Monday, October 31, 2005

The Cat!

Meet Fisel, the attack cat. When I married "she who must be obeyed", Fisel was the dowry. She has in her sixteen or so years backed many a cowering adult into a corner. I think it must have something to do with the name, like it incurred the spirit of a middle eastern potentate whose wrath was easily roused. After soliciting attention and receiving the obligatory stroking and pampering her daggerlike claws will suddenly leave slight gashes on the poffered hand or arm. She's really a sweetie. Really.

It took a while for her to warm up to me. It was after several incidents of her arched back, loud hissing and doing the dagger thing and my responding grabbing whatever was at hand and flinging it in her general direction that we came to terms. Now she treats me with the same disdain as anyone else she tolerates. That's good because there are people she has known for years who still get the dagger routine and who I guess never caught on to the fling something trick.

Until our recent move to the mountains she never left the house. I guess when telling folks, "we're looking for a retirement home for our cat", she overheard and thought, "great, it's the outdoor life for me". After thoroughly inspecting the deck she ventured gingerly onto the gravel drive. "Ouch, these stones hurt my little paws, I think I'll take this a little slow". Fisel toughens up fast, now it's across the drive and into the woods after the chipmunks.

A while back she decided that SWMBO and I should get up at first light. Into the bedroom she would plod and literally try to say, "Get up". It was not a "meow", it was creepy. This followed by, "FISEL, GET OUT!" went on for several weeks. It was time to switch tactics... Crawl quietly onto the bed until right next to the ears and then purr, loudly. It worked, after about a month I have been programmed to wake up and fall out of bed long before I want.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Once Upon a Time There Was a Land Called Florida

Ah, Florida, my home for many years. Walking on the beach with Tom, our German Shepard named after Tom Noonan the blacksmith back in Indiana. Silent dark hours in a small boat with the Coleman Lantern glowing in the bow and getting shrimp with a dip net. Or using a push net to get them on the grass flats. There were those nights when the full moon on the white sand made an soft kind of light almost as bright as the day. We would chip fat oysters off the bridge pilings, build a driftwood fire on the beach and steam them in their juice. When they opened they were ready. Saturdays, wading up to our knees in the crystal water of the grass flats pulling a wash tub into which we threw the scallops we found. Walking though the "wilderness" by the bay going from Sunset Beach to St. Pete Beach.

Reality check! You can't have a dog or a fire on the beach. Shrimp don't swim with the tide in the bay because the grass flats are gone and because the grass flats are gone the scallops are gone. And the "wilderness"; houses, waterfront houses. Even the bright moon has surrendered herself to light pollution.

I saw it happen. The dredges working night and day forcing a steady stream of sand and water over the grass flats smothering the myriad of life supported there until it was dry, dead land, read sand. At night the lights and sounds of these monsters were like something out science fiction, loud, eerie, a steady, a relentless "chug, whoosh, chug whoosh". The land sat vacent for a while and after the sandspurs and seagrapes sprouted, "Paradise Island" grew. "If you build it, they will come", and they did.

Sunset Beach is a finger of land on the south end of Treasure Island, a barrier island next to what is now known to the outside world as Tampa Bay. People who live there consider it St. Petersburg. There was a time when "Sunset" was a small town with a fantastic beach. The Carousel Drive Inn Restaurant and Dairy Freeze, Pages Furniture Exchange and Tackle Shop, Norm's Bait House are gone. I worked at all of them at one time or another. Each has a story which, as we say in the land of blog, will come later. There were beach bars, Hank's, The Driftwood and one of the best biker bars of all time, The Red Barn. The Red Barn is gone replaced by a condo. Hanks may still be there and may still be frequented by fishermen and beach bums. The Driftwood where the locals, high on whatever was available, would gather for a beer and sunset, has morphed into the Caddyshack, complete with valet parking. VALET PARKING!?!?!?!? What's up with that?

They say you can never go home. Well, we can go home but it's not the same. The landscape is changed, the environment is being crushed under concrete and cars and polution. It won't stop. A friend recently told me of a fella who bought land in the middle of the state in the middle of nowhere to turn into homesites. And he will build them and they will come. The Florida I knew was pristine. You kinda' had to be there. And if you weren't, mores the pity. It was a place and a time the earth and I will never see again except in memory. Like the time I saw the unspoiled Elvis in 1957 at the Florida Theatre. The Florida Theatre was demolished in the seventies.

What's the point of all this? It's nice to talk about the environmental issues but if you see the dredges comming, sink the ba***rds!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

It's My Stupidity and I Demand More

I met a native American artist recently. In the course of our conversation he said. "My grandmother used to say, 'people are educated beyond their intelligence'". I think she was right. It's that quest to become more than we are, to have more than we have that pushes us beyond our natural capabilities. We are fed and eagerly devour new concepts and ideas often forgetting the consequences of such a diet. With education as with every opportunity comes responsibility. We are living in a time of not only physical obesity but also mental obesity, both with disastrous effects.

Don't get me wrong, education is a good thing. But that education should lead to more than a bigger paycheck, a larger home or a newer car. Besides the technical skills which our institutions of higher learning seem to be focusing on more and more, education should be focusing on the purpose for learning. We have forgotten that we are caretakers of this earth and the creatures, including ourselves, who inhabit it.

Shortly after making the world safe for democracy, America gave ourselves a hearty pat on the back and shouted collectively, "What a great boys are we". Speaking of democracy, Aristotle thought it one of the poor forms of government as it was based on self interest. What a concoction for producing the "me generation", a culture chock-a-block full of self confidence looking out for itself. But there's more to go into this mix.

It was the French and their revolution that over threw the church as the final authority. And in doing so the baby went out with the bathwater. The state became the final authority and in doing so that transcendence that political man couldn't mess with evaporated and politics became "the art of the possible". What is possible? Anything. God was dead. It must be remembered that our constitution was written when He was very much alive.

As it was pointed out in the "Federalist Papers" property is a primary concern in our government. But it was much in the American character that the Diety bestowed property to those who followed certain precepts. Now without getting into a religious rant, there must be something to that idea. And here's the choice which we have: we can either follow those immutable precepts on our way to happiness (after all that's what we all want) or we can make up our own "he who dies with the most toys, wins and obtaining those toys any way possible" concept. Either way, we're all dead in the end. It's the journey to that end that's important and the purpose of our education should be to show us the most pleasant way to make that journey.

So where do we go from here? I don't know. The "quantifiers" are are having their way and it doesn't seem likely to change. The educational system will continue as it has and the teachers will complain about the kids lack of respect. We will continue to consume until we probably burst. Government will continue in it's own ignorantly limitless, mindless bureaucratic follies. Ultimately the individual seeks to do the right thing, it's just that "the right" is whatever the individual chooses to be "right".

But then, maybe the Fabulous Furry Freak Bros. were right and, "It don't mean s***".

Monday, October 24, 2005

Detour on the Road to Finding Henry

My wife who, with apologies to Horace Rumpole, Esq., shall from now on in these blogs be referred to as, "she who must be obeyed" or simply SWMBO, came up with "the MacBeane Gene". It refers to the Clan MacBean who seem to have some peculiar characteristics. Others have noticed this also. One of these is the spelling is the name which can be; MacBain, MacBean, MacBeane, Bain, Bean, Beane, and the most notorious of all, MacBeth (but that was some time ago shortly after Donaldbain, a ninth century King of Scotland started the whole line), or so the story goes. Another inbred trait seems to be a dissatisfaction with their place of residence. We relocate and change our names like we are being chased by the high sheriff. I started out life as a Beane then became a Shultz and have wound up a Noyes. More on this at some other time. Now that should play havoc with some poor descendent trying to trace his line back in a hundred years. I've also moved several places in Indiana in my youth then to Florida then to Baltimore then to Virginia.

I had discovered that one Henry Beane had turned up in Wytheville, Va. in 1786. He was my ggg grandfather.
Now SWMBO and I had a wedding anniversary comming up and I thought there would be no better way to spend it then looking for Henry's history in Southwest Virginia. What wife doesn't dream of spending their nuptial celebration looking for her husbands dead relatives? She knew I had booked us into a Bed and Breakfast. But she didn't know it was as close as I could find to Wytheville or of my ulterior motive. This is where I lost control of the whole thing and the happy little accidents started taking over.

We traveled Interstate 81 to Route 8 just south of Christiansburg, Va. and then through Floyd Va. winding our way up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. When it leaves Floyd route 8 becomes a beautiful white knuckle experience. Ones sole intention becomes keeping from falling off the mountain. In Woolwine we turned onto an even more trecherous route 40. The B & B and the weekend were fantastic and because it was the weekend the historical society in Wytheville was closed. So much for Henry and my wives dream weekend.

What we did do that weekend is fall in love with the area. But the best was yet to come. After repeated return trips we figured it was better to live in the mountains then keep driving back and forth. At the least motivation, like it's Saturday and nothings on TV, we would drive six hours down and back six regretful that we had to leave hours. That's what happens when the MacBeane gene meets the happy little accidents. But the best part is we didn't wind up in Floyd (which people refer to as that "hippy town") or Woolwine.

Floyd and Woolwine seem to be going through growing pains and proprety there, if found, is EXPENSIVE.
Our realtor said she had a place about 20 miles down the Parkway in a development. A development, yuck!
The development has about 25 homes in the forest, four of us live up here full time. The rest of the poor souls have to spend most of their time somewhere else and can only come up occasionly. We couldn't have picked this place, some Devine hand has led us here. We have gravel roads because no one here wants them paved. You should have heard the uproar when the county put up the manditory 911 road signs. Our water comes from a natural spring and much of our food from the local farmers. It's not your typical development. People name their homes here and more then one makes a reference to heaven. As our friend recently remarked in a positive way, "we're all dead".

There's not a lot of people who live in this area full time. I think the mountain has to call them and they have to respond. For a MacBeane that's easy and with a little help from happy little accidents even easier.