Archive for August, 2013


This (now vintage) Browning 7.65mm handgun, owned by my (then) husband, does not exist anymore. Of course not. In Canada we have a strict gun control system, which after years of investing large amounts of government funds into the registration of all guns, including long rifles, finally relented on the hunting rifles category. Following lots of opposition. In Alberta for example, we go hunting for meat each winter during hunting season. I myself having spent 27 years in Alberta in the Foothills of the Rockies, did go hunting in winter. [More on this – all of which was legal during the season – in another post.]

The story of the handgun, however, is a different one. Its ‘journey’ around the world started in The Netherlands. In the approx. 1960s. The little handgun, a Browning caliber 7.65mm European model, here the .32 ACP [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.32_ACP ] belonged to my husband * who spent years in the Indonesian war theatre Koninklijke Marines Java/Indonesia long before I met him in the Netherlands. In fact, I got him with the handgun, 1967. Tough luck for me ! Because that gun was in the house. [NOTE. Don’t get uptight about that gun, because it is long gone – 1980s.] This here is the story about that blasted handgun which had followed me around the world.

I had left Holland in 1973. Personal and family circumstances. To start a one-year contract with UNESCO, BIE in Geneva, Switzerland. Also circumstantial is the fact that this gun could not be left behind in our house in Holland.** [Again not part of this story.]. So, I packed it up in my car when leaving The Netherlands in a very good location. During that time there was no European Union and open borders. There were strict border controls. I had to first travel to France, Paris, UNESCO HQ for a one-week introduction course. I got across that border. Then from Paris driving to Switzerland, to cross that border. My car was checked very thoroughly. But I got through. Nerve wrecking. In late 1974 returning from Geneva to my home town to leave my personal belongings with family. From there leaving Europe and to the United States, to start my graduate program at Syracuse University.

After my graduation from Syracuse University beginning of 1976, we decided to stay in North America and went up north to Canada. [My little son was with me all the time.] Well, eventually I got the Landed Immigrant visa for Canada and also a full time job here. My personal stuff was still with family in Europe, including that ‘blasted’ handgun. After couple of years in Canada I requested my books and other stuff to be sent over, which is possible when first arriving here as Landed Immigrant.

Opening up the big crate with all sorts of value less junk (which had cost me a fortune for shipping and was not worth it), what do I see ? The Browning handgun. Canada Customs had not checked nothing. Scary stuff ! How can I go to any authorities and turn this in ? This ain’t even my own gun. *

Using that stupid thing for target shooting behind the house in the country. Until somebody turned me in to the (ha, ha) RCMP. So, for my then long dead husband*, he passed away in Holland 1974, I was charged with illegal possession of a handgun. Went to court, in that little town, all those Natives staring at me (ANNIE GET YOUR GUN). I got unconditional discharge. RCMP took the gun. Where it is now, I do not care. What I learned from this story: Never take into custody anything like that because the gun’s owner being unstable and could not be trusted with such, just to have done him a favor. **

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TRAVEL ENCOUNTERS – ESRO

Amazing incidental encounters while travelling. During many travels or shorter trips I always meet new and interesting people (‘been there, done it’). But sometimes the coincidences seem more amazing. 1975 during my summer vacation from Syracuse University, me and my little boy took the Greyhound Bus across the Mid West and stopped among others in Washington DC, visiting the impressive Library of Congress.

[ http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/collections/72157601355524315/ ]

Of course being familiar with the Library of Congress from Europe when working with a project team on an international project for Unesco, the team including NSFAIS staff and LC staff. That was 1973, shortly before leaving Europe for the USA, Syracuse University. While we visited the Library of Congress in 1975 I tried to find out if that nice lady I knew from Europe was still working there. But no. Then in the Library catalogue looking for my name (as I did work studies for Unesco, Paris, that were published). What I found was my name. But, it was my husband’s name (dating to the time he worked with ESTEC – European Space Technology Centre, Nordwijk, NL). Where I also had worked as IT Head Information from 1965 until 1967. ESTEC is a centre of ESA.

Same time we were there that day, there was a fire drill. Alarm went, and all visitors and staff were asked to leave the LC building. And lo and behold I talked with a man standing next to me who told me that he himself had worked for ESTEC in The Netherlands. Small world.

Another one: We continued our trip that year 1975 and visited among other wonderful sites the Grand Canyon, and also Tuscon, AZ. There we found this: ESRO2

a sign on a little sandwich shop. ESRO – being the former name of the European Space Agency (ESA). [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESRO ] During the time I still worked there, the name was ESRO. How on earth does this sign on that shop end up here ?

[maybe a sign for myself?: “get your butt back home to Europe?” – I never went back.]

WHALES – BUTTERFLIES

Both right here on and off Vancouver Island. For my birthday in August I wanted to go whale watching. Whales around here are mostly Orca, otherwise also known as Killer Whales. They are highly intelligent, accomplished hunters and friendly to people. For their protection around the islands and surrounding Vancouver Island, whale watching boats may only approach up to 100 yards in Canadian waters, and 200 yards in US waters. The latter being patrolled by US armed wildlife officers. Borders run crisscross throughout the waters. So, the pilots of the small whale watch boats are very careful, not to get fined or have their licenses pulled for infractions to this rule. Plus, the whales need protection from human interference.

The two family of whales we have are the Transients and the Southern Residents. Transients mostly hunt seals and sea lions, they are mostly lonely big time hunters [ http://www.orcanetwork.org/nathist/transients.html ]. The Southern Residents travel in pods, lead by a matriarch [http://bcwhalewatchingtours.com/southern_residents.html] and are hunting salmon. We were lucky to have glimpses of some of the Transients, they can go down into the water for up to 20 minutes, then come up for breathing. Different for the Resident whales. Next time I will attempt near Victoria to go out. We took off from Sidney Harbour [http://www.vancouverisland.com/regions/towns/?townID=43 ] , northern part of Saanich Peninsula, Vancouver Island, and traversed towards the American San Juan islands. It was my lucky day. I met a family of tourists from incidentally the city in Europe where my grandmother and mother are from. In fact they live around the corner from that same street. Myself not been there for 48 years. We shared the whale watch boat. 
 

After that I visited the Victoria Butterfly Gardens. What a treat ! A jungle paradise has been created inside the Gardens, where large numbers of butterflies and moths from all over the world are flying freely. There are also special bird species, and Koi fish and flamingos in the little streams, as well as giant turtles. Arriving at the Gardens I ran into my good friend who was there with her friends, so we could share this incredible uplifting experience.