We Went To Nashville, Y’all

Like just about every post that I write about our travels…

Zen-Den was in [fill in the blank] for work and I decided to join him.

In this case he was in Nashville, TN, aka Music City USA.  So I flew down there for a goof-off weekend in a city that is cheerful and easy to navigate.

Nashville is fun, y’all.  Here are the highlights of our Weekend.

::  We went to the Parthenon.

Built for Tennessee’s 1897 Centennial Exposition, this building has INCREDIBLE detail, a small art museum in the basement featuring regional American landscape art, and is located in a large, somewhat uncared for, city park.

I learned how little I know about Greek mythology while here, y’all.

::  We went to a fancy part of town called Green Hills.

There we wandered around a mall, and adjacent lifestyle center, that had many of the same stores that we have here, BUT they were twice as large with FRIENDLY sales help.  As much as I don’t usually enjoy shopping, this I liked.

I bought a Coach purse, y’all.

::  We went to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

This museum was amazing.  FASCINATING.  Curated to tell, entertain and engage everyone with music, videos, instruments, album covers, photographs, costumes, interactive displays and tasteful decor, we enjoyed this museum more than we thought that we would.

I saw Elvis’s gold Cadillac, y’all.

::  We ate at Ted’s Montana Grill.

This is a chain restaurant, owned by Ted Turner, that features beef and buffalo, along with salads and fish and milkshakes.  The restaurant was beautifully decorated in a 1970s steak-house style with lots of dark wood and shiny brass.  The food was DELICIOUS and the service was attentive.

I ate a bison burger– and I washed my hands with Boraxo powdered soap, y’all.

::  And finally, the answer to the question that everyone asks when you go to Nashville: Yes, we went to the Grand Ole Opry.

It was GREAT. We saw lots of older performers who we’d never heard of [Connie Smith?], but eventually, as the evening progressed, we saw performers who we knew, like Vince Gill and Pure Prairie League.  Then, in true Opry fashion, two superstars stopped by the Opry on a whim– and the crowd went crazy.

I saw Tricia Yearwood AND her husband, Garth Brooks, perform together, y’all.

“If This Is Correct, Press 1”

I’m in awe of this woman.  I don’t know who she is, but I would not be so gracious under similar circumstances.

Because what happened must happen to her, and her family, almost daily.  And only a bunch of saints could be this cheerful about the mistake I made.

An honest mistake, but a stupid one.

~ • ~

You see, on Sunday morning around 7:00 a.m. I decided to call the automated Kroger pharmacy line to refill my prescription.  I was out of Restasis, my favorite eye drops ever.

Being half awake + a bit blurry-eyed [see previous sentence] I goofed while dialing the phone for the pharmacy.  Instead of getting the “Hello. Thank you for calling your Kroger pharmacy.” message, I got a real person whose home I’d just called.

The woman who answered said your basic “Hello!” then heard me babble: “Oh no. I dialed wrong. Oh dear. Sorry to have bothered you this early. On Sunday. Oh my.”

And without missing a beat this polite woman said: “Trying to reach Kroger pharmacy?”

~ • ~

I answered, in a most pathetic voice: “Yes.”

All I heard on the other end of the line was her laugh and then she said: “Our phone number is close to theirs. You just misdialed. Try again. It happens here all the time.”

Grateful to be talking with someone who was not yelling at me for waking him or her up early on a weekend morning, I said: “Thank you. Sorry to have bothered you.”

Then with another laugh I heard her say: “No problem. Bye, bye!”

And so it came to be that on Sunday morning I spoke with a saint.  I now have proof that they walk and talk among us.

Hallelujah & Amen.

My Neighborhood: Not Much Of A Story, But The News Is Good

The economy has perked up around here and with it, the real estate market.  House sales are beginning to happen faster.  That is, houses are on the market for weeks now, instead of for months & months.

Neighbors who are selling their homes are sprucing up what they have, meaning that our street has looked exceptionally nice this spring.  And with the subsequent home sales, we have new younger, active neighbors.

This is a good thing, huh?

~ • ~

I’m seeing lots of these now.

~ • ~

I realized the foregoing as I was driving, very slowly, the long way home through our subdivision.  It dawned on me that as well as being outside on the move, many of our new neighbors are driving new cars.  Perhaps I’m overly aware of this sort of thing because I drive a 12 y.o. car, but I was kind of amazed.

~ • ~

I’m not seeing any of these.

~ • ~

The cars that I noticed weren’t fancy and/or sporty.  They were Fords or Toyotas or Hyundais, usually trucks or mini-vans or SUVs, middle of the line, practical.  But they were bright + shiny + new.

So that’s what’s up around here.  Not too exciting from a blog story-telling point of view, but encouraging from a midwest homeowners point of view.  Of which I am one.

You gotta take the happy where you find it, eh?

We Went To Washington, D.C.

ZEN-DEN NEEDED TO be in D.C. for his work, so we wrapped a couple of days around his business travel– and went to Washington, D.C. for a fast little vacay.

We figure that it must have been 15+ years since we’d been there together, which surprised us.  At one point, Z-D’s job in the midwest took him to D.C. about half of the year, so I’d meet him there on the weekends.

D.C. was our favorite vacation playground.

# # #

Cherry blossoms were past their prime, but tulips were everywhere.  I snapped these photos at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

# # #

FROM A TOURIST’S point of view much has changed for the better in D.C.

What amazed us was how much cleaner, easier, prettier, friendlier the city has become.  No snarly people [I’m looking at you, Boston] or people with superior attitudes [I’m looking at you, NYC].

Instead, hotel employees, nice.  Cabbies, pleasant.  Museum employees, helpful.  Restaurant wait staff, attentive.  TSA, patient.

Who would have thought that while the jackweasels in the U.S. Congress can’t agree on which way is up, the rest of Washington is buzzing along like cooperative little bees making honey while the flowers grow?

# # #

I took all of these tulip photos with Zen-Den’s iPhone, which is something that I’ve never done before.

# # #

WHILE MOST OF our time in D.C. was taken up with business events, we did manage to do a few things.

  • We had a delicious lunch at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, which is a gorgeous old-fashioned hotel in Adams Morgan that you may remember from scenes in The Pelican Brief.
  • We rode the metro which made me feel like a young twenty-something fresh out of college, assuming I’d end up in a big east coast city.  [That didn’t happen, now did it?]
  • We went to the National Gallery of Art, toured it, then ate lunch in the cafeteria in the basement by the waterfall because… well, that’s what we do when we’re in D.C. together.
  • We wandered around the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden which was pretty even if we were a week late for the cherry blossoms.
  • We saw the Navy Yard, the Watergate Complex and Rock Creek Park from a taxi.
  • And while waiting at Reagan National Airport for our flight home, we saw an Honor Flight of WWII & Korea veterans arriving in D.C.  At their gate a live jazz quartet playing pop standards from the 1940s & 1950s met the group, while a crowd gathered round and applauded.

# # # 

While the flowers were glorious, these iPhone photos don’t do them justice. Next time I’ll bring my real camera with me. 🙂

# # #

IT’S BEEN A long time since I’ve been anywhere that I felt as comfortable as I did on this Washington D.C. trip.  We’re both ready to return soon.

Next time I’d like to focus on seeing more of the presidential and war monuments;  take in a few more museums;  perhaps go to a concert;  and breakfast each morning on fresh east coast bagels with a schmear & a coffee regular.

How have I lived without them?

Here’s A Thought: Healthy Meals, Happy Life

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 9.31.52 AM

 I found an interesting infographic, from Cooks Smart, that talks about meal planning and the ways in which it can help a family live a better life.

It struck a chord with me because I’ve cooked more this winter than in the past three years combined.  For reasons related to good health, boredom and a husband who’ll eat [without complaint] whatever I dream up, I’ve gone back into the kitchen.

And I’m loving it.  Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 4.15.39 PM

I grew up around parents and aunts who enjoyed making meals.  Healthy meals.  Fancy meals.  Fast meals.  Exotic meals.  But meals created by using real ingredients and following recipes, written or oral, passed down through the family.

There was a sense of history associated with those shared recipes.  Back then we connected through food.

• • •

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 9.31.00 AM

 However today I hesitate to even mention that I like to cook, here or in real life.  Many women who I know see it as passé or pointless.

Most of the women really.

Better to eat a Lean Cuisine “like a normal person” one of them told me.  Why waste time cooking?

Another told me she cooks on holidays only.  That way she can use her fancy plates and silverware and glassware.  Everyday [thankless] cooking is not for her, she said.  Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 4.14.11 PM

But I like the stress free everyday sort of cooking that I do.  I follow some recipes [more or less].  Or I wing it to see what happens when I throw some ingredients together.

Either way, I believe, that with the right attitude cooking is creative fun that leads to healthy meals– and, maybe even, a happier life.

 [Image sources here and here.]

Two Impressions About SNL Turning 40

I stayed up to watch most of the SNL 40th anniversary special last night.  I doubt that I know anyone who didn’t watch at least part of it, even if we don’t watch the show on a regular basis anymore.

I roll with those who laugh.

My first impression after watching the show was that while the skits on Saturday Night Live have had their ups and downs over the years, the players who performed the skits have been consistently amazing, if for no other reason than that they showed up.

It’s easy to forget how difficult it is to be involved in a live performance and make it work to the best of your ability.  There’s a lesson there: just because you aren’t a brilliant success in one place, doesn’t mean that you’re a failure.

Just look at what some of these players went on to do.

And my second impression is that SNL used to have some funny, universally recognized catchphrases [“Jane, you ignorant slut.”“Well, isn’t that special?”] but that’s no longer the case, is it?  If it is, I never hear or read them.

I miss those snarky SNL characters, with their enduring catchphrases and spot on observations, who made me laugh at the foibles of human nature while bringing skits to life.  Those hilarious characters, who permeated our real world, were nothing if not memorable.

Like the ones from long ago who we saw last night.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 6.48.10 AM

Mild Winter Weather Distracts Sincere Blogger From Her To-Do List

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 8.10.13 AM

{ source }

• • •

I HAD PLANS for this week.  Big plans.  I was going to be all about updating this blog.  Making it prettier.  Revising my pages.  Getting back into the blogging groove.

Admirable goals.

BUT WE’VE HAD unseasonably warm winter weather this week.  I’m talking snow-free days in the 50s with lots of sunshine.

This is unheard of around here.

AND I’VE FOUND it impossible to sit still in our home office staring at a computer screen when I can be outside… in January… wearing a lightweight jacket… and goofing off wherever I want to be.

I’m sure that you understand. 

SO I’VE DECIDED that instead of missing out on what is right before my nose, I’m going to put my To-Do List in my desk drawer where it can rest until I get back to it.  Which will be next week, presumably, when winter, inevitably, returns.