Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hey its Good to be Back Home Again, Yes it is............

We got back from San Juan yesterday afternoon. (04-27-08) The trip was pretty uneventful other than going through the rear of a frontal system (one that spawned some tornadoes in VA. after going through NC.) that made me feel like we were flying through heavy flack over Berlin ca. 1944.

San Juan was fun. We went down primarily to support a local groups that is trying to get reenacting started in Porto Rico but also to do something just a little different. I think we accomplished both objectives in grand style. John the Younger and my goodwife Beverly went down with me.

We flew out of Charlotte Thursday morning and arrived in San Juan around mid-day. We were met by a few of the local unit members and transported (along with some Dragoons and a few others) to a press conference. We were told that they had some food at the conference since "the press wouldn't come unless they were fed" We arrived and were given some pretty good sandwiches and drinks then sat back and watched the grip and grin show. There was the normal musket firing as well as the required speeches. I did notice the majority of participants seemed to be all fired up about the possibilities of reenactment and what they could accomplish. There wasn't much of the cynicism and feeling of "same old, same old" that we fall into here in the upper states. (well, except for the other reenactors that had come down) After the conference we were taken to Casa Blanca were the event was being hosted. Casa Blanca is a sprawling older building on a 5 acre compound surrounded by small gardens, paths and walkways. We were given a porch to set up the hospital on. Between the whitewashed wall,the stone paved walkways and the black wrought iron grill work, I couldn't help but think that Zorro was going to jump out at any moment. Bev and I then went to our accommodations. They had arranged for us to stay in a old monastery now owned by the University which had converted some rooms over to serve as a place to stay for visiting professors and writers. The Monastery was built in the early 1800's and kept most of it's original architecture. We were pretty worn out from the trip, so we found a local eatery "Bodega Chic" which served up a pretty mean flank steak. A good meal, comfortable lodgings for the night and all was good with the world.

The next day Friday, We ambled over to Casa Blanca about 9ish and started setting up the kit. The humidity was bad, sorta like a Carolina August. Mr. Moseley and myself met Marga Silvestre who was putting up cots and mosquito netting and other window dressing. She turned out to be a MOST valuable asset to the hospital with both her ability to interpret to the public who could not speak English as well as helping us obtain various items for making medicines. We set up our surgical set up and started working with the public around 10:00. I was feel a bit off my feed, so to speak, so I never got around to kitting out in my period clothing. Mr. Moseley did a good bit of work with the public and I did a little bit too. (Even wearing a Hawaiian shirt) We shut down around 5ish and called it a day.

Saturday was much of the same. I kitted out in full uniform to include wig, which might not have been the smartest thing in the world since the humidity was as bad if not worse than Friday. I toughed it out but managed to de-hydrate myself. (More on that later). We got our only real casualty that afternoon. A member of the local group de-hydrated and almost lost it. We stripped him down and pumped a great deal of water into him. He bounced back fairly quickly and seemed to be O.K. so we let him leave the hospital.

Sunday was more of the same, only the event manager being so focused on the battle "reenactment" forgot about the hospital and we were locked into Casa Blanca. It wasn't that big of a deal. We had plenty to drink, and we just sorta just kicked back and took it easy. We were secured only for a short time, so we broke it down and headed off into the sunset.

As normal, the staff of the hospital did more pure interpretation to the public than all of the reenactors put together.

I had a great time and I am looking forward to returning next year.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Viva Las Vegas?????????

O.K. I gotta get this off my chest.

Did anyone get as pissed off as I did when they took one of Elvis's better songs and put it in a Viagra commercial? Folks, that is just plain WRONG.

Besides, Impotence is Nature's way of saying, "No hard feelings"

Thanks! I feel MUCH better.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Oh, Oh Big ol Jet Airliner, Don't Carry Me Too Far Away......

Well, less than three days to go until the road trip of all road trips and things are starting to slowly come together. I am getting my buttons polished, odds and ends gathered and even bought a new camera to try to record the trip. We fly out of Charlotte on Thursday and every thing seems to be A-O.K. I figured that since this was a first for the hospital and we wanted to put our best foot forward, that I would wear the full dress uniform of the hospital to include a wig. Now the interesting thing will be if I can get all the stuff down south without losing, damaging or misplacing anything. I will be carrying a new sword (If Godwin gets the shoulder carriage to me in time) and I will also have a walking stick that was owned by Ian Anderson to help me along on my walking. Ian was one of the founding members of the hospital who died a few years back. I still miss him and I know he would have done anything to be on this trip with us. Maybe by bringing the cane, a bit of Ian's spirit might just make the trip too. I can only hope so.

I hope to be able to take a few items to make some medicines with. I plan on making at least one ointment and some lozenges. Packing that stuff will be tricky with the T.S.A. folks being as sensitive as they are these days.That would be all I need, to get jammed up in Charlotte with a bag full of various powders, knives and other odd items.

I do have a good quantity of snuff for the trip. I wonder if I can convert some of the locals to that "vile" habit. It should be fun to try.

I hope the weather is warm down there. If it is, I swear that I am going to sit in the sun for hours, and let the warmth cook my bad knee. It is still aching like a bad tooth, which I think in no small part is coming from the damp weather around here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Baby, The Rain Must Fall.....

I spent most of the weekend at Petersburg VA at a Rev War event. It was fairly small as such events go, but it is improving since the first time I attended a few years back. The city of Petersburg is attempting to show that they have more history than just the Civil War. It seems to be working since the visitation was the heaviest that I have seen there. As a matter of fact, a few visitors even thanked us for being there to show another side of Petersburg's history.

The event is held at Battersea plantation. It is a colonial period house that has fallen on hard times, owned by the city. It could be a work of art with enough funding and effort. With the way things are these days, money is too hard to come by just to spend on a "old house". It seems that when ever belts get tightened, historic sites always get cut first. I hope that by the hospital being invited and going to this event, that we help with the preservation of this fine old lady.

My knee was hurting pretty well by the time I got to the site on Friday afternoon, (but what else is new?) but my mind was taken off of it by seeing both Nancy R. and Miss Susan, who was taking part in her first overnight in the field event. (Ms. Susan is my particular favorite of the children of the hospital and I intend on spoiling her rotten every chance I get.) We both started setting up canvas (Me being MUCH slower than Nancy) and were soon joined by Ms. Victoria, Ruth, Kate and the other young'uns. every one got set up and I turned in about 10:00 that night. I guess I woke up about every hour or so either from my knee, or the sound of gunfire from the surrounding neighbourhoods. Battersea, is surrounded by what might be considered "lower income" housing. It was rather interesting and amusing, lying in bed and because of all my time on firing ranges being able to identify the various weapons being used by the drug dealers a few blocks over just by the sounds.

I finally crawled out of bed around 8:30 Saturday morning with a wee bit of a vicodin hangover and found that James Wall, his son Justin as well as "Uncle" Chuck Walker were already in camp. They were soon joined by the Greeleys. We put up the hospital fly and set out the kit and started talking to the public. As I said the crowds were large and we stayed busy. The site fed us that night (pretty good pork barbecue) and entertained us with a string quartet then held 18th century dancing in the great room of the house. I sat under the hospital fly and just visited with whoever came by and enjoyed the night air and breezes. I guess that has to be one of my favorite parts of the events that I go to the sitting around after dark by candle light just talking. It reminds be of all the times that I spent at my grandparent's home sitting on the front porch in the cool of the evening and just talking. We have gotten so far away from that, the one on one communication with each other. With all the distractions of modern life it is nice to get back to it.

Again, I turned in fairly early and fell asleep in a short period only to be awakened once more by gunfire, but that didn't last long since a rather strong thunderstorm accompanied by a heavy rain shower put that foolishness to a end. It was a good old fashioned, Southern Baptist, gully washer of a rain. Just the thing to wash the trash off the streets. I just pulled the blanket over my head and went back to sleep.

Sunday morning it was still raining, and pretty much all the hospital folks figured that the better part of valor was to pack it in. However we waited until the site folks called the event before we started packing. It was the right call to make since the parking lots were turning into a bog and the area picked as the battlefield had three inches of standing water in it. Bless the ladies of the hospital who pretty much broke down and packed up all my kit for me and got me on the road in record time in the driving rain.

Since I was going right past it, I stopped at Pamplin Park, a good sized Civil War site to try to get my fix of that time period. I guess I have been there six or seven times and have never been past the book store. (What can I say, books are reenactor children) Some day when I have the time, I need to check out the museum. I didn't find anything that tripped my trigger (books dealing with naval matters or firearms) so I picked up a music CD and took to the road once again. I got home around 4 or so and started getting ready for the road trip to San Juan this coming weekend.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Well, I was Born in a Small Town, and I Live in a Small Town....

It was a rather pleasant weekend. Saturday I went to a small event in support of my shipmates in the 5th NC. Johnny the Elder (John LaRosa) was there with me and did most of the heavy lifting since I am STILL pretty well stove up with my knee.

The event was held in Halifax NC, a small town in the back water of the eastern part of NC. The reason for the event was the anniversary of the Halifax resolves April 12th 1776 as well as the opening of a new exhibit at the state historic site there.

I like small events as well as small towns. This fit the bill to a "T" Normally I like to get to event locations the night before so as not to run around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to set up before the public arrives. But since the knee injury, that has sorta fell by the wayside. I left the house around 7 or so. The weather was overcast but comfortable and I enjoyed the 2 hour drive down. There was very little traffic that time of day and it gave me the chance to check out the pretty country. Halifax sorta reminds me of what you would think Mayberry would look like. I knew that it was a good sign when in front of almost every other store on the street leading to the site the local churches were having bake sales. I was tempted to stop at each and every one. Some of the tastiest things in the world are made by the little old ladies at bake sales. I got to the site and found John the Elder waiting patiently for me. We got set up and started talking.

When you deal with the public, you never know what kind of people you are going to run into. I can honestly say that the largest majority of the people that stopped by our tent were interested in the site and it's history. It was if they had a pride in "their" historic site and not trying to get the kids a history education in 15 mins. or less. There were some of those folks, but they were in the minority. John and I both talked quite a bit and had a great time since there were a lot of good questions from visitors which challenged us quite a bit. To be honest I didn't expect that, in that area.

Another good thing was that we got to shoot the breeze with Andrew, Chris, Mo and the guys. Each time I get together with that bunch, the better I like them. They put up with my craziness and seem to figure I am relatively harmless. Chris said he couldn't wait until he had me in a "flat hat" (civil war sailor's hat) just to see what I would do to that time period. Slowly but surely, I am gathering the kit, so it shouldn't be too long before he gets his wish.

On the way back home I came to the conclusion that I need to find a 12 point program for gun buying. You know the type of group where I stand up in front of a crowd and say, "Hello, my name is Mike and I am a gun buyer" and the crowd responds "Hello Mike".

I went down with the intention of selling a couple of firearms, and came back home with two different ones. I am now the proud owner of a repop '61 Springfield, another colt's revolver and a silver mounted small sword. Gun rich and cash poor. GRIN

Thursday, April 10, 2008

So Help Me, Please Doctor, I'm Damaged

Well the long awaited doctor's visit has come and gone. A check of the MRI revealed (drum roll here) a "object" moving around in my knee. It could be either a small piece of bone or cartilage that was dislodged when I fell back in November. So, on May 7th I go back under the knife. Strangely enough, I have a jury summons for the 6th day of May. I don't think they would ever take me for jury duty, because of what I did for a living, but I thought it was still interesting. You know what they say, timing is everything.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I like the city of San Juan............I know a boat you can get on.............

Well here we are, April 1st. One year ago, I "pulled the pin" and retired. Strangely enough, I find myself wondering where the time has gone. I haven't gotten as much accomplished as I thought I would, but then again, maybe I set my sights a bit too high. I guess I will just sit back, relax and see what happens next without worrying too much about it.

This month should be a very busy one. This coming weekend, (April 5-6) I will be heading up to Sully Plantation in Northern VA to serve with my shipmates from the Dragon. This is a 1812 event. John M. one of my hospital members said he would ride up with me, so the drive will not be so long. The following weekend (April 12th) I will be taking the hospital down to Halifax NC in support of some friends in the 5th NC. They are commemorating the signing of the Halifax Resolves on that weekend. The next weekend(April 19-20) The hospital goes to Petersburg VA. Then, on the weekend of April 26-27 the hospital becomes "air mobile" for it's trip to San Juan, Porto Rico. So as you can see, it is going to be a very long month.

Of all the events, I guess the Petersburg event and the San Juan event are the ones I am looking forward to the most. Petersburg will be the first hospital event with a good turn out of staff of the year. I have missed seeing the family and it will be good to be back with them.

The San Juan trip will be very cool since the site folks are pulling out all the stops to make us welcome. The only expenses that we are having to come up with is airline fare. Lodging, meals and on island transportation are all inclusive and being taken care of by the folks running the event.I think that this event will add more prestige and status to the hospital and it's reputation. I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what kind of stuff I am going to take and how I am going to transport it all. I think I have it figured out, I have picked up a gun case with locks and will transport my tools in it. They should be safe that way. Other stuff such as medicines and drugs, I am still figuring out. I know that I will not be able to carry most of my drugs due to them being flammable and the restrictions that airlines have on items these days. John the younger will be going down also, and I will be leaning on him a great deal. In more ways than one.

My right knee continues to get worse. I thought that I had a doctor's appointment for tomorrow but it is for next week. So, I just need to keep toughing it out. I find myself taking more and more pain pills, which are becoming about as effective as M & Ms. If I can't get someone to ride up with me, I might have to punk out on Sully, which would not make me happy. I miss seeing the folks of the Dragon and doing my sailor thing.

I lucked up the other day. I went to my favorite used DVD store to scout around and found a copy of one of my favorite movies, Barry Lyndon. If you haven't see this one, or it has been a while, for a real treat, watch it. It is a movie that gives the feel and taste of the 18th century better than any other movie ever made. I just don't have the words to express the power and magnificence of the photography as well as the strength of the story line. And the best part, it only cost me five bucks. GRIN

While I am semi on the subject, I gotta say that I have somewhat changed my mind on HBO's John Adams. I sat down and watched all the episodes I had recorded so far. I think the caricaturization of Adams is closer to the real person than I thought (or wanted to think). I fell into the trap that so many fall into, (and one that I preach against) that the history just didn't fit into the nice little comfort box that "I" thought it should. But as Mr. Adams so eloquently stated, "facts are stubborn things". I am sure that my conservative/loyalist outlook had something to do with my first impressions too.