Friday, September 30, 2011

Maybe Just a Dream?

If I'm not warped (and the jury's still out) it's a miracle given my upbringing. I survived the curse of two old maid aunts and lived to get married. Thank God (so far) I haven't inherited the genetics of my two great aunts who weighed a good 400-500 pounds each. I matured to learn that indeed the South is not going to rise again, President Lincoln was not the basis of all evil, and some folks North of the Mason-Dixon line can be trusted. (Although it would be nice if they returned some of our purloined family treasures, but I digress.)

It is amazing what one sees when we come out of the fog of the Old South. It's down right confusing for some one growing up at age five, trying to figure out how the world works. On TV, they were talking about the war in Vietnam. Hell, I had relatives sitting on the front porch of their farm houses still talking about shooting Yankees. In my little mind I was trying to relate the Viet Cong with the Yankees, and looking at the pictures on TV and the pictures in the history books, it wasn't matching up too well.

I would ask, "If they were really us, why did they come burn us down?" To which the answer was, "But we were a separate country." Suddenly everything I learned about the pilgrims and the Indians and the Revolutionary War was turned on its head. At about age six, my Daddy sat me down and in great detail explained "The War of Northern Aggression", (which I would later learn the rest of the country referred to as the "Civil War".)

Mama, on the other hand, just took me to see "Gone with the Wind" four times. So I had in mind hoop skirts and the Tarleton Twins. However, there was no Tara or Twelve Oaks in my family. In reality very few lived in the Tara's and the Twelve Oaks, but plenty claim to. In some ways, the Old South is like the fragrance of the magnolia - strong and permeating the air but not really there. It is but a memory. But is it a memory or a dream to some and nightmare to others?

Monday, September 26, 2011

How the Grinch Stole Thanksgiving

You know the first sign Halloween is drawing nigh? You start to see those huge inflatable Christmas yard displays in Lowes and Home Depot. Now, I can't speak for you, but that's the first thing that says "Trick or Treat" to me - an inflated Santa waving as he rises out of a blown up chimney. Really? This what we have come to?

I cannot remember the last time I bought Halloween candy and did not have to wade through Christmas jee jaws to get to it. And, God forbid we remember Thanksgiving, it is being forgotten about altogether. Without a market for inflated turkeys or lit-up pilgrims, the holiday doesn't stand a chance. 

Don't get me wrong I love the yuletide season and look forward to the stress as much as anyone, but I could forgo a little of the yard art. When I was a little girl (as I love to tell my girls) (or in the olden days as they refer to it) we had a wreath on the front door, maybe electric candles in the windows (white bulbs only - thank you), and some adventuresome souls would have an outdoor tree. We never had lights on our houses. In fact there were one or two homes in town who did and they were such a spectacle that cars would be lined up around the block to see them. 

Now, it is common for folks to have lights all over the outside of their homes, and every inflatable decoration one can imagine from baby Jesus to Santa to the Grinch. (All I can remember as a child were inflatable rafts and beach balls, but I digress.) Perhaps the Grinch is the segway between Halloween and Christmas and along the way he stole Thanksgiving. Whatever the case, once we hit the first of October, it is one big inflated blur until next year - an orange, black, red, and green one. 

Friday, September 23, 2011


Perhaps my plan to retire on the winnings of the lottery is not as reliable as I first thought. Plan B - Well, I still need to come up with Plan B. At the age of 52 suddenly the idea of retirement seems to be pipe dream. Is this the time I can run away and join the circus?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I think I'll Stay

T-15 and counting. Can I just stay in the British West Indies forever? I'll skin fish, wait tables, bus bars, whatever it takes. The rest is just fluff.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Will They Know Where They Are?

I go to the concierge lounge to seek respite and a cold glass of wine after a day at work only to find it packed. Now normally I'm a people person. However, as my mother would say, these were not "my kind of people". The room was full of folks on their way to Europe for the first time. And, to listen to their conversation, one would think that their furthermost adventure, prior to this, was Pigeon Forge  to pay homage to Dollywood, which begged me to ask what brought them to the concierge lounge (short of the elevator)? 

An over heard conversation soon answered that question. "Now Nancy said if we came up here we could get a glass of wine and just charge it to her room." "She is so nice. I don't know what we would do without her." "Did you here her say that we need to be up at 3 am tomorrow to get to the airport? Now how am I going to be able to iron my clothes? Why I'll be a mess on that flight to Germany."

"Iron your clothes? I'm worried about how mine are going to look after being all crumpled up in that one suitcase." "I know. I was surprised that we could only bring one bag. After all, we are going to five countries in seven days. You never know what you are going to need to wear." "And she said to pack light. She just doesn't understand the need to be prepared."

I was helping myself to some of the hot hors d'oeuvres available. As I picked up a tasty piece of french bread with olive tapenade on it, one of the ladies asked, "What is that?" "Olive tapenade. And if it is the same thing they had the other night, it is devine." She gingerly picked up a piece and put it on her plate. I over heard her say as she sat with her fellow travelers. "She said it was olive tapenade. I've never heard of such." "Oh, I have. I saw it on the food channel. It is chopped up olives and other stuff mixed up." "I was hoping they would have some chicken wings or those little ham sandwiches.

I wonder if they saw wiener schnitzel, spargel, or sauerbraten on the Food Channel?

Friday, September 9, 2011

I have a Deal for You

I noticed the restaurants  last night were extremely busy. Not just busy but packed and there was not a game in town. Looking closer the patrons all had a similar look to them. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but this group was unique. They were loud, sure of themselves, and let's just say in an earlier time they would have been very comfortable in polyester leisure suits. 

As soon as I could, I made my way back to the hotel hoping to find some of my own kind. In the concierge lounge I asked the attendant if there was a convention in town. He lit up. "Oh yeah, the __ group is here." (I honestly did not catch their name.) "They meet here every September. And it is the same every year. They descend by the thousands. This is their big meeting. The restaurants run out of beer and every year some of them will try to argue over room rates. But we survive and they will be gone by Sunday, no later than Monday." "What type of business is that?" "A telephone pyramid scheme." "You're kidding." "Nope. I've already had three of them try to sell me their deal tonight."

When I got on the elevator to return to my room, this nice gentleman looked at me and timidly asked, "Are you with that group?" "No sir, I'm not." "Thank goodness. I had to listen to two sales pitches between the lobby and the elevator." "They say they will be gone by Sunday." "I honestly don't know if I'll live to see it."

When the elevator door opened a guest got on (obviously one of them). He immediately turned to the older gentleman and asked, "Sir, I bet you pay a lot for your phone service?" "No, sir I don't." "Oh, everyone does. I can offer you a quality service for much less and an opportunity to earn money. Who is your service provider?" "I don't have a phone service." "No phone service? Oh, I can offer a deal on cellular service also."  "Son, I'm Amish."  

With that the elevator door opened and the salesman got off. I turned to the gentleman, "Well played." "Any port in a storm. It was either that or staying in my room for the next three days. Now if I can get the valet to bring my buggy around."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Solitude Interrupted

This past weekend I was up before dawn out on one of my favorite "Scenic View" sights off the Blue Ridge Parkway to (hopefully) get some good photographs of sunrise. The mountains were at their best with the mist rising from the valleys and circling the hills as the color changed from deep purple to light pink. I was alone and in my element. Suddenly a car pulled up, stopped abruptly and this gentleman jumped out, opened his trunk, grabbed a camera and a tripod, and headed toward the edge of the parking area. He then exclaimed, "Oh, I'm too late."

Being polite, I said, "Not quite." Although, he would never know what he had, in fact, missed. He immediately set up his tripod and started firing off shots (with his hand held remote shutter release I noticed.) I just continued, nonchalantly, taking my pictures, adjusting my tripod to get the exact angle I wanted (trying to act like I really knew what I was doing). I moved past him to the other side to get  some shots of the far north eastern view. As I did I noticed he was using square filters (a sure sign of someone who knows what they are doing.)

As the sun rose and our frenzy calmed, he asked me what kind of Nikon I was using. (He was a Cannon guy.) Then he asked if I was a professional. I answered no,  that I just enjoyed landscape photography. Then he proceeded to tell me about the local venues he had photographed and sold. "Let me show you one." Before I could politely say something like, "Please don't" or "Spare me", (I already knew he was way out of my league) he pulled out his iPhone and carefully scrolled until he came to one. He turned the screen around to show me a panoramic photo of a sunrise over a valley with the mountains in the back ground. Really? (In all the times I had been in the mountains I had never seen such colors.) 

Then he proudly explained to me that he had "stitched" twelve shots together to get the picture (that alone was impressive) and, of course, he had to apply some post production. You think? I complimented him and then he shared some things with me that included him telling me his wife was a cancer survivor, he never could get the shots he wanted in the state park because of the number of people there, his favorite place to shoot was the waterfalls, and he was waiting for Cannon to release their new camera. Please, stop! Did I look like Oprah?

I finally (politely) made my departure, not having any idea what images I had been able to capture.

When I got home, this is one I found (it has very little post production, ie cropping etc.) 

So all was not lost after all.

Monday, September 5, 2011

We Only Need More

Fun is getting up at five in the morning to a gentle mountain rain only to remember that it is time to break camp and pack all this wet €£¥> up. And, as always, we used less than half of what we brought. (Of course we were prepared for armageden.) Now will "we" learn a lesson from this that (1) we do not need all this or (2) when the weather radio says 100% chance of rain tomorrow perhaps one should take a hint and get out of Dodge while the getting is dry? Oh, but no, the lesson we take away is : "We need more rain gear." God help us all - except Cabelas and LL Bean of course. This man is their dream customer. There is no such thing as a hinderance, only a situation that can be solved with more gear.