Mama Remembered: “Mysteries of Anatomy”

July 9, 2010

At the very end of Mama’s book, I Remember, she shared some songs and poetry which she had memorized.  Here is a cute one that is also recorded in her father’s journal, Duncan’s Ledger:

I learned this from my dad when I was a little girl.

Mysteries of Anatomy

Where can a man buy a cap for his knee, or a key to a lock of his hair?

Can his eyes be called an academy, because there are pupils there?

Is the crown of his head where jewels are found?

Who travels the bridge of his nose?

If he wanted to shingle the roof of his mouth, would he use the nails on the end of his toes?

Can he sit in the shade of the palm of his hand, or beat on the drum of his ear?

Can the calf of his leg eat the corn off his toe?

If so, why not grown corn on his ear?

Can the crook of his arm be sent to jail?

If so, just what did he do?

How can he sharpen his shoulder blades?

I’ll be darned if I know, do you?

When Mama was a little girl, her family was very poor and moved alot so they didn’t have many books and seldom lived close enough to visit a library.  So they memorized things like this.  She says, I learned this from my dad when I was a little girl. I can picture her father going over and over this with her to help her memorize it.  And I imagine as they did that, she might have questioned him about the meaning of some of it.  “Where is the cap of my knee?” or “What is the bridge of my nose?” or giggled at the idea of corn growing in her ear!

And this is a tradition that Mama passed down to her children too.  I had many more books than she had had, but she still spent time reciting poems like this to me and encouraging me to memorize the nursery rhymes and songs in my books.

One on one time spent with a child, helping them memorize something that they may be able to recall and smile about  for the rest of their lives — and possibly teach to their children.  The need for this way of learning may have been replaced by many other ways for children to learn today, but it is a source of great memories for those of us who experienced it.

There She Goes, Here She Comes … the poem found!

June 6, 2010

In July, 2008 I wrote this post about the eloquent eulogy the priest gave at a funeral I attended.

Yesterday a kind lady named Lili left the following poem as a comment on that post!  I’m delighted, because I recognize this as the poem I had heard long ago that so perfectly expressed the sentiment in the priest’s message.

(7/14/10 Update in a comment from “Doug” :  It is actually entitled “Gone from My Sight” and was written by Henry Van Dyke sometime in the 19th century. We put in on the back of the bulletin at my Dad’s memorial service.)
I am standing by the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch
until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sun and sky come down to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says, ‘There she goes!
Gone where? Gone from my sight – that is all.

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the places of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
‘There she goes! ‘ ,
there are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout :
‘Here she comes!’

Thank you, Lili.  It is a lovely poem and a wonderful way to look at the passing of a loved one.

Duncan’s Ledger: Those Deadly Pies

May 19, 2010

A poem my grandfather wrote down in his ledger while sitting around a campfire or a bunkhouse with other cowboys about 100 years ago, which gives us some humorous insight into the anonymous author’s experience with food preservation!

Those Deadly Pies

I loathe, abhor, detest, despise,

abominable dried apple pies.

I like good bread, I like good meat,

or anything that’s good to eat;

but of all poor grub beneath the skies,

the poorest is dried apple pies.

The farmer takes his gnarliest fruit,

’tis wormy, bitter and hard to boot.

They leave the hulls to make me cough,

and don’t take half the peelings off.

Then on a dirty cord ’tis strung,

and in a garret window hung.

And there it serves a rest for flies,

until it’s made up into pies.

Tread on my corns and tell me lies,

but don’t pass me dried apple pies!