New blog begun in Oakland, California, August 28, 2014, 7:15 am
It’s great to have the Whale Ship blog behind me. It was more interesting to write, and more wide-ranging in scope, than I had expected. At the end of that blog, earlier this month, I left open the possibility of beginning a new blog to follow up on plans for 2015 and 2016 that were in the works, but I had not expected to begin a new blog as early as today. I am on sabbatical from my teaching for the new academic year that began at Northern Kentucky University last week, so I chose this week for a trip to see my aunt in California and my sister and brother-in-law in Phoenix before plunging into my fall sabbatical projects.
It’s beautiful Bay Area weather here in Oakland, 70s in the day, 50s at night. My Aunt Afton lives in Oakland near the border with Berkeley, in a Spanish-style house with a lovely enclosed garden in the back. She is my mother’s younger sister. She and my sister Carol and I are the end of the Woolley family line. That line goes back through my grandfather Jack, Afton’s father, to Hiram C. Kimball, one of founders of the Mormon religion on the trek to Salt Lake City. Afton is in her late eighties and is living alone. She still drives on daylight errands, and when we went to Whole Foods to stock up on supplies when I arrived on Tuesday, she not only drove the car but pushed the cart. Yesterday we had our traditional lunch at Skates on the Bay, an amazing restaurant looking straight out at the Golden Gate. She had Crab Louie, as always, and I had something that took me straight back to my Puget Sound roots, steelhead salmon.
This is essentially a family vacation, so I did not bring much work along. But enough has happened in the last two weeks to merit the beginning of this blog. My scholarly sabbatical project is the book I am writing on Frederick Douglass in Cincinnati in the 1850s, a fascinating and compelling project I had to put partially on hold over the summer while preparing for the whale ship voyage, mounting the exhibition The Art of Seeing Whales, and then completing the book-length blog about those and related activities. The Douglass project came back into focus shortly before leaving for California when I received the final proofs of my article on J. P. Ball’s 1853 daguerreotype of three Cincinnati abolitionists forthcoming in the July-September issue of the Daguerreian Society Quarterly. The article proofs looked great, but they included a study photo I had taken from Frederick Douglass’ Paper that was far inferior to the image I had consulted at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts a year and a half ago. On short notice, the AAS kindly gave permission for us to use their image. The new issue of the DSQ will be distributed to members of the Society in advance of its annual meeting in in New Orleans soon after Labor Day.
Because I will be on sabbatical leave this year, I made it a point to attend the Convocation of the College of Arts and Sciences conducted by our new dean Katherine Frank on August 14 as well as the University Convocation conducted by our third-year president Geoff Mearns on August 15. I also made sure to attend the reception for new faculty sponsored by the Board of the Friends of Steely Library, of which I am a member, on August 14. One of our new faculty is soprano Kimberly Gelbwasser, who was singing and teaching last year at Eastern New Mexico University. I am thankful that she and pianist Ingrid Keller have agreed to perform a full recital of songs set to poems by Emily Dickinson as the centerpiece of the Valentine’s weekend Dickinson Fest I am organizing for February 13 and 14, 2015. One special development in relation to that recital is what has caused me to begin this blog here in Oakland this weekend.