Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Pilgrim's Journey

"I cannot go so fast as I would, by reason of this burden that is on my back." --Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan, 1678

 One of my favorite books, Pilgrims Progress, has been on my mind recently, so today I picked up my son's copy and browsed through it.

 The book above is a re-telling by Gary D. Schmidt, but he has done an excellent job, and I love his writing style.  Gary explains, "I have tried to stay close to Bunyan's original but I have attempted to tell his story to a contemporary audience—which is, after all, what he did." Bunyan wrote in the most common language of his time, as he wanted his points and images to be familiar with his readers, common folk.

After reading a bit, I dug out a very old copy that I found at a yard sale because I wanted to compare some parts with the original text.
As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place where was a den, and laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I slept, I dreamed a dream.
As you probably know, John Bunyan penned this book while in prison.

Here is a little more about him via Christianity Today's website:

Bunyan's rise as a popular preacher coincided with the Restoration of Charles II. The freedom of worship Separatists had enjoyed for 20 years was quickly ended; those not conforming with the Church of England would be arrested. By January 1661, Bunyan sat imprisoned in the county jail.

The worst punishment, for Bunyan, was being separated from his second wife (his first had died in 1658) and four children. "The parting ... hath oft been to me in this place as the pulling the flesh from my bones," he wrote. He tried to support his family making "many hundred gross of long tagg'd [shoe] laces" while imprisoned, but he mainly depended on "the charity of good people" for their well-being.

Bunyan could have freed himself by promising not to preach but refused. He told local magistrates he would rather remain in prison until moss grew on his eyelids than fail to do what God commanded.

And out of his hardships grew a powerful allegory about a man and his journey through life that has become an inspiration to many. We relate to this man's struggles and experiences and gain courage to face our own circumstances with courage. We see God's love and care for "Christian" even when he does not see it himself.

So, my fellow pilgrims, if you've never read Pilgrims Progress, I highly recommend it. There are many modern language versions, if you would prefer not to plow through the old English.  Get started right now...

Do you see yonder wicket-gate?
The man said, "No."
Then said the other, "Do you see yonder shining light?"
"I think I do."
Then said Evangelist, "Keep that light in your eye and go directly thereto, so shalt thou see the gate; at which when thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do."

Saturday, January 18, 2014

It's Termite Time

Mozart has to move some electronics because he doesn't want them gassed when the house is fumigated. I have been helping by running the lift gate. I stopped right in the middle of the lifting to get a picture.

 Youngest son is helping dad break things down.

The odd thing about it, is that we have to bring all this stuff back in a few days. ---Because its not time to move yet--just time for termite work. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

An Unexpected Discovery From the Past

 This post is dedicated to my wonderful cousins—to Bruce, Dana, Julie and their families who loved and cared for Elsie until she went to heaven at the age of 101.

I interviewed my Great Aunt Elsie because she was 97 years old and I wanted to know what the world was like "back then".  Little did I know that a few years later, these notes would hold some valuable nuggets of information that I treasure today.

Elsie passed to heaven several weeks ago, and I found myself gathered with my cousins sitting in a hard pew under the stain glassed windows of a small church listening to the story of Elsie's life. My cousin Dana mentioned that Elsie wrote part of her own eulogy and it began, "I was born 9 miles north of Prescott, Arizona in the shadow of Granite Mountain."

My heart jumped. That was the exact spot in Prescott where Bill (Mozart) and I have been looking for a home.  Unless you've been to Prescott, one would not realize the significance of this, but in Prescott you can drive 30 miles and still be in Prescott. The town spreads out over rolling hills, flat prairies, lakes, valleys, and pine forest.

Granite Mountain
When I got home from the service I went through a stack of stuff and found Elsie's interview.  And there it was. She had mentioned Granite Mountain.

     "The shadow would look blue late in the day." She said the area was called Williamson Valley and the family owned a ranch—"a dry farm." She explained that there was no irrigation, they relied on rain.
     "Our homestead was 60 acres."  Her father was a carpenter who worked in the town of Prescott building homes and doing other carpentry work.  "He left the running of the ranch to my older brother and my mother."

  She was delivered by a midwife, Mrs. Simpson. But there was also a visit by Doctor McNalley and he was paid for his services in butter, eggs, chickens, and cord wood. "My caretaker was a collie dog named Boots." She remembers cornfields, chickens, horses and cows on the ranch. "We sold eggs and cheese." Their kitchen was a lean-to against the house. She remembers the ranch was lit by kerosene lamps and part of her chores included trimming wicks and washing glass shades.

She said that it was hard to make a living and they eventually lost the farm before Elsie turned five.

A few days ago Bill and I were in Prescott looking at homes in Williamson Valley, and during a lull in the looking, I set off on a hike in the area Elsie mentioned. (The two pictures above)

To continue with Elsie's story, she told me that after losing the ranch they moved to 100 North Montezuma Street, in town.   Here is how it looks today.
She drew a map and explained that they didn't live there long. Two years later they moved to 323 South Montezuma.
I took this picture last week.  The right-hand side of the building is 323.
"The kitchen in the South Montezuma house was a large room, and we also had a dining room. A wood stove sat out from the wall. We baked bread and canned our own fruit and vegetables. My mother made the most delicious mince meat." When I asked her what mince meat was, she listed the ingredients: Beef, apples, raisins, sugar, suet (fat) with a crust around it. "It was a dessert."

Her mother sent her to school at the Catholic School. "I had to walk to school and I remember the school was on a big hill.  It was good for toboggening." (The Catholic church and school are still there today — up on a hill.)

Now this a bit out of context, but Bill got the flu while we were in Prescott. I know, I know—its the pits to be sick in a hotel room (or anywhere) and I felt so bad for him. On the second day, when he was a little better I slipped out while he was sleeping and took a drive to Williamson Valley to walk the neighborhood where we are looking at homes. After my survey (and after seeing a wild Javelina in the bushes--that's another story) I ventured across the highway to "Williamson Valley Trail Head."  The trail headed toward Granite Mountain and I noticed the sun hovering above the summit.

I wondered what would happen when the sun slipped behind the mountain. Maybe I could watch the shadow grow and discover where Elsie's land was.  But the sun moved too slowly and soon I had to leave. But I knew I would be back.

 On the way out I wondered if Elsie ever snagged her skirt on a prickly pear cactus.

Or gathered the fallen berries from a Juniper tree.

I even wondered if she was afraid of wild Javelinas.

But I have come to the conclusion that she wasn't afraid of anything. She lived a long life full of twists and turns, ups and downs,  joys, and adventures. And she survived. Intact. She was made of strong stuff and she is an inspiration to me.

We made an offer on a house today in Williamson Valley-Prescott. I wish I could tell her! But somehow I think she knows.