many things make a post
October 29, 2020
- This is the only contest I want to win.
- This remains one of my favorite books by one of my favorite writers.
- Yet another reason to avoid Twinkies and to embrace science.
- Husky homeroom.
- Road trip!
- Rural areas have so much to offer working professionals -- but not until we can get our broadband issue sorted out.
- Kinda sad I missed this.
- I want to go there.
Izzy Bird, 2,000 feet
October 29, 2020
Isabella is in Idaho Springs, which is a “fashionable mountain resort” during the summer but is mostly empty in November. Her goal is Green Lake but sunset is fast approaching and the snow up there is deep. The innkeeper in Idaho Springs* — “the only town I have seen in America to which the epithet picturesque could be applied” — sent a runner to the stable to see if someone would lend Isabella a horse. The response that comes back is, “If it’s the English lady traveling in the mountains, she can have a horse, but not anyone else.”
She has 2,000 feet of climb ahead of her and the night is quickly coming on. “I went up a steep track by Clear Creek, then a succession of frozen waterfalls in a widened and then narrowed valley, whose frozen sides looked 5,000 fee high. This is silver mining country, she writes, and the share lists in the Times quote prices from here.
The large mines, with all of their noise and hubbub, are not on her path to the lake. “I had turned altogether aside from them into a still region, where each miner in solitude was grubbing for himself, and confiding to none his finds or disappointments. Agriculture restores and beautifies, mining destroys and devastates, turning the earth inside out, making it hideous, and blighting each green thing, as it usually blights man’s heart and soul.”
One hundred and forty years on, we can now confirm that she isn’t wrong.
* Now you can rent some cute cabins up there.
Izzy Bird, about 19th century medicine
October 28, 2020
Izzy Bird, 16 miles
October 27, 2020
Izzy Bird, Denver
October 26, 2020
Isabella is in Denver, where the summer’s heat seems to have returned. It’s early November.
“The Range looked lovelier and sublimer than when I first saw it from Greeley, all spiritualized in the wonderful atmosphere. I went direct to Evans’s house,* where I found a hearty welcome, as they had been anxious about my safety, and Evans almost at once arrived… with three elk, one grizzly, and one bighorn in his wagon.**” Isabella discovered that many of the Estes Park crew that she knew and enjoyed had left for other parts of the state, the Mr and Mrs Edwards awaited her return.
The next day, she went to service at the Episcopal church. It was beautifully read and sung, she says, “but in a city in which men preponderate the congregation was mainly composed of women, who fluttered their fans in a truly distracting way…You can hardly imagine the delight of joining in those grand old prayers after so long a deprivation. The ‘Te Deum’ sounded heavenly in its magnificence; but the heat was so tremendous that it was hard to ‘warstle’ through the day.”
Tomorrow: Back on Birdie!
* She stayed with the Evans family during her time in Estes Park. They also have a house in Denver, which seems to be where they stay during the worst of the winter.
** I’m assuming for eating, rather than alive and walking around for petting.
Izzy Bird, the Indian problem
October 23, 2020
After a few more night sleeping in less savory conditions, Isabella is 18 miles from Denver and riding through the Turkey Creek Canyon. She took a short cut through a Ute Indian encampment of 500, which is a “disorderly and dirty huddle of lodges, ponies, men, squaws, children, skins, bones, and raw meat.”
For a woman of the 1870s, she has a pretty good grasp on how the Indians would continue to be treated. There will be no solution to the Indian problem, she says, until the Indian is extinct. Americans “have treated them after a fashion which has intensified their treachery and ‘devilry’ as enemies, and as friends reduces them to a degraded pauperism, devoid of the very first elements of civilization.
"The Indian Agency has been a sink of fraud and corruption; it is said that barely 30 percent of the allowance ever reaches those for whom it is voted; and the complaints of shoddy blankets, damaged flour, and worthless firearms are universal. An attempt has been made to cleanse the Augean stable* of the Indian Department, but it has met with signal failure, the usual result in America of every effort to purify the official atmosphere.**
“Americans specifically love superlatives. The phrases ‘biggest in the world,’ ‘finest in the world,’ are on all lips. Unless President Hayes is a strong man,*** they will soon come to boast that their government is composed of the ‘biggest scoundrels’ in the world.”
Once again, I wish Isabella was alive to see what we’re going through now. I imagine she’d have some … interesting …. observations.
* one of Hercules’ labors.
** ouch. Fair, mind, but ouch.
*** interestingly, Hayes was one of the first presidents to lose the popular vote but win the office because of the Electoral College. He also rolled back Reconstruction and was shocked (shocked!) when that meant Black men effectively lost their ability to vote. Oh - and the whole Indian Agency thing really went from awful to catastrophic under his watch.
Izzy Bird, the American character
October 22, 2020
Izzy Bird, coincidence? (yes, probably)
October 21, 2020
A brief interlude, prompted by Stoddart's bio/hagiography of Isabella Bird.
When she wasn't galavanting around the world, Bird spent the bulk of her adult life in Scotland -- and most of her time in Scotland was spent in Edinburgh.*
This is the part of Edinburgh I'll be referring to. The castle, which is what every person uses to orient themselves, is #6.
Stoddart lists two of the places the Isabella and her sister rented over the years. #2 is 7 Castle Terrace; #3 is 3 Atholl Place. While it might look like there is a lot of distance between the two, there really isn't. It's maybe a five minute walk.
The last place I stayed in February 2018, which was the last time I was in Edinburgh,** is #1: Canning Street Lane Apartments. In the morning, I'd walk to the coffee place at #4. I recommend both, btw.
Our last morning, I took a picture on my walk because the light was interesting.
This is Atholl Terrace. I believe the house in question is on the left.
I took another picture about two seconds later, when I was putting my phone away and noticed a coin on the sidewalk.
Did Isabella's ghost leave it for me? Is this some kind of mysterious working of the universe?
Eh. Probably not. It's neat, though.
I have to share a couple of other pictures from the trip, simply because they still amuse me but have nearly nothing to do with ghosts and destiny.
Cory was only 12 and forced to tour the whisky heritage center, which ends with a tasting. Because he is my child, he took notes on what the tour guide said each region's product tasted like. I think he took a sip of one, just to see, and decided he did would be happier with the Irn Bru offered to kids and/or teetotalers.
There is a pub between St. Andrews and Edinburgh where the custom is to measure yourself on the wall and write your name. Cory was just taller than "Shirley No Shoes Involved."
St. Andrews, btw, is home to the creepiest and most wonderful aquarium in the world. You should go.
Oh! And #5 on my Edinburgh map is a great Italian place. Highly recommend.
* In case anyone has a lead on employment, I speak for both my spouse and myself when I say we'd move there in a heartbeat.
** Seriously. In a heartbeat.
Izzy Bird, not all peace and love
October 20, 2020
Isabella survived the night in the dubious cabin’s tent. She’s made it to Deer Valley, where she’s staying in a beautiful place where the people are less so. This will get rough.
“…two free-tongued noisy Irish women … are telling the most fearful stories of violence, vigilance committees, Lynch law, and ’stringing*’ that I ever heard. It turns one’s blood coldly to think that where I travel in perfect security, only a short time ago men were being shot like skunks. These women has a boarder, only 15, who thought he could not be anything until he shot somebody, and they gave an absurd account of the lad dodging about with a revolver, and not getting up courage enough to insult any one, till at last he hid himself in a stable and shot the first Chinaman who entered.”
Back in these mining towns, violence is a given. Usually, most of the shootings stem from words at the saloon. Some are driven by jealousy or revenge over “some woman not worth fighting for.” At two nearby towns, “vigilance committees had lately been formed, and when men act outrageously and make themselves generally obnoxious they receive a letter with a drawing of a tree, a man hanging from it, and a coffin below, on which is written ‘Forewarned.’ They ‘git’ in a few hours.”
A hanging had happening up at the dubious cabin just a night before Isabella got there. The miscreant in question “was overpowered by numbers, and, with circumstances of great horror, was tried and strung on that tree within an hour.” And as she explains in her own footnote: “Public opinion approved this execution, regarding it as fitting retribution for a series of crimes."
* it’s what you think it is.