Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Poetry - First African American Poet.

Log, Tree, Bark, Aesthetic  Growing up, I suffered through poetry in school.  I think I had the old ladies who always chose rhyming poems.

Remember  the one starting with "I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree."?  or "Captain, O captain, our fearful trip is done."

I can't tell you who wrote either poem only that they stuck with me.   In college, I had to write a biography on some poet.  At the time, I stumbled across a small one sentence on a woman named Phyllis Wheatley, the first recognized African American female poet.

I had to do the report before the internet was filled with information and I had to rely on interlibrary loan to get all the books I needed.  There was very little I could find on her but I managed.  It was fascinating to discover her life and her work.

She was born around 1754 in West Africa and came to the United States as a slave.  She was purchased by Mrs John Wheatley, the wife of a Boston Taylor.  She was taught to read and write along side the Wheatley children but she was still expected to carry out her duties. She started writing poetry at a young age.  It appears her first poem was published in 1767 but it was a eulogy which brought her to national attention in 1771.

She soon had a book of 28 poems published by someone in London.  The book was a moderate success but her benefactor, Mrs Wheatley, died soon after it was published. By 1778, Mr Wheatley and his daughter had both died and the surviving son moved out, married, and died in England a few years later.  She married John Peters, a free man, in1778 against advice.  He made his money in a variety of ways but both he and she found it difficult to find work in these harsh economic times.

She worked hard to make a bit of money here and there while her husband was unable to find work and went further into debt.  By the time she died in 1784, he was in prison and she managed to print another volume of work.

It is thought she wrote around 145 poems and multiple letters but not all of them survived.  She preferred writing in couplet form using Iambic Pentameter.  Although many thought she was not against slavery , she chose to use biblical references in her poetry to motivate church members to rise up against slavery.

I think part of the reason she made a name for herself at this time had to do with the fact she was an educated slave who could write poetry.  Her poetry is quite pretty and characteristic of the times.  If you get a chance, check her out.  She was my first encounter with African American poets.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's That Time of Year.

Tropical Island, Waves, Ocean, Sand As mentioned yesterday, I don't like the really cold temps and about this time of year, I'm ready to fly off to a warmer climate.  Unfortunately, I can't do that due to my job but I've found a way to handle my wanderlust.

Although I cannot go anywhere, I can still pretend I'm off to Fiji or Tahiti without ever leaving my house.

I have Prime membership with Amazon so I've got access to all sorts of videos for free.  It allows me to check out streaming videos on gardening, so I can enjoy the beauty of roses while I learn more about their care.  There are videos on Birds you see in your back yard, homesteading, Zen gardens, Gardens of the World.  Videos with lots and lots of green which is a great change from the white and grey of winter here.

If I don't want gardening, I can check out Bryce Canyon, Food places, New York, Smart Travels, Culinary travels to Jamaica.  I can visit the Yukon, Scotland, Hawaii, and so many other places without ever leaving home.

I can check out the problems with interstellar flight,  the secrets of archeology, jungle waterfalls,get educated on single malt whiskey.  So many choices all varied according to what I am in the mood for.  Even popular science for kids.

I hope to travel to Finland in August so I can use these videos to get ideas of where to do.  I found one on national parks, another on the 9 places in Finland one must go in the summer, one talking about being there for 7 days, and a couple on just visiting Finland in general.

I plan to watch these later on so I can make choices on what to see while I'm there for my conference.  I have always enjoyed having a list of places to visit before heading off but I also get suggestions from the locals once I'm there because they tell you of events you might not know about.

So enjoy, have a good day, I"m off to watch something on Paris France, a place on my bucket list.  Take care and let me know what you think.

I realize it is more fun to do all these things yourself but you sometimes can't.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Free Land.


Coast, Sea, Surf, Rock, Beach, Wave
It is that time of year again when the temperatures plummet  down to the -30 and -40 range.  Where you cannot go outside without your snow pants, winter coats, face covering, good gloves, winter boots and hood.  It is too easy to end up with frostbitten limbs.

I know a young man who was out, driving around on his snow machine.  He had is baseball cap on sideways under his hood so the hood did not fit properly and he ended up with a frost bitten ear and frostbitten side of his face.  It was nasty. 

I am really not a cold weather person.  I realize that is strange as I've live in Alaska for many years but I prefer wearing minimal clothing and being able to just throw on some flip flops on my way out the door.  I hate spending 5 to 10 minutes getting ready.

So about now, I fantasize about running away to the South Pacific kind of like those authors and artists in the 19th century.  You know places like Tahiti or Samoa.  Somewhere I can be warm all year long, swim, and just bum around. 

While wandering around the internet, I stumbled across this article.  Apparently, the Pitcairn Islands government is so desperate to build up the population, they offer free land.  Yes you read that correctly, free land to build your house on.

For those of you who have seen the movie "Mutiny on the Bounty", this is where the descents of the event settled. Unfortunately, they have been loosing residents and want to build up the population.  I checked things out and there are things to be aware of.

First, it only receives supplies every three months by ship so if you want certain things, you have to order them in from New Zealand. This includes your house usually via a house kit.  In addition, travel to and from is not especially easy because it does not have regularly scheduled planes, only the supply boat. 

There is a general store for basics such as flour, milk, cheese but its only open a few days a week.  You do have access to locally raised fruits and vegetables.  There is power, phone, and internet but the availability of jobs are limited.

If you are the type of person who likes being away from it all, this is the perfect situation. If you'd like to know more, check the information out here.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Toothpaste, Mouthwash, and Carsenogenic Ingredients.

Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Dental Care A friend just told me that his friend said he bought some cheap toothpaste which turned out to have at least one carcinogenic ingredient.

That didn't make sense to me since they are sold to the public and most things are being pulled when that happens.

So I checked into that idea.   When I searched for information on the topic, the American Dental Association is not the first place to come up.

What they indicate is they have tested and those that meet their standards are awarded a seal of approval.  They state they continually monitor all products with their seal of approval to determine if an ingredient can pose a health risk.

Their determination is based on the results of clinical studies, not on rumor.  In addition, they stay abreast of current research so if they have to withdraw a seal of approval, they can. 

In several articles on the internet, I've seen a claim about fluoride being toxic, especially to children.  I understand the concern because very young children swallow rather than spit toothpaste out.

Back to the list given.  I've had trouble finding out things like how much of each of these ingredients are used?  What is the legal limit for each?  Are these ingredients actually cancer causing when they go through the stomach?  Can they actually be absorbed or are they inert and just go straight through.

According to a New York Times article published in September 2016, only one toothpaste in the United States contains Triclosen,  one of those ingredients said to be toxic.   The toothpaste is Colgate Total.  You will see comments that this ingredient has been banned in the use of soap but that is only because soap manufacturers have not provided the safety research.

From other things I've read many of the ingredients on the toxic list actually perform a specific job and may not be in high enough quantities to worry about.  It is important when you hear something like what my friend said, to go research it to find out the truth and not believe everything you hear. 

Yes I use regular toothpaste and will continue to do so because I do not see it is something to be worried about it.  Let me know what you think.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Life Line

Package, Shipping, Made, Post, Office Out here in the bush of Alaska, there are two extremely important things which make life possible for most of us.  The first is air planes and the second is the post office.  Both are linked and important.

When the planes are unable to fly due to weather, it means our supplies such as food do not arrive.  Even the stores rely on postal bypass mail in order to get supplies in. 

Airplanes are also responsible for carrying air freight.  Air freight is used to get perishables into the village faster than regular mail.  I use it for my twice a month box of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The stores bring much of their frozen foods in this way.  That is why a half gallon of ice cream is often $13 to $15 each or pizza is between $15 and $20.  I am talking about things most people pay between $3 and $8 in the frozen food section.

The post office is important because many of us order from Amazon, Wal-mart, grocery stores.  I sent 4 boxes of stuff the 29th of December but I do not know if its here yet because the post office lady has been out with strep throat.  She has no helper so when she is sick, our post office is closed.

I am worried because I bought fresh fruit and veggies and I am worried about them.  I have mangoes, avocados, and a couple other time sensitive foods that may be nothing more than mush when she is open again.  I could not pack them in my suitcases because I'm only allowed 100 lbs total when I fly the local airline so I send things by mail often. 

It is often times a gamble since the mail can make it on a plane before you get stuck in town or in this case, it never left the hub until the day after I got back but that was the first day she was sick.  In addition, I have all my bills on auto pay because its not unheard of for bills to arrive after they are due. 

During the month of October, pfd month, mail slowed to a crawl and things that took 2 weeks, could take 4 to 6 weeks arriving.  Pfd is the permanent fund dividend that Alaskans get once a year from a fund. Its extra money people use to order more things C.O.D. so the post office is inundated with boxes, boxes, and more boxes.

As you can see if either the weather closes in or the post office person gets sick, we cannot get the supplies we ordered.  Although you get used to it, it is frustrating.  I still hope my mangoes are perfectly ripe (I bought them green) and maybe my avocados made it.  I'll do an update as soon as I get them. 

Have a good day.