Jonesville Field Guide Entry #507

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Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, is associated with at least three different Union County houses still standing: the Wallace, JRR Giles and Cross Keys homes.

According to many accounts, including the one below from the May 27, 1865 edition

Rumor has it Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, had much in common with this image from the 1970s cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

of Harper’s Weekly, was dressed as a woman when he was captured.

The firing in this skirmish was the first warning that Davis received. The captors report that he hastily put on one of his wife’s dresses and started for the woods, closely followed by our men, who at first thought him a woman, but seeing his boots while he was running, they suspected his sex at once. The race was a short one, and the rebel President was soon brought to bay. He brandished a bowie-knife and showed signs of battle, but yielded promptly to the persuasions of Colt’s revolvers, without compelling the men to fire. He expressed great indignation at the energy with which he was pursued, saying that he had believed our Government were too magnanimous to hunt down women and children. Mrs. Davis remarked to Colonel Harden, after the excitement was over, that the men had better not provoke the President, or “he might hurt some of ’em.” Reagon behaves himself with dignity and resignation. The party, evidently, were making for the coast. —   J. H. Wilson, Brevet Major-General.

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–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

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Trivia: Tahiti, pouques, kava and more

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News and information for enjoying the island lifestyle (beaches, sailing, surfing and such) …wherever the hell you are.

…About one-third of North America is bordered by barrier islands.///

…In ancient Tahiti, archery was a sacred sport, practiced only by people of high rank. And while they were expert marksmen, bows and arrows were never used as weapons of war.///

This knot is called a monkey’s fist. Try making one sometime. Then take up drinking.

…The people from the islands of Jersey and Guernsey, just off the coast of  France, think they are descendants of fairies, known on the islands as “pouques” (pronounced “pooks”)! The last reported sighting of a fairy was in the early 1900’s.///

…The roots of the South Pacific kava plant are used to produce a drink with sedative and anesthetic properties. When Captain Cook and his crew first witnessed the preparation of kava by mastication, they were thoroughly disgusted.///

…About 70 percent of the planet is ocean, with an average depth of more than 12,400 feet. Given that photons (light) can’t penetrate more than 330 feet below the water’s surface, most of our planet is in a perpetual state of darkness.///

…A monkey’s fist or monkey paw is a type of knot, so named because it looks somewhat like a small bunched fist/paw. It is tied at the end of a rope to serve as a weight, making it easier to throw, and also as an ornamental knot. This type of weighted rope can be used as an improvised weapon, called a slingshot by sailors. It was also used in the past as an anchor in rock climbing, by stuffing it into a crack, but this is obsolete and dangerous.///

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— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool

Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt #237

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[NOTE: This excerpt from Blue Rubber Pool comes from early in the book.]

Squinting in the fading light, I saw it: a big, black blob chewing on my precious banana trees again, the little patch I put in to feel at home while still homeless and scouting builders. This beast was not just an intruder, it was a connoisseur, having chosen musa bashoos from the mountains of Japan, a house warming gift from Alaska. I thought it interesting that a cow eating a banana tree sounds like I do eating celery. I enjoyed watching the big dumb beasts while they stayed in the neighbor’s field, just loafing. It relaxed me. Especially after a hard day at work, shouting into the S-Phone at some guy speeding across the desert, or at some guy shouting back under heavy fire in the jungle. Cows took the edge off the fact that good help had become hard to find, nobody willing to go out delivering duffel bags anymore.

But a cow on the loose in my yard–Scooby snacking on my plants–screamed out for countermeasures. But which ones?

I dialed in the colonel. He answered right away.

“Well, what kind of cow is it?”

“Black. Built like a tank. A boy, I suspect, stocky and close to the ground. And short tempered. Not particularly glad to meet outsiders.” Beyond that, I was clueless to the ways of cattle–I was an alien who landed amongst farmers, just there for the farmer’s daughter.

“Just shoot the damn thing and be done,” he advised. That was always the colonel’s “go to” Plan A.

“I don’t want to kill it. Just want to save my bananas.”

“Call in an air strike,” he added, screwing with me now. The colonel thinks he’s funny.

“Too over-the-top. I need a ground-level solution, something low key that won’t unnerve the natives.”

“Do you still have that cattle prod I gave you?”

“The one with the broken amperage adjuster? Yeah. How’s that guy doing anyway?”

“Never mind that. You’re sure you still have it?”

“Of course I do. But I don’t need intel. I just want the cow to go away.”

“Use the cattle prod.”

“Seriously, Colonel, what’s a friggin’ cow going to tell me?” I was on a roll. Too much bourbon, I guess. The thought of interrogating a cow still cracks me up. Who’d want to torture a cow? What’s next, waterboarding chickens?

I heard Colonel John calmly light a stogie, take a long draw, then chase it down with bourbon of his own. I could see him in my mind, shaking his head the way he does.

“Listen to me, son. Two words: cattle and prod. Do the math.”

After that, he was gone. A mirage again on the Money Trail.

Weird, I hadn’t made that connection about the prod, always assumed it was meant as a brand name–like Rhino brand truck bed liners, implying the product stands up to a rhino.

You wouldn’t actually put that on a rhino.

Hmmmm. Cattle plus prod.

Well, I’ll be damned.

Always thought it meant “More than you’ll ever need for reluctant villagers because it’s strong enough for a cow!”

Silly me.

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Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Book Review: Gringos in Paradise

Posted on Posted in Books & Writing, Notes & Doodles

The gates between the United States and Mexico open in both directions. People coming into the USA seeking a better quality of life meet people heading into Mexico seeking the same thing.

This summer, at the Pages on Pine used book store in Spartanburg I bought Barry Golson’s Gringos In Paradise because the sub-title—An American Couple Builds Their Retirement Dream House in a Seaside Village in Mexico—caught my attention. I was curious how their experience building in Mexico compared to what I went through  building in Jonesville, and whether or not they had done much document forging with “Gassoway Oil & Gas Co., 1924” embossing stamp like the one I still have it. They hadn’t, btw, but they had a few tricks of their own.

I enjoyed the book ‘s description of the Mexican people’s emphasis on family and friends, odd viewpoint on punctuality,  wide, near bi-polar swings between laid back and passionate moods. It did a nice job describing the handsome terrain and easy climate and the Mexican difference between corruption and “augmentation”. And, of course, it gave an eye-opening walk through on the hoops and ladders of getting a house on its feet.

The Golsons, in Mexico, had building codes while my builder never mentioned them  where I am. We both had house plans that began as rough sketches—theirs scratched in the dirt, mine on the back of a manila envelope—and both ditched the sketched in favor of actual professional drawn up plans due to not trusting sketches. And but neither their plan nor ours synced up with the concepts of budget and deadline.

Not wanting to give too much away I’ll just say that building a house is a totally crazy adventure whether in Spanish or English. Btw, both of us experienced it in both languages.

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— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Beat Andy Garcia Reading Neruda

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Can you beat Andy Garcia reading Neruda?

I’ve tried. But face planted. O yes I did.

A few years ago at Pineapple Hill—in my hammock recovering from an injury—I decided to read “The Morning Is Full out loud to a “dead” parrot then other Neruda poems to other things: an Uzi, a book of Nautical charts, a bag of frozen peas.

I cannot decide if this happened as a result of living in the boonies. Or if my move to the country was on account of things like this happening. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Yeah, seeing this years later makes me feel like an idiot. But what really sends me crawling under rocks Garcia’s reading of “Now I Can Write the Saddest Lines.”

My Neruda fail is here. Garcia’s triumph is here.

Now that you’ve see the competition, send me a YouTube video link leading to your very best shot at Neruda. Any selection you want. Really. Do it. Do it today!

But be warned: Neruda is not for lightweights. Try “Because Love Battles” sometime.

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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If it’s true that islands have souls

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It’s easy to get caught up in the notion of islands being warm romantic lazy places composed mostly of tanned vacationers slathered slick with coconut oil sprawled out on tropical-colored beach chairs and blankets while barely still able to hold sweet umbrella drinks.

To me, there are other islands just as captivating: cold and perhaps even barren ones where generations have risen in the dark early hours over cups of thick black coffee before heading out to work.

And by that I mean hard work: mending nets, crabbing, raking up oysters or seeding new beds, battling rust and barnacles with a wire brush, reaching elbow deep into a dirty and defiant diesel engine, gutting fish and tossing bits of it to screeching sea birds as the sun is just now coming up.

If it’s true that islands have souls, surely it is places like this where the older souls are to be found.

Sometimes I forget.

Sometimes I too easily take the path of least resistance—toward Hawaiian shirts and sandals versus flannel and heavy boots.

It’s a weakness I’ve battled most of my life.

But then something comes along to remind me of the San Juans or Newfoundland or other places where island life remains isolated and hard and so deeply quiet that even the waves are mute.

When I find such a spot, even if it is only in a picture or a story or a song, it takes me further into the depths of my bones than I am used to going these last many years. It reminds me not to become too comfortable with white sanded landscapes dotted with brightly colored swimwear.

Why?

Because there will come a day when I no longer seek tranquil turquoise coves under a big fat yellow sun but instead desire gray mad skies over foaming seas flashing their teeth, making me feel so very much alive again as only such things can.

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–Tim Bryant
Author of
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt #89

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I’d been nineteen and staying–living, actually–at the YMCA in St. Petersburg, Florida. My dorm-style room had a linoleum floor, metal-framed bed, dresser, and nightstand. The nightstand had three drawers. In the top one, a Bible, King James Version. In the middle, old copies of National Geographic. In the bottom, nothing. Nothing at all.

The walls, bare but for a single picture of Jesus, were a blank canvas on which to dream, but when dreams ran out, they closed in tight. There was a radiator, a window, and a bare light bulb hung like an exclamation point, as if to say, “If you are here, you’re screwed!”

It was an old building with old rules posted on the door: No smoking. No alcohol. No drugs. No women.

Another rule, not posted, barred the restless bouncing of a tennis ball. “No playing catch with yourself.” I learned about that one a mere hour into my first night.

The Y was basically for sleeping and, when that became tiresome, dying. A place for old men and down-and-outers at the end of the line. At night, the geezers got up to pee and us young ones heard them trekking down corridors painted in cheap yellow light, heard them coughing, farting, flushing–paper rattling off the rolls, the bathroom door propped wide with a trash can–heard cheap rubber sandals flip-flopping back to bed, then heard them hacking up phlegm, moaning vague echoes, calling out from dreams–names, a wife, a daughter, a son. Noises you’d think the rules would not allow.

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Did you feel that rumble ‘neath your feet?

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My novel Blue Rubber Pool goes live today, meaning it’s been published and available for sale. Did you hear the stampede?

I don’t know what to expect. Although it’s contracted with a traditional

Front and back covers for Blue Rubber Pool began with me cutting out photos and arranging them on my desk. The publishers artist took it from there. Nice job Jack!

press—not self-published, not print on demand (wherein copies are printed as they’re ordered, one at a time)—there’s a lot of new books out there, a lot of new authors hoping to be discovered.

I was always told not to quit my day job so I didn’t. I wrote an hour or two a day, usually in the early morning, until moving to Jonesville and having more freedom to do as I want.

Although I have a background in marketing, it wasn’t book marketing. I’ve needed oxygen to climb the learning curve: submissions to publishers, line edits, galley edits, cover design, teaser copy, etc. Who says you can’t teach a beat up old dog new tricks?

Anyway, it’s out there now. For better or worse. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill.

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Cats As Seeds Cartoon

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[Rooting through that box from the liquor store where I toss my writings and doodles, I found a bunch of cartoon sketches from 30 years ago.]

Now I’m up to four of these Harold and cats cartoons resurrected from the liquor store burial vault. This one depicts tombstones lined up in a field beneath a happy sun. The tombstones have names of various cats (Kitty, Thomasina, Tiger, etc). One row of tombstones is marked “Catatoes” and the other “Catalopes”. Parked of to the side is a Caterpillar farm tractor. The caption reads Harold took his weird research to the agricultural Midwest, planting the seeds in neat rows.
–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Bolger Stitch and Glue

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As it looked in the USED CAR LOT
As it looked in the USED CAR LOT.

After sailboats 30′ and up, I never thought I’d enjoy having a small skiff but then I found this small wooden “stitch and glue” oar/sail Gunther rigged skiff at used car lot in Charlotte.

I thought it to be an Otter 16 but the guys at the Wooden Boat forum have convinced me it’s a Phil Bolger Gypsy design. TheWooden Boat forum is definitely a big help.

Of course, sailing it is different than bigger boats. No room to stretch and move around. No place to get out of bad weather. No space to stash several months provisions. But it’s fun to sit closer to the water and closer-to-nature. And there’s virtually no maintenance hassles. It’s very easy to row and I’ve set it up for a small trolling motor though have never put one aboard. What really makes it special right now is that I can sail the reservoir behind my house when the urge to sail hits and I’m unable to make the three hour trek to the sea.

There’s something about wooden boats versus fiberglass (plastic) that’s magical—as if you’re part of a living thing and it, the boat, is part of all living things around you: water, sky, fishes, birds, animals, etc. It’s a “close to nature” vibe.

I beefed up the mast step, added additional bench and deck boards (with finger holes to lift them up for storage underneath) and then gave it a paint job.

It’s now Pineapple Hill’s official Tongan War Skiff.

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cats As Curb Feelers Cartoon

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[Rooting through that box from the liquor store where I toss my writings and doodles, I found a bunch of cartoon sketches from 30 years ago.]Here’s a third from the Harold and cats cartoon series. This one shows Harold presenting another big idea. With the help of a slide projector, he shoes how cats can be used as curb feelers to protect cars from concrete curbs. (We see a car, a curb and a cat.)  The captions says Harold stood by patiently as auto industry leaders considered his innovative presentation on improvements to curb feelers.
— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill
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Cats Make Good Pets Cartoon

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[Rooting through that box from the liquor store where I toss my writings and doodles, I found a bunch of cartoon sketches from 30 years ago.]

This one, featuring Harold and cats again, shows Harold headed to his shed carrying a saw and leading a cat on a leash. The caption says Harold heard that cats make good pets so he set out to make one.

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

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