When it’s ‘too’ soon…..

I had completely forgotten about this and after telling the entire story to my dear friend – who thought it was very interesting —  I thought it might be good Cocktails at Seven material.

521431_482479785123285_1271919598_nI met a BFF for coffee and chats at The Little Tart (behind Six Feet Under on Memorial Drive — if you’ve never been then GO!!!).  After an incredible latte, people watching, magazine reading, chit chats, scrumptious nibbling on some great quiche and tarts — we decided to meander over to Historic Oakland Cemetery.  One of my very favorite places in downtown Atlanta.  I know I know — are you furrowing your brow thinking ‘my word she’s odd’.  Well let me assure you upfront — I’m completely off the beaten path so to speak.  :::he he he::::

I’ve always loved historic cemeteries and Oakland in particular.  Years ago I worked for Mayor Shirley Franklin.  During lunch, I would meander down to Oakland and pick a nice shady spot on a grave and read for lunch.  It was so peaceful and recharged me for the rest of the day.  It’s very park-like which Victorian cemeteries were meant to be, so that you would sit down and stay for a while.  Of course in my over-active imagination, I would pretend all the deceased were peeking over the old brick wall surrounding Oakland yelling ‘Here she comes!! I bet she sits on my grave today!’.  Call me an 8 year old.  It is what it is.

As we leisurely strolled through the sunny rosemary filled pathways of the cemetery that day, I recalled a first and last date I had years ago.  I was still working for Mayor Franklin at the time.  It was a blind date a friend of a friend.  He had recently unfortunately lost his wife.  I asked my friend was he even ready to step back into the dating pond and she assured me YES.   I was skeptical and for good reason.   But she urged me on – saying he was a super nice guy, very bright and I would enjoy meeting him.  I shrugged, said it was ok to give him my number and didn’t think that much about it.

A few weeks later, I got the call, we talked for a few nights via phone, then set to meet at Houstons by Lenox.   Upon meeting him he looked as if he must have surely lost  much weight due to the fact his suit swallowed him the poor dear.  He seemed very nervous which made me question immediately my friends statement of ‘he’s ready’.   I felt so very sorry for him.  He ended up talking the entire time about his newly deceased wife (within the last 6 months), everything from her cancer treatments, to how he brushed her hair, to how they met, to almost every intimate detail I felt I didn’t want to know.  But I sat and nodded letting him know I was listening.  I ordered another glass of wine to help facilitate the rest of the date.  He was lonely. He was hurting.  He desperately missed his wife.  Bless his heart.   After a few hours, I was ready to head home with a call into my friend.

As we stood to leave, he was antsy before me begging to show me something.  I blinked blankly at him not sure what was coming next.  I timidly asked ‘you mean now?’  He fervently shook his head, and said it would mean the world to him to share this with me.  My mind raced as I agreed, I said I would follow him asking the destination.  He said it was a surprise.  :::gulp::::::  WARNING — WARNING WILL ROBINSON — arms flailing::::::

We drove away from Houstons, destination unkown to me — very unsure of what was to happen next and what would be revealed.  I tried to figure out what in the world this poor lost soul wanted so desperately to show me. A complete stranger.  As we neared the Capital and turned towards Oakland Cemetery — I was still very puzzled but happy to see my favorite cemetery.  It was summer so still plenty of light even after dinner.  We parked, groups of people milling around so I wasn’t too very alarmed.  I didn’t get a threatening feeling from him anyway (I have that you know — the gut feelings about people –  it’s that 6th sense).  We walked as he told me she was buried here.  Bing Bing Bing He wanted to share with me where she was buried.  Oh. My. Word.  Intrigued though, because of the cemetery love thing going on, I followed him to her grave site.  A stark white statue of a man and a woman.  He sat looking at her lovingly as he combed her hair.  It was a tribute to his wife.  Forever carved in marble.   Goodness.  To love someone so very much and to lose them.  Painful.  Been there done that myself.

Back to the present moment — as I recounted this story to my bff I had earlier met for coffee — she said after a moment — ‘sort of reminds me of the one you dated who liked to jump into open graves’.  Well now….that’s a whole other ball of wax.  You think?   Ahem.

2014

Secrety Society of Serendipity

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I love a quintessential mystery, especially when it involves a pleasing path or thought. And even MORE SO when it happens right in my own neighborhood.  A perfect pairing indeed.  ::::::turning cartwheels::::::::

Yesterday as I piddled thinking I had an extra 30 minutes before picking up my friend to venture out to celebrate Chinese New Year (we embrace all cultures especially if we love their food – ahem).   I received a text saying ‘On the porch awaiting my ride’ and realized I thought pickup was 11:30, when in actuality it was 11:00.  I dashed out the door (she only lives one house up but I hate to be late) pulled to the curb and walked up to get her (still some ice on the driveway from our recent Snowpocalypse here in Atlanta).    As I reached to open the door, a small white object caught my eye on the ground next to the bush.  And behold the MYSTERY begins.  :::::ominous music playing the background:::::::::  Chuckling at that — it’s a merry mystery not nefarious at all I assure you.   A small dustpan with two little white bunnies (dust bunnies -get it? – oh someone has a sense of humor here).  That alone being all cuteness and such, the card attached by rubber band is where the smile and twinkle in the eye enters like a dancing fairy.  It says ‘Secret Society of Serendipity’.  Serendipity is one of my very favorite words meaning – fortunous happiness or pleasant surprise.  Serendipity is also one of my all-time favorite romantic movies. ::::dreamy sigh:::::::  Well, this one constitutes both of those.  The back of the card reads ‘You make the world a better place and you are appreciated’.  Well heck — that’s pretty darn magical in my book.

We were heading out to celebrate Chinesee New Year and thus my research on finding out about this Secret Society would have to wait.  A Secret Society.  Hm………..

I did eventually arrive home, smiling from our adventures with Dim Sum — and could find nothing on the Secret Society of Serendipity much to my chagrin. Wah!  Secret Societies are just that – a secret.  Like the Masons or the Seven Society at University of Virginia.  All this of course brings up secret handshakes, secret meetings and well…the list could go on for a while.     

I love the idea, that someone, or some group, is spreading joy and cheer.  THAT is the magical part. :::::wiggling toes merrily::::::

p.s. We’ve tried to see if we can pinpoint who it might be? Then we realized we know many people who would do something so wonderful, and then the Serendipity hits us all over again.   :::::beaming:::::::::

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Yes it snowed —- and we crumbled. Snowpocalypse 2014

Slide1We live in the South for gosh sakes.  Not Maine or NYC or Ohio or Michigan or Canada — where they are accustomed to this kind of snow.  I mean my lordy, I just stopped wearing flip-flops not too long ago.  And then of course we do the appropriate thing that we do in the South – we panic, wiping out all milk, bread and wine (if you’re smart — always wine and now creamer because I’m just about out – YIKES!).  But we ARE resourceful.  In my case, I walked up to my neighbors house and we had ‘cocktail hour’ because just about the BEST thing we DO in the South is gracious hosting.  And snow is a reason to celebrate.  Actually we can pretty much celebrate practically anything.

I had ventured out yesterday for lunch with a friend at Souper Jenny in Buckhead.  I knew we had the ‘snow alert’ on but it was not snowing at the time so out I tottled along not really thinking much about it. On a side note Souper Jennys is FANTASTIC.  There was a line out the door.  As I got closer to town a few flakes began swirling magically  down from the pregnant sky but once again —  it was just a few flakes.  Snow is very magical to me.  I suppose because we don’t really live in snowy conditions like many of our northern friends it’s a mystery.  Thus we are in denial to a degree when it really starts to snow.  We begin thinking that perhaps it won’t ‘stick’.  Well it did.  And created in a frigid  icy snowy birth was SNOWPOCALYPSE 2014.   And yes, it was celebrated with wine and white cheddar popcorn at my neighbors house at the appropriate cocktail hour after 5pm.   I walked up the hill in a snowy whiter than white winter wonderland dressed in my furry snow boots, forgetting my gloves because I didn’t want to drop my newly purchased bottle of wine, cell phone to document my arctic journey, orange scarf and a parka.  I was equipped for anything — even polar bears.

After seeing the news this morning and hearing of friends stranded all night in cars and thankfully businesses like Home Depot and many others, including homeowners opening their doors to people who would otherwise be popsicles this morning —  the innate goodness of people I truly believe in.  And it shown through wonderfully in this ‘not’ hot Atlanta mess we have found ourselves in.  But do what we do best —- ‘What-ya’ll have to drink’ and ‘come on over — cocktail hour here in the South’.

For everyone who didn’t make it home — sending hope and that someone has helped you stay warm.  xoxo  1453275_10202308416903881_1146363728_n

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Quaint Coastal Ga Town – DARIEN

vfiles5813I’m an Atlanta native and I had never even HEARD of Darien Ga until a friend moved there.  This friend also happens to be a talented artist.  Hence the story begins of how I fell in love with a marsh town called Darien. 

‘Wherever you go — go with all your heart’ – Confucius

What I know about Darien — it’s a very close-knit community — an artist colony of sorts — an hour South of Savannah, just across the marsh to Brunswick and a stones throw (well — 20 mins) to Sea Island and St. Simons.  Depending on how fast you drive of course.

My last trip there to see friend Carly Hardy  to take a class in her Studio in Darien.  Carly moved there a few years back and I was intrigued. Now I’m just in love with the place.  It’s coastal Georgia but marsh — completely different feel.  Very laid back.  This last trip down Di and I headed out from Atlanta on a Friday in afternoon traffic but did not care in the least.  We chatted the entire way down with comfortable lulls because we’ve been BFF’s for over a decade now.  Heck I can undress in front of her without a care.  That’s a true friend. They can see you naked, still love you and then go shopping and have a cocktail all in the same day. ::::beaming::::::

We checked into The Darien Waterfront Inn —  owned and operated by a Connecticut transplant who is now a local.  A bed and breakfast facing the marsh —  and you can ask for your bacon extra crispy.  Which of course I did.  Ahem.  We got in around 9 something for that Friday and headed for wine and cheese at the local hang out (literally) Waterfront Wine Shop — with the bar area in the back.  This is also connected to another favorite Shops at 107 Broad owned by friend Michael (a transplant from Atlanta — getting the pattern here?).  Michael’s shop has some super cool things — also showcasing local artists.  We met Carly for drinks for about an hour, then I hit the wall energy wise and we toddled back to our room for sleep.  We had a 10am class the next day at Carly’s studio — we were both very eager to learn oil pastels.  I’ve got the painting bug.  I’ve many friends who are artists — I’ve always wanted to explore the medium — I’m more of a writer/photographer/designer of jewelry.  Painting should fit right into that – you think?  We nested back at the Waterfront Inn and down for the night – reading on our Ipads, checking email one last time, with Di calling her hubby and I checking with the Uncles about the pugs. :::::raising eyebrows up and down really fast::::::::

Morning came with the aroma of coffee brewing.  We had french toast and CRISPY bacon, coffee and good conversation.  Met two more people from Atlanta (now whom I consider friends as well) and off we ventured around the corner to Carly’s studio.  Cold January even on the marsh in coastal Ga!  Carly’s studio is magical.  The door is a brilliant sea foam green with the stone/shell exterior.  The 1944 at the top is not the address but the year the building was built.   The interior is a mixture of cypress and high windows letting light spill brightly into the room.   The space is then filled with canvas and art all over every wall.  Colors dance before your eyes.  I was very excited about the class knowing little about oil pastels.  They are much like crayons that you then mix with either water or mineral spirits based on what product you are using.  Carly is a great teacher and very patient with questions which were abundant.  I met many locals in the class many Atlanta transplants.  (pattern continues to grow —  hm……. :::::lifting left eyebrown and sipping coffee::::::::) We painted until noon then broke for lunch where we walked back past the Waterfront Inn to Skippers Fish Camp — another great local hangout and incredible food.  I had the cup of seafood stew (mouth watering remembering) and grilled shrimp (wah!). It was delightful.  Stuffed — we waddled back over to the studio for the 2nd half of our Saturday session.  I could have used a nap but ‘meh’ — I perked up with the class as we continued our exploration into more oil pastels and more art projects.  It was a very pleasing and rewarding afternoon.  We broke at 4pm  for more wine at the Waterfront Wine Bar (one can always sip wine and chat) — then headed to Clays Sapelo Station.  HOLY COW.  Incredible food!!! Just incredible!!!!  Di had the pecan crusted fish, I had Shrimp and grits, Carly had grilled fish.  OH! The sweet potato fries — TO DIE FOR.  Clay the owner (extremely friendly) visited with us a bit. And then yes — we headed back to the Waterfront Wine Bar (we  sound as if we drink like fish — well — do what the locals do is my excuse here — he he he) for a glass of wine or two, hear the local pediatrician and a friend play music.  It was completely delightful indeed.  I love the openness, friendliness and yes — people watching.   A night of singing, wiggling my toes merrily and in love with oil pastels.

Sunday aroma of coffee tickled our noses again and sweet potato pancakes with that ever loving CRISPY bacon.   We headed back to the studio to finish up some art and then Di and I plotted a path of stops back to Atlanta.  Just an FYI — great Goodwill in Savannah, and another wonderful Goodwill Emporium (search it just like that) in Macon.

Road trips with friends are so good for your creative spirit.  Just good period.  Enlightening and thought provoking conversation, friends and vino. Amen.

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The Geography of Loss by Patti Digh

1555484_10202265264905108_1859454410_nI had the most lovely experience last night.  A dear friend and neighbor (partners in glee are we) left the warmth of our homes to venture out into an unsually brisk windy and cold evening in Atlanta.  We headed to a book signing in Decatur at the library for Patti Digh who just released The Geography of Loss.   Our book club will be reading Life is a Verb in a month or so – which is another of her books.  I’ve been to book signings before and love to watch the people who attend as much as I enjoy listening to the author.

I was a bit hesitant about the book.  I mean, we’ve all had loss in our lives — but I don’t like to think about it, talk about it, read about it or explore it.  I’m an ostrich when it comes to the subject of loss.  Head in the sand immediately.  However —  I’ve sheepishly removed my head from said sand and listened to what Patti had to say about the subject.  And I’m very glad I did.  As I sat and listend to Patti read (she’s quite funny) with intervals of music (she brought a friend from Ashville, Adam Tanner– who played for us as well — very good I might add AND cute as a button – he had a dimple) tears began to fill my eyes at different intervals.  I’ve also learned that I can cry in public and don’t give a gosh darn who sees me or sometimes even hears me.  (no — I’m not crying all the time folks — just when a sensitive moment arises I may shed a tear or two — it is what it is – much to the mortification of my children especially at movies — ahem).    There were several familiar faces in the audience —  one in paticular was Laurie Foley.  She spoke of her ongoing battle with the dreaded C word (cancer).  I listened as tears fell down my cheeks.  Screw the mascara at this point.  I spoke to her afterwards and got home to realize we were already friends on FB.  Love social media.  Completely.  At the beginning of the signing, a lady in front of us with very short gray hair, lovely face struck up a conversation about our clothing (Anda and I both wore festive attire — I suppose because we feel festive a lot — Anda sported a lovely sparkly happy shaw – a Goodwill find; and I wore my treasured Kennebunkport thrift store find – a fur collared jacket).   I noticed during the event she fanned herself a lot and I wondered what she was going through.  Later during the Q & A session I found out she had terminal cancer.  I felt a surge of anger rise up in me.  She sat down next to me at one point and I reached over to give her a pat on her leg.  “I’m here for you” I wanted to scream —  instead I silently wished her well and wanted to banish all illness from her being.  I hate cancer.  I hate illness and dying and sadness and pain and anything associated with it.  I hate loss.  I sound whiny don’t I. ::shrugging:::::   However —  I suppose my point here is that everyone has something they are going through.  We all deal with it differently.  We process it however we are wired to do so.  I lost my husband to cancer after 3 months of marriage.  I have a friend whose father has been battling this illness — it breaks my heart — but there’s always hope — and a sense of grace from people I watched last night and with friends who I see going through this with family members. Or who have lost members of their tribe (i.e. friends/family).   Hope and grace.  Two wonderful words.

As we drove home from the event, warming our fingers in the heated vents – because it’s FREEZING in Atlanta, each of us lost in our own thoughts of the evening.  Warm in the car and in our friendship.  Learning and seeking always – which is what life is about.

*Georgia Center for the Book rocks!

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New Years Resolutions

new-years-resolutions (1)Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other. — Abraham Lincoln

When I was a little girl, I loved Mondays, the first day of school, and making New Years Resolutions!  Today, as an official adult (at least numerically, not exactly in mind at times) I still love Mondays and I love the act of making and plotting out my New Years Resolutions.

I met with a dear friend for our traditional end of year/Christmas meeting at Manual’s Tavern.  The purpose of this meeting is to of course catch up from our busy schedules, but also to review our year and see what was good and not so great.  What would we do differently if we had the chance.  Highlights?  Then we look forward.  We cover personal (fitness/health/relationships) and business goals, etc.

Many people set goals with the best of intentions in mind.  I find that the more specific you are, setting small goals, both quarterly and for the entire year, as well as monthly helps me stay focused and meet these goals.

I find it all very exciting.  :::::wiggling toes merrily:::::

You get the chance to make 2013 the BEST YEAR EVER!

Tomato Head – Knoxville — fun funky and incredibly good food

          A ‘Gigglefest‘ ensued this past weekend in Knoxville TN.   Home of UT Football, the song Rocky Top and all things seemingly orange.  Not everyone looks good in orange I would like to gently put out there…. ahem.
          I had the most lovely weekend visiting a dear friend. We giggled and chatted unending the first night staying up completely past my bedtime (which is very close to 9:30).  It was OK though…. it was a Gigglefest and for that I will stay up late – or at least give the appearance of being awake (this includes a lot of blinking and hair twirling).  Nestled in the lovely home of my friend I sleepily walked up the large wooden steps to the top loft and slipped into a wonderfully cozy bed.  A smile was present on my face for multiple reasons.  :::beaming:::::   the black lab (one of three) hopped up, did a few turns kneading her feet up and down to get her spot “just right” then plopped down to keep me company as I slept.  Which was rather quickly I might add.  I extended my right hand to do swirls in her thick black fur.  That didnt’ last long. How can one not sleep quickly and  well after several glasses of vino, erudite though giggled conversations, in an incredibly quilt covered bed with a black lab named Casey. Tell me.
          Of course I get up quite early (you wouldn’t know that but I do)……. but my dearest friend sleeps late – which most normal people do I’ve heard.   BUT…. getting up early means you’re alone and can do wonderful things like…. throw the ball for the labs into the lake, drink coffee and ponder the wonders of life — all in my pjs which is incredibly pleasing. Truly. The rest of the world slumbers as I watch events unfold that others miss.  There are many wonders to ponder of late which is quite lovely actually.  I listened for honks as geese flew in….I watched them bobble around then  off again they flew….their webbed feet and feathered underbellies quite magical to this gal.  I’ll pull my car over if I hear a non-vehicle related HONK.  Just to see the V come flying across the skies – a gaggle of geese sailing through the air.  Ahhh.  The beauty of nature never ceases to amaze me.
          We had planned to do Yoga this particularly sunny Saturday morning and visiting another dear Friend Patty Dougherty (Yoga master at large) at MoonPointe.  If you’re ever in the Knoxville area and want to take an incredibly stimulating and thought provoking Yoga class…..seek Patty.
          We were gladly hooking up after Yoga by another friend  who joined us at the open air market in downtown K’ville.  How lovely!  Foodies galore united!  Freshly baked bread, incredibly plump and colorful veggies, dogs galore! (note — a small black pug pup named Holy stole my HEART!).
          We had brunch at The Tomato Head which is what this article is really about (well…it was intended to be about the restaurant…truly).  Tomato Head was packed….. upon entering the door one had to walk sideways brushing up against others to get to the hostess stand.  We were hungry (starving from all that Yoga) thus we were happy to forge ahead.  An industrial type setting, with open kitchen.  A bright sunny space with large windows on one side.  We were much to my complete happiness (stomach grumbling) taken back fairly quickly (well…we WERE all in tights…that could have paid off here) where a server immediately took drink orders.  Point!  The menu was incredible…. We split a very tasty large spinach salad with something called ‘Benton’s Bacon‘ which is supposedly quite the sensation in Tennessee.   And what a pig…a fine tasty pig.  :::mouth still watering thinking about that bacon…what are they feeding those pigs? Santa Claus? Hm::::::::::::   I had the Zipolite (Organic black beans,cheese,fresh spinach,roasted Portobella mushrooms,topped with fresh tomato salsa & crema) which made my toes curl quite happily.   The food is fresh with interesting combinations.  And lots of it.  Heaping would come to mind.  For these three gals famished from being twisted like a pretzel earlier that morning, we were pleased…pleased….pleased.  I would like to mention Bliss— a funky little boutique beside Tomato Head….. interesting clothing and jewelry…. make a note to stop by.The rest of the weekend was spent in all that erudite conversation (amongst giggles of course), with double chocolate vodkasipped leisurely (ahem), and then another incredible dinner by my dearest friend that evening.  We were feeling quite the spoiled little princesses at that point.  Right girlie girls?        Sunday was coffee and more pondering waiting for dearest friend to awaken.  I didn’t mind at all…… more geese to be watched, more balls to be thrown, leaves to be cherished and bugs to be explored…. and I then headed home.  All is right with the world and then some.