Dampness Reigns, or Rains

I knew those two relatively dry days in a row were flukes. Last night it poured and poured, right after Trixie showed up to do Apache and Ace’s feet. She was running late due to some car trouble, which gave me lots of time to love on Apache and Fiona. That is always good.

Pet me more.

And I got to love on Sara’s heelers, including the charming and smiling baby Bess. She melts your heart.

I’m a very happy puppy.

Sara had asked Trixie if she had a horse that needed miles on it, and that prompted her to bring her small fancy stallion along with her. He’s gray, and named Archie.

Here comes the man horse.

His arrival sent all equines into a tizzy (except Fiona). Much neighing and prancing commenced. Archie, on the other hand, but on a show like he was a Lipizzaner. Yow. He leapt in the air, twisted, bucked, yelled, and otherwise made his presence quite obvious. I’m hoping he settles down.

WTF?

I made it home after Apache got trimmed, barely asking if his feet looked okay, and hearing Trixie say they looked real good. Two minutes after I got home, the skies opened up. I worried about the rest of the gang, and texted Sara my huge thanks for letting me go first.

Good thing I got all these eggs earlier! One per hen.

It rained all night, hard. It’s the most rain in one day that we’ve had during this long rainy spell. Many days it just drizzled and rained for short periods, so we only got one inch one day in May; the rest were small amounts that did add up to puddles.

First time the pond has filled and spilled in many months.

Last night we got over two inches, so June already has a good rain total! Lee’s stats will be fun to see. I’m hoping to get to Austin this afternoon, once some of the creek flooding is down and before the next round starts. It’s also really wet there!

The newly expanded “little pond” filled for the first time, too, sending its runoff down to the bigger pond. That dirt will be used on another project soon.

Have a good June. I’m ready to support all my LGBTQIA+ friends during PRIDE month!

Solace at the Sea, and Travel Planning

Even though I had meetings that went until almost 6 pm yesterday, Lee and I vowed to have at least a little fun at the beach. And the late afternoon is a wonderful time to go out and enjoy the water. We even went in! I had on a hat and t-shirt, so I didn’t go deep, but I got soothed by the salt water, anyway.

This is an unusual place to wade, thanks to the weird currents that keep the red flag flying at the lifeguard station. It alternates between being very shallow, then there’s a trench a foot deeper. If you successfully negotiate the trenches, you can get pretty far out and not even be waist high.

You can see how far out the people behind Lee are.

We had a wonderful stroll down the beach, where I had a good time looking for little beach fish (the water was crystal clear today, not all churning with stirred up sand and shells like it was earlier). It was fun watching the patterns of water as they flowed from low areas.

I think there are people prints, bird prints, and dog prints here by the outflow area.

As always, the gulls were entertaining. They seem unafraid of people, but not as obnoxious as some of the ones I remember in Fort Lauderdale. They enjoyed the little pools, too.

They flew all around Lee, too, which made him laugh a lot. We’ve been laughing a lot this week. This time alone together without the stresses of day-to-day chores has been really great.

That’s our building reflected in the shiny Sea Glass building.

After our nice, long walk we managed to get to the pool bar just before it closed, where I got a hard-earned beverage with dark rum and ginger beer, and Lee got two Cuba Libres. Well, we don’t have any Coke in the room, now that we’re trying to use up everything, and what we had was Coke Zero (my vice). So, to get two drinks, he had to buy them both. He got some funny looks in the elevator.

This should get me through the elevator ride; it’s a long way up!

We enjoyed our final relaxing evening at the condo, and I made the most of the chaise-lounge (however you spell that) part of the couch, and cozily knitted away at the Lines and Lines shawl. I got through my fourth pattern repeat, and now that I see how it works, it’s a very relaxing and satisfying project.

I can’t stretch it out any more than this, but you can sure see the lines!

I have a good amount of yarn left on my first skein, so I’m sure I can get at least one more repeat before switching to the border that makes up the second half of the shawl.

We Have a Plan

I was sitting around last night, thinking about going home and not looking forward to the same interstate highway scenery, when I got to wondering how much longer it would take if we went on state and local roads? I plugged it into the Maps app and here’s what I discovered:

Two travel options

We were going to take three days, anyway, so this adds less than two hours to each day of travel. We will get to see Montgomery and Selma in Alabama, which are historically interesting, plus we go through the center of Louisiana, where I’ve never spent much time. I brought the idea up to Lee, and he was sold immediately. We both LOVE looking at small towns.

By taking this alternate route, we will have a fun weekend of driving, and I won’t have to do too much work tomorrow, since I got so much of my writing stuff done already. I’m looking forward to heading back to Texas and seeing new things. Then I’ll be home and get to see both familiar and new things. Hooray for the weary travelers.

Thanks for reading, and for those of you who give it a try, thanks for listening to the podcast version.

Knitting My Way to Calabash

In addition to all that reading, I’ve been knitting the last few days. Today, after playing on the beach and hot tubbing (it was finally empty), Lee and I decided to explore the area north of us. I brought my new Lines and Lines project along with me.

Proof I actually sat on the sand.

We didn’t have any destination in mind, but when I saw Calabash, NC on the map, I suggested we go there. You see, the number of restaurants here in Myrtle that advertise Calabash seafood rivals the number of pancake restaurants (well, there are LOTS more pancake places truth be told). We figured we should see what all the fuss was about at the source.

Bargains galore

We went the scenic route, which means we were accompanied by our Bike Week friends. There were so many cool bikes, trikes, and Can-Ams. As long as we weren’t trying to converse, it was fine. And we enjoyed seeing some residential areas, golf courses, and boats. North Myrtle Beach is pretty. We bypassed the Little River blue crab fest, which was crowded, but it looked like a nice town. (Milam County humor: we couldn’t find an Academy store, which would have been a good photo op. You see, we have a place called Little River-Academy in our county.)

Calabash

And Calabash was everything I’d hoped it would be. It’s cute, quaint, small, and friendly, with much shopping if I can go there with Kathleen or Anita. There are fishing boats everywhere, which explains the concentration of large seafood restaurants. We lucked out, though, and I found the oldest of the restaurants, the Dockside Seafood House.

The dock, as viewed from the restaurant patio.

This place has been open since 1955, in contrast to the big new ones nearby. And in line with us waiting for it to open were mostly locals, not tourists. Suna for the win!

I enjoyed watching birds while we ate our seafood. A bald eagle flew by. Red-wing blackbirds were feeding babies. Gulls were fighting, while pelicans majestically flew back and forth.

Oh yes, Calabash is a way to lightly fry seafood. My oysters were quite good, but the scallops (not fried) were better. I’m glad a local guy recommended it. Lee liked his clam chowder so much he ordered a pint to take back. And the oyster stew I had reminded me of my mom’s.

We left with huge smiles on our faces, and took the quieter route back so I could enjoy my knitting. I’m through two pattern repeats, and am impressed how the same stitches make horizontal stockinet stripes on one side, and vertical on the other.

Interesting pattern.

It will be more obvious once blocked. Here are close-ups of each side.

Yeah, maybe the wrong yarn, but I like it.

Now that I have the hang of the pattern, it should go pretty quickly. I guess this shawl is for Kathleen, since it’s her yarn from Blue Mule Fiber. This will be way nicer than what I originally started.

Evening beach.

I’m so glad that I am easily amused. I always have a book, a craft project, or some nature I want to look at!

What’s keeping you going?

Nature Is the Best Medicine

I’m feeling a little better, and it’s for two good reasons: I got out in nature AND I got to eat something, finally, at 2 pm (oops, one should remember to eat). I should have known spending all day cooped up in the condo yesterday wasn’t the best thing for my delicate sensibilities.

Seeing a real beach bunny would cheer anyone up!

We finally drug ourselves out of the house, and I told Lee I had to eat before we went to a park. That was harder than you’d think, because most of the restaurants on the west side of the main road closed during COVID. We eventually did a U-turn and decided it was about time to eat at one of those pancake restaurants.

A trip back in time.

The first open one we found was the Plantation Pancake House, which made me just as uncomfortable as attending Plantation High School did, but, to be honest, the restaurant IS on a former plantation. What a charming, nostalgic place this was. It opened in the early 70s, and I don’t think there’s been any redecorating since then. However, it was sparkling clean and had lovely healthy hanging plants throughout.

Not pancakes

Our food was all freshly cooked by the very nice cook (I know this, because he was chatting with customers and hugging the servers). But what made me feel like I had gone back in time was how the staff interacted. They were so incredibly cheerful and helpful, toward patrons and each other. They seemed to truly like working there, like each other, and have pride in the restaurant. Watching the servers all cleaning and straightening the restaurant at the end of the day was a real pleasure. This was simply a nice, family place who treats the staff well (and they were old, young, black, white, and Hispanic).

After the victuals, we headed just a couple of miles down the road (not wanting to waste gas) and arrived at Myrtle Beach State Park. We had a blast at this place, which is the last piece of natural beach left on the Grand Strand. We first checked out the nature center, which was very entertaining, with aquariums and terrariums, plus a real friendly volunteer to chat with. We got to see a whelk out of its shell trundling along, a couple of types of crabs, and a beautiful rat snake. We spent a LOT of time at their really nice bird feeders, too. Click to see larger and uncropped photos.

Lee and I then embarked on a tour of all the heavily wooded nature trails. I was reminded of how incredibly varied the native hardwood forests on the east coast originally were. There were oaks, pines, cherries, sycamores, magnolias, dogwoods, hickories, and even native olives. It smelled so nice and woodsy. Click to see the pictures larger.

We enjoyed the smaller plants, too, and were happy to see ducks, turtles, skinks, and a lot of different kinds of dragonflies and damselflies. There were wetlands as well as drier parts, which gave me a chance to see so many new and familiar things. And the park is so well done! They have signs on the trail marking many of the common plants, with some facts about them. That really adds to the enjoyment, I think.

This was exactly what I needed for healing: nature to touch, feel, hear, see, and smell. You could still hear the motorcycles, but you could also hear dozens of kinds of birds. I did get surprised when fighter jets took off from the nearby airport. Those things are loud.

We are two happy campers now, and I happen to know Lee is going to get even happier later tonight! Stay tuned…

Another Post about Birds, Beaches, and Beauty

Judging from my stats, people are getting tired of my beachy posts about nature in South Carolina. Unfortunately, that’s all I have right now, since the rest of my brain is in total shutdown mode, which has not made me popular with folks who want me to do things. But, I needed a break.

So, today was a real vacation day! Lee and I went on a long boat tour to North Island, an uninhabited place an hour by boat from Georgetown, from where we embarked. It was most definitely NOT a fancy boat, but it did the job.

It’s ocean worthy!

We were promised lots of bird sightings, and we did get those, though on the way out to North Island, the water was a bit choppy for photography. I did learn my lesson last time, and got a seat near the front of the boat. That meant a bit of splash got on us, but if you’re on a small boat, you need to expect to get wet at some point!

These guys were holding still, though.

They had a naturalist doing the narration, and she was not as cheesy as the previous tour guide was. She did have a few ghost stories, since she’s written three books on it, but really had a lot of interesting history of the area to share. There’s some old stuff in this area! She also shared a lot of information about rice plantations, so I feel full of the knowledge.

We eventually got to the island and embarked on an excursion on the beach. I found one really nice shell, then got sort of dazed by how many colors of oysters they have on that beach, and I did get a few of those.

A variety of oysters, cockle shells and a whelk or something. I am not a shell person.

I was there more to look at living things, and I was not disappointed at this interesting beach. I’m glad I wore my sandals, because the beach was littered with jellyfish, but also had a lot of fascinating patterns of water, since it was low tide. The most beautiful things I saw were blue crabs, though. We had a lot of fun looking for them among the rocks in the jetty. There was lots of seaweed, barnacles, and other interesting stuff. The weirdest thing, though, was this area of clay, really slippery clay. I am going to have to look up what’s up with that.

I really enjoyed watching the crabs crabbing along and interacting with each other. They are so blue! I also found a number of hermit crabs in moon shells, but I put them back in the water before taking any photos. I sure hope no one picked those up thinking they were empty, because they are in for some bad smells, and bad karma, I guess.

Blue crab under ripples. So beautiful

Of course, I wanted to find birds. I don’t think I ever saw so many pelicans in my life, and they were a lot of fun, splashing, diving, swimming, and flying.

Brown pelicans having fun

There were also many gulls, particularly laughing gulls, who were also swooping, diving, and swimming. They were quite loud. They are entertaining and beautiful birds.

Whee, gulls on patrol.

There were also many beautiful shore birds, but we didn’t see egrets and herons on the island (there were plenty on the beaches near the old rice fields, though). I think there were sandpipers and plovers, including another black plover.

There was one more bird we were promised a sighting of, and that was the bald eagle. You can sure tell they are on the comeback trail, because we saw multiple birds (plus a couple of ospreys and one juvenile bald eagle). No, these are not great pictures, but that’s all the ole iPhone X can manage.

It was nice to just ride along and look at the scenery, even though it wasn’t a really beautiful day or anything. I haven’t been on boats in the ocean but one other time, when Anita and I took that tour of marshes. I enjoyed the relaxation aspect of being on the water as much as anything else.

Oh wait, I forgot we got to see this lighthouse, which is still doing its duty, and has for hundreds of years. There is a lot of OLD stuff here.

Even the loud motorcycles didn’t ruin my mood. Going to the island was a really different and pleasant activity. I’m going to share a couple of more photos, just because the island was so ruggedly beautiful.

Driftwood

I hope this day brought you some peace and focus.

Weathered beach

Birds, Trees, Castles, Oysters, and Adventure

Here’s another blog just chock full of photos, and not all of them are nature. It’s all good though. We just had a long day of visiting a variety of sights and sites.

This broad-headed skink is not a bird.

We set out early (for us), determined to see everything possible at Huntington Beach State Park. It’s across the road from Brookgreen Gardens, and features nature, birds, beaches, and a really interesting house that belonged to the people who used to own both the properties, the Huntingtons. Last year I saw better birds, but we still had a good time today.

We first went out to see the nature, where, of course, I spent a lot of time taking close-up pictures of plants. Lee says this is what I always look like.

Taking pictures of plants

I did find some pretty things to take pictures of, though some of them were Lee. There were many native berries, a spider, and the MOST exciting, a painted bunting.

From there, we headed over to Atalaya, the “castle” where the Huntington family lived in the winters. Folks, this is a really, really weird house. It’s all brick, even the floors, and all one story. It’s in the shape of a huge square with a very large courtyard in the middle. Every room, even the bathrooms, has a fireplace. I find that interesting, but it does get cold enough, even in South Carolina, to need some winter warmth.

Continue reading “Birds, Trees, Castles, Oysters, and Adventure”

Dolphins and Mother’s Day Wishes

My patience paid off! I have been scanning the ocean from our room every day since we got to Myrtle Beach. I mentioned before that it was oddly empty of…anything. Slowly, but surely, more things have showed up. I saw a couple of yachts, a kayak, and sailboats yesterday, and today there are parasailing boats, sailboats, jet skis and all sorts of activity. Maybe today is the first official day of “the season” or something.

What I was actually looking for all that time was dolphins. I knew they were there, but all I saw was a glassy sea. Today, though, I saw something black out there. I figured it was a sea duck or something, so I grabbed the binoculars (so glad I brought them) to check.

This time, there are dolphins in that glassy expanse.

There was at least one, and maybe two pods of dolphins out there, playing and jumping. At one point, three of them were jumping together. It was mighty fine entertainment! I had a blast, and I felt like it was my Mother’s Day gift from my Mom and Mother Nature. What a full heart I had watching those families playing together!

The black dot in the center is a dolphin heading down. Obviously I couldn’t get a real photo, since they were way out there.

It’s Mother’s Day in the US as I mentioned. It’s been hard since my older son stopped speaking to me, but I think he knows I love him anyway. Maybe I’ll hear from the other one today! I liked the new Facebook background that showed up today, of love cactuses. That’s how family is; you love them, even if it’s prickly.

My sentiments.

Sometimes you lose loved ones, they don’t appreciate you, they don’t understand your motives, or they have challenges that make loving hard for them. I’m sending love to all of them, as well as to my own loved ones I don’t understand. I’m no saint about it, myself!

I did enjoy mothering my kids!

Hug someone you’re allowed to safely hug today, and enjoy whatever gift Mother Nature brings to you, my friends!

Cruising the Waccamaw River

Today has been fun. We’ve driven all over the area and seen many things. As we approached our lunch venue, we got to enjoy watching a drawbridge open, one of the ones that turns sideways rather than going up and down.

Drawbridge open. You can see a sailboat going through, sort of.

The bridge had a cool bridge house on it, too. It was at a crossing on the Waccamaw River, which forms the Intracoastal Waterway here. The road was called Dick Pond Road, which gave us the giggles as we imagined the pond full of male anatomical parts.

Never found the pond.

We had burgers at a restaurant that specializes in them, River City Cafe, and Lee got a ridiculously large concoction featuring two grilled cheese sandwiches as the buns, two burger patties, mushrooms and other things, cheese, and two extra-large onion rings on top. No, he did not eat it all.

Yum?

After that, we headed past a cute private zoo with very happy animals and lots of screaming peacocks. We didn’t go in, but looked at lots from the car, including a very young baby donkey colored like Fiona.

Our destination was a cruise down the Waccamaw River, Socastee Creek, and nearby creeks. Its a nice change from condo world.

Nature everywhere!

All these waterways have a canal running through them, built by the Army Corps of Engineers, because the natural waterways are too wiggly for the yachts and sailboats who use the Intracoastal. Here’s a map:

Ah, humans.

Before the boat ride, I wandered around the grounds of the docks, which are nestled in a beautiful swampy area with many native flowers, trees, and shrubs. I was delighted to see some flowers I’d never seen in the wild before. The partridgeberry flowers were tiny, hairy, and delicate, while the swamp leatherflower was a happy surprise to find hiding in the iris foliage. That’s one of the prettiest flowers I ever saw! The spiderlilies I’ve seen somewhere else before, but their delicacy always takes my breath away.

I enjoyed chatting with the staff, all of whom live on the property, one of them on his boat. I could stand looking at that scenery every day plus having a zoo next door (downwind).

Blue heron

I enjoyed ignoring Rick, the guide’s, dorky stories (I know it’s their job to tell them and entertain people, but I’d heard most of the jokes already) and looking through my binoculars at giant turtles, flowers, cypresses, and tupelo trees. We only saw three watercraft other than ours, so it was satisfyingly secluded. I think it gets more crowded with rowdy boat partiers in the summer, so our timing was good (only saw one boat full of giggling women). The weather went from sunny to cloudy to raining to sunny, so there were always varied skies. Do click on them to see them enlarged. The reflections and clouds are lovely. (Also, when people click on every image my blog stats go wild!)

We saw lots of nesting ospreys, flying swallowtail kites, herons, and egrets, plus one small gator. People liked that. We got to see osprey drama, with one catching a fish and others chasing and yelling at each other. I’ve always enjoyed ospreys since I was a kid and we’d see them nesting in Cedar Key, on the Florida Gulf coast.

A highlight of bird watching was finding a prothonotary warbler flitting around. It also thrilled the nice little girl in front of me. Our guide told me he had some nest in his other boat’s cupholder. Since I was nowhere near close enough to get a photo, here’s one of Rick’s along with one of the babies in his cup holder.

All in all, the trip was worth the cheesiness, though we definitely had the worst seats on the boat (next time, get starboard, Suna!), next to the bathroom. But, we were polite and let everyone else get on first, so whose fault was that? We got the bonus of enjoying Bella, the owners’ large Rottweiler-style dog, who has a huge joy of living. Watching her play brought laughter and joy to us all, as she ran, flopped, threw a toy around, and spontaneously dug.

People who have a dog that nice can’t be all bad, so I’m glad we could contribute to their small business!

A Very Short Whine

I’m really trying to get to all the things I have to do, but I just crashed when I got home today, which may explain why I originally published the blog post full of typos and a missing paragraph. I have things to write, figuring out my social security and retirement plans, change over my email address to a boring personal one, and other riveting activities. But, after the stuff that’s been going on at work and home, I’m running on fumes.

I’m sorry I’m so behind on my volunteer work, but I’m wiped out by worry, disappointments, and frustrations (none of which you will read about in this blog or hear about in the podcast). I just wanted to remind you that not everything in my life shows up here. Which leads me to remind you and me both that we all have our unspoken struggles, so let’s choose kindness and patience, even when it’s a struggle.

Evening Exploration

It was a long day of “working from beach” today, but it was fun doing my individual meetings on the balcony. I still have things to do, but I’m plowing through them, and some of the stuff is getting interesting.

I guess I’m relaxed

We had to leave for a while in the early afternoon, because they were going to turn the power off in the building for some test. We took that opportunity to visit the new and trendy Market Commons area, which is sort of like the Domain in Austin, but a bit prettier.

Dining spot.

Lee was not impressed, but I’d have a lot of fun with Kathleen or Anita there. The shopping looked excellent, and there were many nice places to eat. We had sushi, and it was fresh and interesting. My lemon roll was divine, and I also had a yellowtail ceviche in a ponzu sauce. The air was just right for outdoor dining, too.

Lemon roll.

Of course, Lee found numerous plants to be allergic to, especially the gorgeous plantings of jasmine. But hey, he’s not allergic to azaleas! He says if he lived a hundred years ago none of this would be bothering him, since he’d have died from some allergy in childhood. Cheery!

Lee wasn’t allergic to this palm flower.

When I finished working at 6, Lee wanted to go see small towns, so we drove on the inland road to Georgetown, SC. We passed many beautiful forests with hardwoods, Wild magnolias, and pines.

Speeding by woods

Much of it looked exactly like northern Florida from my childhood, including the many plantings of pines for harvest. All the big rivers and swamps we passed also made me feel at home.

Pine forest, thinned

As we approached Georgetown, Lee wondered if we were near the sewage plant. Nope, another memory from childhood blasted in and told me what I soon confirmed: there’s a large paper mill just outside of town. You can’t miss that smell.

Stinky but cool.

Other than that, though, Georgetown is beautiful, one of the oldest cities in South Carolina. It currently has a scary looking old steel mill as another industry.

Steel mill

But, as I read one of the information signs around the boardwalk, I recalled where I’d heard of this place. Not only was it a center for growing rice (as evidenced by the rice museum in town), but it was also an early indigo growing center! I’d read about it in the book on indigo I read last year.

And there are boats!

I must say, this is a gorgeous town, with a fixed-up downtown harbor area, a boardwalk, and many places to shop and eat. We had another outdoor meal, with a bonus of watching a Great Dane sit on a kid’s lap.

Both of these families own Great Danes, so the kid was fine with him. He just kept scratching the dog, and the dog kept smiling.

We are glad we will come back later for one of our boat rides (assuming I book them), so we can see more of the beautiful old homes and such.

This old house is a museum.

Lee and I both are excited about our upcoming adventures! We wish we had folks with us, but wow, there’s a lot going on!

Sunset in the rear-view mirror and reflected on our vehicle. Artsy.

Once again, I’m thinking of all my friends and family who have been undergoing treatments and surgeries and such. Healing wishes to you all.

Playing with My Spring

When Lee mowed the area where water flows when the front pond fills up, it squished the place where the little spring bubbles up. It made it look like a seep, not a pretty spring.

Spring, the season, is beautiful here. So is the little spring bubbling up from the ground.

Today I got the weird or wonderful idea to mark the spring and make a little basin to hold water before it flows off to start the stream. Just for fun, you know, knowing it will disappear with the next flood.

Here’s where the spring is in relationship to the house. yes, the electric pole detracts from the image.

I brought an old shiny sprinkler over to mark the location from future mowing.

The spring flowing down to its new marsh.

Then I played in the clay mud to form a depression for the spring to gurgle into, then used some old bricks and rocks to make a teeny dam.

It’s a bit muddy here, but it cleared up.

Now the water makes a little bird bath kind of thing. I got the idea when we saw vultures drinking from the spring a week or two ago (and were relieved it wasn’t Gracie they were messing with).

Spring pool

I’m so fond of this magical water coming out of the ground. It’s definitely Suna’s Spring. And I did mention before that the spring is NOT a leak in the water line? We checked. And we will have the nephew check again, just in case, because the longer I look at the stick marking the water line, the more worried I become. That would not be magical. Or fun to fix.

As the sun goes down, let’s say goodbye to the Hermits’ Rest for the day.

Goofing off in the mud was the highlight of my day. I hope you had a highlight.