Patio Invasion

So this is somewhat a “Part II” to yesterday’s “Patio Occupado.” I thought I’d give you all an update on the status of my 3rd floor aviary.  This morning, I was in my office reading emails and drinking my morning java when I heard a familiar chirp.  I looked out of the window and there was my fine feathered friend – again, stretching out his/her neck and perusing my patio for signs of life (aka me).

I opened the window and he/she took off.  Oh well, guess I blew that intimate moment.

Later when I came back from the store, there were 3 baby birds and their mama – aka my new feathered friend perched on the railing between the third and second floors.  I walked right past them and said “hello,” and no one moved.  That’s cool, I thought.

I went back to work in my little office this time with the window open and the blinds pulled up with a clear view of my patio.  I saw my friend again.  Without even thinking about it, I went into the living room, opened the patio door and went outside closing the door behind me and the bird just stared at me, not budging.  “Hello again.”  He/she took off.

Around 4pm I looked up from my computer and heard several birds chirping only to find six babies (almost as big as the parents) sitting on my patio railing lined up and waiting to be fed by their parents one-by-one.  Each time the parents would be close-by they would all chirp with excitement, but of course, only one could be fed at a time.  I must say both parents were working overtime.  While watching the parents fly I realized that this may be the birds I’ve been calling starlings, although unbelievably in this day and age, I can’t find a good picture online of what I’m seeing in person.  The tail shape and the precision, stealthy flying skills are unmistakable though.

Now these shots quite literally suck as far as photography goes, but I had to take the pics through the screen in my office, which quite frankly could use a good scrubbing.   Now at 5:45, they have all just flown away.  It’s about the time when you go out and sit and watch all the birds around, flying around, gathering up their families and going home probably to the  trees across the  street – especially since the management here sprayed down all the nests in the breezeway with some awful but necessary bleach concoction.  If it wasn’t done occasionally, the breezeway would be full of the usual birds flying at your head as you leave and enter your apartment, protecting their nests and the tons of over-sized hornets and other various bugs (like Palmetto bugs bigger than my hand); there are far more of them than there are of us.

And now the pics:

birds II 1

Someone is getting fed while the rest patiently wait for their turn.

birds II 3

While five sit atop the railing, one fell to the bottom rung after being fed a little too forcefully.  Good save.

Birdy ii 4

And here are what I can only assume are the proud parents circling around the fly-in/drive-in as they get ready to drop off some fast food.

It’s been a wonderful experience getting to know my new friends.  If their parents are in need of building a new nest for them, they’ve got their work cut out because just feeding these six little ones seems to be a job in an of itself.

I’ll be out there myself shortly with a buck of water to swab the decks. My new friends are cute, but a little too messy for my taste, if you know what I mean.   And I think that they totally got my displeasure at them resting on my chair cushions.  Once I told them the chairs were off limits, they haven’t been on them since.

 

Antique Store Oxymoron

I think this is the first antique shop that I’ve ever seen that was an actual antique itself.   Well, maybe that’s not completely true because I’ve been in some old antique shops, but somehow when they’re open for business and still full of … antiques, they don’t seem quite as old as this antique.  I have a reverence for days gone by and a complete fascination with things that were, especially nowadays with so much construction going on.  It seems that what was yesterday could be something completely different tomorrow.  I guess that’s why whenever I see a quaint old antique building I just have to shoot it.  Still, there are three signs on this building that indicate that they’re still in business.  As one of the signs puts it, “by chance or by appointment.”  I love that.  It’s such a laid back southern way of saying, “call me, and if I’m not out on the lake or busy barbecuing, maybe we can do business.”

Church Street Antiques 1Church Street Antiques 2

My Little Town

Despite the record heat we’re experiencing here in the South, there are parts of my little town that appear to be frozen in time.

I grew up a “northerner,” but this little time-capsule of a southern town has not only a sweet sadness to it, but it oddly ties back to my childhood when I lived in Long Island and then New Jersey.  My dad worked in the textile industry all of his adult life.  For a long time when we lived in Long Island, my dad would travel back and forth to the office in New Jersey- a grueling two-hour, one-way trip, until we finally moved to New Jersey when I was in the 9th grade.  After my mom passed away, dad traveled more for work – mostly to well … here, the South.  

He would often tell me about Fort Mill and Rock Hill, towns right near where I live now, but I don’t remember him mentioning my little town.  Still I do seem to recall him mentioning a company called Southern Industries.  There’s a huge abandoned building in my town called Southern Industries.  From some short research, I found out that this was a yarn factory.  I do remember when I was younger that he would bring home samples of strings of yarn that I would either use as decorative ties for my ponytail (hey it was the 70s) or if I had a handful, I’d braid them and then sew them into little mini rugs for my mother.  I was crafty, even as a kid.  I called them rugs, she used them as trivets or coasters, not that I made that many.  I’m sure she was grateful for that.

southern-industries-of-clover-2

I’m reasonably sure that this was one of my father’s stops on his trips to the South.  Even though I live in South Carolina, where a lot of mills used to employ thousands of people, I’m also a few hops and skips from the Charlotte, North Carolina border.  Charlotte is also pretty famous for it’s old textile factories, most of which are now turning quickly into breweries.  Hey, that’s not a bad idea, Clover.

You look at this building and you could easily be sad for a time gone by, but I can’t help but smile.  It’s kind of like seeing into my dad’s world, the part I never really knew much about.  When I was there yesterday, there was a man on a tractor mowing the lawn, and as is obvious from the bushes on the right-hand side of the photo, someone is trimming the bushes. But the building itself is riddled with broken windows and it looks, well … abandoned.

I must have a thing for old buildings, even the abandoned ones – they have character, they hold history, they’ve got stories to tell.  I couldn’t get as close to Southern Industries as I got to the snuff factory in New Jersey, or as close as one gentleman did to this building – see his pics on Flickr.  He’s got some amazing pictures of the inside.

Right across the street from the yarn factory is another time-lost treasure: the building-sized, hand-painted advertisement.  If you look at the bottom left, it’s even signed by the artist.  It’s really not that old, but I still like it.  I’ve always wanted to a take shot of this wall. Had I done it earlier, perhaps it would have been a little cleaner, but oh well, it adds to the charm I guess.

coca-cola-clover

I just can’t figure out if the Coke came in two sizes or if Clayton’s Shoes only carried two sizes of shoes.

Next time I get to the center of town, I’ll have other timeless treasures to share – like Movie Mania, the local tape rental store – and for those of you younger than 40, by tape I mean a VCR tape.  Back in the day, before we recorded stuff, we taped it.  Obviously Movie Mania has figured out what Blockbuster couldn’t.  The last time I passed there on my  way to a friend’s house, we were “fixin'” to get a big storm and the parking lot to Movie Mania was packed.  I don’t have my VCR anymore, but apparently, the good people of my little town were not swayed by the advancements of modern technology.  Good for them.

I’m all for the modern conveniences of life, but places like this, and like the places I travel to in Upstate New York with my cousin, all have parts that seem to take you back to a much simpler time – a time I remember, and it feels somehow comforting.  If you ever feel like your immediate world is getting a little too big for it’s britches, come on down to my little town to get a taste of days gone by.

 

 

An Early Sign of Spring

When I was young, my mom and I would sit at the bay window in our kitchen and look at the crab apple tree that stood right outside.  It was always filled with birds eating the fruit of the tree.  I think that’s why we (my siblings and I) grew up with a love of birds that we still have today.  Each year, the first robin red breast would appear and my mother would declare that sighting as the first hint of spring on its way.

perched bird

Today from my own perch on the third floor, I heard a bird singing.  Even though he was atop a tree that was even with my balcony, he was small (but loud for his size) and it took me a minute to focus my eyes on exactly where he was.  I’m still trying to figure out how he perched his fluffy, round little body on top of that single, flimsy branch.  This may not be a robin, but I’m willing to count him as my first sign of spring to come.  (Thanks for posing!)

 

Lakeside Sunrise & Moonset

The Northeast, my former home, got bombarded over the weekend with 30-or-so inches of snow.  Meanwhile in the South we spent last Friday frozen in by a pretty major ice event (about 3-5 inches) covered by a dusting of snow.  I must say that while my sympathy was with my friends, family and everyone else left to dig out of all that snow, I was kind of happy to see a little white stuff, especially since I was hunkered in for the weekend with no thoughts of going anywhere.

Monday, while my friends were still digging out in order to get to work, I rose with the Sun and went out on my patio and caught the most beautiful sunrise.  The Sun on Sunday had melted the majority of our ice and snow and the promise of warm weather (50s at least) has returned.

On the other side of my patio (I’m on a corner) overlooking the parking lot of my apartment complex, the full Moon was getting ready to rest just as the Sun was rising.

We have some of the most beautiful sunsets here in South Carolina, and now I can say the same about the moonsets and sunrises.  Pink and orange and yellow … the colors are breathtaking.

Lakeside Sunrise

Full Moon at Sunrise

Even though I’m in South Carolina, I’m only a few miles from Charlotte, North Carolina. Despite the South’s limited resources when it comes to a snow and ice event, you can bet that Charlotte did it’s best to make sure that nothing would spoil the Panther’s game at home on Sunday.  Go Panthers!

A Weekend in Folly Beach

A Good Food, Dog-Friendly Surfer Town

My friends and I got together this past weekend and took a road trip to Folly Beach, SC.  Folly Beach is a kind of relaxed surfer town with good food, nice people, and it’s dog friendly – even some of the restaurants.  The locals call it “The Edge of America.”  Three out of four of us had already been here once back in April of 2013.  I love the charm of this southern town.  Folly Beach is on James Island located roughly 11 miles from downtown Charleston.  We fit a lot into our itinerary in just a few days and we certainly could have done more, but it’s always nice to leave a place with a reason to go back, especially if it’s this charming.

On this trip we stayed right on the beach in a hotel called Tides at Folly Beach.  If you drive down Center Street and head towards the ocean, you can’t miss it.  We had a great room on the third floor overlooking the salt water pool, the beach and an extremely long pier that I first photographed in April 2013.  The Tides has its own bar and restaurant called, Blu, and a coffee shop that opens nice and early so you can slip out the back door and have your morning coffee by the pool or the ocean if that’s your preference – it was mine.

This post will mostly show the shots of the beach and pier that I took from the room at various times (7am, 4pm and 8pm – thereabouts).  I have other shots I’ll share in my next post of the local beach community.

Before I share my photos, one last thing:  If you’re a foody like I am, you’ll appreciate all of the fine choices for dining.  Our friend told us that Charleston is home to a big percentage of the world’s best chefs and it shows.  Here’s are places we enjoyed:

  • Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch:  Lost Dog Cafe – Bring your four-legged friends, they have water bowls for them!  Unbelievably good food.
  • Lunch/Dinner:  The Crab Shack – (Have a Bloody Mary!)  She-crab soup, fried green tomatoes …
  • Lunch/Dinner: The Wich Doctor – great pizza, unusual menu – all good stuff.
  • Dinner (open 11am to 11pm) – Fuel  (Downtown Charleston)

All of these places were great and most have been featured on various Food Channel shows (checkout the web links).  This is five-star dining in flip flops – you can’t beat that!

And now for a few shots via the third floor at Tides:

Peaceful ViewSunrise MorningBlue UmbrellasHere a Chair There a Chair715 sunrise at the TidesPier at NightHow’s that for a view?  Of course, Folly Beach has other places to stay including a quaint bed and breakfast I spotted off the main drag, that I plan to research for next time.

Folly Beach allows surfboards, sailboards, dogs and food, but no alcohol – except at the hotel where you can order drinks, but the public beaches prefer you don’t drink (and trust me, as hot as it is, just bring lots of water and you’ll be happy).  Parking is tricky, but not too impossible but don’t expect a boardwalk like Seaside Heights or Pt. Pleasant at the Jersey Shore, it’s just a few wooden planks’ walk over the dunes and you’re on the beach.  If you’re lucky, you’ll see pods of dolphins lazily swimming by, and there’s never a lack of pelicans and seagulls.

At the hotel you can surfboard, get surf lessons or checkout their jet skis, play volleyball on the beach, or just sit and order food and drinks at the pool and enjoy the ocean without getting sandy.

In my next post, I’ll give you a more local view of FB.  If you’re planning on visiting Charleston, Folly Beach is easy to get to and so worth the visit.

Looking Back

After yesterday’s post, I decided to look back at old photos (from 2012/2013) to get me back in the groove of getting out there with my camera.  I wanted to recapture that inspired feeling.  Like crafts and art, photography is my Zen – it’s my outlet:  it all keeps me sane.  I think that’s why even though I love oceans and architecture and everything in between – my real peace is found in seeing green.  I think the thing that scares me more than anything is that I came from a place that used to be hugely green and now it’s full of housing developments that leave practically no natural elements.  And I see that happening here now too.  I guess it’s easier to drive a bulldozer through a stretch of nature than it is to go around it.  Photographing things that may not be here tomorrow is my way of preserving beautiful landscapes.  I can’t imagine being someone who never gets to feel the peace of looking out and seeing nothing but nature as far as the eye can see.  So here’s more green stuff and more old structures.  Indulge me.  And if I’ve repeated any photos here, then I guess they bear repeating.

As Far as the Eye Can See

As Far as the Eye Can See

Dualing Barns

Dualing Barns

Instead of old buildings, I see history.

God Bless America

God Bless America

I saw on Facebook how everyone is posting pics holding the American flag and it made think of this photo taken in 2012.  I’m happy to say that this structure is still standing today.  I’m all for modern conveniences, but a little preservation goes a long way in my book.

StationI’m glad I got this shot when I did.  Although the gas station is still standing and the house next to it still abandoned, the back building (on the left) has suffered some real weather-related damage.  I keep thinking this will be taken down before long, but as of today, it’s still standing.

Some people call me a “city girl” but there’s a little bit of country in here too.

Get it While You Can

I love old barns and buildings.  I love the feeling I get looking out over a sprawling field of green.  And I get really sad when I see woods and green fields being sold off and dug up to make way for cookie-cutter housing communities.  But I guess that’s progress.

On my way home from the gym, I see this property every day.  I’ve always wanted to get the nerve to drive down the long driveway and get a close-up shot of the old barn that I knew might not be there one day.  Today, I saw a real estate sign and I suddenly got the nerve.  That is after I called the real estate office to make sure I wasn’t trespassing.  They said, “Oh you’re fine,” which is a common saying around here that I just love.

road

A Road Previously Less Traveled

The house and old barns fortunately seem to be left (at least for now) but all of this surrounding property has been divided into 13 lots – and they’re all sold.  In fact I passed two men starting construction on a house already.  Take a good look because it’s going to be gone probably in an instant.  Maybe the owner needed the money – I don’t judge; I just think it’s sad.

Peaceful Pond

Peaceful Pond I

pond

Peaceful Pond II

Much to my surprise, to my right half-way down the drive I spotted this beautiful pond.  I actually saw ripples from a fish jumping.  All I could think was that I hoped this pond would be left in tact, maybe as part of someone’s yard.  I don’t know its fate, but every time I see something so beautiful, I feel compelled to shoot it.  I don’t take anything for granted and I don’t fool myself into thinking that it will definitely still be there tomorrow.

barn

This Old Barn

Not too clear (remember my battery was waning) but here it is, the barn I’ve always thought about shooting.  It was as close as I could get from the road as the property it was on was clearly posted and I respected their privacy.  This was to my left as I traveled down the rock and dirt road, the pond was on my right as the road curved around.  Some people might not love seeing old, aging barns, but I find them quaint – it’s history.  I wondered what life would be like for these people once they were surrounded by houses instead of green fields.  Not really my business – I just like capturing nature in photos.

Taking these photos becomes contagious.  I start getting the urge to venture to other places I’ve wondered about but never seen, and so I did.  I took a short trip further down the main road and hung a left, which brought me to many more roads that I never knew existed, but mainly this road took me along the back of the properties I often admire from the main road.

house

Homestead

Something about this house made me stop.  It just looks like a wonderful place to call home, complete with its American flag, it’s green lawn and yet another pond next door.

Another Pond

Another Pond

This pond was huge, but I wanted to show the wild flowers (aka weeds, but still pretty) and the horse grazing high on the hill.  How can you not stop and just enjoy the view?  We do – most times we just drive by without a thought because life is busy.

High on a Hill

High on a Hill

Here’s a view of him lazily grazing that I took from the dirt road that runs along the property and leads back to the main road – aha!  If you think driving down dirt, wooded roads isn’t a bit scary, it is, but I knew I wasn’t hurting anyone and I was willing to take my chances.

Here’s a couple more shots I took before heading back home.  So much to see, so much to explore and so much to photograph just in case it’s gone tomorrow.

rock

Natural Rock

Judging by the old fireplace in the woods just next to where this shot was taken, I assumed this must have been someone’s front yard a long time ago.  It’s a natural beauty – a super large rock resting in the shade.

shack

This Old Shack

A few winding roads away, yet another pond and an old shack of a building.  Yes, I find both nature and history charming.