Monday, January 25, 2016

'The Old Sampler'

Out of the way, in a corner
Of our dear old attic room,
Where bunches of herbs from the hillside
Shake ever a faint perfume,
An oaken chest is standing,
With hasp and padlock and key,
Strong as the hands that made it
On the other side of the sea.

When the winter days are dreary,
And we're out of heart with life,
Of its crowding cares weary,
And sick of its restless strife,
We take a lesson in patience
From the attic corner dim,
Where the chest still holds its treasures,
A warder faithful and grim.

Robes of an antique fashion,
Linen and lace and silk, That time has tinted with saffron,
Though once they were white as milk; Wonderful baby garments,
'Bordered with loving care
By fingers that felt the pleasure,
As they wrought the ruffles fair;

A sword, with the red rust on it,
That flashed in the battle tide,
When from Lexington to Yorktown
Sorely men's souls were tried;
A plumed chapeau and a buckle,
And may a relic fine,
And all by itself, the sampler,
Framed in with berry and vine.

Faded the square of canvas,
And dim is the silken thread,
But I think of white hands dimpled,
And a childish, sunny head;
For here in cross and in tent-stitch,
In a wreath of berry and vine,
She worked it a hundred years ago,
"Elizabeth, Aged Nine."

In and out in the sunshine,
The little needle flashed,
And in and out on the rainy day,
When the merry drops down lashed,
As close she sat by her mother,
The little Puritan maid,
And did her piece in the sampler,
While the other children played.

You are safe in the beautiful heaven,
"Elizabeth, aged nine;"
But before you went you had troubles
Sharper than any of mine.
Oh, the gold hair turned with sorrow
White as the drifted snow,
And your tears dropped here where I'm standing,
On this very plumed chapeau.

When you put it away, its wearer
Would need it never more,
By a sword-thrust learning the secrets
God keeps on yonder shore;
And you wore your grief like glory,
You could not yield supine,
Who wrought in your patient childhood,
"Elizabeth, Aged Nine."

Out of the way, in a corner,
With hasp and padlock and key,
Stands the oaken chest of my fathers
That came from over the sea;
And the hillside herbs above it
Shake odors fragrant and fine,
And here on its lid is a garland
To "Elizabeth, aged nine."

For love is of the immortal,
And patience is sublime,
And trouble a thing of every day,
And touching every time;
And childhood sweet and sunny,
And womanly truth and grace,
Ever can light life's darkness
And bless earth's lowliest place.

                            Mrs. M. E. Sangster

As reprinted in McGuffey's Fifth Eclectic Reader, revised edition, copyright 1879.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Books of 2015

I tried to post this earlier with cute little graphics from Goodreads, but Goodreads and Blogger refused to play nice. Here's the cute infographic.

Books I read in 2015:

Be Your Own CFO
Eneas Africanus
West with the Night
The Making of a Marchioness
An Uncommon Soldier : The Civil War Letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, alias Private Lyons Wakeman ...
I Could Pee on This and Other Poems by Cats
One Thousand White Women
The 6-Figure Newsletter
Before He Wakes
The Sinister Pig
Mansfield Park
A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Shape Shifter
Cure for the Common Life
Navajos Wear Nikes

I started reading, but didn’t finish:
24 Hours That Changed the World
  Women, Work, and the Art of Savoir Faire
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey

My favorites tended to nonfiction: West with the Night – grab-you-by-the-collar writing by pioneer aviatrix Beryl Markham; An Uncommon Soldier – letters home from a farm girl who passed as a man to join the Union Army; Be Your Own CFO – guide to personal finance by J.D. Roth; Before He Wakes – true crime based in my own county; The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – balanced interweaving of science, historical biography and personal memoir; and Navajos Wear Nikes – memoir of a Pennsylvania boy who spent his adolescence on the reservation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wordless Wednesday – Hopi Public Library

This is the Hopi Public Library. They post a schedule and park at different locations around the reservation on different days. I found them high up on First Mesa during my cross-country trip last fall.

They have wheelchair access at the back. The computers became so popular they converted a van into a computer lab, and it has a different schedule.

The librarian was very nice, but preferred not to have her picture posted. I enjoyed talking to a fellow bibliophile.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Aztec Ruins

It's easy to get tired of seeing ancient ruins from a great distance, tiny without binoculars or a zoom lens and restricted from access.

Aztec Ruins in New Mexico is different. Many of the rooms – mostly authentic and some reconstructed – are open to visitors. You can duck through the low doors, touch the finely fitted stones and walk from room to room in what appears to be the ancient version of an apartment building.

Aztec Ruins is not really Aztec; it was misnamed by early explorers and
has been stuck with the name. It's really puebloan ruins, built by early southwestern tribes.

The round building (reconstructed) is the Great Kiva, a ceremonial building for the whole community.

Some of the doors were low and I had to duckwalk through them. Some were higher, like this T-shaped door. I don't know why it's shaped that way, but the sides looks like a handy place to set your coffee.

Look above the door — some of the wood is still intact. I was particularly impressed with the inner rooms, like this one, that still have original, 900-year-old wooden ceilings!

Decorator touch — the oldest walls had intricate stonework. This outer side has stripes of dark green stones.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Crazy Life of a Work-at-Home Entrepreneur

I never know what the day will bring.

7 am. Drank coffee. Scanned e-mails. Downloaded pictures off the camera from a Saturday event. Wished I'd taken a few more.

9:15 am.  Arrived at a local church for an interview, hair still wet. Got introduced to about 50 preschoolers who were told to impress me with their singing. Sang "Do Lord, Oh do remember me." Good interview.

10:30 am. Drank coffee. Wrote cover letter for a magazine job.

12-1 pm. Distracted as I went online to find the right editor's name. Nothing online. Convinced the printer to print cover letter and resume. Fixed lunch.

1:30 pm. Found the magazine in my bedroom, listing lots of editors' names. Took a nap.

3:00 pm. Called the school to get a quote to add to the church article. Felt self-conscious about uncoifed hair while talking to busy principal. Maybe if I get the magazine job I'll work on my appearance.

3:30 pm. Checked mail and discovered it was warmer outside than inside. Took kitties out on leashes and took papers to edit.

3:45 pm. Amelia leaps into the edge of the creek, plays around on wet leaves. I have to kneel on the muddy bank to reach down and scoop her out. As I try to wrangle both to go inside, Galina backs out of her leash and falls into the middle of the creek. Panic ensues. She splashes upstream until finding an exit. In summary, Galina does not enjoy her first shower, given by me, fully clothed (for my own protection). At one point she opens the sliding glass doors and runs out. I realize just in time that the edited papers are in my back pocket. Papers survive. Cat is grumpy. Amelia gets off with just a paw-washing. We all survive.

4:30ish pm. Put on dry work-out clothes. Wrote a blog post.

5:30 pm. Met my sister at the gym for step class.

6:30 pm. Cooked dinner and watched a show on Netflix.

8:30ish pm. Washed towels from today's adventure. Decided it was too late to start budget work for an upcoming board meeting. Changed into pajamas from chilly sweaty workout clothes.

9ish to 10 pm. Finished revising cover letter and resume in bed (I don't  normally work in the bedroom). Final review and finding links to published clips will have to wait until tomorrow. Sweet kitties are already fast asleep on the bed.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Four Corners

Four Corners, the intersection of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado, was high on my list of places to see in the Southwest.

After standing in four states at once and watching the creative photo ops of other tourists, I browsed the market, set up in sheltered booths on the four sides.

I think I bought a souvenir in New Mexico, but the vendor had to step over to Arizona to get cell phone reception to process a credit card.

On the way out I missed a turn and ended up in Colorado.

Believe me, turning around with a camper trailer on a 70-mph highway with no exits or shoulders requires creativity of its own.

(Please pardon the format. Blogger has been moody all weekend.)

Monday, November 09, 2015

Canyon de Chelly

What can I say about Canyon de Chelly? (That rhymes; it's pronounced "de shay.")

As part of my dream cross-country trip I wanted to visit the Navajo nation, known to fans of author Tony Hillerman as "Hillerman country." Many small-to-medium towns on the map had familiar names to me from reading his novels, including Chinle. Chinle is at the base of Canyon de Chelly. 

Unlike the Grand Canyon, which seems to have started all at one level and been worn down in chasms by the Colorado River, Canyon de Chelly rises up from the high desert like a "V," with Chinle at the junction or starting point. 

There are many overlooks along the north and south rims, easily accessible by road and short walks, but the floor of the canyon is still inhabited by Navajo families, off limits except with approved guides.

Some of the overlooks view ancient cliff dwellings, like White House Ruins.

I didn't visit them all, but several had open paths away from the railing, where you could walk along the weather-worn stone and look at different views — with no railing.  Believe me, I kept my distance from those sloping edges.

Local people brought their crafts to a few of the overlooks to sell their wares to tourists.

At Sliding House Ruins, I got to walk along and look at the scenery to the sound of traditional flute music. Marc Begay, a young man who lives near the canyon, was playing in the parking area for tips. (If you're interested in buying his CD, e-mail me for his contact information.)

I stayed at a Navajo-owned, primitive campground near the top of the southern rim.

I'd planned to stay here several days, to finally relax after all the driving and sightseeing. But "primitive" means no electricity. My refrigerator wasn't working (food was spoiling), and my gas heat only worked when it felt like it (about every other night). It gets pretty cold at night in the high desert!

So I decided to pack up Monday morning and head for home, or at least for the campgrounds with amenities near cities and major highways.

It was a beautiful place, though. The campground was peaceful, and came with a friendly dog that liked to greet me whenever I stepped outside.

This is Spider Rock, the last overlook on the south rim, not far from the campground. It's also at the end of the paved road. The canyon continues off into the distance, and so does the rough dirt road, cutting its way to New Mexico.