My Life A Bit South of Normal

Thursday, June 30, 2016

No, I Really Don't Do That

It's not unusual to get the odd request concerning my photography. An example being, "I see you have this picture of downtown Charleston, do you have one of Scranton, Ohio?" Or - "I notice you do landscapes, could I hire you to photograph my pet bunny?" - Honest to God, a true story.

One lady asked me if I did family Christmas card photos, when I told her I did not have the talent to photograph people, she was incensed. "But my family would be easy, we are all so photogenic."

I had the owner of a gym call me out of the blue and ask me to come discuss a project doing a series of macro shots of equipment, sweaty arms, taut muscles, etc. After spending a good 90 minutes with him, he asked when could I start on the project.  I asked if wanted me to give him finished pieces (ie canvases or prints) or did he want the digital files he could use to produce whatever he wished? He gave me an odd look. I went on to explain how much each medium would cost him. He was shocked - not at the price, but that I would charge him a fee for the photography. "I had no idea you would charge me, since I gave you the idea," he said.

Rethinking it I said, "Oh, so if I do this - then I can sell the photos?' 

"Oh no," he replied, obviously aggravated. "That's not what I meant at all. It was my idea. I just need you to come do the photography. I thought you would enjoy the experience. The prints would all be mine. In fact I may sell them."

Needless to say, this project never went any further.

Then there was the lady who had her heart set on one particular print, but did not like the frame. No problem, I was quick to change the frame to a more suitable one. She was thrilled but wanted to take the picture home to see how it looked in her hall. The following day, she called to say that the picture looked great but the canvas was too "thick" and could I order her a thinner one? I agreed to do so.

Then she asked if she could keep the one she had for the next day or two, she was having her supper club over and it just looked grand in her hall. Being the polite southern girl, I agreed. After all, I knew my Aunt Kat would have told me that was the right thing to do.

Three days later, the new canvas was in,  The following day she called to complain about the frame - it had a "mark" on it. This would be a mark neither of us had noticed when she first saw it, when she took it home, or while it was on her wall before her dinner party. Long story short - she returned the framed canvas. I ordered  new frame and let her know when it came in. To this day, she has never come to get the newly reframed picture.

But the winner came this week in an email through my online store. The inquiry concerned an image I have of red bicycles and a rickshaw. The question was, "How much does the rickshaw weigh?" I did some quick research and saw that the shipping weight was 1.1 lbs, so I replied that I could only estimate, but my best guess would be somewhere around 1 lb for the 16x20 size.

The customer responded fairly quickly, "Oh, there is some confusion here, I thought you were selling a rickshaw for $189. The price looked so good, I just wanted to see how heavy it was."

Perhaps I should add a line to my policy statement, "No kids, no pets, as is, where it is,and what it is. Any questions, refer to former statement."

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Big Sister Gig

With the impending arrival of our second granddaughter I wondered or rather feared how our oldest grandchild would handle sharing the spotlight. Lou has never been selfish or not played well with others. But, the world has been her oyster. In her perfect universe the sun, the moon, and all the stars revolve around her, and given she is a simple delight (and the sweetest, prettiest, smartest grandchild ever) so it should.

That said, would the arrival of a little sister bring her world to a grinding halt? As the day approached, when asked what her little sister should be named, her third person response was often, "Nu Nu (how she refers to herself) says No No." That about summed it up. There was a firm veto from her camp.

When the baby arrived, four weeks early, she was put in the NNICU and will probably be there for a couple to several weeks. Nothing serious, she just needs some time to catch up since she entered the world so early and is so little.

So Loulou has remained at home where her little life has gone on as usual. She is on her own little schedule with school on the week days, etc. Her Daddy has explained to her that she has a new little sister. But in the mind of a not quite two year old, not seeing is not believing.

Perhaps it is a bit confusing but this "Big Sister" bit is not what she was told. Where is the sharing of toys, helping Mama with the new baby, being a big girl when the baby cried . . . ? What she sees is a big pink ribbon on the mail box and a huge stork balloon in the front yard. She gets even more attention than usual from family, friends and neighbors. And, they all bring her gifts. Yet, there is no crying baby in the nursery, no demanding little sister taking Mama's time, no cute bundle of joy that hogs the attention of family and friends.

In that little mind of hers, this big sister gig is pretty sweet. No wonder everyone told her she would love being one. Now she cannot wait for Mama to come home so she can tell her all about it. Of course Mama coming home without the baby will just reinforce the dream state.

Meanwhile she will continue to eat cake while her little sister grows and develops under the care and watchful eyes of those medical professionals who specialize in such. Then one day, the bundle of joy will arrive at home. Much ado will made. And Loulou will either fall in love with her little sister or just patiently wait for whomever left that "special little package" to come get it. The jury is still out on that one.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Free Will and Flying Pigs

OMG, - well I may as well continue given I have already used the Lord's name in vain. The sky is going to fall, pigs are going to fly, Hell is going to freeze over, frogs are growing hair, and chicken are cutting teeth. It is the end of the world as we know it and the onset of Armageddon. I just read in my local paper that my home county is going to put the choice to repeal some of the Blue Laws on the ballot for the November election.

The electorate of the county is going to be able to exercise their free will and vote as to whether or not alcoholic beverages can be sold in stores and served in restaurants and bars on (gasp) Sunday. Prior to this the thought was that denying citizens this sin would keep the Sabbath Holy and put more people in the church pews Sunday morning. Of course these believers are also the ones who frown upon dancing, women in the clergy, and believe John Scopes was sent to poison young peoples' minds.

Some background here - in South Carolina we are still operating under Blue Laws, some that were enacted as early as 1691, and others that were added in the 1960's and 70's. A "Blue Law" is defined as "a strict religious law, particularly one preventing entertainment or leisure activities on a Sunday". While some counties have prevailed upon their brethren and voted to do away with these laws years ago, my county would have no part of it. 

I grew up under these draconian, old fashioned, out of date, provincial, and, in my humble opinion, ridiculous laws. Not only is one not allowed to buy, sell, or serve alcoholic beverages, the prohibition goes on to cover (and I quote from the SC Code)

"Clothing and clothing accessories (except those which qualify as swimwear, novelties, souvenirs, hosiery, or undergarments); housewares, china, glassware, and kitchenware; home, business and office furnishings, and appliances; tools, paints, hardware, building supplies, and lumber; jewelry, silverware, watches, clocks, luggage, musical instruments, recorders, recordings, radios, television sets, phonographs, record players or so-called hi-fi or stereo sets, or equipment; sporting goods (except when sold on premises where sporting events and recreational facilities are permitted); yard or piece goods; automobiles, trucks, and trailers."

So, if I interpret this correctly,  tacky tee-shirts, items at a ballgame, any gaudy cup or plate with the name of a tourist trap slapped on it, swim suits, "novelties", hosiery, and undergarments are exempted. Go figure. All the while a generic coffee cup, plain white plate, or sweater is forbidden. 

Many many years ago when I was a little girl, my Daddy's drug store would open in the afternoon after church one Sunday a month  There were four local drugstores and they rotated so that each opened every 4th Sunday. (I guess to spread the sin around.) As a little girl it was not unusual for me to be with Daddy in the store on a Sunday afternoon. It was awfully confusing to my little mind that I could sell batteries and film but not the camera. A patron's Coca-Cola could be served in a paper cup but not a glass (since they would be purchasing the glass to go home with them.). 

So now, we the people, have a chance to bring the county out of the 19th century. We may no longer have to explain to perplexed visiting diners why they cannot enjoy an adult beverage with their meal. Up until a year or two ago, the local Walmart caved to the persistence of a group of local pastors and would rope off the areas of the store that contained "contraband" with yellow nylon rope, less the weak be tempted. 

There is much ado about our quaint Blue Laws. And if we prevail and have them repealed, we can go to work on some other issues that are still on the books. An example would be the requirement for men to carry a rifle to church. Gypsies beware, one needs to be a genuine licensed fortune teller in the state of South Carolina to tell someone’s fortune.

But my favorite is this: "All malt beverages containing not more than 5% alcohol by weight and all wines containing not more than 21% alcohol by volume "are declared to be nonalcoholic and nonintoxicating." Now, seems my favorite oaky chardonnay runs around 13.5%. All this time I have been denied a glass of wine on Sunday and only now do I learn that, in fact, my libation of choice is declared to be nonalcoholic and nonintoxicating by law.

Of course, the people may stay the course of the persistent pastors and the measure may fail to pass. Folks, lets face it, it's not as if we are deciding whether or not to leave the Euro-Zone. This is simply a matter of not looking like the Puritans at the witch trials. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

We Are Represented by Who we Choose

OK, go ahead before I even start, you can throw whatever rocks you want at my house of glass. 

Yesterday I was listening to coverage of President Obama's visit to Orlando. As he has had to do so many times in his eight years in office, he was the "Consoler in Chief". It doesn't matter what side of the aisle one sits on, one has to feel for our President when he is in this role. Whether it was Reagan making his famous, "They have slipped the surly bonds of Earth . . " speech at the service for the astronauts lost in the Challenger disaster, or Clinton's words (on the occasion of the Oklahoma City bombing) "If anybody thinks Americans have lost the capacity for love and caring and courage, they ought to come to Oklahoma", it never gets easier. It is all senseless. But, I digress. 

The network host was interviewing Florida's 5th Congressional Representative (which includes part of Orlando) who had come down from DC on Airforce One with the President for the occasion. I almost had to pull my car over. This was a member of our United States Congress, the one person chosen by her district to represent their needs in Washington. In her discourse with the CNN host, she referred to the "poleeces" (plural of police), her syntax of singular and plural were often incorrect - "they is", and worse. But, she was that district's choice. And, no doubt a majority of that electorate knew what they choosing. (Yes, "what" not "who".)

After researching this lady online, I see that she is not of any ethnicity that would make English her second language. To make matters worse, she has been in Congress since 2013 and, obviously, not picked up on the difference between her speech and that of her colleagues. Even those representatives from the deep south have correct syntax. Heck, Strom Thurmond was often accused of being hard to understand, but no one ever said he did not speak the King's English. 

Given the Republican party is seriously considering nominating a narcissus reality TV host, perhaps much of the American electorate should be questioned as a whole. But to each their own, we are blessed with a free society of majority choice of representation in our government. I digress once more.

I was just getting over the trauma of the interview when she started referring to the horrible events of a year ago here in Charleston at Mother Emmanuel Church. She went on and on about the tragedy in "Carolina". OK, that was it - how many states does she think there are in the union? 49? Or perhaps 47 - and now 6 states have been reduced to "Virginia", Dakota", and "Carolina". 

It is a free country and the majority carries. God, I can only assume when she won her seat, she was running against an ax murderer, a child molester, or some other undesirable. But - even with whatever character flaw, her opponent possessed, I'm willing to bet they paid attention in 2nd grade and learned there are 50 states and two "Carolina's". Just saying. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Moving on Up to the Eastside

Last night I was reading that I am currently living in the new "Up and Coming" neighborhood. This is just another way of saying the Eastside is on the brink of being gentrified. I knew when I moved in that it was a neighborhood in transition. Quite frankly, for my personal economic purposes, I had hoped it was in no hurry to get all gussied up.

This dodgy side on Meeting Street, north of Mary, has long had a bad reputation for crime and drugs. Historically before it became an area of gangs, drugs, and crime it was known for its freedman's cottages and single homes that still stand. There are also small Victorian style houses that face the street with wide porches. Almost every corner has a small store. There are areas I do not frequent and would not feel comfortable in, but for the most part, I feel safe here. The police presence is hard to miss. One doesn't go fifteen to twenty minutes without seeing a patrol car. 

There is a personality I hope the neighborhood doesn't lose but, in reality, I know it will. Whether it is the old men walking to work before daybreak singing old time spirituals in deep baritone voices or the women sitting on their porch steps, wearing some unremarkable outfit with bandannas around their head and bedroom shoes on watching their children play on the sidewalk. Even the friendly inebriated souls trying to make their way home, I run into when the pups and I are out on our predawn constitutional are part of the ambiance.

As I have mentioned before, some of the homes have been completely renovated to their original charm. And now, it is now not unusual to see a BAR notice nailed to a pole in front of one of the dilapidated ones. BAR is the Board of Architectural Review. This is the entity that has preserved Charleston by controlling what can be built, what cannot be raised but must be restored, and how it should look when finished. Any decent developer knows you just don't buy a rundown, falling in house down here, raise it and build whatever you want.

So yes, there are more professionals moving in. College students frequent the sidewalks hurrying to class. There are still the traditional African American residents who have been here since before anyone else. These are the endangered ones - the ones who will be forced out of their homes and apartments as the area gets civilized, fixed up, and rents sky rocket.

I was thinking about this as I got in my car today to return to work from lunch. The renovated iron works foundry I call home is a prime example of this change as are the two houses next door with bright pink BAR signs stapled to their fences. 

Just then a young man wearing Hawaiian print boxers, a stained white tee shirt, and black dress socks (sans shoes) passed me on the sidewalk. Perhaps the change is not going as fast as I feared. I can only guess this gentleman was the looser in a game of strip poker that involved serious adult beverages. Or perhaps we have jumped the shark and this is just an example of the inebriated soul, albeit the new gentrified variety, finding his way back home. 

When it is all said and done the BAR can control the color paint. type of porch, and door molding of your building as you renovate. But they have no control over the characters that may move in.

Monday, June 13, 2016

No Name Yet

We all await the arrival of our second granddaughter. Yes, we know it is a little girl but a name has not been selected. Lou, our 22 month old granddaughter, is quite content being the only child and only granddaughter. Even before she reaches her second birthday, she already knows she has a good gig going here. There has been no lack of trying to prepare her for the new arrival. But, so far she is not excited about being a big sister, having a new sister, or anything else having to do with this bundle of joy. 

Whatever the name will be, it will be. And, no doubt, Lou Lou will eventually warm up to the idea of being a big sister and having a little one around . . . hopefully. 

Lou calls herself "Nu Nu" and often refers to herself in the third person. The other day someone asked me if my daughter had a name for the new baby yet. I told her no but when they had asked Lou what she thought they should name the new baby. Nu Nu said "No No".

I was laughing about this and my daughter added that their next door neighbor's daughter decided early on that her new little sister was going to be named "Twinkle Flower."  After weeks of hearing this, her parents realized she really thought the baby was going to be named "Twinkle Flower". They had a little intervention. It did not go well, but by the time her new little sister arrived, she was OK with the different name. 

I'm not losing sleep over this. If nothing else my daughter's penchant for all my granddaughters' clothes to be monogrammed will eventually bring an end to this non-decision. Besides, if "No No" is not in the running, "Twinkle Flower" still is.


Friday, June 10, 2016

I'm Sorry If I Don't Like You

As Macbeth said, "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Stay with me here folks.

I have a love hate relationship with Facebook. Yes, I post a "Charleston Door of the Day photo" every morning. It is not unusual for me to post a candid shot of my pups with some witty comment about what they are thinking - like I really know. My DH and youngest daughter have threatened me with a fate worth than death should I mention them on Zuckerberg's website of public self display or in this blog for that matter. But I digress.

So I have confessed my participation in the madness of this college social connection board gone awry. OK, hijacked by grandmothers posting pictures of their grandchildren, folks sharing photos of flowers someone sent them, gifts they received, or what they are having for dinner. The smart phone app "Four Square" will automatically post your location anytime you walk into a business that participates. (My favorite being the notification I saw one evening showing a friend of mine had just arrived at a funeral home.)

The site is now also flooded with ads that are "personalized" to what Facebook "knew" I would be interested in according to some confusing algorithm. Thankfully I found the drop down arrow where, after 3 flicks, I can tell those who think they know more than I do about my tastes that in fact they do not. "Friends"of mine and "Friends" of Friends post little sayings that are often quaint, sometimes religious, and a few times pithy. Unfortunately there is no drop down menu to notify Facebook that these posts are extremely annoying and I would appreciate their ilk not being added to my newsfeed. They just take up too much of my time as I scroll through pictures of my grandchild, surprise appearances of characters from my past, and updates on friends and family who are ill, dead, nigh onto to death, or just plain dying. (Ever since my Mama died and I lost her daily update on this last category, often Facebook is my best source.) But I digress - I simply scroll down.

But there are those posts that I strongly agree with. There are those posts where I want to show my support or that I shared their "chuckle". Sometimes I "Like" a post because it is a beautiful or unique photo. It may be someone's travel photo that I feel the need to show that I see they are traveling and am enjoying their pictures. The perfect example of this being a childhood friend of mind who recently got married. She and her new groom took a "Tour" of Europe for several months as their honeymoon. I traveled vicariously with them, albeit pea green with envy, looking forward to her daily post.

Speaking of the infamous "Like" button, unlike (no pun intended) many of my Friends, I use this sparingly. I do not "Like" every post I scroll by. As I mentioned above, many I could do without, but to each their own. When I "Like" a post, I am saying, "I agree, I appreciate, I am amused, I am impressed, I share your pain, joy, or loss." Not getting a "Like" from me does not necessarily indicate I am against your view, hate your post, don't think your grandchildren are the cat's pajamas, or not care.

As for my posts, I take any "Like" I receive to mean someone has considered my post and either appreciated it, agreed with it, are both. I don't expect a "Like" from everyone who sees a post of mine. A prime example of this is my Doors. I never receive more than 15-20 likes on a given day, yet I cannot count the number of people who have stopped me on the street or at an event to tell me "I enjoy your Doors every morning." An very few of these are included in the "Like" numbers. (I can see who "Like"s any given post.) So, no doubt, more people see my Doors and enjoy them than "Like" them.

All this rambling came to mind this morning when I came upon a post, rather a rant, from a grandmother very upset that not one person "Liked" her post yesterday about her granddaughter's birthday. How thoughtless, how rude, how could everyone be so remiss (according to her). In her mind one would think this incident had ruined the child's special day and thrown the child into therapy for life. Spare me.

Just because I don't "Like"you, doesn't mean I don't like you, care for you, or saw your post. It just means that I did not have a comment to make about it. To each their own. To Like or not to Like is a question I take seriously.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Gray Matter

Is it a grey mouse or a gray mouse? Is one's hair grey or gray? These are things I never took the time to contemplate, especially when I was more concerned about where I parked my car, did I still have Diet Coke in my 'fridge, and was I certain I was not not wearing the same outfit I wore last week. But I digress.

This all goes back to tomayto or tomahto. Oh, there are the confusing homonyms such as there/their, compliment/ complement, bare/ bear, berry/bury, aunt/ ant, and so and sew. But even in my simple mind I know that a bear bare's his butt, bad berries can be buried, and old maid aunts are often fearful of the insects. But, unlike tomato (tomayto) and tomato (tomahto), those former words are easily discernible after a good second grade lesson of Roberts English. (Or, maybe Mrs. Mirmow's Freshman grammar class, in my case.)

Back to the matter at hand. My days are spent in the President's office at The Citadel. And, one thing I can say about my job is that I never know what is going to come through the door on any given day. It can vary from the esteemed writer, David McCullough, to a disheveled older man demanding to speak to the President, spouting his credentials as a "Nineteen Star General" as reason enough to grant him access. You just cannot make this up.

The Citadel is known for many things - Pat Conroy's books, The Lords of Discipline, My Losing Season, and The Boo, Friday afternoon parade, the romance of young men in uniforms, and the "Long Gray Line." This latter phrase refers to the line the Seniors form in their elegant gray uniforms during their final parade the weekend of graduation. It is a long standing tradition - like most things around here.

Earlier this week, a letter came from the corresponding secretary for the President's signature. In going through the regular channels, a lady, who is the keeper of all institutional knowledge, brought it back and stated. "This cannot go out. The word 'grey' is misspelled."

Naturally, we looked at the letter and saw that it was spelled g-r-e-y. When we questioned her.  She responded that the neutral or achromatic intermediate color between black and white used so much around the college is always to be spelled g-r-a-y. The reason being one of political correctness.

Seriously, I thought.She continued. Seems Grey, g-r-e-y, is associated with "Confederate Grey", the color of the soldiers' uniforms of the Confederate States of America. Gray,- g-r-a-y, is the PC acceptable color that does not offend anyone.

Ah, but Grasshopper, it is not that simple. Upon further research, one source states that "Grey" is the English spelling, while "Gray" is American. Another source got more into the weeds. According to "Writing Explained":
  • He is wearing a grey sweatshirt. (Adjective)
  • You need to add more gray into the mixture. (Noun)
  • My hair quickly grayed after my thirties. (Verb)
Wikipedia also refers to "Grey" as the color for the Confederate uniforms during the war of northern aggression, so one would think that would settle it. Until one reads further down the page to see that the uniforms of the cadets at The US Military Academy (West Point) are also "Grey".

Perhaps, that is why it is referred to as a gray area? Or is it a grey area? Another mystery of the universe to be added to that falling tree in the forest, Tarzan's ever clean shaven face, justifying the order of the alphabet, and the "Y" chromosome and all the issues it brings upon the world.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Bane of a Southern Bride

Can I make a statement? As a southern woman with 34 years experience married to a southern man, there is one thing I can attest to  - a southern mother is the bane of a young southern wife's life.  From the get go let me make it clear I adored my mother-in-law. I could never be as elegant, as thoughtful,  as compassionate (or as tall) as she was. That said, like so many other southern women she ruined her son. 

There are generations of southern "gentlemen" out there who were (and in some cases still are) raised reared under the tender care and umbrage of their dear Mamas. These young men's clothes never hit the floor because Mama is there to pick them up. Beds are magically made every morning. Clothes are washed, pressed, folded, and put away in the drawers by little birds -similar to those in the Disney movies. His favorite foods are always prepared just as he likes them and on time. Every wish is her command.

In full disclosure, I am the mother of two girls and the grandmother of another little girl so I never succumbed to this need to totally care for the every whim and need of my child possessing a Y chromosome. I will say that my dear son-in-law cooks, cleans, and takes full responsibility for his share of the house and home. Unlike my DH, who when I was totally exhausted trying to work and keep a house, said he would take on the house cleaning responsibilities. He could help that much. I was both relieved and impressed. Well, that was until I came home from work the following week to find the cleaning service he had engaged leaving the house, saying they would be back next week. But, I digress.

These young southern gentlemen grow up, find a wonderful southern girl who reminds them of their mother. Love ensues, there is a large wedding (this is where the obnoxious southern mother of the daughter comes in - a whole' nuther story), and they live happily ever after.

Well that is until the new bride is amazed by his vast imagination that any article of clothing he drops never touches the floor. Cute little birds do not magically take his dirty clothes from the room and return them to his dresser fresh and ready to wear. Supper is not always his favorite food and sometimes it is late. Contrary to his subconsciousness, he did not marry his mother. Reality sets in.

This is the point where I reminded my DH that I was not his mother and, unfortunately, Clemmie, the family's long time house keeper did not come with him when we got married. This is also just one more proof in my theory, God is a man. And, in this case, Mary must have been southern.