Life

11 Things I Learned in the South

I’ve been in Illinois a week and thankfully I have not had too much in the way of culture shock! I was a bit surprised when I tried a new grocery store and they required a .25 deposit for the cart, then charged me for bags, then made me take my groceries back out of the cart to bag my own bags…which I just paid for, but nothing was as surprising as the things I encountered when I moved from New England to the South. Some of them are funny (now) and so in no particular order….

  1. Texas Pete is not a biker dude. When I first moved to the south, I left the world of law and my position as a paralegal to wait tables. The money was much better, and I was not stuck behind a desk. A rather large man with a Harley Davidson shirt asked me for Texas Pete. The restaurant was loud on a Sunday morning for brunch, so I did not clearly hear the way the question was phrased….I just heard the name. I was taken back for a moment. I know I have tattoo’s, but what about me made this guy think I hung out with a guy named “Texas Pete”? When I told the gentleman I didn’t know him, he asked for hot sauce in an aggravated tone. It wasn’t until I got back to the server station and asked if anyone knew my mystery man, did I realize my mistake. Texas Pete IS the hot sauce. This was 10 years ago, and I’m sure Texas Pete has made it into New England supermarkets since then.
  2. Armadillos are roadside ornaments. In the 10 years I spent in the Carolina’s, I never once saw a living armadillo. I only saw them on the side of the road….dead.
  3. Alligators will fuck you up. I’m not kidding when I saw my first “Beware of Alligators” sign and about choked. I had no idea I was moving to the land of gator, and I thought they only lived in the Bronx Zoo. Not only do they walk about freely, there was one found at a drive thru window in the heavily populated Tanger Outlets near our house, just looking for a burger. Not cool.
  4. They are still fighting the Civil War. This one is sad. As soon as I landed in North Carolina, and even more-so in South Carolina, it was evident racism is a BIG deal. Having grown up an hour outside of New York City, where you can be anyone you want to be, I was shocked. I can’t tell you how many times I was called a “Yankee” with negative connotation. Some people just automatically hated me because of where I was born. They have not realized the Civil War was over 150 years ago, they lost, and my family didn’t even get here until the 1920’s…..we really had NOTHING to do with it.
  5. They call Cockroaches “Palmetto Bugs!” Not only is this the state bug (gross), it’s a damn cockroach. Southerners can call it what they want…it’s a cockroach and it’s nasty!
  6. College Football is a Religion. It doesn’t matter if you even went to college, or where. Everyone has an affiliation they pull for on game day. Some of the major teams include USC, Clemson, Ole Miss, Florida State, and Virginia Tech. Like I said, you didn’t have to go there, you just have to wear their colors and carry their koozie around….which brings us to number 7….
  7. Everyone uses a Koozie. I had never heard of this until I showed up in the south. Everyone uses koozies for everything from soda to beer. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They even personalize these things. Having a bakery, I delivered cakes to a lot of weddings. Personalized koozies were so popular, I swear 3/4 of all weddings I did the cake for offered guests their own koozie commemorating the happy couple. Koozies bring me to the next thing…Moonshine.
  8. Moonshine exists. In high school and college I could drink a lot of people under the table….then I met moonshine. People in the south still produce the illegal substance in sheds and can it in mason jars. It comes in a variety of flavors and is often given as a gift…you know…on the down low. This stuff is no joke! My first sip almost knocked me off my stool. I’ll just stick to my Amaretto Sour, thanks.
  9. No One is Ever in a Hurry.  Dear Lawd I cannot express to you how frustrating it is when you’re trying to do ANYTHING in the south in a timely manner and everyone else is just taking their time! They don’t drive fast, talk fast, or just move fast at all. Yes, I grew up an hour outside of New York City where the term “A New-York Minuet” comes from, but seriously folks, people will just miss entire green lights and NO ONE will hit their horn AT ALL…EVER….. These same people enjoy sitting out on their front porch, just sitting. They aren’t even reading a book. They just sit there with dogs next to them…..doing nothing!!!! The dogs bring us to number 10.
  10. Hunting Dogs Are Working Dogs. Here is another sad one. So many people in the South actually use their dogs as hunting tools. When they are done with the dog, they abandon them. The most common of these dogs are Treeing Walker Hounds. I have had 3 in total….all abandoned.

    This is Tremor. He survived one of the worst abuse cases in SC history (by the skin of his teeth) and was once a great hunting dog. Because he’s older, he was abandoned and given to a man who killed over 200 hunting dogs. Tremor was one of 45 to survive.

  11. BBQ is important. In Connecticut, we used to drive over an hour to get the best BBQ in the state….it was also the ONLY BBQ in the state. In the south, BBQ is so serious, each state has their own signature flavor or rub. Some people will only eat certain types of BBQ and I’ve even heard people fight over what is the best. Seriously, I was just happy to have it wherever I went! Some people take their BBQ so seriously, they drive around with smokers attached to their vehicle. I guess it’s “just in case?”

So there it is! The good, bad, funny, and ugly of living in the south.

Advertisements
Writing & Publishing

Book Club: Six Miles to Charleston

Six Miles to Charleston: The True Story of John and Lavinia FisherSix Miles to Charleston: The True Story of John and Lavinia Fisher by Bruce Orr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have you ever read a book in one sitting? I did! It was this book. Granted, the book is not exceedingly long at 125 pages, but the content was so engaging.

When I first moved to Charleston, South Carolina six years ago, one of the first things I learned about was the legend of Lavinia Fisher. Some claim Lavinia Fisher and her husband John Fisher were convicted mass murderers, making Lavinia the first female serial killer in the United States.

Legend has it, John and Lavinia owned an inn just six miles north of Charleston. When someone would stop there on their way in or out of town, Lavinia would invite them to tea and ask questions to determine if the guest had anything of value on them and if they would be missed should they not turn up at the next destination. If the visitor fit the bill, Lavinia would poison them with tea. Once the guest was asleep in their hotel room, Lavinia would sneak into the room, pull a lever, and the unsuspecting guest would fall into the basement pit, allegedly full of spikes. John Fisher would then dismember the body while Lavinia robbed them of their belongings.

The legend goes on to say there was one man who escaped (he did not care for tea and poured it in a plant) and made it into Charleston where he alerted authorities to the gruesome crimes taking place just outside of Charleston. John and Lavinia Fisher were arrested and brought to the Old City Jail.

The couple was then sentenced to hang for their crimes. The beautiful Lavinia is rumored to have worn her wedding gown to the gallows where she hoped after her husband was hung, she would find a suitor to marry her and save her from death. When one such man did not appear, her final words were “If you have a message for the devil, give it to me and I shall take it to him.”
It’s quite the story, don’t you think? Since her hanging in 1820, locals and tourists alike, claim to see the ghost of Lavinia, roaming Charleston in her wedding gown.

So why does this book exist? Well, there is a lot wrong with the legend, and so Bruce Orr, a Charleston local, set out to find the truth on Lavinia Fisher. As exciting as the legend is, much of the story is not true. The facts however, are quite engaging and interesting; so much so, I could not put the book down. It involves a highway gang, a president of the United States, a drunken jailer, a disagreeable sheriff, corrupt local government, and some other unsavory characters from historic Charleston. As sad as it is to find out the legend told to thousands of tourists each year is not the exact truth, the discovery of the truth in this book is even more exciting than the legend.

I originally picked up this book as a point of research for a historical fiction project I am writing, only to discover a well written, engaging, true story anyone who has ever lived in or visited Charleston needs to read!

 

View all my reviews

Life · Writing & Publishing

I Went To Jail Today

I went to jail today….and it was on purpose! As I work on my book proposal, I took an opportunity to visit the scene of the crime so to speak, and have some girl time with my friend Beth!

Neither of us encountered the ghost of Lavinia Fisher, but we had fun and learned a lot! Here are some pictures from the evening!

Inside the jail, our tour guide showed us how prisoners were beaten and abused. There were no guidelines for punishment and in many instances if disease didn’t kill a prisoner, their punishment did.

Imagine one of these on each wrist, your feet secured in a box, then someone pulling the ropes so your arms are yanked in the air before being beaten.

These doors were no joke! Notice the diagram for hanging a person. When the weight was dropped in the hole, the condemned was flung up toward the sky m, breaking their neck. There were severe consequences if the weight wasn’t balanced based on the weight of the prisoner….but I’ll save that for the book!

This is the room where Lavinia Fisher was held.

My sweet friend, Beth!

We then had girls night while the husbands were home with kids!

Beth is actually very pretty, yet she insisted on sticking her tongue out in every damn photo!

As soon as I got home, I started working on my proposal. Sadly, I work in the morning and didn’t get very far! I’ll be sure to let you know when I send it in!

Life · Writing & Publishing

If I Won Powerball…

Apparently the Powerball payout is crazy high again. I remember last year in January it was ridiculously high, and we bought the employees Bill and I had working at the bakery a bunch of tickets just for fun. I never thought for a second any of us would win, and of course we didn’t. This morning on the way to work, the local radio station was talking about how virtually no one wins, but it is fun to think about what you would do with the money if you did.

Of course I would buy a house, pay off our debt, pay off our parents houses, put money in CD’s, etc, etc….but what about every day life?

I’m not huge on traveling. Sure, I would one day like to see other places around the world, but I don’t really LOVE living out of a suitcase, or having to leave my dogs at home. I’m all for SOME travel, but not a lot.

I would no longer go to either of my two jobs (no one punches a clock to make someone else rich because they WANT to!) but I would continue to write. I would write books upon books upon books….even while most people would probably be on a permanent vacation, I would need to write.

Here is the fun part: Thankfully I don’t need to win the lotto to write books. Sure, I would have more time, but I can still write.

So with this said, I’m starting a new project. It started about two weeks ago, but someone cracked the screen on my PC (probably me, but possibly a toddler), and it has been with the geeks at Best Buy. I just got it back a few hours ago.

I want to introduce you to the new project, starting with the historical fiction book, so here is the pitch:

img_20170215_223627_494.jpg

For almost 200 years, the story of Lavinia Fisher has been handed down from generation to generation. Now, in the new millennium, tour guides throughout Lavinia’s hometown of Charleston, SC tell her story to hundreds of tourists each day. Some claim she was Americas first female serial killer, others claim she never killed anyone at all, while still others believe she was a witch. Some people believe her ghost lives on and can be seen around Charleston after dark. Many secrets were taken with Lavinia to her grave when she was hung on February 18th, 1820. I will tell you the story, you decide for yourself who was the real Lavinia Fisher.

Intrigued? I hope this makes you interested. Of course I will share more as I work on the project. I keep referring to this as a project because it had more than one part to it.

My first goal is to write a non-fiction book about the jail where Lavinia and John Fisher were held and eventually hung.

I then want to write a historical fiction version of their story.

To start the project, I’ve been poking around the jail, and I will tour it inside next week with my friend Beth. I will leave you with some pictures I’ve taken!

No, I’m not usually a selfie person, but I accidently flipped the screen to me and went with it. Bill came with me to look around. When a wagon of tourists passed by, he told me I should jump the wall and onto the wagon yelling “Go! Go! Go!” as if I was escaping the jail. I’m pretty sure we don’t want to scare the tourists driving our economy away like that!

Given our move in 66 more days, I need to work as quickly as I can to get all my research in before we leave. Of course we plan on coming back (hello: book tour!) but the majority of the leg work must be done in the next two months. With this I must leave you to go schedule some research appointments!

Military Spouse Life

Happy Birthday, Talia

Today is our daughters 2nd birthday. I haven’t had time to do a true blog post, so I’ll post some pictures of the coolest kid ever….and a few celebrities. 




Brendon Ellis of the SC Stingrays during a benefit for Breast Cancer. 




Our favorite radio guy in Charleston, Mr. TJ Phillips. We were in line with my sweet friend Missy to meet…


Trisha Yearwood and her sweet sister!

Yes, it’s Paula Deen, her very lovely husband, and my sister from another mister, Beka! Paula Deen grabbed Talia right from my hands!

















The last three were today! Happy birthday, baby girl!

Life

We Will Survive!

After being gone for a whole week….and taking two of those days just to get home, we made it!

Our house was left alone by hurricane Matthew, and we are truly blessed! I know there are so many people less fortunate than us! Right now, I’m home with Talia and Bill is out with the (animal) rescue, helping those who are struggling with a broken levy upstate. It’s a small thing in the scheme of things, but we are really hoping he and the rescue get those animals out and safe!

In the end, we basically ended up with a trip to see family and Talia scored pumpkins! The kid LOVES pumpkins….. We also learned the proper way to sneak dogs in and out of hotels!

The day before we heard we had to leave, I started working on some soaping products for my business, Sugar Pie Spa Company. The idea was the products would be in a local magazine. I have no idea if they were able to get it put together before the storm. Here is what I was working on:

1003161532b.jpg

Then we heard we had to go…..the Birth Center where we are due to have Liam had to close, so my father being the closest parent, won getting us all at his house in PA!

Bill and I are both from up north. Give us a blizzard or nor’easter any day of the week. When someone says “hurricane,” it’s time to go! My dad didn’t hesitate when I told him we were coming with 5 dogs, 4 cats, a toddler, 2 trucks, and me at 37-38 weeks pregnant to take over his house!

1006161055.jpg

Talia loves exploring at Grandpa and Ga-Ga’s house (she calls his girlfriend Ga-Ga!). Here daddy is showing her a woolly caterpillar.

The dogs love their GIANT fenced in lot:

1006161130.jpg

Pretty sure they could do without the sounds of the cows next door, but other than that, they enjoyed being outside in such a large, previously unexplored area.

Then it was off to a local farm for pumpkins. I have no idea why, but Talia LOVES pumpkins!

We then went to my mom and step-dad’s in CT. Another trip in the car, but again, worth it!

Talia was so excited to go to Stew Leonard’s. She LOVED seeing Stewie the Duck from one of her favorite books. She also loved the giant pumpkins and getting to push ALL of the buttons at the petting zoo.

1009160853c.jpg

She also loves exploring Nene’s house. Nene is my grandmother, so Talia’s GREAT grandmother. Nene has lots of cool things in her house and so do Grandma and Grandpa, so she just spent two days exploring!

Then it was back to my dad’s to see the Hershey Bears! It was Talia and Bill’s first AHL game! In the middle of all this (the 6th) I also had a birthday……so we used this as our little birthday celebration! I mean, who doesn’t want to celebrate their birthday with HOCKEY?!!!!????

1007161219_hdr.jpg

1007161204a.jpg

Everyone had a GREAT time, even though the Bears lost. Thankfully, it was just pre-season! The best part was getting to see several of our Stingrays who moved up from here in Charleston, to Hershey!!!

Finally, we were given the all clear and were allowed to head back to Charleston. Sadly, there were parts of North Carolina just DESTROYED by rain and hurricane Matthew. Our 9 hour trip turned into two days. We sat on I-95 for 3 hours at one point, trying to go 2 miles.

Thankfully, even in 2 vehicles, all was well. The dogs pretty much slept, and Talia was just really well behaved. There was a lot of pushing and shoving in line trying to get where people had to go, most places didn’t have fuel, lots of places were just closed, and so much was under water. It was hard at the time, but I had to keep remembering we had a home to go to and we lost nothing. Not everyone was so lucky. It was hard at 1 am, trying to find a hotel to take dogs that was not already booked solid, not to lose my $h!+, but we managed. The tire Bill had a nail in also held up until we got back into Charleston. Talk about God watching our butts! Stopping on the side of the road with no spare tire (that’s a long story, but we had the OTHER tire have an issue right before we had to leave) with so much debris, water, trees down, both vehicles, dogs, Talia, etc, would have been a nightmare!

Hopefully with our upcoming move back north, we don’t have to deal with a hurricane again….and especially not at 38 weeks pregnant (I was seriously praying the whole time NOT to go into labor!!!!) So now it’s time to get reorganized, do all this crazy laundry, and get back to writing and making soap!

How did you make out in the hurricane? Did it come near you?

Life · Writing & Publishing

Novel or Pocket Pet?

What a week last week turned out to be! (It was so busy, Monday Book Review will be tomorrow, Tuesday. I just didn’t finish the book in time!)

I hit a big milestone last week and I can’t wait to share.

This is a picture of what 313 pages of a novel looks like for editing:

image008.jpg

I finished editing my novel and sent it to the printer (thank you to the really nice people at Staples in Danbury, CT). As exciting as this was for me, I still have not held the book. My mom is in CT and I am in SC (USA). We are about 1,000 miles apart. She picked up the book to edit for me. Here is what it looked like when she got to Staples….

image005.jpg

It looks more like she was taking home a pocket pet from the pet store than picking up a novel!

Her goal was to start editing right away, but my grandmother had to go to the hospital. She had been feeling ill for awhile, but she also lost my grandfather back in May. I believe in broken hearts, so I think everyone thought she was just not herself because of this. My mom finally took her to the ER only to find out she has three kidney stones. They were at the hospital all day yesterday and today it was off to the urologist. She has to have surgery later this week. I really want to just head home for a bit, but I can’t travel comfortably while pregnant.

So with this said, I told my mom NOT to worry about the novel right now. It’s true “Pitch Wars” opens up tomorrow, but I’m not worried. Pitch Wars is for aspiring novelists to enter for a chance to work with a mentor to get their manuscript perfect for submission to a literary agent. I’m still going to enter, but I’m not getting all worried and stressing about it!

With the book done and out of my hands for a few weeks, we decided to get some family time in!

Our local mall has a business called “Palmetto Clayground.” It’s a paint your own ceramics store. Talia was more about dipping the brush in the pain than actually painting, but we have a really cute keepsake and a great memory!

0727161152.jpg

Of course no day out is complete without a new book!

0727161240.jpg

I would be this happy too if they would let me on!

0730161003a.jpg

We also had our first swimming lesson this week! Sadly, it only lasted five minutes.

0730161011a.jpg

Another little boy with a SUPER dramatic mother, made himself get sick in the pool because he didn’t want to go in. The mother started crying hysterically and then we had the 3-year-old crying, and the mother crying. We felt bad making Talia get out of the pool because she was so excited to get in, but we will get to go back next week.

0730161152b.jpg

We also hit up Fan Fest with the South Carolina Stingrays over the weekend. Talia was beside herself with excitement, even though there wasn’t a game going on. She scored herself a Trevor Gillies puck and some new clothes because they put everything up for sale at 75% off! We were able to find some stuff she and the baby will be able to wear!

How was your weekend? Did you do anything exciting? What did you read? Check back tomorrow for the weekly book review!