150 feet of books line the walls of our home today, where 6 feet are my mother Melba’s, and 15 feet are my grandfather Leon’s. Even when I walk by they whisper. Melba’s is the voice of Poetry from many anthologies, Tennyson, Browning, Gibran, Longfellow, Yeats, Lowell, Kipling, Frost, Poe, Coleridge; Melba’s kitchen writing desk was always decorated with cuts and clippings from poems of all kinds including Silberstein and Seuss.
Leon’s books and writing include sermons, a complete Shakespeare among the poets he liked, a first issue of the 1908 Brittanica, a forty volume Harvard great books series and dozens of his own pamphlets. Cheap and easy access to paper and printing had led to pamphleteering and ultimately to the downfall of Church/ Monarchic rule. Pamphleteering had been the mother’s milk of that change and of our own democracy. So Leon was a pamphleteer in keeping his time.
Melba was an English Major and an English teacher who taught us in a one room 10 child school in Santo Domingo, Mexico using the Calvert System1 , a home school program still in existence. In the early 1940s it provided for eight grades in six years; there was not much history of the US included then, but we learned about Britain from 1066 on. Melba also filled our lives with books and poetry, often reading aloud,when Bob worked on our Holden Washington miner’s cabin in the evenings.
Lost in Melba’s forest of poetry, are some Lakeside Press publications 2. The Southwestern Expedition of Zebulon M. Pike; The Border and the Buffalo by J R Cook; Bidwell’s Echoes of the Past;Commerce of the Prairies by Josiah Greg; , and My Life on the Plainsby George A Custer. Why?
Melba always wanted to write her own book about her grandparents crossing the plains in covered Wagons during the mid 1800s; but she didn’t have much first person material or didn’t have it sufficiently to memory; maybe sheep and orchard farmers had more urgent concerns. So she collected and studied about overland U S travel. What is left behind are the books she collected for research and the first chappter of her book.
The mid 19th century was a time of Westward US exploration and expansion; a time of agressive and roughshod Manifest Destiny. The incomparable report of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was a call to other would be explorers Among the Lakeside series are reports of other expeditions like those of : Pike, Gregg, Cook, and Custer, filled with historic names connections, and detailed descriptions. They are plainly written, clear, and sometimes shocking to 21st century sensibilities. As in reading Mark Twain, we must forgive them for living in their own times, while honoring their contribution to our history.
Commerce of the Prairies by Josiah Gregg is exemplary; he was a physician but became so sickly, with stomach problems and tuberculososis that he could not work. In those days an oft reccommended treatment for chronic illness was good air and exercis. Like John Bidwell would later, Gregg, became a traveling saleman of sorts: a commercial trader, joining wagon trains moving manufactured goods from Independence Missouri to Santa Fe, Mexico, and later to Chihuahua. His health improved so quickly and dramatically, that he continued to make trips back and forth during the next ten years until his death.
His book is rich with details of the journeys, the people, the land, and the problems on the way.
This is a cut from Gregg;
It is great good fortune to be born into a place, a time, and a family where reading and writing are the stuff of life. The words and pages of our lives transcend and unite generations of family, and are far more meaningful, real and personal than a grave or the ashes of cremation.
Like Gregg, our grandfather Leon went West for the first time in about 1900 when that was reccommended to improve his vision, possibly over- strained by studies. His health and eyesight improved, but he loved the West so much he would never leave. Leon met Anna while he was in seminary. She was a Loyalist native of Nova Scotia, and joined him, in Nevada City, california where they were married. Like Gregg they became incurable Westerners. Leon was an ordained Methodist Minister for 60 years in California, Hawaii, and Panama. He maintained connections with the East, intermitteltly and at a distance; viz, he was a longstanding friend and compatriot of another Methodist minister, Martin Luther King. Yet the West was dominiant in their lives. Leon attended Stanford briefly when it was still a farm; he and Anna attended Stanford School of Medicine as volunteer cadavers when they died. Leon was also a writer. He left hundreds of sermons, though cryptically abbrevited, pamphlets, letters, and several history books,as Historian for the Methodist Conference during his later years..He befriended Syngman Rhee during his exile to Hawaii in WWII.
Whenever I wonder or doubt who I am, I listen to my Mama’s and Grandfather’s books, and words. Even as I walk by, they speak. Why write today during this cyber age tsunami of contradictive and conflicitive communication and information. To leave a little record of my own expedition through life for those who must live in yet another periodic cataclysmic change in human life so typical of humankind. Perhaps what I write now will become meaningful for someone someday, just as are Melba’s and Leons books and words to me now.
2.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakeside_Pres Lakeside Classics is a series started in 1903 to reprint neglected classic works. In 1910 selections turned to first-person narratives of American history, especially those which were rare or out of print. Themes included the Civil War, the Old West, exploration and frontier life. . The first was Ben Franklin’s autobiography. By 2015, !the series included 113 volumes.
Cook, Gregg, Bidwell, and Custer are great ‘reads.’George Armstrong Custer was always a cussed rebel, graduating last in his class at West Point. Yet he became, above all, a lifelong member of the US Army calvalry. He earned fame and success during the Indian Wars. In his book he makes very clear that it was Warfare with great cruelty on both sides. The interaction between tribes, the Indian Bureau, Settlers, traders and others are described in much detail. Where warfare is concerned, the Indians and Custer made up rules as they went. In that sense they were perfect enimies. His book begins with a detalied description of ‘The Great American Desert’: The Great Plains. He.served with many historic figures like Sheridan, Billy the Kid, and Gen Hancock; his book is rich with descriptions of soldiers, Chiefs, settlers, guides, and the motives and nature of buffalo slaughter; His campaign, understanding and defeat of the Witchita, and his insightful, tough and politic negotiations with the Cheyenne are remarkable. Of course, we know the ending of Custer at Little Big Horn, in another famous historic event.Bidwell left home at 19 determined to settle. He made a claim but lost it becuse he was not married or of age. So he tried commerce taking goods from St Louis to Santa Fe and Chihuahua. The business failed but he learned Spanish. Arriving in Califorina in about 1841 he was amomg the first Americans there, and began to work for John Sutter. B ecause he spoke Spanish he interpreted for Sutter becoming privy to many critical negotiations with the Mexican governors. In his book he speaks extensively of the time, the place, the people and the birth of California. When his horse and mule were stolen he followed the thieves to Chico and took them back. However he thought the place was the most beautiful he had ever seen and in time, settled there becoming a well known historic figure, whose estate became Bidwell Park.
When TV began to resize our world
my father saw the end of civilization;
“This box is the tomb of reading, doing,
memory, imagination and communication.”
“No!” I said. “It is the birth-womb
of shared knowledge and hopes,
the loom of language, tolerance,
And the death of misanthropes.
Dad never changed his objections
to that toxic pixillated curse.
His elegant deep earth projections
Were aborted before birth.
He lost his right to drive,
lost his confident sensuality,
And though his body was alive,
He struggled with reality.
He lost is his wife of 60 years;
and at night searched in desperation
and sometimes knows he hears
her voice in song or conversaion.
Convicted in his 10th decade
Of breathing too much mining dust,
Of many rules he disobeyed
And unrepentant wanderlust,
He puts on clever acts
to make it very clear
he understands the words or facts
that he pretends to read or hear.
“You were right about TV.” I say,
It shrinks the mind and heart,
spits out toxic babble night and day
Devaluating all words might impart;
It’s knowledge without knowing,
and movement without motion
Mindless reaping without sowing
trivializing genuine emotion.
“Perhaps,” My Dad suggests,
“There are bright worlds to find
pinned like brittle butterflies
to vast dusty walls of mind.”
“Dad! That’s can’t be you!” I say:
“It must be from a blog;
You never talk that way.
You speak only analog.”
“We’re awake,” I say
“We were asleep I realize!
I’ll come again another day”..
There are hundreds of Oak species scattered all over the world. Quercus, the taxonomic genus, is so widespread in North America that it has been named the National Tree. .
The California Valley oak, Quercus lobata grows into the largest North American oak in hot interior valleys of California where there is a water table within reach of the roots. It grows to 20 feet in 5 years, and up to 60 feet in 20 years. It may attain an age of 600 years. If watered too often in summer, lobata can absorb too much water, causing limbs to break off.
The species name– lobata– refers to its lobed leaves.
There are 20 to 100 year old trees near my home, where a previouly unidentified Quercus species, appeared this summer. It calved off an oak; a large laterally projecting limb with a base about 1 ft in diameter, fell in a unique way leaving the main part of the limb high up, with the whole limb supported by three smaller branches striking the ground, creating a pyramidal structure.
At first the body of the fallen limb was not very visible. There was only what looked like a big pile of brush and leaves. But after pruning and carrying off eight recycle bins of material, the new species remained: tripoda; more properly, Quercus tripoda.
I thought no more about it until late one afternoon when I looked out and had the feeling it seemed to be moving– exceedingly slowly in a wooden way– toward the West. Was it perhaps walking? I took a quick cell phone photo, wondering if my perception was only imaginary. A picture would be reassuring. However, next morning it– tripoda– was gone. Where? It was not within the grove of oak trees, nor anywhere in sight nearby.
I wondered: How could it move away on its own? Was– Is– tripoda actually alive? If so, that concept could be supported if it could meet criteria for a living entity:
growth and change; unknown yet
ability to reproduce; unknown yet
metabolism and respiration; Yes but as part of a tree.
maintain homeostasis; same as above
being made of cells; yes
passing traits on to offspring. unknown yet
responsiveness to the environment; yes… It did leave
And note the string necklace, and feather, which suggest a consciousness of Self. Nonetheless, many or most of the listed characteristics of life are not apparent in tripoda…At least not yet.
The world of Quercus is incalculably large. Maybe, one far day, there will be a place where tripoda and little three legged oaken tripodytes will be found. It seems unlikely, but I will keep looking for that to happen!
My grandfather, Leon, gave me a first issue set of the Harvard Classics that he bought in 1909. Volume 38 is titled Scientific Papers: Physiology-Medicine, Surgery, and Geology. In reviewing it I have added some material from other sources like Wikipedia; and avoided the last section on Geology. I cannot claim to be a scientist in the best or broadest sense of the word, and therefore may have made errors in my comments. Nonetheless, with that apology, I hope the material presented here will be interesting and informative.
|Ambroise Paré 1510 – 1590|
Pare was a Barber- Surgeon for kings Henry II, Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III. He is considered one of the fathers of surgery and a pioneer in surgical techniques and battlefield medicine, for the treatment of wounds. He invented several surgical instruments. He often said,: Je le pansai, Dieu le guérit (“I bandaged him and God healed him”).
Journeys in Diverse Places 1537-1569 begins “ I will here shew my readers the towns and places where I found a way to learn the art of surgery”. He had spent a couple of years training at the Hotel Dieu ( a hospital, although now one can book a room on Expedia. It is next door to Notre Dame. Pare then describes how he began to learn, mainly by doing what was required, to treat all sorts of war related injuries. His very first experience was in a stable where there were four gravely wounded men. An elderly man came to ask ask if they would live. Pare answered, ‘No’ , whereupon the visitor cut their throats in the name of mercy. What follows are many descriptions of caring for the battle- injured. The 21st Century reader may find the names and places difficult , but the descriptions of cases is straightforward.
At the time Paré entered the army, surgeons treated gunshot wounds with boiling oil. When Paré’s supply of oil ran out, he found that the wounds he treated with turpentine, rose oil and egg yolk healed better than those treated with the boiling oil. Manyof his innovations were, similarly, the result of inventiveness in the face of problems.
He introduced the implantation of teeth, artificial limbs, and artificial eyes made ofgold and silver.
He invented the truss for hernia and many scientific instruments.
William Harvey 1578 –1657) ] was an English physician who made seminal contributions in anatomy and physiology. He recieved his MD degree from the University of Padua when the natural system, held that venous blood had its origin in the liver, and arterial blood flowed from the heart. Harvey was the first physician to describe completely and in detail the circulation of blood pumped to the brain and body by the heart. In 1628 he published his great work :— On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals. Its 17 chapters are included in the Harvard Series and present, in great detail, his investigations and conclusions. Unlike many seminal or iconoclastic ideas these were relatively soon accepted, in part because he was a well known and respected member of the medical world. Even so, it took twenty years for his theory of the circulation of the blood to be widely adopted. His logic is both deductive and experimental, made on the basis of experiment and direct observations.
How occluding veins suggested circulation of blood– from De Motu Cordis
Harvey’s other major work was Exercitatione de generatione animalium (On Animal Generation) published in 1651. It was the first definite statement against the idea of spontaneous generation of life from excrement and from mud, and pointed out that even worms have eggs. (It is not included in the Harvard Series.)
. Edward Jenner 1749-1823 Was apprentice to a surgeon for three years. In 1770 he was a student of John Hunter and in 1773 began to practice. He noted the rural belief that cowpox protected people from smallpox.
Cowpox, is of the genus Orthopoxvirus within the family poxviridae. This virus is found only in Europe and regions of western Asia and is known to have a wide host range, with its main reservoir being wild rodents. Despite the name of the virus, cattle are rarely infected primarily, domestic cats being the species in which clinical disease is most often seen and transmitted. Cats are believed to become infected when hunting.
Among milk cows the disease can spread rapidly through the herd, probably on milking equipment or infected hands of milkers. Lesions typically heal within one month. Milkers may develop fever and lymphadenopathy or have lesions on the hands, arms or face.
In1796 Jenner made his first experiment, innoculating a boy with cowpox, and later with smallpox; the boy did not come down with smallpox. His three treatises on the topic apppear in the Harvard Series Vol 38. At the outset he notes the close association of people with domesticated animals like dog, horse, cat and cow.
He suspects an infection on the ‘heels’ of horses seems to have spread to cows in the form of nipple pustules, or cowpox. But these are conjectures, while his most significant observation is that cowpox infected milkmaids, apparently prevents smallpox.
Vaccination Against Smallpox: In 1798 he published the first of three essays:They all appear in the Harvard Series Vol 38. In the first essay he reports 23 cases which support his contention.The original cowpox infections sound quite virulent, but provided lasting immunity. . He notes that a previous case of smallpox also protects from cowpox. He innoculated his nephew with smallpox, and two boys, one who had been vaccinated, the other a control. Both the vaccinated boys were protected, in contrast to the third who got smallpox. It should be understood that elective smallpox infection was practiced in many places likeTurkey and China, smallpox itself being given to children under favorable conditions, thereby protecting them from natural wintertime smallpox when concditions were unfavorable.
The essays are thereafter devoted to general discussions of vaccination and the suspected relationship between horse heel infection and smallpox.
Joseph Lister 1827- 1912 On The Antiseptic Principle of The Practice of Surgery — 1867
In 1854, Lister became first assistant to and friend of surgeeon James Syme..He and Symes’s daughter, Agnes, also a serious student, were married and spent thier honeymoon visiting leading medical institutions in France and Germany. Agnes was Lister’s main medical partner. In 1874 Lister wrote to Luis Pasteur (1822 -1895) thanking him for his germ theory and commenting that it influenced his work on antiseptis in surgery. Even so, on reading Lister’s treatise, he does not quite seem to connect suppuration to microbes, but to air; to bad air, mal aria which was thought at the time to be the cause of infection or putrefaction. Perhaps that is why, after cleaning a wound, Lister sealed it in with dilute phenic acid ( phenol) and linseed oil, then covered the wound with tinfoil and a dressing. He found that by changing this dressing every few days, the underlying wound did not suppurate, (infect) and healed in time. He feels ‘all local inflammatory mischief and general febrile disturbances are due to… the poisonous influence of decomposing blood or sloughs.’ His central observation, however, is that before covering a wound he must clean and ‘destroy the septic germs’ using dilute phenol, repeating the process until the wound heals. He describes a number of cases, including those with abcesses, which when opened are allowed to drain, then treated redressed until healed. He then used the antisepsis preventively in operative surgery and reduced the rate of infection dramatically.
Lister’s phenolic steam sprayer
It is amazing to realize that Lister’s famous treatise was published only 140 years ago and that antibiotics have been around for ony about 90 years though they have spectacularly changed the lives of people on earth.
The Contageousness of Puerperal Fever ; Oliver Wendell Holmes 1809-1935 was a poet when young. He wrote Old Ironsides” at age 21, in 1830. It was a tribute to the USS Constitution, a frigate, now the oldest commissioned ship in the world still afloat.
Aye tear her tattered ensign down
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon’s roar;—…
Oh, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!
He continued to write famously, but also was a practising physician, whose cases included lethal post partum infections during the puerperium – days following labor and delivery. In this graph of the incidence of puerparal fever comparing deaths among patients of physicians (upper) and midwives (lower) , the physician deaths drop precipitously in 1847, but only to the levels seen among midwife practice. Neither Holmes,nor later, Semmelvise were willing to overlook high rates of disease in patients attended by physicians by comparison to midwives.
Holmes was likely was aware of both Semmelveis and Pasteur’s work. He states his case at the outset: “…puerperal fever is so far contageous as to be frequently caried from patient to patient by physicians and nurses.”After rejecting the current thinking on the subject, he follows with an extensive series of case reports and of outbreaks, including those among his own patients who died with post partum sepsis. At the time physicians used the same clothes and gloves for serial deliveries. They sometimes reached into the open cervix to p pull out the placenta. He ends the essay with eight things to do in order to prevent the deadly infection:
- do not attend a delivery after doing a post mortem examination of puerperal death.
- Change all items of clothes after an autopsy and wait 14 hours before attening a birth.
- Similar precautions should follow a case of erysipelas ( strep) infection.
- After a single case of Puerperal sepis, delay the next delivery for several weeks.
- After two consecutive cases, give up the practice of attending births for one month
- After three cases in the same general area, assume you are the source.
- It is the physician’s duty to supervise and apply the same rules to nurses.
- The very existence of such a private pestilence in the practice of a physician is not merly misfortune but as a crime requiring giving up the practice of obstetrics.
Dr/ Holmes was nothing if not persuasive, attentive to detail, decicive and blunt!
Ignaz Semmelweis 1818 – 1865 worked in Vienna General Hospital and noted that in one clinic the rate of puerparal sepsis was much higher than the other. The incidence of puerperal sepis in the first ( doctors’) clinic was three times the mortality of that in the midwives’ clinic or women who delivered at home. He instututed hand washing with chlorinated lime solution– also in 1847—with vastly improved results.1847 was a banner year for infectuous disease: Lister’s publicaton on antisepsis in surgery also appeard that year.
Physicians, Be Not Proud.
Louis Pasteur 1822-1895
Pasteur was a chemist. In 1848 he examined the structure of tartaric acid. If obtained from living things, it reflected polarized light differently from that obtained by chemical synthesis. This was the first description and demonstration of isomerism. While it does not appear in the Harvard Series, it is considered by some chemists to be Pasteur’s most profound contribution to science.
Three of Pasteur’s papers are included in the Harvard Series:
1) The Physiology and Theory of Fermention– The relation between Oxygen and yeast
A wine maker, one of Pasteur’s students, sought his advice on the problems of souring in making beeroot alcohol. . Pasteur demonstrated that the skin of grapes was the natural source of yeasts, and that sterilized grapes and grape juice never fermented. He drew grape juice from under the skin with sterilized needles, and also covered grapes with sterilized cloth. In both cases no fermentation took place. At the time it was believed that air caused spontaeous generation of living organisms in liquids He put grape juice in sterilized containers under various conditions. The experiment suggested it was not air but somethng else inroduced into liquid that caused bacterial growth. Nothing grew in the flask until the neck was removed or the flask was tilted so the fluid touched the neck. He concluded that organisms from ouside promoted growth.
In 1865 Pasteur patented a process, to fight the “diseases” of wine. The method became known as pasteurization, soon being used for beer and milk. This is the most extensive of the three papers, involving the use of many elegant glass vials and maeuvers to observe fermentation under special circumstances. It is, perhaps, this intital work that led to all the rest.
2) The Germ Theory and its Application to Medicine and Surgery The extension of the Germ Theory to the Etiology of Certain Disease; immunization to prevent disease, despite infection.
In 1879, his assistant, failed to inoculate chickens with chicken cholera while Pasteur was away. On his return, the month-old cultures, which had been set aside, made the chickens unwell, but instead of the infections being fatal, the chickens recovered completely. He next inoculated the same chickens with virulent cholera that killed other chickens, but the innoculated chickens survived. He concluded the protected chickens were immune to the disease, however he also concluded that it was exposure to air that weakened the infectious material rather than the time delay. He suspected that microorganisms like those described by Pasteur infected animals and humans causing disease and began to try preventing it by innoculating the animals . He cultivated bacteria from the blood of animals infected with anthrax. When he inoculated animals with the bacteria, anthrax occurred, proving that the bacteria was the cause of the disease. At that time which died from anthrax were buried in their fields. Pasteur thought that earthworms might have brought the bacteria to the surface. He found anthrax bacteria in earthworms’ excrement, and told the farmers not to bury dead animals in the fields.
Rabies: Pasteur produced the first vaccine by growing the virus in rabbits, and then weakening it by drying the affected nerve tissue. It was used on a 9-year-old on July 6, 1885; the boy, survived despite being bitten by a rabid dog. He was given 13 inoculations of weakened virus. He began to be sent rabies exposed people from far places. In 1886, Pasteur treated 350 people; only one developed rabies.
3) The Germ Theory and the Etiology of Certain Common Diseases
“ In 1879 one of the workers in my laboratory had a numbr of furuncles.” Pasteur wondered if these might contain organisms that were being spread from one to the others. He extracted pus and innoculated chicken broth at 35 degrees C, and describes clusters of microorganisms, probably stapylococcus. Identical innoculums were found from other people with furuncles, and if the infected broth was injected into the skin of rabbits, furuncles developed there. He found that culture of the blood did not reproduce the organism, even if it were injected into the blood directly. This essay concludes with a number of case studies of puerperal sepsis. Both in early sepsis and at post mortem, organisms were found, cultured, and tested. They often seen in chains like streptocococcus.
Pasteur 1922- 18
There has always been a language internationally shared by the world’s most literate and broadly educated people; a shared language, far more useful than that of individual nations precisely because it was understood by them. Greek;. Latin; French or German; and now, English. In the so called West of the 16th and 17 th centuries, commerce, literature, and science used Latin, as we now do English. ( I was once ship physician on a trip to Antarctica on one of the refurbished icebreakers abandonded by the USSR after the fall. We were twenty scientests, Drs all, of one breed or another. all from different countries speaking different languages. Our only common language was English.) Considering the turning of the earth and the centuries, it may be that in time the sun will rise in the East, and the world’s language will look something like this, although in the sideral Pacific and the Indian ocean areas, English may remain dominant.)
On Monday Aug 14 I flew to Bellingham,Washington, on Alaska Airlines. Marili was working in Yuba City so I went to SMF in a Smart Car. It was a last minute flail but worked out; the driver, Sucha, a Kasmiri drives a new car which he is paying for through his fares, coordinated for him by a hired scheduling service. It will take him another two years to pay off his loan, but then it will be his. He’s a well established immigrant with two children, both in Sac State Collge, the American Dream being lived. My return flight would arrive near midnight so I reserved a BlueVan for that trip.
For many years My Sister Sally and husband Gary have liked to go to the Oregon Coast, staying in Yahats at the Fireside Inn; it’s a nice place, even though owned by foreigners, Californians. The coast there is quite different from most, because there are so many rocky outcropings off shore that the wave and surge is diminished. Many homes are built right over the low beach bluffs, and along an Oregon Ocean Trail open to anyone. There is typical cold water of the NW coast.
Two days before the eclipse promised to appear, we drove Kelso and stayed the night in a Super 8 and on to Yakuts the next day. I took a couple of long walks on the beach trail, probably four miles, twice. I didn’t move fast or push it, yet found that by the fourth mile I was quite unsteady. I later found that can happen with exercise when I forget about the effect on my blood glucose; I try to keep my BG as close to 85 as possible using twp kinds of insulin. But if I carelessly forget the effect of prolonged exercise that can be a problem. Thimk.
We were concerned that, being on the ocean, fog might obscure the eclipse. Further, Yahuts was not quite on the eclipse path center line. So we decided to drive abput 30 miles north to Newport, and find an open beach there, if the sky was not clear we would drive inland a half hour or so, to escape the sea fog.
That morning at Yahats and at Newport there was moderate fog. We went to big beach, with a lighthouse and park, north of Newport. But the light house was, quite logically, placed high on a big upthrust of coastal rock which promoted uprise of cool air, and of course, fog. The place was fully prepared for a crowd, with a big eclipse display; it was very busy but.. no sky to be seen.
A parking lot attendant, a teen who had lived there all his life, said if we were to drive back to Newport, and head uphill to the East of town, we would find sun after a only couple of blocks. We did just as he advised, and there it was, a clear day! At a big parking lot in front of a Fred Meyer store people were gathering, settng out chairs, clutching black opaque glasses. More arrived. The stores across the street closed, spilling people onto the sidewalks. The Fred Meyer closed and their employees appeared.
At 0915 a faint dark spot began to invade the sun’s orb at its right uppe edge. It gradually grew, spreading downward and to our left. To my surprise, the light around us didn’t fade much until the sun was fully covered, nor did we cool down much until then. At almost complete, Venus and Satur brightened up to watch. Faint stars appeared. About an hour after the beginning of the eclipse, it was complete. The excitement was palpable. People began to clap and cheer and whistle. Gary it was, I think, who started the call
“ GO MOON!”
We were in total for about two minutes, when, as suddenly as it started, a big bright diamond of light appeared at the same place the shadow first appeared. With the lens covered by dark eclipse glass, I took photos with my electronic camera; but even at full eclipse, when one could look at the black sun without glasses, there was still too much radiant energy; it blinded the frightened camera. But Gary, using a regualr reflex camera, got fine photos. Later, always thinking, Sally took the picture into Fred Meyer to have it printed on T shirts!
Looking Southeast from the partly darkened parking lot, when the eclipsed sun was just beginning to uncover, the planet shown seemed very bright and very large; but it — Saturn?– was much enhanced by the camera eye seeking more light. The eclipse itself was almost directly overhead.
It was a an unforgettable experience. The thing that impressed me most of all, though, was that the moment a tiny sliver of sun began to appear, light and warmth both began to return immediately. I had expected it to be a slow process. Apparemt;y there is so much energy pouring out of the sun that even 1/2% of it is powerful; and maybe some energy is gravity- bent around the moon, as Mr. Einstein demonstrated. I have heard that the energy hitting earth is so great that it should make life here impossible; but that doesn’t happen because of earth’s atmosperic overcoat, and the fact that so little of that energy is electromagnetic photon radiation. It mainly consists of protons, whose energy decays very fast, based on distance… so what we get are attenuated bullets of photons that have already given up the largest part of their energy to: distance.
We drove all the way back to Ferndale the next day, leaving early and arriving after about 12 hours on the road. Gary and Sally did he planning, organizing and driving; I was simply a happy opportunist. It was a surprise to learn that there are several total eclipse tracks across the earth every year, in different parts of the globe. The next USA track will be in the Southern States, especially Texas. If one is ecliptophilic, or an ecliptomaniac, with time and money, there are many options. But for me, this eclipse is enough for this life, this earth and this Sun.
I realize, dear reader, that it has been more than 300 years since I last penned an edition of The Tattler; and that the United States, didn’t exist back then. But over the years I have always followed events assiduously. The cybernet is limitless, and allows me to reach you now in America ( I should say in the USA, because America refers to an entire hemisphere, right? My bad as you Yanks say.) What seems to be happening there stirs up my quiet conscience and dormant public spirit.
Over the centuries, I have resisted reacting to crude and violent uncivil rage, like the kind that is everywhere around you in the Colonies. (Sorry, as ‘you guys‘ say in that gender warped way) , it is tempting for me to ignore that Revolution. But I take comfort that language is still something we share; more or less. Bet you don’t know what lucubrations are!
It is specifically the chronic reports of the death of a prominent political pretender to high US office that forces me to comment. I do so with reticence and some embarrasment, because I am rather a coward; I will not name that candidate, in order to avoid being economically destroyed by those, not excluding government, who by comparison to me, commnand unlimited funds, and unlimited time to prosecute!
Although I am still in England, America has a long reach; who knows what a bity of my old DNA permit, or 23 & me turn up; I must think as a US citizen should. The average person there, facing your system of justice, can neither expect the speedy trial promised by your constitution, nor pay a multimillion cost of defense in the case of an abusive opponent having unlimited funds. The choice is bankruptcy, or a plea of guilty, deviously termed ‘a ‘bargain’, in exchange for an unjust result; it’s a legal kind of blackmail or coersion. Moreover, today, in an atmosphere of national outrage, certain defendants can face ugly threats from enraged or uncaged partisans.
That is why, dear readers, to face US justice, ‘ain’t me, babe,‘ in your parlance; so I rely on you to supply the name, which should be easy, since the news of the most recent death is echoing across the cyberworld ceaselessly, like joyless monotonous waves on an ocean beach.
The candidate first died in Nov 2008; and again in Nov 2016, but still appears everywhere, claiming to be alive; to have been alive for many decades; saying a far flung conspiracy exists to lie and decieve. With due respect, because the eminent candidate clearly merits that, I urge acceptance of the dead state bravely and wisely; though the legs and arms may still appear to perform animal functions, the art is not there; the candidate is gone. I hope these lucubrations help to make that more apparent.
Adapted from The Tattler No.1 April 12, 1709.
A few years after my mother Melba died, Bob did also. We went through their home and put numbers on items; then, by turns, made selections of what we hoped to keep in rememberance of them. At my first turn I chose Melba’s books. There were not many, but they are a wellspring of memory. When I read them, or even see them as I walk by, they speak. She was an English Major and an English teacher who taught us in a one room 10 child school in Santo Domingo, Mexico using the Calvert System1 , a home school program still in existence. In the early 1940s it provided for the equivalent of our eight grades; there was not much history of the US included then, but we learned about Britain from 1066 on. Melba also filled our lives with books and poetry, often reading aloud, as when Bob worked on our Holden Washington miner’s cabin in the evenings.
She was always a writer and a poet. It was common to memorize poetry in her youth; in her 9th decade she could quote long strings of poems. Dad tried to do so also, but he couldn’t get out more than a few lines before he began to tear and choke up. Despite that sentimentality Dad’s books were like he was: An engineer. A miner. Melba’s books were mostly British and American poetry and literature of the past few centuries.
150 feet of books line the walls of our home today, where 6 feet are Melba’s, and 15 feet are my grandfather Leon’s. Even when I walk by they whisper. Melba’s is the voice of Poetry from many anthologies, Tennyson, Browning, Gibran, Longfellow, Yeats, Lowell, Kipling, Frost, Poe, Coleridge; Leon’s oft quoted poets, include include Shakespeare and McLeish beside a first issue of the 1908 Brittanica,and the Harvard great books series. Melba’s kitchen writing desk was always decorated with cuts and clippings from poems of all kinds including Silberstein and Seuss.
Lost in Melba’s forest of poetry, are some Lakeside Press publications 2. The Southwestern Expedition of Zebulon M. Pike; The Border and the Buffalo by J R Cook; Bidwell’s Echoes of the Past; Commerce of the Prairies by Josiah Greg; , and My Life on the Plains by George A Custer3. Why?
Melba always wanted to write her own book about her grandparents crossing the plains in covered Wagons during the mid 1800s; but she didn’t collect much first person material or didn’t have it sufficiently to memory; maybe sheep and orchard farmers had more urgent concerns. So she collected and studied about overland U S travel. I have a chapter of the book she began to write; but the rest was stillborn. What is left behind are mainly the books she collected for research.
The mid 19th century was a time of Westward US exploration and expansion; a time of agressive and roughshod Manifest Destiny. Among the Lakeside series are expeditionary books that may have influenced Gregg: the incomparable and magnificient Lewis and Clark Expedition; three less successful reports of Zebulon Pike; The reports of Cook, and Custer, filled with historic names and connections, and well recounted details of the times. They are plainly written, clear, though sometimes – no,often- shocking to 21st century sensibilities. As in reading Mark Twain, we must forgive Gregg and Cook and Custer for living in their own times, while honoring their contribution to our own history.
Commerce of the Prairies by Josiah Gregg is exemplary; he was a physician but became so sickly, with stomach problems and tuberculososis that he could not work. In those days an oft reccommended treatment for chronic illness was good air and exercise.4 Gregg, became a traveling saleman of sorts: a commercial trader, joining wagon trains moving manufactured goods from Independence Missouri to Santa Fe, Mexico, and later to Chihuahua. His health improved so quickly and dramatically, that he continued to make trips back and forth during the next ten years until his death.
His book is rich with details of the journeys, the people, the land, and the problems on the way.
This is a cut from Gregg;
and this is a map of the Coronado expedition of 1540, made to discover Quivera, a supposed ‘seven cities of gold ‘:
If one is fortunate enough to be born into a place, and a time, or into a family who read, and who write, that is where you will find one another always; among the words and pages that survive life. Those connections are far more alive, more acessable, more real and more personal than a grave or body ash.
If one does not have the kind of inter-generational tradition or inter- connectedness that good fortune, and family, and reading and writing provide, I urge their creation: Read. Write. To do so is far easier and more pracrtical and attractive than centuries ago. Word processing, browsing, and self publishing and even social media, make all the difference. I urge anyone who can, to read and to write, both for self, and for those with whom life is most closely and dearly shared.
Sometimes, If I wonder who I am, I listen to my Mama’s and Grandfather’s books, and their words. Thank you, Melba and Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you, Leon!
2https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakeside_Pres Lakeside Classics is a series started in 1903 to reprint neglected classic works. In 1910 selections turned to first-person narratives of American history, especially those which were rare or out of print. Themes included the Civil War, the Old West, exploration and frontier life. . The first was Ben Franklin’s autobiography. By 2015, the series included 113 volumes.
3 George Armstrong Custer was always a cussed rebel, graduating last in his class at West Point. Yet he became, above all, a lifelong member of the US Army calvalry. He earned fame and success during the Indian Wars on the Plains. In his book he makes very clear that it was Warfare with great cruelty on both sides. The interaction between tribes, the Indian Bureau, Settlers, traders and plaines people are described in much detail. Especially where warfare is concerned, the Indians and Custer made up rules as they went. In that sense they were perfect enimies. His book begins with a detalied description of ‘the Great American Desert’: The Great Plains. He.served with many historic figures like Sheridan, Billy the Kid, and Gen Hancock; his book is rich with descriptions of soldiers, Chiefs, settlers, guides, and the motives and nature of buffalo slaughter; His campaign, understanding and defeat of the Witchita, and his insightful, tough and politic negotiations with the Cheyenne are remarkable. Of course, we know the ending of Custer at Little Big Horn, in another great historic event. Cook, Gregg. and Custer are great ‘reads’!
4Coincidentally, my grandfather Leon went West for the first time in about 1900 when that was reccommended to improve his vision, possibly over- strained by studies. My grandmother, Anna Hart a native of Nova Scotia, joined him, and like Gregg they became incurable Westerners. Leon was an ordained Methodist Minister for 60 years in California, Hawaii, and Panama. He maintained connections with the East of course, but intermitteltly and at a distance; viz, he was a longstanding friend and compatriot of another Methodist minister, Martin Luther King. Yet the West in them dominated. Leon attended Stanford briefly when it was still a farm; he and Anna attended Stanford School of Medicine as volunteer cadavers when they died. He left many books, including the Harvard Classics, and a first edition of the 1908 Brittanica. Leon was also a writer. He left hundreds of sermons, though cryptically abbrevited, pamphlets, letters, and several history books.