Monday, April 30, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Character Traits

Our local county launched a Community of Character Campaign several years ago where every month a Character Trait is announced and citizens who exhibit the best examples of this trait in their personal lives are recognized.  Some examples of these traits are honesty, respect, patience, and humility  to name a few. The program is highlighted in all the schools, making the students aware of all the positive Character Traits. At least one local school names a student and teacher each month who best represent the Character Traits and posts their names on the school's sign.

That got me thinking. As I was growing up, I had many adults who taught me the value of these "Character Traits" along the way.  Some lessons came easily, some were a little more painful. I think the best lesson I had in respect was the summer I had to learn the Presbyterian Catechism with my Granny. The many times (even at age 8) I wanted to tell her what I thought of that dab blamed little pink book and what she could do with the Catechism, I knew better, I had respect for her because she was my elder.  Although, to this day, I can still feel the pain of that summer.

My Daddy taught me patience with his lessons in the game of chess. If you are unfamiliar with the game, think of it as a cerebral medieval contest of watching paint dry. My kindergarten teacher, "Miss" Nancy taught all of us generosity. In her class we shared everything. That was a lesson we learned early on from the first day of class. 

My parents instilled honesty in me from day one. However, if there was ever any question about it, my sixth grade teacher, Miss Hungerpeller, made it stick. She was a former WAVE from WWII and would stand in front of the class with a ruler in her right hand pointing it at us reminding us of the school's honor code and how it should apply to us not only in school but in our lives. Our response was a quick and loud "Yes Mam." (As if anyone wanted to be on her wrong side) For years, every time I thought of doing something dishonest just the thought of Miss Hungerpeller and her ruler made me reconsider.

But the most effective lesson of these traits was my lesson in humility.   When I was 15 and got my driver's license, although they could have afforded something much nicer, my parents presented me with a 1973 AMC Gremlin to drive. And, to make sure I maintained my humbleness, this impressive coupe had no air conditioning, an AM radio, and a stick shift. (And, yes, I had this car until I got married.)

To this day, that car is a topic of discussion when I run into my high school and college friends. It may not have been popular, but it was memorable. And, so were all the lessons of character I learned through the years. Although, I still get hives at the thought of that little pink book.

Photography Post - Winged Lady - Hood Ornament

I found this lovely hood ornament at a local car show.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Road Kill

Road kill has always been part of life down here. It is not unusual to see carcases of deer, fox, 'possum, and the occasional raccoon who met their demise on the road. I say "occasional" because raccoons are rather bright creatures and tend to look both ways before they cross the road - 'possums never figured that one out - but I digress. The newest addition to the list being armadillos or 'possum on the half shell as we refer to them.

A fiscal barometer of the day is how long the carcases stay on the road, during dire times - not long.  In lean times even the buzzards don't fare well.  A good country cook knows how to fix a quite tasty meal given a fresh piece of road kill, collard greens, and corn bread - so I have heard, although I have never tried it (that I know of).

Deer present a particular conundrum.  Here in South Carolina our hunting season lasts from August 15 through January 1, and everyone down here who drives a truck, fancies themselves as a deer hunter. I love the story of a friend of mine who walked into a fellow hunter's den only to see the new trophy of an eight point buck hanging on the wall. "Wow, how did you kill that?" "Oh, with my Browning." Only to have his wife correct him, "Excuse me, I think your mother got that one with her '99 Oldsmobile." While they are by the far, the biggest bag, they are also Allstate's nightmare. 

Photography Post - Statute in Silhouette

This a statute in the shadows of moss laden oak trees with open abandoned rice fields in background. The foreground is a  formal path through a boxwood garden. Taken at Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pictures from the Wedding

I had a request for pictures from Artie and Brian's wedding of the flowers. I did not have any but here are links to some of the official pictures from the professional wedding photographers, Chris and Cami Photography . Someone asked if I would do this again. My answer: I was happy to do it for Artie, however this was my debut and my swan song.

Nosegays and Cala Lilys

Hydrangeas on the Pier

Table Flowers in Mason Jars and Floating Candles

Flower Girl Basket


Orchid on Curley Willow

Decorated Wedding Cake

My daughter on the right (in aqua), Artie, the Bride, & Danny on the left (in navy) -  who  worked as hard as anyone on the floral project
Artie and Brian - the Bride and Groom

All of the creative genius behind this goes to my oldest daughter, I just followed along carrying out the plan.

Photography Post - Green House

Canvas Image of House on Sullivan's Island

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I can see Paradise

There is a God. 38 days and counting until I can escape (with friends) to the land of sand, surf, adult beverages, no agenda, and absolutely no accountability for anything. Calgon - or USAirways- take me away.

Photography Post - Rocking Chair

Canvas Image of a front yard in Charleston sporting a rocking chair.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Yard Art

I was returning the (unused wedding) ribbon to the craft store. While I waited in line I could not help but over hear the two women behind me discuss one of the items in their buggy. "Look - it has a scratch on it." "Hum, that's not a scratch, that's a flaw and one that we should certainly get an additional 10% off." With that she pulled out a calculator and started punching in numbers. "Originally priced at 49.99, on sale for 50% off, it was going to cost $24.99. If we get an additional 10%, that would be $22.50." "I don't know if I want to pay that much for it." "Come on Iris, you've been looking for something to put on that little bench for ever now. You know this is just the thing."

Curiosity was killing me. I just had to look. I was a "little" surprised to see Iris holding an eighteen inch tall copper colored mermaid. Now, I'll confess right now in front of God and everyone that yard art is not my forte. I cannot tell the difference between a roaming gnome and a dwarf. They all look fairly similar to me. (OK, exactly alike.) I know that folks in Florida put pink plastic Flamingos in their yards and red necks here put out statutes of deer (as if we don't have enough live ones running around). Since I wasn't raised reared with snow white and her little friends frolicking in our pine straw it is hard for me to relate. But I digress.

Of course, the first question that came to my mind was, "Why a mermaid?" I didn't even have to ask - Iris's friend continued her campaign for Arial. "Think about how well she will look sitting next to the two swans you bought last year on QVC. And, the color will match the copper on the miniature wishing well." As I stood there, trying not to stare, I saw that Iris was also holding a green colored resin mushroom with (you guessed it) a fairy perched on top. 

"But this is what I had in mind," Iris said holding up the mushroom. "I think I'll just get this and not get the mermaid." "Oh, Iris. Anyone can have that. But a mermaid? I think you are going to regret it." "Well, why don't you get it then?" "I would, but you know it won't fit into my theme. I'm still looking for couple of dancing fairies to match the band of frog musicians I found last week."

At that time the salesperson had finished my return and issued my credit. I always wondered who bought all the schlock, gee gaws, and gimcracks I saw in the craft stores, on eBay, and at yard sales. Now, I knew - Iris and her like.   Maybe that is why the gnomes roam. 

But, given what one can find in my back yard on any given day, I really don't have room to talk. At least they have a theme.

Photography Post - Junk Yard House

One more example of the "Treasures" I found in Jerome, Arizona.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cookie Dough and Ice Cream

Why does chocolate chip cookie dough and Cherry Garcia ice cream seem to make everything better? Or at least hold the world at bay long enough for us to figure out what's going on in our lives (or give us enough time to see what in our closet will actually fit and weep over what doesn't).

I was having one of those days and heading toward the dairy case in search of the Pillsbury section.  A young lady was walking down the aisle talking on her cell phone asking if she needed to bring home one or two gallons of ice cream. Then I noticed that her "skinny" jeans were loose around her thighs. Really? Some of us have never known the luxury of skinny jeans. (That alone was reason enough to seek solace in sugary treats.)

 I picked up the cookie dough to soothe my soul and paranoia set in. Surely everyone in the store wasn't looking at me - or what I had in my hand. Certainly folks buy cookie dough to make cookies, don't they? As I passed an end cap with party supplies on it, I picked up a pack of pink plates and coordinating napkins - just to make  my other purchase more legitimate. A young store clerk walked up and said, "Mam, you know all that (pointing to the display of party supplies) is buy one get one free." "No, I didn't know that. Thank you." 

I smiled as I went back and picked up my additional party pieces. Then he added, "And, don't forget the matching cups on aisle four.As I was standing there trying to avoid adding the cups to my arm load, a gray haired lady stopped me. "Oh, you're making cookies?" "I am." (Just a little white lie - a matter of timing - I'm sure I will sometime in the future.) "If you're having a party, you have to have ice cream." "Oh, ice cream.  I knew I forgot something." (Was I loosing my mind?) "As I reached for a container of Cherry Garcia, the lady said, "I think vanilla would go better with the cookies."

By the time I got to the checkout, I had my arms full of plates, napkins, ice cream, and the cookie dough - and my dignity. Now, I had to figure out how to justify getting all this in the house. Usually, I was dealing with the guilt of cookie dough, now I was having to explain why I had come home with the all the makings of a party with no gala planned. Ah, what a tangled web we weave when we're just trying to hide a guilty pleasure.

Photography Post - Sunset in the Oaks

Sunset in the live oaks over the Ashley River, Charleston, South Carolina.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wedding Preparations - The Tale Continues

To continue the saga. I drove up to the venue for the wedding that happened to be at a Lah-De-Dah resort. The kind my Aunt Kat would have said only the McNeils could afford to go to. (Her way of saying it was way too up town for her.) The bellman came out and welcomed me and if I ever  thought I had a chance of impressing someone, it stopped right there. "Do you need help with your luggage?" Yes, please." When he opened my trunk, he added, "Perhaps I need two carts."

In my trunk were two giant boxes holding 52 fresh hydrangeas, 2 bolts of tulle (300 yards), 2 pots for the topiares, 2 bags of ribbon (one Dream House and one un-Barbie like), 50 floating candles, two boxes of (most delicate) orchid blossoms, 6 spools of blue organza, 2 two foot tall glass vases (that I would commit Harri-Kari should they break),  a bag of scissors, snippers, and, floral tape, the brides' book, my luggage, and my hang bag. 

Then he got to the back seat that contained 2 five foot tall  topiaries, 2 three foot tall topiaries, and another tall vase (just in case). "You must be a florist." (No, I just play one on TV). "No, we are just helping with the flowers for a wedding."

Luckily, the hotel had given us a meeting room as a staging area for our work into which we moved everything, including the flowers (and curly willow) we had picked up from the wholesaler. Now the rubber was going to hit the road. Some of the bride's cousins had been tasked to assist us. First order of business, un-box the floating candles and put them in the designated jars, meanwhile my daughter and I started going through the flowers deciding how to use what we had and dancing around the GD yellow Mums

What? The candles didn't fit in the jars? Sure enough the floating candles were too wide to fit into the jars. And, this was our first item on the list (of many). We tried melting the side of the candle - it was too big and would have taken too much time. Also, God knows how many lighters we would go through. Then we tried shaving them. That would work. It wasn't pretty and would take some time but was the best solution. We would  have aborted this but it was one of the Bride's requests. 

I started cutting the flowers and placing them in the Mason jars after someone had tied small (un-Barbie like) ribbons around the neck of each. Then I realized some of the Dutch Iris were not open. I filled a vase with warm water, and put them in it, hoping to coax them into blooming. We desperately needed their blue color. (I told you that you never could count on the Dutch.) Meanwhile, I continued making the arrangements in the jars. There would probably be 40 or so total jars by the time we finished (hopefully). 

My daughter showed one of the cousins how to hot glue the orchid blossoms onto the curly willow and sent someone out to steal some sand from the resorts' "beach".  Over the next three  hours, the candles were whittled down (with not a great deal of loss of blood), the ribbons were put on the jars, the orchids were glued on the curly  willow, sand and candles were put in the luminaries, most of the jars were filled, the tulle was mounted on the pier, as were the topiaries, the Hydrangeas were grouped  and taped in 13 groups of three - then wired onto the tulle on the pier, the nosegays and boutonnieres were put together, and rose petals were put in the flower girls' baskets and a bow was tied on each.

Reality shows should never need writers. Just give a number of folks a situation like this and it takes a life of its own. When I was making the nosegays I felt like I was under the pressure of Project Runway. Being in the staging room at times was like Get a Life. And, the entire project felt like the Amazing Race by the time I was seated for the ceremony. 

Photography Post - Antelope Canyon

This is Antelope Canyon in Page Arizona, probably one of the more photographed locales in Arizona. (And a Mecca all true photographers much visit once in their lifetime - if nothing else just to say, they too, have been there.) The canyon is anywhere from 2 to 15 feet wide and 40-50 feet tall. Light shines in from the top through a narrow crack to give such pictures.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wedding Preparations Chapter 1

In planning the flowers for the reception the two main arrangements for the buffet table were going to be curly willow. A great deal of time was spent on the design, procurement of the pieces, and construction for the arrangements. But we knew the resulting effect would be worth it.

Starting in September, my daughter priced curly willow and it was outrageously expensive. I'm talking $25 or $30 for 2 or 3 stems. We needed more stems, it needed to be taller, and we were on a budget. At one point she was thrilled to find some tall pieces at a great price, only upon closer inspection to see that it had twinkling lights (permanently) adorning it. The disco effect was not what we had in mind.

Somewhere along the way, she found dried orchid blossoms. The delicate blossoms were both elegant and very different and would fit into the design she had in mind for the arrangement. So she had them shipped to my house. When they arrived, I almost panicked. Yes, they were beautiful, but so fragile. If you moved the box suddenly you could see petals drop. (Little did I know this would be a sign of things to come.)

Another issue were the vases. We needed two, two feet tall clear glass vases to hold the sand that would safely anchor the curly willow. I had seen these in most of the craft shops as I walked down the aisles toward the frame section, I felt certain they were fairly common.  And, since they were an easy item and usually there were coupons on line, we checked that one off.

Not being able to find curly willow, we realized we had no choice but order it with the rest of the flowers from the wholesale florist. In the fog of my floral selections, I did remember the curly willow and they had lovely pieces with a gracious plenty of branches, 6 feet tall. And, the price was very reasonable. Check that off the list.

The Thursday before the wedding, I was in one of the craft stores looking for the two vases. When I didn't see them, I asked for assistance. "Oh, we don't always have vases that tall. What do you need them for." When I explain what we plan to put together, the lady just stared at me. Then slowly said, "OK, you might want to try the craft store across town, maybe they will have them." Long story, short the other craft store did not have any either and we were forty eight hours from "I Do" and I didn't have vases.

In the mean time, my daughter called. She had left the raffia - at home - in Texas. (The special yellow, blue, and white raffia that she spent a great deal of time finding on line and was one of the few things the bride requested.) So I added raffia to my quest to find the elusive vases. Needless to say there was no yellow, blue or white raffia to be found. So I picked up spools of ribbon in the same colors.

When I called her, I could tell, this was not a good choice, "How wide is it?" "3/4s, maybe an inch." "Oh. Well just bring it." "What's wrong with that?" "Nothing, I just don't want the jars to look like they should be in Barbie's Dream House. You know the Bride is not like that."  So, I add ribbon (but not any Barbie would have) back to my list with the vases. I am frantically checking craft stores all the way to the wedding venue. We were less than thirty hours and counting now. 

After three towns and umpteen stores in twenty four hours, just 20 miles shy of my destination, I find two vases. And, I find some un-Barbie like ribbon. Success.

Now on to the wedding. Let the fun begin.

Photography Post - Rainbow Row

A more intimate view of Rainbow Row in Charleston, South Carolina.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


"Go ahead and start making the nosegays", my daughter said as she headed out toward the pier with 300 yards of tuille and organza. Suddenly I felt like Prissy in GWTW, "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies." or in this case making nosegays. Sure the florist showed me how three weeks ago. And that lesson consisted of, "These Lilies will work nicely in a nosegay for the mothers. Just put them together like this. And, add some of this (she was pointing to flowers in a bucket on the floor). And, maybe some of that (pointing to another bucket on the floor). It's really quite simple." Nobody told me I needed to be taking notes, much less that there would be a practical exam.

So I am standing there with the snippers, the floral tape, (the GD bucket of Mums), an assortment of flowers (including the Lilies) ready to create what the mother of the bride was going to carry with her as she walked down the aisle on her daughter's most important day. And, what would be a focal point of all the family pictures. No pressure there.

What the Hell was I going to do? What the Hell was I doing there in the first place? I looked at the clock. It was 2:30 and these nosegays had to be ready for the mothers no later than 3:30. I picked up some of the Lilies and bunched them together. As I did, the florist's instructions came back to me. There was a God. Then one petal, then a second dropped off one of the yellow Lilies as I was mixing them with other flowers. Satan also existed. I didn't have time for this foolishness, the flowers would just have to do.

I tightly bunched peach and yellow Lilies together and added status and other smaller flowers. The stems were wrapped tightly, taped, and each was placed in a vase of water to keep them fresh. (At the last minute we would wrap the stem in ribbon and pin it.) By the time I was finished at 3:10, I was a nervous wreck. Stepping back and looking at them, they looked pretty darn good, if I had to say so myself. As I admired my work, another Lily dropped a large petal.

It was a conspiracy. First it was the Mums and now the Lilies were joining forces. I best beware of the Irises, you know the Dutch, one never is sure which side they are on. I leave the flowers in their buckets to plot as they wish and head out to tell my daughter the nosegays are done. (And, so am I.)

By the time I get to the end of the pier, I have convinced myself that they are a disaster and are falling apart. I am assured that this is certainly not the case. (And, it is all in my head.) We walk back into the staging room, and I fully expect to see a pile of petals under each vase. But no, they are still standing there. And, everyone seems very pleased, even complimentary of my work. Oh, yeah of little faith. 

I learned a lot this past weekend, the most valuable lesson being I never want to do wedding flowers again.  Been there, done that, and I don't need the t-shirt.

Photography Post - Country Road

A dirt road under the oak trees on Edisto Island, South Carolina.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Yellow Mums - The Dirth of Me

I was tasked with a trip to the wholesale florist to place the order for the wedding flowers. My assignment was to find a variety of flowers that would work in the mason jars (no roses or daisies) in various colors, mainly blue and yellow. Also, flowers for the nosegays, boutonnieres, and the Calla lilies. Sounded simple to me. After all, there would be choices.

The wholesaler was most helpful. I gave them our budget (and list of needs and restrictions) and off to the cold room we went. "What about these carnations? They are a light blue and are very cost effecient."  To me, they fall in the daisy category. "I don't think so." "OK, well how about these Dutch irises? They're blue." "Perfect, how much?" When she gave me the price, I winced, this was only my first choice and I was already in sticker shock. 

And, so we went around the room, trying to balance color, variety and budget. My head was spinning. Had I chosen white Delphiniun or blue? I did tell her we didn't want Gladioli, right? And, why did I put peach and yellow lilies on the list? What pray tell were those green flowers that she says will give the arrangements a lot of pop? I said "No" to the Alstroemeria and I remembered the Calla lilies. I just kept telling her, the bride wants blue and yellow.

When we had finished in the cold room, I felt like I had been on a merry-go-round. I was trying to put all these flowers together in my mind. The florist made it sound easy making suggestions.  The final tally was a little below budget. There was a god. But wait, oh, the curly willow. We need curly willow.

I called my daughter when I got in the car (very proud of my job). Her first question,"What did you order?" "Well you know, a lot of flowers." "But what kinds?" "Different kinds," I answered as my mind went totally blank. I could not recall a thing I had looked at. "Oh, but they are blue and yellow. And, we have Calla lilies."

"What about the mothers' nosegays?" What about the mothers' nosegays? What nosegays, I thought to myself. Then I remembered the florist talking about the yellow and peach lilies for the nosegays. "Lilies for the nosegays." "Lilies?" "Yes, the florist showed me how to make them." Like I was going to remember what she told me several weeks from now, when I couldn't recall what I just saw ten minutes ago.

The morning of the wedding, we went to the florist to pick up the order of flowers. As they wheeled out these large buckets of fresh flowers, my daughter just said, "Please tell me, those are not what you picked out?" "Well, they have my name on them." "It's all yellow." And, looking at it 65% of the flowers were yellow. The only blue I could see were the Dutch irises. "And, what pray tell are these?" My daughter asked pointing to 5 large bunches (a good quarter of the order) of what looked like basic yellow mums - the most pedestrian flower, short of a carnation one could buy.

I could see the look on her face, as if to say, "And, I trusted you." This was worst than bad. I had failed miserably. Honestly, I didn't remember selecting those, much less five bunches. They were God awful. But we had no choice. So we paid for the flowers and headed back to the hotel. All I could see were yellow mums. 

Making arrangements in four dozen Mason jars was challenging enough. Each had to be light and airy, but yet colorful. I was tasked with putting the arrangements together. It was a challenge to make all these arrangements and best use the flowers we had, keep each one from looking ordinary, all the while dancing around a large bucket of  mums.

As I selected the flowers for each vase, I would judiciously try to stick one or two mums here and there, hoping the other flowers would over shadow them. It seemed like every time I went back to the bucket, there were even more mums than before. It was a conspiracy -  they seemed to be multiplying. If they would just go away, but no I had to live with that bucket of mums with every floral piece I did that day. 

I was given the simple task of ordering flowers and I had failed - miserably. As far as I was concerned, I never wanted to see another mum.  I hesitated going to bed that night for fear of dreams of yellow mums infesting the bed.

Photography Post - Pastoral Scene

Wild roses grow on an old fence in a pasture.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Good Idea at the Time

Eight months ago my oldest daughter called and asked if I would help her do the flowers for her college roommate's wedding. I was so taken that she would want me to help, of course I said I would. Besides we adore her roommate. And, it was a good idea at the time.

How difficult could it be doing flowers for a wedding? After all Martha Stewart makes it look so easy. "It's a good thing." Right? My daughter, the uber organizer and ultra bargain hunter immediately went to work plotting the details. So far, so good. After all, I had won ribbons in the flower shows with my garden club. It was going to be an outdoor wedding, so there was no formal church to deal with. Sigh of relief.

Then they announced the venue - a hotel resort on the harbor. How romantic. One small detail that we needed to work with - they were getting married on the pier. Actually they were getting married at the end of the pier. When we went to look at the venue, I saw that the pier was probably 200 feet long. OK, my Garden Club never addressed decorating a pier. We quickly agreed that  we would only need to decorate  the end of the pier (where the actual ceremony would take place).  No problem, that's doable.

Doable became a little challenging when the resort representative, who I found unfriendly and even less accommodating, especially considering the bride and groom were paying the resort a considerable sum for the "privilege" of their services, informed us of what we could and couldn't use on the pier. Then the kicker was, "Oh, and remember, everything has to be removed as soon as the ceremony is over." (As in prior to the reception.) Well, that's novel, I thought.

The plan was simple - we would decorate the afternoon of the wedding, the ceremony would take place at the end of the pier, everyone would move to the appointed area for the reception, meanwhile we would quickly remove all the decorations and join them. After the reception, the bride and groom would sail off into the harbor bidding farewell to all their friends and loved ones. 

Sounded like a plan to me. As soon as we knew how we were going to decorate the pier, what the bride and the attendants would carry, how the reception would be decorated, where we would procure all these floral supplies, and where we would stage all this in preparation. 

No problem.  Best case, we pull this off. Worst case, it is a dismal failure and we manage to ruin the most important day of the Bride's life. No pressure there.

Photography Post - Dewy Rose in the Morning

Another rose in the morning dew.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Entertaining Ellie

It's all relative - in size that is. Thatcher and Abby, our two Airedales play "Airedale games" which bring much joy to them. Personally, I have never figured out the rules or the point of the various competitions, but they enjoy them, so be it. Ellie, on the other hand, finds "Airedale games" totally annoying because, not being an Airedale, she is excluded from the play. 

At times, when Thatcher and Abby are totally concentrated with each other and whatever game is afoot,  in frustration, Ellie just resorts to biting their ankles. One of two things will happen, either they will ignore her and continue on (which just irritates the Hell out of her and she starts making noises one would expect to come from a Tasmanian Devil) or the fairly tame game will become an all out ruckus. 

This morning I was working on my computer and I could hear Ellie growling and tussling about on the floor. Although, I could not see her I could tell there was much movement going on. Whoever she was playing with was catching Hell. Often, when she wants to play, she will aggravate one of the dogs until they have no choice but to play with her, if for no other reason but to get her to eventually leave her alone. Which ever dog she was badgering was not only being attacked unmercifully, they had not yet reached the point of surrender. 

As the ruckus continued, I finally got up to see what was going on. My worse fear was that she had irritated Thatcher - our ancient Airedale - to her death and now Ellie was standing over her warm corpse, furious that she would no longer play with her.  To my surprise there was Ellie, happy as a duck (although surprisingly a dry duck) playing by herself.

She was upside down, rolling on the floor, fighting with a dog toy. And, I was not sure who was winning. She would bite and shake it then suddenly roll over as if the toy had thrown her on her back and she was fighting off an aggressive enemy. Like a child, having an invisible friend, my guess was this was her way of saying, "Fine, I'll go play my own game!"

Later I walked in the den, to hear her once again by herself growling and rolling on the floor. This time there was no toy in sight. Suddenly, she stopped and tossed this tiny object in the air and ran over to it and barked at it, as of it were going to attack her. With her right paw she pushed it across the floor and barked at it once again. When she threw it in the air once more, I saw it was a June Bug. 

Well, if nothing else, she can entertain herself.

Photography Post - Old Farmstead

Taken at day break. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

We Just Ask - Politely

One thing about us down here, not only do we say things in our slow southern drawl (suthun drall), we try to say it politely, or at least, so it sounds polite in mixed company. We were taught that there were polite questions you asked as part of well-mannered upbringing. We were also taught that there were polite ways you answered these questions, so as to not sully the family's reputation. (Of course we all know the real answers but no one would talk about that in polite company.)

For instance when the question is: "How's Ms. Doris doing? Is she still traveling?" The correct answer is,"Just fine. And, oh yes, she still likes to take those long trips by herself." (Of course, you know the trips are to rehab.) Or, "What about Mac, isn't he a Senior this year?" "Well, he decided to take a year off, what with his Daddy being sick and all. He wanted to stay close to home." (That and the fact the Dean told him he was not eligible to return.) "Oh, and that dear Mary Lou. What is she up to?" (About 300 pounds.) "Is she engaged yet?" "No. And, you know Aunt Mary, she's still planning that wedding." "Well, I'm sure it's just a matter of time, the right one will come along." (When the circus comes back to town.)

"Now, enough about us, what about your folks? How's Mary Elizabeth?" (I haven't seen her since her wedding three years ago to Tommy.) "She just got married again. And, I think he is the right one. David just wasn't from a good family" "What happened to Tommy?." "Oh, the family didn't say much but she really rushed into that. Her heart was with Rich." "Rich?" "Yeah, she left Tommy to marry Rich." "Then she left Rich for David?" "Well, not exactly. See Rich walked out on her. It was devastating. But then she found David. And we just knew that was going to work." "But it didn't?" "Unfortunately not. But then she met Bill and we just think the world of him." (Let's see that's 4 husbands in 3 years, she must have an attorney on retainer.) "And, how's John Jr.?" "Just fine." "And, Jim?" "Doing well."

And, our manners keep us all civil, as long as we are sober and our guns are locked in the closet.

Photography Post - Old Wooden Table

This is an old wooden table in a shed behind Old Sardis Methodist church. I can remember having "Dinner on the Grounds" with my grandparents at a similar church when I was a child at tables just like this.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Photography Post -Corner in Havana

A street corner in Havana Centre. I found so much beauty in the decay. I can only imagine how lovely the city was before 1959.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Three Friends Walk into a Bar

It was eleven o'clock on a lovely Friday morning, and my friends and I were doing what we often found ourselves doing while were out and about - looking for a bar. Well, me explain before you make any hasty judgment, we had been up, out, and about walking and shopping since nine that morning and we were thirsty. 

After two failed attempts, we found a wonderful bar in one of Charleston's well known restaurants.  As we sat on the bar stools with our assortment of purses and bags, the cute girl behind the bar took our order. When she brought our drinks, there was the normal chit chat. She learned we were on a "girls weekend" and I'm sure by looking at our assortment of bags assumed we were there to shop. 

A little later she came back and asked if we needed anything else. "Another round," my friend said.  She just smiled and said, "Sure." When she brought our libations, she commented, "Y'all look like you are having fun." Then we explained that this was the lead up weekend to our semi-annual trip to Grand Cayman. Her reaction, "Wow."

A short time later she came back, "Are you ready for the check?"  One of us politely smiled and said, "After another round." "Ladies, I underestimated you."  Oh, I thought to myself, we haven't even got to lunch yet.

Red Door

A work on canvas taken from a photograph I took of a house on Church Street in Charleston.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Word of Warning

There is value in the motto "Ignorance is Bliss". Any question I had of that wisdom was washed away last week when I decided to read the (very) small print that accompanied the refill of a prescription drug I had picked up from the drug store.

Each time  I get a prescription, also in the bag are several sheets of paper containing the concerns the drug companies have put in creative composition by their lawyers - a lethal combination at best. A word of warning, if you just trust your doctor, which you should (other wise why do you take the time to visit him (or her) and share all your more personal issues) why would you second guess his (or her) choice of chemical treatment? 

In my case, I trust my doctors implicitly, otherwise I would have been reading these patient information tomes much earlier. My doctors have taken good care of me and personally I have better things to do than subject myself to more pain and confusion. However, on this one day, I ventured into the bag, pulled out the patient information sheet, and started to read it. 

The first thing that struck me was the intimidating (almost condescending) language. I felt like a new Junior Leaguer being told how to dress for a luncheon. "Remember your shoes and your purse should always coordinate accenting the colors of your outfit".

My eyes scanned the sheet and landed on, " . . .call your doctor at once if you have: any mood or behavior changes, confusion, anxiety, panic attacks, hallucinations, extreme fear, or if you feel impulsive, agitated, aggressive, restless, hostile, depressed, hyperactive (mentally or physically), or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself. The drug  may impair your thinking or reactions. You may also have mood or behavior changes."

I was suddenly confused, restless - were they talking about me? My doctor told me this medication was going to make me feel better. Was this all a trick? Maybe the drug companies are controlled by some Middle Easter cartel or Kabbalah.

"If you have shortness of breath, chest pains, a skin rash, or tremors, stop taking the medication immediately and contact your physician."

Perhaps these red whelps need attention.

Then I continued reading,  "be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be cautious and alert. You may act unconsciously when using the drug. You may drive a car or operate machinery without being fully awake, which could result in a fatal accident. Instances of sleepwalking, cooking, making phone calls or having sex have been reported. While these latter activities may not be life-threatening, performing activities without being conscious could have disastrous results. You may also have no memory of having performed the actions."

Hum, that could explain some things - like the QVC box containing a Genuine Diamonelle Tiara, set of 8 commemorative Dale Ernhardt Dinner plates, and the Authentic Pleather Pants from the Brittany Spears Collection,that UPS delivered to me last week. And, I still question my friend's insistence that it was me who called her the other night, confessing the details of  that one time her (now) husband and I made out in junior high school. Even if it were, that was seven years before she met him, and why should that get her panties in a wad - but I digress.

I appreciate the drug company's concern and realize there is always the issue of liability. But, isn't this a little over kill for cough syrup? Or, maybe not.

Photography Post - Wreck

A wrecked dingy on the island of Grand Cayman.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

I know They are There, I Can Hear Them

I spent this past weekend with some good friends of mine  in the holy city of Charleston. And, since we were not able to procure a hotel room I took my best friend's standing offer to use her "in town" place which just happens to be the basement of one the 300 year old historic homes just off the battery. And, when I say "basement" I only use that term to describe its location as the lowest floor in the house. I found it to be more well appointed than my personal residence. (Of course, that sets the bar pretty damn low given that my backyard now resembles a mine field and I often have to send a search party to locate my kitchen table (in the kitchen) when we get ready to eat, but I digress.)

Saturday morning I was up at day break, camera in hand ready to take advantage of the morning light and beauty of the city's southern charm (and lack of inconsiderate tourists who were still in bed or trying to locate the nearest  Waffle House.) The streets were dead quiet save a few chirping birds, the thud of the newspapers being delivered, and the occasional much too healthy jogger. Of course there were two or three intimidating unfriendly professional photographers about, who I was doing my best to avoid so as not to go through the motions of trying to look like I knew what I was doing.

As I walked down the uneven slate sidewalks, I could hear a slight "click, click". I thought I must have stepped on a rock so I stopped and rolled my left espadrille over, no pebble. And, there was none on the sole of the right one either.  These were my most comfortable shoes that I pulled out of the closet for the season. As I walked, they felt as if they were too big, they were not rubbing on my heels, so I wasn't worried about blisters. I continued on my way, snapping shots as I went. 

The weather was ideal, in the 70's, so an old pair of comfortable  khaki pants and long sleeve tee shirt was all I needed - nothing but me and my camera.
The "click" became a little louder and was now constant (and it wasn't my camera). OK, I thought to myself, there is a jogger coming up behind me at a steady pace. I moved to the side of the sidewalk and the next time I stopped to take a photograph, I looked behind me. There was no  one any where around me - no runners, joggers, walkers - just me. So I kept on and the sound continued and slowly got a little louder. 

Now, it sounded like a faint "clop, clop". "Oh, you idiot - the horse carriages", I thought to myself. The carriages must be out early. I was sure the carriage was a block or two away and the sound was certainly that of the horses' rubber shoes hitting the pavement. Now that that mystery was solved, I stopped to shoot another picture of a colorful flower box. I looked around and didn't see a carriage or a horse. It was probably just around the block. They were very slow making their way through the streets, with the drivers telling their tales to the gullible Yankees. 

As I walked on down the street, the sound got louder. It was now a distinct "clop, clop". Once more, I looked behind me, there was no one, no horse, no carriage, no rider. Now, I was beginning to question my sanity. The noise started again. Then I stopped . . . and it stopped. I just stood there. Then I looked down and picked up one of my shoes, as I did the thick rope sole dropped, and I saw that only an inch or two remained attached to the top part of the shoe. The same was true with the other shoe. They must have started coming undone when I left this morning (with the initial "click"). 

Hopefully, no one else was within earshot to hear me walking down the side walk making this terrible racket. I am sure the sight was something else, the shoes coming apart with every step. Worse yet, the thirty minutes of paranoia with me stopping and looking over my shoulder and tentatively starting again. 

So here I was a good 4 or 5 blocks away from where we were staying in the residential part of the historic district. I had no choice but to take my shoes off (with all barely attached parts), carry them, and continue on barefoot. Naturally, by this time residents were beginning to come out of their homes and stroll about. 

As I made my way back, I just smiled and said "Good morning" to every one I met as if life was normal. While inside I wanted to stop each one and explain why I was walking through the historic district sober barefooted and carrying a big camera and my shoes. If there was ever a time when inebriation would help the situation, this was it. This was no time for sobriety - it only made one look like a blithering idiot where as someone drunk would have been excused and spared any humiliation. 

Photography Post - Charleston House

A colorful house in downtown Charleston.