Saturday, August 22, 2009

Golden years on the Golden Isles of Georgia

My retirement merry-go-round, i.e. "living the world" retirement type ended - I resolved - two weeks ago, when I moved to the Golden Isles of Georgia, to live my golden years in a more stationary fashion, thus the retirement-merry-go-round blog comes now to an end.

June and July were filled with travelling all around the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, (I promise to record those travels in this blog soon, under appropriate dates) before I settled on the Golden Isles, with their sandy beaches, fantastic nature preserves and the famous marshes of Glynn.

I shall continue my encore (= retirement, part time ) career of non-profit consulting offering hands on organizational and fund development to non-profits both locally and - for short term assignments - internationally, to aid them during the recession, and after it - especially rural and remotely located organizations, since these usually receive far fewer grants than other nonprofits, often due to lack of professional resources and far fewer public support due to their remoteness.

As for the rest, I plan to enjoy the beaches, forests and marshes, and the neighboring historical city of Savannah and the nearest large city of Jacksonville, Florida - both at a distance of 70 miles. I plan to visit my daughter in Atlanta often, visiting friends there and taking it the cultural offerings I so enjoyed there: opera, ballet, theaters, museums, my book clubs... enjoy what's left of my life!

I have enjoyed this blogging adventure for the last two years and all virtual - and personal - friendships I developed through it.

Till we meet again! :-)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Callaway Gardens mini vacations

At the end of May Disa received a stimulus package from Callaway Gardens, a huge English-type garden (2500 acres!), resort (2700 acres) and forest (8,500 acres) near Pine Mountain in central Georgia.

The stimulus package offered discounts at any lodging belonging to Callaway Garden resort, free entry to the gardens and all Callaway Gardens attractions plus free golf tee time, free tennis, free boat and bicycle rentals.

Since we both love Callaway Gardens, we decided to use this offer and went there last week for a three day, two night mini vacation.

Unfortunately, the weather was not ideal, because we had only one whole day without rain, Wednesday. It rained on Tuesday afternoon,

allowing us to enjoy wet and foggy vistas of the lakes (there are 13 lakes in the gardens, the biggest one with a large sandy beach) and the gardens during an early evening ride/walk through the property:

We enjoyed these aquarelle-like vistas, rain-drooping southern magnolias and the flowering bushes
and the mosses, who seemed to thrive after the rain.

to be continued

Monday, June 1, 2009

Belt tightening?

'What on earth ARE you wearing??? ' exclaimed my daughter last Friday when I went to fetch her from a car workshop, where she left her car for some routine maintenance.

I looked at her surprised. I had on a pair of jeans and a polo shirt - in my opinion quite ok an attire for an errand like that.

' Everything is hanging on you! You must have lost at least two sizes and can't were those "fat" clothes anymore' - she explained seeing my surprise... and instead of driving us home, she kidnapped me - in my own car - to a Talbots outlet store (this is recession, remember, thus the need to be frugal, while still polished, lol) - almost 15 miles away.

Everything there was between 40% and 75% off regural prices... and the selection was pretty good. So I got myself this funny pelican purse (no, I did not "outgrow" any of my purses, but I could not resist this one), especially that it was both stylish and a bargain!

and a few other items: among them this new navy top (despite Disa-s complaints that too many of my clothes are navy - I simply had to remind her that they now are too big for me to wear) and patterned skirt... about half a size too small at the moment ! ;-)

Well, since I returned from Puerto Rico I have been eating a lot of healthier food: lots of veggies and lean protein, nothing fried, (be it a lechonera style pork or tostones =double fried plantains, a typical everyday food of Puerto Rico, served, to make things worse with mayo-ketchup!), quinoa, millet and amaranth instead of rice, fresh sallads, etc.

I have also rejoined a gym, enjoying water aerobics and other group excecise classes and using an elliptical trainer now and then... so no wonder I lost 12 pounds ( of fat, I hope) since I came back, and should soon be ready for those of my newly purchased clothes, which are now a bit tight fitting.

But tightening of real belts is not so good for tightening of financial belts... unless, of course you shop at outlet stores... and don't overdo it ;-)!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cirque Imagination:Montage!

Disa and I went to a circus this afternoon. Cirque Imagination is a spin off of Cirque du Soleil. The Montage performance was great - there is not so much of a phantasy story within a carnival in here, but a carnival atmosphere nevertheless and the performers and their skill level are top class. We had a grand time.

" It is a grand show of circus daring and skill, starring former members of Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere, O, Saltimbanco, Alegria and Quidam. This production aims to defy the perception of what are impossible - fusing strength, flexibility and technical skill, fostering an appreciation for the beauty and capabilities of the human body" - says their promotional piece.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Spa day

Today is a pampering day. Manicure, pedicure, body scrub, massage, facial, hair cutting and styling. I like a pampering day with my daughter - otherwise I consider it too boring... but it is a part of living in the big city routine, so it has to be endured more often here than on a tropical island.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Clematis on our balcony now in bloom

Clematis in the sun

Clematis which i planted on Disa's balcony a month ago is now in fool bloom!

Clematis in the rain

Too bad that the rose, which I planted it with, just finished blooming for a while. But better one plant in bloom than neither one.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Milledgeville - the First Lady of Georgia

Milledgeville was the second stop on my and Disa's Mother's Day trip on Georgia's antebellum trail.

Milledgeville prides itself on its history, which began in 1803, when the state of Georgia searched for a site for its new capital. Because this area offered a central location and ample springs, it was deemed to be the perfect spot and for more than 60 years Milledgeville was the capital of Georgia.

Many area homes and structures survived the periodic fires and willful destruction of the War Between the States, so it is an interesting stop on the antebellum trail, although, when you decide to go, do not make a mistake we did and do not go on a Sunday, when all historic buildings and other attractions are closed and can be seen only from outside :-(((.

So we just walked the streets, looked at prominent buildings, like an old capitol building, now a military academy,

A sculpture of a dog near the library on military academy's campus

an old governor's mansion, etc., etc. and at the remnants of a street art festival, which took place a day earlier:
colorful "murals" painted on the streets.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial weekend bargain hunting

At the beginning of the week I got an email from IKEA announcing a Memorial Day sale. This classic modern chair, designed by Noburu Nakamura some 20 years ago (?) was on sale today only, for a super bargain price of $39 each. I could not resist... for both practical and sentimental reasons.

Practical: before I left for Puerto Rico I left my bedroom, guest room/study and dining room furniture in storage, but sold practically all my living room ones - and left furniture I had in Puerto Rico there, so, once I moved into my new place I would have nowhere to sit, unless I bought something new, so a couple of those chairs, especially at this unbeatable price seemed like a perfect solution.

A street in Ystad, a well preserved medieval town

Sentimental: I owned a couple of those - with pale blue cushions - some 15 years ago, when I worked in Poland, but had a seaside apartment in Ystad, in southern Sweden.


Poland at that time was still in its early post communist period, and was certainly a fascinating place to work in, but utterly uncomfortable to live in, so every month I worked for about 24 days straight, workdays and weekends, just to be able to escape to my tranquil Swedish seaside paradise for one week, breathe some fresh air ( I worked in Lodz, at that time a heavily polluted industrial city of almost one million inhabitants squeezed like sardines in tiny - and mostly dilapidated - communist era apartments, or crumbling - and equally dilapidated - early industrial ones),

walk on practically empty, miles long beaches, flanked by wild rose hedges,

heather filled meadows and pine forests....

I loved it there... but work - and new adventures took me elsewhere... so now I had to have at least those armchairs again!

On Thursday Disa and I went to IKEA for lunch ( Swedish meatballs with lingonberries!) to preview the various options before today's mad dash, and there, while testing the different types of cushions for style and comfort, I got engaged in an animated conversation with an interesting guy... and made a new friend :-)

Friday, May 15, 2009

:-((( the pool at my gym is temporarily closed

Yesterday, during my water aerobics class I found out that the sunny Olympic size swimming pool at my gym, the highlight of my near daily gym visits - is going to be closed for 11 days due to some reconstruction work. :-(((

One of the pleasures of my post-Puerto Rico life are daily (except weekends) visits to the gym.

I take hourly water aerobics classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I take weight lifting, stretching and toning classes designed for people my age and/or work on weight machines and elliptical trainers.

Try to find anything even remotely resembling it in Puerto Rico... I could not -and missed gym all the time I lived there!

But after each "dry" workout I enjoy relaxing in a hot tub and swimming in the pool. So, when the pool is closed, I won't go to the gym, even though all the "dry"classes and equipment are available. Without a pool as a reward it would not be even half that much fun. :-(((

So today, instead for going to the gym I went walking in Piedmont Park, while Disa was jogging there, and we ended our al fresco work out passes strolling among the flowers and the sculptures in Atlanta Botanical Garden (there is a Moore exhibition going on in there right now, but I'll blog about it later - today my camera had no working batteries).

Too bad that the water in the condo's outdoor swimming pool is still a tad too cold for a swim. :-((

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Georgia Antebellum trail: first stop: Monticello

War monument at the square in Monticello.

Behind it, on the right is the Greek revival courthouse building, made famous by the film "My cousin Vinnie".

I was looking forward to a trip to Georgia's Golden Isles on Mother's Day, but the weather forecast, which suggested it would be unseasonably cold - and rainy - there this week, made us to postpone that trip and do a day trip length part of the Georgia antebellum trail that Sunday.

Southern magnolias burst into bloom in Georgia right now!
Their flowers are as big as sandwich plates and they bloom profusely all summer long. they are also a symbol of the south and a symbol of scenic drives in Georgia.

The antebellum trail runs from Athens to Macon and showcases the best examples of remaining antebellum (here meaning pre 1860 war between the North and the South) architecture in central Georgia.

Bank building in Monticello - another example of Greek revival architecture

General Sherman's scorched earth war strategy resulted in most of Georgia (including the city of Atlanta) being burnt to the ground during that war, but he spared Savannah and some towns in middle Georgia, which made the antebellum trail possible. The monument above is dedicated to the memory of soldiers fighting in the war.

Since it was Mother's Day we decided to go to a traditional Mother's Day brunch after all, but to do it with a twist. We had no reservations, so we did not attempt to have brunch in Social Circle, but chose the next best thing: the Red Clay Cafe and Gallery in Georgia's Monticello: a quaint and very picturesque small town.

We had brunch at Red Clay Galleria and Cafe on the square.

The cafe and galleria are owned by Sandra (in the middle of the picture, above), who - like Monticello (My cousin Vinnie was filmed here), is also known from playing in several films: she played in Fried Green Tomatoes with Jessica Tandy and had a dancing role in Medea's Family Reunion.

The patronage of the Red Clay Cafe is racially diverse, which adds to it ambiance.

Just look at the goergeous smile of the lady in the center and the equally gorgeous red hat with pink and magenta flowers of the lady on the right... all of it against the background of a fabulous wall mural!

I love to watch the contrast between the "Sunday casual" outfits of Americans of European extraction with the elaborate - and usually very stylish - "Sunday finery" of African-Americans. I also love - every now and then, since it is definitively not healthy, but good - traditional southern cooking: grits with red eye gravy, melt in your mouth biscuits, fried chicken, cured ham, okra with tomatoes, fried green tomatoes, fresh peach cobblers - to name just the most famous dishes.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day trip to the Golden Isles

Yippi! Tomorrow morning - instead of going to a traditional Mother Day's brunch - we shall jump in a car (we haven't decided yet which car we shall take: Disa's car is more roomy, but burns more gas, while mine is easier to park) and drive south to the Georgia's Golden Isles for a few days!
So see ya when I get back!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Living al fresco

Disa's balcony is pretty small, and narrow, only about 4" x 15" (1,20 m x 4.5 m), yet she has managed to arrange it so, that it allows for different activities: there is place for plants, a round table and a couple of chairs, a chaiselounge and even an electric grill.

The plants, filling all the left over space, are my doing.

Last week I planted clematis with large, pale blue flowers, which I am awaiting eagerly (according to the nursery, the only large blooming clematis, that grows in the south) in the same pot as a lavender rose, which already has one flower. (all my pictures are clickable, so you can see the details).

I was really thrilled to have found - in the same nursery - an Angel Earrings fuchsia from the Amazon jungle (to the right of the table) - the only fuchsia that can take heat and humidity of Atlanta in the summer, popularly known as Hotlanta for that very reason.

We both love living al fresco, so this corner is when we have breakfast, lunch, sometimes dinner, read, write, talk.

Disa is a sun worshipper, so she can enjoy an early afternoon there as well, while I - and my laptop - feel that we are getting too much sun then.

What I enjoy most is the forest outside - or an illusion of a forest, since it is just a slope, covered with trees in the middle of a city with close to 4 millions of inhabitants. Behind the slope are townhouses.
To increase the forest feel I planted a dwarf columbine (in a pot on the railing) and two different vines in baskets hanging on the wall: a blue ipomoea and dark red coral vine.

Nearest the balconies grow some tulip poplars, spreading their branches like nature provided green umbrellas with yellow dots of flowers in the spring.

They give such a peaceful ambiance, allowing the inhabitants of the building to relax on their balconies, feeling as if they were having a picnic in a forest.
Oh, I do love my various places with views!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Uff, it's hot...

I have been working on the balcony, replanting and now I am ready for a cool glass of lemonade. Would you care for a glass of lemonade, too?

I have plenty. I whole stand - yes, I have received a lemonade stand award from zooms For attitude. And I am passing it to the following bloggers with attitude.
First, Silka Besosa for her courage - and hard work - in starting and establishing the first CSA farm in Puerto Rico.

Next, two professors on sabbaticals in southern France:
Emile Donat and Mme Boisvert

The blogs above are in English, and thus accessible to all (well, almost all).

The blogs below are in Polish and thus accessible only to those, who read this pretty difficult language.
A few Polish expat women: Agnieszka Sadlakowska from Amsterdam, Patrycja Todo from Lyon, Bea from Sweden.
And a couple of Polish women living in Poland: Nicka from Poznan and Satine from Gdansk.
They all show great attitude and truly deserve a lemonade stand.

All of you, who received that award are asked to pass it on to other bloggers with great attitudes, by
  • posting a lemonade stand award logo on your blog
  • awarding 10 other bloggers
  • letting them know they got the award by commenting on their blogs.

It's a hard work, I know, but somebody's got to do it ;-) !

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Purple beauties

The favorite purple beauties of my youth were lilacs.
I miss their fragrance, their promise of a spring romance... and of a summer to come...
In Poland they were blooming in May, in Sweden in July and I met them in the USA, too, but in upstate New York, around the Fingerlakes.
Unfortunately they do not grow in the warm climate, where I like to live. So my southern purple beauty of choice is wisteria.
Wisteria grows all over Atlanta, covering plenty of trees with its showy purple flowers. A lot prettier - and more cheerful - than the kudzu vines.

If you like wisteria, you can find a lot more pictures of it here , on Ewas blog, as she assembled a gallery of wisteria pictures from all (?) the places, where they grow. Enjoy!