Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Things I Was Sent

People send me the nicest things.

After Sunday's column on daffodils, a reader named Gil Osgood sent me the Wordsworth poem entitled, simply, "Daffodils."

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

I wondered why I had never run across this gem before.  It just Says It, which good poetry ought to do.

A young writer-lady from New York named Angela Zehr sent me an old story by William E. Barton called The Millionaire and the Scrublady.

  There is a certian Millionaire, who hath his Offices on the Second Floor of the First National Bank Building. And when he goeth up to his Offices he rideth in the Elevator, but when he goeth down, he walketh.
    And he is an haughty man, who was once poor and hath risen in the World. He is a self-made Man who worshipeth his maker.

    And he payeth his Rent regularly on the first day of the month, and he considereth not that there are Human Beings who run the Elevators, and who Clean the Windows, hanging at a great height above the Sidewalk, and who shovel Coal into the furnace under the Boilers. Neither doth he at Christmas time remember any of them with a Tip or a Turkey.

    And there is in that Building a Poor Woman who Scrubbeth the Stairs and the Halls. And he hath walked past her often but hath never seen her until Recently. For his head was high in the air and he was thinking of More Millions.

    Now it came to pass that on a day that he left his Office, and started to walk down the Stairs.

    And the Scrublady was halfway down; for she had begun at the top and was giving the stairs their first Onceover. And upon the topmost Stair, in a wet and soapy spot, there was a Large Cake of Soap. And the Millionaire stepped on it.

    Now the foot which he set upon the Soap flew eastward toward the sunrise, and the other foot started on an expedition of its own toward the going down of the Sun. And the Millionaire sat down on the Topmost Step, but he did not remain there. As it had been his intention to Descend, so he Descended, but not in the manner of his Original Design. And as he descended he struck each step with a sound as if he had been a Drum.

    And the Scrublady stood aside courteously, and let him go.

    And at the bottom he arose, and considered whether he should rush into the Office of the Building and demand that the Scrublady be fired; but he considered that if he should tell the reason there would be great Mirth among the occupants of the Building. And so he held his peace.

    But since that day he taketh notice of the Scrublady, and passeth her with Circumspection.

    For there is none so high and mighty that he can afford to ignore any of his fellow human beings. For a very Humble Scrublady and a very common bar of Yellow Soap can take the mind of a Great Man off his Business Troubles with surprising rapidity.

    Wherefore, consider these things, and count not thyself too high above even the humblest of the children of God.

    Lest haply thou come down from thy place of pride and walk off with thy bruises aching a little more by reason of thy suspicion that the Scrublady is Smiling in her Suds, and facing the day's work the more cheerfully by reason of the fun thou hast afforded her.

    For these are solemn days, and he that bringeth a smile to the face of a Scrublady hath not lived in vain.

I did a bit of hunting to see if the story was by a long-ago author or a modern author ignorant of OSHA regulations and trying to sound long-ago-ish.  I soon found that Mr. Barton's middle initial stands for Eleazer, which tells you everything you need to know about what era he's from.

I do love stories, and especially old ones.

Then, Nature and a sunny day sent me a little chickadee who spent most of three days attacking his reflection in my office window in wild displays of flapping, pounding, and fluttering.  "More skull than brains," was Ben's assessment of this determined creature.  I can only imagine what the bird's wife had to say.  She'd come by now and then and sit in the bare branches of the camellia bush to check on him and keep him company as he rested from another round.

As Mrs. Chickadee watched Mr., you could sort of sense the mounting tension in their marriage as the look on her face said, "Aren't you about DONE?" and,  "Seriously, let's just go HOME."  He always insisted he just needed one more round and he would win for sure--he was pretty sure the bird in the window was getting tired.

But Mrs. Chickadee had apparently read my friend Dorcas Stutzman's new book, Trust or Control,* so she wouldn't stay around and nag but instead left him to his fighting and calmly flew off to meet a friend for coffee in the redwood tree.

*Yet another thing I was sent, out of the blue, by someone just being nice.

And I got my best shot ever of a wild bird.

The final happy item I was sent was a text from my sister Margaret, which is always entertaining.  The background for this one is the post from January of 2013 in which I described going shopping at "Lizzie Wenger's," her Dutchy neighbor in Pennsylvania with all the barns and sheds full of STUFF.  I thought it qualified as:

Quote of the Day:
"I noticed yesterday shopping at Lizzy's that the regulator for the pressure cooker must be easy to steal...there was a note taped on top...SEE ME FOR THE CHICKLER."


  1. Your QOTD has me chuckling! Reminded me of an old Amish neighbor lady we had who said "Chonason, Chudus, and Choyce". (Jonathan, Judith, Joyce)

  2. I loved the old story of the Millionaire and the Scrubwoman! How true an example of the blinders we may have.

  3. CHICKLER - oh my word, that made me laugh!

    My birthday is in March, so I am always tuned for daffodils. I had that Wordsworth poem in a children's poetry book - loved it always.

  4. You can find more delightful stories like the Millionaire and the Scrublady, in his book...Parables of a Country Parson. Its one of my favorites.