In Memory of Chef Shane Whiddon


Good morning to all. If you follow my posts on Facebook and my blog, you will know yesterday was another tragic day in the Holy City of Charleston, SC.

Yesterday, a disgruntled, former employee walked into Virginia’s on King Restaurant with a sick mission on his mind. He reportedly has mental health issues.

Holding a weapon, he told everyone inside the restaurant to get on the floor and exit the building. One woman stated he pointed the weapon on her stomach. He did not shoot her.

Since I write about food and hospitality, I know quite a few chefs within the Lowcountry of Charleston, I researched Virginia’s on King Street Restaurant. At that time, I was able to click on to the website and read. I did not research the chef at that time.

Later, after reports of one person killed and the shooter in critical condition, I rushed back to the website, hoping to discover who the chef was. When I clicked on the site, I discovered it was temporarily unavailable. I realized there was probably only one reason the site was down. Perhaps the chef was the victim killed. Listening to the news reports, the interviews with Sheriff Al Cannon, and the Mayor of Charleston, John Tecklenburg, no one would share the name of the deceased victim or the name of the shooter.

While reports continued, a reputable friend sent me the name of Chef Shane Whiddon. Although he looked familiar to me, I do not recall ever having the privilege to interview him for a story. It is unfortunate that I’ve never eaten at Virginia’s on King Street.

Chef Anthony Shane Whiddon was 37-years-old, leaving a wife and two children.

http://abcnews4.com/news/crime-news/shane-whiddon-chef-at-virginias-on-king-dies-after-shooting-at-charleston-restaurant

I have no details about the shooter with exception that he was a ‘disgruntled former employee’ and he is in critical condition now.

My heart breaks for the family of Chef Shane Whiddon, Shannon, his wife, and their two lovely children. A neighbor of the family has established a Go Fund Me page, hopeful to raise $10,000 to go to the family.

https://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/Eat/archives/2017/08/25/gofundme-campaign-created-to-support-the-family-of-chef-shane-whiddon-virginias-restaurant-homicide-victim

I’ve lived in the Holy City of Charleston for many years. I recall working as an intern at one of the local TV stations when I was in college. One of my responsibilities was to contact all police departments to see if anything was happening so we could be first with the “if it bleeds it leads,” stories. During my internship, the only report I discovered was a fire. No shootings. Killings. Rapes. Robberies. Drug busts…Nothing newsworthy.

I’ve had the honor and pleasure to know many successful chefs as students when I worked at Johnson & Wales University. Many of them are internationally famous, earning many awards for the amazing and tantalizing foods created by their talents, and many of these chefs chose to remain in Charleston. I suppose you could say, I have been blessed. Yes, indeed!

Now, almost daily there is a shooting. Drug busts and robberies. I ask myself: What has happened to the Holy City of Charleston?

Yes. This beautiful city has grown. Reportedly, we have lots of hopeful new residents moving into the lowcountry daily. I suppose with growth comes crimes. Now, we have crimes on a daily basis. I have been told by a number of people about how easy it is to get a weapon in South Carolina. I suppose I’m from the old school and don’t believe in weapons, but — this is South Carolina and in the Holy City, apparently it is rather easy to get a weapon. So sad. And now, another innocent victim is gone, all because a ‘disgruntled former employee walked into a restaurant and killed the chef.’

Since I am active within the hospitality industry, knowing many of the leaders of food and beverage and hospitality, I pray everyone will come together to assist the family of Chef Shane Whiddon. Now, his wife will be a single mom, raising two children who probably will never understand why their daddy was taken away by someone shooting and killing him. Just how do you explain that to a child? Yesterday morning, Chef left his family to go to work, creating delicious Southern foods for the guests at Virginia’s on King Street. He never came home.

Just what do you say when the children ask: “Where’s my daddy? Why can’t he come home to me? I miss my daddy.”

Chef Shane Whiddon was a family man. He had a generous heart and soul. I checked the Go Fund Me site only a moment ago. Contributions raised in only nine hours: $5,280.

No doubt the Holy City of Charleston feels the pain and loss, and so do I.

Such a sad day today. We are expecting more storms this afternoon probably like the torrential storms pouring down while the police officers rushed around to protect our city.  I must say, they did an amazing job yesterday. Makes me proud of our Holy City.

To the family and friends of Chef Shane Whiddon, I am so sorry for your loss. I pray God will guide all of you and give you strength during this traumatic time of grief.

If you would like to contribute to the Go Fund Me page for Chef Shane Whiddon, visit:

https://www.gofundme.com/helping-the-whiddon-family

cropped-arthur-ravenel-bridge

 

Here’s To Beautiful Mornings and Sunshine…


dsc_0010

Dearest Readers:

At the moment, it is a beautiful morning in Charleston, SC. Believe me, the weather can change in this historical, holy city in only the blink of an eye. Take last night, for example. The roaring thunders and the flashing, horrific lightning frightened me all night long. Reportedly, forecasters predict more storms for today. How I pray the storms arrive during the day and not in the heat of the night.

Why? If you read my blog on a regular basis, you will recognize how the lightning and thunder horrifies me. I give my mother the credit for those fears.

Last nights storms were no different, except they arrive in the middle of the night. My husband tells me I should wake him up when I am so frightened, but I do not. I keep telling myself this is only a storm – in the middle of the night. The lightning is not coming for you, like my mother said. It is just a storm. The rain will water the yard, my flowers and the grass. This is only a storm. This too shall pass.

I toss and turn during the storms. Last night we had three storms. I heard one, and I saw the flashing lightning at about 1:30am. The next round of lightning I heard crashing, lighting up my dark bedroom after 3:00am. The final round was about 5:15am, or so. With each storm, I tried to cover my eyes with a sleeping mask. I placed another sleeping mask over the first one. When I close my eyes, I can still see light, so I must wear these masks; nevertheless, last night, with two masks covering my eyes, I could still see the lightning. My body jumped. I gasped with fear, and then I whispered to myself: This is only a storm. Just close your eyes, turn away from the windows and go back to sleep. Throwing the covers back, I got up, walked around the house, checked on my precious pups, and saw another flash of lightning. I jumped. Never did sleep happen. According to my Fitbit, my body got four hours of sleep last night. It’s no wonder why I feel so exhausted.

When I say my nightly prayers, I suppose I should pray for God to give me strength so I can release my fear of lightning.  Yes, I pray nightly, although I still have difficulty knowing how to pray. I do not pray like I’ve heard other people pray. I call my prayers my intimate conversations with God. I feel cleansed whenever I pray…like God hears my prayers and He eases my pain. How I wish He could ease the pain of my fears of lightning. Maybe I’ll add that comment to my prayer list!

Looking out my window while writing this, I see darkness ahead. Rain is supposed to return at about 11:10am today, according to the Weather Channel app alert. How I pray we have our storms today while I vacuum and clean the house. At least during the day it is easier to cope with these torrential thunder storms.

How about you, readers? Do you have a fear about lightning? Looks like the rain is here now, at 11:03am. I hear thunder. Think I’ll turn the vacuum cleaner on and get busy, after I shut this computer down.

Below, I am posting a photograph of beautiful Angel Oaks, Johns Island, SC. When my husband left for Vietnam, I visited this tree several times before I moved back to Columbus, GA. I remember sitting on the grass, having some deep thoughts and prayers that God would bring my husband home safely to me from Vietnam. Funny thing about it, my husband returned from Vietnam, but the soldier I married is still over there. I suppose I was a bit silly to think someone could go to war and come home as the same person. That did not happen. Vietnam changed things…but that is a subject I will wait to write later, in my freewriting challenge. Looks like a storm is brewing outside, so I must shut this computer down, while praying if we have lightning I can cope better today while working in the house.

 

Angel Oaks, a historical and breathtaking tree located on Johns Island, SC. A place for inspiration and the appreciation of nature with all of her beauty!DSC_0013

Returning to Weight Watchers — Now — Just Watch Me Roar!


Dearest Readers:IMG_0620_edited.JPG

After almost six weeks of missing my regular Weight Watchers meetings, I returned yesterday. As most of you might know, I’ve been sick. Very sick and weak. Normally, I do not have spells of asthma related illnesses during the summer; however, this summer, my husband had, and I quote the doctor’s diagnosis, ‘a bit of pneumonia.’ I cared for him, washing my hands daily for what seemed like a thousand times. I told him to cover his mouth when coughing or sneezing. I did not wish to get his germs. At times, my husband appears to become a child again. I call him a ‘two-year-old’ and when he is sick, he definitely is like a child. Heck, I would not even give him a morning and evening kiss! After he got well, I awoke with a sore throat. The next morning, I awoke with major congestion in my chest and when I coughed, my chest burned inside. I phoned my doctor, seeing him that afternoon.

After chest x-rays, I was diagnosed with bronchial asthma. Great. And so, I was sick for six weeks!

My doctor prescribed a Z-pack and a steroid. Not prednisone, but another steroid. I’ve forgotten the name of it, but I do know it started with the letter “D.” Steroids do strange things to me, especially regarding my cognitive abilities. I took the meds, hoping within five days I would feel better. I did not. The doctor’s office followed up to see how I was doing. When they heard my voice, they decided to get another prescription for me. With the first steroid, I did not have any side effects. Certainly wish I could say the same about the refill of that steroid.

On the third week of my illness, I weighed, losing three pounds. I was ecstatic! When I am sick, I lose my appetite. After starting the additional steroid (same steroid, just a refill of it) I noticed I was hungry — ALL THE TIME! I would eat my breakfast of yogurt with fruit, or oatmeal with fruit, and I was still hungry. I made a sandwich. Still hungry! No doubt I appeared to be a bottomless pit where food was concerned.

I phoned my husband at work, asking him to bring home potato chips and ice cream. I want Ice Cream, I said. Ice cream. Ice cream — I-SCREAM for ice cream. I had no idea why I wanted ice cream and chips. I certainly wasn’t pregnant!

My cravings for food continued. It seemed no matter what I ate — I wanted to continue to eat. And eat…and EAT!

Craving something crunchy, I opened the pantry. All we had in the pantry was a box of Ritz Crackers. I opened them — eating way too many. The serving size on the package said five crackers. Trust me, I ate more than five.

At Weight Watchers we learn to look at the serving size, along with the ingredients. Big deal. I don’t care what the serving size says. I’m hungry!

Since I was so weak and ill, I decided not to track my foods on Weight Watchers. Monday of this week, I took the final steroid. I was feeling better, but had no idea why I was eating like an elephant, or so it seemed. I got on the scales. Gaining seven pounds, I burst into tears.

What is wrong with me? I’m doing Weight Watchers. I’m sick and I don’t understand why I am craving foods I no longer eat. I’m not eating fruit every day, nor am I eating vegetables. My daily intake of food is Boars Head London Broil, Boars Head turkey, and potato chips. No fruit. No vegetable, and of course – ice cream. Did I mention peanut butter??  Just why am I doing this. Why am I sabotaging my weight loss? If I keep eating like this, I will gain all of my weight back. I made a promise to myself. A promise to NEVER gain it back and I haven’t, until now.

I looked at the empty prescription bottle. I rushed to my computer to look up ‘side effects of oral steroids.’ Among the side effects were:

blurred vision

increased appetite

A variety of side effects were listed, but those two I definitely experienced, especially the increased appetite.

Maybe I should stop beating myself up. Maybe this time, the cravings and eating are truly not my fault. EXCEPT – I am the one opening my mouth and eating these foods. Just maybe the steroid is telling my brain I need food. How I wish this would end. Why can’t I be strong enough to fight this battle?

Sitting at my desk, reading more about this steroid teaches me I have to be strong and I must stop eating the ice cream. Potato chips. (After I started Weight Watchers, I grew to hate the taste of potato chips.) Not this week.

On Tuesday of this week, I decided it was time for me to be accountable and responsible. I grabbed my cell phone and went to the Weight Watchers E-tools site. I tracked my intake. Probably the first time in maybe three to six weeks. Sabotage. SABOTAGE. Today is the day I STOP SABOTAGING MYSELF! I’m not an elephant, or a whale. It’s time to stop this insanity!

And so, yesterday, I walked into my Weight Watchers meeting, ready to admit to myself and my friends at Weight Watchers that I’ve gained weight while sick. Yes, I’m disappointed. I really thought I was stronger than that. How could I allow a drug to influence me? Just how?

Approaching the area where we have our ‘confidential weigh-ins’ I spoke softly to the receptionist. “I’ve missed six weeks due to illness. I do not want to weigh in today. I’ve been on steroids.” 

Lots of members of Weight Watchers are under the impression they MUST weigh in every week. A few years ago, Weight Watchers gave us a ‘No Weigh In’ card. I’ve used mine a few times, but I knew deep inside my heart if I weighed in, seeing about a five-pound-gain, I would be so depressed, I wasn’t certain I could fight, or find strength, or return.

During the meeting, I shared a challenge I experienced just last week. The cravings. Non-stop eating. My illness. How devastated I was when I discovered no matter what I tried, I could not stop stuffing my mouth. Since joining Weight Watchers, I’ve been extremely proud of how strong I’ve been while eating. I no longer eat until I’m full. I stop when I am satisfied, with exception of this illness and those d— steroids!

I actually look in a full-length mirror after dressing now. There is NO WAY I am allowing steroids to dictate my eating habits. No more cravings. No more stuffing my mouth with foods I actually do not like to eat!

This morning, I told myself today is a new day. I must be strong. I must not weaken. If I have a craving, undoubtedly caused due to those steroids still in my system, I will eat fruit, or I will find something else to do! I will lose the three pounds I gained (according to my scales at home), and I pray I will lose them before next weeks weigh-in.

This I do for me. This too shall pass, after all, it’s when things seem worse, you mustn’t quit!

I’ve found my anchor. WEIGHT WATCHERS!!! Now, just watch me roar!

Living With Hurricanes – Hurricane Matthew


DSC_0115

 

Dearest Readers:

Today is an early morning day. A day to make certain we are prepared for Hurricane Matthew.

Living in the low country of Charleston, SC, exactly four miles from the beach, I have been in several hurricanes. The first was Hurricane Hugo in 1989. During that strong hurricane, my husband was in the SC National Guard. He reported for duty so I decided since I worked at a culinary college, I would stay and assist the students. Hugo arrived during late night. About midnight. I listened to the winds outside, thankful we were on the fourth floor of a historical building, in an area without windows. While the students slept, I remained awake. No doubt, I will be awake when Matthew arrives.

Yesterday, the Governor of South Carolina, Governor Haley, suggested it was time for all residents affected to make an evacuation plan. Our evacuation plan is an easy one. We are staying. Why? Simple. We have five furry animal friends. I will not leave them home alone like so many people do, and I do not want to fight those roads, just to get out of Charleston. Late yesterday evening, traffic was dreadful. I can only imagine how the traffic will be today.

Looking out my windows, the winds are blowing softly outside.  We are still under a hurricane watch. Dorchester County was upgraded to Opcon 2, ‘in preparation for Hurricane Matthew.’

What is Opcon? Defined, Opcon = operational control. A few days ago, we were Opcon 5. Last night, changed to Opcon 3. I haven’t a clue if Opcon is now a 2 or Opcon 1. The lower the Opcon number, the more dangerous the storm. Governor Haley has a press conference scheduled for 9:00 am today, only moments away.

Some of my friends do not understand why we are staying. “Just get in the car and drive,” they say. If we left, we will travel with five dogs. Yes, we have crates and we could use them, although I’m not comfortable doing that.

Last night, much to my surprise, our son called, inquiring what we would be doing. When I said we will stay here, he said: “Mom. That’s not a good idea.”

It’s nice to know he cares. I suppose I am writing in my blog today, hopeful there will be more posts in future weeks. Hopeful we really will be fine, along with our home. We finally got all of the repairs from last year’s ‘thousand year rains.’ I have a beautiful new micro suede sofa in the living room. I’m happy with how my home looks now. So now, I pray that God will keep His healing hands here on our home. I pray He will protect it, and us.

Reportedly, the roads of Charleston — I-26, and other roads http://www.thestate.com/news/state/article105986547.html  will be reversed beginning at 3:00pm today.

Should be an interesting day to be in Charleston, SC – reportedly the ‘number one city in the world.’ I pray Hurricane Matthew will decrease in power. I pray lives will not be lost, and I pray we will not see the war zones we had after Hurricane Hugo.

While researching Hurricane Matthew, it is predicted Matthew will be along the coast of Charleston, SC as a category 2 hurricane.  https://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/atlantic/2016/Hurricane-Matthew

If it is only a category 2 storm, it will not be as intense as Hurricane Hugo was. Hugo hit in the dark of night, strengthening to a Category Four storm.

According to the website, http://www.wyff4.com/weather/How-does-Matthew-compare-to-other-U-S-hurricanes/41951076

“Many South Carolina residents remember Hugo in September 1989, the most intense hurricane to hit the East Coast north of Florida since 1900.  Hugo strengthened to a Category 4 hurricane before it made landfall about midnight on Sullivan’s  Island, just north of Charleston.

Hugo caused $7 billion in damage in the U.S. mainland, making it the costliest hurricane in the country’s history at the time.”

Hurricane Hugo devastated the low country of Charleston. Trees looked like toothpicks. Boats on the harbor were tossed around like a child’s toy boat. Homes were swept away from their foundations, either landing in the ocean, or left on a road bed. The bridge to Sullivan’s Island dipped into the ocean waters. Residents had to use ferries just to get back on the island. Driving back to my home the morning after Hugo, I passed my road three times before I realized I was home. Trees were lying on the roads. Houses were missing roofs. Entering my home, I found damage to the ceilings and roof of the living room, dining room, den and the game room. My home was still livable. Across the street, the home was almost demolished. Later, they determined a tornado hit that home. It was bulldozed and rebuilt. I pray we will be safe and survive without much damage, and I pray I do not have to fight just to get repairs done. Incidentally, I changed insurance companies in 2016. Let’s just say, that insurance company provided nothing for us. I pray I will not experience those issues again.  Reporters have encouraged people to update their insurance now. Guess what. You can’t! When a hurricane is underway, insurance agents cannot quote policies.

What Do I Expect With Hurricane Matthew?

  • Loss of power
  • Heavy rains and winds
  • Hunkering down in the hallway, closing all the doors nearby where we will cuddle with our precious friends – our animals
  • Eating food I normally do not eat since the power will be out, I’ll have to be creative – using a camp stove.
  • Quality time with my husband

Periodically, I will post something on Facebook, so you, my readers, may check how we are doing on Facebook.  https://www.facebook.com/barbie.perkinscooper?ref=bookmarks

Meanwhile, if you’ve never been in a hurricane, please count your blessings. It is a true statement that the winds of a hurricane do sound like a train. Hurricanes will spin off into tornadoes. The winds will be violent.

Let us all pray Hurricane Matthew will weaken and only be a tropical storm when it hits the coast of Charleston, SC.

May God bless us, everyone!arthur-ravenel-jr-bridge

 

 

 

When and If Hurricane Matthew Comes to the Lowcountry…


Dearest Readers:
Within 24-36 hours, we, in the low country, will know what our chance of meeting Hurricane Matthew is. Here’s what I predict. As most of you know, Charleston, SC is the ‘number one city in the world.’ No doubt, a Chamber of Commerce statement. Yes, it is a beautiful city. Antiquated!!! And I’m not certain IF the city has decided to get with the program and join the 21-first century!
If the hurricane is predicted to hit our coast, I imagine a ‘mandatory evacuation’ will finally be whispered. Remember — we have ’42 families moving into the low country daily.’ Well…we’ve had growth. Amazing, nightmarish growth…New construction is built almost everywhere – however, only roads leading into the subdivisions are made. Our dignitaries cannot make decisions about building additional roads. Their comments are “No money. And If we built new roads, where would we put them? Good question. Excellent observation…but why can’t they make a decision about I-526, or additional roads? Demolishing trees certainly isn’t hard since they completely destroy most of the trees in every new subdivision now. When I moved to Charleston, I was impressed how trees were saved. Not anymore!
If we use Highway 41 to evacuate — we will be parked right on the road when Matthew arrives. I’ve had that happen before in 1999. During that ‘mandatory evacuation’ we moved 57 miles in nine hours! Can you imagine holding your bladder for nine hours? I saw men walking into the woods of Highway 41. I wasn’t about to do that! And, I doubt if men could walk into the woods now – due to the area now filled with new subdivisions, shopping, and other suburban developments. Incidentally, I should mention when my husband was released from work to evacuate – so was every employee in Charleston. I suppose you’ve never read about these nightmares in infamous Charleston, SC — have you? Yes, a beautiful city – unable to handle the traffic hurricanes create when we are finally told ‘this is a mandatory evacuation.’ Yeah. Right. Charleston, what orbit are you on? Face reality! Mandatory evacuation is not possible!
If we have a ‘mandatory evacuation,’ we will not join that parking lot! We will gather our things. Our friends – the best four-legged kind – and we will stay in the hallway of our home. Reportedly, if it hits the coast of the low country, it will be only a category 2 storm. We’ve been here at home for those before. Remember last October?  We had the ‘hundred-year-storm,’ as the dignitaries called it.
arthur-ravenel-jr-bridge
View of the Charleston Harbor and Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge
In reality, it was a tropical storm/mini-hurricane.’ Not my definition of it, but one of the appraisers when I filed a claim and was told “You are not covered!”
Yes, I cancelled that policy and all the policies I had with that insurance company. Never again…Lesson Learned – the expensive way!
So, I am here to let you know – IF Hurricane Matthew comes to town in the low country, we will remain here in our home. Yes. The power will probably be cut off, just like Hurricane Hugo. I will go to the grocery store to get a few non-perishable items we can eat, along with our precious family friends, and we will be fine.
I’m praying my home will be fine. It took us four months to get our beautiful roof replaced in February, 2016. Interior construction from the damage we had during that storm wasn’t completed until May 28, 2016. On May 31, Phil had reverse shoulder replacement – which created another storm I never want to experience again. A physical, emotional roller coaster ride for both of us.
I am staying tuned in to the Weather Channel, and local weather reports, praying this storm will die down for our world. I’m beginning to hate hurricanes. The lightning. Winds. Rain…RAIN…AND MORE RAIN…create only one thing – a time to appreciate life and be thankful for the little things in life.
Hurricane Matthew we do not want you to be another traveling companion or tourist in the low country. Why don’t you move out to sea and disappear! You are not welcome here!
DSC_0017
Cypress Gardens Still Closed Due to The ‘Hundred Year Storm.’

All Aboard…The Carnival Ecstasy Cruise


Dearest Readers:

If you are a follower of this blog, you will recognize I haven’t written much since early May of this year. When my husband was so weak and ill, I could not function, nor could I write. Every time I attempted to write, I hit the delete key. Life was too demanding and frightening for me. My husband needed me in ways I never dreamed. Suddenly, I found myself feeling trapped in a dark and lonely abyss. Walking in the familiar shoes of caregiving, my entire life focused on my husband and his recovery. Friends offered to help, although I did not know what they could do. Once, I told a friend on the phone she could listen to me and my tears. She agreed. Fortunately, our life is improving. I give all the credit to God, all the prayers He answered and my faith.

arthur-ravenel-jr-bridge

Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge – Charleston, SC

 

Cruising on the Carnival Ecstasy

On September 3 – September 8, 2016, we cruised on the Carnival Ecstasy, cruising from Charleston, SC to Half Moon Cay, Nassau, Bahamas and back to Charleston. The cruise was booked over a year ago, and it was a non-refundable “free cruise” that cost us $1078.08, to be exact! Trust me, this “free cruise” had nothing to do with free, and from now on, when we receive invitations to attend a time share dinner where we could ‘win a free cruise’ we will not go. I was told by many people on the cruise they did not pay $1000. Lesson learned!

Culinary Skills Disappointing

While on the cruise, I sat around, watching people, making notes. The only idea I had was about the culinary skills on the ship. The food was so disappointing, my mind drifted back to when I worked at a local culinary college. So you see, I’m not a critic about the food, but I am a writer, and I have quite a few culinary skills, so I do know how good food, especially gourmet cuisine is supposed to tantalize the taste buds and taste. My taste buds were not tempted. The food presentations needed better displays. Seasonings. Well, maybe I’ll keep that opinion to myself. On second thought, let’s just say, the food needed seasonings, especially rosemary, garlic, and the fish should have orange marmalade or other sauces that would complement fish.

My first night, I ordered salmon. Big mistake!

salmon

The only taste in my mouth was a harsh fishy taste. No sauce. No seasonings, only bland. Ugh! The second night at dinner, I ordered mahi-mahi. Certainly, with that delicious fish, my taste buds will be fulfilled. Hardly. The mahi-mahi was a bit dry and lacking any seasonings, spices, or sauces. I ate about three bites. Although I am still doing Weight Watchers, I decided to order a dessert. The chocolate molten cake with ice cream was delicious, so I decided maybe this would be ‘dessert cruise!’

untitled

 

Although I jotted notes, I could not find story materials to write about until Rina Patel of New York apparently jumped from the 11th deck of Carnival Ecstasy in the dark of early morning. Why did she jump, leaving the family, a young child and a husband behind? Only Rina and those who were witnesses might possibly know the answer to this question. I’ve written about the experience of that early morning twice, so this post will not be about someone ending her life on a cruise ship. I still have difficulty with this when I find myself drifting away to those events. I’ve never been on a cruise ship where a passenger goes overboard. I have to compliment how the crew on Carnival Ecstasy handled the situation. Totally professional and caring.

“Passenger Overboard”

However, when my friends heard about someone missing from the Carnival Ecstasy, they admitted to me their first reaction was, “Oh no. Did Barbie actually throw Phil overboard? I thought she was joking!”

I have to admit, I did state that comment as a joke when we decided to go on the cruise. I mentioned to Phil that if he didn’t give me a bit of space, he might find himself overboard. Trust me. I would never harm my husband. Domestic violence of any type is not my style. Thank God I did not joke about that on the cruise. Can you imagine? Joking about going overboard? It isn’t a funny situation. Tragic. Shocking. Unbelievable. When I heard the announcement, I prayed the person would be found. When I watched the rescue boat searching for the passenger, I prayed he or she would be found. At that time, none of us knew if the passenger was male or female; nevertheless, when guest services continued paging “Rina Patel,” as a writer, I was able to determine Rina Patel must be the missing, overboard passenger. Truly a horrible way to change the mood on a cruise ship. Everyone was a bit gloomy while we all prayed the passenger would be found.

Sorry, I promised not to write about the missing passenger, didn’t I? I must stop and post this section of my epistle for today. Next topic:

Day One – And We’re Off!

Stay Tuned!

Angels Are Around Us — Even WHEN We Are Lost and Stressed


Dearest Readers:
Just when I think people are not honest or trustworthy, God gives me an angel. As all of you, my closest friends, know – since October 3, 2015 I have been stressed. Beginning with the rain, flooding issues that occurred in Charleston during the “Hundred Year rains.” I believe fighting those battles, at times, losing — thanks to a certain insurance company that refused to cover the damage. Regardless, after fighting those battles and finding my own way to get the damages repaired, I found myself overly temperamental. I’ve expressed numerous prayers to God, asking me how to calm down. How to cope. Just when I thought these prayers were answered, Phil has reverse shoulder replacement on May 31. Recovering at home, he started fainting…and FAINTING AND FAINTING…Rushed to ER — seven times. He endured three surgeries on that blasted shoulder and now he appears to be getting better. During one of the fainting episodes, he broke his left ankle. I started questioning — can things get ANY WORSE?
 
I cannot remember the last time I’ve written. This might be a first for me, today. People keep asking me “How are you coping?” They haven’t seen the rages I have allowed myself to get into. It’s no wonder my blood pressure is getting higher. As for me, I still feel so stressed and temperamental that I lose myself.  Some days are meltdown days. During the last meltdown, I kneeled and prayed . I asked God if He was still there. The next morning, I had another talk with God, telling Him I would change my ways and stop losing my temper and I would stop cursing.
 
Today, was I EVER put to the test. My grandmother told me as a child that God would test me. Believe me, she was correct! Attempting to vacuum this morning, I noticed my vacuum wasn’t working properly. Placing it in the car, Phil and I went to Oreck. Of course, my vacuum is the type where they will have to order the part. It could be two weeks BEFORE it will be repaired. GREAT!
 
Suppose I’ll research cheap vacuums now – just to have a standby on hand.
 
After leaving Oreck in North Charleston, I drove to Sam’s Club to get gas and a few incidentals at the store. Preoccupied, I rushed to put everything inside the car, before my sweet husband attempted to. He is trying to help me more now, and each time he does, I reprimand him to STOP, like a mother would stop a child. He still must wear that sling. I don’t want him to hurt himself again!
 
So here I am, stuffing things inside the car, rushing to put the shopping cart up. Rushing back to my car…not looking at where my hand bag is.
 
Arriving home, you guessed it! No handbag within site. I panic.
 
Like all women, I have cards inside my bag. I tell Phil I have to rush to Sam’s — in this rush hour traffic — to find my handbag.
 
Phil doesn’t shout at me. He doesn’t call me ‘stupid’ like my mother would…and we do not argue.
 
Yes, God is testing me!
 
Surprisingly, for once the rush hour traffic is not congested. Within 30 minutes I arrive at Sam’s Club. We look at all the shopping carts still parked in the shopping cart area. No handbag.
 
I rush inside Sam’s. Of course I am stopped at the entrance. I explain to the greeter that I was there about 30 minutes ago and left my handbag. She smiles. “I remember you,” she said. Trust me, I’m usually remembered wherever I go. I rush over to the customer service area. Anticipation has me so nervous, I can hardly say what I need to say.
 
The customer service rep looks at me. “Hi,” I say. Trying desperately not to cry. I cry when I am overly stressed. I introduce myself and I ask if they have a lost and found, or has anyone turned in a handbag about 30 minutes ago.
 
She repeats my name, asking what color my handbag was. I answer her question. She looks underneath, and there is a handbag!
 
“We called your phone number. Someone found it outside in the shopping carts.”
 
I burst into tears, hugged her and called my husband’s name. He was looking at the shopping carts parked inside the building.
 
I offered her a gratuity. She refused.
 
Isn’t it wonderful that someone outside in the parking lot saw my handbag and returned it to the store! Untouched!
 
God had a guardian angel watching over me today while He tested me to see if I would explode, and I didn’t. While driving, I silently prayed that God would let someone who believed in morals, values and honesty find my handbag.
 
Today, I passed the test. I thanked God for keeping me calm and I said a loud thank you for letting my handbag find its way back to me.
 
Some would say it is the Southern way in the South. After all, Charleston, SC is the number one city in the world this year.
 
Why wouldn’t it be? We have good people living here. Trustworthy people visit here, and there are People who you trust. People who go the extra mile to protect a total stranger’s handbag. Everything was still in tact. Nothing was taken.
 
Thank you, to an angelic total stranger. I will say prayers for you. How I wish I could thank you personally. No name was given to the customer service rep. I will make certain I pay it forward now when I am out…Just like someone paid it forward for me today!
 
This just proves to me — God is guarding me — just like He did years ago, when I was hit by a car and should’ve been killed. God’s angels held me and placed me on the concrete curb. I haven’t a clue what happened on that day, with exception of the thrust of the hood of the car hitting me — knocking the wind out of me.
 
Thank you, God! You guided and protected me again today!

Rainy Days…Rainy Nights…Will Charleston, SC EVER See Sunshine Again?


Dearest Readers:

As I glance outside at the window by my desk, I see gray skies…Raindrops are dripping slowly to the ground. Trees are covered with so much moisture, they almost lose their color. The mimosa trees drip with a grayish color as if to say they are sick and tired of this rain and don’t want to see or feel anymore! Pine trees are leaning over a bit. These pine trees are the seeds I planted after Hurricane Hugo, so the two that grew are just a bit special for me. My husband gripes about them always saying he plans to cut them down. Pine trees are reminiscent to me, reminding me of my childhood in Georgia. How frightened I would become while laying on the grass, noting their height and strength. I always feared those pine trees might pop and fall on top of me. Nevertheless, pine trees are prevalent in Georgia. I remind my grumpy husband that we lost five trees in our yard after Hurricane Hugo. Again, he grunts knowing that IF he cuts those trees down, he will have to deal with me – an unhappy woman sad that her little children of trees are gone due to his selfishness. We have three mimosa trees in the back yard now – planted from seeds from the hands of Mother Nature. How I love those mimosa trees, although today the branches are leaning down. Perhaps they weigh a bit too much now from all of this monsoon rain. Perhaps later, I will slide my rain boots on and walk outside, just to touch the tree branches I’ve watched growing from a tiny seedling to the height of 20′ – maybe a bit less. I’m much too short to measure them! I want those precious trees soaked and probably curious from the hands and moisture of Mother Sunshine to understand I still love them, and I want them to flourish. All in time. I am hopeful this monsoon rain will end soon…and just when I think I might see a bit of relief, I glance outside again to see sheets of rain. My yards are so wet I would not dare to walk outside in my stiletto or pump high heels. No doubt if I made the attempt, my feet would stick in the sandy moisture and pull me downwards. I don’t want to get soaked or dirty. I have a thing about dirt under my nails, but enough about that.

Last week, the rains began – at least I think it was last week. On Wednesday, Tammy, Sara, Chris and I walked the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge. It was a humid, gray morning with only a slight breath of wind. Walking up the first incline, I struggled with my breath, stopping several times to use my inhaler. I encouraged the girls to go ahead.
My asthma is leaving me a bit short-winded today. Go ahead, I’ll be fine.”

I stopped several times, just to catch my breath. I counted the lamp posts, telling myself that If I made it to the last lamppost at the first twin towers, I would rest, and I did. Still, I pushed myself, anticipating the approaching rains. I am proud to say, I accomplished my walk – but it appeared to take me forever. Thank you so much, silly asthma. How I wish I did not have asthma, although it is something I have battled all of my life.

For me, there is something magical I feel while walking the bridge. DSC_0033

While walking — sometimes it appears I am crawling, up the first incline, I feel as if God is pushing me, guiding me, telling me – take just one more step. You can do this! And so I do. I believe it doesn’t matter how long it takes. All that does matter is I am taking baby steps to my health. I am accomplishing something I’ve always said I would do “One Day,” after the bridge opened in 2005. I see walkers, runners, bikers, strollers, and I’ve seen a few walkers walking dogs (you do realize dogs are not permitted on the bridge – don’t you?) On one morning, a dog left a calling card. I missed stepping on it by just a few baby steps. Honestly, some people love to break the rules, don’t they!

I suppose you could say I believe in breaking rules – sometimes; however, I am considerate of others. I do not take my dogs on my walk. Accomplishing that bridge walk is something I take extremely seriously. I don’t want interruptions. Now that we have about three to five women walking with us, we all move at our pace. We don’t compete. We encourage, and If one of us gets behind like “slow poke Barbie” a nickname I’ve given myself — we text to make certain all is ok. These women are the greatest! Did I mention one of them is a high school friend from — let’s say — a few years ago in another town? Her name is Melanie. In high school, we were not close friends, and that is all my fault. When I was in high school, the only thing I wanted was to graduate and leave my childhood home. I failed to make close friends, only wanting to get out of Bibb City and the traumas of my youth.

Now, a different place. A different time. A different woman. I am proud of the woman I have grown into in my adult life. Gone is the wallflower. Gone is the child afraid to speak up. Replaced by someone who speaks her mind, believes in herself and is proud for the small accomplishments I have achieved. Finally, I can smile, look in the mirror and say, “Hey woman…You’ve got this! You is smart. You is determined, and you Is a better person for breaking that mold!” Thank you, God!

So today, I suppose is a day to reminisce…to ease the gloominess of all of this rain. A day to erase all of the past, or should I say — a day to WASH the past away!

Glancing out my window again, the rain has stopped. I am confident it will start again. I’ve lost count as to how much rain we’ve had, but I imagine it is close to 15 inches, possibly more.

I imagine the mosquitoes will be increasing now, along with the disgusting mold, mildew and ragweed. Wouldn’t it be nice IF the ragweed was washed away. I think I’m looking forward to a day where I awaken to the sunshine peeping thru the windows. I am so sick of all of this rain.

It is time for all of us to smell the flowers…inhale the scent of fresh rain…and to move on with our lives.

If It Wasn’t For Weight Watchers….


Dearest Readers:

As you probably know, I am a Weight Watcher. As a ‘weight watcher,’ I lose slowly — EVER SO SLOWLY! I have weekly weigh-ins where I cheer, and I have many weeks at weigh-in where I want to scream…beat myself up…run into a brick wall…or — QUIT! But — I cannot do this. Beating myself up – like I did as a child — is not healthy for me. Getting depressed and quitting – just isn’t who I am now. Years ago, I quit things that challenged me. Now, as an adult — at least I think I am — I like a challenge, and for me, Weight Watchers is a challenge.

Today, thanks to a beautiful, encouraging friend I am back to a wonderful, intimidating and fun challenge — walking the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge!

A few years ago, I briefly discussed the bridge:
To those of you who do not know, “The bicycle and pedestrian lane is 2.7 miles long (14,400 feet), measuring from Patriots Point Road to East Bay Street. Measuring only the part that is on the bridge structure, the walkway is 2.4 miles long (12,750 feet). Most of the bridge is limited to a 4.1% maximum slope. On the Charleston side of the
main span, the long approach is a 1.8% slope. On the Mount Pleasant side, there is a section three-tenths of a mile long that has a 5.6% slope.” http://www.cooperriverbridge.org/bike.shtml

When plans for the bridge were in the discussion stages, a high school group got involved, suggesting adding a pedestrian, bicycle lane. I am so happy those plans were included in the bridge plans. Now, the Arthur Ravenel Bridge is one of the favorite spots for active walkers, runners and bicyclists to work out. Speaking only for myself, I find it invigorating just to walk on it. You must remember, I am asthmatic. Exercise, stress, and illness activate my asthma. Today, I forgot to pack my inhaler – in the event I had an attack. On Monday of this week, I had an attack – thanks to my mini-schnauzer, the oldest of our pets. He chose to ignore the command of ‘stay’, darting out to the road. I rushed after him, and he ran faster. The little brat! A police officer drove by, stopping to get Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. On the way to the house, my asthma kicked in, so I must be careful. Nevertheless, I refuse to allow asthma to stop me. As a child, I was told I could not run or play or dance, like the other kids because I had asthma. I listened. Grinned, and danced my way outside. Stubborn? Independent?? Opinionated??? Wanting to do things MY WAY????? You betcha!

I’ve always believed in breaking the rules. After I had accomplished my first adventure on the Ravenel Bridge, I walked it two to three times weekly. For those of you who have Fitbits, the incline records the steps, floors, miles and active minutes. Today, I paid attention to these records when I got home. I moved on 16 floors today. Walked for 50 active minutes, for a total of 3.66 miles, and I had over 7,000 steps recorded before 10:00 am. Today, I will surpass my goals to walk for 10,000 steps, 30 minutes active. I cannot wait to share this information at Weight Watchers tomorrow.

When you walk the bridge, you feel like it will be an easy journey. For those who haven’t walked it, or those who are not accustomed to walking, it might be a bit difficult; however, since I am a walker, and I walk the treadmill, today’s journey was not as difficult as it has been. My friend, Melanie did fine too. You must remember, as you begin the journey up the bridge, it continues to incline. Remember – Charleston, SC does not have any mountains, so we in the Lowcountry are accustomed to walking the ‘Lowcountry!’ The bridge has a 4.1% incline. Many people who have walked the bridge say it bothers their legs, but it didn’t for me, and Melanie tolerated it well too. I think she and I will be good walking buddies!

Now, that I am home, I feel inspired. There is something so special about getting outside to walk. The sun beams down onto your skin. The breeze kisses your face, and the walk gets your entire body moving. Arms are swinging. Legs are moving to the beat. Your heart is beating while the breeze conditions your body to keep moving. I didn’t mention the view, and it is spectacular. You look down to see the view of the Charleston Harbor. Perhaps you see a ship or a cargo ship floating by while the breeze refreshes your face. This is Charleston, SC. A Holy City where we do our best to enjoy this life we are given. God has given us a beautiful, historical city to enjoy the lifestyle we so enjoy and new friendships to cherish.

IMG_0572

Let Us All Stand Tall To Become — CHARLESTON STRONG!


Dearest Readers:

Today, Thursday, June 25, 2015, is a somber day in the Holy City of Charleston, SC. The first of nine funerals of the innocent victims murdered by the hands of a heartless 21-year-old monster I shall not name — begin today. We in the community know his name. The global world knows his name. He’s received too much ‘15 minutes of fame’ and I cringe whenever I think of him and his skittish, sinister demeanor. The dirty blonde, bowl cut haircut. Looking at his eyes in the images published on TV, he looks – as they say in the South – “so full of the devil.” I actually expected to see horns on his head.

When I was a little girl my Grammy spoke about the church. How she always felt as if she was in the hands of the Lord whenever she went to church. She felt safe, telling me if I got scared, I would always feel safe and be safe inside a church. I believed my Grammy. What happened on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, inside Mother Emanuel AME Church located on Calhoun Street, in the Holy City of Charleston, SC is truly shocking. Murders during Bible Study??? When I heard about the nine shootings I could not believe it. No one shoots and kills people inside a church in the Holy City of Charleston, I thought. This cannot be true. My mind rushed back to 9-11. My body shivered just thinking about these tragedies. The hatred. Racism. Why are some people filled with such hatred?

According to the Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150618/PC16/150619404

“The nine people fatally shot at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church:
Reverend Clementa Pinckney, 41, the primary pastor who also served as a state senator.

Cynthia Hurd, 54, St. Andrews regional branch manager for the Charleston County Public Library system.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, a church pastor, speech therapist and coach of the girls’ track and field team at Goose Creek High School.

Tywanza Sanders, 26, who had a degree in business administration from Allen University, where Pinckney also attended.

Ethel Lance, 70, a retired Gailliard Center employee who has worked recently as a church janitor.

Susie Jackson, 87, Lance’s cousin who was a longtime church member.

DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, a retired director of the local Community Development Block Grant Program who joined the church in March as a pastor.

Myra Thompson, 59, a pastor at the church.

Daniel Simmons Sr., 74, a pastor, who died in a hospital operating room.”

Reportedly, Tywanza Sanders gave his life while struggling to protect his mother, Felicia Sanders, along with Susie Jackson, his aunt. He spoke his last words to the shooter. Sanders and Jackson survived the shootings along with a five-year-old girl. After this period of grief, I plan to write more stories about this tragedy, but for now, it is too close to home. No, I did not have the pleasure of knowing these people; nevertheless, I feel we lost some amazing people.

My husband and I moved to Charleston in late 1974. I worked in a retail store where bigotry was spoken almost daily. I hoped that when we moved away from the State of Georgia, I would find a different atmosphere here in the Holy City. I did not.

I imagine all of the United States of America experience racism. Growing up in a textile mill village, I lived with racism and when I heard others say the “N” word, I corrected them telling them that God don’t love ugly and that is an ugly word of hatred. I refused to allow the color of skin to influence me. I see the good in most people, and when I see others being cruel, I am the first to chime in that “God don’t love ugly.”

After the Emanuel Nine shootings, I’ve seen a different personality within the Holy City. People are actually speaking, exemplifying that Southern hospitality that we in Charleston are so proud to demonstrate — MOST of the time. Seeing their reactions to tourists and strangers makes me proud, although I do question why it takes a tragedy to bring out the best in people.

Now, the hot issue is that flag hanging at the South Carolina State House. Personally, I think it is past the time to move that flag, place it in a museum and MOVE FORWARD into the 21st Century. For years, I have said that South Carolina is still stuck in the 1800’s and the issues about this flag and racism prove my point. I have friends, perhaps now – acquaintances – telling me I am crazy and should be proud of my Southern heritage.

“Maybe I am proud to be a steel magnolia from the South, but Proud of racism? I think not.” And that is when I walk away, telling them this conversation is over. After all, I am an opinionated woman and if my husband and friends cannot change my opinions and my beliefs, why should others try? I am not proud of the hatred many people in our country practice. I am working to remove the four-letter word “hate” from my vocabulary. There is far too much hatred within this world for me to say Hate. In high school, we learned about racism and civil rights. I disagreed with every aspect of criticizing or hating those who were a different color and when I expressed that a lot of us probably had different colors of blood running inside our veins and within our heritage, classmates looked at me with disapproval. My belief is simple – God loves all of us, regardless of the colors of our skin.

Hatred and gun control – that is what we need to work on. Almost every day there is a shooting in the Holy City of Charleston, SC. Isn’t it time that we all embraced – moved forward – and stopped allowing a flag, a gun, or our upbringing to teach us all about hatred? Isn’t it time we stood up to be “Charleston Strong?”