Saturday, March 31, 2012

In the Garden

Acres and Acres of
Bright Blooming Azalea Blossoms
(These are from the Santorums' Backyard)

Gorgeous Hanging Wisteria


Two Cormorants


Two Peacocks


Two Peahens


Two Baby Alligators


One Snake


My Trip to Middleton Place Garden

One word description:  Wow!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sweet Savannah?

Savannah may be a city that oozes southern charm, but one thing in short supply is available bathrooms.  Hospitality doesn't seem so hospitable when you have to go and all you see in every direction are signs that say, "No Public Restrooms."

St. Paddy's Day in Savannah is legendary and the population swells to three times its normal size.  I arrived one week later and the city was clearly recovering from its collective hangover.  I have zero idea where the beer swilling Irishmen or their Irish-wanna-be friends relieved themselves during their big fun (want me to guess?) but I found myself walking square after square in search of the golden fleece -- in this case, a toilet. 

While I searched, I cursed that sneaky waiter at the outdoor cafe who kept surreptitiously filling my water glass until I had probably unwittingly consumed several gallons of liquid, far in excess of what my tiny bladder would normally accommodate.   Come to think of it, he had an Irish lilt to his voice.  My suspicion is that he had a personal St. Paddy's Day ax to grind. 

Soon I found myself standing in line inside a gourmet market/petrol station waiting for the opportunity to humiliate myself by asking the guy cashiering for the restroom key.  Just as my turn finally arrived --and not a moment too soon--a young girl breezed in and said, "Excuse me.  Could I please have your restroom key?"  And he gave it to her!

I peeled out of line and followed the girl with the restroom key into the store's underbelly.  This market was one of those snobbish, upscale places where they sell chocolate candy bars for six bucks a piece.  Even the help was able to size me up and with one arch of an eyebrow make me feel I didn't belong there.  Well, the joke's on them because their store isn't all that attractive back there in the loo line and the restroom, even though you had to use a key to access it, wasn't any cleaner than the average gas station's.

Beggars can't be choosers though and I was truly grateful that they allowed me to use their facilities, albeit grudgingly.  I bought a candy bar on the way out.  It was surprisingly tasty. 

Maybe you really do get what you pay for.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


How much fun did the twenty of us have at our St. Paddy's Day BUNCO party?

I'm guessing a lot because during the games a big tree fell in the backyard and nobody heard it.

That's how much fun BUNCO is.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


We went to the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando yesterday.  Whereas this might not be a dream destination for the ladies in the group, the guys were pretty excited about it.

First we watched an IMAX film on repairing the Hubble telescope.  It was in 3D.  I always thought 3D was kind of cheesy, but this was really cool.  Maybe it was where I was seated, the geometric center of the theatre, or maybe technology has just advanced since last time I saw anything 3D (The Disney production "Bees.")  Anyway, things just kept hurling at me throughout the 45 minute presentation and it was fun.

When I see shows about space, it creeps me out - so vast and amazing is the subject.  Earth is beautiful! Pictures of our blue planet fill me with wonder but when I see worlds so far away that I can't even grasp the distance, well, I just am awed.

I must have "spaced out" because next I found myself getting my "astronaut i.d. picture" taken to ride on the launch simulator.  This is so not me.  I hate loud noise, I do not like being mechanically shaken and sometimes I find being inside small spaces a wee bit confining.  Still, there were a lot of elderly grannies and small children in line with me so I didn't want to be the one to freak out. 

When we got to the front of the line, the attendant said we'd be the next group to go in.  This meant ten minutes more for me to focus on fear, not a good thing.  A rather large man behind us nervously asked if he'd be able to catch the 6:15 bus if he waited and he was assured that was not problem.  At this point, a guy appeared with a kid of about five or six in his arms.  The child was crying and shaking, clearly frightened by whatever it was we were about to do.  The attendant gently talked to him until he calmed down but she couldn't convince him to go back in.  His violent reaction fueled my fears.

As we waited, the attendant told us that last week there was a malfuntion.  They had to close down twice and it took half the day to fix the problem.  My overactive imagination placed me inside the simulator, trapped for hours.  This probably was not the place to allow my mind to wander at this particular juncture either. 

Finally we saw a movie about what we would experience.  They stressed FODs (foreign object debris) and how things could come out of your pockets and pose a threat to others.  They asked that you place things into lockers provided. Problem was, I never saw any lockers so I began worrying about my hat and sunglasses.  As I'm obsessing about that, we passed lots of large signs warning us about the dangers of FODs.  Then we stood on yellow lines in front of a bank of doors.  There was another short video the gist of which was 'there's no shame in leaving now if you don't feel this experience is for you.' 

At this point I seriously thought about bailing - and so did my son-in-law - but peer pressure kept us both glued to the spot.  They opened up the doors and in we went, strapping ourselves in tightly.  Jerry suggested that I sit on my floppy hat which I did and then, necessity being the mother of invention, I tied my sunglasses to my pants using the drawstring on the waist.  I was good to go - nervous, but good.  Then the lights went down.

As I'm taking a deep breath to calm myself, that big, nervous man from earlier jumped up and started screaming, "I can't do this!  Let me out!"  My husband (Mr. Type A) tells the guy he'd better sit down and strap himself back in or he's gonna become a human FOD.  Mr. Panicky doesn't listen though and begins banging on the door of the simulator screaming.  This further agitates Mr. Type A who has visions of Mr. Panicky landing on us sometime during the next six minutes.

Fortunately this wasn't the Space Center's first rodeo.  The ride was stopped, the doors were opened, the fearful fellow bolted out of the simulator.  The attendant came in and asked the guy's companion if he didn't want to get out to check on Mr. Panicky?  Apparently the answer was "no" because  he didn't get out.  She also sweetly asked us if anyone else wanted to exit.  Both Brent and I wanted to, but peer pressure is a powerful thing and it kept us glued to our seats.

The simulation was loud and our capsule did move but never did we actually go upside down.  It was really quite tame when compared to my imagination.  As we exited our craft, we had to walk around Mr. Panicky who was dramatically splayed on the floor just outside the simulator.

I decided to buy our space i.d. pictures as a great souvenir of overcoming fears.  While I was standing in line, I heard an attendant asking a man behind me if he didn't want to look at his prints.  It was Mr. Panicky himself.  "I bailed," he said. "I don't deserve my picture."
My son-in-law, the brave astronaut

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Twisted Sisters

I met this gal at a ladies' party and I hit it off with her right away.  She's young, about the same age as one of my kids, vivacious and delightful...and she's a yoga instructor.  Before she left, she gave me a card for a free lesson.  That was so sweet, but no way was I going to go to her class.  Thank God it was far away so I had an excuse!  I realize that every other woman in America loves yoga but not me.  I took a class once and I was still sore from it three months later.  No siree Bob, not doin' it.

Then came the emails.  Finally, the kicker -- she's starting a class in T.C. and that's where I live.  She officially invited me to her premier class.  What can I do?  I have been trapped!  I am horrified at the thought of yoga.  I know that I haven't been flexible enough to touch my own toes since I achieved double digits, yet I feel it would be rude not to attend and be supportive of her new venture. 

I argued with myself a lot about attending this class but somehow this morning I find myself wearing a pair of Lycra leggings and a shirt that's far too tight to be comfortable.  (I'm still not sure it will stay put if I do anything more exotic than sit down.)  There are whole industries that are devoted to yoga garb but I don't feel inclined to purchase an actual "yoga outfit" for something I'm sure will be a one-time-shot.  At best I'll be comic relief for the other students.  At worst... well, let's just not focus on that.

See ya on the other side.

                                 *   *   *          *   *   *        *   *   *

When I arrived at class, it looked like it might be a private lesson.  Oh, no!  That would not be good.  Not. Good.  At the eleventh hour though, another woman arrived - thank you GOD - and even better than that, it was my friend Mary.  Now Mary is one of the nicest women on the planet (I'm sure she doesn't even kill mosquitoes) and I was relieved because I knew she'd see the best in everything which would rein me in a little if I started whining and complaining.  If?

A graceful and smiling lady

The instructor is just too cute!  She looks like a young Deborah Messing and has all the energy and high spirits of youth.  Unfortunately for me, my youth has long since vanished and has left me with a little less to work with.  We posed.  We did the downward dragging dog, the sphinx, pigeon, half moon, dancer, little cobra and quite a few other pretzel moves.  Whenever we'd settle into a new pose our leader would ask us, "Where do you feel that?"  For me an easier question would have been "Where don't you feel that?"  I felt it everywhere and not in the happy way that she seemed to be feeling her stretches, either.
And it was then that we had a differing of opinions.  She thought my body was telling me that it would like to stretch more and I was hearing, "Stop this immediately or you'll be sorry!"  

About the time my elbows started to sweat, we changed gears and did some balancing exercises.  Then came my favorite of all yoga poses known to mankind called, "The Corpse."  You just lie on your back and pretend you're a possum trying to fool predators.  I was pretty good at that one, I must say.  That the ended of one of the longest hours of my life.  We were finally done.

That's when I found out the class wasn't an hour, it was an hour and a half  -- and -- it meets twice a week.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We Danced

Saturday night there was a reunion dance at the clubhouse.  It featured music from the '70s, '80s and '90s and you were supposed to dress in what you wore back then.  The Goth girls of the '90s were the scariest in their short, black leather getups with black bustiers, fishnet stockings and black lipstick.  Their hair stuck up like the a rooster's combs.  Some wore white makeup, which added to the creepy factor.

(Flashback to my days as Mom the Chauffeur:  One Halloween after school I picked Katie and a neighbor boy up from high school.  Danny asked if I'd give his friend a ride home, too.  The guy had on classic Goth -- total black all the way down to his black fingernail polish and spiked leather choker.  It was truly frightening and I raved about his outfit the entire time until I dropped him off.  Then Danny said, "Mrs. Z., he wasn't wearing a costume.")

Back to the present:
Jerry wore what Jerry has worn every day for the entire time I have known him, blue jeans and a tee shirt.  It was probably the most authentic costume at the event. On the other hand, I wore a flower in my hair, my wire rims, beige lipstick and a maternity outfit. 

In our group,Rita was the clear winner - she had on a jean jacket, beads, a head band and John Lennon round shades, tinted bright blue. Classic biker Mama.

We danced.  I twisted, ponied, monkeyed, swam, bumped and even did the jerk.  Jerry and I busted out some of our swing moves and also fox trotted.  Finally those three years of dance classes obviously paid off!  One..two...three... One...two...three... 

The last time we did so much dancing was in the '80s.  We'd round up our neighbors and head over to the Dillsboro Civic Center on Saturday nights and have ourselves some big fun.  The rooms were smokier back then, but the band didn't seem as loud. 

When the party was over we came home, set our clocks ahead and went right to sleep.  It was easy to wake up in the morning, but it wasn't easy to get up.  Funny, I don't remember being this sore forty years ago. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tempting Fate

You know when you're a kid how you think the whole world revolves around you?  You use your mind to dissolve the clouds.  You change the color of the stoplight with a single glance.  You wish that your friend would call and then she does  - right then, at that very moment.  You think that the powers of your mind are vast and infinite. 

Zoomer Junior
Then you grow up.  You realize that maybe some things are beyond your control.  Maybe Uncle Ned had that heart attack, not because you forgot to remember him in your prayers, but because his arteries were full of gunk from eating donuts, BLTs and swilling beer his entire life.  Maybe his addiction to biggie fries was more of a factor in his illness than you were.

Well, my last post was about my husband the NASCAR driver then last night, for the first time in years, he was stopped by the police and presented with a speeding ticket.  He blames me for this.  According to him, I wrote this article and caused this to happen.  Tempting fate, I think is the technical term.

So then, once and for all, does the world revolve around me or not?

P.S.  Jerry's new nickname is "Zoomer."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


It's late spring in Charleston.  Azaleas are blooming.  Colorful window boxes filled with geraniums, lobelias and petunias are everywhere.  What a beautiful time to visit.  We are here  again!    

We are staying at our favorite bed and breakfast.  One of the reasons I love visiting here is because they have a double decker porch and the guest rooms all have doors to access it.  Often while Jerry is at work I will sit on the deck and type, enjoying the breeze. 

I also like to chat with whoever else shows up.  I am quite gregarious, as most of you know first-hand, and I never met a stranger.  Yesterday I was in my own little world, typing away and when I looked up, a couple was sitting at the end of the porch.  I wandered over and struck up a conversation.

We exchanged pleasantries and they told me they are from up north.  I mentioned that we used to live near Cleveland but moved to Charlotte two years ago.  At this point I saw that they were drinking beer which is, no doubt, delightful if you are a beer drinker which I am not.  The woman mentioned that they had a few left in the cooler from the trip and wanted to finish them up before switching to the wine that the inn serves for happy hour. 

Now I personally don't carry a cooler of beer in my car when I go on road trips (or ever, for that matter) but I won't pass judgement on people who do because I don't know the circumstances.  Maybe they only pop open a couple of cold ones after they reach their destination for the night, I just don't know.  What I do know is that these folks seemed pretty happy and my guess is that these were not their first brewskies of the evening. 

About this time, the guy asked me how long it takes to drive from Cleveland to Charlotte, to which I replied, "Eight hours door to door but my husband is like a race car driver."  The lady, however, being in a bit of an altered state mentally from her aforementioned activities, got all excited and started jumping up and down. 

"Race car driver!  I can't wait to tell our son that I met the wife of a race car driver!" 

She clearly had not absorbed the little words (like a) and was so excited that she didn't hear when I tried to straighten her out.  Her enthusiasm at the idea was so impressive that finally I decided to allow her to continue believing this fantasy.  After all, Charlotte is the home of NASCAR, and Jerry could be a race car driver.  He certainly drives fast enough to be a qualifier if he chose to. Is it so wrong to let her think she had had a brush with the wife of someone famous? 

If you see us walking down the street in Charleston this week, just pretend my husband "drives the 18 car" and call him Kyle Bush.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Lucky me!

Yesterday I was out walking with my best bud Mary Ann when I found a four-leafed clover.  I was so excited!  Then Mary Ann said, "It doesn't count.  It's not a shamrock." 

What?  Not a shamrock?  What could she be thinking?   Is the song "I'm looking over a four-leaf shamrock?"  I think not.

I'm pretty sure it DOES count.  In fact, I'm certain of it.  Oh yes.  A four-leafed clover counts.  It so counts.  It absolutely counts.