It’s hard to believe it was just a month ago that we spent the Labor Day weekend at the beach in Hilton Head. I wish I was still there.
Kathy spent a nice quiet weekend at home this weekend, so I had a chance to process a few more of my selects from our weekend.
I upgraded part of my computer setup this past week. My aging iMac was starting to show it’s impending obsolescence, and I had a newer MacBook Pro sitting here being used for little more than running our banking program and the occasional web surfing session. So I picked up a new monitor, keyboard and mouse and decided to give the laptop a try. I’m not seeing quite the performance improvement I was hoping for, but it is noticeably faster in most things.
The biggest improvement is with the monitor! While the screen on the iMac was quite nice when it was new, there has been a pretty big leap in monitor quality over the past few years, as evidenced by the improvement in the new one, a 24″ ASUS ProArt PA249. Pretty nice stuff, no yellow bars like I was seeing on the old monitor. And no more high-gloss mirror-like Apple screen. Yay! 🙂
As soon as I save a few more pennies I’m planning to build a new machine, so the purchase of a few peripherals gets me an interim performance bump until I can go the rest of the way. I was just about there until a fire at one of the factories that makes memory added about $300 to the price of the items on my NewEgg wish list. Hopefully in another month or two those prices will recover and I’ll be ready to forge ahead, just in time to outfit the office in our new place. We hope to be in by the end of November. Hopefully November 2013. It’s been a long process!
I’m still working on Nova Scotia photos too, so there will be more of those coming as well.
When Kathy & I want to really get away and relax, our favorite destination is the beach. And when we want to go to the beach, our favorite beach is Hilton Head Island, SC. We spent Labor Day Weekend there. With our house project rapidly nearing completion, and all the stuff that goes along with that, we knew that this would probably be the Last Hurrah for us for this year. I’ve used up just about all of my vacation time, and we’ve used up just about all of our vacation money, and what little we have left will probably be earmarked for furniture and stuff. It’s amazing how a new house tends to make all of your furniture obsolete!
I’ve taken some of my favorite photographs at Hilton Head, but after a while it gets a little tough to do something new. So I mostly stick to the tried and true and hope for some inspiration along the way. I typically like to shoot when the tide is out, as I can frequently find some sand textures and pools that add some interest. This time, it seemed that sunrise and sunset generally coincided with high tide, so I was left with fewer options. That, combined with an overriding need for sleep kept me in the bed for all mornings but one. And I did manage to get out one evening, which was a nice departure, as we usually head out for dinner just about the time the light is getting nice. So, with one sunrise and one sunset to work with, I don’t think I got anything I’ll be hanging on the wall, but it felt good to get out when I did.
I’m still putting the old 5D through its paces, and am convinced that it is working just fine. I just wanted to be as sure as I could be before I put it back in the pack in a backup role. The biggest surprise for me was how quickly I got dust on the sensor! With the automagical dust removal system of the newer Mark III I never have to worry about dust. But the combination of small apertures and no sensor cleaning means I’ll need to pay a little more attention.
I’m still working on Nova Scotia photos, too. So I’ll have a few things to post about coming up, even though my adventures may be on hiatus for a little while!
This photo is one of my all-time favorites, and one of my best-selling prints. I don’t think I’ve used it before as a wallpaper, and if I have used it before I will cheerfully refund your money!
Whether you call it living in the past or sticking to a theme, this is another one from the archives. I shot this back in 2006. I have no idea where this tree came from, but it was laying on the beach for the whole week we were there. I photographed it a few times, but on this morning the combination of timing and conditions came together for the scene I had been looking for. Unlike some of the over-cliched “tree in the water” photos we see, this was a fleeting moment in the passage of time by the sea. A slice of time to be captured and enjoyed while we were able to see it.
Kathy & I got moved over the last week and are just about settled in our new place. I’ve got some pent-up words that I may need to throw on the blog over the next few days and weeks as we get things sorted out and get back to a life without moving preparations and boxes!
In the comments to my last post, Paul gently chided me about the fact that, in a post about our visit to Charleston that I didn’t talk about the food. Sorry! It was one of the most important things we did that weekend, but frankly I had been planning to write more than one post about our weekend, and one of them – this one, in fact – would be to talk about the food.
Juanita Greenberg’s Nacho Royale
Our visit to this place was rather a fluke, as the day we arrived it was pouring rain, the town was full of people attending the Southeastern Wildlife Expo, which we knew was happening but had no idea it was such a big deal. It’s a big deal.
Anyway, the bellman at our hotel told us that we needed to go to a place called Bubba Slyes Deli, located right around the corner on King Street. So off we went, only to find that Bubba had called it quits just the day before and the place is now closed. Practically next door to Bubba’s is a place called Juanita Greenberg’s Nacho Royale, which sounded like an impossibly interesting name. They didn’t have a wait, so we went in. Overall it was decent faux southwestern food, but it hit the spot and the beer was cold, so mission accomplished.
Hall’s Chop House
This was the real reason we ventured to Charleston in the first place. Long-time food & wine buddy Stefan Stanton, formerly a manager at Dressler’s Restaurant in Charlotte – our favorite hometown restaurant – is now a full-time surfer dude and occasional waiter at Hall’s Chop House, reputed to be one of Charleston’s top restaurants. And what a place! It was partly due to the anticipation of seeing Stefan again (it had been a year since he left Dressler’s), but from the moment we walked in the door, the people at Hall’s – including it seemed most of the Hall family – made a point of welcoming us, introducing themselves and basically making us feel like the most important people who had ever showed up at their place for dinner. And what a nice feeling after too many less-than-enthusiastic chain restaurant experiences.
The service from everyone from the bartender to the bus boys – and most especially our waiter – was superb. Stefan introduced us to their sommelier, who recommended a couple of excellent wines, making it easy to choose from their enormous and outstanding selection. Hall’s specialty is dry-aged beef, and while I have had it before, I have never had dry-aged beef like THAT before! It is fairly rare to find a restaurant that dry-ages their own beef, knows how to pick it and – most importantly – knows how to cook it. I had a dry-aged Ribeye that was easily the best restaurant steak I’ve ever had. Kathy had a filet that she could have cut with her fork, and it was delicious. And the dessert – let’s just say that you can’t go wrong with any of the desserts!
Stefan is clearly loving life, and it was great to connect with him and experience Hall’s. He seems right at home there, and I swear that if I could find a way to marry into the family he might just have a job for life! Overall, Kathy & I agree that our dinner there was probably the best restaurant experience ever. We don’t have the resume for that to mean very much, but we’ve been around enough to know what’s good, and Hall’s Chop House is beyond good. It was truly fabulous.
Caviar & Bananas
Another unlikely-sounding place, this is officially a gourmet market and café, and is located just a little out of the way from the tourist traffic, near the College of Charleston. We went there for a late breakfast on Sunday, which explains why I don’t write about my Sunday lunch – we didn’t have any! Their signature dessert – which I did not have but should have – is Caviar & Bananas. It’s described on their menu as “Bruleed Bananas, Sweet Tapioca, Local Honey, Brown Sugar, Marscapone & Almond Tuile. Yummy!
Recommended by our buddy Jon Dressler, we visited Basil, a Thai restaurant just up King Street from Hall’s, for dinner on Sunday night. Believe it or not, neither Kathy nor I had ever eaten Thai food before. So, trusting Dressler, we went. It was great! I know that I am probably very inaccurate to say that it is a lot like Chinese, but I thought it was a lot like Chinese, with some different spices and flavors. The wait – even on a Sunday night – was over an hour, which we passed across the street in the bar at The MacIntosh, which looks like a nice restaurant itself. Next time!
There is a Basil restaurant in Charlotte, also. We’re going to have to ‘give Thai another try.’ We really did like it!
Practically next door to Caviar & Bananas on George Street, is this Monday-Friday, breakfast-lunch only place called Jack’s Café. It’s nothing fancy, but Jack himself has been running the grill for nearly 40 years. Good, fast diner food, served with a smile at a reasonable price, it’s sometimes just the ticket. The cheeseburgers are supposed to be excellent, so we’ll probably need to go back for lunch. Next time!
So there are the highlights of our Tour de Food in Charleston. Every person who goes as their favorite places, and we now have a few more of our own. The next time we go, we’ll definitely make room for a return visit to Hall’s. And some day (Paul) I’ll get to Hyman Seafood! 🙂
I’ve been away, but I haven’t gone far. We’ve had a few things going on over the last couple of months that disrupted the little bit of posting momentum that I had back in January. I forced myself to spend a little time on the computer to process a few photos and throw a few words onto the blog so everyone knows I still love them!
A few weeks ago – seems like months – Kathy & I visited Charleston, SC for a weekend. February probably isn’t the ideal time to visit Charleston, and the particular weekend that we went was cold and windy. We spent a lot of time dashing from shop to shop, looking for shelter from the cold, and even dodged a little rain & snow on the first day there.
Charleston is a photogenic town whenever you visit. I did some photographing while we were there, and while I certainly didn’t capture the “classic” Charleston, I feel like I captured what I saw and felt while we were there. Add some color from a few flowers and trees, a little warmer weather and the results would be totally different.
One of the things that has kept me off the computer is a little “reading project” that I got myself into. When we took our cruise in January, I decided that I wanted to read the Harry Potter series. I had never read any of the books, never saw the movies, and our kids were too old by the time the books became popular for them to bring “Potter-itis” into our home. So I got the first volume as an e-book from the library before we left, started in on it, and I got hooked. I quickly finished the first book while onboard, and quickly downloaded the second volume. I just finished #5 of 7 and decided it was time for a little break. It’s great reading, but it sucked me in and wouldn’t let go!
We’re headed to “The Other Charleston” this coming weekend – Charleston, West Virginia. We’re meeting Bill & Cathy, our friends from Ohio, there to make some travel plans for this coming summer. I’ll definitely have a camera with me and hope to have some time to wander around, so I’ll be interested to see what that Charleston has to offer.
It’s been sort of an unofficial and undeclared project of mine to take photographs of people taking photographs, aka Pictures Of People Taking Pictures. ‘Unofficial’ because I don’t “set out” looking for such photos, I just happen upon them. ‘Undeclared’ because I haven’t published or printed any groups of them. I just have a growing number of “P.O.P.T.P.s” in my collection and sort of figured that one day there would be enough decent ones to make up a series.
I was on the beach at Hilton Head a few weeks ago taking photos at sunrise. Most people see the tripod and walk behind me. A few of them are so oblivious to my presence that they walk right in front of the camera. Occasionally they stop.
This woman was with a group of 4 people walking by. I was set up for my shot and had Live View activated, so I was able to watch the scene in case they “posed” for me. One of the hidden advantages of Live View is perhaps the ability to take pictures when it doesn’t look like you are taking pictures? I was able to watch as they walked into my scene. I thought they were going to keep walking, but at the very last moment this woman stopped and took several shots. While she was standing still I was able to click off a few frames of my own.
This is a way off-topic blog post but I thought some of my readers would find it interesting:
The work I do for money sometimes involves tracking down customers who, other than the fact that we receive their payments every month, we never hear from them. It’s pretty rare, but we can go for years without needing to know their current phone number or address. I came across such a customer this morning. This guy, an intellectual property attorney from another state, owns an investment property in North Carolina that he bought 7 years ago. His loan is coming due, so I needed to contact him about renewing it. The only phone number I had took me to what I expected was his office, but when I called I was told that “he was no longer with the firm.” Oops.
Now I realize that in this day and age there are lots of tools available to assist in the search for missing attorneys. But of course I turned to Google in hopes that I could turn up something that would lead me to his current position. I came across dozens of dead ends, articles that referenced his name and some kind of presentation or case, but they all referred to his former employer.
Somewhere in all my searching I came across this guy’s LinkedIn page. And it showed who he worked for but no contact information. I thought about sending him a note through LinkedIn, but figured that wouldn’t be terribly professional and saved it for a last resort. I Googled the company, but their headquarters is in another state. No good. But then, I went back to LinkedIn and noticed that a lot of his contacts were co-workers at his current firm. I looked through his contacts, Googled them and finally found a phone number. Not for my guy, but for his boss. Ah-ha!
Figuring that there is no way a direct call for an attorney is going to go through to him, and if it did I could easily explain myself, I called the number. Got a voicemail system, and after a few “Press #,” “Press 1,” etc. I got to where I could search a department directory using the first 3 letters of my customer’s last name. Call goes straight through and he answers it. Yep, he’s my guy!
I know what I did wasn’t anything really special, but I was amazed at how I was able to solve the puzzle. It was fun, he was very helpful and we’re going to do his deal. Not a bad way to start a Monday!
When I was growing up I had an aunt, or a cousin or some relative who had the seats in her car covered with plastic. I always thought that was a little strange, to take this nice comfortable fabric and cover it with hot, sticky plastic, just so it wouldn’t get dirty or wear out. I don’t remember for certain, but I think she might have had the furniture in her house covered in plastic too. People used to – probably still do – use plastic carpet runners to keep people from walking on the carpet. I’ll admit that I can see the logic in covering carpet with carpet runner, in the winter, when it used to snow, and we people would come in the house with snow on their boots. But in the middle of summer? Nah!
Today, we can’t buy a cell phone without being offered a “screen protector.” I don’t understand why I would buy a fancy new phone with a gorgeous display and stick a piece of foggy plastic on it. So it won’t get dirty? It’s a touch screen, for Pete’s sake! It’s going to get finger marks on it! When I bought my last laptop, one of my students was appalled that I hadn’t paid another $50 or more for some rubberized piece of goo to cover the computer. I said, “someone went to a lot of trouble to make this computer look so nice, why would I want to cover it up?” We get sold $10 UV filters to put in front of our camera lenses, we can buy “skins” to cover up our cameras and lenses, but for what? So it won’t look like we use them? Come on, we don’t use them enough as it is, why cover it up with some aftermarket stuff someone thinks we need, just to keep our gear looking nice.
I have no idea why that was stuck in my head today. Well actually I do, and I feel much better now. Thanks!
I’ve been away for a while. I didn’t go far, but things are finally settling down after a difficult and hectic August. Kathy has gotten her Dad’s affairs pretty much in order, and to the extent that I’ve been able to help I have helped. Work demands have taken some of my attention too, so there just hasn’t been a lot of time for writing and creativity. The blog got pushed to the side for a little while, but here I am.
Kathy & I spent Labor Day week at the beach. Besides all the hoopla that was already playing out in Charlotte (the DNC, for those who pay even less attention than me) it was time for a break. Kathy was just about wrung out and so was I, so it was perfect timing. A trip to the beach was definitely in order.
Our “beach of choice” is Hilton Head Island, SC. We’ve been going there for years, starting with a weekend each year, then a week, and now we try to get there for a week and several weekends each year. We like it there, the beach is beautiful, and it’s generally quiet. There is plenty of activity for those so inclined, but this year we literally rented beach chairs for 7 days straight and sat on our backsides. We walked, talked, read and just generally chilled. And I took a few photographs. Not many, but I managed to haul myself out for sunrise a few mornings, and even got Kathy to come with me for one (I promised her breakfast!).
One of the best things about “going to the beach” for us is the state of mind we go with. We don’t live hectic lives by a lot of peoples’ standards, but it gives us a chance to “put it all away.” And yes, while the DNC was perhaps a historic event, just because it happened to be in Charlotte didn’t change my lack of interest, and it certainly didn’t give me reason to turn on the TV. We don’t watch TV anyway, so we certainly don’t do it at the beach. I guess we had a TV, but I never opened the doors of the entertainment center to look.
I do very little blog reading or Facebook on vacation. I don’t have a need to post constant “jealousy updates” that my friends can “Like” and tell me how lucky I am. I do some photography but that is not the focus of our time or attention there, and unless I have a rainy day with nothing else to do, I’ve gotten completely away from processing photos. I prefer to live in the moment, and the minute I put my nose into the computer screen “the moment” goes away.
The same holds true with writing. I sometimes think I’d like to spend some time writing while I’m at the beach, but instead what I do is think and take notes. For the same reasons I don’t like to process photos, I don’t want to take time and attention from being there. In many ways I write for escape, and when I’m already “escaped” I want to keep it that way. So I think my thoughts and make my notes to refer to later when something sparks the need to write. I plant seeds. I like it that way.
We don’t completely escape from reality on vacation. Hilton Head has numerous wonderful restaurants. We have a number of “have-to” favorites and always like to try some new places. This year the new ones were about 50-50 successful, some of the old ones are getting a little old, and a few places we had been to only a few times but tried again were worth a visit. We sometimes get out to do some shopping or visit a gallery or two, but this year the weather was so beautiful we didn’t have a reason to leave the beach. We do more of that in the winter if we visit in January or February.
But we’re here now, back to “reality” for a little while. I’ve got some photos to share and a few stories to tell. And we’ll be back to our usual traveling routine after a few weekends at home. So, sorry if you missed me, but thanks for sticking around.
This year has truly exemplified the term “roller coaster ride.” Kathy’s Dad died last week after an extended illness. Her Mom died in May. They had both been ailing for quite some time before they moved to an assisted living facility in April of this year. In between we managed to squeeze in a trip to the beach, several weekends to the mountains, including a great weekend with friends at Shenandoah National Park in April. Then her Mom died in May, later in the month we took a wonderful vacation to Alaska and California, and since then we managed to sneak in a few weekends away, but in general the last several months were consumed with taking care of Kathy’s Dad.
It’s been a tough year.
Kathy & I love to travel, obviously. And we often use our travel as a way to escape – both mentally and physically – from our everyday realities. The last 6 months or more have been emotionally and physically draining, and we feel fortunate to have been able to intersperse the grief and sadness with some well-timed getaways.
It’s surprising how the body and mind can take on additional burden without us realizing it, until such time as the burden is lifted from us and we realize how much we had been carrying. We are starting to feel that lifting now, and it may take a while longer before we fully appreciate it.
We were talking with friends this past week and one of them mentioned that we would be “trying to find our new normal.” That comment hit home for both of us, and we have talked about it a lot over the last few days. I really like the concept of “a new normal,” as if feels like what is happening to us now (I say ‘us,’ but of course Kathy has been carrying the burden, and I have been supporting her as much as I can).
It’s a huge change, to go from caring for two people who have loved you for your entire life to having them gone completely in a few short months. I went through it myself years ago and it still comes back and smacks me in the head when I least expect it. And I suspect it will continue to do so for a long while to come.
The attraction of this “new normal” idea is that it presents one of those rare times when we have at least a little bit of influence about what that “normal” looks like. Will it mean big changes for us? Probably not. But I know that losing both of my parents at an early age – my Mom was 53 when she died, my Dad was 54 – has had a profound influence on how I have looked, and how I continue to look, at my own life as I approach (and hopefully pass) those ages. Let’s just say that I’m hoping for a heck of a birthday party for July 2013!
The concept of “a new normal” is very appropriate to me, because it aptly describes the adjustment process that inevitably takes place when a major change occurs in our lives. Many of these changes are very subtle, such as not having to remember to make a phone call, or not having to plan our route so we come home via Statesville. Some of them are pretty major, as in the fact that having someone living close by and being primarily responsible for their care was one of the major influences to us in terms of staying in the area. Does that mean we’re going to sell the house and move to Alaska? Not today, but when we do decide it’s time to sell the house – which is the only “physical” thing keeping us here – who knows? The kids are here, and our jobs (for as long as we want them or as long as our employers want us) are here. But fewer ties mean more possibilities. And that is what “new normal” means for me right now. What will it mean in a few months or a few years? Time will tell, but I’m looking forward to figuring it out.
We had already planned a trip to the beach over Labor Day weekend, but we had an opportunity to extend that into a full week. I think a week of sand, sun and ocean will do us good. Some quiet time to think and talk, a nice beach for long walks, and a number of good restaurants where they treat us like locals. It is one of our favorite places to visit, and a good place to start getting in touch with our new normal. Indeed.