Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Regret to Announce This is the End...

...of regular posts on this blog. Before you choke on your sandwich or splutter in your mid afternoon coffee, let me explain. I'm disappearing off the face of the planet! I've just realized the posts on this blog would fit on my other two. Traveling, site seeing, indulgences in places and things I wish to visit and explore: this all fits in with my blog Lessons in the Art of Slow. I also travel for research for my books, articles, and stories as well as long for journeys to the lives of some of my favorite authors. These trips would fit snugly amongst my banter and blathering about writing on Woolgatherings. As for the rest? Well, they'll fit in here and there, don't you worry. So chin up! I'm still here. Just not...here! Wander over, follow along if you're not already. But for heaven sakes, don't stage a coup and stop reading! I love you too much for that :)


*This blog will remain up for archival purposes, just in case you were wondering :)
(image found here)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Broadening Horizons from a Wandering Muse

"There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign."
~Robert Louis Stevenson

I apologize for the lack of post on Friday. The day got away from me! I sincerely hope you forgive me and I shall do my best to make up for it by combining today's regular post with Friday's continuing study of Halloween.

Christianity and Halloween
(a brief overview)

As mentioned previously, Halloween stems from ancient pagan rituals of the Celtic lands. Connected to nature in a way we of modern society can not fully grasp, the Celts saw the divine in their everyday life. There was no separation between man and god, only in power. The gods of the Celts walked the earth and one never knew when they may come across a higher power. If you read their mythology, you'll see many instances where an average human was befriended or tempted by a god or goddess without knowing who was doing the tempting. I'm sure their respect for strangers was much higher than ours today! All Hallow's Eve marked the end of the Celtic year. It was the night they believed the spirits walked the earth with them. The Celtic other world is shrouded in myth and mystery. Where the god may have walked with them, the spirits kept to their own lands. But on All Hallow's Eve anything was possible. The veil between this world and the next was parted. The ghosts of those long passed once again took up form and walked the dusty streets and dark forests. The fairy folk (or the Sidhe in Celtic myth) were known for prank playing on humans but were worse on this night than any other.

Samhain (pronounced SOW-wan) was the name for this end of year celebration. The Celts honored their dead ancestors on this night and began offering food and drink to the spirits to keep them appeased and to prevent them from cursing them or doing other nasty deeds to the people and animals of a household.

When Christianity came to Ireland, the church was wise enough to take the Celtic traditions and give them a new twist, instead of immediately rushing in and condeming what they'd been doing for thousands of years. Instead, they were encouraged to honor the saints and to pray for the souls in purgatory. Samhain became All Hallow's Eve, followed by All Saint's Day on November 01, the Celtic New Year. Old traditions die hard and it was still customary to put out food and treats for the departed at the end of Summer. Children discovered they could get free food and would demand it from those who did not put any out, saying what children today say when they rap on your door, "Trick or Treat!". Of course, no one wanted a trick, so they appeased these little ghouls by giving them food and drink and sending them on their way. Costumes came by the need to confuse the evil spirits that the church said walked the land on this night. The Celts believed both benign and evil spirits could be found in nature and there remained a need to confuse them on All Hallow's Eve. Children and adults would dress up to disguise their true nature so the evil spirits would not follow them home and bring them harm.

The following is one of the best overviews of Halloween in light of Christian culture. The entire Halloween article, along with this excerpt, is found here.

In North America, Christian attitudes towards Halloween are quite diverse. In the Anglican Church, some dioceses have chosen to emphasize the Christian traditions of All Saints’ Day, while some other Protestants celebrate the holiday as Reformation Day, a day of remembrance and prayers for unity. Celtic Christians may have Samhain services that focus on the cultural aspects of the holiday, in the belief that many ancient Celtic customs are "incompatible with the new Christian religion. Christianity embraced the Celtic notions of family, community, the bond among all people, and respect for the dead. Throughout the centuries, pagan and Christian beliefs intertwine in a gallimaufry (hodgepodge) of celebrations from October 31 through November 5, all of which appear both to challenge the ascendancy of the dark and to revel in its mystery."

Many Christians ascribe no negative significance to Halloween, treating it as a purely secular holiday devoted to celebrating "imaginary spooks" and handing out candy. Halloween celebrations are common among Roman Catholic parochial schools throughout North America and in Ireland. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church sees Halloween as having a Christian connection. Father Gabriele Amorth, a Vatican-appointed exorcist in Rome, has said, "[I]f English and American children like to dress up as witches and devils on one night of the year that is not a problem. If it is just a game, there is no harm in that." Most Christians hold the view that the tradition is far from being "satanic" in origin or practice and that it holds no threat to the spiritual lives of children: being taught about death and mortality, and the ways of the Celtic ancestors actually being a valuable life lesson and a part of many of their parishioners' heritage.

There are, of course, those who hold Halloween as a harmful holiday and have nothing to do with it. That's fine. I think you should do what you feel is best for your family and yourself. However, I do not advocate people condemning others for participating in festivities they deem unworthy, unfit, or evil. The sooner we all learn to respect each other's personal beliefs and preferences, the better off we'll all be. We're here to love each other, not to judge! I for one enjoy Halloween. I was brought up going trick or treating (at church no less!) and feel it is a wonderful night for imagination and revelry. Besides, it's the one day out of the year I can be anything or anyone I want to be an no one looks at me like I'm a freak :)

Happy Monday and enjoy the season, however you see fit to celebrate!
(image found here)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Georgia's Islands

I'm feeling the need to head to the beach. Any one up for a road trip? My dream is to (again) live on the coast. Until then, however, I'm thankful I live only a few hours away from the Atlantic Ocean. Now if I could just get my job to let me off for sanity's sake!
Most people don't think "islands" when they think of Georgia. Peaches, "Gone With the Wind", Sweet Tea, yes, but not islands. But we Georgians know. We know what lies just south of Savannah. There's a stretch called the Golden Isles. I've only been twice, but I remember their beauty and slow pace of living matched Savannah and yet were worlds unto themselves.

I worked with a veterinarian from Brunswick. She talked lovingly about growing up in the small town on the coast, the beautiful architecture and quiet beaches. James Oglethorpe laid out her city plan in 1771 along the lines of the squares and streets he created in Savannah. Brunswick promises to be a feast for the history lover, filled with old manors, moss covered oaks and restoration projects much like her big sister. Antique shops, art galleries, bookstores and more beckon the shopper while seafood can be found around every corner and under most restaurant signs. Soak up the atmosphere in an historic Inn or B&B or soak up the sun on the beach. I can think of nothing better than sitting in the sand with a good book, listening the the mighty Atlantic as she taps the beach on the shoulder. If you're looking for festivals, you're in luck! Brunswick seems to have something going on all year round (and if it's like Savannah, there are more festivities than they ever publish on their website. You just have to wander down and find them!) Brunswick was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and the Historic Preservation Board works tirelessly at keeping her looking pristine and making sure those who have an interest in downtown properties adhere to strict codes to keep the city looking it's best. I'd like to know more about this city. I think a road trip is in order!

Now here's a place that beckons to me. Numerous times I've attempted to join an excursion to Cumberland Island, but every time they fell through. Not one to believe in chance, I'm going to say it just hasn't been the right time for me to wander the deserted beaches and explore the inner mysteries of this uninhabited island. No vehicles are allowed on the island and reservations for the ferry fill up fast! If you're looking to go in the fall, I'd book passage in early summer, just to be on the safe side. The ferry runs twice a day only so keep on your toes if you go (unless you want to be left behind!). You can opt to camp on the beach, camp inland or stay at the gorgeous Greyfield House Inn. The Inn is reputed to be haunted, but, then again, no self respecting Southern manor would be without a ghost or two in it's possession ;) Wild horses roam free on the beaches and further inland you can find ruins of an old settlement and few crocodiles if you're up for the adventure. This National Seashore is at the top of my list of places to visit. Now if I could just get that ferry boat ride penciled in!

St. Marys is the gateway to Cumberland Island, meaning if you want to go there, you have to go through St. Marys. St. Marys sits on the St. Marys' River and offers access to both Cumberland Island and Amelia Island, FL. She sits on the Georgia/Florida state line and if you're up for a wee drive, head on down i-95 a bit further to Jacksonville, Florida or a little bit longer for historic St. Augustine. Honestly, this place looks like a dream! The Inns look like estate homes, the marina is filled with yachts and sail boats. I could definitely get lost here and refuse to be found!There are museums and trolley tours, and 45 minutes away is the Okeefenokee Swamp. Ghost tours, scuba diving, sky diving...St. Marys has it all in a unique, small southern coastal town setting. And deep sea fishing. I can't forget about that. Something I've always wanted to do. The events calender is filled with festivals and things to do. I remember that about Savannah. If you live in a tourist destination, you will never be bored unless you choose to be! As for the shopping and the dinning and the additional links...well, you'll just have to check out St. Marys website for yourself. Whew!

On down we go to St. Simon's Island. I can speak personally for this vacation destination, having visited with my parents several years ago. It's beautiful. Even on a rainy, grey, chilly autumn day it's beautiful. The seafood is fresh and the crab cakes melt in your mouth. The beach is reminiscent of Tybee Island: grey sand, grey surf, grey gulls. Moody. It seems the towns of Coastal Georgia are reminiscent of each other. Small shops, friendly residents, antiques and quirky gifts, local sea food and more than enough local color. I've half a mind to pack up the car and cruise down to scope each and every one of these towns myself, taking note of similarities and differences. That would make for a much more interesting post! I do adore first hand accounts. However, I must live vicariously through the Internet for now. Hopefully, I haven't lost you! :)

Last on our trek among the Golden Beaches of the South is Jekyll Island. The only time I went there was on a lark as a child. My parents, aunts and uncles decided to pack up the kids and scoot on down to the beach for the. We packed into one hotel room and stayed the night, enjoying laughs and sun and salty air. I remember my cousin Jason saying he wasn't tired and would prop his eye lids open with toothpicks if he had to. My father getting pinched on the toe by a crab and my cousin and I rushing after him afraid we, too, were in for a pinching. Judging from the pictures I'm seeing, I don't remember much of anything about the actual place. A paradise it seems, a past retreat for the rich and elite. Golf is a mainstay there and if you or someone you know enjoys putting around the green, I've heard the courses there are wonderful!

One final mention: this website has a ton of information on Coastal Georgia, far more than I could post here. If you're interested, wander over. There's much more to see and do than even I was aware!

Happy Trails!
(image of Jekyll Island found here)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wandering Muse

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." ~ Saint Augustine

(image of St. Augustine found here)

Not much for rambling this weekend. It was nice and easy both Saturday and Sunday. As much as I love a good ramble, I also enjoy down time. Time to relax, prop my feet up, enjoy a Popsicle, a conversation. Master Colby really enjoyed all the extra attention I was able to give him (many, MANY belly rubs came about as a result of my being there almost all day Saturday).

My mom came down for the afternoon Saturday and we walked over to the antique store that graces our little Main Street, aptly called East Main Collectibles. I have a hard time going into an antique shop and leaving empty handed. I found some really interesting hinges which will be transformed into necklaces, a tea cup for a craft experiment I have, and two Victoria Magazine issues!

I'm addicted to Victoria Magazine more so than (almost) any other magazine I read. I remember when it first came out in the late '80s. Then, sadly, she went away, leaving an awful void in my leisure time and a gaping black hole where loveliness used to reside on the newsstand.

Joy of joys, the magazine I love returned, going on three years ago, and it's as good as if it had never left. I still love the old issues and collect them when I can. I had a hard time passing up on all of them, but I was able to pick up an issue from the 1995, the year I graduated (whoops! I just dated myself, didn't I :). It's also the year my favorite author was their "Writer in Residence". I am an avid reader of anything Madeleine L'Engle. Knowing she was published in my favorite magazine, knowing I Have that magazine, near mint condition in lovely plastic casing sitting on my kitchen bar makes me long for a cup of tea, my couch, and an hour of uninterrupted time. Alas, I am at work this morning, but it makes looking forward to my time off that much sweeter!

Sunday was a lazy day also. We lounged around until about noon and then went to Barnes and Noble where I indulged in another magazine addiction of mine: British Country Living. O to step into the pages of that magazine! I would gladly shuffle off and not return! Perhaps I'll take a trip this evening into those lovely, pastoral scenes and lazily wander down memory lane with that old Victoria issue. Now that's my idea of rainy night wandering!

Hope your weekends were good ones!

Cheers and happy Monday!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Broadening Horizons

On Fridays I get to play. I get to romp through the cultural wonders which drove me to a history major and still prompt me to anthropological leanings in every aspect of my life. I want to know the whys behind what people do, what they eat, the way they dress. Perhaps one day I'll finish that darn degree and actually get paid to muse over such ponderings. For now, I'll frolic through blog land, every watchful for a new, enticing tidbit I can carry back and about which I can post.

Considering it's October, I thought I'd start us off with a look back at Halloween. This mysterious holiday is shrouded in ancient customs and modern interpretations. It is the first major holiday in the autumn season, and is trumpeted in with a parade of lanterns, pumpkins, and wee ghosties, pirates and faeries. At the turning of the first leaf or hinting of the first frost, people begin anticipating the shift in the seasons. Halloween is a rite of passage for fall. The leaves are at their peak performance and everywhere, from produce stand to grocer's display, is bedazzled with pumpkins, gourds, corn, black cats, ravens and candy. Halloween paints a picture in rich textures of velvet, tweed, flannel, fleece, organdy and silk. Her colors are dark chocolate, cinnamon spiced pumpkin and golden delicious apple. Just thinking about it makes my mouth and senses water!

Children (and some adults, like myself) look forward to this time when the veil between reality and make believe is lifted. For one night out of the year, the impossible is possible and anyone can be anything they wish. And the festivals! Fall festivals, harvest festivals, Halloween and hallelujah! What a wonderful way to herald in the colder months: bonfires and barn dancing, bobbing for apples and rich cider, chatting with a friend disguised as an eighteenth century villain.

Halloween is a lesson in change. The first Halloween was actually celebrated as the Celtic New Year festival of Samhain (pronounced SOW-ain). On this night, the Celts would gather around a large bonfire to celebrate the harvest and pay homage to the passing year. They would dance, drink and feast late into the night. Sadly, pagan sacrifices were made to appease the gods of the Celts and Samhain took on a hostile air. However, we must remember that these people were a fierce people with fierce beliefs. They celebrated with riotous parties: the only way they knew how to do anything was with unbridled passion.

After Christianity was brought to Ireland, the Celtic beliefs of Samhain were changed into a Christian holiday to honor the departed Saints. it became known as All Hallows Eve, and the spirits of the dearly departed were honored with feasting. Some of the old Celtic beliefs still clung to many parts of the Old Country. The Celts were very aware of the spiritual realm and didn't want to anger any harmful spirits nor did they want to invite them into their homes. SO, when places were set at tables in honor of the deceased, food and treats were placed on doorsteps to appease any harmful spirits that may pass by. The belief was that the spirits would take the food on the steps and have no need to enter the home. People would wear costumes as they went out and about after dark to confuse any harmful spirits who may wish to follow them home.
Pretty soon, people realized that they could get treats and food by taking it from the steps of those homes who put food out for the spirits. Before long, children were playing pranks on people who did not put treats out, acting as mischievous sprites and taking only treats or food as a "bribe" for not preforming any pranks. As you are sure to have guessed, that's where the traditional "Trick or Treat" originated!

Next week, I'll delve a bit deeper into the Celtic tradition of Samhain and how the changes brought about by Christianity to the British Isles.

Have a happy weekend and if you get a chance, stop by my blog Lessons in the Art of Slow for some great ideas for some Autumn goodies!

(photo link)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Globe Trotting

I have an insatiable case of wanderlust. Unfortunately, I'm not able to indulge in it as often as I would like. This blog, however, has offered me the chance to vicariously travel wherever I wish, as long as I wish. I'm going to start using Wednesdays (or Thursdays, as this week's case is) to do just that! I thought I'd start with a place I'm familiar with and branch out from there: the Coastal South. I have lived in Georgia my entire life and spent two glorious years living in Savannah. What better way to kick off a new blog series than to talk about a place I hold dearly to my heart?

Horse hooves clack around squares at a leisurely pace, pulling buggies filled with tourists, newly weds, and eager children leaning over the sides to touch the wheels. Church bells peal as a salty breeze plays tag with the Spanish moss hanging like beards on the great oaks. Cobblestone streets prove an interesting challenged to heeled women and you're bound to see one or two laughing at their clumsiness and failure to inquire as to the proper shoes to wear while strolling River Street. This is Savannah, Georgia's Southern Belle. Founded in 1733 by James Edward Oglethorpe, her 22 squares are filled with history. Each one a miniature town complete with bed and breakfast, quaint shops, and a church or two. The closer you get to the river front, the busier it gets, exploding into a riot of color and culture at Broughton Street where you'll find shops to tempt every taste, budget and discerning palate. River Street boasts more restaurants and shops then you can shake a stick at and no trip is complete without a half hour wander through River Street Sweets to fill up a bag with old fashioned goodies, fudge, and salt water taffy.

Just 15 minutes outside of the Historic District is Tybee Island. A beautiful seaside retreat, Tybee has one end devoted to the tourist's general love of souvenir shopping, night life, and sun bathing. At the other end, the North Beach beckons those who are aware of her secrets a quieter get away. Under the watchful eye of the lighthouse, one will find respite for body and soul. Dolphins play just beyond the breakers and, more often than not, the sea is calm enough to swim and float to your heart's content. Sand dollars wash up at random, jelly fish find themselves stranded, and giant horseshoe crabs deposit their otherworldly bodies upon the grey sands. Grey sand, grey water. Tybee is definitely not a Caribbean destination or a surfer's paradise. If you're looking for a reflective stroll, quiet shell collecting, or a game of bocce ball at sunset with a glass of wine and a few good friends, Tybee is the place for you. On the South End there's the pier and all manner of restaurants and shops to hunt through. It gets a bit crowded down there on the weekends and during summer break, but don't let that dissuade you. If you want to party with the locals and the frequent vacationers, it's the place to be. If you want to see the stars, the North Beach is more your speed.

The people in Savannah know hospitality. They will feed you until you pop and do not understand the phrase, "No thanks, I'm not hungry." They'll serve you coffee and dessert, sweet red wine and last night's left overs. They are a genteel people, raised in the old ways of manners. They are fiercely proud of their heritage and most never leave Savannah's oak limbed arms. Those who do aren't gone for long and return to set up camp permanently. There are antebellum mansions, trendy lofts, beach side cottages, apartments, 1960's bungalows, just about any type of housing you can possibly think of. If you're looking for a place to relocate that tends to have a slower pace, there's a new home just begging to take you in.

Being outside is important to me and Savannah is the only place I was free to roam and discover the outdoors until my heart and soul though they may burst! Forsyth Park stretches for acres with the famous fountain at it's center. There are always joggers, walkers, dogs playing Frisbee and art students filming projects and shooting high fashion assignments. In the summer, spread out a blanket and bring a picnic for Shakespeare in the Park. The Savannah College of Art and Design puts on a sidewalk art festival (which is even worth going to if it rains!) and honestly you never know what you'll find going on at the park! Just behind the park, across from the tennis courts, is a natural food store (Brighter Day) and a local coffee house (The Sentient Bean). Both are definitely worth the visit.

I could go on and on about Savannah, but I won't. I'll let you discover her for yourself! Peruse these links, get to know this gem of a city and if you ever get down this way, stop in and pay her a visit. Just make sure you save me a seat at The Lady!

Happy Fall, Y'all

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Sorry about the post delay, but I'm going to have to post on Thursday as opposed to Wednesday! Where did the time go?


Monday, October 5, 2009

Welcome Back!

I'm not sure if that title's more for my readers or for myself :) I know, I haven't been the most diligent of blog posters, but that, dear readers, is bound to change! My two week, self imposed blog sabbatical has done me a world of good, and I'm itching to get into the habit of regular updates and random adventures. I hope you are all well and dry (in the case of my fellow Georgians). I'm geared up for a new posting schedule and hope to make this blog a happy place to frequent.

My personal wanderings have been kept to a minimum as I've been concentrating my efforts on getting our new loft in order, as well as introducing a new member to our family. He's a handsome four year old named Colby and we brought him home from the adoption "agency" this past Saturday.

We've kept a lot to the Manor, acquainting ourselves with it's creaks and groans and quirks. We've ambled down the streets of our quaint town, marveling at the smallness of the world, the bigness of life, and how nice it is to walk down the street to a fall festival, a car show, a chili cook off, and get free ice cream on a Saturday morning.

I got a lot of brainstorming done for stories and blog postings while I was "away". All of my blogs have undergone an extreme makeover and I hope you'll wander over and check them out. The links are on my side bar. Visit as often as you like and let me know what you think!

I hope you've all had happy travels since I've been away. Be it a trip around the world, or a trip around the corner, there's always something to discover. I've gathered quite a bit of "journeys" for us to take together and I do hope you'll join me as often as your schedule allows. Look for more frequent posts and pictures! Have a wonderful week! I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday.

Journey on,

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness." ~Mark Twain

PS: I thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for your patience while I've updated and pruned this blog. I hope you find it (and my others) to your liking! Cheers!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pause and Reflect

I know, it's not like I've been this diligent poster or anything, but I will be taking a mini blog-cation for the next two weeks. It's time to re-think my blogs and what it is I'm doing with them, where I want them to go, what I want them to communicate. I appreciate your patience and I do hope to see you here again, bright and early on Monday 05 October when I plan to be back in action, better than ever! You'll still see me around, though. I'll be reading and commenting so never fear. I won't be too far away!

Have a safe, blessed, and happy two weeks!!

Until October,

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Got to be some changes made...

Hey guys! I know...it's been a LONG time since I've posted on this blog. I've been rather busy and I haven't exactly had time to seek out adventure. However, that will soon change.
My husband and I are moving this weekend. That in and of itself is an adventure! In regards to this blog, however, I plan to begin a posting schedule on September 1 which will keep me updating on a daily basis. I hope you all stick around for this and please, pass this link onto your traveling friends!

Here's to a wild ride,

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Maison de Mon Coeur (Home of My Heart)

I apologize, dear reader, for the delay of this post. I got over zealous in cleaning the bathroom last night and was, quite frankly, pooped! Pardon the pun.
A short sojourn to Savannah, GA
July 2009

I love the Atlantic Ocean. The grey, tempestuous waters are unruly even at the best of times. She's never the same sea twice. Spend a mere hour on her shores and you are guaranteed a thousand and one visions of a shifting tide, an ever changing beach.

In my humble opinion, one of the most fabulous shops in the known universe. The Paris Market and Brocante houses a menagerie of antique furniture, exquisite candles, soaps, old type setting letters, posters of ancient biology texts, and myriad other marvelous and quirky findings. Most, if not all from France, need I add?

This little fellow paused just long enough for me to take his photograph. Most of his brethren weren't nearly so kind.

On the North Beach of Tybee Island there's a rock out cropping that stretches at least fifty feet into the sea. Fishermen set up their rods around them, some even brave walking the barnacle crusted rocks to stand on the very tip to cast their lines. One year, Jon and I heard a huge commotion as we were ambling along. We rushed to the rocks and found a fisherman had landed a six foot shark! We got to watch him wrestle it to shore and then set the beast free.
Yep, that's me! The one with the beard is my husband. The wind was blowing so hard that day, the loose sand would wash across the compacted sand like an eerie fog out of a horror movie. Not to mention it wreaked havoc on my hair (and Jon's beard for that matter!)

The rustling symphony of sea oats played against a backdrop of pounding surf. Ahhh...sweet music to my ears.

The road goes ever on and on...

That's the Tybee Lighthouse. I climbed it once. I think I lost count on the stairs somewhere around 150...

That, ladies and gentlemen, would be my dream home...er...castle. That's just a sampling of the gorgeous homes that pepper the landscape. If you're in the market for a lovely old home, look no further than Savannah, GA.

There's a quaint little market at the end of River Street that makes you feel as though you stumbled through a porthole and into a world bazaar. The courtyard was deserted except for these happy little pigeons, feasting greedily on bread thrown to them from the employee of a tour booth. We purchased frozen lemonade and perused the stalls, looking at bags like the ones I found in India, and moss covered wire garden animals!

This concludes our tour of Savannah, GA. I hope you have enjoyed your visit. We hope to see you again, real soon!

Au revoir!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stay Tuned...

...the trip to Savannah is on it's way!
I do hope it's worth the wait :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Cure for the Common Life

Sadly, I did not come up with this witty title. I could have titled this entry "Journey to the Center of Your Self", however I thought I'd leave the witticisms to a genius. Full credit goes to Max Lucado for that is the title of his book which I am now reading. The Cure for the Common Life is perhaps the best book I've ever read concerning finding your purpose in life and going after it with your whole heart. My calling and passion are two things I've been searching for since I was a little girl. Funny, but after reading this book, I've always known what I was born to do. I firmly believe we are wisest when we are children. Life has not yet gotten in the way.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is in need of some serious soul searching. Are you bored with your life? Are you sick and tired of the same old, humdrum monotony of every day? Pick this book up! It's full of practical advice as well as ways to establish what it is you were placed on this earth to do. Without a doubt in my mind, I know now what's expected of me in the time I've been given.

I know this post is short, but trust me: the book is worth the hoopla I'm giving it. Check it out. Give it a shot. Find your cure for the common life and begin living the life you were created to live.

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Peachtrees and Cheese, If You Please

I do love a good adventure. And not just the "Oh my gosh, run for your lives!" type. I've forced myself to search my everyday existence for little adventures, you know, the ordinary kind that could easily slip through our blur of days. This Saturday was no exception. My husband had to rush to the city in order to rent a lens for his afternoon photo shoot. At the last minute, he asked if I wanted to go along. "Sure," says I. It was Saturday, after all, and I didn't want to be cooped up in the garage alone.

We dashed to the Jeep, super hero style, and took to the expressway, doing our best to beat the almighty clock that was tick-ticking away. We pulled into PPR one minute to close time (eleven fifty-nine am to be precise) and Jon slid in under the radar (whew!).

Now what? Lens in hand, we had until 2:30 to meander around the great wide city of Atlanta. It's not a place to which we venture often. We live only a half hour away and yet we tend to avoid it as if it was infested with spiders and overrun with bubonic plague! Why? It's not for hate of the city, but for loathing of the traffic. (For those of you who have never experienced Atlanta traffic, I offer you this and this for your viewing pleasure.)

We knew that traffic hell usually emerged only during weekdays (or after 3pm on weekends) so we decided to brave the city and take in a couple of our favorite sites. First stop: Sam Flax art supplies. If you are even remotely interested in picking up an artistic hobby, this is the place to go. It's wonderful! A warehouse full of brushes and palettes and ink and paper. Their prices are really good to and this is a plus when you carve your own stamps and one sheet of rubber costs around $30 normally! They also have a stationary section that sells the most delectable assortment of papers, note cards, invitations, announcements and wrapping paper you could ever hope to feast your eyes upon (excuse me while I wipe the drool from my paper obsessed mouth...).

After exercising considerable restraint and leaving Sam Flax empty handed (cue weeping violin), we decided it would be way more fun to visit our favorite cheese shop than go home. I mean, who'd pass on a shop that lets you taste as many different cheeses as they can carry? Tucked in a shopping center on Peachtree Road, Savor Gourmet is a gorgeous haven for the foodie, harboring everything from $50 bottles of balsamic vinegar to little jars of canapes, pink sea salt with edible gold (I'm serious) to Alton Brown's latest gear guide (or trip-tastic travelogue!). The cheese selection may not be as awe inspiring as the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day, but their modest selection is varied and yummy and as go-broke-worthy as a $5 sale at Barnes and Nobel. As tempting as it was, we passed on the pound of cheese in favor of our weekend away (which, by the way, will become lovely fodder for a post next week!). We did, however, discover a tasty little beauty that harbored the flavors of both cayenne pepper and cocoa. That will most definitely be on my shopping list for next visit.

We ended our visit with lunch at their amazing bistro. Their sandwiches are made with fresh ingredients, imported from various states and European countries. They are all named after said European countries (and the occasional dictator...) and they are out of this world. My favorite? The Paris on Ciabatta: ham, Gruyere, little sour pickles and fresh butter from Normandy. Can't say no to Gruyere and French butter! Jon had the Milan: sun dried tomatoes, prosciutto, pesto and arugula on Ciabatta. I tasted it, for research purposes of course, and can say it was almost as good as the Paris!

I don't wander to the city that often, but I enjoy those times that I do. It's different and vibrant and exciting. There's always something going on and there are lovely little shops (like those visited above) to explore. I look forward to my next foray into the big city. Who knows what we'll discover. More cheese? A chocolatier? Ooooh, let the hunt begin!


Friday, July 10, 2009

Adventures in House Sitting Part 2

No, we're not back at my mother's house (though I'm sure she wishes she was back on Hilton Head!) This week, we've been tending house and four legged children for my brother-in-law and his fabulous wife (he's fabulous too, but it's more of a kick to hear her reaction to said compliment :)

Sadly, no pictures to be posted yet as I can't find my camera! Devastating, I know. It's around there somewhere. Of course, Tallulah could have confiscated it and hidden it away with her collection of other random items: socks, mismatched shoes, underwear.... This is the first clepto-dog I've ever met! The other day, I found one of my sandals and one of Jon's sandals half way inside her carrier. Cocking her furry little head up at me as if to ask, "what's wrong with that?" I certainly couldn't scold her. Well, ok, so I did, but not terribly so!

I'm not a little dog person. I grew up with Irish Setters and Labs. The smallest animal I've ever owned is an 18 pound cat that now resides with my mother. To move her would be terrifying. She doesn't like change and to this day, she doesn't know she's a cat. It would kill her to find out after 14 years she's not the Queen of the World! Sudden cardiac arrest to be sure.

Tallulah and Phyllis (or Lulu and Philly as we have so endearingly dubbed them) have been a riot! They are constantly underfoot, love to leap at table's height during all means, and yap incessantly at the slightest noise. Philly is the big sister (a gazelle-like cross between a miniature pinscher and a dachshund) and remains the calmer of the two. She is my reading buddy, hopping up onto the couch whenever I curl up with a hardcover and nuzzles her way into my lap. She's a burrower, something my husband tells me most little dogs are. If there's a blanket, stack of dirty clothes, or pillow laying about, she'll wedge her way underneath and burrow until she's in the most comfortable position. Oh, and she sleeps in the bed. With us. VERY funny! She makes it a point to curl up right underneath my pillow. Thus, I move her, shifting her to a spot between myself and Jon. Once we're under covers, she burrows down to our feet. I'll wake up in the middle of the night with her in the crook of my elbow! This morning, her nose was resting on my shoulder. I must admit, it warmed my heart.

Lulu is the baby. She's a shi-tzu and she knows it. She flounces, spins in circles, and yaps like the various squeaky toys that litter the living area. She's still a puppy, bless her, so she's still learning the fine art of house breaking. We've learned that her spinning in circles means many things, depending on how tight the circle. A wide circle means, "I'm happy you're here! Let's see if I can trip you!" A small circle means, "Woah! Over drive! I'm trying to see around the massive amounts of hair I won't let the humans trim from my eyes!" A swift, tight circle means poo is coming. O yes. It's on the move. If you let her get to tight circle number two, number two is what you'll get! We're convinced she still hasn't quite figured out her body and turning is her way of saying, "What on earth is going on back there?!? Someone help me!!! O...is that all? Human...clean that up!"

All in all, it's been a pleasant experience. They live on a relatively quiet street and it's dark at night which makes for good sleeping. I say quiet. I mean quiet until the two boxers next door start barking which, in turn, causes Lulu and Philly to bark, which causes us to ask them to stop barking. Ah...the joys of surrogate parenthood!

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Joys of House Sitting

Last week, my husband and I had pleasure of house sitting for my mom while she vacationed on Hilton Head Island, SC. May I state here, before I go further, that we would much rather have joined her on her beach-side excursion, but alas, work took precedence.

My mother's house has always been a haven. Walking through her front door is like being enfolded in a pair of strong, warm arms, inviting and welcoming. Everywhere you look there's something to discover: an antique mixing bowl, a collection of butter molds, an assortment of cookie cutters, platters, or dried herbs. Everyone who visits comments on the comfort that surrounds them, the distinct feeling of coming home.

It's the house I grew up in, the house my mother and father lived in together for almost thirty eight years. A labor of love. I see them in every corner, every room. They were always adding, subtracting, rearranging. My mom has continued infusing their own sense of style, continued adding some paint here, moving some furniture there, planting new gardens, stringing more outdoor lights. Dad would be proud at the changes she's made on her own and I know he'd like (and would have encouraged) them all.

My parent's love of old is reflected in every room. Every object looks as if it was discovered in an old barn or on the side of the road. Perhaps that's because some of it was found on the side of the road. My dad worked for Bell South and in his daily travels, he discovered many cast offs abandoned next to trash cans or in ditches. They followed him home and found new life in my mother's hands.

The stove is not an antique but it does a great job of fooling you into believing it is. The gorgeous reproduction occupies a place of honor in the kitchen and is a joy to cook on. Real flames lick the bottom of sauce pans and skillets. A gas stove. The way food was meant to be cooked!

Cabinets and cupboards are filled with lovely discoveries. There's always herbs or flowers drying on screens, paper towels, or tossed haphazardly into wooden bowls.

Outside, the grass is truly greener, both in and on the other side of the fence. Herbs and flowers abound with the occasional tomato thrown in for tasty measure.

The chickens enjoy looking in, contemplating the best way to traverse the boundary of permissible pecking ground and the temptation of the forbidden herb garden.

They are funny little creatures, prancing and clucking about, cocking their little heads this way and that as they eye my camera lens with curiosity and caution.

While I long for a home of my own, I do enjoy the nomadic life of house sitting. For a week or so, I get to live in someone else's life. Try their day to day on for size. It's fun and kind of freeing. However, it doesn't quite fit. It's too small, too big, a little tight around the neck, or the fabric is a bit scratchy. I'm still waiting for that perfect fit: comfortable, form fitting; the sweater I go to every blustery morning because it keeps me warm and gives me a bit more confidence than any other.
When that will be, I cannot say. Until then, I'll enjoy wandering and writing about these domestic adventures.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Status: Stationary

So I haven't posted any more India pictures. Why? Well, a couple of reasons, actually. First off, the files are HUGE and I haven't had a spare moment to make them smaller. Also, I posted them all on my Facebook account. Facebook apparently likes larger files so it was much easier to download them all there. If you're interested, just search for me on Facebook (Jen Chandler), request to be my friend, and I'll add you! Then you can see all the India pictures in all their glory.

As for my current status, I'm not exactly stationary as my husband and I have been recruited to house sit for my mom and sister this week. They are in Hilton Head. We're in Conyers. Life's fair, huh? But it's all good. For one blissful week we have a house, a yard, gardens, a kitchen with a gas stove (most delectable of all kitchen appliances), a pool, six chickens and a cat. Ok, so Ocean is so fat she could technically be two cats, but if she were to read this it may hurt her feelings!

I'll be taking some pictures of our Adventures in House-sitting and posting this week! Not as exciting as India (or Bora Bora) but, hey, you make the best of what you've got, right? And for someone who's been living in a garage for 4 years, house sitting is one of the best things we could be doing this week. Besides vacationing in Hilton Head...or Bora Bora...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

India Photos: Take Two

Are you ready?
'Cause here comes my second installment in the photo journal of my trip to India!
Enjoy ~

The front yard of Asha House for Children.
In Delhi, where we were, having a front yard is rare.
Seeing green is even more rare.
A beautiful tree overlooking Asha House.
An orange blossoming guardian.
Tipsi the Guardian of the Shoes
Tipsi is the resident four-legged companion.
She's quite possibly the sweetest dog I've ever met!
A Gecko.
He lived in the house with us.
At times I'd look up and there he'd be...
ever watchful.
First impressions of India
from the back of a rickshaw
(that's our driver's back in the foreground)

Down the street where we lived.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Work has been dull today. I'm not complaining; quiet offices create the perfect environments for a little daydream indulgence.

Why not? I thought. It can't hurt.

I grabbed my Books A Million tote bag, filled with my leather journal, some sunscreen, my bathing suit, a book and two pairs of sunglasses. I sent word to my husband to meet me at the private airfield, where we keep our plane, and he met me in record time. Who wouldn't jump at the chance to escape from metro-Atlanta in late spring? We tossed our bags in the back of the plane, hopped aboard and began our leisurely flight to our vacation home in...

This is the first view of the island.
Seen from my private plane of course (which, may I add, I'm flying)
Approaching our landing pad, ie: the lagoon

This is the back yard.
The hammock is used for emergency naps and creative loafing sessions.

The neighborhood.
Everyone's so friendly here!
And no one minds that the houses are all connected

The neighborhood from up above

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of Bora Bora.
You'll have to excuse me now; my driver is here...

**Ahem: sadly, I did not take these pictures. All photos were found via google.com (search images "Bora Bora"): www.jakeehrlich.com, www.jeremyperson.com, ramblingmoo.wordpress.com, www.belchfire.net, planet.betterplace.com, www.tahiti-tourism.com. Thanks one and all for posting such glorious photos and fueling my dreams of buying a plane and high-tailing it outta here!!! Whoops! Gotta go..the phone's ringing!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

India: A Photo Essay (Act The First)

At long last, photos from my trip to India! My computer is being a bit flighty, so I'm going to only upload a few pictures at a time. This way, my laptops doesn't implode and you, dear reader, get to indulge me in a little game of "To be continued...". And so, it begins:

I arrived at the Atlanta airport sometime around 3pm.
My flight was not scheduled to leave until 6pm, but the powers that be dictate a smart traveller always arrives at least three hours prior to an international flight.
Smart I may be, but after three hours in those seats,
I've decided that next time, two hours should suffice.
A lone traveller, like myself, killing time on the cell phone.
I actually meant to just photograph the plane framed in the window.
I love the way the sunlight is filtering across the floor.
Just as I snapped the shot, this man walked in front, granting me his silhouette.
Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France.
The flat, silver disk in the background is the terminal through which I entered
upon my arrival from Atlanta.
It resembles a flying saucer.
Fitting for a journey into the unknown.
My traveling companion:
Blue Bunny No-Pants.
He's posing here beside our Airbus A emergency procedures manual.
Uplifting reading material to say the least.

An amazing aerial shot of Paris.
I was fortunate enough to have window seats going and coming.

The patchwork quilt of the French countryside.

The Alps.

The Caucasus Mountains

A lovely frozen tundra in the middle of the Caucasus Mountains.

This scene took me by surprise.
The top of the photo is the daylight through which I was flying.
The light fades to dark and I was amazed to see an actual line
that separated day from night.
A physical reminder that I was flying to the other side of the world.
(To be continued...)