Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A link to the Civil War

In light of the election last night, and how divided our country appears at this time in our history, I thought time travel was in order.  Einstein proposed that to travel to another time in space one simply had to cross over it, stepping across the bends it creates like a river rounding back on itself.  This letter written so many years ago makes that journey feel possible.  It was written during a time when the United States was at war with itself, in some cases brother against brother.  I read this and hear the voice of a man whose hopes for his country is to be unified and his home peaceful again.   Ira A. Rice penned this on January 23, 1864, from his camp with the Vermont Volunteers.  He was roughly 32 years old and had been enlisted for two years, on May 13 of the same year he was wounded at the battle of Spotsylvania and discharged.  Sophiah Aldrich was his sister who was married and living in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and is my husbands ancestor.  I reproduce his letter to her word for word.

Camp New Brandy Station
Saturday January the 23, 1864
Arm of the Potomac 1 Brigade 31 Division Army Corps.

Dear Sister and Brother,

I now seat myself in my humble tent to converse a few moments with loved ones far away those who are so near to me by the ties of nature  We Soldiers are quite oft to think of these loved ones so often  I know that I have and would write oftener if I could get time but we have numerous duties to attend to which occupies our time  We have to go out on picket and are gone 4 days from camp we go 8 miles and it makes quite a tramp for us and then you ought to see the place we have to sleep in after we get there  sometimes it is an old building sometimes a tent made of pine needles and sometimes we put up our fly tents which consists of one ? of cotton cloth made to button together to each man.  So you can quess what kind of quarters we have when we are on picket yet we Soldiers get along quite well where we as you would not think you could have your pigs lay such a place as your cows have to lay in nights we should call good quarters.  Well I hope we shall not have to stay here always dont you  how I would like to see those dear ones at home those sweet little ones who I love so well.  It does seem some times as if I could not stay here as long as I shal probably have to yet my time is most half out and it will soom pass away and another thing I am in hopes that this will close this next summer so that most of us can go home to our dear ones, those of us are alive after all.  I expect that we shall see some large battles the coming summer a number such as the battle of Getteysburgh where thousands will be slaine in a day.  I cannot describe to you the feeling it produces in one to see the dead and dieing all around when one is in a battle but it is no verry pleasant one I can assure you I have witnessed such a scene once and I do not care to see it again  I presume that I shall never see a worse one that will come under my immedieate observation I hope and pray that the time will come when man shall not war with his brother man when the cannon shall be beaten into plow shares and the sword into pruning hooks and nations learn war no more.  It may not come in my day but I think the time is not far distant  Oh may God hasten the day.  Oh Dear Sister you cant guess what I had sent to me the other day, I will tell you fathers folks sent me a nice box of stuff and it all came in good as ? they sent me some flour some ham one half of a cheese some butter and numerous other things and was verry thankful for it, it was all unexpected to so much the better it is such a luxury here to get such things from home, I shall have a good many meals out of that box Oh Sophiah I will tell you what you said about Harveys Death, you were speaking of your dear ones which had died (you said life?) how much better off is Harvey and Sheldon than they would have been in the Army you probably meant our little Harvey but as long as there was another one in the family by the same name you should have qualified the names.
Your Brother Ira A Rice

See, time travel.  He had seen the Battle at Gettysburgh, the Vermont Volunteers guarded the left flank and the rear of the main army, his words describing it seem so raw, a brother simply writing home trying perhaps to lessen the scars of what he saw with words.  He was living in a country truly fractured.  I think of what he would write now, what he would think about what his United States have become.  But he was hopeful, I feel I must be too.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Home Again

This morning was the perfect day to go home again, not the home I share with my family (sometimes), but the home where my best childhood memories come from.  My daughter came with, we started out by eating some of the best all vegetarian food from the Sunflower Cafe, this place has been in Fair Oaks forever, and you have to wait to get your food forever, because they make it order by order, amazing.  We made our choices and then walked, in the pursuit of chickens.  I love chickens, really, beyond reason,  maybe this is why.
They roam free here, everywhere, and the variety is astounding.
These two were hunting buddies.
An excellent poser, this rooster.
Do you see his feathers?  They were luminous.
Do you call the little one on the rock a banty rooster?
This one, well is not to be messed with, check out his spurs...
Why did this chicken cross the road?  Usually there are a lot of them in the park, but this little one was on his own.  We spent so much time here as kids, saw movies in the summer, walked to the little store just outside the picture frame to buy candy, loved the little bottles with the liquid inside.  I was always with my sister, and I am sure there were so many times she wished I wasn't. 
The anteaters used to stand outside of the library, no I don't know why, but really wish they were mine and not chicken man's.  Think we read every book in that place.  The saying, you can't go home again, has always been a tough one for me.  After living so many places, and some of them very quick turn arounds, I wake up sometimes not knowing where I am at all.  Just being able to go to a place that is so wrapped up in the best of what I choose to remember is comforting.  Its not my home anymore, and no one I love is still there, but spending a few hours there calms my soul down. After we came home, I made this,
Which started out looking like this,
 Which can also look like this,
Or this,
I had to, dreamt of it last night, and had to get it out of my brain.  I know, silly right?  Even sillier than a post about chickens......

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

We've been living in a mullet...

Thought it was time for the annual post from Alaska, although I had no idea there would ever be a second post from here, during a second summer, but there you go...This is a pic from the front of our apartment, it houses the Bering Sea Fishermans Association, appropriate right?
This is a shot of the back, our place has the window open, its verra, verra tiny, the balcony is almost big enough for himself, and sofee and me to sit on, sorta.  See, all business up front, fun in the back, a mullet.
Heres the view from said mini balcony, I know, beautiful.  But, this was taken at past one in the morning.  This place can do weird things to your head, sometimes it seems like looking at things through purply hazy glasses.  Several things have happened that have that have just left me feeling gut-punched, but thats just life on earth.  The beauty here in beyond incredible, so you go until you cant any more.
Mushroom hunting anyone?  This is at the base of Byron Glacier, went wading to get some wonderful rocks, even in waterproof boots and wool socks my feet froze.
You know whoms inside a crack in the glacier, no were not very smart.
This had to be the coolest ever place to stay, you had to go into the round tower and walk down a spiral staircase to get to this room built into the hillside, everything inside was round and smooth and concrete, with heated floors, major love.
This is the view across the inlet in Homer, just incredible.  Because of sofee we met some really interesting people, one gentleman was the head of nuclear power of the UK, the other ran the center for infectious diseases of like the world, Doug had a great time talking with them, mostly just made me feel really under accomplished, cause mostly I just knit and doodle.
No cure for sickness, or for safer nuclear power, just what I do to keep sane.  The little sweater is for a little miss along way from here, just wish I could deliver it in person, a few things are going in for a little boy I'd like to squeeze.  This last pic is Gold Creek Lake and it stays frozen all year, its doesnt do any justice to how beautiful it really was, the water was aqua and so clear you could see all the way to the bottom of the lake, amazing.  We return home soon, am not sure if we will ever pass this way again, Alaska is not the place I would choose to live, but am so thankful that we got the chance to see how extreme life is here, and spend a little time wandering through it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Boot Camp Alaska Style

Oh boy, in the two weeks and two days since I have been here we have walked, and walked and walked some more. 
There is a hike here where you climb Flat top mountain, it is rated as a moderate climb, which we thought maybe was do-able, seeing that my knee is still not super-duper, and my surgeon said no mountain climbing, moderate seemed within range.

It was a very wet, soggy day, and things get a little slick on the ground, there is alot of shale rock on the paths, and it can be tricky to walk on.  Spotted this flower on the way up, I still had energy to get out the camera.
Well, this was on the way back down, there was no way, lots and lots of slippery steps and rocky steep slopes.  I felt so disappointed in myself, thought wow, should be able to do this, but Doug was smarter then me and put a stop to it, so we went and ate pizza.  Found out later a soldier had fallen climbing that evening and had to be air lifted out, maybe before we leave this can be my Mt. Everest and we can get to the top, if not, thats okay too.
On Sat. we drove to Seward which is the most beautiful drive ever, next time will have to take pictures.  Seward sits in Resurection Bay and was established in the early 1900 as a gateway for the railroad.  If you drive to the end of the road, literally, you can hike the peak down to the bay.
This was tough too, Sofey and I held Doug up a bit, but it is a gorgeous walk, lots of up and up, and then lots of down, there were several of these walkways which gave you a bit of a break.
This is the view of the bay as you reach the top before you start going down, with my hinged brace I felt pretty confident that we could make it to the bottom, and then back up, it was just to beautiful not to see what was at the end.
This is what greets you when you reach the meadow at the bottom, breathtaking, and the water is soooo clear, and so cold.  The climb back up took a bit longer, even doug was worn out, would do it again tomorrow.

Does this not look like just what a fishing boat running through the bay to head into the harbour at Seward should look like?
Sofee wants to be a mush dog, dont know if the Iditarod is ready for that.
There is no good reason for this, other than there is a really cute quilt store here, and this involves wool felt and cutting things up.  When the man of the apartment came home and saw it he was like, hmmm, wow, thats like, what is it?  Answer, a candle mat, the kit said so.  Response, much laughter.
It has been along time, since I have tried to paint or draw, really not sure if its something that I should keep up with, but maybe I'll get better with more practice.  Or maybe theres alot more candle mats in my future, I see christmas presents.....
Selfishly, I consider this God's gift to me every night before sleep, this is what midnight looks like here, wish you all were here to share it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

My View of Alaska.....

 So, I think that my Alaska feet are finally under me, the first weekend, what with the unpleasantness of the car break-in and all sort of threw me, but now we are just truly enjoying it.  This is the view of Cook Inlet out of our living/dining/kitchen area, its a super wierd apartment, but with this to look at, you can deal with it.

These mountains you can see are the Alutians, my son is over there somewhere, is nice to know that the same sun is shining on us both.  In the other direction you can see Denali in the distance, it used to be Mckinnely, but has had a name change, hopefully we can make it out there, dont know how in the world you can see everything, theres just too many beautiful places.

This is Miss Sofey's park, she has made alot of friends, especially a little burnese pup that is just so cute, having this so close is the only way living in a city in a apartment is workable with a dog, granted, this city has alot of greenspace and she and I can walk from our place to downtown in about 5 minutes, she goes where I do, and people in town know her name, the lady in the tea shop even let her come in.  Anchorage is a nice enough town, definetly a tourist place, but small enough to be easy to find your way around, once I found the starbucks downtown, it was all good.

One thing that I really love here is that down the whole Cook Inlet they have made a trail that goes for miles, its where we walk every day, when the tide goes out it has a huge mud flat, and there are alot of really strange birds and lots of bird watchers.  We saw these guys one night, dont they look like emus?  They are sand cranes, but just to make doug laugh I told some bird watchers we passed to make sure not to miss the sand emus that were out, he dared me so I had to say it.

What a shock, I found the yarnie places, this is hand dyed by a woman here, just thought it was so pretty, someday, it will be a pair of socks.  The hardest thing about being here is not really having a ton of stuff to take care of, its alot of open time, which I am trying to sink into and enjoy, because these times dont come very often, and of course I have himself all to myself, which is really wonderful.  Next post should have more glacier pictures, and maybe a project or two!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Out of the Tunnel

What a strange time its been, but maybe finally, things are getting back to where it feels more normal, as normal as it ever gets around here, I could go on, but I think we have all been through a space in our life that just throws us off a bit, the getting thrown off track is the easy part, its finding my way back that has been harder.  And people I love just wont stay put, but that is also as it should be too. So a field trip was in order the other day.  I found this place on line, it is one of the last real wool mills around, and in between getting to play with my daughter and a really beautiful little girl and picking up my mum and auntie from the airport, finally got to go.  You basically get on the 5 and head for the hills, and then turn down a country road and just keep driving.  No one was around when I arrived at what was a shed and a couple of really, really big buildings, but you could hear the machines, I have a thing about big machinery, its connected to my dad, they always remind me of him.  There was only one door to knock on and when I did she just said come on in.  It was a wonderland.  Machine from front to back and wool everywhere.  She was lovely, and we talked and as she scooted her walker on would tell me about it all.  I needed a camera so badly there.

She makes wool batts for quilts, on a huge drum carder that  I did not get to see, another time hopefully,  This is amazing stuff, what our grandmothers and their mothers would make quilts with, it is so light and so lofty, and it is huge.  She explained to me that you can use the batt as is, or peel it into layers to make a thinner quilt.  Its all about preference.

My Sis had to have some, had to, so she took me to the shed and we dug through the batts till I found this one, its really lovely, its pure California wool, something that just really speaks to me, where ever Himself takes me across this globe, California is always where we come back to. I so wish my sis would have been with me, she would have loved this more than I did.  It is truly old school, this will take time to work with, and time to take care of, I think thats ok, sometimes old school is just what we need. 

Of course the yarn had to come with me, alpaca and wool that she spun herself, and the wool is for my niece, cause California is in her blood too, and she makes amaing things.  I loved this trip, on the way back out, there was a cowboy out riding, a real one, perfect.