Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Say Cheese!

I got a telephoto lens for Christmas, something I've wanted for years.  It's a refurbished Canon lens with a guarantee and cost less than a quarter of what a new one does.  

It came in the mail yesterday and we took it out for a spin this morning at Huntington Beach State Park.

It was windy and hard to hold the camera and I have a lot to learn, but I'll share  few of my first photos.

Brown pelicans and a herring gull

Pelican landing

Great blue heron, tri-colored heron, snowy egret hunkered down in the wind

Flock of hooded mergansers, great blue heron, brown pelican

As you can see, I have lots of room for learning and improvement. I'm so excited at all the new photography this lens will open to me.  

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Pinball Wizards

Pinball Wizard - "The Who"
"Ever since I was a young boy,
I've played the silver ball.
From Soho down to Brighton
I must have played them all.
But I ain't seen nothing like him
In any amusement hall
That deaf dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pin ball!"

Pinball --
popular during the 
Great Depression (7 balls for a penny), outlawed in many places by the 1940s as a time-waster and form of gambling, 
back on the scene in the '70s with modern updates and improvements, and run out of town again in the '80s
by video games like 
Pac-Man and Hopper.

In the 1940s and '50s, the old machines were said to be supporting the mafia in New York City and were confiscated, and smashed.
We visited some of the ones that survived in the Pinball Museum in Asheville, NC, where for a mere $15 entry fee you can play them all day!  

From the left : Cherry Bell, 1978; Nip It, the game Fonzie played at Al's Diner on "happy Days", 1972; Sky Kings, sky diving theme, 1972.

From the right: Humpty Dumpty, 1947, first machine to add flippers; Select-a-Card, 1950, ("Adults Only" because of its artwork); Yacht Club, 1953; Air Aces, 1975,first to use drop targets; Captain Fantastic, 1976.

Funland, 1968, carnival theme - "Step Right Up and Win a Prize".  Buccaneer, 1976.

There are over 75 playable machines in the Asheville Pinball museum and some older ones just to admire.  In the summer there is a line because they only let in 75 people at a time.  You can check in and go have an ice cream cone or coffee and they'll call you when it's your turn.  If you don't want to play, it's free to look around and admire the lights and artwork.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Cold Nose, Warm Heart

We are having a weather "event" today, an ice and snowstorm.  Pretty unusual for South Carolina.  Everything in town is closed and schools have already been cancelled for tomorrow, too.
Southerners have no experience driving on ice and snow and there are no snow plows or salt and sanding trucks to send out either.  The Sheriff's Department is begging people to stay off the roads as there are so many accidents.
The fountain outside our coffee shop was barely squeezing water out of the top yesterday.  I love the look on the alligator's face below in the pool. "Wouldja get a load of this?" he seems to be saying.

Bob the Border Collie had never seen snow before today.  She balked at stepping out in it, hugged the house to do her business and hurried right back in the door. 

It reminds me of Minnesota, school cancelled for students AND teachers, that luxurious feeling of a stolen day.  The bird feeders are busy with birds to watch.  I have a good book (The Land Breakers by John Ehle), knitting to finish, and plenty of tea.  

Too bad we ate all the Christmas cookies!

Monday, January 1, 2018

A New Year's Wish

Happy New Year!

We wish you health and happiness, love and laughter ...

Peace and Plenty, all year long.

Paul & Cynthia

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Last Gift of 2017

The cedar boughs and holly berries on the fireplace are dry and losing their color, but I'm not ready to let them go.  To replace them, this morning we drove a ways down Sandy Island Road, a wild, brushy area bordering the 9000 acres of Brookgreen Gardens, to a place where we could cut a few boughs.  As we neared the spot where the cedar grows, an animal ran for a short way down the road in front of us.  "Is it a dog, is it a ca--", we began, and then both exclaimed, "It's a bobcat!"  The short tail, the tufts of fur in the ears, the longer back legs, were clear in the seconds before it disappeared into the brush. 
I was so excited I wanted to cry.  All my life, in all the wild places I've hiked and camped, I've longed to see a bobcat.  I never thought I would.

What a last-minute gift from a year that has been so ecologically and politically disheartening and worrisome.

2017, my Year of the Bobcat.

(The photo isn't mine, it's borrowed from a South Carolina wildlife website.)


Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas Past

Our Christmas tree was so dry I had to take it down yesterday but the rest of the decorations 
will remain up until the new year.  Christmas goes by so fast with all there is to do, it seems like we hardly have the decorations up and it's time to put them away.  

We had unusual weather for Georgetown this morning -- ice!  All the big bridges leading in and out of town were closed until 11 as was Highway 17, the main highway that follows the coast through Georgetown from Virginia to Punta Gorda, Florida.  

Actually, I was perfectly happy to have an excuse to stay home. I like to prepare heart and home for the change of the year.  (Plus I got a really good book for Christmas!)  

I've been reading blogs and it seems the latest trend in New Years resolutions is to NOT make New Years resolutions, to lighten up on self-improvement, forget about new diets and promises to exercise, take a minimalist approach and appreciate what you have and who you are.  You know, just chill out and see what happens.  I don't know if I can get behind that or not.  

I always like the idea of choosing a word to focus on for the year ahead and I have a couple in mind to pick from.  One year I didn't like my word anymore after a couple months in so I just up and changed it!  

I'm sure 2018 will have some travel adventures in store for us.  Germany is in the plans, and of course, Florida and Minnesota.  One of my favorite Christmas presents is a dolphin watch boat trip in March.  

Mason's daddy's birthday was right before Christmas and Mason dressed himself for the occasion.  Don't you  think he looks just like a Christmas candy cane?

My grandma told us that any work you left undone by New Years Eve meant you would always be behind on that task in the New Year.  I better get back to work!

What are you doing to get ready
for the New Year?

Friday, December 22, 2017


From the dark of the longest night of the year back into the light, we bring you ... 
The Winter Solstice!

First a dark walk on the beach,
the surf behind me loud and booming, the new moon 
the slightest sliver of silver drifting in and out of ominous black clouds,
the air smellng of damp sea salt and mysterious sulphuric marsh gasses from pluff mud at low tide, and in the center of the dark road a huge lone seagull, bright white in the headlights, challenging for his right to the road.  Then ...

into the light!  
At Murrels Inlet a walk along the harbor and
a welcome reminder of longer days ahead.  
We picked a restaurant for a drink and a snack 
-- shrimp, and hushpuppies dipped in honey butter -- 
and stared out at the lights from our window table.  
"The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory."
Gary Zukov, American author and spiritual teacher.