Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Archaeology, travel & a kiss or two

No, this is not a painting of George Armstrong Custer at the Little Big Horn. Until the time of the Custer battle, the destruction of Captain William Fetterman and eighty other cavalry troopers, infantrymen and civilian scouts at the hands of two thousand Lakota Sioux warriors near Fort Phil Kearny in Wyoming had been the single-most greatest defeat by the U.S. Army during the Plains Indian Wars. This painting, "The Fetterman Fight," by Montana artist J.K. Ralston, illustrates the battle which took place 147 years ago -- on December 21, 1866. A couple of points: The painting is very accurate in a topographical sense + I like to sleep on old battlefields = I spent a night in 2001 sleeping on the pinnacle of the rise at left center in the painting. This is the location where Captain Fetterman's body was found and where a monument stands today. If you wish to know what this has to do with New Year's Resolutions, you must read on a bit further. Ah, yes-s-s-s, the music. I have been known to say Grace Slick is my favorite female rock voice .... but, I also have been known to say it is the voice of Ann Wilson or of Stevie Nicks or, in a sentimental sense, the all-round performance of Jan Kuehnemund (RIP). No matter which has the edge (and, there might be others, too), I enjoy all of them and have Stevie on stage with this end of the year post.

I solemnly do pledge
I cannot recall the last time I made a New Year's Resolution.  I recall thinking about them; I do not recall making them. This, probably, is because, as happens with most people, I know I will forget them in a matter of days.
On occasion, none associated with the arrival of a new year, I have made up my mind to make a change in my life and done it. One such change was to quit smoking. One day, I woke up in the morning a man who smoked three-plus packs a day, as well as a cigar or two daily, and an occasional pipe load in the evening. That night, I went to bed a non-smoker.
I am going to try a few resolutions this year. Nothing fancy, nothing major, nothing really permanent .... mostly for fun, I suppose, to see how long I last. So, in no particular order, here are a few resolutions I intend to make and hope to keep for and during 2014:
As noted in the "cutlines" for the painting/illustration, I spent a night sleeping on the site of the Fetterman fight. I also had spent most of a day there, and the only other visitors were a boy, his father and his grandfather, on one of those "generational trips," who stayed no longer than fifteen minutes. It was literally a dream for someone like me to have a rather significant battlefield all to myself for a day -- walking and wandering the entire length and breadth of it .... absorbing it and becoming part of it, listening to the voices of those who had fought and had died there.
A few years later, I returned there for a couple of weeks as an amateur volunteer during an archaeological survey of the battlefield. A few years before that, I had done the same thing at the site of an ancient Native American encampment in Michigan. So, this is one resolution, a rather simple one: I will find another archaeological project which accepts amateur volunteers and spend a couple of weeks walking or crawling, as the case may be, searching for the past. I think I would prefer a location outside the U.S. I want to touch the past again, rather than simply read about it.
A similar resolution is to return to Poland again, to spend a week or two in Warsaw, then to travel on to a town in Germany. Some of you might recall a post I wrote on February 24, 2013, and some follow-up information in an April 13, 2013, post about a Browning Model 1922 pistol that had been carried by a German airman during World War II. This is what I wrote April 13:
"I have identified the original 'owner' of the pistol. I know he was in the German Luftwaffe. I know his name, when and where he was born, and when and where he died. I know a few other things as well, but the only other one I will mention is this. He died in March 1945, less than six weeks before the war ended."
So, I wish to go -- and, I resolve to go -- to the town in Germany in which there is a memorial bearing the name of the man who carried the pistol I now have, as well as the names of others from this town who lost their lives during World War II. Just to add a bit of mystery for future revelation, I will not post the name of the town until I am there.
Another resolution is to kiss a woman I have never kissed before .... maybe, two ....
As usual, what I write gets longer and longer .... I think I will break this into two parts .... to be continued .... Happy New Year ....

20 comments:

Gert Jan Hermus said...

I wish you and your loved ones a fantastic 2014! ;-)
Gert Jan Hermus
dzjiedzjee.blogspot.com

Fram Actual said...

A very happy New Year to you and to your family, Gert Jan, and may good fortune walk by your side throughout 2014 ....

ANITA said...

Hello Hello Hellu Fram!some great post!not only one but 2!!!

and more to come!
Was the germanwarriour some of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II? The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

That will be interesting!
Well .you want totravel to Warschav!?Good.Also Germany!

I Hope Fram that you will have the quatts to carry trough your dreams..and not let them fade away to nothing..You only live once.And You are the only one actor that means something in you life.So do it Fram!

Best Greetings From Anita in Norway!

Fram Actual said...

Two days, two posts. Yes, it is a long while since I have done that and, maybe, more to come.

I do not know any particulars about the German's military service or war record beyond what I already have mentioned, Anita. I do want to visit the site of the memorial bearing his name and the names of other war veterans, but I am not sure I want to do any further research. I think I am lucky to have learned as much as I have considering these events took place about seventy years ago and that there was much turmoil and confusion and, probably, flimsy record keeping during the last few weeks of the war in Germany.

Yes, Warsaw and Germany. I want to travel more places, too, but those are the only "for sure" places at the moment. I am thinking in the spring or summer, and that is too far ahead for me to plan in detail. I also would like to go somewhere to live for several months, like I did in Warsaw, and that is a more difficult decision to make for several reasons.

I am not sure I have any dreams, Anita, but there are a few places I want to see and a few things I want to do before another year passes.

It still is January 1 .... Happy New Year, Anita.

Daliana Pacuraru said...

Happy New year, Fram!
Here is a piano for you:
http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/Hachiko+A+Dog+s+Story/3922243

Fram Actual said...

Greetings, salutations and Happy New Year, Day 2, Daliana.

Thank you, for your visit, for your words and for your piano music. It is beautiful and calming.

Jan A.P. Kaczmarek has been my favorite contemporary composer since I first heard the score for "Finding Neverland." I suppose I might add that the late John Barry and Ennio Morricone are near the summit of the mountain, too, from my point of view.

It is nice to see you out and about once again.

Daliana Pacuraru said...

Hello Fram! You have a link for the movie on my blog! See you soon!

Fram Actual said...

Thank you, Daliana. I see the link and just checked it out. Watching the film will be a good way for me to spend my evening on this second day of 2014.

Boris Estebitan said...

Another resolution is to kiss a woman I have never kissed before .... maybe, two .... --> Very nice resolution.

Fram Actual said...

Yes, a very nice resolution .... but, wait a moment .... it could be I am not setting my goal high enough.

Let us revise that resolution to kiss three or four women I have never kissed before .... yes, that is a more worthy resolution.

I think you are a very precocious young man, Boris, in ways beyond poetry. Thank you, for stopping by for a visit again, and for leaving your words with me.

Kelly J. Call said...

Happy New Year, Fram :-) I am smiling and laughing at your post....why not four or five or six or...or...or....
You make me smile and laugh. I think going to the memorial of the man whose gun you own sounds very cool. I hope you do go :-)
New Year's Kisses and a Lifetime of Good Wishes! xo

Fram Actual said...

Happy New Year, Kelly.

Five or six or .... I wonder .... I guess I was trying to be realistic when I wrote three or four .... I suppose I might have set my sights too low .... all right, I will take the number under consideration and re-evaluate my position. By the way, I am glad I can make you smile and laugh on occasion; I wish I could do the same for/to myself more often.

Yes, it would be cool to walk in my German airman's footsteps. I also have a wartime address for him in Breslau (as was its name during World War II) or Wroclaw, Poland (as is its name now). There was a major Luftwaffe base there during the war, and it is my current assumption my airman still was stationed there when the Soviet Red Army devastated the city. The dates of the siege coincide with the time of his death. Anyway, I want to snoop around there as well as at the city in Germany where the war memorial to the fallen is located. I think I need a German-speaking guide.

Thank you, Kelly, for the visit, the words, the good wishes and the kisses.

ANITA said...

Hi fram!Are you doing well in the cold?I quess you got the winther we miss:)
Well.Iam working as hell again and not much to say..Dreaming about the Blue Laggon Iam visiting in Island and Reykjavik(Have bought the tickets..very cheap..only 500 krs!)the first holiday seasi\on on my own..yoo hoo!
Well.I dont send kiss but oh I send you lot of goodtime.Friendship forever!see you soon..and take pix of that big snow you got..please..its all over our daily news..
Greetings Norway!

Fram Actual said...

The heavy snow stayed south and east of me, Anita. My only snow has been the accumulation of many light snowfalls that have not melted because of the arctic cold which has been here about six weeks now.

So, you are going to Reykjavik, are you? You did not say when. I assume you mean next summer, but I have no knowledge of Iceland in terms of tourism. I am sure you will be able to find many fascinating places to photograph there, maybe even a volcano erupting.

And, should you encounter the ghost of Snorri Sturluson, make sure you convey my greetings to him.

I am glad you came to visit me for a while. Thank you, and do not work too hard, Anita.

ANITA said...

Hello-Since you have no new post i write on this one..also a thank you for your response to my latest blog post.Yes.Island.I want to learn more about the sagas of The vikings.So it will be fine to travel the 4 of July.
Also have an idea about spending a weekend in Berlin.Reading a good book now about how the germans experiences the time under The third Rich.(Those who save, us by Jenna Blum)
Well.Stay warm Fram.And i hope u are doing fine.
Greetings Norway!

Fram Actual said...

I am indecisive about a new post, Anita. Do not be surprised if I cut back for a while and have fewer.

I do not think I could list all the books I have read -- mostly nonfiction, but some novels, as well -- regarding the Viking Era. These books include Snorri Sturluson's "Prose Edda" and the "Heimskringla." In fact, I can see both books and about twenty-five others from where I am sitting at the moment. Several artifacts which many believe are of Viking origin have been found in this region of America, and I have one found in Michigan in the Nineteenth Century. Good luck, at pursuing your own studies of the Vikings.

You mention Berlin. I have decided there is a second town I wish to visit in Germany in addition to the memorial site for the airman whose pistol I now possess. U.S. and Soviet forces met by the River Elbe near the town of Torgau. I know (or, rather, knew) someone who was there, and I have decided I would like to walk where he walked on the date of that encounter -- April 25, 1945.

Yes, I will stay warm. Thank you, Anita, for this visit.

ANITA said...

Oh fever!Take some medicine and itwill all be well:))
Iam very interested in what happened in Germany before,under and after Hitler.How the people of Germany had it.You know those who were not Judes or had any political view.Many people say its bad to explore or dig under the graves..what has happened has happened,,and Germany should not seek compassion by this .People NEVER forget.But any way i came very satifaction by reading about the people..In fact i can not lay away the books..and raw material i have been searching..It is soo much ,soo much..And all the Jude doctors that against thier will (?)helped DR.Mengele with his terrible experiment.You can only cry of what people did just to survive.And after the war.The now living people.In Minnesota many of them.Of course under another name.Well.Its terrible all of it.But still i want to go to Germany at Budenchausen.Berlin and many other interesting places.BTW that german officer you mentioned was easy to find.Not so many died in that actually day wuth that order.

Well.Enough of war and grusom things.Here it has started to snow a bit,but still we can sit with an little shorts inside home.Kind of mild weather.Soon as possible i go to the mountains,just love the lonlieness and clear air.Well for a while.See you soon and stay warm.
Greetings Anita ,Norway

Fram Actual said...

Time and distance dim actual memories of those years, Anita, but there are countless books and many television documentaries for anyone who wishes to study the period -- although many of the television documentaries seem to be more focused on entertainment than on providing accurate information. In many ways, World War I is more interesting, and events during the period between the world wars go a long way toward explaining the rise of Adolph Hitler and the National Socialist party.

Actually, from a strictly military standpoint, the Marine Corps war in the Pacific Theatre is the one which has always held my fascination and, speaking strictly in terms of battlefields, is where I would first choose to travel if battlefields were the only attraction. I especially would like to see Tarawa Atoll and Betio.

So, Anita, thank you, for coming to visit me again and I hope the weather will soon permit you to go to your mountains.

A Cuban In London said...

First o fall, your latest post was raw. Proper raw, like the drink you probably had in your hand befor e2013 faded away and muted into 2014. I don't know. I don't drink... anymore.

I loved your post, but I can't quite tell you why. There was an honesty running through it. It was like a rock'n'roll song but without the rhyme. And all the more beautiful for it.

Rock on, mate! Happy New Year.

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

Thank you, CiL. I think it was a song with so far incomplete lyrics.

I have partied on New Year's Eve; I have gone to bed early and slept through the arrival of a new year; I have sat alone watching the hands of a clock slip from one year to the next. When I was a small boy and had to go to bed early, I can recall a few times my mother would awaken me just minutes before midnight so I could toast the coming year. And, until this year, no matter how one year ended and the next began, my main thought was of the coming year and the possibilities it might have to offer.

This year, however, although my words noted the linkage between the future with the present and the past, it seems like time stopped moving that night. I think more than a year ended for me that night, but I am not certain why or how or what this means. Something changed for me that night. Something is different.

Well, we shall see .... time usually answers all questions.

Happy New Year, CiL .... I hope it brings the best for you and for your family.

Something special ....