Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fort Vancouver

Friday, we explored Fort Vancouver, an outpost of the Hudson's Bay Company from about 1830. The buildings have been carefully reconstructed: a blacksmith, a bakery, the offices and home of John McLoughlin, and stores, though only the blacksmith was staffed with re-enactors.

Of most interest to me were the gardens and the surrounding farm/village areas, where, surprisingly, men from Orkney labored in the fields, alongside Hawaiians, French Canadians, and Native Americans. As the air cools down to autumn, we stroll through the replica gardens, filled with flowers and squash and corn far over our heads.

Is there any connection to my writing project? Yes! Orkney men! And in the officers' quarters, a plaid hung on a hook. In the far corner of Fort Vancouver, we discovered a jail, complete with heavy iron waist shackles chained to the wall, a slops bucket nearby.

Most likely class distinctions could be made by clothing and the level of dirt underneath fingernails. For Dr. McLoughlin and the officers, every comfort. For the rest, tents and temporary shelters. Overhead, passenger jets from nearby Portland Airport passed. We came home to hot running water, electricity, and cable TV -- all the comforts.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Home in Vancouver WA . . .

After a 10-day hiatus, internet is hooked up once again, the boxes are unpacked, and we are enjoying our new apartment, sunny, bright, and quiet. Though it will be 91 today and 93 tomorrow, this last gasp of summer coming mid-September makes us want to go off to the movies and sit in air-conditioned comfort.

Minimalist living. How can I describe it? I have two pots to cook dinner in (including a frying pan). We bought chairs from Ikea AND assembled them ourselves. They are comfortable, and we're sleeping on an inflatable bed, which does have a depressing tendancy to deflate. Easily fixed. All else that I acquire at garage sales between now and December will go into storage to make setting up housekeeping (somewhere?) a little easier next time.

Sometimes I feel guilty for not working, though I'm working on writing projects. No volunteer work yet. And without my sewing machine, I feel a little lost. So, off to the library we go. Do we have reading lights in the living room??? Not yet!!! Here's home sweet home!

Friday, September 05, 2008

On the road again . . .

This is it. Today is our last in Corvallis. We leave our pleasant room at the Days Inn, drive over to Philomath for a quick check-in at the doc's, and then head north to Vancouver, just over the Columbia River. By tonight, we'll be sleeping in our new apartment, which, at the moment I can barely remember. And I don't know when we'll have internet again.

In a few minutes I'll begin repacking the car, a simple four-door sedan already loaded with a folding office desk, a folding bookcase, and a collapsible kitchen table, two lawn chairs, an inflatable queen bed, two cots, and several boxes of necessaries for the kitchen, the bathroom, an office, and, of course, books. I'm always amused when people say, Oh, you're traveling in an RV. I can't imagine driving the thing. The packing should be interesting as we can't eat until AFTER the doc, and I may bite someone.

Thoughts of McCain and Palin swirl around, post their convention bounce. I can't imagine a candidate less likely to inspire Hillary supporters than Palin, a woman, that would be the only comparison. I don't even want to go there. Her lack of experience scares me, and though I'm a feminist and a great believer in women having the right to choose their life, I can't understand her. I've always worked hard and had visions of expanding my responsibilities. Most times I achieved my goals at the cost of 70-hour workweeks. But if my family needed me at home, I like to think I would have pared back my workplace ambitions. So I'm not being fair about Palin. My sister likes her. I like Hillary's pantsuits better; Hillary's articulateness, her compassion, her commitment ring true to me.

My friends are already talking of leaving the country if McCain/Palin win, and I'm seeing a more divisive two months ahead. Regardless, we'll float out of here on December 31st, headed for South America. But I'd rather read of Obama/Biden's transformations of our country with hope and affirmation than watch her deconstructed by fear, anti-science, and cronyism.