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Friday, June 13, 2014

The Four Horsemen, A Blueberry & Week Summary

Yesterday, I found an almost-ripe blueberry on one of my backyard bushes!  It wasn't very sweet in and of itself, but tasted very sweetly of gardening success.


I applied for four more jobs yesterday, before I went to a choir member dessert "on the hill" in Augusta.  My friend June and I had thought we'd just make a cameo appearance, but had such a great time touring "Walton Abbey" (as the owners facetiously call the grand old mansion they've partly remodeled and exquisitely furnished--it has the original marble fireplaces in every room, and crystal chandeliers in many!) and talking to folks we normally just sing with that we stayed until the very end.  I learned a bit more about the modern Chinese (all-diesel) submarine fleet, and heard a couple of hair-raising stories from the tenor and bass sections about trips in small private aircraft.  Sea- and air-stories are always entertaining!  We sat out on the stone colonnaded veranda until it got dark and the mosquitoes descended in droves.

A former professor of mine at Georgetown sent me a copy of my late adviser's, Richard Stites's, posthumously-published book, The Four Horsemen: Riding to Liberty in Post-Napoleonic Europe, for which I had helped him track down sources in all of the major European languages through ILL.  As his last research assistant, mine was the task months after he died to turn all of his somewhat cryptic in-text citations into proper footnotes once his colleagues had figured out what were the final chapter-versions.  He was such a great professor and good writer.  I wanted to become like him in the classroom (outside, he was a bon vivant in ways that probably shortened his lifespan a good deal!).

Today was the fourth anniversary of Daddy's death.  Time passes so quickly, and memories drift away.  You don't forget, exactly, but life with all its small and great distractions continues.  Sorrow is ultimately obscured by the necessity of laundry and tooth-brushing.

I attempted to finish drilling out the spaces for my awesome new inset brass hinges that I am installing in what will become my clothes-cabinet, but it's slow going, free-handing with a Dremel tool, and I only got one (out of four) done!  The friction really wears down the bits quickly (although I did counter this somewhat by dipping them regularly in a small Tupperware cup of water), and there is sawdust everywhere.  I did get the Jonas Gerard painting (the beautiful female nude figure study which I bought down at the beach) as clean as possible--it had obviously spent time in someone's garage or attic, and I had to vacuum all the frame crevices and the pockets between the canvas staples thoroughly, and wipe it down repeatedly with a damp cloth before I felt it could safely be hung over my bed.  I love vintage art, but not the bug debris that sometimes clings to it.

Oh, I saw my first Gatling Gun at the Fort Clint museum on Tuesday.  I've seen pictures, and watched old WWI films of them being fired, but I'd never seen one in person that I can remember. Being cranked at high speed by a team of four desperate men, it could achieve firing rates of 600 rounds per minute.  Sheesh.  I've read accounts of the Great War (the hundredth anniversary of its official beginning is upon us) about the devastation of the automatic weapons (the Gatling gun had been first patented during the American Civil War, but the European war of 1914-1918 was a wicked coincidence of tactics, technology and alliances), but looking at the clustered barrels and visualizing them whirling in use, spitting bullets, made the stories settle in.


I had dressed in long sleeves and jeans again, not wanted to be sunburnt, which definitely gave a period feel to the experience of wandering the fort.  It was not quite hot as Hades, but it was definitely first circle warm.  There were some cool, cool places though, including some winding staircases in the battlements...


When I grow up and have money, I want a castle with curving secret stairs and halls of vaulted brick:



I used my father's huge golf umbrella as a makeshift parasol.

The fort's "time" was set to 1864, when a group of New York engineers had been stationed there to finish it (a task never completed).


The Fort Clint state park was surprisingly large--the road underneath the moss-hung live oaks from the entrance gate to the fort, which sits right on the beach overlooking the Cumberland Sound was three miles long--and had opportunities for hiking. I decided to ignore the considerable heat and go along one trail.  I was sweatily snapping pictures of lichen along the overgrown path when I noticed a really impressive spider web, complete with a large yellow and black spider.  I crept up to get a picture (I have a great camera, but not a super-zoom lens).  I tried to focus on the spider, clicked, and then noticed that it had friends.  In fact, almost everywhere I looked around me, there were these shining webs centered with speckled spiders.


I feel about spiders the way Indiana Jones felt about snakes.  "Alrighty, that's quite enough nature for me, now, thanks!" I decided, and returned rapidly to my car.

One last place to stew in my own juices before I left the park--the pier along the jetty.


The waves were refreshing, but I was medium-well done with a light pink center by the time I got into air conditioned comfort again.

My friend Audrey, who lives in Savannah, fed me a wonderful lunch on the way back from the beach--we talk on the phone every quarter or so, but it had been two years since I'd seen her in person.  Such a pleasure to have a relaxed chat after a delicious home-cooked meal.

Bruises, spiders and all, Florida was great, but I am glad to be home!

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