abalone The "stone" in Christine's ring is carved from the pearly, iridescent inner shell of the abalone, an edible marine gastropod.
an Alabama tape The reference is to a cassette of Alabama, a country singing band whose popularity spanned several decades and was voted Artist of the Decade for the 1980s by the Academy of Country Music. Chapter 6 is set in the mid-1980s, when Alabama was one of the hottest country groups performing. Some of their biggest hits include "Mountain Music," "Take Me Down," and "Close Enough to Perfect."
an Alberta blow a strong, bitterly cold wind blowing southward from Canada's Alberta province.
All Souls' Night the night before All Souls' Day, a day of prayers for the dead; usually on November 2.
American kitsch art or figurines that are characterized by an excess of sentimentality — for example, wide-eyed, tear-halfway-down-thecheek porcelain waifs — or pretentious bad taste, such as a 24-carat gold-handled toothbrush.
B.L.S.P. T-shirt a Bearpaw Lake State Park T-shirt.
a bead in the living rosary . . . between the first and second joyful mysteries Rosary beads contain beads symbolic of Joyful Mysteries, Sorrowful Mysteries, and Glorious Mysteries. The first Joyful Mystery is the Annunciation; the second, the Visitation; examples of Sorrowful Mysteries include the Agony in the Garden and the Crowning with Thorns.
BIA the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
C&W club a country-western club.
calico brightly colored fabric.
the can the bathroom.
candy striper a volunteer worker in a hospital; originally they wore pink-and-white-striped uniforms.
chinooks dry, warm winds blowing down from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
come up a boxcar a pair of sixes on a throw of the dice.
the Consecration the sanctification of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ for use in Communion.
domicile a person's residence, or home.
flip him the bird to make a sign of contempt by making a fist and extending the middle finger.
for special clothes worn for a "dress up" occasion.
fresh air funds Sky's pronunciation of "fresh air fiends" — people who enjoy fresh air instead of turning on their air conditioning or furnace.
"Fry Bread Power" bumper stickers pro-Indian political bumper stickers. Fry bread is particularly emblematic as a staple Native American food. An authentic recipe for fry bread calls for mixing 4 cups of white flour, 5 teaspoons of baking powder, and 11/2 teaspoons of salt together in a large bowl and then slowly adding and stirring in about 2 cups of water until the dough is smooth and shiny. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and set aside for 30 minutes. Shape the dough into 16 balls, about the size of an egg, and roll them on a lightly floured board to 1/2-inch thickness or less. Melt lard in a heavy frying pan until it is 11/2 inches deep and heat until just before the smoking point. Place the dough into the hot lard, turning with a fork when it is browned on one side until it is golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or honey, or eat them plain. This recipe serves six to eight people.
gone for a skunk here, to gamble on thoroughly defeating one's card-playing opponents and keep them from scoring.
the Grand Coulee a dam on an enormous gorge, carved by the Columbia River; located in north-central Washington State.
Great Northern the name of a railway line.
H. Earl Clark Museum The museum is located just west of Havre on Highway 2 and contains information about the history and development of the area around Havre, not far from the fictional Bearpaw Lake State Park and the reservation where Aunt Ida lives.
Happy Hunting Ground derisive Anglo slang for what some Anglicans believe Native Americans look forward to after death and upon entering heaven.
her carpet valise a sturdy bag made of carpet material and used for traveling.
hoarfrost frozen dew that forms a white coating on grass on frosty mornings.
hogtie here, to tie together the four lower legs of a calf as fast as possible.
hootenannies informal performances by folk singers.
ICBM's intercontinental ballistic missiles.
IHS the Indian Health Service Hospital.
in Indian Dorris never reveals which native language the main characters speak, nor does he specify which tribe they are members of.
in the tin in the tin pie plate.
the Infant of Prague The exact origin of the Infant is unknown, but we do know that it came from a monastery in Bohemia and, from there, was obtained by a noblewoman who gave it as a wedding gift to her daughter, who gave it as a wedding gift to her daughter. In 1628, the daughter, Lady Polyxena, presented the statue to Carmelite nuns, saying, "I am giving you what I most esteem of my possessions. Keep the sculpture in reference and you will be well off." The statue then became known as the Infant Jesus of Prague. It stands about eighteen inches high and has a long golden gown around its wax body and a golden crown atop its head. Since then, copies of the Infant have been made and distributed to European churches and all parts of the world.
June berries blue-black and purplish berries growing on shad bushes.
just tooling just driving around, rather aimlessly.
Kate Smith a U.S. singer, popular as a radio personality during WWII for her moving rendition of "God Bless America."
Kateri Tekakwitha The daughter of a Christian Algonquin mother and a pagan Mohawk chief, Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in what would become New York State. When she was four years old, all of her family died of smallpox. Tekakwitha survived but was terribly scarred and weak for the rest of her life. After she was converted by missionaries, she lived a single life, teaching prayers to children and helping the sick and aged until she died in 1680, at the age of twenty-four. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 30, 1980.
a large indulgence a large amount of money due for sins in order to shorten one's time of punishment in purgatory.
Last Rites Catholic rites or sacraments administered to a dying person.
La-Z-Boy a brand of recliner chair.
the letter the Blessed Virgin gave to Lucy at Fatima According to Catholic tradition, on July 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin confided a secret (which was to be written down in the form of a letter) to a girl named Lucy that would be given later to the general public. The secret was divided into three parts, and Sister Lucy, with the approval of her bishop, revealed the first two parts in 1941. The third part was to be made known, by the latest, by 1960. Christine believes that in this letter it will be revealed that either Communist Russia has been converted or the world will come to an end. Because Russia is still under the thumb of non-Catholic communism, Christine is sure that the world is coming to an end. Later in the novel, in Chapter 9, Christine describes how, on New Year's Eve, she is so convinced that the world is coming to an end that she insists on giving her mother, Aunt Ida, a home permanent before The End. And nothing happens. Christine listens to the radio, hearing New Year's celebration music in New York, then in Chicago, in Denver, and then in Los Angeles. The world doesn't end; nothing has changed. She is utterly disillusioned with Catholicism.
like a gaff like a large hook.
M.Y.O.B. mind your own business.
a Mahogany Elgin is joking here, indulging in wordplay; because mahogany is an extremely dark black wood, he is creating a theoretical tribe of black "Indians" and using the term "Mahogany" to approximate, say, "Mohican."
the MC the master of ceremonies.
a miraculous medal On November 27, 1830, the Virgin Mary appeared to Catherine Laboure in a vision and asked her to have a medal made. On the front of the medal was to be a representation of Mary herself. The back was to have, among other things, a picture of two hearts, the Sacred Heart with a crown of thorns around it and the Heart of Mary pierced by a sword. Catherine reported that Mary said to her, "Have this medal struck and all who wear it shall receive great graces if they wear it around their neck."
missal a book containing all the prayers and responses for celebrating the mass.
muscatel a sweet wine made from muscatel grapes.
Oakdale the fictional setting for the soap opera As the World Turns.
Old Crow a brand of whiskey.
OSU probably Oregon State University.
a pallet layers of quilts and blankets laid on the floor, usually for children to sleep on during long stays by relatives, when beds are few.
the paten the plate used to hold the host (consecrated wafers) during the celebration of the Eucharist.
Percocet a prescription pain pill.
a perfect Palmer hand During the first half of the twentieth century, penmanship was a required course, beginning in second grade and continuing through sixth grade. Children nationwide were required to practice loops, swirls, and push-and-pull zigzags in Palmer notebooks, hoping to master the gently inclined, smooth continuity that is the hallmark of the Palmer method. Scholastic tests often carried two grades — one for content, the other for handwriting.
pheromones chemicals secreted by certain animals that influence the behavior of others of the same species.
pinochle a game of cards for two or four people, played with a special deck of forty-eight cards.
Purple Heart a military decoration awarded to members of the armed forces who are wounded in battle.
rap sessions spontaneous and informal discussions held by people with similar concerns, problems, or causes.
Red Power Indians Indians united for political and economic reasons, seeking racial equality.
Requiescat in pace Latin, meaning "rest in peace."
the rez the reservation.
the Sacred Heart a painting or illustration of Jesus revealing his physical heart, a symbol of love and redemptive sacrifice.
Santana a Latin rock/blues group that played at Woodstock and was especially popular during the 1970s and early 1980s.
scything grass cutting grass by swinging a scythe, a long-handled implement with a single-edged, curved cutting blade.
a shirttail cousin a third or fourth cousin.
a silver bola [or bolo] tie a "necktie" made of a long piece of leather cord and fastened at the throat by a decorative clasp.
a sixer of Rainier a six-pack of Rainier beer.
Smokeys citizens band radio lingo for officers of the state highway patrol.
St. Dominic Savio The son of a peasant, Dominic was born in Italy in 1842. When he was twelve years old, he vowed to become a priest and began studying in Turin, sweeping floors and counseling young boys who were considered misfits. Once, when two boys were about to stone one another, Dominic stepped between them, reminding them of Christ's sinless soul and telling them to stone him, Dominic, rather than one another. Three years later, he died and was beatified in 1950 and canonized in 1954. He is the patron saint of choirboys.
Stetson a trademarked hat with a high crown and wide brim.
stinger a cocktail of crème de menthe and brandy.
the sums mathematical addition problems.
teased into a rat's nest A woman backcombs all of her hair until it is enormously bouffant and then lacquers it thoroughly with hair spray.
that fish-eyed desk clerk a suspicious-looking desk clerk.
to snooker me to cheat or deceive.
to spell me to relieve someone from a chore for a short time so that the person can rest.
to stay straight here, to stay sober — not to get drunk until after the bronco riding contest is over.
UCSD the University of California, San Diego.
Ukie a Canadian who was (or whose family was) originally from the Ukraine.
a V with his fingers The peace sign (antiwar) during the Vietnam War was exhibited by holding the palm of the hand outward with the middle and index fingers spread to form a V.
Volaré a Plymouth automobile manufactured by the Chrysler Corporation in the late 1970s.
WAC a member of the Women's Army Corps.
When John F. Kennedy was killed November 22, 1963.
Wildroot a brand of men's hairdressing.