Slight Return

I recently realized that Jimi Hendrix's grave and memorial lies only 15 minutes from my house. Yesterday I and Stella the dog visited it. Interestingly the only other visitors at the time were also middle-aged grey-haired fellows. And yet the memorial showed signs of being frequented by young musicians and affectionate members of the opposite sex.

In the distance, Mt. Rainier

Yes, those welcome spots of cheerful color are lipstick prints

Many guitar picks were laid around the site; note the "little wing"


Sepia Antiquing

This week's Sepia Saturday porthole on the past features a collection of still lifes or dioramas from my recent trip through an "antiques mall" in Snohomish, Washington.

In all of these, but particularly the first, there's a distinct sense of the inhabitants having literally disappeared from the scene, leaving their inscrutable artifacts for us to infer meaning from.  It's worth (I think) enlarging each of these and perusing the details.

The lights left on but no one at home

Tchotchke diptych

Ikons of a quiet life

Lying in state

Left where Grampa dropped it

Meanwhile, in the shed...


Day of Thanks

The American Thanksgiving (coming up Thursday already!) is an old-fashioned kind of holiday, and while reviewing my photos (these depict my family's 2008 celebration) I began getting the whiff of an old-fashioned presentation... the second shot feels rather Rembrandtian, and the last of one of those moralistic Flemish still lifes of deliquescent repast.

The traditional performance for the grandparents

The traditional feast for friends and family

The traditional carcass


And the Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day

Seldom is heard a discouraging word.
Factory, South Seattle

Shopfronts, Mighty Tieton

Warehouse, Toppenish


Sepia Saturday: The Family Fairies

My father told me how his grandmother, Maggie Bredin Bentley, insisted that Irish fairies had come over with her family on the boat to America and now lived in the barn out back.

Alas, this is not a family photo.
My Bredin ancestors hailed from the village of Ballymagroarty, near Derry. They included my great-grandmother Margaret; her father William; grandparents Ezekiel (born ~1795) and Margaret Laird Bredin; great-grandfather Edward (born ~1775); and great-great-grandfather James (born ~1755).

I don’t know where the family originally came from: possibly Scotland. Reportedly, Bredin (sometimes spelled Braden) dates back to the 8th or 9th century, appearing in the Domesday Book. “It is supposed to represent the Danish form of the pronunciation of ‘Breton,’ which was originally ‘Brayton.’”

Her father William was a farmer. Here he appears in a landholdings document.

Margaret (Maggie) was born 1851. In 1865 at the age of 14 she travelled from Ireland to Philadelphia PA with her parents (and 3 younger siblings) on the Lady Emily Peel (853 tons, built in Canada in 1864). Here's her sister ship, the Minnehaha.

Here the family appears on the ship's passenger list.

“In the 1860s the McCorkell Line demonstrated that first-class sailing ships could compete with steam on the North American passenger run. They had five ships plying between Derry and the US cities of New York and Philadelphia: the Mohongo; Minnehaha, Stadacona, Village Belle and Lady Emily Peel. 'The Song of Hiawatha' by Henry Wandsworth Longfellow was a source of inspiration in the naming of many of the McCorkell ships... By the 1870s sailing ships could no longer compete with the speed, comfort and reliability of the transatlantic passenger steamers. In 1873 the Minnehaha made the last passenger voyage by a Derry-owned ship to New York.”

Currently I have no photos of my direct–line Bredins, but here are the brother of William M. Bredin, Ezekiel (1803-1895), and his wife Jane Bredin (b. 1820, she was their cousin). They lived in Drumcorn, on the other, east, side of the river that runs into Lough Foyle.

It’s not clear why the Bredins travelled on to Michigan, if it was their final destination all along. Early settlers in Livonia, which was organized in 1835, included James Grace; Margaret Bredin first stayed with the Graces when she arrived.

Livonia circa 1860

In 1869 Maggie, now 18, married John Bentley (born 1850 in Livonia MI, died 1922). Alas I have no known picture of John. They had two children, George (1885-1955) and Clyde (1888-1962).

Here’s a 1915 plat map of Livonia, showing William Bredin’s long rectangular parcel and John and Margaret Bentley’s irregular one nearby.

Margaret died in 1919, a year after her grandson, my father George Nelson, was born. He had no report of the fate of the fairies.

Sources include:

and thanks to Lynne Bredin of Cookstown, Northern Ireland, for the family photos!


Farm Fall

When I was a kid I rolled my eyes when, every year, my folks piled me into the car for a countryside drive "to look at the fall colors." I just didn't get it. Well, last weekend I visited a "U-Pick" farm near Eugene, Oregon ...and I capitulate, OK, OK, it was durn purty. But I must confess if there wasn't rusty old equipment mixed in there, I mightn't have taken out the camera.



A few notable walls from a Veterans' Day roadtrip through the back of beyond, Oregon.

Study in asymmetry, Junction City


Weathering, Halsey

Peace and Love, Halsey


Sepia Saturday: Histrionics

In honor of the hundredth post of the Sepia Saturday blog, I present another brief excerpt from my great-grandfather's diary, relating an event that happened one hundred years ago, in 1911.

One day [David’s wife] Lena got rattled and angry and grabbed a plate from the table and threw it at David. It was his quick dodge that saved him from getting hurt. The plate struck the kitchen door and broke into splinters. When she sat down in her chair facing David, with her bare arms akimbo in an aggressive posture, she asked, “Well what do you intend to say now?”
David said, “I hardly think you’ll ever learn to behave ladylike.”

My sister Julian says:

"This scene is almost identical to a scene my mother describes during her childhood, in which Helen [our grandmother, David and Lena’s daughter] grabbed a stack of plates from the nearby hutch and flung them to the floor. Apparently Art, my grandfather, had not taken her side in forcing their children to finish her carefully prepared oyster bisque. Learned behavior?
... My mother’s recollections of her grandfather are of [a] quiet, gentle, blameless man. Grandma Lena was always criticizing him, according to her. 'What do you know?' Lena would say at the dinner table. But ...David portrays himself as someone who is very much in control of the situation, i.e., Lena. Not vice versa.
...It’s interesting to think about the way a child (my mother) would have perceived a scene like the one above. Absent the 'ladylike' comment, David would have seemed quiet and blameless, right? Thus, the version of David we hear growing up."

Myself, I wonder if this plate-throwing thing was a product of its time, rather like "kids these days" adopt the behaviors they see on TV? Case in point:

Artwork from the book George McManus' Bringing Up Father


Near the End of the Age of Petroleum, Part III

Footprint of one of the gigantic petroleum tanks now removed from Mukilteo, Washington, on the edge of Puget Sound.

[Header photo from Google Earth]


Lead into Gold, and Other Pastimes

Haven't taken too many brand-new lemon-to-lemonade local photos recently ... so just a reminder to my followers, if I fall behind in timely posts here, remember to check The Eff-Stop, my European archive, which I typically update once or twice a week. This week I look at medieval alchemists' gear in the Aboca museum in Sansepolcro, Tuscany.