Thursday, November 15, 2012

Go Dawgs!

     Traveling across a time zone again, this time we knew not to take Mrs. G literally. It was 510 miles of smooth sailing. We discovered some seriously great cookies at Subway. And we may have created a little scene wrestling for the last one.
     To be fair to Mrs. G. she got us around Atlanta and into a Hampton Inn in Athens without a problem. Athens came highly recommended by Gerry and Daniel so that is why we chose it as a halfway point. Although when you think about it why would we believe two men?
     When I asked the desk clerk if there was anything in Athens, he and his counterpart almost fell on the floor. University of Georgia! 30,000 students! GO DAWGS!
     A Forest Gumpish feeling overtook Elle when she found out it was Homecoming Weekend. It's amazing we got a room. I began to see small signs that Ellen was cracking........but you really can't knock her down! Let's find somewhere to eat she requested. We mozied over to the Hilltop Grille and had a lovely dinner. Maybe the fireplace was smoking too much but the crowd was fun to watch; it being homecoming and all!
     We spotted a little shop on our walk back to the hotel. The next morning we returned and had a difficult time peeling ourselves away. Athens Interior Market was the perfect combination of new and old items that worked their way into our hearts and car.
We're starting to look alike.
     Emily helped us out to the car, twice, and was very nice as you can see in the picture. Sabrina of Plantation Relics  gave us the inside scoop on refinishing furniture. We discovered new ideas for Christmas lights and had a wonderful time.
     We short shrifted the town of Athens, promising ourselves we would be back, and began the final leg of our road trip. Just another mere 518 miles, a piece of cake. To my horror I enjoyed the food at K&W cafeteria off I-85. I was cracking too. We knew for sure we had been driving too long when Ellen said, "look at the beautiful moon" and a mile later it turned out to be a neon burger king sign!
     Coincidentally, we both share a strong sense of smell, actually  I never met a woman who can't boast about her nose. Many times  when driving along a lonesome stretch of highway I will catch the aroma of fresh brewed coffee. As we entered Virginia the smell came again and again and thinking we were near a Starbucks I thought of pulling off to find it. Ellen, choking backed tears from an awful stench, exclaimed "that's skunk your smelling crazy woman!"


     Cousin or not,  Ellen and I have lots in common....probably not music though. I thought she might keel over when Krishnas Das came blaring out of my ipod. We did discover that we share a disdain for cursing, she hates hearing it and I hate using it! I refrained most of the time but a few did slip out. Other idiosyncrasies we shared: Bras must be secured at Nordstrom, check. Chocolate, check. Always pack a bathing suit in your luggage, check.
     From the tao of Ellen I commit these tenets to memory, "sarcasm has no place in a family"  and equally as important  "always premedicate"!  Mostly though, I appreciated her ability to finish my sentences. I have a habit of starting to say something, get half way into it and trail off, leaving it unfinished. A bad habit that makes conversation pretty dull and blog writing even...  See, it can be annoying! Ellen did not miss a beat, she just finished my sentences for me. What a pleasure!
     Elle drove the entire 470 miles to Slidell! I controlled the snacks and the radio. She was at my mercy. We laughed while listening to the Satellite Sisters, and cried when Julie Dolan related the touching story of her daughter-in-law becoming a U.S citizen. The Sat Sisters' own family dramas gave us the chance to hear one another's views on a range of topics that spanned from Alzheimer's to chemotherapy for dogs. We both liked Liz Dolan's usage of the word messy!

Me Oh My Oh! We had big fun on the bayou!
 Terry and John welcomed us, gave us the grand tour of what I like to think of as Hyde Park on the Bayou, and served us a wonderful spread of Étouffée, shrimp pizza, and guacamole! Oh my gosh they have a four sided fireplace, french doors all over the joint, a wonderful kitchen, and a family dog, Blaise, that stays outside...Great!

Screened porch overlooking bayou and cypress trees

Birds Paradise and thoughts of  my favorite Wendell Berry Poem 

Hyde Park on the Bayou
We had not forgotten our loved ones in New York. True some were displaced and miserable but for the most part they were better off without us.  I can't speak for Ellen but I am more of a burden than a help when it comes to living without heat. My goldilocksing would be going into overdrive on LI in the cold. Ellen prayed and I sent good wishes up to New York and then we went with Terry to New Orleans.

Game On!
Did I mention the odds are stacked against me now. Terry and Ellen look innocent enough but look a little closer, even through Terry's sunglasses you can see the twinkle in her eyes. I kept up the first day but barely. Cathy, the absent third sister, who now was sporting the layered look in NY, had once told me that I was a pretty good walker to be able to keep up with her all over Brooklyn. I was full of grandiose ideas about my stamina. Terry and Elle quickly drilled me into the ground, smiling and laughing as they did it. They have the endurance of marathon runners. I think I may challenge them to 108 sun salutations on the winter solstice!
Hotel de la Monnaie

French Market Fun

Lenny sending me a telepathic message!

French Quarter

This is what I'm talking about! Wow!

I thought the numbers on the jars were prices , affordable prices, but sadly Terry informed me it was just a code to a big book and big prices.

 I wish you could hear the wistful tune that this accordionist was playing.

Two Cats

     We enjoyed lunch at River's Edge on Decatur along with a nice conversation with a tourist from Vancouver.  I devoured three beignets at Cafe du Monde, and we splashed in a bit of the shops, antiques, alleys, pralines, St. Louis Cathedral, Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone, and street musicians  Terry is a great tour guide! Then she chauffeured us all over the city. The highlights were St. Charles Ave., Audubon Park, Tulane, Loyola, Halloween decorations, and one more long street with great shops. I could tell without even getting out of the car... but I forget the name of the street. Maybe it was St. Charles. Whew.
     Halloween morning Terry and Elle easily persuaded me to stay one more full day and take in Bay St. Louis. As annoying as my incessant picture taking can be for myself and others, it is often appreciated when all is said and done.  I am sorry to say that I fell down on the job and have no photos of this day.
     We began with a wonderful tour of Slidell.  We visited with Terry's friend Chris at her shop Beau Coup Treasures, spotted a great headboard in The French Address, almost got boots and coats at Fred's and went antiquing in Picayune. All the while I am thinking that I am racking up the states that I have visited that the Primate has not! We are not competitive at all.
     Primate would be proud that we discussed a little football on the way to Bay St. Louis as Bret Favre is from that neck of the woods. Terry admitted to a little melancholy as she described how the environs looked before Katrina hit. Now others were suffering the effects of the Frankestorm, Hurricane Sandy.
     Weather was gourdgeous in Bay St. Louis. Shopping of course and then lunch at Trapani's.  When we returned home John took Ellen out on the bayou in his kayak. I wish I had a picture of the final excitement of the day, Ellen emerging from the bayou, booted, soaking wet, and delightedly dragging flotsam deposited from Hurricane Isaac. Priceless.
     We departed from Les Cyprès the following morning having I think finally exhausted Terry. Tuckered out not by reason of over-shopping but probably due more to her method of telling jokes. She  gets very physically involved when telling  jokes. We were howling.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Country Living

     Election day was nearing at a slightly slower speed then Sandy but at this point Sandy was just a sidebar in our conversations .
The reelection of Obama was dominating our discussions and the impetus for Ellen's swift return to NY in time to cast her vote; I was going to bring shame on the family by failing to get back to the Glen Cove Boys and Girls Club in time. The primate soothed my anxiety by swearing to me that Obama was a shoe-in in NY and I could forego the trip north 'til Thanksgiving. Next time I will just get my act together and get an absentee ballot. We certainly (didn't we Ellen?) discussed our consternation at the audacity of some Republicans that act as if we are simpatico with their agenda.  If we don't give off enough Democratic vibes I guess we are going to have to paste Ellen's Obama 2012 bumper sticker to our foreheads.
     Other topics we returned to time and again were our two sons apiece, our primates, all relations, and the shocking news that Ms. H from back in the St. Aidan's Grammar School days did not actually lose her fiancé off a Venezuelan cliff in a jeep accident on Christmas day!
     200 miles and the first of many stops, this time at a Radio Shack, in search of a phone charger for Ellen's two year old obsolete phone! We arrived in Atlanta area hungry and tired. We tried another Radio Shack; the staff recommended a Quik Trip. We managed with the help of Mrs. G, our smugly omniscient companion, and some helpful pedestrians to settle in at a nice little booth at the Cheesecake Factory.
     We made one more stop at a Quik Trip looking for the illusive phone charger before checking in at the Hampton Inn. We secured the room months earlier but probably due to our late arrival the room was no longer available. No complaints from us, we felt as if we had won the lottery because they offered us a smaller room at half the cost! We would manage.
                        Day One: Country Living Fair
Could not unglue me from the Rustoleum Paint booth.

Ellen's favorite vendor The Painted Fern

Maybe tomorrow for the dried flowers.  

I want those boots.

Adorable Southern Charmer proprietor of  It's All Relative. 

Appraisals with Lucinda Wyeth
 I hope Country Living continues to employ Lucinda Wyeth. She treated each article with loving care (the owners too)! I arrived a little late in the game but she kept me spellbound for at least an hour.

Friendship Quilt

Don't know the vendor's name but love the pretty colors

Calling it a day.

  Editor of Country Living, Sarah Gray Miller and Elle
 Ellen speculated she was a teenager, no way could Sarah Gray Miller be the editor! Alas! She is talented, smart, and has a secret to looking so young. Ellen and Sarah, both upstate New Yorkers, enjoyed catching up on everything country north of the city. Sarah's concern over the possiblilty of Sandy putting her return flight to NY at risk sparked a rising concern over our own next move. It reminded me of the time my family and I set up camp at Cedar Point Park in East Hampton and only 15 mins after zipping up the tent but didn't the park ranger come a knocking and ask us to evacuate 'cause Hurricane Bob was imminent.

Dinner Crowd  at  The Marlay House in Decatur
 The frightening staff did not stop us from enjoying the atmosphere and food. At this point in our journey Ellen may have had goat cheese and beets as often as we made visits to stores looking for the phone charger. After supper, we hightailed it over to a Best Buy as per Gerry's advice but came out empty handed again. Best Buy directed us to AT@T.

                   Day two: Country Living Fair

Can't get enough Rustoleum!

Chalkboard Paint.... Never heard of it... Ellen was all over it.

Artist, Joycelyn Hairston was inspired by Ellen' colors.

Love Joycelyn and her art!

Kathy Taylor could not part with her red & white quilt but Elle found other treasures at Kathy's booth.

     The wind picked up and brought a chill to the air. We hauled ourselves and purchases away and off we went to Virginia Highland. Beautiful homes and neighborhood surrounds the intersection of Virginia and Highland. Unbelievably we looked in and out of a few shops before settling down to eat at la tavola. I think we both may return at least in our minds to that warm cozy restaurant with incredible food.
     At some point a plan was hatched to drive down to Slidell, and visit (freeload) with Ellen's sister, Terry, and her husband John.

Ellen needed a cart for her cart. Check out the free give away, a Rustoleum comfort grip! Wow, we only traveled 800 miles for that item.
Thanks Malaika! We appreciated the gracious staff at the Hampton Inn @ Stone Mountain but it was time to grab a Starbucks, hit a few AT@T's and head down the highway.

Some witch! A beauty....the other two slightly older witches flew away on their brooms.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

First Stop Asheville With (H)ellen

(H)Ellen and I are cousins and after our road trip I completely get it that Ellen is my mother's niece. Ellen shares many of the traits that my mother was infamous for: mostly laughing, making everyone else laugh, and talking to every single person she meets. Of course she gets some of this from her own mother too, so it is impossible to tell for sure which side of the gene pool is the source for all this stuff. Short of taking DNA samples the proof that they are kin is apparent by some (in) common physical characteristics that Ellen would probably prefer I not post on this blog. Consequently, I have become convinced that I was adopted; I share none of the above and although I am a good foil, I can canvass a store in record breaking speed, an ability that is totally recessive in the Walsh make- up.  Don't get me wrong, money is not being spent hand over fist. There are deals to be made and items to be re-purposed  My mother always said if you can't hang it up, nail it down. Ellen's motto, " I can make it into a terrarium or put it in a terrarium or hang it from a tree" imparts a like mindedness in their philosophies.

Our first stop before even leaving town. Vintage!

Three wheeling. Inside, wire baskets almost got the better of me.
And so it begins, 400 miles to Asheville, NC. A Loft Hotel and more stores and restaurants than we had time for, although a running joke was that for Ellen and I it was always time to eat!

The Grove Arcade, Asheville

No dime dropping here.

It did not take too long, I bought the metal sculpture preying mantis here. Crazy! We both loved our dinner at Table and picking up a few treats at Spa Theology apres-dinner (non edible).
Elle convinced me to walk off some calories and we peeked through the windows at the Asheville Art Museum and got a glimpse of a fashion show.  Yikes, contemporary garments with hand crafted details, I wish we knew about it in advance! Friday morning we had every intention of giving Asheville the once over and heading onto the Blue Ridge Pkwy to begin our journey down to Atlanta. Not to be; we could not extricate ourselves from Asheville. Ellen suggested we take the scenic route on our return trip instead; for now just enjoy lunch at Boca and shop a little more. We loved Mountain Made , chased down a polka dot coat at Minx, unsuccessfully bid on a rolling wire basket at  Shady Grove Flowers and reason enough to return to Asheville our last stop, Chocolate Gems

Enjoying the beautiful weather we ate out on the patio at boca. Ellen claims she always brings the good weather with her, she left out the part about sometimes she outruns the bad. But Sandy was coming and I would soon know Ellen's modus operandi.

Shady Grove Flowers on N. Lexington

Chocolate Gems

Need I say more....