We aren’t generally beach people, but having spent the past 11 years in Central Florida, we are enjoying being close to the ocean here in South Carolina. Here is My Lovely Bride happily enduring a chilly breeze on the beach at Hilton Head, about a half hour drive from our new homesite…
Speaking of which, before we left SC, we stopped by after a workout on the day before the foundation was laid, and Suzanne simulated washing her hands at the island sink…
… and here are a couple of pics of recent progress there!
Regarding our new home, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I must give credit to our dear friend Irene Vouvalides, who became Suzanne’s surrogate “husband”, when my eyes glazed over during our first meeting with the builder’s design specialist, Ashley, during which we were supposed to pick out kitchen cabinets… Suzanne was very excited, and I was ready to agree to anything, even camouflage-colored cabinets, just to get back to hiking or biking. Irene volunteered to fill in for me, and she and Suzanne spent the next two weeks selecting wall colors, door knobs, granite countertops (shown here), appliances, etc., etc., etc…… I would have been a millstone around Suzanne’s neck during those meetings, but the girls had a ball together. Thank you, Irene!!!
Frequent readers of this blog know that when I go fishing, the odds are often stacked against me… whether it’s foul weather (often too cold or too hot, never just right), too windy, too rainy, the moon is offsetting the fishes’ feeding habits, the big fish were caught yesterday during a professional tournament, or the fish are vacationing in Miami or Timbuktu… like any fisherman, I can find 100 reasons for coming back home without catching. Imagine My Lovely Bride’s surprise when she received these photos while she was at The Monroe Institute in Charlottesville teaching a class.
The fish in question (which I am cleaning in this photo) is a sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus), but is also called a black drum or convict fish. They eat crustaceans, mollusks, shrimp and fish; I caught two that day on frozen shrimp. Tony Vouvalides, my new neighbor and Best Fishing and Sailing Buddy, took me to his favorite fishing dock near our new home in Moss Creek, near Hilton Head, SC.
We ate the two sheepshead for dinner that night in fish tacos, and they were YUMMY! (Sorry, Sweetheart, you missed out on some great fish!) Irene graciously invited me to dinner every night Suzanne was gone… and she is a fabulous cook!
Tony is not only a revered elementary school principal (now retired), but also a master ship model builder who was asked by the Smithsonian Museum to restore some of their prized models. He also built a 19 foot wood sailboat in his garage, originally helped by his father-in-law Sal. Sal passed during the building process, but Tony completed the beautiful sloop and named it Salaway. He recently moved her from winter storage to a spot closer to home where she can be launched when the weather improves.
Sticking to the outdoors theme for a bit, I also went on a hike while MLB was in Virginia. Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is a big marshy refuge, but has some nice hiking and biking trails. These live oaks are typical of this area, and provide birds and mammals excellent habitat.
After an hour of hiking, I was looking for a dewatering spot, and saw an actual porta-pottie, the first I had seen on the refuge. While sitting inside and pondering the state of humanity, I sensed movement of a critter between my legs… forcing me to leap up, thinking it might be a snake! I was actually relieved (no pun intended) to find a gecko looking up at me! This specimen is a Mediterranean Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) and is not usually a threat to humans, other than causing heart attacks in unsuspecting porta-pottie users.
Near the wildlife refuge is the town of Port Wentworth, strategically located on the Savannah River. It is a major railroad hub and shipping terminal, especially for imported automobiles and containers that are then transshipped by rail and truck. The skyline of huge cranes and highlighted rails makes for a good photo, although quite different from the earlier scene of live oaks and Spanish moss.
During our two month stay in South Carolina, Mike and Beth Pasakarnis visited from their home in Darien, Georgia, south of Savannah. Many readers will recognize them from Suzanne’s book Wolf’s Message; their son Wolf (Mike, Jr.) passed when struck by lightning, like our daughter Susan. Suzanne and I were inside when Mike and Beth arrived at Tony and Irene’s house, and during their visit, Suzanne told them that Wolf had signaled to her to check for a nail or screw in one of their tires.
On going outside, Mike looked down and found a screw in the left rear tire. Even I continue to be amazed…
In a previous post, I mentioned that this part of South Carolina is called the Low Country; how low is it, you might ask? Well, here is a trail/road on Pinckney Island at high tide…
Next: We departed South Carolina and headed for The Villages where Suzanne was hosting Mavis Pittilla, the famous British medium who is also the subject of Suzanne’s latest book, Droplets of God. Mavis is an extremely popular spiritual teacher here in the US, and was Suzanne’s mentor at the Arthur Findlay College in the UK. That’s Mavis next to Suzanne and Jean Else, Mavis’ partner, standing next to Bev Garlipp, who is at the end of the front row. Bev did a tremendous job organizing this event!
Finally, on a somewhat less spiritual note, one of the surprises of our stay in Bluffton/Hilton Head was that most of the residents are actually Yankees, and unfamiliar with that famous Southern treat, Moon Pies. I was shocked… yes, shocked… by how many transplants from up North have not discovered Moon Pies. When Suzanne’s sister Janice and her fiance Rodney visited, we went in search of Moon Pies, finally finding them at a local BBQ joint. For those of you who have not tasted Moon Pies, they are two round graham cracker cookies, with a marshmallow center and a choice of chocolate, vanilla or banana frosting. Those of us who grew up with Moon Pies always ate them accompanied with an RC Cola. Driving with a Moon Pie in the right hand and an RC Cola in the left hand was considered de rigeur, but both could be held in the left hand if your right hand was on your girlfriend’s “heart”.