A sense of time

I had a boyfriend in high school who could tell you the time of day off the top of his head within ten minutes or so. He was an aspiring actor (back then) and attributed his unnatural skill to his performer’s sense of timing. Ummm ….. maybe.

I have a husband now who can do the same thing. He’s a former math teacher who considers it an ability derived from his close relationship with numbers. Well …… maybe that, too.

I have less of a sense of time. Hours pass unnoticed when I write, minutes last forever as I stare at a blank page. I attribute this to living more inside my head than out of it. But if hours and minutes confound me, years and decades are worse. Today, I reviewed a book called Deep Sahara. It takes place in 1980, which I shrugged off as being nearly current fiction when I began reading the book. Then characters who lived during World War Two began to play a role.

Geez, WWII was like 80 years ago. What are they doing still alive? Wait, 1980 was nearly 40 years ago, now, wasn’t it? Yeah, it was.

My sense of time (or lack thereof) is front and center this week as I vacation at an old house on the beach owned by my husband’s family. The house was built in the 1850’s and the deck looks out over Charleston Harbor, and directly at Fort Sumter. The first shots of the civil war rang out here, when Confederate artillery opened fire on this federal fort in April 1861. Family members who are history buffs love this fact. I find wars sad, not fascinating, and secretly think the view would be so much more pleasant if it didn’t have a reminder of a bloody, painful conflict right in the middle of it.

The house itself contains an old and a new part. The old portion is lovingly maintained as it looked in the 20’s and 30’s when this was a small beach shack used to escape the summer heat of the city. Creative relatives have decorated the walls with tools used to handle the ice blocks that provided precious refrigeration back then.

The rest of the house is circa early 1990’s, built after hurricane Hugo tore through the area. Parts of this are deemed “worn and in need of replacement” as opposed to historical. The cynic in me thinks that if they just leave the indoor-outdoor carpet on the stairs another forty years, it will become too treasured to remove. It’s all relative, isn’t it?

As I sit here studying the various ages of what I can see, I think I’ve figured out my problem with time. I’m trained as a geologist, fascinated by the formation of the earth 5 billion or so years ago, and intrigued by the first forms of life to emerge over four billion years later.

Old? Rocks formed from tiny creatures in the inland Cretaceous sea are a 100 million years old. In my home state of Kansas, we used that 100-million-year-old limestone to build houses in the mid 1800’s, about the time when shots were being fired over this beautiful harbor and you could have watched Fort Sumter being attacked from this deck.

Maybe I would care more about this if 150 years weren’t mere seconds to a geologist. To those who study the earth, everything that’s happened since 10,000 years ago is pretty much considered debris. It could be I don’t lack a sense of time, I just have another way of looking at it.

(For more of my recent thoughts on time, see my post Spending Time.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s the way it is…..

I’m old enough to have once been a fan Walter Cronkite, whose calm and mostly objective delivery of the evening news earned him the title of “most trusted man in America.” Today, I grab my news from my email provider and supplement it with Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” which is often great fun but technically neither objective nor news. I know this but I consider it my news source anyway.

Has life gotten better since the days of Walter? Or worse? In the spirit of Cronkite, let’s take a look at today, April 9th.

In 1241 the Mongols defeated the Polish and German Armies.  Seriously. On April 9.  After that it appears that there was a whole lot of fighting by a whole lot of people, although on this date in 1454 the city-states of northern Italian signed a truce that lasted for almost 50 years. Go Italy. And on  April 9, 1865 Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant and ended the civil war.

Click to visit the National Film Preservation Foundation

Click to visit the National Film Preservation Foundation

It was 74 years ago when  the Daughters of the American Revolution decided that Marian Anderson’s ancestry made her unfit to sing at Constitution Hall. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR as a result, and on April 9, 1939, Marian Anderson sang instead on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before a live audience of seventy-five thousand and a national radio audience of millions more. Click on the image to see the video.

Today we had stabbing attack on a campus of Lone Star Community College, easily within twenty miles of my home.  Fourteen people have been injured, several very seriously, and as of last report no one has any idea of why.  I sit on my front porch blogging and waiting for more news to make it on to the internet.

And that’s the way it is, on April 9, 2013.

Southern heroes worth celebrating

Friends who have read z2 have begun sending me articles and links to other blogs  discussing the disturbing tendency in my home region to glorify and revere some of the most vile leaders of the confederacy while overlooking the genuine heroism of people of all colors who stood up for human freedom and dignity. It is nice to discover that some of the more admirable characters in z2 have real life counterparts.

From CardCow.com

From CardCow.com

Please check out Chris Hedges column “White Power to the Rescuehere at a site called TruthDig, where  you can read about the battle in Memphis to cease honoring Memphis native Nathan Bedford Forrest, who along with other dubious accomplishments was the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.  Many citizens of Memphis would prefer the city instead laud crusading black journalist Ida B. Wells, who risked her own life to write about the lynch mobs in the area, or German immigrant  Jacob Burkle who used his house as a stop on the underground railroad for escaped slaves in the decade before the Civil War.

Part of the message of hope in z2 is that there are people from all backgrounds and all places worthy of our admiration.  Too often, however, they aren’t the ones who have been etched into granite and are shown riding in on a horse.