The Fort Palmetto Walking Trail

Here’s the last of the trail explorations SIL Maryann and I made during her recent visit.

Fort Palmetto played a big role during the Civil War (1861-1865).

I took a picture of a local map I have and marked where the fort’s ruins are located. Look at the black arrow just below number 5 on the map. This area is also called “Oyster Creek.”

If any of you have ever read Gone With the Wind, you will remember that during the Civil War Rhett Butler was a blockade runner along the Charleston coast and used these inner waterways, inlets, and rivers to get imported goods through the Federal blockade of Charleston.

Dewee Island lies to the north of Isle of Palms, and there is a fairly big body of water behind the barrier islands in this area.

Here’s some explanatory text copied from a Mount Pleasant Magazine online article on Fort Palmetto:

“Located between Isle of Palms and Dewees Island, Dewees Inlet had, by virtue of its depth, been identified as a possible access point for federal ships coming in from the Atlantic that could be vulnerable to attack during the Siege of Charleston. Fort Palmetto was strategically placed to prevent any Union ships from using the inland waterways to land troops near Mount Pleasant and advance on Charleston. A company of the 20th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry garrisoned Fort Palmetto for much of the war.” 

“Its formidable defenses were armed with one nine-inch Dahlgren gun and two 32-pound rifled and banded guns, the latter of which boasted a range of more than four miles, reaching all the way to Dewees Inlet. While it suffered damage and erosion over time, remnants of the three gun positions and the powder magazines are still clearly visible, accessible via a side path.”

Here’s the beginning of the trail to the fort site, which now runs behind houses.

As an aside, the Wisteria is blooming everywhere in the woods. This very aggressive vine can be seen running across the upper reaches of trees (and elsewhere) this time of year. People do plant it as well, but most are aware of its aggressive nature and keep it severely trimmed–either into a kind of bush or VERY controlled draping over…something.

It is fun to see all the beautiful houses and run-off creeks and retention ponds in this area too. There were farms in this area back in the day.

But the swamp and low land tidal areas are also everywhere.

Here’s the observation tower at the end of the trail. Tidal lowland water and channels lie beyond this higher-land point.

And open water lies beyond the tidal flats. That’s Isle of Palms across the water.

The pines love this terrain.

And there are different pine varieties, both low and high.

I will definitely walk this trail again.

Ted Lasso and the Battle of the Books Contest

I’ve been captivated by the Apple TV show TED LASSO. I’ve almost finished the second season, and the third is streaming week by week now. I find myself laughing belly laughs outlaid somewhat frequently. The show is very different and I’m finding it refreshing. Lots of verbal nuggets to think about, for one thing. The characters are engaging and interesting.

Mike and Tami kept saying how much they liked this show. I have a new iPhone, so I get 3 months of Apple TV for free, and then it is about $7 a month. That’s a good deal, but there is, also, some good content there. I tend to switch out these streaming apps frequently, but I keep Amazon Prime and Netflix all the time.

Saturday saw me accompanying my 12-year old granddaughter to the finals of the Charleston County’s Battle of the Books–held at the new Wando Public Library, which is less than about 10 minutes north from me, depending on traffic lights.

Wow. That event was an eye-opener–in lots of ways. First, this library is awesome! It’s big, and it lends all sorts of items, among them sewing machines. A kiosk right up front had books for $1 that looked new–among them were 6 or 7 intriguing books on quilting. I came home with a new library card and directions of how to download the online app, “Libby,” which has awesome features. I can download audible books if I like.

The “battle” had 4 teams of 4 students who made it to the finals. Each team read 24 books, so each team member read 6 books. (I don’t know if the whole contest had the same books or if new books got added at different levels of the competition.). The librarians asked VERY specific questions about the books during 4 rounds–and the specific book for a question was not identified until the correct answer was posted to the big screen.

I listened and knitted. This project is my last ball of cotton yarn, which is a good thing as my pile of finished “towels” is overflowing its container.

The winning team answered something like 43 questions, out of a potential of 44. My granddaughters team answered 38 questions correctly. So I’d say all of these teams made a really good showing.

Dinner was at my oldest son’s house as they were leaving early Sunday morning for a college visit, and I was spending the night with them as I’ll be there for their two daughters and two dogs until Tuesday afternoon some time.

I have hand sewing to do while away from home. Yes, the quilt from hell.

And now it is Monday–and the start of a fairly busy week for me–with the possibility of the arrival of the longarm Friday.

One can hope, LOL.

But it’s all good.

Yes, The Grill Did Come Assembled

Some of you asked…

And, yes, I’ve been using it.

It lives in the garage, where it is protected from weather.

It’s easy to roll it out to the driveway.

I am LOVING having an attached garage–the grill is mere steps from the kitchen.

I made two more pot holders yesterday. It’s hard to quit, but I have moved on now after these two. But I have fresh freezer paper patterns should the need arise, LOL.

And the back.

I have my old Janome, which is going strong, set up with a walking foot attached, so it is easy to move over to it when a walking foot is needed–like for this walking foot quilting and the binding.

These potholders are thick–with two inner layers (Insul-Brite and batting) and the two outer layers. And the funky shape makes installing binding a bit more tricky at the join. And the thickness means the binding has to wrap around a lot of thickness–so I should be using 2 1/2 inch binding rather than the 2 1/4 inch I usually use. Single fold bias tape doesn’t cut it for this thickness. The stitching on the binding on the last one was the best so far, but it wasn’t perfect. And, I like perfect.

Needless to say, this project has been a learning curve for me.

And I like learning curves, too.

This pair is going to son Bryan.

I did sew a few Churn Dash blocks yesterday for the quilt on the design wall. They are so fun to make and sew up quickly. But tomorrow I will return to the quilt from hell as I’ll be staying with my two older granddaughters while their parents make a quick trip to see Old Miss with grandson Kelly–one more time before a final decision is made. So, hand-sewing will be needed.

The longarm light bar is due in New Jersey tomorrow. Its trip from out west took forever as the shipping company clearly has been short-handed–which is a common story these days. So, the delivery plan now is next Friday.

The Dentist: Soup Needed

Part of a big move to a new region involves finding a whole new set of folks to provide medical help: a family practice person, an ob/gyn, an opthalmologist or optometrist, and a dentist.

I went to the new dentist who accepted me as a patient earlier this week–on Tuesday. Apparently my mouth is a MESS: old teeth about to break, old worn-out crowns, and, yes, some cavities, one of which is under the old crown. Some of this mess is the result of the lack of care in the covid years, but some is just a factor of having old teeth.

Going to the dentist is and always has been a real stress producer for me. Add in the Histamine Intolerance issue, and let’s just say there is…high stress.

Anyway, I went Thursday for the replacement of the first two crowns–near each other on the bottom right. I didn’t sleep much the night before…

This dentist is a woman–and I have had men for 20 years now. And both were good dentists. But can I just say I have fallen into dental nirvana with this new dentist and her assistant. I have never before been so carefully and helpfully treated–and I came home with temporary crowns, no pain, and feeling I was in really good hands–literally.

On Tuesday, to prepare, I made a bone broth from the chicken bones and organs I had frozen in recent weeks–with added onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. I think now that bay leaf might also have been involved. If an onion is free of any mold, I add the peels as well as the skins add lovely color. On Wednesday, I made a soup so I would have soft, nourishing food on Thursday after the morning appointment.

Now, I know I’ve posted the making of soup many times on this blog, but this soup is one with a southern flare.

Here’s the base–onions, garlic, carrots, orange bell pepper, a few COLLARD leaves chopped up, some little round potatoes quartered, dried herbs, sea salt, and two packages of boneless chicken thighs with the skin on as the best nutrients and fats are just under the skin. I sautéed the veggies in duck fat–only adding the fresh garlic after the veggies were started so it does not burn as it would if you just dump it into hot fat. I cooked the veggies, turning them often, until they started to color/caramelize, and then added the chicken to cool down the mixture so it didn’t burn. You can see the caramelization in the bottom of the pan–don’t let things burn at the point before you add your raw meat. *Note that it is this caramelization step that makes a soup have rich robust flavor and a beautiful color.

Next, I added the bone broth. Look at its rich, dark color and the lovely fat now in the soup. Good fats DO NOT MAKE YOU FAT! They give one sturdy, long, even energy for hours and hours. Too many grain-based carbs and fruits are what make you fat.

When I chopped veggies for my soup, I also made my lunch salad–using the leftover steak I grilled on Tuesday. See the fresh dill here and there? The salad only needs to be drizzled with the lovely olive oil from Organic Roots now. Look! I’ll be eating a rainbow.

Next, I added the frozen veggies: corn, peas, and OKRA! And more dried herbs.

And here’s my soup after bringing it to a simmer and cooking about 20 minutes–just long enough to soften the carrots and potatoes. I often just turn off the pot at this point and let the soup sit quietly as the veggies will soften in the cooling heat. And I did that this time–coming back later to freeze about half of this soup in two batches and to transfer the rest to a big bowl to be placed in the refrigerator so I would have soup all ready on Thursday.

I had my salad lunch on the screened porch, while I worried about going to the new dentist and all that is wrong in my mouth, and read for a bit to hide out from my brain.

And writing this tale of a new dentist and soup this morning is making me profoundly grateful for the gifts the universe/life has bestowed on me during these past months.

The mouth will be fixed, and I will be fine. And I have soup waiting for the next dental visit.

Laurel Hill County Park

When SIL Maryann visited, we explored nearby Laurel Hill County Park, which is a beautiful 745-acre tract of woods and creeks with trails that circle the whole and some trails that form loops off this main trail.

We wanted to walk to the avenue of “live oaks” that once led to the Laurel Hill plantation house–which is believed to have been destroyed by fire some time after the Civil War. The avenue is marked by the black-slashed line on the bottom left of the above map–to the right of the white trail. But, here’s the start of the trail at the trail head, which you can see on the above map.

The avenue of live oaks was about a mile down the trail and was in an area that has been preserved as a field. It takes 200 or so years for the live oaks to grow tall enough to form a “ceiling” where they meet in the middle.

Here was our first view as we approached. Look, too, at the gorgeous sky. There was not a cloud in sight all day.

And here is the avenue stretching out to the left, with all the lovely grey moss draping the limbs with their long garlands.

Looking down the avenue.

These old live oaks are home to many other plants which live on them, hopefully symbiotically.

Here’s a better picture of one of the limbs, which is covered with a layer of green growth.

I found information on live oaks at the Smithsonian Gardens web site: “The Live Oak” ( Here’s a quote–and I didn’t know live oaks were a keystone species:

“The Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana), also known simply as the live oak, gets its name from the fact that, unlike other oaks, it doesn’t lose its leaves in the autumn. Live oaks are native to the Southeastern coast of the United States, extending from Virginia to Florida and as far west as Texas and Oklahoma. The live oak is a keystone species that serves as the backbone of its ecosystem. It provides shade and furnishes a habitat for hundreds of living organisms, including mammals, birds, insects, and other plants.”

I still have not seen the very famous live oak, “Angel Oak,” on John’s Island. A visit there is on my list. It’s HUGE AT 65 feet high, and estimates place it at 400-500 years old.

We passed a steady number of people using this trail, many with their dogs, so I don’t think I would feel unsafe using it by myself, though the trail loop does get a long way from the parking area.

Granddaughter Mina sent me this picture of the sunset last Monday night, taken from the dunes just back of the beach on Isle of Palms.

Potholders and Hot Pads

I BADLY needed a break from the quilt from hell. So I gave myself a few days to play with a new project. OK, two new projects, actually, but I’m resisting so far making more churn dash blocks for the quilt on the design wall. I need to fill those holes–it’s under 20 blocks.

I have been watching friend Betsy Maislen make adorable pot holders in recent months–and she had fun playing with her machine’s decorative stitches for the quilting. And a year ago, I was also tempted by Debbie Jesse’s post on her A Quilter’s Blog when she made a whole slew of color-dedicated, scrappy potholders using a funky shape from Hannah Haberkern: Recently Debbie Jesse returned to this funky potholder project–and added a matching mitt. She made these two items, and I fell in love:

I have put links to Debbie Jeske’s posts below this post. And here’s a picture of Hannah Haberkern’s initial funky potholder. Isn’t it fun? She used her walking foot for the quilting.

The insulating product most used for potholders is Insul-Brite–which contains a needle punched fluffy fiber with a poly layer. The product repels both heat and cold.

Info on the package recommends two layers, poly side out, with an inner batting layer that will absorb condensation. So, that’s 3 layers, plus the two outside top/bottom layers. Various people writing about how to use this product also recommend additional batting layers for really good heat control, so I did add one more for the hot pad I also made.

You also need bias binding–which I always do anyway–but many use single-fold bias tape for the binding–and I will try to do that when I get a chance to buy some in colors I like locally.

Confession: I’ve never been able to properly sew down the free edge on binding with my machine and always hand sew the free edge. BUT, I need to rethink and learn to do a good job so that the back and fronts both look nice. I suspect using a glue stick and/or clips would help.

So, here’s what went home with son Mike, who REALLY needed some fresh potholders. And, a big counter hot pad for hot dishes coming out of the oven. Word is he’s already used them and likes them.

I used some Essex Linen I had in my stash as my focal point, some peppered cottons in grays and the one green, and a Carolyn Friedlander print. I made my bias binding from the linen.

I made TWO LAYERS first–doing the front and back layers separately and then combining them. The front layer had the top and the Insul-Brite; the bottom had the back, the Insul-Brite, and a batting layer that would land up in the middle of the potholder. Before quilting each package, I sewed the edges with a bigger basting stitch. Also, before installing the binding, I, again, sewed around all the edges. *Also, I released the foot pressure to handle this thickness. (The linen binding was super stretchy, which made hand sewing the back edge pretty easy.)

Here’s the back.

Here’s the BIG trial counter hot pad–which has 4 inner layers as I added an extra batting piece. I’m also experimenting with this kind of binding where a larger backing comes around to the front, but haven’t quite “got it” yet–in that it’s width is chopping off blocks. It works really well, though, if the top doesn’t contain pieced blocks that need only a 1/4 inch seam. Also, I used my machine to stitch additional lines of quilting here and there as hand-sewing into this thickness was hunt and peck. And, slow.

I could not resist playing with scraps before putting these fabrics away–so I have this hot pad for myself–but with only 3 inner layers. Thus, I can test out how heat protective it is.

The other project is trying out various methods to make placemats from the 3 1/2 inch blocks I have from the Cotton+Steel project where I cut up the whole saved stash. Son Bryan’s family needs new placemats–and granddaughter Ailey is going to help me make some for them.

Next on the potholder project, I’ll try using just two inner layers (Insul-Bright and batting) and bought single-fold bias tape. What a great way to play with scraps and to have some gifts on hand.

Here’s the recent post from A Quilter’s Table:

Here’s the link to Debbie’s scrappy potholders from last year:

Beach Wonders

DIL Corinne often goes to the beach to see the sunrise. She sent me this picture the other day.

Maryann and I went back to Breach Inlet, the break between Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms, last Friday–and we did see one dolphin feeding under the bridge as we began our beach walk.

The wind was very high, so we got a lot of exercise walking against it. There were three hanggliders and one paraglider riding the wind currents off Sullivan’s island, but they were too far away for a picture. Hangliding is where a person is part of the flying apparatus and lies prone; paragliding is where the person sits below the sail.

The beach was smooth at this low tide, with very few tidal pools–which was witness to how the beach changes every single day. In one lone tidal puddle, we saw a live starfish. Its little tubes were wriggling like crazy when I picked it up.

The underneath was a brilliant yellow.

You can see that one arm is growing back. I found this quote from the Denver Zoo online site in a quick search online–and wikipedia has an extensive entry on starfish that describes pretty much everything about them.

Some species of sea star have the ability to regenerate lost arms or even regenerate a whole new sea star from a single arm attached to a portion of the central disc. Regeneration is possible because each of the arms contains parts of the vital organs including the digestive tract and reproductive organs.”

The channel under the bridge is deep and dangerous. The tidal currents are very, very strong here. But this is also where the dolphins feed. Son Bryan told me the local dolphins have learned how to push a school of fish up to the steep banks here so they can trap and eat them. It is unusual, local dolphin behavior, and the pods have trained their offspring to feed in this manner.

We saw a cute little tugboat pushing a dredger up the channel so it could dig out this pier area.

No trip to the beach is ever a waste of time.

Indigo: “The Blue That Enchanted the World”

One of my 1963 Bellevue High School classmates is among those classmates who are still in touch with each other via email and Facebook. She lives in Chicago. Recently, knowing I have moved to Charleston, she sent me this Smithsonian article on the history of Indigo in Charleston and how Indigo is grown and used in the Low Country today. It is a beautiful article.

Eliza Lucas Pinckney (1722-1793) is credited with starting the indigo industry on her family’s Wappoo Plantation, sw of Charleston. At the time she was 18 years old and in charge of this plantation in her father’s absence. Here is a link to her fascinating history:

Eliza’s father was the Lt. Gov. of Antigua, so she was born and raised on a Caribbean plantation. Her parents sent her to a boarding school in London, which was very unusual for a girl child. When she was 16, her father sent her mother and her sisters to Charleston, where the family owned three plantations. At some point, he also sent her Indigo seeds to plant. Eliza loved botany and was something of an expert.

Local Charlestonians ridiculed her attempts to get Indigo to grow as they knew Indigo did not do well in the region during the winter. Besides, rice was the main crop in the region. But she persevered, and the rest is history. Indigo became a big and lucrative export crop, having been adopted by many in the region after Eliza paved the ways of growing it.

Eliza was very close to Charles and Eliza Pinckney, and the Pinckneys were a prominent family. When Eliza Pinckney tragically died, Charles Pinckney, then 44 years to her 22, asked her to marry him. At that point, Eliza’s father had sent for the family to return to Antigua, and independent Eliza did not want to go.

Charles Pinckney (1699-1758) was the South Carolina Chief Justice. He and Eliza had 4 children, among them Charles Cotesworthy Pinckney, one of the Founders of the United States and a signer of the US Constitution, along with his first cousin, Charles Pinckney.

The Pinckney family held a prominent place for decades in South Carolina, both politically and culturally.

Here’s the wiki link to Eliza Pinckney–who was an unusual and very interesting woman.

I will be exploring more about Indigo in Charleston today and about the historical role of the Pinckney family.

Sweet Grass Baskets

I picked up SIL Maryann Enright, arriving on a flight from Boston, Monday morning. This trip was my first to the Charleston airport on my own, and with Waze it was all very easy. This airport is very new and modern and beautifully laid out in so many ways. Parking was so easy.

While waiting for Maryann to meet me in the main lobby, I admired the display of Mary Jackson’s stunning sweetgrass baskets.

I’ve long been an admirer of these woven baskets–we had northern versions in Maine. But the sweetgrass makers and their baskets have a REALLY a big presence in the Low Country. The makers have many display sheds lining roads in Charleston so people can stop and buy their baskets.

There were two display cases of Mary Jackson’s baskets, and I took pictures of everything so you could all see how special they are.

What makes the low country baskets different from any I’ve seen in Maine is the use of pine straw in places. The dark decoration on many of the baskets tops is pine straw.

Here’s the second case.

Many of the local baskets are much plainer than Mary Jackson’s work as she uses light and dark materials to create her patterns. Most sweetgrass creations here are much plainer and just use the lighter-colored sweetgrass. They are ALL so special, however.

Maryann arrived and also admired this gorgeous work.

And then we went home and after she settled in, we went for a long walk at the Palmetto Islands park I blogged about recently. Yes, we climbed to the top of the observation tower.

My Outdoor Room Is Finished

Shortly after moving into my new home, I learned that people here love to make outdoor rooms–on screened porches and, sometimes, literally outdoors on a patio or some other hard outdoor surface, like, maybe, the upper part of a driveway.

Here’s a picture of the screened porch on the back of the house just after I moved in.

I brought the wood Adirondack chairs and the round table from Maine when I knew I’d have a porch for them–and, also, the Sunbrella cushions I had for the chairs, which came many years ago from LL Bean. These chairs were made locally in Maine and are so sturdy.

The little dark brown pottery pitcher has been with me for decades and decades now. It last sat on my beloved Reynolds, Georgia, grandmother’s back steps. It was probably locally made way way way back in the day. Grandmother loved all the shades of brown, and so it reminds me of her. And, it reminds me that she loved her gardens and worked in them a lot. They were famous in her small Georgia town.

The big blue pot was the only one I brought from Maine. At one time I had so many container pots and planted them in early spring so that the Maine house was surrounded by flowers all summer.

“You might like an outdoor rug on that screened porch,” DIL Tami said. “You might like to make an outdoor room to enjoy most of the year.” And realtor/friend Lisa Hartley said “I found an outdoor rug at Target a few years back that is wearing outside beautifully. We just hosed it off this spring and it looks like new.”

Target ships right to your house for free, and prices are super reasonable. I spent many hours pouring over pictures of outdoor rugs. And when I identified three I liked, both Tami and granddaughter Talula picked the same rug from the three I showed them–separately, not together. So I ordered it.

The two new navy blue Adirondack cushions came from LLBean. And the throw pillows from Target. The pillows were cheaper than anything I could make. I do bring them inside if I know it is going to rain–as the rain can blow well into the porch.

Next I found a very reasonably priced wooden outdoor coffee table that Target shipped to me. I put it together myself–which was very satisfying. Fake flowers from Target went into my grandmother’s brown pitcher–they are meant to be feathery, like beach grass. Bryan trimmed the long metal stems for me with a wire cutter. I am not a fan of fake flowers, but these will stand up to the outdoor weather. The green plant in its white holder came from realtor-friend Lisa when I moved into the house. The white cyclamen came from builder D. R. Horton to welcome me to my new home. And shells I’ve found on the beach are filling up the straw basket on the coffee table.

I did borrow two small conch shells from the buckets of shells at Bryan and Corinne’s the other day–breaking my rule of only bringing home what I have found on the beach. They were just too cute to resist.

I ordered one more piece from Target–a round wooden outdoor table that will go under Lisa’s plant and will be somewhat like the table on the other side of the double seat that I brought from Maine. It came and I put it together too. These Target pieces of furniture will weather grey in time, but I do wipe them off when they get wet.

I planted the big blue pot with rosemary, which is really hardy here. I have already clipped some for a roasted butternut squash dish.

As shown in yesterday’s post, the blinds ordered from Best Buy Blinds, Inc, the folks who did the plantation shutters in the house, were delivered and installed Thursday, so my outdoor room is finished. I am so enjoying it, and I eat lunch while reading out there most days. Sometimes I sit out there and hand sew or knit. This outdoor room is just a lovely place to sit and spend some time outdoors.