Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Charleston ghost story

"All Southern tales are like intricate recipes -- part myth, part truth, and part lies."-Michael Lee West

This is a Lettered Olive (Oliva Sayana), a symbol and the official shell of the state of South Carolina. Prolific along the South Carolina coast, it was found and named in 1834 by Dr. Edmund Ravenel, who was an early pioneer in conchology. The "lettered" part of the name stems from the appearance of fine markings, resembling hieroglyphics, on the shell's surface.
Ravenel is a prominent family name in Charleston, and the doctor had a house and small practice out on Sullivan's Island, a tiny barrier island at the mouth of Charleston Harbor.

Legend has it that Dr. Ravenel's young daughter, Anna, met a U.S. army soldier named Edgar Perry, who was stationed out at Ft. Moultrie on the island, and the two fell in love.
Perry, who was born in Boston, had enlisted under a false name due to his young age, a common practice amongst young men throughout history.
While Perry progressed rapidly through the ranks, advancing from private to sergeant major, his position as a soldier -- and a Yankee -- deemed him an entirely unacceptable as a suitor for Anna. Dr. Ravenel forbid his daughter to see Perry, but she ignored her father's orders and continued to spend time with the Perry.
The discovery of the couple's ongoing relationship incensed Dr. Ravenel, who reacted by secreting Anna away, some say locking her in her room for an extended period.

Perry, who had achieved the highest rank possible for a non-commissioned officer, sought an early end to his enlistment, and in doing so, confessed his real name to his commanding officer. His true name was Edgar Allen Poe.
Poe was discharged from service, and returned to his family up North, while the forlorn Anna, still sequestered, weakened, contracted yellow fever and died. When Poe heard the tragic news about Anna, he immediately travelled back down to Charleston, hoping to pay respects to the girl he had loved, but a bitter Dr. Ravenel refused him the opportunity, vowing that there would never be a grave for Poe to visit.

The Ravenels have a family plot in the cemetery of the Charleston Unitarian Church, and were said to have buried Anna there in an unmarked grave as a final familial rebuke of Poe. Although they always denied this act, they never would reveal where Anna was buried, and to this day she is renown as one of the famous ghosts of Charleston, who occasionally haunts the churchyard.

Poe would go on to become much more famous than any Ravenel, and in 1843 published a short story called, "The Gold Bug," a tale involving code deciphering and buried treasure, set on Sullivan's Island. One of his final pieces of writing, before his death at the age of 40, was the sad poem about -- possibly -- Anna Ravenel, titled, "Annabel Lee."

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love -
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulcher
In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me
Yes! that was the reason
(as all men know, In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we
Of many far wiser than we
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
In the sepulcher there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Road trip

Right before we left on our road trip to Charleston, we made the mistake of watching, "Deliverance." Wow. I'd never seen the film before, and it was pretty disturbing. Needless to say, my enthusiasm about stopping off at little roadside places along our route was slightly dampened.
We drove through some of Florida's horse country, which consists of lots of land, and tiny towns that generate a lot of revenue through speed traps. Along the way, we spotted some firsts, like these purple peppers...

...and a school bus with monster tires...

The following place was not a "first," but rather a scary sight that we've all seen somewhere else before: a little motel with an owner who happens to be interested in taxidermy.

Shower anyone?

"Visit our FREE museum!" Um, no thanks.

Then, as if that weren't frightening enough...we came upon this little church. The Deliverance Tabernacle.

A little free p.r. advice: change your name!!

I was happy when we started seeing signs of the changing landscape, getting into the low country.

And very pleased to see the civilized entrance to the state of South Carolina. There are stiff penalties for littering here, so the roadsides are pristine.

I really started to relax when I spotted Big Mama, as we were entering Charleston.

Whew, we made it!

Ahh, winding down with a cold drink and a game of chess in our bastion of overpriced civilization; I'll take it!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Cappuccino & water

I like how cops who are part of K-9 units always refer to their dogs as their "partner," because it shows the respect within their relationship.
Lucky is often my partner on outings -- he loves riding shotgun. Look at that smile.

Catching the breeze. Lots of good stuff to sniff.

We recently enjoyed a visit to our favorite cafe, for cappuccino and water. Lucky likes this place b/c he's always welcome, and sometimes he gets a plate of ham! Sarasota is a pretty dog-friendly town.

The boys and I met up with our friend, Ms. Barbara, or, as I like to call her, "Ms. Bahbwa." She is my son's former speech therapist, and, I guess ever since he graduated, we have developed this twisted sense of humor wherein we think it's funny to mispronounce words. I know it's terrible, but we do things like tell Cooper that we're going to "cwy" if he doesn't give us a kiss.
Here she is arriving, with her Obama hat in hand. She's fired up.

I think we all appreciate days like this!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday Friday

"Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you're my only hope."

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

J'adore Tim Gunn

I just finished reading Tim Gunn's wonderful book, A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style, which I really enjoyed.
I'm not a big watcher of "Project Runway," but do think the charming and dashing Mr. Gunn is the highlight of that show. His book is an interesting & fun read, with gems of advice that had me chuckling throughout.

One of the features he includes in his book is a list of "films of style." Gunn recommends the following films not "solely for their wardrobes -- even though many of them are exemplary." A great list, very much appreciated, and definitely worth sharing:

Doctor Zhivago
The Women
Auntie Mame
Dark Victory
The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
The Palm Beach Story
The Fountainhead
Funny Face
Dinner at Eight
The Philadelphia Story
All About Eve
Austin Powers
Valley of the Dolls
The Devil Wears Prada
The Draughtsman's Contract
The Go-Between
Prospero's Books
Grey Gardens
Mildren Pierce
Last Year at Marienbad
Masculin Feminin
Funny Girl
Desk Set
A Place in the Sun

Some of these, like "Auntie Mame" are all-time favorites of mine, and others -- I've never even heard of, so I'm thrilled. I hope you find something you like on this list, too.