Excerpt from Real Life, pt. 1

I really had no intention of describing my life on this blog. But buying our first house and moving to the western side of Charleston this year is a once in a lifetime event, it was a long time coming, and I think it’s a cause for an exception.

In four words, I feel very lucky.

We were living with my family while we waited on the previous townhouse purchase. That was a long, almost four months that was originally intended to be only 2 weeks. The deal officially fell through in July, and that’s when we really started shopping for something else. This time, no short sales, period. We found this place on Johns Island. It took 1/4 the time to make an offer, get approval, and move in. And there was upgrade money for buying so we have matching stainless steel appliances in the kitchen.

The view is just gorgeous off the master bedroom deck. The house is 3 floors and more than enough space for 2 people, and two out of three floors look out onto a big lake with a walking path around it. Each townhouse has two parking spaces and natural grassy areas for guests.

The sky is actually dark at night because we’re still out in the country and away from big stadiums, big box strip malls, etc. 

Johns Island is west of Charleston (though it looks mostly southward on a map). It’s the fourth largest island on the East Coast. It’s still very rural, undeveloped, and home to the Angel Oak.

Johns Island and some neighboring islands have a lot of farms. We are closer than ever to the freshest produce, dairy and eggs you can get in this area. I just saw Blackbird Market the other day on Main Rd. and plan to make a return trip. Not to mention the roadside produce stands that are open all week, not just weekends. And there’s an Earthfare close by. Within 10 minutes are the usual chains: Bi Lo, Publix, Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Piggly Wiggly. Wadmalaw is home to America’s only tea plantation, Irwin House Vineyards, and Firefly Vodka.

Johns neighbors the island with the beach my family visited when I was a child: Kiawah. Another neighboring island, James, has bakeries, vegetarian eateries, Asian fusion eateries, art businesses, the Pour House, the art house movie theater, and leads to the ever funky Folly Beach. And the Piggly Wiggly on James Island is owned by an avid beer fan so it stocks 900+ beers, which is better variety than any other store in Charleston. James Island is also the childhood home of Stephen Colbert. 

This week I interviewed a newly revamped restaurant for the James Island paper. I plan to tweet these if they are available online. 

I am psyched nearby West Ashely has the only record store left in Charleston, two Indian restaurants, the Terrace movie theater, the Pour House, several fashion (not just interiors) fabric stores, a World Market, and there will be a JoAnn’s in spring 2013.Our locally focused indie music station, the Bridge 105.5, broadcasts from the west side of town as well. In North Charleston where I grew up there were more businesses for fabrics, art supplies, you didn’t just buy everything already made by someone else. I missed that living in Mount Pleasant. 

Because West Ashely has older sections, it is more affordable than Mount Pleasant and Downtown. To afford property East Cooper, or Mount Pleasant, IOP, or Sullivans, takes “gentriffic” (totally made up term on my part) income. Because West Ashely has older sections, it’s got stories to tell. West Ashely and the Islands have lots of streets lined by huge oaks on either side. 

I feel very lucky we found a place in general, but even more so that we found this place. 



Easily Confused Words: Loots and Lutes, Liars and Lyres


Luther is a broken-hearted luthier. Luisa, his lover, said he looted & lied.Then she broke his lutes & lyres as payback. #currying_favor

The above tweet is another homophonic riddle. Luther and Luisa, fictional characters, have broken up over a misunderstanding and damaged property. It was inspired by easily confused words: loots and lutes, and liars and lyres.

Loot and lute, and  liar and lyre, are two sets of homophones. That is, each set has two words that are pronounced identically but spelled differently.

  • Loot is a verb and a noun. To loot is to steal, usually in a very thorough, “we took everything that could be immediately re-sold for cash” manner. Loot the noun means the items that were stolen.
  • A lute is a musical instrument; it is an ancestor to the modern guitar. Somehow I suspect there will never be a video game called “lute hero” but it would be very funny if it happened. To me, anyway.
  • One who repairs guitars, lutes, and other string instruments is called a luthier. This is a quirk in English: the person who does the repairs to a group of objects is named with a seemingly unrelated, archaic-sounding term. You don’t know what it is unless you’ve heard it before, there’s no logic here, only Latin roots. Another example of this quirk is calling your plumber to repair an issue in your water/sewage lines, even though those pipes are not lead (plumb) and haven’t been made of lead in many many years. But rest assured, your plumber knows how to fix the problem, no matter what the pipes or a clog is made of!
  • Lied is the past tense of lie, or to tell an untruth. A liar is an noun, it means one who tells lies, or untruths, or half-truths. One who deceives, one who is concealing rather than revealing in their communications. One who cannot be trusted.
  • A lyre is a handheld harp, often made of gold. In stories, it is held and plucked by an angel ascending to the heavens or a recently departed character. A harp is also used to represent the Irish, and as you might imagine, Harp brand beer.