Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Synopsis: 2013 June 30th

This next month is going to be filled to the max!  My  writing group is meeting here on the Hill's Hill on Tuesday and I am in a thither trying to get something worthwhile into the computer and out on paper.  Working on a couple of ideas, but my chaotic desk is causing me some problems.

Well part of the chaos has to do with a quick trip that my sis and I are making over the 4th to see our McPherson aunties.  Now what that has to do with my messy desk centers around one of my reasons to see the aunties.  I need to finish my series on my family of Jabezes, of which my grandfather was one of the Jabez Burns McPherson.  I spent a while this weekend printing out every picture that I have of my grandfather and grandmother and put them in what I think is chronological order.  That may or may not be so.  What I am really hoping for is some new stories of their family life and of my grandparents. At the very least, I have a pictorial history of my grandfather --- and an inkling of the totality of the man.  I always hope for more  --- wish I had asked more questions of my grandparents, aunts and uncles -- but what I have is what I have.

A week after I return from Redding and the aunties, my daughter and I leave for our TREK.  The reason for going is a Foss family reunion in Wisconsin.  However, road trips like this take on a life of their own.  The girl wants to see every national park between here and Wisconsin.  We are both history nuts so the Oregon Trail and Lewis and Clark's path across the country intrigue us  --- and take us off  of a straight path to Madison.  Then there are cemeteries and places that family lived, loved, and talked about.  How could we miss those.

Now those are the plans -- my job is to get everything I need organized and packed.

O, forgot to mention, we are also traveling with my ever constant companion, Colldubh  --- a very large, black german shepherd.  Goodness knows, I might be saying the same things next Sunday, as the countdown progresses.

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sepia Saturday, 183rd; 2013 June 29th, Lava Beds National Monument

The Lava Beds National Monument still intrigues me and seems to fit in with this 183 Sepia prompt.  As teenagers a trip to the Lava Beds was a special treat, as it was years later for my children and even later still, for my grandchildren. Lava Beds National Monument, located near Tule Lake, California, is about 30 miles from where I grew up.  It's a land of turmoil, both geological and historical. Over the last half-million years, volcanic eruptions  have created a rugged landscape dotted with diverse volcanic features. More than 700 caves, Native American rock art sites, historic battlefields and campsites, and a high desert wilderness.  The following pictures are from the website of the Tule Lake Lava Beds National Monument.  The following picture is of a collapsed cave trench.   I was never one to be grubbing around underground, but my husband and son were  always thrilled with their caving expeditions.   When he was but a teenager, my husband (to be) and some of his buddies found a pair of moccasins and an old canoe paddle stashed on a ledge of one of the  caves.  If I remember correctly, when they went back to show the county's local expert on the Modoc Indians, the stash was gone -- or they couldn't find the right turn in the right cave.

One of the most beautiful caves, at least in my opinion, is the Blue Grotto cave.  The colors are magnificent ---and one doesn't have to go too far underground to see it's beauty.
The Blue Grotto
Courtesy of the Lava Beds National Monument

Entrance to the Blue Grotto
Courtesy of the Lava Beds National Monument
The following picture shows the entrance to one of the many tube caves, which were formed by streams of lava flowing underground.  I was never fond of going in these caves as it almost always called for crawling along on one's belly --- in the dark.
Entrance to A Large Tube Cave
Courtesy of the Lava Beds National Monument
One of the most lovely of the caves, or so I have been told (it's way to far underground for my comfort) is the Ice Cave as shown by the following two pictures.
Ice Formations in the Ice Cave
Courtesy of the Lava Beds National Monument

Tricky Roping Across the Floor of the Ice Cave
Courtesy of the Lava Beds National Monument
To me, one of the most fascinating parts of the Lava Beds is the Petrogylphs, as shown in the following three pictures.  There are over 5,000 pictograms and drawings on these cliffs.  The information given at the Ranger Station indicates that the drawings were many times done from a canoe or boat of some sort.  Now the Petroglyphs stand like sentinels to an earlier time.

One of the More Than  5,000 Drawings on the Cliffs
Courtesy of the Lava Beds National Monument
Petroglyph Point
Courtesy of the Lava Beds National Monument

Symbol Bridge
Courtesy of the Lava Beds National Monument
Another Fascinating Petrogylph
Courtesy of the Lava Beds National Monument

This brings to a close my (non)-Sepia offering, but the does seem to be a connection to the theme. For other Sepian offerings, click here.(Note:  On another day, when Sepia appropriate, I'll warm to  the history lesson of the Lava Beds and Captain Jack's Stronghold.)

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Monday, June 24, 2013

2013 June 24th: Sharing a Story: You Can Call Me "Major"

I usually tend to write family stories that are as accurate as I can come by, except for using dialogue to flesh out the individuals.  However, the following story, while having elements of  a true story, I chose to frame it in a more fictional mode and it turned out to be a fairly interesting opening bit  -- at least to this writer's eye.

You Can Call me “Major”

The train slowed as it chugged into the Calgary railway station. John Brown McPheeters carefully adjusted the Civil War button on his lapel. He snorted a sardonic laugh and thought to himself, This little pin opens lots of doors – even if it started as a joke. He had been just 19 when he volunteered for the 8th Wisconsin Infantry regiment, Called ourselves the Eagle regiment, and carried that scrawny Honest Abe eagle with us.

Johnny, as he had always been called even though he was almost now sixty, enlisted as a private and was a private still when he was mustered out in Alabama two years later. When he got home, his dad took to calling him Major. Poppa was just trying to make fun of me being only a drum major for the regiment --- not a real soldier. Major McPheeters this and Major McPheeters that. Soon all the village and surround towns were calling him Major. All those folk meant it as a joke, but I got that last laugh.

A couple of decades of farming up north of Madison took him away from the jokesters, but the nickname stuck. He was known as Major McPheeters even when he returned to Madison.. Sure did open the doors to that government job in Madison. They were right happy to have Major McPheeters head up the Department of Services Affairs. And old Senator Barrett was proud to write a letter of recommendation to that Calgary banker, what with my “war record” and being the son of old Garrison McPheeters. Hmph, that opened some doors.

Pappa, are you ready?” Young John, Jr., knocked at the door to the compartment.

Almost. I'll meet you and your brothers at the livery. Banker Talbot's meeting us there,” muttered Johnny. That Banker Talbot found us good homestead land about half way between Calgary and Edmonton – enough for me and the boys to make a pretty good stake. I aim to go back to the states a rich man.

Johnny shrugged into his jacket, put his hat on his bald head, and hefted his well worn satchel. This was going to be his time. Away from the old man, away from his history, and away from the jokes. He gave the Civil War pin a quick shine with his coat sleeve, and headed out to meet the Calgary banker.

His three sons and the banker were waiting for him at the livery. Johnny drew himself up straight, and tall as one can be at 5'6”, his blue eyes clear and calculating.

Good Day to you, Banker Talbot. I'm J. B. McPheeters, but you can call me “Major.”. Reckon you've heard about me.”

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Synopsis: 2013 June 23rd

It's been awhile since I have been at this Sunday Synopsis thingy; once in May, once in March, a few times in January, and a time or so in December.  Lots of things have happened that turned my life upside-down, but it seems that I am turning a corner -- not THE corner, but a corner.  Will see what lies ahead, but for now I have been a semi-regular contributor to Sepia Saturday.  My general writing has been taking an uptick.  In my critique group I presented (thrice) a story of the shooting of my great grandparents - she dead, and he shot in the pocket watch.  I am known to really dislike editing and revising, so the fact that I edited and revised was a major accomplishment.  It's a pretty good story so it may end up on this blog.

A Foss reunion (my paternal grandmother was a Foss) is being held in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, in late July, so I am busy preparing for seeing and talking to "cousins."  In addition, on this trip to Wisconsin,  my daughter's bucket list includes most of the national parks betwixt here and there.  Of course, I dinna tell her that we also had to hit a number of cemeteries betwixt here and there as well.  With only a couple of eye-rolls she easily slipped additional stops.  Just got her itinerary -- she is so organized, which is good cuz her mother tends to be a "seat of the pants" navigator, which has and can cause problems.

Lastly, for this week I am preparing a shorty piece for the blog, which is based on true story with some literary latitude built in.

Hopefully, this is the start of "being on a roll."

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sepia Saturday: 2013 June 22 -- Keyes Brothers in Wheeler County

The Sepia Saturday prompt of  off to the creamery, Austrailian farms, and men on horseback yielded for me a favorite picture of my Grandmother Sigfords brothers/half-brothers-cousins.

Ray, David, and Phil Keyes on family ranch outside of Mitchell OR
circa 1920

The Picture was on the face of this postcard "addressed to"
Mrs. Sigford (Agnes Keyes Sigford)
with a note
this has been taken a long time

My great grandmother Agnes Aurelia Keyes(nee Duty) died shortly after my grandmother Agnes Laura Keyes was born.  Agnes Aurelia's sister Sarah Ellen came to the homestead to care for the house and the three young children left motherless with Agnes's death.  She stayed, married her brother-in-law and they raised eight children of their own, in addition to the children born to Agnes.  The three young men on horseback are children of Sarah Ellen and James E. L. Keyes.  My grandmother was always very fond of these three boys, particularly David, who visited her when she lived in Klamath county.  Lakeview and Paisley were just a hoot and a holler away, well a hundred mile hoot and a holler.

The photograph was most likely sent to my grandmother, tucked in a letter which has been long goen.  Much to my chagrin, the postcard had no address, stamp or postmark.  I wish I knew more about this picture and what they were doing, the names of the horses, and did they always looks so much like dapper horsemen.

I always thought they could have been casted in Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid.  The youngest of the three, David (in the center) cowboyed most of his life. To all accounts, David Keyes was an expert horseman and was a horse wrangler for Rueb Long (rancher, storyteller and author of The Oregon Desert).  He also worked for the ZX ranch near Paisly, Oregon, of course that meant working cows and horses  from Paisly, Lakeview, Silver Lake and the hundred or so miles of sagebrush covered hills between.

Now good Sepians, check out the other offerings for this  182nd Sepia Saturday.

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications