The Screen Door

By Shannon Boatwright 

The South. The South in the Summer.

Heavens to Betsy, the SOUTH IN THE SUMMER…!

Imagine those words literally melting off the screen here. Imagine a summer drenched in such raw heat and humidity that when you step foot outside, you literally feel like some dark witch has enveloped you in some evil spell meant to drain every ounce of water from your body, thus melting you to the core.

Welcome to the South in the summertime!

My Uncle Wayne always said, “South Carolina is the screen door to hell!”

If you’re from SC or have spent any decent amount of time in SC during the hottest days of the summer months, then you would totally relate to this statement and laugh as you shake your head in agreement.

I should be used to this heat. I grew up here in SC. I have survived many a summer here at the devil’s front door. But, I tell ya, every year I am astounded at the intense heat. Every year I find myself saying, this heat is just flat out ridiculous! How much longer until Fall?

It’s funny how us South Carolinians seem to easily forget how intensely hot the summers can get. We make it through the coldest months of winter, which mind you, are nothing compared with the cold that the northern states endure, and all we can think about is summertime. Days on the lake, days on the beach, or by the pool, the lovely warmth that envelopes your body like a picturesque postcard from the South of France. It’s something we crave during the cruelty of winter. Yet, if you live in the deep South, it’s something that once it’s here… you say to yourself, what the heck was I thinking?!

lakeI have the glorious privilege of living on Lake Murray in SC. Unless you live on one of the many beautiful beaches of SC, I have to say that days on the lake in SC are always better than days anywhere else in the deep South without water nearby. If you’re close to the lake and blessed to have the benefit of the magical weather that happens when you’re that close to a large body of water, then you know that there is this lovely misconception that it’s always cooler on the lake. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t say misconception, but it seems that just when you think it should be cooler on the lake, you’re still really right there at that screen door, like a dog panting, drooling, very impatiently waiting for the next cool breeze that might soothe your misery for one second.

The Southern heat does not discriminate. A majority of the summertime, it’s just flat out HOT, and our kind of humid heat can zap you good, stealing all of your energy, draining you to a worn out crisp. I can’t help but think of all those who have jobs that require them to work outside. I hate it for them. These are people are incredible human beings that obviously have to condition their bodies to survive this type of heat. My poor husband endures this heat daily with his job. As a UPS driver he has conditioned himself to survive working right at the screen door. And yes, those trucks have NO air conditioning. Daily he has to carry a cooler full of waters and use a hand towel to wipe all the sweat not caught by the layers of his uniform. He comes home from a 10 to 14 hour day and is literally soaked through with sweat.

Think of the soldiers that come to SC to train in this heat every day at Fort Jackson, and in full uniform at the weekly graduations from boot camp, in which thousands of family members come to town to experience the southern hot spot that is Columbia, SC. Not only do these soldiers accomplish conquering basic training, they also accomplish literally surviving training at the screen door to hell!

Bravo to all those that are able to successfully survive the South in the summertime!

heat mapThe word “oppressive” has been used so many times by our local weather men and women, that my family and I stopped counting. The words “oppressive heat” are used VERY often around these parts. And of course, SC is not the hottest place in the U.S., but as you can see by this map, we’re still in an area with a very high percentage of oppressive heat.

So as you live out the rest of our summer days, while you’re standing at the screen door, by all means do it with an ice cold drink in one hand, a fan in the other and a really good air conditioner ready to rescue you.

Run, Walk, Honor our Heroes! Lexington Medical Center Sponsors Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers South Carolina 5K Run & Walk

6.12The seventh annual Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers South Carolina 5K Run & Walk is set for Friday, September 20, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. in Columbia’s Vista. Along a picturesque course spanning the Gervais Street and Blossom Street bridges at sunset, the race celebrates and appreciates first responders and military service members who serve, save and sacrifice on our behalf every day. Lexington Medical Center is proud to be the presenting sponsor.

 The race is named in honor of Stephen Siller, a New York City firefighter and father of five who died on September 11, 2001. That day, Siller was off duty and on his way to play golf. When he heard what was happening at the World Trade Center, he strapped on 60 pounds of gear and ran from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the World Trade Center. He gave his life to save others. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation is committed to ensuring that Americans never forget 9/11 and that our children understand the sacrifices made by many on that day.

7.17The route for the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers South Carolina 5K Run & Walk begins near the First Responders Historic Remembrance Memorial next to the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center on Lincoln Street. Participants will travel down Gervais Street, across the Gervais Street Bridge into Cayce, up the Blossom Street Bridge and back to Columbia’s Vista in the early evening.

The goal of Tunnel to Towers is to support first responders and military service members who have been catastrophically injured in the line of duty. Proceeds from the 5K will benefit the building of smart homes for quadruple and triple amputee veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s “Building for America’s Bravest” program.

Register for South Carolina’s Tunnel to Towers 5K Walk and Run at www.t2trunsc.org. The entry fee is $30 until August 20, with discounts for first responders, students and military members. Importantly, businesses and organizations are encouraged to build a team of participants.

7.24In previous years, participants included more than 800 Fort Jackson soldiers running in formation, South Carolina first responders, law enforcement officers, military service members from all branches of the Armed Forces, avid runners, families and teams from businesses and organizations. More than 2,000 people participated. Many more are expected this year.

There will be an opening ceremony at 6:30 p.m. and an after party with an awards ceremony, live music, food and beverages, vendor booths, and a raffle and silent auction.

For more information about the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers South Carolina 5K Run & Walk, visit www.t2trunsc.org.

 Follow news and information about September’s Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers South Carolina 5K Run & Walk on social media:

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For more, visit www.t2trunsc.org

Summer Fun

By Lisa Baker

Hope you are all having a great summer.  We have had quite a few activities already. At this point we have Dad on hospice care.  He continues to be aggressive at times, however, changing his medication has helped some. My last visit with him I stayed exactly 12 minutes.  He was busy trying to take the closet doors down in his room.  Of course, without any tools he wasn’t going to get that project done, but he had no time for me at all. I tried to get him to sit down and visit with me.  He sat for one minute and was back up working on the closet doors, so I left. He has lost weight and is now wearing pull ups most of the time.  Hospice helps out by providing the pull ups and his medications among other things.

pic 1_fallen limbDuring a bad storm a week or so ago, we lost electricity.  We live close to Dreher Island State Park. By that evening my husband decided we would go to a motel for the night. I’m not sure exactly when our electricity came back on, but when we got home Sunday morning it was on. It’s amazing we didn’t have a tremendous amount of limbs down in the yard.

That afternoon, I went out to take some pictures. Our yard has several areas that are rocky and uneven.  I somehow managed to fall right on the rocks. Yes, I had shorts on, so I really hurt my knees, especially the left one.  They are all scraped and scabbed over. I also sprained my right wrist and managed to hit the side of my head, breaking my glasses.pic 2_sprained wrist

I hurt so bad that I told my husband to take me to urgent care. Thank God nothing was broken. I have never hurt so bad in my life. The doctor gave me a work excuse for the whole week and I hurt enough that I followed doctor’s orders. I’m still sore even this week, but not as bad as last week. I’m slowly healing.

pic 3_Lisa and husbandOur summer has been not so much fun but full of adventure for sure. Through it all, my amazing husband continues to be my rock.  He always supports me in everything I do. 

Make memories and have a safe summer!

Lisa 

Summer Road Trip Series Part III: “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”

By Marianna Boyce 

After driving almost seventeen hours, we made our first stop on Route 66 in Amarillo at a humongous Texas-sized wheat field. We parked alongside the road running parallel to I-40 with other weary travelers. We all had the same plan…I just hoped they brought their own spray paint.

pic 2Wind was gusting to about 30 mph, so before getting out of the car at Cadillac Ranch, I put my hair in a messy bun. I was wearing the same blue and white Ralph Lauren dress and cute little white sandals from the day before. My husband Gerry, and son Cody, were also sporting the same clothes from the previous day, but no one cared. We were all having a blast.

I released the trunk to retrieve the lime green spray paint packed before leaving South Carolina. There were some old cars we wanted to leave our mark on before heading further west.

pic 1Cadillac Ranch is a roadside attraction showing the evolution of tail fins on ten, older model Cadillacs. They are artistically displayed about 200 yards off the road, all upright, in a row, with their noses half-buried in the ground. For those that haven’t heard of this quirky little dot on the map, we were not “Breakin’ the Law.” Graffiti is actually encouraged here.

Leaving our mark on this popular landmark proved difficult on such a breezy day, but it was exactly what we needed to break the monotony of driving. After exhibiting our artistic interpretations on several cars, we shared our can of paint with travelers who didn’t come prepared. This attraction is free of charge and open 24/7/365.

Since we skipped lunch, we stopped for an early supper at the Big Texan Steakhouse a few miles down the road. At this bright yellow restaurant with a gigantic, long-horned, bull statue in the parking lot, you can order a seventy-two ounce steak cooked to perfection, free of charge. That’s four and a half pounds, y’all. Oh wait! There is a stipulation. No sharing is allowed, and it must be eaten within one hour. This includes their salad, baked potato, shrimp cocktail, and roll; otherwise, your meal isn’t free. It will cost $72. I wisely chose their six ounce filet, and after our delicious meal, we “Hit the Road Jack.” It was my husband’s turn to take the wheel…

*****

We left the tall green trees behind. They were morphing into smaller bushes. The vast landscape was dramatically changing with nothing obstructing that enormous blue sky. Texas gives an interesting 360 degree perspective. In certain areas, if you concentrate on the horizon, you can see the curvature of the earth. “I Can See For Miles and Miles…” It’s simply amazing!

In this beautiful, strange land, the billowing white clouds not only seem to dip below the horizon, they also stretch far into the heavens. There are no limits to the imagery that unveils like an artistic masterpiece. I love the enormity of Texas with all of God’s glory brilliantly on display, but we kept pushing forward.

*****

pic 3We crossed into New Mexico and made it to our next destination about an hour before sunset. The timing was perfect. Cody wanted to see the Blue Hole of Santa Rosa. This mystical Blue Hole is a natural geological formation created by a network of underground lakes in the middle of nowhere. With a constant inflow of 3,000 gallons of water per minute, it’s an incredible sight to see.

pic 4The surface diameter measures eighty feet, but increases to 130 feet at the bottom, making it a bell-shaped gem. There’s a rock ledge just underneath the water, but it dramatically drops off eighty feet into a mesmerizing, brilliant, blue void.pic 5

There is no lifeguard on duty, but if you’re adventurous, feel free to take a surface dive in the crystal-clear water. Even in their hot summers, this beautiful artesian well is a constant sixty-one degrees.

pic 6Cody was able to take two quick dives. The shock of the cold water instinctively pushed him up in milliseconds. My husband and I weren’t quite as bold. I only dipped my big toe and Gerry chose to merely observe. He’s not keen on anything cold, except for his chocolate cherry ice cream, and southern sweet iced tea. A visit to this interesting oasis is also free of charge and open 24/7/365.

pic 7As we watched the beautiful New Mexico sun setting behind the mountains in the distance, we drove a few miles down the road and found a room for the night. We were all exhausted, so we looked forward to a good night’s sleep before the adventures we’d lined up the following day. We all showered, crashed, and burned. Our plan was to rise early the next morning to see something grand. If we timed this one right, we’d be there a little before sunset as well…

We had an amazing twenty-four hours driving from South Carolina to New Mexico—and all still on speaking terms. Miracle? Not really…just “Love the One You’re With,” and don’t sweat the small stuff. Hopefully, you picked out the song references easily. We sang them all.

Arizona, here we come…pic 8

Summer of 2019: Trial Run of an Empty Nest

By Janet Prince

pic 1This summer, Gary and I have had the opportunity to have a trial run for when we have an empty nest. Our youngest has attended two trips leaving us home alone for the first time in almost 22 years! We have always joked that when the nest was empty, we would start dating again, and we did!

We went out to dinner alone one of the nights. Having time to have dinner alone in a restaurant with out the girls and their friends was a rarity. But of course, what did we talk about? The girls! Our life has always revolved around them and it seemed that not having them with us put us a little off balance. In our little family we have always moved as a unit. We go most places together and even when we are home, the girls have always spent time with us on the porch talking and watching TV. On another date, we made it a double with Ashlan and her husband Joe. It was a lot of fun getting to hear everything going on with them and it let me get my “mama fix”!View of beach at Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina, USA

Summer has always been a great time to travel and to relax. The beach and the mountains are always our go-to places. We have our favorite places to go eat and our favorite things to do in both mountainsplaces. We always do the same things, but they are things that make us happy and things that the girls always looked forward to. I guess we can be called creatures of habit. Every place holds a special place in our memories.

Summer also means some separate traveling for Gary and me. The last weekend in June each year is when I travel with many others from our state to the GFWC Annual Convention. This year we were in Austin, Texas. We had lots of laughter and catching up with members from across our great country. Although it can be tiring it allows me to come home rejuvenated. Spending time with my girlfriends on these grand adventures is something I look forward to each year. Gary also gets to travel, but his is for work.

Our trial run of an empty nest has been good for us. We have had time to talk about whatever we wanted, and we learned that yes, we will be alright when the nest is really emptied. But for now, we are glad our nest is still full!

Until next time,

Janet

Summer Road Trip Series Part II: “God Bless Texas”

By Marianna Boyce

According to Google, Dallas is the third largest city in Texas, and ninth largest in our nation. In my opinion, it’s the most daunting to navigate. I was a passenger for a previous road trip in 2015 with our daughter and her family and quite honestly, I was awelcome to texas sign nervous wreck. It was nearly impossible to enjoy the mesmerizing sparkling midnight skyline with their intense traffic, but I somehow managed. My heart races just thinking about it.

With this bit of information in mind for our 2016 trek across the USA, I called driving dibs for this enormous metropolis once we reached the city limit sign. I actually insisted. In a meager attempt to persuade my husband Gerry easily, I forfeited the remainder of our driving marathon for him and our son Cody to split between themselves. Surprisingly, they both humored me and agreed to my crazy little deal. Otherwise, my backseat driving alter-ego may have reared her ugly head—and no one wanted that girl on our trip. I could’ve sworn they secretly adored her, but Gerry and Cody both swore they didn’t like her at all, hence my decision to leave her at home. Y’all would be so proud…

After driving all night from Lexington, South Carolina, we closed in on Dallas around lunchtime the following day. This year, we’d see the mega city during daylight hours. As we approached the outskirts, Cody’s driving shift came to a close.

It was lunchtime, but none of us were hungry. We grabbed a pack of cheese crackers and cold Pepsi-Cola from the ice chest and carried on our traditional American, wind-in-the-hair road trip. Finally, it was my turn to drive.

Nervous excitement consumed me, but I’m happy to report, I drove like a pro. The midday traffic was more tolerable than the midnight mayhem the previous year. The intimidating multiple lane roadways were still packed full of cars. I navigated their intricate highway system that in my opinion, resembled a big roller-coaster ride. I loved every exhilarating moment.long straight highway

Exercising such formidable driving ability, Gerry and Cody suggested I continue our quest without stopping for a driver switch. As we exited the Dallas-Fort Worth area, that famously long and straight Texas speed limit 80highway magically appeared out of nowhere. It was right up my alley. This is an area you’d definitely want a full tank of gasoline. There was nothing intimidating here. The speed limit was eighty, so eighty(ish) was what I did.

There are reminders up and down the highway system warning drivers that the left lane is for passing only. After passing, you must safely move back into the right lane. What a novel idea. I wish South Carolina had the same law. Oh, wait! We do! We are merely lacking in the reminder sign department. Where can we start a petition to get those for the Palmetto State? “God bless Texas.”

***

The scenery in this great state is very special. It’s exactly what you’d expect, but in a peculiar way, nothing you’d expect at all. Trains stretch as far as the eye can see. On one side of the road are oil wells. Grandiose wind turbines occupy the other. Chances are, they all belong to the same roughneck or rancher, but who knows? They contradict and complement each other simultaneously. It’s the old and the new, the big and the small. Oh, never mind! There’s nothing small here. The old saying “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” is true. I’ll bet that landmark steeple will never be mounted on a church rooftop.

***

Our course transitioned further north to I-40 via US-287. We were gravitating toward a national historic highway. Maybe you’ve heard of it…

I drove until we reached Amarillo. This is where our road trip took on a life of its own. So route 66far, we’d been driving fast and furious, but join me for my next post where the fun truly begins. What good is trekking across the United States of America unless you experience a little bit of classic Route 66.

One Year Later: The Grief Continues

By Tina Michelle Cameron 

Today marks the one-year anniversary of making the difficult decision to send my sweet Haley Michelle-my beloved Yorkie over the Rainbow Bridge. My first blog was about her because it was so fresh and raw; today, one year later, it is still so painful. Pet grief is real. People that are not dog lovers do not understand. Haley was in my life for almost ten years. She brought such joy to my life and to my sons lives (even though they thought she was a girl’s dog and thought I was crazy to dress her up in dresses). They grew to love her and even talked sweet baby talk to her. She was always so happy to see them when they came home and couldn’t wait to greet them at the door when they returned home from college for the weekend.

Call me crazy, but Haley was “my daughter I never had”. I often joked I didn’t have to send her to college, I could take her places with me, dress her up in dresses, pajamas and Haley 2hair-bows (she hated the hair-bows and could shake them out in about 10 seconds). She loved cheese and knew where it was located. Like clockwork every morning, she would go potty and then return and sit in front of the fridge until she got a small bite of a cheese stick. When she was a puppy, every night, she would carry her baby (stuffed animal) up to bed. She would go tell the boys goodnight and sit outside their door until they told her goodnight.

Haley was sick from 8 months on with several major illnesses and each time she would get sick, I thought it was going to be time to say goodbye. She went into liver failure at age 2 and I was told she would not live to be four. So, I decided she would eat whatever her little heart desired. Besides cheese, she loved Cheetos and chicken. In a million years, I never thought at almost 10 years old, her liver enzymes would be normal, and she would be diagnosed with a rare pancreatic cancer. This cancer would ravage her tiny body. First, with weight loss (despite having a great appetite), then with low blood sugars, seizures, no appetite for food or water followed by bleeding. Twelve days after diagnosis, I made the difficult decision to end her suffering. I wrapped her inHaley 1 one of her blankets, held her and told her how much I loved her through the tears. Before I could get the words “I’m not ready yet” out of my mouth, the second medicine was given by the vet and it was over. The sweet vet tech took a picture of me holding her just before that and Haley perked up for a second, looked at the camera (she hated having pictures taken) and appeared to be smiling and at peace. I know I did the humane thing by ending her suffering, but my heart still hurts. I still cry when I think about her. My sweet daddy came over that afternoon and we buried her in my backyard. I allowed my other pets to see her and say goodbye. I made her burial site a little flower garden which makes me smile when I look at it.

Peyton grieving for Haley

Peyton grieving the loss of Haley

The loss of a pet is real and painful-not just for the owners, but also for the other pets in the family. Peyton, my other Yorkie is still not herself. She stares out the window for most of the day, doesn’t play like she used to, and will cry on my lap for no apparent reason. I know with time, my grief will get easier, but for now it is still painful. Writing about her today on the first anniversary has helped me get through the day.