Ça passe ou ça casse + Doggy bags in France
Oh, pétard! The things you hear (and see) when eavesdropping

Racines: My father's "cousins germains" or "first cousins"

Porticello sicily
The fishing village of Porticello, Sicily, where we had a memorable meal and celebration.


    : roots

Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the following sentence. Click here RACINE

La famille - Comme les branches d'un arbre, nous grandissons tous dans de différentes directions, mais nos racines ne font qu'un. Family - like branches on a tree, we all grow in different directions, but our roots are one.


by Kristi Espinasse

I was going to title this post: Family Reunion in Sicily, but that could be misleading--you might assume we have Sicilian roots. While that would be exciting, the fact is, on my father's side of the family we are English (my maiden name is Ingham).

Before joining my Seattle Family in the coastal village of Trabia, my daughter Jackie and I (with the help of speed-reader Mama Jules) did some catching up on our family, thanks to Cousin Laura (my dad's first cousin) who wrote a lively book documenting our family history. From entrepreneurs in the lumber business to artists, musicians and writers (a famous novelist and screenwriter)--and, recently, a therapist and a rug designer--we are, like all families, an eclectic group.

Recollections and Reflections
In addition to writing this family treasure, Cousin Laura owned a travel bookstore in Seattle called Marco Polo Travel Resources. The space was designed by family member and Pacific Northwest architect Roland Terry (more about Roland, below).

It was a great chance to spend time with these thoughtful creatives on the singsong island of Sicily--where art and history intersect with the rugged turquoise coastline and the most delicious dish in the world: CAPONATA (Sicily's version of ratatouille? Add sugar, balsamic vinegar, some celery, capers and green olives!) 

Happy birthday Laura

More than a family reunion, we were here to celebrate Cousin Laura's 80th birthday, which we did the final night -- after a week of visiting Palermo, Erice, and other Sicilian towns. My favorite was Porticello--a small, unassuming fishing village. My cousin Erik (Laura's son, and the rug designer) arranged for all 15 members in our group to eat a traditional Sicilian dinner at a private residence facing the port at sundown.

Lemons in sicily

We didn't actually see the sun go down from our table--located in an inner courtyard, beneath a sky  of lemons. Surrounded by citrus trees we dined on antipasti and quickly added a few dishes to our list of favorite foods in the world (that caponata...as well as panella--Sicilian fritters made from chickpea flour. Oh, là là!!)

Around the time the cake was served, we listened to Cousin Bill (Laura's brother) give a touching toast to his sister. Laura's response echoed her brother's sentiments: family is everything!

I leave you with a few pictures (more on Instagram) and some books to check out. Thanks for reading and see you next week!

Cousin Fred
To the right, my cousin Fred. I only saw Fred once each year, in summertime, when visiting my family in Seattle. Fred and I are the same age and he has followed my blog from the beginning -- always supportive and encouraging of my writing endeavors. Thank you so much Fred! Fred is Bill Ingham's son, see Bill's book just below.

William ingham

William Ingham: Configuration of Forces - one precious memory from this trip was watching a conversation between Cousin Bill and Jackie. Two generations apart, and from different cultures, these two chatted up a storm over dinner. If you enjoy contemporary art, pick up a copy of this book on William Ingham's Abstract Expressionism

Roland terry

From the comments to this post:

In the 1980's Roland Terry, who was basically retired by then, shared some office space with an architectural firm for which I worked. He was the grand master of Northwest Architecture, his beautiful, distinctive buildings admired to this day. Because of his reputation, I stood in awe of him before even meeting him, expecting some imperious individual to come into our office. I couldn't have been more surprised to meet a warm, pleasant, kind, dear man! It's exciting to learn that he was a relative of yours. I so enjoyed meeting you and Jean-Marc in Seattle several years ago and continue to read and enjoy French Word-A-Day. You and your family, including Smokey, are special to me. --Joanne Johnson

A book on Roland Terry's work:

Roland Terry: Northwest Master Architect - I am excited to be connected to this Northwest Architect, even if I can't say exactly how we are related! (Update: Roland Terry is my paternal grandfather's first cousin). He appeared at all our family reunions and my youngest cousin, Roland (soon to be nine-years-old) and every bit as brilliant, was named after him. Click here to order the book Roland Terry: Northwest Master Architect

CAPONATA - My new favorite food. Makes a great side dish. Have it alongside couscous, pasta, rice...or on it's own with good bread. Click here to order.

FOUTAS - once again these colorful, absorbent towels were seen everywhere along Mediterranean beaches. Order one here

Kristi and erik

Many thanks to my cousin Erik, who organized this family reunion. Do check out his site Lindstrom Rugs . Bye for now...I am off to cook up some Caponata and will share the results with you very soon. For Sicilian recipes, this book might inspire you:

Muller Sicily

Sicily, The Cookbook : Recipes Rooted in Traditions by Melissa Muller

Muller sicily back cover

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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I so enjoy reading your blog. Every time I see your email pop up I receive a wondrous surprise. Please don't stop! Keep teaching us your new vocabulary and sharing your stories. They are like a remedy for my soul.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Angelique! That is especially good to hear after returning from a break and resuming this blog. 

Sarah La Belle

Les cousins germains, est-ce veut dire > ?

Kristin Espinasse

Whoops! That was supposed to be the word of the day...before it got changed to racines. Le cousin germain = first cousin

Sarah La Belle

first cousins ?


Exceptionnel post!
Merci beaucoup to your inspiring family of creatifs.

Tessa Baker

Wow Kristi what an amazing story and what a fantastic time. An absolute tresaure of a memory.oxoxox


You made my Saturday - beautiful post and family. Two new books for my reading pleasure. Thanks and enjoy.

Diane Heinecke

Kristin, It is so special when there is a family reunion. Lots of planning, money, and love go into it. And for busy adults to carve out time and be willing to travel,that's a double blessing. I loved hearing about your creative family and always enjoy your picturesque photos. God bless all of you!

Nancy Edmondson

Loving your news.
Just returned from Madeira. Now I want to focus on getting some French lessons. I would like to combine it with a pleasurable place to live. Now retired I would like to live with a French speaking family/person and take some conversational French lessons. Do you have any suggestions where I should go in France. Probably would like to do this around March.

Deborah Frost

Magical! Such a respite from the truly Ugly America far too many of us are enduring "back home."Thank you for sharing your beautiful family and experiences and appreciation of the world and its splendors and reminding us that our fellow citizens have not all been pummeled into soullessness and shriveled husks of humanity. Thank you, especially, for the opportunity to experience Cousin Laura's joy filled art and inspiration. It is a birthday gift for all. Mercí!

Kitty Wilson-Pote

Your sharing this fête en famille with us far-flung cyber-cousins, Kristi, brings just the right enrichment for a weekend too steamy and stormy for us to be outdoors here. What a special treat, being introduced to this bonny band of your 'cousins germains.' In seconds, I've already found Cousin Bill's fab online gallery of his richly-awakening works (including one titled Rouge Bleu!): they're glorious -- http://www.williamingham.com/abstracts.htm
Today's story and photos, brimming with your love for these cherished relatives, draw us in AND, in my case, also carry me outward into creative currents of the world that I'd not have experienced otherwise. Merci, with smiles and hugs attached. Adore the group photo à table for those smiling faces turned to you, notably Jackie beside her handsome Papa and host Bill's radiant grins and eyes!

Diane Young

So great to read about your family reunion. I had just finished sending an email to one of my cousins when I saw your entry. Families mean so much, n'est-ce pas? Hope Jules is doing better and so hope you find out soon about the house. Quel temps longue! One of these days I think I must do an ancestry search, but am too lazy to begin. Thanx for sharing.

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Ooh, caponata one of my favorite dishes! (Sicilian grandmother :) Mostly just caponata with slightly toasted fresh bread. Yum. Glad you've discovered it!

Gordon Lyman

À captivating post to read and reread.
Thank you Kristi.
Very enjoyable to meet some more of your extended appealing family.


You always delight me with your stories. I envy you the family which gets together and enjoys each others' company. Many families are estranged or just never get together. wonderful post and pictures. thank you Kristin.



Our dear Kristi,
Another wonderful post and pictures(!)And what a pleasure to share in your happy
reunion with such dear family members(Thank You!)
(Happy birthday to Laura!)
Not to even mention such delicious food and gorgeous scenery to enjoy it all in!
My dad's relatives were from France and the Isle of Jersey;mama's from the former Yugoslavia.We,too,shared in many colorful,delicious dishes and even more, colorful characters to spin memories around.
These things for all of us make up some of the most cherished rememberances in life.
Natalia xo

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

How wonderful that you stay in touch with extended family and what an opportunity you afford them when they come to Europe to visit or meet up with you. So nice to have such a large family!

I have been occupied with family genealogy for years but only on my dad's side. My mom was adopted and three months ago I finally learned who her birth parents were. They never married, each other or anyone else, so both my parents were only children...no cousins. I learned that beyond the English, German and Spanish roots, I also have Norwegian and Irish roots. Another whole new world to explore.

Each family and family member has a story...so fascinating. I enjoyed meeting your dad's cousins and families and hearing their stories!


I adore your stories! Each one vicariously takes me to a place I've never been. Thank you so much. Please keep sharing and I hope to read another of your charming books in the future!

Joanne Johnson

In the 1980's Roland Terry, who was basically retired by then, shared some office space with an architectural firm for which I worked. He was the grand master of Northwest Architecture, his beautiful, distinctive buildings admired to this day. Because of his reputation, I stood in awe of him before even meeting him, expecting some imperious individual to come into our office. I couldn't have been more surprised to meet a warm, pleasant, kind, dear man! It's exciting to learn that he was a relative of yours. I so enjoyed meeting you and Jean-Marc in Seattle several years ago and continue to read and enjoy French Word-A-Day. You and your family, including Smokey, are special to me.


Enjoyed your blog for many many years they just keep getting better and better, I used to own a villa in Agde so enjoy very much your escapers as a matter of fact I'll be in Sicily in October on a painting trip


Oh such a lovely time you all must have had! Would have loved to be there! At the moment we just finished a staycation with our daughter and her three sons. Now with just one remaining with us, I am off to prepare the Smores!

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads, Uncles, Cousins, Granddads, etc.!

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Joanne! Im going to forward your comment to my father. He told me just last night just where Roland fits in our family tree (Roland is my paternal grandfathers first cousin). So enjoyed your note. Merci encore. 

Patricia Sands

What a wonderful family history. No wonder you are such a creative soul! Thank you for sharing all of this with all of us.

Debbi Schwarz

Love, love, love your blog! You are a wonderful writer!

Angela Bellante

Those places in Sicily are my roots , I was surprised to see them on your blog.
Lemons and Caponata are staples in my house.
Sicily is beautiful and full of history.


I love learning French and I also enjoy your beautiful stories. You are in my prayers on a daily basis. God works all things for the good!


Is Terry Avenue in Seattle named after your relative?

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