Sunday, September 27, 2015

Many Rivers to Cross

 As a true-blue city dweller, I had never given much thought to rivers. But crossing the continent from west to east has given me a deeper perspective on rivers - not as just a source of water but as watery highways, carrying all those who have lived in North America, from the Native people to the fur trappers, settlers and those who came after them.

John Gardner said "There are only two plots, a stranger rides into town and a stranger rides out of town." I am not sure what category this falls into but how about this, "A woman looks at rivers."

Columbia River Gorge at Iron Horse Hill. We crossed the Columbia River here and I found it a very desolate place - all stone and rocks.

Wild Horse Hill - The road sign calls it Wild Horses Monument, but the real name of this artwork is "Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies"-a tribute to the wild horses that once roamed the region.  And despite being begun in 1989, it’s still not complete! The trail was too steep for us to climb; besides, we were pushing on to the next stop. But this is not country where anybody, man or beast, could survive.

If Montana had a Yankee Stadium, the Yellowstone River would be it. Not only is the Yellowstone a fairly large river, it is over 200 feet wide in most parts and its peak flow is over 15,000 CFS. Oh, and, I haven't even mentioned that it begins in Yellowstone National Park, flows through Paradise Valley (aptly named for its majestic peaks), and the river is banked by cottonwoods and back-dropped by four distinct mountain ranges. It wove in and out of part of our trip back to Montana.

This is where the numerous references to Lewis and Clark began. I felt that we were haunted by their journey west, a difficult undertaking but so very important to our history. 

Missouri River. "There is only one river with a personality, a sense of humor, and a woman's caprice; a river that goes traveling side wise, that interferes in politics, rearranges geography, and dabbles in real estate; a river that plays hide and seek with you today and tomorrow follows you around like a pet dog with a dynamite cracker tied to his tail. That river is the Missouri."
-George Fitch

Headwaters of the Mississippi River - I didn't make it to the headwaters but I am still sharing this post with you. The Mississippi River was another one of our constant companions throughout the journey. "The road that runs beside the river follows the river as it bends along the valley floor, going the way it must.
Where water goes, so goes the road," ...Thomas Lux

 "Baby" Mississippi: American runs on the Mississippi.

The names are a litany to America: Little Missouri River, Marias River, Red River of the North. Minnesota River, Stony Creek. Little Otter Creek, Split Rock River, Sauk River, St. Louis River, Elk River, Crow River...Add the names of the native peoples - Cheyenne, Sioux, Chippewa, Ojibwe, Assiniboin, Blackfeet, Crow, Flathead - and you have the history of the American West (or part of it) for a millennia or more before the European settlers arrived.

"You see the current, which is
what the river is: the river
in the river, a thing sliding fast forward
inside a thing sliding not so fast forward." Thomas Lux

I loved the name of this river and thought it might have something to do with rum running but the reality is more prosaic - another instance of cultural misunderstanding. Rum River: The current English name is a mistranslation of the one given to it by the Mdewakanton Dakota (see Dakota) tribe. Though Watpa waḳaŋ (Spirit(ual)/Mystic River) in the Dakota language, by the late 18th-century Europeans interpreted the Mdewakanton Dakota name for the river not as "Spirit" denoting a mystical force, but instead as "spirit" denoting alcohol and ever since it has been known as the Rum River. (Wikipedia).

The road that runs beside the river follows the river as it bends
along the valley floor,
going the way it must.
Where water goes, so goes the road, ...Thomas Lux

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

There will be updates (really)

I promise that there will be updates - more about Montana, North Dakota (maybe), Minnesota, meeting my great nieces for the first time and my niece and nephew for the first time in 20 years.

I have been a busy person - seeing lots of Minnesota small towns, going to Lake Superior, crossing BOTH the Mississippi and the St. Louis river, visiting a grand estate on the lake and a lighthouse built after one of the greatest storms of the last century on Lake Superior.

I have had good food and bad, slept in hotels mostly good and one dreadful, talked to a number of really nice people, watched two ships pass under a bridge in Duluth that goes up and down and realized that this is a slice of the world that I want to know better.

It's been a heck of a road trip and it's not over yet.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Teddy Roosevelt National Park

Wagon in town outside the entrance of the park

Surviving cabin; the larger cabin that TR stayed in burned down 

 Inside of cabin

Prairie Dog Village

Across one of the valleys
Wild horses

My camera is just not good enough to do justice to this wilderness. At certain spots, we could see the Little Missouri River winding in the distance. I got several shots of buffalo but they are too blurry and distant to post. It was about 100 degrees and the terrain looked impossibly rough and impassable. I can't imagine how TR rode all over this part of the country but he did. Bully for him! Bravo that he managed to have it made into a national park and forced Congress to set aside even more land for parks - as threatened now as they were during TR's time.

And even more bully for the settlers who managed to somewhat tame the land  - although that came at the expense of the Indians who had have been here for millennia. I admire the settlers' courage and stamina - esp after we crossed the rest of North Dakota which was hotter than Hades and flatter than a pancake. But what happened to the American Indian always colors my viewpoint of our settling of the American West.

Anthonij (Anton) Rudolf Mauve

September 18, 1838. Anthonij (Anton) Rudolf Mauve (18 September 1838, Zaandam, North Holland - 5 February 1888, Arnhem) was a Dutch realist painter who was a leading member of the Hague School. He signed his paintings 'A. Mauve' or with a monogrammed 'A.M.'. A master colorist, he was a very significant early influence on his cousin-in-law Vincent van Gogh. In this image: Morning Ride on the Beach (1876), oil on canvas, Rijksmuseum.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Discovery of new work by Edmonia Lewis, the most important African-American & Native Indian woman sculptor of the 19th century

An important work by the 19th-Century Edmonia Lewis (1842-1907), has come to light. The marble 1870 "Bust of Christ" is in the collection of the Bute family on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

Lewis had created an earlier work, also religious in nature, for the Marquis of Bute, one of her earliest British patrons. That piece, "Madonna and Child With Angels, " is now lost and thought to have been destroyed in a fire.

A work described as a Head of Christ by Lewis was auctioned in London in the latter part of the 19th-Century,  but with no illustration and scant information. Edmonia Lewis is an African-American woman sculptor who has been “rediscovered” in the last decade but there are still many gaps in her biography.

Born in 1844, of African-American and Indian descent, both of her parents had died by the time she was nine. Her mother's two sisters then adopted both Lewis and her older brother Samuel, who was born in 1832. The children remained with their aunts near Niagara Falls for about the next four years. Lewis, who went by her Native American name Wildfire, and her aunts sold Ojibwe baskets and other souvenirs, such as moccasins and blouses, to tourists visiting Niagara Falls, Toronto, and Buffalo.

In 1856, Lewis was enrolled at New York Central College in McGrawville, which was a Baptist abolitionist school. During her summer term there in 1858, Lewis took classes in the Primary Department in order to prepare for courses she would later take in collegiate programs. In a later interview, Lewis claimed she remained at the school for three years but left when she was "declared to be wild.”

In 1859, with help from her brother Samuel and abolitionists, Lewis was sent to Oberlin College at the age of about fifteen, where she changed her name to Mary Edmonia Lewis. At the time, Oberlin College was one of the first higher learning institutions in the United States to admit women and people of races. Lewis's decision to attend Oberlin was one that would significantly change her life, as that is where she began her art studies.

The problems which occurred here have never been satisfactorily explained. She was accused of poisoning two classmates with spiced wine. While the two women recovered, they were seriously ill and the townspeople blamed Edmonia, beating her up badly.

 Due to the attack, local authorities arrested Lewis, charging her with poisoning her friends. The college defended their student throughout the trial. John Mercer Langston, an Oberlin College alumnus, and the only practicing African-American lawyer in Oberlin, represented Lewis during her trial. Although most witnesses spoke against her and she did not testify, the jury acquitted her of the charges.

About a year after the trial, Lewis was accused of stealing artists' materials from the college. Even though she was acquitted due to lack of evidence, she was forbidden from registering for her last term by the principal of the Young Ladies' Course, which prevented Lewis from graduating.

In 1864, she moved to Boston, and after initial difficulties, found a male sculptor who was willing to teach her. Her inspirations were the abolitionists of the day which in turn brought her public notice. She was able to go to Rome in 1866 where she spent most of her professional career.

 While in Rome Edmonia Lewis adopted the neoclassical style of sculpture, as seen in this nude bust.[28] The Walters Art Museum.

In the late 1880s, the neoclassism declined in popularity, as did the popularity of Lewis's artwork. She continued sculpting in marble, increasingly creating altarpieces and other works for Roman Catholic patrons.In the art world, she became eclipsed by history and lost fame. By 1901 she had moved to London.The events of her later years are not known. She died in 1907, a now obscure figure.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Randy and Brenda's Wedding Day

Randy Jowdy (my brother) and Brenda Papillon (new sister in law)

When young people get married, it's often a day of emotional sentimentality, But they, and their dreams, are untried. So, while we always wish them them best, it can take the luck of the draw as to whether their love will last when the road becomes bumpy.

But when two people, midway through life's journey discover each other and pledge their troth, the emotions stirred in the onlookers go beyond easy tears. There's a sense of awe and wonder and love the second time around, love this time based on true liking and shared values and interests. In their case, one of their shared interests is that they are both true-blue fans of the Oakland Raiders, hence the wedding color theme of black and silver.

And, in this case, Randy's girls gave their approval (very important) - my nieces, my brother Randy's daughters: Meaghan, Elizabeth, Sarah and Ashley

 The Papillon-Jowdy tribe

The day dawned with a forecast of  sun with a chance of showers - typical weather for the Pacific Northwest. The wedding was held outside on the grounds of a golf course and was attended by a wide range of people -- Randy's military and biking buddies, his daughters, husbands, grand sons (including one baby on board), Brenda's kids, and a horde of significant others plus friends.

Randy and Brenda's girls marched down the aisle, arm in arm, to the tune of "All you need is love.." and "Eight Days a Week."

The flower girl - Brenda's youngest granddaughter..

 Brenda escorted down the aisle by her two sons.

The vows were awesome as Brenda sang "And I Love Him" to my brother.  By this time, I was too choked up to hear very much but then, I didn't have to hear anything to see the love in front of me.

The wedding feast was a taco bar with alcoholic libations for those who wanted them, That was  followed by a delicious apple cake and cupcakes in black and silver. The mood was slightly chaotic, festive and joyous.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Big Sky Montana

I have been traveling toward the midwest for about a week and it's been a revelation.

Montana is aptly nicknamed Big Sky. After we left Helena and headed toward North Dakota, we went for miles and miles and only saw cows, farmhouses and one eagle. The land is hot and dusty in September but is was also exciting to drive along the Yellowstone River, the same river that Lewis and Clark paddled down on their way back to St. Louis.

We had lunch at the only spot where Lewis left any trace of his being there - an odd outcropping of rock named in honor of Sacajawea's son.

Although much of the scenery hasn't been very exciting, I have gotten more of a sense of the country away from the coast. I am discovering that a place does not have to have bright light to be fascinating.

Tomorrow I hope to see some buffalo but we shall see - enjoying this journey is not dependent on sighting buffalo. 

There will be lots more to come about this trip but this will have to do for now. I need to get to bed because we are leaving early tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September Calendar Page

This September, focus on your wine making!

The Hours of Henry VIII depicts wine making as an activity that requires a division of labor between men and women. In the fields in the background, seated women pick the grapes, while a man stands, awaiting a full basket to bring to the wine press. Inside the barn men dump their baskets into large wine presses where the fruit is trampled. Crushed, the grapes are then transferred to a large vat from which, at the bottom, the liquid can be extracted for storing and aging in the nearby barrels. See more: