Tuesday, February 14, 2023


We’ve been traveling a bit.

Just for fun . . .

Heavy load! 

  The sign says, “Every taco is hand rolled with exotic Mexican spices by genuine Mayan virgins. Or Carlos, depending on who’s available.”

   Wallpaper in one of the restrooms. Don’t worry — it did have modern plumbing!

  An old house decorated with oyster and clam shells being updated. 
The pillars on the porch were replaced and awaiting their new shells. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Charleston Naval Base Memorial

Charleston Naval Base 

  We took advantage of a sunny 80 degree F day last week to visit a memorial to the thousands of military and civilians who worked over the years at the Naval Base in Charleston. Before I tell you about the memorial, a little history . . . 


In 1899, a 1600-acre public park with beautiful gardens was created along the Cooper River on the grounds of an old plantation. Charlestonians could escape the big hot city for day trips by special trolley and enjoy a day on strolling lovely walking paths and picnicking in the landscaped gardens along the river. 

  But soon, a short two years later in 1901, the United States Navy took possession of Chicora Park to build the Charleston Naval Base for defense of the East Coast of the United States. 


 The base also served to repair military ships and resupply them before they returned to sea. As it grew, shipbuilding was added, providing employment for 1,700 people. Over the years the Charleston Naval Shipyard turned out dredges, patrol cutters for the Coast Guard, paddle wheel steam boats for the Army Corps of Engineers, gunboats, submarine chasers, tugboats, barges, and even a ferry boat.  

  In April of 1917, when the US entered World War I, five German freighters were in transit through Charleston. The ships were seized and interned in nearby Charleston Harbor.  Then they were brought to the Naval Base where they were refitted and sent to war as part of the US Naval Fleet. 

  During the WWI years, a Naval Training Center was added for basic training. One of the 5,000 recruits who trained there was Norman Rockwell, a young man destined to become one of the United States’ most loved artists. During his stay, Rockwell painted officer’s portraits and did cartoons for the base newsletter.

 Also during this time, a naval clothing factory employing 1,000 Charleston women was put into production. When influenza became rampant, a naval hospital was added.  

  During World War II, thousands more soldiers, sailors, and airmen passed through the base on their way to war.  Three shifts of military and civilian workers were employed to berth ships in port, build, repair, and resupply ships and troops for the Navy, keeping the war effort going around the clock. Vessels built during this war and in the years after were destroyers, landing crafts, and submarines. 

 Charleston Naval Base remained the largest employer of civilians in the state of South Carolina into the 1990s. In 1993, with the Cold War over, defense budgets were cut, the decision was made to close the base and it closed in 1996. 

The Memorial

  The memorial to the hundreds of thousands of military and civilians who worked at the Charleston Naval Base from 1901-1993 is an open pavilion shaped like the bow of a ship. One side borders the river while the other side is a low wall that curves like the side of a ship. A concrete ground map shows the Earth’s continents and a man made stream for children to play in meanders through.  Five flags fly on flagpoles that slant out from the shore, pointing the way out of the safe harbor of home into the oceans and seas of the world. 

The story of the base is told in a timeline of collages printed on metal, on a background of gray concrete, reflecting the look of the big ships built here.


  A statue of the “Lone Sailor” with his duffel bag beside him stands looking out to sea, as if waiting to board his ship. The sculpture honors the men and women who served and still serve in the US Navy.



Nearby is “Homecoming”, depicting the joy of a family reunion, honoring the sacrifices made by families and members in all sea services during their long separations. 

  Both sculptures are bronze copies of 

originals that stand at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington. 


  Many of the old buildings, including the shipyards, have found new life since the base closed. The docks and dry docks are now privately owned and still actively servicing the giant cargo ships that come in and out of Charleston. 

  One of the old officer’s homes on the base has been turned into a restaurant. We enjoyed lunch on the terrace, looking out at river and listening to the banging and pounding and hissing of ships being worked on next door. 


And check out the view from our table!

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Our Very Own New Year Stinkhorn

Good morning, and Hello 2023! 

  A year ago, last January, we hiked out of the deep woods into an open area of coastal forest that had been cleared, the fallen trees and a layer of debris left to rot on the ground. Everywhere we looked, emerging from the detritus, were large, bright red, oddly-shaped, and very strange looking fungi.  Neither of us had seen anything like it before and we were pretty excited! 

You can see the post and photos here. 
  Well, one day this first week of January, we discovered something bubbling and red emerging from the pine needle carpet in our backyard. It continued to emerge over the day until we realized …

we had our very own 
little Stinkhorn garden 
popping up in front of the sunroom!

    While the shapes are different from the ones we saw on our hike last year, once you see it Stinkhorn is pretty unmistakable. 

  And if there was any doubt, the odor is a DEAD giveaway! 

  I think it’s here in our yard because I tend to pick up bits and pieces of things on our hikes and bring them home to the garden along the sunroom — things like oddly shaped pieces of wood or bark. One of these could easily have carried the Stinkhorn spores from the area where we first saw them. 

  So, today I am sending out into the Universe my New Year wishes for you, friends . . . 

for pleasant surprises, 

for health and presence to enjoy them, 

 and for as much adventure this year as your heart desires!

Friday, December 23, 2022

Christmas Greetings

 Just stopping by my blog this afternoon to tell you, we are busy getting ready for Christmas. A weather surprise has turned everything decidedly wintery just in time. Tonight’s prediction of 15 degrees F is a bit concerning as our homes in the South are not built for that kind of weather. Hope we don’t wake up to frozen water pipes! 

  As you know we have a new addition to our family — Frank, a young cat. Everything dangly and new is a toy to him, to be stalked, pounced on, and dispatched if at all possible. As a result, our usual decorations have had to be … shall we say, modified … out of concern for their preservation! 
  So far he has broken nothing and only gazed longingly in deep contemplation at the fireplace mantle above. 

    No big Christmas tree with all the glass balls and family mementos for us this year. Instead we cut this small yellow pine from the National Forest and added some trimmings from nature. It smells heavenly!


  We also cut a very prickly red cedar. It has a few unbreakable ornaments and since Frank doesn’t like the prickles, he has left the tree and baubles completely alone. Instead, he has been content to climb the window behind it. 


 I made Nisse Guda gift tags for family gifts. Some are paper, some made of felt and embroidered.  

 . .  and I painted our Christmas cards. 

    Christmas bread is being baked this afternoon and we have a few more gifts to wrap and then we are ready!

Bob and Frank, The Writer and I,
would like to wish you and yours 


today and always!

A Very Merry Christmas! 🎄 

Monday, December 5, 2022

Is It a Signal Tree?


 Is this old water oak tree on a trail we frequent a signal or marker tree, made by  Native Americans and used as a navigational aid in the forests?  By bending a young sapling at a right angle to the ground, they altered a tree to serve as a signpost to others, indicating a trail direction or marking a point of interest, such as a natural spring or a safe river crossing.


 As the tree  matured, it grew back upward toward the light, pointing the way to the desired direction to whomever passed.   

  We aren’t sure if this tree is a signal tree or not. There are only a few hundred documented examples in the United States and no studies done in our state.

  A survivor of hurricanes and loggers, fires and diseases, it is several hundred years old, plenty old enough to have done the job.

  I call it the Elephant Tree because of its bark.  What do you think? Do you see the elephant leg there? 



  It’s one of those trees I can’t resist. Don’t tell anyone, but when we pass by, I always stop and give it a hug! 

The waxing moon 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Thanksgiving Over the Years

  Thanksgiving traditions that seemed set in stone when I was little are fond memories 70+ years later. When we were children we were dressed up in our Sunday best and taken to Grandma’s house for the day. There we sat down to a huge meal of turkey and all the trimmings served on the company china, with lots of polished silverware, and huge heavy serving dishes to pass. Dinner at 12 pm, on the dot!  

  After the meal, the “ladies” retired to the kitchen where they chatted, washed and dried all the “good dishes” and scrubbed the pots and pans while the grandpas and Dad dozed in comfortable chairs. Weather permitting, an afternoon walk was followed by games of cribbage.

  At 6 pm (on the dot!), all the plates and silver and leftovers came out again for “supper”, followed by another session of more dishwashing in the kitchen. At last, bundled up in snow suits, we fell asleep in the cold car on the way home.  Dad carried us in to bed and when we woke up it was Friday. 

  That tradition of going to Grandma’s house changed when, just out of college, the Writer and I were married in September and I cooked my first Thanksgiving feast in November for a houseful.  

Around a makeshift table, guests sat in borrowed chairs and included the grandparents who had cooked all those Thanksgiving dinners of my childhood. 

  Much pressure for the new cook!

  No one was more astonished than I was when I produced a huge turkey with dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, vegetables, and assorted pies that all tasted delicious! 

  Subsequent Thanksgivings were spent in many different ways and places as people moved, relationships changed, another generation was added, beloved grandparents died. A most memorable holiday was the one in 1987 when I returned from Mexico, jet lagged and exhausted, on the day before Thanksgiving with two newly adopted children!

  Other unforgettable Thanksgivings have been spent serving holiday meals to Hmong, Somali and other new immigrants and homeless people in our town, followed by cleaning up after hundreds of diners.  Never have I felt more fortunate and thankful for my own blessings than when serving these people. 

  Now our children have young families, large houses, new traditions, and we are the guests. This year we will have dinner in Charleston with the families of two children, including a newborn baby. Missing will be one son in Florida with a baby due any minute, one daughter in Germany, and another in Minnesota. 

  Wherever and however (or even IF) you celebrate Thanksgiving, Thursday can be a day to reflect on and appreciate our blessings and to vow to bless and be a blessing in the lives of others in return. 

Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 11, 2022

Finally … Fall!!

  We had to travel a ways, but we finally found some fall color.
  The trees here on the coast that do lose their leaves in autumn this year went directly from green to brown to bare. Fall is my favorite season and I was missing it! Over the weekend I saw a photo someone had taken of a beautiful tree in full fall colors, so we decided to take a drive and find it. 

   And we did. At Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge near McBee, SC, we had the whole 46,000-acre preserve to ourselves! Beautiful hilly roads meandered through longleaf pine woods with small lakes, a few deciduous trees, and occasional golden fields of wire grass breaking up the green of the pines.         

  Longleaf pine once covered 90 million acres of the southeastern United States until it was cleared by the timber industry in the 20th century. Places like Sandhill attempt to restore the pine forests to the state.

Baby long leaf pines and young oaks


   Before the long drive home, we chose a trail to hike that took us through the tall pines, down a hill to Martin’s Lake. The trail ended at a boardwalk and photo blind where we hung out a while with a flotilla of paddling Canada geese. 
  On the way out we exchanged surprised looks with a big buck deer strolling across the road, thankful this big guy was in a preserve and would be safe later this month from hunters.