Saturday, March 28, 2015

Meet Your Cremator

Think of a city called Columbia, in South Carolina, which also happens to be the state capital.  The natives shorten the name to "Cola" or "Cola Town".  In turn, the nickname has morphed into "Soda City".

Now imagine a place (where I live, our high was 22F (-5 ) with a wind chill of 6F (-14 C)) where it was about 43 F (6C) with bright sunshine.  It was warming up fast.

I was so happy, having escaped the Zombied Snowcopolyse I blogged about on Wednesday.

Hence, welcome to today's Soda City Farmers Market.

This outdoor market is in the heart of downtown Columbia, several blocks from the state capital.  Two blocks of Main Street are closed down for the Saturday market.

It was so nice to be at an outdoor market - my first one since October of last year.

Yes, you will find soda. (In other parts of the country, this might be called "pop" or even "soda pop".)

Fresh pasta. (We filled up).
And then we saw this booth.  My spouse loves hot sauce, and a good pun.  This booth had both. (Their motto is "Hot as Hell. Tastes like Heaven.)

It didn't disappoint.  Sauces were laid out for tasting on little cubes of cheese, and spouse and I had to taste.  Spouse bought a jar and was happy.  Meanwhile, I'm still coughing.
One last picture - you would expect to find grits at a Southern market and this one did not disappoint.

The only disappointing thing about this market is that they are not a producer only market, but I only saw one booth that, I'm positive, was not selling local fresh produce.  (The grits above are not grown locally, but are processed locally.)

Next Saturday, I will only have my memories.

Do you like to shop at farmer's markets?

Friday, March 27, 2015

It's About Time

As a person in her early 60's, I sometimes think my life is like a time capsule.

Everyone our age has seen a lot of social change.  I thought about this as I walked the grounds of the State Capital in Columbia, South Carolina today, especially after passing this bicentennial time capsule. 

This was placed on the 200th anniversary of the founding of the city of Columbia in 1986.  It will be opened in March of 2036.

I wonder what South Carolina will be like when that capsule is opened. 

Later, my spouse and I took a tour of the State House.  In the legislative chambers, the female tour guide turned to us after giving her pre scripted talk.  Most of the tour group looked to be late elementary school age.

The tour guide mentioned that South Carolina's governor, Nikki Haley, now in her second term, was also South Carolina's first female governor.  Yes, one female governor in all of South Carolina's distinguished history.  I should add that this is the grand total of one more female governor than my native New York has ever had.

The tour guide went on to explain that not too many state senators or representatives have been women.  The guide also mentioned she was the same age as Nikki Haley, 43.

Then, she looked at us.

Wouldn't it be great, she mused, if some of you, especially the girls, could grow up and serve in these chambers?  She continued with words similar to these: "I would weep tears of joy if one of you came to me years later and told me you had been elected, and had been in one of my tour groups".

Could I have imagined being talked to like that when I was a little girl? 

No.  In my childhood, help wanted ads were divided into Male and Female.  I guarantee you that "Governor" was not found in the Female section.  Neither was Legislator.

I have seen incredible change in 62 years.  I can hope for even more change in my lifetime.

Perhaps, one day, one of those children will make the tour guide weep tears of joy.  And that child will

Thursday, March 26, 2015


I am humbled.

I am sitting in the room where a small part of a famous Civil War diary wrote by a woman, Mary Boykin Chesnut, was written.  The very same window, listening to mockingbirds and mourning doves as she may have, in the midst of the United States Civil War  (If you are wondering, none of the furniture or pictures are from her or her family.) 

But, instead of taking a pen dipped in ink to paper I tap on a laptop keyboard.

Mary Chesnut, the wife of a United States Senator before South Carolina seceded from the Union, started her diary in February of 1861, as the events leading to the start of that war were happening.  And I...well, I will never compare my blog to her diary.  (I hope!)
Outside, camillas bloom and it is supposed to be 80 degrees today.  The azaleas are starting to bloom and the dogwoods should be out in another day.

What a place to write a blog in.  My muse is in full spring mode and I wish I could stay here for weeks. I am fortunate that the current owners of the house turned this into a B&B called the Bloomsbury Inn, in Camden, South Carolina.  This is a splurge for us, but has been well worth it.

To write in the footsteps of history is a privilege.

Have you ever done anything special to get writing inspiration?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring Things - The Hunger That Will Not Die

Near Binghamton, New York, the Third Week of March of 2015, wrote the survivor in her blog.

Day #917 of winter (or so it felt.)
Oh yes, it is pretty out there in the countryside where the guest photographer lives, the diary continued. But don't be fooled by those pretty icicles in the picture.

Here's the sad truth, she wrote.

Zombied out people, sick of snow, sick of no green, sick of shoveling, sick of nights still dipping into the teens, have left for the Carolinas to search for spring.  "Spring.  We must have spring!", they cried as they left. 

"Spring is the hunger that will not die." the blogger explained just before she left with her spouse, too

They drove away, leaving her to the mercies of the snow, the wind.
The guest photographer knew she was one of the few survivors of the Zombied Snowcopolyse.  Now she decided to hunt in search of Spring, accompanied by her favorite dog.

Alas, she will not find Spring today. Or tomorrow.  Or, apparently, anytime soon.

But then she got this picture from her blogging friend.

"I found spring!", her friend said. "I swear to you I will bring her back to upstate New York."

So, our story ends here for now.

Will she soften the hard heart of Spring?  Or, will the guest photographer continue to fight through the Zombied Snowcopolyse?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to South Carolina

I have not felt the greatest the last couple of weeks, but thought it was exhaustion from my job, which is in a busy time of the year.  I needed a vacation - badly.

Monday, at about 5am, in a motel room in Raleigh, North Carolina, I got a familiar feeling- and, later that morning, I was waiting to see someone in an urgent care the desk clerk in my motel had recommended.

I have to say this - they have excellent walk-in urgent care facilities in Raleigh.  But, between my particular infection, and the antibiotic treatment used for it, I can now write a book called "Many of the Restrooms Along Interstates 40 and 77 in the Carolinas, Rated."

(Sorry if this is gross.  Last on that topic.)

So fast forward (yes, PLEASE) to today, where spouse and I were walking down a street in South Carolina.  Normally we would have been walking fast, but today, I just couldn't.

We were admiring a house when a man, perhaps close to my age or a tiny bit older, came over.  He had been doing yard work.  He said "hi", we said "hi" back, and continued our walk.  Then, after a little bit, I was tired enough where I didn't want to walk anymore. So we were heading back to our car, and the man came over again.

This time, we chatted a few minutes, and then the magic happened. The man invited us into his (large!) yard, and then gave us a tour of part of his house, which has a distinguished ownership history.  Part of his land is also located on a Revolutionary War battlefield.  He gave us permission to take pictures of plants, but not his house.
If it wasn't for that infection, perhaps I never would have seen this tree on his property, or known its story.

This is a magnolia tree.  He told us (which I am unable to independently verify) it is the widest magnolia in South Carolina.  At one time, it was a lot taller, too, but Hurricane Hugo (1989) took care of that.

Several years ago I did a blog post on the Angel Oak near Charleston, SC and this tree reminded me so much of the Angel Oak.

I can mourn the loss of part of a battlefield, but the antebellum house this magnolia belongs to shows that battlefields weren't that respected, even more than 150 years ago.

Sometimes things happen for a reason.  I would rather not have that infection. But sometimes, you just never know what is around the corner from where you may, except for the unexpected, never have been.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Great Reveal

Today, many participants in the Blogging from A to Z blogging challenge are revealing their blog themes for the month of April.

If I was honest, my theme would be "I'm scared, even though I am sort of a seasoned blogger."

But that wouldn't be exciting, would it?

Why would anyone want a blogging theme, when you are being required to create a blog post based on  each letter in the English alphabet? A on April 1, B on April 2, and so forth (Sundays excepted).

So - my theme is:  America the Beautiful

Although, I can tell you that my theme on April 1 will be autism - because of its impact on my family.

But, I have traveled in 46 states of the United States, and several provinces in Canada.  I haven't been in all of them recently, or recently enough to have electronic photos.  But, with a few exceptions, each of my posts in April will be about a place I have visited, such as (not guaranteeing, of course):

Charleston, South Carolina and its surrounding area
Savannah, Georgia
Macon, Georgia
Prince Edward Island, Canada (yes, Canada.  It is part of the Americas, after all!)
Arkansas (where Wal-Mart started)
New York State

This is going to be fun - scary fun, perhaps, but fun nevertheless.

I hope you will join me on my April journey!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Civil War Sunday - Tar Heels

The United States Civil War's 150th anniversary commemoration is almost over.

But now, one of the remaining focuses turns to the state of North Carolina.

General Sherman, known for his "March to the Sea" from Atlanta, Georgia to Savannah, Georgia in the fall and early winter of 1864, had shifted his focus to the Carolinas.  In early 1865, his armies (including the local regiment fielded by Broome County, New York, where I live) had fought their way through South and North Carolina, on their way to meet up with Grant's Army of the Potomac.  If this happened, the war would basically be over for Robert E Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and the Confederate States of America would be forced to surrender.

On March 19, 20 and 21 remnants of four Confederate armies faced off against Sherman's forces at Bentonville, North Carolina.  This was the largest battle of the war fought in North Carolina.

Today, I attended a reenactment of that battle.  Unlike previous reenactments I have gone to, this one was on part of the actual battlefield - the Morris Farm.  It made the reenactment, if anything, more meaningful.
The Confederate reenactors, including troops from North Carolina (called "Tar Heels") march to the battlefield.  You can see how they are dressed, in various odds and ends.  But they are bravely ready to fight.
At the battlefield (again, the actual Morris farm where some of the three day battle took place) Federals enter.

The Harper House, an 1850's farmhouse that served as a field hospital for Sherman's troops, a long walk away from the Morris Farm.

What happened at the end of the battle?

The Confederates withdrew, but this battle weakened them so much that, a month later, the largest surrender of the war (which was NOT Lee surrendering to Grant)  took place a few miles away.

I won't show pictures of the battle, but will note that, at one point, the Confederates started chanting "Tar Heels!  Tar Heels" in addition to sounding their rebel yells.

 And, North Carolinians, to this day, are proud to be called Tar Heels.