The Flower Fairy Goes Art Walking

What a pleasant Saturday! I started the day fairly early for me, so I could go work with the horses before it got over 100° F. I ended up hanging horse signs up in the tack room, rearranging my horse playground and round pen, working with Drew (who now wants to nip me while we trot right, so that got dealt with) and working with Apache, who rode all the way over to the edge of the woods today. He is now comfortable in most of the front pasture.

My spotted buddies

As a reward, I gave him a nice cool bath with my new horse bathing attachment. We finally have the hose available to where that works out. Apache was displeased that I made him stand around to dry while I cleaned his saddle and bridle, but they look good now.

My clean tack. Hard to see but it’s there.

Then, since Apache’s bath had cooled me off, I took pictures of how nice things are looking around here.

After all that I was too hot to do much, so I swam in the pool while it was still cool. I think that thing is my lifesaver.

After I rested a bit, Lee said he wanted to go to the first Art Walk in Cameron, which was held in the remodeled building that used to be Bea’s Kitchen. Wow, they’ve done a great job with the place. Here’s the restored signage.

Big words!

The interior is gorgeous, and they made really cool light fixtures that allow you to see the ceiling tiles. And upstairs, there are beautiful new windows. It’s gonna be so cool.

The Art Walk was so much fun. Anita, Lee and I all had a great time meeting old friends and making new ones. the artists were all very interesting people, too. One woman lives in Maysfield, down the road from us and makes interesting jewelry. The rest were painters. Each was different in focus, ranging from sweet watercolors to cleverly subtle social commentary. I got a watercolor and was happy to learn the artist gives classes!

It’s a marsh.

Lee and I both really liked the work of one of the artists, Randy Robinson. We learned he only started painting not that long ago. His work had movement and great light, because he studied Rembrandt’s style in Europe. I got to talking to his daughter and learned they live in nearby Milano and have lots in common with our family. All the stuff you usually don’t think you’ll find. What luck!

Then, when I was off with Anita, Lee secretly got the painting I loved the most, which was of a horse in the night, spooked (says the brochure) by finding a human lying in her field. It really captures the wildness and bemusement. And you just want to pet that muzzle.

I love that it’s off center, too, from the viewpoint of someone on the ground. Yeah. I wore a flower fairy dress. It has pansies with faces, and Alice in Wonderland.

We talked more later, and I kept thinking he seemed familiar. We started talking about plants, and then it all became clear. He’d joined the Master Naturalist group during my presidency and come to a few online meetings. I introduced him to Carolyn Henderson, our current president, and we hope he starts coming to meetings.

Me and Randy and Night Dreamer

Well what a coincidence! We are all friends now. I’m so happy to keep meeting like-minded folks out here. Like anywhere, diversity’s out there and it makes for a stronger community.

Happy to be here

In addition to the Art Walk, the model railroad across the street was open one last time before it moves elsewhere. All the tiny buildings were set out where you could really look at them, and there were folks explaining which modern places the models of 1930s life depicted.

Anita looks at the back of St Monica’s church

The details on the buildings are quite charming. There are prisoners at the jail, a wedding at one church, and a nun at the Catholic Church. My favorite is a woman hanging laundry.

It will be fun to see the rebuilt model of old Cameron!

As if this wasn’t enough fun, we even tried a new restaurant. Yes, it’s Mexican but it’s different Mexican! I had chicken in Mole sauce. I hope Veracruz lasts.

Fed the horses of course. Look at the moon!

Look at that Suna Shack

It’s not done, but the tack room alas she shed has all the horse stuff in it now. The saddle racks are back up, pegs to hang bridles and halters are up, and it all looks good.

Everything has a place.

Feeding will be real easy because both Kathleen and I can access the food bins at the same time, and all supplements are easy to get to, thanks to the cool old storage unit.

I can even label the drawers.

I like how much of the stuff is recycled. It makes the place feel homey. Another cool aspect of the tack area is that we have a rack to store the trailer’s covers for the ventilation areas. Those things are hard to store.

Convenient. this is before the storage stuff went up.

I’m also happy that now I can see all the stored items in the lofts. That will make organized storage easier to achieve.

What about the Suna shed? Well, they put down my outdoor rug for fanciness, but that’s it for now. They don’t want to bring in furniture until the air conditioner is installed. The electrician isn’t scheduled yet but it should be soon. That will be good, since we don’t want the leather molding.

Imagine the possibilities!

I didn’t get to feed tonight, but I’m sure Kathleen enjoyed it. I was off taking my son and his partner out for dinner at the Nearly Empty Bistro, which was nice. No band so we could talk.

Forgot to show the finished windows yesterday. They will look good trimmed out!

We then walked around the completely empty town. It’s graduation night. Very few people don’t have a friend or relative graduating! Small town living.

Must sleep. Tomorrow we are filming a virtual horse show with Drew and Sully the mare.

I CAN Try New Things!

When I finally get a day off, I can cram a lot of fun into it, that’s for sure, and yesterday I even stepped outside my comfort zone successfully, more than once. I’m so proud.

Announcement! Suna is proud!

One thing I’m happy with myself for doing is finding my own fun by myself. As Lee has gotten more and more into the Hermit Life, I’ve found myself slipping into it as well (and COVID helped form the habit of being solo). Since I wake up ridiculously early here, I usually have five hours or so to kill before Lee is able to do anything. I sit on the balcony, read, or knit, but I’m so used to getting up and doing a bunch of chores that I’ve taken to just leaving and finding stuff to do outside.

Pretty kites, and look, way out there is a BOAT! You don’t see many boats here.

Admittedly, some of the stuff I do involves fruity drinks and beach chairs, but I wander around, take pictures, and talk to folks. I swear I’m turning into my dad with all this talking to folks stuff. Not very hermit-like.

I got to have the first pineapple slice of the day.

When Lee was awake, he suggested we go take advantage of the free putt-putt golf we get as part of our stay. I think the hotel chain bought this sorta run-down course, since it’s right across from one of the properties and counts as an amenity. Here’s an admission. I had NEVER played putt-putt before, or any other golf-like activity.

A Chapter for My Memoirs

Backstory: In my horrible only year at Plantation Middle School, some person without much forethought had the great idea of having a bunch of young girls, many from backgrounds that didn’t include elitist sports like golf (back then, well-to-do white people played golf), learn the sport in physical education. Golf includes golf balls and golf clubs, both things that needed to be treated with respect. There were rules, like only swinging your club behind a certain line, not swinging without checking your surroundings, and not driving the ball while people were out retrieving their shots. Good rules. Who can guess what happened?

Golf has rules for good reasons. Photo by @Thaninee via Twenty20

Yep. I had finally hit my ball far enough to get an extra point (a thing I needed because PE was my worst class) and was about to pick it up when WHAM, one of the little darlings in class swung her club onto my head. I was so focused on getting my extra point that I simply went back to the teacher to report my success. She asked me what was on my gym outfit. That would be blood. I had to go to the nurse’s office, which was hard to do when you had no idea where that was in the crazy building and you were dripping. I was so angry that I smeared blood on the exterior wall of the school, quite an act of rebellion for the rule-follower I was at the time.

I can’t believe I found a picture of the wall. The school is now the home of the Patriots and being renovated. Much different demographics, too.

The nurse washed me up and called my mom to come get me. Mom was in the middle of her nervous breakdown from having to move away from Gainesville, so she was not happy to have to drive down Sunrise Boulevard (she didn’t like four-lane roads) to come get me. She looked at the hole in my head and declared something like it was just a flesh wound and took me home with no doctor visit or anything. Mom was frugal and didn’t want to waste health care dollars on us kids when she needed so much (thus, we had no trips to the dentist until our teens, my brother’s lazy eye was not addressed until too late to fix it, etc.).

My nightmare: a child with a giant golf club. Image by @Moondrop via Twenty20

The results were that I had headaches for years and sharp pains if I moved a certain way. I have avoided golf entirely. I wasn’t the only one permanently damaged by middle school golf. Another classmate had a chunk of her chin removed by someone who didn’t check her surroundings, and as far as I know, still has a nasty scar. I believe that was the end of the golf program at Plantation Middle School.

Back to Put-Putt

Anyway, Lee likes golf and used to be really good at mini-golf, so I agreed to go. I’m so glad I did. It was great fun, and I was nowhere near as horrible at it as I feared I would be. In fact, I was even under par on one hole, and made par on a couple more. The first hole was pretty bad, since I had to figure out how hard to hit the ball to make it do what I wanted it to do, but after that, I found it most amusing to see where the ball would go and what it would do.

Not too fancy but does the job.

I declare that I would do it again, perhaps at a nicer course. But, we got a lot of laughs out of the outing and it was great to see Lee actually enjoying an activity on a trip.

Off to Calabash

We decided we wanted some good seafood, so we motored off to North Carolina (barely) to the beautiful little town of Calabash, where we’d had a great meal last year. Once again, I knitted a lot. I am trying to get that baby blanket finished before that baby is born. We tried the restaurant next door to the one where we ate last year, and were not disappointed.

We were at the far left corner. Isn’t it pretty?

I got a huge amount of food in my platter, unlike the small serving we had in Murrell’s Inlet a couple of days ago. And it was fried so beautifully that my grandmother would have approved (the great connoisseur of Florida seafood). The oysters were immense and the scallops delicate and tender. The shrimp were local (from right next door!) and the fish was glorious.

See, even grackles can be pretty.

While the service was a little slow, I could not complain, since there was quite a show among the local bird population for me to enjoy. Grackles were mating and building nests, so they were in great form (and loud, being grackles).

The seagulls were also in squabbling mode, so there was lots of action. Plus, there were pelicans zooming around and catching fish. They are so beautiful to me.

After the meal, I went for a walk on the little boardwalk and boat docks, where I got to enjoy pelicans having some kind of bird party next to a party boat, which cracked me up (easily amused).

Pelican Party Time

I also realized why all the birds are so dang happy right there in Calabash. The water was literally teeming with little fish. No shore bird could go hungry with all those fishies everywhere they looked!

While I was gone, Lee was paying the check, and since he was alone with our leftovers, the laughing gulls got bolder. He got a great shot of a laughing gull taking one of my shrimp.

Once we got home, I needed to burn off that fried food, so I walked on the boardwalk until I got all my steps in, then decided to enjoy an Old Fashioned and knit a table at the upstairs bar (I had been outside until a loud family arrived). A lady said I shouldn’t be sitting alone and invited me to the bar to sit with them. I ended up talking to them and another couple for a long time. Lee even came down for a while.

And in talking to the staff, I discovered that Kevin the bartender is also a history professor who specialized in my very own ancestors in Florida! His family is also from north Florida with deep roots there. Who would have guessed? This condo has the best staff, that’s for sure.

Beautiful ending to a fun day, even if I overindulged.

I ended up meeting another couple and stayed too long and had three drinks, so I was not at my best when I got home. Lee said I was cuddly, so I must have been out of my mind, ha ha. It was worth it, though. I truly enjoy hearing the stories of all the people I run into and finding our commonalities without ruining things by getting into politics or religion. Granted, anyone I meet here fits certain criteria or they wouldn’t be here. Hilton sure does check your credit scores and incomes. But I’ve met people from many places and backgrounds, and that’s what I like and have missed so much the past few years.

While I’m still primarily doing outdoor things (we’ve been eating on patios), at least I’m no longer scared to talk to people. I’m back to having a nice balance of being alone and in peace and interacting with others.

Yes, Good Customer Service Exists

So, Lee and I are headed to our yearly South Carolina condo stay. We left after work yesterday to get a few hours in, and stopped at the same Hampton Inn we stayed in last year.

It has beautiful plants around it.

When we got there, one front desk person was on the phone. She had obviously been on the phone a long time, helping someone with a complex reservation. I was so impressed at her kindness and support for the person on the phone.

Snappy!

Meanwhile, I discovered I’d made my reservation for the wrong day. The young goth guy helping me was just great about fixing the error, which was made harder by the fact that I’d used points to make the reservation. He, too, was cheerful, friendly, and patient. It made me feel so much better.

Feeling rosy

Then, we realized a dude had been waiting behind us a long time. The phone call finally ended, and the front desk woman started to help us, but we said to help that guy. He was SO nice about having to wait, saying he’d had the same problem. We all ended up laughing and talking. What could have been a group of annoyed people ended up being uplifting.

They had dewberries, too.

Once we deposited our stuff, we headed over to the pizza place we ate at last year, where we had loved the calzones. Lee suggested we sit outside to eat. Our server ended up being the manager.

We had fun!

Well, the manager, named Leigh or Lee, made our meal a true joy. We had such fun talking with her about her life, adventures in the hospitality industry, and what it’s like to be the child of a very outgoing father (she and I are). The calzones with Cajun seasoning were great, too.

There are shrimp in there.

At the end of the meal, Leigh/Lee told us she’d been bummed that she had to come in to work, but that we’d made her evening great.

I guess I was happy, since I made this weird Snapchat.

I’m so glad we’d been able to meet and enjoy conversation. It was the end of the evening, so the crowd had thinned. She was able to do all her work AND meet new people. We got great food and laughed at all her stories.

I hope our trip continues to feature kindness, good service, and patience. Not being so stressful about COVID helps, for sure.

There and Back Again

Well, dang it, I was not elsewhere for very long! Like the Hobbit, I was there and back again. As anyone who’s my Facebook friend already knows, I discovered that the conference I went to Kerrville to attend was not happening. There were two others there wondering what the heck was going on, too. We couldn’t even get ahold of anyone listed as being in charge of the conference for a long time. So, we spent some time looking at the endless supply of taxidermized animals in the hotel lobby. I love the fact that the mother and baby giraffe had a sign that said they died of natural causes. You know, it’s an art and everything, but taxidermy isn’t one of my favorites.

Finally, Tiffany, the mom in the other group, got in touch with the AgriLife folks in Kerr County, who informed us the conference had been canceled. I called and gave them my name and number, and they promised we’d get contacted by someone who knew something. The Smith family, who had driven five hours, went to visit some relatives. I decided to have a “me” day, and sought out a coffee shop to ponder my plans.

Someone can’t read

I really liked the Pax coffee shop I found. The coffee was Cuvee Coffee from Austin, which I like a lot, and the honey-infused latte was quite yummy and the avocado toast was seasoned well. I know a person who goes by “Pax” from my old church, so I got them one of the t-shirts from the shop. They are pretty, too.

After a little walk around downtown Kerrville, I went off to Fredericksburg, my favorite place to go off to, to be honest. I had a lot of fun visiting all the shops I miss so much, like the fantastic Native American jewelry store I like so much (I got a ring with snakes on it by Effie Calavaza, who was Zuni), where I got to listen to a phone call in Navajo. That doesn’t happen often.

Snake on the other side had red eyes

After enjoying the hat place, the boot place, the fancy clothing place, and a candle place, I headed over to the wine place. That’s the Becker winery shop. I’ve been a member of their wine club for three years and this was the first time I even got to take advantage of my free glass of wine per visit perk. I just sat there in a big ole leather chair, knitted on my next blanket, and felt all fancy. Since I took the contractor gig I hadn’t taken any time off. It felt good to have no agenda.

Next, I wandered down the road a bit to have lunch. It was in an old warehouse building. My goodness, it was PRETTY. I just sat there and looked at all the rustic things around me and enjoyed a “hippie panini” (all veggies) and some delicious fruit. I’m glad I am comfortable dining solo.

The building next to the one with the restaurant in it must be owned by the same folks. This was an “antique store” but not one of the dusty fusty ones. No, it is a trendy spendy antique store. I was impressed with the interesting finds in that place, such as a lot of grates and urns from France, industrial pieces that could make cool lamps, an antique weaving machine, and a somewhat creepy amount of things sourced from old Catholic churches or something. There were many things I thought we could duplicate here, so I took a lot of pictures.

Of course, because it’s trendy, most things in the store were white, cream, or wood colored. I’m not sure why colors are so scary, but they are. All the linens were extra natural, too, and pre-wrinkled. Whatever.

After all this fun, I drove home quite pleased with my day. Then I started getting calls from various AgriLife people apologizing and such. They are refunding my registration and even paying back my hotel room! I did not expect that. Later, they offered me a big discount on the next conference in October. I guess they expect that one to actually happen. HA HA.

Bonus. Store dog.

I appreciate the caring and concern, though. Since I spend a LOT of time volunteering for them, I’m pleased at how they are willing to make amends and are so nice about it. Heck, we all make mistakes, right? And I ended up having a nice day and got home in time to feed horses, so Lee only had to feed once.

Mansion I should have taken the tour of in Kerrville.

Bonus: I was going to have to miss a Master Naturalist Board meeting tomorrow, so now I get to go to it after all. It’s always good to have the secretary in attendance. And I will get to see friends. Score!

Cheep Cheep, and Such

Sheesh, today was a dang busy one, but at least it’s mostly good. I had a lovely dinner last night with my friend, though it was bittersweet. The restaurant is in the location where my favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant, Hao Q was, before the really fun woman who owned the place, Hong, passed away.* It happened during COVID, so Anita and I didn’t even know. In any case, it’s now a Filipino restaurant, and pretty good.

Smiling women with cute hair.

Anyway, Chriztine and I laughed so much at each other’s stories (how I had burned hard boiled eggs yesterday morning, how she went the wrong way on the one-way street across from my former workplace, etc.) and guessing what the ingredients were in the extremely interesting frozen dessert we just HAD to try (there were beans, that we knew).

I do love the neighborhood in Austin. That’s Elvis the cat, on a roof. I think that’s Elvis. It may be his “brother.”

I worked and worked all morning in the sparkling, clean house, wishing an offer would come through, but, as of this writing, it has not. I did get to see my son, who is being very patient with keeping the Bobcat Lair house so pristine. Anita is growing weary, though. I feel bad for her having to do all the showing work, caulking and other optional but helpful things.

I did get to see two neighbors and their dogs! They were glad to see us, too.

I zipped back to the ranch as fast as I could, knowing that those chicks were due to hatch at any time. I rushed over to feed the chickens, then noticed Star was NOT in her nest. Oops. Babette was looking a bit nervous (well, she always does, actually, but at least her head is healing).

Something’s wrong!

Then I saw Star, under her cage. I looked in her nest and saw only one egg. Hmm. Wait a minute. I stuck my hand under Star (earning her wrath and some pecks), and discovered two little fellers. They had hatched and thanks to Star messing with my cardboard border, they’d gotten down.

Little chicks!

They could easily get out of there, so I couldn’t leave them. I ran to get Lee, and we proceeded to engage in a pretty darned funny (in retrospect) battle to capture Star and the little ones. I gave Lee a stick to prod them, and I got Star in the cage, but didn’t want to latch it so I could put the chicks in.

While I was around the back of the henhouse trying to catch the little ones, Star got back out, and she and Babette ran around and around, to Lee’s annoyance. But, he stuck with it, and I was able to get both chicks in the safety of their cage.

Getting Star a second time was NOT easy. I hope I didn’t hurt her, but I do think she lost some feathers. Finally they got in there, I put in new water, chick food, and adult food for Star, who I hope will start eating now.

I’ll just go ahead and eat this chick food.

Meanwhile, the saws were buzzing away over by the pool. The guys have put a smooth plaster edge around where the tiles will go, and have started putting in the limestone ledges around the pool. Lee said they did a lot of smoothing yesterday, too. I guess the tilework will take a while!

I’m getting the hang of the new job and am making some handouts and such. I’m glad I got useful sort of quickly. I just need to get enough sleep to have energy to do more with Apache in the afternoons…it will come.

There’s a lot going on with many of you readers, so I want to let you know I’m thinking of you and want to hear from you. Being a part of a community of kind and thoughtful people means so much to me.


*Please read the wonderful messages on Hong’s memorial page. You’ll get the idea. She knew everyone’s name, their favorite dishes, their wine preferences…everything. She was a total hoot, too.

Don’t Let the Chickens Out

It was a fun, relaxing day, except that I did a thing I probably shouldn’t have. The chickens were trying so hard to get grasshoppers from within their pen. I was throwing them in, but felt sorry for them, so I let them out.

Whoa! We’re free!

I watched them for at least ten minutes as they flapped and ran around after grasshoppers and crickets. They’d fight each other for them and squawk away.

Bugs everywhere!

I went off to take care of the horses, and when I came back they were scattered all over. So, I went in for a while. I went back out with half a watermelon shell. The minute I walked by, four of them came running, led by Bertie Lee, of course.

But the other two? Nope. I couldn’t find them. So I came back a few minutes later, and Star and Henley, the skittish one, were behind the coop. I couldn’t get them in. Well, I got Star in, but Buttercup went out. So, I had to get Lee to help. There are no photos, because we were too busy!

That dang Henley ran out in the field, ran around us, and got stuck trying to get in the wrong way. But, we did it! More teamwork! However, they stay in for a while longer, I think!

What’s this?

Earlier today, we rewarded ourselves for hauling all the hay by taking a spontaneous trip to Temple for lunch. We ended up downtown and Kathleen looked for a restaurant. We headed to a place with pizza, and ended up in a really pretty area that appears recently renovated.

Area near the restaurant

We had a great time at Treno’s, even with the weird trendy ordering system. The outdoor eating area was so pretty, and the oven-fired pizza was fantastic.

Pretty eating area. There were also really cute play areas.

We were delighted with our meals, and we want to go back and try their beer bar. I’m impressed with the work they’ve done there, and it was good to see families having fun.

More downtown Temple.

One funny thing is that I wore an old t-shirt today that says, “I apologize to anyone I’ve not offended yet. I will get to you eventually.” I had three different people come up and say how much they liked it. One guy took my picture. That was weird!

In all, it was a good Sunday. I worked, had fun, and ate good food. We’re going to try another Temple restaurant soon!

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?

Pancakes: The Odd Thing about South Carolina Dining Out

Yeah, many towns look exactly alike, with the same stores, same shopping areas, and same restaurants. But, still, you can find interesting local differences if you pay attention. Here are some random things we’ve been noticing in South Carolina.

A Pancake and Waffle Obsession

Apparently, these are most beloved. Photo by @lorenklein via Twenty20

There are many restaurants around the US that specialize in pancakes and waffles. However, I’m pretty sure this part of South Carolina has the most pancake/waffle eating options of any place, or at least of any place I’ve been. The Waffle House chain has been around a long time (why, since 1955, according to the website), and you see them at many highway exits and such. But, here, in a 30-something mile stretch of one highway, I saw five of them. Then I looked on the Google Maps. Whoa.

That’s a lot of waffle houses.

You don’t have to go far for a waffle anywhere in this region. And by the way, this is making a person who hasn’t had breakfast really hungry. Too bad I’m tied to my headphones (I started this post while waiting for no one to show up to my early book club AGAIN).

So, waffles are made in a waffle-maker appliance, while pancakes (or flap-jacks or many other names) are cooked on a griddle or large pan. Thus, “pan” cakes. I get it now. The people of northern South Carolina, or perhaps it’s the tourists coming TO northern South Carolina) apparently consume a lot of these.

MMM, absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever, the perfect American food. Photo by @shanti via Twenty20

Usually in the US, you see IHOP, which used to be the International House of Pancakes, but modernized its name, just like KFC is no longer Kentucky Fried Chicken. Fine, try to hide your roots! I can recall my brother really liking chocolate chip pancakes from there, while I always wanted some exotic “international” crepe or something. I actually still like to eat there once in a while, because I like their coffee and breakfasts, which come with a small number of pancakes that won’t kill me.

Heavens, that’s a lot of pancakes.

Here, though, there are so many pancake options you could eat at a different one for a couple of weeks without repeating. People here must really love pancakes, or maybe they just eat breakfast a lot, since they’re all on vacation.

I also notice that other restaurants, like Cracker Barrel, focus on pancakes in their local signs, though I keep missing my photo ops.

Closest pancake to where we are staying.

I’ll probably never figure this one out. But it’s got me looking for pancake and waffle restaurants everywhere! Austin has taco places on every corner. Cameron has Mexican restaurants. What’s overly abundant where you live?

Ups and Downs of Small-Town Businesses

Now that I think Pickle and Vlassic are over their foam-eating issues, I can return to other topics. One that has especially interested me is how people in and around Cameron feel about the customer service mentality in the area. I may have mentioned that a couple days ago, Lee wrote a blog post about why Cameron has such a hard time keeping restaurants open.

Lee’s photo of the former Sonic, now up for sale.

Usually, our blog posts and Facebook business page posts get between 100-200 views/hits each. Not this one. The Facebook one has 2500 views and 14 shares. Mandi said the one on her page also got lots of shares. The website stats look hilarious. There were 1500 hits that day, which made the previous week look totally flat.

So, yeah, Lee’s thoughts on this topic struck a nerve. I’ve been hanging around Cameron for just nine years now, but I’ve seen so many places open and close right up. One has done it at least four times (I’m not naming names, just noting facts). When I talked to a former cafe owner, she said people would just walk off their jobs or not show up because they didn’t feel like it. Turnover was huge. Just a week or two ago we went to a local place where only the cashier had showed up, so she was trying to wait tables. It didn’t go well.

Continue reading “Ups and Downs of Small-Town Businesses”
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