Posted in The Adventure Series

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.


Posted in The Adventure Series

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.

Posted in The Adventure Series

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.)

Posted in The Adventure Series, Uncategorized

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…

Posted in The Adventure Series

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


Posted in The Adventure Series

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.



Posted in The Adventure Series, Uncategorized

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.)