Sunday, May 19, 2013

Local Tourists

We have taken some vacation trips over the past few years with our good friends from Streator, Bob and Joan Schmitt.  They have come down here and we've gone to the Georgia coast -- Jekyll and St. Simons' islands; and we went to North Carolina -- the Blowing Rock and Asheville areas as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway.  One year we went north and spent a few days in Chicago together doing all the "touristy" things.  They have also stopped to see us on their way home from Florida a time or two.  But in all the times they've been to our house, we've never done anything in Atlanta!  So this year we decided to make Atlanta our vacation destination.
     One of the fun things we've done is to find bed and breakfast places to stay when we travel.  Most have been very nice and made us feel pampered.  Some have been interesting and make for great stories.  So even though we had a place to stay for this "vacation" (our house), we planned to spend one night downtown and found a bed and breakfast that had a great location.  It was a combination of lovely and amusing.  I'm sure we'll laugh many times over the years about Jerry and I being Mr. and Mrs. Sinus...and about the plumbing in our bathroom.  It was the Shellmont Inn in midtown and I'm glad we stayed there. 
   Joan is a huge Gone With the Wind Fan.  So the very first thing on her bucket list was to see "The Dump"...the apartment where Margaret Mitchell wrote the book.  After touring there, we ate at Mary Mac's Tea Atlanta legend.  Very good!  That was only a few blocks from our B&B, so we got checked in and got comfortable.  Maybe a little too comfortable (is there such a thing?) because we spent the rest of the afternoon in rocking chairs on the back porch till it was time to go see a Braves game. 
    All that was on Monday.  On Tuesday, after checking out of the B&B, we went just a few miles up the road to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.  Spent all morning walking around there.  It's a beautiful place and we got to watch them working on several new large topiaries.  The ones they're advertising a lot are the two cobras.  Amazing was the word that kept coming to mind.  I got inspired about gardening again (poor Jerry)!
     After the botanical gardens we went to check out Underground Atlanta and get some lunch.  Enjoyed fried pickles and other unhealthy
yummies at Johnny Rocket's.  Then got to Cyclorama just before they closed for the day.  The rush-hour traffice coming out of town wasn't as bad as we'd expected.
   On Wednesday we took a break from driving into Atlanta.  We took them to see the Monastery of the Holy Spirit here in Conyers.  It's a very pretty and informative place.  Again...I got inspired and got a plant to try my hand at making a bonsai.  We'll see how that goes.  From there we took the back roads to the town of Jonesboro, Georgia.  They have a Gone With the Wind museum there called Road to Tara.  Margaret Mitchell's family was from there and as a child she would go visit them and hear stories and that's what gave her inspiration for the book.  We missed the tours -- didn't know they were only in the morning :( -- but spent time going through the museum. 
     Thursday took us back to Atlanta...but this time we headed north of town for the day.  Our destination was the Atlanta History Museum.  But I told them that if I was going to that side of town, we had to eat at two of my favorite places.  So we had breakfast at the OK Cafe on the way to the museum and had an early dinner at Houston's on the way back home.  Good thing there is a lot of walking and it takes a lot of time to see the museum itself as well as the Swan House, the Tullie Smith farm and the nature walk that ties them all together. 
   We were going to use Friday to be lazy again and just relax at home.  But we'd been lucky with the weather all week despite threatening showers a few times.  When we checked the weather forecast for the next couple of days it looked like Friday would be cloudy and Saturday a total washout all the way from here to Illinois.  After having driven in some heavy rain coming down, they were not looking forward to doing that again on the way home.  So they left on Friday instead. 
   As usual, we had a good time.  We saw a lot and learned a lot and had some laughs.  We didn't do all the things on our list, so we may have to make Atlanta a vacation destination again some time.  And that sounds fine to me!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Taking Time to Smell the Flowers

   Our church friend, Evelyn Brown, got up during announcements one Sunday morning and said that she was going to have a House and Garden Tour and Bible Study at the home of a friend of hers on Saturday, April 27th.  My first thought was that sounded very interesting and something I might enjoy.  That thought was no sooner processed than the counterpart thought came rushing in.  The one that said, "The 27th?  That's not good.  We have company coming in on the 28th for a week.  I'll have too much to do!"

   So I sat on the garden fence for a few days.  Then I mentioned it to my friend, Pam.  If she had been unable to go, I probably would have talked myself out of going, too.  But she said she was available and it sounded good to her.  So I convinced myself that if I got my lazy butt in gear, I could get most everything done by Friday of that week except for a few last-minute fresh food things.  And we made plans to attend.

   Evelyn's friend, Joy, lives in Eatonton, Georgia.  That is at least an hour away from my house.  It was supposed to rain that Saturday, but it held off and we had a beautiful day.  And I'm soooo glad I made time to go.  If not to "smell the flowers" then certainly to drink them in and marvel at their beauty.  What Joy and her recently deceased husband have done with this house and yard is truly amazing.  They refurbished an old, 1920's house and landscaped the 3 acres or so surrounding it with delights for the senses. 

   We began with a tour of the house that was jaw-dropping.  Meticulous attention to details are the trademark of these two talented and visionary people.

   Then, since the weather was nice, we took our bibles to the deck at the side of the yard and began our study.  After a bit we took a break and walked around the yard and gardens.  Not a moment too soon, because we were all anxious to get out among the flowers and check them out more closely.  Being springtime, the bloomers were beautiful.  And everywhere you looked there were little pieces of yard art, statuary, pots, welcoming paths and arches to walk through. 

   After another short study session, we broke for lunch.  Pam and I joined the few ladies that had settled in on the screened-in porch at the side of the house.  During the house tour I had said that's where I'd be spending most of my time if I lived there.  The afternoon session followed pretty much the morning schedule.  Two lesson sessions with another walk-around-the-yard break in the middle. 

   It was a nice group of 9 ladies...most of whom I knew to some degree.  But as usually happens in this type of environment we relaxed, shared and enjoyed together and made new friends and forged closer bonds.  All in all it was a wonderful day and I can't remember anything that I've enjoyed more in a long time. 
    I think that when I was fence sitting for those couple of days, God gave me the little push I needed to make the decision I made.  Thank you, Father, for leading me to this wonderful opportunity for inspiration, fellowship and blessing.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Spring Tradition

Springtime brings many traditions and expectations.  I wrote last time about the tradition of new clothes for Easter.  The approach of spring brings anticipation, too...especially here in Georgia...of sunny, warm days and beautiful trees and flowers bursting forth to show their splendor.

Another thing I look forward to in the springtime is our annual quilters' and scrapbookers' retreat.  I line up some of my quilting friends and Jodi gathers a few of her scrapbooking buddies and we retreat for the weekend to the Charlie Elliott State Park for a couple of wonderful days of fellowship and creativity.

The facility is perfect for our needs.  There is a large conference room where we can work with plenty of room.  One wall of the room is all windows and looks out onto the wooded acres beyond.  The other wall is carpeted (really) and we can pin our finished quilt tops on it so that by the end of the weekend we have our own little quilt show.  There is a large porch on the window/woods side that is perfect for gathering for meals or a quiet time in the morning. 

There are motel-style sleeping rooms in attached buildings to the left and right of this workroom.  Our weekend starts at 8:00 a.m. on Friday and ends at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.  Allowing for individual schedules, we gather as soon as we're able and stay as long as we can.  I won't dwell on the year that Jodi had to turn around and go back home because her house was on fire...or the year she had to make a stop at the emergency room on her way because Savannah broke her arm.  I'll just focus on the good stuff.

Within our group there are, besides friends, usually one or more sets of mothers and daughters.  This year was especially fun for me because Savannah (no broken arm this time!) came, too.  So we had three generations attending. She brought her scrapbooks and was tickled to be part of the group and be able to spend the night.  On Saturday, one of her friends came with her mother for the day and that was fun for her, too.  I told Jodi she would probably never be able to go to retreat again for many years without Savannah coming along.  She said that was fine with her. It's fine with me, too. :) 

This is a great group of ladies.  Most of us have been doing this for many years, but we seem to add a few "newbies" now and then.  That's always fun, too.  This year, as with all the other years, was not a disappointment.  We had fun, ate well, enjoyed each other and our surroundings and got a lot accomplished.  And I've already made our reservations for next year.  So the week after Easter 2014, we'll be back at Charlie Elliott enjoying springtime in the woods and getting lots of inspiration and finishing up our projects.  Want to join us?  There's always room for one more.