Sunday, June 30, 2013

So Long, Little Tin Pin

It's just a little piece of bendable metal. For 42 years, the white M on a colored circle has been the wearable token that let you roam through the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And while there was a recycle box at the exit , most of us kept all those colorful little pins. Collect 'em all! That was my motto.

But now, the Met is retiring the pins for economic reasons, switching to throw-away-able paper stickers. Sigh. The march of progress, I guess.

I spent the afternoon in the Met. When I walked in and showed my membership card, the woman at the desk handed me a purple metal button and said, "The last one." I almost teared up. Yes, silly, I know. But that iconic M stamped on a colorful disk has been a friendly little piece of art and proof that I was keeping up my culture quotient.

I have a little wooden box filled with lots of pin colors, though by no means all of them. Every once in a while, I find one or two in the bottom on a purse. Now, I will cherish this very last purple button.

So long, little tin pin.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Morning in the Garden of Good and Evil, or What I Did in Savannah

I'm just gonna cut to the chase. Go to Savannah. I mean it. Get online right now, and make your reservations. Great history and outstanding food. Fun shopping and beautiful parks. Cemeteries and beaches. Fine old homes and haunted walking tours. A big old fort and a river walk. Did I mention the food, the parks, and the beaches? OK, well, it bears repeating.

It was our annual girlfriends weekend-turned-week. Over the years we've been to Memphis, Orlando, New York, Atlanta, Franklin (TN), Chattanooga, and the incomparable Sand Mountain, Alabama. Five of us get together to eat and gossip while we still have our teeth and can hear. This year, alas, Linda couldn't join us (and she was greatly missed, though we did gossip about her - kidding), Susan, the two Sharons, and this one Mary soldiered on. In Savannah, Georgia.

I could turn this into a series of posts or a coffee table book, but I'm just too darn busy/lazy to do that. So. Here's my Top 10 Savannah must-do list, a little quickie guide, to get you started:
1.  Savannah has lots of accommodation options - cute bed and breakfasts, chain hotels, flop houses, the street. May I recommend Inn at Ellis Square? We stayed in suites - one huge bedroom, one huge sitting room, and a fairly roomy bathroom. Breakfast is included. It's right next to the City Market, River Walk is just across the street, and you're conveniently situated in the historic district. 

2.  Ditto for food options. Savannah and environs are chock full of excellent, excellent restaurants (high-brow and low-brow), and we hit several of the best. The Olde Pink House, 1790 Inn and Restaurant, Clary's, Churchill's Pub, The Chart House, AJ's, The Crab Shack. And yes, we ate at Paula Deen's Lady and Sons. Anyway, this is an eatin' town. Go for it.

3.  And if it's an eatin' town, it's a drinkin' town. Even more so. In fact, it's an "open container" town. Yep, just like New Orleans, you can walk around the streets with a drink in your hand. Which made our ghostly walking tour sooo much more fun. 

4.   The squares. Savannah's Historic District is laid out in a series of parks, each unique, historic, and beautiful. They're beautiful in the morning and late at night. Charming!

5.  The cemeteries. Savannah offer two of the best cemeteries I've ever had the privilege to tromp through. Colonial Park Cemetery, smack in the middle of the Historic District, is the older. You'll have to drive a few miles out of town to get to the remarkable Bonaventure, my personal favorite.

6.  Historic homes. The only historic homes tour I took was of the Owens-Thomas house on Oglethorpe Square, but there are many, many prominent homes to visit, if you like that sort of thing.

7.  The churches. Many of Georgia's oldest churches are in Savannah, and their spires and steeples rise above the squares. Take some time to step inside the ones that are open to get another peek at history or say a little prayer.

8.  The ghosts. Might as well tell you now that the whole entire city is haunted. This is a city with a past, I tell you. Take a ghost tour, check your photos for strange blobs of blur, be aware of a sudden chill or breeze out of the blue. And of course, everything looks creepier with all that Spanish moss hanging from the trees.

9.  Tybee Island. You want beach? Savannah's got a great one, complete with a lighthouse. I recommend spreading your towel on the stretch between the pier and the southernmost point. Aaaaah. And it's less than 30 minutes' drive from the heart of Savannah.

10.  A fort. Make some time to pull over and visit Fort Pulaski as you head out to Tybee. This Civil War fort didn't make much of a stand against the Union Army, but it's well restored and maintained. Do go.

If I haven't convinced you (what are you, crazy?), then settle in with John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and you will want to just pack up and head to Savannah. But you don't have to spend midnight in any of the gardens, evil or otherwise. They're just as charming in the morning.

I don't know about you, but I could go for a peach sangria in a to-go cup and a spooky walking tour right about now.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Plane Truth

It's been a while since I've posted about the joys of air travel, so it's time I make a few practical suggestions and remind the public and the airlines of a some basics that seem to have fallen through the cracks.

To the airlines:
  • If you have to explain to people how to buckle and unbuckle a seat belt, they should be considered a danger to others and shouldn't be allowed to fly. Seat belts have been required in cars and, certainly, airplanes for many decades, so the whole seat belt buckle-spiel should be dropped. Require people to demonstrate buckle knowledge at the gate, and then you can spend more time explaining the best way to evacuate via those inflatable slides. Now, that's worth explaining.
  • Wifi should be free on flights and at your gates. Charging for that is just silly, so stop it. And, yeah, it can be a problem when all the passenger has is a ticket scan on a mobile phone but no wifi at the gate.
  • Do not make hot tea in the same pot you brew/serve coffee. The tea will taste like coffee. Just give me a bag and hot water, and I'll do the damn thing myself. Thanks.
  • I'm not going to waste my breath on things like seat width and flimsy tray tables, because you just don't want to hear it anymore. (Wanted to let you know that those are still huge problems, though.)
To passengers:
  • Do not prop your stinky bare feet on the seat in front of you or on your tray table.  Do I really need to tell you this? Were your parents wolves? Pigs? Find another way to be comfortable during air travel. And bring socks if you want to take off your shoes. Especially if you've never had a pedicure in your life.
  • Got a snoring problem or TB? The guy behind me practically blew the windows out during his 2 hour nap to Los Angeles this morning. When he woke up he coughed up a lung every few minutes. We are in a confined space, sitting way to close to each other, and earplugs only keep out so much noise. May I suggest a stage coach or covered wagon for your next trip west?
  • I've paid for my seat, small as it is. I get the whole thing for myself - the seat, the back, and half of the armrest we share. Please remember that. Do not encroach on space you have not paid for. Thank you.
  • Never, ever, ever store your bag in an overhead compartment behind where you're sitting. Do not let a flight attendant do this, either. If there is no room in a bin directly overhead or in front of you, you may as well just let the attendant check the bag. It's no use trying to swim downstream when everyone's trying to de-plane and you're fighting to retrieve a bag six rows behind you. Your only option is to wait until everyone else is off the plane. 
  • Be nice. Give and take. Go all zen. It's the only way to hang on to your sanity when you fly.
OK. That's it for this edition of the Plane Truth. Just remember: be nice and bring socks. Oh, and if you think you see a monster on the wing, just have another glass of wine and forget about it.