On the Town

Guscio: Bluffton writer Ellen Malphrus' book-signing smashing success

Ellen Malphrus
Ellen Malphrus

Ellen Malphrus is an amazing person. I first met her in 1987 when she came by my store to ask if I knew of any property for sale. At that time there wasn't, but a year or two later a house came on the market and Ellen snapped it up. That was the beginning of our friendship.

Ellen is not one to stay still for long, so back to school she went to earn her doctorate in English at the University of South Carolina. It just so happened she was a student of the famous James Dickey who also had a student named Pat Conroy.

Actually she and Pat met by accident in Maine where they were on holiday. Ellen recognized him and introduced herself, and the rest, as they say, is history. Ellen and her husband Andy Fishkind and Pat and his wife novelist Cassandra King have become fast friends.

Ellen's fiction, poetry and other writings piqued Pat's interest, and he kept encouraging her to finish the rough draft of a novel she had worked on for several years.

Well, this brings us to the Heyward House last Friday where amongst a throng of book lovers, Ellen had a grand party to celebrate her novel "Untying the Moon," fresh from Story River Books and The University of South Carolina Press.

Pat, editor at Story River Books, wrote the foreword to the novel and sat side-by-side with Ellen as they signed more than 250 books. There was a very long line of well-wishers, all thrilled to be there chatting and smiling. It was a smashing success for a first book outing, and rest assured there will be more from our Bluffton "scribe."

The Bluffton-Jasper County Volunteers in Medicine and honorary chairmen Mayor Lisa Sulka and her husband, John, hosted a lovely cocktail-fundraiser party at the Myrtle Island home of Bud and Shirley Mingledorff last week.

The weather was gorgeous, and the food and libations were marvelous. Patsy Hodge presided over the introductions and Mayor Sulka welcomed us all to the beautiful setting.

A special recognition was given to the wonderful Dr. Roger Sorg for his selfless work at the clinic. The Bluffton clinic is at the corner of Burnt Church Road and U.S. 278, and on days of operation is a beehive of activity. Without the contributions of so many caring people in our community the medical services provided would not be possible. Thank you for all that you do and thank you to the charming Mingledorffs for their passion and caring for the less fortunate among us.

My dear BUMMs are at it once more. The 16th annual Golden Kernal Pecan Sale is in full swing until the first of November. The pecans are this year's crop and are guaranteed to be fresh and tasty and can be frozen for up to a year. I freeze them and I concur they can last a long time if you do. Please get in touch with your favorite BUMM -- that is, Bluffton United Methodist Men's Club member -- to order or call the church office at 843-757-3351. These also make a great present and can be toasted and seasoned to serve with drinks or just to snack on.

The Bluffton Speech Achievers Toastmasters Club will hold an open house Nov. 4 at the Hampton Inn at 29 William Pope Drive. The party will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. and will share a glimpse of how one can get up in front of an audience to speak without breaking a sweat. So if you would like to learn how to give a talk to a group, give these folks a try. Call Paula Power for information at 843-305-1743.

The Hilton Head Audubon Society will offer two more birding classes Nov. 7 and Nov. 14 in the Island Room at Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island. The first class focuses on ducks and water birds, and the second will include a wrap-up of all that was talked about and a bird walk. I was at a stop light on Burnt Church Road the other day when a large flock of wood storks flew overhead in a beautiful V-formation. If I had not known my birdies and what they look like, it would have just been another group of feathers flying. Learning about the creatures in our surroundings is wonderful. Registration is required. Call 404-313-8208 or email hhibirder@gmail.com.

In less than 30 minutes, thanks to the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, you can watch interviews with all of the candidates for Bluffton mayor and Bluffton Town Council in the election coming up on Nov. 3. This is a very informative half hour, and one you should see to get to know the candidates. There is also lots of information on polling places in Bluffton and answers to frequently asked questions. Go to http://www.hiltonheadblufftonchamber.org and search the Chamber Election Center.

If you are interested in art, Society of Bluffton Artists has many painting classes that are taught by well-qualified artists. This is the time of year to enjoy being outside, so grab your paintbrush and, who knows, you could be discovered as the new Picasso. Reservations must be made for each class and to find out which one you might like to take, visit http://www.sobagallery.com or call 843-247-2868.