Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Angel Oak

We visited some very special friends along the coast of South Carolina. We grew up together and every time we are together, I hurt myself laughing. This visit was no different. Milissa is addicted to a game called Phase 10 so we played often, with strange rules and loads of laughs. She took me and her boys to John's Island for a day on the beach. We watched a thunderstorm roll in across the sky and left at the very last moment, stopping only to visit the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi River, east of the Rockies. The Giant Angel Oak has shaded John's Island for an estimated 1400 years or more. The pamphlet I read said 400 but I looked it up online and the historical site said 1400. Either way, it is a really old tree. It is 65 feet high and provides shade for an area of 17,000 square feet. The branches are the circumference of regular oak trees and the weight of some of them has left them touching the ground. Severe damage from a hurricane named Hugo moved workers to put in cables to support some of the lower branches. I think I was the only one totally stoked about this tree but it was pretty awesome! My parents took us to see it when I was a little girl and mom's parents took her many times. It was nostalgic, historic and very beautiful! It is amazing that trees can grow and thrive for so long and yet much more intelligent creatures only survive for 100 years at the most. Something to think about huh?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Small Town, USA

Small towns, especially in the South have a different culture all their own. People know you, your family, and all of your business. Everyone is a neighbor and someone will always wave at you as you pass, or say hello. Traffic is slow, especially on Sunday when elderly couples go for their Sunday drive, which is more of a crawl. You may have to stop to let an entire house go down the road or to let a herd of deer cross in front of you. Many roads are still dirt and maintained by tractors that scrape a layer off every few weeks, piling it high on the side of the road. Tractors are everywhere, even downtown. There is plenty of tacky artwork to enjoy as well, like the hotdog in front of a local convenience store. It just screams "classy", doesn't it? Life is slower in small towns, some people never leave. Children grow up, graduate, get a job in town, marry their high school sweetheart and grow old from the front porch of their parent's old place. I have always lived in small towns, one had a single traffic light in the middle of town, I think it might have two now. Here, history is maintained and many times, relived over and over again, whereas big cities can swallow up culture and speed up the pace of life so no one knows their neighbor or goes for Sunday drives. There are negatives too, of course, people set in their ways, prejudiced against change or anything different, sometimes with an accent so thick, you can't distinguish the English. Wherever we live, no matter how far from where we grew up, can be home, if our heart is there, but there will always be a place in mine for Small Town, USA.

The nice part about living in a small town is that when you don't know what you're doing, someone else does

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Roughing It

Last weekend was wonderful. We went camping at Oconee State Park and hiking at the parks nearby. The only drawback was that I was missing my right hand. The thought of sleeping on the ground, drinking “cowboy coffee”, and getting eaten by mosquitoes, reminded Frank of all the things he had to do, in the comfort of the Smith’s home with the pool, TV, and air conditioning. I didn’t tell him that most of them brought air mattresses, the campground had a bathroom with showers, and one tent had a fan. Plus, the weather was perfect, low humidity with a nice breeze. The bathrooms weren’t pretty, but after China, they were no obstacle.
Food tastes so much better cooked on an open fire. Pancakes, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, fried fish, pulled from the lake half an hour before, homemade French fries, corn on the cob, fresh picked green beans, fried pork chops, peach cobbler, you get the idea. And that was only the first two days!!
The fishing was great, especially at the lake. We pulled them one after the other, once Dad found the hole they were hiding in. Terry got so excited he cast his whole rod in the lake. We fished it out but it didn’t help him catch more fish. (Hee hee).
For some reason, I woke up at six am every morning, voluntarily! The early morning hours were chilly, so I made a fire, bundled up in a chair, and caught up on some personal reading. I hadn’t been that relaxed since I got back. It is nice to sit and meditate with only the birds as company. Everyone should try it. I got to spend quality time with Noah and Alexis, which I will treasure. We shared a tent, which had to be pitched on a slight incline. That meant I had to wake up several times a night and pull Lexi back up the hill to her pillow and roll Noah back around and recover him. But, waking up with their arms around me made it worth the effort. I had such a great time, can you tell?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Me and My Dad

I really haven't had a chance to spend much time with my Dad here. Last weekend though, we went camping and Friday was our day. We fished, waded in the ice cold river, hiked and ate lunch on a giant rock. Just Dad and me. It was great and I was an emotional basket case. I know, I am a sop, but what can you do? We were always together as I was growing up, daddy's little girl and all. He and Mom have been a pillar of support and encouragement for us, never once discouraging us for moving so far away. When I told Dad we were moving the first time he said, "Get out of here, go". Having the support of parents makes it so much easier to expand our horizons. Thanks to you both!
'Train up a child according to the way, even when they have grown older, they will not turn aside from it'- Solomon
These are my daughters, I suppose. But where in the world did the children vanish?~Phyllis McGinley, "Ballad of Lost Objects," 1954

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Laughter is Good Medicine

Tonight we laughed more than we have in months. You know the friends that you can laugh until you cry with? The ones that after you leave, make you smile and chuckle all over again just thinking about the time you just had? Yeah, it was like that. Some friends drove 2 1/2 hours just to spend a few hours with us. We met them almost halfway and had dinner and coffee and stomach wrenching laughter. It was good medicine. Thank you guys!


"There is a time to laugh"-Solomon

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


It has been so nice to spend time with friends and family. Here are some of the people we have been with.