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.
I think the tower I get my signal from is frozen over in this severe cold snap we're having so here's hoping this gets through. I'll keep it short with mostly just photos so there's less content to send--but, as my sister recently coined a saying: A photo is worth a thousand words.
Every year thousands of Alaskans are faced with whether or not they should stay the winter. Many make a yearly fact checking (to see if the sun still warms the earth) pilgrimage to Hawaii or Florida--some stay in the latter state permanently, as my sister did. And there's a reason why there are only seven people in my neck of the wilderness now who stay the year around. It's mostly summer folks these days.
The above picture explains why that is. That's freezing spray from northerly hurricane force winds pile-driving waves twenty to thirty feet into the air over the rocks at the entrance to our little bight.
While I was courting frostbite to take that photo, my sister was lying on a beach in Miami and smugly, with gloating aforethought, took this picture of her road bike.
Hmmm. What was that question again? To snowbird or not to snowbird...?
Megan, I hope you have room for company.
Since my dad's injury I haven't had a chance to work on my memoir, Raised in Ruins, about growing up with only my family in the ruins of a salmon cannery that burned druing WWII. But now it's time to get back to work, and to get myself in the mood here is an excerpt from a recent chapter:
As preteens, my sister Megan and I dove headfirst into the world of Barbara Cartland and became enamored of the Regency period. We developed as a character a snobby, aristocratic matriarch named Madame Moonlea. We'd swish majestically around our Alaskan floathouse home that was perched above the tide surrounded by evergreens, and we'd peer down at our younger brothers through pretend lornettes, saying all manner of stuffy superior things to them in our best upper crust British accents. We let them know that odds were not great that they'd be invited to Almack's for the supper dance.
We tooled around outside on driftwood logs, pretending we were in phaetons and curricles, snapping riding whips (thin, red cedar limbs divested of needles) over the horse's backs and chatting about the latest balls, and plays at Covent Garden. Or we sat side saddle (in our ragged jeans that magically transformed into gorgeous riding habits of the finest satins and silks) on logs with weathered, broken branches, hooking our legs around ones that took the place of a saddle horn, and trotted around Hyde Park exchanging witty remarks and the latest "on dits"
"Lady Dalgliesh has behaved insupportably," I shared, my voice a languid, congested drawl. I moved my body on the log as if I was aboard a walking horse. "She was quite in her cups during the Michaelmas Ball, I gather."
"Oh, not Lady D. again." Megan yawned delicately, patting her lips with her pinky raised. "If I hear another word about her I daresay I shall be bored to distinction!"
I cleared my throat in my most genteel manner. "Pray forgive me, m'lady, but I believe you mean bored to distraction, or possibly extinction?"
Megan caught my eye and we burst into laughter.
We also had a few duels. We stood back to back holding our driftwood guns sternly in front of us, while our little brothers Robin and Chris stood by as our seconds (the individuals responsible for the duel being conducted honorably). As one of the boys counted off we marched with measured strides away from each other, the gravel beach and clam shells crunching underfoot, the musk of seaweed in our nostrils. Off to the side, the tar-blackened pilings of the old cannery haul-out marched down the beach in soldierly formation arranged by size from tallest to shortest.
On the count of ten we turned and shot. Somehow we survived to do it all again, though we weren't so bourgeois as our brothers who ran around shooting each other with their fingers yelling "new guy" every two minutes.
During school, Megan and I appropriated the clay sent out by SISD (Southeast Islands School District) to mold an entire London Season's worth of "ton" people.
We had men in tails and top hats tapping crops agains their high Hessian boots. Ladies who perched side saddle on prancing steeds (splay-footed so they'd stay upright) wore flowing riding habits and hats with veils. Little boys in sailor suits chased after barking dogs, and people of all descriptions in their Regency attire (and occasionally Victorian dresses complete with exaggerated bustles) strolled about or rode in two-wheeled, open vehicles pulled by one or more horses.
We filled the Plexiglass windows that overlooked the raw beach and bay with these preening clay people from Barbara Cartland's world.
I sometimes wondered what the refined Barbara Cartland would think, as she drifted about her ornately decorated British mansion, if she could see two ragamuffin wilderness girls lifting lines from her books to put in the mouths of our clay people.
While my sister was up here last fall we played around with some clay I'd bought to try our hands at re-creating our Regency clay world. She held the clay up to her nose and smiled. "Wow, my whole childhood comes rushing back!"
Tara Neilson (ADOW)