Thankfulness

Here I am with Granny and my brothers going to a wedding.

By Houston
February 18, 2019

Happiness. Blessings from God. Be thankful for them. Wisely, Jesus instructed us to have grateful hearts. In Psalm 107:1, it reads, “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love endureth forever.” I’m profoundly thankful for my thoughtful Granny, who loves me and treats me well. While I think she’s the best, I’m also appreciative of Blindensburg, where I’m able to explore and build. 

I am extremely thankful for my caring Granny. She visits as much as she can and thoughtfully brings with her treats, Chik-fil-A, and presents. She also helps around the house and plays cards with us. Granny has the best stories. At her house, I remember her telling one of my favorite tales: The Sallbank Booger! She claims this monster lives up by the creek and will snatch us if we’re not careful. Sadly, I don’t get to see her all the time, but when I do, I always have an incredible experience. When I travel to see Granny in the mountains, I adventure deep into the woods, which are magnificent. The creek rushes and glistens, and the bright green leaves on the trees drip with the mountain dew. She also drives me to the gem mine where one can collect copper and all other sorts of stones. Supporting and encouraging me, Granny fills me with joy. Other grandparents might not love their grandchildren or be close with them, or may be dead. But I know my Granny loves me and for this I’m grateful.

I’m also immensely thankful for my amazing backyard woods. One day, my brother Gabriel was rapidly rapping a wretched tree when and a  jagged piece of wood flung off onto the ground. Gabe stated that the wood “blended” into the trees, so we started to construct a fort and named the forested town “Blindensburg.” Over time, our small city morphed into an enormous empire. A series of dirt roads lead to my friend’s house and all around the territory. A myriad of flags are displayed around the paths, including the North Carolina Flag and the Gadsden Flag. The symbols, which are nailed to massive fences, are majestic. However, we let Confederate Battle Flag billow in the breeze. Voting for new politicians each year, my friends and I each play a role in running our incorrupt civilization. After hunting the depths of forest, I come inside sore and exhausted. When it rains and I can’t tend to Blindensburg, I even become a tad sad. Freely, I can be a boy, scream, and be wild while working in the woods. Having a natural, wide-open space in which to play, build, and adventure makes me overwhelmingly happy.

Fortunately, Granny supports me in all that I do. While Blindensburg is a site where I can be wild, my helpful and totally hilarious Granny loves me. My woods are amazing, massive, and filled with freedom, flags, and friends. I’m grateful for Granny, who obviously cares for me. I’m also blessed that my backyard woods are a spot of childhood adventure. In life, these are the things that make me happy and thankful.

Privies, Pollution, and the Plague

Here is a crusty medieval toilet.

By Houston Dillingham
March 26, 2017

Did you know that people in Middle Ages weren’t as dirty as you thought? Despite the fact that people of the time did some dirty stuff, they did their best to try to be clean. But, there was no plumbing, sanitation, or medical knowledge during the Medieval Period. Although even commoners had access to toilets, waste disposal wasn’t held in high regard. Water was often used for hygiene, but getting it could be an arduous task, so other practices were employed, too. These unsanitary conditions, as well as general poor health, contributed to the spread of the Black Death.

If you were in a castle and had to go to the bathroom, you might have to journey far away, down an extensive hallway, till you found a “garderobe,” which is French for “clothes closet.” People of the time thought that fetid odors repelled moths, so they often hung their garments within the garderobe. Upon entering, you would sit on a raised platform made of smooth wood or clammy stone. Below you was a hole through which your excrement would fall and drain into the moat. Cleaning yourself would entail using “torche-cols,” a handful of straw, or a “gomphus,” a curved wooden stick. Medieval commoners had outdoor privies, whose walls were lined with “wattle-and-daub,” a mix of dung and clay. The waste would drop into a cesspit lined with stone, although the urine would simply seep into the ground. Unfortunate people with the reeking job of “gong farmers” would clean out the solid debris at night causing a rancid smell. However, city dwellers would just empty their chamber pots out windows. “Gardez l’eau!” which means, “Look out, water!” was commonly heard when walking through the noxious streets of Paris.

Obviously, the people of the Middle Ages didn’t have plumbing, but they tried to stay clean as best as possible. Nobility bathed in soothing warm water brought to them by servants and put in a wooden barrel, while commoners had to gather their own water, which was a major chore. Another perturbing thing was the water was always cold and the whole family used the same water. How repugnant! Despite the taxing effort. Regardless of the toil. Most people bathed weekly. In the summer, folks washed in bodies of water and some villages even had public bathhouses. Ladies and lords also regularly clean their hands. If you visited a medieval castle, you’d hear a trumpet blare and a servant yell, “corner l’aiue,” which meant “blow the water.” Before a meal, guests then washed their hands in “lavers” found at the entrance of the royal dinning hall. There, you’d find a stone basin, water, and fragrant soap from the Far East. During the feast, however, people didn’t drink water because it was too polluted. Instead, nobles consumed wine abundantly, and everyone chugged massive quantities of ale.perturbing thing was the water was always cold and the whole family used the same water. How repugnant! Despite the taxing effort. Regardless of the toil. Most people bathed weekly. In the summer, folks washed in bodies of water and some villages even had public bathhouses. Ladies and lords also regularly clean their hands. If you visited a medieval castle, you’d hear a trumpet blare and a servant yell, “corner l’aiue,” which meant “blow the water.” Before a meal, guests then washed their hands in “lavers” found at the entrance of the royal dinning hall. There, you’d find a stone basin, water, and fragrant soap from the Far East. During the feast, however, people didn’t drink water because it was too polluted. Instead, nobles consumed wine abundantly, and everyone chugged massive quantities of ale.

Because people of the Middle Ages drank too much alcohol and not enough water, they had a weak immune system. This, coupled with their lacking personal hygiene, unsanitary living conditions, and limited medical knowledge, sickness abounded. Despite people’s best efforts, a myriad of diseases, such as typhoid, dysentery, smallpox, and influenza, ravaged the medieval population. Of course, the Black Death proved most fatal, killing one out of every three Europeans. In fact, this plague, which lasted from 1347-1350, tragically ended the lives of 800 people a day in France alone! It was like a nasty barbarian army of death! The life expectancy was a stunning thirty years old. People began to perceive that there was a relationship between everything – from using the bathroom, dealing with waste management, having proper hygiene, to drinking clean water – preventing maladies. They had a lightbulb moment!

Both the medieval poor and the nobility definitely appreciated their garderobes, yet they didn’t fully understand the substantial significance of sanitation. Because life was so hard back then, people got creative with their water usage and hygiene practices. Due to the fact they lacked knowledge in these areas, it’s no wonder the Black Death was extremely fatal for Europe. Most significantly, plague survivors discovered their was a link between illness and disease and their personal and environmental health standards. They began to realize that cleanliness is next to godliness. Nevertheless, people of the Middle Ages had to endure suffering, stink, and sickness to a degree that is unimaginable. It was a horribly foul time.

Thermopylae and the Three Hundred

This is the Battle of Thermopylae

By Houston
October 29, 2018

Did you know that one of the most famous wars in Greek history was the Second Persian War? It all started when the ruthless Persian king Xerxes was resolved to finish the work of his father Darius, who had unsuccessfully tried to conquer Greece in the First Persian War. Xerxes and a colossal force of resolute troops set out for the Greek city-state of Athens. It is difficult to validate, but some historians claim that the army was roughly two million men. Because the Greeks heard the Persians were coming, all the city-states united so they could fend them off. The city-state of Sparta sent 300 men to partake in the war. The Spartans were bold warriors with sure, sharp, and shiny swords. They fought with thousands of other Greek soldiers to block the passageway to Athens called Thermopylae. The courageous Greeks held the Persians off for three bloody, death-ridden days, which gave the people of Athens time to flee. Eventually, they were beaten because a traitor told the Persians of a secret mountain path. Even though there was nobody inside the city, the enemy still burnt Athens to the ground. But that wasn’t the end. A brilliant Greek leader lured the lilting Persian ships into a trap. He pretended to be a traitor and gave Xerxes fatal advice. The cunning Greek navy totally demolished the attacking ships, so the Greeks emerged victorious. “You haven’t seen the last of me!” bellowed the irate Xerxes. Although they lost Thermopylae and the mighty brave 300 Spartans, Greece was triumphant during the historic Second Persian War.