16 January 2012

Mollie and Kendall

I think, after much sophisticated detective work, that I have finally identified the problem at the heart of my high-tech organizational system...

The updates have been missing in action lately while I worked through a little cardiac scare. One night in the hospital and a number of tests later, I am happy to report that it was, in fact, just a scare. We are chalking this one up to 2011 stress. My plan is to deal with it by acting like a cat and falling asleep on my piles of to-do lists. You never see a cat having to take a stress test, do you?

2012 is mostly behaving better than 2011 so far. The weather has been eerily warm until today, we seem to be on schedule at the museum, and several quilting projects are back on the front burner. There may even be a better camera on the horizon.

The ancestors have been quiet the past few days, but, now that they know that their antics are not in fact endangering my heart, they are back in force again. Today the theme seems to be war casualties on the home front.

14 Jan 1876: Mary "Mollie" Savage Honnoll dies in Prentiss, Mississippi, at the age of 67. Mollie was the mother of Nancy and the wife of Peter the beekeeper. She was born in Cumberland, Kentucky, in 1818, married in Hardeman County, Tennessee, in 1836, and was in Mississippi by 1850. Her parents were Hamilton Savage and Elizabeth Martin. Mollie had 9 children. One son, William Cacy Honnoll, died in the Civil War at the Battle of Richmond. His older brother, James Wiseman Honnoll, brought his brother's body home. I cannot imagine the ways in which this war tore everything and everyone apart. Mollie's picture, taken toward the end of her life, looks as if it were all too much. I am certain that the skills that went into the quilt came from her.

Peter Ambrose Honnoll Jr. and Mollie Savage Honnoll, posted at the old Honnoll-Hunnell family site

Picture posted by Mona Mills at Find a Grave

Gravestone picture posted by Peggy Herridge Wilson at Find a Grave

Mollie is buried at Gilmore Chapel Cemetery along with William Cacy and  a tiny grandchild, Jimmie Honnoll Walker, my great-grandmother's next-youngest sibling. Peter remarried and died some years later. If his grave is at Gilmore Chapel, it is unmarked. Apparently he was a tough old reprobate who did not believe in churches. His son Moses Wiseman Honnoll more than made up for his father's apostasy by becoming a Methodist circuit preacher. My great-grandmother and her family must have left Mississippi soon after Mollie's death.

16 Jan 1815: Kendall Savage dies in New Orleans. The location and the timing makes me think that he was a casualty of the Battle of New Orleans, as he was from North Carolina and had no other connection with Louisiana, nor any sign that his family ever lived there. Kendall would have been Mollie's uncle, brother of her father Hamilton Savage, gone before she was born. There is no record of his burial place.

Today is a day celebrating peaceful change to make the world a better place, one neighborhood at a time, in celebration of the life of Martin Luther King. We remember what the price of peace is, but hope for a time when war is no longer necessary.

01 January 2012

2012 is now in the building

Sunrise over Badlands

Last year at this time, a whole 13 hours into my temporary gig as acting director of the museum, I received an emergency call from the facilities crew to tell me that the building was flooded. The new building. On my watch. (Single-digit outside temperature + uninsulated vestibule = freeze and burst in the sprinkler system.) It was something of a harbinger for 2011, which brought us a new disaster, loss or illness Every. Single. Month. It's hard to find anyone in my circle of friends and family who was not hurt, often devastatingly, by the Year 2011 Effect.

I can now step forward and take responsibility for some of this. Maybe all of it, worldwide. Like so many people with Southern grandmothers, I make sure that black-eyed peas, cornbread and some kind of leafy green something are on the table for New Year's Day dinner. It's not a law--laws can be repealed. It is much more demanding than some mere law. It's more like a universal constant.

So, last year at this time, 2 hours before the flood in the building, we found that the black-eyed peas had....failed. In spite of soaking and cooking, and even last-minute nuking, for 48 hours, the little monsters never softened up. They were crunchy and tasteless. This is not a good thing for black-eyed peas. For whatever reason, somehow, somewhere, these peas dried for good in the bag, and nothing I could do brought them to life. And I had no backup.

So we had maybe 4 or 5 BEP each. Two hours later, the building flood call came, and, after that, it was a year full of natural disasters, personal losses, and other Bad News.

I apologize to everyone on the planet.


It was also a year of unexpected joys, sweet reunions, new directions, new friends, and constant little reminders of our infinite capacity as humans for resilience, delight and love. Even with the flood, we had 20+ wonderful people there within an hour--on New Year's Day--pitching in to help in all directions. I'm crediting that to the BEP we were able to choke down.

This year, today, the Hoppin' John and cornbread are ready to go. The peas are perfect. We have blue skies and--so far--no panicked phone calls. I'm willing to give 2012 a chance.

I did have 2 cans of pre-cooked black-eyed peas as a backup--it's that important--but I did not need them.

Here's wishing you all a year of hope, joy, love and new directions.