Sioux Warriors: The Long Struggle

October 31, 2016 Leave a comment

 

Halloween, the Day the Dead Walk; RT has been dealing with some ghosts of his own as we approach the end of the Celtic year, which may explain why out of the blue he checked out Larry McMurtry’s fine short biography of Crazy Horse, the famous Sioux warrior. Not much is known about Crazy Horse himself (though we do know that he was averse to being photographed), but quite a bit is known about the Sioux people and their struggle to save their land and way of life from encroaching settlers. And perhaps no survival from that long fight is more remarkable than this group portrait of many of the principal Sioux leaders. Though these men were active for decades, they are best remembered for their participation in the famous Great Sioux War of 1876, which gave us the Battle of the Little Bighorn, aka Custer’s Last Stand.

Hold on to your hats, folks, here they are:

Seated, L to R: Yellow Bear, Red Cloud, Big Road, Little Wound, Black Crow.

Standing, L to R: Red Bear, Young Man Afraid of his Horse, Good Voice, Ring Thunder, Iron Crow, White Tail, Young Spotted Tail.

To give the reader some idea of the scope of these men’s lives, RT offers a pair of brief biographical notes:

Red Cloud (1822-December 10, 1909). Best known as the leader of Red Cloud’s War (1866-1868); fought to protect the Powder River country from encroachment by whites. The Sioux were victorious, in particular winning the Fetterman Fight, one of the worst defeats the U.S. Army experiencing during its struggle with the Sioux. Also prominent as a negotiator and diplomat on behalf of the Sioux, including the negotiation of the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868).

Young Man Afraid Of His Horses (1836-July 13, 1893). Fought during Red Cloud’s War. A prominent Indian negotiator, active until the end of the Sioux wars in the early 1890s and especially in the aftermath of the Wounded Knee Massacre.

As the Dakota access pipeline protests bear witness to, the long struggle of the Sioux to preserve their traditional way of life is not yet over.

Photograph: Red Cloud and Other Sioux. circa 1860-1880. Library of Congress. WikiCmns. Public Domain.

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Kameda Bosai, Old Trees

September 7, 2016 2 comments

Confucian Poem LACMA M.91.22.jpg

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RT has been resolutely ignoring his creative impulses (such as they were) in the face of the many tasks (not the least of which is grieving) that have followed on his mother’s death. Resolutely ignoring, that is, until a spontaneous visit to his local bookstore brought him face-to-face with an alluring poem by Kameda Bosai, a Japanese poet (or rather, scholar and literati painter) that RT had never heard of before. Well, the temptation proved too much for the sterner angels of RT’s nature, and he offers the results of his latest foray into translation below. He knows that mom would approve.

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old trees crimson at spring’s glance;

waterfalls icy, smash and echo.

imagine a mountain hermit swaying,

collapsing into laughter. water-stars, wind.

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(Dedicated to Andy and Janet)

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Image: Confucian Poem, Kameda Bosai. circa 1820-1824. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. WikiCmns. Public Domain.

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Still in the Game–Three Shorts

August 6, 2016 2 comments

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RT has bursitis in his left hip. It’s an occupational hazard for those over 50, and he is treating it with ice and exercise. Unfortunately, he hasn’t found a chair that doesn’t contribute to the problem, but the long-delayed trip to Lowe’s should take care of things.

And in the meantime, he is beginning to work on a new collection of poetry, Naming the Spirit. RT had thought that this would be a relatively straightforward affair, but realities such as grief and a larger and more diverse collection of written materials than he had realized are complicating matters. And maybe they should. Additional materials may be forthcoming, if only to balance out the book’s rather somber tone. Grief after all is a kind of healing.

Here are a trio of short poems, the first two fairly old, and brighter in tone than not.

 

Three Shorts

 

Should I take a shower?

Dirt under my fingernails,

and I feel alive.

 

 

ratty hair—

not many places allow

a man to be beautiful

 

 

shoe laces undone.

deep mud—slipping, left leg splayed…

undamaged at 56.

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Illustration: Shoelace Knot; AnonMoos. WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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Walking and the Deep Well of Memory

July 30, 2016 2 comments

Glanum? Ambrussum? Vaison-la-Romaine? Somewhere in Provence, in any case. RT has a distant but distinct memory of seeing an ancient Greek city while on vacation back in the mid-1970s. The site was small and gorgeous, oval-shaped ruins of marble sited among pine trees, not far from the sea. What made the experience especially memorable was the guide’s report of the city’s population, as high as one or two thousand people, if RT recalls correctly. And all of them sheltered in a space about half the size of a football field.

Now, RT, car-less as he often has been in his life, is doing a great deal of walking these days. It takes him about 45 minutes to walk into town by the legal but indirect route. He is actually fairly lucky, since a bike path constitutes part of the trek. At least on this section, he doesn’t have to worry about getting hit by a car. Still, there is something distinctly humbling about walking along the path, which lacks shade trees, park benches, and water fountains, while cars zoom past on the other side of the grass border. His almost daily excursions make him wonder what life would be like if we still lived in pre-industrial communities. Or, to put it another way, could we get rid of cars?

Here are some facts: ancient Rome at its height (population 1 million) occupied about 5 and ½ sq. miles; Manhattan could hold six cities that size. Nearly all Romans lived in concrete and brick apartment buildings (called insulae), some of them nine stories high; apartments of 1,000 sq. ft. (about the size of a modern 1-bedroom apartment) housed families of five or six people. Most of these apartments offered running water. Romans went to great lengths (pardon the pun) via their aqueducts to ensure water quality—and their diet in many ways appears superior to ours. Those who survived into their teens (infant and child mortality were very high), often lived to be 60.

So far, things sound pretty good. Now back to walking: horses were expensive, and carriages for the rich. Though vehicles could be hired for transport (some featuring primitive odometers), nearly everyone walked everywhere.

RT will let readers draw their own conclusions. What remains with him is the memory of a beautiful city in Provence, built to human scale; human-powered; and healthy, communal, and intimate in a way hard to imagine in our own lives. It’s a beautiful day; let’s walk to the store.

Photo: Early 2nd century A.D. apartment building, OstiaNashvilleneighbor. WikiCommons. Public Domain.

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Sifaka!

An upright Coquerel's sifaka hops sideways with its arms at chest height.

In the midst of a serious life transition, RT takes time out for a bit of beautiful whimsy from Madagascar

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Photo: Sifakas are especially adapted to… Neal Strickland. WikiCmns. CC BY 2.0.

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Obituary for Nancy Quinn, 1929-2016

May 24, 2016 4 comments

      It is with deep sadness that Tony, Eric, and Larry Quinn announce the death of their mother, Nancy Quinn, on May 21st from lung cancer. She was 87.

      Nancy Proctor Quinn was born on March 10, 1929 in Pasadena, California. She was the daughter of Stewart E. Wilson, an actor on the legitimate stage, and Leone Muriel Simpson, the daughter of a successful building contractor. As an infant, she was adopted by Margaret Proctor and grew up in Los Angeles and New York City. Her family owned a cabin on Lake Tahoe where she spent many happy summers. She received her elementary and high school education at the Horace Mann School and Marlborough School. While a student at the University of Southern California’s School of International Relations, she met and married Harry Alan Quinn, a WWII veteran who subsequently became a Foreign Service Officer. During a 30-year career, they were posted to the Azores, Brazil, Trinidad, Costa Rica, and France. After returning from overseas, she ran a bed-and-breakfast in Arlington, Virginia. She also worked as a secretary at George Washington University in the 1980s. Her retirement was spent in Shepherdstown and Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Mrs. Quinn was known for her keen wit, her stylish interior decorating, and her entertaining cocktail parties. She had a fine contralto voice and when young wanted to be a jazz singer. She loved dogs and for several years bred her German Shepherds Tippy and Schultz. A gifted storyteller, she wrote a memoir of her childhood, A Daughter’s Song and Dance. She had a green thumb.

Mrs. Quinn believed deeply in the right of adopted children to know the identity of their birth parents, and after a search of many years was able to discover the identity of her own. As a result of her search, she met and became close friends with her half-brother, Kenneth Simpson.

She is survived by her three sons, Lynne Quinn, her daughter-in-law, and Abigail and Alan Quinn, her grandchildren. Her family holds her in loving memory.

We love you, Mama Bear!

Photo: High School Graduation Portrait; family collection; all rights reserved.

Categories: NN. Occasions Tags:

Du Fu, Take 2

April 8, 2016 4 comments

This poem, by Du Fu, China’s greatest poet, continues to haunt RT. The version below isn’t his first attempt at bringing the poem over into English, and certainly the poem’s reputation (its opening lines are generally considered to be the greatest ever written in Chinese poetry) has something to do with his interest. Or it may simply be that the poem is being given to RT slowly, line by line. An improvement over his previous attempt? RT will let his readers judge …

Spring Thoughts

 

The Great Palace lies in ruins;

mountains reflect, rivers pass on.

In cities, weeds like silk pile up,

and rain slaps the flower’s cheek.

But enough of this!

Birdsong astonishes my heart.

 

Three months have passed

and still the beacon fires burn.

I’d pay pure gold for a letter.

Raking my head, exasperated,

I pull loose my scholar’s knot.

The hairpin dangles.

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PaintingEmperor Xuanzong of Tang fleeing to Sichuan province from Chang’an; painter unknown. 11th century. WikiCmns. Public Domain.