Howitzers and Cannon at Ft. Ticonderoga
Fort Ticonderoga and Veteran's Day 2019
Bob and I had a most wonderful time on our trip to New York and the Maine Coast. We had no real agenda other than visiting his daughter in Manhattan, seeing a few New York sites, including the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream in Vermont and, of course, the Whistlepig Distillery and Fort Ticonderoga.
My parents were museum people and Dad was especially interested in our American History. Growing up in Ohio, all school children were well studied in the Revolutionary War, French and Indian War and Civil War History. I recall many visits to The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to watch the Changing of the Guard. The Civil war Battle Fields. Listening to the stories from both the Union and Confederate Soldiers and Civilians.
My age group (neither baby-boomer nor part of the "Great Transition", as my friend, Steve Spurgin, calls that second gap) were most exposed to the Vietnam War. My brother went to Vietnam the year I started Kindergarten. When he came home on leave that year I took him to Show and Tell in his dress blues. Teachers led their classes in daily prayer for our soldiers and our country. We were given time in class to grieve with our friends who lost family in Vietnam. We wept many tears together. Some days, when there were multiple losses in our school not much else was accomplished. We wrote to soldiers as a class so they would get mail, a full packet of mail. When a soldier wrote back we were so excited and thrilled. We made cookies at home and sent them to family over seas. We were all in the war together.
When I saw that Fort Ticonderoga was on the way for this no agenda trip, I had to see it. As a child and young adult I had read so many stories and documents about the Revolutionary War, but I was not prepared for the emotional reaction I experienced on approaching the Fort. Stopping to read the brass plates of names on the outside wall, the tears welled up. Maybe some of it was the cold wind and my not wanting to be so effected that the tears came. But, I was effected. Watching the Living History Docents in their struggle to light a fire to prepare lunch and squint eyed efforts to clean a flintlock rifle by window light on a cloudy day. What today are simple tasks we accomplish without much thought or energy, in the days of Fort Ticonderoga were necessary for survival and took much work and planning. I hope your children are made aware of what their ancestors did for them so they can have this life they now lead. That your children and grandchildren are humble and thankful for what they have because they are taught what life was like in the beginnings of Our America, and why we are here in the first place.
I hope you take the time to reflect on our Great History, our Great America and the soldiers and the civilians who have made it possible to have the life we enjoy. I hope when you see a Military person you are grateful in your entirety for who they are and what they do for you daily, minute to minute.
Some years ago I was sent a poem and asked to set it to music. Bury Me With Soldiers, I was told, was anonymous. A tune came to mind immediately and I set about locating the author, and found Father Charlie Fink, in New York. I asked permission and he said yes. If you would like to hear this song, I will be performing it at the Sunday Brunch this week at Monterey Court in Tucson. The words and music are now protected by ASCAP for Charlie and me, so please ask permission if you want to use it other than live performance.
September 5th, 2019
My friends, Matt and Kelly, had offered me the use of their cabin on Mt. Lemmon several times over the last couple of years. I was always going to make a time to go up, but, there was so much going on and I let too many other things get in the way and it did not happen. So, when Bob's birthday was just around the corner, and we were both pretty tired from our respective road trips here and yon, we decided it was the perfect place to go.
We arrived on Saturday to a lovely cabin, immaculately cared for, everything we needed right down to measuring spoons and a spice rack. We loved every minute of the cool air, windows open, rain showers, pine cones thumping on the deck, lightning shows and walks in the woods. We played our guitars and sang, we cooked and laughed and ate way too much of Bob's dutch oven fare. Monday came and it took us all day to make our way down the mountain. As much as we knew it was time to go home, we lingered in packing and dragged our heels leaving, stopping multiple times on the drive down to take photos and look across the spectacular vistas. It was evening before we finished the two hour drive.
We will be going back up as often as they will have us. I will be going back to write "Abby's Song", the sequel to "Autumn's On Its Way" . Yes, the manuscript for "Autumn's On Its Way" is finished and the search has begun for a literary agent.
Actually, I have already started Abby's Song. I was forced to start writing the sequel in order to finish Autumn's On Its Way. The sequel is requiring far more research than "Autumn" did. Maps of all kinds, weather charts and histories, books on archaeology, which lead to reading several of Craig Child's works. Craig's books are wonderful adventures and studies on the South West, her ancient sites and our relationship with this mysterious desert we choose to live in. Abby's Song is as closely knitted to this relationship as "Autumn" is. I am learning more about my own relationship each step of the way. It is a relationship which I find weaves it's way into almost everything I write, song or story. This place, this desert holds my heart and soul like no other place. "La Jineta", a poem I wrote some years ago, is one of my first explorations of my relationship with the desert. From that epic poem has sprung a series of songs and shorts which continue the learning, getting down to the grains of sand.
I hope you will continue with me on that study, and perhaps find some of your self in the stories, songs and poems. The ride is not always kind, there are lions and tigers and bears out there. Well, not tigers, except for this one that escaped from, oh, but I digress.
See you on the journey!
What a wonderful weekend it was! My friend, Margaret, spent the weekend with me, sharing music and laughter.
Friday night we met James Ellis and RuAnn Hooks at A latte Vino in Casa Grande to listen to the music of Luis Story. I had never been able to catch his shows in near twenty years, it was always just bad timing. I was just thrilled to hear his duo with Steve Frances on piano, Luis's original music and his fun versions of covers of EVERYBODY. And, it was s real treat getting the opportunity to speak with him for a few minutes about a particular song his with history pertinent to this little town.
Catalina State Park is always a dream concert. The audience comes ready to engage, they are excited and focused on the music and stories. If an entertainer can have a packed house at an open air, unconstrained venue, this was it. We had a great time sharing environment as well as the music. The Humming Birds and Cardinal's singing along and the parade of ants carrying popcorn and chips kept us laughing. Even a vole came out to see what the heck was going on!
Having the Martin back to health and in my hands to play has opened doors to tones and sounds for tunes. My friend and author, Amy M. Hale, says this about Martin, "That guitar has a male voice, beautiful, evoked by your touch. he blends in harmony with your sweet voice, and the damage was healed by a woman with vision. It captures me, this story. The masculine wound healed by the feminine, and then set free to sing again. It is a beautiful story with no beginning and no end." Thank you, Amy. I hope you, dear reader, will explore some of Amy's writing on her website https://www.amyhaleauker.com and she is on social media with her stories and poems and wonderful photos of her cowboy life with her husband Gail on the Spider Ranch. One day, Amy and I will get the opportunity to share the stage.
This summer I am heading out on the road for some short tours and a long one, maybe two. In August, I will be in Deming, New Mexico for my first concert at the Luna Rossi Winery hosted by Totsie Slover. Then, it's off to Arvada, Colorado for a show at the Old Towne Picking Parlor with Jon Chandler and Ernie Martinez. It is sounding like Ismael Barajas will be making several of the shows with me, including the Tumbleweed Festival in Richland, Washington.
The road is calling, wanting me to bring you the new album, Tall Tree. I am so pleased and proud of Tall Tree, and Ismael is already charting out the next project, By Moon or No Moon.
Please, visit the calendar to see performance dates and times, and come say hello, introduce your self if we have never met. I love to hear from you, too. You can comment on the videos and on the photo page. I hope you do.
When I was five, I was defenseless and blameless.
When I was thirteen, I had been "trained", "brainwashed", and so, defenseless and blameless.
When I was sixteen, I began to wake up. But, perception had been skewed, and though a hazy grasp of right and proper was hovering in sight, it remained always just out of reach, obscured by the ever present reality of history.
These days, at 60 years old, I will sometimes reflect on what a'kins to a long ascending climb on a slick and scrabble strewn trail, slipping and sliding, not always making much progress. But, I never stay there in that frame of mind, I don't wallow in the sewage, I just don't do it. I don't let the many adventures, accomplishments and joys in my life be minimized by another person's evil doing.
And, I will not waste a single moment of my precious time taking revenge, getting even. It is not even a option. There is far too much collateral damage in getting even, not even a fragment of peace will be found in the resulting carnage, and nothing from the past will ever be changed.
People ask about forgiveness. I suppose it was instantaneous because I never thought about it, nor harbored real anger. It's my understanding that only God has the power to forgive, I do not have that power on my own. He forgives for me, so I do not have to try to do the impossible. It would be an impossible task because Forgiveness is already done, "it is finished" as Christ said, once and for all. The Supreme Court of Heaven will take care of evildoers, the burden is not mine. I am told to forget what is past and press forward, and so, I shake the dust from my shoes and go on with my assignment, "to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ."
Perhaps some of the stories you find here will help you press forward and grow in grace. That is my hope.
(C) Sonoran Desert Sage Publishing 04/27/2019
A Crazy Horse
A crazy, crazy horse lives inside of me,
She's mostly blue, sometimes she's gray
She's got red paint splattered here and there,
And rainbow feathers tied in her hair
She goes buck and snort all around my ribs,
Sayin' "Don't you forget who you really is!"
She tells me, you are the whirlwind and the softest of sighs
You are good, you are smart, you are strong, you are wise
You are pinion smoke and snowflakes in a starry sky
You are wild and never tame and you know you are right
You are a seed in the earth, you are a song on the wind
You drink your whiskey from a teacup while you're dancing on the brim
Her heart is made of sky where songbirds fly,
Lightning and Thunder live behind her eyes
When I can't remember who I'm s'posed to be, I look into the mirror and she's looking back at me
She goes buck and snort all around my ribs, Sayin' "Don't you forget, who you really is!"
She tells me
You are the smallest flower on the highest peak, You are the secret on the morning breeze
You are the oak that bends, you are the Eagles flight, You are leather, you are stone and a sweet lover in the night
You are young, you are old, you are God's perfect prize, You are diamonds, you are pearls, you are danger in disguise
This old world can get the best of a girl, Make you feel like the swine, instead of the pearl
When I can't remember who I'm s'posed to be, I look into the mirror and she's looking back at me
And she goes buck and snort all around my ribs, Sayin' "Don't you forget who you really is!"
A crazy, crazy horse lives inside of me, She's mostly blue, sometimes she's gray
She's got red paint splattered here and there, And rainbow feathers tied in her hair
She goes buck and snort all around my ribs, Sayin' "Don't you forget who you really is!"
C Nancy Elliott 2014 All rights reserved, no use without permission.
The Radio Flyer
She went to the window for what seemed the hundredth time that day only to have her suspicions confirmed as many times. It was still raining.The big picture window went from floor to ceiling, and except for a few inches at the bottom, it was nearly fogged over. She leaned forward and pressed her forehead against the cool of the window, then, remembering it was something she would get after the kids for if they did it, she pulled away and smiled at the impression left of her forehead and the snaky squiggles from her wavy hair. Suddenly, two rivulets of moisture ran through the middle of fog-face and raced to the bottom of the window sill to join the puddles already there. She used a washcloth from the laundry she was folding to wipe the fog and evidence of her crime off the window.
The Ruby Handled Knife
This knife was my grandfathers near one hundred years ago,
He took it from a pirate whose sordid life he did forego.
When he rescued a fair maiden from the hold of that black ship,
with this singing blade he cut her bonds, and in the water they did slip.
When they washed ashore at Dunbeath after three days in the sea,
He knelt right there and she answered him "Of course I'll marry Thee!"
So, he brought her to America, a new country rough and raw,
and she used this Ruby Handled Knife to cut the cord on my dear Pa.
This Ruby Handled Knife is worth far more than all its gems.
The treasure is its history, how through our lives it wends.
Its jewel encrusted beauty will a crying baby charm,
blade and point, hilt and shaft keep us safe from harm
When Grandpa passed he gave this knife to his first son, my Pa.
Now Pa is gone this knife is mine and I often am in awe,
How this blade has played a stellar role in daily mundane life,
lending magic and enchantment to a lowly rancher's wife.
My Ruby Handled Knife marks the first calf each spring gather
and it's the only knife to carve the roast upon the Christmas Platter
My Ruby Handled Knife pares mid -summers' premier peach
And, it's been used a time or two, to extend a desperate reach
It's a comfort here, kept at my side, when faced by bad outlaw,
Why, it saved me from a bloody end at the panther's deadly paw.
It cut the throat of a favored mount when no bullet could be spared,
and freed me from my stirrup when I became ensnared.
This Ruby Handled Knife can shave a callous or double as a spade
and its marked our name to each beam and post throughout this home we made.
It counts the years since my husband died at each April's bright full moon
and it's cut the cords on all my babes... and my will grandchild's, soon
This Ruby Handled Knife will one day pass from my hand to my son's
He, too, will keep it at his side until his race is run.
You see, this Ruby Handled Knife steadfastly intertwines
our History with our future, ever on through spans of time.
Nancy Elliott C 2010