Sunday, June 30, 2013

These Shoes!!!

I found them at WalMart. And lo, they are comfy!!
They are made by this company.
And they are not joking when they say "comfort technology."
I have insanely tender feet, and on top of that, I broke my left foot badly about 12 years ago. I can't walk for an hour or two without being in a good bit of pain. My feet kill me. So I'm always on the lookout for shoes that give me both support and soft comfort. It's tough to find. Dr. Scholl's shoes used to have wooden soles. (UGH! That's so painful!) These have a wooden look.
But they're NOT wooden! They're a very firm plastic material. They do "give," but they also support. Here's how they squish down. Firm, very supportive, and oh-so comfy for my feet. These shoes are more comfortable than my bedroom slippers. I now wear them around the house.
And did I mention that they were on sale for under $10/pair? Oh yeah!
After I'd worn the yellow pair (above) for a couple of weeks, we were back at WalMart, and I went hunting. I found two other colors I like.
And, yes, I did. I bought them both. They're adorable. And now I can have pain-free feet for a year or two. I will wear these three pairs of shoes until they fall apart. That won't be anytime soon, because Dr. Scholl's are pretty well-made. And no, nobody paid me to say all this. I'm just excited to have pain-free feet! I wear them to church, at home, everywhere. They go with everything.
While I'm at it, here's my new purse. This is a nod to my bloggy buddy, Jo-Lynne, because she's always sporting the most gorgeous handbags. I love a good purse, but I really don't want to fork over any money for it. (Yes, paying under $30 for 3 pairs of shoes was even painful.) I usually get my handbags at the thrift store. I empty the contents of my old (thrifted) bag, put it all in the new (thrifted) bag, and leave the old one there in the store to re-sell, if it's even worth doing that. I know. I'm pitiful. I learned that from my mother :)
So -- I bought a brand new handbag! Paisley! And it was only $12.88! Yay!

What's Wrong With My Blog --

Hi friends --
 YET MORE UPDATE (for anyone who's still reading):
We've learned a lot in the past two days. I finally just canceled my "Legacy Plan" with Google, for which we were paying each month. It seemed ridiculous; I was paying for 25 GB of space. All my Google storage only added up to 8.09 GB. Why was I paying? I have no idea. Adam signed us up for some storage a few years ago, b/c back then, I evidently needed it. Sometime in the past few months, Google upped the charge to a monthly fee. But with the addition of Google+ (which I've signed up for), I have lots of free space. As long as each photo I upload now is under 2048 x 2048 pixels, I can have as many photos as I like. Since Picassa and Google + are both with Google, my pictures are all stores in both places already. I was still looking for photos that were over the limit, but found few in my albums that were too large. Not sure exactly why I somehow went over my allotted amount a few years back. I suppose back then they must've had a more restrictive minimum free storage amount. Hopefully, since I'm still well under the automatic free storage (16GB of space), I should be fine. I hope everyone can now see the photos. Everyone in our house can see them fine. Perhaps all this info will be helpful to others also? I hope so.

MORE UPDATE: It's my fault. hahaha :) When I was over in Picassaweb snooping around (well, waiting impatiently while resizing photos), I decided to change my privacy settings there. I'm so used to be paranoid about privacy settings on Facebook, that I reset ALL my privacy settings on Picassaweb to "only me." Little did I know that I was telling Google to ONLY ALLOW ME to see the photos on my blog. Goodness! That's what happens when  technological idiot tries to interfere with such things. I hope all is well, when you view my blog. If any of you still have the green squares with the bar across, leave a comment and let me know. Otherwise I'll assume I've repaired the damage I did. 

UPDATE: Well, Philip says he didn't so anything to my blog or my photos last night after I went to bed. So ... that means that after I went on Picassaweb yesterday and simply resized 30 photos, for some reason Picassaweb decided to blank out, or disconnect, the photos for my blog. Great. What's up with that? Today I'll spend some time trying to figure out what happened, and trying to fix it.

Still, I'm left afterward with the initial problem:  how can I reduce my storage size on Picassaweb so I don't have to pay for it every month? I may, in the end, have to go back and simply delete photos from my blog from the early years, since probably no one is looking at old photos of my vacuum cleaner, or my swimming pool, or my dinner the previous night :) Wish me luck!

Several have expressed concern over the photo issue on my blog this morning. No, it's not a virus :) I asked my son Philip to look into the photo situation for my blog. Picassaweb (the storage site for blogspot photos) has started charging us each month for storage, and we needed to reduce our "storage footprint" over there. It was simply too laborious for me to go into each photo individually (for 7 years of blogging!!!) and resize each photo. So Philip was trying to find a way to resize the photos in groups. I'm not sure what he did in the wee hours last night, but you see the result. I'm hoping he has a plan to correct it all and restore my photos to their proper places. My laptop is loading some of the photos, but not all. Adam's ipad is loading none of them.

This is an issue Angela, over at Collected Yarns, first started talking about, and I realized I needed to address it. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Julia's Futuristic City

Julia's kind of into sci-fi and steampunk and other fun techy things. She loves pictures of futuristic cities. Not my cup-o-tea, because I'm not a city girl. But she drew a full-sized poster. Here it is:
The bullet-shaped hi-rise is her favorite part.
The grass is my favorite part. She calls it her "squiggles" or scribbles.
I love how she does this kind of thing free-hand.  I'd find those buildings a bit challenging to keep square, without a ruler.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What Weather! (And this is ordinary ... not hurricane weather!)

We get some weather here on the coast. I rode my bike out to the river this evening, and found this:
We do get broad blue skies -- huge blue skies, in fact. But in a few minutes, it can turn.
I took this shot a few days ago at the harbor. Look at the light!
And the sweet love of a puppy ~
Last night. We left Oriental in fine weather, sunshine, blue skies, white clouds. About two miles down the road at the church, we found this:
I tell you, I thought we were looking at a funnel cloud, twisting its little leg onto land, just down the road. Thankfully, that didn't happen -- just intimidating overhead billows.

I'm not sure which I love more, wide blue skies with a few wispy whites, or a twisted, churning greyness that you feel will crush you. Both are stunning, aren't they?

Too Much Fun at the Farmers Market

I almost didn't sell at the market on Saturday because it was raining. But hey -- you never know; it might stop, right? So I went. I'm glad I did.
Next to my table of soap, lip balm, lotion, and yarn, a sweet couple sets up a table and sells pork products. Good stuff -- bacon, ribs, lots of sausage. I shared a tent with them to keep the rain at bay. Well, then the husband pulled out a little gas grill, fired it up and pulled out some sausage. Oh, the aroma!!
And the rest of the morning was basically a sausage PARTY!!!
See the cute little toothpick holder they brought, for serving up their free samples? Adorbs!
We set up a line of tents and hid under them, nibbling on sausage and beckoning to customers. These two ladies sell wonderful baked goods.
This little boy came with his mommy and daddy. His umbrella was taller than he was. He fell in love with some biscotti samples and endeared himself to us all.
After the market I caught this darling on camera -- what colors!

Hidden Art: Chapter Ten

I must admit, this chapter brought many happy memories. At first I thought, "Drama??? Drama!!! Bah ... humbug!" Or something like that :) Me? Act?  I last did real drama (of a sort) in college. I did a One Act of The Rainmaker, as a dinner theater.  It rattled my nerves so much I never did drama again.

But Schaeffer's chapter quickly moves from acting on a stage to something much more familiar:  reading aloud. I'd never thought of that as acting.

And as I thought about it, there's quite a bit of reading aloud in my life. I had a tradition in college of reading aloud George MacDonald's haunting short story, "The Grey Wolf" to any roommate I had. I loved doing it! When our children were little, I read to them often. We worked our way through the whole set of the Dr. Seuss books, and those weren't even our favorites. I did encourage the kids to do a little light "acting," just for me at home. I recall a rousing version of "Little Red Riding Hood." Anna was Red, Peter was the Wolf (of course), and Philip was the life-saving Woodsman. I think Julia was his assistant.

We plowed our way through all the Little House books, and all of the Narnia books. As the children aged we read aloud less, but Julia still asks for it. She and I read Little Women aloud last fall. And whenever I write something new, it must be read aloud to her! I wrote Three Against the Dark for Anna and Peter, one chapter at a time, and would read each chapter to them as it was written. "What happens next, Mommy?" they'd ask.  "Write the next chapter now!!" They were the motivation that finished that book! I read Greenfield Civil Wars to Julia, and she liked "Hotel Sagistal" and just yesterday I read "On Styron Shoals" to her. I tell her she can access all this on her tablet computer, but she doesn't want to read it there. She wants me to read it to her.

It's the human voice. We love to hear its inflection, the emotion and intrigue that another person can lend to a tale. It's much more vivid that the story living silent in one's own mind. And although Schaeffer doesn't mention it, many people learn better by hearing than by seeing, so being read to is crucial to their acquisition of information, even if just for enjoyment.

One thing I love about our church is that we read aloud. We have a corporate (all-together) Call to Worship with a Response from the congregation. We read the Apostles' Creed together. When we sing, we're also reading the text together. Adam reads the sermon scripture to us, aloud. And one of us, each week, stands at the front and reads another long passage aloud to everyone. We just finished reading Hebrews this way together, and now we've begun Galatians. Isn't that wonderful? It takes only a few minutes, and all of us (we're a small, tight-knit group) are reading the same beautiful Words of God, at the same time.

Is that Drama? Acting? No, I don't think so.  But it's a great example of what Schaeffer calls the "hidden art" that resides in each of us, and how important it is to share it with others, with the Body of Christ especially.

(Click over to Cindy's Ordo Amoris blog to read all the posts on this chapter in Hidden Art.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Off the Beaten Path

This is the Merritt, NC Post Office. A friend recently started working there. Isn't it cute? It's a tiny place with 30 P.O. boxes. The former postmistress tended the plants lovingly, both inside and out. I love the look of it. So very small town :)
She kept vining plants inside as well. Here's one. And she had air fresheners. (See it plugged in the corner?) Because it's a small space, the aroma really accosts you when you come in the door.
And to add some whimsy, the previous postmistress hung winter decorations from the ceiling. Tell me, is there another post office like this one in the whole country? It kind of reminds me of an elementary school classroom -- very creative.
Yes, we are well off the beaten path. We are so far out, at the very end of the road, I sometimes wonder that anyone finds us at all.
The cattails are perfect right now. We have lots of marshy land, especially in the ditches (which stay full in the rain) and near the river. Aren't they pretty?
Adam and I strolled around at the harbor last night and noticed a huge flock of seagulls, clustered over one little boat. It was these two fellows out shrimping. I tell you -- one side of the back of their boat was only above the waterline by two inches.
You can't see it well, but they're hauling a shrimp net underwater, and it's pulling the back of the boat down. And the gulls are staying as close as possible, probably hoping to share in the "by-catch," the other fish caught in the net besides shrimp, that the men don't want. Diesel fuel filled the air. It's really a rather bad way to fish and very damaging to the wildlife and the river, but it's legal. Unfortunately.
The sunset came, fiery red as if the western world were ablaze. Its reflection on the water was particularly vivid.

Monday, June 24, 2013

On Styron Shoals

During graduate school I took an autumn vacation with a friend to the North Carolina coast in 1987. Weary of classes, traffic, and crowds in Raleigh, we loaded our light luggage in her Honda Civic and, listening to beach music, we cruised east along highway 70. As the landscape flattened I noticed advertising for marinas, storage facilities lined with dinghies, weekenders, and cruisers, and sleepy trailer parks that reminded me of old family movies from the 1960s. The drive out to Morehead was long and relaxing. I rested one foot on the window ledge and sang along with The Drifters.

My friend Sandy had lived on the coast most of her life. Her dad was a construction contractor whose first love was fishing. Sandy’s sister Melanie grew up shopping with their mom, while Sandy went crabbing and shrimping weekend after weekend with her dad, and knew all there was to know about crab pots, power boats, spicy shrimp recipes, and heavy weather sailing. When she was in ninth grade, her parents divorced and Sandy stayed with her dad. She was a water baby through and through. I’d never gotten past a yearly sunburn at Pensecola Beach, but I was willing to be initiated.

So after a good night’s sleep in her dad’s trailer near Atlantic Beach, Sandy woke me with strong hot coffee and the promise of a day on the water. With the windows open and the fall breezes wafting in, I could smell brackish water and hear the gulls squawk overhead. Sandy had been out for a jog on the beach, and I was eager to start the day as well. Dressed for a cool, wet morning, we drove to Beaufort and met her dad at the dock. He was ready to check his crab pots in the waters around Harkers Island. And so the first boat I ever stepped aboard was a short, smelly craft that looked for all the world like a tug boat. Sandy grabbed my hand and pulled me aboard. In this easy way the adventure began.

Sandy manned the wheel while her dad circled his pots and lifted them in, deciding whether to keep or return them to the brown murky waters of the sound. But I was spoiled. I stood in the prow of the boat, bundled in a Gill coat and letting the spray slap me in the face. A tropical depression well offshore was hitting us with some rain and wind, but nothing unmanageable for a weathered sailor.

It must have been about two hours later when Sandy came to me with a sandwich wrapped in waxed paper, and a water bottle.

“Lunch,” she hollered. I smiled. The wind made speaking difficult. She joined me, leaning over the bow, and pointed out favorite locations. We crossed Back Sound and neared the long strip of pale land known as Shackleford Banks. Little pockets of sand or sea grasses indicated high points along its inner side. Sandy leaned toward me and spoke in my ear.

“Some of these places used to be inhabited,” she said. “Houses, stores. Extended families of fishermen and farmers.”

“Farmers?” I asked, surprised. The landscape hardly indicated soil that would produce corn or tobacco.

“The land was higher then,” she said. “The people were tough. But some serious storms, hurricanes, I guess, drove them off eventually.”

“When was that?”

She shrugged. “I’m not sure. I think my dad said around the turn of the century. There was a city along here somewhere, close to the eastern end. And one island where the people stuck it out a long time. It's called Styron Shoals.”  She drew her bright yellow coat closer around her and tightened the draw cord on the hood. “Maybe we’ll see the house.”


“Yeah. There’s still an old house standing there. I wonder how close we are.”

I gazed out over the water of the sound, rolling and heaving in a labored way under the vessel. To our right the grassy sands stretched thin, a delicate strand of protection from the vast ocean.

“There’s a house, just one house, standing on a little island?” I asked again.

“Uh huh,” she nodded. “Or there was a couple of years ago. I’ll go ask dad.” And she turned toward the cabin where her dad drank coffee from a thermos.

I turned my face to the northeast. A gray mist seemed to be settling in for the day, and I began to wonder about our choice of season for visiting the coast. The wind had fallen and the water slapped firmly on the hull beneath me. Sandy returned with a grin on her face.

“Yep. Still there, he said. And last time he was out here, he said it even had some sand back around it.”

“Who used to live there?”

“No idea. It must have been decades ago. Some of these islands have been uninhabited for over fifty, seventy-five years.”

I was stunned.  “And the house is still standing? After all that time?”

She nodded. “But it’s the last house. When Dad was little there were two or three.” She shrugged.  “And the cemetery.”

“A cemetery? Out here?”

“Yeah,” and with a little hop she sat on on a massive tool box. “Just a few graves. Really sad.”  She looked at me. “I mean, to bury your loved ones out here, and leave forever, knowing the ocean will claim them,” she paused, “from underneath.”

I shuddered involuntarily but peered with more determination into the gray waters before us. This, I wanted to see. We were silent for several minutes. My mind wandered and imagined the possibilities of such a place.

I asked her, “Did you ever get off the boat, I mean – go up to the house and go inside?”

She smiled. “Yeah, just once. The wind has to be right. It’s a little tricky, even for Dad. It was a long time ago, and Mom was with us, so he insisted that I could go on the island, but Mom was mad, and she said I couldn’t go inside the house. But I went on the porch and touched the door.”  Her eyes drifted into the past. “And I tried to read the gravestones.”

I didn’t ask what she read there. I wanted too badly to read if for myself.

Within minutes Sandy clutched my elbow and pointed a little to the right with her other hand. “There. See it?”

I saw a speck, darker than other specks, and soon I could discern the pointed roof of a tall structure. A soft “ahhh,” escaped my mouth.

“I knew you’d love it,” she whispered in my ear. “It’s one of the saddest places on earth.”

This brought me up short, and I decided we should not both be sentimental. So I asked her, “Would your dad let me get off there?”

“Maybe. I’ll ask. He’s adventurous, and if you’re willing, he’s willing to let you. But do be careful.”  She smiled a little. “I’ll go ask.”

“There’s no dock?”

She laughed and grinned. “No, there’s no dock. I’m sure all the docks disappeared first. I’ll take you over in the dinghy and drop you off.”

“Will you stay out there too?”

Sandy tilted her head to the left, a habit I found endearing. “No, not today. I think you should go alone. It’s just up your line.” She turned to go. “Besides, Dad needs me. He’s got some pots over near Morgan. We’ll come back and pick you up. But let me go make sure.”

So it was all worked out. A few minutes later Sandy and I were approaching the most bizarre place I’d ever seen in a tiny inflatable with a two horsepower motor. A large leaning farmhouse perched upon barely enough sand and dirt to hold its foundation, and a strip of tall grasses stretched behind it like a shadow. Otherwise it was surrounded by the rolling waters of Back Sound. Sandy pulled gently near the sand, cut the motor, and told me to jump out.

“We should be back in a half hour, maybe a little more.”  And she was gone.

I turned, regretting momentarily that I’d decided to come. But it was too late now, and after a pause to peruse the little plot of sand and grasses in front of me, I smiled to realize that no human was here. I was perfectly alone and safe from harm. Only the seagulls had come with me, and a dolphin or two watched over me from the water, I hoped.

The house itself was worn and falling it. I realized instantly I’d need to be cautious inside; the roof sagged wearily and the porch seemed detached from the larger structure, leaning outward. Water lapped gently at my heels and I remembered the subtle forces the home had stood against for … how long? A hundred years? More? It had once been white, and the door and shutters black. Cracked traces of Victorian gingerbread trim hung in the eaves. “A half hour,” I said quietly, and placed my foot on the porch step. The railing gave way under my hand and I tripped, falling onto the porch. I lay there, clutching my knee, and put the heel of my hand to my mouth to ease the pain. A little blood dripped on the gray wood.

The fall was fortuitous though, because from my vantage point at floor level I saw the plaque. A simple tarnished rectangle of metal, it was wedged between two floorboards with only a corner showing. I think that corner cut my hand and produced the blood. I tugged at the corner and removed it. Salter House it said. Est. 1882. I wiped its face clean with my shirt and held it. Why leave it there? The sea will claim it soon. I slid the plate into my coat pocket and stood up.

The house was a simple two-story frame house, four rooms on the bottom and four rooms above. Wracked by waves and storms, the shifting of the house had pulled the stairwell from the wall, and it leaned drunkenly in the center of the house, the upper spindles hanging like loose bones. She was a beauty, I said to myself. The wind whooshed and whistled round her, the seagulls screamed, and her loose bones creaked in a dreary pain. I felt that if I leaned hard against an outside wall, she would collapse gratefully into the sound.

I placed my left hand on a windowsill and walked slowly in a circle, clockwise, from room to room. Each one had two windows, large and broken, that allowed seaward vistas without, and salt spray within. I gasped slightly at the views this family enjoyed, at the sounds and smells that greeted them each morning. I grazed my fingertips along the sills that they touched. I entered the dining room with cupboards built into two corners. One spot on the floor was rough and worn with grooves gouged deeply. Mr. Salter’s feet, I thought. He sat here in his boots year after year, meal after meal.  I stood in his spot and imagined the table spread before me, Mrs. Salter at the far end, carrying bowls and platters, finally sitting down. “Isaac, will you say grace, please?” she asked. A hush fell on the room, and I shivered. The gulls screamed overhead.

I proceeded to the kitchen. Only the massive black stove sat there still, too large to budge and remove. Encrusted with rust and bird droppings, it seemed to me a bit angry to have been left alone of all the Salter family’s possessions. Here it had sat for decades, waiting to be collected. I touched just one corner. It was cold. Then, I was cold, remembering it was October and the weather was shifting into winter. The fourth room, a parlor, was empty, but old wallpaper flapped softly on the cracked plaster. I looked closer; it was newsprint, dry and fragile. I was afraid to touch it, afraid it would disintegrate. I leaned in, reading the words. Wilmington Daily Journal. The date, March 3, 1885. I exhaled slightly and the paper shivered in the warmth of my breath. I imagined Mrs. Salter in her new home, her neighbors coming to help her put paper on her walls for the first time. First and last, I thought.  For months they’d all saved their newspapers, precious to read and discuss together in the evenings. She stands on a ladder, reaching into the corner, noting the article she’d read to her children the night before. “They’ve put up a monument in Washington, D.C., children, a tall stone building pointing up to heaven. They say you’ll be able to walk to the top and see the whole city. Thomas, sit still! See here, here’s a photograph of it, a picture in the newspaper! Look, children!” I leaned in again and peered at the text, the faded picture that shows nothing at all.

I circled back around to the front door, and wondered if Sandy would return soon. The stairs behind me creaked, beckoning me. I turned again and wondered – are they in any way safe? I was tempted dearly by the upper rooms, but their broad views. And before I knew it my foot was on the bottom step, my hand gripping the leaning banister. It felt more solid than I expected, and I leaned my weight into it, ascending. I thought of Mrs. Salter, carrying a baby, perhaps a new baby every few years, up these stairs to the safety of a cradle, rocking away as her house now rocked on the water. “I’ll be the last person to do this,” I thought, and it shocked me. It scared me. I was half-way up. My head was even with the upper floor at last, and I was stunned to find one open room. Somehow, the walls had been blown out, the lumber strewn across the floor. It felt like a ballroom, and my hands grasped the ledge for security as I pulled myself up into the space. From window to window the broad sea swirled around the house. I felt dizzy, seasick. The gulls screamed and flew near the windows, circling and lighting on the sills. Their shrieks were a deafening echo in the space. I stumbled to the back of the house and held myself steady against a windowsill.

Below me was a long patch of sedgy grass, a hummock behind the house. The narrow mounds lay tidily on it, except for one. A thin wafer of headstone marked each grave, except for one.
this grave lay askew, its stone broken. I counted them. Seven. Seven Salters buried here. My hands pressed into the windowsill and a sliver of old glass cut the other hand. And it bled into the sill. I pressed it to my mouth. Then I heard the first cry.

It sounded like a kitten, a mewing. So faint, it was softer than the gulls’ screams. It came from below, and soon a second heavier wail joined it. The sky darkened to an angry gray and salt spray slashed across my face as a leaned out the window. I heard all their cries as they left the house, and I saw their shadows, but only their shadows, moving across the graves. How shadows moved, with such a sunless sky, I did not know. But they walked to and fro, moaning, wailing, sobbing. I felt no fear but only great sorrow, hearing their sorrow. For what did they yearn? What had they lost?

I found myself running down the stairs, crying out, yelling and calling. Out the front door, around the house toward the little yard. But the hill of sedge was deceptive and the ground sunk beneath my feet. I cried out and leapt from one grave to another, looking for something solid to stand upon. Still the voices cried and moaned, surrounding me. I fell, suddenly terrified, and lay upon the seventh grave, my bloody hands on the broken stone.

Thomas Salter, it said. Drowned at Sea. And then the dates, January 23, 1883 – February 4, 1886. I read the words clearly, and my bloody hands gripped the stone as my tears flowed down and the skies opened with rain. As suddenly as they had begun, the howling voices ceased, and I was overcome with fear at kneeling alone there with the graves. Huddled on the infant grave, I glanced over and saw the waves swelling beside me, only feet away. I felt I was clinging to a piece of driftwood, sinking. And as I pressed down on the infant’s death stone, it gave way under me, and a slurry of black water gurgled up onto my hands.

I ran from the cemetery. Sandy was bobbing in the water, having just cut the motor on the dinghy, and she waved cheerily at me. I cried out to her, “Hurry!”

“Did you see all the birds around that house?” she asked, when we were back aboard the crab boat. I was sipping coffee, tepid now but comforting. She was putting antiseptic on my palms. “There must’ve been hundreds of them. On the roof, in the windows, hovering like they do. It was creepy. From far away they sounded like children crying. Didn’t they scare you?”

I could not reply. I thanked her for nursing my wounds, and cupped my hands around civilization again, thinking of little Thomas Salter, now forever lost at sea, and of those who seemed still to mourn for him.

Holland Island house. Photo by baldeaglebluff. See this site.
Stone Ghosts in the Marsh
Holland Island cemetery. Photo by baldeaglebluff. See this site.
 Photos of the loss of Holland Island in the Chesapeake Bay inspired this story.
(All text copyrighted by the author.)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Sunfish Goes Up the Creek

As I said, we've been loaned a sunfish to use for the summer, and Julia had an unfortunate first adventure on it. So yesterday, Adam was determined to have a "redo." I said Julia needed a day on the creek in her red boat. He said he'd go out with her, in the sunfish. But he had ulterior motives. We schlepped both boats over to the Wildlife Ramp public access here in town. Adam's in the sunfish:
Julia's adjusting her oars. Yeah ... he gets the sail, and she gets to row, but that's her choice.
Adam gets out on Smith Creek and immediately realizes something's not quite right with his sail. So he struggles with it.
Julia gets underway, and still he struggles with it.
He gets the sail up, but it won't stay up.
Uh oh. That looks bad. The sail's in the water.
See those storm clouds over their heads? Well, this is what the other side of the sky looked like:
Finally, Adam comes back to the dock and presents me with a broken piece. Two screws have ripped out of the sunfish deck. I dash to the Provision Company (Oh yeah ... Philip did that website!), dashed home for Adam's tool kit, and came to his rescue :) He fixed the part, and they were underway.

They had a much better day this time around! Julia soon realized that her daddy had a slight speed advantage, and he convinced her to leave her dinghy and oars at a friend's dock, and continue up the creeks on the sunfish with him. (Thus, his tricky plan to get her back on the sunfish was successful.) They had a grand time -- great wind, flying along, planing at times (that's when you're going so fast you're basically skimming along the top of the water), and getting rather wet. They had to tack on the way back, going into the wind. I think maybe she likes the sunfish again :)
Here's a short youtube video of a young man speeding along in a sunfish. I don't think Adam was doing the leaning thing -- haha!!

If you watch to the end, you'll get to see him use his TEETH! Yikes! I hope his dentist doesn't see this!

Greenfield Civil Wars: Chapter Twenty

(Other chapters of this book can be found by clicking the box above, in the tab bar, called Greenfield Civil Wars.)
Chapter 20 – The Last Battle

In spite of Mrs. Hipp’s worries, and the fact that Dr. Cloudee had washed his car the day before, the morning of the rummage sale dawned clear and blue. The slumbering town rose from its bed like a child on the first day of summer holiday. Everyone expected fun to be had at the rummage sale. Indeed, it was more of a town party than a serious money-raising event, and this fact would stick in Mrs. Hipp’s craw all day long.

The first riser was Lily Cloudee. As a morning person, she wanted the fun of that day to start with the sunrise. She made French toast for her husband’s breakfast, threw Bowzer’s bone deep into the rose bed for his digging pleasure, and sang “Morning Has Broken” in her best light soprano as she loaded her baby blankets into a large basket.

Emilia Greeter was not far behind her friend. And although she did not plan to exit her door on this delightful day, she anticipated much activity in her kitchen. The Greeters had volunteered this space to serve lunch to all the volunteers manning the tables, and offered their guest rooms as napping space for all the volunteers’ babies. By 10:30, Baby Shepherd and Baby Waight would be cooing happily next to each other in their porta-cribs.

Ernest Greeter was also up. He’d received a call from James Cloudee the night before, asking for a brief conversation the morning of the sale. It was an odd request. Dr. Cloudee rarely called on the college dean. Dr. Greeter wondered what was up, and mistakenly put on a tie and suit coat before his wife reminded him it was only a rummage sale. In his distraction he ate her bran cereal for breakfast. He hates bran cereal.

Willina Hipp and Juanita Jones were in a dither. Unfortunately, each woman had marched early and authoritatively to the other’s house at exactly 8:00, but the shrubbery and sale signs had prevented them from seeing each other. Horace was in his hostas, and Jonquil was in bed, so the two frustrated women missed each other for the next 45 minutes, fuming at each other and steaming nicely until they finally ran into each other by the table erected for the sale of jams and jellies.

“Miss Jones! Where have you been?”

“Mrs. Hipp! I’ve been looking everywhere for you! Really!”

I’m sorry to say that this slightly rocky start did not bode well for the bosom friends. Mutually grouchy, the women began to berate their assistants and generally shove both people and tables around. “Oh, I’ll just do it myself,” Mrs. Hipp was heard to say more than once. And “Honestly! Does anyone have a brain around here?” escaped from Miss Jones’s lips frequently. Quickly the bleary-eyed student slaves disappeared back to their dorm rooms. Church ladies trickled in one at a time bearing yet more rummage sale donations. Mrs. Busby took her usual place behind the jams and jellies. Athena and Connie dominated an expansive space by the fountain with three tables of children’s clothes. The baby paraphernalia stretched behind them like a little parking lot.

The Sharp sisters arrived in style. Their cook Honey drove them in the Cadillac and helped them to their places. She set up their cushioned lawn chairs under a beach umbrella, right next to the baked goods auction. While Betty smiled at all passersby and appeased Mrs. Hipp with her agreeable nodding, Inez surreptitiously sneaked slices of pecan pie from the table and dropped chunks of it on the ground for the marauding squirrels. The squirrels were careful not to make a noise with Mrs. Hipp nearby; they knew what was good for them. And thus every squirrel in the county was at the baked goods auction by 10:00. They outnumbered the humans. The Sharp sisters believed that squirrels are to fairies what horses are to humans, and always hoped by luring squirrels into their yard that they would at last see a fairy. They are imaginative women.

Ernest Greeter and James Cloudee met by the fountain before Athena Shepherd left her house that morning. It was a quiet, almost clandestine meeting of men. From a distance, one might see Dr. Greeter’s hands in his pockets, his head down. Dr. Cloudee’s hands were slightly imploring, and he often looked to his friend as they walked. Once, Dr. Greeter paused and looked into the green pool of water next to them. He placed his foot on the fountain’s cement rim, but a large chunk of the pool’s edge crumbled under the pressure, and he stepped back. They continued in deep conversation, circling the fountain for a quarter of an hour. At last, the men looked at each other, and Dr. Greeter nodded slowly. They shook hands. No one saw them except a few early squirrels. No one in Greenfield knew that at last the pastor had convinced the dean to accept the temporary position of college president. It was a hard task, but Dr. Greeter was persuaded at last that this was best for the school. Dr. Cloudee was greatly relieved. The committees’ pressures, the irritating ingratiating antics of Associate Heeler, and the distasteful presence of Juanita Jones, would now be banished from his life. He owed a large favor to Dr. Greeter, and both men knew it.

Lily Cloudee, in spite of her early rise, was late arriving at the party. She enlisted the help of Mr. Heeler to carry her basket, since her husband had left early and she hadn’t seen him since. Mr. Heeler was willing enough to help, but he had one objective that morning:  to find Jonquil Jones and keep her for the day. Jonny’s goal was to spend enough time with Reg to fulfill her promise, and then escape. She regretted their vaguely romantic interlude.

As Reginald Heeler set Lily Cloudee’s basket down on the baby table and his eyes began to scan the campus, Jonny stepped out into her backyard. She saw Helen Bishop, casual in blue jeans and a t-shirt, walking to the Greeters’ house. Jonny backed up and stood very still in the shadow of her carport. She saw Helen tap lightly on a window, and moments later Billy emerged. Together they strolled toward the rummage sale. Billy reached over and playfully flipped Helen’s ponytail. Jonny sighed.

The day began to warm toward noon. The smell of pine sap drifted through the air. Women in lawn chairs pulled old church bulletins from their purses to fan themselves with. The table selling lemonade, sweet tea and raspberry slushies was doing a lively business. A few old men dug the horseshoes out of the chapel storage room and started a game, while their wives told them to be sure not to hit the children. Mrs. Hipp had at last indignantly removed all the pecan pie from the Sharp sisters’ reach, and both the sisters and the squirrels were unhappy.

“What a selfish woman!” Inez wagged.

“Now, sister. She is so unhappy,” Betty affirmed.

“I baked those pies myself! I can give them to whomever I please!” Inez protested.

It was when Mrs. Hipp was carrying four pieces of pie that she first saw Mr. Heeler following Jonquil Jones. This development did not sit well with her. She detected a slight leer on the man’s face that made her spine quiver with distaste. And he was winking in a lively way. She set her chin, squared her shoulders and began to march in the direction of the furniture tent.

“Miss Jones?” she hollered. “Miss Jones!”

Juanita Jones bustled from the tent. “Yes? What do you need, Mrs. Hipp? Is there something wrong with the pie?”

“What? The pie?” Mrs. Hipp looked surprised at the four sagging paper plates in her hands. “No! No, Miss Jones. It is your niece.”

“Jonquil? What’s wrong? Is she ill?”

“No, Miss Jones. She is not ill. She is consorting.”

“Consorting?” Miss Jones snorted disdainfully. “My niece does not consort. With whom do you suspect she is consorting, Mrs. Hipp?”

Willina Hipp set the pie on a nearby table and put her arms akimbo under her substantial bosom. “She is consorting with that ingratiating worm, Reginald Heeler!” And she boomed his last name loudly as if it were a verbal weapon against her comrade.

“She is not!”

“She is!”

Miss Jones thrust forth her chin, bent her arms and strode forth into the fray. “Jonquil!” she bellowed. “Jonquil Jones!”  Mrs. Hipp followed her in lockstep.

They did not get far, however, before they found themselves walking next to another couple. Miss Jones stopped in her tracks, and Mrs. Hipp bashed her nose into her friend’s neck.

“Mrs. Hipp!” she hissed.

There before them walked Helen Bishop, Mrs. Hipp’s own niece, and Billy Greeter, the reprobate. And as they strolled past, brushing shoulders, Helen slipped her slim hand inside Billy’s. Mrs. Hipp’s breath was sucked in between her teeth so shockingly that even I am surprised that she did not faint. She, however, is not the fainting kind.

Miss Jones turned on her friend, the companion of her youth and her spiritual sister. Her eyes were slits. Her thin lips barely moved. “Consorting, eh?” And Miss Jones stomped past her, as best she could stomp on the soft college soil. Mrs. Hipp put her hand to her chest. She thought she felt palpitations, even though she is not the palpitating kind.

Willina Hipp realized this little spat would not damage her causes in the long run. Miss Jones would come around. Today, she must devote herself to the sale, and to the larger mission: the college presidency. Somewhere in this throng, James Cloudee must be lurking. For too long, she had delayed a head-to-head assault on the man, regarding the college post. A public gathering would perhaps be the best place to get an honest answer from him about how he would satisfy her and her camp. How long until he would present Miss Jones as a candidate? And how long until he told that miserable worm of an associate pastor that he was not a candidate? Mrs. Hipp smoothed the bun on her head, fluffed out her black robes, and marched toward the center of the sale.

James Cloudee was at the sale, but he was incognito. He had secured his college president, and he had no politicizing to do today. Bedecked in white linen shorts, a baby blue golf shirt, and a large Panama hat, he sat far to the seminary side of the grounds – in fact, right behind Mrs. Hipp’s own home. At 11:00 he saw Horace Hipp slip silently into his potting shed as his Amazonian wife strode into the fountain area. Dr. Cloudee had no potting shed, nor was he as much of a coward as the seminary president. He slid his hat brim over his face and slouched in his seat. He looked nothing like his usual self.

Two clusters of visitors also roamed the grounds, unaware of each other. One was a band of unsuspecting Lutherans, invited to the campuses by Harold Bossman, the chairman of the Committee on Committees, and his golfing buddy Wendel Stucker, head of the Committee on Institutional Institutions. Mr. Bossman was pointing out the gracefulness of the dancing cement porpoises in the fountain, while Mr. Stucker tried to hide the several chunks of cement edging that had been dislodged that day around the pool. The men with them looked mildly interested, listened mindlessly to the history of the campuses, and nodded appreciatively when asked if they’d like a lemonade. Unfortunately, as Mrs. Hipp sailed by in her flowing robes, she overheard this horrible question from a pair of Lutheran lips:

“And you say both campuses are for sale?”

And the appalling reply from Mr. Stucker:

“Oh yes. I think this summer. Yes, for sale.”

Mrs. Hipp, the Greek Warrior Goddess of her beloved city and Great Protector of her campuses, stopped dead in her tracks. She drew herself up to her full height, clenched her fists, unclenched her teeth, and turned on the traitorous band before her. But before she could speak, she heard yet another conversation behind her, in front of the jam and jellies table. It is Adel Busby’s voice. She is talking on her cell phone to her daughter who lives in Chattanooga.

“Yes! A new college president! At least I hope so. I just talked to them, a whole group of them. Such nice men. They’re looking for Horace Hipp.”  Mrs. Hipp’s ears perked, and she delayed her vitriolic attack on the SNACK group. This conversation sounded important as well. Adel continued.

“Well, let’s see. There was a Mr. Usher, and Henry Something-or-other. Several of the old guard from SNARK. I think they want to present a man to be our new president! I forget his name ….”

But before she could finish her sentence or say good-bye, Willina Hipp had snatched the phone from her hand. Adel Busby gasped slightly, as the large woman leaned in toward her. Mrs. Hipp’s face was contorted in rage and as red as the raspberry slushie that was melting in Adel’s cup.

“Where are they, Adel?” she hissed. “Where are these men?”

“I … uh, uh … well ….”  And then Adel pointed vaguely toward the Sharp sisters’ table.

As Mrs. Hipp spun around, her eyes lit briefly on the reclining form of James Cloudee, hiding himself under her magnolia tree. She growled quietly. In fewer than ten strides, she was on him.

“James Cloudee, you are a traitor!”

He leapt in his chair. His hat fell in the grass.

She placed her chubby fists on her bulging hips and leaned in. “Exactly who are those Lutherans, invading our property? You invited them today, didn’t you? Didn’t you? Today of all days!” And then she did the unthinkable. She grabbed the man by the arm, and lifted him bodily from his lawn chair.

“Get rid of them! I will not have them on my property!”

“Mrs. Hipp,” he said, feigning calm, “I think I can hardly ….”

“You will! Immediately!” And she wheeled him toward the fountain, with her forceful hand in the middle of his back.

“Mrs. Hipp!!”

When they reached the fountain, she presented James Cloudee to the mingling group of Lutherans. But as she waited for him to do his duty, she was jostled from behind. The Snarkian group were examining the fountain too. A man gently grasped her elbow.

“Why, hello, Mrs. Hipp,” he said. “I’m Mr. Usher, from Savannah, here with some friends. We’d like to speak to your husband, if we may. Can you direct us to him?”

Before she could reply, James Cloudee said loudly to her, “Mrs. Hipp, I know nothing of this, this … Lutheran visit. Good day!” He shoved past her, infuriated at her pushiness, and at the committee men trying to sell the school.

Mrs. Hipp spun around to prevent him from leaving, but she missed. Mr. Usher, meanwhile, tried to grab her elbow again. And quite unexpectedly, Reginald Heeler approached from a third direction. He had secured Jonny and was dragging the unwilling girl around by the hand.

“Mrs. Hipp! At last I’ve found you,” Mr. Heeler said. “I must talk privately with you.”  And, grasping Jonny by the arm, he tilted his head at Mrs. Hipp. He winked.

Poor Willina Hipp. It was too much for her. She lifted her arm to slap the impudent young man, and delivered a sharp “smack” to his cheek. The blow, which stunned him, propelled her off her balance. She lost her footing. Behind her was the fountain. Wobbling slightly, she stepped up onto its rim to escape the throng.

“Mrs. Hipp!” said Mr. Heeler.

“Mrs. Hipp!” said Mr. Usher.

“Mrs. Hipp!” muttered Dr. Cloudee under his breath as he strode away. It was an imprecation.

The woman balanced herself on the pool’s wide cement edge. She listed one way and then the other. As she looked out over the crowd, she saw her niece Helen, gazing fondly at Billy Greeter. Mrs. Hipp moaned in distress. Billy smiled at Helen, leaned over, and kissed her gently under the shade of a live oak tree, while the marauding squirrels chattered happily above them.

Mrs. Hipp lost her equilibrium at last. The cement beneath her bulk crumbled away. As she fell slowly and heavily into the fountain’s pool of green algae, she grabbed wildly for anything in her reach. Unfortunately, her frantic fingers curled around the sloping nose of a cement porpoise. She paused in midair, clinging by her fingertips, desperately hoping to avoid total humiliation. A grimace of a smile stretched across her lips. And the porpoise’s nose, weak as the rest of the ancient cement, broke off and crumbled in her palm. With the splash of a gargantuan cannonball, Mrs. Hipp plunged into the slimy green water of the pond.

The rummage sale instantly fell quiet, all except Inez Sharp, whose high-pitched voice rang out in the silence.

“He’s kissing her! Billy’s kissing that pretty girl!”

All eyes that were riveted on Mrs. Hipp’s humiliation were then drawn in the other direction. Helen Bishop blushed deeply when she opened her eyes and saw the town looking at her in Billy’s arms. She giggled. And everyone cheered. Billy waved at them like a shy school boy.

“Ah, young love,” Lily Cloudee said.

In the quiet reverie of this blissful moment, the air was splintered by a massive bellow. “Will someone get me out of here!” Mrs. Hipp demanded. And a few college boys, displeased at having to touch a wet Mrs. Hipp, obliged. With as much dignity as she could muster – and I must say, it’s amazing how much dignity a woman like Mrs. Hipp can muster at such times – she walked with straight back and forward eyes to her house door.

Mrs. Hipp did not present herself at the rummage sale for the rest of the day. It was a very jubilant afternoon.

Emilia Greeter, of course, missed all this fun. She was happily ensconced in her guest room, rocking babies. This was another quiet joy she shared with a few in her community. She loved to babysit, and did it often, and always free of charge. If a young mother needed a few hours of babyless time, Mrs. Greeter was happy to oblige. Once the babies started to walk, she declined. She was not a toddler-sitter; she was a babysitter.

So it was for Connie Waight to tell her the excitements of the morning. From her vantage point at the clothing stall, Connie saw everything, even the kiss. When she collected her baby from Mrs. Greeter’s living room, she relayed every detail.

“They kissed?” Mrs. Greeter asked.

“Yes, ma’am they did,” Connie replied.

Mrs. Greeter smiled, closed her eyes, and breathed deeply of the lovely baby scent on the head of the infant in her arms. Life was good again.

Back at the fountain, Athena followed her aunt from a careful distance as she went to her home in disgrace. But the niece did not go inside. She walked to the potting shed and knocked three times on the door.


“It’s me, Uncle Horace.”

“Oh! Athena! Do come in.”

She opened the door. Horace Hipp sat sheepishly on his stool. He was gripping a flower catalog.

“Better go inside, Uncle Horace. Aunty Hippy needs you.”

“Me? Why would she need me?”

“She fell in the pool.”

He stood up. “Oh my,” he said. He sat again. “Oh my.”

“It was pretty embarrassing, I think.” Athena leaned against the door.  “As a matter of fact, I think she had a really rough morning all around. I think she and Jonesy had a fight.”


“I saw Miss Jones putting suitcases in her car.”

Horace Hipp was silent, silent but happy, at this news.

“And, um, Billy Greeter has a new girlfriend. They got caught kissing at the sale, in front of everybody.”

“Did they now,” he murmured.  “Very satisfactory.”

“Just thought you’d like to know,” Athena finished.

“Well, thank you, dear. I’ll make my way inside in a bit, I promise.”

Athena walked across both campuses on her way to pick up her baby from Emilia Greeter. As she walked in front of the furniture tent, Sam caught up with her.

“I’ve been looking for you!” he said.


“Yeah! Guess what?”

“What?” She stopped at looked at her exuberant husband.

“I just heard that Ernest Greeter has agreed to be the new college president.”

“That’s good news!” she said.

“That’s phenomenal news!” he exclaimed. “Athena, you don’t know how worried I was that the Greeters would leave over this whole thing with Billy and Mrs. Hipp.”

“Well, that’s pretty settled now too, don’t you think?” she asked.

“Yes, I do.”

The young pastor and his wife strolled beneath the pines and oaks. Lily Cloudee sold her last blanket. As the couple walked by her, she hummed prettily, “I’ve Got Peace Like a River.” The Sharp sisters were nodding, sleeping, in their chairs. Honey fanned them both with a crumpled church bulletin and sipped her slushie. Billy and Helen were nowhere to be seen. Reginald Heeler wandered the grounds, looking for Jonny. He was uncertain just where his day had gone wrong.

The Lutherans left in their church van, and the visiting Snarkians from Savannah, realizing that their quest was in vain, settled into a long tournament of horseshoes. As the afternoon drew to a close, it was difficult to tell if they had won or lost. Most of them were graduates of these old institutions and enjoyed a day to reminisce. By the end of the afternoon, Greenfield had settled into that peaceful warmth of lengthening shadows that hinted at the long, luxurious Southern summer stretching ahead. All her present troubles were over. As the good book says, “tomorrow has enough troubles for itself.” As we depart Greenfield, dear reader, the Cloudees, the Greeters, the Sharp sisters, and the Shepherds all sit happily on their porches eating rummage sale pie and thanking God for young love, good friends, and crumbly cement.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Community Life at the Park

(Apologies in advance for the quality of these cell phone photos!)
On Thursday evenings in Oriental, wherever you are in town you're likely to hear drums. Deep, constant drums. It's the Oriental Drummers! They gather at Lou Mac Park weekly in the fair weather with all kinds of drums.
And they pound away.
We call these folks the Senior Sitters. During summer they gather in the early evenings and sit here by the water at the foot of the Lou Mac pier. They generally bike here, with their chairs folded and somehow attached or held. This is a thoroughly informal group, but friendly, and I was told they make all kinds of important town decisions. But nobody ever listens to them! Haha :)
Here are the darling girls. I see them around town a lot.
The third group at Lou Mac Park last night was the most serious group of all:  the fishermen. My cell camera doesn't zoom, or I'd get closer. They all wore white shirts. They're very faithful to their sport, but I rarely see anybody catch anything of any size here -- a few weeks ago, one fellow landed a huge stingray, but it got away with his hook and weight, unfortunately.
This beauty was lashed to the town dock yesterday. I love the deep green paint and plenteous woodwork.
And, for one final random photo, this is a recently- harvested wheat field near us. The fire was really impressive. We saw the smoke (this was last Friday) all the way from the river, when we were crossing on the ferry!  I was glad to drive right next to it so I could find out what the fire was about.
I knew some farmers burn their fields after harvest, but I'd never seen it done. Very smoky!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

An Anchorage Menagerie

Adam and I love to have little dates down at the village anchorage. We have a small anchorage since the Oriental Harbor Marina was built. We love to sit and watch the boats, folks tootling about in dinghies, the water and weather.
Sandy likes to come too, and we don't mind her tagging along on our dates. :) We sit on these nice benches there.
Sometimes we drive over, which allows us to stay until sunset and see the marina dock lights reflecting in the water and hear the swoosh and slap of the water on the hulls, which seems louder at dusk.
Mimosa trees grow by the anchorage and marina. They're blooming now.
They seem so Caribbean to me, so Floridian. Am I on vacation? No -- I'm home!
In full bloom today ~
Trumpet vine covers the rocks below at the water line.
Today Julia walked to the anchorage with Adam, and I rode my bike.
I'm glad to say my girl is still a tree-climber!
Sandy likes her girl better on the ground, where she can play with her.
Sitting by the dinghy dock, overlooking the anchorage and enjoying the boats in their slips -- that's a simple, free, delightful date. And we can have one as often as we like!