Christmas in Port Townsend

One of my all-time favorite Christmases took place a few years ago in Port Townsend, Washington. Travel Buddy and I traveled up there to spend the holidays with family.

First of all, Port Townsend is a beautifully situated town on Puget Sound, across from Seattle on the Olympic Peninsula. It has many Victorian homes, and with the coldness, snow on the ground, and Christmas decor all around, it is just gorgeous. Certainly it went a long way towards keeping our spirits bright!

We stayed upstairs in a beautifully decorated inn, with kitchen en suite. We quickly unpacked all our bags as we had brought wrapping paper, tissue, and stockings with us (not knowing what would be available in this small town) but planned on making all our purchases (well, most of them) on Water Street, downtown. It was amazing to hunt for gifts by just strolling through the shops at our leisure, with no thought as to time or constraints of any kind. The items in the mostly specialty stores were different than what we were used to seeing back home, which made the overall shopping experience even more delightful.

Our family cooked Christmas dinner, which was absolutely wonderful and tasty…the chef even picked some fresh rosemary from a bush in the neighborhood to properly season the meal.

One of the evenings we were there, we arranged with the inn to set up a table for us upstairs in the hall, where our family quickly established a rousing, highly enthusiastic poker game, complete with egg nog, meats, cheeses, salty snacks, and candy. We wanted for nothing!

This particular Christmas was perfect: just relaxing and quiet…all the best of the Christmas holidays without the trappings of decorating, clean up, stress of visitors, or doing anything we didn’t feel like doing. Pure bliss. We’d do it all again in a heartbeat, but luckily the memories are enough to remind us of it all.

A Treatise On Not Writing

Here’s the thing about not writing. I have to write about not writing, even if it’s not what I originally planned.

This whole blog-writing thing has been awesome, because once I’m on a schedule I like to stick with it. I feel guilt if I haven’t been writing for awhile, and that’s a good thing.

I’ve been posting every four days since May 5th (sometimes more or less, but it all averages out to one every four days) and this has been the best thing for me because even though it is a self-imposed deadline, it is a deadline I have honored for 7 months and counting, thus forcing me (and at the same time, allowing me) to write, even at the most adverse times and under the most difficult of schedules.

In fact, this is the most consistent writing I have ever done in my life, barring schoolwork in either high school or college.

But even as I am able to continue with the blog posts, I am not able to keep up with the editing and further writing I would like to be doing with my already-scheduled works. Things will swing around again in January, but for now, all the lovely updates I planned to write about concerning my various writing projects are non-existent.

It’s okay. Even writing about not writing works out in the end.

Damewood Family Genealogy

Damewood Family Genealogy

My great-great grandmother, Mary Eldora Damewood, was born May 31, 1860 in Indiola, Kansas. At least, that’s what my great-grandmother told me. This location has been written down several times amongst various family papers by different family members, so after seeing it in print so many times it is indelibly written in my memory. Trouble is, Indiola, Kansas does not exist…now or then. I have done my due diligence researching this, and have scoured maps, checked web sites, and checked with historians and genealogists from the State of Kansas who all agree on the same thing: Mary Eldora must have been born in Indianola, Kansas, not Indiola.

I’m willing to accept this. It makes sense on several accounts. For one thing, Mary Eldora’s parents did not leave any writings behind indicating where their eldest daughter was born, and so we have only Mary Eldora’s memory to rely on…and she left Kansas at one year old. In fact, one of my favorite stories regarding Mary Eldora (She went by Dora, so I will, too) is her traveling to Oregon. Dora was born to John Damewood and Nancy Jane Cave. John and Nancy were both born in Indiana (John in 1829, Nancy in 1833) and married in Indiana. Then they moved to Kansas, had their first-born child in 1857 (a son named Leroy) and then a daughter, Dora, in 1860. A year later, they loaded up and joined a wagon train headed to Oregon. The thing is, little Dora, at a year old, had just learned to walk. Traveling through unknown territory, staying on guard at all times, Dora was not able to practice her new walking skills and thus, when the Damewood family arrived in Jacksonville, Oregon, Dora had to learn to walk all over again!

One of my travel goals this next summer is to attempt to find out more about the Damewood family while they were in Kansas.

Dora eventually met and married Zachariah Taylor Collins, a local cooper. They are buried in the Laurel Grove Cemetery, Lane County, Oregon.

John Damewood and Nancy Jane Cave are buried in the Silk Creek Cemetery, Lane County, Oregon, just outside Cottage Grove. John’s parents, Henry Damewood and Elizabeth Rader, were from Tennessee, and both died in Indiana.

Henry’s parents, John H. Damewood and Catherine Hoffman, were from Tennessee.

John H.’s father, Malachi Damewood, was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and died in Knox County, Tennessee.

Malachi’s father, Heinrich Demuth, was a cobbler from Switzerland.

If you are related to this family, shoot me a comment, and let’s compare notes. I always enjoy meeting a new cousin!

Pearl Harbor Day

On the 71st anniversary of the date that truly does live in infamy, I urge anyone who has the opportunity to visit the USS Arizona/Pearl Harbor Memorial Site to do so. I’ve been lucky enough to see it three times…and it still fills me with awe and reverence.

It is impossible to stand there at the memorial, directly over the USS Arizona, watching the oil still bubbling up to the surface seven decades later, and not get chills thinking about the people at Schofield Barracks that day.

Today we have a number of well-made movies that tell us the story of what happened. Historically, as every year we lose more of the precious few we have left who can tell us exactly what happened that day, the story becomes more and more poignant…and unforgettable.

December 7th will never be the same…nor will Hawaii, where it all unfolded. If you ever get the chance, and you haven’t yet done so…go.

How the Holidays Ate My Writing Project

I started out this fall (late September/early October) with really great intentions. I had a schedule for the week that I was following pretty closely, with a few adjustments here and there. I have to say that October was sailing along so well, I began to feel somewhat complacent. So much so, that I was nearly bowled over with the realization that first visitors, and then the holidays, were going to play some serious havoc with my neat little calendar.

I mean I wasn’t completely taken off guard…I knew that with the arrival of friends and family I would need to do some serious adjusting. So, even though I realized I would not be able to keep my normal writing agenda, I was able to write enough blog entries ahead of time to take the worry off.

But I was completely unprepared for how all-consuming the holidays would be. First, there was Halloween. Okay, minimum prep work needed there, and the night was over in a flash. Then, Thanksgiving. When did Thanksgiving become more of a week-long celebration with visits with and from friends in the days leading up to and away from the actual Turkey Day?? I know Thanksgiving was early this year (the earliest it could be, actually) but it still felt like we had Thanksgiving Week, and blinked a couple of times, and ta-da! It’s Christmas! Wait, wait. It’s Christmas?! It isn’t even December! True, but we are hitting the season with a vengeance even earlier this year. Really, not just in the stores (which started selling Christmas stuff before Halloween) but in your neighborhood! Folks are already decorating! Seriously! Go look, I’ll wait. See? Crazy, right?

I don’t know what it’s like in your household with the holidays you celebrate, but we go all out at Christmastime. It takes us over a week just to decorate, let alone entertain folks who come by. This means no editing, composing, drafting whatsoever, which makes me just as excited for boring January to get here, where it’s too cold to do anything, no one is coming to visit, no holidays need to be prepped, and I can finally…once again…write!