I have a niece who is enrolled at Savannah College of Art and Design and her family credits me with alerting them to the existence of SCAD in the first place–happy to be of service when I can. My niece, Zola, is wrapping up her third year at SCAD and just came home from Lacoste, France and a semester abroad. Fun for me as I too took a semester abroad in Lacoste back in 1979 when the program was affiliated with Sarah Lawrence.
Anyway, as an extravagant way of saying thanks for my tip off per SCAD, my sister Bink took me to Savannah for a long weekend of touring the city and hanging out with Zola.
It was a perfect trip all the way around. Bink got us an RBO in a beautiful Victorian adjacent to a park and within walking distance of everything. And walk we did. Savannah is laid out in the most unique grid fashion, with one block sized park after another. These little parks are filled with aged oaks dripping with Spanish moss and each has a monument in the center. And the parks themselves are ringed with charming homes and churches; Bink pointed out that Savannah wasn’t razed by fire during the Civil War and in fact was presented by General Sherman (impressed by its beauty) to President Lincoln as a Christmas Gift.
Of course we toured the grounds of SCAD as well and I can only say wow—art school has come a long way. Plush, luxurious, well equipped and an all around creative hive, it’s the sort of place that makes anyone want to go (back) to art school. And Zola is kicking butt in her major, advertising.
I was introduced to some fine southern delicacies along the way (we ate so well). Grits, fried corn, collard greens (which I liked so much I requested a second serving for dessert) and the most beautiful little macaroons. One unexpected highlight of the trip was a ride with an uber driver her told us about going on a cruise where they had a $10,000 prize for karaoke, and her disappointment that she’d not signed up. My sister asked her if she had a good voice and she said ‘pretty good’. We bantered a bit more and the uber driver said something about how she ought to sing to us. We thought she was kidding until she said ‘well I best get to it’, and broke into the most gorgeous rendition of Amazing Grace. This little tiny lady driving an uber while simultaneously belting out a hymn. It was magical. As was my entire trip. Thank you Bink, Zola and family! xo
Sometimes you just need to get away and away is absolutely where I got to last weekend. Forever friend Melinda and I decamped to NYC for thirty-six hours of culture and inspiration. After checking into our amazing hotel in Times Square (The Chatwal–I really could have hung out in the sparkly bathroom with the heated toilet seat a little while longer), we took a cab over to the Metropolitan Opera House, where we had tickets for Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore. Our evening began with dinner at The Grand Tier Restaurant with seats overlooking the winding staircase so that we could people watch to our heart’s content. Our meals were delicious; grilled octopus and duck liver mousse followed by halibut and salmon with trout roe.
First two courses finished and dessert ordered, we found our seats just before the curtain rose. I was entranced—a visual and auditory spectacle all the way around. At the intermission we returned to the Grand Tier for espressos and a baked alaska and chocolate mousse. Twenty minutes later we were back in our seats for the final acts. One of my personal highlights was the tremendous applause received by the tenor playing Nemorino, Mario Chang, at the conclusion of ‘una furtive lagrima‘ (follow link for bizarre/humorous interpretation), the romanza from act 2, scene 8. The following morning we learned that this had been Mario Chang’s premier as Nemorino and that he hails from Guatemala. At any rate, he was much moved by the applause and cheers (bravo!) and it felt like both a personal triumph (for Mario) and one for those of us in the audience as well—that we had been witness to such artistry.
Anyway, all good operas must come to an end and we finished our evening with a quick nightcap (still of the non-alcoholic variety pour moi) in the bar back at the hotel. I was sorry that it was so late as I could have spent several hours reading magazines while snuggled under the voluminous duvet. However, we had more scheduled fun early the next morning.
And that would be….backstage at the Met! What a way to round out my first opera experience. Going backstage was sort of like seeing the inner workings of an automaton. The sheer magnitude of it all! A highly recommended addition to a live performance.
Post tour we caught yet another cab over to the Guggenheim where we had lunch before taking in the Peter Fischli/David Weiss show, ‘How to Work Better.’ Whimsical but also provocative, this collaboration of two Swiss artists is absolutely delightful. It was a bonus when a side gallery revealed several paintings from one of my personal favorites, Kandinsky.
Have I mentioned that this was my first opera ever? And a very special gift from Melinda and her husband Kihan. Also, I had not been in an art museum in New York City since my teens, a situation that required rectifying. Thank you dear friends–it was oh so fun and absolutely magical!
Alright, third installment of good times three days running…this one involving a trio of longtime friends!
The morning after the LIVEstrong party, my pal Melinda suggested we get together for some free performances on the Boston Common. I was more than game as long as parking was stress-free (I’m a real wuss that way). Melinda rolled right over my reticence, and we were on. Well, it’s a good thing I didn’t back out, because Melinda had a real surprise up her sleeve. She’d been conspiring with Sally, who lives in the vicinity of Washington DC; not exactly around the block. As I pulled up to the parking garage (no sweat), Melinda was waiting for me with Sally at her side. Oh joy! The only thing better would have been if Kate, Amy and Kristin had popped out of the bushes as well.
We were in the midst of that bloody heat wave, and although we enjoyed some rousing gospel sung by a choir composed of students from the Berklee College of Music, it was (to quote Cole Porter vis Ella Fitzgerald) too darn hot. So, we did the only sensible thing and retired to Charles street for lunch in the cave-like atmosphere of Figs. Afterward, with iced coffees in hand, we debated how best to spend our precious few hours together. Fortunately, Melinda has a dear family member with a lovely home a mere eight blocks from where we were debating. Better yet, knowing that I spend a lot of time in Boston, this family member had generously provided me with a key in case I ever needed a place to rest or crash. She was out of town but just a phone call away, and we received her blessing to go hang out.
It was, quite simply, air conditioned bliss. We draped ourselves over the comfortable furniture and happily chatted away until it was time to whisk Sally off to the airport. I love my friends!!! All of them!!!
I had special outings three days in a row, and may not share in chronological order as I’m waiting on permissions for a photo taken at one such event. Let’s start with dinner out in Portland, Maine: always a pleasure.
With Peter away in Cape Cod, David decided we needed a meal up north. Portland is home to several superb restaurants and our spontaneity meant we couldn’t secure a reservation at our favorite (Hugos), but we were able to enjoy a meal at another fine venue, 555. We arrived in town a bit early and so had a snack (salad and iced tea for me, mussels and a glass of chardonnay for David) down by the waterfront. We then spent an hour strolling around town, window shopping and people watching.
Dinner was excellent: mint and pea soup, pepper crusted seared scallops and a fennel puree. A lovely cucumber ‘mocktail’. And….I think I had some sort of ginger souffle for dessert. I texted David, who has jury duty today to confirm. He recalls a chocolate souffle, and his recollection is backed up by the bill. I stand firm (if muddled) on this: David had chocolate, I had (some other sort of) souffle, and we shared. Even if I can’t pin down the details (something to be said for blogging a little sooner after a special day), I can assure you it was delicious. Whatever it was.
After the good news on Monday, David and I joined our son Peter, who had spent several days at the summer home of friends Frank and Cindi, in the little town of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard. Fishing, walks to town for ice cream, frolicking in the waves with his pals and a barbecue all added up to a great time for Pete, and his parents were glad to get in on some of the fun as well.
We had taken the ferry out of New Bedford to the Vineyard, and the day of our return our daughter Jemesii was able to join us for lunch. Peter can never get enough of his older siblings, and so seeing his sister was the perfect end to a splendid week.