Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Sunday we took in an exhibit at the Gibbes Museum in Charleston.  The museum itself  is an old Charleston mansion and is across the street from the historic Circular Church pictured below.  
The artist, Radcliffe Bailey, is from Atlanta with deep family roots in the South. The title of the exhibit is "Pensive".  I think it's a very good title because I am still feeling pensive and contemplating the meaning of the pieces.  He describes the exhibit as, "exploring the themes of race, ancestors, and memory," in hopes of "inspiring understanding and healing of history." 
The signature piece of the exhibit is called "Storm at Sea. "

Splintered  piano keys holding an African sculpture and charred-looking ship represent the turbulent waves that tossed a slave ship crossing from Africa to America, and the loss of lives of slaves before setting foot in America.

Entitled "Ebo," the next work depicts the journey of one of Bailey's grandfathers on the Underground Railroad.  Ebo is one pronounciation of Igbo, a tribe of Nigeria, and I guess the masked figure, which seems to be a photograph, is African although it looks Oriental to me.  

The handwoven bag contains raw cotton and a lantern, used to make signals on the Underground Railroad.  I liked the three glass windows.  To me they represent looking into the past, present, and future freedom of Bailey's grandfather.  

The taxidermied alligator on an old canvas tarp was called "On Your Way Up."  The birth and death dates of the artist's grandfathers are embroidered on it in handspun cotton, along with some unknown symbols done in red fiber.  I didn't really "get" this one.  The Writer is writing his comments in a book left there for that purpose.  I should have peeked to see what he said!  
The next piece is the one that most spoke to me and brought tears to my eyes.  On one side a door is painted shiny gold with an elaborate lock and huge, multiple keys, and the other side has peeling old paint and rusty hinges and is hung with shackles made of bottle caps. 

It's called "Fourth Ward," which was is  an historic area of Houston for African American life in the early half of the 20th century.  I think the door represents another kind of freedom, the break out of segregation.  The Black night clubs of the Fourth Ward with jazz music and dancing drew whites in.  The bottle caps represent the role of the night clubs bringing the races together, a step into the end of segregation.  The door itself came from a house in the "projects" of the Fourth Ward.  

The interpretations of the pieces are solely my own, I'm sharing only what the art says to me.  But then, that is the fun of good art, isn't it! 

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Cats of Georgetown

There is a problem here with homeless cats. On one side of the problem are the dumpers and on the other side, the rescuers.  

Even though it is illegal, people abandon cats everywhere.  There's a big warning sign at this popular dumping place -- the road to the old abandoned bridge that is a favorite fishing spot.  Other favorite spots for dumping are the Walmart parking lot and the docks where the shrimp boats come in. 

I don't understand people.  There are three rescue groups within two or three miles of that sign where cats are accepted and cared for.

Saint Francis is a no-kill shelter right in town, endowed by a caring lady back in the 1980s.  The other day when we stopped by for Bob's flea and heartworm pills we got there at breakfast time for some of the outdoor crew.  

The parking lot has far more cats than cars! 

There are far too many cats to house them all inside.  Arrivals are given shots, spayed or neutered, and allowed to decide if they want to live in one of the many little shelters or the woods.  Some cats, those that are sick and injured or under treatment by the vet, do stay in the facility in cages for awhile.

I'm not allowed to come here alone.  

I'd come home with a carload of cats!  😍😍😍😍
Who could resist?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Decoration Day

The first Decoration Day came about in the U.S. after the Civil War.  With the deaths of some 600,000 soldiers, 600,000 new graves scarring the countryside, families needed an official moment to honor the dead, to grieve in concert, to consecrate the sacrifice. When I was growing up there were no war dead in our family -- lucky us -- so on Decoration Day it was our duty to accompany my grandma and flowers to the cemetery to decorate all the family graves.  

The flowers came from Gram's yard.  Real flowers.  Homegrown flowers in Mason jars.  (Artificial flowers would have sacriligious to her, an abomination.) We brought peonies and lilac boughs that filled the car with the heady perfume of spring and resurrected  life. 

Grandpa drove, parked the car, and waited.  Gram, Mom and my aunt, my sister and I, would visit each grave, the resting place of Gram's brothers, her mother, her father, her first husband.  Sometimes things would have changed a bit and there were false starts and discussions of missing landmarks, but eventually each grave would be found.  

To visit meant to pull weeds, brush off the flat stone with tender, loving fingers, find a water spigot, and arrange the flowers in a metal vase stuck in the ground by the grave. Bouquets delivered, our little group of the living would hunt for the graves of more distant family, friends, and neighbors.

The saddest and most frightening was the grave of my cousin, Buddy, who died as a toddler and whose death my great aunt never seemed to come to terms with.  The marker, half-buried in the grass, was a stone lamb.  I was anxious to move on: if Buddy could die and be in a box under the ground, what was different about me?  

At each grave, we paused to remark on whether or not so-and-so's family had brought flowers yet and how lovely they were.  Gram would remind us who each person was in the family lore and my mom or aunt would sometimes tell a story, proffer a little memory for us to keep.  It was a small repertoire of stories and after a few years' repetition, they were firmly a part of us, my sister and me, too.  

I haven't returned to the cemetery to leave flowers since I left home nearly 50 years ago, except on the day my grandma was buried there.  We are all scattered now, across states and countries.  Not a single one lives near, so there is no one to brush the dust from the graves, no flowers to show that the person under the stone is loved and remembered. 

I like to think their spirits have followed me here, that I can make the offering of loving memory with a bouquet of hydrangeas and roses on the mantel. I carry them in my heart no matter where I am, as long as I have this memory of tending their graves with Gram on Decoration Day.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Oh Pickles!

A fine Saturday morning and we were off to the farmers market, first one of the season, just crossing the big bridge into town, when a piece of metal flew off a scrap truck, cartwheeled along the pavement, and sliced the left rear tire.  Whoosh! out went the air.  
No place to stop on the bridge so we inched on and pulled over at the first opportunity,
coming to rest under the Georgetown water tower, next to the steel mill and right where all the logging trucks make the turn off the bridge and lumber into the entrance of the paper mill.   

Not the most pleasant place to sit for a couple hours, waiting for roadside assistance.  And apparently we weren't the first to have a flat tire here.

The only thing flatter than our tire -- a shoe, squished by the heavy logging trucks going by.

It was hot and boring, and by the time we were on our way again with two new tires ... four and a half hours later.  

Friday, May 18, 2018

Behold the Lilies of the Field

Spider lilies, on the edge of old rice fields in Georgetown, SC

Where did they come from?
How did they get there?
How long ago?  

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Tea II

 It was fun to see how many of you are fellow tea lovers and that you shared my surprise that tea was grown in the United States.  I love tea and I start every single day with a cuppa.  (In the spirit of full disclosure, I also savor a cup of coffee with cream and a little sugar later in the morning.)  I don't like sweetened tea or anything else in my tea, like milk or lemon, either and I prefer loose tea to bags.   

Yes, it seems a shame that workers can no longer come into our country to work at the jobs Americans won't do.  If it were me, I'd rather work with organic tea plants than hamburger at McDonalds for the same wages, but I know it's not that simple.  It's not just agriculture that is hurting for workers; take for example the tourism industry.  We live an hour away from a big tourist destination (Myrtle Beach) where young people used to come from other countries to work in the various businesses for the summer.  Last summer when they were no longer allowed to come, businesses in resort towns everywhere could not open because they could not get workers. 

Okay, back to tea!  Different types of tea are all from the same plants and the difference is in the way they are processed.  So white, green, oolong, and black all come from these plants and were available for tasting at the tea plantation.  They also flavor some teas (raspberry, peach, and cinnamon spice were available the day we were there).  

They had both iced and hot, caffeinated and decaffeinated, sweetened and unsweetened.  My favorites are green and black and I'm not fond at all of the fruity-flavored or the decaf ones.  We were encouraged to drink all we wanted.  I had trouble falling asleep that night ... too much caffeine!  

In closing, I'll leave you a little something to think on while you drink your next cup:

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Bucket List Check-Off

One of the the things on my "bucket list" when I retired was visiting a tea plantation, which I imagined in the mountains in China.  It wasn't in China but I did make it to a tea plantation, the only large commercial tea plantation in North America, which happens to be just south of Charleston.  

The original plants, several different varieties of tea, were first cultivated commercially in the 1880s and today's plants are hybrids from natural cross-pollination of these originals.  We took a tour through the factory where the leaves are processed and through the plantation where the tea is grown.  The fields had just been harvested (the top few inches are cut every two weeks during the growing season) so they don't look so pretty.

The greenhouse holds lots of small plants ready to go out in the field.  They are overdue to go out, in fact, because the migrant agricultural workers of the past are not allowed to enter the U.S. and Americans are not willing to work in the fields so there aren't enough workers to do the planting.  

We enjoyed our very enthusiastic tour guide, the gorgeous spring day, and the tea plantation.  
Oh, yes -- and all the tea we could drink.  And we did drink our share!