Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Out With the Old, in With the New!

  I mentioned in my last post that we had 8” of rain in one day and I wanted to assure you, that wasn’t a typo.  During the 18-hour deluge, roads filled with water and accidents happened right and left.  Many roads had to be closed.  When the storm was over, it was like the aftermath of a hurricane with deep water standing everywhere.  

 The day after Christmas, the sun was out, it was 74 F, and we were eager to get outside.  

  I couldn’t yet hobble far from the car so we set up our chairs on a dike at the edge of an old rice field in Santee Coastal Preserve and let birds come to us.

The view in front of us ...

An expert fisherman, a great blue heron in his 
winter gray plumage, watching for his lunch.

And over our heads, a kingfisher, ready to give his piercing, rattling call 
and plummet straight down to the water to spear a fish on his harpoon bill.   

  That was a few days ago.  Since then I have traded in the walker for a cane, the pain from the surgery has significantly lessened, and I am going for short walks outdoors.  Yay!  
  I spent some time today looking through my photos for the year and thinking about all the wonderful things we’ve done, the places we’ve gone, the family and friends we’ve spent time with, in 2019.  I’m so thankful for all those good times and can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

  We may or may not be awake tonight to welcome the new decade but tomorrow we will for sure eat our Hoppin’ John and cornbread for good fortune.  

  And for you, my friends —

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Holiday Visitors

  We weren’t expecting anyone for Christmas. 

                     So who is that orange guy behind the bird feeder?  

It can’t be!  We don’t have those here.

But it is, a Baltimore oriole (two actually, both males). In December!   

  “By now Baltimore orioles are on their wintering grounds in Florida, Central America, and the northern part of South America.”

I guess our visitors didn’t get the memo.

  This might be my favorite Christmas present this year!   I used to have so many in the summer in Minnesota that I couldn’t keep several grape jelly feeders stocked.  We often had one of their hanging basket nests in the yard, and I’ve missed them so much since moving here.  

  Not the greatest photos (phone photos taken through the kitchen window) but oh so welcome.  They were here for three days and then gone, on to the warm tropics I hope.  

πŸŒ™ ⭐️ πŸŒ™

  And we had another bird surprise on Christmas Day.  After breakfast we took a ride down our road that ends at old rice fields, the Intercoastal Waterway, and the ferry to the barrier islands that make up the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Preserve.  Big machinery has been at work on the dike of the old rice field where we like to bird. No water all fall, no birds where it usually is teeming with bird life, and we have missed our special spot.  

  Well, Monday we had 8” of rain.  It covered much of the mud flats and by Christmas Day the birds were back!  
Among all the birds there, there was one special bird, one previously found only in Texas, Louisiana, and Mexico   that has been appearing in the most protected areas on the southeastern coast.  

“The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is a boisterous duck with a brilliant pink bill and an unusual, long-legged silhouette.”

  The first one was seen at Tom Yawkey in 2008 and just recently, some have even started to nest here. 
And, they really do whistle!  They sound like a dog squeaky toy, a strange sound coming from a bird.  Another interesting fact — unlike other ducks which sleep on the water, whistling ducks roost in trees.  It’s quite a sight to go down to the rice field just before the dusk to see them, standing with their long legs perched in a dead tree, heads under their wings, falling asleep.  

  I hope you, too, got some very special Christmas presents that made you smile!  

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas!

 On Halloween I brought you the story of the ghost of the Doyle home (circa 1775) in Georgetown.  Now it’s Christmas and the third year the family has gone all out decorating.  When the house sells, I doubt if anyone else will be as playful and whimsical in their choice of decor as the current owners.  

So here it is ... Christmas 2019 in historic Georgetown!  

Tipsy penguins, Santa on an elephant, foxes, a giraffe and us!  
                          all wishing you a 
Very Merry Christmas!      

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Winter Solstice

  Well, it’s about time!  

  When we bought our house in 2016 we were excited that it had a fireplace, albeit one that had been converted to gas.  Since it once burned wood, we figured it would be easy to bring it back to wood-burning once again.  

  It took us almost two years to find someone to remove the gas “plumbing” and another 6 months to find someone else to come and inspect it and clean the chimney.  We were so excited when Mr. Hoyt arrived a year ago this fall, anticipating a cozy fire last Christmas.

Jimmy Hoyt has been in this business for 35 years.  Laid off yet again during another of the regular closings of the Georgetown steel mill, he needed work that was steadier.  He started his chimney sweep business and has been climbing on rooftops ever since.  He is recently joined by his grandson.
(He still has his coat with tails but alas, it doesn’t fit anymore!)

   He spent a whole morning here and brushed and vacuumed and cleaned.  Everything seemed hunky dory, except one minor thing.  The damper needed mending.  No big deal, there was a welder right here in Georgetown who could fix it right up for less than $50. 

  Except the welder declined.  Or had closed.  Or something.  So Mr. Hoyt would order a new one for $175.  But it was backordered and never came.  Order again.  Something else.  Six months the texts and phone calls went back and forth.  Finally there seemed to be a damper for $300 or $500 or something ridiculous that might fit and we said no thanks.  

  This fall, The Writer took up the challenge and after much searching on the Internet found a damper that could be installed (by him) at the top of the chimney.  I held the ladder, and we held our breath.  It FIT!  

Voila ... we have a Winter Solstice fire in our fireplace tonight. 

And it is lovely!  

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Twelve Days Before Christmas

  Hi friends!  Knee surgery went as planned.  I had a little blip on the day after (blood pressure plummeted and down I went ....), so I got to spend an extra day at the fine Hotel Hospital and came home yesterday afternoon.  

  I’ve never spent any time in the hospital before except for birthing a baby and that was quite some time ago and wasn’t even a proper hospital.  We lived in a town so small that Anna was born in a medical room in the local nursing home!  After she was born, as a special treat they brought all the more or less ambulatory seniors around to coo over the new baby.  

  Anyway, my room in Charleston was very nice with views from both windows (sunrise and sunset!) and nice nurses coming around.  My only complaint was — the food!  A very big deal was made of eating especially well for the couple weeks before surgery, which I did. I thought they would have had dietitians at the hospital balancing the a, b, c’s of vitamins, protein, etc.  If they had one here, he/she was out Christmas shopping. I prefer a vegetarian diet, which was a choice on the menu, but what arrived was mushy canned vegetables, instant mashed potatoes, and a tiny pudding cup.  Does anyone see what is missing here?  PROTEIN. VITAMINS.  

  Oh, well, I am home now and have a fridge full of fresh veg, cheese, eggs, beans, etc.  My sweet daughter in Germany had sent a box of huge dark chocolate-dipped strawberries and, as everyone knows, chocolate is ideal for fast healing and good spirits.  It’s a glorious sunny day, I am three inches taller than I was Monday morning, life is good.  
  I hope this gives you a smile.  

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Upgrading Tired Parts

    Monday is the day I have the inner workings of my knee replaced — original living bone alchemized to steel.  Bone that began as a microscopic cell and continued to grow and replace itself to meet needs and demands I made on it since I was born.

  Until I wore it out.  

  I love this knee for giving me so many years of faithful transportation, for carrying me all the wonderful places my life has taken me.  This knee and I have crawled, walked, skipped rope, climbed trees and mountains, danced, hiked, kneeled, kicked, skied, pedaled, run.  A hundred thousand miles on it would be a conservative estimate, multiple times the distance around the world! 

  For all that, I am beyond grateful.  

  And very reluctant to say goodbye!

The original model πŸ‘‰

Anyway, thanks for the memories, and here’s to the new one — the 2019 model!  It won’t have to last nearly as long as the original, and I’m looking forward to all the new adventures we are going to have together.  


Monday, November 11, 2019

Veteran’s Day 2019

'When you go Home, tell them of us and say,
 For your Tomorrow, we gave our Today.'

Some gave their youth, others their sanity, their limbs, their very lives. 

Thank you all—past, present, and future—for defending freedom in the world.  

My dad, Don Reimer, anti-aircraft gunner, company clerk, WWII.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Home For Sale

  Thanks for all for the encouraging comments on my last post.  Hearing the personal stories of all the successful knee replacements has helped me feel confident that I’m going to get through this just fine.  I think the most repeated advice was to faithfully do all the exercises prescribed and I will do that, for sure!  


We have been having some wet weather after a very long summer dry spell and lots of fungi has shown up.  Look at this one.  It’s growing on the ground and is the size of a basketball! It started out white and soft and has slowly changed to bright orange and quite stiff.  

  We were on our way to Charleston one morning last week and stopped at a small outdoor coffee shop.  The town we were in has a law banning single use plastic shopping bags and plastic straws (yay!) so most places either don’t offer straws at all or offer paper ones.  
  This coffee shop has pasta straws — uncooked noodles!— available for their iced coffee!  We have steel straws that we bring in with our reusable cups so we didn’t try them out.  Definitely a biodegradable alternative to plastic!

  One of the many gorgeous old southern mansions in Georgetown, the Mary Man-Hazard-Doyle house circa 1775, is for sale!  Are you interested?

  Miss Mary Man was the owner of one of the largest rice plantations near Georgetown and had the house built for “in town” entertaining of guests.  Crafted from handhewn cypress from the plantation, the house has eight original fireplaces, four bedrooms, and 7,000 square feet of original heart pine floors.  It has withstood the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and numerous hurricanes so I think it has proven it’s a sound investment.

  AND it comes with its own ghost!  Last week a woman dressed in gray appeared behind the For Sale sign on Front Street, the ghost of Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr and wife of a governor of South Carolina. 

  Alas, Theodosia was a New York City girl who hated plantation life with all the heat, humidity, mosquitoes, and such.  Then in December 1812, despairing over the recent loss of her only child, a 10-year-old boy, she was entertained in the Man home.  After attending a New Years Eve party, she boarded a schooner to set sail for New York City to visit family. The Patriot was lost at sea off the coast of North Carolina, either to a storm or to pirates.  Theodosia, 29 years old, was never found and thus has no grave.  Hence, she often wanders the night from the Man house down to the Georgetown docks, where an old brick warehouse still stands, presumably still hoping to make her way home to civilization in New York.

  So are you still interested in a lovely old home?  It’s only $2,959,000.  A bit steep but remember — that includes eight original fireplaces and the ghost of Theodosia Burr Alston!  

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Boo (Hoo Hoo)

First, the BOO, a little spooky story for Halloween.

    It wasn’t a dark and stormy night; it was a foggy, gray, wet morning with trees dripping humid condensation outside the window.  As is my morning habit, I unfurled my yoga mat in the den and soon was happily lost in some New Age-y music, off into the inner yoga-sphere.  I was alone in the room and had done only a few stretches when out of the blue the glider rocker next to my head started to rock back and forth.  With gusto!
  For a second I credited the cat or the dog with setting it in motion but when I sat up to look for them, I could see them both ... 30 feet away at the far end of the living room, napping.  The Writer was taking a shower even farther away in the house; I could hear the water running.   
  Nevertheless, the chair seemed to go on and on, rocking energetically ... back and forth, back and forth, for half a minute.  What had set it in motion? 

  That’s my spooky Halloween story and no, we still don’t know what started the rocking chair rocking!  

  During the past 18 months I have had physical therapy two and three times a week for a total of eight months for pain in my knee.  Xrays showed severe arthritis and damage to my knee joint.  Each PT round helped but only for a few weeks and then— back to painful walking and limping. 
  On our recent trip to the mountains, I found myself unsteady and unconfident on rough trails and it was a little frightening.  I’d take a step and not quite know if my knee was going to hold me or not.  The lopsided gait began to cause pain in my back and opposite hip and I admitted it: the time has come for  (cue the drums πŸŽΆπŸŽ΅πŸŽΆ)  KNEE REPLACEMENT SUR-
  I of course am dreading it, not the surgery so much as the recovery.  The date is December 9th and by spring I hope I can hike and camp and travel and even do things I haven’t been able to for a couple years.  
  If you’ve had a knee replacement and want to offer encouragement, please do.  (No horror stories though, please!) 


(Neither of the photos are mine and I don’t know to whom credit should be given.)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

‘Pretty Place’

  It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  My last was weeks ago after our trip to the South Carolina Mountains and I have a few more photos to add. The first two are from a place that was so inspiring, so peaceful, so incredibly beautiful, the locals call it simply “Pretty Place”.  

  It’s an outdoor chapel built by a Greenville textile entrepreneur for a YMCA camp.  

See the bird soaring above the valley slightly to the right of center?  

  I have enjoyed staying in Airbnb accommodations abroad and finally convinced The 
Writer to give it a try.  We stayed in what was listed as “an artist’s studio and tea room”, a small apartment in the lower level of a modern home in a quiet neighborhood. 

The private entrance was surrounded by prize winning gardens and had a pretty view of the mountains.

  There were two rooms. This with the next photo is the bedroom/living room/dining room.

The host is Japanese and an artist.  The apartment was decorated with many pieces from her travels, including a dozen or more Japanese tea sets, and her own watercolors.  

This was my favorite of her paintings.

  The kitchen area was small but efficient, equipped with beautiful china dishes, some snacks, condiments, coffee.
  The Writer was pleased and impressed and I’m pretty sure we will be staying in more Airbnb’s from now on!  

Saturday, October 5, 2019

South Carolina Mountains - Table Rock State Park

  For my birthday trip this year, we decided to go to the South Carolina mountains instead of the North Carolina mountains where we usually go.  They are not quite as dramatic but they are still beautiful.

  We visited three state parks and a state wilderness area: Table Rock State Park, Caesar’s Head State Park, Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, and Paris Mountain State Park.

  Table Rock in early morning.  

  The Cherokee Indians believed an enormous spirit presided over these mountains and that the rock in the center was his dining table, with the tree-covered mountain to the right the chair.  The haze covering the mountaintops gives the mountain range its name: the Blue Ridge Mountains.

  Later in the day we got a really good, almost clear view of Table Rock Mountain from the valley.  
  The park has beautiful waterfalls.  The state is in drought conditions so they weren’t as dramatic as they usually are.


To enter the park trails there is a kiosk where you register your group and the time you enter.  Unless you have an overnight permit you must be out before dusk.  People don’t understand the danger of mountain hiking and there have been many deaths over the years because of carelessness and being ill-prepared for conditions. 

This information is posted in the information center restrooms and other places as a sobering reminder to be careful!  

Cooling my feet in the waterfall pool ....

                     Bright purple beauty berries were in bloom. 

  October is a wonderful time to visit the state parks.  We had the trail, the waterfall, and much of the park completely to ourselves and spent a long time enjoying the sound and sight of the falling water and the glorious views.  

Friday, September 20, 2019

Climate Strike

Hey, ya’ll!  Will you join in?

From CNN this morning:  
     From London to New York City and from Perth to Paris, climate activists are taking part in a global climate strike today in what is expected to be the biggest day of climate demonstrations in the planet's history.  The Global Climate Strike is the third in a worldwide series of rallies organized by students, led by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg.
  Some of the first protests were held in Australia and organizers have said "well over" 300,000 people gathered at more than 100 cities and towns across the country. Melbourne hosted the biggest march, according to organizers, with 100,000 people turning out, while 80,000 rallied in Sydney and 30,000 in Brisbane. 
   Hope the day’s events are as well-attended in rest of the world.  I’m definitely on board, because of my grandchildren — I want them to know, when they inherit this tremendous problem from my generation, that I was one of the ones who tried to fix it.
  Sadly, there are no events to join within many miles of our home.  Maybe that’s the case for others as well. So, I was thinking we could share some ways here that we make the extra effort to help our planet.  I’ll start!

  As we replace things that wear out, we try to avoid plastic and find materials that are easy to recycle.  Here are a few of our choices in the last few years:

Glass and metal hummingbird feeder, wooden matches to replace plastic lighters.

Glass and steel cans instead of plastic, both recyclable in our town, and two of the few materials that are.  Alas, the glass jars are starting to come with this outer piece of plastic around the the lid. Why oh why?  It’s already sealed inside!  The jar is also reusable, handy for storing food in place of plastic “Tupperware”.  

Cotton and other natural fiber clothing (right). They can be cut up and composted when the item wears out and they don’t shed dangerous plastic micro fibers in the wash.

Brushes:  Outdoor scrub brushes of wood and palmyra palm fiber bristles.  We cut them in half to make them last longer and fit the hand better.

Kitchen brushes made of bamboo with plant-based and recycled plastic bristles.  (If we ever have to replace these we will get some now available with a replaceable head.)

Toilet brush and nail brush of wood and natural bristles.  The bristles of the toilet brush are made of coconut fiber.  

Reusable bags — small homemade ones are produce bags, larger shopping bags fold up small, easily carried in my purse.  The black one in front is folded up.  They hold a ton of stuff.  Yogi tea comes in a cardboard package and the teabags have no plastic fibers in them and can be put in the compost. (Did you know most teabags are made with plastic fibers for “strength”?  They are not compostable and the plastic chemicals leach into your cup.)
Last — dental floss.  700 million of these little plastic 
boxes wind up in the landfills and oceans every
YEAR!  This box is made of cardboard.  (Recently they have started wrapping the floss on the little (plastic) spool inside the box in a small plastic package!  Why oh why??)

  Well, those are a few of the attempts we are making to make the world a better place.  A proverbial drop in the bucket of waste globally I realize.  But what if everyone did the same?  Maybe industries and big polluters would take notice, feel the pressure, and change, cumulatively making a huge difference. 

  If you are interested in sources, most of these things can be found on Amazon but we make an effort to buy them locally first.  It takes work to find them, however.  

  In keeping with Global Climate Strike Day, would you comment and share a few of the things you do that others might be inspired, too?