Friday, September 27, 2013

If these walls could talk.....


Spirit house at a Tsuchone Center in
Alaska
  Certain American Indian tribes practiced animism, the belief  that natural physical entities—including animals, plants, and even inanimate objects or phenomena—possess a spiritual essence.  Remember the song from Disney's film,  Pochahantas, "Paint with all the Colors of the Wind" and the lyrics...if not here is a link to one  you tube rendition  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diQgSDWJL7o
 In particular, there is a verse:  
You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name

The photo we took in August of the Alaskan Tsuchone Indian spirit house to the left is one way that they honored that belief, by putting an array of items and belongings that the person enjoyed and cherished while alive into  the house, built  above ground so that the spirit of the deceased would be pleased and happy in the hereafter.

While animism is deemed primitive, I  say there are shades of  that mystique alive and around us today.  When my late Uncle Carl died, and I was selecting his casket and arranging the burial, I asked  the undertaker to  place some memorabilia into the casket, his old sling shot that  Carl used from his porch to chase squirrels from the bird feeders, a cap for his WWII Army Unit, a pin from the VFW and firemen' s insignia.  For my aunt it was a dust rag, no kidding because she was so very tidy and neat and clean as well as an old bracelet I ha given her as a child.  I suppose it  made me feel better, but I like to think their spirits appreciated the items.  

 Recently a friend in PA shared that  one day she was graced with a very unexpected visitor, a stranger driving by slowed down, turned and came back by the house.  When she stopped my friend, Pat, who was outside asked if she was lost and needed directions.  No, but the woman was in PA visiting  from MN where she too lives; she had grown up in Pat's house, the house Pat has owned for 40 years.  Pat asked if she would like to come in and see the house and the woman accepted, thrilled.  They had a wonderful visit that blessed them both and wove them together.  The woman had not been there in over 40 years and shared some tales about growing up in the home.  She may not return to that area again, but she left with great memories.  

This story and Pat's gracious generosity demonstrate how outreaching to someone casually can bring joy. (Entertaining strangers unawares who turn out to be angels in disguise.)  I  so related to that woman, because I have been there. I was fortunate when selling Uncle Carl's home in PA that relatives of a longtime school friend bought it, are doing lovely work landscaping and did the few cosmetic fix ups inside that were needed.  She  sent me photos last year and said,  "stop by" so gracious and really pleased me.  

My old PA home, hedges gone from along
 the side and back got this off Google.
Can't locate the ones I took of the house. 
On the other hand,  I doubt I will ever again see the inside of what was home, Mom' s house in PA even though I am back  there every year.  Sometimes I have driven by just to see it from the street.  I never see anyone there at  the home where I grew up in PA, lamentable because a nephew owns it and lives there with his wife whom I never met.  He is into his own world, I never hear "boo" from them.  So I think, "if the walls of the house could talk, what tales they could tell."  I suppose his father, my estranged (I say ex-brother) can relate some to him, but he cannot tell them about the backboards in the closet off what was my bedroom and the words that I carved there and why, nor about my crawling out my bedroom window onto the porch over the roof (window over the back porch was to my bedroom)  to toss crab apples at the neighbor hood boys, nor about what was once the coal cellar and many other tales.  They will never know because those walls cannot talk, but some how I believe those walls  have retained  some of our spirits from all that they saw over the years. 

Wistful yet perhaps sometimes it is  better not to look back but to keep memories of what was.  That's what I learned in CA when we were back there visiting and the man who bought our former ranch invited us to come by.  In that case, I would have been better off not to accept  his invitation, my  former gorgeous rose garden was filled with weeds and odd shrubs, the landscaping looked like a Sanford and Son junkyard.  No, that sight was not one I needed to see.  

The original owners who built our now home are elderly  but live in this town and have been here to see what changes we made.  They were thrilled that we love the house as much as they did.  I remember LaVerne said, "part of me lives in those floors and walls.."  Yes it is so. And we enjoy their  stopping by which  is infrequent because he is quite ill. We are blessed by all the stories  they can share about living here and the efforts they put into this home. They in turn are pleased that we have it; he remembers my husband when Jerry was a  little boy growing up here.  

In PA my old home from the street does not look the same, he painted what was white always a murky dark foreboding grey.  Planted a tree in the front yard; Mom's spirit must fuss because she was always sweeping away leaves that blew up the alley and stopped at the side door.  

Yes, if walls could talk, the stories they could share.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Much ado about too much


Trinkets, tidbits, treasures await
I confess that I am a tinkering techie,and have indulged myself with latest smart phone, tablet, laptop, pc, and all sorts of  software and email, Gmail, Facebook and blog.. .I have avoided Linked in and Twitter although the latter appeals  in its brevity, .but after spending hours tinkering and organizing and loading and downloading the Alaskan adventure photos I  shrug my shoulders and throw up my hands and pine for the old days.  I am convinced that the pre-digital camera times were easier.   

Remember we  took film out of the camera,  left it at the photo shop or local drugstore to be developed and a week or so later had the results of those vacation photos.   Maybe the photos did not come out as expected and we certainly did not have real time option to share with  the interested and the lurking folks on Facebook.  Maybe we could not preview and redo on the spot.  We certainly could not edit in real time, bookmark, date stamp, etc, etc.  But  I remember when it was easy to  return home from vacations, have film developed, look it over, slap it into a family album or order extra copies of photos to send back to family who would enjoy them too and that was that....not so today..

Array of pamphlets to peruse, readings, and scrapbook materials
Now, it is assemble to download from phone, tablet, digital camera and even the nice DVD made enroute courtesy of  Hall's Alaska.   Trouble is that DVD of photos taken along the way is in a read only file so to work with it, those photos too must be downloaded.  I vowed I would not take too many photos this Alaskan adventure...but often I would be overcome with peer pressure and while the rest of the folks snapped every inch along the way, I resisted a lot.  But  still I would succumb to the moment and now have  over 400 photos finally downloaded to the Alaskan folder on the main PC from all the sources and have edited and labeled perhaps 150 of those. .   I was also  disappointed once  back home to discover that notes I kept as a trip log on my tablet could not be printed..I need a Samsung printer..not going to buy for that so another project to type. This is all a very time consuming process and being a fidgety person who has so much else happening and beckoning to me unlike a recluse who can do only what appeals to him/her, one or two hours at a time is my limit to set at the PC console, fingers on key board and mouse in hand, photo shop ready to edit, rename, brighten, crop, adjust in myriad ways. 

This is what sits at the computer, scan, download, get it together.
I ask my self, "Why are you fussing and causing frustration to yourself?  After all who cares?  Get to it when you want to."  There is the rest of the story, if I do not complete this soon I will have lost interest completely and moved on to our next trip planning or whatever is grasping my attention at the moment.  It is the double edged sword of our  leisurely life of retirement, I can be moving along at my own pace, don't worry, be happy, and  tomorrow is another day. And of course there is the diversion of research about a certain photo, more information to read about and best of all  36 new friends from the tour to keep updated and contacted, some are bound to the use of only email making it more difficult to communicate.  Some of us may reunite this winter.  Some may reunite using the  free cruise voucher.  But now away from those early morning risings, long hours on the motor coach and late arrivals  to destinations only to repeat it again the next day, we  have bonded with several nice people.  The joy of travel is the friends we make along the way.   Some phone calls here and there and touching base to stay on the same page as we await our refunds an vouchers for the cruise.  Some are far more concerned about that than we are...I expect it will take at least until November and as I have said over an over I am thankful we were with John Hall's tour  who took excellent care expeditiously to get us back home. Ah travel, the place where anything that can happen will, an event where Murphy will have his way and the only way to deal with it is to roll along and ride the waves.  Kind of my attitude with working through the scans and downloads....to scrapbook or to photo book ala Shutterfly, that is the next question.  


Some of our group lingered lakeside where our guide waded into the beautiful Kluhane shore,
largest lake in the Yukon, the Ruby Mts are to the right, part of the
 Wrangells St Elias range.  I snapped this back on the bus, through the window...
ahh wish we were there. That is the the sign of a good time, reverie

So, blogger pals, I have not abandoned the blog, I am otherwise entertaining myself...here in the banana belt of MN, where it is all far too warm for September.  And as our heat wave in 80,s and even 90 degrees rolls by, we ask where is our MN weather. Sadly we are also in  a drought, bad enough for us watering flowers, gardens and lawns, but the farmers are desperate.  Trying our rain dances, they've got to work soon.