Tag Archives: Milford Michigan

Facts and Photos

A seldom recalled fact (except by me) is that for three years in mid-1960s, I wrote the column “Milford High School News” for The Milford Times in Milford, Michigan. Through my teen years, I also wrote articles for other junior and senior high school publications. I mention this here because the title of this post reminds me of high school verbiage: you know, “Roses and Cabbages” or something.  If I remember my columns accurately, I used plenty of passive voice, such as, ” the French Club had their spring dinner and a good time was had by all.”  I want now to write about the  hikes Tom and I have taken, the clear skies north of Sierra Vista, the kangaroo rat that jumped into our camper shell on a dark night, the Arizona sycamores, and much more.

However, I haven’t been able to clear my mind  sufficiently to write because, when I have access to the internet, I keep taking looks at my Facebook feed, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, and then I fret instead of write. We have so many problems: the attempted Muslim ban, the environment, the judiciary, the wall, women’s rights, and deranged tweets about Saturday Night Live, for god’s sake. I need to focus on what I know: There is truth and there is beauty (AKA facts and photos) and I am striving to hold onto both.

Facts I learned

  • It is generally agreed that there are four distinct desert regions in North America: Chihuahuan, Sonoran, Mojave, and Great Basin. Arizona claims to be the only state that  contains parts of all four deserts (for more information, see the article from The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum).
  • “By the time Big Bend National Park was established in 1944, there were virtually no resident bears in the Big Bend area.” However, in recent decades black bears have returned and there are approximately 8 to 12 adult bears living in the park now. (for more information, see Black Bears in Big Bend).
  • “The San Pedro River [near Sierra Vista, Arizona] is one of the last free flowing rivers in the Southwest. In 1995, the American Bird Conservancy recognized the San Pedro as its first ‘globally important bird area’ in the the United States, dubbing it the ‘largest and best example of riparian woodland remaining’ in the Southwest (from a brochure of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area).”
  • The Arizona sycamore (Platanus wrightii)  grows in the Sonoran desert “in riparian washes and canyon bottoms between 2,000 and 6,000 feet in elevation in Arizona, New Mexico and northwestern old Mexico” (see Arizona State University online publication for more information).

Photos I took

Arizona sycamore (Platanus wrightii), Ramsey Canyon Preserve

Arizona sycamore (Platanus wrightii), Ramsey Canyon Preserve

American kestrel (Falco sparverius), Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

American kestrel (Falco sparverius), Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Tom among the sacaton, San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area

Tom among the sacaton ( Sporobolus airoides), San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area

birds (I don't know their names), San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area

birds (I don’t know their names), San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area

sunset, Joshua Tree National Park

sunset, Joshua Tree National Park

Observation

I see turmoil, anger, confusion, and sadness in our public life now. I saw a great deal of scat on the desert trails where Tom and I walked.  I am an organic gardener, so I know that scat and other organic debris enriches the soil so beautiful plants can grow. I am going with that: We have scat now, but beautiful flowers will bloom, I do believe.

scat, Murray Springs Clovis Site, Arizona

scat, Murray Springs Clovis Site, Arizona

brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

 

The Wedding Quilt

To me, the title of this post sounds like these words should be in an anthology of sentimental pioneer stories written in the late 1800s.  This is the title I want, however, so I am wondering where these words will lead me.

Looking Backward: Forty years ago next June, my sister-in-law, Betsy, made my husband, Tom, and me a quilt as our wedding gift.  It took many months for the whole project to come together.  Tom drew Hopi designs (or at least what Frank Waters thought were Hopi designs) on squares of cloth and Betsy embroidered them. She patched these squares together with squares of cloth she had taken from old shirts, skirts, and jeans.  The skeleton around the patches was dark blue broadcloth (I think that’s what you call it). The quilt warmed our beds in our dumpy Salt Lake City apartments. The quilt was bright, bold, and strong, just as we all felt back then.

quilt detail: turtle

quilt detail: turtle

I gather now that I wasn’t supposed to wash the quilt as much as I did. However, there were  the two of us and two babies (mewling and puking), and I  like things clean. Please keep this in mind for a few paragraphs.

quilt detail: Hopi figure

quilt detail: Hopi figure

Way Back: I never could sew and I can’t sew now. I mean, I can sew on buttons and fix little rips and that is  it.  Because I wanted to make Christmas gifts by hand for my kids and because I was poor, I did piece together a few  flannel nightgowns, some stuffed animals, and, I believe, a Superman cape for Robert, and sleeping bags for Martha the doll and Railroad Dog the stuffed animal.  Way Way Back: I’m so old, I was required to take Home Ec when I was in 7th grade.  I made the worst, the ugliest, the craziest-pleated kilt in Milford (MI)  Junior High  history.  I kept it for years, although I do not know why.  Please keep this mind, too.

quilt detail: sun figure

quilt detail: sun figure

Fifteen Years Ago: Some of the patches on the wedding quilt were falling apart. Maybe I had washed it too much.   A few patches almost disappeared along with some of the embroidery. We bought bright—but not as bright—quilts and coverlets at L.L. Bean and  packed the wedding quilt away.

Not Too Many Years Ago: Tom and I started thinking about what we might do when we retired.  We planned to travel back to Utah and explore the places we’d missed, like Capitol Reef and Escalante.  We told Betsy we’d pick her up from her little Utah town and go adventuring together again.

Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef

Five Years Ago: Betsy just up and died and we miss her.

2013: A) Tom and I went adventuring on the Colorado Plateau. We saw Black Dragon Canyon with Blaine and Bonnie, but Betsy, their dear friend, wasn’t there.  We camped in Capitol Reef and it was even better than we had imagined. B) We got back to our house in Charlottesville, Virginia. We took some paintings out of storage.  The wedding quilt was protecting one of the paintings.  We lay the quilt on the lawn and saw that, really, only a handful of patches needed to be repaired.

quilt on lawn

quilt on lawn

Two Weeks Ago: I can’t sew worth anything, but I finished repairing the wedding quilt.  It lies now on our bed and we will put it in the camper to go back to Utah when the new year comes. Although the quilt, and we ourselves, are not as bright, bold, and strong as when we were young, it’s alright, and, this time, Betsy will come along with us.

quilt repaired

quilt, repaired

Here’s the song that always reminded us of Betsy:

Oh, had I a golden thread
And a needle so fine
I’ve weave a magic strand
Of rainbow design
Of rainbow design.

In it I’d weave the bravery
Of women giving birth,
In it I would weave the innocence
Of children over all the earth,
Children of all earth.

Show my brothers and sisters
My rainbow design,
Bind up this sorry world
With hand and heart and mind,
Hand and heart and mind.

(The Judy Collins version (from Whales and Nightingales, 1970)  of “Oh, Had I a Golden Thread” by Pete Seeger, 1959)

You Can’t Take It With You

ticket stub, YCTIWY

They say that you can’t take it with you, but I’m not so sure that’s true. Right here on the arm of my chair I have a ticket stub from a production of Kaufman and Hart’s You Can’t Take It With You. This evidence suggests that I have been, in fact, taking this scrap of paper with me for decades.  The play was performed at Milford High School, Milford, Michigan in my senior year, 1967. I was a member of the drama club, but I only did mundane things like sell tickets.  What dramatic impulses I do have blossomed years later when I became a teacher.  I see by two old tape marks, that this ticket must have been part of the scrapbook that stayed at my  home for years. However, the scrapbook has traveled with me at least since my parents moved away from Milford over twenty years ago. About seven years ago I discovered that the scrapbook itself had mildewed. I tossed it out, but carted with me the actual photos, ticket stubs, and other souveniralia when we moved to Charlottesville, Virginia.  As part of my ongoing deaccession project, I saved many of the photographs, but jettisoned most of the odd bits and pieces. The items I abandoned include:

  • 7 junior high and high school attendance, achievement, and academic certificates
  • Camp Cavell (YWCA of Detroit) Birthday salutation
  • Henry Ford Museum Brochure
  •  2 “Installation of Officers” pamphlets from the Milford Bethel No. 68 International Order of Job’s Daughters plus my  purple and white Job’s Daughters headband (don’t ask—really)
  • 3 high school playbills: A Thurber Carnival, Diary of Anne Frank, and Twelfth Night or What You Will (1963, Pontiac Northern Senior High School, “in Commemoration of the Bard’s 400th Anniversary”)
  • various report cards and other school mementos
  • enigmatic broadside, “Satan’s Herald” from July 3, 1967 including the Blue’s Heaven Library books for loan that month, Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson and The Variety of Psychedelic Experience by R.E.L. Masters and Joan Houston
  • blue Romney (George) bumper sticker
  • Receipt for $84.05 from Robinson Auto Service Kanab, Utah, 4-1-73. The so-called mechanic put in a new generator and/or regulator, apparently backwards (which caused the car to stop working in the Sierra Nevada mountains 20 miles from Reno—another story)
  • and much more

Preserving these relics (and, pathetically, there were many) of my ordinary life must have been my attempt to take it with me.  My childhood was generally happy. I did a few memorable things in my happy, ordinary life. I have wanted to keep this happiness with me in my cozy nest of memorabilia, books, and papers. I think my husband and I are getting each other Kindles for Christmas. My nest is almost gone now, but I think I am okay with that.

Maybe what I can’t face is the meaning of the word “it” in you can’t take it with you.  I did take the corporeal ticket stub along with me. I did take the memories of my home in Milford, my family, my friends, and my school with me, too.  Last week I had yet another (in a long series) birthday and wrinkles have recently broken out in a new quadrant of my face. Today, I realize my nest of words and oddments were supposed to fend off the contemplation—let alone the fact of—death.  Really, I’m not gloomy; I’m just striving to face facts within the constraints of my sort of touchy-feely, but agnostic worldview.  I don’t have clouds with angels, I don’t have a great wheel that turns, but I do have poetry.  This morning, finally finishing up this blog that has been sitting on my table and my mind for two weeks, I have words in my head. I hear Yeats and Easter, 1916, the last lines of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and a Meskwaki poem, from The Little Square Review (Number 5-6, Spring-Summer 1968) that my friend Jan gave me for my birthday over forty years ago. Oh, and a touch of Tennyson’s Ulysses, and I bet my contemporaries know which lines I am hearing.

Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1833

I’m done. I will either throw the ticket stub in the trash or pocket veto it in my top dresser drawer.  Thanks for listening.

Next: Trying to write about death bogged me down some, so my next blog—in time for the holidays—will be about New Orleans pralines and other old recipes. See you then.