Friday, April 28, 2017

Happy birthday, Nancy Drew!

Happy 85th birthday, Nancy Drew!  

My mother owned all of the Nancy Drew books.  Her parents starting purchasing these for her when she was a girl, and she continued to purchase the books for my sister, Sarah, and I.  I whiled away many hours reading each and every one, curled up in some quiet corner in our farmhouse and I sometimes read each one more than once.  In more recent years, my sister Sarah's daughter, Kathleen, read all of them.  My daughter never seemed to get interested in them as she was, like so many of her generation, caught up in the Harry Potter books.

We stored them in one of my father's old foot lockers, and I'm sure Sarah has them at her house to this day.

Here is a nice story about the Nancy Drew books, written by Theodore Jefferson (what a great name!).  85 Years of Nancy Drew

Once, the Dickinson State University public relations director interviewed me about my career as a librarian.  Somewhere I must have a clipping of the story he wrote for The Dickinson Press.  I told him, and he quoted me, that a part of the explanation for why I became a librarian could be found in the hours of enjoyment I found in reading the Nancy Drew books.  Following clues to find answers for patrons seemed very much like Nancy following clues to solve her puzzles.

Not long ago, I burst my husband's bubble about the so-called writer of these books, Carolyn Keene.  He was shocked to learn from me that "Carolyn Keene" is simply a pseudonym.  All these years after he encountered the books at the Hettinger Public Library, he was sure Carolyn was a living, breathing genius.

According to Wikipedia, The Secret of the Old Clock is the first volume in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series written under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, first published in 1930.

If I didn't have such a long backlog of books to be read, it would be very tempting to re-read the family's Nancy Drew volumes.  What the heck, I just might do it next winter!

My husband nails it today on The Prairie Blog

If I had a hammer........
Speaking of which, my husband nails it today on his blog: An Open Letter To Governor Doug Burgum, On The Occasion Of The Greatest Threat Ever To The Little Missouri State Scenic River

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Musings on Petrichor

Petrichor: the smell in the air before or as rain falls on hot, dry, stony ground (petra = stone; ichor = divine fluid.   As defined by one of my favorite authors, Robert Macfarlane on his Twitter account. Word of the Day March 18, 2017 by Robert Macfarlane

I love this word and I love the smell.  My first memory of recognition of this smell was when I was driving one of the dusty, scoria roads near the Logging Camp Ranch in Slope County, North Dakota, with my maternal grandparents, in their blue Ford Galaxy, on a hot August day more than fifty years ago.  Although she did not use this word, my Grandma Lily explained to me what I was smelling.  I would have been about seven years old.  To this day when I drive over the bridge at Deep Creek in that very spot, I have this intense memory.

My family went on these rambles on summer Sundays, ranging as far as we could manage, taking a picnic lunch.  We went to the top of Bullion Butte.  We went to Camp Crook, SD.  We went to the Powder River country in southeastern Montana.  We went to the top of Pretty Butte.  We went exploring the western North Dakota lands where my maternal great-aunts had all homesteaded decades before, mostly just grassy 1/4 sections with scant evidence of their long-ago lives.

I'm quite proud of the fact that I went to the top of Bullion Butte in 1966, years before my husband, Jim Fuglie, or friends Mike Jacobs and Clay Jenkinson.  In fact, I kinda like to lord it over them.

The photos were taken by my father, with his 35 mm camera he purchased in Japan in the years just before this when we were living in Okinawa.
Bullion Butte

Picnic on Bullion Butte Expedition August 1966

Aunt Junette, Uncle Alan, Grandma Lily, Lillian Crook in red cowgirl hat, Marian

Grandpa Andy Silbernagel in his cowboy hat (he never went anywhere without his hat on), Sarah, Andy, and Thomas Crook.  I have no idea what everyone else is doing in the back of the pickup

Family picnic on Bullion Butte Expedition.  My silly mom put on my red cowgirl hat.  To this day I still stand with my hands on my hips like I am in this photo, just like my Grandma Lily did.

The stone house on the top of Bullion Butte

The trusty Ford Galaxy on the expedition to Bullion Butte. It was high-centered on the cow trails.
You can see why I call this iconic butte, more mesa than butte, the center of my universe.

And why the word petrichor resonates with me to this day.

The aforementioned British writer Robert Macfarlane has published some wondrous books, including his award-winning Landmarks, travelogues, geographic meanderings, explorations of word meanings, and musings on high points he has climbed. Here is a nice summation of one of his books and a splendid picture of him.   Penguin also notes his biography as follows:
Robert Macfarlane was born in Nottinghamshire in 1976. He is the author of Mountains of the Mind, The Wild Places, The Old Ways and Landmarks. Mountains of the Mind won the Guardian First Book Award and the Somerset Maugham Award and The Wild Placeswon the Boardman-Tasker Award. Both books have been adapted for television by the BBC. He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and writes on environmentalism, literature and travel for publications including the Guardian, the Sunday Timesand The New York Times. He is currently working on an illustrated children's book about the natural world in collaboration with illustrator Jackie Morris.

Personally, I'm eager to see his forthcoming children's book.   His daily word on Twitter is very educational.  This brief New Yorker piece on him is worth the read too:   Pen Pals Provide Linguistic Curios

You can't go wrong whiling away the hours with one his splendid books.  They'll give you wanderlust of your own.  Maybe you'll make your own personal journey to the top of the magnificent Bullion Butte.  You'll be the better for the journey.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Daffodils brightened the day

In today's Red Oak House garden news, these daffodils brighten what was otherwise a cold spring day.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Theodore Roosevelt National Park's 70th anniversary - A message from former Superintendent Valerie Naylor

Today is the 70th anniversary of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  This heartfelt and strongly worded op-ed piece by my dear friend, and the former Superintendent of the Park, Valerie Naylor, is a great read for today's occasion.

Holding true to Theodore Roosevelt's Vision at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Please "do what you can, where you are, with what you have" for Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  This is too great a treasure to squander.  This is North Dakota's best place.  

This is a sacred space.

Where the skies are not cloudy all day: a travelogue

I'm home from a visit to Tucson, Arizona, where, indeed, the skies are not cloudy all day, just about every single day.  I visited lifelong friends, Marilyn and Paul Ohm, who have lived there for a couple of decades.  The sun shines and the sky is blue, and it was already getting quite warm.  It was pleasant, but I confess I could not bear the intense heat that is fast approaching, and I need the four seasons such as we enjoy on the Great Plains.

I first knew Marilyn and her son Paul when I was growing up in Slope County as Marilyn and her then-husband Durwood ran the funeral home in Bowman.  Paul and I used to play piano duets at their house, and get into any number of silly escapades.  There is a special connection between us that has endured for forty years.

Marilyn is retired, and Paul is the principal at the inspirational Ocotillo Learning Center.  Much to my delight, the next evening after my arrival, I was able to attend the annual school carnival with him, where families gathered for fun and food, and the warmth and sense of caring that exudes from his school was palpable, so much joy and commitment from everyone there.  I participated in the cake walk, something I'm pretty sure I've not done since I was about eight, and I won a creme-filled cookie and the giggles of the kids who were playing alongside me.  We were even so goofy as to have our picture taken with the Moana headshot setup.

My friend Paul has a most impressive collection of vinyl and some very fine audio equipment.

The next day, I took my first Lyft cab ride and went on over to the campus of the University of Arizona for my amusement and education.  Just like magic, I tapped on the app on my Google Pixel phone and six minutes later a car drove up to transport me to the beautiful campus.  After a career in academia, I'm drawn to college campuses and enjoy the energy found there.  Naturally, I went straight to the Library where I had a lookie-lo and then I walked across the patio to the Special Collections Library to peruse an exhibit there called Visions of Borderlands and do some of my own research (which I will write about in a forthcoming blog post).

Lunch at the bustling Student Center and more walking around the campus took me for a visit to the Center for Creative Photography which displays original prints of the inimitable Ansel Adams and other preeminent photographers.  Finally, I walked to the Arizona State Museum where I paid $5 and practically had the place to myself.
Arizona State Museum

The museum film was an overview of ten Native American tribes of Arizona and New Mexico and the large galleries highlighted each of these tribe's arts and crafts and lifeways.

This picture captured my attention because it includes distant relative General George Crook with his Indian scouts

There was also a magnificent pottery display

This pot was chosen by the museum as an example of contemporary pottery trends.

While in the Sonoran desert, I was captivated by the succulents, whether in bloom or not, and these were a favorite subject for my photography.
Blooming Ocotillo
I really like the desert landscaping
Barrel Cactus with fruit

Yellow bells honeysuckle
Grapefruit Tree
Friendly Village, Tucson, where my pals live

Baja Fairy Duster

Devils Tower cactus (my name)

The Great Mesquite Tree at Agua Caliente, over 200 years old

Blooming and first formed pomegranate

Desert Marigold

Mexican Bird of Paradise
The next day was another Lyft cab to the old Presidio for a walking tour, lunch at a charming Mexican cafe, and Good Friday services at the St. Augustine Cathedral, followed by a welcome swim in the pool back at my host's.
St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson, Arizona, Good Friday 2017
Saturday we journeyed to visit nearby Agua Caliente and an enjoyed an Easter meal at a neighbor's home.  The ranch house at Agua Caliente was marvelous and reminded me of the Lyndon Johnson Ranchhouse in Texas.

Easter Sunday found us out for a late brunch and was mostly a rest and relaxation day, savoring each other's company and the quiet of Paul's patio.

On Monday, Marilyn and I climbed into Paul's Honda for a drive west of Tucson to the Tohono O'Odham reservation for a visit to the Tohono O'Odham Museum and Cultural Center near Sells, Arizona.   We passed Kitt Peak Observatory and while at the museum, we admired the sacred Boboquivari Peak in the distance.

Tuesday was another drive, this time to Green Valley to see another friend, a retiree living in that area.  Together we toured Tumacácori National Historical Park, which sits at the cultural crossroads in the Santa Cruz River Valley and is a wonderful example of a Catholic mission.  Here I took some of my personal favorite photographs.
The Mortuary Chapel at Tumacacori

The niches in the wall are the Stations of the Cross at Tumacacori

The Mission Church at Tumacacori National Historical Park
The garden at Tumacacori
Later it was lunch at the Wisdom Cafe which served excellent margaritas, followed by a stroll through some of the fascinating shops of Tubac.

Turning back toward Tucson, I ended my day with a visit to the breathtaking Mission San Xavier del Balc.

What a wondrous country to explore is the United States and the southwestern desert is among its treasures.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Earth Day 2017 at Red Oak House

Jim and I spent Earth Day 2017 working in our yard in the dee-lightful spring sunshine.  We might have joined the marches for science around the country, but the yard work beckoned.

I remember very clearly the first Earth Day in 1970.  We got out of school that day to pick up trash in the ditch along Highway 12 from Rhame to Griffin.  Being self-respecting kids, we were thrilled.

My father and mother were home in the fields, planting spring wheat, and mending fences.  (My mother also worked as a nurse at the Bowman Hospital.)  They would no doubt be busy getting ready for branding the year's Black Angus calves. When we would get off the school bus at our mailbox after the long ride, we'd have to change out of our school clothes and put on chore clothes.  But, on this day, we got to wear our chore clothes to school.  Yeehaa!

I come from a long line of gardeners, on both sides.  My parents love putting seeds and seedlings into the ground and watching them grow.  To this day, my 92-year-old father gardens, and, if she could, my mother would (she has house plants instead).

But back to our garden here in Bismarck.

We try to grow much of what we eat.  Jim also hunts and fishes, and with reverence, we prepare these foods.  On March 15th, we plant heirloom tomato seeds in the furnace room and there under the grow lights they sprout.

A few weeks later we bring the sprouts up into the sun-filled dining room.

Today we worked together to add chicken wire to the fence around our vegetable garden, to foil the dastardly rabbits.  That was hard work.  I don't know how my parents did it all, and still went to church, and meetings, and had company to play pinochle on a regular basis and attended our basketball games and concerts.

Later while we rested on the patio, a Cooper's Hawk soared over.  The only sounds we heard were the chickadees, the Eurasian collared doves, and some raucous robins.

This is the time of year that I seldom answer my phone.  If you need to reach me, best to come on over and say yoohoo at my gate, or email or text me. The quantity of my writing will decrease also, although I will chronicle the photographs of our gardens.

Blooming in the garden today are the daffodils, the meadowlark forsthyia, and the Rubra Pasqueflower, shown in that order below.   Now it is time to quit for the day, to shower, grill some mushroom & swiss cheese burgers on the patio, and drink a glass of Pinot Noir.  "Live to fight another day," says my husband, and he is a wise man.

Meadowlark Forsthyia

Rubra Pasqueflower

Friday, April 21, 2017

Native American Art & Crafts at Red Oak House

Because I promised my friend Marilyn I would share with her the photos of my Navajo rugs, I’m writing this blog.  It’s just easier.  I must confess that I feel a little like it is bragging, but, if nothing else, it is documentation for my loved ones.  My husband Jim and I have a lifetime’s worth of Native American art collecting under our belts, thus we own some lovely, treasured pieces. 

First, the Navajo rugs.  We have three, all purchased at Goulding's Trading Post in Monument Valley, Utah.  

The first I bought in 1993.  
This is called "Tree of Life" and was woven by Lena Begay as shown on the provenance tag I keep in our safety deposit box.  
The charming birds attracted me to this rug.  A very knowledgeable friend of mine, a cultural geographer and serious collector of Indigenous art, tells me that it is a very fine rug and has increased in value since I bought it.  

Next was this rug.  
The third rug we own, we purchased at Goulding's when traveling in September of 2008.  We camped and hiked all over western Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, including Echo Park at Dinosaur National Monument, and all of the iconic national parks of Utah, as well as a few memorable nights at a lovely place in Bluff, Utah, the Desert Rose Inn, and a very fine establishment outside of Moab called the Sorrel River Ranch where we arrived in the dark and woke up in our cabin right on the banks of the Colorado River.  These places were our treat to ourselves after many nights of sleeping on the ground in a tent.   One memorable night was spent near Natural Bridges National Monument when, shortly after setting up camp and eating supper, a thunderstorm brought a downpour. The washes all around us surged with water.  We sat that out in our Jeep, in awe of the power of nature, and, once the floodwaters had subsided, we fled to the nearby town for a motel room and laundromat, returning the next day to hike the entire canyon from end to end.  

That autumn, the desert was ablaze with yellow rubber rabbitbrush, so we chose a yellow rug in homage to the scenery.
This very old rug, woven by Bessie Little, is titled "Storm" and is from the historic LaFont Collection.   In spite of its age, it is in fabulous condition and greatly cheers our living room walls. 

To accompany this rug, we also purchased this piece that demonstrates the various plants that the Navajo women harvest to dye the wool. While at Canyon de Chelly we observed the Navajo people herding their sheep in their oases in the red rock country.  
When one loves Native American arts, one must own some of the iconic turquoise jewelry.  I purchased the ring shown below at Goulding's, and the other pieces in the next three photos were gifts to me from thoughtful (and generous) friends.
This bear's claw jewelry I bought in 1993 from the Hopi artist James Selina at his roadside stand near the Second Mesa in Arizona.  He told me that the bear's claw is a symbol of strength and power, and it is true that I feel its strength against my skin.  
In May of 1999, I rafted the Colorado River, and, on that journey, I purchased this bracelet just outside of Durango, Colorado.   I wear it often and it makes me think of that sinuous river of rivers.  

This beautiful handpainted Mandan turtle drum was something I purchased from my friend the geography professor when she was downsizing (she had a huge collection that enriched her teaching).  The feathers drew the unwelcome attention of a USFW agent who was on campus investigating smuggling (she had been to a conference and purchased something from a shady character who was the actual target of the investigation).  The agent was brought to my office one day by the VPAA, something that understandably shook me up.  The feathers on this piece are, it was agreed by all parties, turkey feathers and thus I escaped from this incident unscathed.
I also purchased this turqouise talismen below from the geographer. 

The talented Lavalla Moore painted us this Red-tailed Hawk dreamcatcher on leather she prepared herself.   

The last piece that hangs in the living room is this Buffalo turquoise jewelry that was purchased at Five Nations Gallery and Gifts, located in the Mandan, ND, depot.

A visit to Pipestone National Monument in Minnesota found us buying this pipe which is hanging in the library along with a Lakota pipe bag and doll.  

The pièce de ré·sis·tance is a delightful pottery owl I purchased in Santa Fe at the end of our very long 2014 odyssey Jim writes about on his blog From My Cold, Dead Wrist.  This fine example of Santa Domingo pottery called SummerOwl was made by Eddie Pacheco.  He was selling his wares on the historic plaza and it took me a very long time to select something.  This piece spoke to me.  Just this past week I purchased the pottery ring at the Arizona State Museum in which he now nests.  

I think my next acquisition is going to be a good basket.  Somehow I managed to resist purchasing one on my recent visit to Arizona, but stay tuned.