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

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Hurricane Matthew vs. Hurricane Phil…


Dearest Readers:

It is official. We survived Hurricane Matthew. I must confess, Matthew was nothing like Hurricane Hugo. NOTHING!

Early Friday morning, before the wrath of Matthew, my husband followed me to park my car in one of the downtown garages in Charleston. I was fearful Matthew might blow out windows, or thrust a tree into my car. Matthew was nothing, compared to Hugo.

Like many, I was glued to the TV, fearful this hurricane would do more damage than Hugo. The day after Hurricane Hugo, I came home, managing to drive around my neighborhood — looking for my street. This area of the “old village” was a war zone, or so it seemed. Trees were down. I dodged many. I saw roof shingles on the road. Large pieces of tin. I had no idea where they came from, realizing later that some of the ‘tin roofs’ people have on their homes were torn apart, landing in the roads, or other areas. In one area of the road near my home, a house was in the road – swept from its foundation.

Yesterday, we were filled with cabin fever. Remaining inside of our home off and on since Wednesday, getting our property ready for the storm, we were tired of sitting around. Saturday afternoon, the rains were only slight, light showers — no longer horizontal rains that sting your face, like little needles. My husband wanted to drive around to see the damage. We were shocked!

I am known for never leaving my home without my hair styled and make up on. Not yesterday. I grabbed a baseball cap. Something I never wear, and of course, my signature sunglasses! I looked hideous…like a ‘just camping out Barbie.’

We anticipated a view similar to Hugo. Hardly. On Bellview, we discovered a utility line was down. Roads were not blocked with tree limbs, or large trees. Water was on the roads, but nothing seriously deep. On one street I saw trees downed. None hit the houses. On a friend’s home, she lost a large oak tree. It fell into the next yard, hitting the property owner’s car. I hope they have good insurance, and not the insurance we had last year when the ‘thousand year rains’ came.

After the roar of Hugo, our road was covered with trees, roofs, and one house was blown off of its foundation. When we opened the door to our home, we saw ceilings down. Water damage from the torn, leaking ceilings in the family room, living room and our game room. We walked to the back yard, discovering a neighbor’s tree in our roof. Woody was the neighbor’s name. He and his wife stayed during the storm. When he saw us returning, he rushed to apologize for the tree damage from his yard. I smiled at him. “Woody, it’s OK. We have homeowner’s insurance. Don’t worry about it.”

Woody made certain the tree was removed. He and his wife were retired. They were some of the oldest residents in the old village. Nice, considerate neighbors like Woody are hard to find. We filed claims with our homeowner’s insurance. Three weeks later, the adjustor arrived.

“What can I help you with to make your life a bit better?” He asked. “Do you want to stay in a hotel?”

I thanked him, letting him know our home was livable, even with damaged ceilings and a damaged roof. We could survive. He wrote us a check for a considerable amount. It’s a pity I can’t say the same about State Farm Insurance last year!

In May we completed the repairs. During Hurricane Matthew, I prayed we and our home would survive. So happy we are fine! The only damage is a portion of a wooden fence.

I am happy to report, after we lost Woody as a neighbor, we have nice neighbors again. During Hugo, I worked at a culinary college. The President of the college knew he had to find a way to give the meats and vegetables to others. One morning he announced for all employees to pick up some meats and share them with neighbors. I brought a beef wellington, giving it to the neighbor who was grilling for the neighborhood. Needless to say, the neighborhood was eating gourmet foods.

I expected Hurricane Matthew to be stronger than Hugo. I listened to local media, the governor’s messages, and the Weather Channel, anticipating a nightmare similar, or greater than Hugo. Thank God, it wasn’t. To be honest with you, my readers — the only damage we had was related to my husband, “Hurricane Phil.” After I went to bed, he chose to remain in the den with the dogs. There, in the dark of night — where he truly cannot see his hand in front of his face, Hurricane Phil managed to do a bit of facial damage. He placed puppy papers down, in the event our dogs needed to do something. While placing the papers nearby, he managed to knock over a basket of magazines. He knocked a plant sideways, along with a Tiffany style lamp, managing to chip one portion of the lamp, and he broke a picture frame. He lost his glasses. Yesterday afternoon, I found Hurricane Phil’s glasses on the other side of the room. Don’t ask me! He’s as blind as a bat when in the dark! Yes, my home survived Hurricane Matthew, but the interior was  a bit disturbed thanks to Hurricane Phil!

Driving around downtown this morning, in anticipation of getting my car, I did not see the roads covered with tin roofs, homes in the roads, and boats in the path of downtown Charleston, like the roads were after Hugo.

All I saw was the City of Charleston coming back to life. Several restaurants were opened. Cars were driving around, and people were walking. Just glancing along the city, no one would know less than 24-hours ago, Hurricane Matthew came to town, only to tease the city.

Wish I could say the same for Lumberton, NC. There, the hotels were flooded. People were being rescued by boats. Numerous cars were floating in the water. The Weather Channel interviewed several people who fled from South Carolina, so they could be safe. Funny thing about it was, this morning they awoke to wet sheets and wet floors of the hotel. They left South Carolina, only to have their lives threatened when the storm came inward.

Remembering Hurricane Hugo, it appears that once a hurricane hits Charleston, it chooses to go inward. During Hugo, it kissed and damaged the City of Charlotte, NC. This time, Hurricane Matthew almost drowned the City of Lumberton, NC.

I think hurricanes need to have a GPS system. Perhaps then, they could use the GPS to head out to shore and stay away from ‘inward counties.’

We were advised to move away from the coast, and go inland 100 miles. Lumberton, NC is about ‘188 miles from Charleston, or if the crow flies, only 138 miles.’ But who is counting. These people thought they would be safe in Lumberton. So sad.

What will I do next hurricane? Maybe I’ll stay here safely in Mt. Pleasant, SC or maybe I’ll head to Georgia. I’ll have Hurricane Phil with me, and I’ll make certain he does not walk around in the dark of night! Hurricane Phil can be a bit clumsy when he cannot see. Will we be as fortunate during the next hurricane? Maybe I’ll tie Hurricane Phil down so he can be safe.

 

Angel Oaks

 

DSC_0033.JPGDSC_0127_edited.JPGOnly the hurricane knows!

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Matthew Scheduled to Arrive Soon


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Dearest Readers:

October 7, 2016, will be a day for history. Hurricane Matthew is scheduled to hit the southeast coast of South Carolina later today. Looking out my window, I see the winds gusting now. Occasional rains tap my windows periodically, but not enough now to worry. Our family consists of my husband and I, and five loving, caring pups. Sir Shakespeare Hemingway is the oldest, almost 13.5 years old. He is a bit frail now so I am staying by his side. Groucho Hanks the Tank is the smallest mini-schnauzer we have. With his grouchy personality, it would not be advisable to go to a shelter. My third little one is a blonde mix schnauzer named Sandy Dandy Sebastian, aka “Sandy Bear.” He is the sweetest pup we have. My largest is a giant schnauzer named Prince Midnight Shadow, “Shadow Bear.” He jumps high, especially when we are outside; however, today, I’ve had to coax him to go outside. Normally, he will rush to fetch the ball and bring it to me to play. Not today. Shadow is most sensitive. Today he prefers to stay inside. I believe he senses something is about to happen, just like the pelicans on Shem Creek, flying erratically. I believe animals can sense something dangerous.

That makes me curious. How is it the birds, squirrels, raccoons, and other wildlife are not around today? Yesterday afternoon, I found a dead squirrel in the back yard. I’m not certain if he got injured attempting to find a safe haven, or if Shadow finally caught a squirrel. He has the tendency to attempt to jump into a tree to catch squirrels. Today, he doesn’t want to go outside. Strange.

Earlier, my husband and I took my car to park for free in one of the garages in downtown Charleston. I asked God to show me a sign if I needed to take my car downtown and in the early hours this morning I had a slight dream about my car and the need to park it downtown. One thing I’ve learned in life when God speaks to you, you take His advice.

Driving in downtown Charleston was weird today. I noticed restaurants boarded up. Windows in some of the historical homes were boarded. The roads were not filled with traffic or pedestrians rushing to school, college or work. I saw one pedestrian, carrying a large brown bag. Harris Teeter Grocery Store was boarded and the last of the employees were leaving. The only stop I needed to make was at red lights. Schools were empty. Banks closed. Like Mount Pleasant, Charleston, SC is a ghost town.

Headed home after parking my car high on one of the higher floors, I said a silent prayer to God, to keep us safe. On the landmark, signature Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, I saw a few joggers and walkers. I would not attempt to walk across the bridge today.

Arthur Ravenel Bridge

This will most likely be my last post until after the storm. I promise all of you who read my blog regularly, I will write after the storm. It could be weeks later, especially if we lose electricity. I have my cell phone charged now, but if I use it much it will lose its power.

We will have a storm surge and the storm will be here for at least 24-36 hours. Yes, there is something charming about Charleston, SC. Tourists hate to leave and storms love to linger. Since I live here, I do not understand why these storms linger here. I just wish the wind would die down. We haven’t seen anything yet. Later today, trees will sway back and forth, like two lovers swaying to their favorite romantic music. Some of these will weaken and pop, landing on houses, and in the roads, taking down power lines. Soon, we will be living in a dark home without electricity. We will eat canned goods and the cake I baked yesterday. I suppose we could describe this type of life as camping – only we will be inside our home. So much for the healthy eating I do with Weight Watchers.

The rain is getting harder now. Yes, the calm before the storm was earlier. According to local meteorologists, the storm rains are expected to hit at 2 p.m. today. Less than one hour. I’ve lived through hurricanes before. I have faith we will survive Hurricane Matthew, just like Hugo and others.

Tonight I will listen to the world outside as an angry monster named Matthew roars with life. If you’ve never heard the sounds of a hurricane, believe me, it isn’t a sound I will forget. The rushing, angry winds. Torrential downpours of rain, so heavy you cannot see your hand in front of your face. The swaying dance of the trees so heavy with rain and weakened from the winds, they pop and crash onto roofs, other trees, roads and anything directly in their way. When the power goes, the entire city could be dark – so dark nothing is visible. I have candles ready and a hurricane lamp nearby. Flashlights are within reach. Yes, soon we will live like barbarians for a few days or weeks. Hurricanes always leave a calling card you will never forget. Destruction will be everywhere.

Today is a gloomy day. I will have more about Hurricane Matthew later. Meanwhile, please pray for this historical, antiquated City of Charleston, SC and for all of us to survive.

More later, so stay tuned!

Memories of Hurricane Hugo, Hurricane Floyd, and Soon — Hurricane Matthew


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Dearest Readers:

I remember September 21, 1989 and Hurricane Hugo, a category four hurricane when it SLAMMED into the Charleston Harbor. My husband was activated with the SC National Guard. I chose to volunteer at the culinary college where I worked. caring for  60 students in a historical building that once was a tobacco factory. Thru the cracked, olden bricks, I could see lightning flashing. This building had survived earthquakes and hurricanes previously. I was confident we would be fine. I could hear the sounds of the storm, roaring with life like a freight train, or the horrifying roar of an angry tiger. I remember singing and humming to myself, and praying like I could never pray again. I kept myself quiet to the students, but inside my soul, I was horrified. I saw the water rising from the harbor, up to the second floor where we housed the students. No one wanted to move them. I remember saying, I’ll go. The students do not need to see, or hear, the rising waters. I gathered the 60 students, forming a single line up the stairs we rushed to a vacant warehouse. I remember hugging every student as they settled down. I sang “We Shall Over Come,” to a few of them as we lit candles so we could see to walk around.

Later, most of the students were fast asleep. with exception of one young girl. I found her cuddled like a baby inside a sleeping bag. She held a teddy bear. I stopped to speak to her, and to give her a motherly hug. “We’re going to be fine,” I said. “It’s just a storm. Tomorrow morning we’ll awaken to a brand new day. You go to sleep now. Hug your teddy tightly. We will be fine.”
Moments later, she was asleep. One hour later, as the storm intensified, I was the only one awake. I do not remember how long Hugo destroyed this city, but when the breaking of dawn arrived, I saw a slight light. I slipped out of the area for a moment, to find a window. There, in the early morning I saw a light. Sunshine. I remember saying a prayer while looking at East Bay Street in Charleston. Debris was everywhere, but we had a moment of hope as the skyline broke into morning, a beautiful sunshiny morning with gorgeous blue skies.
I, along with 60 frightened students, survived Hugo. Today, as I look outside, I see a bit of sunshine and a lot of overcast clouds. Wind gusts occasionally. I’ve checked with a few neighbors, and much to my surprise, they decided to ride this storm out too.
Many of us lived in Charleston in 1999 during Hurricane Floyd. During that hurricane, we were told to evacuate. “This is a mandatory evacuation,” the Governor said. Phil and I decided to leave. 1999 was a horrible year for me. I lost my father from esophageal cancer in July. I was grieving and lost. When Phil suggested we pack up to leave, I remember saying to him, “I must pack Dad’s rocking chair.”
Confused, Phil shook his head. “Don’t ask,” I said. “I must have a piece of my father with me.”
I remember loading up our dogs, suitcases, and doggie crates. We had just enough room to pack the rocking chair. Since we were leaving at the time it appeared everyone was leaving Mt. Pleasant, Phil suggested taking Highway 41. We left at noon, driving down Highway 17, headed in all of the congestion to Highway 41. Phil was convinced we’d be safer and move quicker IF we took the back roads.
Driving in separate cars, the dogs with me, we drove down Highway 41, thankful we had walkie-talkies to converse since cell phones were jammed. Moving at a snail’s pace, we remained in the traffic on Highway 41 for nine hours. During the afternoon, the winds gusted. I clicked the walkie-talkie. “Do you think we’ll make it out of here before the storm hits?”
Phil keyed his walkie-talkie. “When we see a hotel, we’re stopping.”
“Good,” I said. “I’m hungry and exhausted…and I’ve got to pee so badly I ache.”
Highway 41 was a parking lot. We moved ever so slowly, inches. Highway 41 did not have the development of other roads, and the only place to relieve mother nature would be the woods.
I glanced at the speedometer, adding the numbers in my head. At nine o’clock we traveled only 57 miles. We saw an old hotel. We stopped, got a room and rushed inside with our dogs. The hotel room smelled. The air conditioner did not work, and the bedspread felt damp. I opened the trunk of my car, removing a blanket. “I’m not sleeping on this wet, smelly bedspread,” I said, fluffing the blanket over the bed.
Although I dozed on that night, I was exhausted the next morning. Phil went outside to check the weather. No wind was blowing and the skies were clear.
“We’re packing up,” he said. “We’re going home.”
I glanced upwards to the skies. “Thank you, God.”
Hurricane Floyd moved off shore on that evening, weakening.  Our nine-hour excursion to get out of Charleston, SC  was a disaster; however, the drive home took us 45 minutes!
Remembering how stressful it was to get out-of-the-way of a hurricane convinced me that when another hurricane threatens Charleston, we will remain safe at home.
I feel confident we will be fine with Hurricane Matthew. Although we are at OPCON 1 now, I am praying Matthew must be tired now. Maybe he’ll give in and turn back into the oceans and disappear. Meanwhile, I am writing. Isn’t it funny how stress appears to help me find the stories I need to share?
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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.
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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!
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Cypress Gardens Still Closed Due to The ‘Hundred Year Storm.’

Sad Experience on the Carnival Ecstasy Cruise


We are HOME now from the cruise. Phil and I had a great time, relaxing and enjoying life. We were on the Ecstasy. If you’ve heard about the Carnival Ecstasy — yes, it is true. In the early morning hours of yesterday morning, a passenger fell overboard. The ship had to stop, backing up to search. Search lights were lighting up the oceans like early morning sunrise, only it was 3:08am. From our ocean view window I watched the crew members lowered into an orange rescue boat. Four members were on board, rushing along the waters — searching…searching and searching for the 32-year-old woman. The captain informed us about the passenger falling at 3:08am. He continued keeping us informed until the U S Coast Guard released the ship to head to Charleston. The rescue boat returned to the ship at about 4:27. Four crew members onboard.

Yesterday, after breakfast, we saw the U S Coast Guard searching the waters. My heart breaks for the family. I have a name although I am not certain she was the guest who fell overboard. Guest services broadcast a ladies name requesting her to call guest services. They broadcast her name three times. I will have more material after I research a bit. I could not get the name confirmed, so when I have more news, I’ll share it.

Just confirmed the passenger’s name. Rina Patel, 32-years-old, from New York. So young. So full of life. So sad. While I still pray for a miracle, the reality is to the best of my knowledge at 2:31pm today, she hasn’t been located. Yes, I believe in miracles, and I pray God will grant one for her and her family.

Yesterday was a gloomy day on the ship. People were sharing stories about the incident. Since I am not a gossip and only share after reputable agencies confirm, I will keep her name private. Reportedly, she and her mother were arguing on the 11th deck. Can you imagine? Arguing with your mother, only to fall over board? One can only imagine how her family must feel. Please say prayers that the family will find closure, or perhaps a miracle. Those were deep, dark seas.

After I recuperate a bit, get laundry caught up and review my notes, I will have another story about our experience on the Carnival Cruise Ecstasy. A great journey began with such a sad, tragic ending.

More later!

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.