Sunday, September 30, 2012

More Charleston Photos

The area from Charleston and south is known as the Low Country in SC. It is at, or below, level, and is dotted with much vacant and marshy land. There are homes built high on stilts or piers in order to prevent flooding, but there are also homes that lay directly on slabs on the ground. In light of the high water table, I can't imagine building so close to the earth. On the other hand, I'm not sure how secure any home would be,  constructed on sand and water!
There are many plantations sprinkled throughout the Low Country, most are private...not open to the public, and they're located in remote areas, down long dirt roads, and are not visible from the main roads.  However, there are public ones, some of which,like Drayton Hall, are preserved to show their architecture, their history and their long endurance. Drayton, Middleton, and Magnolia Plantations are located on the same road,and can all be seen,for a price.  They were owned by families who were related. Drayton Hall  is the only one of the three that was left exactly as it looked at the time of the Civil War.  
We arrived at the plantations too late in the day to warrant the price of the admission, and the historian at the gate house advised us to wait and come earlier on another day. So,we drove through the entry area at Magnolia Plantation instead, without having to pay to see the interior areas of the property.  On that drive,  we were able to see the group of slave cabins (I believe there where 9 of them). The slaves who worked in the house lived in these tiny cabins. They had it better than the field hands and animal keeper lived in 'other buildings' on the properties.
This is the main house at Magnolia Plantation. It is house #3 since it was built, not the one there during the Civil War.
This house is at Grove Plantation. Can you imagine sittingon the upper porch, fanning yourself and drinking a cold beverage,while you look out over your rice crops and the Ashley River? It is now being used as offices for an environmental group. Sadly,it is not open for viewing,except for the downstairs area (information rooms for environment) 

These are the hands of a skilled basket weaver. The Gullah people are descendants of the slaves, and have kept some of the language and arts of their 'people'. This woman allowed me only to photograph her busy and talented hands. but not her face.
This is Lily, a Gullah woman,originally from Mt. Pleasant (N.Charleston) She lives now, and has her roadside booth, on Edisto Island. She was very nice and answered my hundreds of questions regarding her craft, the language, the food of the Gullahs, etc. I could have stayed all day! She has taught her grandchildren the art of weaving these lovely sea grass and pine needle baskets, and she tries,too, to preserve the language,by speaking to them in the words used by people who came before her. However, she fears that the young people will lose this part of their heritage, as they consider it to be 'low class' to speak in such a way. It saddens her...and think that old traditions and languages are fading away.

My happy husband at the ocean...Edisto Island. It's been two years since we saw the sea that we used to view EVERY  day when we lived on NY's Long Island. The smell of salt air, the sound of the waves, the fine, white sand, and the sight of the same sea we knew 900 miles north, brought both of us a peace in our hearts.

No...this is not Jaws! Not a shark at is a camera shy dolphin. It was the best I could do to capture any of them in the playful pod. Everytime I'd take aim with the lens, they'd pop up outside of the range of lens! My arms got so tired of holding the camera at the ready,waiting for them to resurface!
Watch for a few more photos tomorrow. I hope you aren't bored!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Images of Charleston 2

These photos show some of the unique and beautiful  architecture in the city of Charleston. These buildings are historic ones, some inns and homes which bear million dollar price tags. 
I love this window trim on this hotel which goes back before the  Civil War, which much of the city does.

This trimwork is on a historic home where a sly woman invited the military leaders of troops on both the Union and the Confederate sides to dinner, at the same time on the same night! They all got along 'fine', as the story goes, but of course, after they left, war continued among them.  By the way, this woman had four daughters,which were hidden in the attic (3rd floor) while all the soldiers were present... 
This fencing fronts the home pictured above....and  if that doesn't keep someone out, nothing would!

I am particularly partial to this building. It has beautiful woodwork, turrets, details, a Tiffany stained glass window and a replica of the Arc d'Triumph made of stone (granite,I think) on the roof! This is now an Inn...but was originally built before the Civil War by a jeweller for his daughter as a wedding gift...$75,000 in that day,without windows. Today it would cost well over  a million to build the same thing.  This Inn overlooks a park, and the Charleston Harbor, sitting on a corner lot in the ritzy area of the city,called 'The High Battery.'

This building is owned by the Hiberians,and shows some of the Greek architecture in the city.

Many of the homes in Charleston  are graced with these double or triple porches or  'piazzas'. Look at the ceiling fans on each porch ceiling, and the wood plank ceilings and turned railings and dental mouldings!  Some of these  porches are 'privatized' by hedges or walls to the street, with a 'privacy door' that would be locked in order that no one could enter the porch or see what was happening on the porch!

More photos tomorrow!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Images of Charleston Trip

Visiting the only place in the USA where tea is grown.

The Angel Oak on John's Island-300-400 yrs old, limbs are supported by poles and posts cables. This species is a Live Oak,common in the southern part of the country.

The back porch of the cottage where we stayed. Set on two acres of  quiet and peaceful land.

A Morning Mist dancing over the pond.

Spanish Moss hanging from a tree in the yard. We saw a lot of this. Having seen pictures only in the past, and thinking it was soft, I was surprised that it is dry and grass-like to the touch.

More pictures tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Cottage Near the Pond II

A few weeks back, I spoke of the hope that we'd go on our long-awaited trip to Charleston, and where we'd stay if/when we finally made that four-hour drive.  I also promised that I'd let you know what decided on for accommodations. Here I am to fulfill a promise!

After locating a place on-line, and corresponding via email with the owner, we decided to take the risk and book the place on the pond. I say 'risk' because you never know exactly what anything will be like when you see only photos and talk on the phone or emails.  I'll tell you what, in this case, we were not disappointed!

We arrived at the Cottage on a Saturday afternoon after a drive on a 4-lane highway through endless miles of nothing but trees and cars. (One dufus driver was texting as he was towing a jet ski, heading for the beach I imagine. I hope he made it)  We got only a bit detoured, following directions and a map, we found ourselves on 17A instead of Rt 17. Ending up in Summerville, and we easily found our way from there, through more miles of trees on rural roads, to our destination.  Pulling into the driveway, we noticed how neat the little brick cottage and front porch were.  Discovering the key in its hidden spot, we opended the door to a lovely, spacious and open room which ran front to back of the building, housing the full kitchen on one end and the living room and fireplace on the other end.

We were impressed immediately on the cleanliness of the place. The wide pine floors gleamed, the glass and appliances shone! On the desk was a delicious, homemade cake and fresh cut bouquet of flowers. Also, there was a welcome note and a couple of manilla folders marked 'Maps', 'Charleston', 'North Charleston' etc. Within each was stacks of information on sites to see and places to eat in each area, and so forth. Those, as well as the owner's handwritten comments on the brochures and menus, directions, and the like proved to be invaluable on our first trip to the 'Low Country.'

We wandered through the house and found the two bedrooms and two full baths. We examined the book case and found that much of the reading material was pertaining to the area in some way. On the tv was a VHS tape of Charleston..perhaps a documentary, maybe a movie. We didn't get around to watching it, so I'm not sure.  We chose to go out the back door and look at the yard and the pond before we unloaded the van.

We sat in the colorful rocking chairs on the large back porch where we could watch the local birds come to snack on their seeds. Over the coarse of the week there, we spent many hours in those chairs...watching the mist dance over the pond in the mornings as we drank our coffee, and watching the Canadian geese as they fought and swam,took flight and landed every day.  It was a lovely spot and so relaxing!  I can't count the number of times that one or the other of us remarked about how much better it was to be there than in a stuff motel surrounded by city noises.

Granted, we had to drive 20-30 minutes to get to Charleston city, and more to other places, but it was worth the drives! The serene surroundings, the cleanliness, the comfort, the friendly hostess/owner who went out of her way to daily provide new info (which she placed outside the door under a rock so as not to disturb us)  all worked together to provide us with an unforgettable vacation stay.   We look forward to another time or two there in years to come!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Back Again With A Word..Maybe Two

When I signed on a moment ago,  I was surprised to see how long it's been since I've written on this blog. I must endeavor to be more faithful to writing.

Writing is actually the subject today. No, not creative writing, but the actual, physical action of writing with a pen or pencil.  One day someone is going to read this and  remark, "Boy...that was an old essay! Noone has sold pens and pencils in decades!"  Unfortunately, I think that really will happen.

'Why?', you ask. (probably you don't because you already know.)  It's because electronic devices are taking over, and you don't have to do much writing with such utensils as ink pens or lead pencils. There will come a day in the near future when anyone...not just the handicapped...but anyone who can afford it, will be able to have a device into which they will speak, and the words will be printed onto something that can be read or printed out. I hate to think of what this means.

It's bad enough now, I think, that so many have given up hand-writing tools in exchange for keyboards.  I'm one of them who uses email and keyboards for transposing ideas to print. I will never give up my pens and pencils, though, as long as I have breath in my body.  I've got such a collection of them, I shan't run out of them, though the ink may dry up in the pens before I use it up! 

I like to write, doodle, scribble, draw, compose, practice calligraphy and place words on paper.  It's unfortunate, in my opinion, that many schools have given up teaching cursive penmanship...and worse yet, that many are not grading children on their handwriting. That is a travesty!  If a person can't print so that someone can read it any more than they can a doctor's hen scratch, what will become of them?

Sadly, so many schools have opted to allow, even force, students to bring electronic devices to the classroom. No longer are they required to have multiple, hands-on, text books...or a long list of specific school supplies which will break a young back. Now they are asked, while still in elementary school, to bring in their own 'internet access' electronic devices. Great. Now kids can not only take photos in school, text each other and play games when they are supposed to be learning, they can squint all day long at little screens while the teacher feeds them web pages to learn from. 

Not only is that a potential problem from a parent's economic stand point, but it could be a problem for teachers. How many educators does it take to say to a class, 'search for'.  One teacher could get a microphone and speak it before a school gymnasium full of children who would be taking that class. There are many teachers now, due to the numbers in classrooms, but how many teachers does it take to bark a website address?

These are just some of my thoughts on these subjects. What are yours?