Almost…Done!?

The passage of time, and how we humans define it, is such an interesting thing to ponder about. For most of this summer, I’ve approached it as if I’m here to stay, for the long haul. We’ve still got a month left, I’ve thought many times.

Now we’ve turned a corner. There’s less than two weeks left in my time in Conway. We’re having our end-of-summer celebration on the 18th and the 19th is our last day of work!

Lots of awesome stuff has happened since my last blog. Too much to go into everything, so here are a few sound bytes, some with pictures:

-Tomatoes have come to the farm in full force! So many that we don’t know what to do with them! Will and I made homemade pizza with homemade tomato sauce.

I made homemade hummus last week. SO easy, WAY cheaper than store-bought, AND you can experiment with it. I put garbanzo beans, fresh-squeezed lemon, minced garlic, a spice mix, and a hot cayenne pepper in. SO fresh-tasting.

I made homemade hummus last week. SO easy, WAY cheaper than store-bought, AND you can experiment with it. I put garbanzo beans, fresh-squeezed lemon, minced garlic, a spice mix, and a hot cayenne pepper in. SO fresh-tasting.

Peyton (my sister) came and visited last weekend! We had an awesome time catching up. She got to meet a lot of my friends (especially Rifat – we got to hang out with him more than anyone else), we made chicken pot pie and peach cobbler, we went and saw Annie, Jr., and best of all, we sat and talked for two hours. No phones, no distractions, just she and I. She’s in Burundi, Africa until July 17th, serving with Samaritan’s Feet. Please say a prayer or two or many!

Peyton (my sister) came and visited last weekend! We had an awesome time catching up. She got to meet a lot of my friends (especially Rifat – we got to hang out with him more than anyone else), we made chicken pot pie and peach cobbler, we saw Annie, Jr., and best of all, we sat and talked for two hours. No phones, no distractions, just she and I. Right now, she’s in Burundi, Africa until July 17th, serving with Samaritan’s Feet. Please say a prayer or two or many for her and the team and the people she’ll meet!

-Freedom Readers has been going great. In case I didn’t tell you already, all the other BNs and I volunteer at this summer program, where we meet with one elementary-schooler weekly and read books with them. They have a role model, we get out into the community, and we all become great friends! I’ve been tutoring and reading with Elijah. He and I have gotten to know each other really well, even though we’ve only seen each other three times.

An update on the Operations from a previous blog:

Operation Iron Chef is going well (as you can see from the gourmet food above). Operation Swoll (or Swole, as I’m told it’s supposed to be spelled) is not going at all. I’m running a lot, but not getting any bigger. Sigh. Priorities. Operation Community is moving right along – tomorrow all the BNs are having dinner with the mayor! Operation Deep Literacy – kind of happening. I still haven’t finished Imitation of Christ, but I’m making progress. Operation Clean: besides a few minor incidents with rotten vegetables and several encounters with live or recently dead insects and birdfowl, we’ve been pretty good about this.

 

Good news: Work on the Gullah Grand Strand Brochure has REALLY picked up. At 6:45 am two Thursdays ago, I drove to Georgetown and visited upwards of 14 possible sites to include in the brochure. If there was a tour, I went on it. If there was food, I ate it. If there were people, I talked to them. Immediately when I returned to the apartment that night, I composed descriptions of each of the sites, along with an explanation of their Gullah heritage. I e-mailed those off to the site contacts, got revisions, and now I’m waiting on the final revisions from Ms. Veronica, our supervisor. The goal by July 18th: have the online version of our brochure live and looking beautiful. Zack and I are very hopeful about this.

Gore's BBQ, one of the GREAT places I went for food. The owners made me feel like family (I'm feeling like that's a theme this summer!) Since it's on my way home to Charlotte, I'm definitely going back.

Edward and Henrietta Gore stand in front of Gore’s BBQ, one of the GREAT places I went for food for the Gullah Grand Strand brochure. The owners made me feel like family (I’m feeling like that’s a theme this summer!). Since it’s on my way home to Charlotte, I’m definitely going back.

 

The food at Gore's – crispy fried chicken, a corn fritter, mac and cheese, and melt-in-your-mouth yam.

The food at Gore’s – crispy fried chicken, a corn fritter, creamy mac and cheese, and melt-in-your-mouth yam.

 

Wow. Two more weeks. It’s certainly been a good ride. I spent this past holiday weekend at my grandparents’ house with my mom and dad and cousins, and I got some good time to reflect on my summer there. Those general reflections are still cookin’ in my head. They’ll be ready to serve up in a later blog.

 

That’s all for now! Time to go eat a salad with my FRESH hummus and finish it off with a FRESH farm-stand peach. Ahhhh, food is good. Life is good.

 

That's the sole of my old work boot, which was also my Dad's old work boot...from the 90s. You can only expect so much, I guess.

That’s the sole of my old work boot, which was also my Dad’s old work boot…from the 90s. You can only expect so much from things, I guess.

 

The newest addition to the farm: a "gobbler" (male turkey). Wanna have a little farm fun? Find a gobbler who's "struttin" (his feathers are out and he's walking around like he's the boss). Shout loudly. Wait for gobbler to gobble impulsively. When gobblers are "struttin," their hormones are so strong that they gobble uncontrollably at any loud noise. It's HILARIOUS.

The newest addition to the farm: a “gobbler” (male turkey). Wanna have a little farm fun? Step 1: Find a gobbler who’s “struttin” (his feathers are out and he’s walking around like he’s the boss). Step 2: Shout loudly. Step 3: Wait for gobbler to gobble impulsively.                           Explanation:When gobblers are “struttin,” their hormones are so strong that they gobble uncontrollably at any loud noise. It’s HILARIOUS.

 

 

 

This Week in Pictures

Unlike normal, I’ve actually been taking a fair amount of pictures here in Conway.   I’ve included some of those pictures in previous blog posts, but others I haven’t because they haven’t been relevant.

Well, now I have an excuse to include those non-relevant pictures: a blog solely devoted to pictures!

The cow is back! She was away for breeding for a month, and now she's back at the farm (and hopefully pregnant!). She doesn't do much but moo and eat and poop and sit on the ground. We can't milk her yet because her baby is far off.

Thursday, June 13th: The cow is back! She was away for breeding for a month, and now she’s back at the farm (and hopefully pregnant!). She doesn’t do much but moo and eat and poop and sit on the ground. We can’t milk her yet because her baby is far off.

Friday, June 14th: Gramma White invited us to her nephew's 15th birthday party. Here's the whole family at Rioz, a Brazilian Steakhouse. The cake there was AMAZING – chocolate with layers of vanilla and chocolate cream.

Friday, June 14th: Gramma White invited us to her nephew’s 15th birthday party. Here’s the whole family at Rioz, a Brazilian Steakhouse. The cake there was AMAZING – chocolate with layers of vanilla and chocolate cream.

Tuesday, June 18th: The first tomato harvest! Wayne planted all kinds of tomatoes, as you can see here. I used the first batch in a sauteed tomato-okra dish.

Tuesday, June 18th: The first tomato harvest! Wayne planted all kinds of tomatoes, as you can see here. I used the first batch in a sauteed tomato-okra dish.

 

Tuesday, June 18th: Okra is one of the most labor-intensive summer crops. Each okra fruit grows at the crook of a leaf and the stem. If you let the leaves continue growing and just harvest the fruits, you'll never get any more okra. The leaves will sap all the plant's energy. So, every time you harvest okra, you also need to cut all the leaves except for the top two. Here, I'm doing exactly that, with a knife handmade by Mr. Walter Hill, museum curator.

Tuesday, June 18th: Okra is one of the most labor-intensive summer crops. Each okra fruit grows at the crook of a leaf and the stem. If you let the leaves continue growing and just harvest the fruits, you’ll never get any more okra. The leaves will sap all the plant’s energy. So, every time you harvest okra, you also need to cut all the leaves except for the top two. Here, I’m doing exactly that, with a knife handmade by Mr. Walter Hill, museum curator.

Tuesday, June 18th: Our first community dinner. We invited Conswella and her family. Highlights included the swiss cheese and apple bread (Emily and Chaarushi), the pasta with pesto (Zack and Tom), and the fruit salad (in a watermelon bowl! Julianna and Alyssa), squash casserole (Quinn and Rifat) and cheesecake-cookie cupcakes (Billy and John).

Tuesday, June 18th: Our first community dinner. We invited Conswella and her family. Highlights included the swiss cheese and apple bread (Emily and Chaarushi), the pasta with pesto (Zack and Tom), and the fruit salad (in a watermelon bowl! Julianna and Alyssa), squash casserole (Quinn and Rifat) and cheesecake-cookie cupcakes (Billy and John).

 

Wednesday, June 19th: Oh. My. Goodness. Mrs. Skipper, the farm manager's mom, came to the farm on Wednesday and cooked us a meal on the wood-burning stove in the farmhouse. Corn fritters, okra, bacon, stewed green beans – all from the farm. Kirk, my friend from home, was able to experience the awesomeness too. That Wednesday morning, Mrs. Skipper picked me up and flew me back 60 years to her young adulthood. And I loved it.

Wednesday, June 19th: Oh. My. Goodness. Mrs. Skipper, the farm manager’s mom, came to the farm on Wednesday and cooked us a meal on the wood-burning stove in the farmhouse. Corn fritters, okra, bacon, stewed green beans – all from the farm. Kirk, my friend from home, was able to experience the awesomeness too. That Wednesday morning, Mrs. Skipper picked me up and flew me back 60 years to her young adulthood. And I loved it.

 

Wednesday, June 19th: Just to reiterate the meal's awesomeness, this was my plate. Mrs. Skipper did a GREAT job.

Wednesday, June 19th: Just to reiterate the meal’s awesomeness, this was my plate. Mrs. Skipper did a GREAT job.

Thursday, June 20th: Ahhhh. So much food. This was my meal at Big Mike's Soul Food in Myrtle Beach: melt-in-your-mouth cornbread, collard greens, and "field peas" (which I think are the same thing as black-eyed peas). Zack and I went there on Thursday to see if Big Mike would be in the brochure we're creating of Gullah-heritage businesses on the coast of SC: the Gullah Grand Strand. His answer: an enthusiastic yes! We have our second definite site! And there are more to come.

Thursday, June 20th: Ahhhh. So much food. This was my meal at Big Mike’s Soul Food in Myrtle Beach: melt-in-your-mouth cornbread, collard greens, and “field peas” (which I think are the same thing as black-eyed peas). Zack and I went there on Thursday to see if Big Mike would be in the brochure we’re creating of Gullah-heritage businesses on the coast of SC: the Gullah Grand Strand. His answer: an enthusiastic yes! We have our second definite site! And there are more to come.

 

Friday, June 22nd: The BN's sweetgrass basket making class. This is the beginning. The spirally-thing in the center is the start of the basket. Ms. Vera, master basket maker, does not tell anyone how she starts her basket. But other than that, she taught me all I know.

Friday, June 21st: The BN’s sweetgrass basket making class. This is the beginning. The spirally-thing in the center is the start of the basket. Ms. Vera, master basket maker, does not tell anyone how she starts her basket. But other than that, she taught me all I know.

 

Friday, June 22nd: The nearly-finished product. I was rushing to finish because Ms. Vera had to go. But the process was fun and relaxing. Mom came down to visit this weekend, so when she walked in to Ultimate Gullah, I gave her the finished basket. Talk about instant gratification!

Friday, June 21st: The nearly-finished product. I was rushing to finish because Ms. Vera had to go. But the process was fun and relaxing. Mom came down to visit this weekend, so when she walked in to Ultimate Gullah, I gave her the finished basket. Talk about instant gratification!

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Never Goodbye; It’s See You Soon.

Lots of times, we humans reminisce upon times past. We look wistfully backward and wish we are where we were. Some times, we humans have experiences which we know as they’re happening, and when they’re over, that they’ll forever be in our memory, that we’ll forever reminisce wistfully.

These last five days are one of those “some times.”

On Wednesday of last week, Rifat and I arrived at the home of Gramma White. Before we said hello, Rifat and I were thrust into a family crisis (of sorts) that would bring us immediately together: frantic gestures in Gramma White’s backyard brought us running. We burst onto the scene to find all the women of the house staring at a four-foot long black snake, lurking in the woods behind their house. After our valiant efforts to avoid being bitten, the snake slid away.

And so began our homestay.

The best way to describe the next five days – and Gramma White’s house – is full.

Full of Family: Every time Rifat and I arrived home from work, a few new family members were there to greet us. We met godparents and cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, friends, and a dog. Rifat and I became especially close with three of Gramma White’s grandchildren, whom you see in the picture below.

sidneyandmaya

The two younger girls are star gymnasts, more fit than bodybuilders – and certainly more flexible. I found out the hard way how much stronger they were than me when we did their summer conditioning together. The Second-Position Jump Squats, 270 Toe Raises, and Splits gave a new meaning to the word “sore.”

The older grandchild, in the pink, is older than Rifat and me. We got to be a part of her car-buying decision, made an 11 o’clock milk run for one of the babies, and had a heart-to-heart about faith, growing up, and work. She shared wisdom with us about relationships and why she serves people. We told her a bit about our home lives. And more and more, we were becoming part of Gramma White’s full family.

Full of Food: Just in case you didn’t know, I have been a practicing pescatarian (no meat except fish) for the past year. Given the amount of meat I knew I’d eat this weekend, I gave my pescatarianism up temporarily. And I’m so glad I did. On Thursday night, Gramma White fried up some chicken legs and served those tender thangs alongside fresh potato salad, collard greens, and butter beans. Just before I thought I’d died and gone to soul-food heaven, she thrust some sort of strawberry-whipped cream cake in front of us. How could we refuse? That cake was only the appetizer, after all, to the warm peach cobbler we made later on that night. Lori, the godmother, has a name for the feeling we had after Thursday night’s dinner: “the itis.”

it-is (AYE-tihs), n., – the contented-smile, sit-back-and-fall-asleep, hand-on-your-fully-belly feeling one gets after a meal, particularly if it’s cooked by Ms. Paulene White.

Quinn before the itis – observe the hungry look on his face.

Quinn before the itis – observe the hungry look on his face and the full plate.

 

The whole family after the itis. If you look carefully, you can see various contented smiles, hand itching to rest on full bellies, and droopy eyes ready for sleep.

The whole family after the dinner and with the itis. If you look carefully, you can see various contented smiles, hand itching to rest on full bellies, and droopy eyes ready for sleep.

Full of Faith: Thursday morning, Gramma White and Rifat and I were talking around the breakfast table (the preparation of which is shown below – don’t worry Mom, I’m not going hungry in Conway). Rifat said he owed everything to his parents. Gramma White stopped him quick: “Now you do owe a lot to your parents, but you gotta give the credit to the big man: God first. Always put God first.”

Gramma White has instilled this faith in God in her whole family and extended family, and her love for God overflowed into us, too. She does not take credit. She redirects credit to God, all the time. Gramma White lives out the proclamation of Jacob in Joshua 24:15 – “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

And after all the fullness of Gramma White’s house, Sunday evening came. Rifat and I, with a recurring case of the itis, had to leave. We began saying our goodbyes, but Gramma White corrected us: “It’s never goodbye. It’s see you soon.”

Her wisdom, once again, rings true. We’re here in Conway for one more whole month. Her house is less than 20 minutes away from our apartment. Her door, she promised, is always open (and her fridge is always stocked). One of her granddaughters is starring in Annie, Jr. Rifat and I are making plans to see it. My mom’s coming down next weekend. I’m going to bring her by.

Even if Rifat and I never see Gramma White or her family again after we leave Conway (which I hope is not the case), it still is never goodbye. There’s a place which Jesus said He has prepared for all of us, and He’s waiting. We’ll all be together again, rejoicing, singing, and laughing. There’s no real need to reminisce wistfully.

See you soon, Gramma White.

grammawhite

Progress Update #2

Gradpic

This past weekend, I went home for my sister’s graduation (NC State next year, woop woop!). SO fun. Here’s us with a new look we’re developing. We like to call it Magnum, a unique, cutting edge look not to be confused with Blue Steel.

From tomorrow til Sunday, Rifat and I will be staying in the home of Ms. White, a Conway resident of Gullah heritage. She promised to be our mom for a few days (food included), so I’m pretty excited about that. Also, maybe Rifat’ll learn how to cook other things besides an egg!

Will@farm

Will came and helped out at the Farm today!

In other news, I haven’t talked about my internship in a while. So the majority of this blog post will be a kinda professional-looking report on that.

 

Ultimate Gullah

Thus far, Zack Fowler (the other Ultimate Gullah intern) and I have focused on two main projects:

I) Marketing and advertising for Ultimate Gullah.

A) Online Marketing Campaign

i) 3-4 posts on the Facebook account/week.

ii) Two promotional competitions and prizes to the winners.

iii) A revamped Ultimate Gullah logo

All of these efforts have resulted in 100+ new “likes” on our Facebook account plus increased visibility (the blue line in the chart below shows the number of people we’ve reached per week – our highest yet is 4,868. We arrived and began work on May 20th, which is when the blue line starts increasing)

Graph

 

iv) Zack has begun creating an Ultimate Gullah account on Etsy, an online market similar to Ebay but for upscale, handmade crafts and products.

 

B) Community Marketing Campaign

i) Zack and I have visited 14 businesses in downtown Conway, establishing connections with the owners, telling them about Ultimate Gullah, and exchanging brochures and business cards.

ii) We’ve investigated and presented ideas to Ms. Veronica of different means for local advertisement: outdoor advertising on billboards, ads in the local professional theatre, etc.

 

C) Zack and I worked with Dayo, the store supervisor, to re-design the store’s layout.

 

II. A cultural heritage tourism brochure.

As per Commissioner Gerald’s suggestion, Zack and I have investigated creating a brochure, entitled Gullah Grand Strand, aimed at guiding people through the Gullah heritage of the Grand Strand, including historic sites, churches, and cemeteries and Gullah-owned restaurants and entertainment venues.

Our progress thus far:

1) Began compiling a database – 40+ contacts so far.

2) Looked into funding resources.

3) Pored over similar projects (like Journey Through Hallowed Ground‘s heritage tourism brochure)

4) Met with the Planning Department of Myrtle Beach and talked with some community members in Atlantic Beach.

 

The L.W. Paul Living History Farm

My role at the Farm thus far has been one primarily of learning and documentation. Every day, Wayne Skipper (the Farm manager) teaches me more about how farm life was in the early 1900s. We reinforce his verbal teaching by actually doing. I’ve plowed with a mule, sharpened tools by hand, harvested vegetables, dug up old vegetables, fed and watered horses, mules, and pigs, and chickens (I’ve even chased one vagrant hen back into her coop), and drawn water from a well.

Every day, I record what I did in my journal, complete with interesting quotes and avenues for further research.

I have also talked with Mr. O’Neal Smalls, the director of Freewoods Living History Farm, an African-American living history farm similar to the LW. I will be working on his farm this Thursday, trying to complete my picture of early-20th-century farm life.

I am still allowing a project to take shape from what I’ve learned on the Farm. I don’t have anything definite yet. I am thinking about doing some sort of documentary work, but I’m still unsure. Comment with suggestions.

It’s always so interesting. You sometimes realize how much you’ve actually done only when you write it – day-to-day you don’t realize it. But seeing all of this written down is certainly encouraging to me, and maybes somewhat informative to you.

More to come on Homestays soon!

WWE(t)?

Last Friday evening started with a boatload of fresh squash picked at El-Dubyuh:

SQUASH

and a great idea:

Will and I would make dinner together. He’d take on a soy-sauce chicken stir fry, and I’d contend with a yellow squash and zucchini casserole.

Our respective bouts began with the vigor of hangry teenage boys.

I forced the unruly squash into submission in a bath of hot water, while Will wrenched away a bottle of soy sauce, still clinging to its supermarket shelf. Unfortunately, Will could not fight off the oyster crackers and Pringles to safely secure a crucial package of Ritz crackers that would complete my casserole.

The Man – 1. Quinn – 0.

Soy-sauce chicken – 0. Will – 0.

Employing my extensive training in kitchen improvisation, I sliced up three slices of 79-cent bread and slapped into a hot pan to toast. Who needs crackers, anyway?

The Man – 1. Quinn – 1.

Choke-holding a salt shaker only works when you twist its neck the right way. When you’re wrong, it disengages and attacks. I knew this fact but let my un-confidence show. The salt shaker saw my weakness and went on the offensive, spewing its rock-hard crystals all into the boiling water and on the floor and the stovetop.

The Man – 2. Quinn – 1.

Meanwhile, Will had his bout under control, balancing a cutting board on the sink and beating down the raw meat with his bare fists.

Soy-sauce chicken – 0. Will – 1.

Robin (otherwise known as Rifat Rahman) came to the rescue, sucking up all the razor-sharp crystals until the floor was as clean as my winning record.

The Man – 2. Quinn (and Robin) – 2.

The chicken was frying, the rice was being egged, and frozen peas were thawing in Will’s ring. The end was nearing…for him

Soy-sauce chicken – 0. Will – 2.

Back in my ring, the tide had turned. I pulled the squash from their boiling bath and squinched them into a mash, along with spinach, onions, and garlic, tamed by their scalding hot oil treatment. A little chop off a block of cheddar cheese, and this baby was going into its Pyrex dish for the final round: baking.

The Man – 2. Quinn – 3.

Will had begun enjoying his subdued creation, casually observing the last steps of mine.

Soy-sauce chicken – LOSE. Will – WIN.

45 seconds into my casserole’s final subjection to heat, I heard a dull thud. I looked around to locate the source of this unexpected attack and found none. Cautiously, I opened the oven and found the source:

The heat of the 350-degree oven had conquered the Pyrex dish, smashing it and my casserole into a thoroughly unappetizing mixture of squash, spices, and shards of glass.

SQUASHglass2

The Man (and Walmart Pyrex products) – 3. Quinn – KO.

You thought WWE(t)? meant a teenage version of that crazy wrestling show where buff guys fake hitting each other with rubber chairs. Nope.

Who Will Eat that?

The Blog that’s Not About Internships

It’s OK…I saved all my creative juices that I didn’t use on the title for the writing of this blog itself.

Before we came to Conway, Kaighn (another BN) and I were talking about our goals for the summer. As we planned out the exact means by which we’d become environmentally conscious, Master-Chef bodybuilders, our goals took shape as “Operations.”

After we solidified our goals, Kaighn mentioned a recent study which concluded that talking about your goals actually makes you less likely to complete them. The rationale is that talking about how I’m gonna chisel that belly into a six-pack brings me nearly as much gratification as actually chiseling that belly, so the incentive to chisel is no longer present.

Alas, this study came up too late in our discussion.

So, to prove that study wrong, I’ll talk about my goals again and show you evidence! Hold me accountable!

1) Operation Swoll

Objective: work out regularly, become more fit, muscles*

Progress: -Twice a week for two hours, I’ve played Ultimate Frisbee with a group of people from Conway. Conway Ultimate is a great workout and it also satisfies Operation 4.

-Twice a week, I’ve gone on runs. Last Thursday, Will, Diego and I ran at 11:15pm through a golf course, led by the moonlight. Today, Will and I ran a beautiful trail through the Waccamaw River wetlands.

Goals: More anaerobic exercise. I am not motivated to do things that involve weights.

*Note the vagueness of each goal.

2) Operation Iron Chef

Objective: Cook good food. Teach other people to cook good food.

Progress:

photo

This is just one of many scrumptious, healthy, and fresh meals I’ve made. What we have here is cooked quinoa topped with a vegetable medley (carrots, fresh cow-tail peppers from the farm, onions, spinach, and almonds sautéed in olive oil and  garlic), with broiled summer squash and zucchini, courtesy of Wayne and the El-Dubyuh.

Rifat RahmanThis is Rifat. Rifat is another one of the BNs who lives in our apartment. Before this summer, Rifat had never cooked anything for himself.

photo-1This is Rifat preparing to eat an egg cooked by Rifat!

Goals: Experiment with new foods (making hummus from scratch; catch, prepare, and eat fish I caught)

-Teach Rifat how to cook more.

3) Operation Clean

Objective: Keep our apartment clean.

Progress:

photo-3

What do you notice about this kitchen? That’s right! Nothing! After 12 separate meals cooked by four separate people, this kitchen is clean and ready for the next day.

Goals: I aim to keep it that way.

4) Operation Community

Objective: Learn about Conway, invite people to dinner, hang out with Conway residents (a more serious goal)

Progress: -Conway Ultimate

-We’re having our first community dinner soon! Probably next week.

-We’ve hung out with some other Coastal Carolina students

photo-4 Conswella Mitchell is our on-the-ground coordinator here in Conway. She invited all the scholars to her family reunion this past Sunday (a less-than-impressive picture is here). Since I was the only one in Conway, I went. The food was all that is good about Southern cooking, the family was like my own, and the kids were cute.

Goals: Honestly, I’m kinda lacking on this goal. But it takes time. I’m excited for our homestays later in the summer, when each of us will spend five days living in the home of a Gullah family. I also really want to get invited over to someone’s house for dinner. But I can’t make that happen.

5) Operation Deep Literacy

Objective: Read good books.

Progress:

The Water is Wide

The Water is Wide is Pat Conroy’s memoir about teaching Gullah children on a South Carolina sea island. Just finished this one. Possibly a little bit one-sided, but mostly really good and hilarious.

the-imitation-of-christ

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, a German monk– the next one on my list. First published in the mid-1400s and given to me by Laurie, it is the “most widely read spiritual work of all time,” second to the Bible. I’ve started it and I really enjoy it. My favorite quote thus far: “If you have any goodness or virtue, believe firmly that there is much more goodness and virtue in others, so that you may always keep yourself in humility.

Goals: Continue to make time for reading. It’s so easy to push it aside when there’s so much else to do. But I love it! Also, if the other books I’ve read on faith are any indication, I will become wiser and closer to God in reading more books like The Imitation.

So there you have it. My five goals for the summer. There are more, maybe. But maybe if I don’t tell you them, it’s more likely that they’ll happen.

 

Ultimate Gullah Luv

Today, I’m going to tell you guys about my work at Ultimate Gullah, a shop in downtown Conway and any person’s one-stop shop for all things Gullah. Ultimate Gullah sells everything from locally-made sweetgrass baskets to black soap from Africa to Gullah Luv seasoning made by Ms. Veronica Gerald, the store owner, herself.

the owner, proprietor, and Chief Awesome Person at Ultimate Gullah

Ms. Veronica Gerald: the owner, proprietor, and Chief Awesome Person at Ultimate Gullah

Zack Fowler and I are the two interns at Ultimate Gullah. Last week, we spent a lot of time learning about the inner-workings of the shop (who knew there was such a demand for Gullah Bibles?) and trying to figure out where we would fit in.

My failed attempt to get both me and the front of Ultimate Gullah in one picture. You can see a hand-woven grass basket to the right.

My failed attempt to get both me and the front of Ultimate Gullah in one picture. You can see a hand-woven grass basket to the right.

At the beginning of any big project, things always seem ambiguous, unclear, un-directed. And that’s certainly how both of us felt at some points during our time there. But after meeting with Ms. Veronica and with Dayo White, our supervisor, we have better established what we’re doing. Here’s a short summary:

 

1) Marketing – already during the first week, Zack and I re-vamped the Ultimate Gullah Facebook page (like it here!) and set up a plan to expand Ultimate Gullah’s Facebook presence (let’s be real, though: Zack did most of this. Quinn understands Facebook about as much as Neanderthal-Man understands quantum physics). We also put out the first GULLAH GIVEAWAY promotion – and Stephanie Meyer won a free Gullah Luv seasoning!

My work in marketing will be in expanding Ultimate Gullah’s presence in Conway. I’ll be contacting local businesses and Chambers of Commerce and setting up brochure exchanges and promotions.

Zack and I will both work on fixing the delusional Google and Apple Maps, both of which think Ultimate Gullah is located 2 miles from its actual location.

2) The Gullah Grand Strand – Ms. Veronica has a vision: to create a brochure, called the Gullah Grand Strand, that contains all the Gullah-heritage businesses in the “Grand-Strand” area, that is, the northern coast of South Carolina. The idea is that this brochure will provide a network for these businesses and allow them to tap into the tourism market that drives so much of this area’s economy.

I like the idea. But I also think that, before one starts any big project, he must conduct preliminary research. What if this brochure is not what Gullah heritage businesses really need? What if there’s a much more pressing need, previously undiscovered, that Zack and I can use our skills to address? Well, we aim to find out. Our preliminary research will probably be in the form of a survey, either over the phone, e-mail, or in person, of all the businesses we’ve identified.

You’ll be getting more updates as we go on how our research progresses. For now, I’m excited for the exploration!

On a totally unrelated note, Friday was another GREAT day at the Farm:

 

Summer squash, new potatoes, radishes, and cow-tail and cayenne peppers, picked with Wayne at the Farm!

Summer squash, new potatoes, radishes, and cow-tail and cayenne peppers, picked with Wayne at the Farm!

All of those scrumptious veggies sautéed up with olive oil, garlic, and fresh rosemary.

All of those scrumptious veggies sautéed up with olive oil, garlic, and fresh rosemary.

On another sort-of related note, check out this article written by Heather Gale of the Horry Independent about the BNs.

On a final related note: the next blog will NOT be about my internships. So get ready!

Life on the El-Dubyuh

Today was my first day at the LW (El-Dubyuh) Paul Living History Farm, and after just one day, I know that I couldn’t have picked a better place to work.

In the morning, I donned my 30-year-old overalls (thanks David Blackley and Renfrow Hardware!) and straw hat, and made the 20-minute drive to the Farm under skies pregnant with rain.

After a morning of tours and orientation, Wayne and I got started with the fun stuff.

During lunch, Wayne, the farm manager, shared stories with me about life growing up on a farm his daddy ran in Conway. It’s clear how much Wayne respects his Daddy, who was a sharecropper himself. As we walked out to start working, I told Wayne how little I know about farming, but that I wanted to be his shadow and learn as much as I could from him. I also told him that before our first day was out, I wanted to meet the mule, Minny.

We did more than meet her! Wayne and I walked over to her stable, and he showed me how he prepares her for work. As I looked on, he put the collar over her (the black leather ring you see around her neck), then put on the trace (the chain link), which he would use to connect to the drag (behind her). He put the bit in her mouth and the blinders on her eyes, and told me how important these tools were for controlling and calming Minny. All the while, he was talking to her authoritatively. As he assembled Minny’s gear like a race car’s pit crew, he kept a running dialogue about how each part of the process was done on a one-mule farm in the early 1900s.

Wayne Drag

That’s Minny pulling the drag, with Wayne at the reigns. You can see all parts of the machine in this picture.

Wayne hitched Minny to the drag, and with a firm “Up!,” we were off, and things began to move uncomfortably fast. Wayne’s voice commands (gee for right and haw for left), his firm hold of her reigns, Minny herself, and the drag all melded into parts of one fluid machine. At each bale of hay, Minny halted at Wayne’s “whoa” and pulled on the reigns…or did Wayne say “whoa” because she stopped? – the two events happened so quickly it was hard to tell…and I set to work: spearing oat-hay with my delicate, un-calloused hands and a pitchfork…once I got it all, Minny started walking again towards the next hay pile just as Wayne began his command. This continued for 10 or 15 minutes, until the drag was overflowing with golden oat-hay.

“Hop in! We’ve got to tire her out.” And there I was, riding with a farmer in a wooden sled! Wayne steered us between two rows in the field, and we deposited all the hay on the muddy dirt to spread later. Minny responded to Wayne’s slightest touch. It was crucial that she respond correctly, because even a slight turn to the right or left would cause the drag to run over delicate crops in the rows.

After we finished depositing all the hay, we hopped back in the empty drag. Uncharacteristically startled, Minny started turning hard to the left. Suddenly, the drag lifted off the ground and began leaning left at a precarious 45 degree angle – and Minny kept moving faster. Before I knew what was happening, Wayne had moved to the center of the drag and stabilized it.

It seemed to me that a major crisis had been averted, but to Wayne, it was a non-issue. Just like earlier in the day, when Wayne pretended not to notice me coughing up a huge drink of water and spilling it all over my overalls and the floor, Wayne took our near-death experience on the drag in stride.

It was just another day at the farm.

After mucking the stable and feeding the animals, our day at the El-Dubyuh was over.

And many more are to come. I’ll be back on Friday at 8am sharp, and I’ll be ready for whatever comes our way. In my overalls and straw hat, I take on a new persona.  I began to live it today. I’m no longer Quinn, the squeaky burbs-boy made out of tissues and paper and tissue paper. I’m Quinn, the farmer’s apprentice growing up in the ‘50s, who can conquer tipping drags and come home with muddy knees, dirty fingernails, and a heart full of love for the land God created and allows us to manipulate, and a head full of farming terminology and Southern slang.

LW

A view of the sunset on the Farm, courtesy of Chaarushi.

“Everything’s a Little Slower Around Here”

Tuesday, 14 May, 2013: my first day in Conway.

George Bullock is the proprietor of the Cypress Inn, the bed and breakfast at which my mom and I spent the night. The words in this blog post’s title that came to define my whole first day in Conway came from him.

We were set to leave from Charlotte at 8:45am. All of my stuff was packed and all we needed to do was go over the map and leave, when the door to our garage opened and in walked Tyler Lynn, one of my best friends from home, who came to surprise me and send me off. We talked for a long time, and my mom and I didn’t leave until 11:53am. Example #1.

The main road from Charlotte to Conway – SC-151 – was flanked by subtle reminders of the Old South: majestic plantation-like homes with long porches and white columns, expanses of farmland and rolling hills like you’d see on a Pepperidge Farm snack, and backroads towns with one stoplight and (gasp!) no Wal-Marts.

I loved the drive, alone on unfamiliar roads but sure of my direction, with my windows open and the not-quite-summer breeze blowing. I talked to God the whole way down, praying for lots of my family and friends, for my summer, and for my own boldness and conviction.

Five short hours, a few missed turns, and a bit of exploring Conway later, we arrived at the Cypress Inn. Everyone in Conway had told us that the River Walk was mandatory, and since it was right outside our door, we obeyed. The cypress trees were all along the river, and many were in the river. Apparently, it is the cypresses which make the Waccamaw River black. The sun was setting, couples were walking along holding hands, and my mom and I walked along, savoring the moment, savoring the slowness. Example #2.

to my left is the Inn, framed by the sunset

to my left is the Inn, framed by the sunset

 

being a kid again on the Riverwalk. Do you see how high I am?

being a kid again on the Riverwalk…do you see how high I am?

We listened to the locals again, heading to the Rivertown Bistro in downtown Conway for dinner. I had dolphin fish and my mom had sea bass, both of which were scrumptious. The atmosphere, the fish, and the service made that meal the best I’ve had out in a long time.

We retired early after that, at around 10:30pm. After getting only 3 hours of sleep last night, I was ready for bed. I slept for 12 hours.

It seems that the bustle, the business, the touristy-ness of Myrtle Beach has not infiltrated Conway, and for that I am thankful. My first day in Conway was everything I had hoped, and hopefully it portended more like it. In Conway, the people are friendly, the food is fresh, and the atmosphere is slow – Southern charm with a capital S.

More to come soon, friends.

who said planking had gone out of style?

who said planking had gone out of style?