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Thursday, December 10, 2015

How does one get ready for Christmas in the south? The same as our snow hoarding upper states do, we just don't shake our snow dome.
How do we deck the halls?  Right nicely I'd say, with  oyster, pine, sea shells, cotton and magnolia  wreaths. A resourceful bunch we are! We string lights from palmetto's to pine's, shrimp boats to pillions in plough mud.
You may not get a whiff of ham from a tiny snow capped smokehouse with white furling smoke in Charleston, but — if you follow your nose you're likely to find a burn pit or barrel glowing red and have a bottle of some Christmas cheer put in your hand.
Nope, you won't spy a sleigh tumbling down the hill, but if the tides just right you just might see someone paddle boarding downtown with a Santa hat on.
Merry and bright bundles of clothes? Oh yes, we have those here too! I don't care if it's 85 degree's on Christmas Day, we're still going to wear our boots and scarves. Last year while waiting on a bench for a few minutes before we went in to see a Christmas movie, I counted 60 pair of boots. But I sure couldn't say anything, I had on a super heavy 3/4 length black wool dress coat.
I'd of worn that coat if it were 100 degrees. The coat is part of an accidental tradition that started up north 16 years ago. Don and I found ourselves and our home oddly silent on Christmas Day. All of the kids and grand's were at their own homes. We decided to go to the movies and eat while we were out. It didn't take long to figure out that we were going to be eating Chinese. We went to the theater afterwards to see Tom Hanks in "Cast Away." I slid the ticket stubs into my pocket.
When I hung the coat up that Christmas, I didn't think anything about it again until the next Christmas. I pulled it off of the hanger and Don and I headed out for our Christmas Day date of Chinese and movie. Once again I slipped the tickets in my pocket. I felt something and pulled out the ticket stubs from last year. The tradition has continued every year since, same pocket, same coat. I've even thrown in some Chinese fortune cookie predictions to boot!
I pull those stubs out every Christmas morning now, and we read the movies out loud. Some were fading so badly I had to write in the wording again. Most of the movie titles wouldn't spark a thought of Christmas to someone who saw the stubs, but for me — they are memories, a constant reminder that we can make Christmas tradition wherever we are.
Sometimes I muse futuristic endings to situations of the present day. The Christmas coat is one of them. I'll set up the scene for you. After I'm gone from earth, this very well made classic coat ends up at a thrift sore. A woman pulls it off the rack and then hangs it back up scolding herself, who needs a 3/4 length wool coat here? She comes back to it again a few minutes later, the vintage coat is in great condition. She slips it on and checks her self out in the mirror. Sliding her hands into the pockets, she pulls out the stubs. "These are all from Christmas Day." she whispers. She takes the coat to the register on this 90 degree fall day and smiles at the odd glances from customers and clerk.
On Christmas morning, she picks up her grandchild. As they stand in line at the theater, she notices that people are doing double takes when they see her in this long wool coat, especially when most of them are in short sleeves, sandals and flip flops.
She purchases their tickets at the window and places the stubs in her granddaughter's hands. Before the movie starts she tells her grandchild the story about the Christmas coat tradition and then has her add their ticket stubs to the pile and back into the coat pocket.
Her grand-daughter smiles us at her and ask about another tradition. "Grandma, how does Santa get into our house if we don't have a chimney?"
 "Oh sweetie, that's a Yankee Santa, southern Santa comes in on high tide, uses the back screen porch door and — he looks a lot like Bill Murray."
Merry Christmas everyone!!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

STAC House Shows—The Barefoot Movement in Church

STAC House Shows—The Barefoot Movement in Church

Stac House Shows; The Barefoot Movement & Finnegan Bell

This past March I had the opportunity to cover the 1st STAC House Show at  St. Thomas & St. Denis Church in Cainhoy, otherwise known as the Old Brick Church. I knew they planned another event for the site and was ecstatic when it was announced. Finnegan Bell and The Barefoot Movement.  9.19.15.
The venue is a mere 15 minutes from our driveway, a few miles down the pine canopied two lane Cainhoy country road. We eased the car through two narrow gate posts and up the faint indention of a dirt drive where a sandy pine-strewn churchyard led us to the hustle and bustle of set up. The sun was dipping below the pines creating a fast flurry of activity. All hands were on deck — cord setting, light positioning, tent propping, church sweeping and cork popping. When we signed in, Shane William's wife Trisha swatted a mosquito off of my forehead and pointed us to the table of repellants.
Still a half hour before the show,  so Don and I promenaded the grounds. St. Thomas & St. Denis Church, (one of the ten original Anglican Parishes) is 309 years old. The original building burned in a forest fire but was re-built in 1819.  It is steeped in history, both painful and joyful —such is life. It is the perfect backdrop for a collaboration of community, music and history.
Reverend Hamilton Smith caught up with us around the side of the huge church windows with a can of wasp spray "As if opening 200 year old church windows on a humid day weren't enough, I've been chasing down the survivors of the largest wasp nest I've ever seen." he said laughing while inebriating the sole survivor on the pane with a long spray blast.
I‘m glad they got those huge windows open, it was by far one of the muggiest evenings of late. The crowd thickened as quickly as the humid evening air. We went in to get our seats. Through the window I saw a beautiful RV in the churchyard sitting beside a road weary older van, the sticker on back read "The Barefoot Movement."  I figured the RV belonged to the band and the van to it's roadies. Eddie White of Awendaw Green stopped and spoke with us, "The Barefoot Movement is touring the Southeast and they’ve had a hectic schedule. They left Georgia today and came straight here for the show and then need to be back in Georgia again tomorrow. Camping world provided the RV for them." So the muted gold van was actually the band's.
I asked Eddie White later how this presentation came to be. "I met TBM through my friendship with Anderson Knott who works with Hootie and the Blowfish in Myrtle Beach where the bass player Hase grew up 3 or 4 years ago and have continued to support them and watch them grow. They are so authentic, it warms the musical heart and then to gather with them in an historic spiritual structure that is so alive with the juice of generations — it's just a pleasure to the senses and soul."
The pews filled fast and so did the temps. Ladies were glistening and men were dripping. The last blast of ole sol shone through the leaded glass window panes and then it began. The cicadas and frogs started the show. I felt a whiff of a breeze on the back of my neck and turned around in the pew, the lady behind me had a church fan and was going at it full throttle. She reached down by her purse and handed me another one she had brought. Perfect!!
Finnegan Bell's duo, Shane Williams and Warren Bazemore took the stage with guest Dean Black, a steel pedal guitar player by trade and tonight playing an antique National steel resonator guitar. They started the show with their cover of "Hallelujah." After the set finished the crowd rushed to their feet in a standing ovation. As far as I was concerned, they'd just set the bar pretty darn high for The Barefoot Movement band. Intermission emptied the church for a wisp of night air and refreshments.
Cowbells's rang to signal us to return to the church for the show. I laughed out loud. I will never hear a cowbell ring again without thinking of Christopher Walken and the cast of SNL in their stint "I gotta have more cowbell!"
The Barefoot movement —Tommy Norris, Noah Wall, Hasee Ciaccio, Alex Conerly, took the stage shoeless as promised. They had me from the very first strum of the bass, bow on fiddle, pick of the mandolin and guitar pluck. I've found myself completely out of adjectives to describe them. Their performance was surreal. Like a time warp, I was planted smack dab back in the 1950's seeing all of yesteryear's country music bluegrass digitally re-mastered. If they had a weakness at all, it was unknown to the inhabitants of those stucco walls and full pews. The flushed crowd so enthralled they wouldn't have left if you'd have hollered fire.
Feet were stomping, hands clapping I could feel the vibrations in the old plank floor. TBM announced after a song that they felt the rooms percussion under their feet too. I caught movement outside of an open window, men were framed in the sills outside to watch the show in the cool night air. I had a vision of time past on this terra firma.
I will never forget that night and hubby echoed the same when we exited the church. I felt as if I'd just witnessed art on the cusp and I’ll count myself fortunate if I ever have the opportunity to see them in such an intimate setting again.  The music world seems to concur, The Barefoot Movement  is already being described as the future of bluegrass. Press keeps rolling in and Rolling Stone just added to the accolades.
There are more plans in the work for more presentations with STAC House Shows & Awendaw Green. Keep your fingers on the pulse of their activities, you don't want to miss their events. In the meantime, Awendaw Green is putting on a benefit concert on  Oct 17th at the Windjammer for Windwood Family Services 30th year anniversary.
Thank again to Holy Cross Sullivan’s Island for use of the property, Awendaw Green, STAC House Shows, The Society of St. Thomas & St. Denis Church.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Stuck in the middle with me

I wheel through the doors of Bi Lo and come to an abrupt halt at the first little roundabout. Donuts!  I’m fondling a box of Krispy Kreme cream filled donuts when a shrill voice screams BINGO, scaring the bejesus out of me! I circled the little deli area to peer through the cheese kiosk’s grape and cracker display. An anxious elderly lot were poised and ready to blot out G25 on their cards with their multi-colored Bingo markers.

I wondered what my senior game will be. Although I like Bingo, it probably won’t be the game of choice as I gather with my 50 shades of gray-haired friends. I’m thinking I’ll be the little church lady who takes your money at penny poker and has an extra Ace cupped in hand. Or —I’ll sell Pinterest crafts roadside, maybe even build a tiny house with the wine corks I have saved.

As I started scanning my grocery items at the express self check out, the screen prompter ask’s me if I qualify for a senior citizen discount. I hit NO, but the screen won’t go away. I give the bored clerk a sideways glance so that he will move me along. He obliges, but with a smirk and I realized from his “whatever” glance that I am in between era’s. Kind of like a Tween, I’m a Tweenior.

I have choices now. I can be this, or that. I throw away the AARP mail, but keep the Roper St. Francis House Calls magazine (for the recipes.) I still want to do exciting things. But, I can make them more adaptable and fun, like I can ride up the mountain and zip line down through the trees rather than go on a 3 hour hike up the mountain.

I believe it is the most liberating time in US history to be a middle aged woman. But, I increasingly find that because I CAN choose, I flit back and forth between being the fearless Amelia Earhardt and a helpless Charleston damsel who has the vapors, praying for a Rhett Butler to catch me when I swoon.

Oh yes, I am all over the map;
 Commitments and engagements are fine as long as they fall into my cycle of no cycles. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do, yet I seek guidance diligently. My emotions have gone from hair trigger to a 3 day fermentation period. I find that I give less thought to petty BS now than every before and rather enjoy sideways glances at my unpredictable responses.

If someone thinks you look like you had a good night, let them.

When the cashier’s buzzer goes off because you bought Epson salts (apparently an hallucinogenic) just look at them and wink.
I want my hair to go gray, I don’t.

I want to dance my butt off somewhere, but don’t want that “Bless her heart, Granny can still bust a move” look.

I’m too young for shuffleboard, too old for Wii dance.

And — Perplexing instructions and labels annoy the hell out of me;
"Apply crème to a soft area of your body." That one didn’t take long.

"Draw attention from trouble areas of your body by moving a person’s gaze to the good areas." Ok, so I’m down to the knees now, any suggestions for alluring knee attire?

"Age defying makeup." Can’t I just deny it myself?

"Free-roaming eggs." Yes, I put that package back in the cooler. I don’t trust a company who thinks eggs roam free.

Hmmm, just had a thought. Does that senior citizen discount include alcohol? Limbo’s not really such a bad place to be. I find I’m neither here nor there.