Adventure Week Twenty

I’m calling this one “a Wilde night,” with pun intended.

I certainly didn’t feel wild.

I didn’t feel talkative.

I didn’t feel like leaving the house.

But Miss Christy was ready to resurrect our Art Fellowship nights. Their origins are another independent post entirely.

Six of us ladies read through Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest.

A trivial play for serious people.

No preparation required.

I did know the play, but I did not reread it prior to showing up that night. My part was assigned a couple of days in advance, but I did not fret over memorization or timing or accent.

Oh, goodness.


The ladies with me had them. A few doubled as more than one character. And, a friend known only to you by the initials ER, as I have not asked her permission, actually read the parts of two characters who had an in depth conversation between themselves.

Kudus, ER. You were quite impressive. 

This is a perfect group activity when you’re feeling social – or, not.

We wondered if we were like generations of old who did not have Netflix or dvr’s or televisions – even though we each were reading from our own tech device.

We finished feeling quite cultured – even though the play is a silly story of trickster boys and finicky females. 

We left knowing that we would do this again.

What play would you suggest…

Keep in mind that we are serious people.

Adventure Week Nineteen


remember her
(caveat: image borrowed from facebook; original source unknown)

I do not.

I do not remember her. I’m not sure that I was ever that raging thrill-seeking, uninhibited freedom-loving girl.

But I was prone to dreaming.

At about the age pictured above, my summer ecstasy was a bit more tame. I’ve described it before in an essay titled Sandbox Dreams.

   Sandbox Dreams

Before I knew of Southern lady rules of dress, the most important guideline for apparel came down from Ginger, the resident “nanny” of sorts for the daycare I attended. She was somewhere between momma and great-aunt age and she could just as easily shoot fire from her eyes as whip you up a homemade rice pudding. Such resulting actions depended on you, but mostly you’d register somewhere between reprimand and praise.

There were a few things you had little control over and one of them was this Ginger rule: No going bare-foot before May 1st.

From somewhere around the middle of March until April 30th, we hated that rule, every one of us children who spent our Mondays through Fridays, parents’ working hours, at Laddie and Lassie Nursery School.

But come May 1st, the world was made new. And everything was good.

Children who normally sauntered in a half-sleep state then ran in early morning hours. You wanted to be the first to arrive, but you never were. Already in the playroom, there would be a group of them sitting on the floor, untying laces. There would be the smell of sweat that comes from anticipation, not from activity. And always, there would be the row of sock-stuffed sneakers and unbuckled sandals covering the top of the old black piano.

It was all a flurry of unwrapping not seen since Christmas morning.

And in the end, feet were naked and unashamed.

We girls had one destination in mind, but knowing the limits of tender, uncalloused feet, we took the long way there. We scurried down the porch steps and straight into the yard, bypassing the rough sidewalk for soft grass instead that tickled our toes. We lingered in dew drenched clover fields that clung to our soles and when we knew our feet were wet enough with the morning, we stepped into the sandbox.

We squirmed. We squealed. We danced in delight, like pixies pouncing into the pliable earth. We cooled ourselves in shallow dips, toes separating, sand exfoliating, stretching deeper until only ankles were left on top of the ground. And when we were sufficiently refreshed from the lifetime of winter, we sat down to dig and dream.

The sandbox dream was always the same and we began each year with determination. We would dig to China. I had never been.

I imagined new friends, how they would appear as we came up at their feet, what surprise would show on their faces, and who would help us to learn their names. I daydreamed of newspaper headlines in a language that I could not read, describing our feat to the entire world.

It was an excitement I have not known since.

On occasion I wondered what the center of the earth was made of and if it might be dangerous, but laughter drowned out the trickle of fear.

The joy would last until almost lunchtime when I was five, six and seven years old. After a hot meal and a lazy nap, we usually decided we would not be able to make it to China in a day. We dug a little. We played a lot.

By eight or nine years old, doubts began to destroy my dream. If you could dig to China, then someone would have done it already. With every scoop of sand, I repeated this negative mantra to myself. Such pessimism slowed progress.

At ten years old, I knew too much about geology to even start digging. I waded through the sandbox, but never sat down.

By the time I was eleven years old, I worried more about having to wear a bra than about getting to take off my shoes. Some dreams are so short-lived.

Sound familiar?

Anything like you?

Then you’ll forgive me if my adventure this week was one that most might think little of.

You see, on the first day that grandma’s neighborhood pool was open, I put on that tankini from last year that was a bit too small and I took a swim with Ian. No one else was there. So, I suppose there was no real bravery in the near nakedness.

But, the water was chilly – and I still waded all the way in.

All the way.

My face, I believe, looked a bit like that little girl’s above.

And I even got my hair wet.

That’s a darn good summer start.


Adventure Week Eighteen

Will you take a walk with me?


The answer should almost always be “yes.”

(Just like that answer to a friend’s question last week.)

Why? Because walking with Ian has always brought adventure.

No, that’s not Ian. 

Though THAT is taking a walk.

THAT is a freaking snapping turtle.

And yes, I was exclaiming descriptions about it so freaking loudly that the neighbor came out.

Just look at the size of its tail.

And yes, we videoed it as it watched us, moving its head in my direction each time I shifted spots in the road.

And yes, we read of various kinds of snapping turtles right before bedtime that night, instead of our usual chapter book.

We showed the video(s) to dad and the neighbors and we all talked of the wildlife in our yards, especially post 1,000 year flood of October 2015.

She (the snapping turtle) was likely going to lay her eggs somewhere and I will say that she already had that “mama bear” stance down quite well.

I did not enjoy the idea of sharing this place with her. I confess.

And yet it reminded me of some ten years ago when I first fell in love with this place we now find home.

I call it our Saluda Hill

Adventures sometimes come unplanned. 

Why don’t you take a walk – and share with me your discovery poems.

Adventure Week Seventeen

You’re waiting for me to sky dive?

Or, at least zip line at Riverbanks?

Sorry. Get in line. (Have you seen the lines at the zoo and gardens recently?)

This week I found that I’d said “yes” to something that caught me by surprise.

Months ago Ms. Cookie had asked, “Will you go with me to ____?”

And I’m the kind of person that finds “no” difficult most days. And it was in the far future, so not disturbing the chance of a nap that particular day.

I was a bit surprised by the cost after I’d committed. But…

celtic woman

Celtic Woman was awesome.


As in, I was in awe.

And, the stranger man beside me cried quite a few times. I didn’t let myself.

But after listening to the chaos of political xm radio in the loaner car that day, it was quite a heavenly moment when Amazing Grace hushed the entire packed house Koger Center.

One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.

It happened at the Koger Center this week.

Say “yes” when a friend asks.

(Then ask your husband if he knows who’s playing, because Mr.Andy would’ve loved some Celtic Woman.)

Adventure Week Sixteen




I wanted to participate in South Carolina’s Walk a Mile in their Shoes event to help other people.

As it turns out, I needed to do it to help myself. 

I’ve known confusion and shame, the kind that sneaks up from behind you and wraps its arms around your neck, dangling its fingers down your chest.

I’ve known that flinch that stops itself because pretending it’s nothing seems better than making a scene, because maybe not acknowledging will make it not so at all.

I’ve known the silent drives home and the determined path back, over and over again, because deviating would mean that something was wrong.

I’ve known secrets so long that truth disappears.

I’ve heard I’m sorry‘s.

I’ve walked alone.

Not this night.

My thanks to STSM for leading such a victorious event, 

to the crowd who enjoyed a moment of loudness, “NO MORE,” 

to the men who walked in high heels but somehow still kept it serious, 

to my people who prayed about the sign.

These things happen and it is not ok.

A lot of people know and believe this. 

And truth can bring freedom.

Some days are full of it.

I felt it in the back of the crowd. 

They felt it up ahead 🙂

And I was mighty proud of my city.

Walk with me next year…

Adventure Week Fifteen

It’s still Easter.

My friend Jocelyn did Ukrainian eggs Easter weekend and posted on Facebook.

I was in awe.

So I invited myself over to do them two weeks later. She obliged.

To “adventure” well requires a little initiative. Dare to be rude once in awhile.

The boys played Wii and we crafted.

She had it all.

The book.

The supplies.

The practice knowledge.

The confident cheering on.

Even the egg for me, already blown.

“I think it’s going to look fabulous,” she kept saying.

And, I think it does.

There are fancy words for it and the utensils and such.

Google it.

No words left today.

But, look…

Thanks, Jocelyn!


Bees wax and “heat source”
Applying a wax layer

Wax removal


Wax removal


Adventure Week Fourteen

open studios

I decided to forego the Sunday afternoon nap for an Artist Date with Ms Christina.

You know about the artist date?

I learned of it years ago when first trying Julia Cameron’s thirteen week course, THE ARTIST’S WAY. Imagine my surprise when I googled Cameron and found that for a fee, you can now experience the course through videos with the author herself. So, bookstores be damned, I suppose; Julia continues to find her way into varied markets.

In this free video clip she describes the once weekly assigned play that students are instructed to maintain. I had little trouble keeping up with this portion of homework when I did this with a little book club I found by way of  Kirkland Smith during my first year in Columbia, SC.

An artist date is wooing your own consciousness…people are reluctant to play…we will go work on our creativity, but we won’t go play…(yet) play is refilling. – Julia Cameron

I can play.

A trip to the gardens, a window shopping spree, a special homemade journal treat.

Not a problem.

The prescribed date is supposed to be solitary, but Ms Christina and I are rebels. We went together this time. We played. And we were refilled.

We were refilled by other artists.

Local artists.

In their own studios.

Imagine my delight when I got into Ms Christina’s car and she asked if I wanted to go to the OPEN STUDIOS in West Columbia first. Yes, two artists were basically in my own neighborhood.

Michael Cassidy and his great dane greeted us and I talked a lot about the neighborhood elementary school our children both attend. Note to self: bumper stickers can be useful. I found him to be the regular person he claims artists often are until I entered his studio barn. After that, I was a bit mesmerized.

cassidy knife

Mr. Andy will likely return to purchase a knife painting. I texted him while there. Just saying.

But it was Cassidy’s collection of small things like dandelions that intrigued me most.

cassidy dandelion

What delicate attention. What detail. What specific moment in time captured.

And yes, I asked about the cotton hanging at his work table. You can see it in the top left of this photo, taken from his facebook page – like the others I’ve posted.

cassidy work table

Oh, go back. Look again. I know you mostly saw that smiling girl.

It’s ok. I’ll wait.

The cotton. See the cotton?

Cassidy has yet to paint the cotton, that he no doubt will take down from the wall and position under that lamp that is sitting on that desk. When he does, he will, I am sure capture its very likeness after he has studied it from various microscopic perspectives.

But he will capture more than its likeness. He will capture its story.

Cassidy and I spoke of the story of cotton that is not his story. I confessed that it is not mine either, though I am a native South Carolinian. I pondered this idea that Cassidy would want to understand more before attempting to paint.

Such a small thing.

So much at stake.

To one who creates with integrity.

I’ve since discovered Michael Cassidy’s logo that contains the word integrity and my creative heart is filled – refilled – with a yearning to see in more complete ways. Certainly Michael Cassidy’s works are ones of quality. But my mind is rolling over and over again with that word – integrity – and all it may mean.

So many things caught up within a painting.

Our second stop in West Columbia proved that multitude of things that can be shown in just one painting. Christopher Lane‘s subjects were massive in comparison to Cassidy’s studies, but held similar depth of thought.

While Cassidy studied the story of a simple object, Lane studied the simplest truths of life, showing the goodness sometimes muddied by man. He carefully pointed out images in a bank scene and what they meant to him and we talked of a life of thought, a socio-economic analysis of our time. With the same passion, he went on to explain his Circle of Life that measures 72.5″ by 55″ and I felt myself smiling.

Look closer. There’s so much there.

Look deeper. You’ll see more.

I walked out of Lane’s home, got back into Ms Christina’s car, and was refilled.

Christy, people are doing it. They’re out there doing it. Creative things.

I wish I had time. There were other stops at OPEN STUDIOS.

And each was inspiring.

But for now, I think I’m going to do my own creative thing.

Thanks, artists! All of you. You make us proud.



Adventure Week Eleven

Ever planned a wedding?

Yeah. Adventure Week Eleven went big. Real big.

Precious friends talked about eloping in the midst of some difficult family situations.

But, really, could this couple pass up the chance at a beautiful day?

Just look at them.

Too beautiful to elope!

Too lovely.

Too many friends.

That precious young woman has shown me what it is like to live in freedom this past year.

So I joined a village and helped with a wedding.

I asked my DIRTY DANCING tribe to make desserts. And they came to the rescue. (That’s a whole other post right there, my journey in learning to ask.)

That’s a PIE BAR, y’all.

There was also a Cookie/Brownie TOWER.

There were invitations painted by THE BEAR AND THE ROSE, a sweet etsy shop I just happened to know. They were all woodland shire looking because the couple said to me one night when we were talking plans that they liked The Lord of the Rings.

I can’t find that particular photo right now, but you just imagine that soft forest green background with the names Gretchen and Zach etched on it.

The programs had that same simple font and were graciously done, at the last minute I might add, by Ms Christy, of artvark creative.

Need help imagining the wooded shire …

groom and his men

(The Groom and His Men, photo by Sarah Scruggs of Kindred Co.)

Friends did flowers and music – even a harp y’all!

And photography by Sarah Scruggs.

(Note to Kindred Co., I’m going to steal another of your pics, but give you credit, ok?)

But for me, the highlight of it all was the statement of vows. Borrowing much from the traditional, but with additions from themselves, those promises made to each other reminded me of what these precious two have already overcome together and what, with God’s continued help, they will continue to do as one.

I present to you, my Adventure Week Eleven, with much gratitude to them for allowing me to be a part of their special day –

Mr. and Mrs. Zach Arnold

reception kiss

(photo, you know, by Sarah Scruggs of Kindred Co.)



Adventure Week Ten

“If I only had a girl…”

My mom had a girl.

Obviously 🙂

She tells me that while she was pregnant she practiced tying bows, just in case.

Hair ribbons.

Dress sashes.

Maybe that’s what happened to me. I never learned to tie a bow.

And (so) I had a boy.

Shhh. I know logic doesn’t work that way.

I also love my boy.

And I love other boys, too. 

In fact, every infant I’ve had the joy of keeping for awhile when their mommy returned to work – was a boy. 

Adventure Ten is no snub towards boys, but it is ALL ABOUT THE GIRL.

I blamed so many things on being an only child. With no siblings at the dinner table to mock my body or tease me about boy crushes, I could keep anything I wanted a secret at home. And secret keeping can become habitual.

In time, I grew to blame myself. Why didn’t I tell my mama stuff? Why was I afraid to ask if she would buy me makeup? Why did I try to hide my tears when that guy didn’t like me back? Why did I never tell her all I wanted to be when I grew up?

Eventually I learned to blame Eve, and her tasting of good and evil, and her ushering of death.

With the help of professional counseling, I came to see myself and my mother and my grandmother as girls caught in a cycle of mere survival.

The death curse took nanny’s mother away from her when she was just a little girl. What happens to a girl without a mama…

Girls without mamas can fail to learn how to celebrate.

I’m pretty sure that my mama was rarely celebrated. I know it had some to do with the alcoholic father. Some.

But I think it also had to do with the mother who probably wasn’t celebrated herself as a child.

I once blamed socio-economic status, but I don’t buy into that anymore. You can celebrate within any budget.

Girls with mamas that don’t know how to celebrate can fail to learn it, too.

Right now you are probably wondering about that word: celebrate.

And I will try to explain.

Let’s use the most basic of celebrations: the birthday party.

My mama always offered me a birthday party. 



I had a love/hate relationship with the birthday party. Inside my head, I dreamed of how it might be. I contemplated locations. My favorite was the back room of the Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Parlor. Some elementary school friend had hers there one year. But the excitement was offset by sweaty palms when I considered the ending of every party I’d attended:

– the opening of presents, in front of everyone.

That was enough for me to forego any group celebration. 

Why? I wasn’t shy. I had friends.

Why were birthday parties ok, just not my birthday party?

I think it might be this –

I never saw my mama have a birthday party.

And I’m guessing that she never saw her mama have a birthday party.

Let’s be clear. I saw my mama and my grandmama celebrate other people, but I’m not sure that I ever saw them celebrate themselves.

And I followed them.

It didn’t matter that the offers came. I followed their example, not their offers.

And I think it hindered my friendships with other girls. 

You psychiatrist readers will want to scream, “You’re simplifying things.”


But there are girls who know how to properly celebrate themselves and their accomplishments and there are girls who don’t.

And the difference can divide.

We non celebratory girls can grow judgmental. 

I am grateful for girlfriends who taught me better. I could list a couple of dozen. Most celebrate from a sense of wonder and gratitude and joy in Eve’s creator, who called her out from hiding.

They celebrate bodies and minds and beauty in every sort of form.

They laugh and cry and twirl.

And I’m making up for lost time. I’m telling my secrets and listening to others. 

I’m loving a lot of girls.

And on Adventure Week Ten, I became a trunk keeper for a little boutique clothing store for girls.

All ages of girls.

I have some catching up to do.


Mama’s birthday is May 14th and I’m throwing her a party and somehow I’m going to get both of us to wear the ruffly pants and twirl.

Thanks, Ashley!

And Matilda Jane!

 Someone’s watching; celebrate yourself!

Adventure Week Nine

Adventure HOSPITALITY week was all about a four year old and a twenty-four year old who came to stay awhile.

The four year old boy brought joy. He’s a head full of curls and twinkling eyes and smiles. I was part-time sitter for eight days and I was well loved. Mr Andy was, too. Wyatt would bid Andy farewell with a “Have a good day at work, Mr. Andy.”

When I picked Wyatt up at preschool, he would announce, “I had a good day.” And he would ask me, “Did you have a good day?”

Wyatt taught me that just about any day can be a “good day” and that blessed me.

He also reminded me that four year olds like snacks.

That blessed me, too.

One morning during our car ride, Wyatt proclaimed that parents start off as babies. He continued. “Everyone starts out as a baby.”

I chimed in. “Even Jesus started out his life here as a baby.”

Wyatt agreed. But never wanting to leave Jesus as only a baby, I just had to add – but Jesus grew up, didn’t he?

It was at this moment that I learned that Jesus liked snacks, too. I had never considered it.

Yes, Jesus growed up and when he growed up he got to go shopping all by himself and when he went shopping he bought popsicles and Mary and Joseph let him eat the popsicles that he was growed up enough to get.

Eight days of that, y’all. Eight days of that smiling, positive, snack eating goodness. One afternoon we made stove top, not microwave, popcorn. There was hot cocoa to be had, too.

And homemade play dough. Did I mention that I like homemade play dough?

Was it a little trouble? Sure. But saying “yes” to some part-time babysitting is worth it.

The other hospitality “yes” this week seemed a bit more risky.

Let me tell you about our house.

We have this room.

Off the garage.

With a bed.

And a closet.

And its own three-quarter bath. (That’s one with a shower if you’re not in the real estate know. A half bath has a sink and a toilet. A full bath adds a tub. A three-quarter bath lacks the full tub, but has a shower.)

We have been known to let people who don’t require a full bath to move into this room.

More than once.

Months ago Mr. Andy was perusing a political website and asked me if we could volunteer to house a campaign worker. I won’t get into the politics here. That’s not what this post is about. You can read about that in Adventure Week Two if you like.

Nothing happened for so long that we just assumed that nothing was going to happen.

And let me tell you that I can appreciate the beauty of offering something, but never having to actually follow through with it. That’s some easy stars in a crown right there and I’ll take them.

This did not wind up being one of those times. For on Friday night about 8.30 pm, Mr. Andy’s phone rang.

After a bit, he came to me and asked if it was ok if a campaign worker came.

“Yeah,” I answered.

And he still stood there with the phone in his hand. And I pretty quickly understood what kind of conversation they’d been having.


Yes, friends. The campaign worker needed to come “tonight” – that very night.

And you think that you have to clean the house before you can invite someone over for a cup of coffee …

I am here to tell you that you do not. You can extend sufficient hospitality without much effort.

Mr. Andy and I pushed a few stored boxes around in that room off the garage, made sure there was toilet paper in the three-quarter bath, and  did a quick vacuum. During this bit of frantic housekeeping,  Mr. Andy let me in on the upcoming guest’s name.

Let me just say this – and I do try to keep folk’s privacy intact even when I’m writing about my adventure with them – I’d never ever hosted a Mr. Houssain in my home before.

He arrived about 10.30 pm and I told him about the tank-less hot water heater and that he was welcome to anything in the kitchen that he could find and that I’d left towels for him and so forth. And then I went to bed.

And I don’t think I saw Mr. Houssain for a few days.

He worked long hours.

Sometimes hospitality is a lot easier than you think it’s going to be. Mr. Houssain lived in our garage room – well, slept in our garage room – for over a week before I even served him a meal.

To say that he was not much trouble would be an understatement.

Really the most we did for this young man was to leave the garage door up.

The twenty-four year old young man brought hope.

I saw that this generation is polite and hard working and generous.

Mr. Houssain was a lot like little Wyatt.

He smiled a lot. He said thank you. He determined that each day would be good.

And our lives were blessed by meeting him.

I’m kind of thinking that one day I might be voting for both of them …

Together they’d make a great ticket on any party side, my week nine guests.

Who are you inviting over this week …