Category Archives: family

memories of place

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This past fall I took advantage of a trip to the south to explore the home of distant ancestors who lived in South Carolina and North Carolina during and immediately following the American Revolution. What I discovered there was both enthralling and disturbing.

About a year previous I had turned the focus of my research skills, which I use for my work as a landscape historian, from learning about other people’s histories to my own. Though I spent a great deal of time with my great-grandmother Pearl before she died in 1995, I realized I knew very little about her parents and their parents before them. I thought I’d find a few interesting morsels of information and that the process would take a weekend or two at most. I figured I’d find more dead ends than real information, such is the way of historic research. Countless hours, weeks and now more than a year since I started I have traced my lineage to some incredibly interesting places and periods of time. As I stood next to the graves of my 5th great-grandparents in a small family cemetery in northwestern South Carolina on a crisp sunny October day I couldn’t believe the twists that had led me there.

Henry and Christina Jane Hauser’s stone house still stands on National Park Service property within the bounds of Kings Mountain National Military Park that commemorates one of the battles between the patriots and the British army in the waning days of the war. Henry bought the property after the American Revolution and married Christina Jane Heafner, whose family lived just across the border in North Carolina. Because the house is stone it has persisted since the late 18th century and because it was located within a national park it has been preserved since it was abandoned in the early 20th century. The landscape, once a sprawling farm with many outbuildings, fields, orchards and woodlots, is but a shadow of itself.

There are many holes in the research about the Hausers and their property, but ironically enough the National Park Service is working on a cultural landscape report (one of the primary projects I work on as a landscape historian) for the property, building on previous surveys of the house and landscape.

What I do know is that Henry was a man of means and property and in reading his will and reviewing census information I discovered that he was also a slave owner. Perhaps that shouldn’t have been surprising to me (given the era and the place), but it was and it still hurts when I think about it. It was likely their handful of slaves that built the stone house which still stands, farmed the fields that have since disappeared, and were then bought by other members of the family once he died. I walked through their house and stood next to their graves and tried to envision their lives in this place. Trying to understand who they were and why they owned slaves, but was also retracing the research journey that had led me there and realizing there were circumstances that had conspired to make this happen. Small bits of fate that pushed me to have this experience.

A few days later I was at a historic preservation conference in Savannah, the reason I was in the area in the first place, and had the honor of speaking to two women. They were descendants of slaves from a plantation outside Charleston, South Carolina some 200 miles away from my ancestor’s property. The experience couldn’t have been more welcome. The feelings I’d been trying to grapple with since learning about my ancestors were coming full circle. Descendants from both sides of this haunting history talking about place and memory and how to move forward. It was an experience I will never forget. And it has pushed me to keep researching and keep looking for opportunities to travel to places with deep connections.

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happy thanksgiving

I’ve had some pretty amazing Thanksgiving celebrations over the years (Portland, Dant, Roundhill, Cambridge, Oregon wine country, Seaside, Mexico) and 2010 is setting up to be another wonderful event. Ted and Tara are hosting a late afternoon dinner for family and friends at their home in Laurelhurst and the Oregon Ducks are playing tomorrow. Delicious food, exciting football, and vacation days – what’s not to love! In honor of years past here’s a look back at some wonderful holiday memories and the friends I’ve been honored to share this holiday with. Happy Thanksgiving!

disneyland

Apparently you’re never too old to visit the Magic Kingdom – the happiest place on earth!


Yes, I’m deathly afraid of heights, but yes I did indeed take a ride on California Screamin’. This is no ordinary roller coaster. It goes from 0 to 55 mph in 4 seconds at the ride’s inception and includes one complete inversion about halfway through. I truly felt the limits of my fear and amazingly enough came out the other side.


My brother and mom – the true fans of Disneyland!


strollers strollers everywhere – they even get priority parking spaces near all the rides!


Wheeee!

the shot

There are a few signature shots I love to take.

[No, not those kind of shots. Though if you have to know I would say I found a couple favorites not too long ago one night at the MAC club – namely chocolate cake and lemon drop. At one point jello shots got me into some “hot” (well actually cold) water on my 21st birthday, but that’s an entirely separate story.]

Now back to photography… I love black and white with the least possible amount of light, I love shadows and skies, I love taking shots from the ground looking up at a group of friends faces, and I love repeat photography. Recently I was able to repeat a portrait shot in one of my favorite places – the Getty Villa in Malibu, California

I photographed my brother there last spring and this year I found myself with the chance to shoot friends in the same location. I don’t know what it is about this place – the natural light, the strong architectural features, the symmetry, the texture. Or the way that all those things make the people I’m photographing feel. I love capturing that on film.


sunriver

Lisa, Mari, Karin, Tricia and I had a girls’ weekend at Sunriver in mid-May and I got to relive some wonderful summer memories from growing up in Oregon in the 1970s.

My family used to spend a week in the volcanic desert community every summer around the 4th of July fishing, golfing, swimming and biking. We always rented a house right on the golf course which my brother and I loved ’cause we could play on the greens after dark. But during the days we were either biking to the nature center, swimming pool, or stables. So I packed up my bike, tennis racket, and golf clubs ’cause even though it was going to reach the high 90s I wasn’t going to stop until I did a little of everything.

I didn’t get to everything… I’d need a week to do that, but I did bike nearly every path in the place by the time we left on Sunday. And around every corner I ran into wonderful and quintessentially Oregon memories.


Me holding Lucky just before the frog jumping contest at the Fireman’s Picnic in 1979.

Erik and I biking around Sunriver in 1978.

Erik and I watching Dad get ready to tee off in 1978.

Erik in his Portland Trailblazers NBA Champions shirt and me in my “old school” Nikes. It doesn’t get more Oregon in the 1970s than that!