Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Savannah

“Begin doing what you want to do now.  We are not living in eternity.  We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.”
Sir Frances Bacon

Life…is so… “funny.”  Literally, the day after settling a very painful piece of life last fall, I received an email from JetBlue informing me of a change in their benefit policies, which resulted in a huge gift for me!  (JetBlue is the company that keeps on giving to me, so grateful.)  Taking advantage of that gift, and needing a nice mental health break, I went to visit a place high on my bucket list, Savannah.

It will always be a rush to get that call to the podium to get my seat on a plane, at no charge!  Finding my lovely apartment  (thank God for AirB&B) on the outskirts of downtown Savannah was easy.  (What did we do without GPS and smartphones?!) I immediately set off on foot to explore.  It was balmy and beautiful, that Spanish moss I had always dreamed of seeing, the gorgeous parks with fountains flowing,  I was smitten quickly.


Meandering down to the Riverfront, I had my first must have meal.  Tubby’s was recommended by a friendly young Savannah Greeter, and I thoroughly enjoyed my shrimp & grits!   Walking home, I passed a really beautiful wine store, Le Chai-galerie du vin. Christian Depken was friendly, helpful, and informative (I could spend days in wine, and book, stores).  It was on his recommendation that I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner later in my ‘hood, a great burger with homemade fries, ketchup, and pickles at a neighborhood pub, Green Truck. 

Playing full-on tourist for day two, I took a Riverboat Cruise for a few hours and it was actually excellent!   Lots of history to be learned: Savannah is the 4th  largest shipping port in the US, and was the first planned city.  Fort Jackson along the banks reminded me of Castle Island in South Boston and Fort Popham in Maine.

And, the lovely, poignant “Waving Girl” statue was special.  I walked down to get a closer look of Florence and her puppy after the cruise.  Legend has it that Florence Martus was the unofficial greeter of all ships that entered and left the Port of Savannah between 1887 and 1931Florence would wave a handkerchief by day and a lantern by night.  Not a ship was missed in her forty-four years on watch. Was it perhaps she was searching for a lost love?  Poked into The Shrimp Factory and treated myself to a glass of their potent sangria as a special treat (firefly peach and apple moonshine, white wine, and fruit, oh my) and a bowl of seafood chowder. 

Yes, food did seem to be the priority of my visit to Savannah!  My breakfasts were had at Foxy Loxy on the suggestion of my lovely Air B&B Hostess.  I treated myself to an amazing final dinner at The Florence, celeb chef Hugh Acheson’s Italian dining in a former ice factory.  (Why is it that everywhere I go now, I dream of and explore each place, as potential sites for my beloved Food Film Festival?!).

Before leaving town, I had to try the infamous Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room.   Oh boy, she didn’t disappoint!  With a very full belly, I said farewell to my dining companions who came from St. Louis, Australia, Minneapolis, and Springfield Illinois.  I then headed to Tybee Island, just off the coast from Savannah, and an easy drive.

Sand, sun, and ocean always make me content.  Luckily my hostess in Savannah also owned this little pied a terre, so my search with Air B&B was easy for this trip.  Settling in and comfortably reading on the beach, a simple salad sufficed for dinner. The next day, after a very long walk on the beach (too chilly to swim, unfortunately), I again was ready for a good dinner.  I headed over to what looked like could be a cheesy tourist trap, but was actually very good, and fun, The Crab Shack.   There I convinced at least one lady to vote (it was the infamous election day of 2016..I voted by absentee ballot before I left NYC).  I also had a wonderful time chatting with Bonnie Raitt’s twin. 

Having had absolutely no sleep on Election Night; couldn’t believe what I was witnessing…I made myself go on a Dolphin Cruise the next day.  Flipper also always made me happy.  It helped, a bit.  And, then I met my new friend at another of her favorite hometown places, AJ’s Dockside (for great food and sunsets)!


Definitely came home replenished, well-fed, if not just a little disillusioned.  But, as I have now learned more than anything else: life does, and will, go on.   I am learning; never stop learning.  I always wanted to travel and see our world.  It is beautiful and varied.  I didn’t expect to do it alone, but, I meet wonderful people.  I have lovely interactions, sometimes wonderful discussions.  I will never stop learning, enjoying, and please God, exploring.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

My Fairy God-Friend..

"I make a point of waving or nodding hello when I can. I have come to believe that kindness is repaid in unexpected ways and that if you are lonely or bone-tired or blue, you need only come down from your perch and step outside. New York — which is to say, New Yorkers — will take care of you."
                                   Bill Hayes

Celebrating saying yes to the dress!
Still desperately trying to “get my voice back”…it’s coming, slowly.  As life would have it, my lil family has finally got a joyful celebration in our lives.  A Wedding!  “Love in the time of Ebola.”  Planning a trip to visit my Lady’s life (working with Partners in Health) in Sierra Leone in conjunction with celebrating her marriage; an adventure to say the least!

Having time to go to one store with my Lady when she was in the US for Christmas, watching her try on 5 or 6 wedding dresses, finding “the one” was surreal and beautiful.  My other Lady and I found dresses we liked (not loved) as well, a bonus.  Living in the fashion mecca of the US, I decided to explore before buying that dress.  Well, shopping in NYC, especially when you’re of a certain age, short, a tad round, is not as much fun as it should be.  Ugh.      (Until you meet a Fairy God-friend…)

The oldest escalator in the U.S. (in Macy's)
Three days visiting bridal salons; major department stores; walking up and down, in and out of shops in the garment district; resigned to going back to buy that too expensive dress; I gave myself one more shot.  Leaving work on a mild winter day at the St Regis on 55th Street, I headed south, by foot, on 6th Avenue.  Arriving in Union Square on 14th Street, empty-handed, I managed to finally buy a purse for the wedding, and then decided I was famished.


Art in the Garment District
Heading over to the new Union Square Café, it was time to treat myself.  Walking in and being warmly greeted by the Maître D’ was fun.  (Some of the Union Sq. team had helped us setup our Food Film Festival last October.)  Taking a seat at the small bar upstairs was a lovely respite, as Charlotte, the bartender was a warm host.  As often happens in NYC, I started chatting with the lovely couple next to me.  They quickly seemed like old friends.  Having “kids” at similar ages, with weddings approaching for all of us, a bond was formed.

Bar at the Union Square Cafe
D and S had met at BU, started their careers in Boston, and then moved back to NY raising their family and having very successful careers.  S has been a clothing manufacturer for many years.  S shared that her niece had been in the Peace Corps in Senegal, and sent her sister with skirts for women villagers and wanted to do the same for me in Sierra Leone.  When I jokingly lamented about how much fun NYC was, not, to shop; S said she wanted to dress me for my Lady’s Wedding!  As my new friends left, S handed me her card, and said to call her.  (When I asked Charlotte for my bill for dinner, she explained it had already been paid.) 

The next week, I went to explore the behind the scenes of yet another NYC institution.   A clothing manufacturer in the garment district.  Less than 45 minutes later, I left that experience with my head spinning, my heart leaping, and feeling not just a bit like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.”  My new Fairy God-Friend, S, picked out 2 formal dresses that we all liked, asked the manager of that department to have them made up in two sizes, with shawls to match.  Then she started pulling fun everyday clothes off the spring/summer rack that would be great for my trip to Africa.

A few days later, a large box was delivered to my apartment filled with the fun clothes.  The next week, another box arrived with the formal gowns.  Oh, my!

I returned the clothes I would not keep last week.  S would accept no payment!  Refused.  I promptly made a donation to Planned Parenthood in the name of my Fairy God-Friend.  I’ll head back to S’s offices before I leave for Sierra Leone to pick up some skirts…

And, later in the Spring, I will take S & D to dinner at our restaurant, to share pictures and notes on our Weddings.  NYC, as always, thank you for the adventures, experiences, and most of all for the People, I am blessed and grateful to meet.