Week of February 28, 2011

Last week went as planned.  Paige got off after a terrific visit.  I lunched with the ladies twice which meant double the laughter. The pilot audition went as I had hoped and I picked up another audition for a Movie of the Week. I also finished a great book THE HELP by Kathleen Stockett.

I’m looking forward to the Oscars on Sunday. I predict a wild ride with the statues being
passed out to many instead of a few.

Our out of town friends Terry and Louise will join us for dinner and Oscar viewing.  Louise will then leave to stay with her friends and Terry will remain with us for three days before going to Mary Pat’s.

Depending on Terry’s plans for his visit I thought we’d go to the beach on Monday as Terry is from Minnesota where we know how their winter is going.  And he loves the water especially in Santa Monica where he once lived.

I think we’ll go to lunch in Beverly Hills.  Don’t know where but some place I haven’t been before. Then I’ll suggest the LA County Museum or the Natural History Museum. I’d also be happy to see a new film called OF GODS AND MEN.  We have lots to choose from.

I’m making curry chicken and vegetables over rice for dinner.  I’ll probably head off to the gym then while he reads, relaxes or watches the tube.

Tuesday is unplanned.  Basically I’ll work around any audition I have and do whatever we didn’t do on Monday.  That evening the three of us are meeting Louise and mutual friends Mickey and Shila for dinner at one of our new favorite places.  It is an old established steakhouse with an English ambience.

Nothing else on the books other than gym, office work, reunion work.  Finished my tax prep work last weekend.  Yay!

Terry will leave Wednesday. The only thing I have plasnned is going to the Doheny Mansion on Saturday evening to hear a Rossetti String Quartet.  My other friend Louise has asked me to be her guest.  How delightful.

In closing I wanted to tell you that the third season of Zeke and Luther premieres Monday, February 28 at 8p on Disney XD and DisneyXD.com ( www.disneyxd.com ). The new season finds the skateboarding duo as they receive professional sponsorship and work to remain true to who they are. New episodes of the series will be air Monday nights on Disney XD, and will be showcased via Disney XD on Demand, DisneyXD.com, Disney XD Mobile, Xbox Live and iTunes. Zeke and Luther is produced by Turtle Rock Productions. I have four episodes that will air over the coming months.  You can check the website for air dates.

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Henry Chan on March 1, 2011
I've just been watching the 3rd Rock reruns and loved your character in it! Just terrific!
Travel Notes on Georgia & South Carolina

February 4, 2011

Dear Mom,       

This week I celebrated the 16th anniversary of your passing.  How can it be when I feel you everyday in my life?

Our recent trip would have been one of your favorites as we went South, to Georgia and South Carolina.

Jeanne called in November to say she wanted to visit Christine in Alpharetta.  We’d done it together about 5 years ago when the boys were little.  Now they are 15, 13 & 10!

So we made a plan for January, thinking the weather would be a nice break from Jeanne’s Iowa tundra. It even occurred to me it would be perfect for Tom to join us.  After a four day visit with family we ‘d continue with a 7 day road trip.

The weeks leading up to our January 20 departure were nothing but snow and frigid temps in Atlanta and further South.  What was I thinking?  Hartsfield International was closed with over 1800 flights canceled.  And I’d gone and booked hotels and car rental on Hotwire, the you- pay- no-matter-what site.

Like the parting of the Red Sea on January 19 the skies cleared and the van shuttle picked us up at 5 AM.  Two big bags, 4 smaller bags, a cane and a wheelchair hit Atlanta at 3 PM.  Jeanne’s plane arrived minutes before so we easily rendezvoused as planned.

Off to Hertz and the news of a few sobering additional fees and we were on the road with our GPS heading north.

Christopher, John Michael & JD welcomed us as long lost family. Christine had our suite ready in virtually another wing of their place.  The house is enormous at about 8000 sq ft.

Before we knew it we were laughing, talking, meeting the three dogs (Tom was in heaven), prepping for a big turkey dinner.  Jim got back into town late at night so we didn’t see him until the next morning.

Friday was packed, just the way I like it.  Jeanne & Christine drove together as did Tom and me into Atlanta to see the Georgia Aquarium.  Mom, it is everything advertised and more.  Now we love our Long Beach Aquarium but I think they may have us beat on the Wow! Factor.

It has five major exhibits with 8 million gallons of water.  We did a self guided tour but they offer many other tours from behind the scenes to feeding the fish.  A terrific treat for all.

Adjacent is the World of Coca Cola.  Tom had originally planned to leave before this next stop but his wheelchair preserved his strength and pain was at a minimum.  We were amazed how much we enjoyed it. Highlight was there Taste It! Exhibit where you get to sample any of the over 200 various drinks produced by Coca Cola for 60 countries around the globe.  Some were really hideous which makes you love Coke even more.

Bob Murdy had to cancel his lunch with us as his Mom was having a bad day. A disappointment for all but completely understandable.

Tom drove back to Christine’s for a nap while I joined the others car before going to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. This was really a highlight for me. I loved visiting his birthplace, learning about his parents, in-laws and daily life for the King family. Quite remarkable.  You get the feeling that they held themselves to a higher standard than the rest of the copuntry. I imagine the social climate made the decision for them although they may have been heavily influenced by his grandmother’s Victorian upbringing.

On the way home we picked up pizzas and cake to celebrate John Michael’s birthday.  Turns out we had to do it without him as we got back after he had to leave for his grade school performance of OKLAHOMA. We manage to hold off on the cake until his return.  In the meantime, Christine painted a huge birthday banner to post in the great room.

Saturday was full.  Tom stayed in bed while the other adults headed to Jim & Christine’s summer house.  Only 20 minutes away their slice of heaven is nestled in the woods on a large lake.  We’re already making plans to return for an extended stay.

Back by 11 to take JD to his basketball game while Chris and his broken thumb attended his basketball practice.  He goes to all the games and works out but can’t play for several more weeks.

Jeanne and I took a 4 mile hike upon our return.  Got in lots of girl talk. Then it was another fabulous dinner, a chicken caesar salad (got the recipe) before heading out to see OKLAHOMA done by 6th, 7th and 8th graders.  I’m telling you they had 150 kids on that stage for the big numbers, and everyone of them had one or two parents and extended family in attendance.

They managed a flawless 50 minute version, with marvelous costumes, good sets, adequate lighting and even a few good voices.  I actually found it inspirational.

Mass was at 9 AM after which we had breakfast before heading out.  Our visit with the family just flew.  We sure don’t want to wait another 5 years before returning.

A very pleasant five hours away was Savannah. We loved our Doubletree room.  Very well appointed with a perfect location on West Bay Street.  It’s near the water and also a brief distance from the Central Market. Had a fabulous dinner at Belford’s.  Tom loved his crab cakes and I my eggplant entre. 

The next day we took the Old Savannah Historic On and Off Tour.  We did the whole 90 minute tour once and took notes on where we wanted to get off on the second loop. 

The city was founded in 1733 by British General Oglethorpe. He very wisely built the new settlement on a bluff over the Savannah River.  The blueprint called for homes and businesses to be built around a series of public squares.  Twenty-two of the original 24 remain and they are gorgeous.  Spanish moss trees abound, endless historical homes and commercial enterprises line every square.  It absolutely oozes charm.

Of course I am speaking of the Historical Center of Savannah.  We never went beyond that as it held our attend during our brief stay.

We did see the Cathedral of St John th Baptist which had just undergone a multi million dollar renovation.  Breathtaking. 

After lunch at Paul Deen’s Lady & Sons (yes, we had to go) Tom went back to rest while I continued on a fairly exhaustive self-guided tour.  I saw so many fabulous homes, a hat collection dating from 1860 to 1960, galleries, shops, etc.

We dined at The Old Pink House, a true Savannah landmark which did not disappoint.  Our friend David Hoffman told us about their BLT Salad with Fried Green Tomatoes.  I’m telling you Mom, it alone is worth the trip to Savannah.  Oh my goodness. And the rest of the food was outstanding.

January 25 we drove to Hilton Head to see what all the fuss is about.  Turns out it is a lovely island about 12 by 5 miles wide with unpolluted waters and wildlife and waterfowl habitats.  It had a very New England feel.  It’s been occupied for over 3800 years but only became a year round resort in 1956 when they built a road to the mainland.  Golf is huge, tennis, horseback riding, bicycling, etc.  At Christine’s suggestion we went into the Sea Pines area to eat at the Salty Dog.  Good eats.  Best hush puppies ever and the fish & chips ranks with England’s.

After a few hours we pressed on to Charleston ending up at another hotel we enjoyed, the Hampton Suites.  Again perfect location on Meeting Street, across from the Tourist Center, Art museum and the Joseph Manigualt House which I managed to see the night before we left.

The first day we decided to visit Drayton Hall, the oldest preserved plantation house in America open to the public.  Both Tom and I had seen other plantations in VA and LA, fully restored and furnished.  What was so appealing about Drayton is that it is the only authentic survivor of the Ashley Rover’s colonial past-intact and in near-original condition.  There isn’t a stick of furniture. The tour guide took you through each room and hidden servants stairwells and you began to imagine life in that Palladian-inspired mansion with its undisturbed, historic landscape.  I actually enjoyed it more than any other plantation I have ever seen.  You could feel the heartbeat of the place.

That night we dined at the Peninsula Grill a restaurant I’d heard about some 18 months earlier.  This meal turned out to be our favorite of the entire trip.  Charcuterie appetizer, simple chicken entre for me, and peppered steak for Tom.  Absolutely exquisite as was the gorgeous, perfectly round loaf of warm sourdough bread. We ended it with it’s world fabulous 12 layer coconut cake.  Twelve layers and 12 pounds, making each piece 16 ounces.  I could spend a lot of time describing this experience but it would appear unseemly.

Friday we took the all inclusive 5 hour tour starting with a 90 minute stop at Fort Sumter. It can only be reached by boat as it is a small island built by our government as a coastal fortification after the War of 1812.  First shot of the Civil War took place there in 1861.  The fascinating museum in this National Monument  should be mandatory for every American.

Then we took a 2.5 hour bus tour of the huge historic center.  There are so many historic homes, corners, streets, markets, churches that it is impossible to see it all in such a short visit.  What we got is a taste, and a delicious one at that.

Of all the things we did what we loved the most was being together and getting lots of sleep.  As you know Tom needs it but I usually run on a shorter supply.  Truth is, and well you know it, I need more but rarely get it.  Well I did on this trip.  I was truly astounded how much I slept.  Tom tells me I have no idea how much I need it until we step away from our lives.  He’s right.    I don’t know how I’m going to do it but I intend to make a concentrated effort to get more sleep without having to leave the city to do it.

Saturday we headed back to Atlanta this time staying at the Hyatt Regency in downtown.  Another surprise hotel.  The place is ginormous, with 1290 rooms!  We were in the International wing built in 1986 while the original, and first Hyatt ever built went up in 1965.  Our room was very modern, even Zen-like.  We loved it.

The restaurant was excellent so we went no further than the first floor.

I did attend Mass at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, just a 7 minute walk away.  Tom didn’t feel up to going which is why we decided to pass on the CNN tour Sunday morning.  He just need to stay horizontal.

The return flight was uneventful as was the van ride home.  And because the Hampton Inn gave us free Internet use we didn’t come back to hundreds of emails.  Only took two days to get all mail squared away.

A terrific time, Mom.  A trip you would have loved.

A few more jaunts planned this year: Minneapolis/Mankato in April, then again for the reunion in June.  A Study Tour to Honduras with Heifer in July. St. Louis in October for a Viz event and Palm Beach later that month for a wedding.  Other than that, I’ll be home.

Love you,

Marianne


 

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