January 1912

Dear Anna,

As I write this first letter of the new year it is raining so hard we can hardly hear each other talk. There are at least six pots and pans strategically located on the floor upstairs to catch the inces-sant drip of water because our roof has apparently protected us for as long as it can. Louis will have to put on a new roof as soon as the rain stops because everything in the closet is wet, one bureau has a large water spot that has now started to swell and frankly I no longer smile when Teddy either tries to fish in the pots of water or like yesterday, got his foot stuck in one and clumped all the way down stairs with his right foot stuck in a pot. Perhaps the pouring rain and this year's chaos that was Christmas has taken its toll.

Anna, I am ashamed of myself for complaining because we are well, Lewis has a good job at the mill and the children are back at school after a full week of chicken pox. They got through it with on-ly one or two leftover spots and seem none the worse for wear. I, on the other hand, am exhausted. The only way I knew to stop the itching was to bathe them in warm water to which I'd added copious amounts of soda. Rather than irritate the rash further by rubbing them down with a towel, I stood them in front of the fire place and let the warmth from the fire dry them. This seemed to work well but it meant getting up every two or three hours to fill the tub in the liv-ing room and of course keep the fire going. But as I said, they are well and I can't ask for more than that.

Mother Orchard baked many cookies and several fruit cakes for which she guards the recipe with the ferociousness of a mother bear. The cake is a favorite with adults and children alike and any one who receives one as a Christmas present feels generously re-warded. She's been baking them since she was a little girl and I suppose will leave the recipe with me at some point. I'm so glad she doesn't expect (and in fact, forbids) me in the kitchen when she's preparing those cakes. Between getting up with the children and emptying the water in the pots upstairs I think mixing the cake batter would be beyond my capability.

The only real news is something that both Lewis and his mother consider “overly ribald” gossip and they are probably right. However, I will share a little of the story because I know I mentioned it in my last letter and I believe it is the talk of the town, if only in whispers. Remember I mentioned that Marsha Watson had invited one of the Grumble brothers to tour Europe with her and return on the Titanic? Well, one of them has taken up her offer. In the interest of respectability I'll not tell you which. Leaving out that piece of information would hardly satisfy my husband or mother-in-law's request for no more gossip and I trust you won't ever let them know I'm filling you in on some of the details. The two left for the east coast by train and will take a smaller, slower ship to London where they'll begin a tour of the continent then return by the much larger, faster and more famous Titanic. The brother remaining here is, I think, in shock. He denied that either would make the trip right up until Mrs. Watson and his brother left for Seattle to board the train. Although they've been gone for over a month, you can still find him on most days, sitting on the pier on the waterfront with a bottle in his hand and extremely colorful (so I've heard) curses emanating from him. I'm hoping he'll gather his wits together soon so he can help Lewis with the roof but I'm not sure he'll be up to it.

So, dear Anna, please remember that you know nothing about our town's most heinous scandal… and I'll keep you posted.


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