Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A Few Photos

  It’s been a while so I thought I’d put up a few photos so you know I’m still around.  As we live in one of the states with the soaring number of Covid cases, we don’t get out much beyond a walk in the neighborhood or, once in awhile, a very early one on the beach where it’s turtle nesting time.  I’ve shown their nests before but recently we came upon something called a “false crawl”.  

  That’s where a female turtle comes up out of the ocean at night and heads up the beach toward the dunes, looking for a place above the tide line to lay her eggs.

  If not interrupted, she will dig a hole and deposit about 120 eggs, cover them, and make her way back to the water.  The eggs will incubate in the hot sand and then 55-60 days later, they will hatch.  The babies will dig their way out of the sand and follow each other in a long line down to the water, to begin their lives in the sea.

  However, if something interrupts the mother at nest building, if she hears a dog bark, sees the flashlight or camera flash of someone walking the beach, or a yard light or even interior light from a house, she will abandon her efforts.

  In the photo above you can see her path toward the dunes and below, the nest she began to dig.  

  This nest was not finished, abandoned early in her attempt.

  And here, her return path to the sea.  The outer marks are her legs and feet and the line down the middle, her tail.  It takes an enormous effort for a sea turtle to move this far on land and any attempt that is abandoned reduces her chances of making a successful nest for the season.  Sea turtles are endangered so every successful nest is precious.  They are protected animals and it’s illegal to have any lights on the beach at night during turtle nesting time, May - October.  But, people don’t always obey the law.  
   🐢   🐢   🐢

A few more photos ...
Great blue heron with his eye on the fishing pole to the right
He will snatch the bait if given half a chance!  

  Anhinga drying his wings on a rice gate structure
Unlike most water birds, anhingas don’t have oil glands.  Their feathers get soaked with water and the weight helps them submerge to fish, swimming along with only their heads above the water.  Then in order to fly they have to dry their wings.  Their nickname is “snakebird” and I’m sure you can see why.

  The Writer giving his nightly concert from the sunroom
  A gift of Covid, sheltering-in has provided us both with extra time to pursue things somewhat neglected when we could travel — music for him, art for me.  The music brings me back to the times when we lived in the Appalachian Mountains without electricity and I would often fall asleep to the sweet sounds of him singing and playing the folk songs we both loved.  

And last, a photo of Mason to make you smile, 
a happy dog-and-boy reunion after a day apart.  

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Old Bottles

   When we bought our house four years ago, workmen repairing the foundation pulled out a box of old bottles from underneath.  I’ve never had much interest in old bottles beyond the way light comes through colored ones on the windowsill, so the box sat around for four years with only the occasional thought as to what we should do with them.  Finally, with all the time on our hands during the pandemic, I decided to take a closer look. After all, our house sits on the grounds of the old Maryville Plantation with a history of rice beginning in the 18th century.  Maybe there was a story or two there.  

  The bottle on the left contained Hoyt’s German Cologne, the one in the center, Rubifoam for the Teeth, and blue bottle on the right says Bromo Caffeine. And therein lies a tale (or two).  

  This building in Georgetown was likely where they were purchased.  Now the home of a popular restaurant, Big Tuna (currently closed because workers tested positive for the corona virus), it was originally Iseman’s Drug Store. Dr. Iseman, a physician, sold wholesale and retail drugs as well as stationary, perfume, “fancy goods”, and toilet articles, like Rubifoam tooth cleaner.  

   Rubifoam was created by E.W. Hoyt in the 1880s and manufactured in Lowell, Massachusetts.  Taking its name from the bright red color of the liquid, it was widely advertised on colorful decorative trade cards and in magazines.


“A Perfect Liquid Dentifrice. Cleanses, Preserves and Beautifies the teeth. Heals and hardens the gums. Leaves a refreshing coolness in the mouth. Imparts a delightful fragrance to the breath." 

 A 4-inch light purple bottle cost 25c.  
Hmm, do you think it stained your teeth red like red Koolaid does!

  As you can see on the card, the same man invented and manufactured Hoyt’s German Cologne.  That’s the product that made Hoyt famous and by 1877 there was such a demand that he sold the tooth cleaner business to employees and concentrated on the cologne.  

  There was nothing German about Hoyt’s German Cologne, Hoyt just thought calling it that would make it sound more cosmopolitan and classy.  It originally sold for $1 a regular bottle, about $22 in 2020 dollars, or 50c for the size in the photo at the top.  Pretty pricey, I think!  The card above and others that advertised both products were scented with the cologne and passed out as advertising to entice buyers.  

  Bromo Seltzer (blue bottle in the photo above) was invented in 1888 to relieve heartburn and upset stomachs.  When mixed with water, the result was a fizzy drink.  Bromide, its chief ingredient, has a tranquilizing effect which likely accounts for its popularity as a headache and hangover remedy.  Unfortunately, bromide is toxic and the formula was changed in 1975 so it no longer contains bromide.  
  Here is how it was described in advertising in the 1800s:
“For brain workers. This delightful effervescent salt is an almost certain remedy for the relief of the nervous headache resulting from overtaxed mental energy or excitement, acute attacks of indigestion, the depression following alcoholic excesses, the supra-sensitiveness of chloral, morphia, and opium habitues, and with ladies the headache and backache of neurasthenia, hysteria, dysmenorrhoea and kindred disorders. A great boon and prompt source of relief in almost all cases of headache and distress attending mental fatigue and physical exhaustion, it commends itself especially to physicians, teachers, clergyman, lawyers, merchants and others following professions or pursuits requiring nerve energy subjecting to mental strain.“
And this catchy little tune for the ladies:
With nerves unstrung and heads that ache. 

             Wise women Bromo Seltzer take. 

   The other bottles in the box weren’t as interesting as these three.  Many were chipped or even smashed, stained with questionable contents, and have gone to their final resting place at the recycle center.  Each bottle above is worth about $12 on EBay or Etsy but these three will remain on our windowsill to remind us of those who lived here before us.  

Monday, June 8, 2020

‘Turning Pain Into Purpose’

Georgetown, SC — one small town in the American South
6 June, 2020

The protest organizers, leading hundreds, are a group of high school students.
“The color of our skin is not a weapon.”

The little girl’s shirt: “I am my ancestors’ wildest dream.”
“Equality not brutality”

“Turn our pain into purpose.Vote, vote, vote.”
“We rise.”

“Say these names”
Trayvon Martin Tamir Rice Eric Garner George Floyd Philando Castile Breonna Taylor
and on and on ...

“No justice, no peace.  No racist police.” 

“I can’t breathe.”
“We need love not hate.” 
“ ‘Breathing - a human right.”

   We truly hope that the sad and awful events of 2020 are at last a catalyst for real change in our country, marking the end of abuse of authority at every level 
and the beginning of social justice for all.  Black lives matter to us and we were proud to stand with our neighbors in Georgetown this weekend.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Our Covid Owls

  Beginning in early March when life as we knew it was suddenly being constricted to the walls of our home and yard, when a mysterious illness, terrifying and deadly, caught us all unawares, a pair of barred owls came to us.  Every single night at the same time they began to call from the 50-foot pines in our backyard, soft short barks crescendoing into the melody every barred owl knows: 

Who cooks for you, Who cooks for you-alllllll.  

Every night at 9:20 pm we met at our bedroom window to wait in holy delight for their presence directly over our heads.  All of March, all of April, they reassured, gave hope, as more and more of our plans shattered and our human world shut down.  

  In May as the owls moved to nest building and egg hatching, the concerts moved farther and farther away — softer, softer, as we, too, settled into a routine: life in the time of Covid.  
  In gratitude, every day I stitched on a memory of the owls, of the comfort their faithful presence brought us in those uncertain days.  

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Pluff Mud Days of Covid Times

Here’s me, keeping up with the latest fashion trend of the day!  

  Still sheltering in, ordering our food online and picking it up in the Walmart parking lot.  Walmart produce leaves a lot to be desired but when you live in a small town, you don’t have other choices.  

  We have made one trip in the last 10 weeks to Aldi 45 minutes away for organic produce.  We felt pretty comfortable with the procedures they have in place so we will probably go back once a month or so.   

  Some days feel like life is settling into a new routine we can be comfortable with, other days I feel like I’m trudging along in cheese grits.  How to look forward to things you have no idea when (or even if) you will be able to do again?  How to be content with nothing to plan and look forward to?  That is where I get into the pluff mud* of the mind.    

[* Pluff mud: that stinky, shiny gumbo mud that appears when the tide recedes from oyster flats.]

“If I wear my mask, can I drive?”

Herbs to flavor our wilty Walmart produce. 🙄

Sign outside a town business.  A comma might clarify the intention, no?

A message from the beach

And something for the ladies ...

Especially nice with your mask, right? 😷 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Week 8, Day 1 - Beaches Reopen

  Pawleys Island south beach was closed beginning last November for hurricane damage and repairs, then for Covid-19, until May.  Six long months.  So happy to have “our” beach open once again.  Boy, have we have missed it!

  No problem keeping a proper social distance at 8 a.m. as we wandered among the tidal pools at the south tip, admiring the sounds and smells, shells and jelly fish, gulls and sandpipers, and exquisite art by Mother Nature.  

     Thanks to beach renourishment and replacement of the dunes, we can now walk four miles, from one end of the island to the other. 

  When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused. 
-Rainer Maria Rilke

  Nothing dims thoughts and fears of the troubles of the world, nothing soothes the soul, 
like a walk on the beach.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Covid Captivity: Week 7, Day 1

  I don’t know how people in cities and those who can’t leave their homes are keeping their sanity through the pandemic.  I really can’t complain because we have had quiet and scenic and safe places to frequent nearly every day this spring.  Even the weather has cooperated with surprisingly cool, sunny spring days. 

  Remember Lulu my folding bike, named after my hiking/biking friend from childhood who died way too young?  

  Lulu has been getting a workout lately.  

  Last weekend we loaded up our bikes for a ride down on the harbor.

One of the marinas in town had some very large fishing boats present, much larger than the ones we usually see docked here.  The blue double-masted one is the biggest I’ve ever seen and would fish well out from the Gulf Stream.  There were some swanky yachts, too, that we don’t normally see.  


  We pedaled on to the public boat landing on East Bay, just reopened by the governor after being closed for a couple weeks because of the virus.

  To the right you can see the town and the same fishing boat with the blue masts.  In the foreground are two men from North Carolina who have just paddled their small kayaks 140 miles to Georgetown on the Waccamaw River Trail.  

  I wanted so much to talk to them about their trip, but there was a group of people fishing at the beginning of the ramp the kayaks were on and no way to get by them and maintain the proper distance.  Shortly after I took this picture both kayakers were on their backs, napping in the sun!  

  “The 140-mile Waccamaw River Blue Trail extends the entire length of the river in North and South Carolina. Beginning near Lake Waccamaw,  the river meanders through the Waccamaw River Heritage Preserve and Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge before merging with the Intracoastal Waterway where it passes historic rice fields and ends at Winyah Bay near Georgetown. Its black waters, cypress swamps and tidal marshes are home to many rare species of plants and animals. The river is also steeped in history with Native American settlements, Civil War sites, rice and indigo plantations.”
  We would love to do this trip someday!  

  The public boat landing has some pretty landscaping in bloom right now.  I’m not sure what either of these large bushes are.  

  Last summer anti-littering groups got together and built creatures from the sea at landings throughout the county.  They invited children to help clean the litter from the area and fill the sculptures with trash they picked up.  The East Bay landing got a shrimp because so many shrimp boats are based here.  

School-at-Home: Middle grandson Aiden and his dog Nettie 

I hope you are keeping your spirits up, enjoying some new pursuits,
 and staying in touch with friends and family. 

Don’t forget ...


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Life in the Time of Covid

   One of my favorite poems by the American poet Langston Hughes starts out, “
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on...”

    That’s how I’ve been feeling these days of the Covid-19 Shelter-In, or whatever it will come to be called in the history books someday.  I’m finding it hard to sit down and write a blog or even read a book.  On the other hand, the freezer has been cleaned and organized, the oven excavated and shined, the windows polished.  I have mended and ironed and washed, weeded and trimmed everything in sight.  It seems it’s my feet and hands that need to be always moving. My brain is on vacation.    

    For excitement, besides Rosie unexpectedly dying we had tornadoes one morning this week, with one touching down just miles from our house.  I’ve never experienced a tornado warning without a basement shelter to retreat to. 

  Apparently, the place to be is the bathroom so you toss in all you can, including pillows to put over your head (see right), and squeeze in with it all.  

    The safest place of all is the bathtub (??) which Bob seems to instinctively know because it’s where you can find her any time there is a thunderstorm.

    Nine people died in this line of three or four tornadoes (they’re still counting) 160 miles long along the coast of South Carolina. The nearest touchdown was only a few miles away.   We are thankful we were spared.

     Until this week we have been able to continue hiking but those days are coming to a close with heat, alligators, and bugs. This week we have stuck to exploring the historic district of our town which is fun, too.  

  Last week a little 4 inch amphibian posed for a picture on a trail through the Santee Delta Preserve.  



Just a short walk farther on we spotted a 10 foot reptile in the water a few feet off the trail! 

    Nearby, between water on either side of the trail, we were on the newly trampled path of a large alligator crossing from one side to the other.

Standing (very briefly!) on the hiking path, looking to the right 

   And to the left, the alligator trail ...

“Frequent use make the runs appear well trampled.”

  This one appears well trampled, no doubt about it!  We had to cross it to get back to the car, which we did right smart!  So, we will probably wisely be leaving the paths at Santee Delta to the gators until next winter.  
   I will leave you with one more photo, sent to me by my daughter with the caption,

“Me: Trying to work.
Mason: LOOK!  HI MOM!  LOOK AT ME!!!”