(oops! Forgot to post this one)
Late afternoon on this Sunday, and life has been coming at me full force this past week --- well, past month. However, I have persevered --- or been just more obsessive than usual. My main focus, though not necessarily what I intended, has been J.P. McPherson's diary. I managed to transcribe nearly two years during this past week -- up to March 6th, 1854. It's a hard GO, hard on the eyes, required intense concentration, and the willingness to put myself along side J.P. and his world of the 1850s. However, in some respects the transcription is getting easier because I have a greater background and knowledge of how J.P. writes, who he writes about, and the tasks that he writes about. On the other hand, more and more questions are coming arising out of his short and terse entries.
This next week, I am going to start doing an analysis of his first year in Springdale; the people that he met and worked with and for; people to whom he posted or received letters; important task and events. Stopping to analyze each year will show the pattern of friendships, his increasing political interest; how the farm changes, i.e., crops, number of animals, buildings, and use of neighbors equipment and teams. If I don't do a yearly analysis, so much of the richness of the diary will be lost.
I found myself surprised as I read along about his trips to Madison, which was nearly 22 miles from his home in Springdale (perhaps a longer trip in the 1850s). Then one day, I realized that he did not have a horse, nor oxen, so he walked to Madison. Sometimes, he would go with other folk from Springdale, but in the first couple of years he did not mention riding in a wagon (or waggon as he writes it) or by horseback -- though he might have. Two years after he arrived in Springdale, he begins to mention "raising" of neighbors stables -- though not his own, as his next "raising" was his root celler in the fall of 1853.. I would like to know how many horses and wagons were in the little village of Springdale in 1850-53; who had horses and wagons; did all of the families walk to their neighbors when they went "visiting." So many questions I would like to ask of my great-great grandfather.
I did not work on my book of Uncle Ralph's Letters, and probably won't take up that project for another week.
I did send a short piece to my Eugene critique group and I am a bit anxious about how it is going to fair. The group is focused on essays and memoir type writing and this does not quite fall into either category, but more of a bit of fiction in which I played with how my dad's last two sisters might act in a certain situation. The piece came out of a short news brief about a store in Montana that gave away guns (a hand gun or a shot gun) to anyone who signed up for a subscription for a satellite TV company. Of course, as the aunties were quick to say, "We'd never do such a thing!" Still it was a fun piece to write --- even though the aunties looked at me with questioning eyes.
And, my friends, this is a wrap for this week.