Posted in Savannah Joy

Farmers’ Marketing

FM25

Saturday morning I stumbled out of bed (you would think someone my age could deal with morning a bit better) and walked a few blocks to Savannah’s Forsyth Park to get some fresh vegetables.  (It’s spring, so I’m on my Annual Quest to get in Stellar Shape for the maybe two times I go to Tybee Island and the beach during the summer.  I haven’t seen abs in forty years, but I’m such an optimist I AM NOT GIVING UP.  Do you hear me?!  I intend to be on the cover of Men’s Fitness one day.)

FM24

The Forsyth Farmers’ Market is the coolest gathering of local vendors offering fresh–often organic–fruits and vegetables, along with coffees, breads, honey, jams, juices, pasta, fish, beef, poultry, herbs, flowers, etc.  I LOVE their statement of purpose: “The mission of the Forsyth Farmers’ Market is to promote understanding and participation in a local food system that supports sustainable production and increases access to local products.” 

FM25

FM24

FM21

FM11

FM8

FM7

FM3

FM2

FM1

Coolest dog at the market:

FM30

Coolest shoes at the market:

FM29

FM14

FM10

FM18

FM16

What joyful shopping!

FM5

Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers — 4/26/13

Friday, Friday, Friday.  Do you connect it with happiness?  Here are five reasons I do.

1.  Aspiring to being an optimist (even though I was SO SO ready to start a Depression Blog the other day when I tore a fingernail.  Sad but true.  I’m fine with optimism and happiness and contentment as long as I don’t feel any actual pain.  But let me hurt, and for some immature, sick reason, I spiral down.  TMI?)

2.  Faith.

3.  Oatmeal with real butter.

oatmeal

4.  Susan Boyle singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

*

Yes, I’m a Boyle fan.

5.  Playing ball with Gabriel:

Gball1

Gball3

And you have a ball this weekend!

Posted in In Our Own Backyard, The Joy and Wisdom of Children

D-Man, Superheroes and Snakehandling: Party Weekend–Party Two

As I mentioned in the previous post, this past weekend brought two terrific parties, a street celebration Saturday night and then on Sunday afternoon the Sixth Birthday Celebration for my Grandson Daniel.

Before I escort you to Weekend Party Two, let me just explain that Daniel is one very COOL little boy.  And here are Eight Sunglasses-Prominent Pics of D-man to prove it:

CoolD1
CoolD2

(With kindergarten teacher Ms. Lancaster)

CoolD4
CoolD6
CoolD7

(With little brother Gabriel)

CoolD8
CoolD10
DnTwins

Okay, maybe the twin girls froze him up a bit and reduced his coolness by a tad.

But NOT on his birthday.  Here he sits, with his green faux hawk (aka fohawk) before his backyard party begins, “patiently” waiting for the Spiderman inflatable to blow up.

Dparty1
Dparty2
Dparty3
DLooking

Almost there.

Dparty17
Dparty18

“I love it!”

Dparty15

Here’s Batman perched in the trees:

DSix34
DSix33

I have NEVER seen a balloon so huge.  And the Spiderman pinata, ready to be lowered:

DSix35

Soon the backyard fills with school and neighborhood friends.

Dparty12
Dparty13
Dparty16
DSix27
DSix28

A great hit at the party–the appearance of the folks and animals from Critters-to-Go.  The kids (and adults) are fascinated.

DSix25
DSix1
Party3
Party2

“Okay, kids, now let’s all play with snakes!”  (Neal’s first thought: “Is everyone here INSANE?  What happened to the PRETEND superheroes theme?)  Then out of the corner of my eye, I see courageous Batman hiding out in the trees away from all this.

Initially, Daniel’s not so sure.  See?  He’s a smart boy.

DSix7

That soon changes.

DSix6
DSix8
DSix9

“Here, Abu, you hold him too.”

DSix21

My drug-induced-looking smile is for the camera.  I’m really thinking: “Is there ANY possible way to spank this child with over fifty people watching?”

DSix23
DSix20

Then Daniel becomes an experienced snakehandler.

DSix10
DSix12
DSix13

Next, the spiders, of course.

DSix14

Her t-shirt says it all.

DSix17
DSix18
DSix19
DSpider

(Note to self: talk to therapist about memory erasure treatment.)

DSix24
DSix30
DSix31
DSix26
DSix37
DSix29

Younger daughter Emily with grandtwins Madison and Matthew:

DSix4

“Look up, Em.”

DSix5
DSix3

Older daughter Amy (Daniel’s mom) holding Matthew:

DSix2

Matthew: “I know who my mama is.”

Party1

Nana and Madison step up:

PartyNana

D’s little brother Gabriel:

DSix36
Party8

Amy and hubby Orte:

Party6
Party10

Oh, the gifts!

Dparty7
Party7
Party5

After the party, Daniel and I play with the giant picture of him that I had attached to a backyard tree.  See it way in the back there?

Party20
Party4
Dparty10
Dparty5
Dparty6

An Afternoon of Joy.

Posted in In Our Own Backyard

Touring Savannah’s City Hall, Y’all

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-104-PM.jpg

Every First Tuesday Savannah’s City Hall opens its doors for free tours.  I know, I know, touring City Hall doesn’t sound like the most exciting entertainment venue around.  But hold on just a second, compadre.  After a hefty helping of Gabriella’s Zesty Chicken (on mashed potatoes) at Zunzi’s, I wobbled down Bull Street, remembering just in time to look up before I reached the river, and saw this …

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1156-AM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1156-AM.jpg

… Savannah’s incredibly beautiful City Hall.

city hall
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1157-AM.jpg

Completed in 1905 …

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-109-PM.jpg

… City Hall features two figures who adorn the front, just below the clock and gold dome.  And those two pretty ladies represent Commerce and Art.  If you know anything about Savannah, you will find those figures so, so timely.  Because what was true in 1905 is certainly true today:  Savannah is both a big business city (Savannah Port and Gulfstream, for example) as well as a cultured, artistic town (SCAD, Savannah Music Festival, festivals galore).

Come along.

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-106-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-105-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1258-PM.jpg

The original clockwork is now in the lobby:

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1228-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-104-PM.jpg

I really loved the wood floor.

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1237-PM.jpg

Looking up to the interior stain glass dome:

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-100-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1158-AM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1259-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1259-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1246-PM.jpg

Some important Savannahian.  (I want a bust made of me.  Where can you go to get that done?  Hobby Lobby?  Michael’s?)

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1247-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1229-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1228-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1159-AM.jpg

The plaque below looked historically official, so I stood there trying to read it to make people think I’m smart and all, but then I started daydreaming about the Vanilla Taffy down at River Street Sweets, so I took a picture of the plaque (which sorta still made me look smart because why else would you take a picture?).

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1228-PM.jpg

Here I am with the really interesting tour guide (and SCAD grad), Luciana Spracher.  She knew her stuff!

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1258-PM.jpg

Did you know Savannah has a flag?

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1245-PM.jpg

View from a back window of city hall:

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1230-PM.jpg

Very cool open style elevator cage:

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1230-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1230-PM.jpg

Something important looking:

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1242-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1232-PM.jpg

I pretended to know the mayor.  But you can only stand in front of her office for so long before people start to wonder what you’re doing.

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1231-PM.jpg

TANGENT:  A couple of months ago, I attended an event at the Savannah Civic Center with our mayor, Edna Jackson.

wpid-Photo-Feb-1-2013-843-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Feb-1-2013-852-PM.jpg

Okay, okay, maybe I wasn’t exactly with the mayor, but you can’t tell that from the above photo with her and Savannah State’s President, Dr. Cheryl Davenport Dozier.

*******

Luciana led us into the Savannah City Council chambers.  For some reason I just got so excited.

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1232-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1235-PM.jpg

Here I am sitting at the mayor’s desk.  (Does she know people do this?)

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1254-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1241-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1254-PM.jpg

What a fun (and educational) tour!  Thanks, Luciana.

wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-101-PM.jpg
wpid-Photo-Apr-2-2013-1229-PM.jpg

I Love Savannah!

Posted in Five Friday Happy Bringers

Five Friday Happy Bringers (4/12/13)

Friday, Friday, thank you for heralding happiness this week.

1. Driving back up on Wednesday to Statesboro and Georgia Southern University for the annual Retirees Recognition Ceremony. Retirees who have given ten years or more service to GSU have their names on plaques that are put on the wall at the Builders of the University Terrace.

20130411-215459.jpg

20130411-215740.jpg

20130411-220148.jpg

20130411-220317.jpg

20130411-220350.jpg

And here I am with fellow retirees and good buddies Linda Arthur and Phyllis Dallas:

20130411-220515.jpg

And who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

20130411-220549.jpg

(Okay, maybe I put in a few years for that lunch. But the ham was good.)  What a beautiful day!

2. Aspiring (great emphasis on “aspiring”) to live the rest of my life by this quote from the novel I’m currently ready–The Light Between Oceans: “It isn’t safe to put off what matters.”

3. Walking down stairs …

20130411-222659.jpg

… without falling.

stairs

4.  The incomparable aroma of onions sauteing in olive oil.

5.  Attending SCAD’s 15th annual International Festival in Savannah’s beautiful Forsyth Park.

wpid-Photo-Apr-6-2013-151-PM.jpg

wpid-Photo-Apr-6-2013-151-PM.jpg

wpid-Photo-Apr-6-2013-133-PM.jpg

wpid-Photo-Apr-6-2013-238-PM.jpg

With a couple of former students, Alejandro …

wpid-Photo-Apr-6-2013-157-PM.jpg

… and Cash

wpid-Photo-Apr-6-2013-143-PM.jpg

wpid-Photo-Apr-6-2013-144-PM.jpg

wpid-Photo-Apr-6-2013-149-PM.jpg

wpid-Photo-Apr-6-2013-128-PM.jpg

Have a world of fun this weekend!

Posted in Life Experiences

Touch

sadeyes3

Savannah’s Broughton Street bustles with activity this past Friday night, even for a warm and gorgeous early spring evening. I suppose Broughton is as close as my quirky, Midnight City gets to having a normal Main Street, as the historic district snakes around twenty-two breathtakingly beautiful squares. (Savannah’s downtown area is unique and hard to describe–come visit us to see what I mean.)

My friend Robert and I venture to the Crystal Beer Parlor, share joyful banter with lovely Hostess Fifi, meet good buddies, consume delicious and perfectly prepared ribeye steak. Friday night joy. Next, Broughton Street Market with dream-laden lottery tickets in hand. Walking toward my car. Traverse past hip young couples pushing into dance clubs; midde-agers brandishing bags with Paula Deen leftovers; older folks leaving Savannah Music Festival venues; SCAD kids with blue hair waving in the breeze. Packed, noisy sidewalks. All well. Very well.

Then fate interrupts–as she often does.

They sit on the sidewalk. No sprawl. As if dumped there. Three young men, in their early twenties. Two dogs. Man and pet, dirty, smelly, retched. Outcasts from society. A block from McDonald’s.

I live downtown and have grown immune to the homeless, the beggars, the street people. They merge and melt into the old bricks, the azaleas, the wooden benches. So what if there is an occassional grocery cart on its side in the shadows? No big deal. It happens.

But then the soiled speak.

“Can you guys help us out? We’re hungry.” Honesty makes me tell you my reaction: No Reaction. Walking on. Past the dirty ones. Then Robert turns, and says, “I can’t give you money, but I can buy you some food.”

Why do I hang out with people like Robert? It’s so much easier to keep walking. Walking past. Walking toward. Past what I don’t want to see, acknowledge. Walking toward the known, the comfortable.

“What are you doing?” I ask Robert, a bit frustrated.

“Getting them something to eat,” he says matter-of-factly.

I try but can’t think of a real reason to stop this interruption of my previously perfect night.

Too late, already inside McDonald’s, I remember a possible reason to have kept walking, a religious reason even: didn’t Jesus say that we would always have the poor with us?

But Robert, reasonless, places the order.

Five minutes later, with a bag of burgers and a tray of dollar menu sweet teas, we walk back toward the vagabonds. One young guy, with his mouth inexplicably sucking on the side of a smoking soda can, with pierced nose tattooed in triplicate black dots along the bridge, stands up in dryrotted pants that touch bony, bare knees. Drunk. Or high. Or both.

I hold out the bag of burgers. Away from my body, and toward his. Embarrassed.

The young leader looks up at me and says, “Man, you guys are beautiful. I gotta stand up and thank you. That’s a cool jacket.”

I want to be anywhere, anywhere but here.

He starts to stand, to reach out to hug me, drunkenly.

But pauses, perhaps sensing my hesitancy.

I then see his eyes.

And my safe world shatters.

For his eyes are the eyes of a real boy. A boy with a mama and a daddy somewhere. A boy who used to be a baby.

“Where are you guys from?” I ask, shakily, terrified but now connected. Joined. Level.

“San Francisco, long way from home,” he replies.

And then my knowing comes: his eyes could be the eyes of my daughters. The eyes of my grandchildren.

Without thinking, I reach out and touch his scraggly face and hold it for a moment. I see him. I really see him. He sees me.

“If this was reversed, I would do this for you, man,” he says haltingly, as he takes the burgers back to the ground, to his low place.

Robert and I walk away.

Less than two blocks later, I feel tears on my face.

sadeyes2

Posted in Uncategorized

Reblog — “Neal’s Neverending New York PhotoNotes Post”

Because I was asked about some of the places I visited while in New York recently, I decided to reblog the post, with hyperlink additions.

*********************************************************************

[Warning:  If you’re going to read this one, you might want to go get a snack.  And maybe a cushion.  Wear loose-fitting clothes, comfortable shoes.]

2257

I traveled with daughter Amy, son-in-law Orte and grandsons Daniel and Gabriel to Manhattan last Thursday, returning yesterday.  This trip has become our annual spring rite of passage.  Except spring didn’t cooperate this year–cold!  Brrr!  Even a little snow.  But what a Grand Time as our Vagabond Shoes left Savannah and headed to the Big Apple.

2002

20130322-081700.jpg

20130322-081605.jpg

20130322-081628.jpg

2009

Easy, FUN flight, even with five- and three-year-olds.  No, BECAUSE of five- and three-year-olds.

Cool suite on Park Avenue:

2029

2118

2107

2025

2044

And of course, the first thing the boys want to do upon our arrival in New York?   Watch Gravity Falls on TV.

2033

(Okay, maybe it was pretty interesting, all about Dipper’s sister Mabel having a crazy-about-boys summer–at one point she sees a young fella holding a turtle, runs up to him and exclaims, “You like turtles?!  I LIKE TURTLES!  What’s happening here?!” as she moves her hands back and forth between her and the boy.  Finally Mabel sorta falls for a trenchcoated pyramid of Gnomes who want to marry her and make her their Gnome Queen.  I had no idea Gnomes could be so pushy.)

Gabriel looking out on the NY skyline from our 27th floor:

2119

2120

The Children’s Museum of Manhattan (on the Upper West Side):

2057

2063

2064

2070

2068

2071

2075

2080

2083

2084

2082

A walk in Central Park, playing with dirty snow.  (But we’re from the south–we’ll take what we can get.)

2104

2102

2096

2097

2095

2100

2103

Delicious Waldorf Salad lunch for me–at the Waldorf:

2105

Touring = Tiring:

2111

Dinner at Victor’s, our favorite Cuban restaurant in Manhattan:

2112

2114

2116

Neat day, after Gabriel’s “breakfast” …

2124

… we taxied to another great museum: the Children’s Museum of the Arts in SoHo.  What an interactive place!

2132

2137

2128

2131

My work:

2127

(Now do you see why I teach part-time at an art school?!  I call it Morning Glory and Green-Haired Cory.  Bids start in the upper thousands.  Thank you.)

2148

Daniel’s Dragon:

2141

2142

(Those aren’t my blue fingernails.)

2143

2150

First of two Broadway plays: Newsies.  Just incredible energy!  Google it.

2154

2155

2157

Newsies ticket

And here’s a pic of the stage/curtain thingy, right before I got yelled at for taking pictures inside the theatre.  (I’m sure they didn’t realize they were talking to a world-famous blogger and all.)

2153

I’m thinking about becoming a Broadway star.  All that’s holding me back is that you have to sing and dance and memorize lines and get up in front of people and not stutter because you’re so nervous.  AND not fall off the stage when you have to walk close to the edge.  That part TERRIFIES me.  But still.

The most incredible coincidence happened next.  Walking back to our hotel to join the fam, I saw Andaz.  No not a person, a very cool hotel.  We have an Andaz on Ellis Square in Savannah where they give you the MOST delicious Candied Bacon I’ve ever tasted.  (Okay, it’s the only candied bacon I’ve ever tasted but SO good.)  Of course I had to shashay in to compare Andazes (plural?).  This sign greeted me when I walked into the lobby:

2158

Hooting Hyenas!  SCAD is where I teach as an adjunct.  So I hopped on the elevator to the second floor!  Wouldn’t you?  Why?  Well, duh, a reception, and receptions mean one thing … free food.  The first person I saw was Joseph; he’s in a writer’s group I sometimes attend:

2159

(I’m not sure why I look so huge and bloated in that picture.)

(Does anyone know how to Photoshop me standing about two feet behind Joseph so I don’t look so very big?)

I chatted with other SCAD folks and even a few newly accepted students and their parents.  A fun NY surprise.

Next morning, Grand Central Terminal …

2174

2169

2165

2166

… and waiting for Kidding Around (a very cool toy store) to open–we did F. A. O. Schwarz the day before:

2171

2173

2172

Street vendor hot dogs, of course:

2177

2176

Second Broadway play: Cinderella (with a new spin, including lots of humor and an evil stepsister who turns good).

2190

2198

2185

2181

2189

2188

Orchestra pit (we had second-row seats!):

2182

2179

2180

Afterwards off to Ellen’s Stardust Diner where the wait staff … SINGS!.  So cool:

2203

2200

2205

2202

Snack on the walk back to the hotel:

2209

2212

2213

2208

The Apple Store in Grand Central Terminal for a new case for my iPhone:

2232

2221

2228

Last morning.  Daniel and Gabriel reennacting the final scene from Gravity Falls (we watched the same episode three times over our stay) when Dipper rescues Mabel from the Gnomes, and the brother/sister engage in an “awkward sibling hug” with “pat, pat.”  (Hulu it.  I think the episode is called “Tourist Trap.”)

2237

2238

2236

Blustery/snowy/rainy weather on the way to LaGuardia.

2243

2242

For some reason, less-than-ideal weather always makes me feel better when it comes at the end of a trip.  (Reminder to self: therapist talking point.)

While we were waiting at the gate for our flight, a Big Red Heart sauntered up.  No clue why.  But D is never one to miss a photo op.

2254

2255

Oh, if you were that Big Red Heart, looking where he seems to be looking, you would see this:

2250

2251

It’s an iPad cafe–you order your food right from the iPad.  (“Hip” should be my middle name.)

2246

2253

A wonderfully joyful New York trip.

As we waited on the runway, while an animal-like machine de-iced the wings, Daniel looked at me fiddling with my phone and yelled (loud enough for his dad and the rather stern flight attendant to hear), “Abu is not turning off his electronic device!”

Great memories to think about.

2258