Describing Wilmington, North Carolina

Today’s topic on The Daily Post is to describe the town where you grew up.

I was born in, and grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina, where I still live today. I wrote about how much I love my hometown in a post titled Going Home. It was recently featured on Freshly Pressed, much to my delight, y’all.

Wilmington is a diverse city, made up of all kinds of people. It is a college town, a thriving port, a retirement relocation for many folks of the Northern persuasion, a historic southern city with roots going back to the Civil War, a popular travel destination, a beach lover’s paradise and a golfer’s dream.

It is home to the USS NORTH CAROLINA Battleship, the Azalea Festival, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, the UNCW Seahawks, and the Wilmington Hammerheads. It offers a large  historic district on the riverfront, horse-drawn tours, an authentic riverboat, quaint shops, elegantly restored southern mansions, and  Thalian Hall – one of the oldest working theaters in the nation.

The city has been given the nickname “Wilmywood” since it became a major center of American film and television productions. Films such as A Walk To RememberBlue VelvetTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesEmpire RecordsCape FearBlack Knight28 DaysThe Crow (death place of Brandon Lee), Nights in Rodanthe and the controversial  film Hounddog were produced here, in addition to television shows such as MatlockSurface,  Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill.

I love my city; the sights, the sounds, the smells and the people. With my camera, I constantly try to capture  images that can showcase the essence of it – the customs, the food, the oak trees, the historic buildings, the battleship, the gardens, the salt air full of screaming sea gulls, and the lonely river that flows through it all.

Because I think a picture is worth a thousand words, I hope you enjoy this slideshow of some of my favorite photos that I have captured.

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People In My City

I love my city, Wilmington, North Carolina. I love the sights, the sounds, the smells and the people. Wilmington is a diverse city, made up of all kinds of people. It is a college town, a thriving port, a retirement relocation for many folks of the Northern persuasion, home to a large film studio (and the location of too many productions to mention), an historic southern city with roots going back to the Civil War, a popular travel destination, a beach lover’s paradise and a golfer’s dream.

I especially like taking candid shots around town of our people. Truly “candid” street images strive to capture something unique and inherently interesting about the subjects. I hope I have succeeded with these.

I chose these photos for Sunday in My City, a photo forum that has folks posting pictures on Sunday of their cities. I thought Wilmington NC should be included.

To participate, visit Unknown Mami and link up! Let’s visit and travel the world together.

I think the thrill of taking candid shots of people on the street is never knowing what I will capture. Some photos that I think are going to be great, are actually quite mundane, and others that are almost unintentional turn out to be spectacular.

I was actually annoyed when I took this photo because this woman was “in the way” of the shot I was trying to get of the riverboat. Now I think she is the most interesting element in the photo.

I was focusing on the shadows on the walkway, and this couple just happened to kiss – right when I snapped the shot.

I was zeroing in on the Capt. J. N. Maffit on the side of the boat, and had no idea how interesting these people were going to look.

This woman never looked up from her task of cleaning a boat, so the shot I got was, I thought, going to be a disappointment. Now I love the mystery of not seeing her face.

I was taking a photo of an historic home, when she appeared out of no where! I have no idea what the feather boa was for, but she looked as though she enjoyed wearing it.

I wanted a photo of the colorful door on this bar, and a man on his cell phone would not move away from it. Much more interesting with him in, don’t y’all agree?

I thought these women were beautiful, eating sushi in a downtown cafe. I had no idea if they would even be visible in the photo, since I was shooting into the glass.

This woman’s bright, red hair caught my eye.

I admit I paid absolutely no attention to what these people were doing. I was simply shooting the brick street. In this shot, the people became the background.

If I see someone in an interesting outfit, I have to take their picture. Check out the stockings on the girl on the right!

This guy fascinated me. The shorts, the shoes AND the tatoos match.

Sometimes when you think you’re taking a candid shot, you get caught! This fellow was a good sport about it.

I was aiming for the graffiti on the wall, but it became just an interesting background when this guy intruded into my shot.

While looking through my lens at the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, an animated conversation got my attention. Everybody down here knows that Southern women can’t talk without using their hands. Here’s the proof!

As a Wilmington native, I am so proud to show off my hometown. I love it so much that I have another blog called Wilmington Daily Photo. It keeps me busy posting a new photo of the Wilmington area every day. I hope y’all will check it out and see for yourselves why I think this place is so spectacular.

A Post Every Day? Heavens to Betsy!

IMG_1072Thanks to my friend, Jan, over at Jan’s Sushi Bar, I’ve decided to give this here posting every day thing a try, y’all.

It’s called NaBloPoMo, and I can’t believe how long it just took me to write that. Stands for “National Blog Posting Month”. You post something every day for a month, so here is my first post for the month of August.

The theme for the month is “Tomorrow.”

I’m not sure how we’re supposed to incorporate that. Being southern, I should be able to figure out something to say, right?

Alright. Tomorrow I will try to think up a more interesting post. I swaunnie. (That’s southern-ese for “I swear”, which was pretty much forbidden to say in the Southern Baptist household that I grew up in. We also couldn’t say piss. We had to say “tee tee” or “wee wee” or maybe “pee pee”, but definitely not “Pee”. Pee sounded way too crass, y’all.)


Visit NaBloPoMo

Driving Miss Lucy

spincyclesmallIt’s time to do another Spin Cycle. Finally. I know. This week the topic was “driving”. And, miraculously, I thought of something to say about it.

Now I have to admit, I’ve been real reluctant to write anything lately. I guess y’all could say I’m pouting. See, my new baby grand daughter, and her parents, my son and his girlfriend, are planning to move away to another state. And this news is just so …..crappy…..  that I’ve been in an awful mood about it.

But I do realize that folks move all the time, especially in this economy. And I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my own childhood. My parents decided to move from Wilmington, NC, my hometown, to Eau Gallie, Florida when I was only five and my brother was a newborn. Now I know how lost my grandmothers must have felt, since we were their only grandchildren at the time.

But the two of them were good friends, having met on the job before either of them even got married. Both of these fine women were telephone operators for Ma Bell in the 1930’s. They both eventually married my grandfathers and settled down on the same street to raise their children. Both families attended a small Baptist church on that same street. My parents were the epitome of “childhood sweethearts”. They met as youngsters in Sunday School.

Having their children and grandchildren move to Florida in 1963 meant just one thing for these two lifelong friends, who were by then both widows. Road trips! My mother’s mother, Miss Gladys, being known as a tomboy all her life, of course drove. My father’s mother, Miss Lucy, being one of the prissiest women the South ever turned out, of course rode. Oh, and she talked. If there is one thing Miss Lucy was good at, it was talkin’ yer ears off.

I’m pretty sure she had some stories that probably lasted the whole trip.

To say my brother and I  looked  forward to these visits would be an understatement. It was a car full of love ( two grandmothers at once!)  that pulled into our driveway a few times a year, just in time for supper. They would usually stay for a few days, bestow us with hugs and kisses and gifts and plenty of grandma stories, and then make the trip back.

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The two ladies seated in this picture are my grandmamas. The one on the left, in the dark glasses, is Miss Lucy. The one on the right, clutching her purse, is Miss Gladys. I think this picture was made at Miss Lucy’s birthday, when she was about 89. When she passed away, a few years later, Gladys wrote the following poem, describing their road trips to Florida to see me and my brother.

LETTER TO LUCY

You passed the door of mystery
The door we’ll face one day.
We breath and live in this world
And one day we’re taken away
To a place with streets of gold
No sickness or sorrow there
Just love and beauty I am told.
God’s love is everywhere.

I’ll always remember my co-pilot
Who talked and guided the way
On trips to see our children;
It always took a day.
On 17 was the way to go
No super highways then.
Some day this I know
You will be my co-pilot again.

With Love,
Gladys (5/19/03)

I’m certain of few things, y’all. One is, I was very close to my grandmothers, even though I was growing up over 700 miles away. And I’m determined to be close to my grand daughter, if it’s the last thing I do. Two, I know my grandmamas, grand ladies that they were, are together again right now. Gladys was able to join Lucy last October. They are up there somewhere right now. And, of course, Gladys has the wheel.

Watery Wednesday Tears

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It’s Watery Wednesday and I’m makin’ some water, in the form of tears. A lot of things make me cry. Sad movies, like My Dog Skip or Charlotte’s Web. Heck, even sad commercials get me. I cry at weddings and funerals and when my boys give me sappy Mother’s Day cards. I cry when I get mad, or frustrated and (I hate this) when I make mistakes at work. I even cried when I was watching Shamu the Whale at Sea World. Don’t ask me why, it just got to me, OK?

But this right here is one of the best things I’ve ever cried over. My grand daughter, Freya. This is a picture of me holding her for the first time. I thought I could get through it without crying. But then I had to go and try to say, “Hi sweetie, it’s your Grandma Ginger.”

Oh shoot. I just made myself cry again, y’all.

waterywed2b1Watery Wednesday is hosted by 2sweetnsaxy at Eyes, Mind and Heart. It’s so easy, even cavemen and southern grandmas can do it! Just post a photo, on Wednesday, y’all, of something with water in it. Then link back to Watery Wednesday so other folks can enjoy your photo! That’s all ya gotta do, I swaunee.

The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part Six

spincyclesmallPlease read The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part One, Part Two, Part ThreePart Four, and Part Five before reading Part Six. Part Five was part of the Spin Cycle’s Topic of the Week: Minding Your Manners. I’ve missed a few weeks since then. It’s amazing how time gets all away from you, when you work shift work.

This week’s Spin Cycle topic was Pets. I managed to re-post a blog story to take care of that one. Last week, Spirteskeeper, the keeper of the Spin Cycle, came up with an impossibly hard topic: Prom.

In thinking about it, maybe that’s why this cruise was so important to me. See, I never went to a prom. And I’m not going to lie to y’all and say it was because I way too mature for that sort of nonsense, or tell you that I was boycotting it because it was outrageously expensive, or claim to be dedicated to a vegetarian lifestyle, and therefore unable to be in the same room with a tray of ham sandwiches. Nah.

The cold stark truth of the matter is this: No one asked me. And back in the dark ages my high school days it wasn’t  socially acceptable for girls to ask boys out. Besides, I was dating a man who was much too old for me, what the hell was my mother thinking? a cool college guy. And he was too old to go to a high school prom with a baby, like me.

cruise 07 020 - CopyBut the cruise….ahhhh! would include a “Formal Night.” That was, I learned during my extensive research, a fancy dinner and lots of dancing! It would be like the prom I never got to go to. I figured it was the perfect excuse to shop for a sexy dress, strappy high heeled shoes and matching jewelry. I found the perfect outfit, in slimming classy black, and had it all packed away weeks in advance.

And I wasn’t about to let a little ol’ detail like missin’ a couple of flights keep me from wearing it!

The week before last, which I also missed, the Spin Cycle topic was Making Mountains out of Molehills.

Back when I was 49, I started thinking about going on a cruise. Everyone I knew, it seems, had already done it. And so I approached my husband with the idea, and he didn’t exactly say no was thrilled, so for a full year before my 50th birthday, I was in full scale pre-planning mode. I read everything I could get my hands on about cruising. I joined a discussion forum. I ordered travel books and was up-to-date on all the major cruise line’s ships and itineraries.

One thing I kept reading, over and over again, was something subtle like this:

51JT9rjKlqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_The first piece of advice: Get there early. A day early. Plan ahead, particularly if you’re flying during winter seasons (or even summer thunderstorm seasons). If you must fly to the port on the day of embarkation, try to catch the earliest possible flight. At the very least, leave a minimum of a four-hour window between arrival and cruise take-off time.”

And as I read all that, I was thinking, “Yeah, right. Overkill, that’s what that is. They are really making a mountain out of a molehill!”

See, I was convinced that the cruise advice forums and the travel books were all in ca-hoots with the hotels, y’all. It was a big ole plot to get people to spend some more money. I thought it was real clever of them, how they used fear to get folks to book extra nights, in hotels in strange cities.

But Iwasn’t fallin’ for it. No siree. I was smarter than the average cookie. I just knew that nothing would go wrong. We would fly on down to the port, board the ship in plenty of time, and sail away into the sunset. Smooth as silk. With extra cash in our pockets, unlike all the gullible fools that had gotten suckered into spending an extra night.

Little did I know. In reality, the molehill was not just a mountain. It was a nightmare.

First, our early flight, that would have gotten us to the port in the minimum four hour window, got canceled. Then, in spite of inadvertently becoming security risks, we managed to get ourselves booked onto another flight. Then, THAT flight got canceled and it became a free-for-all in the Wilmington airport for a ticket. Our next problem was getting to Raleigh in time to catch still another flight, that would barely get us into the wrong port in time to catch a cab to the right port, all in time to catch the cruise ship, which we had been dangerously close to missing all day.

But then, if y’all read Parts One, Two, Three, Four and Five, you already know all this.

But I’m southern, so bear with me.

The Spin Cycle topic the week before the Molehills topic, was “Mistakes.” Boy-howdy, did I ever mess up by not finishing this story that week. Because….When my husband took me on a cruise, to celebrate my 50th birthday, I ignored the advice of  every professional travel planner on the planet,  did things my own way, and in the process, managed to survive The Ordeal of a Lifetime. This is Part Six of the  story. It is true, y’all.  Every single detail of it.

So where were we? Oh, yeah.

300px-MiamiInternationalAirportFront.JPGIn Part Five of this saga, I had managed to stave off a hissy-fit in the Miami airport, only to begin screaming at pleading with an innocent Jamaicancab driver, who calmly agreed to “do his best” to get us to the Port of Ft. Lauderdale. In 35 minutes.

If there was ever a ride to rival “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”, this was it. That cab driver was not fooling around, y’all. He was intent on keeping his promise. He drove like a man on a mission.

A “give your poor passengers in the backseat a nervous breakdown” kind of mission.

As the taxi wove in and out of traffic, passing everything else on the road like the first Cape Canaveral rocket launch, I managed to sneak a peek at the speedometer. It said 97 miles per hour. I clutched my purse and my laptop and closed my eyes. And I silently prayed.

“Dear Jesus, please just let us get there alive. I swear I don’t care anymore if we make it to the cruise. I really don’t care (much) about wearing that new dress (or the cute little black sandals with the darling rhinestone accents). You know what’s best for us, Dear Jesus, and I trust you. Must be, there’s a real good reason why we’ve had so much trouble on this trip, so just please don’t let us perish in this here cab. Amen.”

My husband and I were holding hands. My knuckles were white from squeezing his fingers so hard. The two of us exchanged a look. We knew we were going to die.

But miracles still happen, I reckon, because we pulled into the Port of Ft.Lauderdale at 3:55 PM. My heart was about to stop, and I had the weak trembles. But we had made it.

cruise 07 005The cab driver drove us right up to the ship. Only it was the wrong one. The big letters painted on the side of it plainly read “CARNIVAL.”  And we were booked on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

He turned and flashed a brilliant smile at us, as if driving 97 mile an hour was an everyday occurrence. “Port of Fort Lauderdale, in thirty minutes, Ma’am,” he announced.

“No, no, no!” I barely managed to get out, as if I was talking in slow motion.

My husband set him straight. “We are going to need to find The Jewel of the Seas. It’s a Royal Caribbean ship.”

We looked around. There were four ships at the dock. A Carnival, a Norwegian, a Princess and a Disney.

It was almost four o’clock; the time after which, we had been told by several people, the ship would not allow us to board. We were so close. Had we come so far, only to miss it?

For a moment, the cab driver looked confused. His brow furrowed. Suddenly, he whipped the cab around and we were headed back to the main gate. “We will go back and ask directions to this ship,” he said calmly.

There was a little road, that we had missed, that took us to another dock. And there, in all her splendor, sat the lovely Jewel of the Seas.

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I had tears in my eyes. I wanted to hug the cab driver. But there was no time for me to get sentimental. The baggage handlers were swarming all over us the minute we stopped.

“Are you sailing on the Jewel?” one of them asked.

No sooner had we said yes, then seven or eight men and women in Royal Caribbean uniforms were grabbing our camera bag, laptop case, a carry on,   four  suitcases and incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps and throwing it all onto a baggage transport cart.

All the while they were frantically waving toward the check in area. “Hurry, hurry, hurry!” they told us. “You need to hurry! Have your tickets and passports ready!”

I had my pocket book and my precious itinerary, which contained our tickets and passports. We took off, running. As we entered the huge check-in room, which was completely devoid of people, there was a lone woman standing behind one of many booths. We rushed over to her, panicked that we were a few minutes late. I immediately started spouting gibberish about canceled flights and wild cab rides, while waving my tickets feverishly in her face.

She looked amused. Then smiled. A beautiful smile. “Relax!” she said. “You made it!”

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About an hour later, we were standing on the deck of the ship, having that much anticipated “froo froo” drink, during what is known as “the Sailaway”. Sailaway is a party that the cruise line throws, as the ship sails out of the port, to get you all liquored up and in the mood to spend some more money start the cruise on a festive note.

Well, after the ordeal we  survived to get there, it took more than a few drinks and a couple of days before we even started to relax.  I would love go on another cruise, y’all. But, next time,  I think we’ll plan on spending a week in Fort Lauderdale before the cruise….just in case.

Dog Owners Have Feelings Too

spincyclesmallI’ve told y’all this story before. But it seemed perfect for this week’s Spin Cycle topic, “Pets.”  So, I’m telling it again doing a re-run because I’m southern and we love to repeat ourselves it’s a subject that I’m passionate about.


IMG_0049I love my dog, Hannah. She is like my own child. She is the “baby” that my husband and I could not have. We really feel that way about her. If, God Forbid, we were to ever get divorced, I’m sure we would fight over custody of her.

Now I realize there are folks who are not dog lovers. I don’t understand it, but I know they are out there. What I don’t understand is how someone can dislike an innocent creature, who has done them no harm, to such an extent that they don’t care if they insult the owners. Because, let’s face it, y’all, owners are people. Usually people that these dog haters profess to care about.

So here’s my spin on this. And listen, if you love a person, try not to shudder when their furry child walks into the room. Really, y’all. It’s rude.

How Could You Not Just Love Her?

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This is my Rottweiler, Hannah, and me. We are lying on our tummies at the top of our stairs, waiting for “Dad” to come back.  Hannah has  hip dysplasia, an affliction that is,  unfortunately, common to a lot of rotts.  It makes it difficult for her to go up and down stairs and she requires alot of assistance. But she will endure all kinds of pain, if it means she gets to spend a little quality time being petted by mom and dad, while they watch TV in their Man Room. And getting a few bites of “people food” sweetens the pot a little, too, of course.

To get her up the stairs, one of us has to go ahead of her and call her. One of us has to get behind her and push her bottom as she painfully pulls herself up. Getting her back down is even more of an ordeal. I walk down backwards,  taking each step slowly and stopping on each one, to pat the previous step and call her. Hannah will come down one step at a time, with careful little hops, pausing to look at me plaintively between each step. When she finally reaches the bottom, she jumps onto the waiting area rug with a little triumphant flourish and a wag of her nub, as if to say, “I made it one more time, Mom!”

So going up to the Man Room, to spend the evening watching a movie, is quite a production at our house. Once up there, Hannah has to stay until we come down for bed. If we make a quick  trip down for a potty break, she lies at the top of the stairs in utter despair (we call it the “Great and Powerful Sadness”) until we return. I love the expressions on her regal face, and this one always gets to me. Who couldn’t love her right to death, y’all?

My stepmother, that’s who.

Twice a year, my daddy, “Pa Bill”,  and his lovely wife, Shelba, travel six hours from their mountain home… to visit us, ya’ll. They know we have a dog. They know her name is Hannah. They know we love her just like one of our own children. But, when they show up for their Royal Visit, my stepmother, who acts like every dog in the world  is a  snarling hound from hell, ready to tear her limb from limb, will call Hannah “it” or “he”.

As in, “Ah’m asceered to go in the house, ’cause Ah’m asceered It will bite me!” This, as she stands firmly rooted to the spot, outside the front door, refusing to come inside, until we assure her, multiple times, that the dog is not even HERE! It is at grandma’s house for the evening. Then she’ll ask, “Are you sure he’s not here?  Ah’m afeared of Rock-wilders and Ah’m allergic to dawgs.”

We’ve gone down this road before, y’all.  Back in the beginning of our dog ownership, we tried, during the Royal Visit, introducing our sweet, adorable Hannah to her “step-grandmother.” To describe it as a “disaster” doesn’t even come close, y’all. After watching Shelba shudder and convulse every time Hannah even looked at her, we decided to put her in the bedroom and shut the door. Well, you just don’t do that to a dog who goes into mourning every time you go downstairs to take a pee break for a few minutes. Naturally, she tried scratching on the door.

SCRATCH on the bedroom door.

Shelba almost faints. “OH MY GOD, BEE-ILL!” She clutches my dad’s arm, in terror. “What was that?”

“It’s just Hannah, scratching at the door,” I explain, trying to stay calm.

Hannah hears her name. SCRATCH.

Shelba practically jumps straight off the couch, clutching madly at my father. “AH’M AFRAID HE’S GOIN’ TO GET ME!”  she wails.

Hannah, hearing all the excitement, decides to bark. A very polite bark, but still.

By now Shelba is all but having a nervous breakdown. She’s shuddering, she’s trembling, she’s probably wet her “bloomers”. My dad is staring at me accusingly, as if I am the perpetrator of a diabolical plot to drive his poor bride mad.

“She can’t get out! She’s not going to bite you! She just wants to come in and say hello!” I try to explain.

“Ah just don’t know why you’s cain’t put him in the yah’rd,” Shelba says, tearfully.

“Well,” I say. “We don’t have a fenced in yard and our homeowners association won’t let us put a dog outside unless there’s a fence or she’s on a leash.”

“Well you could tie hit to a tree, couldn’t you?”

“No Shelba. It’s December. It’s 30 degrees out there. I’m not putting Hannah outside in this weather and TIE HER TO A TREE!”

Hannah hears her name. SCRATCH.

At this point, I made an executive decision, y’all. I decided that I would never, ever, as long as I live, put myself through this scenario again. So now, when Pa Bill and Shelba come for their annual Christmas visit, Hannah gets to go and spend the night at Grandma’s house. Hannah has been going to Grandma’s house for at least three years now, and Shelba still stands in the front yard, afraid to come in, until we assure her, repeatedly, that the vicious “Rock-wilder” is not here.

img_0150Funny thing is, Shelba, bless her heart, doesn’t mind our cat. And to tell you the truth, the cat would probably bite her quicker than Hannah ever would. Shoot. To tell you the truth, I’d probably bite her quicker than Hannah would. Not that I ever would, or anything, y’all. I’m just sayin’.

The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part Five

spincyclesmallPlease read The Ordeal of a Lifetime, Part One, Part Two, Part Three,  and Part Four before reading Part Five. This is for this week’s Spin Cycle topic, Manners.

When my husband took me on a cruise, to celebrate my 50th birthday, I ignored the advice of  every professional travel planner on the planet,  did things my own way, and in the process, managed to survive The Ordeal of a Lifetime. This is Part Five of the  story. It is true, y’all.  Every single detail of it.

In Part Four of this saga, we had miraculously caught our flight to Miami, in the nick of time, and landed. But there was a hellishly long fifteen minute delay in letting the passengers off the plane, for some ungodly reason. And we still had a cruise ship to catch, at the Port of  Ft. Lauderdale, in exactly fifty five minutes.

As we stood there in the aisle of the plane, being mashed on all sides by the mass of humanity that was the other passengers, all of whom had their own agendas to keep and similar looks of desperation in their eyes, I was starting to feel decidedly unsouthern, y’all. Not only could I feel drops of  sweat rolling down my underarms, along with the awareness of my horrible absence of lipstick, but I was developing a real unladylike case of aggravation.

img_1286Now, southern women, like me, are born with this gene that makes us instinctively know how to catch more flies with honey, than with vinegar. In normal situations, this inbred sense of good manners makes us all charming and sweet, whenever we are faced with adversity. I’m sure my mother, who’s had years of practice at batting her eyelashes and flashing her beauty queen grin, would have been able to murmur, “Oh excuse me, shugar, but can I ask you to quit standin’ on my foot, if you please,” but I was just about ready to throw my years of good southern manners out the window and STOMP somebody to death, right there in public.

FINALLY, right before I threw a right proper hissy fit, the door opened. Apparently, there were no other real southerners on that plane, because everyone started pushing and shoving like a pack of wild dogs tryin’ to get after a lame squirrel. We were caught up in the hysterical flow and deposited at the entrance of the Miami International Airport.

miami-636Now MIA covers an area of 3,300 acres and contains four runways. It is a major gateway between the United States and Latin America, and the twenty-ninth largest airport in the world, in terms of passenger traffic. It is home to 29 restaurants and 33 shops. You can get your hair cut, your nails done, buy a new wardrobe, get a massage, get a new cell phone, play the lottery, rent a movie, fill your prescriptions, get your shoes shined, buy a whole new set of leather suitcases, stock up on booze and get married, all while you are waiting on your flight to take off. I’m pretty sure it’s much larger than Burgaw,  which is a whole town in North Carolina.

In other words, we were completely lost and had absolutely no idea which way to go  to reclaim our luggage, y’all.

I knew my husband would stand there trying to figure out the lay of the land all by himself, until we had no earthly chance of making it to Ft. Lauderdale in time, because, well, duh, he’s a man and that’s what they all do. So I headed straight to The Tourist Information Center and got in line. There was a man ahead of me, who was talking to the customer service representative at great length. In Spanish.

So I stood there, and as patiently as I could, I waited. And waited. And, sigh, waited.

The two of them appeared to be friends. They were having a very animated Spanish conversation, punctuated by much laughter and postulatin’. All the while, I was nervously watching the clock and trying not to scream in frustration, because, well, that would have been, not only rude, but decidedly unsouthern.

Thinkin’ that I must be invisible, I cleared my throat. “Um, excuse me, please,” I said, in my best Southern accent. “I just need to ask y’all a quick question.” I also batted my eyelashes, for effect.

The man behind the counter  looked unfazed. “Be right with you, lady, in just a momento.” Leaning casually against the counter, he resumed his conversation, in Spanish, with the man in front of me.

“Oh FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!” I thought. I saw another customer representative standing on the other side of the counter, talking on the phone. I rushed over to him. “Excuse me!” I said breathlessly. Unbelievably, he held up his hand in a dismissive gesture. “I’ll be right with you,” he said.

So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. When he finally hung up, I told him which flight number we had been on and asked where we could pick up our baggage.

He smiled brightly.  “Oh, that’s easy,” he said. And then he said something that might have been, “You need to go to baggage claim area number 352, which is very easy to get to. Just go past Burger King right up this corridor, turn right, go down a little until you see Dunkin DoNuts, then take  the next left, the go down past the third waiting area and turn right near the restrooms and you should see 352 right there on the left!”

Only, I’m not real sure, because he spoke way too fast, and with much more of a Spanish inflection than my little ole southern ears could translate….especially as stressed as I was.

As I blinked in confusion and disbelief, he was already beginning to speak Spanish to another person who had come up behind me. I turned around to look for my husband. All I could remember was something about number 352 and it was somewhere beyond  Burger King.

“Did you find out where we’re going?” Jeff asked me.

“Yep,” I lied. “It’s right up here past Burger King.” I could see the sign, and it was a bit of a walk, so we needed to hurry.

00245-restaurants-parent_14We rushed down the corridor towards the sign. Ahead of us, I noticed another couple that were about our age, that I remembered seeing on the plane with us. They were striding purposely down the corridor towards the Burger King sign, so I decided to follow them. All the way to a baggage carousel, which was carrying everyone’s bags around and around.

There were about three hundred other passengers standing there, two and three deep, watching for their luggage. Jeff and I also stood there, holding our camera bag, laptop case, a carry on, my pocket book and my precious itinerary, helplessly waiting for our other four  suitcases and incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps to appear.

Then, we spotted one of our suitcases! But there seemed to be  no opening in the line of passengers to get over to it. They crowded around the carousel greedily, refusing to move.  I looked at my watch. It was 4:24 pm. We had to be in Ft. Lauderdale, on the cruise ship, before it set sail, in exactly thirty six minutes.

Well, it’s like this, y’all. I was hot. I was tired. I was hungry. My hair was messed up, my make up had long since disappeared and my clothes were rumpled beyond description. Not only that, I was on the verge of tears. There was no way we were going to miss that ship! We had gone through too much and come too far to let a measley three hundred people stand in our way!

Now y’all please don’t tell my Momma, but I’m afraid I got a little carried away and may have come across like a raving lunatic as being a tich rude.

I snapped.

I lunged for the suitcase. I pushed, I growled, I elbowed, I grabbed and may the Good Lord in Heaven help me, I may have even exchanged a few bad words with a woman in a hideous flowery dress. But by the time all of our luggage rode around and passed near me, allowing me to snatch it triumphantly and throw it to Jeff, people were eying me warily and scootching away to give me plenty of room.

We used the last item, our incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps, as a sort of battering ram to clear a wide pathway back through the crowded room and out through the front door.

f_taxiAs soon as I was out on the street in front of the airport, I dropped everything I was carrying in a heap on the ground, and raced towards the row of cabs. As I banged on the window of the nearest taxi, the cab driver looked at me as if I was crazy.

“CAN YOU GET US TO THE PORT IN FORT LAUDERDALE IN THIRTY MINUTES?” I screamed.

The door of the cab opened. The driver slowly climbed out. He stood up. I found myself looking up into a pair of large, black eyes in the face of a very muscular black man. He stared quizzically at me for a moment. Then, in a distinctly Jamaican accent, and a calm, deep voice, he said:

“I do my best, Ma’am.”

To be continued…..

Part Six: Did We Break the Sound Barrier?

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Home Entertainment, or “How to Survive When You’re Broke”

img_0019This image is an original oil painting by my grandmother, Gladys Parker. You can read more of her poetry and learn all about this amazing woman at her blog, The Rock of Gibraltar.

This week’s Spin Cycle topic is supposed to be about sharing our best cost cutting secrets to help you get through these tough economic times. I must confess – I have no cost cutting tid bits. I’m kind of like Jan, over at Jan’s Sushi Bar.  I spent the first 24 years of my adult life living hand to mouth. When you’re always broke, and always poor, you don’t think about how to cut costs. You think about how to answer the phone when the bill collectors call. You think about how you’re going to buy a week’s worth of groceries on the measly nineteen dollars you have left over in your checking account, after you paid your light bill (late) so you could have power for a few more days.

We ate alot of grilled cheese sandwiches and canned applesauce, y’all. I don’t want to think about it, much less type anything about how I did it. I just did it.

So. Here’s my spin on this topic. I give to you the words of the wisest woman I’ve ever been privileged to know – my grandmother, Gladys Parker. She raised her three children, on her own, during the great depression.

One of her favorite expressions was “making do”. As in, “we just had to make do”. She was an expert at making do.

To say she was tough is an understatement. She had to be. And in living her life, she learned to appreciate, to revel in, the little things around her. She entitled this poem “Home Entertainment” because, truly, this is how she entertained herself. Not by spending money on movies, or dinners or in the shopping malls. She looked out of her window and marveled at the creatures and beautiful sights that were there. And then she wrote about it, or painted it, and in doing so, shared a bit of herself with the world.

HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Interesting, the things that I see
Looking out over my balcony.
Squirrels are running and playing today
Up and down their little highway.

Amid the trees – most limbs are bare
And not quite touching everywhere.
For the little gaps they care not at all
They take their jump and almost fall.

Two of them jump with great ease
Like a pro on the flying trapeze.
Another is running – then turns around,
Sizing things up ’til a new way is found.

The last one comes to try his hand,
Jumped right over – where did he land?
On a branch that bent far, far down
He nearly fell to the ground!

It’s fun to watch these dare-devils play
And beautiful birds that come this way.
Hadden Hall is the place to be
On the penthouse floor up in the trees.

Gladys Parker
January 2001

Sure ‘Nuff, he’s got the stuff

This week’s Spin Cycle is about spinning the tracks that make us swoon.

Well, y’all, I absolutely ADORE me some Patti LaBelle.  And this song, about finding  the right man, hits home with me. Because after many years of searching and waiting, at the age of 42, I found the right “Kinda” man, that knows not only how to make me swoon, but curls my toes and makes me want to get down on my knees and pray.

And, well, not to get to graphic or anything, y’all, but I think that havin’ a good lover is pretty gosh dern important in the grand scheme of things.

The Right Kinda Lover

OH, I got a man. Yeah!

Sure ’nuff, a REAL man, uh huh!

Good ole man, that’s what I got!

Good ole man, ‘said helps a lot!

A real man, strong but tender

Baby, that’s the kind of man I need

To his love, I will surrender

‘Cause he’ll keep his mind on pleasin’ me

‘Cause he’s the right kinda lover

I’ll never need another

Sure ’nuff

He’s got the stuff

He’s the right kinda lover for me

An interesting conversation

Every once in a while

Always prompt, oh yeah, and attentive

‘Cause my darlin’ knows that that is my style

‘Cause he’s the right kinda lover

I’ll never need another

Sure ’nuff

He’s got the stuff

He’s the right kinda lover for me.

He is right,right for me!

So, every night when I get down on my knees to pray

I thank the Lord, for sendin’ Mister Right my way

This kind of love had to come from Heaven down

I ain’t never goin’ to let him go, because I need this kinda man around

He’s the right kinda lover

I’ll never need another

Sure ’nuff

He’s got the stuff

He’s the right kinda lover for me.

Yes he is, strong and attentive

‘Said that he’s the right height and the right build

Goes to work every day and the man pays all my bills

Come home in the evening, movin’ slow

But girls I’m here to tell you, the man can go, go, GO!

He just ROCKS me, Ooh the right way

That’s how he keeps this permanent smile on my face

He’s the RIGHT man

Sure ’nuff, he’s got the stuff

He’s the right kinda lover for me

That’s my babe

He’s the right kinda lover

I’ll never need another

Sure ’nuff

He’s got the stuff

He’s the right kinda lover for me.

That’s my babe.

Said he’s Mister Good Stuff, good stuff

Gives me what I need…