We had a field trip yesterday afternoon to the Anchorage Museum, and it was exciting to see an ivory heron necklace by Haines artist Debi Knight Kennedy in one display, and a large photo of our own Wayne Price paddling a Tlingit canoe in another. I showed everyone I could, and told them I was from Haines, too. Our docent (a nice museum term for volunteer guide) was named Lucky and had a thick New York accent and knew tons about the paintings she showed us.
In a workshop here at UAA's creative writing residency in Anchorage yesterday, writer Ed Allen told us that he divides the world into two kinds of people: the ones who have written novels and the ones who haven't. He reminded me of my dad, who used to say the same thing about marathon running. My mother, a teacher in a Quaker school, split the world into the people she called the givers and the takers. My mother taught me to be a giver, and my dad inspired me to run marathons. But writing a novel is all my own impulse.
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...
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.