Thursday, May 29, 2008
Okay, so having recounted the lovely time I had in Savannah, it's time to move on and talk about Des Moines, where I spent last week. I left my camera home because Alex had a show at school while I was away and wanted Mike to record it for me, so no pics. But I will say Des Moines is beautiful. So green and they're not afraid of letting space just be, unlike Queens, which seems to be more and more of the mindset that something must occupy every available inch of space these days.
Okay - so getting to Des Moines? A bit problematic. Apparently, I can catch a nonstop flight to Sweden more easily than I can Iowa. There's one Northwest flight a day that goes there direct, and without knowing Northwest's lousy reputation in advance (hindsight is 20/20), I booked the one flight.
Travel Day - I get to LaGuardia at about 10 a.m. for my 11:30 flight, only to be told by the skycap at curbside check-in that I need to "go inside and talk to someone, because this flight's been canceled." WTF? I'm starting out like this? Are you kidding? Luckily, Mike, my personal ZenMaster, was still there and proceeded to take the e-ticket from my rapidly clenching fists and called Northwest, getting me booked on a flight leaving about the same time but stopping over in Minneapolis. Whatever. I deal. I get checked in fairly quickly (that was the only thing that was fair or quick that day), reluctantly kiss Mike goodbye, and head to the gate.
No exaggeration - depending on the destination of the flight, anywhere from 50-100 people are at each Northwest gate, yelling. It's a clusterfrack kind of day, folks. My flight ends up leaving almost an hour later than expected, so I'm calling the folks in Iowa that I'm supposed to be meeting with and giving them updates.
Get to Minneapolis, and I'm pretty much the quintessential angry New Yorker at this point. When I get to the gate where my connection is leaving from, I see a flight to Bismarck, North Dakota listed. I ask the guy at the gate about my Des Moines connection and he CHUCKLES and says, "Oh that flight's delayed at least an hour."
This, my friends, leads to a profanity-laden meltdown that probably melted the ears of all near me. Thankfully, I had the werewithal to walk away from the gate and have this meltdown on poor Mike and my mother. Mike begged me to consider some food, since the first flight not only did not offer food - after an hour delay and a 2 hour flight - and indeed had the cojones to charge for snacks. I didn't want to put any money into this airline or airport terminal, but I saw an Einstein's Bagel place so I put a total of $1.59 into Minneapolis.
The connecting flight ended up being delayed by TWO HOURS. No vouchers to get food for everyone inconvenienced. No snacks on the plane, unless you wanted to pay for it. Great customer service, Northwest!
I finally land in Des Moines, and miraculously, so did my luggage. I called the complimentary shuttle at the hotel, which took 40 minutes to show up. Got up to my hotel room, let everyone know who needed to that I had landed without police needing to take me off the plane, and stared out the window. Seeing neon, I knew there had to be food out there, so I took off.
It's raining. Spectacular.
Then I saw them. The Golden Arches, out of the corner of my eye. There was a McDonald's, right next to the hotel. I dashed in, got a burger, fries, and a caramel iced coffee to ease my pains, and ran back up to my hotel room where I scowled at the four walls and watched a Family Guy marathon. Then I finished off some knitting I'd been working on, and decided to hit the gym and burn off some anger.
It took me 10 hours to get to Des Moines from New York. It should not take that long to get there, folks.
Other than that horrific first day, I really enjoyed my time in Des Moines. They're an hour behind New York, so I felt like I had a luxurious extra hour at bedtime. It's beautiful out there (and real estate makes me cry - you can't get a tiny, cramped NYC apartment for what you'd pay for a house out there), and everyone was just wonderful. Who knows? I may even consider not throwing a fit at going out there again in the future - but not for another full week. I just can't be away from my boys that long.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Part of The Pirate's House - such good buffet, with lots of cool Treasure Island goodness hanging around. And apparently, a haunted room upstairs!
Fort Pulaski, a Confederate fort that was rocked by the Union cannon - there are even two shells left in the wall, which I completely geeked out on. What you don't see, however, is my sheer terror - there were two FREAKING ALLIGATORS in the water - that I saw, let alone the ones swimming around underneath, just waiting... I was totally expecting a scene out of Lake Placid to occur while I was waiting for Mike to take the picture.
YARN!! I was lucky enough to go to Wild Fibre Yarns while I was in Savannah, and the wall to wall yarny goodness was almost too much for me to handle. The woman who ran the store was so friendly, and even invited me to the stitch in the next day, but alas, I wasn't able to make it. I did, however, treat myself to some pretty sock yarn.
We found a Sonic, and Mike finally, after years of obsessing, was able to procure the Cherry Limeade Slushie of legend. His joy was short-lived, however, upon realization that it was mostly ice. There was no joy in Mudville, ladies and gentlemen.
Didja miss me?
Okay - Savannah. I need to live there, at least part-time, and soon. It is beautiful. Linda, I ::heart:: you for making sure I didn't miss out on River Street Sweets, which is quite possibly the happiest place on the planet. It's certainly the best smelling. I enjoyed yet another bit of praliney goodness last night, just to remind myself how much I love Savannah.
Homemade ice cream and candy stores lined the blocks of the historic district. Oh. My. GAWD. So. Good.
Who knew there was that much pirate action in Savannah? Mike and I ate at The Pirate's House (more pictures to come, honest), which, according to some other folks we overheard while on the buffet line, has better food than my pal Paula. What a Southern buffet - Southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots so sweet they melt in your mouth, and pecan gravy. And do I need to mention that the biscuits were amazing? Seriously, it's the South. It's a law; if you don't have good biscuits, I think they can revoke your license to operate a business.
Anyway, The Pirate's House was quite the hotspot back in the day - it even inspired Robert Louis Stevenson as he wrote Treasure Island. Which completely speaks to the book and history nerd in me. So check it out for the food and the atmosphere, because apparently, there's even a ghost that haunts one of the rooms - as we found out when we took the Hearse Tour.
Yes, you read that right. We loaded ourselves into a hearse and toured haunted Savannah, and it rocked. The customer service, to start, is fantastic - Mike called while we were at lunch, but no one was at the phone. He hung up, and no less than 10 or 15 minutes later, someone called saying that they saw on the caller ID that they had received a phone call and could they help us? Within 5 minutes, we were booked and were going to be picked up at 9 that evening.
The guide, Nathan, was GREAT. From his very cool Linda Blair in Exorcist tee-shirt to his encyclopedic knowledge of haunted Savannah (he needed to pass at 380-question test to score the gig, folks), he kept us laughing and gave us a couple of good old-fashioned jump scares to remember the trip.
We ate at a Moroccan restaurant, Casbah, that made some fantastic food. The belly dancers tried to get us up on a few occasions, but we politely declined. I don't think that needs to be exposed to the public, ya know? I'll leave it to the professionals. We were all set to eat with our right hands as Moroccan families do, but when the saffron rice came out, we looked at each other, looked at the rice, and asked for utensils. Hey, if they had thrown some bread in, I would have given it the old college try. I had chicken kebabs, so I was all good without utensils on that end, at least...
And I would be completely out of line if I didn't talk about our anniversary dinner at Alligator Soul. Mike made the reservations a few weeks in advance, and told the folks it was our anniversary. We got there, and were treated to seats in a beautiful little nook in the restaurant, plus a champagne toast and a complimentary taste of what I think was a new dish the chef is working on - it was delicious; basically (to my very untrained palate) a Cajun chili that had the perfect amount of kick to it. The steaks were awesome, and I burst out laughing when the gentleman I believe was one of the head chefs (I just checked, and it's not head chef Chris Dinello) came over to Mike holding the "Little Eddie" steak, clapped him on the shoulder and said, "That's my steak. You're going to sleep." He smiled at me and said, "Sorry."
It was just a wonderful atomosphere, Southern hospitality in full effect, and it never felt forced. The staff came over to us to make sure we had everything we needed and that we were enjoying ourselves. And when it came time for dessert, my personal-sized cheesecake (ahhhhh... cheesecake) came to me with "Happy Anniversary" written in chocolate. It was just a great ending to a great meal.
All in all, Savannah is beautiful. I can't wait to get back there and bring the kids. I think Will is going to dig the hearse tour - in fact, he doesn't even know I went on it this time. Because I would be in some serious hot water. So let's keep that our little secret, okay?
Sunday, May 18, 2008
..and they will do it through their pralines. I am currently suffering from withdrawl of Southern food. It's not fair. They don't send you home with care packages of Southern fried chicken or anything, to help you get yourself off slowly. No, they just cut you off. Luckily for me, I have a box of River Street Sweets here to help get me through the rough patches. Incidentally, their catalog? It has the effect on me that I imagine porn does for men.
So on with the show. I'm going to take a few posts to describe the joy of Savannah, and I'll handle just a bit right now since I'm time crunched and have to get on a freaking plane tomorrow morning.
After a pretty uneventful flight (got some knitting done, and some progress in my latest Doctor Who novel), we landed in Savannah. Mike had to run to the bathroom, so I'm hanging out in the gate area, when I see JAMIE DEEN walk by me. Let that sink in - JAMIE. DEEN. Paula's boy. Being the slick, unaffected New Yorker that I am, I gape, open-mouthed. Then I grab my phone, text Stacey and Piera, and call my mother.
"MOM!!" I hiss. "Jamie Deen just walked into the newstand where I'm standing!"
Roe: "Mom. Jamie Deen. Jamie. Deen. The older Deen brother!"
Mom: "You saw Jan and Dean?"
Folks, I wouldn't know Jan and Dean if they ran me over in an SUV. The only reason I even know who Jan and Dean are is because they were featured on some K-Tel beach oldies compilation that advertised on Channel 11 (11 Alive!) when I was a kid. I take a deep breath, see Jamie buying some newspapers, and say...
Roe: "JAMIE DEEN! DEEEEEEEN!!! PAULA DEEN'S GORGEOUS SON!"
Mom: "Oh!!! The good-looking one? What about the little one?"
Now, she tells Will that I've seen Jamie Deen, and he's asking me for his autograph. At this point, I get a text from Stacey, so I tell my mother I'll call her back. Stacey's asking for a camera phone shot. Folks, there is NO WAY I can do that surreptitiously, and I would look like an even bigger dope. I'm not in Savannah for 10 minutes and I've blown my street cred entirely. Mike emerges from the bathroom, and I figure I've already gone this far. I run over to him and blurt out, "Jamie Deen is in the newsstand!"
What's that about New Yorkers seeing celebrities all the time, so they don't even notice them? Yeah. Right.
I ask Mike to go get his autograph for his son. He refuses. Apparently, the prospect of meeting Jamie Deen is lost on him. He tells me to go get his autograph. No. We take our bags and walk, as Mike calls his friend who's letting us stay in his apartment while we're in Savannah. I'm busily texting Stacey as Mike casually whacks my shoulder and gestures.
It's Bobby Deen, walking the same way.
I stop in mid-text, and call Karen to trumpet the news. I'm such a nerdling. This is my entrance to Savannah? Complete Food Network fangirl meltdown?
While Mike goes to the car rental desk, I call Stacey and document my shame. She laughs at me. Sigh. I never claimed to be aloof.
Enjoy some Savannah pics while I head to Des Moines; more updates as I go.
Awwww... self-portrait on River Street.
I'm back - briefly, as I head off to beautiful downtown Des Moines tomorrow. I feel so jetset. Not.
Before I get into the weekend in Savannah - which I wish I could have remote blogged, but my remote blogging ability is still mysteriously down (I blame Mike), so I just texted Stacey constantly with updates - let me expound on the gloriousness of the latest swap I was involved with, the Spring Fling Coffee Swap. I just got my package out in the mail before I left for Savannah, so I really, really hope my swap partner likes everything as much as I love what Dandy sent me!
Behold - Canadian yarn! Nice, thick, bright and wooly! She says it's very warm - since she lives in Saskatchewan, Canada, I'm inclined to believe her. I see some lovely cabling happening in my near future. Ahhhh...
And she sent me some of her own yarn. No, not from her stash - she spun this herself! And dyed it! With Kool-Aid! Will even sniffed it and claimed he could smell the flavors. I was too busy smooshing it all over my face to try and discern the flavor scents, because this stuff is SO SOFT. I was so blown away that Dandy spun this and dyed this for me; it's just so cool. I'll just stare at these beauties and pet them for a little while; I want to wait and figure out just what to make them.
Here's a shot of the entire package - as you can see, she spoiled me rotten. And in the left down there? Oh yes. Those are Hello Kitty sparkly stickers. How much do you want to be me right now? She also sent over some rocking Vanilla Nut ground roast, which I immediately ran to the kitchen to brew (nectar of the gods, my friends; nectar of the gods); some Starbuck's Breakfast Blend - she must know I can't get out of bed in the morning without some coffee, so she took pity on my poor soul.
I also got beautiful handmade soap, in a funky handmade drawstring bag. I think I need to bring this along to Des Moines with me so I can luxuriate whilst in the sticks. Coffee-scented candle - hello! She sent the cutest little magnet of a knitted swatch with tiny knitting needles, and a tin with the cutest stitch markers and a handy-dandy pair of little scissors. In a needlepoint carrying case, no less. I also got an adorable little knitting journal (with a coffee cup on it!) and a pen, and the coolest red mug that says, "coffee coffee coffee coffee" on it - again, my morning refrain.
She even sent me Canadian candy!! I am particularly looking forward to the CoffeeCrisp bar. Yum.
I know I'm leaving a bunch of stuff out, but I'm just so blown away by this fantastic package that words escape me. Dandy, thank you SO much for everything. I'm loving how these swaps are introducing me to so many great people all over the world. You rock!!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I've been trying to bang out several reader reports and finish some work before I get on a plane to Savannah tomorrow morning (ahh... I can hear Paula Deen welcoming me already), but I do have some updates that I'll post about later, most notably, the arrival of my super-fantabulous Coffee 'N Yarn Swap package from the awesome Buzz Knitter. Who gave me sparkly Hello Kitty stickers. Jealous much?
Monday, May 12, 2008
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
I've missed a couple of these - bad blogger! - so I'll just jump in with the latest blog challenge:
We'll go free form this week - Post about your WIPs, post about your package, post about the weather where you are - just be sure to include that the post is for the Spring Fling Weekly Topic somewhere inside it when you tell us it's there! I'd love to hear how folks are enjoying the goodies they received, if they have, or how much fun you had shopping for your pal!
First off, it is BEAUTIFUL this week. Will had a game on Sunday which we initially heard was going to be a washout, but it ended up being a beautiful day and it's just continued so far. It's really Spring! Yay!!!
WIPs (works in progress)... I've got a pair of cabled socks for my mom on the needles using Sock it to Me yarn. She likes 'em longer than anklets, so I'm hoping I have enough... I also have another surprise for Baby Benevides that started on the needles, but ended up frogged when the pattern irritated me. I still consider it a WIP because it is in my mind. I mean, I have the yarn, I have the needles, I just have to actually combine the two now. So that's half the battle, right?
My fantabulous swap partner e-mailed me to let me know my package is on its way, so I'm so excited!!! I can't wait to find out who it is! As for my package, I got a little derailed by life in general (see the post below) but I'm making good progress. I have to lay everything out tonight and see what else I need to fill up the box. I want to get it out in the next few days so my partner gets it on time. I hope she likes everything! I have really enjoyed shopping (because, you know, that's a surprise) for this swap. It's coffee! And yarn! What's not to love, right? I'm also working on a little handmade bit to put into the box, so that should be done shortly.
Okay, I guess my boss expects me to be productive today, so let me sign off for now. TTFN!