game face…

I thought my paper was due Thursday. Then I thought it was due Tuesday. So, I got up early, and worked away, trying to gather my thoughts bit by bit… and trying to not worry, as it wasn’t coming together as I wanted it to.

And the weather was wet and cold and rainy and dreary and I had to go in for only one class… one class where we had no assignments or anything required of us, in the middle of the papers. Would we arrive, in the middle of all the stress and work, and then get sent home, having walked and driven in for no reason?

12318120_10153700391259976_608714076_oSo, I put my game face on, ready to face the weather and the dreariness.

Maybe, if we were lucky, our professor would bring us candy, and it would be a party. There’s always hope, you know.

There wasn’t a party, but nothing overly stressful either. And I arrived home to work on my paper, slugging away… and then got an e-mail reminding us that the paper was due on THURSDAY.

Hallelujah, I can breathe again! Now, to put in some more work, with a clear conscience, knowing that I can easily finish this paper by Wednesday night. Sometimes, you just need to sleep on it a little more.

a charleston reconnaissance… rainbow row

My head is starting to hurt. Did you know that you could go visit a location SO many times that you were certain you knew it very well… and then, you find out you were wrong about a good portion of it? That’s what happened after getting back from visiting Charleston with my mom.

You see, I go to Charleston, South Carolina at least twice a year, if not more. Mondays in Charleston, after  a conference at the beach, with lots of friends… what could be better? Sometimes we visit the Battery, the old churches, or go on a Fort Sumter tour. Several of us insist we go to the Market, even when others are completely tired of it. We always managed to revisit old haunts and explore some new ones. I thought I knew some of it so well.DSC_0385

During the last 14 years or so of visiting Charleston, my mom has only been there once, so I figured it was about time she went. We set aside some time during spring break, and drove down to stay with friends of ours. Thursday morning was quite cold but brilliantly sunny, so we headed straight downtown, with our first goal of going to the Battery and seeing Rainbow Row.

It wasn’t until I got back home and started doing some general research that I realized I had several locations mixed up. I always thought Rainbow Row encompassed all the old antebellum houses on the Battery, but every site I look at identifies them as the 5-7 buildings on East Bay Street, right before you step onto the Battery Wall. Their colors range from pink to yellow, blue, and green, and most normal people would wonder why any sane person would want to live in a house that color. But these homes are a Charleston landmark, and fit in with the colorful nature of downtown Charleston.DSC_0386

So, I had to completely rearrange some of my upcoming Charleston posts, realizing that I was misidentifying some of the locations. From there, the confusion got a bit worse when I tried to figure out whether what I thought was Battery Park… was actually Battery Park! I will try and explain the problem and what I came up with, and anyone who knows the area better can feel free to correct me.

I have always thought of Battery Park as the park and gardens that are on the end of East Bay Street, right on the corner of the peninsula, and the edge of the Battery itself. But it is also known as White Point Gardens, and sometimes, websites refer to the antebellum houses as being part of Battery Park. I have finally concluded that White Point Gardens is probably the official name of the corner park, and Battery Park the unofficial, and I will consider the antebellum houses to be part of The Battery, but not the park. You know, a park is a park, and a neighborhood is a neighborhood, to my way of thinking. And if this isn’t making any sense, it will over the next few days. Call this a prologue, if you will.

[Since writing this, I’ve found that Battery Park is an unofficial designation for the Battery, the homes, and the gardens, found in many guidebooks, but not in any official historical registries.]DSC_0388

If I had known some of this in advance (you know, like I thought I did), I probably would have taken more pictures of the Rainbow Row houses to show you. And less pictures of the opposite brick buildings. After this one, I will continue with our day’s journey, hopefully with no more confusing explanations. DSC_0394

What little I know about Rainbow Row, aside from the eye-catching colors is that after the destruction of the Civil War, the houses on East Bay Street were derelicts or slum housing. Not a nice place to live. Sometime in the early 1900’s, a woman named Dorothy Porcher Legge remodeled them and began the tradition of painting them in pastel colors. It sounds like the light colors help keep the homes cool, just like wearing pale colors would for a person, on a summer day.

Though, there do seem to be a number of legends involving other strange reasons those buildings are painted those colors. But now, the bright colors are their badge of honor, and what makes them famous. That’s quite a way for a derelict house to come, wouldn’t you say?DSC_0502

While walking on the waterfront side of East Bay Street, approaching the Battery, I was also admiring the old brick buildings on our side of the street. They were quite a contrast to the brightly colored buildings on the other side of the road. Also, I made a habit of taking pictures of the cobbled streets, throughout the day. These are not only of interesting patterns and colors, but worn smooth from all the cars and buggies that have driven over them in the last century or two. Driving on those cobbles, even in a car with good shocks was rattling, I can’t imagine driving on them in a wagon. Even on foot, your feet take a beating from them.

Stay with me as we continue down the waterfront towards the Battery of Charleston!DSC_0387

i met my Waterloo… and then it got peed on…

Just for the record, I don’t like using that word. My mother raised me better than to use words that can be considered crude, vulgar, or crass. Of course, I still use them every once in a while, but if I do, I have a reason for it. If you are being impolite or rude, just for the sake of being ill-mannered, then you have no excuse. You may think we’re descended from apes (and I beg to differ), but at least I know I have better manners than one.

Now, aside from that rabbit trail… I’m about to leave Australia for home, just when I’m reaching the point where I don’t hear my friends’ accents anymore. I’m pretty sure that tourist I bumped into, at the Sydney Opera House, was American, but it didn’t register until he walked away. Whether Aussie or American, they often just sound normal to me. Even to the point where I’ll meet someone and think, “Gosh, they sound like Buddy.”, or “I wonder if Joe knows he has a twin over here?”. Only after the fact, do I realize that doesn’t really make sense, because my American friends speak… well, American.

It’s a nice feeling, that familiarity, and knowing that I’m also pretty good at understanding all the terminology. I know what a “sticky-beak” is, understand that “no worries” can mean “no problem” or “you’re welcome”, and don’t get confused when someone greets me with “How ya goin’?”. I even speak coherently, every day, with a four year old that still can’t pronounce several letters of the alphabet, but I only ask her to repeat herself when she’s talking too fast for the human ear to hear (or when her mouth is full of food). In no place that I go, do I sit there with my mental “ear trumpet”, waiting to ask for a translation.

Of course, my U.S. friends will tell you that I’m going to go deaf before I go blind, when I get old, because I’m always asking my friends to repeat themselves. No, I don’t actually have a real hearing problem, but sometimes the words all run together in my head, or I’m not paying enough attention the first time. Or my friends are speaking too fast. Or too softly. If they’re speaking too softly, they’re probably the same friends who are always telling me “Shhh!”, no matter where we are. But don’t worry, I love them anyway.

The other major option is that I sometimes hear one thing, when they actually said something else. So, I have to stop and think about what they said again, kind of like when you play Mad Gab.

So, with all my comfy-ness with the Aussie accent and terms, I seem to have met my Waterloo. If you’re not familiar with the idiom, it refers to the battle that finally crushed Napoleon, back in the 1800’s. Bonaparte was seemingly unstoppable, but Wellington just plain smashed him and his army, and the French army never recovered from it.

Well, I met my Waterloo in the most unlikely of places. Several weeks ago, I came outside to find Mrs. B laughing, and asked her what was up. She told me (as I thought) that Bub had peed into the chook-laying container, and then a chicken startled her, causing her to shriek and fall over. Now, the plastic container that we’re talking about is at least four feet tall, so a baby can’t lean over it, much less get into it. But since babies do odd things, nappies and bodily functions are regular occurrences, and my brain was running a bit slow, I stopped to contemplate what she had just said. And couldn’t figure out how Bub had done such a thing, especially as she still had her nappie (diaper) on.

After repeating herself twice, I finally realized that Mrs. B had said Bub “peered” into it, but the Aussie accent pronounces that “pee-yud” or “peed”. Yeah. So, I slapped myself (mentally), several times, and promised to pay closer attention.

Several weeks went by, and I was working in the kitchen, while the girls were home from school. And then, laughter came from the direction of the bathroom. When asked, Bea told me that Bub had “peed” into the toilet, and then said “guck”, and backed away. Now, we’ve been trying to get Bub interested in using the potty, so this sounded somewhat normal to me, but when when I saw her a moment later, she was fully dressed. And why, if she had used the toilet, had there been no tremendous applause? Because it would have been a first time, and worthy of being noticed.

But the sentence still didn’t sound right, somehow, so I asked Bea again, as if I hadn’t heard right. Nope, I heard right, but something was still wrong. When I asked her again, Bea finally figured out what the problem was, and did the same thing her mom had done… “Not peed, PEE-yud, Rachel!”.

Everything clicked, and I was again crushed my my own stupidity, of Mad Gabbish proportions.  And later, I realized the part that really should have caught my attention. Around here, when we’re talking about babies and nappies, we say “wee” and “poo”, not “pee” and “poop”. So, in both instances, they would have said that she “wee-ed”, if it had actually happened that way.

Babies do crazy things, though. Don’t all moms know that? Some of them rip their clothes off, any chance they get, but my Bub doesn’t do that. But she did, one, helpfully take her nappy off, and hand it to me, after having done a poo. While I was outside hanging up laundry. I think I had a fit of hysterical laughter. Wouldn’t you?

So, my brain didn’t register it’s crazy mistake, because somehow, the subject matter seemed right, though the language seemed wrong. Have you ever had a funny misunderstanding, while in another country? I already know about the American/Aussie confusion over the words “root”, “nurse”, and “rubber”. Aside from the obvious ones, do you have a hilarious travel  and/or language memory?

Oh well. One can’t be perfect. And I guess I’m lucky that none of my other Aussie friends have yet to tell me that they “peered” into something. This time, I might really go off in a fit of hysterics. And then “wee” on myself.