Monday, August 31, 2015

Amicable Relations

   The San Juan islands are a very beautiful place, so it makes since that both the Brits and the Americans would want to claim the land as their own. When the island was first occupied by Europeans and their descendants, it was not clear who truly owned the lands. Tensions were obviously high with two opposing sides living on one tiny island together. Then in 1859, an American shot a British man's pig and a war nearly broke out.  The pig, who had no loyalty to a nation and only loyalty to the grumble of his own stomach was eating the american farmers potatoes. The pig was just the catalyst and not the true reason a war almost broke out. For twelve years, the island was occupied by both British and American troops. The dispute was eventually solved by a ruling from a German emperor who said the land belonged to the Americans. The British left the island, the Americans settled it further, and the pig hopefully went to a pig heaven where he could eat as many vegetables as he wanted undisturbed by angry farmers. 
   I visited both the American and British camps and took hikes in the area. Both places are very beautiful and peaceful. It is strange to think that such a peaceful place could have been the home to so much turmoil. 

   Here is an example of some of the houses the Americans troops lived in. The young men who were sent here probably joined the army for adventure. Instead they were stuck on a small island with not much to do. I read that there were many suicides during the dispute because people felt so bored their lives started to seem meaningless.

   As this informational plaque says, despite being on opposing sides, the American and Brits would get together on national holidays to celebrate. The plaque says that when the Americans won the San Janus, they were sad to see their British friends leave the island.

  At the American camp, there is a place called Grandma's Cove. Unfortunately, I did not get to explore it because I needed to dash to get the ferry home. But on my way out of the park, we did run into a ranger. I asked this ranger why it was named Grandma's cove. Who is this Grandma? The ranger didn't even try to pretend he cared. He said he didn't know. I asked if there were any theories, thinking this may lead him to expand a little. But all he said was that there were three families living here and one of them must have had a grandma.
 This grandma must have been someone! My theory is that she was an old lady that lived on the island but did not have any children. She was very lonely because everyone she loved had passed many years ago, including her husband. She went to the cove to stare at the water, to feel more at peace. She would also walk along the cove and collect seashells which she would make into jewelry. Then one day she befriended a little girl who admired her shell jewelry. The two became friends and soon after, the other children wanted to be friends with the old lady. She gave all the children jewelry made from sea shells. Soon, they started to refer to the lonely old woman as Grandma. Grandma no longer felt lonely. She had the friendship of many. Once she passed away, the cove was named after her, in memory of her kind spirit. 

   Sources for history of San Juan:

Friday, August 28, 2015

My Herbarium, Pt. 1

   I've started a new project, an herbarium! An herbarium is a collection of pressed plant specimens that are affixed upon pages in a book. I first learned about herbarium when I went to the San Jose Art Museum with my parents. Usually when I visit my parents, we go to the San Jose Art Museum and it is always full of inspiring and beautiful exhibits. The exhibit in which I learned about herbariums was a photo collection by Annie Leibovitz where she took photographs of personal possessions that once belonged to historical figures. My favorite's were Emily Dikinson's personal possessions which included photographs from her herbarium. Emily Dickinson had a great love of plants and was an enthusiastic gardener as an adult. But her adoration of the natural world started young. When she was only a young teenager, Emily Dickinson wandered the woods around her house to collect plant specimens for her herbarium. But her herbariums completion, she had over 400 plant specimens.
  Herbarium's use to be a popular hobby back in the Victorian Era, but I think it should be brought back to popularity in the modern day. I am using a nontraditional format for my herbarium. I am pressing, identifying and mounting the plants on pages as per traditional herbariums, but I am also drawing pictures to go along with the pressed plant. Because I do not have my own garden and I live in the city, most of my plants are weeds I've collected from the side of the road, abandoned lots, growing from between the cracks in the sidewalk and various other spots that weeds are found thriving. Right now, my herbarium is a story of the invasive plants popping up and spreading around the Seattle area.

Common St. Johns Wort

Butterfly Bush:

Field Bindweed:

Sweet Pea:

Yellow Horned Poppy:

  My herbarium project is an ongoing project. I am excited for Fall to start so I can collect colorful leaves and draw pictures of trees for the project. This project is fun on many levels. When I am walking around outdoors, I like scanning the plants around me to see if there are any potential plant specimens for my project. I've gotten a couple of books from the library and it is fun to scan through these in search for the identities of various plants I've found and pressed. It is also a fun creative art project and an art project that celebrates the natural world. 

Learn More!
  1. The Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage exhibit that was at San Jose Art Museum a couple of years ago. 
  2. Emily Dickinson's love of plants.
  3. More on Emily Dickinson's herbarium.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Oxbow Park Part Two: The Garden

  These pictures are from Oxbow Park's (the park with the giant hat and boots) community garden.  I love the idea of toiling in one's garden with a giant cowboy hat and boots just yards away. I also love the little free library that is in the garden (pictures are toward the bottom). I think these are awesome! It is such a sweet way to bring a community together. The Little Free Library was started by Todd Bol, who built one in honor of his book loving mother. What a wonderful tribute to her and even better that the idea caught on in so many different places. 

   Today there has been a thunder and lightening storm in Seattle. What a relief to get a break from this ever oppressive heat. Today after work, I cam home and read while drinking hot tea. Of course I kept the blinds open so I could look up to see rain drops streaming down the window. The thunder and lightening stopped by the time I got home, but the rain was still heavy. I sure have missed rainy day reading! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Oxbow Park Part One: The Hat and The Boots

  A long time ago, a giant cowboy must have been roaming this part of the world. Being a cowboy is tiring work. He probably took off his hat and boots so he could get a good nights sleep. But the next thing he knows, the hat and boots are gone! What is a giant cowboy to do!? 

   Here is the real story about the giant hat and boots. Once there was a man named Buford Seals who had the vision and creativity to build a Texas themed gas station called Premium Tex. The 44 foot wide hat was the roof to the gas station office. The 22 feet tall boots were bathrooms. The Hat n' Boots were a hit! People were utterly charmed by the quirky gas station. According to Seattle legend, Elvis Presley himself visited the Hat n' Boots. But modern day convenience soon defeated the success of Hat n' Boots. Interstate 5 was built, and like a roaring monster it demolished the success of many mom and pop stops that use to thrive on tourists and other travelers. The interstate diverted traffic from the landmark. Soon, the giant cowboy paraphernalia was abandoned and left to decay. They were now only stoic reminders of a kitschy past. The only people who seemed to appreciate the Hat n' Boots were skateboarders, whose skateboarding shenanigans led to the rim of the hat to break. Those skateboarders may have been destructive, but they were also inventive. But it turned out it was not just excitement-seeking skateboarders who loved the Hat n' Boots. The community of Georgetown had love in their hearts for the relics. The residents of Georgetown gathered enough money to move the Hat n' Boots to Oxbow park, where they remain in their majestic glory.
  Burord Seals and his lady friend Bernice Townsend were not deterred by the failure of their original business. The two dreamers moved to San Diego where they opened a twenty four hour candy shop. The shop was very popular among surfers and pot smokers of San Diego. It offered 2000 different varieties of sweet treats.
  Bernice and Buford sound like a perfect match. They were both beautiful eccentrics. They loved to wear matching cowboy outfits. Bernice was a former acrobat for the circus so she was obviously accustomed to charming eccentrics and the creatively inclined. 

Information found:

"Hat 'n' Boots, Seattle, Washington." Roadside America, n.d. Web. 12 Aug. 2015.