Wednesday, December 22, 2021

A Little Christmas Potpourri

  The cards are written, the presents wrapped, and all mailed to far away states. The tree has been decorated for a week and stands scenting the house with the beautiful aroma of pine. Carols are playing, the tea is hot, and it’s time to breathe and relax and enjoy it all.

  We aren’t making any cookies this year for, you know, waistline reasons, but Mason has been busy.








  He was very proud of his creations and told me, “It’s not the look that counts, Nana,  it’s the deliciousness.”

  


  I wonder how many calories are in this one!















  One night we did a drive around town to see the beautiful lights and displays on the little shops on Front Street, the big tree on the waterfront covered with lights, and the huge old Southern mansions festive with candles, tall Christmas trees, evergreen swags, and lights.  

  
  Coming back to our more modest neighborhood, we had a chuckle over this display. Guys sure love their trucks around here! 



  December is when the camellias begin to bloom here and these are from our yard. Although they look fragile and delicate, the blossoms will survive winter nights even in the 20 degree range and different colors and varieties will continue to bloom through the months of January and February. 



   Right after Thanksgiving, Bob got her first mail ever with her name on it.

  “What? for me? No, it can’t be!”

Inside the package was the most precious little hand-carved Norwegian troll, a nisse gode, from blogger Connie in Minnesota!  My Norwegian grandma told us about the nisses that hid things, moved things, broke things and performed other little pranks in her house. She wasn’t above threatening us with the nisses “getting us” if we were naughty either. This little Nisse is very dear and now has a place among the boughs and lights on our fireplace mantle.

  And even though I don’t hate anything about Christmas, I thought this was very clever so I will pass it on to you.



    I hope you, too, can take some time from all the work of getting ready, to enjoy the sweetness, the meaning and beauty of this season. 

Friday, December 17, 2021

Mepkin Abbey Creche Festival


  For the past 18 years, the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey (Moncks Corners, South Carolina) have displayed about a hundred creches from their collection of over 2000  to the public for a few days before Christmas. The beautiful works of art represent the Christmas story through the hands and eyes of artists from many countries and cultures of the world.

  It’s so hard to choose, but here are some of our favorites.


Some of the works were exhibited outside, some inside the beautifully decorated abbey library. 


South Carolina, ceramic












Mosaic detail







Columbia, South America, clay








Congo, 
banana leaf fiber



Ecuador, dough







Detail 




Nairobi, Kenya











Kenya 


This one and the next three, the wood carvings, are my favorites.
“Birth and Renewal” (above) is by North Carolina artist Anna Koloseike. I love the hands!








Detail





















Two-foot figures, natural wood


















Peru








Some Children See Him

Some children see Him lily white,
the baby Jesus born this night.
Some children see Him lily white,
with tresses soft and fair.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
The Lord of heav’n to earth come down.
Some children see Him bronzed and brown,
with dark and heavy hair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed,
this Savior whom we kneel beside.
some children see Him almond-eyed,
with skin of yellow hue.
Some children see Him dark as they,
sweet Mary’s Son to whom we pray.
Some children see him dark as they,
and, ah! they love Him, too!

The children in each different place
will see the baby Jesus’ face
like theirs, but bright with heavenly grace,
and filled with holy light.
O lay aside each earthly thing
and with thy heart as offering,
come worship now the infant King.
‘Tis love that’s born tonight!

Monday, December 13, 2021

Murder, Mayhem: Mystery!


Mystery #1

  This morning The Writer was working in the backyard, installing a new motion light on the back of the house






with his canine assistant, Bob … 




when out of the sky, or possibly the 70-foot pine tree over their heads, fell THIS! 


a dead, partially eaten fish! A good 8 inches long if it still had the head attached, possibly a whiting, definitely from Winyah Bay.  Two feet west and it would have landed on The Writer’s head.
  
  We live a half block off the bay, so was it the breakfast of an osprey or eagle?  We see both regularly in our air space. 

  So Bob, taking advantage of the Writer’s amazement and confusion over a fish arriving by air, quickly had a good roll in the stinky thing before anyone knew what was happening.  This required an immediate deep interment (fish) and an emergency bath (Bob). 

  On to …





Mystery #2

  


  Moving our wonderment to the front yard, behold! 


  This same afternoon, discovery of a fresh scene of mayhem and murder in the lawn.  

 






 Too large to be chicken feathers. What was it, pre-disassembly? And, Whodunnit? 


  It looks like a burial plan was interrupted and the bird, which left a path of feather across the yard, taken elsewhere for consumption. 


  Update: The neighborhood consensus is that Mystery #2 had nothing to do with the fattest and largest possum I’ve ever seen waddling across our yard early this morning (she is innocent of murder and we learned, incidentally, only so fat because a neighbor’s daughter is feeding her cat food). No, the culprit is a fox , and the victim one of a neighbor’s ducks. 

Friday, December 3, 2021

A Chapel of Ease and a Receiving Tomb

  


  Strawberry Chapel is the only building remaining on the site of one of the oldest successful settlements in South Carolina, Childsbury. 


  In front of the church is a large vault that is a receiving tomb where bodies were prepared and awaited burial. 

Because of the hot and humid climate of South Carolina, a cool place was needed to store the deceased, allowing  time for the grave to be dug and families to travel for the 
burial. 

  For coolness, the vault was built partially underground, with a vaulted brick ceiling and a dirt floor. A door was located on the left end and there were several steps down into a chamber with shelves on the walls.



  Strawberry Chapel was built in 1725 by plantation owners as a “chapel of ease”, a mission church where plantation families unable to travel as far as the established church could meet on Sundays.  




Strawberry Chapel was an Anglican Church and its first minister was a French Huguenot. The church property is family owned and services are still held here twice a year.


  As you can see, we are still enjoying some beautiful fall colors and warm days here on the coast. Hard to believe Christmas is only weeks away! 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Thanksgiving Reflection


  



  These days Thanksgiving often gets lumped into the mix with the next two big events of the year, Christmas and New Years, and collectively known as The Holidays. 

  As in, ‘What are you doing for The Holidays?’ or  ‘Do you have your Holiday Shopping done?’.

   Whoever had the foresight to stick Thanksgiving on the calendar where it is was brilliant!  

   At the gateway to what can seem ‘the most stressful time of year’ — the weeks leading up to the Big Two — we get Thanksgiving Day, a day to remind us to be grateful for the many gifts and blessings of the other 11 months of year. 


  
  Wherever you are, formal holiday or not, 
a day focused on gratitude 
is a good thing to observe. 

  





  I want to tell you all that, today and every day I am grateful to you, my blogging friends, for reading my words, for sharing your thoughts and lives with me over the last nine years!

Happy
Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2021

What’s For (Thanksgiving) Dinner?


   We enjoyed the peak of the fall colors this week with a picnic lunch in the National Forest and then struck out on a trail with no idea where it led. This gorgeous lake was our reward.
 

  We didn’t see another soul all day … unless you count the Double-crested cormorant drying it’s wings, or the Great Blue heron fishing, or all the turtles on logs soaking up the sunshine. 

    It’s only a week now before a big holiday in the U.S. — Thanksgiving.  In the grocery store we have noticed the carts are carrying pretty much the same items: celery, onions, potatoes, glass jars of gravy, green beans, canned pumpkin, packaged bread crumbs, a couple bottles of wine, all tucked in around and piled on top of the centerpiece of the cart: 

The Turkey! 

 
 It’s probably the same scene in every store in every town in America this week. 

 From the Pilgrims to the Pandemic, Thanksgiving dinner: the one meal of the year that never seems to vary. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn or green bean casserole (or both), pumpkin and apple pie for dessert, it’s always the same.


I’ll be joining my mom in Florida for the day. She is still in the rehab center after her fall a month ago. Mom is not impressed with the food there so who knows what we will be served! 


I would like to know: 
    
       If you are American, is your Thanksgiving feast any different?

 Do you stick to the tried-and-true basics, or is there a quirky, must-have, special addition to tradition for your family?
  

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Last Hike of Summer

(Warning: Creepy Crawlies Ahead!)

  We have one more week of temperatures in the 70s F ahead and then it will be on to some frosty, freezing temps at night. The trees are beginning to change color (as much as they do in coastal South Carolina), birds we haven’t seen all summer are appearing at our feeders, and camellias, the flowers of winter, are about to bloom.


  Take a wander with us on a summery November day, down a beautiful coastal forest trail. 





  Turkey tracks lead us down a sandy road, each footprint bigger than 
the palm of my hand.
















Along the trail, Bog Goldenrod hosts lethargic monarchs, warming in the morning sun. Perhaps they are on their migratory journey to Mexico. 



















Foamy Purple Mist still flourishes in sunny spots. 









  And hello, Eastern Lubber grasshopper!  the largest grasshopper I’ve seen. The ladies can reach 3 1/2 inches long and this one was close to that. Because of her large size, she can’t hop or fly like her smaller cousins, only walk and climb. We didn’t try to hurry her along or get too close because when alarmed, she is likely to hiss and secrete a very foul-smelling froth to scare off predators like us. 


  We skirted a busy Bearded Orb Weaver, a beauty and also very large. So was his web, at least 6 feet across across the trail. 
  Orb weavers build their intricate web in the early morning, then sit at its center waiting for prey to wander in. A stuck insect trying to wiggle free sends vibrations along the web, calling the spider:  “Dinner is served.” 
  Moving rapidly along the web, he locates his prey, bites it to stun it, and waits for it to die. He vomits a digestive liquid over it to soften it and slurps up the liquefying soup.


  One last surprise awaits us as we return to the car: a brightly-colored Rough Greensnake (also known as a grass snake) hurrying across a sidewalk. Pencil thin, he stretched over three feet across the concrete. It was early morning, so perhaps he was coming down from the tree where he had spent the night to search for insects for his breakfast. 



  (No, Bob does not accompany us on hikes, though she would love to). This is Halloween night and she was checking out costumes on the trick-or-treaters. Fortunately no one was dressed as a UPS man. Inexplicably Bob loves everybody in the world except UPS delivery men. Those, she would like to eat! 







Sunday, October 31, 2021

Scarecrow Contest




   Our small town had a scarecrow decorating contest for Halloween this year. Here are a few of my favorites. 

“Miss October”






    A mermaid scarecrow? Of course! We live on the coast so why not a mermaid?





































  Not sure what Terpsi Turvy means but I like her!





















  And my favorite scarecrow — the Gray Man, ghost of Pawleys Island who has been frightening residents of the coast and warning them of impending hurricanes for two centuries.

   Here’s the spooky story, just in time for Halloween.

  In 1822 a young man traveled by ship from Charleston to Georgetown to see his fiancĂ©e on Pawleys Island. From Georgetown, he continued to the island on horseback. To his dismay (I’m sure ‘twas a dark and stormy night!)  he and his horse became stuck in the pluff mud and tragically died, leaving his bereft love waiting forever on the island. 
  Since that night a lean young man dressed all in gray and carrying a lantern has walked the beaches, swinging his dim light and moaning for the love he left behind. Gray Man appears to residents of the island before hurricanes, warning them to leave the island. If they take heed, they say their house is always the one left standing when all others are blown to bits.  
  Lots of people in town and on the island will tell you their stories of sighting the Gray Man walking the beach on stormy nights, especially just before each of our major hurricanes. 

  All these scarecrows must have been effective because we did not see one crow in the park! 

Happy Halloween! 🎃

  

Monday, October 25, 2021

Where Am I?

  October has been quite a month for us with medical issues (ours and extended families’) that have not been fun. I will spare you details except to say my 94 year old mom who lives in Florida fell while we happened to be there with her. She is still in the hospital after a week but after some time in rehab is expected to make a full recovery. 
  
  Some happy news is, after two whole years (thanks to Covid) we were finally able to see one of my daughters and her family from Minnesota! Unfortunately Mom fell the day they arrived but we still got to spend a few hours with them. It was so wonderful to be able to hug them and talk to them all in person, I still get teary just thinking about it! 



Last breakfast before they left for the Everglades, and back to Minnesota 


Mason and his mama looking for sharks 
and dolphins in the ocean



  I’ll be back to reading your blogs this week and catching up on all the news.