Scenes of Charleston

We spent a couple of days sightseeing in Charleston, SC last week, mostly to see family, but we did get to the downtown area one afternoon to mosey around.  We walked down to Battery Park and back, far enough to give me shin splints, although 6-year-old Elmo took the same route with no difficulty.  In fact, his journey was much longer because he frequently raced ahead to the corner, then back to us, then back to the corner, etc. until we finally arrived there, too.   Not to mention that he climbed trees, poles, fences, cannons, bandstands, and even made a lunge at George Washington before Granddad intervened.

The rest of us were wearing our sensible walking shoes.  Elmo wore flip-flops.

We passed the guinea fowl, which announced our arrival with their strange calls.  A young man nearby said they’d been living in that area for over 100 years, but the articles I found online say that a couple of them just flew into town one day and hung around.   When you see the place, you can understand why they liked it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Watch that video link above because it offers a chance to wander, thanks to The Lee Bros.,  through one of the mysterious iron gates and see the lovely garden inside.)

I won’t even try to show you my photos of the houses or the wonderful shops.  (You can look at these by much better photographers.)  Instead, I’ll show you a few scenes that you may not see elsewhere.


Thou shall not park here.  Seriously.


The classic Charleston boot.

There were cobblestones. . .


And headstones. . . .


Two of the signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried there.  The Handicap Parking sign was mystifying, since it was inside the fence.

Here’s another one:


A headstone with my brother’s head.

There were pretty windows. . .


And pretty strange windows. . . .

Image 7This sign–with the same spelling–was in more than one window, so of course, my imagination ran faster than Elmo’s sprints to the corner.  Remolding.

Surely not this:black_mold

Crown?  Dentil? Toe?  Chair rail?  Wood? Stone? Polystyrene?

Making cheese?

One day we ate lunch on Daniel Island.  Right beside the restaurant was this sign:

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We took it seriously.  Didn’t want us–or the alligators–to get the boot.


I’m going back to dignity and grace. I’m going back to Charleston, where I belong.  – Rhett Butler, in 1939 movie, “Gone with the Wind

Please, Mr. Postman

I’m trying not to have a complex about this, but I’m not even sure that I’m Number 4 on our dog Scout’s list of people preferences.  I know with certainty that Spots 1, 2, and 3 are taken.

1.  Lord and master of the universe.  (That would be Dearly Beloved.)

2.  Our mail carrier, Danny.

3.  Ivy, our daughter’s Goldendoodle. (Yes, of course Ivy is a person!)

No. 2 on the list is the Pied Piper of canines in our neighborhood.  His mail truck generates as much excitement with the dogs as an ice cream truck for neighborhood kids and he does it without a bell.  Danny carries treats in his mail bag and hands them out to all the dogs he passes as he makes his rounds.

For the lucky dogs with mail slots on the doors, he slips a treat in along with the mail.  Once he realized that Ivy was spending the summer with us, Danny added a second treat, but Scout would race to our front door and wolf down both treats so fast that he barely had time to get his fingers out of the slot.

After Danny realized what was happening,  the mail slot started clanging three times. . . one time for the mail, a second time while he tossed in a treat aimed toward the left, then a third clang to aim one to the right–to give Ivy a better chance of getting to the one meant for her.


When DB took the pair on their morning walks, they watched for the mail truck and pulled in that direction, even if they’d already been treated on another street.

Emily, the big black lab on our block, has a case of Danny-love, too.  Once I saw Emily lying in the grass several streets away from ours. I would’ve thought she’d been hit by a car but for the disgusted look on her owner’s face as he tugged on her leash.

“Is Emily all right?” I asked him.  He nodded.

“Then what is she doing?”  

“Stalling.  She’s hoping Danny will come by.”  

As the weeks progressed, Ivy became wiser about the magic mail slot.  Rather than try to outrun Scout, she decided to outsmart her.


Having Ivy here for two months has been wonderful for Scout.  She appears to have lost her fear of other dogs, if her romps with Ivy are any indication.  We began calling them Thelma and Louise.  I’d be embarrassed to admit how many videos DB and I have made of those two clowns and their antics.

Over the weekend, we returned Ivy to her peeps.  It was a happy reunion for all of them, but we certainly miss her.  I hope Ivy doesn’t encounter any mail carriers for a while.

They might misconstrue her salivating.

Did you hear the one about the unstamped letter?

You wouldn’t get it. 

For Whom The Road Tolls

Our knitting/e-mail group got together for a few days at Lulu’s house in Birmingham this summer. They’d needle me if I posted a photo of the group, so here’s Lulu’s dog, Sami, just to prove I was there.


Why yes, that IS a pink elephant on the table and since wine was consumed,  I’m relieved that you can see it, too.  (And yes, you purists, that’s crochet, not knitting.)

On the way back, I stopped to see our daughter and her family in Atlanta  and attend one of Middle Grandson’s swim meets.  His older brother had strep throat, so I volunteered to drive Middle Grandson to the meet, a 20-mile or so trek on Atlanta’s highways and toll roads in rush hour traffic.

No problem.  The calm voice of Miz MapQuest anticipated my every question and took us right to the pool.

I set up camp in the last spot of shade to be had– just outside the men’s room door.

“How will I know when you’re swimming?” I asked Middle Grandson when he walked by later.

He stuck out his arm, which now sported a hodgepodge of Sharpie-tattooed tic-tac-toe lines and numbers.

“Take a picture of my arm,” he said.  Genius.

I misread the arm photo for his first race.  By the time I realized my error and made it  poolside, all I saw was an empty lane.  Grandson was probably out of the pool and off eating a popsicle somewhere.


In full-blown crazy grandmother mode, I bulldozed through the crowd of timers, coaches, and players for the next race. Squatting at pool edge, I aimed my camera to get a closeup of Grandson when he bobbed up at the touch pad.  I wanted to  send it to Dearly Beloved.

My camera honed in on the backstroker coming toward me, ready for the big finish.

What th’. . . ?

The kid that popped up, nose to camera lens with me,  was a complete stranger.  Wrong lane again!  Grandson was already towelling off.  I think that his time in the race was better than mine in trying to stand back up from that  squat.

My son-in-law, who’d come directly from work, called out, “Did you SEE that?  His best time yet!”

Mumble, mumble.

When persistent thunder delayed the meet for an hour or so, I decided to head back to the house.  Son-in-law stuck around and, as it turned out, saw a few more heats before the match was called for the night.

Once in my car, I kicked off my shoes and told Miz MapQuest to reverse her directions and lead me back.  At the toll entrance, I threw my quarters into the basket and started to drive forward.  The gate didn’t lift.  What now?  Did I even HAVE any more quarters?   Wasn’t an attendant supposed to be wandering around?  Had the people lined up behind me never heard of patience???

And where the heck were my shoes?

I scrounged around and found more quarters–and, because I’d already driven past the basket in anticipation of being able to proceed, I now had to walk back to put the money into the basket.

I didn’t take time to look for my shoes, so I opened the door and put my bare feet down,  cringing at the thought of what might await.

Want to take a guess what littered the pavement?


Pennies.  Dozens and dozens and dozens of pennies.  I’m don’t think my feet even  touched the nasty asphalt.

Who throws pennies out at a toll booth?  And why?

I usually pick up loose change I see in parking lots and on sidewalks,  so it might have been difficult to walk away from all that loot, had not the honking serenade behind me insisted.

The toll gods accepted my coins this time and the gate raised.  I jumped back in the car and screeched out of there.

I called Dearly Beloved.  Son-in-law had been sending him excellent videos of the races, he told me. . . “But I’m sure watching the videos is nothing like actually being there.”   

Yup.  Nothing like it at all.  I didn’t say so, though.  He didn’t offer me a penny for my thoughts.

All Systems Down

Because our kids and their families live in different states, communicating with them isn’t simple.  We aren’t big fans of Skype or Facetime.  Dearly Beloved and I are scary.  I’m all neck and he’s all nostrils.

None of us answers our landline phones, since we can’t say, “Please remove us from your call list” to the automated voices inevitably at the other end. “Not In Service” calls often.  You may remember my all time favorite, Phone Scam.

For a time, e-mailing worked, but now the kids say their e-mail boxes are overflowing, so it’s become all about “Texting.”   DB embraced that right away.  He lets a picture take care of his thousand words:  a video of the dog, a photo of his new banjo.  A  sneaky shot of a sweaty me in a bandana and overalls, working in the garden, gives them an update on mom.   When his fingers do the talking, he’s a man of few words.

Last week he texted a query to our youngest daughter and as usual, received a prompt response. . . just not one he expected.

It was a text from her youngest, our soon-to-be-first-grader grandson:

Sorry she is not avalabel.



The banjo practices continue.  Dearly Beloved feels that he is improving, but adds that the purest notes that come out of that banjo are the sounds when he accidentally bumps the instrument neck against the chair arm when he’s sitting down.

Part of the problem is that it hasn’t been tuned in a month and there has been much “a-pickin’ and a-grinnin'” since then.

Yesterday he practiced in the bedroom.  Granddog Goldendoodle Ivy lay at his feet the entire time.  Our girl Scout, as usual, fled the scene after the first few notes.

Dearly Beloved is starting to take this behavior personally.  He says he’s learning a lot about his so-called “friends.”  He calls them “True” and “Fair-Weather.”

With all the rain we’re having, letting the dogs outside for anything except a potty break results in mud-wrestling, but they’re managing to keep themselves entertained inside.  Their games are a bit hard on the wood floors, but they’re fun to watch.

DB also refers to them as The Princess (Ivy) and The Street Dog (Scout.)   It’s easy to see why, even in the way they eat.  Ivy carefully chews each individual little kibble, while Scout sucks hers down with turbo power.

Our favorite game to watch is the tug of war, played with a remnant of rope left from an “indestructible” toy.   Scout puts one end of the rope in her mouth, flips over, and waits behind the sofa for Ivy.

Prissy Ivy grabs the other end of the rope and pulls, dragging Scout around the room.  Neither dog will let go of the rope.

I have some photos, but I must tell you first that the sofas in the photos are a combination of our flowery beach-house-not-on-the-beach couch which I love and our bad upholstery choice den sofa and love seat.  All will be made right when I find slipcovers for the “hotel lobby” sofa and love seat.  So, no whispering about these sofas.  We know we’re a decorating nightmare right now.  (Feel free to report us to HGTV.  We could use the inspiration.)

The wait.

The wait.

The grab.

The grab.

The tug.

The tug.

The spin.

The spin.

If The Princess wants to win this duel, all she has to do is drag Fair-Weather toward the practice in the bedroom.

“A banjo is like an artillery shell — by the time you hear it, it’s too late.”
— A Prairie Home Companion Pretty Good Joke Book

Doggone It, He’s Playing WHAT???

My Dearly Beloved is a music junkie.  When he takes a walk or does any work outside, his ears are always clogged with ear buds.  He can be standing only a few feet away, but  I am unable to get his attention, short of tackling him.   I try not to complain, since this is progress of a sort.  He used to walk around with the music of Dire Straits emanating from the pocket of his shorts.

He does have musical talent in that he can identify ‘most any song from the 50’s and 60’s and tell you who sang it and what year it was released.  He still has his shag dance moves, including the double back Suzy.  But as for making music?   Um… no.

He “whistles,” but there is not a hint of a melody there.  The man can whistle sharp and flat–on the same note.   It’s scary.

Since retiring, he has been adding to his lists of activities, determined not to be Earl in the Pickles comic strip, at least not on a daily basis.  About three weeks ago, much to my surprise, he left for the hardware store and came home with an instrument from the music store in the same shopping center.

That was right as I was packing to go to Birmingham to convene with my knitting/e-mail friends for a few days.  DB would stay here with our girl Scout, the wonder dog, who sticks to him like velcro.  He planned to practice his new instrument.

So, when I left for Alabama, he had a banjo on his knee.  104242697 - Version 2

(Why yes, Susanna,  I DID have to say that.  )

He e-mailed that things weren’t going as planned.  Whenever he played, Scout would leave the room.  The dog that accompanies him everywhere– the garage, the kitchen, the bathroom–the dog that goes to bed when he does–vanishes when he starts playing that banjo.


Image 6

The main isn’t Earl Scruggs, but I don’t find his banjo practicing nearly as bad as his whistling.   Scout apparently feels differently.  Perhaps she is banjo-phobic?  DB was truly dismayed.






On my way back from Alabama, I stopped in Atlanta and picked up Granddog Ivy, our granddog golden doodle.  Her peeps had a lot planned in the coming weeks, so we decided that Ivy could come stay at Camp Granddad.

She and our girl Scout are real pals, romping in the yard or wrestling in the house.  They love being together–except during banjo practice.  When DB sounds the first chord, Scout leaves the room.  Ivy, however,  immediately goes and sits beside DB, watching him and listening intently to every note.









She stays with him during his entire practice session, while Scout makes herself scarce.

It IS  strange because except for the banjo music, the two are inseparable.  Really.  Inseparable.

Image 14

This morning, DB said that for the first time, Scout stayed in the room during his practice. He was delighted to play for both dogs.

“Do you think I’m playing better?” he asked.

Yes, definitely. . . because you’re playing SOFTER.

At this rate of progress, I may be able to remove the earbuds from my own ears pretty soon.

What is the least often heard sentence in the English language? That would be: Say, isn’t that the banjo player’s Porsche parked outside?
- – – – – – Jackson Browne


Paparazzi R Us

To say that Dearly Beloved and I have minimal photography skills would be overstating our talent.

Dearly Beloved jumped into photography some years ago with a very pricey 35mm camera and additional zoom lens that allowed him to read the Do Not Leave Children Unattended sign in the shopping cart across the parking lot from the camera store.  Nevertheless, after his first attempt –36 nearly identical pictures of a cardinal– where all we could see was a red dot on a tree branch, he lost interest.  The camera, interestingly enough, broke itself in the closet and the manufacturer went out of business, so the camera and the extra lens are permanently relegated to the dark back corner of hall closet hell.

Never mind.  Now DB has an iPhone.  He’d sooner go somewhere without underwear than be without his phone, so he takes pictures with that.  (The phone, I mean.)

After I began taking pictures with my own phone, I thought it was faulty because all my pictures were pink and blurry.  Turned out that was my finger over the lens.  I also have dozens (unintended) of photos of my knees, the floor, my car dashboard.

The HBO series, Homeland, a show I’ve never seen because we don’t have HBO, has become a source of great interest to me because it’s filmed mostly in our area.  I’ve seen the Homeland trucks at the neighborhood shopping mall and other sites around town, but   most often,  I’ve seen them a couple of blocks up our own street.

At first I thought it was a one-time thing.  Their trailers fill the across-the-street parking lot of the big church on the corner and spill over onto street parking.  Besides the lovely sanctuary building, the church has a large lawn as well as a wooded natural area, and a large fitness center building.  The nearby university offers even more location possibilities.  I understand they use one of the neighborhood houses, too.

Our son is a big fan of the series and I thought perhaps some of you might be also, so I set out to capture an up-close view of the filming.  It has not gone well.   For instance. . .

Image 10


The one on the left was one of my first attempts.  I took it from inside my car on a rainy day.    That’s not a pink umbrella–it’s my pinky.  The other photo?  Why, I took that one today.  I walked up to the church and took my regular camera to prevent any pinky shots.  Technically, I succeeded, since that’s my thumb, instead.  The striped thing is my shirt.   (Feel free to click on these to enlarge.  It’s too embarrassing to post them full size.)

Walter Brennan used to sing (cue the guitars, boys) that “It Takes a Heap of Living To Make a House a Home” and I’m here to tell you (stop the music) that it takes a lot of trucks to make an episode of Homeland:  food and catering trucks, tractor-trailer trucks, rental trucks, as well as  a bunch of trailers.

Image 7 Image 9 Image 11


In the episode they’ve been filming recently, they turned the church fitness center building into  this:  Image 14 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I took this picture today, the front grounds were full of children, kiddy pools, and sprinklers.  Either they weren’t filming out there or the Idylwood Rehabilitation center did one heck of a job, Brownie.


DB, knowing of my interest, has often called to tell me whenever he saw trucks at the church and sometimes sent back a picture on his walks.Image 1

One day he called from the car and said, “They’re filming outside today.  I think I see Claire Danes’ blond hair.!  I’ll take a picture and send it to you and the kids.”

Without further fanfare. . . .

Image 10

Oh yeah.  Nailed it!  Are we a team or what?!

Check the trees while you’re looking.  I’ll bet there’s a cardinal in one of them.