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Jean McDermott is a freelance writer and professional muscian.
Only seen on St. Patrick's Day, the Shamrock Hound is elusive and somewhat touchy. Often seen out the the corner of one's eye after a few green beers, the Shamrock Hound knows no geographical boundaries. It can be spotted just turning the corner behind your couch as well as running along in front of your car. Some have reported that it sat and chatted with them in the cab on the way home from the pub.
Shamrock Hounds should not be approached unless you are well lubricated. In fact, the chances of seeing one are unlikely otherwise. Should the creature become riled, watch out. They have violent tempers and may do some damage. However they can be rendered harmless by an offering of Guinness or Jameson's.
The Shamrock Hound has a larger, even more dangerous relative, an animal so large and fearless that one would be best advised to leave it completely alone. It is found only in Alaska, although there have been a few sightings in Vermont and by some partying Yoopers up in Michigan.
This larger cousin of the Shamrock Hound, while vegetarian, can be ornery and should not be approached with less than a full barrel of single malt whiskey.
I was fortunate to find one standing in my front yard today when I got home from playing music. You'll be glad to know that I was able to get into the house safely, as I had no whiskey available at all, at all.
Item 1: I've just seen Nissan use Woody Guthrie's song Car Car for their commercial. Take me for a ride in your car car. Sigh.
Item 2: To add insult to injury, some investment company is using In-a-Gadda-da-vita with flowers that look like they were on the record album. Eighth grade was never like this.
Item 3: The only way I can do dishes is to either watch TV or play fairly loud music. Doing dishes in total silence is hell. So yesterday I put on my Best of the Band album and heard how They Drove Old Dixie Down. I'm one of those people who listen to, and remember lyrics.
This song is unapologetically Southern, and Rebel Southern at that. Now, I get sick of the folks down south copping an attitude that their whole lives were ruined by the "War Between the States" and the thinly veiled (and out-and-out blatant) racism that seems to go along with it. The Confederacy lost, it's been over a long time and really folks, get over it.
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down isn't about that, though. If you listen to the song, you'll see that it is about how war takes away life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness from working people. It's a lament of the farmer, the railroad worker, the working man, not the land and slave-owning plantationers.
Like my father before, I'm a working man,
And like my brother before me, I took the Rebel's stand.
He was just 18, proud and brave, but a Yankee laid him in his grave
And I swear by the mud below my feet, you can't raise a Caine back up when he's in defeat.
—The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Robbie Robertson
Working men, poor men, poor families, who went to war because they thought it was the right thing to do, the only thing to do. Some probably went because someone in authority said it was the patriotic thing to do, some might have gone for the adventure. I'm sure many went out of desperation, to try to keep what little they had, and not be dragged down to the level of the slaves around them. With the Union soldiers advancing, I think few had a choice.
Not to say there wasn't racism. But The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down isn't about racism or Confederate-flag-waving. It's about the inevitable cost of war.
Ole, today you are 25 years old. A quarter century. You are now the same age I was when you were born. Put down your video game and ponder that one!
By the time you were born I had worked at a McDonald's as the token woman in the back (back then women were only allowed up by the front counter), a regional park assistant naturalist, another hamburger joint, a Chinese restaurant as a busser (only Chinese people were allowed to wait tables), picked blackberries out in the field, demonstrated with United Farm Workers, seen Bob Dylan and The Band, worked in two different vet hospitals, manned a tourist resort where I had to mind the store, the restaurant and rent the boats and cabins all by myself....and plenty more.
You haven't been on your own very long. I threw you into life's soup by moving away, but I hope you understand now that I had to do that so you could learn how to be strong.
Your life hasn't been easy. Raising you was harder than hell, and I know you know that. It wasn't easy for either of us. But we made it, we both made it! And I love you more than life itself. And I mean that literally. You are smart, good looking, and so funny! WHEN are you going to tell me that "Who has the stupider son" joke in your Scots accent?
I owe you plenty. If it weren't for you I would not truly know what it is to be an adult. There are really only two kinds of parents in the world. Those who step up to bat and decide to do the right thing, and those who are so immature that they run away (not necessarily physically) and avoid being parents (ie: adults). I am proud that I was the former sort and stood up for you. No one is perfect, and I will be the first to say that I wish I could have been a better mom than I was. But, I think that I did a good job because I really like who you have turned out to be. I hope, when and if you have children (and it better not be soon or I'll strangle you!) that you will be the same sort of parent, one who will hang in there with your kids no matter what.
I love you. We have earned each other. Happy birthday, Ole.