Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Our Introduction to the South's "Hostess City"

It is still about three weeks until our 25th wedding anniversary and over one month ago The Colonel and I celebrated it by taking a much anticipated (and planned) trip to Savannah "The Hostess City of the South", Georgia.

The Colonel and I love history and Savannah (and the surrounding area) is drenched in Colonial and Civil War history.

Savannah was established in 1733 as the Colonial Capital Province of Georgia by General James Edward Oglethorpe. He was sent to Georgia by King George II (hence the name, Georgia) to create a buffer between the English Carolinas and Spanish Florida as well as French Louisiana.

Oglethorpe did not allow lawyers, rum, slaves or Catholics in his newly established province. He thought Catholics would be influenced by or sympathize with Catholic Spain in nearby Florida. Oglethorpe thought there was no need for lawyers and that people could work out their differences between themselves. Rum caused people to become intoxicated, which in turn caused trouble and Oglethorpe was personally against slavery (Georgia's history had Oglethorpe rolling in his grave a few times since his original social experiment of 1733 I would imagine).

Our very first experience in Savannah was checking into a guest house that was built in 1872 by John Feely, on land that was once owned by the last Royal Governor of Georgia, James Wright.

This was the little, enclosed garden area behind the guest house.

And this was our private balcony. On the balcony was a wrought iron table and two chairs, the perfect place for a cup of coffee in the morning.

We stayed on the second floor. We had a beautiful bedroom, a gorgeous bathroom and a fabulous parlor.

During most of our stay at the guest house (6 nights) we were the only ones in the entire house....or were we? The Colonel and I would hear footsteps and dragging sounds from the floor above us when no one else was staying at the house. Savannah is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in the United States.

The minute we walked into the guest house we were smitten with its historic charm and taken in by its beauty (actually when I saw it on line while looking for lodging, it was then that I was smitten).

The ceilings in the guest house are beautiful. In 1890 two Norwegian ship painters were staying at the house and instead of paying rent with money (they apparently were short of) they offered to paint the ceilings. The ceilings in our bedroom and parlor were beautiful as well as the ceiling of the parlor on the ground floor.

Our beautiful bedroom and its ceiling.

Gorgeous bathroom.

Fabulous parlor.

This is the ceiling of the first floor parlor.

A close-up of the detail; a delicate butterfly and flowers.

While staying at the guest house we couldn't help but feel transported to the year 1872. The parlor especially made us feel that way with its floor to ceiling windows, original hardwood floors and opulent appointments. During the day and evenings horse-drawn carriages would pass beneath our parlor windows. The clip-clop of hooves would become louder as the carriage drew nearer and would fade away with its departure. You could imagine you were 139 years in the past where no cars existed.

Looking out our parlor windows and across the street we could see the balcony of the Owens-Thomas house where the Marquis de Lafayette gave a rousing speech in front of a throng of listeners on March 19, 1825.

The image of the painting below is from the Internet; Preston Russell

Lafayette (67 at the time) toured all of the states (with "Rock Star" appeal), travelling more than 6,000 miles at the request of President James Monroe in honor of the 50th anniversary of the United States of America.

Lafayette, born into a wealthy French family (and later married into an even wealthier family), as a young man had sympathized with the American struggle for independence and fought in crucial battles of the American Revolution. He was at Valley Forge with George Washington (he would later name his son George Washington Lafayette and his son would travel with him on his 1825 tour of the U.S.A.).

If our very first experience of Savannah was an indication of what the "Hostess City of the South" had to offer us, we were going to have a remarkable and diverting time on our anniversary trip.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Genetics or Lifestyle: Which is The Real Fountain of Youth?

One day, The Colonel, Yam and I were shopping at Wal-Mart when Yam spotted an elderly gentleman shopping all alone. (The photos used here are stock photos from the Internet).

"Aw, I bet he lives all alone and does his own cooking too," Yam said, "I feel sorry for him and I just want to give him a hug."

I admit, I felt the same way.

We discussed the old man's possible life scenario some more as I pulled out a gallon of 1% milk that had an acceptable expiration date stamped upon it (The Colonel was in the cat food section, we would meet up with him near the checkout lanes).

As we finished with our checkout and made our way to the exit, we spotted the same elderly gentleman. He and his cart were at the exit door at the same time we were. We looked over to him as he was gathering up three or four full, plastic Wal-Mart bags into his hands.

"Can I help you with your bags?" asked Yam.

"No, but you can help me with the cart by putting it back for me," said the elderly man.

So, Yam did.

We walked to our vehicle and noticed the elderly man following us. His vehicle was parked near ours.

Before going to his car, he came over to our truck.

"I should probably be helping you with your bags," he said to Yam, as he lifted all of his plastic bags using just one arm.

"I am 97-years-old, I live alone, still drive, take care of my own yard and run on the treadmill three times a week at the wellness center," he said as he smiled.

He told us he still drives his two cars that he bought new, 29 and 31 years ago. His car looked brand spanking new. He takes as much great care with it as he does himself obviously.

I asked him what his secret to longevity was and he said it was hard work.

He was impressive.

We said our goodbyes.

Our encounter with this sprightly, mentally sharp, elderly gentleman got me to thinking...

First, I have to start taking better care of myself.

Second, what matters more in ensuring one's longevity, mental acuity and physical agility in old age... genetic make-up or lifestyle choices?

We've all heard the stories of people who have reached 100 and drink alcohol or smoke daily.

Then there is the story of Jim Fixx, the running guru and author of the 1977 best seller, The Complete Book of Running, who was found dead of a heart attack on the side of a New England road at 52 years of age.

I don't think genetic make-up or lifestyle choices can ever be independent of one another when it comes to aging well. Having great genes is an excellent foundation upon which wise lifestyle choices can be laid when building a long, healthy life.

Take what you were born with and take care of it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On Turning 50 or Keeping My Chin(s) Up

I'm 50.

The Big 5-0.

I am not sad or depressed, just a little surprised when I stop and think about it (I vividly remember my parents turning 50).

I am generally a "glass is half-full" type of gal and turning 50 has not changed that.

When thinking about writing this piece for my blog, I googled the Internet, searching for positive quotes/sayings about turning you can imagine, not a whole lot of those out there.

I did find a few that echoed my sentiments about reaching the half-century mark.

40 is the old age of youth; 50 is the youth of old age.

Aging seems to be the only available way to live a long life.

It is better to be "over the hill" than to be buried under it.

The years have gone by quickly. As I age, each year seems to pass quicker than the one before it. This phenomenon does not make me sad, it makes me eager to take advantage of the years ahead of me and make sure I to live them fully and use my time wisely.

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. -Carl Sandburg

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Sizable Matter

Size does matter.

It matters especially when you want to be known for being the World's or The United States' Smallest/Littlest (insert noun here).

I have visited the World's Smallest Police Station located in Carrabelle, FL. The Colonel and I took Yam and Spud to see it when we lived in Florida's Panhandle (2001-2006).

The police station is a phone booth.

Originally the police phone was in a call box that was bolted onto a building. The police would get drenched while answering the phone when it was raining, so in early 1963 the phone was moved to a phone booth. The police had hoped this move would also stop people from making unauthorized long-distance phone calls from the police phone. It didn't. Eventually the dial was removed so people could no longer make the calls.

One morning, after Yam and Spud got on the school bus, The Colonel surprised me with a day trip to Ochopee, FL. Ochopee sits on the edge of the Everglades and reportedly has a population of 11.

Ochopee is home to the Smallest Post Office in the United States. It is a 7 x 8-foot building that was once an irrigation pipe shed for a tomato farm. In 1953, a fire destroyed Ochopee's general store which housed the post office, so the post office was moved to its current location.

There is no bathroom in the air-conditioned post office, so when nature calls the clerk has to drive 3 miles west to a Subway restaurant or one mile east to the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters (the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters was the real destination of the surprise day trip and seeing the post office was an added bonus).

While The Colonel and I were recently traveling Coastal Highway 17 in Georgia, we passed The Littlest Church in The United States, "Where folks rub elbows with God".

It was so cute tucked into the woods a little ways from the highway, so inviting.

A woman named Agnes Harper had the 10 x 15 church built in 1949. She wrote the deed in the name of Jesus Christ. Mrs. Harper installed stained-glass windows from England and there is a glass star in the roof that allows sunlight to flood the little church, lighting the interior at midday.

The church is open to all for worship and is open 24 hours a day. There is room for 13 people inside (was that intentional...Jesus plus the 12 Apostles?).

Size matters too when you want to be known as the Largest/Biggest (again, insert noun here) in the World or The United States.

So far, The Colonel, Yam, Spud and I have visited the World's Largest Hand-dug Well located in Greensburg, Kansas. It was hand-dug in 1887 at a cost of $45,000. The well is 109-feet long and 32-feet in diameter.

We (along with a Mennonite family) descended to the well's bottom via an illuminated stairway and then climbed our way back to the surface by retracing our steps on the stairway. As I recall (we visited the well sometime between 1996-1998), it was a bit cool down in the well, kind of cave like. It was (and still is) amazing to think the huge well was dug completely by hand.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011