They Volunteered

Lawrence Standerwick Jameson, World War I.  He fought in France and returned home … never to travel oversees again.  Both of his sons also served in the military although neither directly saw combat.

Robert Bruce McKee, Jr. World War II, Air Force.  Fortunately for his mother, the war ended before he was deployed.  However Dad had been raring to go.

I’m sure both men would have volunteered despite warts or bone spurs or any number of ailments.

 

After your underwear drops round your ankles

There is a story my grandmother liked to tell after a posse of vodkas had loosened her girdle to the point that her underpants dropped round her ankles if she tried to stand.  She told it with a chuckle and she told it again and again. A comedian, Grandmother was not.

It involved a cross-country trip she took with a sister-in-law she inherited after her brother’s early death. A burden it was and frequently noted but the girl had no family of her own and some form of promise had been made and some form of promise would be kept because Grandmother was 100 % Norwegian and they are, as everyone knows, the most noble of the human species. And so “Aunt Mary” became Grandmother’s shadow on holidays and vacations. In fact, I can’t quite form an image of her in my head that doesn’t include my grandmother.  Because she was still working when her husband died, she was allowed to maintain a small apartment near her place of employment.  She did not need to be reminded … although she was … that she must save diligently for the time when she could not live on her own and the family via obligation would have to step in.

With this as a backdrop, here is Grandmother’s Hilarious Story about Aunt Mary:

“We’d had a smooth flight out to California and even though it was Mary’s first time on an airplane, I’d told her there was nothing to fret about and so she didn’t say a word until we landed and then she let out a whimper as the plane bounced to a stop. ‘Now Mary,’ I told her, ‘no need to make a scene.’ And she didn’t although I did have my eye upon her. 

However, on the way back to Fargo the plane hit such turbulence that I felt it my duty, given the hard life she’d led, to assure her that it would be over quick. Like smashing into a brick wall.  No sense spending your last moments getting hysterical.

‘But Myrtle,’ Little Mary said and she was almost whimpering ‘I’m so ashamed. I can’t die with such shame.’

‘Nonsense,’ I said to her, ‘you haven’t done a thing in the world to be ashamed of.’

‘I didn’t clean my kitchen before we left,’ she said in a whisper. ‘What are people going to think of me if I die with my kitchen floors such a fright?’”

I thought of Mary Ness last week as we were under threat of evacuation from wildfires.  We had no electricity and cell service kept going in and out.  The parks were closed; the libraries; the stores and even the gas stations.  We had to keep our windows closed because of the smoke.  We were advised not to use a lot of water because the pumps that move water hither and thither are electrical and if the power outage went on, eventually our taps would go dry.  And so we were basically prisoners in our own homes. Waiting and waiting until our plane finally landed on solid ground. Or slammed into a mountain.

For one brief second I did consider washing the damn kitchen floor. As an activity … to keep my mind off things I couldn’t control.

And then I thought of Aunt Mary and reread a favorite novel.  Damn the kitchen floors.

Scary Doors #ThursdayDoors

Here in Northern California we are just getting our electricity turned back on.  Since we were warned that the outage could last for several days and my devices are all old and in need to new batteries, I have basically been off-line since Saturday night.  I only turned on the EyePhone once every couple of hours for updates on the numerous fires in my area.  So for this week’s ThursdayDoors, Norm’s Frampton’s photo challenge which I truly enjoy and hate to miss out on, here are some scary doors from over the years!

Renwick Ruin,  Roosevelt Island, New York City.  For many emigrants, their only home in America if they were unfortunate enough to have contracted small pox. This place really gave me the willies.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Monument, Washington DC.  Frightening because it could happen again.

Fort Sumter, South Carolina, where many soldiers were bombarded for days by their fellow countrymen.

Amtrak Tunnel.  Just spooky is all.  Happy Halloween everyone!

 

The Results of my Colonoscopy

The power company will be shutting me down for a few days as a “big wind event” moves in so please enjoy this “windy” story from Aaron Asselstine who just happens to have a new book out.

tin hats

She made contact by email. I’m guessing the newspaper article from the previous week had put me on her radar. The article was an embarrassment, by the way, but not for being poorly written. A paraphrased interview conducted by an international best-selling author would never be poorly written. The embarrassment was, of course, all mine and it had to do with me being unable to produce good copy despite three days of preparation wherein I stared at my reflection while reciting what I hoped would pass for good copy. It clearly wasn’t good copy, but the international best-selling author interviewing me had plied her trade in a compassionate manner and the following week my bad copy appeared on the fifth page of the local newspaper as legitimately good copy. She even went so far as to call me handsome, and then a few lines after that she compared me to…

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Batteries and bunkers #ThursdayDoors


Another place I like to take first time visitors to the San Francisco area is Battery Spencer although there’s nothing to see here.  Not even doors. No docents or guides, hotdog stands or gift shops … even though these structures were built in 1893 and in use until 1943.  Well, the in use part is a bit debatable.

Battery Spencer is a part of a vast system of fortifications built into the Marin Headlands, however the powerful artillery once installed here was never actually used for defense.

This couple was curious enough to peek inside the structures even though there is nothing to see. On the morning we visited (a Tuesday) there were only a few dozen visitors – primarily tourists from throughout the United States and the world. But, on the weekend this place can get so crowded that you have to park a quarter mile or more down the hill and hike up.  And why you may ask …

Because if it’s not foggy, this is the view you will get. Even if there is fog moving in, the sight can be quite unforgettable (although getting back down the hill in fog can be unforgettable for completely different reasons).

Hop on over to Norm’s ThurdayDoors event where you might see buildings that actually have doors … from all over the world and maybe beyond.  T’is the season.

 

Where I would die

I don’t get out too often and so when some poor relative or friend comes to visit, I pile on trips to all those places I want to see again and again until I die. Number 1 on my list is always … Muir Woods National Park.  I know you’re thinking – what’s the big deal?  Just a bunch of old growth coast redwoods, some towering over 250 feet and 200 to 800 years old.  No amusement rides or zip lines through this primeval forest.  If you survive the drive to the Woods, which is narrow and winding enough to require motion sickness pills,  what’s there to do?

You could fall deeper in love, like this couple.

Or meander up one of the many well-maintained trails.  We passed on this one as it led out of the cool canopy and into the sunshine of a very hot day.

Or contemplate the textures of a stump. What life this one has seen!

Or count the burls on a tree.  Imagine this, each burl is full of un-sprouted bud tissue and serves as a storage compartment for the genetic code of the parent tree. The burls themselves differ in function and are the subject of much research (click here if interested.) 

Or you can practice the art of shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing.”  Walk slowly and quietly. Listen to the songs of these ancient beings.  Feel the tension lift off your shoulders and breathe in the camphor of the canopy.  Bathe your senses.

Unfortunately the Woods, which used to be off the beaten path and known only to locals, have become quite popular, so if you want to visit, go early on a weekday morning before the wood nymphs, fairies and trolls have gone into hiding.

Weird tales and wild times under the deodara tree

For a time in the 1800s the small town of Auburn California was a destination and not just the place where folks stopped off for a bite or to fill up the tank before heading east over the Sierra Nevadas.

Panning for gold

And why?  Because gold was discovered in the near-by hills, leading to the infamous Gold Rush. Above is a monument to the old time prospectors (or panhandlers). 

Olde Town

Olde Town

The other day on our way to Reno Nevada we decided to try the Mexican cafe in old section of Auburn. The cafe itself was nothing much to see but across the street was this structure currently undergoing some sort of repair.  Care to guess what it is?

It’s the former home of Auburn Hook and Ladder No. 2. Below are the front doors reflecting the streets of the old town it served.

I was curious as to why fire engines used to be called hook and ladders and here’s an explanation from Google:

A hook ladder, also known as a pompier ladder (from the French pompier meaning firefighter) is a type of ladder that can be attached to a window sill or similar ledge by the use of a hooked extending bill with serrations on the underside. The hooked ladder then hangs suspended vertically down the face of the building.

 

After lunch we noticed a couple of plaques next to the fire station.

I had no idea what the significance of a Cypress deodara was and so had to google once again.

“Native to the western Himalayas in Afghanistan derives from the Sanskrit term devadāru, which means “wood of the gods”, a compound of deva “god” and dāru “wood and tree”.Forests full of Deodar or Devadāru trees were the favorite living place of ancient Indian sages and their families who were devoted to the Hindu god Shiva .

To please Lord Shiva, the sages used to perform very difficult tapasya (meditation) practices in deodar forests. Also the ancient Hindu epics and Shaiviteexts regularly mention Darukavana, meaning a forest of deodars, as a sacred place.”

The second plaque was dedicated to Jean Baptiste Charbonneau who was the youngest member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

At first, I thought it odd that a town would dedicate a plaque to a man whose claim to fame was being carried to the Pacific coast in a papoose but future research revealed he was quite well educated (by William Clark) and lived in Europe as a sort of goodwill ambassador before heading for wild times in the rollicking West.

Clark Aston Smith

Clark Aston Smith

This suspicious looking writer of “weird tales” also lived for a period of time in Auburn although the townsfolk rarely caught a glimpse of  him.  He hid in his ailing parent’s house where, in his own words he inspired “to delude the reader into accepting an impossibility, or series of impossibilities, by means of a sort of verbal black magic, in the achievement of which I make use of prose-rhythm, metaphor, simile, tone-color, counter-point, and other stylistic resources, like a sort of incantation.” 

He never met, though was a longtime pen pal of H.R. Lovecraft, author of the Dunwich Horror and other macabre tales. Before we had the internet and email, writer’s  befriended each other via pen and ink. Imagine that.

Here’s one more door for Norm Frampton’s doors from around the world event.  This place used to be the cafe to stop at for breakfast.  I don’t know what it is now.