Saturday, December 15, 2018

A Little Bit of Christmas

  Sometimes I long for the Christmases I had when I was a child, when everyone my heart loved lived only a few minutes apart. 
  Christmas Eve was a Norwegian Christmas with about 20 of my mom's family at one house -- great aunts and uncles, grandparents, aunt and uncle, cousins.  After a feast of traditional foods and mountains of dishes, Santa's sleigh bells were heard outside.  Chaos ensued with wrapping paper flying, new dolls crying, blinding flash bulbs on the old cameras popping.  
  Church was at 11 p.m.  The sanctuary, filled with spruce trees and pine garlands, brightened with ropes of red and gold, candles and choirs, joyous organ and trumpet music, and the holy comfort of tradition, was never more gorgeous or warm than on Christmas Eve.
Me (left) and my baby sister 

 Then, half asleep we trudged out into the snow and cold that shocked us awake for the drive back to the party.  Out of the kitchen came the ladies in their Christmas aprons with "a little midnight supper" -- leftover turkey, pickled herring, Christmas cookies, coffee -- to fortify us for the ride home and a few hours of sleep. 
  Then, the next day, Christmas Day, we did it all over again with Dad's side of the family.

Me, cousin, and sister, Christmas Eve

Now we all live so far apart, from Wisconsin and Minnesota to South Carolina, California to Florida.  The effort to bestow presents -- and presence -- on children and grandchildren takes us most of  a month!  This week we had Christmas #2 with my daughter and son-in-law and one of my grandsons from Minnesota when they visited my mom in Florida.  

  It was pouring rain when we crossed the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, the tops of the bridge sails hidden in the fog.  Nine rainy hours later, we arrived in central Florida.

  Mason was the only one brave enough to play in the ocean.  The rest of us were sitting on the beach in sweaters, jackets, and long pants. 

  He loved a visit to the Kennedy Space Center
and wore his new space helmet on the 
plane trip home to Minnesota.

My best Christmas present so far (and we have two more Christmases to go)!

Friday, December 7, 2018

And the Answer Is ...

I thought our outdoorsmen -- Red, Troutbirder, David maybe? -- might have gotten this one!

  The landing above from my last post was built specially for canoes, which, if you've carried one, you know are awkward and heavy to transport.  You can just place your canoe on the rails and slide it along beside you up or down the ramp to the water.  Wow, I could really appreciate that technology!
x x x x x x x x x x x x x 

  In the late '60s I went on a canoe trip with a group of girls into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Minnesota and Canada.  We carried all our food and gear for 10 days in, and we carried all our trash back out.  These were the days before ultralight equipment and as we portaged from lake to lake, we carried pots and pans, food, hatchets, shovels for latrines, and all our personal belongings in bulky canvas bags called Duluth Packs.  We also carried the heavy canoes over rocky, rough portages of up to several miles.  Fortunately we didn't have to carry water -- that came straight from the pristine lakes.  

The old Duluth packs were heavy before you even put anything inside and items like pots and pans dug into your back with every step you took.  Those of us who carried these wore one of the big packs on our backs and our personal pack on the front.  

The old Grumman 17 foot canoes we used were warhorses weighing about 75 lbs.  The yokes were made for men and didn't fit my narrow shoulders so I was relegated to carrying food and pots 'n pans packs.  

A canoe is carried on the shoulders and neck using a yoke.

I think that clever canoe slide at Buck Hill Landing would have made these portages a whole lot easier!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Palmetto Trail

The best time for hiking in South Carolina is late fall when the bug population is less aggressive, and the heat and humidity somewhat tamed.  The longest trail in the Palmetto State is ...

which stretches 500 miles from the Blue Ridge Mountains, through forests and swamps, through Awendaw just down Hwy 17 from us, to the sea. 

We were inspired by a Department of Natural Resources employee who gave a program at the library. About our age, he had recently completed the 500 mile hike by hiking 2 or 3 day sections over a period of two years.  We loved his stories and fantasized about doing something similar ourselves. 

 While that remains a fantasy, on a recent November Sunday we visited a section near the southern finish of the trail in the Francis Marion National Forest.   

This section follows Awendaw Creek. The wide path winds along a rice dike (a walkway created by slaves for transportation of rice from these old rice fields) and makes a turn to the right to follow the tree line at the top of the photo above.  It follows the dike to the Intracoastal Waterway, where it turns north into the woods, then south again to a pretty national forest campground, a distance of four miles.  (See the moon way up there, at 1 o'clock in the afternoon?)

It was so absolutely still and peaceful, even the birds were completely silent. The day was warm and the sun heating the pine needles cushioning the path sent up a glorious perfume with each step. 

Buck Hill Landing.  
Anyone want to guess what the boards on the left of the ramp
 are used for?
As we rested here, staring at the water, soaking up the peace and quiet, a single runner materialized out of the woods, the only other human we saw on the trail.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

An Ordinary Day

 I'm always thinking I should wait for something blog-worthy to happen before I post.  And by blog-worthy, I mean something bigger than the little events of my ordinary day.  The other day I read something that made me stop and think.

"It was an ordinary day, a quick phone call to my cousin Caron recently to wish her a happy birthday, I asked her how she was planning to celebrate turning 74.  Caron has grown frail the past few years, suffering from COPD and tethered to oxygen 24 hours a day. Caron laughed quietly. "You know, the best celebration I can imagine is just having one more ordinary day," she replied. "I'm grateful for every day of my life. Every day is a celebration!"

Well, it's true!  Any day, so-called ordinary days, they're all precious and celebration-worthy.  

Yesterday we were driving home from a short errand -- Bob needed a new bag of chewies (big bones to gnaw on to distract her from her tennis ball obsession once in a while).  Out of the fog, on a tiny island between the big bridges in Georgetown, these guys materialized


There are no farms anywhere for many miles around.  No one lives on this island.  To get here they had to swim.  Did they come in with the floods after hurricane this fall?  Were they once, many generations ago, from one of the rice plantations on the river? 

Five in this photo but there were seven in the grass, probably more in the woods.

Not celebrating Georgetown's litter problem, which you can see all too well in this photo. 
 But isn't that baby cute, hanging out with the big guys?

On Thursday we had a Thanksgiving/Christmas CELEBRATION in Orlando with four children and their families.  

We ate.  A lot.  (Aaron and Lauren, the hosts)

Met the newest member of the family.

Molly the Labradoodle.  

9 weeks old.

Played silly games.

Visited.  A lot. 

( the bros-in-law )

We were gone three days and of that, 20 hours were spent driving (shew!), and now we're home, back at our computers, trying to make up for overindulgence at the gym and veg section of the grocery store.  But in reality, ya know ...

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving U.S.A.

Advice from ME:
Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving as a holiday or not,
 count ALL your blessings and 
eat ALL the goodies!  

Happy Thanksgiving to all my dear blogging friends!!!

Friday, November 16, 2018


Colors of November

Where water meets land between
Dawn and day,
Six spoonbills feed,
Interpreting the day's palette
Of frosty grays,
Offering meaning to the tone:
Shocking Pink.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

From Paradise to Hell

By now I'm sure most of you have seen and heard about the holocaust of fires in California.  My cousin Carrie and her family lived in Paradise, the town of 25,000 that burned to the ground.  

They escaped with their lives (and nothing else) by driving miles through a tunnel of fire and abandoned cars, an inferno of heat and flames, with explosions of tires from the hot pavement and trees falling in their path.   

Carrie and her sister and I and my sister grew up together.  Our families were extra close because we are double cousins -- her dad and my mom are first cousins, my dad and her mom are first cousins.  

Today they were allowed in to Paradise see where their home stood.  You can still see the smoke in the air, a week later.  

They had minutes to get out of the house and lost everything but the clothes on their backs and their two cats. Their most urgent need is for a home in the area so they can get back to their jobs and schools.  As you can imagine, it's very tough to find any kind of affordable place to rent in this situation.  

As you count your blessings this Thanksgiving, if you would care to help, Carrie's grade school friends have set up a GoFundMe page for the family here:
Paradise Fire Carrie