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Pawleys Island

February 7, 2016

Thursday, January 28

We continued past Murrell’s Inlet, to find Pawleys Island, and the famous Pawleys Island Hammocks.



Where there was once a long building where the hammocks were woven, now there are the Pawleys Island Shops: winding white walkways of shell-mixed cement paths, larger areas of crushed shell and plantings of roses, camelias, crepe myrtles, palmettos, and typical shops meant appeal to tourists, from high-end jewelry, and clothing, to sweet-shops, toy shops, restaurants, and yes, still a hammock shop and one small workshop where Marvin Jackson weaves his hammocks and tells stories, charming the socks off anyone who enters.

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Beyond the big spools of rope, and the racks on which he weaves, are hundreds of postcards from his enchanted public.

I’d woven a hammock about 30 years ago, and told him so, also telling him how a friend’s dog had chewed it shreds. He told me Scotch-guard will discourage any chewers and seemed pleased to meet a visitor who’d actually woven a hammock. I surreptitiously counted the pins on the rack and checked the initial 4-ply braid, the fan of strands that feed through the spreader bars and the knots that bind the hammock’s loops. We do already have a hammock, but I remember how much fun it was to make one and now I’ll remember just how. Just in case.

Marvin and some other visitors were discussing the best place to grab lunch, as he was about to close up and go eat. He said that DeRoMa’s pizza was good, and the visitors said that the Fish House was not to be missed.

Before seeking lunch, we checked out a rambling gift store across from Marvin’s workshop and struck up a conversation with a young man at the back counter. He turned out to be from the area, having graduated with a music degree, conducting a local orchestral group on Monday nights and working retail for now, reminding us of many great young people from home in a similar situation. We shared the joy of having binged on ‘Mozart in the Jungle’, and we chatted about the Huntington gardens and Atalaya, so he knew that we were truly interested in more than golf and beachwear.

We told him of our blog and Bruce asked him to tell us about the real Myrtle Beach: its stories and history. He said we should ask Lee Brockington at the Hobcaw Barony about the Platt Eye. What? He wouldn’t say more except to say that she was a master story-teller. This sounded like something from a Nancy Drew mystery.

We went in search of the Fish House, and it was closed, so we found DeRoMa’s and had stuffed shells. Marvin was right. They were good and the garlic bread was excellent.

We headed farther down the road to see if we could find the causeway road to the actual Pawleys Island and overshot it, eventually passing a sign with the mysterious words: ‘Hobcaw Barony’! We took a sharp left into the parking lot of a rustic compound of buildings and found a nature center with aquarium, dioramas, and two people who were cordial and helpful despite it being close to closing time. Yes, there was a lady named Lee Brockington who was their head docent, and who now taught other docents, and no, they didn’t know anything about the ‘Platt Eye’.

We learned that the center is a vast tract of land and buildings that had begun as a grant from King George I. From the original native inhabitants, then the European settlements, to home of wealthy rice planters, and their slaves, it had finally become a retreat for Bernard Baruch, whose house and stables of Bellefield, hosted politicans, generals, newspapermen, as well as Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt. In 1964, his daughter, Belle W. Baruch, had given it to a South Carolina higher education institution. It now serves as an educational and research center for coastal ecosystems, native wildlife, and endangered species. An impressive list of tours and events are offered to the public. We will return, findingourway!


The last dentist.

February 7, 2016

Wednesday, January 27

A rainy and chilly day; perfect for one last dental visit to have a post installed in the root canaled tooth. Done for now, and with luck, until we get home.

Root canal Monday

February 3, 2016

Monday, January 25

Not bad compared to the extractions. Got through it and even felt like a bit of exploring. We’d passed through Murrells Inlet before and it seemed just a disappointing string of seafood restaurants and motels. Out beyond them was marshland, but we couldn’t figure out how to get there. Used to New England village centers with harbors clearly marked, we were looking for the wrong thing.




Today, we parked between two restaurants and found a charming water/marsh-side boardwalk that connected the whole strip of nautical-themed restaurants and ended in a long pier. The sun was shining as we strolled along, accompanied by a brisk sea breeze. We encountered a pleasant local woman walking her dog and struck up a conversation. Alexandra, an English teacher, recommended two restaurants for lunch, one being the Dead Dog Café. We looked in and found an inviting dining space with high-raftered ceilings decked out with every imaginable nautical, steam-punk, or interesting funky finds. We chose a sunny table and ordered bowls of She-Crab soup, for the numb mouth, which was superb, as well as a basket of hush-puppies, with a little crock of honey-butter which magically appear at nearly every southern meal.


Sated and needing to walk off our rich lunch, we walked the pier, where gulls, and pelicans were enjoying their own full bellies. On a dock below, a couple dozen cormorants were either basking or heraldically airing their water-logged wings in preparation for their next dive into the rising water beneath us, between the marsh-grasses and the shell middens.



We’d taken some Saltines meant for the soup and enjoyed the rush of wings while the crumbs lasted.



On an inaccessible marshy island, a group of brown pelicans groomed themselves, some taking off to fish, others gliding in to rest. Pelicans are just plain COOL! When they fly in a string of 5 or so, the leader drops ever lower to ride the thin river of air just above the waves, wings still, exerting no effort at all. Then he’ll flex his broad wings, maybe once, and in less than a second, his immediate follower will do the same and then the one behind, the same, and so on. This is COOL: their control, their poise, but I finally figured out why they enchant me, beyond the gulls, ducks, Canada geese whom I also love to watch in flight.



It is because, while their great long beaks may lead their flight, their heads, their brains, seem recumbent, just above and ahead of their winged shoulders, like bikers riding into Sturgess on their Harleys. They survey the water beneath them, sighting along their marvelous beaks, in such a relaxed position. They may then flap to gain altitude for a precision dive, but it’s all done with aplomb.


She-crab soup, sunlight, and brown pelicans: just doesn’t get much better than that!



The Shining Moment

February 2, 2016

Friday, January 22, Saturday, January 23

Oh, the weathercasters were in their element: ecstatic with the interest, the attention, their subject had suddenly drawn from the public. Their enthusiasm bordered on glee, bless them–Jonas was on the way!

Right after the accounts of what airports were closed, they hastened to tell the important news of which teams had made it to their weekend destinations for whatever big games were scheduled. Manifestations of a Northern-style winter storm here are a big deal. We were glad to get back from grocery shopping, as a few miles north of the Food Lion the roads were said to be icing. We just didn’t want to encounter Southerners slip-slidin’ away.

We came home to a cozy atmosphere in the ePod, cooking a big chicken in the pressure cooker and watching the excited meteorologists’ predictions of bizarre amounts of snow to the North where, just a few weeks back, we’d been camping!

So, despite the below-freezing night, cutting winds shaking the live oaks, and even a few snow-flakes, (too few and fleeting to photograph) we were able to reassure our worried loved ones that we were safe.

Bruce’s extraction sites are slightly achy, but healing well. Léna’s and Sprocket’s joints are feeling the barometric pressure drop, and it’s hard to keep temps steady in the ePod, alternating from full-blast furnace to the cool-down when it rests. A few minutes ago, the sun had a moment and we marveled at actual cast shadows.

It seemed like a good day to catch up on laundry and then return to our dear little nest for a chicken dinner. Now we can video-watch people touring in the Central Park ‘snow-globe’, a panda luxuriating in fresh snow, and generally, feel the enthusiasm of other people surviving winter’s ‘gifts’.


I left my heart in San Francisco and my teeth in Myrtle Beach.

February 1, 2016

Wednesday, January 20

Well, three of them anyway. Monday and Tuesday were sunny, but chilly with bundled up walks on the beach, housekeeping, and errands. Then came extraction Wednesday. Not the most pleasant experience, but I got through it with two less teeth and some pain, but not bad. Three teeth to date and a pending root canal on Monday.


Hot and cold.

January 18, 2016

Wednesday, January 13

Back to the dentist. On the first visit, the pano xray had found three teeth sporting dark areas of abscess. This second consultation resulted in both dentists recommending two extractions and a root canal and schedules were set up. Looks like we’ll be in Myrtle Beach a bit longer!

Saturday, January 16


Our first sitting on the beach-warm day of the trip–and we did. Chairs, drinks, the susurrus of waves, sand, gulls, (thanks to a big bag of pretzels), happy dog, and horses! Later after dinner, too late in the evening, we struggled to wrangle fragments of blogs that were either misplaced during computer problems misfiled by Léna, whose clerical skills are negligible. Bruce began the challenge of matching downloaded photos to what texts we could find.

Sunday, January 17


Cold and rainy this morning. A trickle of RVs have come in for the long weekend, and I can only imagine the din in the games arcade where rain has driven the families with children. It was good throw-away day to make a run to CVS, then pick up a couple necessities at Old Time Pottery, a vast fluorescent warehouse full of summer-time kitsch as well as a few good functional items for those who really search. Almost no pottery here, but if you need a welcome sign with three surf-boards leaning against a fence, you’re covered!

Home to cashew-carrot soup with gourmet liverwurst and crackers: then serious bloggery, TED talks on the radio, and a pleasant feeling of well-being with the heat on.






Brookgreen Gardens

January 18, 2016

Thursday, January 7

We explored a beautiful sculpture park in Murrells Inlet called Brookgreen Gardens.

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Brookgreen Gardens was created by sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband, Archer, the only child of the Huntington of the Transcontinental Railroad fortune. When Anna was diagnosed with tuberculosis as a young bride, they left Manhattan to winter in Myrtle Beach, buying three rice plantations between the Waccamaw River and the Atlantic. They transformed it into their version of paradise, with gardens, fountains, connected by allées of 200-year old live oaks, a sprawling house made in the pierce-work brick and exposed mortar style of Spanish architecture that Archer so loved from his travels. He even built a zoo for Anna, so she could study animals who were her favorite subjects. Now a highway, Rt 17, divides the estate: one side being Brookgreen Gardens, and one side being Huntington Beach State Park (leased to S.C.) which contains the house and the ocean-side beach.


The Huntingtons were avid collectors of representational American sculpture, and the estate is still acquiring with that guideline, from larger-than-life mythical figures, to scores of medals from the Society of Medalists. Sculptures range from Mount Airy granite (above left), bronze, marble, and after WWII, Anna decided that bronzes tended to be dark, largely-ignored pieces in museums, so she had her outdoor pieces cast in aluminum. The two fighting horses at the entrance of Brookgreen are a bit surprising, looking like sand-blasted aluminum with no particular shading or contrast provided by oxidation. They made us think of the Chrysler Building. We, who live in an aluminum cocoon, should love it, but after the rich patinas of the Hellenic Bronzes at the National Gallery, it may have to be an acquired taste.

A side note: When I was a teen, I had the privilege of visiting Anna Hyatt Huntington in her CT studio, where a massive model of General Putnam, astride his horse, descending steps, was shaking his fist at the British. This would later grace Putnam Park, but at that moment, it utterly dwarfed the tiny personage who had created it. Then, in one corner of the studio, I saw an exquisite life-sized marble bust of a young woman, a drinking glass holding a fresh rose in front of it. I asked Anna about it and she said that it was a bust of her at 19, done by her sister, Harriet. I since learned that Harriet had died not long before our visit and the rose was a tribute. I was struck by the genius of her artistry. Anna’s work was beautiful, heroic, and certainly well-funded in its execution, but this little bust was beyond superb! I asked Anna about Harriet and she said that she’d married and had several children and hadn’t pursued her art as a career. Technically, neither had Anna, who ceased accepting commercial commissions after her marriage to Archer, but endowed by his fabulous fortune, she went on to create over 500 works in her lifetime.

At Brookgreen, we passed through a roofed outdoor gallery and I spied a small sculpture of a boy seated on the ground, feeding a chicken.(above right) It possessed such vitality, spontaneity and genius, that I just KNEW. Yes, it was by Harriet Hyatt Mayor, Anna’s sister. It made me feel so sad, and made all of the perfect, beautiful, idealized sculptures around me appear so bland. In the catalogue, there is a bronze and a marble bust of Anna, by Harriet. I want to go back and see if it is the one I remember.

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Was Brookgreen a healthy winter refuge for Anna? Yes. She lived into her nineties.


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