Posted in Uncategorized

Five Friday Happy Bringers 4/29/22

1. The continuing saga of HR stopping our morning walks to take “important pictures.” This time of a caterpillar on a prickly plant.

See it?

Believe it or not, Robert actually VIDEOED the little bug making its way down the spike. (The caterpillar was the only one of us getting his steps in.)

2. A bucket of little umbrellas at the bar at Zunzi’s near us.

3. Our hands! Hold one of yours out in front of you.

Look at it. Make a fist, in and out. Isn’t that really such an amazing blessing?! Pick something up. Your hands enable you to do it!

4. Ladyfingers with fresh strawberries for breakfast.

And a little nutmeg on top.

5. Making a poster for grandson Jack, who’s about to graduate from Savannah Country Day School.

Here’s Jack at the end of the senior class traditional bike ride to campus event.


Hope you all graduate to a beautiful weekend ahead!


P.S. You don’t believe me that HR videoed the caterpillar? Okay, I don’t blame you, I wouldn’t either if I didn’t have the proof. Here’s the … riveting film. I call it “Slowing Down the Walk.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Neal’s Post from the Past: “The Viewing & The Circle of Life”

Here’s a post from a decade ago dealing with the death of my father-in-law and my young grandson Daniel’s struggle to understand.


My father-in-law passed away earlier this week. Death, of course, is difficult for anyone to cope with, but perhaps especially so for young children. Because they are still so close to birth, little beings of the morning, and because their life experience has been with newness and fresh discovery, with joy and giggles, death must seem unfathomable, foreign, outside of understanding.

But like most kids, my four-year-old grandson Daniel likes to understand: “Abu, why can’t I sit on top of your car? I could see a whole lot better.” “Abu, my teacher won’t let me bring my sword to school and fight like the blue Power Ranger. Why not?” “Why can’t I say potty words?” “Why do we have to wear clothes when it’s hot?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”

When his parents arrived at the funeral home north of Atlanta the other evening, they told me that Daniel had, as usual, been plying them with questions about the current subject which went beyond his grasp–his great-grandfather’s death. “But if Papa is in heaven, why will everyone be sad?” “Where IS Papa?”

I played with Daniel and his little brother Gabriel in the large kitchen area of the funeral home, where friends had brought mounds of food. Their mom and dad, Amy and Orte, walked through large white windowed doors and down a narrow hall that eventually led to a sitting room where the family received guests who came to pay their respect and offer condolences. Papa looked pre-cancerous in a striking gray suit, snow-white shirt, and brown and gray tie patterned with tiny crosses. He had been a Methodist minister in the North Georgia Conference. A large United States flag, achingly resplendent in red, white and blue liveliness, lay across the unopened lower half of the coffin. Papa was retired Air Force.

Every few minutes, Daniel ran over to tiptoe and peer through the windows of the white doors, gazing down that long hallway which twisted and turned but allowed no view of Papa. “Where are Mama and Daddy? I want to go too.” A few minutes later: “Why can’t I go in?” “Is Papa in there? Where?” “Let’s go in there, Abu.”

A while later, when we were eating lasagna in the kitchen, Daniel was still asking, asking. I made a decision, a decision you may not have made. I asked Daniel’s mom and dad if I could take him in to see Papa. They agreed, mainly (I think) because they trust me, and they know how much I love D.

I picked Daniel up and asked him if he knew what had happened to Papa. “He died,” came the quick answer. I told him that yes Papa had died. “And he’s in heaven,” Daniel added. His confusion centered on who or what was down that hall that everyone kept traversing. He wanted understanding, answers. He wanted to walk down that hall.

So we did.

The kitchen had been noisy with visitors loudly talking, eating, reminiscing, and occasionally laughing at the past. Its tiled floor amplified the clicks of my boot heels as we walked, Daniel in my arms, toward those doors, dividing doors which in my grandson’s mind led to answers. As we passed through them, my heels, like everything and everyone on that other side, grew quieter on the deep carpet.

We entered the viewing room, and walked past adults talking in hushed tones. Daniel kissed his Nana (Donna is the oldest of the four daughters of Papa), then his Great-Grandma, who sat regally next to the coffin. But his eyes were looking, searching.

Not expecting Papa to be lying down (why didn’t I think to tell him that detail?), Daniel finally found his great-grandfather.

He looked for a while, and finally asked quietly (Daniel doesn’t usually do “quiet” very well), “Is Papa sleeping?”

“No, not really sleeping. He died, remember?”

We stood there for about a minute, Daniel growing heavy in my arms.

“Are you ready to go, baby?”


Other folks waited patiently for their turn behind us. Daniel started to lean over toward the coffin, paused and looked at me for permission (and like “quiet,” D doesn’t always do “permission” well). I nodded, and Daniel touched the white satin edges of the liner and then Papa’s right arm.

Giggling just a bit, Daniel said, “It tickles.” I smiled.

“You ready now?”


We walked back through the hall, toward the kitchen. When we got to the doors, I saw through the windows my daughter Amy and Orte, waiting. I put Daniel down, and he pushed open the door. His dad asked him, “Are you okay, Daniel?”

But he was already off, running on the noisy tile, chasing his little brother. Doing “loud” once again.


With Daniel back in 2012
And now. (Seriously?)
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12/14/21 Countdown to Christmas: Our Travel Tree & Georgia State Parks

For this blog category, “Countdown to Christmas: Our Travel Tree & Georgia State Parks,” each day between December 1 and 25, I take a pic of a state park ornament on our Travel Tree and briefly highlight that park.

Georgia Veterans State Park on Lake Blackshear near Cordele in southwest Georgia was established in 1946 as a memorial to US veterans.

This park was especially meaningful to us since Robert is Retired Military, having served 23 years in the Army.

THANK YOU to all who served.

Posted in Encouragement, Uncategorized

Hi and Hello & A Joyful Sunday Night!

Hello. Neal Saye here. Long time, no see. I’m not sure if anyone is still out there, but I have decided to blog a bit more.

It’s getting late on a Sunday evening (and the Braves are losing at the moment), so here is the gist of what’s on my heart tonight: what we say to ourselves on an ongoing basis is very important.

Yesterday morning, Robert and I did our more-often-than-not Saturday morning foray over to Big Bon Bodega (incredible bagel breakfast sandwiches) here in Savannah.

Boldly greeting us at the entry was Truthful Instruction:

A loving goodnight to you all! “See” you soon.


Posted in Humor, Neal's Writing, New, Savannah Joy, The Joy and Wisdom of Children, Transition, Uncategorized, Where Happiness Finds You

The Bear and the Unicorn

For my recent suxteee-seckth birthday, I celebrated with my big ole’ modern family …

… at Savannah’s Tequila’s Town restaurant in Sandfly.


(Seriously?  Can you believe they come hooting “Happy Bday” laden with tequila for the celebrant!  Even though I had my large head prepared for an oversized sombrero and some flan.)

Post-tequila I received some neat gifts, but perhaps my Favorites came from five-year-old grandtwins Madison (inappropriately pictured above next to the tequila) and Matthew. Their mom let them pick out their gifts for me.  Madison gave me a pink unicorn in a love mug …


…while Matthew opted for a brown bear that actually smells like chocolate when you rub it vigorously!


(Matthew is in an over-smiling-for-the-camera stage.)

Oh, they also each got me a large skein of yarn–yellow from Madison and green from Matthew.  Not that I knit (who has the patience for that?!), but because they like to unravel the yarn, make giant spiderwebs and throw it all over the furniture and each other.

Thus, inspired by the tequila, when I got home I opted for a quick photoshoot to document my suxteee-seckth.


Moral of Story:  the strangest little gifts ofttimes make for the biggest shots of … Joy.

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.]


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.






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

Cool suite on Park Avenue:






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


(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:



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












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








Delicious Waldorf Salad lunch for me–at the Waldorf:


Touring = Tiring:


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




Neat day, after Gabriel’s “breakfast” …


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





My work:


(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.)


Daniel’s Dragon:



(Those aren’t my blue fingernails.)



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




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.)


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:


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:


(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 …





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




Street vendor hot dogs, of course:



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







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




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





Snack on the walk back to the hotel:





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




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.”)




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



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.



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



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



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.