Sunday, 22 January 2012

By Oxcart To California and Other Tall Tales

I am in bed with a cold. I have hosted this particular virus for over a week, and am sick of it.  Of course, I am jolly lucky to have the opportunity to stay in bed, but what's to be done with it?

Play with my new iphone. Curiously, when it comes to technology, inheritance laws go into reverse.  This slick, black piece of wizardry belonged to my youngest daughter, Hannah, who in keeping with an old family tradition, handed down her old phone to her father when she upgraded.  Her father couldn't get his head round it, so I blagged it off him (another old family tradition) and after removing chess, rail, and news apps, thoughtfully uploaded by H, I have made it my own.  So, from my bed, I have ordered groceries, brushed up my Spanish (on habla espanol... pero no mucho) composed three fifths of a poem, started a short story, watched Earthflight on iplayer and listened to an audiobook entitled,'By Oxcart To California'. Five minutes into it, and you know why it's free, but as a student of American history, it had its charms.

I recall a story, which could be true, told by our driver en route from Fairbanks, Alaska, to the nearest bit of The Arctic Circle with a 'You Are Here' plaque for tourists.  I am British, brought up without central heating, raised to tough it out, but I am wiser than I look, and would not willingly submit to an Alaskan winter. So, the tale goes, there was this old-timer, who'd logged and panned and hunted since the '50's (1950's) and would, come autumn, take up his post atop his shack, and shoot a moose that he'd then butcher and store for winter sustenance.  Then one Christmas, a year or so ago, his grandson visited with his Gameboy.  Gramps takes to this Gameboy like a duck to water, and as his family was about to leave, says, 'I've had it with this life, for God's sake, get me out of here.'  He now resides in 'Dunhunting' a Seniors facility in downtown Fairbanks.

This is as it was told to me, as true as that.

Finally, sometime around noon, the iphone began to pall, and I reached for my laptop. Scrolling down the list of bookmarks, I discovered this blog. Refusing to worry about the last time I'd made an entry, I started to idle with blogspot, punching the 'Next Blog' tag hundreds of times. Well, what an insight into the human condition! Babies, rock bands, polemicists, recipes, quiltmakers, ancestry-seekers and a run of much the same in Portuguese.  I amused myself for hours.  That the Atlantan Freemans started out as Toothaks was the most memorable piece of stuff (evidently, as it's the only bit I remember), but I did find a few interesting botanical blogs to which I hope to return.

Happy New Year!