I have just returned from my travels.
Blogging is still in slowdown mode for another two weeks, though I may post a bit during that time.
Mishpocheh: Yiddish for "extended family and then some."* Most of my visit to parts North involved time with the mishpocheh.
Meetups: Had two, but I neglected to ask whether I could talk about them even in the form of a brief mention on blog, so I'll go with confidentiality, even about the identity of the meet-up-ees, until I have checked in with them about this matter.
* Wrote William Safire in a 2005 column: Every few months a query comes in about in-laws: "What do I call my father-in-law's brother?" The English lexicon does have that unfilled semantic space. Yiddish comes to the rescue by naming all one's relatives by marriage as machetunim, mokh-eh-TOO-nim, plural of the Hebrew mechutan, mokh-HOO-ten, which could signify your spouse's mother's second cousin. The most inclusive word is mishpocheh (mish-PAW-kheh), literally "family," which lumps together just about everybody invited to the wedding. It is similar to the Russian rodnye (rohd-NEE-eh).