Monday, December 31, 2018

Cheers to the New Year!

Rainer Maria Rilke 

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been."

Best wishes for health, peace, and happiness in 2019

Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Winter Beach

Thursday’s wild wind whipped the pounding waves into an airy froth. 

Pieces danced and tumbled along the beach, to be caught by the rocks of the jetty.  

On the jetty, the froth continued to quiver and shake, like a living, breathing thing.  

The beach — always a surprise, always a delight.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Christmas Lights

One of my favorite things about Christmas is the light displays.  I could go for a ride every single night in a different neighborhood to ooo and ahhh.  The photos I took don't do them justice, but here are a few from around town.  

The first is the Kaminski house on the water, right on the main street, one of the 60 antebellum homes left in our small town.

The walkway from the street, an old brick sidewalk, is lined with colored lights while all the rest of the display contains only small white lights.  

The narrow ends of the house face the street and the harbor with the main entrance and a park-like lawn on the side.

The traditional mansion is one room deep along its length, with a central hallway at the entrance.  It was built in the mid-1700s for John Trapier, who began his career as a merchant in Georgetown, supplied the army during the Revolutionary War, and became one of the wealthiest men in the colony. He moved to Charleston and gave the house to his aging and unmarried daughter to enhance her marriage possiblilites.  It apparently worked as she landed a good husband shortly thereafter!  

It isn't only the mansions of our town that are lit up for Christmas.  Here's a little favorite right in our neighborhood.

I don't believe I've ever seen the inflatable Peanuts gang portraying the nativity before!

The next is a house we always make sure to visit and I showed you their offering last year of hundreds of inflated snowmen crowded onto every single balcony and porch.  This year they went for a simpler but no less fun statement:

one giant tipsy snowman (I believe he's been sampling the peppermint schnapps 😁) swaying on the lawn, being watched over by two very interested reindeer from the porches!  

The Writer has done his shopping (he settled for a tropical Santa Christmas tie, thank goodness!), the cards are written, packages wrapped and mailed.  In a couple days we leave for Christmas #3 with my daughter from Germany (she's coming to the US, we're not going to Germany -- this year) and Christmas #4 with my mom.  

Oh, and Hey Santa, I've been real good, are you listening?

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

Thursday, November 8, 2018

How Are You Today?

The winter beach

Midterm elections.  The day after the day after.  First off let me say, I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican.  I have voted in every single Presidential election since I was 21 and I voted my conscience.  In recent months, we (the Writer and I) signed petitions, wrote letters, made phone calls, put out signs, talked to neighbors, read, and listened to as many Americans as we could.  We voted.  We nervously watched the results.  

I want to have hope for this country.  I want to understand women willing to vote for men who disparage women, men who have insulted and assaulted them, their daughters, mothers, friends.  I want to understand those who feel it is moral and right to lie when it suits their cause.  I want to understand those who believe the right to own murder weapons is more important than the rights of children to be safe in school, worshippers in churches, shoppers in malls.  I want to understand why some feel so threatened by brown people, families seeking asylum, transgender men/women.  I have been trying, I really have.  

The hope I have today isn't huge but it's a little more than I had a couple days ago.  I am relieved that my health insurance is probably safe for another two years with the new majority in the House, and maybe my Social Security, too.  It's good that with the new majority in the House, some balance of power will be restored.  I'm glad to know two Somali Muslim women -- one from Minnesota where I volunteered in this immigrant population -- are among the new representatives elected.  I am pleased that first Native American woman was also elected to the House (I just learned there were two!).  Isn't it about time?  

How are you feeling after the midterm elections?  

Monday, November 5, 2018

Boyd's Mill, South Carolina

In the early 1800s settlers dammed the Reedy River in Laurens County, SC to build a grain mill for families settling nearby.  With impending Hurricane Florence dulling the skies we set out, hoping to find some remains of Boyd's Mill.  We could soon hear rushing water and, after a short hike down a steep, washed-out road, we rounded a bend to meet up with a horrible stench (we never found the source) and this surprise: 

a 1907 hydroelectric dam, replacing the grist mill and itself looking abandoned years ago. The remains of an old road bridge stand in the foreground.

It's a very long dam, extending farther than I could see playing hopscotch on the rocks, out beyond the trees at the right. 
We didn't hang around long.  We enjoyed the sound of the water but not the smell or the mosquitoes.  We returned to the car and, continuing up the road, came to a modern sign, another view of the dam, and another surprise. 
This rickety-looking dam and power plant still has functioning turbines producing electricity for Laurens County!  

In the fall of 2015 in torrential rains fourteen dams in the Columbia, South Carolina area failed.  Twelve lives and a tremendous amount of property were lost.  Maybe it's just me, but I'd be a little nervous if I lived downstream from this one!  

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

All Hallows' E'en

'Ghoulies and Ghosties and Long-Legged Beasties 
and Things That Go Bump in the Night' ...

We're ready.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

This 'n That

Bob is a Border Collie, a breed known for their, um, quirks.   She is paranoid about water and over the years has come to associate certain types of structures with water -- whether there is water involved or not.  She is suspicious of anything made of boards and refuses to walk on them. You know, because there might be water.  

After the wooden boat show we walked out to Morgan Point on Winyah Bay.  Like most hikes where we live, it involves crossing a (waterless) boardwalk. 

This is how Bob hikes.

Back on terra firma and all is well in Bob-World. This is a peaceful,secluded little sandy beach and so tempting.  You can't swim here though.  Alligators get first dibs.  

My daughter sent these photos this past weekend.  Mason, a boy with three basketball- playing big brothers, is playing in the YMCA youth program for the first time this year.  Here he is explaining to his dog Annabelle why she can't come along like she did to soccer.  

Looks like he's going to do well -- if the eagle mascot doesn't eat him!  

The Writer has been busy, too -- getting the seeds out of the pumpkin for his favorite snack.  This guy had some giant seeds, too.  And they were delicious roasted.  

We're calling her Wanda.