Archive for February, 2011

Georgia Bottoms

February 26, 2011

Follow the link to author Joshilyn Jackson’s blog, Faster Than Kudzu, and enter the contest to win a new book, Georgia Bottoms, by fellow author Mark Childress.
Click here.

In Search of History and She-Crab Soup, Part 2

February 26, 2011

We're back!


She-crab soup before. Yes, that is a beer.

She-crab soup after stirring. One lonely biscuit awaits its fate in the basket.


We liked Poogan’s the first time we went.  This time, not so much.  Our waiter appeared to be recovering from a hangover, or something, that impeded his ability to be an exceptional waiter.  Sugar got exactly what he ordered the last time, a cup of she-crab soup and a fried green tomato BLT.  It arrived with fries.  We hardly eat fries, especially since I read that fries live in your gut for ninety days after eating them.  Ick.  The waiter didn’t give him a choice of fries or grits, and we assumed that grits came with the sandwich because that’s what we got last time, and we’re old and nearsighted, and can’t remember if the waitress offered us a choice last time, and we can hardly read the fine print on a menu, so there you have it.  Fries.  Being Southern, we don’t complain or ask for a re-do, we just mutter under our breath and suck it up and go on.  The waiter asked if I wanted a refill on my coffee, and I agreed that it would be a good thing, and TEN minutes later, people, ten minutes he returns with the refill.  But. no. more. creamer.  What’s up with that?  I hate when the cup of coffee is mixed just to your delight with creamer and sweetener, and then when the bit left in the bottom of the cup is spoiledspoiledspoiled with black coffee added to the top.  And no hope of any more creamer coming, because after all, we are Southern and don’t like to ask for more than we have been allotted.  Andandand the basket of biscuits had two, count ’em, only two biscuits.  What was poor Sugar going to eat?  Did we get really lucky the first time that our waitress brought us a heaping basket of biscuit love?  And Mr. Waiter didn’t tidy up the table during the meal when he brought our food, like picking up the forlorn empty creamer containers.  Creamer, Waiterman, Creamer!  I used both of them!  Bring more when you bring more coffee!  It just stands to reason.  All of this is really no problem, but when Waiterman took the black notebook holding the bill and Sugar’s debit card to ring up the sale, and then returned the black notebook MINUS the debit card, that was a moment of annoyance and sheer panic.  Sugar went up to him and asked him for the debit card, the waiterman said “I gave it to you” and then looked in his pockets to confirm that it was not there.  In his pockets, people, like maybe this has occurred more than once to him.  They found the debit card lying on the floor in the next room, so waiter man had dropped the card and not even known it.  Panic situation averted by Sugar realizing the card was missing.

Whew.  Anyway, during brunch we noticed that the restaurant faced the side of the Mills House, a Charleston hotel that was once run by, yup, a Lawton.  (The old curmudgeon will clarify that in the comments.  Just see if he doesn’t.)

So after brunch, we set out about the city.

Across the street from the Mills House was a historical society type place.  The building was set way back from the street, because, it turns out the building was once a gas station, and the pumps would have been where the wide brick walkway made a gallery for a Gullah woman with a sweetgrass basket display.

The center of the basket is started with pine needles, then sweetgrass is added as the weaving medium.


She wouldn’t let me take her photo, even though I asked politely, and she was wearing a wonderful broad-brimmed straw hat that would have featured her nicely on my famous blog.

The sign in the window proclaimed a sale, so I encouraged Sugar to go inside and look.  History!  On sale!  There might be books! 

They did have books and other wonderful things, like tins of benne wafers (look it up) and jewelry and stationery and knick-knacks.  While Sugar was buying a book (told you there’d be books), I saw an unusual display by the check-out station.

This display featured the house pictured here.


It's a well! With a glass cover! Inside a building!

Photomural:  The Center’s Block, ca. 1910.

The early well in front of you once supplied water to the late eighteenth-century house in the center of the photomural above.  The house was torn down with two others in 1928 to make way for a gas station.  When the station closed, Historic Charleston Foundation acquired the property from Exxon Corporation.  To the surprise of our general contractor, the well was uncovered during the construction of the room you are standing in.

Always intrigued by the history in our own back yeard, we’ve left the well open as a record of the site’s earlier identity.

And more history awaits us….

What Was Lost Is Found, and What Was Found Is Lost

February 23, 2011

This morning I headed out to work, after doing a bit of satisfactory blogging.  The day promised to be a pretty one, and the redbud trees bloomed out on either side of the two-lane highway heading into my little town. 

I passed by Sugar’s house on the way, like I always do, and a bit further along, closer to town, I saw the shape of a large dog lying half-on, half-off the road, on a little bridge that goes over a swampy area.  It was unsettling to see that she was deceased, and also that she looked like one of Sugar’s dogs, Rosie. 

Rosie is a brown brindle that just came running up Sugar’s driveway a few years ago.  We didn’t know she was a brindle because she had no hair, a condition caused by one of the most excessive cases of demodectic mange that I had ever seen.  I had stopped in to see him, and was standing in his driveway talking to him when his dogs starting making a fuss at the fence.  This pathetic dog was running up the driveway to the fence to say hello.  He took her in, had her treated, and she became very comfortable at the Little Big House.

But this morning, things were not looking so good for Rosie.  I went on to work, explained the situation to my employer, and headed back to Sugar’s house to see if by some stroke of luck Rosie was there.  I drove to his house by an alternate route so I didn’t have to drive by the dog’s body again, and pulled into his long, shaded driveway and drove up to the gate.  All the dogs came out to say hello, all except Rosie.  I counted the dogs, looked them all in the face, and still came up one short. 

I set the trip odometer so that I could see how far Rosie had traveled when she was hit.  By the time I got back to the dog’s body, I had gone more than a mile.  What had made her travel so far from home?  Why had she dug out from under the fence?  I pulled over to the side on the road, still on the bridge, and put on my flashers.  I had some blankets in the back of the car, and I used one for a sling.  It was Rosie, alright, but I didn’t remember that she had a streak of white on her chest.  In any case, she died quickly.

I took her body back to work and prepared it to be picked up for cremation.  Then I announced that I had to go back to Sugar’s house and walk the fenceline to see where she had dug out and block it up so that no one else could get out.  Sugar was at work, and I didn’t dare call him.  While I was driving, I was rehearsing what to say, when to call, and how to break it to him that Rosie had gotten out somehow, and had gotten killed, and that I had taken her body back to the vet’s office where it would await pick-up for cremation. 

I pulled into his driveway again and drove up to the gate, and looked at all his dogs frolicking about in the springtime sunshine, and I counted heads again and looked at their faces.  No Rosie.  I walked the fenceline and saw absolutely no spot where she could have gotten out.  I headed back to the car and stopped to say good-bye to the dogs, who seemed inordinately happy in the face of tragedy, and said, “Good-bye guys.  I’ll see you later.  Good-bye… Rosie??!!”

For there at the gate with the other dogs was Rosie, stretching, and yawning, and blinking her sleepy eyes.  She had been asleep in the house the whole time.

In Search of History & She-Crab Soup, Part 1

February 22, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011, found spring in the Lowcountry.

Sugar and I went on a day trip back to Charleston to view several churches.  He’d done more research on what he wanted to see, and I was along for the ride.  It’s rarely a bad day in Charleston, as long as you are prepared to walk *A LOT* and to complain about the Yankee tourists (my apologies to my Yankee cousins who could teach good manners to tourists).

It’s about a 75 miles drive to Chucktown from my little town, and most of it is scenic and untouched.  We stopped to gas up Ole Yeller, and as usual, prepared to pay at the pump.

Where's the card reader?

It took us a minute to realize that we would have to go inside to pay.  There was plenty of local color inside the store.  Some tourists were inside, in a bit of culture shock.  This was not just a gas station.  There were supplies for hunting, fishing, and cooking, along with local products like honey and bait.  Plumbing and electrical supplies were hanging on the wall.  Several fishermen were chatting with the clerks while they waited for their hot dog breakfast to be served up.  Sugar overheard one of the clerks say that she didn’t like fishermen.  She went on to say she didn’t like fishermen, because they were out fishing and she was stuck at work.  Good point.

The prerequisite firework stand is across the parking lot. Fireworks can be sold year-round in SC. The best customers are the tourists traveling through.


The fishermen had their trusty dog along.  He guards the fishing poles in the back of this truck while he waits for them to get their hot dog and Mountain Dew breakfast.

After gassing up, we headed for Charleston, history, and she-crab soup.  But that will have to wait…

Miz Florrie, Age 98!

February 12, 2011

The queen on her throne


This shot was taken a few days after her birthday on February 2, 2011.  Sugar and I drove out with a red velvet cake and a birthday card.  The queen was on her throne in the den, the gas wall heater was a blast furnace, and the TV droned out some shiny western program.  She was happy to see us and happy to receive her card.  She directed Harold to put the cake in the kitchen.

We can’t even imagine how much longer she can live at home.  Y’all cross your fingers for luck.

You Don’t Win If You Don’t Try

February 7, 2011

Click here to enter to win!

Joshilyn Jackson’s blog, Faster Than Kudzu, is having a contest to win the new book “Evenfall” by Liz Michalski.  If you don’t know who Joshilyn Jackson is, just go to her blog using the same link posted above, and explore her Southern world of ninekindsofcrazy. 

Hurry, the contest ends tomorrow night at midnight!

A Stray on the Interstate

February 7, 2011

Last week the vet’s office had a walk-in with a stray dog.

A college student was on her way back to college in Florida.  She was traveling from the upstate on I-95, and saw a dog on the side of the highway, like he was sitting there waiting for something. 

She drove five miles to the next exit, got off there, crossed over the interstate, headed back north to the next exit, got off there, crossed over again, and headed back south until she got to where she saw the dog the first time, and there he was, still sitting like he was waiting for something.

She scooped him up, and googled the nearest vet’s office, and made her way to our office.  I called the local shelter to report a missing dog, and we determined that the dog was found in a location outside our county, so they would not take him in.  The facts were looking like the shelter that served the location was in a county north of here, about an hour’s drive in the opposite direction that the student was traveling.  That particular shelter has enough room to house about 11 or 12 dogs, that’s all, and they have a very high kill rate, like more than 90%.  And indeed, if the location was determined to be yet again a different county, the shelter there has been having serious parvo outbreaks.

The dog, potentially known as “Gator”, had a woven nylon collar that was too large for him, so someone had threaded the collar through the buckle, doubled it back on itself, and sewed it together with wire.  A spring clip was dangling from the buckle, like it had been attached once to a tie-out line, and the buckle itself was worn thin from the friction of the spring clip wearing away at it. 

The vet gave him an injection to combat shock and some sub-cutaneous fluids to relieve his dehydration, and offered him some dog cookies to see if he could eat.  He was hungry alright.  The dog was so exhausted that he didn’t want to stand, but when we put him on his feet to determine where the damage was, we found that he could not put all his weight on his rear right leg.  He collapsed back on the table. 

The student and I talked about the options for the dog.  She did not want to send him to a kill shelter, and she wondered if he would get along with her cat.  I told her he probably had heartworms, intestinal parasites, fleas, and a possible broken pelvis.  She said that once her mother saw the car in front of her hit a dog and keep going, and that her mother pulled over to pick up the dog, and that’s what she thought of when she saw the dog sitting by the side of the interstate, like he was waiting for something. 

The vet holds an ordinary pair of hemostats so that you can get a frame of reference for the size of the dog. "Gator" weighed less than 20 pounds.


The student paid the bill, and took the collar off the dog.  She handed me the collar to throw away, and asked if I would call the shelters to report him missing. 

I said, “Sure, I’ll take care of that for you.” 

And they went on their way to their new life together.

Pass the Biscuit

February 6, 2011

Or should that say “I’ll pass on the biscuit”?

Last week we had a little cold snap.  When I dug my gloves out of the pocket of my overcoat, I found this in one glove.

Which led to this…

Mr. Packett enjoyed his biscuit mightily.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Part 3, Or, Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You

February 1, 2011

St. Andrews Episcopal Church

We found our way to the St. Andrews Episcopal Church.  No clue what I’m talking about?  Here’s the link to the Magnolia Gardens and the mention of Reverend Drayton.

If you don't feel like clicking on the link, here's the photo of the historical marker.

Historical marker for the Rev. John G. Drayton


The first of many photos taken through the windows of the church. Strangely, no one has ever stopped me.


That's my flash on the opposite window, not a ghost.


I did not steal one of these bricks stored with the A/C unit. But I wanted to.


The back of the church, taken from the side, if that makes sense.


A side entrance, taken from the side.


The marker by the side door


And we're back to the front. There's an inscription over the door. I can't read it from here, but Sugar has a book (of course) that says what it is. I'll get right on that.

Anybody want a biscuit?