Monday, January 31, 2011
I was rinsing off some celery stalks so Spud could chop them up for me before I added them to the dish I was making for dinner and as I held them over the sink and rinsed, the smell of the celery wafted up into my nostrils and with lightening speed, into my brain's Limbic System (the part of the brain related to smell and memories) and I immediately thought of Pansy. I have not thought of her in eons. To be honest, I had forgotten Pansy had ever crossed my life's path until the celery smell brought her crashing back to the forefront of my conscious mind.
(Dear family members, pardon me if I mis-remember the events, dates and times of Pansy's stay with us.)
Pansy came into my life, as well as those of my family members, through my little brother Michael. Michael's second-grade teacher asked if he would take Pansy, the school year was ending and Pansy needed a home.
Pansy was your average Guinea Pig, just under 2-3 pounds and 8-10 inches long. She was black and white and I imagine she resembled her ancestors who hailed from the Andes. Guinea Pigs have been domesticated in South America for hundreds of years. They were and are raised for food there (I wonder if they taste like chicken? Awww come on, you were thinking it too). 16th century European traders helped Guinea Pigs become the pets we know and love today. Queen Elizabeth the first had a pet Guinea Pig.
Pansy was sweet. I remember her distinctive whistle. She whistled over just about anything. She loved lettuce, carrots and celery (this is where the smell-memory enters the picture) but she particularly enjoyed eating the grass when we would let her outside. We would take her cage, remove the bottom, place her in the grass and put the bottom-less cage over her. When she finished the grass in that spot we would move her to a new one.
Pansy was part of our family for maybe about a year.
Of all the senses, smell is the strongest associated with memory. My sense of smell is particularly strong/sensitive (just ask anyone in my family). Does this trait make my memories stronger, more vivid? I don't know. I have never experienced someone else's smell-induced memories. I liken the question to one I have asked Yam and Spud in the past..."Am I a good Mom?", to which Yam answered, "I don't know, you're the only one I've ever had." Cheeky little monkey.
I have cooked with celery many times since knowing Pansy, I don't know why this time it triggered my memory of her, I just know it made me smile.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
AARP is for "old" people isn't it?
When The Colonel handed me my mail and I saw who it was from I immediately felt it was a mistake and was slightly offended by it. Surely I am too young for this. I am not even 50 yet (I still have eight months left of my 40's) and isn't it for those who are 55 and older (50 and older I would find out)?
I decided to open it up anyway and see what being nearly half a century old could be worth to me if I joined AARP.
If I join AARP for a one year membership it would cost me $16, and if I mail my membership in by March 9, 2011, as a thanks for me joining, AARP would send me a FREE handy Travel Bag.
My membership would also include the following benefits:
1) Discounts on insurance and travel.
2) A voice in Washington, D.C. that will represent me on issues like Social Security (yeah, like there will be any left by the time I am really old), Medicare and consumer safety.
3) Valuable information on living well.
4) AARP The Magazine and the AARP Bulletin.
5) Community Services like local chapters, driver safety courses (I know some Snowbirds who could use that now), and a nationwide volunteer network.
AARP had me at FREE handy Travel bag.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
In keeping with the breakfast's theme of "Finding the Common Ground", Dr. Bradshaw spoke of education being the foundation for finding or achieving the common ground between all people. You would expect that from a university president wouldn't you? I do agree with Dr. Bradshaw though.
It was a successful breakfast and we at the museum are pleased to have it behind us. Now starts the planning for next year's breakfast.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
The bricked streets and avenues of this town could have been things of the past were it not for Brigadier General Rufus Lazzell and "Lazzell's Raiders".
In 1985 Lazzell and his "Raiders" stormed City Hall asking that the brick roads in town be saved and not be replaced by asphalt when repairs were made (City Hall said asphalt was a cheaper way to resurface after a repair). Lazzell and the "Raiders" volunteered to pick up the bricks, clean them and stack them before the repair and relay them after the repair. City Hall agreed. The City Council eventually passed a resolution to save all bricked streets.
Since then, 14 blocks of brick streets have been torn out and replaced. The last time was 8 years ago until Saturday, January the 8th.
The Colonel and I were there to help relay the bricks as well as a few dozen others, including General Lazzell.
I handled a couple dozen bricks between my camera shots. Soon the street's workspace became too crowded with volunteers, so I stepped away and concentrated on my picture taking. The Colonel continued working.
Volunteer workers knelt upon the bricks that they had already laid as they placed the next row onto the sandy base of Trabue Avenue. After a couple of rows had been added to the avenue a landscape timber would be placed against the bricks and a man with a sledge hammer would hit the timber to knock the bricks into a straighter and tighter pattern.
There were other volunteer workers who were sweeping sand into the cracks between the bricks.
While The Colonel and I were there helping, about 40 feet of bricks were laid with plenty more to go.
A couple of ladies who lived on Trabue Avenue set up an awning in their driveway and had fruit, pastries, orange juice and water available for the volunteers. They were also going to have hot dogs for everyone when lunchtime rolled around (The Colonel and I left before lunchtime).
The Colonel and other volunteers continued working...
and I continued taking more pictures. I took a picture of this pretty house on Trabue Avenue.
The elderly couple who owned the house were watching the brick laying volunteers from the sidewalk and came up to me as I was standing there photographing their house. We started talking and they told me that their house was one of the original railroad workers' cottages from the late 1800's. There were two others still on Trabue Avenue. They invited me in to take a tour of the little house. It was small but quaint. They told me that I could come back for a visit and coffee any time.
The Colonel and I enjoy living in our little town. We like the slower pace, the small town feel and taking part in community events such as the rebricking of Trabue Avenue. It is nice to know that years down the road (no pun intended) when we drive down or walk along Trabue Avenue, we can say we helped rebrick it way back when.
Although we may not be able to see our fingerprint marks on the bricks, like those left by workers almost a hundred years ago, we know they are there.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The day was very cold and the men were wearing heavy coats over their weapons. Major Dade and an advance guard were slightly ahead of the main column and the soldiers had no scouts out on their flanks.
The Warriors swarmed forward but were driven back by cannon fire.This caused a pause in the battle and the soldiers were able to regroup.With the break in the fighting, the soldiers took advantage of the time by felling trees and building a triangular breastwork of logs. It was only about three logs high when the Seminoles began their attack again.
Archaeologists later found piles of flattened rifle balls at the site of the log breastworks on the grounds of the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Bushnell, Florida.
The battle continued.
When the smoke cleared, virtually all the soldiers were dead. Dade, his officers and 103 soldiers were killed.
Before the battle reenactment and before we met up with Yam's friend and her mother, we walked the grounds. We saw the soldiers' and Seminoles' camps.
We also saw the descendants of Black Seminoles.
Our trip to Bushnell was two-fold; one of business and pleasure. The museum we volunteer for will be doing an exhibit on the Seminole Wars next season which will highlight Black Seminoles. This trip gave us information and plenty of photos we can use for the exhibit plus, the whole family loves experiencing historical reenactments like this one that bring history to life.
There are a few more Seminole War reenactments around Florida in the next couple of months...we'll be attending those too (minus Yam, she'll be back at college).
When we first arrived at the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, I took some pictures of the reenactors. One reenactor was dressed as a Seminole warrior (before I took his picture I informed him that my camera would not steal his soul) and after I took his picture I thanked him and said goodbye. He told me the Seminole people do not have a word for goodbye and that the word goodbye suggests that the person you say it to is going to die and you will never see them again.
So, with this knowledge in hand and with the power of Google, I leave you, my readers, with this saying in the Seminole language...
Translation: "OK, I will see you again!"