who got voted off ANTM last night. HA ha!

Well, this gal needs to eat. It is 2:40 PM and I have walked about 5 miles today on nothing but a date roll and water. It is HOT and I am needing to refuel and get to the beach to take a nappy before it rains, again. The weather has been HOT but not sunny. Alright though, I am in heaven.

I have just inhaled so much cigarette smoke sitting here, I need to clear out my lungs outside as well.

PS - The computer I am using has sticky keys (unsettling) so I hope I haven't made too many mistakes on this posting.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gozo no Go!

Didn't take my trip to Gozo today. The water has been rough and more importantly, Joe wanted to meet me this afternoon and take me to my Grandfather's village. I called the company to cancel and they refunded me, so nice. Joe found the address and knocked on the door in B'kara. A woman answered and Joe told her my story and she took us to a neighbors house of someone who knew my Grandfather's sisters Maria and Giuseppena. We knocked on the door there and a really old man answered and Joe spoke to him, soon after, his wife came around the corner and spoke with us. Again, they thought I spoke Maltese until Joe told them I didnt. They knew my Great Aunts and said that Maria sold the house about 10 years ago and checked herself into assisted living because she had a bad heart. She died soon after that as well as her sister. The man who bought the house is no longer there and it is empty, so sad. The number of the house has changed due to growth, etc. it used to be 8 St. Helens Square and is now 11 St. Helens Square. I took photos and the funny thing is the house still says Casa de Guiseppe in the cement (he was my Great Grandfather). I may have to buy the house, ha ha ha! A girl has to have a dream right?
You know that part in the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's" where Holly says something to the effect that she won't do certain things (name the cat, etc.) until she finds "a place where me and things go together, I dont know where it is, but I can tell you what it's's like Tiffany's. I'm craaaazy about Tiffany's." I may have totally butchered that, however, my point being that ever since I was a kid I felt like I needed to find that place. So, I moved and came back home. Moved again, came back home. Moved again and stayed, but still feel like me and things don't go together. In Malta, me and things go together. Like Carrie Bradshaw and shoes, like Sonny and Cher, like Peanut Butter and Jelly, you get the point. I love it here. I feel so alive. I exercise every day and have been eating the best food ever. Ugh, cough, cough, I just got a mouth full of cologne from the man who walked behind me - phew! Better than B.O. which is also big here!
I found an internet place close to where I am staying so that is cool. It is about 7:30 PM here and dark already. It is pretty safe, the only scary part on my walk back to my place is my street is poorly lit so I walk super fast. To be honest I am more scared of the cockroaches and rats running over my feet than anything. Last night was the first night it didn't rain so I am hoping that the harbor ferries will be running tomorrow. I really want to get out on the water. In the morning tomorrow I am first going to meet a priest who is related to my Grandfather and his sisters in some way. His mother was very close with them from what one of the women in B'kara told me. At 10:00 AM I am taking a tour of ancient tombs, caves, etc. it should be really cool. I am going to try and reschedule my Gozo trip for next Monday if I can, not sure though. Sicily on Sunday though which I am really looking forward to.
Well, I am off to find someone to eat dinner with me. More than likely it will be my shadow or a stray cat or like the other day, the owner of the restaurant which was nice.
Love you all!
Ciao Ciao!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ahhhhh MALTA!

I am in freakin Malta and I am in LOVE. With the island that is.
Sorry I have not updated sooner. The internet is not as easy to find here as it was in Vietnam. I am having a wonderful time. I learned very quickly that the National Bird of Malta is not the falcon, it is the mosquito and many have welcomed me to the country (thanks guys, especially for biting me on my palm, that one feels really good). The National Animal is the giant cockroach and one walked over my foot and up my leg the other day while I was talking to a woman in her shop. I just shook it off, she is the one who freaked out. There are many horses here pulling the old school carts around. There are a ton of cats just chillin and everyone here goes out at night and walks the promande with their dog(s). 80's and 90's music is very popular as well as designer knock offs and fake lables, it is great! Church is very important to the people here, sometimes the church even over rides the government. It is about 1:15 PM on Tuesday the 17th. Everything is closed for lunch and siesta but not the one and only internet cafe I came all the way to Valletta by bus for. I actually had some other official business to take care of here with my friend Joe Calleja and his wife Carmen (who I just LOVE). No, we are not related, but he is very nice and is showing me around and trying to help me find family (to no avail at this point though). Joe had to go and do some things so Carmen and I went shopping and to a cafe and she just left me to go and collect her Grand Daughter from school. I am going to hang out here in Valletta for the afternoon while it is nice outside. It has been storming each night and yesterday all of the ferries were closed due to the water conditions. I have been all over the island already too - I have seen fresco paintings from the 16th century and also have gone to where the apostle Paul was shipwrecked and the grotto that he stayed in when he brought Christianity to Malta. I have never seen things so old in my life. I also have gone to the Mosta Dome where a bomb went through the roof during WWII and never detonated - it was a miracle. I even saw the bomb. People here look like me and some come to me and try to speak Maltese to me too, I have to stop them and tell them English only, sorry. They ask if I am Maltese and I say yes, and then they try to teach me Maltese. The last two tours I have been on, I am the youngest and the only single traveler so I get to sit in the front next to the driver - so fun! The driving here is insane though so it can get a little scary.
I have bee walking every night with the people from Sliema where I am staying to Paceville (pacha-ville) for my evening stroll - about 2 miles or so - I feel great, it is humid as all get out and there is mold everywhere, but no allergies. Not even after my dinner of bread, cheese, olives and beer last night - YUMM! I am in heaven for sure.
I love you all and will write more when I can (if I can find another internet cafe.)

PS - Angela, can you please call Tim and let him know my blog address, and let him know that I am safe and having fun, etc.? I would really appreciate it. I have already called my Mom twice and forgot to ask her to do it because I have been preoccupied with her and asking a lot of family questions, etc. If he wants a more detailed update, tell him to call my Mom and Dad.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tuesday before Malta

I am so excited to embark on my adventure this week.
I do have a lot of things to do though. I have to do a load of laundry after work and try to get back to Target because I forgot to pick up one thing this past weekend, ugh! I also have to go to the bank to get some cash. I hope to get all that done today after work so tomorrow I just have to work and pack.
Anyway, I know my posts haven't been very exciting or enlightening lately and I apologize. There is a lot going on in my head and I haven't been able to express it all.
I hope to be able to update my blog from Malta so you all know what is going on in my world. Anyway, I may post again later today, but if not, I will post tomorrow.
Stay tuned...

2 Days until Malta!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Monday before Malta

Not too much to report from the weekend. I have been trying to get motivated to start packing for my trip. I went riding on Saturday and told Apache I would not see him for a couple weeks. I hope someone rides him so he doesn't forget all of the work we have done so far. I will miss him, I love him and love being around him. Generally I procrastinate when it comes to packing and do my best work the night before, so that is what I will probably end up doing - after I watch America's Next Top Model of course.
I booked my day trip to Sicily at the end of last week and will be going there on the 22nd, towards the end of my trip. I am still waiting to hear about a couple other day trips I have planned, but I can figure that out when I get there if I need to. I am getting excited, nervous and anxious all at the same time so my tummy has been a little weird. It is so funny, I focus in so much on the flying part before I leave, but once I am on the plane, I am fine and it is then when I get really excited about the trip. Anyway, back to the grind.
Stay Tuned...

3 Days until Malta!

Friday, October 06, 2006

As Promised...

Here is a photo of the sweetest boy in the world.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Gum Anyone?

I know, this is silly, but had to share it with you. Most of you know, I am a gum chewer, I love my gum and I wanted to let you all know about a new one I just tried.

Someone, who will remain unmentioned (I don’t want you to be flooded with requests for this product) gave me a pack of “Cat Butt Gum”. I think it is hilarious. The front of the package is funny. It was hard to photograph, but the white bubble says, “8 pieces of kiss my ass attitude”. The back of the package is the best, it reads (typed verbatim):

7 helpful occasions to chew this gum

1. When you suddenly need to change your mood.
2. When somebody yell at you and you don’t want to listen.
3. If you are lack of attitude.
4. When you need to refuse.
5. When you want to be picky.
6. When you want to be selfish.
7. When you definitely want to say “kiss my ass!”

*chew more than one if you need extra attitude.
Made in Canada

I decided to chew 2 because like a cat, I am curious and I can always use some extra attitude. Actually the gum has a nice peppermint flavor, but it doesn’t last long. Also, I wish they had made it sugar-free.

I would like to thank our neighbors to the North for coming up with this product. It made me laugh and kept my jaws busy for a while.

9 Days until Malta!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monday, Monday

I will say it again, I need one more day. I had a packed weekend and loved every minute of it. The highlight was that I got to visit with and ride Apache. When I went to get him from his stall, he recognized me and gave me a little kiss on my neck. He was so dirty, it took a while to get him clean and saddled up. When we got out into the arena he was testing me so I had to work really hard to get him to do what I wanted him to do. I don't think anyone rode him all week. My legs are sore, but it was worth it. I saw some wild turkeys during my lesson; they were beautiful except for that yucky red rubbery skin hanging down around their face and beak. There were about 5 of them running around the ranch. I took some photos of Apache, just need to download them on to my computer from my camera. The one thing I didn't do this weekend was chores! I didn't do my laundry so I have to do it during the week, which is OK; I like not having to "work" on the weekends, I will leave that for during the week.

This week I am going to try and book some day trips for when I am in Malta. I am trying to firm everything up, I have been pretty laid back about this trip, and I am surprised at myself. I usually try to get every little detail taken care of way ahead of time, but this time is different. It could be because I will be on my own; I can wing it more that way I guess.

I am hoping to return to yoga this week. I still have a slight cough and congestion, but I think I have to give it a go before I go crazy.

10 Days until Malta!


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