13 December 2011


Circa 1900 : Luther Hinton Saunders, Stephen Decater Saunders, Belvadier Walker Saunders, (on her lap) John B. Carl Saunders, Clarence Steve Saunders, girls: May Etta Saunders & Berti Florence Saunders. From the Honnoll family genealogy site. 

English (especially Yorkshire) and Scottish: occupational name for a fuller, Middle Englishwalkere, Old English wealcere, an agent derivative ofwealcan ‘to walk, tread’." 

Today in family history (an ongoing series)

Today was another day of freezing fog and hidden ice patches everywhere. The landscape is closing down for winter, but it feels like winter has made it here early yet again. It’s a time to light fires and look for the first sign that the days are starting to lengthen again.

No one in the immediate line was up to much on Dec. 12, but Dec. 13 brings us to a heartbreaker.

13 Dec 1901: Belvadier Walker Saunders dies in Altus, Oklahoma, at the age of 29, 10 days after being gored by a bull. She was part of the Walker exodus from Itawamba, Mississippi, via Arkansas to Altus. This was a one-way trip with wagons—not romantic prairie schooners, but utilitarian wagons carrying whole households. Generally the people walked. And walked. The quilt I now have made this trip in one of those wagons.

Belvy was the oldest child in the family; my great-grandmother Mossie was the second child, and the infamous Clovis was the youngest. There were 7 others, a total of 9. The youngest 3 were not born in Mississippi, so the trek must have started after 1884 but before 1887. In 1884, Belvy would have been 12. In 1892, at the age of 19, not quite 20, she married Stephen Decatur Saunders in Altus and started what would become a family of 5 children.

She doesn’t look as if life was easy in any way. Altus was a frontier town then, and Oklahoma was not yet a state (that would not happen until 1907). They were homesteaders, farmers, not ranchers, and the enmity between the two groups was fierce. Belvy looks as if she could tackle anything and do everything except smile. I hope that is nothing more than an artifact of the photograph pose.

I cannot find where she is buried. She is not listed in Victory Cemetery at the geometrically straight crossroads outside Altus, as are her parents and some of her siblings. And cousins. And in-laws. There are 730 people here and I may be related to them all, as was Belvy, at least once. 

Stephen remarried, and raised 3 more children with Lillie Brisbin, whose brother Henry—keep up, now—married Belvy’s little sister Mittie Florence Walker. I am working out some complex descendancies here. It was an outpost town, with relatively few families but lots of children in those families. Mossie married Newt Brooks, and George Aster Walker married Nettie Melinda Brooks—siblings marrying siblings. Oddly, Nettie also died at the age of 29, leaving 5 children.

I don’t have any pictures of my great-grandmother at 29, but I suspect that she and Belvy faced the world with that same expression.  They could run a homestead, build a half-dugout, and carve out a living on a dry and trackless frontier. They took their Methodism straight and walked roads we would not be able to see today. In the end, the dangers of their world--livestock for one, a tornado for another--were too much. I have lit a candle for Belvy today. It's too cold without one. 

11 December 2011

Savages and Moons

Mary "Mollie" Savage Honnoll

This day in family history:

11 Dec 1678: John Savage dies in Savages Neck, Northampton, Virginia. He was born in Accomac, Virginia, in 1624, son of Thomas Savage, one of the Jamestown settlers. Accomac is in Accomack County, just so you Virginians don’t assume I don’t know how to spell. Apparently the K is negotiable. Jamestown was a marshy, swampy, hostile environment for the English settlers; never mind that "History is Fun" stuff. Thomas came over in 1608 at the age of 14 on a ship called the "John and Francis," married Hannah Tyng there at 27 and died there at 39. John Savage confounds the family migration trend by moving east from the Eastern Shore across the Chesapeake to a tiny point of land close to the end of the Delmarva Peninsula. I’ve been there, on the way to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, though with no idea of the family connection at the time, alas. John lived on the bay side of the peninsula. His son Hamilton stayed there, too. His grandson Levin struck out for the Appalachians in the next century.  I wonder if John was a waterman on the Bay. That would make me happy. Just the idea that there is a place called “Savages Neck” is great. Keep reading for more Savages.

11 Dec 1710: Keeses, as promised. I hardly know what to make of this. Among his children, John Keese may have had two sons, William and Shadrach. Or he may have just had one, William Shadrach. At least one of them died this day in Providence, Rhode Island. The records are conflicting. In some, William was born 10 years before Shadrach (26 Oct 1685 vs. 05 Nov 1695). William was 25; Shadrach was 15. Whoever, or whichever, someone died this day and did so 10 years after their father almost to the day, and 10 years before their mother. There is no other information that I can find. Some young man died far too young, that’s certain. This must have been devastating for their family. Their brother, Jonathan, lived to 1771 and married Mary Bowne. He is my 6th great-grandfather. Jonathan left Providence for New York sometime before 1719. I wonder if there was too much tragedy in Providence for him. His son was the first Elijah Keese in this line. One genealogy line insists that William (not Shadrach) married in 1743 after dying in 1710, but I don’t think my family is that talented. Always check your references.

11 Dec 1726: Stephen Moon dies in St. Peter Parish, New Kent, Virginia. St. Peter’s Parish is still in service today and is the site, among other notable history moments, of George and Martha Washington’s wedding. Stephen died five years before Martha was born, but the families undoubtedly knew each other, it being a small population at that time. He was born there in 1681 and was another one who stayed where he started. You’d think that the ancestors would stay put in such a lovely part of the world, but you would be mistaken.  His son Jacob headed west, from the coastal plain east of Richmond to the Appalachian foothills northeast of Lynchburg. My ancestors seem to have liked the Appalachians very much once they got there. The Moons are descended from Capt. John Moon, who came over in the early 17th century from Hampshire, England. The line follows from Martha Patsy Moon through the Martins to Mary Savage, descendant of John (above) and mother of Nancy Ellinor Honnoll Walker, the quiltmaker. See? More Savages. 

10 December 2011

England, old and New


This day (and yesterday) in family history: On a cold December day in 2011, I am mired in the cold 17th century of both old and new England. 

Dec. 9: None of my ancestors apparently admits to doing anything notable on this day. I may make it an official holiday.

Dec. 10, 1637: Judith Burrow Phippen dies in Somerset, England. Unless she didn’t. The lineage here is a bit shaky and could be wrong. There is not a lot known about Judith. She was born in 1595 and died at the age of ~42. If the lines are in fact drawn correctly, her daughter Elizabeth emigrated to the New World in before 1654 and married one of the John Adams who pepper the family tree. At the most recent OCD count, there are 13 John Adamses in the tree. On both sides of the family, no less.

Dec. 10, 1700: Mary Folland Weldon dies in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Mary is my 9th great-grandmother and the direct ancestor of (among other people) my great-grandmother Elmyra Wacaster Johnson, mother of my maternal grandfather.  Her line goes through a few Bentleys, a Bailey and a Gibbs before it runs into the Wacasters of Arkansas, a large and complex family, as future posts will show. I’m having a hard time reconciling New England ancestors and Arkie-Okie-Texas descendants, but that move south and west was an overwhelming trend across our generations. Mary died at 70 and apparently never left the Barnstable area. I wonder what she would have thought about her restless migrating descendants following the ever-retreating frontiers. Her parents were among the first to arrive in the New World in this line—maybe one ocean crossing was enough for a few generations before the wanderlust hit again. There was no way back across the Atlantic for them, either.

Dec. 10, 1700: Close by, in Rhode Island, John Keese also dies on the same day as Mary Folland Weldon. They were not related and most likely never met, but there they are, both ancestors. He is a 7th great-grandfather of mine. There are 5 John Keeses of one kind or another in the tree. This John Keese was born in Rhode Island in 1655 and died at the age of 45, leaving children with good New England names such as Patience and Shadrach. It is odd that the most die-hard Confederate line in my father’s family has such staunch New England roots. John is the ur-Keese: I have found no information on his parentage.

More on John Keese and his family tomorrow. 

08 December 2011

Gholson and Arman

Today (and yesterday) in the bulging family history file:

07 Dec 1802: Gholson Stepp (or Stapp), my 4th great-grand uncle for anyone counting, dies in Lancaster, Kentucky, at the age of 44. He was born in 1758 in Culpeper, Virginia, and so exemplifies the extended family’s insistence on restlessly moving west, south or both. He was the son of Lucy Gholson and James Stapp (or Stepp), hence the unusual first name. I see a lot of that across generations. He spelled his last name differently on various legal documents, ensuring job security for OCD genealogists, bless his heart. Gholson was the brother of Celia Stepp (who seems to have made her mind up about how to spell her name), who married Elijah Harrison Keese and is thus my 4th great-grandmother at that end of the Keese line. She named one son for her brother, Gholson Stepp Keese, who does not seem to have perpetuated those names in his descendants.

08 Dec 1875: Arman O. Jackson dies in Augusta, Arkansas. Arman married one of my Honnoll relatives, the one I give the Best Name in the Family award to, Cinderella Lucinda Honnoll, my 3rd great-grand aunt, sister of Peter the beekeeper. Oddly, she is not the only 19th-century Cinderella I am related to. Arman was born in Tennessee in 1810 and married Cinderella Lucinda in Hardeman County, Tennessee.

(Let’s pause there for a Your Family Tree May Not Fork moment. Hardeman County was named for the Hardeman family to whom my father is related via those Keeses that keep cropping up. Six Hardeman boys married six Keese girls. You try straightening that out. All my ancestors from Hardeman County, though, are on my mother’s side. End of digression. I may yet prove that I am my own cousin three times over, which many would say accounts for a lot.)

Cinderella Lucinda died at the age of 30 after bearing 4 children to Arman, including a daughter named Permelia. I am collecting Names You Never See Any More with great glee, of course. Arman remarried to Hannah Tarbutton the same year that Cinderella died, 1845, and had another family. Very common for the time. There was nothing more dangerous for a woman then than childbirth and its complications, and many men had 2, 3 or 4 families. He married Hannah in Alabama and moved back to Tennessee. They both moved to Arkansas some time after 1860, where Hannah outlived him. A lot of people seem to have moved to Arkansas after the Civil War, keeping up the east-to-west movement. These were almost always one-way trips, total breaks with the home state and the friends and families left there.

There was no way back home.

05 December 2011

William Sharp(e)

Meeting House Hill, Delaware, 2002; an early Quaker meeting house in the New World

Today in the family history project (a continuing series):
06 Dec 1525: William Sharpe dies at the age of 67 in Islington, a London neighborhood which he was also born, back in 1458, date unknown. The name of his spouse is also unknown, as are the names of his parents. William Sharp just springs up spontaneously in Islington, which is not uncommon in the older records. I'm finding that there is no such thing as pinpoint accuracy when you get past the first three or four generations as you move forward onto the past. Spellings and dates change, stories mutate over time, and hidden information comes into the light. If my information about William is correct, he is my 14th great-grandfather, and he spent his life in a neighborhood originally named Giseldone by the Saxons in 1005. His descendants spelled Sharp in a number of creative ways, which makes the genealogy work so interesting (sigh). If the chart is correct--a big if--his descendants include the Bownes, who were among the very first Quakers, the Winthrops of New England, and the Keeses--remember the Keeses?--who wound up all over Texas and Brazil. The Bowne connection is particularly meaningful to me. As the saying goes, interesting if true, and maybe proof that there are deeper connections to the past than we think. 

Ancestors in the attic

Keese House, Jefferson, TX

Today marks the start of a year-long project to share stories from our increasingly strange family genealogy project. I'm using calendar software to turn up what the relatives were up to on this day in history. This helps me decide which part of the tree to work on next in a nicely random way, which seems apropos. With any luck, it'll be entertaining....

Today in the family history project (a continuing series):
05 Dec 1884: Oliver Hazard Perry Keese dies in Junction, Texas, at the age of 58. The Keeses went in for grand patriotic masculine names and Confederate sympathies in a big way. His grandson, who was born 6 years later, was named Oliver Napoleon Keese. His father, Thomas Jefferson Keese, was born in South Carolina and died in Menard, Texas. My great-great-grandfather, Oliver H. P.’s  first cousin, was George Washington Keese. Oliver H. P. Keese was born in Lawrence, Tennessee, northeast of Memphis, and was in Texas by the age of 24, following the trend moving at that time to the southwest of the Mississippi. He served as a private in the Confederacy, in the Company of the 2nd Frontier. After that, he served as a Texas Ranger. These Keeses were cousins of the Keeses in my father’s line who went to Brazil as Confederados, but these Keeses stayed at the edge of West Texas, which was doubtless just as alien, just as removed from the aftermath of the Civil War. Interestingly, they don’t seem to have named any boy babies in ensuing generations for Confederate heroes—Oliver’s sons included yet another George Washington, yet another Thomas Jefferson, and Henry Clay Keese. The girls were not saddled with equally weighty names, fortunately. 

04 December 2011

December?! How did that happen?

House, Cottonwood, SD

If you are eagle-eyed enough to notice that these shots do not look like December light, or even November light....congratulations. Now hush. I'm trying to get this line of thought back on track after an extraordinarily hectic couple of months. Every year I conveniently forget how fast-paced the fall semester tends to be. After traveling every weekend in October, I stayed in for November with a variety of work projects that also managed to consume every available weekend.

This culminated in a Thanksgiving dinner for 25 that happily, almost magically, worked out beautifully. We are in the heart of potluck country, after all, and the students, faculty, staff and friends of the museum outdid themselves. There is a quirky saying that the only Quaker sacrament is potluck. This is a great truism that only appears to be shallow on the surface. It's the same deep connection that we make when we share food at our meetings with our Lakota friends. You have to bring and share food, but it's not about the eating, it's about the bonding.

So here it is December, and snow is blowing around, and the temperature is supposed to be a whole 4 degrees F tonight. I fail to see why we can't just hibernate.

In other breaking news, the family genealogy project just took a bizarre turn when I discovered that my parents are actually related, and not just by marriage. I've checked this over dozens of times, and that's how it comes out. In the early 1600s, a brother and sister in the Hinton family started families that would eventually culminate in their 9th-great grandchildren meeting up, marrying, and unleashing the Shelton siblings on the world. My father's mother is descended from the daughter; my mother's mother is descended from the son. I don't know what that makes me, but I do know that my parents don't react at all well to being called Aunt Mom and Uncle Dad. And there will be no banjo music...

More genealogy later if I can untangle it. Here are some ghost town and prairie architecture shots from our trip to Brookings in October, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. And more mists. Enjoy.

Abandoned church and abandoned tree, Cottonwood, SD

Sod-topped cabin, Philip, SD

Shelter barn

Classic barn with a face


Damaged barn

Ghost house, Badger, SD

Building ornamentation

Octagonal barn

07 November 2011

Rio Blanco

Sunrise light and ribbon wire

When I add up the score for 2011, the year is going to have a lot to answer for. Too many dear ones have been ill, injured, lost, or caught up in disasters, and it's not over yet. But it has also been a year of reconnecting, reunions, finding the dearest of old friends and reminding myself who I have always been. In October, a few of us gathered for a reunion at Camp Rio Blanco in Texas, where I went as a Girl Scout camper and worked as a unit leader. It was a bittersweet reunion to celebrate our lifelong friendships and grieve a deep loss. It is a pocket oasis in the Texas Panhandle, green even in a fierce drought. It is a source of quirky magic and spectacular landscapes.

If I can face a storm with awe and wonder, take a moment to appreciate brilliant light, keep a group happily together, sing when it would be easier to snap, make fun of myself (especially singing), step aside for the tiniest wildlife, tie a knot that holds, have a Plan B (C, D....X) in mind at all times, fix what is broken, override panic in a crisis, laugh often, use a folding knife with no trips to the ER, give from the heart, give everyone second chances, sleep peacefully under the stars, know what those stars are, be comfortable with being alone as much as with being in groups, listen deeply to what is important, teach what I know and learn in the process, hear both sides of the story, use a hatchet with no trips to the ER, pitch in to help without being asked, appreciate wildness and wilderness, know when to lead and when to follow, and light a decent campfire with no more than two matches (and no lighter fluid) with no trips to the ER, I owe it all to this place and the people who made it wonderful.

The gate in autumn sunshine

It's West Texas. This decor is normal. 

View from the second floor of the Lodge

Scissortailed flycatcher seemingly perched in space.  I miss seeing these.

Wild turkeys on a stroll

The camp bell

It rings with as true a tone as ever

Sunset behind the Caprock

Junipers at sunset

Arrowhead Mesa, a popular hike 

Crescent moon over the flagpole

Velvet ant 

Ammonite in the fireplace of the Old Lodge. This probably started me on my warped path. 

Old wagon bed

Swinging bridge over Big Sandy. The first person across in the morning still gets the spiderwebs . 

Sign on road crossing Big Sandy. 

Framework for the covered wagon tents, in need of rescue. 

Many dreams under the canvas here. 

I would just like to point out for the record, though, that I still flunk braiding lanyards. I still think that my interest in natural history developed when the arts and crafts leaders looked at my work and asked me gently if I wouldn't rather go outside to look at bugs. Or anything that would get me out of there.

We are working on a history project for Rio Blanco now. Stay tuned for details.

Lakota signs

Two famous trails....

Driving from Rapid City to Pierre on the back roads (which I always do, so that I can scare my passengers as I zip around farm equipment, shooting barns and sheds), I am finding a series of road signs unlike anything I've seen before. Someone told me that they have been put in place by some of the Lakota tribes as a way of getting their history out there. Now I'm scouring the roadsides for these, too, as I drive, which makes riding with me even more fun, I'm sure. Any information is appreciated. 

Oldest Indian trail, 1

Oldest Indian trail, 2

Plum Creek waterhole

Deadwood Trail sign (old)

Deadwood Trail sign (new)

Sitting Bull birthplace

Old Black and Yellow Trail, new sign. Love the GPS coordinates.

06 November 2011

Clorinda and Harriet

Montgomery County, Arkansas, a long way from New Jersey

Working my way through backlogged genealogy posts, quilting projects and any other displacement activities I can come up with to avoid thinking about the next few days at work (which promis to be very hectic, with the installation of another compactor system for one of our big collections)…I am reminded of the two mystery women in my direct line. 

One on my father’s side, one on my mother’s, both a long way from home. 

Interestingly, both are great-great grandmothers, so they show up at the same tier and approximately the same time in the family history.

It’s hard for us to appear and disappear without any apparent ties in this time, in this society, but they managed it in the 19th century. I have not tracked down so much as a photograph of either of them.

What intrigues me about both women is that they were Northerners who moved to the Deep South before the Civil War. I do not know why, and I wonder how appallingly difficult that conflict was for their dual loyalties.

My family lines are very Southern—I could chart a broad-brush sweep of generational movement from the East Coast through the Appalachians, on to Arkansas and Oklahoma, on to Texas, on to California—and there are a lot of hard-core Confederates in there. What on earth did the Yankee grandmothers think as the country tore itself apart, as the gulf broadened between their old homes and their new ones?

I’ve mentioned Clorinda before. She shows up in the record books in 1850, when she was 32 and living in Newton, Mississippi. She married Benjamin Johnson there in 1839, and went with him to Montgomery County, where she spent the rest of her life and where she is buried. Her lovely name shows up in 3 of her descendants.

Clorinda’s birthplace is listed in the census records as New Jersey. Rural Mississippi and Arkansas—very, very rural Mississippi and Arkansas, especially at that time—could have been on another planet from New Jersey, even then. What took her to that wild green country before she was 21?

It is possible her father’s name was James, but it’s equally possible that it was not, and nothing comes up in the records for anyone else from her family of origin. I have found records for the Clorinda Fowler Tract in New Jersey, one of the areas producing spectacular fluorescent minerals near Franklin and Sterling. Is there a connection? I haven’t turned up anything so far.

Clorinda Fowler Johnson's gravestone, Caney Cemetery, Arkansas

On the other side of the family, we find Harriet Adeline Perkins, who also shows up in the 1850 census, married to George Washington Keese and living in Caldwell, Texas. She was 27 at that time, and according to the records was born in Vermont. I find this bewildering. I’ve been both places, and they also might as well be on different planets. There is no information whatsoever on her family of origin.

G. W. Keese was the younger half-brother of some of my Confederado relatives who left the US for Brazil forever at the end of the Civil War. Obviously the family’s sympathies were passionately Confederate. How did Harriet cope?

I don’t know, because she vanishes from all records after 1860. Her youngest child was born that year, and Harriet in still listed in the Caldwell census records. After 1860….nothing. 

G. W. Keese died in 1870 and is buried in the Old Prairie Lea cemetery at Caldwell. A number of the Keeses moved to Marion County in East Texas, possibly with the promise of jobs as the railroad came through Jefferson. (It never did, but that’s another story.)  Harriet is not buried at either place. Harriet is not anywhere that anyone can find. Did she leave? Did she die?

I don’t know what brought either woman to the South, and I cannot imagine watching as the horrific conflict shredded everyone it touched. Clorinda stayed in Arkansas, at who knows what cost, but what happened to Harriet when the war broke out?

Would I have stayed, or would I have gone, with family on both sides of an irreconcilable war? 

Their stories are almost completely unknown, and may be unknowable, and that haunts me. 

02 November 2011

Dia de los Muertos

It’s November 2, very chilly. Frost on the windows, cottonwoods blazing, migration winding down…quiet after the frantic rush of October, with 5 full weekends and me in a different place—a different state—for every single one of them. More on those a bit later, as I catch up on the writing.

Yesterday was Dia de los Todos Santos, the Day of All Saints. Today is Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. In spite of the name, Dia de los Muertos is a day of celebration of the lives of those who have left us. For many years, it has been, and continues to be, one of my favorite days, a point to stop and take stock of the meaning that loved ones bring to all our lives. It is more pivotal, more deeply personal, than the more commercial holidays of the season.

This year, most of our friends here are out of town at yet another meeting, so no big party. But there will be candles lit and remembrances made. There has not been a month this year without a loss, an illness, a disaster. Everyone I know has been affected by sadness. And yet, and yet, it has also been a year of deep and even joyous reconnections, of survival against the odds, and of celebration.

Here is a passage that best captures the feeling of the day:

“Día de los Muertos is on November 2nd, with celebrations beginning on November 1, Día de Muertos Chiquitos--The Day of the Little Dead also All Saints Day, and continuing on November 2, All Souls Day. It is a joyous occasion when the memory of ancestors and the continuity of life is celebrated. It is believed that at this time the souls of the departed return to visit the living. It is not a time of mourning since ‘the path back to the living world must not be made slippery by tears.’”

Here’s to the continuity, here’s to unbroken bonds, to friends, family, ancestors, memories, everything that makes us who we are and ties us together, here’s to…us.  I hope that you are lighting your own candle.

22 September 2011

Just a wave

Lubbock music is on my mind.....

Thirst is not the answer, oceans come and go,
I loved her seven seas worth, Lord I loved her so.
But she let me down so easy, one slow drop at a time.

I would've killed myself but it made no sense,
Commiting suicide in self defence.
But I lost everything I brought her
When she said babe, you're just a wave, you're not the water

Centuries ago we were living on the gold coast
She was still in love with a long, gone, cold ghost
I was only trying to turn back the tide of her tears

I felt like an endless ocean, rolling through the fog
Full emotion drifting like a weather beaten log
I even thought that I out-thought her
Till she said babe, you're just a wave, you're not the water

I said someday we'll love again, then you'll know the score
I've taught you everything I know and maybe even more
That's true she said, more than you ever will

I said I've been your raging river, precious African queen
I've shown you everything that I've ever seen
But she knew more than I had taught her
When she said babe, you're just a wave, you're not the water

Well I followed her far and wide with all of my will
Water on the move, you know it never stands still
And I moved every muscle, just to prove it can be done

Then up some old sad river, where snow white lilies float
I came to her for mercy, but I hardly rocked the boat
She seemed surprised that I had caught her
But she said babe, you're just a wave, you're not the water

--Butch Hancock, 1988

21 September 2011

Lonely sunsets

It seems to be Loren Eiseley day around here. The onset of autumn will do that to you. It's a peculiar blend of acute melancholia, happy reflection, somber remembrance, and delight in the season's sudden slanting golden light. Around here, we don't exactly kick through piles of fallen leaves (we might if they weren't so scarce): we seek out the changing landscapes, physical and temporal. So did Loren. He captured the autumnal feel of the South Dakota and Nebraska badlands better than anyone else.

“Man would not be man if his dreams did not exceed his grasp. ... Like John Donne, man lies in a close prison, yet it is dear to him. Like Donne's, his thoughts at times overleap the sun and pace beyond the body. If I term humanity a slime mold organism it is because our present environment suggest it. If I remember the sunflower forest it is because from its hidden reaches man arose. The green world is his sacred center. In moments of sanity he must still seek refuge there. ... If I dream by contrast of the eventual drift of the star voyagers through the dilated time of the universe, it is because I have seen thistledown off to new worlds and am at heart a voyager who, in this modern time, still yearns for the lost country of his birth.” 

“Nothing grows among its pinnacles; there is no shade except under great toadstools of sandstone whose bases have been eaten to the shape of wine glasses by the wind. Everything is flaking, cracking, disintegrating, wearing away in the long, inperceptible weather of time. The ash of ancient volcanic outbursts still sterilizes its soil, and its colors in that waste are the colors that flame in the lonely sunsets on dead planets.”

“Since the first human eye saw a leaf in Devonian sandstone and a puzzled finger reached to touch it, sadness has lain over the heart of man. By this tenuous thread of living protoplasm, stretching backward into time, we are linked forever to lost beaches whose sands have long since hardened into stone. The stars that caught our blind amphibian stare have shifted far or vanished in their courses, but still that naked, glistening thread winds onward. No one knows the secret of its beginning or its end. Its forms are phantoms. The thread alone is real; the thread is life.” 

20 September 2011

Still here, not yet extinct

I know it looks as if we declared a hiatus and ran away, but we're all still here. 2011 has not been treating anyone kindly, and the list of illnesses, injuries, losses and disasters shows no signs of stopping. It occurs to me that I need to repost the guidelines for family and friends to follow as part of their lifetime appointment as loved ones, including: Don't get sick. Don't get injured. Don't let any natural disasters happen anywhere near you. Don't let any personal disasters happen anywhere near you. And please get to work on that immortality thing--there is no one I can spare. Got it?

29 August 2011

Family recipe Monday: Late summer, early fall

Cottonwood stars, from New Mexico

Juvenile hawks. Photos courtesy of Tartan Girl

It's the end of August in a long, hot, and (for the Texas and New Mexico clan members) unbelievably dry summer. Everything seems to be moving toward fall much sooner than normal. Up on the northern prairies, the hawks and other migratory birds are gathering with nervous eyes to the south, and the grasses are rapidly browning. 

Tartan Girl shared photos of young hawks hanging out in teenage noisemaker mode in New Mexico. These guys are full-sized and -fledged, but still showing juvenile plumage. This will be their first fall, and they may need to keep moving to find adequate prey. She also shared a photo of the stars to be found at the base of cottonwood twigs. Find a cottonwood and check this out for yourself. 

Fall is in the air, even the hot, dry air. Here is a recipe for apple butter to capture the season.  

Apple butter

For 1/2 peach basket of apples

Peel, quarter and core apples. Put in oven at 200*F. Add 1/2 lb dark brown sugar, 1 T cinnamon, 1/2t allspice, smidge of clove (ground) or one whole clove. Allow to cook down. If not peeled, run it through a food mill. Let cook all day or longer.
--Gene Hess

Note: This goes in a heavy pot or Dutch oven. You may prefer to simmer this on the stovetop.

Happy Monday. Look for the stars wherever you are.