Williamsburg

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The week after the New York  trip, DH and I accompanied his brother Lynn and his wife Karen to Williamsburg. Lest any readers think we’re rolling in dough, think again. This was a free trip, thanks to my in-laws. Part of a time share deal, all we had to pay for was the admission price to Colonial Williamsburg, and since DH opted to visit the Bass Pro Shop in nearby Hampton, VA, there was only one admission price to pay. Sure, we had to pay for food, but since we’d have eaten at home too, it wasn’t that bad. With our “deal,” we also got a $60 coupon towards dinner in a local restaurant, and the food was scrumptious. I even ate apple pie with creamy vanilla ice cream; after all, we were on vacation!

So what did we do? For starters, I took a 45 minute walk each morning we were there, and on the first morning hike I called my brother David who lives in Chesapeake. “Where are you exactly ?” he asked, and when I told him, it was neat that he knew my location and was able to point out some of the attractions around me. Being in the military, he’s lived away from SC all of his adult life, and I found it exciting to see and think about some of the things that David, Becky, and their sons have viewed for years. And it gets better. That night, he and Becky drove from Chesapeake to Williamsburg, and we dined with them at Panera Bread before going to the Williamsburg Inn for a photo op. We also browsed through the Barnes & Noble bookstore there, a favorite haunt of theirs.

Saturday was my favorite day in Williamsburg, and I think Karen would agree with me. The menfolk dropped us off at 9:30 and picked us up at 5:30 in the afternoon. While they spent their day at Bass Pro Shop and in the motel room napping, we spent our day soaking up history. We LOVED it. Talk about going back in time! I included just a few pictures that show the contrast between colonial America and current day NYC. The clothes, the traditions, the sounds, the food, the behavior, the diversity (or lack thereof)…everything was drastically different.  When touring the historic area, we saw reenactments such as Order in the Court, sent some Christmas cards with an 18th century postmark from the post office,   visited a millinery and a blacksmith shop (among others), and ate lunch at Shield’s Tavern. At the Governor’s Palace, we learned that restrooms were called “necessaries” and that people in Colonial America didn’t have Christmas trees.

 Before the men picked us up, we took a bus ride of the periphery and then ended up in the more up-to-date touristy shopping area. There we saw a man “do” A Christmas Carol (all parts), talked to Santa, and listened to a group of women sing Christmas carols.  I told Santa I wanted peace on Earth for Christmas, and he said, “Ho ho ho.” I bought a chocolate and caramel covered apple that was covered with pecans, and I savored the moments of attempting to eat it while listening to the carolers. Thank goodness for my little pink Swiss army knife that I used to cut a few nibbles off with.

And thank goodness for the opportunity to visit this reconstructed village that was so important in our nation’s history. And thank goodness for Williamsburg itself. And while I’m at it…thank goodness for America, a land that’s choice above all other lands.

Last Day in NYC

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This is absolutely the last New York entry. Classes begin Monday, and I’ve got a lot to catch up with before then. Plus, by this time next week, I’ll be pretty much snowed under with limited time for blogging.

This picture was made at Tavern on the Green, a restaurant that had been “talked up” to us by other visitors to the city. What we basically thought (and I think I speak for all of us) was that the food was overpriced and “okay.” To be quite honest, even the atmosphere was just okay, a 7 on a scale of 10. I’m sure the okay factor is at least partially because of where we were seated, in a noisy area between two dining rooms, and two of us (including yours truly) had our backs to the snazziest dining area in the restaurant. I NEVER like to sit with my back to others, and I found it especially loathsome this particular night. If I couldn’t sit in the pretty area, I’d at least like to enjoy the view.  In retrospect, maybe we should have said something about it.

Here’s what we liked best about the evening. Meal complete, we began our journey (really) to the front of the restaurant to get our coats, and when we looked outside, we saw some gently falling snow. It was lovely. When we made it outside, we were enjoying the snow so much that at first we didn’t notice that there were no taxis anywhere. None. Nada. And there were a lot of people standing out in the falling snow in the same situation…no way back to the theatre district. A man standing beside a van approached us and offered to take us for $35, and someone (not sure who) said yes. We piled in, and by the time we’d turned out of the park area, we realized that there was a stranger amongst us, a petite curly haired woman who said she saw us getting in the van and figured she’d join us. Turns out that she was a urologist who’d eaten at the tavern with fellow doctors, and she regaled us with neat information all the way back to our hotel. When we told her that we had all just turned the big 6-0, she admitted that her big birthday was coming up in 2009.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. Our limo (Joan Ella arranged this) picked us up at 10:30 sharp, and the city seemed quiet and gray as we cruised over the bridge and towards the airport. We checked our bags and found our terminal without mishap, and as I sat down to wait for time to board, I looked outside and saw snowflakes. Even though they only lasted about three minutes, I just had to call DH and let him know, and for some reason, that memory seems special…something about connections and sharing, I guess.

The trip back to NC was uneventful, and after landing in Charlotte and retrieving our bags, we headed for SC. Ah, but first we had to stop at Cracker Barrel for a light dinner. It was SO GOOD! Truly, it was one of the best meals we’d had in days, but then we’re Southern born and bred, and we enjoy corn bread and other such vittles. Leaving Charlotte, we began the long, curvy (especially HWY 97) ride home, and as we parted company at Patty’s, we decided that a good time was had by all.

None of us got to do every single thing she wanted to do. For instance, I didn’t get to visit the New York Public Library or Ellis Island. Jeanita didn’t get to go to Tiffany’s, and I don’t think Patty saw any ice skaters at Rockefeller Center. STILL, since I’ve been home, I’ve had a dozen people  tell me how much they long to go to New York. Some want to see a real Broadway show, and others have told me that it’s always been a dream to see the “beautiful lady” in the harbor.

Why did I mention the above? For two reasons: (1) If traveling to New York City is truly on your list of places to visit, do it. Seriously.  Start planning and saving today. (2) I’ve realized that I need to be more grateful. I’m fortunate to have seen and heard all the sights and sounds of my recent trip and to have done so with such good friends. It’s kind of whiny to say, “Yes, but I didn’t get to….”  So what? I got to do a lot of other things. So did we all. Ain’t life grand?

Random Pix

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I snapped these other pictures because they’re of sights not seen in my sleepy little town, and I wanted to remember that somewhere there’s an Elmo standing on a busy sidewalk. I love furry little Elmo. When I move the Elmo chair I bought for the grandchildren, he giggles and says, “Elmo loves you.” We also saw Minnie Mouse and the Tin Man standing around.

Before going inside of Macy’s, we stood staring at the decorated windows like the awe-struck tourists that we were. Look closely at this cool picture, and you can see Judy’s face reflected in the tree. Her nose has an ornament on it.

I’ve been  taking my Macy’s bag to work this week. I didn’t want to use it for fear of getting it dirty or worn looking, but then I thought, “What in the heck am I saving it for?” It’s black and gray with gold and gray stars all over it. When Jeanita and I bought them, we talked about how they’d remind of the Christmas season and the star over Bethlehem, the “stellar” qualities that all women have, and the hustle and bustle of Macy’s itself. I love it…just like I loved the time in Macy’s.  A young Korean couple took our picture, and I took one of them and their sweet baby. We rode the escalator to the top just so we could say we rode the wooden ones, and we did a little shopping too.

Speaking of shopping, we looked all through Macy’s for just the right scarves to take back to family in SC, but none were just what I was looking for.  After we left there, however, we came across dozens of vendors on the street. We finally stopped at one near Rockefeller Center, and with Jeanita’s helpful guidance, I selected ones for Carrie, Elizabeth, Paul, Amanda, Donna, and Jayne. As far as I know, everyone is enjoying them, especially after I gave the lesson on scarf tying (?) and explained that these scarves had come directly from the streets of NY.

The Time’s Square picture speaks for itself…as does the adorable big red M & M. The picture of the American Society of Buddhist studies is one that I snapped in Chinatown for my brother who ribs me about worshipping Buddha (ha ha). I can tell him that I worship God and His beloved son Jesus Christ until I’m blue in the face, but he still hassles me.  After he leaves my home, I almost always have to turn my little Buddha statue, a decorative item from my son, back around the right way. Alas.

Folks, there’s only one more entry I plan to post about the NYC trip. My goals have been to chronicle our goings-on and to motivate some of you who’ve been wanting to go but have been procrastinating.  Have you looked up air fare and hotels on Expedia yet?

A New York Friday

new-york-08-0111Continuing along with the New York chronicles, we began Friday morning with breakfast at Junior’s, a busy, buzzy restaurant in the theatre district near the Milford Plaza, our hotel. Decorated with Christmas decorations galore, the eatery treated its patrons to the sounds of Christmas tunes mingled with the excited chattering of fellow diners and the clinking and clattering of plates, glasses, and silverware.  We loved it. In fact, we enjoyed the experience so much that we repeated it the next morning. If you visit New York and want something a bit more substantial than Starbucks and a pastry on the run, give Junior’s a chance. The price is right, and the wait staff is gracious and accommodating. Three of us had our cameras out that morning, and our waiter actually seemed to enjoy taking our picture(s).

Fortified with grits (a Southern dish that was well prepared at Junior’s), we walked outside in the windy cold and had some conversation with young men who were selling Gray Line tour tickets. To us, it seemed to be the best route since it would enable us to see the city and hear a tour guide inform us about interesting facts. Although most of us had visited New York before, we were (still are) novices and knew we could gain a lot by taking this tour. I’m so glad we did! Did you know that Jimmy Cagney spoke seven languages fluently?

Our primary destinations that day were Chinatown, Little Italy, and the South Street Seaport, and we managed to see them all and have some terrific adventures. In Chinatown, after the five of us were whisked off the street and escorted into a back room by a young, pretty Chinese woman, Joan Ella and Patty purchased some designer bags. I think all of us were interested and intrigued, but there were too many other tourists crowded in there with us for me to even think straight.

Leaving Chinatown, we strolled through Little Italy and savored our saunter down Mulberry Street. Before reaching the South Street Seaport, we managed to glimpse Wall Street and Ground Zero.  After a bit of shopping, we piled onto the ferry and took a tour of the New York Harbor. Much to my dismay and sorrow, I soon learned that the ferry would NOT be taking us to Ellis Island, a stop I had been anticipating since August. I LOVE that place! On a prior trip with my daughter Carrie and some friends, we had visited the island, and I’ve never felt the same about immigrants.  How must it have felt to arrive in the harbor to the sight of the Statue of Liberty, torch held high, and then have to go through long and sometimes grueling processing? Were they afraid? Excited? Anxious?

Tour complete, we jumped on the Grey Line bus and headed back to our hotel to primp and preen for All My Sons, the Arthur Miller play with Katie Holmes. In my humble and uncultured opinion, the absolute BEST performance in the house was by Diane Wiest. I’m still in awe of her giant gift. When the five of us discussed the play afterwards at Junior’s (had to have some hot chocolate and cheesecake before calling it a night), we were pretty much all wowed by her and her onstage husband, John Lithgow.

All My Sons generated another discussion too…one about family secrets, greed, loyalty, and relationships. Sipping our hot chocolate with huge dollops of whipped cream, we talked about how a single act or quick decision by a person can affect his or her family for generations even though descendents might not even be aware of it…or even of who committed what/when/where. It could be something like deciding to take a job in another part of the country or world, hence affecting schools, lifestyle, friends, and so forth. Then again, it might be something like selling defective parts that result in the death of others…even a son who commits suicide when he realizes how greedy, deceptive, and guilty his father is.

I guess the moral of the story is that our acts have ramifications that we can’t predict at the time we’re committing them. If we could, perhaps we’d think twice before acting.

Christmas Frenzy

Yay! Grades are in for all of my eight classes of the semester, and I can get off the treadmill for a while…er, maybe for a day anyway. At some point, I must buy, wrap, and deliver gifts; decorate my tree and home; peruse cookbooks for holiday dishes that are appropriate for get-togethers, cookie exchanges,  breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner; look carefully at the calendar to make sure I can work in a couple of Christmas concerts, my nephew’s rehearsal dinner and wedding, and other miscellaneous events, including tonight’s book club for which I’m to bring a book for a book exchange (got it covered) and a food treat (still working on that); plan some entertainment for a family Christmas gathering, and so on and on and on. In fact, why am I taking precious minutes to write this? I need to hit the malls right now!

Does this sound familiar? Are all of you gals out there in Blogland as stressed as I am? Why do we do this to ourselves? I’m taking a tip from something I read in a recent newspaper: Tell your family that you’re going out to take care of some Christmas errands and slip into a movie instead.  I think I might do just that…after I hang my wreaths and wash the Christmas china, that is.

I must add a little something before posting this. On the way to work this morning, I heard a little story from Chuck Swindoll on the radio. He was telling of a Christmas gathering of Satan and a few of his friends and followers. As they were making merry, the “adversary” told his fellow revelers to make sure that people kept the “Merry” in Christmas so that they’d concentrate on partying, laughing, celebrating, and so forth instead of focusing on the real reason for the season, the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of mankind.