I am still working on Hopkins — I have in fact finished the armscye shaping — and it is growing on me in spite of my distaste for variegated yarn. Here is a blog with many variegated pictures: http://trickytricot.typepad.com/my_weblog/ If you look at these and think “How bright! How cheery!” then you are a variegated yarn fan. This is not my reaction. However, this tricoteur is very amusing on the subject of cough drops.

And here is the sock with the gusset completed. I did not show you pictures of the gusset in progress (you are permitted a sigh of relief) because the continuing colorwork makes the process less clear.

Yesterday being Tuesday, I was putting the data from the nice lady in Alabama into my family history database, when I noticed something curious. There appears to be a prediliction in my family for marrying foreigners.

Of course, I knew that we had a lot of immigrants on the tree. That’s how I got started on this in the first place — the year that National History Day had the theme “Immigration,” #1 daughter did a project called “An Immigrant Family,” in which she starred all the people on our family tree who were immigrants. We have a very starry tree, I must say.  But we are after all a nation of immigrants: we all have immigrants on our trees. That’s one reason her project won — it was a great example of an American family.

However, I was checking the data on my ‘Bama ancestress and realized that, in a time when the average Southern woman married a man born within 9 miles of her own birthplace, she had married a guy from New York. Not an immigrant, though Alabama had barely achieved statehood, but the first hint of a pattern. Her father was from Scotland. I typed in a few more immigrants. And then I began to notice — our immigrants were never immigrant families. The last actual immigrant family I can claim arrived in the colonies in the 1700s. All the rest have been single immigrants who married in. In fact, there is not one generation in my family that does not contain a marriage to a foreigner.

Some have gone further than others. My great-grandparents were from two different continents, and then went and lived on a third, thus almost ensuring that their children would marry foreigners. My grandparents, having come from two different countries, married on another continent and then went back to Europe and lived in a country where they were both foreigners. And then sent their son off to the U.S. to go to school. My sister did not marry a foreigner (I am the one for my generation), but they went to live in another hemisphere with their American children, considerably upping the chances that their kids would marry foreigners.

There was the 18th century guy who arranged — his family having lived in a little town in southern France essentially forever — to be born in Guadeloupe. Like the New Yorker, his motivation for moving was a mystery, but it did allow him to return to the ancestral home and marry someone born in a different country from the one he was born in.

My daughter, the first of her generation to marry, wed a boy she met in high school. He was born on St. Thomas. Like the fellow born in Guadeloupe, he returned to his parents’ native land at an early age. But he still adds another birthplace to the tree.

These last two examples show, I think, that it is not the case that my family is filled with people who hanker after exotic partners. We have no more than the usual amount of fascination with pirates. It is less that we seek out foreigners to marry than that we keep turning up as single immigrants. Where your family tree may have a family of Russians coming through Ellis Island, mine has a lonely Canadian shoemaker, a single missionary heading for China, a 15-year-old Welsh boy seeking his fortune in the colonies.

#2 son has been agonizing lately about what to do when he grows up. Last night he told me that he had decided. He intends to be a drifter. He doesn’t mind hard work, he says, but he wants to go to foreign countries, work at random jobs, and perhaps eventually to build himself a house in Ireland, and live as a subsistence farmer. He was prepared to be a lumberjack, but we were not clear on whether they have any of those in Ireland. “What would you tell people when they asked you what I did?” he wondered. “I would say you were a journalist,” I answered without hesitation. After all, he intends to go to college first. He is going, he says, to be a cultured drifter.

And there it was, the characteristic that has led to generations of foreigners on our family tree. A handsome young man who decides to wander off to foreign countries is bound to marry a foreigner, isn’t he? #2 son’s preference for countries where they speak English may even explain why we continue to be essentially an American family — every generation or two, someone wanders back, now a foreigner himself. Now, when we look back at these people, they have occupations like journalist, librarian for the U.N., carriagemaker, or diplomat, but there may well have been a point for each at which they could have been described as drifters.