Monday, June 29, 2009

My daughter arrived! Yea!

Of course, having said I would be too busy to blog this week, I couldn't bear not to check in for a few minutes. I've also tried to keep up a little with some of you...but did not leave many comments. Just want you all to know that I'm having too much fun to blog much...It is wonderful reconnecting with a daughter after 20 years. And she is reconnecting with all kinds of family she didn't know she had...A couple of pictures.

Of course, with great irony, the first day she was here, her favorite team was playing my favorite team so we cheered and booed madly. I will admit (particularly since she may read this) that the Red Sox are the superior team...even though my Braves beat them on this particular day. Yea!

Brain has a new sister, Melody has a new sister-in-law, and Conner (hidden from view) is being helped by Karen to walk...well, sort of...

Conner and Jean win each others' hearts...not difficult for either of them to do.

And Karen took her down to the Market where they shopped and I ran around taking pictures, including many that did not have them in them, and several that are unrecognizeable abstracts...of course...for later.

Okay...enough blogging...back to living.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Be patient -- postings may be sparse this week

As some of my regular (or irregular) friends know, my daughter is visiting this week - so postings may be a bit sparse. I'll leave a sunflower picture. Smile.

On-line shopping

Coming home, Friday afternoon for a week of vacation, I discovered Karen had been shopping on-line! (The reason I ended that sentence with an exclamation point instead of a period is because Karen has never shopped on-line before).

She’s quite capable with Office Programs and email but she has never really been a “computer-person”. Sort of like I’ve never been a “yardwork-person” or a “housework-person” or a “work-of-any-kind-person”.

One of her goals over the her summer break from school was to become better with the Internet. But to find her shopping on-line already had me cheering on her success!

Granted, she was not looking for fancy camera equipment or computer games or designer shoes. She had been trying to find a replacement part for our refrigerator. I case I’ve never mentioned my gratitude – her practical nature is the very foundation for the freedom Bagman has to goof off.

“I just wanted you to check out what I found before I actually place the order,” she said. And I was happy to oblige. She had already managed to locate the brand and model-number of the fridge and out of a selection of twenty-thousand different parts, found the odd-shaped little plastic shelf support thingy that had cracked under too much weight of bottled water.

I was patting her on the back and she was about to push the “send” button to commit $37.50 for a piece of plastic when something niggled my brain. Left side shelf support. Did that mean the left side looking into the refrigerator or the left side from the refrigerator’s point of view? The diagram listed both as “Part #480” One was “Part #480” left and the other was “Part #480 right.”

“Go down and look,” she suggested. So I ran downstairs, opened the door, removed milk, grits, bottled water, a tin of batteries (because someone had once told us that batteries last longer if you refrigerate them), mustard, and Cool Whip. I removed the underneath bin of lettuce, cheese, and cucumbers and stared at Part #480. Comparing left and right. Or right and left depending your point of view. Committing them to memory.

Then I put back all the food, closed the door, ran back upstairs and stared at the photograph on the screen. The website let you examine the part from three different angles. By the time we had flipped the virtual part all over the place, I had forgotten what I had tried to commit to visual memory.

I ran downstairs and repeated the process. I ran upstairs and repeated the process. It was like one of those intelligence tests or something I remembered from taking the SAT in high school. Which shape matches the shape in column A if it were flipped 180 degrees. I ran downstairs again! I was beginning to worry about food spoilage with all the opening and closing of the fridge door.

Then Karen had a brilliant idea. “Go take a picture of it!”

So, once again, I emptied everything, took out the bin, and shot the part with the camera. I decided this was the first time in my lifetime of being a photographer that I had ever tried to shove my head and my camera into a refrigerator. Click.

Back upstairs again, we compared the image in the camera to “Part #480 – right” and “Part #480 – left.” We flipped and rotated the visual image while I flipped and rotated the camera image. Finally, we succeeded in becoming virtually dizzy and falling over.

We could order both parts and return one.

We could flip a coin.

“Is there a return policy?”

We flipped a coin. Wish us luck.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hometown Shootout - Rainbow Colors

I've got the Rolling Stones going on in my head this morning. "She comes in colors everywhere. She's like a rainbow." I don't think I've got the lyrics all right but the song is playing internally as I post this.

This one visited my backdoor, right on cue.
I'm just glad the theme wasn't "Tax Collectors"

A swirlie -- I saw the ones in Nalley Valley's shoot-out and had to do one too.

Finally a house that I pass every day on my way to work -- thanks for the motivation to go shoot it this week.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Making a bed

So time is rushing along and I'm trying to get my work caught up at work because I'm taking annual leave next week because my daughter, Jean, is flying down from Boston to Charleston to spend the week with us...

And the sheets from the guest room are in the dryer after being washed from after Barclay slept on them two weeks ago...

And I don't know what we'll do or where we'll take her...what she likes to eat. And I'm upstairs trying to fill out an on-line college financial aid form for Brian, our son, and it's complicated as heck and I need to ask him some questions, but he's not answering his phone...

And Conner, the grandbaby is downstairs beginning to get fussy and I hear Karen desperately, or at least loudly, trying to entertain him, so I figure I'm still better off working with frustrating government online forms...

And when Jean contacted me by email a little over a year ago after a 22 year gap (She was 10 and now she's 32...long long story), I wrote back and wasn't sure how to sign the letter -- Dad? Mark? The bum who walked out on you? And she suggested that Mark was good because that was how she had been thinking of me. ..

And Saturday afternoon she's getting off a plane. People ask me if I'm excited or nervous. My logical and overly clever mind does some calculations and replies, "I'm 80% excited and 20% nervous." Although I'm probably about 50-50. And maybe I'm mostly nervous. But since I can do all this calculation, I'm probably just repressed and calculating...

And Karen makes a loud but probably printable oath and yells up that Conner has just pooped all over everything and I don't respond and begin to find even greater pleasure in these *%#&ing forms...

And Karen calls up to ask if I want to take Conner or make up the bed since the sheets are dry...

No brainer. I go down, collect the sheets and pillow cases, go upstairs and start making the bed and suddenly it sneaks up behind me and slams me in the chest. I am making a bed for my daughter to sleep in. She's going to call me, Mark. I'm going to call her, Jean -- and not Jeannie Beannie. But I'm making a bed for my daughter and the last time I did it she was ten years old and cute and bubbly and I was about to break her heart. And Saturday afternoon she is getting off a plane and we're going to hug each other and I will probably be irritated at my inability really cry because my face will get all tight and, as usual, I won't really release it...

So I'll probably make some clever comment and we will all laugh.

I spend more than the usual amount of time smoothing the sheets and making sure the pillows are straight.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Nothing much

Time is short, so I'll just post a couple of pictures for no particular reason.

More later...and, Friday, of course.

Wish Reggie Girl would show up. Of course, here in South Carolina, our Governor Sanford has disappeared...maybe it's aliens?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Okay, okay...Father's Day got to me... compulsive sense of humor usually keeps me from getting all mushy. And Bagman helps by keeping me kind of wild and lusty and Butler helps by keeping me kind of proper and rigid. And I once wrote a blog about crying that I can't easily find now or I might link it.

And I was in a crappy mood this weekend anyway and woke up Sunday just wanting to kind of get it all over with. But I put on a good front when my son, Brian, his wife Melody, and grandson Conner showed up. The plan was for Karen and Melody to cook breakfast for me and Brian.

Yeah, yeah...Father's Day...that's the usual plan. And then they showed up with the biggest card I'd ever seen that they had made for me. Melody had done the artwork on the front and there on the inside were Brian's handprints!

Now this doesn't show the scale. But it was adorable. I looked a little tonight through old scrapbooks because everyone who has ever raised kids has had at least one card or paper sent home from kindergarten or church school with those cute, tiny fingerpaint handprints...and I know we have some of Brian when he was four or five or six and although I couldn't easily locate them, they could probably fit in one his current, big old meaty thumbs.

Big as they were -- suddenly he was my little boy again. And then I read the message he had written on the right side of the card...

...and you can't read it all in the photograph but if you look, you can get the gist...and I don't have the emotional stamina to transcribe here. I don't think a tear actually squeezed out -- because that's me, dammit -- but when I looked up at the faces of Brian, Melody, and Karen -- it looked like they were all preparing to catch me if I fainted so something must have been showing.

And Brian was holding Conner...and I just pray that someday years from now...Brian's going to get the same affirmation of his life that Brian gave me.

BAGMAN: Get a grip, Mark! Don't get all mushy now!

And we went to the pool and after they left, Karen and I ate a pie that Melody had made with incredible thoughtfulness...inventing it with chocolate, more chocolate, chocolate chips, just a little peanut butter (because she knows me well), and more chocolate! I'm sorry that Blogspot hasn't developed the technology yet to allow me to upload taste. It was so good that it almost negates the idea that it's the thought that counts. Because the thought was incredibly sweet.

But, in all honesty, the taste was pretty sweet too! It might be a toss-up. amazing, powerful, wonderful Father's Day for this old fart.

And stay tuned because after next Saturday I might not be blogging as much because we're getting a visit from Jean, my daughter from an earlier life who has somehow found the courage to reconnect with me. Last time I saw her she was maybe 10 years old or so. She is now 32.

BAGMAN: Oh no! Not more mush! Can't we at least find some time to make off-color remarks?

Happy Father's Day, More Friday-Shootout

First of all, Happy Father's Day

Secondly, I had three other things I was going to add to Friday's Hometown Shoot Out Metal theme but was either too busy, too scramble-minded, or -- and I just forgot the other thing -- but I never added them, so this below is a kind of a postscript to Friday.

A stain on the barbecue grill

This last one, above, does deserve a little explanation. It is the section of hydraulic hurricane doors at Charleston Center where I work. I don't usually write about work despite the fact I would love to write a book on it. But the book would have to be published posthumously.

However the hurricane doors are interesting. Charleston Center is a wonderful alcohol and drug treatment facility that includes 44 beds on the fourth floor for inpatients. When it was built 12 years ago, a great deal of attention was paid to the hurricane risk the building presented being close to the ocean and it was designed to handle a large storm surge. Two huge, hydraulic doors were designed for the front and back doors. They have only been used once when we were threaatened by Hurricane Floyd which, thankfully, move up the coast and we avoided a major hit. (Regrets to Wilmington, NC!!).

The County's facilities management folk come in with small forklifts, move them from under the stairwells (where the detail above was shot), put them in place in special seals on the doors, and after making sure the building is totally empty, they use air pressure to make them watertight and the building is sealed up tight until the threat is done.

This year, since they haven't been used for awhile, I asked to have them tested before the hurricane season was on us. Facilities management came out and then called me to say that it wasn't necessary.

After all the careful planning, design, expensive construction and installation -- and after even using them for Floyd -- some practical-minded person finally noticed after 12 years that Charleston Center has a huge side door off the childcare area on the side. We have two state of the art hurricane doors but we have three entrances.

Since we are government (don't get me started...) my guess is that when the building was being built the third door was cut as a budget-saving concession.

Next week, maybe I should go and count the number of tires on our fleet vans to make sure each one has four.


Okay...I've now got the first period of time, a couple of hours, I've had in a while and am going to go and look at what everyone else did on Friday's shoot-out. Sorry I've been absent.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hometown Photo shootout - Metal

Frustrating and busy week leads to hodge-podginess in shoot-out. Although I wrote that as a perfectly serious explanation of the fact I'm throwing this together at the very last minute, I had to laugh at myself (which I don't do enough) because it sound like a Newspaper Headline written by a somewhat effete editor back in the wild wild west. And while I didn't put it together totally at the last minute -- braking the car in the midst of frantic errands to shoot things (a la Patty) -- I didn't plan stuff out much or blah blah self-effacing blah blah blah.

BAGMAN: "You don't own Nikes do you? Your sneakers probably have a logo that says Just Apologize for not doing it.

Anyway (I use that as the first word in paragraphs a lot) some of this week was spent hauling dirt to fill the muddy swampy hole in my yard (see recent blog on yardwork). And while waiting to get my neighbors metal truck filled with topsoil, I shot this guy using manly metal machine (oops, sorry the "M" blog was last week) to fill mulch in serious truck.

Metal is tough and used for heavy construction (or heavy destruction)

And it is light and wiring and used for hanging things

We use big metal things to help us paint other metal things

The metal Ravenel Bridge is probably the definitive landmark of Charleston, crossing the Cooper River coming into the city on Route 17 from the North.

This is an older shot I took after the Ravenel Bridge had been finished a few years ago but before the older 5-lane Something-or-other Bridge and even older 2-lane Grace Bridge had been torn down.

I need a little more self-effacement so I should point out that the big missing piece in this shoot-out is a series of shots of metalwork gates or blacksmith shop of Charleston's living legend, Phillip Simmons. He's in his 80's now, I think, but sometimes sits on the porch of his house waving to tourists. But I never found the time to get a picture of him, his studio, or his work. Ah well.

So Instead I shot a photograph below that I do not understand at all. It seems weird even to me. Not only that but it came into my mind with a total absurd caption that I understand even less:

Skillet Killer

Neither Bagman nor Butler have a clue either. When I first heard that the theme this week was metal, the first idea that popped into my head was this. Really nuts, I thought. I don't even like guns. (Not too excited about cooking either). I am not an NRA fanatic that screams about protecting the rights of all American's to own guns. I never even owned a gun until my mother-in-law, sadly passed away a few years ago and Karen found a small .22 caliber pistol among her affects. Then, later, after Brian, our strong and strapping son moved out, and guard dog Sally went deaf, and I stopped practicing Tae Kwon Do, I went through a kind of paranoid period and thought since we accidentally owned one gun we should really own a more serious one and picked up the .357 magnum above. And although I'm a dedicated "make love not war" kind of guy, I've surprised myself at periodically finding perverse pleasure going out to the shooting range and making very loud noises and holes in paper targets. At least a few holes. I never realized how hard it is to make a bullet go where you want it to do, particularly with a short barreled handgun. And no, I have never fried it on the stove. Or even microwaved it. This photo really makes no sense to me except it kept popping into my head until finally, yesterday, I gave up and shot it...photographed it, that is.

Maybe the theme of "metal" has brought out the macho side of me. Because I also thought about Fu's engine. But if I was going to shoot a nice picture of it, I would have to wash it up a bit so it would gleam and I didn't even get around to washing the outside of my I decided instead to present the "Sound of Metal". Now I've got Julie Andrews voice in my head singing, "The hills are alive with the sound of me-tal."

You might now want your speakers set too loud for this one. Fu doesn't redline until 9,000 rpm and it might be loud.

BUTLER: Or not. You know, Mark you should actually play a movie sometime before you upload it. Fu's engine might sound really loud to your testosterone-soaked imagination when you are driving it, but I just listened to your movie and it sounds more like one of those rubber band toy propeller planes. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Yeah, I just listened to it too and it sounds more like a can opener than a race car. Too late now since I've already waste 10 megs of internet space. I'll just hit the post button and go downstairs to watch testosterone dribble from my flacid bubble.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Riding the Time Scanner – 1972

There are times when I take out the camera and walk around in the real world pointing it at things and clicking the little button. Bagman thinks I should do more of this. Butler agrees but thinks I should do it more meditatively because I am relying too much on Photoshop to correct too much that could have been done up front.

Then there are times when I sit in front of the computer screen and slide a myriad of Photoshop sliders to prepare pictures to be blogged or printed. Sometimes I print and frame them.

Then there are times when I pull a random selection of old slides or negatives out of sleeves or envelopes and scan them into digital. I call this “riding the time scanner” because it takes me back. Sometimes I get surprised.

Last night, I was rifling through an old box in the shed and suddenly found some envelopes of negatives that had been lost for years midst unrelated junk at the bottom. Stuff stuffed without thought or care, forgotten but carried from storage shed to storage shed. These negatives had not even been put in sleeves but thrown into envelopes. Some were 35mm some were larger format 2 ¼ square, and some from camera formats I don’t remember even owning. I almost threw them away because they were a mess, stuck together in places, scratched, and some discolored. Some smelled bad and some shared envelopes with mouse droppings. But a few took me back…poor focus, scratched…but riding the time scanner I found myself back in 1972 to a time when I was drawing and painting in oils.

I had forgotten I had ever done that. But there was the easel and my grandfather’s wooden paint box. I don’t mind having thrown away the paintings but wish I had the box back. And I don’t think I’d call them paintings – more like artifacts, fossils from a prehistoric me.

I know it was 1972 because one of the paintings was signed and dated. 1972 was 4 years before I got sober so these fossil images were all done while I was drinking and smoking pot.

The one above looks like it was more drinking and less pot.

This one was, on the other hand, was probably more pot and less drinking.

And the one below is probably a classic.


This one really got to me! Because I remember very well painting it during a rough week of guilt-ridden, alcoholic withdrawal, when I was vowing to myself that I'd never drink again. Of course, I went back to drinking within days after finishing it because I had not yet found the secret of A.A. But now, 37 years later, I can see it was the genesis of Bagman and Butler, the two sides of my personality. Bagman is clearly holding the upper hand and not very pleased at Butler's appearance. But Butler is just beginning to mesmerize the brutish Baggie with little angellic spots emmenating from the halo in his hand. There would be 4 more long years before Butler allied himself with A.A. and finally got Bagman to stop drinking. And there would be decades more of other compulsive wars during which innocent people would be caught up in the battleground of divorce and other friends and family would be exiled to escape the internal warfare of delayed maturity until I eventually negotiated the relatively peaceful coexistence that exists today. These guys have come a long long way. Whew.

And the last two, below, I don’t remember doing at all.

Okay. Well, that was fun. I think. So now, I’ll gratefully return to the present and start shooting some pictures for Friday’s hometown metal shoot-out.

And get my ass to an A.A. meeting.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gracie and Conner

Spent most of the weekend entertaining Grandson Conner and Gracie (Karen's cousin's daughter).

Gracie started out kind of bored...or sleepy...or maybe acting for the camera...hard to tell with her since she has a kind of Bagman impishness about her.

And Conner was studying automechanics. "I think you need a new muffler, lady."

But when they both woke up, they ran me ragged. (And Sally makes a cameo appearance at the very end, no where near as frantic as the camera man).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Growth of a small honeydo

Last week, Karen’s voice drifted into the house, “Mark, can you help me with something for five minutes?”

Butler, who sleeps with his workboots laced up, was already out the door singing, “Whistle while you work.” Bagman’s spread-eagled moan came from under a pillow. I was somewhere in between, as usual.

It was small task. She was trimming out some dead branches in the Azalea bushes in a six by three bed near the heat pumps on the side of the house where my neighbor Steve had recently installed a French drain. Some of the branches were too thick for her to cut with the long handled clipper thing. I enjoyed exhibiting my muscles and cutting the bigger branches.

We also cut out the vine-like weeds. She had to point them out because I still can’t figure out what defines a weed from a plant. What makes one variety of green leafy life good and another bad? Seems like a form of discrimination, but I hack away when told.

It wasn’t a five minute job but still only 30 minutes or so and we were done. Except…

Now two of the Azaleas looked really scrawny and sick, so Karen asked, “Would you like to dig that one out completely?”

Getting a bit smart-assed about it, I answered, “If you want me to dig it out, I certainly will but don’t ask me if I would LIKE to do it.”

So the five minute clip was starting to grow and I was getting twinges of premonition. I fetched the shovel and the red-chopper-thingy. I know it has a name…adz?...but it has a tiny axe-like shape on one side of the business end and a kind of hoe-on-steroids shape on the other. And it’s not really red anymore either since it has chopped a lot of roots in the past. I chop at some more, work up a sweat and eventually pull out first one…then, of course, two…of the dying azaleas.

I mop my brow (not with an actual mop, of course) and my heart sinks when I glance at Karen and see that look that says, “I wonder if I dare to ask him something more?”

“Would you mind,” she says – avoiding using the word “like” – if we took out the other two azaleas and planted all new bushes in here. I grunt my assent. The sun is getting higher and I fetch a headband because sweat is now pouring into my eyes. Digging up healthy azaleas is considerably harder than dead ones. Chop, dig, chop, dig, pull, chop, dig, pry, pull, chop, pull…The big azalea, with complete root system, is too heavy to put in the wheelbarrow so I drag it to the road while Karen cheers me on with words such as, “Be careful not to hurt the grass!”

I’m still hoping that this five minute…now three hour task…has an end point to it. Of course, I need to turn the soil now so she can plant something new. The good news is that the soil is only three inches deep. The bad news is that underneath it is all clay and – “Don’t you think we need to get rid of all that clay?”

I resist answering, “I didn’t think we needed to trim dead branches in the beginning.” Instead I fetch the wheelbarrow and start shoveling heavy, damp clay, and wheeling it down to the artificial pond (which looks like a real pond)…except it is deep and drops off fast. I dump clay from the bank in big wheelbarrow fulls. I lose count after 294. Somewhere around the 600th load, I lose my grip and the wheelbarrow rolls down the bank and into the pond. I hold one handle for dear life and follow it in, sliding up to my clavicles in mud, clay, and tepid pond scum.

There are alligators…I’ve posted pictures…but I never worry about them like my neighbors do. Except when walking Sally. They have big mouths but small brains (sort of like myself when I blurt out things at work). Alligators see moving objects and make only one decision…small enough to eat, or big enough to run from. They leave me alone while I struggle to retrieve the wheelbarrow and, in the process, decide the hole is big enough and I’m done for the day.

The worst is over. All that remains is to put in new dirt so Karen can plant. Thankfully, thunderstorms arrive and I have an excuse to go back inside although by now I’ve forgotten what I was doing before I went out for five minutes to clip a couple of branches. But I’m almost done and can finish up early on Sunday.


Sunday morning, we go outside and find that all of the rain from the thunderstorm is now sitting in the hole. I have successfully created a new artificial pond. Even my neighbor, Steve, is standing there admiring it. He cheers me on with words such as, “Looks like you have a real problem there.”

We stand around, scratching our heads, and staring at 600 wheelbarrows full of brown water where clay used to be. We finally figure that before we decided to clip a couple of branches, the azalea roots had been drinking much of the water and the clay base had been high enough so gravity made the rest run off into the yard.

The solution now seems to be to fill at least half the hole back up with clay…I may even need to buy some since I’ve successfully thrown on the free stuff in the pond. Then I will have to dig a trench ten feet out and connect it to Steve’s recently installed French drain.

“While you’re doing that,” Karen suggests, “would you like to connect the downspouts from our gutters?”

“I’d love to,” I answer. “But first there are two or three dead branches I should cut from the azalea over near the storage shed.”

Friday, June 12, 2009

Photo Shoot-Out "M"

Last weekend, as soon as we learned the theme for this week, the BB boys and I sat down to plan out what we would shoot in Charleston that illustrated the letter “M”.

BAGMAN: “Massage Parlors!”

BUTLER: “Over my dead body!”

BAGMAN: "Well then, how about a portrait of our maid!

Maybe we could convince her to get a sexier outfit, or at least reveal a little bit of her leg to us!"

Then ensued much muttering and mooning over municipalities, marinas, malls, motels, until I got miffed at myself and misplaced much messing around with m-words.

BUTLER: Keep it simple, Mark. Hey! What a coincidence! Mark starts with "M".

"As well as Melody," I add helpfully.

Mark and Melody.
Married to Melody tattooed a mite above Melody's mate's metacarpals

Melody's Mate

Melody and Melody's Mate "Morphed" (below)

(I knew that someday I'd find a use for this morphing program I got ten years ago)

Then ensued much mundane miscellany to mull over which is mercifully missing because I later deleted it when I got mad after Bagman shot a malicious iMage of Mark's mandibles messily masticating mini-marshmallows and I fired Bagman and banished him to the bedroom where the madman mostly started mucking around with something else that started with “M” that I did not want to know about, although his muffled moan came from behind the door saying he was merely musing over magazines.

So, cutting to the chase (which is a good phrase to use of the theme was the letter "C" in stead of "M") -- some M places in Charleston (and Mt. Pleasant, the suburb I actually live in which, of course, starts with "M".

A marina, of course.

MacDonald, as in Ronald, as in the Ronald MacDonald house
near the MUSC children's cancer center.

Mepkins Monastary (Abbey, acutally)


My mailbox


Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan’s Island, was named after Colonel William Moultrie, who became famous after he used Palmetto Palm trees to plug gaps in the unfinished fort in 1776 when British Warships started pounding it. Instead of splintering the brick fort, the soft wood of the Palmetto’s just sucked in the cannonballs and stayed intact making Moultrie look like a hero.

Fort Moultie is mostly famous for the role it played during the Civil War. Well, not actually “during” the Civil War because the Civil War hadn’t actually started yet. And because some folk around here still refer to it as the War of Northern Aggression, anyhow. But in 1860, the Fort was still unfinished after 84 years – which makes sense when you consider government projects in general.

But at the time, Major Robert Anderson was in charge of trying to get it fixed up with the help of some celebrities who were also stationed there – Abner Doubleday and Edgar Allen Poe – known more for baseball and horror stories than they are for fort maintenance. But they did all figure out that the Fort had been built to repel a naval attack with or without the use of palm trees. But it was beginning to look like the next attack might be coming from across the street where many fine Southern mansions stood…some taller than the back of the fort itself. Anderson finally got the idea that the only reason the neighbors were letting him work on it was because they planned to take it over and wanted him to fix it up first.

Fort Sumpter from Moultrie

So in the dead of a December night, he put his wife (who was staying in a hotel downtown) on a train North and he and the garrison got into rowboats with all the equipment they could put in them without sinking and after fighting past tourists in red hats, rowed across to the more famous Fort Sumter. And we all know what happened next.

By the way, only one person was killed during the entire bombardment and fall of Fort Sumter and that was one really unlucky Northern soldier. When Anderson finally surrendered, the folks of Charleston were gracious enough to allow an honorable exit from the island fort. Major Anderson was allowed to have a 21-gun salute as they debarked and when he did, one of his cannoneers screwed up the loading of his cannon and blew himself up.

And a final one from home -

Mark's Mom in marble when she was only a moppet