Archive for May, 2009

Ugh.  It’s cold, rainy, and work is noisy and confusing.

But it’s so nice to be with the boy again!  We were ridiculously happy to see each other.  Sometimes I think we’re not very newlywed-like, but then we get all smoochy and mushy and are decidedly twitterpated.

The flat is a mess, but the allotment is completely weeded.  I’m behind on various chores, but we made time to watch movies and go site-seeing at Penshurst Place.  Look for pics on Flickr soon.


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Mostly on my hipular region.  Big, itching welts.  It’s a small price to pay to be in paradise.

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A while ago, I shared with you an email my grandfather Ralph sent me.  I’m in Ft. Lauderdale now, visiting him, and seeing him has reminded me to post about further details to the story.

In the comments on the post, a member of the San Juan Bautista Historical Society expressed interest and had more questions.  I got them in touch via email, and below is Ralph’s second letter to her.  (There has been more correspondence, including details on the tools Robert mentioned he has, but I don’t have the details on that yet.)

Dear Wanda:

Hello again! This supplements my April 19th letter, and I am including [a] the letter that my mother wrote about the two-car auto trip to the Pinnacles in 1914, 2 years before my birth [a few non-pertinent sentences edited out]; [b] my words about the six people buried in the Mackenzie plot; and [c] a photo of that plot.

But first a correction to my first letter: The veterinarian was James Sumers, not Summers.

“August 2, 1914

Dear Mamma:

Our trip to the Pinnacles was as interesting as we could ask.  We got started about 10:30 because Uncle’s car had to be tinkered up for two or three hours before we could go.  Then just about noon he had a puncture which delayed us two or three hours more.  However, we got dinner by a creek that we were crossing and had a change, that is Belle and I did; the men worked hard in the hot sun getting the tire fixed.

Then we got along very well till just about sundown as we were almost at the ranch where we were to spend the night.  Then Uncle had another puncture.  So we ate supper by the road and at last started on in the faint moonlight.  We found the house, or rather the man hailed us; a neighbor had seen us and phoned ahead.   So there were clean beds waiting, and we were glad to get into them.

The ranch is forty miles from San Juan, back in the hills where few people live.   There are big grain fields all along the way.   Next morning we were up at six, and had breakfast by a little creek.  How good the bacon and coffee tasted!  Belle [Mrs. Mackenzie] is the most enthusiastic traveler for her age that I ever saw!  The children all did nobly too, and the baby was praised by everybody. [My four brothers, 2 to 11 —- Ralph]

About eight-thirty the ranchman took us with his team up the canyon to the Pinnacles.   They are masses of rock, truly stupendous, in walls, spires and curious forms, along a narrow gorge.  We went into a cave formed by great masses which had lodged in the gorge.  The guide lit candles and we all climbed up a winding path among the rocks, out into the daylight again.   It was a novel experience for us all. You would have been amazed to see how we crawled and climbed through tight places and up over great rocks.  Outside the sun was blazing hot, but we had the canteen filled at an ice-cold spring in the cave.

We got back to the ranchhouse about four, and after Tom [my father —Ralph] mended a tire we started home.  We watched Uncle rolling along ahead and hoped for the best, but just about seven he had a blowout near a house.  We got some bread there and made supper by firelight and moonlight.  Finally we went on and came into San Juan a little after midnight.  Our car stopped about a mile from Aunt Belle’s and we had to crawl in “low” [gear] with many stops and jerks.

We are all feeling well now, but it was quite an experience. Aunt Belle had been so anxious to see that place and now she is satisfied.

Jessie” [my Mother—Ralph]


The gravesite, six headstones:
Front center, Malcolm Mackenzie
Front right, Mac’s wife, Belle, Isabella
Front left, James Sumers, Mac’s close friend
Rear center, Mac’s Mother, 1818 to 1902
Rear right , Belle’s Mother, my great grandmother
Rear left, Josephine Bone ***

*** Ah, the mystery woman!  To me, at least.  Not talked about, no dates on her grave, not known by my oldest brother who also worked for Mac earlier, and not mentioned by my Mother!  How I would like to know!  Perhaps you as a historian know — if so, please enlighten me so I don’t continue to think of all the reasons for the silence.  Of course, two generations ago, it didn’t take much for an innocent to raise eyebrows, while today it all might be usual and acceptable.  Maybe there’s nothing at all anyway!

Perhaps I’ve sent too much — or if there is other that you think I might have, please call on me.

Sincere good wishes to you, and thanks to you all for what you do!


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Right now it’s raining! First time in a looooong time. They’re entering their third year of drought here, so every drop of moisture is welcome. (I’m imbibing my own welcome drops of moisture in the form of Pimm’s cup with fresh strawberries, mint, and cucumber.)

The rain started almost two hours ago, with a rather spectacular thunderstorm. I love thunderstorms, and they’re so rare in both England and Portland, so it had been a while since I’d seen a good one. It’s nice and cool; the temperature dropped ten degrees in half an hour (down to 72F, how ever will I survive) and everything is green and dripping and smells delicious!

I’ve been relaxing lots and sleeping well. I don’t think I wrote about my back problems, but I was having some pretty serious pain due to upper back tension that manifested as jaw and neck pain. I’ve been seeing an osteopath in England, and she crunches me and massages me and sometimes does acupuncture, and Mom took me to see her very stern but very competent acupuncturist. (I mentioned three separate health concerns to her, and ALL of them are related to my liver. I need more blood! How about that. All that red meat I’ve been eating is actually just what the doctor ordered! Literally.) So I’m feeling much better; it’s such a relief to not be in constant pain.

I’m sure not being at work has something to do with my feeling better too, of course. Not much desk work to do here in Florida…

I’ve been hanging out with family friends (including my brother Nat’s beautiful and kind girlfriend, Natassia), eating lots (Mom is such a good cook), and reading. That’s about it. Oh, and taking photos: check out the new set on Flickr.

On Sunday I’m driving down to Ft. Lauderdale to see Richard and Gary and Ralph. Can’t wait! We’re going to swim in the ocean and swim the pool and eat Key lime pie. And that’s about it. Ahhh vacation.

Everything would be perfect, if I had the hard-working boy by my side.

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I’m going to see my mom in Gainesville, and Richard and Ralph and Gary in Ft. Lauderdale!

My English-acclimatised skin will probably burn within nanoseconds, but it will be so lovely to be in the heat and among family.

I wonder if America will seem weird to me now…?

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