Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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07/18/2006: "Tell-Tale Raven!"

I was sitting at my easel when someone knocked on my front door. Now, I don't answer my door when the bell rings but if someone knocks it's more likely a friend so I ran down but no one was there. Back upstairs I sat down to continue painting when there was another knock. My two cats ran back under the bed and I ran back downstairs but again, there was no one.

I thought someone was playing a trick on me so I decided next time I wouldn't run down...but instantly there was more knocking, and now it sounded almost as if it was coming from inside the walls. I checked all around my house and nobody was there; I came back in and there it was again. WTF?

So finally I walked up the road a bit where I could see my entire house and I saw a very large raven sitting at the apex of my house holding a nut against the roof while pounding against it with his beak; his beak kept slipping off the nut, hitting the roof. I don't understand what made it sound like the knock was coming from the front door but I had a nice big laugh about it.

I remembered it today while working on a logo for our library as I made one with a raven (there are a lot of them on campus and there is a big raven statue in front of the library). However, I don't think it's going to work because one of the librarians didn't want to feed into the campus controversy that we now have a raven totem pole *and* a raven sculpture yet we don't have any representations of the other Tlingit moiety, the eagle.

I could have tried using an eagle for our logo instead but I'm afraid that Stephen Colbert has ruined them for me forever.

Replies: 15 Comments

on Tuesday, July 18th, Cody said

Have you considered the puffin? Sure, they are kind of ugly, but they're not ravens and they don't come with any of that Stephen Colbert baggage.

on Tuesday, July 18th, Elise said

hmmm, I guess, but I've never seen a puffin on our campus...ya know? Our campus mascot is the humpback whale, we use a fluke for most of our campus logos but the library wanted some branding just for it.

on Tuesday, July 18th, dad said

bet you never seen a humpback whale on campas either unless you have a dieters club lol

on Tuesday, July 18th, Elise said

Oh Dad! That's a bad one!!!

Actually, our campus is right by Auke bay where there are lots of whales makes more sense.

on Tuesday, July 18th, dad said

that right that where all those small planes land I forgot

on Wednesday, July 19th, Kasia said

A very funny raven story:)) One word i don't get and it doesn't exist in my dictionory - Tingoit. ?? this is the name of ...? I don't get the passage because of it. Help! :)

on Wednesday, July 19th, Elise said

Hi Kasia,
Tlingits are the majority Alaskan Native population (indigenous) in my part of Alaska. They are split into two main moieties the raven and (here in Juneau) the eagle. Within these 2 moieties there are several clans.

Wikipedia has more about Tlingits if you're interested. Also, here is a picture from Celebration, a huge Alaskan Native celebration here in Juneau every other year. The people on the cover photo of this web page are Tlingit. We have Tlingit arts and language classes at our university and an active Alaska Native population, hence the controversy.

Does that make sense?

on Wednesday, July 19th, Jim L said

That sounds like the Trickster Raven that woke me up Sunday morning in Wrangell - started cawing at 5:30am and didn't stop until 7am. Aarrgh - welcome to Alaska! I never realized how many ravens and eagles were in Alaska.

BTW I was on a 3 day trip to see the Anan Bear observatory and wildlife on the Stikine. Elise, I could see why the Alaskan landscape inspires you so - but I wouldn't recommend being a nude model in front of those wonderful mountains and rivers like in your paintings. Just think of all the mosquito and biting flies!!!

on Wednesday, July 19th, Elise said

The Trickster Raven indeed...did you ever read my post about the ravens who stole my meetballs?

As for the mosquitos and biting flies, we don't really have that problem very much at elevation and also on the coast where there are nice breezes. It's one of the things I like about this part of Alaska, though I don't use outdoor models.

Your trip to the bear observatory sounds fun. My friend Jen did that last summer and I was fairly jealous...maybe some day I'll get to do that as well.

on Wednesday, July 19th, Judy Vas said

Ha! that’s a good raven story only the raven was in Poe’s poem: The Raven - someone knock, knock, knocking at my chamber door...Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

The Tell-Tale Heart is Poe’s story of killing the old man with the evil vulture eye and then dismembering him and burying his heart under the floorboards. As the sound of the heart grew louder and louder he grew mad and confessed; "It's the beating of his hideous heart."

The Tell-Tale Heart is Poes story of killing the old man with the evil vulture eye and then dismembering him and burying his heart under the floorboards. As the sound of the heart grew louder and louder he grew mad and confessed; "It's the beating of his hideous heart."

on Wednesday, July 19th, Elise said

Ah ha! Thanks Judy, I have read both but it has been awhile, I was indeed thinking of the Raven but I was also thinking of the Tell-tale heart...the beating...Maybe the subject should be the Tell-tale raven?
Some librarian I turned out to be right?
(runs and edits subject)

on Wednesday, July 19th, Kasia said

Sure it makes sense. This is also extremely interesting. I kinda suspected this was going to be about Aalskan Natives. :)

on Thursday, July 20th, berry bowman connell said

Dang! I'm gonna have
t'say this quick and run
like the dickens before some
super patriot shoots me.

Eagles (bald or not) are
more like vultures than
you'de actually
guess. They eat carion
when nothing else is
sometimes they hunker around
in great crowds (of other eagles)
and, when they do, are just a lil scary.
Heck! They're meat eaters!

Ravens and crows use thier brains t'eat
what they want and usually
when they want.
Wanna test that one?
Let a raven see ya put
some food in yer zipper pac,
leave fer a bit, and voilla!
Raven be eatin yer food.

Don't get me wrong.
I love the look
of an eagle.
We have one that soars
over fishback creek and little eagle creek here in Zionsville.
Beauitiful bird!

But, ravens are how we got fire.
That deserves SOME respect, doesn't it?

on Saturday, July 22nd, Jackie said

E: Loved your raven story! They certainly deserve the name Trickster!

Who is Stephen Colbert? I'm just wondering how he ruined eagles for you? :confused:

on Saturday, July 22nd, Elise said

Hey Jackie, Stephen Colbert is a comedian who makes fun of conservative news reporters by pretending to be one. His show is full of American flags and eagles...he's really funny actually, you'd have to see the show to get it...he comes on right after Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.