Fridays Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South
Hot and Humid
I started writing this Friday night, but was too tired to finish. I had just returned from an art opening at the LeMoyne Center for the Visual Arts, here in Tallahassee. The show was titled "Love Your Mother," and I had two sculptures in it. The "Mother" they were referring to was Mother Earth, and each artist had written a paragraph about how their work of art said something about our environment.
It was a fun show, with 42 artists showing 63 pieces. LeMoyne is located in a huge pre-civil war house near the center of Tallahassee, and I am told that during the war the house was used as a hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers. The home and the galleries inside are air-conditioned, but the hundreds of people attending soon overwhelmed that temperature control. I found myself sitting out on the expansive front porch, thinking back to the 1860's, wondering how much a severely wounded soldier would have suffered in Tallahassee's summer heat, with not even an electric fan to move the air around.
The LeMoyne Art Center also owns the mansion next door, and that is used as an art supply/gift store. The two houses are connected with a walkway between their two front porches. As you walk between the two homes you can get a look at the sculpture garden in the back, and see a bit of the studios that contain LeMoyne's summer art school for the youth of the area. The whole facility is set up as a non-profit affair, and it takes a lot of volunteer workers to make the art foundation work as well as it does. It is an impressive facility, and I was grateful that they asked me to participate in this show.
The following, is what the National Weather Service had to say about the amount of rain we had here in the month of May. I never saw any measurable rain here at the house or down at my studio, and with the high heat I was watering our plants almost daily. Wanda and I planted one afternoon, and I had to get an ax to break up the ground enough to dig.
MAY WAS VERY DRY WITH ONLY 0.20 INCHES OF RAIN MEASURED AT THE TALLAHASSEE REGIONAL AIRPORT WHICH WAS 4.75 INCHES BELOW NORMAL AND THE 3RD DRIEST MAY ON RECORD. THERE WERE ONLY 2 DAYS IN THE MONTH WITH MEASURABLE RAINFALL WHICH WAS 6 BELOW NORMAL. THE GREATEST AMOUNT IN A 24-HOUR PERIOD WAS 0.18 INCHES ON THE 12TH. THERE WERE 6 DAYS WITH THUNDER AT THE AIRPORT. THE AIRPORT REPORTED A PEAK WIND GUST OF 33 MPH FROM THE EAST ON THE 23RD.
So, sometime while we were driving up to Virginia and back last week, Tallahassee had a real storm. All the plants looked good, the few empty plant holders I had out on the deck were filled to the brim (2 ½ inches) and the humidity had shot right up.
Today I was trying to chisel out a mortise in a bench I am making. I had the board all sanded, ready for a finish, and as I worked, sweat would drip down on the wood, so I'll have to do the last few sanding steps over again. I plan on going in late tonight, after it cools down to finish up. It is just too hot and humid to do fine exacting work.
The trip to Virginia and the Conference on American Foreign Policy was great, and I am glad I decided to attend. I met a lot of nice people and even had a chance for a nice talk with Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers fame. He had been a Marine too, but as he said, he was an Old Salt, having served way before I had.
The trip up and back was as interesting as the conference. We took some back roads, shopped at some antique stores, ate at down-home out of the way restaurants, and found some nice craft stores. In Walterboro, South Carolina we found a craft co-op that handled the work of 200 South Carolina craftsmen. Now get this, I bought a pretty nice painted wood carved fish that is about 12 inches long, for the ridiculously low price of five dollars. I don't care how fast the artist was who made it, I know from experience, they had over an hour, probably over two hours in it.
As a contrast, we also went to a craft store in Restin, Virginia, and a handmade back scratchier was 28 dollars and a bird house, granted a nice bird house, was one hundred and sixty dollars. Location, location, location is the name of the game if you want to sell something you make with your own hands.
After the conference was over, Wanda flew out of Dulles Airport to give a workshop in Arkansas, so I was driving home by myself. I missed having a navigator along on the drive. Also Wanda is a great traveling companion. We probably stop at more places when we are together, as I tend to pick out one place down the road and pass by some places that she would have seen on roadside signs.
On that trip back I was looking for small sawmills, where I thought I might be able to buy local woods that are not sold in normal lumber yards. I found several sawmills, but they were cutting pine and oak. Everyone told me that there was no market for the woods that I was looking for. When I did find some wood like magnolia, the price was way above what I could buy it for at Red Wood Bay Lumber in Blountstown, which is only 40 miles west of Tallahassee. I did meet a lot of really interesting people. Many were hard to understand, but when we started talking wood, we could figure out each other. Even though I had Florida plates on my truck, they knew right off that I was a Yankee. My Semper Fi front plate put me in good standing though, and more than one saw mill operator had been in the Corps.
Taking back roads all the way takes a lot more time, but I saw some incredible old homes, many neat towns, and met real people, who were not out to sell me anything. Driving the Interstate you are almost in one long shopping district.
I took Highway 84 across the south of Georgia just above Okefenokee Swamp, and I knew I was in the back-woods then. I could see where last month's forest fire went through and saw several home sites that had only a chimney left standing. Again, I saw very interesting old homes, nice clean small towns, and great small restaurants. A guy could put on a lot of weight just driving around, and if you have ever stopped at a truck stop, and looked around. . . I rest my case.
It was good to get back home, get back to my work at the studio, and sleeping in my own bed is always the best. It is hot and humid though, and I can tell that the night shift might have to start if I want to get a lot of work done. I can do the rough work during the heat of the day, but if I want to do finish work, it will have to be when things cool down.
So, Paris Hilton is back in jail. I know it is a bummer to have to go to jail, but the woman got a DUI, and they suspended her driver's license. She continued to drive and got busted twice for that. She should be in jail. Heck, the woman is rich, and it is not like she had to drive to the grocery store so she could get food for her kids. No, she was out partying. With her money she could have hired a driver.
Monday we will find out if money and fame can get you out of jail, because you know her lawyers will be flooding the courts with paperwork. As I think about this whole Paris Hilton episode, I have to believe that if a "regular" every day American citizen got pulled over with a suspended license, a person like me, they would be off to jail the first time that happened. Paris has already been treated way better than the average person would, so no matter what happens, we know that justice is not blind, and the rich are treated way better.
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