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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Great Grandmother's Quilt

Great Grandmother’s Quilt

Great Grandmother stitched with care
A quilt made from her husband’s old shirts;
The patterned old westerns he had left behind.
Her smooth wrinkled hands were normally cold
But when she started stitching they warmed with the memories and many tales told-
Of her life with him and the children they made:
Of the farm and the valley-of the sheep and the hay.
Picking blackberries on the hill and holding baby lambs
Of horses pulling hay wagons and separating out rams.
She remembered meeting her husband and falling in love
Riding through the hills and watching the doves.
All these she stitched with a smile on her face
Pulling thread with rhythm, color and grace.

Grandmother inherited her mother’s work; she was taken before her time.
But when she opened the box, a tear formed in her eye.  
She was reminded of her mother stringing thread in the morning sun
The light would shine on her face and all her colored fabric and thread
Her daughter would sit next to her and Great Grandmother would pat her head.
Grandmother still remembered that loving smile which seemed to warm the coldest days.
And the farm and the valley- of the sheep and the hay.
She remembered picking blackberries and her mother handing her lambs.
Of horses pulling hay wagons and separating out rams.
She remembered following her daddy and falling in love
Riding through the hills and watching the doves.  
The touch of that fabric made old Grandmother’s heart break.
She pushed it to the back of the closet; It was easier to turn her face.

Years later my mother stumbled upon the box; hidden in mothballs and cloaked with neglect
And she pulled each item out- wondering about the person Great Grandmother might have been.
She touched the fine needlework and the old paisley designs-My, it must have taken a whole lot of time!
Respectfully, she thought, it’d be a shame not to finish Great Grandmother’s work.
And I watched as Mother opened up her sewing machine.
Diligently she went about mimicking Great Grandmother’s work- her hands careful not to rip the bonds.
And she stitched over all of the weak spots that time in the closet had dissolved.
Mother was surprised at how happy she felt; pulling each thread mesmerized her and her mind wandered-

Of growing up on the farm-of the sheep and the hay.
Picking blackberries on the hill and holding baby lambs
Of tractors making hay and separating out rams.
Then she added her own piece from Grandfather’s faded Levis-
The ones she clung to when she was beginning to walk.  
And when she finished, she breathed a sigh of relief.
Three generations of work were now at her feet.

With careful hands, she threw it over my bed
And when I was about to sleep she came and pat my head.
We both just sat for a while staring at the quilt.
Mesmerized I finally nodded off to sleep having the most amazing dream-

Of the farm and the valley-of the sheep and the hay.
Picking blackberries on the hill and holding baby lambs
Of horses pulling hay wagons and separating out rams.
I saw my Great Grandfather on his horse- riding through the hills
And I saw my Grandfather teaching my mother to walk.
Grandmother was sitting next to my Great Grandmother stitching on the quilt
And they both looked at me when I walked in to the room.
Great Grandmother looked up at me and put a warm hand on my face
Then she went back to work-Pulling thread with rhythm, color and grace.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Perks of the Middle of Nowhere

The Perks of the Middle of Nowhere-
Jessica Smith
August 2014

               The stranger placed a 24 oz. soda on the counter to buy. “Why DO you live in the middle of nowhere?” The man looked in his late 40s, with a surfer tee shirt and wavy combed back hair. He lowered his rose colored glasses and gave a smug grin, “This IS the middle of nowhere isn’t it?”
               From behind the cash register I couldn’t help but grimace as I scanned the soda. The dank musty smell of his cologne was drifting towards my side of the counter;  it didn’t do much to appease my situation. Bleh, I was doing just fine up until about 10 seconds ago. Why did this man have to stop here? And then I remembered, oh yes; because we are the only gas station and restaurant for miles. Most wayward tourists did stop here. Any person driving from the south of Nevada to the north going into Oregon and Idaho were undoubtedly forced to travel North on Highway 95. The stretch of road was typically long and lonely. When people pass the little town of Orovada, a significant number of them almost always had to use the restroom or needed to stop and stretch their legs.
               “I suppose…” and I diverted my eyes to look at the view of the Sawtooth Mountain outside the window of the store. “…it’s for the wide open spaces and the mountains…and the smell of the sage after a good rain…”
               Not wanting to wait for me to finish, the man rolled his eyes. He acted like someone trapped in an annoying situation. I suppose he was wondering, ‘Why would I even justify living here? Who would want to live in a place like this?’ Most people could never possibly understand, because they had never experienced the joy of a small town like this. They were merely passing through; on their way to and from a better place (in their opinion). What could possibly be in it for them?
               I realized my manager was watching the whole situation. Steve, normally a quiet man of solid disposition, was getting just as annoyed by this man as I was. He turned his back and pushed his tuft of graying hair over his brow. I saw him cross his arms as I went on. “That will be $1.10. You know, I suppose it’s all a matter of opinion. We think this place is wonderful.”
               The man shrugged his shoulders as he swiped his credit card. After it went through he took the tea and left the store.
               The bell dinged as the man exited and Steve, still with his back towards me said, “When I left Oregon all those years ago, I told myself that I was going to take off and find a peaceful place. I wanted a place where I could watch the sun set every night and grow a garden. I wanted a place where I could grow old, have a dog and be happy. A place where…the people were kind and there were farms all around… and by golly! I found it!” He turned around and grinned. “And you know, it takes people like that to make me remember my perspective. Most people don’t realize how good they have it. Or how good they could have it if they just made the choice to be happy.” His blue eyes were shining as he shared his conviction.
               And then I realized that the Middle of Nowhere really was a matter of perspective and opinion. To the man that came in the store, it was a place where he never wanted to be, but for us, it was just the opposite. I don’t know where he had come from or what he knew, but I know that most people don’t like these small towns. Driving through a place where there is not so many amenities or luxuries can be daunting to those who are not used to it, but to those who are, it is liberating. Waking up each morning to the sun over the mountains and the hum of tractors in the fields and the smell of sage right after the rain- that’s what Steve and I like best. And we will tell you all about it on your next trip to the Sawtooth Station in Orovada, NV. Come for lunch, it’s delicious!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Song of spring

A song of spring
blossoms in the summer's green
and repeats upon a chorus of the birds.


Nothing persuades my heart to beat
like the thunder underneath a horse's feet.
the rhythm follows me wherever I go
whether it fast or whether it slow. 
All through the night I hear it
when I am trying to sleep
the agony of waiting 

Friday, April 18, 2014

March Community Living

March 2014

What is a claimstaker?

What is a claimstaker? Well, here’s the shortest description I can give. A claimstaker is what you call a person who gets hired by a mining company to go out to the middle of nowhere to put posts in the ground. As a rule, the job is almost never in a very nice place, and it’s almost never at a pleasurable time of year. It could be up a mountain on the top of a cliff or on the vastness of a dry playa bed. It could be in the heat of the middle of summer or the cold of the snowiest day you have ever seen. Generally, the job involves putting monuments in the ground to establish a physical boundary for mineral prospects and the recording of all of this with the appropriate government offices. There are many different laws and requirements depending on the size and general location of said group of claims. One I can think of is the requirement for a valid claim monument. In Arizona, a person has to have a five foot high 2X2 post sticking out of the ground in order to be valid. In other places, a three foot pile of rocks will suffice, and still in other places yet, one could scratch marks into a tree and that’s a good enough monument as any.
               Once, I can remember spending an entire afternoon looking on a hillside covered in pine trees and rocks. I was looking for a marker placed before the 1930’s which showed the corner of an important claim. Well, given the time difference between then and now and the overgrowth and subsequent variations from year to year, this made the task very daunting. The only thing I had with me was a copy of an old hand drawn map and a set of latitude longitude coordinates. I plugged the numbers into my fancy GPS machine and drove as far as I could up the hill on ATV to the general location I thought it would be. I had to hike another couple of hundred feet up the hill. After scrambling up and getting scratched from the thick growth of pines, I came to the exact location. My GPS showed that I was right on the spot that it was supposed to be, yet there were no significant markings or posts of any kind around. There was just a whole lot of scraggly pine trees, boulders and thick undergrowth. So I wandered around for a while; up and down the hillside. I can remember feeling frustrated because I knew it was something I had to find. After a while I wiped the sweat off my brow and I sat down to think for a moment. 
               It was a dry December day at a cold altitude, but I remember that the sky was clear. I knew I couldn’t leave the job until I found this monument. I had to have the coordinates so that I could draw a new more accurate map, I just couldn’t find it. And then, like a silent prayer, I looked up and thought I saw something on the tree. I moved closer and got my hand up on the tree to peel back the bark. Well, hallelujah, I thought to myself. I could see the markings that someone had etched in the tree. Though it was no longer legible, I could tell that someone had deliberately carved the name of the corner in the deepness of the bark. And on this day, almost 90 years after it was originally etched, I was finding it again.
               And you know, I think this is the best description of a claim staker that I can give. It’s a lot like life in a way, because I find myself lost a lot of the time, but after I sit down and really think about what it is I want to find, it’s usually right in front of my nose. Even if I can’t always understand why or how, usually the question has already been answered. All one has to do is find your marker and put it on your map.   

A Divine Map (finished)

Maps show so many things
Treasures and tales
Of lost golden rings.
Some maps are dirty
And yellowed with age
Some maps are crisp
Some printed on noble page.
Some are folded
Hidden in some corner
And some are rewarded
With county recorders.

Maps are like you-
Maps are like me
Born a blank page
Empty and free.
But as time rattles on
All of us draw our own maps
With pencils of experience
We plot our own path.

Who else but God
Could show you the way
When you have no idea where you are going
And no idea of what to say.
You are not born
With a draftsman’s keen eye
So, how can you tell
The mountains from the sky,
But if you look around on your map
There are a few hidden clues
To the state you were born
And the life you will choose.
One knows not
The roads you will take
Or the mountains you’ll climb
Or the fences of fate
Which cross the designated path
Often when least suspect
Covered in rusty nails and barbs
God draws you a fence.

The map you are drawing
Is unique and intense
And you must always remember
There’s a path around that nasty fence.
Look to the scale bar
To find out how long
An inch is a mile
But I might be wrong. 

But of the drawing of maps
The most important rule is such
That the North Arrow
Must always face up.
Like hands towards the sky
It acts as your guide
No matter the weather
Or if your map leads you awry.

So say a little prayer
And you’ll find your way.
Just look where you are going
And always have faith.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Senator from Texas

He stood for 21 hours and 19 minutes
In front of a committee; speaking heartfelt
While the house threw him punches
And aimed below the belt.
He spoke for the people
because no one else would.
A stack full of patron's letters
should have shown the good.
'Defund Obamacare?' What a big waste of time!
Said the lead snake in Congress
hissing away with rhyme.
The Senator from Texas
then drew his mighty drawl
And said 'I will not leave this stand'
'I will speak until I can not speak at all!'
And for 21 hours and 19 minutes
the snakes slithered around his feet.
While a lion he became- the truth he did intreat.
For he knew what the snakes meant
about caring for the people
Was just a disguised tax reform
designed from pure Evil.
'You don't care about the people's health!
You'll just change the laws to your own content
that they pay for all this countries debt.
And lose all the wealth!--------------
They'll have to wait in lines
and pay more by the month.
Doctor's won't have time to see
The cancer or the lumps.
But that's OK, it won't matter a bit
to the snakes in Washington-
totally exempt!
They'll take the money and then they'll laugh
 A fraud played at the working man's expense.'
And for 21 hours and 19 minutes
The lion roared of defense
The Senator from Texas
Decided to build a fence.

Silent Passage 72

Claim post SP 72 sits alone on the hill
way up in the blue.
Nothing grows much up there on the top
but it's steeper than heck and
covered in rocks.
It starts off easy;
then the hill starts to ascend.
One false move is all it would take
For that claim post to win.

And it sits on top
above the cliff on a sheer drop
cold wind blowing (always blowing)
Will it ever stop?
How bad do you want it?
The silent claim on the hill.
Maybe it's the gold. Maybe it's the thrill.

Maybe someone made you
That must have been lame.
How much did they pay you?
To play their silly game.
Claim post Silent Passage 72
Might make you a fortune
But what would you do?

If you make it to the top
(and the likelihood is that you certainly will not)
The wind will blow harder
and cold rub you raw
Silent Passage 72 might grant you
But what will it cost you
What must you face?

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Greatest Country

In the unbridled doctrine
of the American foretold
exists a silent humiliation
our leaders have taken hold.
Patronizing the Patriot
who once held with iron and grit;
now fables of the fumbler
and the useful idiot.
A once sound Constitution;
A gold staff melted now and mixed
forming a play-dough
and they are happy because it fits.
The turning of an age
and the technology of the times
become excuses for the change
beloved tyranny of the mind.
Empires crumbled long ago
in this same declaration
but perhaps it is not too late
To change our destination.