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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
When we moved here almost four years ago, our patio home seemed perfect. Perfect, except for that one dead pine tree in our small backyard. It was not only unsightly, but it obstructed the view and it blocked sunlight. I surmised this was the reason my fig tree wouldn’t grow. So when I recently saw the “tree guy” in my neighborhood, I ran outside and hired him on the spot. Before you could say “chain saw” three times, Bryan was shimmying up that forsaken tree like a baby chimpanzee. What an incredible sight: after attaching metal spikes to his shoes, he climbed up, up, up. I warned Bryan that I wouldn’t be watching because this acrobatic stunt made me sooooooo nervous. What if he fell? What if the tree hit our roof? What if he got stuck up there? But I couldn’t resist—I watched anyway. As it turned out, all of my worries were in vain.
No accidents happened and no damage was done: not to our privacy fence, the glass-topped table and chairs or the fig tree. That’s because Bryan carefully lowered one small section of the tree at a time to the four guys waiting below. Then they’d pull it away, using a rope mechanism, and haul it off to the tree-eating machine by the curb. Awesome! They were finished and on their merry way in slightly over an hour. In fact, you’d never known they’d been there.
But before Bryan began, I called hub-Russ at work, knowing he’d enjoy the show—that’s what it seemed like—just as much as me. Russell was also impressed—more like mesmerized. He walked out on the back porch and stood there watching a long time, like he was seven years old. I think his favorite part was when the guy ground the stump. He held onto this vibrating ecka-ecka-ecka-sounding apparatus that went up and down and all around. It was so powerful our house shook.
When the tree guys finished up, we stood there admiring their work. I could now see the sunshine spread across the back yard—ah, well, almost. Actually there was one problem: an overgrown bush—a photina for you master gardeners, and a red-tip for the rest of you—obstructed the now-new, though hard-to-see view. Here, I just paid a guy a couple of hundred dollars to open up the backyard only to find out I couldn’t even enjoy the missing tree, much less enjoy the new view. Confused? Well, it went like this:
“Russell, doesn’t it look great? I love the new space. I can’t wait to get a brick patio, an iron archway for a fragrant vine to grow up and some mosaic walking stones.”
“Hm….,” Russell said, ignorning me.
Then it hit me, “Wait a minute! I can’t see where the tree was. It didn’t make any difference.”
By now Russell was ready to check my head to see if the tree fell on it because I wasn’t making any sense.
“Come look! See that ugly old bush? The one that’s taller than me?”
Again, he ignored me. Then I asked him to trim it and he said, “No!” I believe I heard a muffled, “Trim it yourself.”
Why was I not surprised? He used the excuse of it being 95 degrees outside, that he had a meeting to go to and that he didn’t want to get sweaty or dirty. Oh, I hate it when HE makes sense. So, I had no choice. I grabbed my gloves and my Sears Craftsman clippers—the ones that stick—channeled Paula Bunyan and began pruning. Hey, I’ve done it before and I’m sure I’ll do it again. The initial cut was chest height. I trimmed about ten inches down, then walked around the entire bush, doing more trimming. Finally, I could see some progress. I could almost make out a beautiful topiary before me. Notice I say “almost.” It wasn’t even. It wasn’t symmetrical. It wasn’t pretty. So I cut some more—above and below. Soon the shape changed to something like a flying saucer, with thick leafless stalks sticking out of the center. While rubbing my sore back with one hand and inspecting the other one for blisters, I heard the back door open.
It was Russell, bless his heart. He stopped and stared, then dropped his head, shook his head and pulled at his head. I don’t know if he felt sorrier for me or the bush, but he picked up a small saw and tidied up my mess. And now the view is perfect!
Hopefully, this time next year we’ll be sitting on our new patio, drinking sweet tea; or else laying in the hammock, enjoying the honeysuckle fragrance. And who knows? By then, I might have enough figs to can a few jars of preserves.
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
With all the plucking, shaping and waxing I’ve done to my eyebrows over the years, there’s not much left of them. I used to wish they’d quit growing, but now I wish they’d grow back. Like many Baby Boomers, we got carried away with those evil, pain-inducing tweezers (what were we thinking?) and we lost our way—not to mention our arch: In other words, we ended up with thick short stubs that dip down into a super-short tail end. In addition, rarely do both brows match. Not pretty. Many of us have ended up with two harsh upside-down V’s, short dashes or lazy half-moons. I stare at the Generation X girls and long for their brows—structure, form and beauty, (which pretty much sums up everything about them).
And yet, I have a hairstylist that just LOVES to wax my brows. I always have her wax my upper lip and yes, I hate it. The whole process is annoying, demeaning and painful. How in the world some women have sensitive areas waxed—ouch! I simply cannot imagine, nor do I want to. But while Susan is waxing my lip, as I’m draped over the sink, helpless and hapless, with my shampooed hair wrapped tight in a towel, I wince twice: Once when she rips off the stray hairs of my upper lip with that dastardly tape and once when she says (always), “Eyebrows?”
It’s kind of like giving birth and before you’re cleaned up, Hubby says, “Wow! This was fun! Let’s have another one!” You want to shake a knot on him, or at least scream directly into his ear, “What? Are you crazy?” That’s what I’m talking about. I’ve said no to Susan the last two highlighting trips, (but yes to the twenty or so other times). Now I’m getting weak and I need a reference to back up my eyebrow-growing-out plan. I didn’t feel like I had the ammunition to PROVE I was right until now.
But all that recently changed: Thanks to the suggestion of Sunnie Pennington—the photographer who did my photo shoot—I had a glam/make-up session earlier that day with the beloved Rudolph. Let me tell you about Rudolph: He is simply a must-have, to-die-for, every woman should have this opportunity, make-up artist and angel. I sat in the white leather salon chair and was pampered for over two hours as he painstakingly patted, brushed, sponged, wiped, feathered-out and drew on my face. In between, he’d step back and say, “Oh, my!” and I knew this was good.
Then he’d turn back to his palette and say, “Um-hmmm!” and I knew this was good, too. He also said I was a Judi Dench look-alike, but I didn’t know if this was good since she’s almost twenty years my senior, (though she is quite an accomplished actress AND has nice eyebrows). Interestingly, he saved THE BROWS for last. When I told him my eyebrow story and asked, “Should they grow or should they go?” He put his hand on my shoulder, leaned forward and said emphatically, “Let them grow, honey!” So now, I have it on good authority.
I was so pleased with his results that I came home and stared at my face for what seemed like hours, trying to memorize his masterpiece. It’s taken me weeks to duplicate these brows, but I’m nearly there. And this is what I’ve found out: Everyone loves good brows!
It’s funny but I often hear the comment, “There’s something different about you,” followed by questions like, “Did you get your hair cut?” and, “Have you lost weight?” along with, “Did you change your hair color?” Until now it’s been a mystery, but I’m telling you straight-up: Here’s the big secret—brows that are growing out and carefully-pencilled-in. They give you power! Seriously. Power, dignity and respect. Who would’ve thought that the little red Maybelline pencil (under $3—a cheap beauty trick, indeed) could make me feel so good about myself? Why, it’s a morale booster! And it’s a permanent and welcome good-bye to waxing.
The next time Susan says, “Eyebrows?” I’m going to say, “Rudolph and Dame Judi say ‘no, not ever again’ and I concur,” (with a wink below my perfect brow.) That should keep her quiet (and confused) a loooooooong time.
Wednesday, 01 September 2010
I just returned from a book signing at My Sister’s Books and I’m feeling nostalgic—sort of a “Georgetown on my mind” type of feeling. It’s hard to believe we left there three and a half years ago to move to Wilmington, N.C.
We’ve visited Pawleys Island and Georgetown several times since, but on this trip, I guess I noticed changes to a larger degree: many new shopping centers, housing developments, restaurants and offices. All this new development sometimes makes me sad.
But here’s something that made me glad: I still say the most intriguing sight there (besides the ocean itself) is the wild-vine-covered, crumbling, mysterious and haunting stone ruins (at least, I call them ruins). It’s actually the remnants of an old motel on Highway 17, near the former Mackenzie Beach. What a beautifully chilling sight!
But the trip itself was really good:Dinner at Pastaria 811 was as wooooooooonderful as ever. I’d been craving shrimp Roma ever since Bess Long called me. Dave Deemer (unfortunately, absent that night) has remodeled, providing a cozy and more spacious dining area. That night Russell and I dined and caught up with friend and fellow author, Elizabeth, and her family. We stayed at Litchfield Beach Golf and Racquet Club. Nothing’s changed there, except the scenery just gets prettier and the staff, friendlier. Catching up by the pool with my dear friend, Carolyn, was perfect (though our visits are never long enough).
No trip is complete to Pawleys Island without a trip to my old stomping ground—Piggly Wiggly! I had to buy several jars of Trappist Monk ginger jelly since I can’t find it anywhere else. I had “orders” from family and friends, and of course, myself. Russell admired a display of baseball caps and T-shirt combos while I shopped. It was Saturday night, a little after 9:00, and pretty quiet overall. I asked where my buddy was, Tim Smith, the manager. Well! Come to find out, he was promoted to District Manager. See what great things happen when I leave town? Kidding! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see him either.
The bill seemed a little high, but I just shrugged. It wasn’t until that night in bed when I asked, “Honey, did you get that baseball cap and T-shirt?” Russell said, “Yep.” “Well, did I pay for that?” I asked. Again, he said, “Yep,” and, he rolled over and said, “Goodnight.” That might seem sneaky, but really, it’s pretty smart.
This guy deserves entire wardrobes for traipsing all around with me—moving heavy boxes, setting up tables, keeping my water (or tea, or coffee) cup full and never fussing when it’s time to leave and I dawdle, saying, “Wait! Just one more minute—” for a variety of reasons. Now I see why he readily accompanies me on these trips: perks! (Hey, it’s not the first time he’s slipped in a surci.)
The next morning we had a spread-and-a-half buffet at Webster’s. I told Russell that should hold us down for two days. You’ve never seen such an array—homemade biscuits, eggs cooked to order, sausage and ham, grits and hash browns, just-cut fresh fruit, oatmeal, even Muselix, which I looooove. (Even still, I later recanted and chowed down on some Hibachi chicken for dinner.)
We both wanted to see our old neighborhood, Pawleys Retreat, so we rode down Shipmaster Avenue. The memories came flooding back—gardening in the yard, the gym and beach trips, supper club and writer’s group, community theatre (which Russell and I did together one time, that being, “Other People’s Money” in Murrells Inlet), worshipping at St. Paul’s Waccamaw UMC, not to mention jaunts to Georgetown. There, I would often eat lunch alone, work on columns and visit the staff at Georgetown Times. I still miss Thomas Café and Pink Magnolia to this day.
Next we rode over to the public access at Pawleys Island, where I walked almost daily the ten years we lived there. As I began to take some pictures of the breathtaking oceanfront, I realized that was one of the few things that hasn’t changed one bit.
The tide rolls in, the tide rolls out, the sun rises and the sun sets, but every morning, come rain or shine, the beach is there—providing a great respite for walking, relaxing, vacationing, meditating, reading or just being.
Finally, it was time for the book signing to begin. What fun! If you weren’t there, I missed you. If you were there, thank you so much for your support and readership! And as Arnold says, “I’ll be baaaaacccckkk!”