Thursday, July 30, 2015

Family Time

We are visiting my mom in Florida for a few days, enjoying a pool and some golf and will be back in a few days.

Meanwhile, here is a photo from my daughter with my youngest grandson, in Atlanta visiting cousins and having many new experiences.



"What IS this stuff, Daddy?"















Have a wonderful summer weekend, ya'll!

See you next week.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Tybee Island Beach


Tybee, a barrier island off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, is still an old-fashioned tourist magnet on a hot, sticky summer Sunday.








Steamships first brought happy tourists and sickly seekers to the island just after the Civil War to "take the salt air" thought to cure such ailments as asthma and allergies.

The island's history goes way back beyond that, however, its name lIkely derived from a Native American word meaning salt.

Spain claimed it first as part of La Florida, which extended from the Bahamas to Nova Scoia.

Next the French came looking for sassafras, considered in Europe to be a miracle cure, followed by pirates who roamed the sea and saw a source of fresh water and meat.




Little Tybee's pretty beaches also played a part of US history during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812. the Civil War, WWI, and WWII, but more on that another day.

White morning glories and native grasses cover the dunes of fine white sand.






In 1887 a railroad line was completed, the island summer population grew, and cottages soon dotted the shore. The cottages were soon dwarfed by grand hotels and the railroad built a huge pier and pavilion with a dance floor, arcade, and shops.

The original pier and pavilion burned in the late 60s and were replaced with a much smaller fishing pier and small pavilion 30 years later. The fisherman in red pulled in this sting ray while we sat on a shaded bench and watched.




Just beyond the modern hotels and high rise luxury units, there are still tiny beach shops and original old cottages with all the old charm of a summer day on Tybee Island.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Pretty, Old Lowcountry Church

The Church of the Holy Trinity is the only thing left of the ghost town of Grahamville, originally a town of summer homes for the rice planters of the area, built after the American Revolution. The present church building was completed in 1858, the third one to stand on this spot.

The Carpenter Gothic style of the church developed as a carpenter’s interpretatipn of the Gothic Revival architecture of England, with English masonry designs translated into wooden construction.

The wheel window over the door and the buttressed 3-stage bell tower are typical of Gothic Revival design.




The interior is warm, rich, and fragrant with its timber beam ceilings and old yellow pine pews.



An original old lamp, electrified now, still lights the entryway.

The bell tower has an exterior entrance to the stairway leading up to the old slave gallery, which now houses a pipe organ. Many plantation owners insisted their slaves attend the white church on Sunday mornings, fearful that left to their own devices they would plot rebellion. The preacher preached a separate message for the slaves emphasizing strict obedience to their masters.

Former slave Sarah Fitzpatrick, in her 90s in the 1930s when she was interviewed for papers collected by theTuskegee Institute in Alabama, had this to say about her memories of attending church in the days of slavery.

Ya’see, us "Niggers" had our meetin’ in de white fo’ks Baptist Church in de town o’ Tuskegee. Dere’s a place up in de loft dere now dat dey built fer de "Nigger" slaves to ‘tend church wid de white fo’ks. White preacher he preach to de white fo’ks an’ when he git thu’ wid dem he preach some to de "Niggers". Tell’em to mind deir Marster an’ b’have deyself an’ dey’ll go to Hebben when dey die.

The entire fascinating interview is in a book by John Blassingame called Slave Testimony.


The church is set in a grove of large live oaks, which were planted 150 years ago by the ladies of the congregation.

During the Civil War, it escaped complete destruction because it was being used as headquarters for the Union army as they moved through the area.

The interior was desecrated by the soldiers and the church Bible was stolen. In 1928 it reappeared, mailed back to the church from a northern state with a note saying the sender had found it in his attic.



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bug Business

First, an update on the Corn Spider front. Last week I reported that Mr Corn Spider had been eaten by Mrs Corn Spider when he was no longer, um, necessary. I may not have been totally accurate, although several sources say the eating definitely occurs.

Another scientist gives more tragic information though, stating that Mr Corn Spider suffers a heart attack immediately upon completing his part in the romantic moment, after which Mrs C either eats him or does not. Depends on how hungry or carried away she is, I suppose.

But wait, there is more!



The original Mrs C has hung her fourth egg sac and acquired a neighbor! Apparently an invited young neighbor since she has neither devoured her nor driven her away.

We are sitting on a prime piece of arachnid real estate here on this island and

Who knew!



We have watched the newcomer grow from a baby to this over the last few days and this morning she had created her first zipper web, caught a tasty insect, and is in the process of wrapping it up. When that is complete it will become her lunch.

Above her on the left you can see the original Mrs C, along with three of her egg sacs. She appears to be in declining health and shrinking.






We have had another interesting visitor from the vast array of creepy-crawlers that make South Carolina home, the ...

Orange Dog Caterpillar

I kid you not. Orange dog caterpillar.

He was chowing down on our lime tree foliage and had caused considerable destruction before we noticed what was up.

A couple inches long, one can decimate a small lime tree in a day.

Another charming attribute: it appears to predators to be bird poop on the leaf and has a forked tongue-like appendage that flicks out and gives off the odor of ... you guessed it, bird poop!

BUT, the ugly duckling caterpillar will metamorphose into the beautiful
Giant Swallowtail


with a 4 1/2 to 6 inch wingspan.

Can't wait to see those flying around!


(Giant Swallowtail photo: Wikipedia)


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Walkin' On The Beach

Even though we live on the water, it's not the same as the beach. We love walking the wild beach and my favorite is Hunting Island.




If we go early we have the beach to ourselves.

If one sailed straight over the horizon, one would come ashore in Portugal.



All along the beach in the summer giant sea turtles lumber up the sand at night to dig a nest, deposit their eggs, and cover the nest with sand. In the mornings volunteers patrol the beach and put up enclosures to protect the nests.

When it's about time for the babies to hatch, the screen at the bottom is removed so they can make their way back to the sea.




Adult loggerheads can weigh over 300 pounds, with shells up to four feet in length. South Carolina has averaged 3,378 nests per year over the last 10 years.

Besides monitoring nests, volunteers care for injured turtles. This one sustained injuries from a crab trap rope entangled around its flipper. The rope was imbedded in the flipper, cutting to the bone, and the tip was missing. It was treated successfully and released. (Photo from the South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources)


I hope I get to see a sea turtle in the wild some day.



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Around Home

We had a little road trip to Charlotte, NC this weekend for a 60th birthday party but otherwise we have just been homebodies.

Rosie is getting braver, coming out of what has become "Rosie's room", on cautious forays now and then. She holds her ground when the dogs come to sniff her with only a hiss or two, but when they bark she is back under the couch to hide.






She emerges low to the ground, one carefully placed paw at a time.



There is always something to watch outside. The anoles who live on the deck and back porch provide constant entertainment. The babies are especially cute and this guy is eating ants out of the hummingbird feeders.




Say hello to the deck toad, another welcome insect-eating resident. I hope he eats chiggers (called Red Bugs here) because they are fierce this year.



"How do you open this thing? I want to go out!"









Mrs Corn Spider has been busy. She had a husband an eighth her size for a bit but she ate him and produced two more big egg sacs you can see in the background. Here she is wrapping a grasshoppery snack for later.

Remember, this is her third egg sac and there are up to 3000 eggs in each sac. See what I mean about busy?




One last deck-dweller here. Meet the Leaf-Footed Beetle that hangs out on the porch screen. I don't know what he eats but whatever it is, it apparently lives in the screens. See that big foot on his last leg? It looks like a dried up old leaf.

He is a big guy, about as long as my thumb.

We do venture forth now and then, mostly to the dump and the grocery store. There are no garbage trucks that roam the neighborhood at 6am waking everyone up here. You are responsible for disposal of your own stuff at the local dump. Sadly, way too many people can't seem to find their way to the dump and the roadsides are littered with fast food detritus, furniture, and whatever else the user is done with.

In town there is a one-woman campaign on to solve the problem. Her signs pop up here and there and usually express exasperation. The poor woman's pretty yard is less than a block from McDonald's.

She is one of my heroes!



This is "The Pig," or the Piggly Wiggly, the store where my mom shopped when I was growing up. We haven't had Piggly Wigglies Up North for probably 40 years so it was a big surprise and a bit of nostalgia when I discovered they still existed down here.





Shopping is somewhat of an adventure. There are different kinds of fizzy drinks than I'm used to. You know, like Coke and Pepsi and 7-Up?

This is the most unusual so far, funnel cake flavored soda! I didn't buy any, but I'm imagining it tastes something like ... fried donuts?


And then there is corn meal. Up North you would find two options, white or yellow. Here the possibilities cover 20 feet of shelf space In a small store!

Who knew there were that many things you could do to cornmeal to make people buy your brand over, say, 30 others?!






I'll leave you with one last thought for the day.

Whee! Have a little fun today, okay?


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Naked Beach Birthday Bash

Don't worry, my blog is still rated PG!

We were invited on a boat trip to a private island for a birthday celebration for a friend. The birthday girl is on the right.












Front row seats for us.












It was interesting to see our place from the water, a different perspective of our little world. The house and even the big trees looked small and insignificant compared to the waters.

After a stop to jump off the boat and cool off in icy artesian waters coming up out of the salt water, we arrived at our destination, an Island owned by friends of our hosts.

The island is natural and wild, with no buildings or other people in sight, so I think you can guess why this beautiful beach has come to be called Naked Beach.









We went for a beach walk, picking up shells, watching whole herds of sand crabs scuttling off into the sea grass, and enjoying the ever-changing sculptures created by Nature.



Some days you can swim with the dolphins here but the tide wasn't right this day.

On the other side of the island is Whale Branch where whales are often seen.

After a long swim we shared boiled peanuts and toasted the birthday girl with champagne.




Then, we had to either leave by noon or wait until 7 pm for the next high tide. Can you guess why?

In order to navigate sandbars and such and be able dock at Captain Billy's home.

The trip back was just as beautiful as the trip out. What a way to celebrate a birthday!