Friday, May 19, 2017


Hello from cold, rainy Minnesota! 

 My usual good luck with flying ran out on my way north.  

This is what the sky looked like in Minneapolis when I finally arrived.

I say 'finally' because ... 
we left  the Carolinas headed north.  

After three hours, when we were supposed to be landing in Minneapolis, we were circling, tossed around by significant turbulence, 900 miles off our route, nearly out of fuel, and headed to St Louis, MO.  We bounced into the St Louis airport to refuel, thrown from side to side by crosswinds. 
We also needed a new flight crew.  Ours had been flying a long time and needed to rest.  Long story short, the crew wanted to get to Minneapolis and got permission to fly the extra hours, and after another hour of sitting on the plane we took off again.  There were still tornado warnings out for Minneapolis but we were able to fly in from the west 20 minutes before the storms hit again from the east.  

I could have flown to London in the time it took to get from SC to MN!  

✈️ ✈️ ✈️ 
But here I am, staying with my daughter, son-in-law, and four grandboys and tonight my sister arrives for the weekend.  And the temperature, 90 when I left SC, has been in the low 40s.

The older boys are in school but this guy and I had the day together yesterday.  

Here he is showing me 'tricks' with his fidget spinner.  

You don't know what a fidget spinner is?  Just the latest craze with elementary and middle schoolers!

Called "the original stress reliever," I should have had one on the flight north! (I can't spin it on my nose yet, but I have mastered balancing it on my thumb.)


Aren't second grade baseball players
 the cutest thing ever?




Notice the clever spectator on the far right, prepared with a shelter from wind and cold with a clear plastic viewing area, also known for its use by ice fishermen!
I have to go now.  
The second graders are giving a poetry reading this afternoon, my guys have all written poems, and I'm going to hear them!


Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Confederate Rose

I had never seen a Confederate Rose until we moved to Georgetown, 
and I think it is one of the prettiest flowers I've ever seen. 
The Confederate Rose, or hibiscus mutablis, is a Chinese import, brought from England in  the 1600s. 

 It became important in the hearts and gardens of Southerners during the hard days of the Civil War 
because it was so easy to propagate.  

Stick a cutting in the ground and you had 
a plant to share with a neighbor.  

Also called the Cotton Rose, the bush produces white flowers.  Over the course of the two days a blossom lives,
it gradually turns from white to pink, and pink to nearly red, and then falls off the bush. A member of the hibiscus family, its changing color is reflected in the second part of its scientific name, mutablis.

At the time of the Civil War a legend developed around the way the flower changes color.  It goes like this.  
A soldier, fatally wounded in battle, fell upon the roots of a rose as he lay dying.  
 As the young man's blood flowed from his wound, more and more was absorbed by the blooming bush, causing the  flowers to gradually change 
from white to pink to red.  
When he died, the flowers did, too, falling to the ground around the soldier.

After the 'War of Northern Aggression' was over, the bush was planted widely on soldiers' graves in Southern cemeteries.

In this bush you can see the light and dark pink flowers that will fall off by morning and be replaced by opening white buds.  Each blossom is about six inches across.

Neither a rose nor a native, the beautiful Confederate Rose 
is an immigrant,
just like many of us who now call the South 'home'.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

America's First Canal - The Santee Canal

South and slightly west of Georgetown lie remains of an engineering feat important to commerce in the new United States of America, the Santee Canal, linking inland plantations with their crops of indigo and cotton to the markets in Charleston for export to Europe.  

 Work began on the canal in 1793 with 1000 slave laborers loaned out from nearby plantations.  Built mostly of brick and stone, solely with picks and shovels and human power, the canal was completed seven years later.  It featured 10 locks and a tide gate, was 22 miles long, connected the Santee and Cooper Rivers, and was considered one of the first great engineering feats in the new country.

It cost $800,000 and was funded solely by its users.

Initially power for the narrow boats and barges was supplied through horses and mules on towpaths beside the water and later by slave polemen.  Lock tenders and their families who lived by each lock were also black. 
This reconstruction of one of the locks is the entrance to a small museum at the Old Santee Canal Park in Monck's Corners. 

For the first 16 years of its existence the canal was a success.  In 1830, 720 boats carried 70,000 bales of cotton to Charleston.  But after two years of severe drought that closed the canal completely, crumbling construction, and finally, the completion of a railroad, the canal was closed in 1853.
From the observation windows of the museum, it's easy to imagine a barge out there, low in the water and piled high with cotton bales, making its silent way along the canal.  The park is built at what was the southernmost portion of the Santee Canal.

Turtles lined up on a log were enjoying 
the sun the day we visited.
The Old Santee Canal today 
There are four miles of boardwalks and walking trails on its banks.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

You Say Tomayto and I Say Tomahto

Introducing the first tomato of 2017, drum roll please ...

 Its name and type are a mystery because the marker I put next to it has disappeared, thanks to our proliferation of bored squirrels.  
I might have gone a little nuts at a fantastic garden shop selling luxuriously healthy heirloom tomato plants for $1 each.  I MIGHT have bought (seven) plants (for two people with no freezer), but how could I not?  The pictures of the mature fruit were so pretty, all different colors including black, purple,  orange.  And such lovely names!  Black Krim.  Goliath.  Purple Cherry. Sweet Caroline.  Etc., no two alike.  


The rest of the garden is doing well, too.  These are purple beans (they turn green 
when steamed) (purple has more 
antioxidants than green, so more bang 
for your buck.  Bang for your bean?)



These sugar snap peas will be in our lunch salads tomorrow, along with several of their neighbors.

There are also pole beans, purple cabbage, French beans, cucumbers, onions, kale, and peppers coming along nicely.  As are the red raspberry bushes and the fig tree our neighbor gave us.  

Maybe my southern green thumb is coming along 
after all!


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Jamestown, SC - Pop. 72

West and south of Georgetown is Jamestown, settled by French Huguenots in 1706.  Fleeing from France to England and England to America, these religious asylum seekers were granted land in the cypress swamps of what would become South Carolina.
 Three large plantations were built and thrived for many years, but the town itself never had more than 270 people.  
Now, it has 72.
A train passed through town to pick up indigo, then rice, then cotton, and take them to America's first canal and load them on canal boats, then on to the river where they were reloaded on steamboats bound for the markets of Charleston.

The old elementary school for black children, built in the 1920s and abandoned in the 1960s when school desegregation became law, is one of the few buildings left.  Money to build it came from Julius Rosenwald, Sears Roebuck magnate, at the urging of Booker T. Washington.  Some say it was generosity on Rosenwald's part but others believe he had a different motive: to teach Blacks to read so they could purchase things from his merchandise catalog.  
 Empty now, it was used as a community center for awhile and then abandoned once again.

Sign on the door: 
No Concealed Weapons


The old Sea Board Coast Line Railroad depot is now headquarters for the town's annual celebration, Hell Hole Swamp Festival.  (That really is the name of one of swamps in town, along with Four Hole Swamp and some other with less picturesque names!)

On the outskirts of town, remnants of efforts to make a living silently decay.
 The Riverside Cafe (no river in sight) is still looking for a new owner (yellow real estate sign on the right).  Once it offered "Regular Meals and Short Orders," and a place for travelers to stop on their way to Charleston.  One can only imagine the condition of the inside.

The bones of a produce stand, a large blanket with a photo of a baby behind I suspect is a grownup by now.


Home of a cotton or peanut farmer on the highway to Charleston.

Jamestown ... just another small forgotten South Carolina town.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Raise Your Hand If You Remember These

This is similar to what I remember the soda fountain in the drugstore looked like in the 1950s in my small Wisconsin town.  After we got our new school shoes across the street, Mom could sometimes be talked into my favorite
treat, a chocolate ice cream soda with whipped cream and a cherry on top! I think I remember they cost 25 cents. Our dentist's office was also nearby and sometimes after we had had our teeth cleaned and chosen a plastic ring from the prize box, we also got a treat at the soda fountain.
Soda fountains in drug stores became popular during Prohibition as a place to meet friends or go on a date.
By the 1950s just about every drugstore had one. 
 I think my last visit to my small town drugstore soda fountain was in the 1960s.
Well, that was my last visit to a soda fountain until this week anyway. 
 Look what The Writer found up the Ocean Highway in Murrells Inlet.

Lee's Inlet Apothecary and Soda Fountain

We had chocolate sodas with whipped cream and 
a cherry on top, my first one in at least 45 years!

(Actually, it should have looked more like this,

but the young lady was new and she admitted it was her first try.)  And it tasted wonderfully of memories anyway!  If I closed my eyes, I could imagine the shoebox with my new Buster Brown oxfords sitting right there on the table beside me.
👞. 👞. 👞. 👞
P.S. Another bit of history, the first drug store fountain drinks (1850s) were for people who came to the store to get help with a health problem.  They were concoctions of drugs like caffeine and cocaine, bromide and plant extracts, combined with flavors and soda water to make them more palatable. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Her Royal Catness Approves

The Easter bunny left a surprise for Rosie.



It's a catnip-scented paper bag

and ...

She-Who-Rules-the-Roost quite likes it!

More Easter Fun ...
We should have expected this
as the neighbor's small tree at Christmas had ornaments bigger than basketballs.
But nope, these were a hilarious surprise.

Guess who?