Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Hello Kiddies!!! If you look at my blog archive from the past two days you are probably thinking that Doug is working on his niceness. Remembering, sharing, huh? What? It's a beautiful Tuesday morning in the Lowcountry and before I dash out the door to the golf course, I wanted to share with you a few of the blogs that I follow, and am inspired by every day. But before I put on my sharing hat, let me tease you with a blog series I am working on featuring life on the front porches and in the gardens of Charleston.

My fellow blogger and co-worker at BSSF, Joan continues to remind me daily at Charleston Daily Photo that she has the life I want to have in my next life. Her daily pictures provide a glimpse into life in her playland, Charleston.

Another one of my favorites, Sarah, a blogging transplant like me is jammin' with a playlist that's as eclectic as mine over at Charm of Charleston. Schell and I enjoy this blog as she blogs righteously about burgers and beer and nurturing her palm tree. What??? Were we seperated at birth.

While you are surfing along in the blogosphere check out the Charleston City Papers Best Local Interest Blog, When Hungry Meets Healthy. This lady, Christina, has it going on. Reading her blog is awesome, she is a self proclaimed "spunky individual with a penchant for culinary delights...loving every minute of this life." Today she chronicles her Memorial Day Weekend that included frozen yogurt, pickles on the beach and target practice with her hand-gun. What's not to love Christina?

And last but certainly not least, Olivia blogs to share her life in Charleston with her family back in Nashville, and does an excellent job at that. Visit her at Everyday Musings, looks like she also had a memorable Memorial Day full of friends, good food and easy livin... And you all know, it's Summertime and the livin' is EEEEEEEEEZZZZZZZYYYYYYYYY.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Throughout the years, I have had some memorable Memorial Day Holiday Weekends. Going back to the days of my youth the innaugarual holiday of the Summer Season always meant family fun at home with visits from my older brother or some other family member, grilled food, watermelon, and home-made ice cream and strawberries. I mean, really, what's not to like about a holiday that signals the start of the carefree days of Summer, and you know that the livin' is easy in the Summertime here in the Lowcountry.

As I have grown older and wiser, although my wife and son's might question the wiser part, I have a more acute sense of the purpose of Memorial Day. Living in an area with such a military presence has certainly contributed to my heightened awareness. Yesterday I spent part of my day at a party thrown by my good friends Leslie, Will, Troy and Danielle in one of the coolest backyard party spots in Goose Creek, South Carolina and I was honored to be amongst several folks who have either served our Country or are currently serving in the Armed Forces. What a great reminder for me that the day and weekend is not just about barbecues, sand, sun, beaches and pools but that the reason we celebrate that way is to honor and remember the very people who have made personal sacrifices so that we have the freedom to celebrate in that way.

Having said all of that, the Summertime holidays are a blast in the Lowcountry. Our beaches and waterways are jam packed with locals as well as vacationers from points North, as was evidenced by the traffic heading East on I-26 Thursday afternoon and evening, and why not? There is so much fun stuff to do here in "vacation land." I am sure that today will be another great day as we wrap up Memorial Day Weekend 2011. And the best part, as I told my friend Jeff (another WV transplant) on the telephone last night, is that at the end of the weekend we don't have to drive back home, we are already here. No matter where you are today, please remember and honor those brave men and women who serve or have served your Country and have a great Memorial Day, From The Land of Palm Trees.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hydrangeas, Hummingbirds and Thunderstorms

While most of society was preparing for a three-day weekend filled with sand, sun and potatoe salad, I slumbered. Last night at work, I jetted over the imaginary hump that represents the mid-point of my seven-night work week and quest for my seven-day off week. Todays sleep cycle resembled a series of short naps thanks to the weather-alarm that kept alerting me to every severe thunderstorm watch/warning between Charleston and Columbia.

Finally about an hour ago, I gave up on the naps and decided to move to the front porch to watch natures light show, enjoy the breeze and do a little blogging. Not a bad spot at all this afternoon, from right here on my front porch I can see some beautiful hydrangeas, a little past prime, but still striking. I am also enjoying our vivid crimson-red geraneums and the occasional hummingbird that comes to the feeders beside the front porch. But the real attraction is God's laser show that is currently happening in the skies to the south of my locale thanks to some fairly heavy thunderstorm activity to the southwest. These are the best kind of storms, you get to feel the nice breeze, hear the distant rumble of thunder and watch the lightning but it never really gets to where you are sitting.

While I have been enjoying a small amount of time on the front porch Michelle has been busy in the kitchen preparing some Jambalaya and corn-bread muffins for our Friday night dinner, I can hear the zydeco music on the stereo, it feels like a Zatarains commercial at my house tonite. Have a great Memorial Day weekend, take time amidst the beach and picnics to remember the great Americans who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Week Away From Blogging, And Oh What A Week It Was!

Sometimes it is said that the simplest things in life bring the most pleasure, and this past week certainly supports that cliche. I have made the most of the every-other-week off rotation of a midnight shift pharmacist this week. My good buddy Don, who lives on James Island, and I hosted a couple of very special guests this weekend, my brother from Chicago, and Don's good friend and my brothers old college chum from Branson, Missouri. Golf, dining and fun was the order, not necessarily in that order.

Some of the many "highlights" of the week included, of course, some great Lowcountry golf courses, and a couple of equally great dining spots. Not to name drop but Coosaw Creek, Wild Dunes Links and Crowfield Plantation come to mind sprinkled in with a little Morgan Creek Grill and Genaro's Italian Restaraunt. And of course, our annual night out on James Island at Don's house for Frogmore Stew, aka Lowcountry Boil. Don and his lovely bride always roll out the red carpet and it is said that everybody has at least one thing they do very well, and Don's gift is Frogmore Stew, err... along with turkey hunting/guiding, fishing, artwork, joke-telling, spoiling grandchildren, etc. etc. etc....

But, like all good things, such as my 7 nights off, it had to end and guests were dropped off at the Charleston International Airport and today lives are back to their usual mundane self, that is as usual and mundane as life can be in The Land of Palm Trees. Wherever you are today, Chicago, Branson or in a kayak on a tidal creek somewhere on James Island like my good friend Lisa from Charleston Treasures, have a GREAT day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

That Other Remarkable War In Charleston's Past

I have blogged some recently about the Civil War and the handprint that it left on Charleston, South Carolina. Thanks to the Sesquecentenial Commemoration, alot of the history buzz currently eminating from the picturesque historic streets and waterways of Charleston relates to affairs from the late 1800's. With the current focus on the Civil War one may be tempted to forget about that other remarkable war in Charleston's past, the Revolutionary War.

Life in Pre-Revolutionary War Charles Town was a dichotomy, the ruling class wealthy continued to accumulate wealth and status while the lower class continued to become more poverty stricken. During this time, Charles Town was the fourth largest city in the new world, ranking behind Philadelphia, New York and Boston. In order to address the needs of a rapidly growing poverty class, the churchmen of the ruling class raised taxes at an alarming rate from the 1750's to the late 1760's, and as you might imagine, this helped to make Charles Town a tinder box for revolution. Given the prominence of the city with respect to population and considering the un-rest that was building over taxation and other social and political issues it is easy to understand that when the rubber hit the road in terms of revolution, Charles Town and it's dynamic leaders would play a pivotal role in the developing conflict.

If you know anything about modern day Charleston, and you are a fan of the history of Charleston you would be somewhat less than astounded to find out that there were many eccentric and dynamic characters who would contribute in large fashion to some colorful accounts before, during and after the war for American Independence.

The stories surrounding one such Revolutionary War figure, Francis Marion, illustrate him in nearly fictional terms as a bigger-than-life action hero. The movie, The Patriot, is "loosely" based upon Marion and his role in the American victory of the late 1700's. There are colleges, universities, forests, parks, towns and highways named after Francis Marion. Part of my attraction to Marion is that the county of my home in West Virginia was named in honor of the General, Marion County. Of course, I have seen the film The Patriot easily 100 times, and along with Braveheart is among my favorites. Even though the creators of The Patriot embellished the character Benjamin Martin, the story lines do parallel to a degree the legends of the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion. It is fitting that I now drive to and from work along a by-way that was once frequented by one of my favorite Revolutionary War Characters. Each morning on my way up Highway 61 from Charleston toward my house in White Gables I picture British troops marching along the corridor only to be ambushed by Marion and his militia who then in my minds eye race on their horses until they disappear into the swampy woods surrounding the Ashley River as I cross Bacons Bridge enroute to my daytime slumber at home.

So, you might imagine how excited I was when after our weekly Saturday Evening church service at Bethany United Methodist in Summerville to drive by Azaelia Park and see a larger than life golden bronze sculpture of General Francis Marion and his steed, Ball on site for the Sculpture in the South show being held this past weekend in the park. The show was closed for the day but an extremely accomodating Summerville City Policemen who was providing after hours security allowed me to go in and take a picture of the extremely life-like statue. I think you will agree that the fury in the eyes of the horse captured by the artist, Alex Palkovich, justifies in large part the legend of Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox of the Revolutionary War.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tree Fairies In A Different Light...

Of course I slept most of the day since I worked last night and have to finish up my work week tonight, but this morning when I walked out of Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital it occurred to me what a beautiful morning it was. I was greeted with sunshine, some high puffy clouds, mild temperatures in the lower 70's and birds singing. I decided to drive past the big live oak tree near the front entrance of the parking lot and take some pictures.

The spanish moss serves as a great vehicle to filter the early morning sunshine and the unique split live oak is a very willing subject for my Thunderbolt HTC Camera this morning, point and shoot with your telephone, I just love technology.

I guess I was inspired to take some pictures of trees after reading about the group who caused quite a stir yesterday on John's Island at the Angel Oak. Check out the story and video in todays Charleston Post and Courier, hmmmm. Makes you wonder what the heck people are thinking these days.

Hope you had a wonderful day and weekend, wherever you are. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Little Bit of Home At James Island County Park

Last Saturday the borders and boundaries of the State of West Virginia were re-drawn and expanded to include a couple of acres surrounding the Wando picnic and party pavillion at the James Island County Park in Charleston, South Carolina. Various recorded versions of Country Roads echoed throughout the park, fan favorites from The Pride of West Virginia (The Mountaineer Marching Band) blared from the speakers and the names of Oliver Luck, Bob Huggins, Bill Stewart and Dana Holgorsen dropped into conversations so easily you could almost picture them mingling throughout the crowd of Mountaineer Alumni and friends. Blue and gold were the predominant colors for the day and the flying WV logo was everywhere.

The Lowcountry Chapter of the West Virginia University Alumni Association was gathered for it's annual BBQ Bash and Pepperoni Roll Cookoff at the park. South Carolina, and particularly the Lowcountry is now home to a rather large contingent of WVU Alums, so large a group that sometimes it is joked that South Carolina is the largest county of West Virginia. It is nearly impossible to leave your house and drive five miles without seeing a car or two with the familiar flying WV logo. I often throw on a WV ballcap for trips to the mall or grocery store, and invariably I will walk past somebody who will say, "Let's Go Mountaineers." Strangely enough, there were even some Virginia Tech Hokie fans in attendance, I guess since they copied the flying WV logo and modified it for their own VT logo they might as well crash our parties.

Saturday's event was a blast, there were games and a jump castle for the future Mountaineers in the crowd, while several alums and friends worked out challenges and death matches of cornhole while enjoying the music provided by "Dem Taylor Boys." The music and games, food and fun all contributed to a "tailgate party" atmosphere that made for a great afternoon under the blue skies of the Lowcountry. The chapter hosted a raffle with some great WVU fan items, a few things on the table even made it home with us. The conversation and commraderie was copious and seemed to be tinged with optimism for the upcoming football season. The Spring scrimmage game has provided us all with a teaser of the new WV offense and what is to come in future seasons when Head Coach in Waiting Dana Holgorsen takes the helm.

Often times when I talk with friends and family members back in West Virginia they will ask me, "don't you miss your home state?" It's odd because I do miss the beauty of the mountains, and I certainly miss being closer to my sister and her family as well as some really great friends, but Charleston feels very much like home now and it sure does remind one just how small our world truly is to share our new home with so many people from our home state and alma mater.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Getting It Off of My Chest

From The Land of Palm Trees is meant to be a happy and lighthearted, feel-good sort of blog. My intention is to publish human interest and lifestyle posts as they relate to daily life here in Charleston, South Carolina. But as I have mentioned before, even in vacation land we have to deal with the pitfalls of life. Although it doesn't seem fair, we still have jobs and careers to keep us busy and life still deals out the occasional crushing blow to the chops.

I am hesitant to blog about todays topic, but the subject has been on my mind most of the week and I just wanted to do this, if for no other reason but to relieve the pressure and get it off of my chest. Cancer Sucks! I hate it with all of my heart and all of the energy I can muster. There, I said it! The cat is out of the bag, the eight-hundred pound elephant in the room is on the loose, and now you can see that even in the land of easy living, we still hurt and cry and pray for miracles. And hope lingers...

Now I know that I don't have to apologize for my feelings, I have every right to consider cancer as the bitch that she is, after all I lost both of my parents to lung cancer way to early in their lives. I have watched while friends have fought the dreadful scurge, some winning their fight, some losing the battle. I have grieved the losses and I have stood triumphant beside some close friends who have whipped the incorrigible beast. But even in defeat the wicked demon holds it's survivor hostage, always lurking in the shadows, threatening to relapse. For this reason alone, I admire and honor cancer survivors for being able to celebrate and live life to it's fullest in the face of the monster.

Even though I purposely avoid blogging about my professional life, I surmise that I should allude to being a health care provider. That probably accounts for my innate nature to promote healing and well-being among my friends and family. It is hard for a member of the medical team to sit by and watch pain and suffering all the while realizing that at some point all that we can offer is comfort measures. And prayers. That's why I hate cancer so much, sometimes the fickle bitch responds to treatment then for no reason at all, almost as if she enjoys teasing us, turns cold and unresponsive to treatment.

I could go on and on, but what's the point? So how do I wrap this one up? How do I put a positive spin on a blog post that is as dark as this? For me, personally, I have my faith and I know that ultimately there is victory, but how do I find the words to go from the pain I am feeling today, knowing that a cherished old buddy is tired and weak from his fight, to ending the post with the usual greeting and encouragement. But yet, hope lingers, sometimes it provides just enough of a toe-hold or the slightest crevice to cling to. And I remember all of those sayings and quotes from which we draw strength during lifes tribulations. And I am spurred by one, because of it's source (the one who happens to be tired and weak), it makes me smile and gives me the perspective that I need to trudge forward. "It's a long lane with nary a turn," or in other words, what goes around comes around. So cancer, have your fun, inflict your pain and suffering, you WILL get yours one day, I'm sure of it and oh what a sweet day that will be.

Wherever you are today, celebrate a cancer survivor and find a way to provide comfort and encouragement to someone who is suffering from cancer. I hope in some way that somebody is encouraged by this post, From The Land of Palm Trees.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday Blog Leaping

A beautiful Lowcountry morning, Happy Mothers Day 2011. I woke my wife this morning with a pot of fresh brewed coffee then accompanied her on the 3 mile jaunt around White Gables. It is a lovely morning for blog leaping on the back patio and thought I would share some of my findings with you.

If you are a fan of Okra, the vegetable not the talk show host with a similar sounding name, check out Charm of Charleston, a newly found blog on my favorites, written by another recent transplant to "vacation land."

As usual, the other blogging Doug over at Doug's Photos, has published another great image, this one with some historical significance. Check it out and spend a little time looking at his archives, you will be enriched for it.

If you love Charleston, or at least enjoy random scenery of the beautiful place I call home, visit Olivia at Everyday Musings for some great lifestyle scenery. She does a great job and as I have mentioned, visit her cake stand link and see the work she does.

I am amazed and amused sometimes when I discover another creative Charlestonian "thinking out of the box" with a way to earn a living. Using a variation of a theme that I have often been intrigued by, event planning, Lowcountry Boil features a great idea, new baby arrival planning.

And finally, in honor of Mother's Day, my dear friend, and fellow West Virginian turned Lowcountry Resident, Lisa at Charleston Treasures provides and excellent feature on what it means to both be a mom and love a mom.

Wherever you are today, take a moment to honor a mother and tell a mother how much you love her. Hope YOU have a great day and thanks for visiting From The Land Of Palm Trees.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday Morning Ritual

Each Saturday morning from April through November I make my trek down Central Avenue toward the middle of Historic Summerville, South Carolina for the local farmers market. Well, every other Saturday morning my trek to the market involves driving up Highway 61, through some of the prettiest plantation countryside in the South, bleary-eyed from working overnight at the hospital, but count on me, I will always stop by the farmers market on Saturday morning.

My visit isn't always a long and protracted stay, sometimes a quick trip through but always stopping by my favorite vendors, if for no other reason, to say hello. There are a couple of stops that are regular and predictable, Gruber Farms for instance, they always have great produce, and whatever is locally in season, they have. Today for instance, off of their farm I bought some beautiful pat-a-pan squash that I will be stuffing with Italian sausage and breadcrumbs, drizzling with some EVO (extra virgin olive oil) and topping off with some freshly ground parmesan and romano cheese.

Also, one of my regular stops, Mr. Jeffries fresh picked strawberries from Round O, South Carolina. Delectable sweet red morsels that are in season for just another 3 or 4 weeks. And of course, my goal for this farmers market season is a different plant or shrub every week from Bob at Bob's Landscape. Today, a confederate rose, that Bob tells me is actually not a rose at all, but more closely related to the hibiscus family. At any rate, my backyard now has a confederate rose and I can't wait to see it bloom in August or September.

I hope your Saturday is going well also, and that you have had a chance to enjoy one of your favorite activities. Don't forget Mom tomorrow on Mother's Day. My sons have done well this year picking out their Mother's Day gifts and we will treat Michelle to brunch at The Eclectic Chef on Short Central tomorrow morning and an afternoon at the beach.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Morning Stroll Among The Churches of Summerville

Charleston is known by many as the "Holy City" because the Charleston Skyline is dotted with steeples and spires from notable church buildings. Whether you are driving, walking or riding in a carriage just about anywhere downtown at any given time you can look skyward and be reminded that you are in the "Holy City." The beautiful spires and crosses contrasted against the usual blue sky adds to the ambience and feel that is uniquely Charleston. There is a fairly logical explaination for the diversity of religions represented within Charleston, other than of course that we are located smack dab in the middle of the bible belt. Charlestowne, the sight of the original settlement of the Carolina Colony was one of the few colonial cities that displayed acceptance for religious tolerance. While Charleston may have beautiful and notable churches with great histories, some dating back to the earliest years of Charlestowne, there are also beautiful churches in many of the towns around Charleston, such as Summerville, where I live. The photo below comes from a centrally located intersection within the Historic District of Summerville, and you can see that churches play a vitally important role within the life of the community.

This morning was such a beautiful one that I decided to go on a walk about town and take some pictures of several of the churches in Summerville's Historic District. Many of these churches are within sight of one another, in fact some of the pictures of different church buildings were taken from the same exact position on the sidewalk.

As I said earlier, the churches possess a vibrant connection to the populace of Summerville. On any given Sunday morning you will see families who live in or around the Historic District walking or riding on golf carts to and from their Church. After an afternoon spent on the front porch, at the golf course, or at the pool or beach many of them make a return trip that evening for Sunday Evening service or youth and family activities.

I hope you enjoyed your walk around the Churches of Historic Summerville, South Carolina and I hope that wherever you are today you are having a great day. Greetings From The Land of Palm Trees.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What A Morning It Must Have Been!

Lately, I have been blogging about events in Charleston commemorating the 150 year anniversary of the first shots of the Civil War at Fort Sumter. A couple of weeks ago, thousands of Charleston residents and visitors lined the shore of Charleston Harbor to watch a re-enactment of the Confederate shelling of Fort Sumter on the morning of April 12, 1861. The Charleston Post and Courier recently posted an excellent video of the re-enactment of the bombardment of Fort Sumter on the fateful morning. The video does a great job caputuring the excitement of the flash and report of cannon fire, but what goes untold is the human side of that famous morning, the personal stories of the unmentioned hundreds of people who were part and partial to the skirmish that would lead to a war that was both bloody and devastating to both sides, Union and Confederate alike. These spectators had set their alarms early on this day to come and witness a remake of Charleston History and it got me thinking that they probably experienced some of the excitement and anticipation that the residents and visitors in the Holy City must have known that morning in 1861 when they sprang from their beds in the early morning to rush to the roof tops and piazzas of the houses lining the Battery to witness what many were sure would be a Confederate victory in a battle that would secure their Southern independence.

The Sesquecentenial activities inspired me to re-visit one of my favorite history books to read about the historic days surrounding April 12, 1861. Charleston! Charleston! The History of A Southern City By Walter J. Fraser, Jr. provides a factual and intriguing account of not only the political circumstances at the root of the conflict but it also examines the human side from the perspective of the Charlestonians of the day.

For weeks the city of Charleston had been buzzing with rumors and speculation about an imminent attack by the Federals. There was a nervous optimism persisting among the citizens fueled by Confederate pride and confidence. Scores of military regiments had assembled and dozens of militia companies joined with the regulars to train and prepare for battle. While the military presence busied themselves with preparation for war, the city was swelling daily with throngs of people arriving to witness the fight. The mood around Charleston, especially within the social elite, was almost holiday like. While husbands, fathers, sons and brothers busied themselves with war games and military parades, the ladies enjoyed afternoon teas and socials. The evenings were filled with receptions and promenades where the military officers and politicians mixed with debutantes and socialites. And the lively discussion always centered on the "taking back of the fort." As the days and nights passed the excitement and anxiety increased and the mood became more and more garish. In fact, Mary Boykin Chestnut, whose husband Colonel James Chestnut a South Carolina Senator turned military officer who delivered the evacuation notice to Major Anderson, recounts in her Diary From Dixie that on the evening prior to the start of the bombardment "we enjoyed the merriest,maddest dinner we have had yet...We had an unspoken foreboding it was to be our last pleasant meeting." Her feelings couldn't have been more perceptive. Late that evening, April 11th, 1861 while Colonel Chestnut and his counterparts rowed toward Fort Sumter with a final ultimatum for the Federal Garrison there, Mrs. Chestnut and several other military wives were nervously trying to rest at the Mills House knowing that if Anderson didn't surrender by morning there would surely be shots fired. Mary Boykin Chestnut was not alone in her travails, there is another very enlightening personal account of the night provided in the diary of Nancy Bostick De Saussure, wife of Dr. Henry William De Saussure, a surgeon who served the Confederacy. Mrs. De Saussure tells about her arrival in Charleston on the very evening prior to the attack on Fort Sumter. She tells about being terrified to the point that she couldn't sleep. She remembers, "toward morning, about four o'clock, the first gun was fired, and it seemed to me as if it were in my room. I sprang up, as I suppose everyone else did in the city. I hurriedly dressed myself and went down to cousin Louis De Saussure's house. From its numerouns piazzas, which commanded a fine view of the harbor, we watched every gun fired from the two forts, Moultrie and Sumter. The house was crowded with excited mothers and wives, who had sons and husbands in the fight, and every hour added to their distress and excitement, as reports which afterwards proved false, were brought to them of wounded dear ones." Meanwhile, over at Mills House, Mary Boykin Chestnut "dropped to her knees -prostrate- praying as I have never prayed before."

The Confederate shelling of the fortress in the harbor continued throughout the next thirty-six hours until the afternoon of April 13, 1861 when Major Anderson surrendered the fort. What joy and celebration erupted from the streets of Charleston. Hats flew in the air, hands slapped and spirits flowed from tall bottles and flasks, for days it seemed Charlestonians celebrated the secession battle. Perhaps Mrs. Nancy Bostick De Saussure said it best years later in the form of a letter to her granddaughter, "we little realized the long years of struggle that were to follow ending in defeat and ruined homes and country." The battle was won, for sure, but the bloody war that would pit brother against brother, cousin against cousin and country against countrymen had begun, in earnest.