Monday, March 23, 2015

Wine, Horses and More.

The weather as again afforded me time to catch up on this blog.  We had about a week or more of beautiful Spring weather....threes and shrubs were blooming and it looked beautiful.  It was amazing how quickly everything came out.  You could literally tell a difference in the fullness of the Bradford Pears from morning to night. Spring was bursting out all over.  Now, we have had three days of drizzle and rain and I want to hibernate again!!

March has been a busy month, and a lot of it has been fun.  Does this make anyone feel nostalgic??

Yes, I'm taking a wine making class!  I'd thought of doing it before, but I have no out-of-the-way place to store it in the house and the temperature of the garage fluctuates too much.  The Vintner's Club provides the space and supplies (for a price, of course) and it's very near my house.....all too tempting!   The class is offered through OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), with room for only seven students, two of whom didn't show.  The photos are from the first day.  The next Friday I went over and racked it from the bucket to a carboy. This Friday I (and anyone else who shows up) will degas it.  Next Friday we will rack it to another carboy and bottle it on April 24th.  I'm excited to see how it turns smells great!

On the afternoon of the wine making class, the Clydesdales came to town.  They were to appear in the Hilton Head and Savannah St Patrick's Day Parades and someone manage to get them to Bluffton.  They arrived in three, huge trucks, two for the horses and one for the carriage and the horses' bling.  They really are magnificent.  They were taken out of the trucks one at a time, groomed and harnessed.  They stood so patiently and the process was interesting to see.  It took a while to harness all eight, but finally they moved down the street and took a spin around town.  They even had a Dalmatian to ride on the wagon.  I thought, "if they have that little puppy that's in the ad, I'm going to cry!".  It was an enjoyable thing to do on a dull, dark day.

Other than that, I've been to see The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which was good. Even that was more exciting than usual!!  As we entered the theater, I noticed that it was hazy.  I didn't smell anything, but it was obviously hazy. We'd hardly gotten seated when they evacuated the whole building, and it was closed for the remainder of the day.  I heard there was an electrical short of some kind.  We tried again on Sunday and saw it with no problem.  

Chris, Ana and I continue our zentangle afternoons, which I really enjoy.  It was at my house last week and I knew I wouldn't have time to prepare very much, so the week before I cruised Kroger.  As I was passing the cheese counter, the  "Cheese Master" (whom I didn't know we had!)  asked if he could help. I told him I was having a few ladies over and he he said they could do a cheese tray......I could stop by and sample cheeses, make my selection and they would prepare it.  That was too good to pass up, so I returned on Tuesday and he helped me select some American cheeses.  He asked if I wanted a "theme" and since there was one I definitely wanted to include and it was American, I chose that as my theme.  Next time it will be English, then French, Dutch, etc.  I also sampled olives, pepperdews, etc.  It was great fun, which I couldn't wait to share with Chris and Ana.  You know I'm easily entertained when the high point of the day is a grocery store!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Jan's Visit

I've been trying to get to this for some time and today I'm stuck waiting for someone to come and measure a window that needs to be replaced.  It's the usual run-around - I called this AM to reconfirm that I'm on the schedule and hoped she could narrow down the time frame.  All I got was "after 1PM", which means all afternoon.  Anyway, it does give me time to get to this entry.

It seems that I've been busy, beginning with Jan's visit and even before.  The Friday before she arrived, I attend the monthly concert and the Unitarian Church, which was very good.  Saturday Chris and I got together for a leisurely, enjoyable lunch, which was a belated birthday treat. On Sunday night I went to a Velvet Caravan concert on island.  It was actually a private party.  Two ladies I know from the synagogue gave a party for a few hundred of their closest friends and the Caravan was the entertainment.  They are very good and I enjoyed seeing them again, as well as all the folks from the synagogue.  I always like that part of it.

Jan arrived on Tuesday, Feb. 24, and the following day we went to Charleston for two nights.  We stayed at the Meeting Street Inn, which was delightful.  The people there could not have been nicer.  Their parking was not by the hotel, so when we arrived I went inside to organize things while Jan remained in the car to let people know our parking was temporary.  By the time I got back with a porter to take the bags, the guy behind the counter had already booked lunch for us!!  They were that efficient and helpful. It was probably at that point that it turned into the Great Charleston Food Tour.  Jan especially wanted to eat at Husk (which, to be honest, I'd never hear of) and it was there that we had lunch reservations.  Jan had Shrimp and Grits while I asked about the two vegetarian items on the menu. The waiter advised that they had an off-menu vegetarian plate that they were quite proud of.  Well......they have every right to be proud!!  Rather than being a collection of the sides of the day, it was a real masterpiece, totally delicious, and more than I could eat.  It was wonderful!  We were so full that for dinner we settled for a light salad at 82 Queen.

It was from there that we walked home in the cold, whipping rain!!  There were a couple of cold, miserable days, but we carried on.  It tried to ruin our time but we knew better than to let it.  The Inn is well located to walk to all the major old town attractions and to peruse the beautiful old homes. Due to the weather, we did as much walking as we could but also did a city tour and drove around the area to see the houses. 

One afternoon was spent at Middleton Place, which I hope to see again in more cooperative weather.  Even so, it was a beautiful spot on the Ashley River.  We had a lunch in the style of Miss Edna Lewis (again, someone I'd never heard of but am glad to know!).  She popularized Southern cooking and improved it.  It was another delicious, filling meal, which we enjoyed before taking the house tour and walking the grounds a bit. I especially enjoyed the farm animals and there were people to tell us all about how the plantation functioned in past days.  Since there were not many people around, we got lots of their attention and enjoyed it all.

That evening we ate at Cru; again, arranged by our hotel.  We had to "settle for" the chef's table, which was the bar overlooking the kitchen.  It seated four and we immediately struck up conversation with the couple already there.  It turned out to be the best seat in the house.  We got to see how the kitchen worked, which was like a well oiled machine.  In the down moments, we asked questions and chatted with the staff......thoroughly enjoyable (and delicious!).  

In between all these delicious meals, our hotel had a very good and varied breakfast, as well as wine and cheese in the late afternoon. On our final morning we walked around a bit before heading to Hominy Grill for brunch.  So, we covered as much territory as we could before heading home.  Charleston is so picturesque and I've always loved that part of it, but I was totally blown away by the good food and friendly people.  It was totally spite of the weather.

Once home, the bad weather continued but we regrouped and carried on.  On Sunday I was wracking my brain to think of something to do on a crummy day and finally I said to Jan, "It's Sunday in the South and miserable weather....there is nothing to do!"  We did go to Palmetto Bluff for lunch before heading to the movies.  Between the two, we found the Secession Tree, which I'd heard about but had no idea where it was located.  With a little help for a lady walking her dog, we found it.

At the end of her visit, Jan treated me to a night in Savannah, along with her friend Sharon, who came up from Jacksonville.  Jan then spent a few days with her.  Our time in Savannah was blessed with better weather and Jan did see the sun before leaving this part of the country.  It was a pleasure meeting Sharon as she is another liberal and as much of a geek about it as I!!  I think we bored Jan!  Anyway, we had another good dinner at Garibaldi's.  It all came to an end too quickly but I was left with very good experiences and memories.

Below are the photos.  I was disappointed that I'd forgotten to take my camera to Charleston so this is my first effort with my cell phone!

I've done a few other fun things but will save them for another time, which I hope will come soon.  I did want to tell you that I'm now a published author of a magazine article....thanks to Tom and Eileen.  After the reunion in York (September) they asked if I'd write an article.  I did and sent it to them but didn't hear anything.....and I didn't ask, not wanting to put them in the position of telling me it was crap and couldn't be used.  Then one morning I got a text from Maggie in Cyprus saying that she'd received her Alaela Magazine and we were on the front and the article was inside!!  You can imagine my surprise and pleasure.  You can see it HERE.  My article is on page 15.

Here's also a clip Tom sent of the reunion, bringing back find memories.

 That's enough for now....more soon!