Friday, August 10, 2018

WHAT EVER HAPPENED...? "The Lady at the Beach"

     In addition to the Adirondacks, another place I’ve been to that has helped me relax is Murrells Inlet in South Carolina. My then-boyfriend Aiden had some friends who own a house there. Aiden is thinking about relocating there, so he wanted me to visit to see what I think. [Since we’ve broken up, it doesn’t matter.]

     Well – this is what I think anyway – it’s great there! I visited South Carolina’s beautiful Huntington Beach with him in the summer of 2015. I have a humorous tale to tell….

     I packed our beach bags, a beach umbrella, and Happy, my dog. She had almost never been to a beach before (other than a quick stop at the beach in Daytona Beach, Florida). What a fun time she had on the beach in South Carolina, rolling around in the ocean after the waves hit the shore. Aiden and I tied her up to a hook we put in the sand and attached her leash to. Of course – sand is not such a great surface to secure her. And, when a little crab crawled out of a sand dune nearby, Happy took off in full pursuit!

     I was chasing her to grab her leash. Aiden was chasing the beach umbrella that flew into the air as Happy took off and pulled it out of the sand. Other beachgoers had a good chuckle at all of this chaos. When Happy reached the crab, she backed off, so I think she knew not to pounce on it, or it would be trouble. I grabbed her leash, walked her back to our spot on the beach, as Aiden set up the umbrella all over again. We talked about Happy’s crab chase on and off for the rest of our vacation. I bought a sign while there that says, “What happens at the beach, stays at the beach!” But, I’m sharing Happy’s story anyway.

     The reason I titled this chapter “The Lady at the Beach” is because, though there’s more later in this chapter about the other great things about South Carolina, I have to tell the story that brought happy tears to my face right after Happy’s crab chase.

     Some woman, whose name I forgot to ask though I told her and her husband I’d be writing about it, saw Happy loose. Instead of just sitting idly by, I think she quickly figured out we were “newbies” to the beach with our dog. The lady got up from her spot, quite a distance from ours, to inform us that sharks were on the edge of the ocean and to hold on to our dog tightly. We looked up and sure enough, seagulls and beachgoers alike were watching sharks swim very close to the shore. How sweet that a stranger would help us navigate safety for my pet! I teared up when she walked away, because I rarely notice when people are just plain, old nice.

     Besides the beaches in South Carolina, we also enjoyed excellent food. One specialty that I had never heard of before was She Crab Soup. Why it’s called that I have no idea, but I call it delicious. One of our waitresses at a wonderful establishment, Saltwater Creek, told us many local restaurants have that soup. I want to go back to South Carolina just to have some more….

     Another food I over-ate there was Fried Oreos at Poppy’s. I’ve eaten that fun selection at various fairs, but Poppy’s was even more fabulous! I even took some to go on our last stop there, and thus they sat in a cooler for the 16-hour drive back to my place in New York State! What a treat they were as I ate them immediately after Happy and I emerged from Aiden’s car. I’m salivating now for them, as I write this.

     Another fun activity we did while vacationing in South Carolina was a dolphin watch. We went out on an inflatable boat that felt very safe and secure. Some of the other “dolphin watchers” sat right on the rim of the boat. Aiden and I sat on a bench in the back, but we still had an excellent view!

     Dolphins came very close to our boat. They are such beautiful creatures. Seeing one so close has been on my “bucket list” for years. I started to cry happy tears every time one jumped out of the water. What also made me extremely pleased on this boat trip was the behavior of the woman who sat next to us. Every time I stood up to take a picture, Aiden held onto my arm because he knows I lose my balance easily. I can “teeter-totter” on an even surface, so a moving, small boat makes it even scarier.

     This woman, to whom I hadn’t explained anything yet, saw Aiden helping me, and instinctively, she moved out of our way so I could snap pictures. I know that many people would just sit there and not try to be so accommodating. Later on, I told her about some of the side effects of my brain injury and my balance issues: going down stairs, walking on uneven surfaces, or standing on a wobbly boat are all part of my life story now. I also told her about this book. I hope she gets to read about her kindness someday. Taking care of others is really something I don’t witness often enough….

     And finally, what I want to end this chapter about South Carolina with is both a positive and a negative:

     The only negative thing I could say it is that, as of this writing, motorcyclists in this state are not required to wear helmets. I find this appalling, considering my knowledge of brain injuries. Each time I saw a motorcyclist while I was down there, I said just that to them. Hey, folks, safety first! An accident that causes a brain injury affects everyone in their life forever! [And helmets are needed everywhere for biking, snowmobiling, skateboarding, ATVs, etc. I’ve heard horror story after horror story of families permanently changed when this does not take place.]

     And now – back to the positive: South Carolina is the cleanest state I can remember. There is NO trash by the side of the road as we see almost everywhere in New York State. There are signs about littering everywhere in South Carolina, and there is a hefty $1000 fine announced on those signs (much larger than the NY State fines for littering).

     Another sign I read in South Carolina said, “Litter trashes everyone.” How true! I really wish New Yorkers could learn from the folks down south because there is so much trash thrown out of cars throughout our state.

     Our church, like so many other groups, actually has to plan a couple of Saturday mornings each year to gather together for a highway clean-up to pick up garbage others have thrown out of their vehicles. I think it is great that people volunteer for this disgusting job, but I also feel it’s so sad that it has to be done in the first place.

     I helped my church with this a few times after my brain surgery cured me of my fear of germs. I found wallet contents, an engagement ring, [GROSS-OUT ALERT] dirty diapers, used tampons, condoms, and so much more. Of course, I was thrilled about God’s ability to cure me of my mysophobia (and by our having rubber gloves on), but I was grossed out by the selfishness of others.

     The people of South Carolina get it right. They obviously care about their state and that is noticeable. Because they are so clean, friendly, and such great cooks, Happy and I will be back someday….

For the coming year, I [Douglas Winslow Cooper] will be
excerpting, weekly, material from this almost-final version of the fine book by Janet Johnson Schliff, M.S. Ed., which she wrote over a three-year period with some coaching and editing help from me, through my business, Write Your Book with Me.

Her memoir is now available in paperback and ebook formats from Outskirts Press  and



Janet Johnson Schliff was on WKNY  Radio 1490 at 9:10 a.m. on Thursday, March 1, Kingston, NY.

Janet spoke at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 3 at Barnes & Noble in Kingston, NY. I [DWC] attended, along with about 40 other people. Congratulations to Janet on a fine talk!

Janet Johnson Schliff spoke at the Starr Library in Rhinebeck, NY, at 7 p.m. on March 6. 

She spoke at the Golden Notebook Bookstore in Woodstock, NY, at 2 p.m. on March 17. 

She spoke at the Morton Library in Rhinecliff, NY, at 6:30 p.m. on March 28. 

She spoke at RCAL in Kingston, NY, at 4 p.m. on April 3. I was able to attend. They gave her an impromptu book-launch party.

On 4/4/18 Janet spoke at the Parkinson's Support Group at the Starr Library at Rhinebeck at 2:30 p.m.

On 4/27/18 Janet spoke at the Stone Ridge Library at 5:30 p.m.

On 5/4/18 Janet spoke at the Hurley Library at 6 p.m.

On 5/9/18 Janet spoke at the Kingston Library at 6 p.m.

On 5/14/18 Janet spoke at the Staatsburg Library at 7 p.m.

On 5/31/18 Janet spoke at the Clinton Community Library at 6:30 p.m.

On 6/9/18 Janet spoke at the Tannersville Mountain Top Library at noon.

On 6/11/18 Janet spoke at the Gardiner Library at 7 p.m.

On 6/20/18 Janet spoke at the Marbletown Community Center at 6 p.m.

On 7/13/18 Janet spoke at the Esopus Library at 7 p.m.

On 7/20/18 Janet spoke at the Pine Plains Library at 6 p.m.

On 7/23/18 Janet spoke at the Ulster Library at 5:30 p.m.

On 8/11/18 Janet will be at the Northern Dutchess Bible Church in Red Hook at 1:00 p.m.

On 9/06/18 Janet will be at the Inquiring Minds Bookstore in New Paltz at 7 p.m.

On 9/15/18 Janet will be at the Adriance Library in Poughkeepsie (93 Market St.) at 2:30 p.m.

On 9/22/18 Janet will again be at the Tannersville Mountain Top Library, at noon.

More signings will be coming up. A fine feature about Janet by John DeSantos [845 LIFE] appeared in the Middletown Times Herald-Record on Monday, March 12, as part of Brain Injury Awareness Month. An article about her book was just published in the May 2018 Living Rhinebeck Magazine. An article about her book appeared in the May 14 Daily Freeman of Kingston, NY. and another in the Family Life section of the Poughkeepsie Journal on June 8th. The Millerton News published an article on Thursday, August 2, about her talk at the Pine Plains Library. 

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