Saturday, February 25, 2012

Estate Sale

On my Saturday morning constitutional I walked past a house having an estate sale and my voyeurism tendency kicked in. How often do I have the chance to look through someone's house and stuff without them inviting me over or me just letting myself in? ;)

Browsing other people's most near and dear possessions quenched my bout of  voyeurism but also left me feeling sad.  Having never been to an estate sale I didn't realize that it literally meant everything is for sale. There were even pictures for sale of the people who, I can only assume, lived in the house. Who would buy those? Much of the stuff was still in closets or seemed barely taken off the wall and put on a table. These people's lives had been so exposed.

I associate estate sales with death, mainly of old people or sudden, tragic deaths. I hope when I die my family will just send my stuff to DI or Good Will and not open my house up for people to come riffle through my things. Despite my indignant rant they did have some great stuff. Here are the things I would have bought had I any money with me:

  • A Cole Porter LP
  • A MoTab Sings Christmas Carols LP
  • An 8-Track player
  • Portfolio-like books of Cezanne and Van Gogh, with prints
  • A few scarves
  • The July 1982 edition of National Geographic

Thursday, February 23, 2012

LOVE of Music

Many of you already know this, but I LOVE music. I LOVE music in the sense that I am annoying to talk to about music; but not in the sense that I am up to date on all the latest artist or know everything about every band ever. When I find an artist or a band I like, I REALLY like them and will follow them for years. I’m one of those people that if I wasn’t so inhibited I would be that annoying person you are standing next to at the concert swaying to the music with my eyes closed.  For now I try to keep that confined to my house and bedroom. 

Music is a balm and a coping mechanism. Music offers me the same familiarity and safety a security blanket offers a toddler. High energy situations and stress in my life are usually accompanied by a large dose of The Strokes; sad and lonely times require a few hits from Regina Spektor or Andrew Bird. Then there’s Bon Iver, who I will listen to anytime, anywhere, no matter my mood.  However, my music-listening hobby can have side-effects, a particular song, album or artist will suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelm me with memories.

Today I was listening to some M. Ward Archives on NPR as I was doing other work. A song came on from his Post-War album and the next thing I know, instead of thinking about the impact of maternity care practices on birth costs, I’m back in Cheyenne Wyoming at my brother and sister-in-law's house sitting on the twin bed they bought me trying to figure out what I should do with my life. Ironically, I can listen to the latest Bon Iver or Santigold and have the same experience, the only difference is the bed I’m sitting on now is in Atlanta:)

I know this phenomenon is not unique to me. I also have had similar experiences reading, but I love that a 3-4 minute song can conjure up a perfectly melded experience of time, place and situation that I will never be able to visit in person. I don't mind that the memories aren't always happy.

So I leave you with a cover song that I LOVE

M.Ward’s cover of David Bowie's Let’s Dance

Sunday, January 8, 2012

National Parks: Part II

I am not much of historian and think sometimes that I should write a letter to Richard Lyman Bushman for his advice to the novice historian. Much of the history I learn feels distant and disconnected from my personal life. Recently, I made an interesting personal connection while watching to the history of  Grand Teton National Park on the Ken Burn's National Park Series

Yellowstone was the first U.S. National Park, established in 1872. If you are a fan of national parks then it's a good thing that Wyoming was not yet a state, otherwise Yellowstone could easily have been a state park, like Yosemite started out or not a park at all. Years after becoming a park more and more people took notice of the beautiful jagged mountains south of Yellowstone, and in 1908 the Teton mountains themselves were made a national forest.

I have vivid memories of sitting in the front room of my grandparent's house or out by my grandpa's extensive garden watching cars go up the highway, a road that if one continues to drive 45 minutes east will wind along a beautiful reservoir and by taking the right forks in the road will land one in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park.

While sitting in my grandparent front room or by the garden I have listened to numerous stories told by my grandpa. Grandpa, being a farmer, talks and thinks of land the same way most people talk and think about the weather, which means daily. (Don't worry the weather is also a common topic of conversation, especially for a dry farmer). Many times these discussions elicit not-so-friendly comments about how certain neighbors, the government and oddly, the Rockefellers are affecting local land prices. Growing up and even now I have not been involved or much interested in real estate nor the factors that change prices. I always thought my grandpa's statement a little odd, but after watching this National Parks series, I realize grandpa's statement may not be off the mark.

According to the NPS:
  • The original Grand Teton National Park, set aside by an act of Congress in 1929, include only the Teton Range and six glacial lakes at the base of the mountains.
  • The Jackson Hole National Monument, decreed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt through presidential proclamation in 1943, combined Teton National Forest acreage, other federal properties including Jackson Lake and a generous 35,000-acre donation by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The Rockefeller lands continued to be privately held until December 16, 1949 when impasse for addition to the national park was resolved.
  • On September 14, 1950, the original 1929 Park and the 1943 National Monument (including Rockefeller’s donation) were united into a “new” Grand Teton National Park, creating present-day boundaries
After congress set aside the original 1929 land including only the Teton Range and six glacial lakes at the base of the mountains, John D. Rockefeller Jr. who thought the park should be bigger with an unobstructed view from the valley, was quietly buying up land in Teton Valley. He hoped to add it to the park. But Wyoming's was a state by now and an intense state-federal battle began.  President Roosevelt sought to expand the park despite local resistance. Eventually, a compromise was reached to bring more land under protection and gave us the Grand Teton National Park we know today.  But it also resulted in Wyoming being the first "state" (OK so it wasn't a state yet) to have a National Park (Yellowstone) and the only one that by law will never have another one created. As part of the  Teton's compromise the Federal Government agreed to never again use the Antiquities Act (the act used to create National Parks) to protect land inside Wyoming.

Apparently some of the Rockefeller's posterity must be meddling again in the local real estate, and grandpa's stories are more than just the reveries of a retired farmer.

Here are some pics to show it is a real pretty place, is it any wonder rich people would want to move there and drive up land prices:)