Odds & ends

I’ve been remiss in keeping this blog active, obviously, but life will have its way with us, won’t it? I do have one more beach vacation series I want to put here and then I’m not sure where I’ll go from there, as I have some other projects I want to pursue and perhaps a new blog entirely would be a good idea with a new format, as well.

In the meantime, the more time consuming, promised blog with my photo collection of the historic S.C. summer home of the generous and brilliant Huntingtons will have to wait a bit longer. It’s rather tricky as the actual building is like no other with an amazing history.

However, I was playing with some random photos I took of and in my beloved Athens, Ga., a couple of years ago, so I thought I’d go ahead and post them in a quickie blog. It’s just a few pictures I like, so…c’est la vie.

I love the energy of this small, but internationally flavored town.

This lovely young woman humored me in a favorite Athens French restaurant.

This lovely young woman humored me in a favorite Athens French restaurant.

And you will NEVAH get away from this here:

Kind of perfect, right?

Kind of perfect, right?

Well, if you’re just a sedate old voyeur like me, here’s another shot of my favorite japanese maple tree in my very own Athens yard:

I had just discovered the romantic effect of bokeh in photography.

I had just discovered the romantic effect of bokeh in photography.

Such a lovely town. How I got here is a rather interesting story in itself. But that’s for another day….


Thanks for stopping by!


PS It’s inevitable that every electronically driven entity will change things. I’m tweaking this as the photo enlargement isn’t happening like it once did. Why oh why….

Birding at Huntington Beach State Park, S.C.

If you have stopped by here before, you know I have a zillion pictures to share. Unfortunately, I’m about half a zillion behind, so I’m thinking I should just plunge ahead with my old lady travels.  So back I go to South Carolina Low Country in September, 2013.

[Click on photos to enlarge, twice to supersize.]

Great Egret

Great Egret

Huntington Beach State Park

I loaded up my camera equipment for a free bird-watching group tour at Huntington Beach State Park. I dropped Hubs off on historic Pawleys Island to fish off the powdery white beach where the ocean feeds the mouth of Pawleys Inlet. I was ready to explore a bona fide nature preserve on a gorgeous, warm fall day.  Looking back now, I can’t believe that in 10 years no one had grabbed me by the neck and screamed in my face, You have to go to this park! It has so much to see: a most peculiar, custom designed, Moroccan styled, summer compound built by the Huntingtons who once owned all of the parkland; a secluded public beach; a small nature museum; a charming gift shop with refreshments; and you can even rent a Segway to motor around the 2500 acres. Best of all, there is lots of wildlife running around at the Park…in…the wild.  Even so, it’s very people friendly.

A leisurely bike ride is lovely, if you like.

A leisurely bike ride is lovely, if you like.

Located 15 miles south of Myrtle Beach, the park includes a pristine inlet marsh, as well as a fresh water pond. With well-maintained plank walkways and observation decks, it’s an easy stroll.

Pretty sure she wanted to slap me.

Pretty sure she wanted to slap me.

Yes, alligators do cross the ground level walkways and roads sometimes–I asked. They eat the birds, as well, our volunteer park guide and expert birder told us. Just stay out of their way. (Like I had to say that.)



This small, jewel-colored heron was being stalked.

Emerald Heron

Emerald Heron

Yeah, I see you, too.

You can take a swim or fish from the beach (temporary state fishing license required), or roam around Atalaya, the once summer-house and studio of the sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. (I featured her famed and breathtaking Brookgreen Gardens, across the highway from the State Park, in a series of blogs you can find here.)

Stark and mesmerizing, Atalaya is one of a kind.

Stark and mesmerizing, Atalaya is one of a kind.

I have many pictures of Atalaya–you knew that–which I’ll share in a follow-up blog, but this blog is about the magnificent birds.  Wood Storks and Egrets were plentiful.

I nearly wet my pants when this happened.

I nearly wet my pants when this happened.

Fishing buddies

Fishing buddies: Snowy Egret and Wood Stork

Great Egret

Egret landscape 3 Did the Huntingtons know their generous gift of land to the state would be so precious and critical to so many species now–including Humans? I hope so.

Such a fragile home to so many....

Such a fragile home to so many….

I was here for a few hours, then came back with Hubs to explore Atalaya the next day.


With reluctance…

“…I bid thee farewell, and I pray the gods thou mayst farewell.”

– Robert Greene



The bird at the top of this blog is a Roseate Spoonbill, rare to spot in this area, our birding guide told us. The Park’s website has a beautiful photo of one and it is on their “sighted” list. This one was moving fast by the time we spotted it, but I managed to get a few distant shots, not great, but proof I had a sighting, too, dammit! Even in a blur it’s lovely. Roseate Spoonbill 11  enhancedPink!


Edited to add some long range shots for an inquiry in the comments, as well as for anyone who likes photography/blogging technical stuff: 

The two photos above and the one in the Header (at the top of the blog) are blown up to 200% of the originals and cropped for display on this blog. You may know that the limitations of sharing such huge photo files online here demand reduction in original photo file size, sometimes cropping, and even enlarging at times: otherwise, important elements of images would be tiny to the viewer. Also WordPress software has limits to the size a photo file can be: the full originals at 100% size are about the size of a wall poster and the actual images you see on your computer/tablet screen as my “blog” are much smaller.

For example, compare the Header (blown-up to 200% and cropped to fit the bird into that defined space) with the same photo below at 100% (with landscape cropped out for allowed picture file size): 

200% crop of original picture, same as the Header.

200% crop of original picture, same as the Header.

At 100%, no enlargement or enhancement, but cropped.

At 100%, no enlargement or enhancement, but cropped.

If you click on these photos, they will enlarge in a new window.  If you click on that enlargement, it will (often) enlarge again and you can see more detail (unless they are already at full size like the 100% image above). 

In the case of my long range shots of the Spoonbill, enlargement of these does cause the loss of some detail, but at the distance of my shots, it was the best way to make the bird identifiable. I did some detail enhancement (with the Canon “Digital Photo Professional” program I use to process most photos) on the first “Bonus” photo above to sharpen the outline of the bill and feathers, but the Header photo and others in this section were only blown-up and cropped, not “enhanced” in any other way.

This photos demonstrates the distance from which I was shooting the Spoonbill.

This photos demonstrates the distance from which I was shooting the Spoonbill.

I cropped the sides and sky, but that's the only editing on this one.

I cropped the sides and sky, but that’s the only editing on this one.

Too much info, I know, but in case anyone is curious, there you have it.


In my next blog I’ll share with you the singular experience of Atalaya, difficult to describe so I’ll let my pictures do the work. In the meantime if you want to check it out, this link gives the history and circumstances which inspired the Huntingtons to create their South Carolina getaway. 

Atalaya long shot 1


Y’all come back, now.

Crazy Beautiful

I planted the Lantana bush. I bought the camera and lens. I showed up and tapped on icons and pushed buttons.

The result is not about me. But oh, I am thrilled like a child at Christmas. I always think of fairies. 

Enjoy: To enlarge, click on the picture, twice if you dare.

It's a black swallowtail. I think.

It’s a swallowtail. I think.

Always in motion, a teasing dance displays all their charms.

Butterfly 6

Geometry and color.

Geometry and color.

Butterfly 8

I should probably say here I’ve spent about five minutes trying to identify the species of each, so don’t quote me. If you have a clue, please leave a comment, as I’m quite the novice at butterflies. 

I think this is a Dance of Love. What do you think?

I think this was a Dance of Love. What do you think?

They were frisky. 

This might be a Spicebush Swallowtail. Allegedly.

Such grace.

Such grace.

What a lovely little fairy this one is.

What a beautimous little fairy this one is.

And underneath…impeccable!

The Tiger Swallowtail. I think. It has HAIR!

The Tiger Swallowtail. I think. It has HAIR!

Bottoms Up!

Bottoms Up!

Fairies on the Wing.

Fairies on the Wing.

For us regular creatures:

Even the plain moth shares remarkable symmetry.

Even the plain moth shares remarkable symmetry.

I could go on and on. Some days, Mother Nature smiles upon me when I least expect it.

Stop me! Before.I hurt myself!

Stop me! Before.I hurt myself!

Thanks for dropping by.

Hydrangea 1


And thanks, Canon! I used my DSLR EOS Rebel T4i with a Cannon Zoom lens, 55 – 250 mm. It’s a far better camera than I am a photographer, thank heavens.


If you’d like to see some pictures I took of “Fairies” in captivity a few years ago at BrookGreen Gardens in South Carolina Low Country, they are here. My old point-and-shoot camera I used at the time was no match for my current Cannon high definition picture quality, but even so butterflies are irrepressibly ethereal beyond human inadequacies, I find. 

The Godmother: Real Housewives of New York City

Finally my deep inside sources have revealed what is really going on behind the scenes of  Season 7 of  The Real Housewives of New York City!

[Cue maudlin Italian mandolin music.]


The Dark Side Restaurant

On a chilly winter evening, in a ristoranté outside the city, a small place, good food, everybody minds her own business, we learn that RaceTrack is the new donna in the Housewives syndicate. To solidify her power, she has called together her most trusted capos to address growing dissent in the Family.

Ep 11 E Bethenny One finger salute B

“I have brought you all here tonight,” said RaceTrack, “because The Family has problems.”

“But first things first.” She raised her Brand glass. “A toast to The Real Housewives Motto: Forever Rich and Skinny!”  

“And to you, donna RaceTrack, we pledge our undying loyalty. May you never cry tears of sadness again!” Luigia de Broad added. “Hear, hear!” shouted CrazyEyes and BackItUp.

As waiters fearfully served the distinguished diners exquisite cuisine with Family wines, the women nibbled and talked of serious things. 

“…so I sneaked up behind that scumbag of a cheater and put my hands around his neck like this, ” CrazyEyes demonstrated.

“Oh yeah? Is he dead? Not so much.”

“What else you got?” asked de Broad, who knew a thing or two about cheating scumbags herself.

“Look, you didn’t see him! His tongue was hanging out like this! Okay?!”

BackItUp was skeptical.

“You did that? By yourself? Did you break a nail? “

CrazyEyes took offense.

“Are you kidding me?! I’m sorry, okay?! But I know how to strangle, okay?!”

RaceTrack grew tired. 

“STOP. Do I look interested? I’d rather gouge my eyes out than listen to this.”

[It is well known among Housewives that it is bad luck to bore RaceTrack, who was raised by werewolves.]

“Hands, nails! How old are you? I know four year olds who learned to use a chain!” said the donna.

[Dead body alert! Click on picture to find it.]

“You want strangled? I’ll give you strangled!”

“You girls are amateurs. Shut up and pay attention. We got work to do.”

“Sure ting,” said de Broad. “We live for dis.”

And they do.

And they do.

So RaceTrack got down to business. 

“As you are aware, some capos are not working out. It happens. I must act to build my Brand…I mean, to strengthen The Family. Dr. J has become a fashion liability; PussFace and MC Holla I do not trust. So I have arranged a Business Summit on a nice, secluded island. I will make them an offer they can’t refuse.”

“First class, Five Star. All expenses paid.”

“At the Summit, I will make my move.”

“CrazyEyes, you will be our eyes-on.”

“SlackerC is in charge of security.”

“At a nice business luncheon on the second day, I’ll thank everyone for coming, say my goal is for us to have a meeting of the minds to solve our disagreements peacefully…badabeep badaboop.”

“But most important to me is that you all…SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

“That’s your cue.”

“BackItUp, you’ll take out PussFace.”

“You’re close to Dr. J, Crazy, so you take her out.”

“I find poison to be efficient and not so messy,” mused Eyes.

RaceTrack held up her knife and looked at each of the Housewives. “Just remember it’s not personal, it’s strictly business. Any questions?”

“What about MC Holla? You want me to do her?” asked de Broad.

“I got it,” said RaceTrack. 

“Holla…I’m not yo mama…but you. are. mine.”

The donna and capos all stood. “One last toast. To an epic Housewives Summit…mud in your eye!”

“Hey, mama!” “That’s my window seat, everybody knows that, okay?!” “Do they have any pirates on this island?” “I know Blackbeard!” “Well he’s dead, so you better back that shit up fast.” “You never talk to me, she never talks to me.” “I’m not interested. Wake me up when we get there.” 


So there you have it, as my anonymous sources explained it to me. Who will survive, I am sworn to silence, but I can say there will be a body count. 


If you want to see from where this fan fiction came, BravoTV has the video here.


Thanks for dropping by! 


Some days you’re the joker…

…and some days, you’re the joke.

It only hurts a lot.

Whatever Happened to Baby Kim?

Just saying…

Kyle, stay very far away....

Kyle, stay very far away….

The FURY of Old Soldiers

I went to see the movie Fury yesterday with Hubs. It was a beautifully crafted movie full of the brutality of war and I hated it from the moment I sat down. I only went to see it because Hubs always goes with me to see “my” movies, and I thought he’d really love this one from what I’d seen and read. Seemed only fair, though we both know I do not like war movies in general.

But Brad Pitt…yeah, I admit it. Good, bad, or indifferent, I will watch anything he does. He broke my heart in this movie. This whole movie broke my heart.

It was very personal to me. I thought of my dad every moment.


My dad fought in World War II, spending two years in Europe under General Patton. He was in the Fifth Wave of D-Day, the Third Army, a combat engineer assigned to a tank division. He marched all the way to Berlin. He walked into Buchenwald, where everything he’d seen of war paled to what he saw there.

He told us many stories about the War, heavily edited when he would choke down, unable to speak more of what he could never forget. Christmas was the worst for him, so it was for us. It was the defining experience for the barefoot boy from mill hill. He died cherishing his box of War mementos above all his possessions. We had Taps played at his funeral. He was 82, an old soldier to the last, the sole recurring theme of his life.

I picked a lot of bones with my dad, learning my stubbornness from him. It was inevitable, as our lives intersected during a major shift in American culture: Civil Rights and Women’s Rights were not something he understood, being from a small town in S.C. and generations of mill workers. It was hard for him. It was hard for me.

I was by his bed when he died after a long battle with prostate cancer. Alone with him, hoping against hope that I might get a sign, a word that…well, it didn’t happen. What did happen was, as I tried to ease his passage into whatever comes next, his fractured irises suddenly focused again and I saw it…fury. He did not accept defeat even as Death overtook him. He fought until his cold hands were stiff and all that was left of him was shallow breath and barely beating heart.

“Dad, just let go.” 

At last he did.

The Great Cosmic Coincidence


I have many great memories of Dad, who had a dry sense of humor that could surprise you. My favorite, perhaps, is one of happenstance that feels too astonishing to be a toss-up. 

Dad was a lifelong, zealous Clemson Tigers fan.  He never went to college himself, but he loved football, of course, and that was his school. Through a series of random twists and turns, I, however, ended up graduating from the University of Georgia. Then I stayed in Athens, having fallen in love with this charming small town with an international flavor. 

Dad nearly disowned me. Attending the school was bad enough, but not going back home was Desertion.

From his viewpoint in history, I’m sure he felt his expectations of me were entirely justified. From mine, I could only bristle.

Lest I seem too unforgiving myself, a little insight into my struggles with my father: a brother also moved his family to Bulldawg territory the same weekend I did, though his move was related to an engineering job and was wholly unassociated with my school-related choices. Also my brother got his degree from the University of South Carolina, in Columbia, so he was equally offending, in principle, it would seem. Neither of us knew the other’s plans to move to Athens until Mom told us–another odd coincidence, I know, but it happened.

Now ask me how my father felt about my brother’s defection? Right. Whenever my parents came to town, they went to my brother’s house and refused to come to mine. We were not estranged; I visited them all major holidays and in between, as well. I recount this sibling rivalry silliness for a reason: my dad only set foot in my home twice, and that context makes what happened so extraordinary, I still can’t reconcile it with the Law of Probabilities.

So here it is: 

After years of living in Georgia, one fateful day my parents were in town and I convinced my father to go out to dinner with Hubs and me. (Can’t remember why Mom wasn’t coming along, but probably she didn’t feel well.) In the process, Dad actually came to my house, into my house, and kind of fiddled around a bit, much like a petulant but pleased child. Hubs and I were so excited Dad had gifted us with his reluctant visit. We spent about an hour showing him around and preparing to leave, locking up the house and such. It was going well. 

Then something magical happened, and to this day, I cannot believe it.

Moments before we were to walk out the door, I went to the kitchen sink, glanced out the front window which faced our sidewalk entrance as I performed some rote action, and down the rabbit hole I went.

I saw Vince Dooley walking up to our door.

Yes, THIS Vince Dooley.

For those (like me) who don’t follow college football rabidly, Vince Dooley is a legendary UGA coach and Athletic Director. His team won the 1980 National Championship with Hershel Walker, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1982. Suffice it to say Dooley is a Football God in these parts…and battled it out on the field many times with…CLEMSON. 


And then rang my doorbell. 

Now, I am a UGA alumnus. Hubs worked at UGA for 28 years and has met several UGA presidents, important people, etc. He knows them through his work, but he’s a carpenter, so we haven’t invited them to our black tie cocktail parties, if you get my drift. Why Dooley was at my house, I had no idea, but I turned and looked at my husband and said, “You will never believe who is coming up our walk.”

As striking as this was, it crossed into the realm of surreal when I looked at Dad and realized he was about to have an unforgettable experience. Compliments of moi.

What are the odds? The man worked in a cotton mill, he was a loom-fixer, a linthead his entire work life other than his years as a soldier during World War II. 

Now he was about to meet one of the South’s biggest football legends. Not to mention, THE ENEMY.

I knew full well Dad would not back down one inch.

So the doorbell rings and I answer it. Mr. Dooley introduces himself (really) and says he’s out canvassing our neighborhood for his wife Barbara, who is running for a state office. I invite him inside and walk him into the living room where my husband and dad stand frozen. 

I introduce them to Mr. Dooley and tell him what a shock this is as my dad is a huge football fan…of Clemson. Then I start laughing hysterically, that kind of laugh where you’re desperate to keep it from being noticeable that you have lost your mind? But you can’t stop? That.

Not to worry, though, as nobody is looking at me. Shining like he just entered the Pearly Gates, Dad shakes hands with Mr. Dooley and immediately begins talking about football and his loyalties to Clemson, and Mr. Dooley is so gracious, and somewhere my husband is in all this, but I’m silently laughing like a fool. My face must have looked like I had been constipated for a month. 

 Again, I am NOT making this up.

This went on for a few minutes when Mr. Dooley finally saw his chance and gave no doubt the quickest stump speech of his life, exit stage left. Done and gone.

Back to our original plan, we took Dad to a trendy bar-and-grill where he had a very good time, I can tell you that.

I know this wasn’t the Second Coming or anything, but to football fans, close enough. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

20141110_182008 resized

He did his job; he never backed down.

Dad did return to my house once more, some time later, with Mom along, and they spent the day with us. I think he conceded as much as he could, that old soldier, to the daughter who had joined the enemy ranks, nonetheless.

Still that fateful day was one of the two times I ever saw him outright proud of me. The other time was when I played 18 holes of golf with him and Hubs and they couldn’t beat me. But that’s another story. 


Thanks for dropping by for a visit. If you got the “false alarm” when I accidently hit “Publish” instead of “save draft” and wasn’t half done, my apologies. 

Until next time….






Get the gun! Get the gun!

I had a nightmare a couple of nights ago. I woke up hollering the title of this blog.

Hubs said I was loud. But I was actually happy, because in the nightmare my beloved toy poodle Phoebie was with me, at my parents’ old home where I grew up. That made me so happy, to see her again, to be there with her.

Yes, my feelings were that conflicted: happy and scared, as the potential escaped asylum lunatic standing inside the door was staring at me morosely from a few feet away and I feared what his next move would be–hence, “Get the gun! Get the gun!” I was directing my pleas to someone in another room, perhaps a child, so I wasn’t sure any gun would be gotten or that it was even a good idea. Would Freaky Man leave or do what crazy intruders do in nightmares? It was getting tense.

Then I woke up. Hollering.

That’s how dreams do you, isn’t it? Just when it gets to the good part, poof! You wake yourself up.

But I remembered all this because I woke up. From fight-or-flight mode back to reality, I held on to one thing: Phoebie was with me.

My son drew this of Phoebie.

My son drew this ink of Phoebie.

My poodle was actually with me when I was spending the night at my parents’ house during a brief visit once, long ago in my middle-aged years. Something woke me up that night in the wee hours, as well. It was Phoebie, sitting on the edge of the bed, growling at the front door beyond our room. It was a low growl, something I hadn’t heard her do before, so I was disturbed enough to get up and check out the house. I even went outside–can you believe that? Don’t I ALWAYS tell the people in horror movies, DON’T GO OUTSIDE?! Alone?! But…nothing.

A few years later I was trimming the overgrown variety of bushes at the roadside in front of the home–a tough, sweaty job that took all day because my dad had gone through a period of planting everything he could get in the ground. Guess what I found? A GUN! Stuck in the crotch of an old dwarf cypress tree.

I called the police, realizing that this might have been what my poodle had heard years before, thinking this now-rusty, small caliber revolver might be evidence in a crime. The cop wasn’t remotely interested, but he did tell me he’d chased a man down our street one night around the time of my story and he’d lost him nearby. I’m guessing Gun Man ducked behind the bushes and hid the weapon in case he got caught. Maybe possessing a firearm was a parole violation? Why he never came back for it, I can only speculate.

My parents’ neighborhood had become light-industrial by that time, urban sprawl eating into the area once populated with blue-collar families in small, dated homes. I could never get them to leave their old wreck of a house, which they’d bought for $4,000 when I was 8 yrs old. It was next door to the house they’d rented since before they brought me home from the hospital. It had all changed so much in those years.

I worried as their neighbors faded into the past and their outbuildings got broken into, so I’d cut their shrubs back, though it was getting harder as I got ever older. Yes, I could have hired a gardener, but living in another state, I had no way of monitoring the workers and that bothered me, too. Old people are prime targets for setups, and that’s a fact.

My ailing old dad loved to tell the story about how he’d caught a burglar trying to get the backdoor open one afternoon. He heard something and went to see who it was, thinking it was family or friends. He opened the door and there was a stranger who took off running. Because of the previous thefts from his property, my dad said he yelled after him, “Come back here! I want to talk to you!”

Believe me when I tell you, that old WWII vet surely did that.

I was appalled, but it didn’t matter. My parents were who they were, and they wanted to complete their lives in the ramshackle old home where they’d raised us kids, for better and worse.

Dad got his wish and died there at 82. Mom stayed until her last year on earth, dying in Hospice at age 87. They weren’t perfect, but they lived their lives without excuses or blame. They worked hard every day to provide what they could for us, they paid their bills and their taxes, and I never once heard them complain about what they did for a living or what they got paid.

As for their dilapidated property, they loved it with all their hearts like it was their Taj Mahal.

It was home.

 [Photo compliments of Google Earth; Photoshop by me.]

WhiteTrashGal Taj Mahal

WhiteTrashGal Taj Mahal

Did I mention my dad loved his handgun, the Smith & Wesson I have now? My mom once used it to fend off some very bad men threatening us, though she was more likely to have shot one of us, had she known how to disengage the safety feature. That was okay, though, because once she told the very bad men she had called the police, they flew out of there like their butts were on fire. But that’s another story.

And that’s my crazy dream, isn’t it?


Thanks for dropping by. It’s always a pleasure.

Historical Homes of Charleston, S.C.

I should have done this long ago, but my life is now usurped by an old man who retired from his job and I have lost the will to live, much less blog.

I think this is karma for being a horrible person who tortured children and animals in another life. I look forward to getting that tab paid.

But I did promise lovely Mary, my Twitter architect friend, I’d share these photos I took in Charleston, September of 2013, so I guess I better.

Since I am not including the pictures I took of the horse-drawn carriages (which we took that kind of tour, but this was a year ago before we learned this is a very bad thing to do–and in fact, I was going to mention that it was TERRIFYING because…TRAFFIC!) I probably should explain something: you may notice a fringe in a photo or some other giveaway that we are evil, wicked people, but just pretend they’re not there and look at the houses, okay? And I promise never to do that again. Thanks in advance.

With that out of the way, in no particular order and with no reliable indication of much else since I wasn’t taking notes, here are some of my photos of Charleston’s residential homes.


Beauty wherever you look.

Beauty wherever you look.

It’s a very old, beautiful Southern city. You can walk around these streets quite comfortably, as they generally have sidewalks and the roads are narrow, so traffic moves slowly because of that. It is fun to take a tour with a guide because the history of various homes is interesting–well, it spans hundreds of years, a couple of wars, and the usual Sturm und Drang we humans are prone to.

Dedicated to Mary, who always inspires me to become a better person, artist, and photographer.

I’ll begin with one of my very favorites houses, which in fact now is Two Meeting Street Inn. If I ever go back, I want to stay there.

[Remember you can click twice on the photos to enlarge for detail.]

Now an Inn on Meeting St., one of many antebellum homes built for daughters marrying well.

Located on Meeting Street near Battery Park, this is one of many antebellum homes built for daughters of rich families marrying well.

Unfortunately the only long shot I got indicating the scale of its majesty isn’t sharp–remember I was moving while taking many of these photos.

Such beauty, but I can't dismiss the horror of its history.

Such beauty, but I can’t dismiss the horror of its provenance. Ghosts from our dark past still walk here.

And that, my friends, is pure Southern Gothic.

More detail.

More detail.

A few doors down is this competing Society home: the Col. John A.S. Ashe House was built for a newlywed daughter, our guide said. It faces Battery Park, which skirts Charleston Harbor:

This house went on forever.

This house went on forever.

In need of a good paint job, true, but check out the carving on the door frame.

In need of a good paint job, true, but check out the carving on the door frame.

Those homes were examples of the more ornate and obvious, but many historic homes were more subtle, if originally built and currently owned by the more privileged among us.

The two arms of the staircase were built for grand balls and dinners: the men entered one staircase, the women another, to protect the ladies lifted skirts from prying eyes

The two arms of the porch steps were built for grand balls and dinners: the men entered one side, the women another, to protect the ladies’ lifted skirts from prying eyes

At least, that’s what a guide told me 20 years ago.

Miles Brewton House; National Registry; pre-Revolutionary War, Georgian architecture designed by Ezra Waite.

Miles Brewton House; National Registry; pre-Revolutionary War, Georgian architecture designed by Ezra Waite. For an inside look at the current owners and interior photos, Town&Country has more.

Guilty conscience?

Guilty conscience?

Private antebellum home safety iron fence spikes 26

In case anyone wasn’t sure, this was real.

Some carriage houses remain, like this one for the Brewster House, updated for modern use, of course.

Some carriage houses remain, updated for modern use, of course.

Some of the homes were built pre-Revolutionary War, Federalist style.

Some of the homes were built in the pre-Civil War, Federalist style.

Another very common style of architecture is the pre-AC side porches, with a front door entrance to screen the gentlefolk from prying sidewalk eyes.

Knock knock!

Knock knock!

On the hottest of nights, the upper porches were cooler than the bedrooms for sleeping.

On the hottest of nights, the upper porches were cooler than the bedrooms for sleeping.

More of my favorites: they love pink.

The most narrow house in Charleston. For skinny people only.

The most narrow house in Charleston. For skinny people only.

Pink House 2 story porches brick 3rd story 35

Architectural details 42

Loved this, but we were moving quickly on this busy street.

Loved this, but we were moving quickly on this busy street.

Wrought iron is a thing.

Wrought iron is a thing.

Some details to die for:

Entryway arch pillars 21 crop

Planter boxes are popular, too.

Planter boxes are popular, too.

circular front porch 32

This house was brilliant, but I was too close for a long shot.

This house was brilliant, but I was too close for a good long shot. This was the best I could do: 

IMG_7012 B

This is the door belonging to those fabulous windows.

This is the door belonging to those fabulous windows.

And then you get to the other side of the house:

Looks so different from this angle, but this is typical of side porches with gardens and a carriage house.

Looks so different from this angle, but this is typical of side porches with gardens and a carriage house.

Dental molding over windows is like house-jewelry. Also there is a reason for those not uncommon big holes in the foundation on each side of the front steps, but I can’t remember what it is. I bet Mary knows.

Sept 2013 495 B

This next home, Charleston’s largest private residence, is rather exquisite: “Calhoun Mansion.net; circa 1876, Italianate House Museum”…whatever that means. [Oh: I just checked out the website photos–and KILL ME NOW.]

Charlestonians are serious about their landscaping.

Charlestonians are serious about their landscaping.



One tip: lots of lovely restaurants occupy the old homes, but do call for a reservation. 

Poogan's Porch was busy.

Poogan’s Porch was busy.

I'd love to eat here.

I’d love to eat here.

Enough? I have more…. Okay, enough.

Hope y’all enjoyed my little tour, sinful as it was. 

Good luck with your historic home adventure, Mary. 

And thanks for stopping by. 

Southern Charm in Charleston: Kill Me Now

Though the first season of Southern Charm, Bravo’s dark horse reality show set in Charleston, S.C., ended this week with an hour of delish, previously unaired vignettes, I can’t seem to get past it.

Lord knows I’ve tried, since this blog was supposed to be my collection of photos I took last September, 2013, when visiting this very city. Comments on the show were only to be a small segue into those. Now in my fifth day of writing, giggling, editing, rewriting, giggling, editing–I give up. I’m had. (The story of my life…with no small irony.)

Dammit. That’s Southern men for you, perfectly depicted in this series: maddeningly oblivious to their infinite immaturity, it’s all about the Cocks of the Walk.

A duel at sunrise, Sirrah! You broke the Bro Code!

A duel at sunrise, Sirrah! You broke the Bro Code! Did I mention the bass I caught today was this big?

You think this isn’t REAL? So sorry to disabuse you of that notion, but I’ve lived it for 6 decades. IT’S REAL.

The Southern man is all about partying, sports, chasing tail, and staying one step ahead of a shotgun wedding. To wit: Thomas Ravenel [of the Ravenel Bridge Ravenels], Shep [of the State Dog Boykin Boykins] Rose, and Whitney Sudler-Smith [of the Mama’s-so-rich-we-don’t-even-know Sudler-Smiths]. These particular men are old money wealth, so they can pursue the aforementioned lifestyle unhampered. And uninhibited. Even by cameras.

I enjoy the ladies' charms but they will nevah trap me!

I enjoy the ladies’ charms but they will nevah trap me! I answer to no one! Except my trust fund Executor.

I am paraphrasing–slightly. If you question the core accuracy of my account, however, compare them to Craig Conover, a transplant from the state of (not Southern) Delaware: Craig has a J O B and is the only central male cast member who did not sleep with the 21 year old, fiery siren Kathryn Dennis. (To be fair, he tried–it’s complicated.) 

I rest my case.

I rest my case.

Yes. It’s like that.

So what of the Southern women in all this folly? Full disclosure: I belong to this sisterhood and I have accepted my fate with defeat. But revenge is sweet, and remember I said it.

It's child's play.

It’s child’s play.

This is why I get it and it got me: though we haven’t lived in South Carolina for decades, it is in my and my husband’s DNA. I’ve tried relentlessly to leave it behind, but hubs psychologically clings to it like Mother’s teat. Therefore he drags me to a vacation on its shores every year so he can fish and reminisce about his youthful trips to Myrtle Beach and the drunken debauchery that followed. Like the men of  Southern Charm, he sees it as his birthright and duty, though bitterly foiled decades ago due to Biblical temptations he can’t resist–compliments of moi.

Go ahead. You know you want it.

Go ahead. You know you want it.

When this show is on, I laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh…. At first I thought about having a nervous breakdown, but I don’t have the energy for that anymore, so I’ll do what Pat does: Time for my medicine!

Which brings me to the inarguable highlight of every episode: when Whitney and his mother, Patricia Altschul, appear like a couple of Southern Gothic crows picking over the carcasses of life’s absurdities, it sends shivers through my soul. 

Poor Thomas. He doesn't have the brains for these two.

Poor Thomas. He doesn’t have the wit for this challenge.

If Andy Cohen doesn’t see the STARSTARSTAR factor in the bons mots these two drip, dissecting each other and anyone else who wanders onto the slide of their affected microscope, he’s become more tone deaf to programming than we fear. It’s Southern Lit in the flesh. 

Whitney: [That lowly blogger] can say what he wants about me, but when he goes after you…

Pat: I could always just kill him. Where is my pink gun? 

Oh, there it is.

Oh, there it is.

I love this show. It’s better than a lifetime of therapy. To give Andy his due, I must say:  Thank you for this Charming gift of Southern eccentricity, fallen from the Bravo skies like a blessing. 


If you saw on Twitter that I said this blog would be my photos, I tried to make that happen, but this happened.  Sorry. It’s too close to home, isn’t it? Like I said, kill me now.

I’ll put the Charleston photos up in my next blog. I’ve gotten them culled down to 50 so far. Charleston is a jewel like none other.

 Until then….

(Click to enlarge.)

The Ravenel Bridge--yes, THAT Ravenel. Any questions?

The Ravenel Bridge–yes, THAT Ravenel. Any questions?