Monday, June 16, 2014

A New Constellation

Despite George Washington's shivering Victory or Death brinksmanship in New Jersey at the beginning of the year, 1777 was wicked tough for the Americans' rebellion. Still, the gents at the embattled Continental Congress found time 237 years ago this week to take care of a particular bit of business. For one thing, they appointed John Paul Jones to captain the USS Ranger and use her eighteen guns to hassle the hell out of England. For another, the Congressmen, in a stripey and stellar bit of acting 'as if ye had faith,' came up with happily worded resolution. On Saturday, June 14, they "resolved that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white, that the union be thirteen stars, which in a blue field, representing a new constellation."  

I bring this up for a couple of reasons, maybe more. 
                                                              As they occur to me. 
(1.) "A new constellation" is such a beautiful, artful phrase, written at such a God-almighty high stakes harrowing time. 

(2.)  My post is due in the morning. What could I write about? As it has more than once, the calendar came in handy. At his writing, Flag Day was yesterday. And Flag Day was a bit of a big deal in our house because it was on another Saturday, June 14, 1947, that my folks met, on a blind date. (Got married two months later.) And did you know that it was on June 16, 1858 that Abraham Lincoln gave his House Divided speech? And the 17th will be another anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill and the 18th will mark ten years since my one novel got accepted? Or that next September will make 200 years since Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the
 the Star-Spangled Banner? Well, there you go. The calendar is absolutely stiff with junk worth remembering. A veritable parade full of floats, history-wise.] 
And there's going to be a book of mine [about the history of flags, as a matter of fact].

(3.) Do I write about what's really on my mind? Don't think you want to hear about the diet I need to be on or any of my get-rich-slow schemes, including my half-written murder mystery. You don't need to know my thoughts on Amazon's megalomaniacal practices [except, well, if you've got a local bookstore, by God support it!] This isn't the place to discuss the sickening, scary situations in Iraq and Syria or the toxic, constipated condition of the present-day Congress or our country's plague of guns, and most of its treasure going to the wealthy, who've managed - guess what - to hijack our secular/sacred, hard-won system of government. The Game of Thrones? (Thank God for artful escapism. Never followed the series until here lately when I've seen almost every available episode.) The I've been picture book I'm trying to design? Speaking of which, you knew, right? That James and Dolley Madison gave Wednesday evening "Drawing Rooms" at the White House? All sorts of people showed up - Washington Irving, for instance. 
Dolley Madison

(4.) I could write about the end of this particular collective. That would be timely. It was at the U. of Central MO's annual children's literature festival where clever, stylish Jan Greenberg asked if I'd be willing to contribute to a group blog. Bless her and I was so pleased. Had I not said yes, you all would have missed some this and that. But what would I have lost? These chances to really think about what my various subjects. To get to know some of my fellow writers a little better. To have a better sense of who all's out there: Readers and toilers in the messy gardens of teaching and learning to the constant geek chorus yammer  beyond the garden walls, bless your sturdy hearts and minds. And so we bumble onward.

Long live books. 
Long live the republic.
May our constellation shine as long as the stars. 


Gretchen Woelfle said...

June 16 in the present (well, nearly): Dramatic last-minute USA win against Ghana in the World Cup. 2-1.

Cheryl Harness said...


Susan Kuklin said...

Oh, I'm going to miss your blogs, Cheryl. I hope you will send emails every once in a while about your latest thoughts, books, adventures. And, hey, if you come up with a good diet, please share.

Great post. Thanks.

Cheryl Harness said...

Oh now, Susan Kuklin, you have made my day, bless your heart. I reckon I'll be confining my thoughts to Facebook - and those Nonfiction Minutes.

Diet? I must've been pretty loaded when I made mention of diets...