No doubt your first question, as was mine, is what the heck is a swivel gun?

swivel gun usually refers to a small cannon, mounted on a swiveling stand or fork which allows a very wide arc of movement. Swivel guns are among the smallest types of cannon, typically measuring less than 1 m (3 ft) in length and with a bore diameter of up to 3.5 cm (1¼ in). Swivel guns were used principally aboard sailing ships, serving as short-range anti-personnel ordnance. They were not ship-sinking weapons, due to their small caliber and short range, but could do considerable damage to anyone caught in their line of fire.

swivel gun Moore's Creek Battlefield

My encounter with a swivel gun took place at Moore’s Creek National Battlefield when I reported for

Selfie de jour

Selfie de jour

duty on Saturday, January 31, 2015. I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived, but was quickly escorted to the trailer filled with period clothing…suit up was the command.  Let me just say, putting on clothes worn by God only knows who to do God only know what, is well, disconcerting! Especially, for this OCD chick….but I found pants, and a tunic. I was fortunate my feet are big (and wide) and the shoes provided wouldn’t fit on my feet….so I kept my own socks and shoes – whew! When I left home I swore I wouldn’t don a ‘silly’ tri-cornered hat….but I ended up in this three cornered job (I’ve been told it’s not a tricorne). The other options were tam-like or when we in the south call toboggans (for you yanks that’s a knit monstrosity).

There was a lot to learn:

  • about the gun.
  • Procedure.
  • Black Powder.
  • and working as a team (we all trained on all positions).

My plan had been to leave at lunch. There were other things I needed (and wanted) to do that day. But I was having fun. The weather was enjoyable. I had settled into the strange clothing (mostly) and most important, we were not firing the gun until after lunch!

Once the three man team takes command of the piece, the first thing done is to search the piece (ie to be sure there is no debris from previous firings). This is accomplished by using a worm ( a corkscrew type tool) down the muzzle of the gun and twisting.

Swivel Gun-worm

 Once the piece has been searched, a sponge is rammed down the muzzle to ensure any possible embers are extinguished.  This is done while the person on the right of the gun is ‘tending the vent’ which means holding his/her thumb over the vent hole to ensure no oxygen can remain in the muzzle.

Once the muzzle is clear, then a charge (pr cartridge) is placed in the muzzle and rammed to the back of the muzzle (pictured)

Swivel Gun-field command firing ramming

Once the charge is in place the command to prime is given. This means to pierce the charge by placing a pick through the vent hold. Then a quill is placed into the powder via the vent hole as well.  The quill is a small amount of black powder rolled in some flammable material (like paper).

At this point the piece is ready to fire and the command to aim is given. Those manning the gun are told to make ready (pictured) and a lintstock (smoldering rope) is touched to the quill.

Swivel Gun field command firing 2

Swivel Gun-fire

Swivel Gun-fire 2
The sound is loud. However, everyone is wearing ear protection… so it is almost impossible to know real how loud. The neatest part to me was to be able to see the fire shoot from the muzzle! Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

Swivel Gun-field command firing

Swivel Gun-swivel gun training crew

I had a great time and met some really nice people! I can’t wait for my next training….perhaps a cannon or muskets!

In January I had the opportunity to attend the sesquicentennial events for the Second Battle of Fort Fisher. Since a rainy Saturday in 2008 – I have attended the events surrounding the Second Battle of Fort Fisher . The weather isn’t always pleasant but the richness of the history flowing around the events are always worthy. After all, who doesn’t love firing of heavy artillery, people in period dress, and lectures of days long past? This year, as a part of the 150th there was a reenactment….on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, as beautiful a January day as you could wish for, I stood on the South side of the mound to watch the battle. On Sunday I watched from the north side.  As you can see from the sketch below much of the original fort has been reclaimed by the ocean; and I have no doubt the small scale of the reenactment did not come close to showing reality. However, the estimate I have heard of almost 900 reenactors and over 28, 000 spectators enjoyed a good show.

This hand-drawn overlay found at the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area offices, near the site of the fort's telegraph station, shows both its massive scale and how much has been lost to erosion or demolition.  Fort Fisher's palisade, a 9-foot-high fence constructed of sharpened pine tree trunks (as opposed to the recreated cedar version that girds Federal Point today) spanned the Land Face from Shepherd's Battery to the Atlantic shoreline.  It would have extended beyond the lower right-hand corner of the photograph.  Dams constructed in the late-1800s by the US Army Corps of Engineers, spanning where blockade runners once rounded Federal Point (then Confederate Point) just southwest of the fort at New Inlet, as well as road construction during the 20th Century, altered the peninsula's shoreline.

This hand-drawn overlay found at the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area offices, near the site of the fort’s telegraph station, shows both its massive scale and how much has been lost to erosion or demolition. Fort Fisher’s palisade, a 9-foot-high fence constructed of sharpened pine tree trunks (as opposed to the recreated cedar version that girds Federal Point today) spanned the Land Face from Shepherd’s Battery to the Atlantic shoreline. It would have extended beyond the lower right-hand corner of the photograph. Dams constructed in the late-1800s by the US Army Corps of Engineers, spanning where blockade runners once rounded Federal Point (then Confederate Point) just southwest of the fort at New Inlet, as well as road construction during the 20th Century, altered the peninsula’s shoreline.

Over the course of the two days I took over 500 photographs (I’m only sharing a few). I hope you will enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

as the day began the rebel forces are seen raising the flag on the fort

as the day began the rebel forces are seen raising the flag on the fort

There were plenty of sights to see before the battle like this blacksmith showing his trade.

Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 blacksmith

And this photographer taking old photographs.

Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 photographer

Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 rebel cannon

 

As well as all the battle encampments around the area. Although I regret leaving my visit to the Union Camp until Sunday. It rained Saturday night and Sunday morning and the weather caused those guys to breakdown early. It was gone by the time I attempted to visit (I heard it was impressive though)

Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 camp

Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 camp 2

Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 confederate flag

Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 federal forces flag

It was really neat to watch the battle develop. I took a lot of photos during the battle, both days, but this is my favorite. The fife and drum coming along behind.

Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 federal forces fife and drum

  I just can’t help but love the firing of the cannons!

Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 firing the cannon

Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 firing the cannon 2Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 firing the cannon 1

Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 federal forces 2

Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 battle 2

These are a couple of photos I manipulated a bit.

flag

drums

On Saturday night we took the lantern tour. Ours was the 5:45 tour….just at dusk! It was beautiful and educational as we were able to ‘visit’ with five of the personalities associated with fort Fisher.Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 lantern tour guide

Fort Fisher Reinactment 2015 lantern tour

All in all it was a great weekend. I can’t recommend enough attending living history events, if possible.

I moved to Wilmington on Memorial Day weekend 1995 – it’s hard for me to believe it’s been almost 20 years! In that time I have experienced quite a few storms:

1996 hurricane Bertha hits July 12th with 105mph winds from the south. Newspaper article | Radar
1996 hurricane Fran hits Sept 5th with 105mph winds from the SSE. Heavy damage – 1 billion dollars damage, 23 killed storm surge approx 16ft. Newspaper headline | #2 | satelite image | av model error

1998 hurricane Bonnie hits August 26th with 115mph winds from the south, while turning N.E, moderate damage .
1999 Hurricane Floyd hit Sept 16th just east with 110mph winds from the south,dumps nearly 20 inches of rain here & causes heavy damage to north on Oak Island. New Hanover county reported 10 ft storm surge on sound side of Masonboro. A record 13.38 inches fell in 24 hrs.
2004  Hurricane Charley hits August 14th with 75mph winds from the SSW after hitting Florida, minor structural damage.  Also Hurricane Alex  August 3; Tropical Storm Bonnie August 12;  Tropical Storm Frances September 8; Tropical Storm Gaston August 30;  Tropical Storm Ivan September 16 and Tropical Storm Jeanne September 27
2005 Hurricane Ophelia passes just east on Sept 14th with 85mph winds from the south,western eyewall over Wilmington for a couple of hours. Widespread power outages & some minor roof damage & trees down.Ophelia Satellite image
2006 August 31 Tropical Storm Ernesto
2008 Tropical Storm Fay August 23 and Tropical Storm Hanna September 6
2010 September 3 Hurricane Earl
2011 August 27 Hurricane Irene

This morning as I awoke to the news that Tropical Storm Arthur, who was thought would just brush the coast, is now Hurricane Arthur, and we could possibly see landfall, I began to reminisce about hurricanes and storms. My first hurricane was Bertha. I guess you really don’t ever forget your first.

With Bertha I had no clue what to expect. I had experienced Hurricane Hugo in 1998 from four hours inland. With Bertha, I hemmed and hawed, I fretted and feared and in the end I stayed in my little apartment in an old historic house in Wilmington to ride it out.

I took a trip to Carolina Beach to watch her blow in; crossing the bridge back to the mainland just before the close. Coalman (my first Dalmatian) and I stocked up on essentials (stuff you can eat out of a can) and we settled in to enjoy a stormy day.

I swore after that Cat 1 storm I would never stay for another.

I remember feeling as if that old historic house was lifted off its’ foundation and slammed back to earth. I remember wandering out and around the block with Coalman during the eye of the storm.

Me and CoalmanI remember the sound of transformers blowing all over town and the 10 days I spent without electricity. TEN days in a downstairs apartment, in a questionable neighborhood, where all the windows were nailed shut for safety. There were long lines waiting for ice; price gouging for generators; and friends who took me in for meals, cold beverages and shared A/C.

This morning as I started to think about preparing for Hurricane Arthur, I couldn’t help but reminisce about my first.

As I’m reminiscing about storms, I am struck by how many storms blow into our lives. Some are afternoon thunderstorms, some are fast moving and others are long lasting. Some we can predict and others pop up and take us by surprise. However, none of us live a life without storms.

Just like the storm that is blowing through Southeastern North Carolina today, the damage caused by storms of our lives is often equal for how we react and how we prepare.

Prepare carefully.

                                 React thoughtfully.

                                                                    and Stay Safe!

Yesterday, I was asked to offer ‘Sticky Faith’ (the children’s message) at St Paul’s UMC in Carolina Beach….here is my message:

On Friday I had the opportunity to go to Pinehurst NC to attend the Women’s US Open Golf Tournament. It was great to be able to see the best women golfers in the world! While there I got to see Lucy Li play. She’s a 11 year old phenom, which is someone (usually young) with extraordinary talent at something. There were huge crowds on hand to watch her at every hole. I am not sure how she was able to play with all that distraction.

When we arrived at the tournament, we were given a map that listed the tee or start times for every player.

Women's US Open PinehurstOn this paper there was a notice:

2014-06-23 11.01.20

“Spectators should keep in mind that the players’ first responsibility this week is to compete for the national championship.”

They didn’t want spectators to take pictures, or ask for autographs, or distract the players from their goal….trying to win the championship.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 Paul tells us “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable prize, but we an imperishable prize.”

We are called to be the best Christians we can be. We are working toward the prize of eternal life. But just like in the golf tournament it is easy to become distracted from our goal by those around us. Our first responsibility is to behave as Christ.

We may not live a life where people clammer for our photo, or autograph. People may not follow us and cheer or jeer at what we do.  However, people can and do distract us!  It is easy to  get distracted by the praise or criticism of others. Friends or even family can distract us from mediation, from reading and studying, or from service to others.

We must keep our eye on the prize. Let’s work hard this week to not be distracted from our goal.

You Can’t Write on the Back of a Digital Picture

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I love photographs – Especially old photographs. They tell a unique and special story.  My house is decorated with photos – Some old, some new, some from adventures, or from trips, or from boring everyday life; they run the gamut …

 

I brought home a chair

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It is with regret that I inform you that after 17 years in exile my desk chair has come home.               As you can see the chair is broken which is how it ended …