Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fight for Historic Glasgow Site

I can't remember if I've posted anything about this before, but I've been following this story since it began. Looks like it's taken a terrible new turn... ::shakes head:: I hate real-estate developers...


In what may prove to be the first test of Delaware's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law, a judge of the Delaware Court of Chancery ruled on Saturday that a real estate developer may search the hard drives of computers belonging to two opponents of his plans for building a housing and shopping center on Glasgow farmland.

Anti-SLAPP laws are designed to protect people who are actively petitioning the government from intimidation through lawsuits. There are 24 other states with similar anti-SLAPP laws.

In early 2005, Developer Stephen J. Nichols purchased a 236 acre parcel of farmland located in Glasgow, Delaware, called "La Grange." The owner was Anne M. Barczewski, but after Mrs. Barczewski lapsed into dementia, her grown children assumed control of the farm and sold it to Mr. Nichols.

In November, 2005, Mr. Nichols sued Mrs. Barczewski (then terminally ill) and her children, claiming that they were breaching the contract of sale by opposing his development plans at county hearings. Mrs. Barczewski passed away in January, 2006.

When Mrs. Barczewski's granddaughter, Susan L. Arday and her husband David began appearing at land use hearings objecting to the development, Mr. Nichols added them to his lawsuit, claiming that the Ardays were acting as agents of one of the sellers. The Ardays are longstanding members of the Friends of Historic Glasgow.

The Ardays have asked the court to dismiss the case against them, on the ground that they have a right under the First Amendment to attend government meetings and protest against proposed permits. They claim that Nichols' suit against them is an unlawful SLAPP suit, and are asking the court to make Mr. Nichols pay their attorneys' fees.

Vice Chancellor Leo E. Strine, Jr. said that before he would rule on the Ardays' motion, Mr. Nichols was entitled to gather evidence. Mr. Nichols has taken depositions of the Ardays and they have had to produce hundreds of pages of e-mails relating to the dispute. Mr. Nichols has now demanded that the Ardays turn over their computers for further inspection.

"This is very traumatic and a gross invasion of privacy," says Susan L. Arday. "I feel personally violated. The lawsuit is based on a false premise, that I acted as the agent of my mother. In fact, my mother has nothing to do with my actions, and Mr. Nichols knows it. I have protested his proposed development because the land is an important historical site, and to honor the wishes of my late grandmother, who always said that she wanted the land to be preserved, not developed."

The Ardays' lawyer, David L. Finger, said the ruling permitting access to the Ardays' computers was unusual. "There has been no showing that there are likely to be any additional relevant 'hidden' e-mails on those computers. Mr. Nichols is merely fishing."

Said David Arday: "This whole thing makes a mockery of Delaware's anti-SLAPP law. The law is supposed to resolve these types of cases quickly at minimal expense. All this is doing is costing us time and money, in an attempt to bully us to stop opposing Mr. Nichols' plans. But we will not stop exercising our rights."

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT THE ARDAYS¹ LAWYER: David L. Finger Finger & Slanina, LLC One Commerce Center 1201 Orange Street, Suite 725 Wilmington, DE 19801-1155 (302) 884-6766

Friday, May 26, 2006

Knitting update and "X-Men: the Last Stand"

I finished knitting the first of the Winter Shawls today. I still have some ends to weave in and I have to attach the fringe before it will be done, but the knitting of it is finished, and it looks mighty fine if I do say so myself. I'm busy spinning up the roving I've gotten so I can knit some more.

Busy spinning or not, I had to make time to see "X-Men: The Last Stand" (abbreviated by me X-3) tonight though... I... didn't really like it so much... I liked "X-2" way better... I would say why but it would spoil it for those who have not seen it, so I will at least put spoiler space first... So read this post no further if you wish to avoid spoilers. Also, warning, going to get very fan-girlish.



My 12 issues with and very few likes of X-3:

# 1. Scott is NOT dead!... Cyclops cannot *die*! Are you kidding me?!?! Lack of Alpha Level healing power notwithstanding, he's not allowed. ('Cause I say so, damn it!) Am totally miffed that this was implied, but very glad that it was never conclusively confirmed. I never saw it happen and I saw no body. Jean only seemed to assume that she killed him... We didn't actually *see* it happen in her memory, so Scott is not dead. I have watched enough soap operas in my life to know that if you don't see a body (and even sometimes when you do), they're not dead, no matter who says they are. So Scott's still alive, wandering blind in the Canadian wilderness, pissed as all get out, and waiting to be found if he can't find his own way back to civilization. End of story... I will hear no more on this matter...

#2. Mystique can't loose her powers! She's almost as old as Logan and she's Mystique! And Nightcrawler never found out that she's his mom! And neither can Rogue loose her powers... That was not supposed to happen... She's supposed to eventually figure out a way to control them. Erik (Magneto) obviously did not really loose his power, given the small display at the end, despite having *four* doses of "the cure" pumped into his system. ::rolls eyes::

#3. Was it really necessary to kill Jean *again*? And to make Logan do it? Do we even know how many women he's loved and had to watch die? ::shakes head:: It's just mean at this point what these canon writers keep doing to him. Not nice at all, I say. Give the poor 100+ year old man a break, will ya? Although, she did die temporarily at the end of the Phoenix thing in the comics... but she came back again in that! So WTF?

#4. Knew Charles wasn't dead... hehe... Although I started crying during the scene where Logan was trying to reach him so that he could save him (or try to) but couldn't, and then when he finally got there, realized he was too late and he sat down and cried with Storm... Yeah, I was totally crying too...

#5. There wasn't enough Archangel in this movie... Not nearly enough... (Was totally crying during the scene they showed of Angel as a little boy when he was trying to cut off his wings. That was horrible!) And where on Earth was Remy (Gambit)? And where did Nightcrawler go? Seems like they not only could have used their help in this, but they really should have been there. And Jubilee is in the credits, and so are Siryn and Psylocke, but I don't remember seeing any of them... And Jubilee at the very least should have had a larger role.

#6. They sure did flatten out Pyro in this movie into a one-dimensional, angry teenage villain, didn't they? Very disappointing, as the rivalry between Pyro and Iceman should have been rounded out better. The build up from the first two movies kinda fizzled out in this one like a Zippo that ran out of lighter fluid. Come on, people! Fire versus Ice? That could have been an awesome fight... but no... It turned out rather boring and too predictable.

#7. Liked Kitty Pryde though. She was pretty cool and played a surprisingly larger role than I expected. And Piotr Rasputin (Colossus)... Oy! Or as Lauren said upon seeing him, "He can be my husband." But where was his little sister? Wasn't he supposed to have a little sister hanging around that school?

#8. Juggernaut was defeated *way* too easily and was *way* under-used. And what ever happened to the guy who could make duplicates of himself? He just fell out of the story... The movie reminded me "Elektra" in this way...

#9. So there's a mutant who makes other mutants temporarily loose their power when they come within 5 feet of him... Yeah... That's convenient... ::rolls eyes::

#10. Dark Phoenix and Wolverine going at it... Yeah... could have skipped seeing that... Though I applaud Logan for knowing it was *very* wrong and stopping it...

#11. I hate, hate, hate what the film-makers do to Xavier's character in this film. I don't mean how they "kill" him (although I hated that too)... I mean, making it seem like he's doing basically the same thing that Magneto is trying to do with Jean, but with the excuse, which the film-makers make seem flimsy at best, that he is "doing it for her own good," with his indignant statement of "I don't have to explain myself to you," directed at both Logan and the audience. It's sickening... to do that to a character who is supposed to be there as a guide and help to his students. He doesn't make decisions *for* them or without their permission! And that's exactly what they have him do in this movie with Jean... totally twisting his character, and Jean's and most of the rest of the X-Men characters into parodies of what they're supposed to be given the previous movies (not even counting the comics... not familiar enough with the comics to make that sort of judgment). The whole situation... hell, the whole movie could have been handled much differently, and I for one am very sorry for how it was handled.

#12. The wrap up was too quick... the exposition comparatively way too long... and there wasn't enough detail in either... (Again, very like "Elektra" in this respect.) The story wasn't told very well. It felt rushed and sloppy. This could be because I spent almost the entire movie waiting for Scott to come back on screen... but I doubt it...

In conclusion, in my oh-so-humble opinion, the movie makers did very little right in the third installment of the X-Men movie saga. As far as I am concerned, if they do not fix the most crucial of it (Scott is *not* dead!) in the next movie, "Wolverine," then X-3 does not exist in *my* canon. It stops after X-2 and I will live in the very happy Denial-Land of Fictional Catastrophes. ::huffs:: And that's all there is to it... (After all, Richie Ryan's not dead either, and a 6th season of "Highlander: The Series"? What sixth season of "Highlander: The Series"? And "Endgame" ::pfft:: Pul-leeeze! As if!).

Monday, May 22, 2006

Federal Marriage Amendment

It should be no secret that I am against the so-called "Federal Marriage Amendment" proposed by George W. Bush and the Right Wing extremists who support him. I have been asked why I oppose it on several occasions, since I myself am not a lesbian and I have no relatives who are of the GLBT community. I oppose it first on the principle that it is unAmerican and a shame on our souls to purposely write discrimination into the United States Constitution, our most sacred and guiding living document we have the honor to possess as American citizens. By not openly opposing such an amendment, we condone it and it would be as if we had written it ourselves. Second, I oppose it because I know that were I a lesbian, I would want the right to marry whomever I chose. Third, if I had a child who was gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, I would want them to enjoy every right that I and their father enjoyed under the Constitution and government of this most excellent idea of a country. And fourth, I believe as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and as my religious convictions teach me, that if you deny a right to anyone then the right is guaranteed to no one... No one is safe. It's as simple as that.

I urge you to go watch the Anti-FMA video linked above or just go straight to and see what you can do to take action against the Federal Marriage Amendment. It will only take a few minutes to send the e-mails and sign the petitions and it could go a long way to proving to the general public that the FMA is not only an anti-gay amendment but also an anti-American amendment, and not only should it not be supported, it should be openly opposed. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

More Green News...

The great state of Pennsylvania is on the verge of going on my happy list. After this, all they need to do is oust Santorum from office in November...

The Philadelphia Eagles have implemented a number of strategies to reduce or eliminate the amount of carbon the team produces. They have switched to organics for the maintenance of their playing and practice fields and started recycling programs throughout their organization. They have also begun purchasing renewable energy to power their facilities, and they are in the process of making bio-diesel fuel recycled from the cooking oil from the team's kitchens. They also have led tree-planting programs in their community. Major kudos to the Eagles!

The Governor of Pennsylvania, Edward Rendell, has joined the Virtual March and so have several other top state officials. And it wasn't a hollow political action! Pennsylvania is investing millions of dollars in renewable energy, including $193,000 for 15 small-scale community wind projects to demonstrate modern wind technology in highly visible locations throughout the state. Governor Rendell rolled out the welcome mat for the Gamesa Corporation, the second largest wind energy company in the world, which recently sited its U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia and opened two manufacturing facilities in the state, representing an $84 million investment in Pennsylvania's economy and creating hundreds of jobs.

Governor Rendell says, "The solution to global warming is all about efficiency and productivity and innovation… We are building a clean, secure energy future in Pennsylvania and it is high time we get serious about global warming and build that better future at the national level as well. Global warming is a problem---but it is a huge opportunity as well."

I really like that attitude! More politicians need to adopt it and implement it in positive action! And I hope other states follow Pennsylvania's lead.

If you want to do something to help, write to your mayor or county officials and ask them to sign the Climate Protection Agreement, if they haven't already done so.

For more information of carbon-neutral efforts being made around the country, check out this site... from which most of this information was taken.

1st Hope Chest addition...

9 yellow and white plaid napkins...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Environmental, Health & Agricultural News

It's mostly good news this month, so I'll start with the bad...

Factory farms - which I oppose on principle - are trying to get Congress to allow them to be exempt from compliance with The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, also known as Superfund) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). If exempted, factory farms would no longer have to ensure that they did not pollute the public water supply with chemical or animal waste or post warnings to the public that there is toxic air over their facilities. At present, over 140 Representatives are supporting H.R. 4341 which would give factory farms this deal. It may soon be attached to a spending bill which has been labeled "must-pass" to get it through Congress with little to no opposition. This would be a very, very bad thing! H.R. 4341 would endanger the public health and give factory farms a break where they do not need to be given one. See FEED's May issue to find out more about this potential problem for everyone, and be sure to call or write to your Congressional representative and let them know how you feel.

On to the good news...

The USDA is considering a tougher standard for labeling meat products "grass-fed." Instead of the animals being fed on grass for only 80% of their total lifetime diet, the new standard would require them to be fed almost entirely on forage and grass. To read about the new standard, go here. The USDA is accepting public feedback through August 10, 2006 and instructions for how to submit comments are provided at the above link.

In a similar move, the National Organic Program (NOP), under the Department of Agriculture, is proposing a new standard of what "access to pasture" means. Current regulations state that animals used in the production of organic products should receive access to "pasture" but the term is left vague, allowing many organic dairies (such as "Horizon" from what I understand - they are not on my happy list anymore because of this...) to use "dry lots" - small, fenced-in areas with very little to no grasses. Current laws also exempt animals in particular stages of production, such as lactating cows, from the pasture access requirement, which is ridiculous if you ask me... The NOP is looking for "data on the definition, feasibility, and market impact of pasture systems to help formulate its new rules." They are taking public comments through June 12. To read the abstract and make comments, go here.

In other organic news, over 2000 hospitals nationwide are now committing to buying organic or sustainably grown foods. Recently, a deal was made between MedAssets, a purchasing organization for the health care industry, and United Natural Food Incorporated, an organic food distributor. In addition dozens of U.S. hospitals, including the entire Catholic Healthcare West system, have pledged to buy food that is sustainably raised, according to Health Care Without Harm. Read the press release here.

Proof that Tyson's got it wrong... A new study has been published which states that Australia has fewer strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria because the feeding of a certain type of antibiotics, fluoroquinolones, to poultry has been banned there for many years. Last September, after a drawn out battle with Bayer (as in, the manufacturer of Bayer Aspirin), who manufactures these types of antibiotics, the FDA banned the use of these same antibiotics in U.S. poultry for the good of the public health. Yay!!!

At the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in March, the international ban on "terminator technology" was upheld. What is "terminator technology" you may ask? Does this mean a ban on Arnold Schwarzenegger films? Unfortunately, no... But this ban is still something very good. "Terminator technology" is the genetic engineering of plants to be sterile. It forces farmers to buy seed every year, since there is no seed to save from their harvests. It has been internationally banned every year for the past 6 years, but Australia, Canada, and New Zealand have recently proposed changing the ban to a case-by-case risk assessment (Bad countries, no biscuit!). Small-scale farmers campaigned against terminator technology around the world for months before the meeting and held daily protests outside the building where the meeting was being held. "Hooray" for them! And a thumbs up for the UN in doing something right... They might not be good at the CNN-attention-getting things, like getting countries to voluntarily disarm themselves, but in this kind of thing, apparently, they are rather effective.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I want a Hope Chest

I want a Hope Chest. I have wanted one since the first time I heard of such a concept... Also like the idea of a trip to Paris to shop for a trousseau, but I think a Hope Chest is more do-able at the moment.

I need to remember to get the book The Hope Chest: A Legacy of Love by Rebekah Wilson at some point.

The reason why I thought about this just now is that I've been trying to catch up on my machine sewing this weekend...

I'm working on my summer shrug and find that the pattern wasn't very clear on a few points so I have to rip some seams and make a few alterations here and there. However, I'm fairly certain that it will still work... I just have to mess with it. Lucky for me, I have several large fabric scraps I can use.

Then, I was trying to make this nifty beach cover-up of my own design and it doesn't seem to be working... ::sighs:: Back to the drawing board there.

As for the sarong, I just need to get thread in the appropriate color and hem the edges. How simple is that? (And stores charge upwards of $30 for sarongs?! People, people, go to a fabric store, find a fun summer print you like, buy a couple of yards and hem it yourself! At most, you're out $15.) But since I don't have the thread right now at 3 am, I can't get it done this evening.

The fourth project was one that came to me when my friend Maria brought over an odd yard of yellow and white plaid fabric she had gotten on clearance to ask if I thought it was good for a project she wanted to do. I thought it was too light for the project she was thinking of, but that the fabric would be perfect for cloth napkins, so she said I could have it for that. WooHoo! So I washed it and dried it, and it's been sitting here for about a month and a half. Tonight, I finally cut it up into napkin sized squares and began hemming. I have enough for nine. Since my mom doesn't use fabric napkins, being of the Baby Boom generation who by and large prefers store bought and/or disposable things, I thought as I was sewing, what on earth am I going to do with these things while still living here?

My Hope Chest... They will be my very first official addition to it, all these years later... I already have been promised a good deal of my grandmother's china and silver, as well as her shabbat and havdalah sets and her baby naming dress, which I also wore when I was six months old, but I do not have any of these items in my possession. (My aunt has the vast majority of the collection, and I do not expect to get any of it until I am married to a nice, family-approved Jewish boy. Considering past actions toward other family members, she isn't likely to give them up if I am not.)

Handmade donations to my Hope Chest, as well as ideas for stuff I could make will be most welcome and appreciated. If I may make a superstitious request to those of you who are likely to make things as a surprise or gift, at the moment, I'd prefer items intended for general household use (towels, bedding, kitchen items, etc.), rather than those intended for specific occasions (such as baby or wedding items). Superstitious to the core, I am.

::sighs:: Now, I just have to find something in which to store everything.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

White beeswax

From what I understand, yellow beeswax can be difficult to remove from thread and garments after they are handsewn. Well, I found some 100% white beeswax and made little hearts, about 1" x 1", and attached a loop of string through them so that they can be carried on a chatelaine if one chose to do so. I think everyone should have one. :D

Friday, May 12, 2006


Do You Speak Yankee or Dixie?

I took the test and am proud to say I got 84% Dixie. :D Mighty high score for someone who many would think lives south of the South.

Also, this is tres amusant...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Current projects

I'm sorry to say that the Sontag is on hiatus at the moment and will likely remain so until November... Possibly until after the New Year. I am working on shawls for Jeb Stuart right now. All knitting and spinning that I do between now and the end of September will be solely for that end.

On the sewing front, I have several projects.

I want to make accessories for the summer... In case I go to the beach at some point. A sarong and a cover-up shirt. 1.) I got a Caribbean blue cotton shirt fabric for the sarong. It has little tie-dyed flowers in a diamond pattern all across it. I think it will be very cute. I just have to cut it to size and hem it on my sewing machine really quick. 2.) I got a cotton gauzy kind of fabric with teal, Caribbean blue, light green and lavender stripes of random and alternating thickness. They kind of bleed together so the they seem to fade from one color to the next. I'm going to cut it on the diagonal so that the stripes will go diagonally across my body and there will be a handkerchief type hem with a point in the front and in the back. The sleeves will bell out at the wrists and also come to a point at the sides. I think it will be cute. I might do some other things with it too. I'll have to wait and see...

3.) I'm working on the modern "obi" for the 18th century robe I got from Susan. I'm going shopping for the fabric tomorrow.

4.) I found a wonderful shirt at Lane Bryant yesterday and just had to buy it! It's like a silk handkerchief babydoll shirt with a thin strip of silk that is attached to the middle of the front and ties at the back of the neck. The problem is that it's sleeveless... I don't do sleeveless... So I though, well hey, I can make a shrug or something. Went to JoAnn's tonight and couldn't find a thing. I was going to give up and just get the other two fabrics that I had picked out cut and leave. As I was waiting in line, lo and behold, I found a remnant of brick colored 100% linen fabric in the bargain bin and got it for 7 bucks. WooHoo! So I'm going to be sewing that up as soon as it comes out of the washing machine and is dry. I got the "pattern" for the shrug here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Colbert at the White House Correspondents' Dinner

Everyone needs to see these video clips. I pray you've got access to a computer somewhere with a decent bandwidth. Stephen Colbert (of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central) truly lampooned the President right in front of him... and Laura Bush... and the entire press core... and several military officials... And there was hardly a laugh to be heard in the whole place... I think that's quite telling just how good and right on the mark his routine was in this case. Laura had the sourest expression I think I've ever seen on her face... like she'd just smelled something nasty and was trying not to smell it again but didn't want anyone else to know that. Laura and George W. left the banquet right after Stephan retook his seat. Don't know if that was the plan, but "wow!" if it wasn't! Very brave of you Stephen! Kudos!

Stephen is acting like he's at a Friar's Club Roast of President Bush rather than a White House dinner...

His "audition tape" for getting to be the next White House Press Secretary...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Katherine Harris

Heads up all Floridians: Do *not* vote for Katherine Harris for Senate! I got two reasons without doing the research that I am too tired to do right now... I'll do it later and amend this, but for now, two reasons. 1.) She's one of Bush's cronies. She was the Secretary of State who kept messing with the recounts back in 2000, and she did it with the most godawful, supercilious smirk on her face. She was also involved in Bush's Presidential campaign... Conflict of interests much? I'd say so... 2.) Bill Nelson, the man she's running against, seems like a really good guy and I have yet to suspect him of being in anyone's pocket. He seems to have integrity. Anyone who knows me knows just how rarely I say that about a politician. The letters I get from him in response to the letters I send him do not have the patronizing, belittling tone that other politicians' form response letters tend to have. I also have yet to disagree with the way he's voted on any issue of which I am aware, and he seems to really want to do what is best for his constituents in a fair and balanced kind of way... and really, what more can one ask for in a Senator?

If you need more reasons to not vote for Katherine Harris and to vote for Bill Nelson, just google their names. See what you come up with... I think you'll be hard pressed to find many nice things about Katherine on any page that she or her supporters didn't pay for, even in newspapers, etc. Bill, on the other hand, comes off, as I said, as a really nice guy.

Here's some links, just to be fair...

Katherine Harris's campaign site.

A better Katherine Harris site.

Bill Nelson's campaign site.

Bill Nelson's official Senate site.

The drought

It's official. We're experiencing a drought. The County Commission has issued a request that people stop watering their lawns voluntarily... period, just not water their grass, no matter how bad your lawn looks. They will be meeting May 17th to discuss the possibility of passing mandatory water restrictions to conserve water further if the voluntary measures don't relieve the water shortage problems.

I need to remember to tell dad to stop trying to plant grass plugs in the bare spots out front. Now is totally the wrong time of year to attempt that... I had already told him that, now I have proof to back it up. Maybe this time he'll listen and not plant anymore this weekend. The backyard is almost totally brown and crispy everywhere the sprinklers and soaker hoses don't reach.

Joe mentioned a few weeks back that we should water our grass. I said, "Why? It's not like not watering it will kill it. As soon as it starts raining regularly, it'll all come back. As much as we have to water the garden and flowers, it would be a total waste to try to keep the lawn green too." Joe said he likes grass... He'd just rather not see it all brown and crispy... I understand, but brown grass doesn't bother me a bit. Can you imagine the amount of water we'd need to keep 3/4 of an acre of grass green and lush? I don't even want to think about it. I say, let it fry! It'll be back...

Ghost Hunters!

I love the TV show "Ghost Hunters." It's a show on the Sci-Fi Channel that chronicles the professional lives of the TAPS team. "TAPS" stands for The Atlantic Paranormal Society. They investigate cases of supposed hauntings, most often in the New England area, and they are based in Connecticut. They're led by co-founders Grant and Jason, who work for Roto-Rooter as plumbers during the day. There's also a soldier (currently serving in Iraq), a former Air Force MP, an environmental engineer, a former priest and a police officer on their team, as well as other professionals. Smart, well-educated people who like to look for signs of ghosts in more than just their spare time.

Now, I hate typical horror movies, like "Scream" or "Nightmare on Elm Street," and psychological thrillers. Won't watch 'em, not even if you paid me. "Ghost Hunters" though... Man, I could scare myself with this stuff all day! Why? Because Jason and Grant and the rest of the TAPS team can usually explain away all the potentially scary stuff by the end of the hour. And what they can't explain away, they're generally so excited that it couldn't possibly be that scary to me. And the worst thing that can happen is that I know never to go to certain locations where they've actually found stuff that they can't explain away... such as the Saint Augustine Lighthouse, Eastern State Penitentiary, and the USS North Carolina. I *heart* TAPS.

You can check out their website here:

And if you want to know more about "Ghost Hunters", go here:

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tampa History at Oaklawn Cemetery

I was telling Susan not long ago about Oaklawn Cemetery in downtown Tampa, across the street from the Morgan Street Jail. It's one of the oldest cemeteries in the area, founded in 1850, and a lot of the people who built Tampa are buried there or in the adjoining Catholic cemetery, "St. Louis." About half a dozen friends and I went on Halloween for a tour several years ago. A reenacting woman, Maureen Patrick, dressed in 1880s mourning clothes, gave tours all day, telling anecdotes about notable people who were buried there. She herself was pretending to be a woman who was buried there, I think, in the 1880s. Here is her website, which I just found:

Her favorite grave and mine is that of William and Nancy Ashley. To help me establish just why their story is such a big deal and how it came to be, a few facts about Ashley... William Ashley was a Justice of the Peace, Tampa's first City Clerk and was considered a very important person in mid-19th century Tampa society. I found one thing online about him making a toast at the Independence Day celebration at Fort Brooke (where Channelside is now located) in 1847. That day, toasts were also made by all the other major players in town. There are only a few streets in downtown Tampa named for powerful men of that era. One is named for William Ashley - Ashley Drive - and another street is named for his best friend, Tampa's 9th mayor, John Jackson (Jackson is actually the person who named both of those streets when he laid out the city grid in 1847).

In the days before the Civil War, William had a slave named Nancy. They fell madly in love with each other. After the War, they lived together as husband and wife, although they were forbidden by law to officially marry. When William lay dying in 1973, he asked John Jackson to ensure that Nancy could be buried with him when her time came. John promised he would see to it. Several months after William's death, Nancy died as well, many said that it was of a broken heart. This is their epitaph, carved into the stone under a weeping willow, written by John Jackson:

"Here lies William Ashley and Nancy Ashley.
Master and Servant.
Faithful to each other in that relation in life, in death they are not separated.
Stranger, consider and be wiser. In the Grave, all human distinction of race or caste mingle together in one common dust.
To commemorate their fidelity to each other, this stone was erected by their Executor, John Jackson, 1873."

One newspaper reporter in 2003 said that this made Oaklawn Cemetery the first intergrated institution in Tampa... Probably, the county too... and, possibly, even the state.

John Jackson and his wife, Ellen, were also buried there, in the Catholic section of the cemetery. Their graves were moved to Myrtle Hill Cemetery sometime after 1917 for reasons unknown to me. John died in 1887. He had immigrated to the US from Ireland in 1841. When he wasn't doing the city planning or being mayor, he and his wife ran a general store at the corner of Tampa and Washington Streets downtown.

Just had to share...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Awhile ago while looking for info on natural dyestuffs, I came across a page on Beautyberries. They're edible, but taste really bad... (I've seen descriptions that range from bitter to sour to both at the same time.) On this page, which I can't find now, it said that Beautyberry is also called "French mulberry." It said that the name began sometime in the early 19th century(?) or the mid-18th century(?) because of the bad taste of the berries... That is the name is a dig at the French. For the life of me, I can't find where I read this so I can confirm it. I know I didn't dream it... If anyone comes across the page, I'd appreciate a link.

Three things

1.) I'm done for the semester! Yay! Cheer! Had my exam last night. I think it went well. My grade will be posted online by the end of the week. I hope to find a way to arrange to get the test back from Mr. Hughey, but he's not sure when he'll be on campus again... Perhaps he'll leave it with the History Department secretary... I've gotten other exams back from other profs that way before.

2.) "Hellboy" is actually a pretty amusing movie... I never liked "Beauty & the Beast very much and I haven't seen nearly enough of Ron Perlman's other work. But "Hellboy"'s amusing in a snarky, sarcastic kind of way. I liked it. Oh, and I just found out that "Hellboy 2: The Golden Army" is in pre-production.

3.) More movie news... of the "Brokeback" type. Got this in an e-mail from an interested friend. She's very excited. Excerpted from's entertainment section, column "The Loop" by Jenny Stewert:

"In a recent interview with, author Patricia Nell Warren indicated that her acclaimed and truly amazing 1975 novel, The Front Runner, may finally be made into a film. 'We're very excited, and we're cautiously optimistic that we are finally going to get the kind of film deal that we had hoped that we'd get,' Warren said.

"With talk of a film version of the novel floating around Hollywood for more than 30 years now (get this -- at one point, even Paul Newman was attached to the project), Warren's 'cautious optimism' is valid. The recent success of Brokeback could definitely help get the film made, and like Brokeback, The Front Runner is quite simply a strong love story that seems primed for the big screen.

"And for a film that would center around a tough, 39-year-old ex-Marine track coach who falls in love with the young male athlete he's training for the Olympics, imagine what an interesting casting call that would be. Brad Pitt and Michael Pitt? George Clooney and Josh Hartnett? Hmmm -- this is too good to pass up. Stay tuned to PlanetOut next week for our Front Runner casting call!"