After a week of hellish flu, this was my reward:

Updated below.

Get in mah belleh!

Put up a good fight. For about two and a half minutes. Must be a Republican.

I haven’t been fishing in over a year. I know. My son and I had planned on going fishing last Monday, but since near-death interrupted our plans we regrouped for today; and headed to Folly Beach and we were soaking lines at the slack of high tide.  A disappointing hour later I tired of bottom fishing, went to float at about three feet deep and let the line roll out with the tide. Bam! The bobber disappeared from about 35 yards out and my little bait-fish pole with 20-lb. line and a half-inch offset circle hook, went double.

That brave fish and my right arm went at it. The teeny little rod and reel held up, the drag was perfect but we still couldn’t tell what was on the line. A real nice fight ensued as I brought him near the dock and hoped he wouldn’t run for the piers or the oysters. Eeeeennnn! rrrrrr!! went the drag and we waited him out, son with net in hand, he and I dancing and ducking around each other as the fish went deep, left, right. And then the moment,  that moment when he charges us near the surface and you see the flash of bright scales under the water and we both shout: whoa!! Holy cow!

Another minute and Paul was scooping him up in a net too small, but the handsome fish doubled up and into the net.  Too big to keep? A quick measure and into the Piggly Wiggly cooler he went.

In about 30 minutes from now, Paul the chef will have prepared him in a nice white wine sauce and serve it over some local red peas and rice. Six fat slabs of fish out of one catch. Not bad teamwork.

Update:Yeah, it was worth it!:

Fresh!

Red Drum, Red Peas, and Rice.

Sunday Smiles

Yesterday was possibly Perfect. Weather, wind, tides and sun. We sailed and sailed; the steady easterly wind eager to show us the boat’s graces and pleasures. The Slack heeled to her tasks and without any complaint yielded up all she had, such as she had.  It was plenty. The dolphins to port and starboard only made it achingly more than a dubious character deserves, but there it all was: perfection.

Today was music and a gratefulness for the little blessings we can still carve out of this life. Music is good for my insides, I think. I am no performer. I die of stage fright if I’m put forth as “entertainment” but I am supremely happy to just be in the music.

And now for some art:

Photo h/t to the Catfish.

Maiden Voyage of the Primordial Slack

Captain’s Log: September 18, 2010. Folly Beach, SC.

Sun and Sails

We set out at 9:45 at an emptying tide, determined to master the narrow outlet and its many sandbars at its worst. The engineer (J.R.) had at last secured a depth finder to the hull– a tedious process– after our first motored outings a few weeks ago had us touching ground twice with just the rudder down half. But today the channel seemed to be well-marked considering the shifting nature of the sandbars and our shallows alarm sounded but once upon crossing into the deep channel of the Stono River.

Kiawah Island was to our west, the Atlantic actually to our south, a thing that I still cannot wrap my Florida mind around. As we flowed with the ebb we pointed for the beaches of Kiawah and put her hard to starboard and headed north up the Stono.

I practiced with the motor and tiller, idling and reversing until I felt comfortable. We motored around the wide mouth of the river, researching depths and hoping for wind. A few puffs of air promted us to hoist the sails, lower the keel, and cut engine power.

She took what wind there was and, like a demure lady, deigned to gather it up efficiently despite her ill-fitting canvas and. . . quiet joy of joys!! we were sailing free.

A few tacks and attempts to imagine wind into existence told us we  were ahead of the gathering sea-breezes by about an hour, but were too hot by half to continue into the blazing heat of the afternoon.

We powered up and took down the sails  but only after feeling the heartbeat of wind power and rolling waves coming in from the Atlantic as we headed back into the inlet.

She’s a yar vessel, the crew was handy and handsome, and in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, I think we shall have another go tomorrow afternoon.  Arrgghh!

First Wind

Grog for everyone! Hoist a pint and may you have fair winds and following seas.

Warm Bed, Plenty of Food, Good Dog

And wherewithal, that’s quite sufficient for most of the tangible comforts. There’s always lots to be thankful for, and those little things grow more important in the face of uncertain seas and darkening skies.

But it’s the close people in our lives, after all, who’ve guided us to safe shores, hove-to with us in the gales, and lifted a cold one with us in the lazy light of summer that we’re grateful for today. Mostly those sorts of folks are Family. People who, by dint of the Fates, are gang-pressed into sticking it out with us, fair weather or foul. We know all their jokes, their secrets, and exactly which professional they should seek out for that annoying habit of theirs, but like it or not, they’re family.

You may alternately wish to hug their necks or hoist ’em by them, but it’s still nice to have them around. Tell them so, even if it takes two or three rounds of grog to get you to that place!

-Joan

A Visit With The Pepper Dog!

Yeah, they messed up at work and gave me two consecutive days off this week. That meant a visit to Charleston to see my son’s new home, and of course, the Pepper Dog!

She currently holds court at Metto Cafe in North Charleston where this picture was just taken. My DIL takes her here several times a week, and if not here, she has a city favorite cigar shop where she goes with Paul. She gets tons of belly rubs and attention. She is certainly doing well, and it’s just so awesome to see her enjoying herself.

Of course while here, I had to lunch where my son works and had a great time with his wife and her friend.

Just checking in on the family and my dear Pepper is enough to make me feel much better!

On a side note, a small, paper/carton cut received at work turned into a generalized infection under my nail and I had to go to the doctor’s office while here in Charleston to get a prescription, etc. It would not have been either funny or ironic to die of a stupid paper cut, okay? Damn if money isn’t nasty stuff.

Of Trains and Higher Planes

This lovely Pullman car as photographed by Mike Reynolds has had the distinction of hosting many presidents before Obama. It’s practically a political institution in and of itself. It used to be my almost-daily companion, too. Here it is, working for its keep:

I used to have the privelege of looking upon that Pullman car almost daily, as my once-upon-a-dream art studio used to be upstairs in the old train station in the town where I used to live. Lots of beautiful club cars are lovingly cared for and restored in one of the last remaining privately-owned train stations in the South.

Here’s that beauty at rest as seen by my own camera, up close, complete with spotty dog! You’ll want to embiggen these pics:

It looks so lovely next to the palm trees, too:

Here’s the old train station where my art studio was upstairs. The train tracks were directly behind me as I took this picture, and the train yard to the left. In the studio I used to have to hold my paintbrush away from the canvas as the trains rumbled by, which they frequently did, shaking the whole building:

Sometime if you’re riding the Silver Meteor of the South, you may just pass right by these beauties:

Sigh. It was a wonderful place to catch the morning sun, let the air conditioners hum along and the mind wander to that place of perfect creativity, about as close to being and not-being as I’ll ever achieve this side of eternity I suppose:


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Hat Tip

The Roaring 20’s party last night was fun. We danced like crazy, and the bar was free and open to all. The band was teh awesome, bringing big-band sound to the night.

No, I did not flap or dress as a flapper. It was all very elegant gangster styling. My outfit was Correct in details right down to the button-strap Mary Janes, but my hat went for the kill. It cowed all the wanna-be dress up dolls in their Adult Store Fantasy Flapper outfits and tacky feather boas. (Meow!) They oohed and ahh’d over my get-up, likening it to a costume in some slick Hollywood production. The Jolly Roger, dashing as he is, was quite simply irresistible in his pinstripes and white tie and silk double-breasted blazer with adjunct fedora.

The room was full of gangsters and swells. One couple arrived in their vintage Hupmobile and encouraged us to go and stand by it for a picture. We never did, sorry to say. Actually, I’m not sure there is a picture of us at all. We’re bad about that.

But as gangsters, we slayed the room on the dance floor, too. Lots of double-time swing with a bit of the ol’ Brick House bump and hustle. But can I just say this? Do all women now have to be pole-dancers? Don’t answer that.

Anyhoo, it was fun and frothy and, as an added bonus, extremely gratifying to be hit on by a younger man with too many beers and too little sense than to lay it on with a trowel right in front of the J.R. (although he did show proper deference of a sort). I thanked him for his flattering attentions, encouraged him to have another beer, and shocked him when he heard I had a son almost his age. He was apologetic and stunned, and I assured him it was simply The Hat, working its magic.

The Jolly Roger was fun, too. I deployed his charming smile and footwork talents to rescue his co-worker’s date from an evening on the sidelines. She knew no one, and her beau was too shy to dance. We did our good deed by dragging them out onto the floor, he with her, and I with him. How could he say no to The Hat and smiling face behind the proffered and elegantly-gloved hand? Soon they were dancing with each other, laughing and smiling all on their own.

The J.R. is a good man. I don’t advertise him much, as the song warns, but I have to say, he was the best of company, and the best man in the room. It was a wonderful way to end the year: healthy, happy, and magical.

Could just be The Hat. Mebbe shoulda bought a Lotto ticket, too.

December Crickets and Beach Auras

The Pepper Dog and I were enjoying a sunny stroll on the beach when, around 2:00 p.m. the fog just rolled into the shoreline. The sun was shining brightly behind me in that photo, creating the aura effect into the fog. The point’s east-west stretch was long enough to walk west out of the fog and take this cell-phone picture for y’all. Yeah, I’m a giver.

Now, back in the quiet of the Pirate Palapa, the sliding door is open to let in the foggy afternoon air and I can hear the muffled cadence of …crickets! In December! I don’t know why I’ve never noted them before this late in the year, but the fog has deadened the road noise and blanketed the rush-hour with an eerie quiet. 5:00 p.m. and it’s a dead calm except for the crickets. It’s not exactly “dashing through the snow,” but I am tired of Christmas music already, anyway.

Pepper is on the balcony, her coat heavy with salt water, listening for something that’s traipsing through the marsh, likely one of the large he-coons around here. Her ear is tilted down towards the muddy possibilities of adventure, but she’s already had enough fun for one dog’s day.

Some days, my little pirate town is alright.