Category Archives: Travel

Storm King

Collection Long weekends usually don’t have an impact on my life except that other people are not working. I was delighted when Rachel texted and asked me if I wanted to meet them at the Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, New York, on Memorial Day. Somewhere I read about Storm King years ago and had always wanted to go so I of course said yes and went on my little driving adventure to find it. What I experienced was beyond my expectations. The giant sculptures are truly amazing and so diverse that there is something for everyone. Rachel, Dave, and Riley left at the same time I did and we ended up with their car 5 cars behind mine at the entrance so the day started well with amazing timing! Lots of tourists from all over the world wandered around the beautiful grounds on foot, on bikes, with strollers, picnicking or not. It was impressive not only for the scale of the sculpture but the quality as well. Dave and Rachel had researched it so they knew exactly what they wanted to see — the wall as art was beautiful and, as Rachel said, had a fairytale quality to it. aboutRoy Lichenstein’s Mermaid nestled (if you can use that word to express something so massive) on a little island in a creek. Unmistakably Lichenstein, it brought back memories of meeting Roy Lichenstein at the Guggenheim in the late 60s.

hillRiley enjoyed the freedom of running around — children all over the place enjoying the hills and the freedom to appreciate the huge installations. She rang the big bell which resounded throughout the landscape and especially enjoyed the water features. bellThe center has been around for 50 years and is constantly adding to its collection. Unlike a gallery collection, it does make you wonder how anything “on loan” or in a special exhibition gets constructed then installed then removed. It was interesting to hear other people commenting on the art, the beauty, the weight, the scale, and for some the ugliness. One particular sculpture looked like papier mache from a distance and we declared it quite hideous but up close it was spectacular made from tons of melted stainless steel and plastic that formed clouds and waves. The Buddha was beyond my ability to describe. SONY DSC

All the while I was thinking, “I must blog about this tomorrow.” Usually I blog in my head before I sit down at the computer, but this time it was different. I didn’t have the words — still don’t — to describe the experience and how it affected me. Not only was it special to experience the art, but to see it with Riley, Rachel and Dave was indeed special. Dave took beautiful photographs, I ran after Riley a lot which was fun, and we all enjoyed a picnic lunch at the much cooler area north of (and much higher up than) the rolling fields. It was here that the Calder and Nevelson sculptures dominated the landscape for me. Even walking to the restrooms, there were three gold sculptures that you couldn’t help but stop and look at. Seeing it all with family was the best part of course. I wouldn’t have gone otherwise and would have missed a day that I won’t forget for a long time.

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Home Again

After each visit to Tallahassee I leave with very mixed feelings. A month in the beautiful weather (although most Tallahasseans will tell you it was extremely cold!) provides welcome respite from the snow, ice, and bitter cold. Jill allows me to stay as long as I like and Sydney and Zelda enjoy each other’s company as much as Jill and I do (enjoy one another’s company that is!). As usual, the weather determined my travel schedule and I left for Weaverville thinking I’d stay a couple of nights and spend time with my dear friends. However, another snowstorm was predicted so I stayed overnight and left the next morning. Eighteen hours driving in the two days makes for a long trip, but my new car was comfortable, got good gas mileage so limited my stops, and Sydney was a trooper. When I arrived home, the stairs were covered in ice and snow but my friend Sue helped me tackle the many trips up and down to empty the car. In no time at all I was again back in my little red house in the woods.

Sydney was so excited to be home and in her yard until she realized the snow was deeper than she is high. My first order of business was to dig two paths for her to use and it was a good thing I did it immediately because the snow was light and fluffy whereas in the following days, it iced over and was too hard to shovel — literally! So, Sydney went from walking in the park in the sunshine to very cold paws in the snow. tallypark IMG_2504 I went from the warmth of Tallahassee weather, not to mention the warmth of my wonderful friends, to the below freezing temperatures of northeast Pennsylvania.

Upon completing what became known as my gluttony tour of north Florida and south Georgia (given the fact that I ate so many meals out to sample as many Tallahassee restaurants as I possibly could), I am now back to finding healthy ways to cook for one. I still love Kool Beanz and cannot resist the coconut meringue cake for dessert, but found a new favorite, Sakura, where the food is wonderful and the service even better. However, seeing my friends, going to book club, doing the biannual trip to Thomasville with Kim, having dinner at Roxanne’s, going to B Sharps with Jill, seeing Garrison Keillor, stopping by Robin and John’s house for many cups of coffee, meeting Beth for coffee and book shopping, and catching up with friends and colleagues from FSU — that’s hard to beat! Being home is lovely. Seeing Rachel, Riley and Dave almost as soon as I arrived back was a welcome treat but now to get back to my own routine. I love my trips to Tallahassee and love coming home too. What a lucky person I am. Oh, and Sydney’s a lucky dog too.

Back in Tallahassee

I have already broken my New Year resolution by not blogging every week in spite of my friend, Robin, reminding me (as I asked her to)! It could be that I’ve been traveling, doing some consulting work, or trying to be polite and not squirrel myself away in my bedroom but that would not be truthful. Just hadn’t been motivated but I’ve written many blogposts in my head.

My cousin, Jill, keeps my February reservation open and so I left the icy, snowy, gray Poconos behind. Had to find a day in between snowstorms to get started and kept driving south til there was no more white stuff on the ground. icicles

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You can tell from these photos that, when my Tallahassee friends complain about the cold, I have little sympathy. It is glorious to walk the dog to the park near Jill’s home and to leave the house without a jacket. tallypark Sydney is enjoying the weather, too, but I don’t want to gloat too much since I will soon be going back to dealing with the weather determining what I can and cannot do and where I can and cannot go!!

As usual I am catching up with friends and have noticed more than ever that with long-time faithful friends, we sit down and just start the conversation as if we had been together yesterday. More and more, though, I think of my house in Pennsylvania as home and, whether I see them or not, I like being within easy driving or train distance from my children. Occasionally I think about my stuff that is waiting for me at home and, while it will be very difficult to be alone again, it is what I have chosen as my new life. You are probably sick and tired of reading about this theme but, for those that are recently retired or thinking of retiring, it is worth knowing that for some of us it takes years to get used to not working full time, having time on our hands, and making choices that change how we look at the world. I consider myself a lucky person to be able to come to Tallahassee a couple of times a year, visit with family and friends, and feel comfortable being here. This time I think I’ll be comfortable going home, too. In the meantime, I will leave in a few minutes to have coffee with Robin and John, pick up where we left off in our last conversation, and I will not wear a jacket!!

What I Learned on My Trip Part I

Having just returned from a 3-week trip to Tallahassee and Weaverville, I have so much to ponder about so many things. I pretty much ate my way through Tallahassee yet again, meeting friends and colleagues for breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost every day. The days I did not have plans, I happily spent with my cousin, Jill. jillandgrill I learned a lot about assembling a grill and a fire pit. There is a lot of frustration, swearing, and getting into uncomfortable positions required to put together a grill. Strength is a plus and it took two of us to bend and twist the frame to the fire pit. With the help of our four-footed friends, we prevailed just in time for Jill to host a barbecue with smores for dessert. It was very satisfying (and not just the food). firepit

publixAnother thing I quickly realized was how much I miss Publix! As supermarkets go, it’s the best for so many reasons — great produce, great deli, large wine selection, an actual butcher who can help, sushi made on the premises — I could go on and on. I learned, however, that Publix + Whole Foods + Trader Joe’s = a shopping bonanza.

Tallahassee is as beautiful as ever with so much to offer. Each day as I drove from Marion Avenue to my destination, I was taken by the lush trees that lined the streets and the flowers that bloom all year long. As I write this, it is snowing and I am already wondering if I should move my car to the top of the driveway! Known for its beauty I was treated to an unexpected look a look at one of the only old growth longleaf pine forests left in the southeast — Greenwood Plantation. greenwood2My good friend, Kim, and I spent the day in Thomasville and on the way home she suggested we take a look. It was like traveling back in time to what the area looked like when plantations lined the road between Thomasville and Tallahassee. Still privately owned, Greenwood Plantation is a treasure that I knew little about until my day with Kim.

My friend, Robin, taught me about getting an Emeritus parking pass at FSU for only $10! She drove me to the University Center and the Card Center and, in less than an hour, I had my FSU ID card, a parking sticker and a gate card. Next time I have meetings at the University I will not have to be “fetched” by someone running from the building before I am parked illegally!! It’s the little things.

After 2 days home, with a little bit of time to reflect, I can saky that I learned the following: spending time with friends for companionship and great conversation sustains me; I am comfortable in my new home in the woods; and it is possible to have the best of both worlds. I just did.

Back in Tallahassee

Every year I make at least two trips back to Tallahassee. It’s difficult to get my head around the fact that I lived here for 37 years, then left so easily. Having been brought up in the northeast, attending Syracuse University (which prepared me for living in snow country!), and visiting the New York area while the kids were small, I always felt a sense of belonging in the north that I did not feel in the south. That said, when I got here last Thursday afternoon after eight states and a quick overnight stop in Weaverville, North Carolina, it was all so familiar and comfortable. wescott

While there are many many changes in the Tallahassee landscape, I still have trouble feeling so comfortable and yet not living here! It’s a very weird feeling. But, after 2 1/2 years away, I find myself identifying the things I miss. For example, the town the day before a big football game. It was a home game weekend so the university area was exciting, crowded, anticipatory. Only hours after arriving, I was in College Town, an area that didn’t exist when I lived here; beautiful apartments, restaurants, bars, parking (valet parking for students — are you kidding?!), all for students and within walking distance of campus. Fine dining in all parts of town, new shops, renovated buildings, a new downtown entrance, and a roundabout approaching the stadium. I miss getting in the car and pretty much getting wherever I want to be in less than 30 minutes — shopping is 5 minutes away for anything you could possibly need. Getting to the airport which is about as far as you can get is 30 minutes. Going to Costco was a fun activity for me (doesn’t that sound pathetic?!) mainly because it was so convenient. In the Pocono community where I live now it’s 20 miles each way to Home Depot or a decent grocery store, an hour to Costco in New Jersey, or to Homegoods or other stores. It’s 45 minutes at least to New York and shopping; 1 3/4 hours to New York City. These things are advantages as well, but when I went into Publix for a couple of things, I wanted to shop and shop and shop.

Canopy Rd Miccosukee I miss the beauty of Tallahassee, going out to lunch or dinner and running into people I know or taught or worked with. Now there are many things I do not miss: summers in Tallahassee, humidity, palmetto bugs, driving near the university or down Tennessee Street (especially on a game weekend), running into people you know everywhere you go (it’s a double-edged sword for sure!), Florida politics (although it is always entertaining), and working full-time.

Visiting here, coming home again, re-visiting — whatever you want to call it — is wonderful. I have said many times that I am thankful to be flexible enough to come to Tallahassee whenever I feel like it. So, having a great time in the gorgeous weather and wish you were here!!

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Car….

Yesterday was Michael’s birthday, so I drove into the city, picked him up, and we had lunch with Rachel and Riley in Park Slope. Parking is always a challenge so we were happy to find a spot a good walk to Rachel’s apartment but, as it turns out, a great place for a couple of random meetings. After a lovely lunch at which the waitress accommodated us with a picture (apologies to Rachel for the absolutely awful angle), mbirthdaytaking Riley to the swings, swing2and spending time together, Michael and I started our walk back to 4th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. On the way to the car, we bought a plastic swimming pool for Riley to use when she comes to visit the Poconos. I have been looking for months for a plastic pool and could only find inflatable ones so I was happy to see plastic pools out on the street in front of a very very small toy store on 5th Avenue in Park Slope. With Michael carrying it, we set off up 4th Street to the car.

Soon after turning the corner, a construction worker popped out of the street where he was working on a sewer line (at least that’s what it looked like). His hard hat covered head was then level with the sidewalk and he yelled, “Wait! I have to ask you a question.” As if this was perfectly reasonable, we stopped and he said, “Where did you get that plastic pool? I’ve been looking all over for one.” Michael gave him directions to the store around the corner and we headed up (it is on a slope after all) to the car. As Michael wrangled the pool into the back of the car (it was much larger than it looked when it was on the sidewalk), a car pulled up and the man asked, “Are you by any chance leaving?” This happens often when you pull out of a parking place but when I said “yes, just as soon as we can get this in the car,” he was so delighted! He said, “It IS my lucky day! It’s my birthday and because of that I got this great spot. I’m 66 today!” Michael replied, “It’s my birthday too!” The 66-year-old-man decided that it was fated that he get this spot because he was going to buy books and pulled up closer. He and Michael shook hands congratulating each other on their birthdays. We eventually pulled out, waved good bye to the man and he took the spot and then went to Barnes & Noble nearby, absolutely thrilled with his parking place that had special meaning.

It was such a lovely end to our time in Park Slope and it was very much a New York/Brooklyn experience. Funny how we took it all in stride, but when I was driving back home, I thought about how pleasant it was and how these odd little things really make you think. What were the odds of the person wanting our parking space to have the same birthday as Michael? When the construction worker popped up from beneath the street, he had the same problem I did finding an old-timey plastic kiddie pool. It was like something you would see in a movie and laugh. Only in New York for sure and I’ll add this to my collection of things that make me appreciate people I meet in unusual situations. What a fine day!

Home Again!

Talk about culture, climate, environment shock!! After a month in Tallahassee I headed north again stopping in Weaverville, NC, for a wonderful day with Lynda. Then the 10 1/2-hour drive to Lords Valley through some snow, arriving home to a volume of snow unlike any I’ve ever experienced. Fortunately, my friend Sue met me at the top driveway and helped me empty the car. Many trips up and down the 40 stairs but unloaded everything into the house and turned up the thermostats to counteract the frigid temperatures. This morning it was below zero when Sydney and I went outside. She wasn’t too pleased and when we got home and she needed the yard, she looked at me as if I was crazy for coming back to the snow, ice, and cold. snowing

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Visiting Tallahassee was wonderful. Catching up with friends and colleagues in a way that was relaxed and allowed me to explore some opportunities for consulting. The weather was glorious and staying with cousin Jill was so much fun. tally Our Tallahassee book club met for dinner and for the “formal” book club meeting and what a treat it was to see everyone, catch up, share a meal and wine, and even discuss the book. book club

By the time I got to Weaverville, though, I was ready to be home. I made the decision to move north to be closer to my children and I found myself missing them a lot and even missing being in my own home. However many times I question my decisions, I come back to the fact that this is now my home and I missed it. What I didn’t miss so much was being alone and not sharing small things with someone else (other than Sydney of course!). But, there are ways around that too. Email, Skype, phone calls all help enormously. My current focus on finding consulting work in Tallahassee and perhaps up here too is encouraging and exciting. It is, I think, just what I need to get back to a conversation that I enjoyed so much — I loved my job and my work so this may just be the perfect solution for remaining flexible while having something worth doing.

So, here I am again — bemoaning the cold and snow but thankful to have a place to go in February — Jill has already reserved my room for next year!! I am a lucky person to have friends who made my time away so incredibly special. Now I’m back, planning to see my children and the fabulous Riley. Even I wonder what there is to complain about!!

Enjoying Tallahassee’s “Winter”

treeinbloom I feel somewhat a traitor to my friends and family in the north. As you can see from the photo, Tallahassee has been absolutely glorious with perfect weather (at least as far as I am concerned), flowering trees (just starting), and wonderful opportunities to catch up with friends. This morning, I went to the university to meet with a long-time friend and colleague and it was so comfortable. Parking hasn’t changed at all, but the campus has as has the area surrounding the campus. I amazes me that things can happen so quickly. After all (1) I left here just under 2 years ago; and (2) I was HERE in October!! Some changes happened slowly, however — the demise of the Tallahassee Mall which was the place to shop when I moved here in 1974, the closing of independent and nationally-known bookstores. One thing really spoke to me this trip. gayfers

When Gayfer’s Department Store opened it was a really big deal in Tallahassee. I shopped for everything from baby clothes to china to Speak and Spell (anyone remember that?), not to mention decorative prints that I still have hanging in my new home. Even though Gayfer’s closed decades ago and the store became a Gayfer’s (gosh I hope I’m using the apostrophe properly or Robin will be calling) Maas Brothers clone for a short time, it has been unoccupied for many years. It is a sad commentary I think and itmakes me sad to see it. I remember going there with Michael when he was quite young and Mickey Mantle was there signing autographs on plastic baseballs. He wasn’t very nice actually but we were happy to get his autograph. I still have random mugs and platters that I got at the Trash and Treasure annual event. While this may sound like misplaced nostalgia for the good old days, I maintain that it is more than that — it is commentary on how we all have our own ways of remembering time and place.

In contrast there are so many new apartment buildings, restructured main roads through town that are lovely, trendy mid-town, and college town — no need for students to drive anymore — everything right at the edge of campus. brooklynsign My friend, Beth, and I went to Collegetown yesterday to check out Madison Social (a bar/restaurant), the Mexican restaurant, Urban Outfitters, clothing stores, yogurt shop and the Brooklyn Water Bagel restaurant. Not sure what’s original about this but they do serve bagels among many other things. I’m pretty sure the most important thing on the list for students is beer, but that’s for another blog!!

Tallahassee sure has changed, but here are some things that haven’t: A feeling of real hospitality, the spectacular weather, the gorgeous redbuds, magnolias, azaleas, and everything else that I don’t know what they are, Publix, and the people. How lucky I am to have a place to stay long enough to re-appreciate all that Tallahassee has to offer. Now it’s time to get back on the road and appreciate all that there is in my new home not the least of which is proximity to my amazing children and grandchild. By the time I get back, there will be a new grand-cat to welcome and Riley will be almost 6 months old.

Some Notes From Tallahassee

street While it is winter in Tallahassee, for me it has been a wonderful relief from the brutal cold in Lords Valley. As usual I am eating my way through Tallahassee with good friends and former university colleagues. Past visits have been short and rushed and relaxing a bit, spending time with my cousin, getting errands done where it’s easy to shop and get around — all these things make me thank my lucky stars! The Tallahassee Book Club has planned a dinner and changed the meeting date so I can participate; I will join Roxanne and Kim for our Virtual Book Club meeting next week. Wow! How will I ever readjust to my quiet, mostly solitary, life?!

So far, I have visited many restaurants — old favorites and new places — Kool Beanz of course (twice), Taco Republik (I don’t understand why it’s spelled with a “k”. Does that mean I undestand the “K” in Kool Beanz, not to mention the “z”?), Hopkins Eatery (both locations twice), Sage (awesome mussels and an amazing wine list),kimsage Siam Sushi, Bella Bella, Olive Garden, Gordo’s, Mikey’s Burgers, Seminole Grill, Black Dog Cafe, Chicken Salad Chic (really!), and fabulous meals at cousin Jill’s and at Robin’s! So much fun and still weeks to go!! I think I will be visiting the fitness center a lot when I get back.

Tallahasseans complain about the cold and rightfully so — they aren’t used to it — but, by my standards, the weather is glorious! There was that little bit of ice — people made snowmen — but take a look at the size!! snowman Every moment seems filled with positive energy that Sande Milton expanded on yesterday when we had coffee. What a gift it is to have a friend who seems to be able to get to the heart of the matter, identify issues, share common ideas and fears about retirement, and who knows your history so can make meaningful comments!! That seems obvious, doesn’t it? However, it is something I am learning to revalue as I reflect on being in a new place with a lot of time on my hands. In the meantime, I have to get ready for yet another lunch out (Hopking again — love their salads!) but need to get serious about actually being productive today (do I HAVE to?). To my friends and family in the northeast I hope you are staying warm and safe and I think of you every time I just go out the door without a jacket!! Oops — gloating again!

On Being a Guest

My friend, Robin, told me last night that I needed to “chill out” and learn how to accept others’ hospitality without guilt, thinking I am imposing, imagining that friends are somehow put out by my being here, that kind of thing. She knows me all too well! My cousin, Jill, invited me to stay for as long as I want (as long as I’m out by March 1st when she has another guest coming!). It was such a tempting invitation that I couldn’t resist and planned this trip to Tallahassee with no end date. This is VERY unusual for me. I typically plan to the max — all details covered, a schedule in place for meeting up with friends, and certainly an end date when I am going to be home. There were lots of reasons that I won’t go into here for not having an end date and I really thought it was rather brave of me. Still can’t get over the feeling of being an imposition, a bother, a pain in the butt, to my hosts.

Ridiculous! That’s what others say, but it’s still hard to be a long-term guest. So, I’ve tried to do a couple of things to ameliorate my pain-in-the-buttness! And, I am opinionated, think my way is best, do not hesitate to share my opinions, and am quite sure I am right most of the time anyway. So here are my suggestions for reducing guilt (not going to work for me, though, I’m quite sure) and for being a good guest.

1. When unpacking, try to put things away (if you are lucky enough as I am to have two drawers and a closet) so it’s not messy and you do not have things in public spaces.
2. Buy groceries that you like so your host (in this case my cousin who follows a MUCH healthier diet than I do!) doesn’t have to worry about breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. Dinners together are a bonus of staying with friends and family.
3. Buy groceries that your host likes, too. And, snacks that she has mentioned. This will either result in great praise or great criticism for putting out something that she otherwise wouldn’t have eaten!! I am obviously a bad influence (another example of long-term guest guilt!).
4. Give your host a heads-up on your schedule — when will you be home and when will you not. After all it’s her house and she deserves to know when she can watch her programs, make a favorite meal, or just have peace and quiet (not quite achievable here with two birds and two dogs one of which barks a lot).
5. Make your bed. This is primarily for the dogs but creates the illusion of good guestness.
6. Make a couple of meals — I love being waited on, love not cooking, so I assume others do too.
7. THEN…relax and enjoy the wonderful opportunity to visit with friends and family. Let them show you how much they value you and appreciate that you came to visit.

Of course, this is all easier said than done. I’m trying to take my own advice but as most of my friends and family know this is very difficult for me. Perhaps putting it in writing will help. I’m certain that staying in Tallahassee for a good long visit will do the trick!