Sunday, April 22, 2018

Kinetic Art

"Octo 2"

This is the Greenville sculpture I promised to show you, an 18-foot stainless steel kinetic piece powered by the wind.  It's taken me a week to  get it up here because it was a challenge to figure out how to put a video of my own up on my blog.
If you think you might have seen a similar one somewhere, it could be the one behind the Olympic cauldron in Rio de Janeiro last year.  That was done by the same sculptor, Anthony Howe.  
His work is mesmerizing.  I could sit forever watching Octo 2's graceful flow from pattern to pattern, like a giant stainless steel kaleidoscope on a stick.  

🦀 🦂 🦀 🦂 🦀 
Meanwhile, back home in Georgetown it's "that time of year again" when restaurants on the coast are apparently taking employment applications from crustaceans  ...

Friday, April 13, 2018

A Beautiful City Restored

No tourists visited Greenville, a small old southern city in western South Carolina, a generation ago.  It was a nasty place with derelict buildings, homeless unfortunates, trash and debris.  The heart of downtown, the Reedy River, was full of filth and its banks a convenient dumping ground for old equipment and vehicles. 

This is the centerpiece of downtown now, the same riverbank once lined with abandoned cars and polluted with industrial waste now a gorgeous park.  It runs the whole length of downtown as it meanders and tumbles through.

The father of a friend of ours, Max Heller, was the mayor who began the cleanup, lured people and big-name hotels back into the city, and transformed it into a lovely, lively place. 

We were nearby at a 90th birthday party and decided to stay a couple extra days and have a spring break.  We had so much fun!  
We parked our car at one end of the park and at the head of the trail was a Chihuly piece to welcome us.  I was so excited as I have admired other bloggers' posts on complete exhibits of his works, but this was the first piece I had seen in person.  Not my favorite Chihuly, but interesting.

From the car park, we walked a quarter of a mile down a hill, toward the bottom of the ravine.  

The graceful curve of the pedestrian bridge over the park mimics the curves of the river as it tumbles over the falls into pools where children wade and play.  It's hard to believe that above you is a city full of bumper-to-bumper traffic, rushing business people in suits and ties, construction projects ....

Above the natural falls and the dams that powered the city's industries, including  textile mills, is a second, more traditional pedestrian bridge.  This bridge leads to the bones of the original Dukes Mayonnaise factory, now converted to a performance venue with indoor and outdoor stages.  

Art galleries and sculptures are all along the river walk, and stairs lead up to the city above where the new architecture harmonizes with the old.

We enjoyed music in several of the little parks on Main Street, fancy coffees on the street, crepes for our Easter dinner, appetizers and drinks outdoors at the Hyatt Hotel.  My favorite things were how lively a city Greenville is with people everywhere day and night, and all the art everywhere you look.  I'll show you my favorite piece of all next time!  

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Bringing Home the Bacon from the Country Store

When Hwy. 521 was built in 1937 between Georgetown and Manning, the Burrows family built a service station with a store and above it on the second floor, their family home.  In the style of all Southern service stations of the times, it was the forerunner of the modern convenience store -- one-stop shopping for customers and convenience for commuting to work for the family living above.  

The Country Store, still in the middle of nowhere, is the place to buy The Best bacon.  For $4 a pound you get a chat with the meat cutter, bacon that is smoked on the premises,all the smoky bacon smell you can inhale, and a trip down memory lane.

The gentleman on the left is always behind the meat counter.  

People come from far and wide to get real country hams. They are aged and hanging inside a wired room to keep away the flies.  Any other pig parts you want? On this day, heads were available.

A true general store still, you can get just about anything you need, from flour to shirts and hats, from boat parts to nails (in a bin, by the pound), from candy to beer.

Another neat thing about the Country Store is, if you are a family who has shopped there for generations (most are black and poor) the lady at the old wooden counter just gets out her old-fashioned lined-paper tablet, writes down your purchase, and you can pay when you can. Not many of those places left in the world!  

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

This Hugging Thing

First and foremost, let's remember that I am from the upper-upper Upper Midwest with Norwegian and English genes.  I am about as prone to hugging strangers as I am with saying, "Well, blessyour heart," when I mean, "I don't agree with you, dummy." 

This is pretty much me, hugging Southerners.  

(I'm the one on the left.)  

Everything in me wants to stick my right hand out into the middle of the situation rather than wrap both arms around someone I just met.    Which would not be good.  

It's not that I don't like hugs.  I do.  I lavish them on The Writer, my grandsons, my daughters, my mom, and my dearest friends. 

My sister and brother-in-law give and get side hugs.  They look like this and they're very nice too.  Supportive, comforting, friendly, welcoming.  

What I'm having trouble getting used to is meeting someone for the first or second time and getting a full-force Southern hug.

They look -- and feel -- like this.  

Me: "I've just learned your name.  I want to see your face so I can recognize it next time.  Why are you already squashing your body parts against mine?"

Yes, I know hugs are good for us.  They raise oxytocin and seratonin levels.  They are good for our immune system and happiness level.  We need eight to twelve a day, etc etc etc.

I want y'all to know I'm working on it.  Meanwhile, a two-handed handshake is a nice alternative, and one of my favorite greetings.  

And the beauty of it is, when one or both feel sufficient familiarity you just pull in and there you are: in a hug!  

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Everyday Clothes

Remember when you had school clothes, church clothes, and everyday clothes you only wore on Saturdays and when you came home from school?  I haven't written for awhile, longer than usual, because we have mostly been wearing our everyday clothes.  No trips, no discoveries, no big weather, no celebrations.  Just everyday living.  

We got a new chair for the living room, comfy and perfect for reading and keeping an eye on the neighborhood.  (If you can get there before Rosie does.  She doesn't always take kindly to sharing.)

The azaleas are in full bloom. This mound in the front yard is as tall as I am and at least 20 feet across.  There is another planting just as big, a pink one, to the right of it.

I prefer the plantings in the backyard that are more free form and untamed.  These purplish ones that I cut for the house have blossoms that are each four inches across!  

My little garden is ready.  I was digging it by hand as usual when our neighbor appeared with his rototiller and finished it off.  The greens are still producing from last year and right along the fence the sugar pod peas have been planted.  Green bean seeds will be joining the party today. 

Say hi to Slurp, a rather boring addition to our aquarium.  He only comes out in the darkest dark so we hardly ever see him, but I must say he lives up to his name and does a fine job of cleaning the algae off of everything.  I appreciate it because that used to be my job. 

News from the beach:  The first cannonball jellyfish are in. The sand was littered with their still-pulsing bodies yesterday and they were all jumbo size, 12-16 inches across.  We also saw the first man in the surf with no wet suit.  A brave Canadian tourist, no doubt! (Sure enough, we spotted his car, license plate -- New Brunswick. We sure admire our Canadian visitors' constitutions.)

And now the news I know you have all been waiting for!  The church on Pawley's Island was back in its place over the marsh and looking great when the wedding party arrived last Saturday. I'm sure it was a beautiful wedding even if it did rain all day.  

So, no big news here.   But that's okay . . .

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Spring is ... Springing!

It's definitely spring, as I have come to understand it in the South.  The camellias and daffodils are done, the azaleas, citrus, and Carolina jessamine are blooming, but we have one more frost/freeze coming Wednesday night.  We will cover the fig tree and pile all the potted plants, including the citrus which is as tall as I am, into the sunroom and hope for the best.

Spring means the outdoor festivals have started, with some surprising attractions. This oyster festival had a Kissing Booth.  You can keep the oysters, but the Kissing Booth, manned by twin Schnauzers very eager to oblige, was adorable.  

Yesterday was a neighborhood cleanup day.  South Carolina is the most littered state I've ever traveled through and Georgetown is no exception.  Living in Minnesota I was used to an almost complete lack of litter, and the toss-it-from-the-window approach for disposal really baffles me.  Would you throw your garbage on the floor in your home?  Why is it so hard to drop it in a receptacle?  I don't get it.  
Anyway, we were assigned two city blocks in a residential area and this is what it looked like when we started.  

I'll tell you, it was back breaking work. We developed a system:  I pulled it out of the slight ditch and tossed it up on the roadside, The Writer picked it up again and bagged it.  It took us two hours to complete the two blocks on one side of the road!  

Well, that's enough about that.  Look at these!

Its azalea time!  And the citrus scent is dizzying!

I'm sitting in the sunroom reading, watching the birds at the feeder and a pair of bluebirds checking out the bluebird house (they did the same thing last year but moved on; this year maybe they'll stay!).  Would you like to know what I'm reading?  Bringing Home the Dharma by Jack Kornfield, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (and yes, I can read three books at once!).  
I hope you are enjoying your Sunday, too.