Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Down the Nile

Today would have been my Grandpa Trever's 98th birthday. Is there a person in your life that you use as a straight edge for how you live? Whatever I do, I wonder what he would of thought or what choices he would have made in the same situation. While I tend to end up feeling as though I can never live up to the example he set, I know that's not how he felt about me. Harold Malcon Trever was born Oct. 2, 1909 in Hickory, Wisconsin. He spent most of his life within fifteen miles of that house, and when he died in 1989, he was within sight of it. He lived his life with the motto: your word is your bond. During the Depression, he and Grandma struggled for money (and with each other) because he insisted on extending credit to their customers. He had faith in God and in people. I remember weekly visits to their house as a little girl. I was always bored out of my mind, because I was expected to sit quietly on the couch while the adults visited. As I got older, I started listening to Grandpa's stories and began to appreciate him. The summer before he died, I noticed that while sitting in his rocking chair, he often extended his legs as if wanting to put them on a footstool. I was in woodworking in 4-H, so that became my project. I used a scrollsaw on the legs and stapled upholstery on the top. I was so excited when it was finished, I couldn't even wait for his birthday to give it to him. Every time I came over to visit after that until he died, he always rested his feet on that stool, and I felt so proud. I only found out the truth after he was gone: Grandpa didn't like footstools and never used them, so my stool sat next to his chair until he heard me come in the door, then he would scoot the stool into place and place his feet on top. And that story tells you everything you need to know about my grandpa. He's been gone for 18 years, and the hole in my heart has yet to heal.

Down the Nile by Rosemary Mahoney is the story of one woman's quest to row a boat solo from Aswan to Qena, Egypt. This intriguing true story gives Nile trivia, a history of Nile travel, travelogue, and surprisingly little Egyptian history. Rose goes through all sorts of tortured situations trying to even get her hands on a boat in a country where women don't ever go in a boat by themselves or own a boat. The men think she's joking in her search for a rowboat to purchase, and she ends up using deception to purchase one. Most of the book consists of her search for a boat, the history she's read in preparation for the journey, and her meetings with various Egyptian peoples. The book is strongest in her descriptions of the countryside. Here's her take on the sky in Abu Simbel: ..night sky was a metropolis of its own, an enormous velvety parabola embracing the earth... The whole place was a swirling mass of stars. I felt short of breath and utterly insignificant looking at its hugeness and depth. This was a night sky you didn't have to raise your eyes to. It began below the horizon and was always right in front of you, wherever you turned. When I looked at it, the vortex of stars seemed to be lifting me off the ground, and I had to look down at my feet now and then to see that they were firmly planted. After that, I'm ready to grab my passport and head there myself! Rose's interactions with the people of the land are alternately funny and disturbing. Nearly every man propositions her sexually, and those who don't talk to her about sex with no compunctions whatsoever. The book falters when Rose tries to tie her trip down the Nile to trips made by previous travelers, and too much of the book is devoted to the writings of Gustave Flaubert and Florence Nightingale. While it's true that the journey is far more than the destination, the book ends rather abruptly when Rose meets her goal. This is a fascinating look at Egyptian/Nubian culture and well worth the read.

I called the doctor about the nausea, and he took me off of the methotrexate and put me on Imuran. Argh!


Timothy Fish said...

I don't know that I can say that I have one particular person that serves as a straight edge. Without going through and counting, I would say there are about fifty or so that really stand out. Some of them are living and some of them are dead. It is hard to say which stand out the most. For the most part, they agree on the important things. I am also concerned about the example I will leave for others. I hope that when some of the kids I instruct now reach a later point in life they will look back and say, Timothy Fish was faithful.

Christy Lockstein said...

Amen! That's a beautiful thought. Thanks for visiting the blog so regularly!