Here's what I learned in my creative writing classes at UAA yesterday. Novelist Ed Allen (Mustang Sally) said: "In the beginning was the word...With no words we wouldn't be human...
Heather Lende's blog
When I was young we drove from New York to Western Pennsylvania every summer and spent weeks at my grandparent's house. They lived in a big old house in a small Allegheny forest town. We picked huckleberries for pies and caught crayfish in the creek. It smelled like tar, the ozone after thunder storms, and the oiled roads. But it sounded like church. There was a church bell that rang on the hour and there was a carillon in the tower that played the angelus morning and evening, and heavy hymns before mealtimes and late, before bedtime.
Sorry I haven't checked in more this week, I am in Anchorage at classes for my master's degree in creative writing from UAA. It is like camp. They keep us busy from early morning to late at night with lectures and workshops and readings so we can't get in too much trouble at the Blue Fox bar.
I heard Chuck hit a bear with his motorcycle last night at 19 Mile. (Or the bear hit him?) I also heard the motorcycle was wrecked, but Chuck's okay. Keep him in your thoughts. No word on the bear, though. I tell you what, bears should know better than to bump a U.M.F. member in good standing off his Harley. (The U.M.F.s are called the Uglies for short, since the whole name is not printable in a family blog.)
I just read a few of E.B. White's letters. I'm back at my desk, for a day anyway, getting caught up on emails, some writing I want to do, and some homework for my summer residency next week at UAA. I like to "warm-up" with some reading, poems, or an essay, or author's letters. Today, it is letters from E.B. White. (He signs them Andy, which is what everyone called him.) My favorite, so far is, "Dear Alice: Thanks for the letter.
You can tell it is summer in Haines when you are walking out of the post office and a friend is pulling in with their car, and you lean up against their window to chat about the weather, (it is freezing) and a mutual friend's health, and the person in the parking space you are blocking honks his horn so you'll hurry up and get out of his way. Honks! (It was a big truck with, a friend noted later, "foreign plates."- Colorado, I think.) In February you can chat like that on Main Street until your coffee gets cold.
Corey Piper is the hero of the 4th if July. The high school sophomore cross-country runner won the annual Mt. Ripinsky race, and was part of a three man all Piper family crew that won the Mad Raft Race down the Chilkoot River a few hours later. Trust me, kneeling on a home-made styrofoam raft in frigid water after bounding down the Ripinsky race trail (forget about the climb, it is the downhill that does the quads in) earns him the toughest kid (heck, person) in town award.
My 19-year-old daughters JJ and Stoli and I were waking in the woods, wearing rubber boots (it was raining) when JJ said her boots were too small. Stoli said JJ could have her old ones, she has two pairs, and one will fit JJ. Now, Stoli is smaller than JJ, and so JJ's old boots usually go to Stoli, not the other way around. (Stay with me, this is a good story.) Stoli said, "You can have the pair I had when I was a size 10." That seemed awfully big to me. "Aren't you more like an 8?" I asked. "8 1/2," she said.
It's my birthday, I'm 51 and very happy. (Also, happy birthday to L.A. Katzeek!) Last year I had a big party. This year, it is a family day. It is raining so we have the fire going and the house is full of children and dogs. All five of my girls are here (including cooing baby Caroline) our three old dogs and Sarah's young bloodhound. (Christian is off to Elfin Cove for the salmon trolling opener tomorrow.
My Dad brought his wet suit to the cabin this weekend, and Sunday morning swam for forty minutes in Rutzebeck Lake and almost died of hypothermia. (He is training for the annual swim across the Hudson River in NY in July. It is warmer there.) JJ and Stoli had to lift him up from my canoe onto the dock and we wrapped him in a sleeping bag and cranked the woodstove up so hot the cabin was about 100 degrees. Luckily, the cut on his head had healed and the frigid water brought the swelling down in his knee from his crash (on foot) Friday evening.