Saturday, January 31, 2015

Scavenger Hunt 2015: Colorado

This month I'm taking a different approach.
Every picture I've used for this hunt 
was taken in or from my home.

January's List

1.  Something New

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

My niece Deirdre gave this to me for Christmas, 
and I am about halfway through it.  
It contains wonderful advice on writing 
and is deliciously funny!

I love this humorous anecdote:

“My son, Sam, at three and a half,
had these keys to a set of plastic handcuffs,
and one morning he intentionally locked himself out of the house.

I was sitting on the couch reading the newspaper
when I heard him stick his plastic keys
into the doorknob and try to open the door.

Then I heard him say, "Oh, shit."

My whole face widened,
like the guy in Edvard Munch's Scream.

After a moment I got up and opened the front door.
"Honey," I said, "what'd you just say?"

"I said, 'Oh, shit,'" he said.

"But, honey, that's a naughty word.
Both of us have absolutely got to stop using it.

He hung his head for a moment,
nodded, and said, "Okay, Mom."

Then he leaned forward and said confidentially,
"But I'll tell you why I said 'shit.'"

I said Okay, and he said,
"Because of the fucking keys!”

 goodreads ~ Anne Lamott

2.   Landscape
Out the Front Door

Out the Back

We've had wild swings of temperature and weather this January;
but early morning sunshine falling on fresh snow is hard to top!

3.  Words
Words ~ Letters and a Manuscript

I spend my days working 
with my mother's and father's words, 
turning them into my lifelong dream 
of writing a memoir. 

4.  Cold

We woke up to a cold morning
on January 4th!  (-15º C)


5.  Bottle

This decorative bottle was given to me
by a student years ago. 

6.  Up High
Snow Patterns up High on Our Neighbor's Roof

7.  In the Fridge

Our downstairs bar refrigerator
has one can of beer
and one scary hunk of ice!
I need to get defrosting!

8.  Texture
My Favorite Teddy Bears

My white teddy bear is a long ago gift from my husband.
The black and grey one is made from 
my Grandmother MacDonald's lamb's wool coat.  
My sister Bertie had it made for me  
after Grammie's death.
The coat made teddy bears for a number of us,
and each one is treasured by its owner.

9.  Hidden
Do you see what is hidden up high in our closet?

Sometimes those chocolate kisses
whisper, calling to me, 
but they're a pain to reach.  

So far their hidden spot is working!

10.  Blue
Touches of Blue in Our Livingroom

 11.  Big
A Small Piece of a Big Project

I'm in the midst of organizing literally thousands of photos.

12.  Whatever You Want
My Study

This is where I write and work on my photography.

My Honey

Not taken at home nor in January,
but the Ever-Patient is what makes our house my home.

February's List:   
Flowers, Love, Number, Something Beautiful, 
Your favorite Color, Bird, On the Road, Tap,
Price, Heart, A Corner of Your Home
Whatever You Want

Thanks to Jill (Greenthumb) 
and her Made with Love blog 
for setting up the scavenger hunt.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Lansdowne Letters: Bush Planes and the Puzzle of Thanksgiving

Have you ever flown in a bush plane?

I have a number of times.
It's a noisy, vibrating, 
raw experience,
and the trees, rocks, 
and water sliding below
look starkly, solidly real.

View from a Norseman
on the Way to Lansdowne House
Photo by Don MacBeath,  September 13, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Taking off isn't the hard part for me.
It's the landing!
Two skis on ice,
two floats on water,
or in the belly of a seaplane ~
It's mesmerizing to watch 
the ice or water racing at you
as the plane closes in to land.

Oh thank you, God!
always flashes through my mind
when the plane slows in a splash of water
or in a rooster tail of snow. 

Austin Airways Norseman

Bush flying can be treacherous,
and I never forgot one letter my father wrote,
especially if I were flying in a small plane.

Friday, October 7, 1960 
My father wrote:

Hi Everyone:
Here we go on another Lansdowne Letter.  
I hope that it will be more interesting than the last one.

I had a very bountiful mail this week:  
five letters from Mother, 
five from Sara, 
two from Louise (daughter), 
and one from Grammie.  
I had a wonderful time reading and answering them.  
I am greedy, perhaps next week I’ll do even better.

Today was wonderful, 
a veritable Indian summer!!  
I went about all day in shirtsleeves.  
The lake was just like glass, not a ripple on it.

I was amazed when I talked to the Austin Airways pilot 
and found out that it is very dangerous to land on the lake 
when it is as smooth as it was today.  

When it is real glassy, 
it is almost impossible to tell 
where the air ends and the water begins.  

After I was talking to the Austin pilot, 
I watched Harry Evens, 
a pilot for Superior Airways, landing.  

He glided just about two miles 
about three feet above the surface of the lake.  
Even after a long glide like this, 
he misjudged and landed 
about 2½ feet above the surface.  

This may sound strange, 
but it actually happens.

Norseman Taxiing
wikimedia ~ edited

The pilot does everything he would do on landing, 
except actually touching down.  
After he has cut down the motor, etc., 
the plane just drops like a brick 
and bounces several times before it really lands.  

This can really jar your back teeth, 
if the pilot lands about ten or twelve feet above the surface.


They had a bad accident last year at Armstrong 
when one of Superior’s pilots misjudged the water level 
and tried to land about ten feet below the surface.  
He went right in!!  

Two days later they managed to get his body 
out of the plane which was at the bottom of the lake.

Northern Ontario Lake

My father continued:

Some more of our furniture arrived yesterday: 
a nice large bookcase. 

Our little cottage is beginning to look quite homelike.  
I would not mind living here with Sara for the winter, 
but it would be pretty crowded 
if I had the whole tribe up with me.

This is the start of the long Thanksgiving weekend.  
Three whole lovely days with no Indian children to worry about.
As I said in one of my previous epistles, 
I love them all, but at times it is nice to love them from a distance.

I don’t know if I told you 
about Maureen making curtains for us, or not; 
but she did, 
and it is the most wonderful thing to have curtains, 
especially in our bedroom.  

She made café curtains for our bedroom, 
and now she is making full- length curtains for our front room.  
We just bought some printed material from the Bay, 
and she whipped them up on her electric sewing machine.


Dad and Uno's Bedroom Window
with pictures of Dad's mother, father, and wife Sara on the table  
Photo by Uno Manila, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour 
All Rights Reserved.

The reason that 
we wanted the curtains 
is because of 
the insatiable curiosity of the Indians.  
They are always 
looking in the window, 
and this begins to bug you after a couple of weeks.

Considerable difficulty was encountered 
when I tried to explain to the children 
why there was going to be no school Monday.  
They just could not seem to grasp the idea of Thanksgiving.

The First Thanksgiving in America, 1621
by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

I took over some of my books 
and spent most of this afternoon 
reading them stories and poems about Thanksgiving.  

I told them about the first Thanksgiving in the New World.  
I suppose it is ironic for the poor creatures 
to have to talk and think about Thanksgiving, 
because the poor creatures have so little to be thankful for.

The First Thanksgiving in Canada ~ 1578
Martin Frobisher in Frobisher Bay

Well, I guess that just about ties her up for today.  
Will be back again tomorrow.
I am not cheating you by just giving you a part of a page.  
This paper is longer than usual.  
I am using it because it is thinner, 
and I think it might make better duplicates.

Well, see you all.
Bye for now,
Love, Don

Dad Typing His Nightly Lansdowne Letter
Photo by Uno Manila, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All rights Reserved

I never forgot this letter my father wrote,
not the tragic story of the pilot and his plane
and not Dad's comment about his poor creatures.
Even as a young girl I wondered,
why is it that some people have it so good
and others have it so desperately hard?

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Lansdowne Letters: The Government Strikes Out ~ Again!

Northern Ontario Bush

It's Friday, 
and time 
for my latest 
Northern post.

It took me a while to be able to write
these posts on a consistent basis.
At first it was very painful for me
to even read my father's letters,
and I have a lot of 
complicated and distressing memories 
from the time my family was in the North.

Northern Ontario
Stairway to Heaven ~ JLH3Photography

But now 
I am finding some peace
floundering around 
in the muskeg of my memories.

I've just finished and am rereading
Jodi Picoult's Leaving Time,
a phenomenal and surprising book.
A sentence one of her characters thought 
keeps running through my dreams at night:


               If you think about someone 
               you've loved and lost,
               you are already with them.

Now, when I handle my Dad's letters,
and I work with his words,
it's like he's here with me,
and that eases the pain 
of missing him for over thirty years.

The letter I'm sharing today
is just about an ordinary day,
but it makes me laugh,
especially as I had Dad
as a teacher a number of years.

Life is mostly ordinary days,
but the older I get,
the more I realize
what a gift an ordinary day is.
They fly by ever faster.

Thursday, October 6, 1960 
My father wrote:

Hello Everyone:
I have to make tonight’s effort a short one, 
because I have to get the monthly report 
ready to send into the department.

I am sorry that this week’s letter 
had to be short and not as good 
as some of my previous ones, 
especially since this is the first issue 
that two of my customershave received.
We will try to have something interesting 
or exciting to report next week, 
even if we have to 
go jump off the dock to make news.

We put up the swings today at the school 
and discovered that the government had goofed again.  
The chains for the seats were much too short.  
The seats came up to my chest, 
and these were supposed to be 
seats and swings for little children.

I had two of my older Indian boys 
assemble the swings, 
because I would not have had the faintest notion 
of how to go about doing it.  
The Indians, on the other hand, 
are quite knacky at this sort of thing.  

I had to laugh at them, 
and incidentally at myself, 
when I was listening to them talking 
while they were putting it together.  

I never realized it before, 
but I have a habit of saying, 
“There now, that’s done correctly,” 
whenever one of them finished his work.  

Well, they were chattering away 
in Ojibway to each other, 
when one of them finished tightening a nut 
and said, “There now, that’s done correctly.”  

The funny part of the whole thing was 
that he wasn’t trying to be smart.  
It just slipped out as naturally as Ojibway.  
It sounded so queer that I just howled.  

Oh well, they say that imitation 
is the truest form of flattery.

As I said at the beginning, 
I have to make this one a short one, 
so this is my swan song for tonight.  
See you all next week.

Bye for now,
love, Don

George (left) and Simon (right)

I am quite certain
that the two older boys
who assembled the swing set
were my future friends 
Simon Atlookan 
and George Jacobs.

I have happy memories of those two 
and of swinging on those swings.

When I taught, I often took
my third graders out for an extra recess.
It was my rage against the machine,
against the system that cut recess 
for more time to practice bubbling answers 
for the excessive testing of young children.

Much to the delight of my kiddos,
I nearly always took a turn on the swings.
They always wanted to swing higher than I did.
Ha!  Good luck with that!

I'm a veteran swinger,
and I honed my competitive skills 
at 40º and 50º below zero2
with Indian kiddos long ago.

wikimedia ~ edited

1  As Dad became more experienced at typing with multiple sheets of carbon paper,
    he added more sheets and was able to send copies
    to his mother-in-law Ella MacDonald and his maternal Aunt Maude.

2  - 40º and - 50º Fahrenheit  or  - 40º and - 45.5º Celsius (below zero)

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue
Swings at Uno's School
The Father's Island

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

1414 Miles and Walking ...

Since I last checked in with you 
in July, on my long, long walk 
to St. Anthony, Newfoundland,
I've racked up another 
214 miles (344 kilometers).

Sunday, I passed through Wickliffe,
a small city about seventeen miles
northeast of Cleveland, Ohio.

Last night, I was three miles farther northeast
and headed for Concord on Interstate-90
along the shores of Lake Erie.

Wickliffe, Ohio: Photo Credits ~ Vic Cooke

After walking 1250 miles (2011 kilometers)
from Aurora, Colorado, to Columbus, Ohio,
I finally got to leave Interstate-70!

Headed for Cleveland

Interstate - 71 North took me
the 144 miles (231 kilometers)
to Interstate -90 in Cleveland.

Cleveland, Ohio
Cuyahoga River Mouth in Foreground
Burke-Lakefront Airport Top Left
(I picked up I-90 along the shore of Lake Erie by the airport.)

Just to be clear ~ 
I'm not physically slogging through 
lakeshore snow
as I head from Wickliffe, Ohio 
to Erie, Pennsylvania.

Snow Outside Cleveland

I'm tucked in by the fireplace at home
as the latest go-round of snow moves in.

Snow Arrives in Southeastern Aurora

I'm tallying my daily walks 
and marking them on a map.
The miles I record are walking miles,
not steps during the day.

1414 miles and walking ~
St. Anthony, Newfoundland or bust!

Where My Trek Will End
Fundy Blue, July 2011

St. Anthony, Newfoundlamd

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Lansdowne Letters: To Hell with the Stepping Stones

Yours Truly, 10 Years Old
Smith's Cove, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Whenever a letter arrived
from my father,
my mother sat us down
after the supper dishes were done
and shared it with we five.

Then I snapped it up
to pore over it myself.
I wanted to step through Dad's words
and into his adventures
in the wild and mysterious North.


Tens years old,
I was in Grade 5
in Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia,
and we were studying
Canadian History for the first time.

My mind was filled with romantic tales
of the voyageurs, the priests, 
and the Hudson Bay Company
pushing into the unknown bush.  

Voyageurs Paddling a Hudson Bay Company Freighter Canoe
Artist, Frances Anne Hopkins, 1869

I couldn't wait to take Dad's latest letter
to school the next day 
to share it with my teacher and classmates.

To me, Dad was an adventurer too ~
but, well, maybe not quite a voyageur!

Historical Hudson's Bay Company Flag 
(originally used on July 21, 1682)

Wednesday, October 5, 1960 
My father wrote:
How’s everyone tonight?

I may have started off this week slowly, 
but I’m sure finishing it with a bang.  

I woke up this morning, 
and from the sound and direction of the wind, 
I knew that I was in for trouble.  

It was in from the north 
at about thirty miles an hour, 
and not even a barbed wire fence 
to break the wind 
where it blows over the strip of water 
that I have to cross to get to school.

Canoe Route
This is strip of water my father had to cross with his canoe one or more times a day.
He landed at the dock by the bush plane in the photo.
The Hudson Bay Post is the closest white building in the photo.
Photo by Don MacBeath,  Fall of 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I got up and had breakfast 
and then went down to try to launch the canoe, 
but as soon as I took it out of the bushes where I keep it, 
the wind got it and started blowing it along the beach.  

Right then I said to myself, 
“I’ll never get across in this, this morning.  
If I can’t control it on land, 
what will I ever do with it in the water?”  

I managed to wrestle it back into the bushes 
and tried to get up courage to cross 
the way some of the more agile Indians do.  

The water is very low now, 
and if you are quite agile 
like some of the younger Indians, 
you can get across on the rocks, 
where the island is separated 
from the mainland by about 150 feet.  

Did you ever try crossing a brook 
150 feet wide on slippery stepping stones?  
And with a thirty mile per hour wind blowing yet?

I very shortly discovered 
that I’m not an Indian, 
at least not a young agile one. 

The Father's Causeway
The Narrowest Link Between the Father's Island and the Mainland ~
Pictured Here at Very Low Water
Dad's "Stepping Stones"
Painting by Don MacBeath, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I came to this conclusion
about half way across,
just after I missed
one of the stepping stones
and found myself sitting in
about two and one half feet
of icy water.

I was so cheesed off by this time
that I just waded back to the island ~
to hell with the stepping stones.

After changing all my clothes 
and hanging the wet ones up to dry, 
I went down to the beach 
to have another go at the canoe.  

Luckily there was an Indian 
just heading across on the rocks.
I gave him a holler, 
and he helped me launch the canoe 
and paddle it across.  

I was pretty well soaked by the time I got over, 
because we were running broadside to the waves, 
and we were shipping water at every wave.  

However, I got to school about an hour late, 
and about fifteen minutes later, 
after frantically ringing the school bell, 
I managed to round up 
most of my children and start school.  

I had to change my socks and shoes 
which were very wet, 
but I very early learned 
to keep a dry pair of shoes 
and several pairs of socks in the school, 
so this presented no problem.

By noon the wind had pretty well died down, 
and I had no more trouble getting back and forth.

This afternoon our chesterfield 
arrived by plane from Nakina.  
The Father hauled it across in his big freighter canoe.  

This evening Brian Booth, 
the clerk at the Bay was over visiting us, 
and I played cribbage with him and Uno.  
After he left, I sat down and banged this out.

Dad and Brian Playing Cribbage
Photo possibly by Uno Manila, late 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Nothing else of note happened today (thanks goodness), 
so I guess I will sign off for the night.  
Will be talking to you all tomorrow again.

Bye for now,
Love, Don   

Voyageurs Shooting Rapids
Artist, Frances Anne Hopkins, 1879

Dad's misadventures with his 
Hudson Bay Company canoe
never failed to entertain us,
nor did they discourage me.
In my imagination and dreams,
I became an adventurer, a voyageur, too.

And, as I later found out,
dreams can come true!

Les Voyageurs
Louise and Roy MacBeath
Lake Attawapiskat
Photo by Don MacBeath,  Spring 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue