July 2008 Archives

The Memory Trees

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The summer of my 8th birthday my family took a road trip from our home in Michigan to Seattle and back. My brother was coming up on 11, and we were both avid readers. Our parents chastised us repeatedly for having our noses stuck in books while we drove through thousands of miles of beautiful scenery.

My brother remembers more of the trip than I do. I remember squirrels who took peanuts from our fingers at Yellowstone National Park, and a waitress there who remembered our order without writing anything down. Somewhere in the Midwest we stopped to see a building made entirely of corn cobs, which was one of the highlights of the trip, for me. I remember being outraged by the unfairness when my step-great-grandfather took my father and my brother deep sea fishing and wouldn't take me because I was a girl. (Just one of many such incidents, but "Seeds of Outrage" isn't the title of this post.) I had to stay behind and help my mother and step-great-grandmother (yes, both great-grandparents were "step") bake a strawberry pie. I've never since eaten strawberry pie. Oh, and we left my brother behind at a gas station once. We didn't get far before his absence was noticed and we turned back. My parents (who never lived it down) asked why I didn't say anything when we pulled out and he wasn't there. Well, I was reading, wasn't I?

I have only one memory of scenery. I know I glanced out the window every time either parent complained that we were missing all the beauty around us, but only once did the scenery get through to my 8-year-old soul. I put the book down and stared out at dense forest on either side of the road; forest of tall dark evergreen trees. The memory has taken on a surreal quality in the years since because I never knew where we were when I saw those trees and I never saw any forest quite like it again. In the ensuing years I've seen quite a bit of the country and I've mentally compared every forest with "the memory forest" and never found a match. Nothing on the east coast is anything like it; it was solid evergreens. I've compared the forests in Northern Arizona, where the trees are not as dense, and Northern California, where the trees are not as straight, and South Dakota, where the trees are...just not the same... with the memory and not found the scene. I'd begun to assume the forest no longer existed; that it had been leveled to make way for "progress".

This past weekend I found the trees. When I was eight we drove from Michigan to Seattle along a northerly route, which meant we drove through the Northern Cascades. This past weekend I drove about 80 miles east of Seattle into the Cascades and I thought "this is it." I didn't find the exact scene but I found the trees. I saw the same kind of forest: dense and dark but not oppressive, a forest of perfectly straight, majestic, evergreen trees.


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...is the most fun you can have without regretting it in the morning.

The scenery here at the foot of the Washington Cascades is breath-taking. Today we took a bus tour that started in the small town of Roslyn, where the exterior scenes were shot for the TV show Northern Exposure, and went up into the wooded foothills and along the Cle Elum River. We stood on the cliffs where some of the most beautiful scenes were shot. Bill White, who played Dave the Cook on the show, brought a boom box, and we danced on Ruth Ann's grave to the music she and Ed danced to on the same spot.

Diane Delano, who played Officer Barbara Semanski, has been here for two days, and she is hysterical. If you watched the show, you may remember tiny Mrs. Noanuk, who "adopted" Joel into her tribe. The actress who played her, Rosetta Pintado, was at the dinner tonight, and she looks exactly the same and told a couple of funny stories. Last night we called cast members for telephone interviews, which were conducted largely by Diane Delano, who got better answers out of everyone than our organizer would have, I'm sure, especially when she asked people what they were wearing (nota bene: Cynthia Geary was wearing a bathing suit.) Seriously, she is hysterical.

More later, and pictures once I get back home and can upload from the camera--I always forget to pack the cord.

P.S. I met someone who reads this blog; what a strange feeling. Hi Lee!

Open Thread Number 1


Hahahaha--little joke there. Just an opportunity for all you lurkers to re-establish your lurkitude, now that comments are back on.

No, this wasn't what I had in mind. It's not bad, though. I was trying to upgrade from Movable Type 3.31 to 4.12, and it's so different that trying to merge the new features into my old templates was too frustrating. My old design consisted of one long main index and one long stylesheet: it was the equivalent of Fortran before the invention of the subroutine. The new Moveable Type is all modules and widgets. I tried for a couple of days to fit widgets into my index before giving up and clicking on "restore factory settings". What you're seeing now is "factory settings". Well not exactly--see my picture over on the right? That's a widget I created myself. It's not that I'm incapable of these things; I'm just lazy.

P.S. Comments are back on! The new Movable Type has this "Captcha" feature that's supposed to foil the spambots. We'll see.

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