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  Monday, August 15th, 2016

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.


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  Monday, August 8th, 2016

Lost at Sea

Colette Colascione
2015-16
oil on canvas
16 x 20 inches


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  Monday, August 8th, 2016

Give Us This Day

Marsden Hartley
1938
oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches


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  Monday, August 8th, 2016

Snow Leopard Melons

The Ivory Gaya melon has a unique variegated exterior, as the name suggests the base color of the skin is an ivory cream covered in small lime green speckles and streaks. A petite melon the Ivory Gaya has an oblong shape. Ivory Gaya melons have a thin outer rind, that when cut reveals a creamy white inner flesh. Toward the center of the melon the flesh is soft and juicy, the flesh closer to the skin of the Ivory Gaya melon will have a crisper texture. The Ivory Gaya offers a sweet flavor, with nuances of pear and honey. When ripe its blossom end will have a slight give and when at room temperature will offer a sweet and rich melon aroma.

Ivory Gaya melons are available in the late spring and early summer months.

A member of the Cucurbitaceae or Cucurbit family the Ivory Gaya melon is of the muskmelon species and botanically known as Cucumis melo inodorus ‘Ivory Gaya’. Also known as the Snow Leopard melon the Ivory Gaya is often referred to as an “ice box” variety melon as a result of its petite size that easily fits in a crisper drawer. This honeydew cultivator is a specialty melon and sought after for its unique exterior coloring and sweet melon flavor.

Like many honeydew cultivator melons the Ivory Gaya has an exceptionally sweet flavored flesh that is ideal for fresh eating. Its petite size makes it perfect as a personal melon which can be halved and eaten as is for one. Pureed it can be used as a base for cold soups or sauces. Cubed it can be added to both fruit and green salads or used on fruit kebabs. Companion flavors include salty Italian meats such as salami and prosciutto, parmesan cheese, feta, balsamic vinegar, berries, grapes, tomato, olives and lime juice. Keep at room temperature until ripe. Uncut melons can be kept in the refrigerator for up to five days. Once sliced melon will keep best wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator and when used within three days.

The Ivory Gaya melon is native to Japan. In addition to Japan, today it can be found growing in China, Mexico, South America and in North America, specifically in southern California. A vining type the Ivory Gaya melon thrives in warm sunny conditions. Sill a rather unique variety melon in California the Ivory Gaya can be found at select Asian markets, farmers markets and specialty grocers.


  Friday, August 5th, 2016

The kingdom of God is for the broken hearted.

—Fred Rogers

  Friday, July 29th, 2016

Dear Dad

I wanted to write and thank you again for your help in restoring my pride in my writing. Pride really isn’t the right word, for it has lots of evil connotations, but you understand. Just to know that you respect my abilities is enough, the entire MU English department could tear me up but it wouldn’t damage me knowing that you’re behind me. What I would do without you and Mom I dare not speculate. I also wanted to write and tell you some other things — like, ya’ know Dad, all my life I’ve listened to you mourn the fact that teaching English and writing is a bankrupt profession, a miserable charade. Well, Dad, that certainly can be the case (witness my current hellish situation). And it isn’t just hell because I’m being cheated and degraded — I am also saddened to see the rest of the kids in the class accepting the crap my professor spits out, and accepting his “teaching” as the real thing when it is nothing less than the instruction of memo-writing, a level of instruction more befitting a course in auto mechanics. No! That’s NOT what writing is about! Can one really be surprised at the growing, ever-growing sentiments of anti-intellectualism among the young when bastards like my teacher are passed off as scholars? But just as I must accept all the hypocrisy in my own profession — the various God-hating styles of therapy, the maiming of those people that society seems to view unfit with mind-destroying drugs, the psychiatrists and therapists out there that pass judgments of insanity on the helpless so as to fill hospital admission quotas, and on and on — just as I must accept these evils, so I must also see those of us working to restore the human spirit, those of us who see that spirit as divine and priceless and wish to, dare to, become mechanics and beauticians of the soul, yet always knowing that our help is imperfect & must always fall short of what a human being gains from finding true peace (and which I happen to believe can occur only through spirituality). I recognize that I am but a consultant, a tool and a dispenser of tools to our fellow creatures. Yet even in this capacity there is spirit, there is love, there is goodness and truth. And so I am content with my “job” even though I can never ignore the existence of all those other charlatans and criminals sharing my title, my professional name. What I’m trying to say by this lengthy discourse on my vocation is to say something about yours — that I think all things run a particular continuum and that as extreme as my English teacher is at one end of the line, you, Dad, are just as dramatically on the opposite end. I’ve never understood why you could never see your genius, and how valuable your skills are. I think that to teach is also a very spiritual thing and no matter what you might believe, I think one can “teach” literature and writing. Less straightforward as explaining calculus or Marxist theory perhaps but nevertheless just as real. To act as interpreter of the great literature for your students is to give insight on that most elusive and fascinating thing, the human condition — and that’s perhaps the most important and worthwhile thing one can teach & learn about. Well, I just wanted to express myself to you on this, I’ve gotta end this epistle here and go back to cramming for a Sociology mid-term. Again, thanks, and I hope to see you soon as I miss you. Take care, OK? Much love, Your daughter, J.

—March 8th, 1991


  Friday, July 29th, 2016

More Thoughts for the Day

“Thank you” is of course a shortened form of “I thank you” — the omitted “I” an inadvertent but nonetheless useful reminder that the act of thanking should be totally selfless. (3/15/05)

The older we get, the shorter the years seem — as though the closer we get to eternity, the stronger is God’s reminder of time’s comparative insignificance. (7/31/01)

To those who consider the world totally bad: you just contradicted yourself. For if your view is true, there is then at least one good thing in the world: truth; and if one, why not many? (1/25/02)

Let us so live that after we are gone, we are remembered with affection, with admiration, but, above all, with gratitude. (3/21/02)

After a great defeat, the sky doesn’t fall, but neither does the earth move after a great victory.

Going to a community college for a liberal education is like going to a brothel for romance.

We’re all sinners, so saints are no exceptions. One difference is that saints persist in trying to imitate Jesus by living for others despite the countless times they fail. Non-saints persist in thinking they can find happiness by accumulating possessions despite repeated and invariable failure. Saints, in short, are sinners who keep loving; non-saints, sinners who love keeping. (8/2/07)

I can well understand how a painter achieves a beautiful painting; a sculptor, a beautiful statue; a poet, a beautiful poem. But I can’t for the life of me understand how a composer achieves a beautiful melody. Since all the natural explanations I’ve heard ring false, I’m inclined to believe that the true explanation is supernatural. Put it this way: it is said that a coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. So, I suspect, is a beautiful melody. (4/24/08)

As a writer, I’m like an architect: making constructions in part for your delight but mainly for your use. The difference is that you are meant to live in his; mine are meant to live in you. (6/29/04)

The late astronomer Carl Sagan famously said that the cosmos is all there is, was, and will be. At times, though, some extraordinary happening or feeling will strongly suggest to me a higher reality. It’s as if a king disguised as a commoner dropped his handkerchief bearing the royal insignia, thereby affording me a fleeting glimpse of the insignia before he could retrieve the handkerchief. Putting it another way, in the divine work of art that is the cosmos, I now & then glimpse what looks very much like the artist’s signature. (7/21/05)

Reading, listening to music, watching ball games — these are just a few of my passive pleasures, & they give me great enjoyment. But far more enjoyable are my active pleasures: announcing, singing, writing, Scripture-reading in church. I think it’s because God’s greatest delight is creation, and, being made in his image & likeness, we naturally find more fulfillment in creating than in merely appreciating excellence. Similarly, we find more fulfillment in doing than in being good. It couldn’t be plainer: God calls us to be spark plugs, not sponges; dynamos, not dominoes. (7/21/05)

Boredom: the echo of one’s emptiness.

Nowadays, I read primarily to support my religious beliefs. Books, in other words, are to my faith what flying buttresses are to a Gothic cathedral. (4/30/04)

A death-row prisoner hears of a scheme whereby he can escape execution and receive a full pardon as well. He does not, however, avail himself of that scheme not because he investigates it & finds it wanting in some way but because he doesn’t even bother to investigate it! Why, he must be the biggest fool who ever lived, right? Well, that prisoner is every non-Christian who has heard of Christ’s plan of salvation but doesn’t even bother to investigate it. I can, in sum, understand every attitude toward that plan except indifference, which completely blows my mind! Blaise Pascal–paraphrased by Jerold Stock. (4/09/04)


  Friday, July 22nd, 2016

The Luminous Epinoia

The Solomonic hymn to Sophia anticipates the little-known Gnostic narrative of the fallen goddess. This myth was the centerpiece of the Pagan Mystery tradition in which the gnostikoi, “those who know divine matters, as the gods know,” were the founders and directors. Over a century ago, G. R. S. Mead observed that “Gnostic forms are found to preserve elements from the mystery-traditions of antiquity in greater fullness than we find elsewhere,” but this opinion has been ignored by scholars who find in Gnosticism only the cast-off elements of early Christian views. Consequently, there has been little or no interest in recovering the complete Sophia myth that formed the sacred narrative of the Pagan Mysteries.

This is not an academic problem, but a crisis of human imagination—a crisis clearly indicated in the myth itself, as we shall see. To the Gnostic masters of the Mysteries, a sacred theory of the earth required the power of imagination, or, one could say, applied imagination, so that humanity could participate actively in the life-story of the fallen goddess. Even the scant elements in the sapiential writings sketch the way toward this sacred vision, but the Gnostic Sophia story attains the full-blown expression of an interactive planetary myth.

In Where the Wasteland Ends, Theodore Roszak observed that the Judeo-Christian redemption story, by presenting a linear male-centered plot overseen by an off-planet deity, has crippled the mythopoetic powers innate to the human species:

Christ belongs to history; his rivals were mere myths. Clearly, there occurred with the advent of Christianity a deep shift of consciousness which severely damaged the mythopoeic powers—far more so than was the case even in Judaism.

The history of Biblical writing before the Common Era, and the subsequent war on Gnostic heresy waged by the Church Fathers, show the immense effort it took to deny the sacred origin of the earth recounted in the myth of the fallen goddess, Sophia. The fact of the sacredness of the earth depends on the faculty to engage it, the cognitive capacity to know Gaia with insight and empathy. The myth itself asserts that the Divine Sophia gave humanity the gift of imagination, “the luminous epinoia,” so that humans could participate in Her Story via creative or imaginal thinking: “The luminous epinoia was endowed in humanity, for this is the one power that was to awaken its thinking” (NHLE 117.21).

The sacred myth of Sophia is interactive and transhistorical. The heresy condemned by the Church Fathers is not, and never was, a mere matter of academic argument. It is a flashpoint for imaginative engagement. The repression of the Divine Feminine is a fact of history, and it is also part of Sophia´s mythic biography. The powers ranged against human imagination are clearly described in the myth. According to the Gnostics, Sophia´s redemption depends on humanity´s empathy with Her story, the unique myth that describes the goddess who existed “or ever the earth was.” In the Mysteries, Sophia was the name for what we today call Gaia, but before Gaia became the sensous, inhabitable earth.


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  Saturday, July 16th, 2016

Finding Our Way Home

Scallop shell symbolism is associated with the apostle, James. James the Greater was son of Zebedee, a fisherman of Galilee, and brother of John the Evangelist. He was among the circle of men closest to Jesus, being present with Peter and John at the Transfiguration, and again at the Agony in the Garden, where the same three are seen sleeping while Christ prays. A series of legends dating from the Middle Ages tells of his mission to Spain and burial at Compostella, which then became one of the great centers of Christian pilgrimage. It was well-established as a place of pilgrimage by the eleventh century, next in importance to Jerusalem and Rome.

In art James appears as three distinct types; one of them is the pilgrim: He wears the pilgrim’s broad-brimmed hat and cloak. From his staff or shoulder hangs the wallet or water-gourd of the pilgrim. His special attribute, the scallop shell, appears on his hat or cloak, or on the wallet.

To this day, on arrival at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, pilgrims present their Pilgrim Passports, duly stamped at each of their halts along the way, at the Cathedral’s Pilgrim Office, and apply for the Compostela, the traditional certificate in Latin confirming their completion of the pilgrimage.

The origin of the scallop shell as the badge of the pilgrim to Compostella is open to more than one explanation. Found in abundance along northern Spanish beaches, the scallop shell has become closely intertwined with the Camino de Santiago. The shell is carved into the walls and fittings of this parish and adorns the church’s stationary. Practical observers argue that the shell was adopted merely as a device for sipping water from streams along the way. If this is so, it quickly took on greater meaning even to the earliest pilgrims.

The scallop design symbolizes the many European starting points from which medieval pilgrims began their journey, all drawn to a single point at the base of the shell, Santiago de Compostela. Today in Spain cement scallop shell markers along the Camino reassure participants that they have not taken a wrong turn and local residents decorate their gardens and houses with shells in solidarity with the pilgrims. A recent pilgrim recalled that the shells “came in various forms: ceramic shells fitted onto road markers, government-issue traffic signs marked with an abstract shell, shining brass shells imbedded in sidewalks. Some were broken, some had been stolen as souvenirs leaving only a trace of their presence, some were beautiful, some so simply sketched as to provide the mere suggestion of a shell. In all their variations, they marked the route for hundreds of miles. They reminded all of us pilgrims that in the midst of a world both beautiful and broken there are signs to help lead us forward, sometimes right under our feet.”


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  Saturday, July 16th, 2016

Compostela: The Joining of Heaven & Earth

The scallop shell is the traditional emblem of James, son of Zebedee, and is popular with pilgrims on the Way of St James to the apostle’s shrine at Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Spain). Medieval Christians making the pilgrimage to his shrine often wore a scallop shell symbol on their hat or clothes. The pilgrim also carried a scallop shell with him, and would present himself at churches, castles, abbeys etc., where he could expect to be given as much sustenance as he could pick up with one scoop. Probably he would be given oats, barley, and perhaps beer or wine. Thus even the poorest household could give charity without being overburdened.

Saint Augustine is said to have been walking along the seashore, meditating on the unfathomable mystery of the Holy Trinity. A boy was using a shell to pour sea water into a little hole. When Augustine asked him what he was doing, he replied, “I am emptying the sea into this hole.” Thus did Augustine understand that man would never penetrate to the depths of the mystery of God.

In Antiquity depictions of the scallop shell in funerary imagery were intended to denote the heavenly afterlife and its use was appropriated into the symbolism of the early Church. The interior of the aedicule of Constantine’s church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem featured the form of a scallop shell carved into the niche.

It has also been noted that from prehistoric times, shells were placed around the bodies of the dead as part of funerary rites.

The seashore to which Compostelan pilgrims directed themselves to collect their maritime pilgrim’s badge was not any seashore. It was in fact the point of land known as Finisterra, the end of the earth and one may speculate further as to what significance this may hold. This was the edge of the known world beyond which lay the western horizon, whose mythological connotations include ideas of the Land of the Dead and the resurrection symbolism of the sun’s decline and subsequent rising.

To this day, the coastline remains known as the Costa da Muerte and the numerous Celtic remnants still found in Galicia have given rise to suggestions that there was at the headland a cultic site, the Ara de Solis.

The proposition that rituals involving a ceremonial journey of the dead were performed there, prompts the question of whether the pilgrimage to Compostela was an adaption of an earlier cult associated with the passage to the afterlife, of which the scallop shell as a vessel of transportation over the sea to a Paradisaical realm, remains an evocative vestige. This may be the source of one of the Apostle of Compostela’s legendary miracles, when a drowned knight was brought up out of the sea by the saint, covered in scallop shells and restored to life.


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  Saturday, July 16th, 2016

Scallops

Scallops are a cosmopolitan family of bivalves, found in all of the world’s oceans, though never in freshwater. They are one of very few groups of bivalves to be primarily “free-living”; many species are capable of rapidly swimming short distances and even of migrating some distance across the ocean floor. A small minority of scallop species live cemented to rocky substrates as adults, while others are more simply attached by means of a filament they secrete called a byssal thread. The majority of species, however, live recumbent on sandy substrates, and when they sense the presence of a predator such as a starfish, they are able to escape by swimming swiftly but erratically through the water using a form of jet propulsion created by repeatedly clapping their shells together. Scallops have a well-developed nervous system, and unlike most other bivalves they have numerous simple eyes situated around the edge of their mantles.

Many species of scallops are highly prized as a food source, and some are farmed as aquaculture. The word “scallop” is also applied to the meat of these bivalves when it is sold as seafood. In addition the name “scallop” is used as part of the name of dishes based on the meat of scallops, and is even applied to some dishes not containing scallop at all but which are prepared in a similar fashion. The brightly colored, symmetrical, fan-shaped shells of scallops with their radiating and often fluted sculpture are valued by shell collectors, and have been used since ancient times as motifs in art, architecture and design.

The family Pectinidae is the most diversified of the pectinoideans in present-day oceans. It is one of the largest marine bivalve families and contains 300 extant species in 60 genera. Its origin dates back to the Middle Triassic Period, approximately 240 million years ago, and has been a thriving family to present day. Evolution from its origin has resulted in a successful and diverse group: pectinids are present in the world’s seas, found in environments ranging from the intertidal zone to the hadal depths. The Pectinidae play an extremely important role in many benthic communities and exhibit a wide range of shell shape, sizes, sculpture, and culture.

Scallops are characterized by having two types of meat in one shell: the adductor muscle, called “scallop”, which is white and meaty, and the roe, called “coral”, which is red or white and soft. Sometimes, markets sell scallops already prepared in the shell, with only the adductor muscle intact. Outside the U.S., the scallop is often sold whole. In the UK and Australia, they are available both with and without the roe. The roe is also usually eaten.

Scallops have lent their name to the culinary term “scalloped”, which originally referred to seafood creamed and served hot in the shell. Today, it means a creamed casserole dish such as scalloped potatoes, which contains no seafood at all.


  Saturday, July 9th, 2016

Taste the hidden sweetness that lies within your heart which God has kept for those whose lives are tender within. Place your mind in the softness of life’s eternal flow. Place your soul in the brilliance of heaven’s endless glow; and love him totally who gave himself for your love, and you will hold him who holds all things in truth.

—St. Clare of Assisi

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  Thursday, July 7th, 2016

And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

—Luke 13:20-21, KJV

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  Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

The Mission Fig

The Mission fig (also known as Black Mission or Franciscana) is a popular variety of the edible fig (Ficus carica). It was first introduced to what is now the United States in 1768 when Franciscan missionaries planted it in San Diego. It was also planted in the subsequent missions that the Franciscans established up the California coast. Gustav Eisen writes, “The early padres and missionaries in the Pacific coast States cultivated no other variety of fig”. It later became the main commercial variety planted throughout California. The Mission fig was later surpassed by the Sari Lop fig (also known as Calimyrna) as the most popular commercial fig variety grown in California.

The Mission fig is a high quality fig variety. It produces both a breba and main crop, and is considered an everbearing variety when planted in the right climate. The breba crop is large. The main crop is medium sized. It is a dark skinned fig with a strawberry colored interior. The skin of the fruit often cracks when it is ripe. The tree is long lived and grows to be quite large. It is sensitive to frost. Mission fig trees are almost always infected with Fig mosaic virus, which can affect the color and shape of leaves, but usually does not affect fruit production. It is still considered one of the highest quality figs that can be grown in USDA zones 9 and up in the United States.

Ficus carica is an Asian species of flowering plants in the mulberry family, known as the common fig (or just the fig). It is the source of the fruit also called the fig, and as such is an important crop in those areas where it is grown commercially. Native to the Middle East and western Asia, it has been sought out and cultivated since ancient times, and is now widely grown throughout the world, both for its fruit and as an ornamental plant. The species has become naturalized in scattered locations in Asia and North America.

Although commonly referred to as a fruit, the fig is actually the infructescence or scion of the tree, known as a false fruit or multiple fruit, in which the flowers and seeds are borne. It is a hollow-ended stem containing many flowers. The small orifice (ostiole) visible on the middle of the fruit is a narrow passage, which allows the specialized fig wasp Blastophaga psenes to enter the fruit and pollinate the flower, whereafter the fruit grows seeds.

The edible fig is one of the first plants that was cultivated by humans. Nine subfossil figs of a parthenocarpic (and therefore sterile) type dating to about 9400–9200 BC were found in the early Neolithic village Gilgal I (in the Jordan Valley, 13 km north of Jericho). The find predates the domestication of wheat, barley, and legumes, and may thus be the first known instance of agriculture. It is proposed that this sterile but desirable type was planted and cultivated intentionally, one thousand years before the next crops were domesticated (wheat and rye).

The Book of Deuteronomy specifies the fig as one of the Seven Species (Deuteronomy 8:7-8), describing the fertility of the land of Canaan. This is a set of seven plants indigenous to the Middle East that together can provide food all year round. The list is organized by date of harvest, with the fig being fourth due to its main crop ripening during summer.

Also in the Bible (Matthew 21:18–22 and Mark 11:12–14, 19–21) is a story of Jesus finding a fig tree when he was hungry; the tree had leaves on it, but no fruit. Jesus, then, curses the fig tree, which withers.

The biblical quote “each man under his own vine and fig tree” (1 Kings 4:25) has been used to denote peace and prosperity. It was commonly quoted to refer to the life that would be led by settlers in the American West,[citation needed] and was used by Theodor Herzl in his depiction of the future Jewish Homeland: “We are a commonwealth. In form it is new, but in purpose very ancient. Our aim is mentioned in the First Book of Kings: ‘Judah and Israel shall dwell securely, each man under his own vine and fig tree, from Dan to Beersheba”. US President George Washington, writing in 1790 to the Touro Synagogue of Newport, Rhode Island, extended the metaphor to denote the equality of all Americans regardless of faith.

Buddha achieved enlightenment under the bodhi tree, a large and old sacred fig tree (Ficus religiosa, or Pipal).


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  Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Sultan, Washington

For many generations the place that would become Sultan was home to the Skykomish Tribe. Tribal members lived along the banks of the Sultan and Skykomish rivers and had a large, permanent village at the rivers’ confluence.

Discovery of gold drew non-Indian settlers to the Skykomish valley as early as 1869, and in the 1870s miners were working the banks of the Sultan River. A rich vein discovered in 1878 attracted more prospectors, and a community began to form. Settler John Nailor and his wife claimed land at the mouth of the Sultan River in 1880, opened a small store, and built a ferry and the Pioneer Hotel, catering to prospectors, visitors, and a growing number of loggers, farmers, and ranchers.

Fifty settlers signed a petition in 1885 to establish a post office, and Nailor became postmaster for the settlement they called Sultan City, after the river on which it was located. The river in turn had been named to honor a local chief, Tseul-tud (sometimes seen as Tseul-Dan), his name anglicized to “Sultan” by the newcomers.