Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bits and Bobs

I've got some stuff to do tonight so I'm not going to bore you with much here. Just picking up some odds and ends before I forget.

There were some research items about Lizie and Martha that I didn't use in Cat Fur Jelly.

Martha and Lizie were what we call down in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, "root women." They knew all of the traditional remedies that could be made from the wild-gathered materials on hand here.

Medical care up here was spotty at best. A friend is fond of telling "birthing" stories...the gorier the better. She's told me a gang of them and they always seemed to include a doctor, so I thought maybe the situation wasn't as bad as I'd been lead to believe. Until she let it slip that many of the "doctors" were actually veterinarians and who is to say they weren't just untrained horse doctors. There was a tinker who used to come through here and pull teeth.

So, Lizie and Martha's skills would have been much in demand.

One of their recipes involved making a tea from oak, alder and wild cherry bark. This was supposed to be used as a mouthwash to draw infection from teeth and gums. Henberry was used as a soporific and for kidney ailments. "Kidney ailments" appears to be a euphemism for cystitis or any sort of burning pain in the nether areas. The roots of Queen of the Meadow were also dug for "kidney ailments". Ground up mountain laurel leaves were mixed with laying mash to worm chickens. Kerosene was given for lots of things. The ginseng that grows up here was used much as it is in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)...as a stimulant, tonic and for boy stuff. Tetch me Not was used for snakebite(probably not a very efficacious use) and for skin problems including poison ivy(actually this works).

I continue to collect remedies that were used here.

A few notes left over from I'll Fly Away.

There were two schools that I know of thus far that were near here. There was the Bell Hill School, a one room schoolhouse teaching grades 1 - 8, that stood where the current Hall Family Reunion is held each year on Hall's Top. The other was a two room schoolhouse called The Raven's Branch School. This would have been up Raven's Branch way somewhere. It taught grades 1 - 5 in one room and grades 5 - 8 in the other. Most people here 50 years of age and older only have an eighth grade education since the closest high school was in Newport.

I'm working on a very difficult, dark story right now. It's called "The Dark Hole". It's going to be the closest I've come to emulating the school of the Southern Grotesque as practiced by my influence Flannery O'Connor. I so love her, but I'm having a really hard time locating the subtle nuances of humor in this very dark, racially charged story. Also, I love these people up here so much, that I tend to turn a blind eye to the obviously grotesque in them. I know it's there...it's just really hard for me to look at.


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