Saturday, November 28, 2015

Charleston - A Full Day

Three or four years ago, I could barely handle an hour of physical activity. My foot, coming off five surgeries, was a painful reminder at every step. I was scared of encouraging more bone spurs and neuromas. Every twinge of pain made me think I was bringing on my next surgery.

Today, I cleared the 10,000 step mark around 2 PM.

In all honesty, we did drive to Hominy Grill - they open at 9 and people start lining up at 8:30. Knowing it would be a long day, we were told to drive there and big shocker - parking was free.

Breakfast was delicious and Luke's shrimp and grits made him a happy camper. Me, less adventurous, well...I loved the jam and biscuits.

Our tour was at 11 and we had plenty of time to return to the hotel and walk around Tradd St. The homes are lovely and later we were told that many people hold these as trophy homes. I felt a sense of emptiness. (Trust me, when you've door-knocked, you have a sense for no one at home.)

At 11, we met up with our tour guide, Ed Macy. We'd heard great things and we were not disappointed. He interacted with Lil and balanced being funny with being serious. He told us about a time he'd heard a tour guide in the 1970s discuss how "slaves were part of the family." That has continued to bother him and I appreciated that he recognized his neighbors' myths at an early age.

After the tour, we walked several blocks to the ferry for Ft. Sumter. It was such a gorgeous day. I was wearing shorts and people were shedding their coats & scarves like they had dressed for a Maryland November day. 70s in Charleston. Barely a cloud in the sky.

Dinner was at Cru Cafe - we had gotten seats at the chef's table. Luke had a scallop appetizer with shrimp in a tomato-based broth. I had a pork tenderloin that was so tender. But more importantly, we struck up a conversation with a neighbor who was dining alone.

As we walked back, I saw a cab slowing down by us. Like we looked like tired tourists.

But we weren't. Instead, we were looking at the architecture, the single houses, the "doors" and the church steeples.  I was enjoying a walk that five years ago seemed impossible.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Our Curse on Epcot

It rains periodically in Central Florida. Specifically when we visit Epcot Center.

When I was a kid, I hated Epcot. The area around Spaceship Earth, AKA the giant golf ball, sent me into paralysis. I don't remember the World Showcase that much except it seemed blah to me.

Discovering the different countries as a twenty-something made an impact, however. Maybe it was me learning French, going to Maryland, working in a multinational firm...I just seemed to engage in a way I hadn't before.

Oddly, Lils liked Epcot early on...she liked the supposedly emblematic costumes in each country and the different accents. Finding the Kidcot spots in the back corners of the pavilions was a special game for her. Meeting the cast members who are doing a stint in the US to work on their English, begin their careers or have an adventure is a special thing for me. They work so hard and have to deal with many nationalities - in front and behind the scenes.

Lunch & dinner in the countries are an adventure sometimes. We tried the Restaurant Marrakesh for lunch today and were entertained by Moroccan musicians and a belly dancer. Tonight, I spoke French with an Italian server and searched for the word "entre."

As always, the rain. We got to the Italian restaurant early and had prosciutto & wine in the wine cellar. It was just a drizzle at that point. When we finished our dinner, the Illuminations fireworks show began. Lil went out to watch and when I followed her, I got drenched. She didn't care and I didn't either.

Then we walked out of Epcot in the rain & of course, we were in one of the farthest spots from the entrance. The rain became a downpour as we reached the car.

Now we are watching the Long Ranger in our room with the balcony door open as the clouds empty. Lil's favorite way to finish a night at Disney is watching a movie while it storms.

Stay safe in the rain!

Monday, November 16, 2015

High Maintenance

No, the title's not referring to me...

Today my sinuses are reminding me they're still operational. The 75 degree weather is probably partially to blame. But what I did yesterday is also, methinks.

My papa Bill manages the food booths at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in addition to his myriad other volunteer activities there and elsewhere. His favorite part of the year is when he answers the phones at the fair office when the fair is happening. The questions he hears are ridiculous.

Anyway, the Laytonsville Lions Club, of which he is a part, had volunteered to staff the food booth for, wait for it, the Capital Cat Fanciers. This is ironic, because Papa Bill despises cats, unless they are working in the barn. Otherwise, he thinks they are annoying as hell and makes that abundantly clear when he is at my house. "Get away, damn cat" is probably said five times in an hour of his presence here. (Although I think he has a begrudging non-dislike for Disney.)

What is also amazing is that my husband allowed me to go to a cat show. He made sure I was carrying a small purse so I could not smuggle any new friends home. Luke strongly believes in a one cat per person rule for our family. Introducing a new one means someone has to go. And yes, we would all three of us say Beckham. But he will probably outlive Disney (they're six years apart), because that's how annoying Beckham is.

Also amazing, Luke didn't have a sneezing fit or watery eyes. He doesn't take his Zyrtec regularly. I do, but I still think part of my congestion is all the kitties. We're both allergic, but I didn't encounter any Russian Blues, which really affect me.

We enjoyed the Maine Coon cat that was the size of a small collie. Same coloring too. There was a four-month-old kitten that I definitely wanted to take home. He was a little nervous as it was his first show. The judges at the show also impressed us as they explained the criteria for assessing the cats. It was hard to follow along sometimes or see why certain cats weren't winners. We spent a couple of hours running from ring to ring to see the long-hairs and the kittens as they went through the multiple rounds.

At dinner last night at Mom & Bill's favorite restaurant, Italian Pines, we were discussing the potential for any of our cats to qualify for a show. More than just the qualifying - but the serenity of these cats. They get introduced to the circuit at four months old, if they're better than pet quality. A woman with two fluffy six-month old Himalayans said their brother was "petted out." "You can just tell immediately if they're pets."  They weren't scared, one was very playful (not a perfect Himalayan) and just sprawled out. She said she has to wash them THREE times/week. They were absolutely gorgeous.

But my mom said Disney could be a show cat. So as I was brushing my teeth this morning, while Disney is halfway in the sink drinking water (it's Luke sink, not mine), I allowed myself to dream of taking my cat to a cat show. How I'd sit there brushing Disney. How he's too fat. How his tail has a crick at the end, probably from birth.

He may not be show quality, but he's high quality when it comes to love & low maintenance when it comes to grooming. He's sleeping on his back next to me, dreaming of chasing mice or birds with his front paws twitching and his back paws quivering.