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Speaking of hearts, valentines, and love in general, I have a new favorite place to add to an ever-growing list of great locales:  the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Thanks to Suzanne’s wonderful parents, I transformed from never visiting the Biltmore in my life to holding a season pass for 2011. My initiation into the Biltmore fraternity was made official by the snapping of a ridiculously awful photograph of myself to put on my brand spanking new identification card.  I wanted to place my thumb over my face every time I presented it.  If you’re lucky, I’ll post the whole thing on here sometime.  Just know that you will probably be unlucky.  And know that you would ultimately thank me for that.

Being swanky season pass holders afforded us 4 free grounds/house passes through the end of February for guests of our choosing, so we were able to explore the wonders of this great estate with a couple good friends from Kentucky, Jenna and Jon.  A departure from Holy City content for a couple days of Biltmore posts is forthcoming.  The place is worth every minute of the measly 4 hour drive and is a perfect for a short getaway from Charleston.  But more on that later.

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Wrought Iron Love

Paris may be ubiquitously known as the City of Love but the Holy City of the South may give its a run for its money.  Even the casual observer strolling through Charleston cannot help but notice the multitude of hearts that are etched into the everyday fabric of the city’s built environment and its creative concoctions.  Many take up residence as elements of the several hundred wrought iron gates that guard the ingresses to many of the spectacular homes in the old walled city and beyond.  In the days leading up to that one holiday that most guys seem to dread and girls say they don’t care about but honestly do, we’ll be demonstrating some of these symbols of love and blood circulation. Meanwhile, I will be sitting here….dreading*.

*Joking, Suz.  I think.

The front door of the Footlight Players Theatre, for all intents of wishing to see a performance by these local troubadours and actors, resides on Queen Street. However, this isn’t the only “front door” attached to the theatre.  A second more intriguing and much more foreboding front door lies at about the midway point of the similarly mysterious Philadelphia Alley.  The door is as ramshackle as a door could possibly be, dented and scarred with a placard reading “Front Door” hung haphazardly on its surface.  The whole strange assortment of elements is further enhanced in its ghastly appearance by the presence of an odd human figure made of matchsticks beneath the placard.  One immediately thinks of voodoo inclinations or maybe literally just a bunch of matchsticks positioned to look like a man.  I prefer some semblance of the former for imagination purposes.

I’ve always been most interested in this little weird door frame among the multitude of stately door frames in Charleston that garner interest.  It may be nothing more than the cast’s entryway into the theatre or it may be, really, nothing at all.  But I’ve always wondered what significance the matchstick man holds.  I don’t think I have ever really asked about it.  Until now.

Anybody have an inkling into the meaning and purpose of this “front door”?

While most people are anxiously anticipating the matchup between the Steelers and Packers in the Super Bowl tomorrow evening, or at the very least looking forward to the parties that accompany the event, another possibly more important game occurred this past weekend at the Adger’s Wharf Dog Park Stadium.  No, it wasn’t Puppy Bowl 2011 .  This was a rough and tumble gridiron classic between the overmatched and outnumbered Finley and two Labrador Retrievers named Luke and Stella.

Observed by a raucous crowd of six people and a couple small dogs, the mother/son labrador duo proved to be far too much for Finley.  They worked together to dominate the time of possession, throwing epic butt slams at every turn and generally just decimating any hope of victory for our young Golden. Finley’s lack of skills didn’t help her case much.  She couldn’t figure out exactly how to even pick up the football.  Her own trademark butt slam was non-existent.  It was like we were watching a completely different player out there than the one we had coached.

The labs may have won the Adger’s Wharf Super Bowl but that didn’t stop Fin from galloping into the shadow of a live oak to stare at the dogs with a smug look on her face, which, when I think about it, is really the move she performs best.

Yeah, Fin, I have them too.

Although it hasn’t quite started to deluge the sadness of a cold rain on the streets of the Holy City, it might as well judging from the tepidness outside right now.

Can please go back to last weekend?

When we first started dating (or since we’re in the Deep South, I guess I should say when I began courting Suz), one of our favorite ways to pass a sunny Sunday was to grab a couple of sodas at Queen Street Grocery and head down to White Point Gardens. While there, we would remark on how awesome it would be to have a dog alongside as we watched one hound in particular sprint happily around the grounds (more on this guy soon), people watch for hours on end, grumble about people swinging on the limbs of the magnificent live oaks, and generally idle by under a bright blue Carolina sky.

Sunday afternoon, we decided to go back to our roots, so to speak, after what seemed like a tremendously long absence from the park.  With weather so perfect, it kind of took us back to those first trepid forays over two years ago, when a lull in conversation due to being overly careful with our divulgences was saved by some off the cuff remark about a squirrel or laughing at some kid who just totally bit it while attempting to catch a football.

There were no awkward lulls this time around.