On August 6 of this year I turned in my manuscript for my memoir to my publisher West Margin Press. RAISED IN RUINS is about growing up in the ruins of a cannery in the Alaskan wilderness with only my family.
It took me just over a year to write it. I'm not somebody who dwells on the past a lot, so it was a struggle, but also an adventure, to constantly delve into things I'd experienced that I hadn't thought about in years.
I found that just the process of writing memories down made more memories surface. And when I re-wrote them, additional details I'd forgotten jumped to the surface. To help me remember, I had written a lot of journals when I was a kid, we'd audio recorded conversations, and my entire family generously shared their point of view of what had happened. Of course I had to write it the way I experienced it, but they helped me remember a lot that I'd forgotten, making it a fuller, deeper story.
And in the process of writing the memoir I came to realize in a way I never had before what an amazing experience we had. We lived so remotely that it gave me a different perspective on space and especially time than I would have had growing up in the world.
We learned many lessons children aren't usually taught, including the basic one of how to survive, which I wrote about in a guest blog for a wonderful woman and inspirational blogger who in one brief experience of Alaska understood it immediately and deeply. Her name is Carla Kirkland and you can find my guest blog at:
Due to ongoing signal problems my blogs will have to be shorter than usual with less photos, but if this works I'm hoping I can post them more regularly in the future.
I can't wait to see what happens with RAISED IN RUINS and how readers will respond to it when it comes out next year.
It's been a while since my sister has been able to post any new content, but the Alaskan Bush signal has been extra difficult the past few months. So, she wanted me to put up a notice to let her readers know that as soon as the signal is operational again she will be creating new blogs for you. In the meantime please follow her Twitter account where she is able to tweet on a daily basis: https://twitter.com/neilson_tara?lang=en
Posted by Taras sister,
Megan (hailing from sunny Florida where the signal works just fine :)
I'm going to try out a new format with this blog, since it appears I can no longer send multiple embedded photos in my emails, which was how I previously did my blog (and then sending it to my sister in Florida to post). The signal has just gotten too twitchy to pull that off anymore, it seems.
So what I propose to do, and we'll see how it goes, is to have all the photos at the bottom of the text. On this first outing, and possibly for the foreseeable future, I'll just describe what's going on in each photo.
It's mail day and it's always a case of wondering what time the floatplane will arrive, if the weather will cooperate, if the tide will be in far enough to float the skiff--and will it still be in once we pick up the mail so we can get back to the house and offload on the dock instead of trying to haul everything up the beach?
On this mailday the mailplane was two hours late, but since it was a 19 foot tide on a sunny day, that worked out all right. We hung out at the dock chatting with my cousin Darrell, tilting our heads every time we heard a plane flying by out on the strait. He wanted to go firewood logging on the high tide and hoped the plane would get here before the tide peaked. (Photo 2)
The floatplane finally arrives and my dad catches the wing line from inside the skiff to slow the plane's momentum. We tend to have far more in-coming mail, since there are usually groceries and other supplies, than outgoing mail, as the small pile on the dock testifies. (Photo 3)
Cassie Peavey, the post mistress for Meyers Chuck, strides down the dock that her husband, Steve, built, attached to the tiny post office that they built. She and Steve are past retirement age but handle the hundreds of pounds of mail that come in every week with can-do good-nature. We can't thank them enough! (Photo 4)
Inside the little post office Steve sorts packages for Darrell to scan while behind the counter Cassie puts the first class mail in the tiny, open post office boxes. She sells a limited variety of candy, as well, and frequently puts out homemade cinnamon rolls and cookies she bakes herself. (Photo 5)
The post office is built on rocks that turn into a submerged island on super high tides. Without this wooden walkway to shore (and to the Peavey's house) it wouldn't be able to be reached from land on a 19-footer. It's heated by a woodstove, as the small pile of firewood below the bulletin board indicates. (Photo 6)
Another mail day successfully handled. I hope you enjoyed the new format!
NOTE: I'm attempting to build a Twitter presence so I try to post photos and what's happening several times a day, signal permitting, @neilson_tara if you want to check it out. I'd love to get to know my readers better and hear any suggestions for posts that you might have.
Tara Neilson (ADOW)