Tag Archives: books

Hamlet

25 Oct

I have just finished reading a book by Bryant Simon, The Hamlet Fire.

The Triangle Shirtwaist fire took place in 1911, but it seems we have not learned much in the ensuing 80 years.  A fire broke out in a chicken processing plant in the little town of Hamlet, NC, on September 3, 1991. The fire itself was caused by the owners’ deliberate disregard for common safety procedures, insisting on repeated makeshift repairs to a cooking vat rather than spending the money to repair the thing properly.  Add to this, the doors were all locked, and the windows boarded up – to prevent theft, according to the owners. Twenty-five people were killed, and an additional fifty-five were injured, some very seriously.

Although North Carolina had passed legislation to provide for safely inspectors, they had not funded the project. There were so few inspectors in the state that, had each one visited four factories a day, each plant would have been inspected once every seventy-five years.  The health inspector did inspect the place more often, and was aware that doors were locked from the outside, there were no marked fire exits, and the place was a dimly lit rabbit warren, but since these things did not affect the food being prepared he didn’t bother to report the conditions.  A really classic case of “it’s not my job.”

The most profoundly damning part of the book, in my opinion, was comes in the epilogue, when Mr. Simon discusses what happens to your chicken between the egg and your dining room table. It’ll ruin your appetite, for sure!

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Hoarder, Thy Name is Audrey

17 May

The Squire and I are once again playing “Let’s Pretend We’re Moving”, and decided to have one more go at the barn.  When my folks moved back to Baltimore from Roxboro, they purchased an 8 x 10 Amish shed, and loaded a moving van full of stuff into it. (Well, maybe not really that much, but it certainly seemed that way.) We eventually moved everything into the barn and donated the shed to church.

The Squire loaded about a dozen cartons of various sorts and conditions into the cart and hauled them down onto the patio. You would not believe the stuff my mum saved! I must admit I have held onto every card I have ever gotten from The Squire, and I generally save this year’s Christmas cards to address next season’s, but I do throw them out eventually. Not my mum. We found two large boxes full of cards dating back to their first home.  It wouldn’t surprise me; when my dad died in 1999 my mum moved into a retirement center and my sister and I helped her clear some of the debris. (Read, we spent our time taking turns distracting her while the other one crept out with a pile of paper.) We each brought home my parents’ income tax papers from the years we were born – 1942 and 1947 – and gave each of our children a Woman’s Day magazine from the month they were born.

My dad was a clergyman, for Heaven’s sake! Do you know how often they move? My mother could squeeze a nickel until the buffalo shit and the Indian had a headache, but she spent good money to lug paper all over the country. Yeesh!

Boxes and boxes of books, many so abused by the mice that they had to be tossed, and a pair of ceramic figurines Nana had made back in the 50s. They were carefully wrapped in what had once been a fine wool blanket, now so moth-eaten I’ll be lucky to get two pieces large enough to give to the Humane Society.  Some of the theology books will go to Operation Pass Along for other clergy, and I’ll see if I can donate the rest. It goes against the grain to dispose of printed material. Hmm. Wonder where I got that?

When The Squire moved the tractor, he found a handful of dog food under the seat.  He also found peanut shells in his boots. It’s a long way from our house to the barn.  Industrious little buggers.

The most surprising find of the day was a small garter snake, curled up in one of the boxes. Hard to tell which of us was the most startled.

At least it was only one.

 

 

 

 

Meanie!

8 Nov

The Squire and I are both serious readers. When we find an author we like, we will go to any lengths to get all the books in that particular series, so we can read them from the beginning. It is understood that the spouse with a book in hand is to be dusted off as necessary, but otherwise left undisturbed.

Last night, The Squire found that two books by one of his favorite authors were available at a library branch not too far from us – not our local branch, which is virtually around the corner. He had exactly fifteen minutes before the branch closed, and raced out of here as if his library card was on fire, screeching into the parking lot with seconds to spare.

He sat down at the dining room table, and was soon in outer space. When I bent over to kiss him good-night, I startled him, as he obviously wasn’t expecting me to be on Safehold, or whatever planet he was visiting.  I have no idea what time he came back to Earth – or to bed.

While he was at church this morning, I decided it was time to clean off the dining room table, before one end of it collapsed, and spent a fair amount of time putting away, and throwing away. You’d be amazed at the amount of clutter that can accumulate on a table built for eight people. I swear, goblins come in and drop stuff on that table – I don’t recognize half of the things there.

A few minutes ago, The Squire came into the den in an absolute panic. “Where are my library books? You didn’t return them, did you?”

“No, I put them upstairs on the table next to the guest room sofa, where you usually read them.”

He nearly collapsed with relief. Honestly, I do love that man.