Saturday, September 6, 2014

"Irish Heartbeat"

Regular readers of this blog know that I love being part of a family. That's probably a big reason that this song strikes a chord with me.

"Irish Heartbeat" was written by Van Morrison, who hails from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He recorded it with an Irish folk band called The Chieftains, and I have to say that their version is pretty darn good. You can find it here on YouTube.

But my favorite "cover" of the song is this one by a Scotsman named Billy Connolly. Technically, Connolly and Morrison are both "Scots-Irish": Van-the-Man's ancestors emigrated from Scotland to Ulster, while Billy's went the other way. Connolly (who was born in Glasgow on M's birthdate!) is mainly famous as a stand-up comic and a movie actor, but IMHO, his rendition of "Heartbeat" raises "pretty darn good"-ness to a whole new level. If skirling Scottish bagpipes and rattling snare drums make your hair stand up, this is the version for you:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thursday--yes. Throwback--not this time!

Here's a pic of Mike in 1997, on one of his annual guided fishing trips out of the Homosassa River with his dad and his Aunt Madelyn, in search of the not-so-elusive redfish:

And several more from their 2006 expedition:

M says he really misses those trips. The company was great, the fishing usually fine, and the river always beautiful:

I'd love to have gone with them except for--you know--all that water.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another Throwback Thursday

Our theme for this Throwback Thursday is water safety. Our main conclusion is that it's a contradiction in terms.

To illustrate common hazards that you may find around large bodies of water, here is a picture of Jeannie (left) with her brother and sister. It was taken at the Gulf of Mexico in 1954.

Well, stone the crows! Was this an accident looking for a place to happen, or what? As if their reckless hijinks weren't risky enough, notice where they were situated--at the beach! In the water! Were they trying to drown each other or just break their necks? It's a wonder they didn't do both.

I'm happy to report that 60 years later, they are all still thriving . . . with no thanks to shenanigans like the above.

Now for a couple of much newer pictures of Jeannie, demonstrating the only safe and sane way to approach the wild surf:

Long story short . . . there isn't one! As you can see, I was trying my level best to drag J out of harm's way. Thank goodness I prevailed before a tsunami could come along and slam us.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Shake a snake--if you feel lucky!

A couple of years ago, Mike and I were walking down Brandywine Road and we stepped off into the lush grass of a neighbor's side lawn so that I could--uh--relieve myself. We hadn't gone very far when I heard something rustling between my feet. I looked down and saw a critter that looked like this:

Well, I launched myself about a foot into the air, the snake took off like he was late for dinner, and Mike just about wet himself laughing. "It's a harmless Black Racer," he said. "Don't be a sissy."

"I'm too young to die," I told him.

"One of those couldn't kill you," he replied. "They're nonpoisonous."

"Can they bite?"

"Well, of course, all snakes can bite."

"That's reason enough for me to steer clear of them," I said.

When we returned home, we Googled up some information on what are supposedly the four main poisonous snake species in our state, complete with pictures. They are--in case you aren't aware--the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake;

the Pgymy, or Ground, Rattlesnake (the guy whose hand is also in this picture is a flaming nut, IMHO);

the Cottonmouth, or Water Moccasin;

and the Coral Snake.

Up near our border with Georgia and Alabama, you can sometimes find the Timber, or Canebrake, Rattler;

and every now and then, the Copperhead.

"The first four of those," M informed me, "are the only snakes you really have to avoid around here."

"Oh, no," I informed him back. "I have to avoid all of them. Case closed. Can I hear an amen?"

He said my choice of words (the amen part) was a good one, because there happen to be groups of people in the states just to our north who use poisonous snakes as a big part of their religion. They actually pick them up and dance around the room with them, believing that if their faith is strong enough, they won't get bit. And that if they do get bit, they won't die. And they drink deadly poison, too, mostly something called strychnine. And quite a number of them have apparently died because of their beliefs. Well, DUH!

But the lure of snake handling (AKA "taking up serpents," after some Bible verse) is apparently hard to resist among more than a few humans. M went on to tell me about a man named Dennis Covington, who wrote a book called Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia.

During his reasearch in Scottsville, Alabama, Covington became so affected by what he saw that he briefly became a snake handler, himself. Eventually he was able to let go of the practice--probably with encouragement from Mrs. Covington, who I'll bet said something like, "You can touch snakes or you can touch me--your choice, buster!"

I must admit that in the two years since I learned all this, I've often thought about the weird attraction of people to snakes. (I've also wondered what other bizarre secrets lurk inside human minds.) So it didn't surprise me to learn that Mike has been thinking about it, too. He recently finished a slideshow video to dramatize the subject--and to set it to music, with the help of a country and western duo called Pinkard & Bowden. We hope you enjoy it--or at least find it educational.

To view it in its original format at YouTube, click here.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday

We recently posted a couple of archival pictures from Mike's side of the family, including one of his great-grandfather, George Stanislaus Boyd, slogging through the swamps of Honduras.

Here's another good one. It's George S. Boyd's mother (and Mike's great-great-grandmother), Mary Emily Dunham Boyd, with several of her grandchildren--and, to her enormous credit, a family dog who looks cozy and well-fed!

M recently got this photograph from one of Mary Emily's great-great-granddaughters (and therefore M's third cousin), a lady named Betsy Spencer, who identified the kids as (l-r):  Mary Bass; Mary's sister (and Betsy's Grandmother), Dorothy Howe Bass Spencer; and the girls' first cousin, whose nickname might have been "Minnie." That last identity isn't known for certain; Mike and Betsy are still trying to verify it. According to M's family history records, Mary Emily had a daughter named May Alice Boyd, who was called "Minnie." But they do not contain any details about May Alice's children, including whether she, herself, had a daughter by that name. Nor has M found another "Minnie" among the kids of May Alice's other siblings. (Minnie, schminnie! What I want to know is what's the dog's name?)

Betsy thinks the picture was taken around 1894 or 1895, when her grandmother was two or three years old. In all likelihood it was made in this house at 418 North 3rd Street in Palatka, where Mary Emily lived for many years and where she died in 1917 at the age of 87:

This Throwback Thursday thing is kinda fun! Maybe we'll try making it a tradition here at the ol' blogaroo. Stand by for some of the skeletons from Jeannie's closet!