Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Album of the Heart ~ Jun 13, 1880

In the golden chain of friendship save one precious link for me.
Yours Sincerely, Julia E. Black

Who'd have thought that this simple entry in Flora's Album of the Heart would create such a research conundrum. What I discovered was a number of variations on the theme. 

Friendship is a Golden Chain
 the links are friends so dear
And like a rare and precious jewel
 it's treasured more each year
It's clasped together firmly 
with a love that's deep and true
And it's rich with happy memories 
and fond recollections too
Time can't destroy its beauty
 for as long as memory lives
Years can't erase the pleasure
 that the joy of friendship gives
For friendship is a priceless gift 
that can't be bought or sold
But to have an understanding friend
 is worth far more than gold
And the Golden Chain of Friendship
 is a strong and blessed tie
Binding kindred hearts together
 as the years go passing by

The poem is claimed by multiple authors, though I use the term loosely for Anonymous. Helen Steiner Rice is credited with the poem, but she was born 20 years after the lines were written in the album. Ann M. Siddall is cited as having written and copyrighted the poem, but there is no date and she seems to be a ghost in the online world. Anonymous is also credited for the poem on the Happy Endings Funeral Service website.

Friendship is a golden chain, one single link is all I claim ~ I found numerous variations on the wording in commonplace book entries from the late 19th and early 20th century. This line was written to a Ruth Kassner in 1906.

In the golden chain of friendship regard me as a linkThis line was found in Hill's Manual of Social and Business Forms, A Guide to Correct Writing under Selections for the Autograph Album, published in 1881. Miss Manners would have probably loved this guy. The introduction to the section reads as follows: 

"The individual is frequently called upon for his or her autograph. In complying, is it customary to couple with a sentiment, signing the name beneath. If the matter written is original, be it long or short, it is usually more highly valued. If a brief selection is made, some of the following quotations may be appropriate." 

Julia may have been inspired by any one of these sources, but part of the magic is that we'll never know for sure. 

Four generations from Flora to me and a golden chain of friendship continues, some of these girls at my 4th birthday party are still in my life 65 years later. The pretty lady is my mom.

The setting is our cottage, on the old 3/4 acre homestead, on Summit Avenue in Mill Valley where I grew up. It was purchased from the Tamalpais Land and Water Company by my great grandparents, Flora and Charles Beals for the staggering sum of $2,000 in 1892. We moved there to take care of my grandma Hazel, her daughter, in 1949. Those of us who grew up on Mt. Tamalpais were the luckiest kids in the world and we all still know it. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Trunk Series ~ Undated

I've been sorting though Grandma Olive's Chinese trunk and organizing photos, writings and keepers into stand up files so I can remember where I'm going and where I've been research wise. Memory is a fleeting thing at this age and I'm working on collections that are 50 (college) to 150 years (family history) old. 

In the middle of the chaos I found a folded, typed page of what I'd call free verse. The stationary is stained and a bit yellowed with age. A partial watermark was visible so I turned it over and held it under the magnifying lamp on my beading table. I could make out Eaton's ~ Bond ~ Berkshire but that was about it. Time for a little web crawling. Drum roll please, we have a winner.

Eaton's Corrasable Bond USA Berkshire
Cotton 25% Content

It was a specially made, new fangled, erasable typing paper available from the 1950's to the 1970's. That narrows down the time frame but not much else. I've been researching this beautiful piece for a couple of weeks and have found no reference to an established author.

Okay, so I was at UCSB 1963-1967 and UCLA 1968-1969 but the verse is not familiar to me. And trust me I would have remembered if I'd received this from an admirer! 

My maternal grandfather, John Sherman Bagg, was a tireless correspondent, but not known to be a creative writerHis letterhead is the same kind of bond. Some of the discoloration and age marks are similar to other papers in his collection, but this font is smaller than the one on his letters. So we're everywhere and nowhere at the moment. 

What next? What haven't I dug through yet? Wait, Mom saved copies our letters to each other after my college years, so I dug those out today. I found one from 1977 on the same Eaton's Bond, same font size. Aha! The small "a" is slightly askew, just like the one on this note. So this begs the question of who wrote to whom?

My Mother's gifts were knitting and watercolors. She wrote travel logs that were published in travel magazines but I'd never known her to be a creative writer or a poet. However, my paternal grandfather, William Griffith "Billy" Macdonald, was quite the wordsmith. I have copies of several published poems and letters. Perhaps when Grandma Olive passed away Billy's typewriter came to Dad, and Mom used when they were on the road. This was Billy's 10th anniversary present to Grandma Olive. I'll leave it to you to decide but I think I've found my poet. 

I never met either of my Grandfathers. My mom was estranged from her father J.S. Bagg, but I've gotten to know him through my Aunt Betty. Billy Macdonald, the love of my Grandmother's life, died long before I was born. Digging through old books, photos and papers I am getting to know him too. If your grandparents are still in your life talk to them, ask about their lives, write or record a living history. It will be a treasure for generations to come. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wordsmith Series ~ Muddy Boots and Lilac Blossoms ~ April 22, 2014

Elko teaches of ranching and the art of words
Weather, cattle, crops, and horses
Wonder dogs and flighty herds
Generations stand against the forces

It may seem a romantic notion
That I once lived a frontier life
But my ancestors sailed an ocean
To discovery and unknown strife

From Scotland to the Canadian Maritime
Then covered wagon, horseback and train
To seek the promises of the West
Simply looking for a home to claim

My history tells of gold mines
And survival in the Sierra snows
Some took a stand in Tombstone
No one giving in to the wind that blows

Wordsmiths, poets and publishers
They used language to define
Artists, miners, rabble rousers
The ancients spoke their mind

Our spread is but two acres
At the end of a dusty road
The ranch is a quarter acre plot
And an ancient apple grove

We staked a claim in eighty eight
And cherish our piece of heaven
A serendipitous twist of fate
And the luck of seven and eleven

Copyright © Shelley Macdonald 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Surf is Calling Part Deux ~ April 17-18, 2014

Wednesday morning we're again up at dawn and on the bluff with our morning coffee. We decide to take the day off, put a picnic together and head to Muir Woods: Rod to read and rest his knee, me to wander about with my camera. 

Instead of taking the usual route up Mt. Tam and down to Muir Woods we took the coastal route south on Shoreline Hwy. The view is stunning. En route we pass the venerable Slide Ranch. The Miwok once fished and foraged for food at the site and in the late 19th century Portuguese dairy farmers purchased the land and produced milk and butter for the residents of San Francisco. The Nature Conservancy purchased 134 acres in 1969 to rescue the area from commercial development. The Slide Ranch non profit was established in 1970. It's open to the public for hiking and picnicking and to teach students and families about a healthy food systems and sustainability. We put it on our exploration list for the next time we're at Stinson. For now we continue south. 

visit http://slideranch.org/

On a whim we decide to check out the Muir Beach Overlook. Besides being one of the best viewpoints in the area, it has a fascinating history. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor four "base end fire control stationsthe were constructed to house soldiers assigned to watch the water for enemy ships with powerful spotting scopes. If they saw anything they could relay coordinates to nearby command centers so batteries could take aim at targets. Ships, thank goodness, were never sighted and the "gopher holes" were decommissioned after the war. 

We ate our picnic lunch with a guest looking on and then walked around a bit, checking out the breathtaking views from Bolinas to San Francisco. 

Off we go to Muir Woods, or so we thought. Granted it was a Thursday afternoon, but we were stunned by the crowds. There were cars parked all the way up the six mile route to the park. Fortunately there is a path across the road so pedestrians weren't in the road. We looked at each other and decided we'd do this another time, like 9 am on a Monday morning! Starting to think about the last time we were there, it was probably 30 years ago. Funny how things change. The biggest population group on the paths was our generation. Rats they're all retired and on the road! Good grief Em-R-Us.

Back to Stinson for a walk, a thorough housecleaning, and a lite supper. Friday morning we decide to pack up and have breakfast at the Parkside in Stinson so we don't have to clean up the kitchen again. It was an "excellent" choice. We head out about 9 got home by 11.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Surf is Calling ~ April 15-16, 2014

Off to Stinson Beach for few days to stay at my cousin's cottage. Pat's grandmother Edna and my grandmother Hazel were sisters. Her mom and dad, Walt and Glenna, built the place in 1943. We came to relax and to do some yard work. Spring in Sonoma and Marin Counties is an event to be experienced. The drive down Hwy 1 is spectacular: hillsides are electric green with splashes of purple, orange, blue, white and yellow. 

It's 74 and clear when we arrive, not a hint of wind or fog. This is unusual for April on the coast, or should I say used to be unusual. First things first we unload Pearl and get settled: cooler, sleeping bags, pillows, garden tools, clothes, shoe bag, camera, book bag and emergency gear. We do tend to over pack, but Pearl the Expedition is a hardy beast and never complains. Rod is the perennial Boy Scout and his credo is be prepared for anything. I chide him about it, but there will come a day when it may prove to be a life saver. 

We spent about 5 hours on yard projects and then took a late afternoon walk up the beach towards Bolinas to watch the pelicans. There has been a school of bait fish hanging out just beyond the surf line and scores of brown pelicans have been falling out of the sky like rocks looking to "fill the bill". Keeping them company was a gaggle of harbor seals looking to get in on the action. We started making up sound effects as they hit the water.

Popos for dinner, read until lights out, and drifted off the sound of the surf. We're up at dawn to make coffee and wander out on the bluff to sit and watch the full moon heading towards in the horizon. 

A light breakfast and then back to work: Rod in the garden and me in the kitchen. Pat's friends and family often visit and leave behind food stuffs for others. Pat gave me license to purge the premises and I found some serious winners: freezer 2005, refrigerator 2006, cupboard 1996 (soup buried behind some cookbooks). After a shower we head up to Bolinas for lunch and a visit to the always eclectic Bolinas Book Exchange. 

The special of the day at the Coast Cafe was grilled focaccia bread with pesto, grilled vegetables, thinly sliced carrots and tomatoes. A serious winner along with dining on a shaded patio! 

Coast Cafe Patio

Along the short walk to Bolinas Beach

Back to the house for some reading on the bluff. For a special evening treat we watched the Giants game. Romo slayed a dragon in the 9th with a strike out. We haven't had a TV for a month and I'm glad to report no withdrawals or other ill effects. Once again we drift off to the sound of the surf.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The 68th Apple Blossom Parade ~ April 12, 2014

This weekend is the 68th annual Sebastopol Apple Blossom Festival. It started off with the quintessential home town parade down Main Street. Attendees frequently set up their lawn chairs and towels along the curbs in the wee hours of the morning and then come back at parade time to set up camp. We parked near the festival site and walked the mile or so up to the staging area at Analy HS to find our ride. Along the way we found a new addition to the lawn chair contingent. Only in Sebastopol!

The heart of small town parades are marching bands, horses, llamas, floats, kids groups and vintage cars. Ours is no different. 

Photo credit ~ John Burgess

Photo Credit ~ Nancy Fastenau

Photo Credit ~ Nancy Fastenau

I volunteer at the Legacy Thrift Shop (sewing, knitting and artisans supplies) that supports the Sebastopol Area Senior Center. We got to ride in the Senior Center contingent of vintage cars in a red 67 Camero rag-top.

 The Letterman and the Hippie Girl

Photo credit ~ Nancy Fastenau

It doesn't matter if your a kid, an adult, or a senior citizen everyone loves a parade. Our contingent was near the front, so once done our driver let us off at the end of the route and we walked back down town to watch. By the end of the day we'd logged 3 miles. 

We didn't stop at the fair today because we're going down Sunday for the Red, White and Blues Festival to see David Luning, Gator Nation, Janiva Magness and Joe Louis Walker to name a few. Should be a fine afternoon. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Trunk Series ~ April 5, 1945

I hope you can read this priceless note from The Whitee-Didee Laundry. I believe it was the work of long time family friend Sam Wilson. I was born on March 17, 1945 so this was an ever so timely missive to my no doubt overwhelmed parents. 

My very pregnant Mom on March 11, 1945
The Scotties were Nip and Tuck

You tend to forget that your elders, be they parents or grandparents or family friends were irreverent pranksters in their early years (ages ten to forty) just as we were. I started reading the note and I'm thinking this is a whole new level of personal service. Then, I looked closely at the stationary of The Whitee-Didee Laundry and realize that I'm along for the ride. 

If you have family scrapbooks, photo albums, or old letters tucked away for posterity or your kids, it's time to haul them out of the back of the closet for a look see. They are endless resources of humor, insight and history. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The North Bay Full Circle Tour ~ April 07, 2014

Today we head to San Francisco and UCSF for my quarterly appointment with Dr. Price. First stop is San Anselmo to meet up with my old friend Tony Houston. He's loaning us his Tam High (Class of 1963) letterman sweater so Rod can wear it in the Apple Blossom Parade. We are in the Sebastopol Area Senior Center contingent: knew the time would come when we'd qualify! We'll be cruising down Main Street Saturday morning in a 1967 red Camero rag top. Oh baby! 

We head across the Golden Gate and down through the Presidio. Realizing we're going to be way early we decide on a spontaneous visit to the Legion of Honor. Unfortunately it's closed but a stroll around the grounds is a no brainer. It's 72 degrees, sunny, no wind, and not even a ripple on the ocean. The absence of wind in April is a highly unlikely scenario in the Bay Area.

We always take Irving Street to the parking garage at UCSF and every time we must drive past this little brick service station, no doubt abandoned for years. I've fallen in love with it and want to bring it home. The possibilities are endless: workshop, outside kitchen, studio, office, a shady place to sit outside. 

We arrive early and the doc is able to see us at 1:30. This is a routine quarterly pow-wow, update and check up. In late April I'll be awarded 2 points to the MELD score bringing my number up to a 31. In late May I meet with the Viral Hepatitis team at UCSF before starting a 2-3 month regimen of Ribivarin and Sofosbuvir to rid my system of the Hep-C virus and have my quarterly CT Scan to check on my resident hepatic tumors Audrey II and Carmine

We're out of the City and ahead of the traffic by 2:30 and decide on the back way home via Tam Valley and Mt. Tamalpais. There is virtually no one in the parking lot at the top so we pretty much have the mountain to ourselves for a quiet walk. It's really hazy, but the views, as always, are breathtaking. 

Trail around the top ~ looking west
Indian Paintbrush
CA Poppies - Looking down toward Bolinas
Douglas Iris

We drop off the west side of the mountain at Bolinas and head up Hwy 1 for home, stopping in Tomales for a bite to eat and a camera stroll. Check out the "saddle bags" on this honey bee. Fortunately he's built like a C-130 and doesn't need a lot of room to take off.

We covered three counties today ~ saw Mt. Tam from San Francisco and San Francisco from Mt. Tam. The world is dressed in spring green and wildflowers. Small waterfalls sing on the wooded roadsides on both sides of the mountain. It's one of those magical days we often share. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Trunk Series ~ September 19, 1963

In 1963 the freshman dorms at UCSB were former officer's barracks for the Marine Corp Air Station that was once located near Goleta Point. It was kind of the wild west for those of us away from home for the first time.  There were about 20 students per building and a Resident Assistant (Responsible Adult) who multi-tasked as house manager, referee, wrangler, field marshal, and peace keeper. 

This loose knit community of dorms was centered in a wooded meadow a short walk from campus: The Center for Endless Shenanigans. Shortly after the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan singing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" we had a late night visit at Pine Hall. Awakened by knocking on the window we opened the curtains to see Mike Sterling and one of his buddies, in full bug regalia with pipe cleaner feeler headgear. As soon as the window slid open they broke into the song.

My Mom kept all my letters from UCSB. The letter of this date brought a smile and some memories. It was sent Air Mail for the grand sum of eight cents. My handwriting was still legible. It spoke of boys and dates, bad food and long lines at the dining halls, and looking forward to Thanksgiving and Mom food. Life was so simple and from the perspective of a 18 year old, getting acquainted with independence and new friends, quite the bee's knees. 

I'm sure the following had my folks rolling their eyes. Fearless and free we took everything in with open minds and sometimes a little commentary.

"We are naming the field mice in the hall by alphabet and we're already up to the letter S."

"My roommate Pam and I watched a professor cut up a lady for Human Anatomy classes. He was so casual about the whole thing, smoking and listening to the Dodger game at the same time."

It was definitely a different place and time. Campus was isolated from the real world. There were no computers or cell phones. Social media didn't exist. Hell, we hardly ever saw television. Looking back it was a blessing that served us all well. We learned how to communicate, to write, to make friends and entertain ourselves outdoors. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

This Saturday's Spectacular Find ~ April 5, 2014

The Guardian Heart -  Art Print by Brian Giberson
The Guardian Heart

"The Guardian Heart is the defender of noble ideals. It guards honor and integrity, keeping them safe, until they are ready to be heard."