ramblings and writings of a southern hobbit

Archive for June, 2009


I will never forget my first energy drink.

It was last summer, actually; a girl I worked with invited me and another girl from work over to her house to watch Gone With The Wind. For three walking tour guides what could be more fun than spending the evening watching an old movie replete with plantations and hoop skirts? Before watching the movie we had some energy drinks. Then we had supper, made some cookies, played a game and talked…and talked and talked. By the time we actually put on the movie, it was 3:00 AM.

The movie wasn’t over until 6:00 AM.

I had to be at work at 10:00 that morning. By the time I actually made it work, adrenaline kicked in: I proceeded to give one of the best tours I have ever given and be generally happy and perky until I got off work.

When I got home, it finally hit me that I had had no sleep the night before. Ashley was in our room drawing and had her art supplies all over the bed, so I attempted to take a nap on the couch in the living room. That didn’t go so well.

A family living room. A girl is draped across the couch, as if dead.

RANDOM SIBLING: Hey! Did you have a good day at work? Guess what! Guess what! Guess what! I saw a squirrel today! Did *you* see a squirrel?

ME: I’m tired!!! I need to sleep!!! Ahh!!!!

This proceeded until my mom insisted that I go lay down in her room.

At the end of the fall semester this past year, I had my second energy drink. As part of Phase One of an Evil Plan to Destroy Campus and Thereby Take Over the World, I was given an energy drink, a box of Starbucks espresso truffles and silly string as an Artist Series gift. I had the energy drink for breakfast on the last day of exams. I did not silly string my English professor in the face, but I don’t think I’ve every been so excited about a 7:40 exam before. I made the mistake of telling my mom who told my cousin Tara who then proceeded to drink two energy drinks in a row in order to be more hyper than me on our ride back home. Perhaps hobbits never learn.


The Donner Photograph Collection

I stumbled across this website today and thought it was so interesting that I just had to share it. It’s a collection of over 500 photographs of Beaufort County taken at the turn of the 20th century. Enjoy!

The Castle

61 The Castle (Joseph Johnson House) @ Beaufort, SC

This home was built by Joseph Johnson back in 1859. It is almost an exact replica of a house in England that was destroyed during the air raids of World War II. Due to the style of the house it has earned the nickname of “The Castle.” It’s one of my favorite houses I take people by on tour, so I thought I would share a picture of it with you.

How to tell a tall tale

Telling a good tall tale is an art, an art my grandfather Pop has perfected. Pop has gotten so good at telling tall tales that every story he tells becomes one–a sign of a true tall tale artist. It takes practice, but you too can learn to tell a good tall tale. Just follow these basic guidelines. I will use the story of how Pop met my grandmother Nonnie as an example.

1) Start with the original story. Usually true stories from your own life work best.

Nonnie and Pop went to different high schools when they were younger, but their mothers knew each other. One fateful day, the washing machine broke down at Nonnie’s house. So her mother–known to us as Toddie–decided to call up Pop’s mother–known to us as Grandmomma Hanna. Grandmomma Hanna offered to send over one of her sons to fix the washing machine. She just happened to send over Pop. Apparently he and Nonnie got along fairly well: not too long after that he invited her to his prom. The rest is history.

2) Now that you’ve decided on your story, embellish a bit. Careful! At this stage you still want the basic details of the story to be recognizable.

The version my grandfather told my mother and her sisters growing up is very similar to what actually happened, but there are a few important elaborations. According to Pop, Nonnie deliberately broke the washing machine knowing that he would come over to fix it if she did. As he fixed the washing machine, she stood by his side repeatedly dropping a handkerchief. It was all part of an evil plot to get him to ask her to the prom.

3) Continue to elaborate and add new details every time you tell the story. By the end, not even those who were present should be able to recognize the story.

By the time the grandkids came along, Pop had matured and perfected the tale of how he met Nonnie. By this point the washing machine was forgotten entirely, as was the prom. He was only two years old when he met Nonnie, and he actually met her on their wedding day. Nonnie was supposed to be marrying someone else and Pop was the ring bearer for the wedding. However, the senile old preacher got confused and married Nonnie to Pop instead. Since Pop was so cute, Nonnie didn’t say anything. And Pop, being only two years old at the time, was entirely too young and innocent to understand what was happening.

If you follow these basic guidelines you will be well on your way to telling a good tall tale!

Portrait of a Small Town Gift Shop

The Spirit of Old Beaufort

Last summer I started working for a small, local walking tour company and gift shop run by a friend of my family’s. Her late husband started the business, the Spirit of Old Beaufort, around fifteen years ago; he was originally from the state of New Jersey, where he had taught English for years, but swore up and down that the fact he was from South Jersey made him a true Southerner. Though I never had the privilege of meeting Peter Stevenson, I have heard many stories about him and sincerely wish I could have.

I work as a tour guide and shop keeper. My duties as shop keeper include answering the phone and answering questions, running the cash register and endless dusting, dusting, dusting. Leading tours is a more exciting: I dress up like a pirate queen in a green colonial dress and a pistol, and I get to do three of my favorite things–walking, talking and singing–at once.

Appropriately enough, the shop is located in a big, white house built sometime in the 1850s. We are located in the basement of the house; upstairs there is an art gallery and right across from us there is a coffee shop and antique store. The coffee shop brews exactly three kinds of coffee: regular, decaf and the Yankee Hair Raiser–my personal favorite. They make specialty coffees as well, but I never get them. The whole shop is piled up with old things, as is the hallway.

Our shop is very small–about the size of a dorm room at school–and is one of the quirkiest little shops you will ever step into. Ms Evelene, the shop owner, sells antiques for her mother, so our half of the hallway is laden with its fair share of ancient treasures. Inside the shop itself you can find everything from books on local and Civil War history to pirate flags to sweetgrass baskets to South Carolina teddy bears. The walls are hung with water color paintings of local landmarks by local artists and the windows are full of little knicknacks and oddments. The shop smells like my great-grandmother’s house.

There is a cd player with five rotating cds. We switch out cds occasionally, but usually not before all of Ms Evelene’s workers never want to hear those five particular cds again. We have cds of bluegrass bands playing Civil War era songs, a few cds of a local singing group called the Hallelujah Singers, a guitar cd recorded by Ms Evelene’s brother-in-law and currently we have not one, but two Glenn Miller cds. The Glenn Miller cds are my favorite.

If you peer past the window displays and the Marina Ship Store across the way, you can see the river from the shop. The weather is almost always warm here–unbearably warm at times in the summer–but there is always a breeze off the river. There are usually flowers too. The day we took down the Christmas decorations was a funny day: the sun was shining, flowers were blooming in the front yard and the birds were singing sleepily. The Spirit of Old Beaufort is a sleepy spirit.