Summer weekend

My friend John rented his friend’s Airbnb house in Taos for two weeks and invited far flung friends and family.  I’m lucky enough to get the first weekend when there are just John and Liz and me.

I left a hot and smokey, from a fire in the Jemez, Santa Fe and drove the High Road to Taos.  Beautiful as ever and the air cleared by Penasco.

I stopped in Taos for lunch and a bookstore, then drove out to find them on  

 the outskirts.  This is a lovely big house, just the place to relax.

This is the bathroom that goes with my bedroom.  I’m going to take a shower soon.


Cloudy weather

I’m in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Have been here for a week and am ready for sun.  This seems like it is not a foreign country until you try to do something like park or use Google, which have a local twist.  

I will send some pictures of the best parts.

This is Queen Elizabeth Park, which is close by and has a lovely geodesic conservatory.

The great hall of the Museum of Anthropology with some of the First Nations totem poles.

The view in front of a place I had lunch.

Flowers everywhere.

The view from the living room couch.  A good place to watch the rain.

Different Destinations

IMG_20170307_131942289_HDR.jpgHattie’s father, Forrest Meeker Wright, came to the Corning area in 1873.  By 1885 he was able to buy 120 acres near Henleyville, where he had been living since he arrived.  He was listed in the records as a farmer, probably grain or trees.  There are no surviving trees on the property and the area is mostly pasture today.

Willis’s father, Benjamin Burroughs, arrived in Corning in 1895.  He may have had a very different picture of his destination.  By that time, Warren Woodson had organized the Maywood Colony, which advertised small parcels in a golden paradise.  He had built an elegant hotel across from the Corning railroad station (the train arrived in 1885).  I would certainly have been tempted.


The Burroughs family didn’t stay long in Corning.  Perhaps their expectations didn’t match the reality.  But they were there long enough for Willis to be introduced to Hattie by one of his sisters, who was her friend at school.  Apparently their attachment lasted after Willis left to join his family in Oakland and while he was serving in the Philippines in the Spanish-American War, kept alive by their letters.  They were married in Corning in the spring of 1905.


Field Trip

Since I had gotten  all the material I could from Ancestry on my grandmother, Hattie Wright, I had to turn to my real world sources.  First, I opened the box of family momentos which my mother left me.  I thought I had looked through it, but I found things which I had never seen, like the picture Aunt Florence drew of my mother about 100 years ago.  Literally.  I also found the letters from my grandfather Burroughs from the Philippines in the Spanish-American War in 1900.  And a good letter from my great-Aunt Etta on Burroughs history.

By this time I wanted to go to California to see what I could find in Corning, where my grandmother was born, raised, and met my grandfather.  My cousins live near Sacramento, which is about two hours south.  Kevin was kind enough to host me and drive me up there.  He also gave me an account he had from great-Aunt Edna, which filled in more of the Burroughs story.  And, wonderfully, the letters from Hattie to Willis before they were married.  I have just skimmed them, but they are a wonderful resource.

His brother and my cousin, John, came to dinner, bringing his collection of family memorabilia.  Now I have a wealth of information to assimilate.

Today we went to Corning.  It was a day when it was easy to understand why people would move to California.  The broad central valley was filled with fruit trees in bloom.  The rivers had dropped below flood stage and everything was green and growing.  There still seems to be good land open sprinkled with small towns.


I went to the Tehama County Courthouse in Red Bluff and found the recording of the deed showing Forrest Meeker Wright bought 120 acres in Henleyville, a bit northwest of Corning.  The assessor’s office had a map of the metes and bounds description.  We set off to find it.  But there are no roads near where it had to be.  But it was enough to see the area.



Even now it feels way out in the country.  Hard to imagine back in the horse and buggy days that going into Corning would be almost a day trip.  I did find in one letter that Hattie took the train up to Red Bluff to have her wedding dress made.  By that time downtown Corning had become quite elegant, all spruced up by the promoter of the Maywood land development.  The fine hotel next to the railroad depot has lost its second story and the palm trees in front.  But Corning is still a nice small town.  And the center of olive production in California.

We also visited the cemetery, which has beautiful views.  We found Willis and Hattie side by side in the family plot, with my Aunt Harriet right there too.  Kevin has already reserved his site under the tree.


I have a much clearer picture of Hattie’s early life.  It has not changed so much up there.  Still one of the great agricultural areas of the country, with beautiful orchards and the wide open spaces of cattle ranches.  Fed by rivers from the Sierras in the distance.



That Covered Wagon

After I wrote about my grandmother in the last blog, I realized I had  always connected her with the pioneers.  It never occurred to me  to wonder why she had a scale-model wagon in her yard.  It fit so perfectly with how I saw her.  She did love antiques and had had an antique store for a while.  She had a beautiful collection of antique glass displayed in the big windows of the sun room.  She looked the part, even though she was really a small, rather delicate woman, she had the presence of  a someone who could have ridden across the prairies.  And loved it.

But she was actually born in California, in Henleysville, in Tehama County, in 1881.  She was the youngest of 9 children.  By the time she was born, only 6 of the 8 before her were  living.  Her parents had come to California in 1873, settling in Tehama County,, near the city of Corning.  Since the transcontinental railroad had been completed in 1869 they could have come from Iowa on the train.  The end of the line in California was in Sacramento.  From there, they could have taken a steamboat up the Sacramento River to Corning.


Or perhaps, as happened in my friend Shelley’s family, the women  came by train and the father came by wagon with the household goods.  So perhaps there was a covered wagon in the family story.  All the things I wish I had thought to ask when people were still alive to tell  me.

My grandmother’s father, Forrest Meeker Wright, is listed on the California Voter Rolls as a machinist, a merchant, and finally a farmer.  The area was known for its olives primarily, but also other fruit and nut trees.  I don’t know what  he  farmed.  The area was developing rapidly.  In the census of 1900, the family is listed as living in Corning with only two daughters, Katie and Harriet, living at home.  Her mother died in 1905 and her father in 1906, both in Corning.

The next chapter of her life opens in Oakland, where she  is a  young bride and mother, living, it seems, in a new house next to her father-in-law, Benjamin Burroughs.  Her daughter Elizabeth Burroughs was born February 25, 1906 in Oakland.  But that is another story.



Yesterday I spent the day there.  I started, of course, with coffee across the square in front of the museum.

As soon as they opened I went straight to the Magritte exhibition before the crowd.

Then I just wandered through the galleries, had a bite of lunch, went back up.  It is such an inviting space.

Even on a cloudy day the views over the city are wonderful from the terrace.

Being here in the winter is much like Santa Fe.  The locals are more relaxed with fewer tourists.  There is room on the buses and people chat in the stores and cafés.  Maybe they just don’t want to go back out in the cold.


Yes, a little dusting up here in the hills.

After my morning croissants, I decided to go first to le Petit Palais to see the Oscar Wilde exhibition.  I love this building, built for a long ago exposition.

This is the interior garden, where you can eat on warmer days.  After lunch in the café I walked down the Tuileries to the Louvre.  Still lots of people out despite a temperature of 25 degrees.

The line to get into the Louvre wasn’t very long.  But my feet told me they didn’t want to carry me around a big museum and walked me right over to the bus stop.

Now I am curled up with a mystery novel and plans for making a soup and staying warm.  Happy New Year to everyone.

Sorry to leave

This is my last night in Lisbon.  I did not get to see everything.  And I am already wishing I could go again to some places, maybe all of them.  And it will be cold from now on because I go to Paris tomorrow and then Santa Fe next week.

We went to an amazing palace on Monday, built as a hunting lodge out in the hills in the 1600’s.  After the devastating earthquake of 1755 the family converted it is their primary home.  It is full of lovely things and amazing tile work.

Then we went shopping at the after Christmas sales and visited a lavishly decorated church.

On Tuesday we had a great guide, Isabel, who drove us to three World Heritage monasteries in the country.  She also filled in a lot of history and the current situation here.  A really good day.

Today we went to the zoo.  Being Lisbon, it is on a hill and has lots of water.  It has a big collection of animals in nice enclosures.  I faded before the dolphin show. We did ride the sky tram.

We finished the day at the famous cafe, A Brasiliera, which is by our metro stop.


Since Belem is Portuguese for Bethlehem it seemed appropriate to go there on Christmas Eve.  Other than everyone wishing us Bom Natal, it was too sunny to feel like the season.

There is a beautiful church and monastery there.

The far end of the monastery houses the Maritime museum.  Even knowing something of the early Portuguese explorers, I got a new sense of the depth of their involvement with the sea.  At the end of the exhibition are the fancy royal barges for sailing on the broad river.

Belem itself is a charming small town right on the water with lovely parks.  Great place to hang out.