Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Little Advice From My Mother...

Bluffton Today column
August 17, 2011

My mom told me not to write this. But, last week I told her to call the VOX and she didn’t listen to me, so now we’ll be even-steven. If you know me at all – which many of you assume you do – you know that I couldn’t let the religious right have the last word. Since as I type, we are on day 12 of the Courtney is a Heathen 2011 Tour, I thought it important to make a few points and ask a few more questions.

Based on the feedback from my last column, it is clear that I am likely the most prayed for person on Bluffton. So, sounds like you all are taking care of the job for me and I am in the clear. Thank you for that.

In addition to the multiple prayer chains, I also received a healthy load of invitations to attend various church services and most interestingly, the Answers in Genesis Conference being held in Beaufort last weekend. I almost went. I mean I was a huge fan of Phil Collins in the 80s and I figured if he was going to be just a few miles from home, it was worth the trip. But alas, my schedule got in the way.

All kidding aside, I understand that many people have a personal relationship with God, however I found it interesting that so many are so possessive of their relationship, telling me about “their” God. Does this mean God is different for everyone? I was also a little surprised by the church-goers and believers who want to “run me out of town on a rail,” to find my house and sit out front praying for me (which is why I am appreciative of the second amendment), to watch me be punished for what I write. None of those threats appeared “Christian” to me. So, it begs the questions, what would “your” God think of how you treated me? Now I am even more confused.

Here is what I do know. If there is a God, he must have a fabulous sense of humor, because it is a crazy, crazy world that we live in. And, if he has a sense of humor, he read my column and laughed. If he is all knowing, he knows that I ask questions and make points in order to the stir the pot. He also knows much more about me than anyone else ever will. And, after adding it all up, I presume he would dub us even-steven as well.

Now that this is behind us, let’s talk about a few additional suggestions you should heed when your mother makes them …

Cut your hair. Boys, you look like idiots with the Justin Beiber haircuts. Walking around shaking your head, so your bangs fall just so across your eyes, is not combing your hair. Get a buzz cut and get over it. While you are at it, buy a pair of pants that stays up around your waist so I don’t have to look at your underwear.

Girls, get a pair of shorts that are long enough so I don’t have to look at your “juicy” rear. Keep in mind that the boys you are trying to impress can’t see a thing because their hair is hanging over their eyes.

(Boys, see note above.)

Neighbors, power wash your houses for crying out loud. Mold green is not an approved color in our POA regulations.

Dog owners, scoop your poop. In fact, a new town initiative – which you can learn about at town council, after the opening prayer – is aimed at raising awareness about how water pollution from pet waste affects the May River, and encouraging pet owners to be responsible and "Scoop the Poop." Visit for the er, scoop.

Avoid too much sugar.

Brush your teeth twice a day. (And floss.)

Don’t drink and drive.

And, may God bless America.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Are You There God? It's Me Courtney

Bluffton Today columnAugust 3, 2011

They (yup, still trying to determine who “they” are) tell me that God is everywhere. Interestingly, I bumped into him two weeks ago, at a Bluffton Town Council meeting. A town council meeting, in a government building, is not where I expected to stumble into the omnipotent one. I thought it more likely that we may meet whence I meandered into a church, after a ten year hiatus, and as the lightening was flashing, and thunder crashing, I would shout out, “I believe.”

Alas, I was wrong. And, somehow in my previous visits to council I managed to miss the prayer. The prayer! Am I really even typing those words? I was stunned that after the meeting was called to order, Mayor Pro-tem Fred Hamilton ringed up God and ask him to bless the meeting, bless the people, and bless our town. (I later sneezed and also got a blessing.)

Perhaps I’ve been previously side-tracked by Mr. Hamilton’s snappy attire (I am indeed a fan of his wardrobe), but how have I missed this? I am mortified that after six years in Bluffton, I am just now tackling this topic. I must be losing my edge.

But now that I have my wits back about me, I’m thinking that Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave. After all, it was old Tommy J. who, in a letter dated in 1802, suggested a separation of church and state. Said suggestion was later adopted as a part of the establishment clause of the first amendment, and cited by the Supreme Court on many occasions.

So, why in the heck are we mixing God and local politics? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve sat through some of these meetings, and many a debate, and I am certain I muttered, “Oh my God,” “Christ Almighty,” “Sweet Jesus,” under my breath on more than one occasion. Yes, I’m a blasphemer but this isn’t about me.

It is about you. It is about your right to a separation of church and state. We have rules people. In fact, we have rules at town council meetings. For example, if you would like to be heard, there is a process you must follow. You must, in advance of the start of the meeting, fill out the appropriate paperwork (online or in person), to be heard. Once you are called to the podium during public comment period, you have three minutes to get your point across. This begs a few questions -- If God is at town council, does he fill out the form in advance? What organization does his form say he is representing? If he (or is he a she?) exceeds the allotted three minutes what happens?

The agenda at the July council meeting was rather benign. The meeting, uneventful. Nothing to get all excited about. No scandal. (There was a special guest appearance from former councilman and mayoral candidate Charlie Wetmore, but he behaved and even stayed within his 180 seconds.) Was the peace and calm a result of a shout out to God or was he too busy to hear the call come in that night?

Now I have even more questions. Does God show up anytime he hears his name? In traffic, when someone cuts you off? At the gym, when you can’t lift another pound? In your living room when you’ve (yes, you!) got the volume on the “Skinemax” channel a tad too high? (You'll note that this sentence didn't make the print version, but I had to try!) In the middle of the night when one of the kids is crying? At the airport when your flight has been delayed again?

How does he know when help is really needed versus when he is being called in vain?

Good lord, I could go on all day …

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

August: A Line in the Sand

August 2011 CH/CB2
This month, crazy Frank Dunne, Jr. and I pontificate on philandering politicians. I, as always, am right. You can read Frank's opinion here, if you must.

Frank, I know you are not suggesting that I lack character or the ability to judge character. (Even though, per last month’s column, I do contribute to the eroding moral compass of the nation.) So, I’m going to give you a pass on that one and instead focus on that fact that your singular “Weiner” example is actually the perfect illustration of your one-track argument.

Anthony Weiner, that’s the best you can come up with? I mean granted, Weiner is media gold, he’s out and about showing off his private parts and his last name just happens to also be the caption for his pictures? Jackpot!

But, in truth it’s not about Anthony Weiner, Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Mark Sanford. Once again your narrow mind steers you down the wrong path as you suggest that this issue of philandering is one, only limited to politicians and two, that the only ones doing it are the ones who get caught.

Oh contraire mon frère. You may remember my “open your eyes regarding marriage argument” from last month? Well, let me continue to enlighten you. Let’s talk numbers, including the staggering 8.5 million members on, a website dedicated to helping married philanderers find a “philanderee.”

While infidelity statistics abound, I’m actually going to go conservative here and quote a 2007 Lust, Love & Loyalty survey, which concluded that, “About one in five adults in monogamous relationships, or 22 percent, have cheated on their current partner. And nearly half of people admit to being unfaithful at some point in their lives.” MSNBC also cited research expert Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey for the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago who conducted the study “American Sexual Behavior,” a poll of 10,000 people over two decades. The study found that 22 percent of married men and 15 percent of married women have cheated at least once — similar to the results from the survey.

If these statistics are true, 20% of our nation is cheating on their partner. So, for argument’s sake, let’s say that 20% of elected officials are cheating on their partner. However, unless they’ve been caught in a media firestorm, we don’t know about it. Is it really their cheating that makes them a bad politician or is it the media circus that surrounds the “big reveal” that renders them unable to lead?

I vote for the latter. Character is comprised of many things. And, everyone defined character differently. If politically a politician stands for and works for everything that you believe in, do you really care what he does in his personal life? What if you find feet to be disgusting and your Congressman has a foot fetish? What if he is having an affair (with a women with beautiful feet, mind you), because his wife hasn’t been interested in sex in 10 years? Better yet, what if his wife is cheating too? Or, what if they have an agreement to step outside their marriage? Why do we care? Are you not going to vote for him because his ideals don’t match up to yours in every column? If so, you’d never vote again.

Look around right now. One in every five people you see is statistically a cheater. It could be your mailperson, the little league coach who lives next door, the bagger at your grocery store, your child’s teacher, your best buddy, your boss, the waiter at your favorite restaurant, the minister at your church (oh yeah, I’m going there).

Is your mail still being delivered on time? Is team moral up? Are your freezer items separated from the cans? Is your kid getting A’s? Is your buddy still your favorite drinking partner? Is your boss still tolerable? Is your service still top-notch? Is Sunday’s sermon still inspiring?

All I am saying is let’s not rush to judge.

I’m sure you’ve made some mistakes along the way Frank, but heck, our Editor still let’s you write. Right?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's Up Doc?

Bluffton Today column
July 20,2011

This one is dedicated to my doctor, who never actually became my doctor, because even though my primary physician felt that there was an issue that needed a specialist’s attention, that specialist refused to see me.

As I am sure you can imagine I was beyond thrilled by this scenario. For entertainment purposes, let me shed a little on the conversation for ya. It went a little something like this.

Me: “Hi, this is Courtney Hampson. My doctor sent over a referral and my file and I’d like to make an appointment.”

Them: “Let me connect you with our referral specialist.”

Referral Specialist: “Yes, I see a note that says, ‘Dr. Evil cannot see you at this time’.”

Me: “So, he’s too busy or is just offended by me in general?”

RS: “Your symptoms are not really something he treats.”

Me: “Really, what specific symptoms are not valid enough for Dr. Evil?”

RS: “Well, I don’t actually have your file in front of me.”

Me: “So, you’re making this up? Or you are just not qualified to answer my questions?”

RS: “All I can tell you is what it says here.”

Me (under my breath): “Specialist may be a stretch in your job title, don’t ya think?

Me: “So what you are telling me is that my doctor of five years thinks there is an issue and wants a specialist to take a closer look, but you are refusing to see me?”

RS: “Well.”

Me (louder): “So what you are telling me is that my doctor of five years thinks there is an issue and wants a specialist to take a closer look, but you are refusing to see me?”

RS: “Yes.”

Me: “Ok. What was your name again? Susannah? Great. You and Dr. Evil can look forward to seeing your name in print real soon. What is it they say … any PR is good PR? Have a great day.”

Then I burst into tears.

I’ve been feeling crappy for awhile. We’ve tried a few things to regulate the ol’ hormones, but nothing seems to kick the symptoms in the arse. I experienced years of reproductive challenges, so I basically chalked this up to faulty plumbing and darn it stinks to be a woman. My doctor (and my Mom) finally convinced me to have someone else take a look.

Enter Dr. Evil, who won’t see me and whose name I can’t pronounce, and since I read aloud as I write, and because I wondered if a name drop would make it to print, I changed his name. He is, of course, the only endocrinologist in my health plan. Oh, and his office is in Savannah. And, his practice might have the word endocrinology in the title. Maybe.

So now what? Well, I’m thinking witch doctor. Which doctor? A witch doctor. Which (isn’t this fun?), in our first world usually refers to chiropractors, homeopaths and faith healers. Homeopathy you say? I’m in. Homeopathy is a system of medical therapy that uses very small doses of medicines, or remedies. These remedies are prepared from substances found in nature - plants, minerals and animal substances.

So, I’m putting on the white jacket and headed to my laboratory. (Since you now know that I read aloud as I am typing, you should know that I annunciated that as “la-BOOR-atory.”)

Plant material – I’m going mint. I will mix said mint with a little rum and some soda and Mojito my way to a healthier me.

Mineral – do diamonds count? I’ve got a new one on my left ring finger. And, frankly that makes me feel better already.

Final ingredient – animal. Pig is big, so I’m going bacon.

Oh, stop. I know that is not how homeopathy is practiced. But it was funny. And it took my mind off the fact that there is a bigger issue here and I am debating how to tackle it, however the last thing I want is a political debate a la health care, or a retort from Bill Roe. So, I guess the only question I have is … what’s up doc?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dave Miner: The Man, The Myth, The Legend, My Friend

CB/CH2 goes bi-coastal in the July issue with an interview with Napa winemaker Dave Miner.

He loves grapes and his girls. And if you throw in a little jazz guitar, Dave Miner is in seventh heaven. The stories of his three great loves intersect often. In fact, it kind of makes you believe that some things are indeed meant to be.

Music was his first love. Dave’s aunt was a musician, and guitars were always lying around the house for his amusement. He was also known to fiddle with the ivory keys on occasion. But practicing music was much less interesting than playing sports. So music remained something he did “just for fun.”

Wine came next. In his twenties, Dave began collecting wine with his uncle, the founder of Oracle Software Company. He would visit his uncle in San Francisco. They’d get to talking. Then they’d get to drinking. And as Oracle continued to take off and more money was rolling in, they started buying to satisfy their ever-evolving palettes.

Soon, Dave was working in the Oracle sales department, seeking a closer connection to his uncle and the undulating Napa Valley. And then, the stars aligned and his uncle bought a vineyard. And there, he fell even deeper in love, with wine. He made a break from Oracle, started his own technology company, sold it, and was pondering his next move when he got the call.

His uncle was sick, and Dave was asked if he would take over operations of the winery. “I needed less than five minutes to make that decision,” he quipped. To his uncle he said, “I’ll be there tomorrow.” That was 1993.

By 1996, the first vintage of Miner Family Wines was available. But, not until after he met his third and true love, Emily. As he told me the story of the first moment he saw her, he paused to catch his breath and tears formed in his eyes (and, in mine). With wistfulness he admits that he was “diggin’ her from day one.” Emily was his first employee and after she spent six months trying to set him up with someone else, she finally “got it” and agreed to go out with Dave. After a whirlwind romance, and in a ‘how cool is that’ moment, Emily’s father hired the celebrated jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli to play their wedding reception. Talk about a perfect match!

Today, Miner Family Vineyards is a labor of love. True love. Dave’s jazz guitar collection (all crafted by the legendary Bob Benedetto in Savannah) adorns the winery’s tasting room. And, appropriately, a painted portrait of his wife and two daughters (and the vineyard) adorn the back of one of those guitars.

When you meet this man you are immediately drawn into the warm embrace of his laughter. He is funny, and sassy, and ever so sarcastic. He’ll tell you how it is. And then he’ll ask you if want to share a bottle of wine.

The next time you meet him, he’s an old friend. Indeed. Chances are … you have met him.

Dave makes the journey from the wine country to the South Carolina Lowcountry multiple times each year. He says, “there is an allure to the Lowcountry.” The first time he visited our fine area was to meet with the guys at Benedetto Guitars and make a little music. Six years later we are frequent destination for this vagabond, where he has forged many relationships via his wines.

Yet, Miner’s reach is truly country-wide. When talking to his pal, Jason Carlen, Sommelier at the renowned Spiaggia in Chicago (and former “wine geek” at Palmetto Bluff), his thoughts are sincere toward Dave, “Golly I love that man. He and Emily are some of my favorite people in this crazy world we live in. His wines emulate him beautifully. They possess the ease of someone you want to know, the class and sophistication that only comes from being so well-rounded and worldly, and something un-definable and a little bit dirty that makes you want to do naughty things. I can't get enough of him or his wines. I am honored to know him and call him a dear friend.”

As for the wine, Dave says, “You can collect it, but I’d much rather you open the wine – with your friends and family and create some memories. I mean, the best part of my job is hearing that Miner was at someone’s wedding or family milestone. We were there. What’s better than that?”

Now, I’m no wine connoisseur, but I can tell you that Miner – the wine and the winemaker – are easy to fall in love with – they are both pretty darn smooth.

Dave will tell you, “Pull the cork and drink it. If you get lucky, then I’ve doubly done my job.” He may have the best job ever.

Check out Miner Family Vineyards online

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Luciana Label

I don't know if I am hip enough to wear The Luciana Label, but at least she let me interview her for the July issue of CB/CH2!

With brow furrowed and lips pursed Luciana Quiroga moves around her client, studying the fabric, the way it drapes, how it moves, and perhaps just as important -- how the client feels donning her creation. It is no doubt that this serious approach to her work is what puts Quiroga in the fashion spotlight.

In contrast, I’m in the background drooling over this line of clothes that appears both comfortable and fabulous in the same stitch.

A native of Argentina, with a Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) fashion degree under her belt, Quiroga is a young fashionista with a desire to spread the word on the art of custom made clothing. Nearly two years after the opening of her self-dubbed boutique – “Luciana,” Quiroga is also putting her name on the fashion map.

As her career takes off, I had the opportunity to go behind the seams (so clever, that I stole it from Quiroga’s website) with the designer to get the scoop.

Where did your love of fashion originate?
I’ve always been curious about how all these dresses and skirts were made. My mom exposed me to fashion very early – taking me along to have a dress made by a local seamstress in South America. Also, I did a lot of shopping for clothes as a teenager. Attending SCAD was a dream come true for me - I finally had the opportunity to create my idea of what clothes should be.

Tell me about how your travels have inspired you? I’ve been very fortunate to travel in South America, Spain and throughout Europe. Seeing different styles in person, touching the fabric, from a variety of cultures, definitely inspires me and my designs. All that together defines what Luciana is today.

Are you ever surprised by what inspires you? Not necessarily. Inspiration for me is everywhere and can come from anything – people, places, music …

Did you play dress up when you were little? No, my love for design was a teenage escape. Although I always enjoyed dressing up my sister – and now I love dressing my customers.

If you had to pick one outfit from your closet to wear forever, what would it be? Shrugs. I love them and have plenty of them! They are easy to wear, simple to carry around, look good, and of course, come in handy in cold places like restaurants or movie theatres.

When you are designing for a specific person, what is the first question you ask that client? What colors do you like? Do you like solids or prints? And many more questions naturally follow. The more I know about my customer enables me to create a better design.

How do you want someone to feel when he or she is wearing your clothes? Comfortable, confident and glamorous! In fact, those words also best describe my designs.

What is the one article of clothing that every women should have in their wardrobe? A stylish dress of course! That’s what I create - one of a kind, super comfortable dresses that can be for every day wear or, made formal with accessories.

How long does it take you to complete a piece – from concept to finished product? Each piece is one-of-a-kind and every customer is unique, so it truly depends on the design, the fabric and the print.

What is the last book you read? When time permits, I read Couture pattern making books and anything related to fashion.

Favorite movie? I love so many – particularly ones that make you think - but no movies about aliens!

Is there any one person who you would love to design for? My clients! I get so much pleasure and satisfaction from seeing a client in one of my pieces…

What is your greatest extravagance? My Senior Collection at SCAD. Out of about 200 students I was selected to show my collection in the 2010 Senior Fashion Show. I keep the video, pictures, sketches and the actual clothes close by. I am so proud of what I created – it has helped me greatly in making the transition from student to professional.

What is your most marked characteristic, and is that reflected in your design?Creativity is probably what most of my friends would tell you, but some think my sense of humor too. I like to transform things, and not just clothing - from simple to fabulous and unique.

Tell me a little about the clothes we’re seeing in this issue … Colorful, couture, comfortable and very “now.” And, if you don’t see what you like, please come in and I will design something specifically for you.

What can we expect next from Luciana?I’m very excited about the new “Luciana Ready to Wear Club” launching on July 1st. There is no membership fee for our current customers and each item purchased offers them fantastic opportunities such as exclusive showings and very special pricing. It’s my way of showing appreciation for their loyalty and support.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Celebrity Chefs: Why All the Fuss?

Things are heating up in the kitchen and in the July issue of CB/CH2

In the summer of 2002, I moved from semi-metropolitan New Jersey to farmland New Jersey (yes, there are farms in NJ, it is the “garden state” for crying out loud!), for my ex’s job. While he was working every day, I was twiddling my thumbs trying to determine where I should set my career sights. I settled on a (short-lived) stint as marketing manager at a local winery (yes, they have grapes in NJ too). Each summer the winery would host a local festival – food, wine, entertainment, etc. I unfortunately started my new gig about 10 days before said festival. So, when a local chef who was going to do a cooking demo cancelled at the last minute, I was volunteered to man that post.

My boss had no way of knowing that my culinary repertoire was limited to (burnt) grilled cheese and scrambled eggs, that usually morphed into fried eggs because I tended to over-scramble.

I’m not sure if having the aforementioned knowledge would have mattered all that much to him, so I kept it to myself. We were desperate and desperate times call for desperate measures. I did what any professional would – I panicked. And then I turned to the Food Network for support. Lo and behold Rachel Ray was whipping up a 30-minute meal that I was certain I could master. I went to bed feeling a sense of relief until …

I received the news that my demo recipe should, of course, include ingredients sourced locally. I was planning a teriyaki and ginger grilled chicken topped with mango salsa. Feeling pretty confident that mangoes were not indigenous to NJ, I had to get creative. And I did. I added wine. Heck, it was local!

Come festival day, I stood atop a shoddy stage, with propane burners and demonstrated to a crowd of old ladies, “my” recipe. And guess what? They loved it. (Did I mention the free wine flowing at the festival that likely numbed the palate?) Alas, I didn’t burn anything and there were no reported illnesses. Success.

I learned a lot that day. Anyone can cook – if they channel their creativity and have fun with it. Today, chefs who used to be “back of the house” personnel are now front and center, infusing their personality into each dish. They’ve come a long way.

In 1963 Julia Child waltzed into our living rooms from her kitchen. With her almost jarring yet endearing vocal pitch and inane ability to honor the five-second rule when a chicken would find itself on the floor, Child brought French cooking and the allure of everything French to the American people. Dubbed “our Lady of the Ladle” by Time Magazine in 1966, Child was likely our first on-air celebrity chef. Under her PBS-documented tutelage, desperate housewives everywhere found the wherewithal to become masters of their kitchen domain.

Fast forward a few decades and then, BAM! Emeril Lagasse shows up on the Food Network scene and kicks it up a notch by tossing his signature “essence” into every dish. Folks were tuning in by the kitchen-load not necessarily for the recipes, rather for the entertainment -- live music, audience participation, sass and sarcasm. And a celebrity chef is born!

As the Food Network began to take shape and adding more notable chefs to their repertoire, a cult following slowly began to take shape. America was interested in cooking at home again. We would watch Bobby Flay conduct a cooking demo on the Today Show and then find ourselves in line at the butcher ordering twice-ground-brisket for our burger buffet that night because, “Bobby told us to!”

Food Network knew the recipe for success, and adding hunky chefs to the mix didn’t hurt the cause. Easy recipes for the at-home cook and eye-candy to boot? The chef-groupie is born!

Tyler Florence was my chef crush. And that was my little secret ... right up until I had to work with him. I have no shame and I will admit that the first time I met Tyler, I got a little hot and bothered. Ok, a lot hot. And I can probably also admit that my cheeks flushed with every exchange for the first year we worked together. By year three, I was cured of the flush and the crush, but remained ever-impressed by his uncanny ability to whip up a Thanksgiving meal, on stage, in front of hundreds, in 30 minutes, and then work the crowd as if it was full of his closest friends.

Locally, our celebrity chef star shines bright. Food Network’s “Dinner Impossible” star Robert Irvine, opened eat! on Hilton Head and made having his food totally possible for locals and tourists alike. Irvine also appears completely at ease in the national spotlight, and the Lowcountry limelight. In fact, I bumped into him on the sandbar a few years ago. Of course, I was so star-struck that the only thing I managed to say was, “I know Tyler Florence.” Classic.

And lest we forget that our very own Orchid Paulmeier – of One Hot Mamas fame - is battling it out plate for plate each week for the crown of the “The Next Food Network Star.”

We are a country obsessed!

Melany Mullens, publicist with Wagstaff Worldwide, who represents some of the biggest names in southern cooking has this to say, “The rising popularity of food-focused TV networks and shows has given the at-home chef a chance to learn from kitchen masters and makes intricate cooking and constructing complex dishes more accessible than ever.

It’s hard to imagine a time before the Food Network when Emeril, Mario, and Bobby weren’t around to show us behind the scenes of their kitchens and give tips. How can you not want to test recipes and expand your palette to try foods you see others enjoy! Thus, a foodie is born. Molecular gastronomy, innovative flavor profiles, and making beautiful, tasty food are some of the simplest ways to be a rock star chef and accrue the requisite foodie groupies.”

And groupie I am. I subscribe to three foodie newsletters and have a grossly ridiculous collection of cookbooks from “celebrity chefs.” I rip recipes from magazines, as if I may go hungry without. And I get a smirk on my face each time I realize how lucky I am that my day job allows me be a part of the team that plans the annual Music to Your Mouth food and wine event at Palmetto Bluff – juggling chefs, winemakers, pig farmers, bbq-masters, and honey-bee herders, among others. (Shameless plug!)

Who have I become? With thousands of Food Network hours logged, I actually relish my time in the kitchen. Now, I don’t have the fever to ever perform the mango salsa shuffle on stage again, but I’ve definitely come a long way from burnt grilled cheese.

Who’s hungry?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Tourist 101: You Could Learn Something Here

Bluffton Today column
July 6, 2011

Last week a friend celebrated her fourth wedding anniversary. In keeping with Emily Post’s etiquette rules, her hubby presented her with the traditional fourth anniversary gift – fruit and flowers. Yup, he dressed as a banana and delivered a huge bouquet of flora. She, of course, posted the picture on Facebook, for all the world to see, and in return he gains extra credit points for creativity.

So, as we celebrated the 235th anniversary of our nation’s independence this past weekend, it made me wonder exactly what the traditional gift should be. I didn’t have to look very far, as I gifted myself with what were to be a few relaxing days at the beach. And, oh, there was some good people watching this weekend – in fact, this column almost wrote it self.

I could make a fortune teaching a “how to pay the parking meter” course at the Island beaches. There must be no parking meters in Ohio and Kentucky, I can’t rationalize any other reasons as to why folks can’t seem to slip some coins in a simple slot. I’m ten people deep in line and the situation goes a little something like this. “How much does it cost? Do you know how much it costs? No, I don’t know how much it costs, its’ my first time here too. What space are we in? I said, what space are we in? Well go back and check, we have to enter in what space we were in. Yes, I’m serious. I know its hot, just go get the space number. It doesn’t take debit cards? What do you mean it doesn’t take debit cards? Do you have cash? How much does it cost? Do you know how much it costs? I put in five dollars -- that gets us 10 hours.” Yup, the only thing you forgot to pack into the mini van was a little common sense folks.

Fifteen minutes later, after I have proven that it can indeed take less than 30 seconds to pay the meter (I am the master!), I am finally sinking my toes in the sand. But, how can I relax with a plethora of people watching before me. Now that the meter-illiterate family has settled on the beach with their two tents, four coolers, and folding chairs from an era when Bo Derek was actually a 10, it’s picture time. This is when the patriarch of the family insists that the entire family gather in front of the ocean for a family portrait. Well that’s nice, you may think.

Unless … you happen to be the unsuspecting local who is asked to take the picture. She kindly obliged, put down her book, and waited for 90 seconds while the family decided who should stand where. Papa passed off the camera to the local, but not before clearly illustrating how to take the picture. Because the button you press hasn’t been on the top right of the camera for oh say, 100 years.

Ay, yi, yi … all this entertainment for only 50 cents an hour? Now I am deciding if in addition to teaching the meter class, if I should expand the franchise and write a primer on how to go to the beach.

Ladies, a little bit of advice. If in a blind panic you think you've lost your child in the ocean, only to find that in fact he's just hidden between your two stomachs – skip the two-piece swimsuit. I believe Jeff Foxworthy said it best, “Go ahead and bring the spare tire to the beach but leave it in the car.” I’m all for a positive body image. But, I am also quite positive that if the scale is tipping two-hundy, a modest one-piece is for you.

Sea gulls are still utterly disgusting. This hasn’t changed since I dedicated an entire column to the topic last year. Sea gulls poop where they eat. So, when you lay with Cheetos between your toes, calling to the sea gulls to take a bite, just know that if they nibble, you’ll be soon running to the water to wash off their feces. Hey, it’s your call “cheese toes.”

As the beach expands at low tide, this means you can leave a little room between you and the nearest beach-goer. For example, if I am sitting minding my own business, with a 20 foot radius of space around me, you don’t have to erect your tent within 12 inches of my chair. More specifically, when you have to move my flip flops (why are you even touching my flip flops?), to pound in your tent stakes, you are a little close. When I am now in the shade, of your tent, you are definitely too close for my comfort. And I have had it.

I look over my left shoulder just to be certain I’m not day-dreaming. Nope, you have indeed invaded my personal space. So, I stand, brush off the sand, gather my bag to move and suddenly -- lightbulb! You realize I exist and as you lamely mutter an apology, I say …

“No, no, it’s ok,” with a smirk, disguised behind a sweet smile, “You’ve given me the perfect topic for my next newspaper column. Enjoy your stay.”

How do I get syndicated in Ohio?

Friday, July 01, 2011

A Line in the Sand: Marriage Schmarriage

Ok, this month I may have gotten myself into a little trouble. But, I tried my best to explain my way out of it. CB/CH2 tackles marriage: is it an outdated instituion? I say yes and Frank disagrees (in fact he lumps me in a pile of the eroding moral compass of the country.)

Marriage is outdated. You can’t deny that there is something wrong with an institution that carries a more than 50% failure rate. If a high school graduated less than 50% of their students, they would be shut down. If 50% of cars spontaneously crashed and burned, the industry would be out of business.

The institution of marriage needs a makeover (especially for elected officials ). An extreme – bring out the industrial strength spackle and the back-ho – makeover.

Marriage is no longer your grandparent’s marriage. Folks are meeting – and falling in love with – their betrothed on the internet, for crying out loud. Women choose to work. Women choose not to have children. Men choose to stay home with their children. Men love other men. The times they are a changin’…

Oh, the allure of happily-ever after is so enticing. I’m sure the cave-women were all a tizzy when their intended would drag them by the hair, back to their lair, post ceremony. But, that had to end. And so too must our outdated expectations for what marriage is.

Listen, I’ve been down the marriage path. Heck, I even have a ‘left the guy at the altar a few months pre-wedding’ episode under my belt. It hasn’t worked for me. After years of trying to figure out why, I come up with only one answer. Because I was trying to make “me” (oh right, and “him”) fit my perception of what marriage should be. My perception was wrong. Every marriage is different. Because, let’s face it, every person is different. Marriage is not a fairytale. It is work. A labor of love.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to believe in love everlasting. I love, love. After all, when I was little, I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to watch Lady Diana marry Prince Charles. And, when I was 37, I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to watch Kate marry Prince William.

Back when plaid pants were fashion du jour, I used to sit in my childhood bedroom (that coincidentally donned plaid wallpaper), with my Fisher Price push-button phone, flipping through the JCPenney’s catalog bridal pages, planning weddings for fake couples, right down to the hideous teal satin dresses that their 14 attendants would wear. One could argue that planning a wedding was actually more alluring to me than getting married.

You can only crash and burn so many times before you get smart. And so I did. I decided that I would never get married again, which by the way is extremely easy when you are dating dopes. Knowing that my expectations are extremely high I modestly called a moratorium on marriage. And I stopped looking for perfect.

And then … wouldn’t you know it. Girl meets boy. Girl and boy fall in love. Boy pops the question. Girl says, “yes,” and scoffs at all of the “when are you getting married” inquiries, because this time she is much wiser, ten years wiser, in fact.

“We’re in no hurry,” she says. (She is me, by the way.)

And then it hits me (she). Do people get married because other people tell them that they should? I mean these ‘other people’ are downright relentless. No matter how many times you say, “I don’t know,” they come up with seven different ways to ask the same question.

You are, in essence, forced to have a wedding -- and were probably forced to get engaged in the first place. Just because people (who are these people anyway?) think that 1) your life is their business and 2) that marriage is the “natural next step.” Well, I’m here to tell you that is utter nonsense! And likely a direct contributor to the fact that 50% of marriages fail. For argument’s sake, it may also be possible that the 50% who are still married remain so because they think they have to! Next thing you know, those people also have three kids (because they should), a dog (because kids need a dog), and a mortgage (because buying is so much wiser than renting) - and they are trapped and downright miserable.

I realize here that I am arguing against the institution of marriage. And there is some irony in the fact that I recently responded in the affirmative to a proposal. But let’s be clear, my argument is against the outdated-irrelevant-archaic institution of the last century that for some reason we’ve come to accept. Let’s visit the 21st century shall we?

It is 2011. Life is hard. The world is scary. (The world with in-laws is twice as scary.) The rules are different. There are no guarantees. You should make your own decisions. And you cannot expect to live in bliss without work. Hard work. Being married is the hardest job anyone will ever have.

This girl – and her boy – included.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Dog Days

Bluffton Today column
June 22, 2011

We are reared to use ritual language and further taught to understand that in some environments a conventionalized response is expected. For example, I say, “please” when I want something and “thank you” when I receive that something. I greet you with a, “Hi, how are you?” and you respond with, “Well, and you?” That exchange is conventional, meaning we expect folks to stick to the script. Believe you me, if I ask you how you are I am most certainly looking for the standard response, not a seven and a half minute diatribe on your life. (Sorry to burst your over-sharing bubble.)

These ritual language cues are determined by your language environment and learned when we are young. My sister has two daughters born and raised in the south, so although one might think that the girls would be all sweet and southern they definitely have some Jersey in them. Why? Because they spend the majority of their time with Mom, Grandma, and Aunt “Nortney” and if you know us, you know we walk the line when it comes to sweet and southern. (My sister is cringing right now.)

Bottom line is, a lot of time, we say what we think we should say, not what we really want to say. And when you have absolutely nothing to say well, you talk about the weather.

Sweet Mary, it is stinkin’ hot. Not exactly a news flash. But I am melting. It is schlep to work, stick to your office chair, escape early, shuffle out to hide the sweat stains on you rear, go home, crank up the air conditioning, lay under a swirling ceiling fan, while tucking ice cubes into your undergarments hot.

Now, imagine you are covered in fur. And chained to a tree. In a yard with no shade. Your water bowl is empty. And your owner (I won’t even consider calling this torturous human your “parent”) won’t be home for hours.

Do you see where I am going with this? During the dog days of summer it is imperative that we keep our pups in mind. If you leave your pet outside in this heat, you are torturing you pet. Yes, torture! Dr. Ben Parker, of Coastal Veterinary Clinic had this to say, in a recent Facebook post earlier this week …

“I see dogs suffering and dying from heat stokes every year when it gets as hot out as it is today, even from well-meaning pet owners. Older dogs, puppies, dogs with chronic diseases, and short-nosed breeds (pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers, etc) are all very susceptible to the heat even on short walks. My advice is to keep your dogs inside and limit any activity to early morning. It is too hot and too humid even for evening walks. A dog’s body temperature will rise to 107+ degrees in minutes.”

Can you imagine what 107 degrees must feel like? Not sure? Ok, put on your long johns, mittens, and winter coat and go sit in your car. In the driveway. On the hot asphalt. Realize there is nary a cold beer in sight. Stretch to reach that water bottle behind the seat, only to feel defeat. Wilt a little. You won’t last a minute.

My dog, Darby, has his own ritual language -- learned based on his environment, being reared by me. When I get home from work, it can only mean one thing. It’s walk time. He shakes his hind quarters, picks up his favorite toy, runs a few circles around the family room to limber up and heads to the door. He is ready to walk and whimpering if I am not a step behind.

Unfortunately Darby has been disappointed a lot over the last week or so. But, I’m not willing to risk his life or mine for a calorie burn.

It’s hot. Be smart. I want to see you again, so I can say, “Hey, how you doin’?”

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Twenty Years Ago ...

Bluffton Today column
June 8, 2011

At Monday night’s Bluffton High School graduation, I listened to the senior speaker talk about the “unknown” territory to which they were all heading, and I found myself nodding in agreement. A few minutes later we heard hundreds of names reeled off, in quick succession, with barely enough time for each graduate to absorb the step that they were about to take.

This is the real world baby. And boy, if only they knew now that over the next decade (or two) they will be learning lessons that will serve them well into their twilight years. Don’t you wish you could tell them everything? And don’t you wish that they would listen?

But, we didn’t.

Some lessons you have to learn on your own.

In all fairness, I may be a little hyper-sensitive to the graduation chatter this year having recently received the invitation to my 20th reunion. Talk about a shock to the system.

20 years ago, I had just gotten home from the senior prom where I wore an orange dress, custom made by a little old lady named “Mrs. Tennis.” I still remember going to the fittings and her not understanding why I didn’t want to wear high heels with my dress. (Some things never change, Mrs. T.)

20 years ago, I was preparing the long list of things I would need for college. A television, cute clothes, an ATM card for quick access to beer money, the WVU Mountaineers football schedule, bedding to coordinate with my roommate’s (always the Martha Stewart I was), milk crates for storage. You know the really important stuff.

20 years ago, I was lamenting about leaving my high school boyfriend, Brian, at the end of the summer. And, would cry each time I read his yearbook entry that included this line, “Courtney, next year I will be lick (nope, not a typo) a lost puppy dog when you are gone.” Not much of a speller, that kid… but soooo cute.

20 years ago, I was shrugging into a white cap and gown, preparing to walk the dusty field of Brick High School. (A field that as a female athlete I was never allowed to step on, they reserved that honor for the boys’ football and soccer teams. Nope, not bitter after 20 years), concocting the story in my head, for my parents who were NEVER going to let me stay out all night.

If I had it all to do over again, I might make some minor tweaks. I would wear black to the prom. Orange isn’t exactly timeless. A little less hairspray might have gone a long way as well. I would consider the really important things, like what will my study schedule would be like when taking five college level courses. On that note, I might not have picked an institution of 20,000 students, 450 miles and seven hours from home, with a bar called the “Library” to start my college education. The list goes on and on. But, with each misstep I learned something.

As I look back on 20 years, I realize that my true education has far exceeded the college years. In fact, I have learned more in the last ten than I probably did in the first post-high school decade. I’ve learned that the world is about people. Not our titles, not our net worth, nor our good looks (where, as you know, my bounty is plentiful) … it is all about people.

So, as the seniors in our community graduate this week, I wish them well as they prepare for the arduous adventure of continuous learning, inside and outside the classroom.

And as they embark on the journey of life, I hope they remember to have fun and enjoy every minute. Because as Bluffton’s valedictorian and one of the world’s greatest teachers said,

“You’re off to great places. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting - So, get on your way!”

Perhaps we could all learn a little something from the good Doctor Seuss.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Luke Mitchell: Cool as a Cucumber

CB/CH2 June 2011 issue
He saunters up the stairs, and casually swipes his sandy brown hair from his brow, just before it falls across his eyes. He gets a hug, a kiss, and a “good to see you sweetie” from every server at Sunrise Café.
He folds himself into a chair, and in true southern fashion orders some grits … and a breakfast burrito. He warns me that he just ran a few miles, so he’ll be “scarfing down the burrito.”

At breakfast, Luke Mitchell reveals that he has made an important decision. “I’m not going back to college. I’m going to see if I can make a career out of music. I’ve got to do it while I’m young.” So his formal education is on the back burner, for now. “I’ll go back … I know I have a lot to learn.”

The young Mitchell – just 20 - waxed poetic about the life of a musician. “I know what I do is not socially normal. I work odd hours, which tends to alienate me from others.” Alienate him from others, yet move him closer to his family. After all he says, “My family members are my biggest fans. They keep coming to my shows no matter how many times they have seen me perform.”

His friends are mostly musicians too – and also “socially abnormal” one would surmise. Mitchell has been making music with friends since his early teens. Mitchell and his buddy Kieran Daly launched “New Kids on the Rock” when they were little. But, that was just the beginning. With a sheepish grin Mitchell asked me if I’d heard of “Lambtron” (named for a Pokemon character), or “The Great Escape,” or “Luke Mitchell and the Footlongs”?

“No?” he chuckled, “What about the “Gnomes”? We were super-famous, we blew up.” I shook my head head no, again, and he said, “When did you move here? Ah, we must have been before your time.”

(Oh yes, he’s a comedian too.)

Mitchell and his mid-teen bandmates did strike gold with the Gnomes about five years ago. Mitchell eventually quit the band, but fondly remembers the “money rolling in” and hinted about his interest in a reunion tour -- The Gnomes, where are they now?

A Family Affair
“My mom used to date musicians,” he says with a smirk. “Growing up there was always music in the house.” Mitchell’s step-father and member of Hilton Head’s home-grown band the “Bonzo Brothers” gave him his first drum set. And his father and mother avidly support Mitchell’s dream-chasing. Mitchell recently moved back to the Island, and is back living with his Dad, who has graciously approved the garage renovation that has yielded a pseudo-recording studio.

The apples don’t fall far from the family tree. Mitchell’s sister Hannah is the lead singer of the “Steppin Stones.” A band of teens that’ve been playing their parent’s music at venues around the Lowcountry for the last few years. (This summer you can find them under the big oak at Harbourtown.)

Making Music
When asked about his first album, High Expectations, Mitchell says, “It’s archaic, I don’t even know who that person is anymore.” Since then, he’s grown and benefited from the tutelage of a cadre of music legends. Namely, Jim Scott, who has seven Grammy’s on his shelf for his work with Tom Petty, Wilco, Rolling Stones, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

As Mitchell was working on the songs for his second album, he got up the nerve to call Scott cold. He dropped the name of Jack Sherman, who played guitar on Mitchell’s first album and was a friend of Scott’s. Mitchell joked that he said, “Hello,” and then squeezed Sherman’s name into the conversation as quickly as he could, so Scott wouldn’t hang up. And it worked. Scott was willing to listen. So Mitchell sent him his stuff and then he waited. He waited an agonizing four months before he heard back. When he finally got the call, it was with a green light.

So, Mitchell jet-sets to Scott’s Los Angeles recording studio, which he likened to “heaven on earth for musicians,” and they record “Row Boat Row.” Titled as a tribute to growing up on Point Comfort Road, Mitchell says the album “just sounds like home.”

Appropriately, the official launch party for “Row Boat Row” is slated for June 25th at Remy’s, just down the road from “home.” And it’s no surprise that sister Hannah and the Steppin Stones will open for Mitchell.

More than music
After listening to a preview of “Row Boat Row” there is no doubt that Mitchell has the vocal chops to make it. Smooth and soulful, his voice is soothing, his lyrics have a rhythm and spirit to them that can easily overtake you. (And make you miss your turn on your way back from the Island to Bluffton. True story.)

But it’s about more than writing and singing songs for Mitchell. “These days you need to know all elements of the business if you want to make it a career,” he says. And he wants it. Bad. “My goal is to serve the music and let that lead me … I need to be technically good enough to do anything in this business.” Which is why in addition to songwriter and singer, Mitchell also hones his skills on the piano, rhythm guitar, drums, and in producer’s seat. “In this moment, I’ll do anything to make this a career.”

Even though he’s been at it for years, he still can’t eat a meal before a show. The nerves get to him – but, it isn’t a fear of messing up – everyone misses lyrics – it is the deep desire to put on a good show.
“The performance means nothing if you don’t connect with your audience,” he says. “The more ego you have, the worse you perform.”

This former Hilton Head High School “Student of the Year” is ambitious and anxious. He can’t sit still for 20 minutes. There is no such thing as down time, Mitchell says – “I get restless and feel like I should be working on music. Music is all I want. We can’t help what we do. Music calls to you. I can’t stop it. I guess I never really started it either. It just happened.”

Of Note: Luke told me that when he is being interviewed he always prepares for one question, that no one ever asks – If you were stranded on a desert island, what three CDs would you want with you?

So I asked.

Interestingly, he could only come up with two – “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty and “Lola Versus Powerman and the Money Go Round” by the Kinks. Not a surprise as both offer heavy influence on the musician Mitchell has become.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A Line In the Sand

CH/CB2 June issue and the great debaters (me!) tackle the topic of Bluffton vs. Hilton Head.

When I was preparing to move to the Lowcountry from the snow-laden northeast, I received one tidbit of advice. If you are going to work in Bluffton, live in Bluffton. If you are going to work on the Island, live on the Island.

Since I would be giving up a 150-mile daily roundtrip commute, and anxious to reclaim some “me time,” I heeded that advice. The decision to move was actually swift. I had only been to the Bluffton/Hilton Head area twice before I decided to move here. My sister moved first. Shortly thereafter, Mom decided that she was going to retire to Bluffton. And I figured what the hell. I bought a home via email, and picked out my upgrades from a large FedEx box that arrived one snowy morning full of tile samples, cabinet doors, and counter top choices.

Fast forward a few months, 800 miles, one broken down moving truck on the side of I-95 outside of Raleigh, and I was home. At first, I was all about going to the beach on Hilton Head, which in hindsight makes little sense to me. I grew up at the beach, in a tourist town, where I would hide from Memorial Day to Labor Day to avoid what we called “bennies.” (Benny was an acronym for some of the places that the tourists would come from -- Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York.) And now, I was doing the exact same thing. I moved to paradise to sit in traffic for thirty minutes, to travel eight miles, pay $1 an hour for beach parking, and be annoyed in traffic on the way back home, all for an ocean that I have been swimming in for more than thirty years.

And then, I discovered the May River, and realized I never had to leave Bluffton. I sunk my toes in the pluff mud. I inhaled the salty air. I devoured the sweet oysters plucked from the riverbeds. And it all became clear. This is why I moved here. There is only one place to find the May River. And that my friends, is Bluffton, South Carolina. It only takes one foray into the river to realize what a gem it is.

Oh but life can get sweeter. Buy a boat, for dancing the tides, and your life will change forever. Mine did. Now, I live my life by the tides. Ok, by my iPhone and the tides, which I can check at just a moment’s notice and with a finger’s touch thanks to the handy dandy tide app. Seriously though, from March – October the tides help to balance my life. Whether it is a rockin’ sandbar Saturday, with 1,000 other revelers. Or high tide, when I feel comfortable skirting up Bull Creek, throwing in the anchor, and floating in front of “our oak.” Or, a slow cruise up the river, watching Old Town as if it was a movie set.

I’m also lucky that my office overlooks the May River. (Well, if I crane my neck just right.) Let’s face it, there is no bad day, when you can slowly walk down the dock and feel the stress of work lift from your shoulders.

Now, I realize my entire argument is based on the allure of the May River. But the May River is Bluffton. It always has been. It is centerpiece to the town. Even our main drag, which I would argue is Calhoun Street, empties into the May. Long before all of us Yankees moved here, before Bluffton had a Best Buy, a Target, a Taco Tuesday at Jim n Nicks, a Wendy’s or a Walmart -- folks simply lived their lives by the tide. How fortunate are we, that in 2011, we can do the same.

Frank, just one final thing, I have to ask -- without Bluffton, how exactly would you get to Hilton Head?

My point exactly.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Rhymes with Bucket List

Bluffton Today column
May 25, 2011

Last week at Boot Camp (yes, I am still subjecting myself to the daily torture) my trainer was talking about a number of upcoming half and full marathons in the area. She spoke about the training needed to tackle a race of that caliber and went on to tell us that if running a marathon was ever on our “bucket list” this would be a great opportunity.

I was on my back at the time. Enduring what seemed like 1,000 crunches, and could barely muster an audible reply. But have you ever known me to keep my mouth shut? Of course not. So I squeaked out, between huffs and puffs, “Bucket list? That sounds more like something that would appear on my Rhymes with ‘Bucket’ List.”

Meaning, hell no, I’m not doing that. So, that got the wheels turning and I began to compile a list of things I never, ever, want to do.

1. I will never run a distance longer than the “big lap” at Boot Camp. My issue with running is that I just can’t get the breathing right. The more I concentrate on my breathing, the more I hyperventilate. I’m no doctor, but I am pretty certain that hyperventilating for 26 miles might kill me. I’ll walk thanks.

2. I will never skydive. No way. I mean, I can’t even go to the top of a Ferris Wheel without heart palpitations. In fact, if I am on a high floor of a building that has floor to ceiling windows, I can’t look out the window. You know, because I am afraid that the glass is going to spontaneously combust and I will plummet to my death. No really. That’s my fear.

3. I will never mow the lawn. Nope. Not going to do it. I am afraid that I will hit something that will ricochet off a tree and maim me or take an eye out. And, I don’t intend to wear goggles, which means this becomes someone else’s responsibility. (Skip to number seven. He’s going to come in handy.)

4. I will never teach elementary school. I’m going to stick with college students because in nine years no one has ever peed in their pants. Actually, there was that one semester, and that “kid” acted like a six year old so his “accident” was totally appropriate.

5. I will never run for town council. That said I do believe I would add some pizzazz to the monthly meetings. I mean, I would actually speak. More on that as the elections draw near.

6. I will never go to the moon. I remember one of my elementary school teachers telling my class that the moon would be a honeymoon destination when we were ready to get married. You see the crap elementary school teachers have to pull out to keep the kids entertained? Refer back to point four.

7. I will never get married again. Well, at least that is what I thought … right up until last week. Of course, with the moon out as a honeymoon destination, what is there to get excited about?

8. I will never think 40 is old. Having just celebrated the big twenty-eighteen, I have a new found respect for the forties. As I edge closer to the gloom and doom, I intend to embrace the mantra that forty is the new thirty. Until I am fifty.

9. I will never forget what Mrs. Mateyka told me twenty years ago, “You get more bees with honey.” She was right. And I think about that line all the time, as I am yelling at some inept customer service person and getting nowhere.

10. I will never concede to Dairy Queen. I don’t know who they think they are, but a hot fudge sundae includes whip cream and a cherry. Ice cream and fudge is not a sundae. It is ice cream and fudge. (Now you know why I still go to Boot Camp.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is It Hot in Here?

Bluffton Today column
May 11, 2011

I was pleasantly surprised at the doctor last week. I had mentally prepared myself to wait eons, which tends to be medical appointment status quo. So when I was called back by the nurse before I even had a chance to sit, I was ecstatic.

We ran through the standard elements of impending exam. I stepped on the scale, with eyes closed. (Why do I always weigh more at the doctor’s office?) Peed in the obligatory cup, with eyes open. And then settled in for another wait.

Alas, I was surprised again when the nurse quite honestly told me that the doctor was running a bit behind, so she would let me know when I could change. Yes! She was trying to save me from having to sit in a paper gown, with my rear hanging out, on a paper sheet, for an undetermined amount of time. Things were definitely going my way.

Much to my surprise the doctor came in just a minute later. I apologized for still being dressed and she said, “Relax. I know you’ve been to the practice before, but we haven’t met, so let’s talk.” (Really?) So, we talked. For almost 30 minutes. Now, I realize this probably made her late for her next appointment, but I was in healing heaven.

I almost didn’t want it to end, mainly because I knew that when our conversation concluded I would have to don the paper pageantry, for the real work to begin. So, as the chatter came to an end, I started getting uncomfortable and awfully sweaty. They keep the exam rooms at a warmer than usual temperature, for your comfort, while sitting in a paper dress. What I didn’t realize was that sitting in my street clothes for more than 30 minutes in the sweat box would cause some serious overheating.

Momentary relief came when I was able to finally (yes, finally! It is amazing how your perspective changes) change into the paper gown, however my dreams of a stress-free experience were quickly dashed the moment I sat on the exam table, and the paper “sheet” instantaneously affixed itself to my sweaty legs. (I really hope you aren’t trying to picture this.)

So, now I am stuck to the paper, waiting for the doctor to come back, and wondering how I am going to smoothly “slide down a bit” when she needs to get started (Ladies, you know the drill.). There’s no sliding when your hamstrings are hopelessly hitched to the paper.

Which led me to start thinking about the paper itself. The only thing keeping my bare a$$ from the germs of the person before me is a sheet of butcher paper. That seems less than hygienic.

The doctor re-emerged a few seconds into my conversation - with myself - about the less than sanitarily sound paper sheet, and then we were off. Yada. Yada. Yada. Exam over and now I need to extricate myself from the dissolving paper stuck to the backs of my legs. It wasn’t pretty.

This makes me wonder. With ever-evolving medical technology at our finger tips, isn’t there a twenty-something whiz kid out there somewhere who could invent something more medically adept than the same paper we use to pack our lunch? Come to think of it, I may be switching to Tupperware. Bon appetite!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Charity Spotlight: Junior Jazz Foundation

Each month, CB/CH2 features a local charity, this month we get a closer a look at The Junior Jazz Foundation.

According to musician, jazz historian, and Jazz Corner owner Bob Masteller, "Knowing jazz adds another dimension to your historical perspective. Jazz is America's greatest artistic contribution to the world."

The Jazz Corner has built both a tradition and a reputation as one of the premier Jazz Clubs in the world. In fact, in February, Downbeat magazine recognized The Jazz Corner as one of the 150 Great Jazz Rooms in the world. (The world!) Jazz greats - Bucky Pizzarelli, George Shearing, and Warren and Allan Vache - share Downbeat’s sentiment, and rate The Jazz Corner as the best jazz venue in the United States, hands down.

Parallel with the evolution of The Jazz Corner’s success has been Masteller’s passion to pass on the legacy of Jazz to succeeding generations. Hence, the Junior Jazz Foundation was formed in 2006. Masteller’s firm belief that the original American art form of jazz music is important, fuels his focus on educating and enabling young musicians in our community by supplying instruments, scholarships, classes and seminars.

The mission of the Junior Jazz Foundation is to preserve the American classical art form of jazz, and to maintain the longevity of the art form. Jazz was originated in America and is our version of classic music. Masteller believes that it is “vital that our youth continue to be exposed to the historically rich culture and history of Jazz in its various forms.”

Masteller works with local schools and legendary musicians to pass on the art form via youth programs both inside the educational framework and also through independent sources of development.

With schools being limited fiscally in their ability to provide the exposure to this art form, the Junior Jazz Foundation steps in and provides what the schools – and students – need. Interestingly, the Junior Jazz Foundation also focuses on the correlation between character and artistic development. As such, the Junior Jazz programs emphasize development, group performance, and non-traditional learning and listening through exposure. The value then received by the students includes an understanding of the relationship between freedom of expression and fundamental responsibility.

As a part of their fundraising efforts, the Junior Jazz Foundation seeks collaborations with area organizations to provide quality jazz experiences. On May 5th, the Foundation will partner with Palmetto Bluff for a Concert on the Green, as part of the community’s monthly music series. Palmetto Bluff will host the outdoor concert from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Revelers are invited to bring their lawn chairs and blankets and experience The Jazz Corner All-Stars and Bob Masteller’s Jazz Corner Quintet. A $25 per car contribution will be collected at the Main Gate at Palmetto Bluff. All proceeds will benefit the Junior Jazz Foundation.

Concert on the Green at Palmetto Bluff
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Tickets for “A Concert on the Green” are $25 per car, at the Palmetto Bluff Main Gate.
All gate proceeds benefit the Junior Jazz Foundation.

First Set featuring The Jazz Corner All-Stars
Rhythm & Blues Vocalist Reggie Deas
Pianist & Vocalist Lavon Stevens
Pianist & Vocalist Teri Rini Powers "Hilton Head Island's First Lady of Jazz"
Pianist & Vocalist Martin Lesch
Down-Home Blues Vocalist Whitley Deputy

Second Set featuring a "Salute to Duke Ellington" with Bob Masteller's Jazz Corner Quintet
Multi-Instrumentalist & Jazz Historian Bob Masteller
Pianist & Vocalist Martin Lesch
Bassist Will Snyder
Trombonist Jon Miller
Drummer Billy Hoffman

"The Junior Jazz Foundation has been instrumental in getting our jazz program off the ground at Hilton Head Christian Academy. Even though we have a small program, the JJF has supported us through numerous instrument donations, and a large monetary donation which allowed us to purchase a wonderful baritone saxophone. In addition, my students have had the incredible experience of playing in front of a live audience at the Jazz Corner and have also had the privilege of sitting inches away from the legendary John Pizzarelli quartet. The Junior Jazz Foundation has gone above and beyond to support our small, but growing jazz program at Hilton Head Christian Academy."

James Berry, Music Director
Hilton Head Christian Academy

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Real Moms of Beaufort County

CB/CH2 May issue

June Cleaver would roll over in her immaculate kitchen if she caught an episode of BravoTV’s “Real Housewives” for a mere minute. In her fashionable pressed dresses and high heels, Mrs. Cleaver enjoyed needle point, her ladies social club, and having a well-balanced meal on the dinner table each night for her hubby, Wally and the Beav.

In 2011, if you believe everything you see on TV, you wouldn’t flinch to find that housewives throw punches and high-priced parties, linger over lunch and laser hair removal, and yes, they have jobs – boob, nose, etc.
Which is why we thought it would be fun to take a look at five local – (and real) women, who somehow managed to find the time to talk about what the life of a “housewife” looks like today.

Its 7:00 a.m. and Anna has Wells, 6, and Taylor, 4, out of bed and at the breakfast table. After breakfast they head to the barn, they check the chickens, gather the eggs, make sure the horses are happy, and walk the two dogs. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the kids head to school and Anna heads to Affordable Healthcare in Sheridan Park where she is Nurse Practitioner. Tuesday and Thursdays are “play days” and that includes Mom.

Growing up in Savannah, and summering Bluffton, Anna fondly recalls a childhood that included jumping off the dock into the May River, waterskiing, and wakeboarding – in the blistering Lowcountry sun. She headed off to college in Charleston, where she met her husband, Cal, a cardiologist. Together they returned to Bluffton in 2000, and made their home on the land adjacent to where Anna grew up and where she learned many of life’s lessons.

“Dad put the nursing bug in my ear,” Anna says, with a grin. “My parents where pro-education and my father told me – ‘you go figure out who you are, find your independence and your freedom.’” This is a lesson that Anna has already begun to instill in her boys – they have chores and responsibilities that help the house – and the farm - run.

When she’s not nurturing animals, or children, or patients, Anna finds time for herself on horseback. “Riding is my sanctuary, ” she says.

C2: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
AS: Wonder Woman. My dad would cut a toilet paper roll in half that I would slip onto my wrists as her amazing deflecting bands!

C2: What is the greatest gift you have received?
AS: The gift of my youngest son being able to hear my voice. (Taylor was born deaf. He has bilateral cochlear implants for him to hear.)

C2: What television show best depicts your life?
AS: A cross between "Green Acres" and "The Middle."

C2: If you wrote a newspaper column about your adventures as a working mom, what would you call it? AS: "Burn after Reading."

C2: Your biggest splurge?
AS: Horses and shoes.

C2: What is your secret shame or silly indulgence?
AS: Right now, Cadburry solid milk chocolate eggs and "I" everything - phone, pad, pod, love it!

C2: Your leadership style?
AS: Trial and Error.

C2: What is your motto?
AS: It will all work out in the end.

C2: Most embarrassing moment?
AS: It was bad enough the first time, it would be worse in print!

C2: What does “housewife” mean in 2011?
AS: Jack of all trades, or should I say Jill?

As a fulltime graduate student at SCAD, with a fulltime job teaching world literature at Hilton Head Prep, and three daughters under the age of four, you would think Becca Edwards would be running in circles to make things happen. Luckily, she has mastered the art of zen – oh yes, she’s also a yoga instructor – and has come to expect the unexpected.

Like last year, when she was teaching a class, and started feeling a little woozy, then a lot sweaty, and finally the nausea won, and Becca had to throw up in the wastebasket. One student called out, “Mrs. Edwards is hungover.” Becca calmly replied (and simultaneously realized), “No, I think I’m pregnant.”

But, she rolled with it, and soon Camilla (now four months) joined big sisters, Ransom, 3, and Ruth Love, 2. Her secret to staying organized is mastering the art of multi-tasking, “I might be making cereal, but I am also concurrently planning lunch and dinner, and what outfit to wear.” Becca splits the home duties with hubby Lee (the newly elected Hilton Head Town Councilman), saying she knew they could do anything, after spending six months on a sailboat together, where they weathered two major storms, literally.

Today, when things getting a little rough, Becca simply channels her Mom who taught her to, “Always be real.”

C2: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
BE: A photojournalist for National Geographic, so I could travel to remote, slightly exotic/primitive places.

C2: What television show best depicts your life?
BE: “60 Minutes.” My life is divided into several segments. And it’s all got to happen within the hour.

C2: If you wrote a newspaper column about your adventures as a working mom, what would you call it?
BE: “Ready, Set, Mom!”

C2: Your biggest splurge?
BE: Travel. A close second, good antiques and rugs. Coming in third, bi-monthly massages and facials.

C2: What is your secret shame or silly indulgence?
BE: “True Blood.”

C2: Your leadership style?
BE: I believe you have to earn respect, be fair, and be direct.

C2: What is your motto?
BE: Be the change you want to see. (Ghandi)

C2: Most embarrassing moment?
BE: Oh, there’ve been sooo many.

C2: What does “housewife” mean in 2011?
BE: The boss. She might work, she might run marathons, she might be an artist. But a housewife’s primary focus is caring for her family and getting the familial job done.

“Every day when the kids and I drive over the bridge from Bluffton to Hilton Head, I say, “Look at this view! It’s beautiful!” Taking the time to enjoy the view, actually perfectly describes Mary Frances Lowrey. With a busy lifestyle that has her constantly on the go, she makes it a point to take time for herself saying, “If I’m off. I’m off.”

As a former corporate trainer, Mary Frances started her own business – IT ALL MEDIA - two years ago. She started slow, with just one client, and didn’t charge that client for five months, until she was absolutely certain that it was what she wanted to do – and that she did it well. Now, a self-taught graphic designer and marketing maven, Mary Frances provides marketing services for a number of Lowcountry clients, and enjoys the freedom of working for herself. “I’m glad I can still be the one to drop-off and pick-up the kids – Maximillan, 10, and Jacqueline, 7 - at school, every day.”

As one of eleven children, Mary Frances is well-versed in what a busy household looks like. Growing up, expectations were high, and Mary Frances – and her seven sisters – each were given this advice, by their father, “Go to college. Support yourself. Then get married, so you have a partner.” And, she did.

Mary Frances’ husband, Larson, logs a lot of miles traveling, which makes it ever-more important that they be completely in sync. And, they are. In fact, it was Larson’s career that brought them back to the Lowcountry, something Mary Frances is grateful for – she says, “I feel like the Lowcountry is who I really am.”

C2: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
MFL: A Newscaster.

C2: What is the greatest gift you have received?
MFL: From my parents it would be my faith, and my education. From my husband – well, he is a great gift giver and his gifts are always very sentimental. My worst gift ever would be a much more fun answer! (I did indeed ask the follow-up question – the worst gift had to do with a dim-witted boyfriend, a scratchy scarf, and the dim-witted beau’s mother.)

C2: What television show best depicts your life?
MFL: “Designing Women.” Strong women with great friends that love and support each other, lift each other up when they are down, and laugh a lot.

C2: If you wrote a newspaper column about your adventures as a working mom, what would you call it?
MFL: “Buckle Up...It’s a Bumpy Ride.”

C2: How do you find balance?
MFL: I stand firmly on both feet and hold my arms out to the sides.

C2: Your biggest splurge?
MFL: The dress I wore in this photo shoot.

C2: What is your secret shame or silly indulgence?
MFL: A Cafe Mocha with no whipped cream from Starbucks.

C2: Your leadership style?
MFL: I would never ask anyone to do something I am not willing to do myself. I hope that I lead by example.

C2: What is your motto?
MFL: Our family motto is: We may not have it all together, but together we have it all. (That is why my business is named ITALL Media)

C2: Most embarrassing moment?
MFL: Not telling! (I’m sensing a theme here, and maybe a follow-up story – “The Lowcountry’s Most Embarassing Moments.”)

C2: What does “housewife” mean in 2011?
MFL: It means STRENGTH. Weak women should NOT apply for this job.

“Where there is great risk, there is great reward.” It was those words that finally convinced Kathleen Mayers that starting her own business, KPM Flooring, was the right decision. First, she pondered every aspect of the undertaking – “I thought, I have three kids, I could lose my house.” But as any good leader should, she overcame the fears, and jumped in.

Originally from Tybee Island, Kathleen moved to Hilton Head in 1990 and worked as a taxi cab driver, waitress, and bartender to make ends meet. “You do what you have to do,” she says. Today, business at KPM is booming and Kathleen is juggling six dynamic employees, a busy travel schedule and three daughters – Emma, 10, Caroline, 7, and Honora, 5. Together with her husband Michael, Battalion Chief for the Hilton Head Fire Department, they are always putting out fires.

Kathleen believes that her faith, her family and her friends help her find balance. And in return she “tries to be a better person every day, and laugh as often as possible.”

C2: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
KM: When I was really little I wanted to be a marine biologist, and a doctor.

C2: What television show best depicts your life?
KM: Is there one about a former taxi driver/scuba instructor/bartender, who is now married with three children, trying to start a business in the worst economy in decades?

C2: If you wrote a newspaper column about your adventures as a (working) mom, what would you call it?
KM: “It’s All Smoke and Mirrors.”

C2: Your biggest splurge?
KM: Springsteen concerts!

C2: What is your secret shame or silly indulgence?
KM: I have no secrets but I am often silly.

C2: Your leadership style?
KM: Hopefully my employees think I lead by example

C2: What is your motto?
KM: Women who behave rarely make history.

C2: Most embarrassing moment?
KM: I do silly things all the time but I stopped getting embarrassed by them years ago. I’d probably have a whole lot less fun if I worried about getting embarrassed.

C2: What does “housewife” mean in 2011?
KM: I think it should mean something different to each person. For me it means mother, wife, friend, business owner, and working every day to be better at each.

When Kelly was little, she used to sneak into her Grandmother’s closet and play with her furs, costume jewelry, tortoise shell cigarette holders, Chanel No. 5, and her "red red" lipstick. Kelly’s early love for fashion fed into her interest in textile design, which eventually led to a career in interior design. With a little girl of her own now – Emma, 8 months - Kelly is reliving the memories of being a little girl, and the magic of make-believe.

Born and raised in Boone, NC, Kelly and her husband, Nate relocated to the Lowcountry (via Tahoe), just over a year ago. Today, Kelly is concentrating her time on raising Emma, and plotting the return to her interior design career saying, “I want Emma to see me as a role model, a strong woman, who has a career and can be a great Mom.”

As a new Mom, Kelly finds a lot of support from her friends, which she was surprised to discover through the Breast Feeding Support Group at Hilton Head Hospital. While she joined for practical reasons, it turns out that the “boob group” ladies quickly became her closest friends. (Sorry gentlemen, this is a woman’s only group.)

C2: If you wrote a newspaper column about your adventures as a (working) mom, what would you call it?
KC: The Motherload.

C2: How do you find balance?
KC: I create my "to do" list for every day. It helps me stay on track. The more things I have on my plate the better I perform for some odd reason. My blackberry is my best friend at moments.

C2: Your biggest splurge?
KC: Paris... the food, wine, desserts, boutiques, and attractions had my heart and my wallet! It is always worth it too - no regrets!

C2: What is your secret shame or silly indulgence?
KC: Extra hot Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte from Starbucks!

C2: If you could wish one thing for your child, what would it be?
KC: My wish is that Emma will grow up a secure, well rounded, independent lady with a strong sense of self.

C2: Your leadership style?
KC: I am a Taurus so I know my own strength and I can handle situations with dignity and self-control. I enjoy taking the lead. I am very organized and I like to make sure I have my eyes on everything.

C2: Most embarrassing moment?
KC: I don't really get embarrassed- I just laugh at myself. Life is too short to dwell about silly things like that.

C2: What does “housewife” mean in 2011?
KC: The family nurturer and the glue that holds it all together.

The reality is -- these women are driving a lot more than the family Ford Fairlane. They play partner, mom, dog walker, dishwasher, diaper changer, caregiver, carpool driver, cookie baker, money maker, business owner, boo-boo kisser, and bedtime story conductor.

And you don’t have to turn on the TV to see it.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

A Line in the Sand

It's Official. Our editor decided that both our ideas were bad and alas our new CB/CH2 column is dubbed "A Line in the Sand." I think you'll agree that we love to disagree. This month we tackle mens' obsession with sports.

Frank, Frank, Frank. Dear sweet Frank. I’ve got you right where I want you. At press time, your last four Facebook posts (in just two days) are all sports related. In one weekend you couldn’t even muster up a little love for the beautiful spring weather? Hellooooo. Obsession!

Listen. I am a sports fan. In fact, I probably know more than the average lady. Heck, I even have a fantasy football team that boasted an 8-0 start to last season. Further, one of the items on my bucket list is to see a game at every Major League stadium. Listen, I’m no slouch when it comes to sports.

So now that we’ve leveled the playing field (pun intended), let’s talk about the “my team” phenomenon. This is where the man becomes so obsessed with “his team,” that you gently have to point out that he has no stake in the game, match, or contest.

We all know this guy. (Ahem, Frank Dunne.) He screams at the newspaper, the television, the players, the announcers – whatever form of media is bringing him his sporting content. Worse yet, if he is at the sporting event live, he calls out to the players by their first name, as if he’s earned that level of familiarity. (Frank, you’ll want to reference your Masters Sunday Facebook posts to your good friend, “Tiger.”)

His passion is fueled by a fire that burns in his belly - full of beer. And, he reacts in way that would cause anyone of average intelligence to assume that he owns the team, or is a member of the team, or was at one time on the team, or has some stake in a winning season. But alas – no! He is simply a fan. The game is over. Rip up your ticket like the rest of us and move on.

I understand that this is a generations-old problem. In 1979, my father came home from work devastated, and in tears. My mother couldn’t get out of him what was wrong. Her mind raced. Did my grandfather die? Did one of my father’s fellow firefighters get hurt on the job? What could be so wrong that it rendered a grown man nearly catatonic? Two words. Thurmon Munson. Yup, the New York Yankees catcher perished in a plane crash that day and my father was devastated. (Important to note that in my almost thirty eight this is the only instance of my father crying that I am aware of.)

As I pondered this topic, my better half became the unwilling case study. He was hyper-sensitive to my scrutiny and I was keenly aware of all sports-related hysteria. For example, while taking our morning walk, he checked his Blackberry, did a little hop-skip number, and elatedly declared, “We won! Whew. We were on a two game skid.” Oh really sweetie, a skid? Gotcha.

Or better yet, during the final round of the Masters, while Frank was Facebooking Tiger Woods, my guy was whispering to the television. “Go in.” He inched to the edge of his seat. “Go in.” He leaned forward with interest. “Go in.” His voice cracked, with anticipation. “Ohhhhhh.” Disappointment washed over his face and he slumped back against the pillows.

I love a man who has passion. I’d also love the ferocity of that passion to be directed at me, and I suspect that the majority of ladies would agree. I’m willing to – and I do - equally distribute my passion between said beau and my wardrobe, pedicures, and shoe collection. I’ll sit on the couch, after making him dinner, paint my toenails, and root for my Red Sox.

I get it. You love “your team.” But have they ever loved you back?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Debt of Gratitude

Bluffton Today column
April 27, 2011

I shook his hand and thanked him for all he had done. When he humbly responded, “I was just doing my job ma’am,” I thanked him again and turned away before the tears welling in my eyes slid down my face.

I had been listening to him tell his story, along the 18th green at Harbourtown, on Friday afternoon. A story that covered 17 years as a US Army sniper, a traumatic brain injury, and a life now in which his service dog, Jefferson, never leaves his side.

“He alerts me when I am about to have a seizure. And, he’ll wake me up when I am having a nightmare. He puts his paws on my chest to shake me from my sleep.”

Those sixty seconds in this wounded warriors presence had an enormous impact on me. And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as I had planned to write this column about the upcoming Wounded Warriors benefit golf outing at Hampton Hall slated for May 23rd.

Allow me to back up just a bit. Last November, the Wounded Warrior Foundation of the Lowcountry (WWFLC) was established by a group of area veterans and concerned citizens. The founders of the 501(c)(3) organization, an offshoot of the national Wounded Warrior Project, saw a clear need for local fundraising and a community-involvement mechanism to help returning warriors suffering with catastrophic injuries to receive tangible support as they readjust to civilian life.

About 60 days ago I got a call asking if I would be interested in writing about the golf event, in the works. I was immediately interested and took the committee up on their invitation to attend one of their meetings. Frankly, when I arrived I was shocked to find a room full of a couple dozen men. Nothing against the men folk, but in my experience a few women mixed in the pot helps a committee meeting, and an event to go off super smooth.

My prejudices aside, I gave the guys a chance to wow me. And they did. My question for the room was simple – why are you doing this?

Russ Spicer, committee chair talked to me about his initial involvement, which began as he learned of the plight of his neighbor, Jim Miller’s son, who after being “blown up” in Afghanistan and suffering extensive burns, and enduring more than 40 surgeries, still perseveres. Miller is chairman of WWFLC, and says, “As a community, we have an undeniable and urgent responsibility to support those who return home severely injured or maimed.”

That paired with Spicer’s experience when he returned from Vietnam in 1971 -- “When I came back the guys I served with didn’t get the welcome they deserved,” -- moved him to do something to say, “We appreciate you.”

Peter Dukas told me, “During a time of war, you hope that the country is asked to sacrifice too. We are doing this because we don’t want soldiers to fall by the wayside, if they do we are doing them an injustice.”

Mark and Linda Larsen (Linda is the sole women on the committee , drafted to keep the guys in line) spoke of driving past the Marine Corps Air Station, and truly recognizing and understanding the sound of freedom, and the responsibility that soldiers have 24 hours a day. “We watch the news clips and fifteen minutes later we forget that men and women are risking their lives,” Linda said, “That is why we are doing this.”

Doug Meyers is a veteran, and is involved because, “It is the absolute right thing to do.”

A year ago, a group of golf buddies in Hampton Hall had an idea. In three and a half weeks their idea will become reality as Hampton Hall plays host to The Inaugural Wounded Warrior Foundation of the Lowcountry Golf Classic, with all proceeds benefiting the WWFLC.

Open to golfers throughout the Lowcountry, teams of four will participate in a Captain’s Choice format. Entry Fee is $150 for an individual and in addition to golf, the event includes a celebratory dinner, silent and live auctions (committee member Pete Demarco has scored donations of golf from more than thirty local golf courses), appearances by local media celebrities, representatives from the PGA and the military, and area government officials, and an official proclamation of “Wounded Warriors of the Lowcountry Day” by Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka. The field is 75 percent full, so register now, to confirm your spot.

The slogan of the national Wounded Warrior Project is, “The greatest casualty is being forgotten.” The founders of WWFLC are doing everything possible to ensure that the wounded veterans of the Lowcountry will always be remembered.

For more information visit

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Swimsuit: Why Do You Forsake Me?

Bluffton Today column
April 13, 2011

I know no misery greater than attempting to find the perfect swimsuit.

Public speaking – pfff, easy. Dentist’s chair – surely you jest. Realizing I’ve sent an email to the wrong person, whilst bitching about said person – eh, I’ll bounce back. But swimsuit shopping - oh the horror!

Oddly, I don’t mind wearing the bathing suit. It is the journey toward the perfect swimsuit that makes my heart palpitate.

As I throw open the closet this year – having lost some inches of late – I shudder at the thought of having to start from scratch. Yes, I’m smaller. Yes, I’m healthier. But heck, one day of bathing suit shopping will likely set my mental health back years. (And, I’ve worked so hard to become sane, despite myself.)

But alas, successive 80 degree weekends demand a bathing suit, so in I go.

How the heck did I accumulate this many bathing suits? I have more than a dozen tops, bottoms, and one-pieces. I’m a third of the way through this dismal “fashion” show and the only thought running through my head is - who in the hell designed this house? There is no central air vent in my walk-in closet, the master bath seems to get hotter with each tug, and I don’t want to expose my lovely bedroom to this torturous ritual. As I sweat and struggle into suit number four, I silently curse this primal need to actually care about how I look.

Nylon and Lycra are not the airiest of fabrics and of course their sole purpose is to suck-in some trouble spots, so I might as well be trying to jump into a sausage casing, all the while overheating in this darn bathroom, in essence rendering this task a 7.5 on the difficulty scale.

Swimsuit! Why do you forsake me?

Now I’m a dozen pieces in and my favorite find is the black bottoms with the cute tie-string-sides. Front view, adorable. Back view, not so much. Apparently my weeks of boot camp have shrunk my bottom, because I look like I could add a diaper and still not fill out the butt. (Note to self: buy adult diapers just in case this doesn’t work out.)

The top-tier-search goes no better. I just can’t get the support I am looking for, if you know what I mean. Perhaps wearing the same suits for two years has finally stretched the chests beyond their means. Ironically, even though the bathing suits are too large, I remain drenched in my own sweat and I struggle to remove this last once piece.

This means just one thing. I need to shop for a few new suits.

I’ve already ruled out going to an actual store. I mean the thought of standing in the harsh light (of self-disgust), with hip-widening mirrors at each angle, and the size four skinny chick calling out for a size two from three dressing rooms down is less than appealing.

Add to this the fact that I would actually like to see what the bathing suit will look like without my underwear on underneath. And, OCD Courtney may also have a slight aversion to the little peel and stick crotch protectors. I mean paper being so sanitary and all. (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit…)

So, online shopping it is, but I already know how this is going to end. I have no idea what actual size to buy (I know it ain’t two or four -- ok, ok, or six.), so I will order multiple sizes, pay for expedited shipping (because I just can’t wait for round two of the heat box fiasco), and go through the exact same scenario that I described above. I will find one suit that I like. Then I will have to pay to ship back those that didn’t make the cut. Worth every penny, if it means avoiding a fitting room.

Despite my trepidation and ignoring the impending shipping costs, I began the online search. Sadly my “go to” suits from my friends at Lands End appear to have forgotten the better endowed this season. Where is the support? How about a little underwire for the girls?

With a heavy heart, I must continue the search. Sadly, I am seven websites in and I’ve got nada. I’m losing patience and time. There has got to be a nude beach around here somewhere…