Thursday, January 31, 2008

Slavery, the human condition

As stated below, Mrs. C and I went to the low country oyster festival on Sunday the twenty seventh. The festival is held at
Boone Hall plantation
I've been to the plantation many times and have often wondered about the past inhabitants of both the big house and the slave quarters. I was raised to know that slavery was a bad thing; but did you ever wonder why? If it was so bad then why did many slaves stay on as servants of the same people? I remember reading stories in a book called "When I Just Can Remember". It was full of accounts of the lives of slaves before and after freedom. I don't really know what life was like for most Africans before slavery, but I presume it to be much like the American Indians. I do know something of the lives of the slave though, and thought I might compare it to the not too distant past of my family. Before I walk along on this journey though I must answer a question that I have wondered about over the years while always knowing the answer. Why did they stay? They stayed for the same reasons that you and I stay in jobs, marriages, homes, and other situations that might not be best for us. They were comfortable! Some days were good and some bad, but they were do able! They also had value! Even as slaves they had value, and were proud of that value. Value is as important to us as air! The amount varies, but fact remains. The slaves at Boone Hall had it better then some, I'm sure. They had housing with a fire place and tile roofs. They also had garden space to grow the plants that would spice their food and nurse their health. They also supplemented their food by fishing and hunting. They had medical attention to help them stay healthy.(though not good even for the times) They had a school to learn to read and write. By contrast my Grandfather had a wife and seven children in a small one room wooden shack in the northern Michigan climate. The old place didn't even have a solid door for a large part of the year! Heat came from a wood stove, as did the heat for cooking. Water was brought in from a pitcher pump in the yard, same as what watered the animals. Medicine was what you grew or knew, and cuts were stitched by Grandma with a needle and thread. Whiskey was the Betadine of the day as well as the sedative. I remember seeing a pic of my Dad as a bit more then a toddler wearing what looked like a flour sack with the arms and head holes cut into the bottom. Grandpa worked a shift at the quarry, and then tended the farm at night and on Sunday. Grandma did the hunting to put meat on the table because she was around home and the best shot. Ammo was a need that couldn't be wasted at that time. The farms first tractor came on a down payment by my Dad, with his Airborne jump money. This meant that Dan and Molly the draft horses could semi retire. School was about a mile up the road, but the cash crop paid for new shoes for the kids once a year. No school if your chores weren't done. Even as a child myself we were poor. We rented from Black people to have a place to live, and grew lots of food to see us through the winters. Mom made the bread that we ate each other day. How poor were we? I grew up fifty feet from the boyhood home of Malcolm Little, also known as Malcolm X. He could tote a gun and hate whitey. We had to work to live. What I would say of slavery is that its evil is in the creation of dependence, and an inability to make ones own way. Welfare is just another form of it. With few exceptions we are all slaves to something or some ideal.
One of my favorite memories is of helping my mom to make the bread for that nights meal. I was just four, but already kneading the dough.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Angel Oak

The pics are from Johns Island South Carolina. The wife and I went down to the coast for the low country oyster festival this past weekend and I thought we would visit this grand old tree. It is a Live Oak; scientific name is Virginia oak or something like that. This tree is the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi at one thousand four hundred years plus. It is twenty five feet around at the base with its longest limb at something like eighty five feet in length. The branches are so heavy that they grow low and sometimes rest on the ground. I've seen some that have taken root where the branch touched the ground and lived after the tree was dead and gone. Here in the deep south the tree isn't deciduous. I think it loses some but not all of its leaves. To stand under the great branches is to know that God is in his heaven.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Election Day

K so here it was the Saturday that we've all been waiting for, Election Day!
The day was wet; bigtime wet! Cold like up north too! So I was talking to a buddy that just happens to be the GOP Chair for our state. I asked him who he was going to vote for. Two days before the election and niether of us knew where we were going to put our vote! After a bit of comiseration we parted ways still not sure. I've a friend in Detroit that keeps sending me Ron Paul stuff to the point that I had to tell him that I thought Ron was a nut case. I hurt his feelings for sure because the emails started to fly. As stated my guy is and was Duncan Hunter. Don't know what is so hard about that but he had no chance. Non! I didnt take the time to debate my friend on the merits of Dr. Paul versus Dunc, or Huck, or anyone else. I was sure I'd ruin a friendship that is worth more then gold to me. After taking the advice of fellow reader Don, I had attended a rally in support of the Fair Tax. We were across the street from the first GOP debate when I got to hear from Duncan, and Mike , and Tom Tancredo. I knew then that Mccain was'nt my guy even though I believe him to be an honest and thoughtful person. Sorry once again John, but there is more to the pic then just the war. Sorry to Ron also but there is a reason to have troops over seas, and some of it is to spread american money in certain areas. Get over it!
So the wife and I go to the polling place in the rain; it's about 1:30 and there is a line but we don't have to wait outside the building like we do on the weekday votes. It was a steady line to get to the three voting machines, but no problems. After the vote we had a flat on the way home that caused me to change a tire in the cold rain before getting my car home. I don't think it was devine intervention though, even though I voted for Huckabee. What I would tell my friend in Detroit is that ideas and ideals are great; but we have to work within the real world. This means that if MCcain wins the nomination he will get my vote! The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I scored first

This is going to seem like whining and I apologize but every once in a while....
I'm a good Irish Polish lad, I work hard I drink harder, and I compete with the best of them; but this latest thing....
What's it like to lose your vision, and know that there is scant reason to believe that you will get it back? Let me give you a brief overview of what I'm looking at.
I have a disease called Sticklers syndrome. It is a hereditary disease that affects Collagen and the connective tissue in my body. The outward signs are bad hearing and severe nearsightedness. We as young people can do things with our joints that others can't. We seem to be double jointed, and can bend in directions most can't while we are young. Things that will break your bones are dislocations to us. Our eyes on the other hand have severe nearsightedness along with glaucoma and cataracts, we also have retnal detachments. We don't hear so well either. We get osteoarthritis as young people and have a high rate of joint failure; mostly hips and knees. I've had a dozen dislocates on each knee before I was thirty. I used to wrestle against high school kids when I was in junior high. While I won a lot, and set records for pins I also took a beating in the knees. I exacerbated the damage by racing Moto Cross on the weekends. At that too I was exceptional. I don't have any way to know if the extra flexibility of my joints helped and gave me an advantage or not, but I beat folks that had very much better equipment than I. Folks that know me know that I have one eye that I see with, the other being artwork by a clinic in Grenville SC. At fourtyfive I'm losing the vision in my eye due to a cataract. The symptoms are loss of acuity and a haze around everything during the day. I am a mechanic by trade and a good one in my field of expertise. As of now there are many jobs that I cannot undertake because I can't see well enough to perform. Soon I will lose my ability to drive and then my job. The future at this point looks bleak indeed, so I try as I did on our trip to see as much as I can. One never knows when the end of a thing is upon them. I looked at the palm trees in California like I would never see the likes again, because I might not. I looked at the nearly bare breasts of the bartender at the Sweetwater Saloon the same way. I looked at the faces of my daughter and her family knowing that I might not see them as clear again ever. I am ever grateful for what I have, but I worked hard all my life; I've fought with everything I have, and dammit I scored first! I'm way behind at halftime but dammit I scored first!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Our Trip

Sorry for the delays but it's bowl season, and I can't think until my Wolverines play. (Loved the smackdown on a man and a team I don't like)
I'm reminded of that John Denver song, It really is a long way from Charlotte to San Diego, and made worse by some child kicking the back of my seat all the way. Mom and two little ones were continuing on to India, god help the folks on that plane! I now know what jet lag is, and I'm not a fan; I was tired all week. This was the first Christmas We've had as a family in about five years I think. It was the first Christmas at the home of my daughter; This moved my wife more then me for some reason. One of my favorite treats is the lil Biscoff cookies that you get if you fly Delta Airlines. I've never found them in a store, but when I got to Daughters house there was a whole sleeve of them waiting for me. The trip just kept getting better after that. While there we went to the USS Midway Museum. This was my first time on a navy ship, and it was kinda cool to be on one that I had built a model of as a child. So now you know something about me that you didn't, I used to build model Navy war ships. My Son in law (jeez it seems weird to say that) was kind enough to indulge us by driving us and taking us anywhere we wanted to go, and knowing where Mrs C could find the things to complete her Christmas shopping. Thanks T. We also went to T's uncles house for a family lunch on Christmas eve. Uncle Cliff's wife is Vietnamese, and so was lunch! What a treat! We had chicken soup though I used a fork for the noodles and meat. Sorry but I would have starved if I had to use the sticks. :) I had my first shrimp chip (I could eat them for hours) and a mint salad. We had Vietnamese egg rolls that were to die for, and took a bag home with us. Mrs C and I snacked on them while waiting on Christmas dinner. Uncle Cliff is retired from the Navy, and so we had some of his stories. I wonder if I might be able to get an invite for next year. I have a step grand child that is a sweet human being, and Dad and step Mom are going to keep her that way I'm sure. Daughter cooked both Christmas eve and Christmas dinner; they had a couple from home over for the eve dinner that were new to the area. It was a bit tough seeing my lil girl all grown up with a life and a family of her own but I sure am proud of her and T. The pics are of a swift boat that I took at the Vietnam monument on base at Coronado, and the beach at same base called seal beach; where the bad men train. Last is the flight deck of the Midway. I had almost forgotten that we got to chat with a survivor of Pear Harbor from the Utah on the Midway. He told me that when they abandoned ship the Japs were strafing the water so they would dive under when they saw a plane until it passed thus avoiding the bullets.