The Architect’s Secret

I was going through old writing projects.  At a writer’s conference, we were given a writing exercise.  There were three lists and we had to choose 3 random numbers between 1 and 25.  The first list was your occupation, the second list was something you did, and the other was some secret.  Mine were: architect, covers mirrors, and leads a secret life.  Here’s the story:

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The Architect’s Secret
Charles Ames Danforth covered the gilded mirror above the sofa in his rented condominium with a sheet he found on the bedroom closet shelf. He hated big mirrors. They reminded him of what he no longer was, what he could no longer see, and the secrets he kept.
In the kitchen, he pulled the bottle of Dewar’s from the brown paper bag, opened the cap, and poured a shot into a highball glass; there was no ice so he drank it straight up. He winced at the taste. He didn’t even like it any more but he liked the way the glass felt in his hands, the coolness of the glass against his skin, and the way it made him feel. It reminded him of what he was and what he’d lost.
He swirled the golden liquid as he crossed the living room, parted the blinds on the sliding doors, and looked out at the white sandy beach. The travel agent thought she was doing him a favor by finding this beach front condo. “A great deal,” she had said. He shook his head and laughed at the irony of it. He couldn’t enjoy the sunshine but he would savor an evening stroll once the blazing Florida sun had set. That was part of his secret, his curse.
He turned from the window; the scantily clad beachgoers with their coolers and picnic baskets ignited a gnawing in the pit of his stomach reminding him that he hadn’t eaten in a long time. Charles refilled his glass, sat at the dining table, and opened his briefcase. He wanted to prepare for the meeting set for ten o’clock the next morning. He was the architect assigned to the construction on the new Towne Center. Charles had loved buildings since he was a small boy. On the inside of his briefcase he kept a postcard of the Empire State Building. His long, slender fingers skimmed across it as he thought of his family home, a huge old Victorian mansion on Long Island in New York. He didn’t remember how many rooms it had but there were a lot. His nanny allowed him to ride his tricycle up and down the long hallway when his parents weren’t home. His mother and grandmother were devastated when they had to sell the house, most of the furnishings, and move into New York City. After all, at one time, his parent’s families were members of the original Mrs. Astor’s 400 wealthiest families in New York. Charles’ family, like many others, lost most of their money in the stock market crash. The one on October 24, 1929.
Charles took another drink and smoothed out the rolled up rendering of the proposed Towne Center. This was not the type of building he wanted to construct but as the newest person at his most recent firm, he had to take the assignments as they came. His past experience was another secret. He couldn’t tell his employers that when he was 28 years old, he worked for the architectural firm of Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon, the architects who designed and built the Empire State Building. In his life, he had worked on some of the most famous structures in the world and now he was relegated to building shopping malls.
He knew the date was playing with his mind as it did every year on the anniversary he shared with the Empire State Building. On May 1, 1931, Herbert Hoover turned on the lights in the Empire State Building and on that same day in 1931, his heart stopped beating but he didn’t die. He was reborn as something inhuman. He would be forever young and handsome, never aging a day over 28, and never growing old with someone he loved. He knew he was feeling sorry for himself. There’s nothing more pitiful than a depressed vampire.

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A Practically Perfect Weekend

I recently had a practically perfect weekend.  It started off with a fundraiser on Friday evening when I toured the new Rehabilitation Pavilion at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.  It warmed my heart to see what a great contribution to the community the Rehabilitation Pavilion will be.  I saw a young man who never thought he would walk again, stand upright and walk wearing a robotic exoskeleton. Amazing! The good work and compassionate care the therapists, nurses, and physicians provide every day make me proud to work at Sarasota Memorial Health Care System.

On Saturday, I did a good deed by volunteering at the Open House for the same Rehab Pavilion. I met members of the community and patients who have benefited from the therapies provided at the hospital. This is picture of Sam Solie (right) from Sarasota Memorial’s Marketing Department and me.

Sam and Theresa_April 2017 Rehab opening

Then I went home and took a nap.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate the wonders of a short afternoon snooze.

On Saturday evening, I got to pick the movie for date night.  We saw “Beauty and the Beast,” which I thoroughly enjoyed.

On Sunday, my friend Sue and I went to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens for the “Marc Chagall, Flowers, and the French Riviera: The Color of Dreams” exhibit.  The lavender fields and tall cypress trees reminded me of France.  There was even a painter in the garden, brush to canvas, and white floppy hat blocking the sun. The Selby House has been turned into a Marc Chagall museum and is the first botanical garden to exhibit Chagall’s work that includes The Lovers and The Color of Dreams.  After a short walk through the Banyan forest and the epiphyte garden, relaxing on a bench overlooking Sarasota Bay was the perfect place to stop for a moment and reflect on the beauty of nature and art. The sail boats were gliding across the waves as the pelicans dove into the water for their dinner and children placed flowers in the Buddha’s hands and giggled as they ran towards expansive lawn behind me. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and just listened to the life around me. After a few minutes, we walked on through the mangroves and decided to head for home.  Of course, no trip to the gardens is complete without a stop in the gift shop on the way to the parking lot.

 

Sue really enjoyed these pink flowers.

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My practically perfect weekend included doing a good deed, a heartwarming experience, a good movie, enjoying nature, art, and spending time with the people I love.

What is your idea of a practically perfect weekend?

If you want to see the Marc Chagall Exhibit at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, it will be there until July 31sthttp://selby.org/

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The Avenue Café – The Garden District New Orleans

Carol King drifting from the speakers, wooden floors, wooden tables, the St. Charles trolley swiftly glides by. A young man is working diligently at his laptop while sipping an iced coffee.  Runners stop in for a juice or water and continue on their way.  An older gentleman sits outside with a younger man, no doubt telling him about the good old days. A great place to have breakfast and people watch. 

 Where to eat breakfast in a new place.  Check out what’s nearby. Where the locals go. What does the concierge at your hotel recommend? Is that where they get their coffee or iced tea?  

The Avenue Café 1907 St. Charles Ave in Central City New Orleans is a great local coffee house.  Morning fare includes daily quiche. I had ham, cheese, red pepper that was served with a salad; lightly dressed.  Delicious.  Cappuccino was excellent.  I left with a pomegranate iced tea for my walk back to the hotel.  Delicious, healthy start to the day.

Locally owned and, according to their website, works with other local NOLA businesses for their coffee and pastries.

 

www.Avenuecafenola.com

 

 

 

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Disney Princess Weekend

My daughter Becky and I had yet another Disney first this year.  We had dinner at Cinderella’s Castle.  I would recommend this event especially if you have a child that loves the Disney princesses.  Each guest is addressed as ‘M’lady’ or ‘M’Lord’ or ‘Princess’ or ‘Prince.’  Although we were the only people there without a small child, we thoroughly enjoyed the dinner.

menu           Cinderella

As you enter the castle, which, by the way, really looks like the inside of a castle, Cinderella is waiting to greet you. The framed picture is included in the price.   There were choices for the appetizer, entrée, and dessert.  They all sounded delicious. Both my daughter and I had the steak and shrimp with the chocolate mousse cake for dessert, which was delicious.

dessert

During the dinner, all the princesses, starting with Snow White, make the rounds for greetings and pictures.

Snow white    Ariel     Jasmine

Afterwards, we saw a couple get engaged outside the castle and to top it all off, we went to the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot and enjoyed the fireworks there. What a perfect end to a perfect Disney day.

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Reflections on 2012

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Happy New Year –  I’ve been thinking about what’s ahead in the new year but I’m also reflecting on the year that’s just passed.  As I’ve been browsing through the pictures of the new sites I’ve seen as well as the places I’ve revisited, the people I’ve met and those with whom I’ve reconnected, I’ve also reflected fondly on those who are no longer with us.

I was able to mark something off my bucket list.  The travel literature touts the Chicago Architectural Tour as the thing to do. www.chicagoline.com  So when I was in Chicago for a conference, I was able to arrange time for the tour.  Although it was a gray, drizzly, Fall day, I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and I highly recommend it. Another site I enjoyed on that trip was the Shedd Aquarium. www.sheddaquarium.org  In addition to the majestic beluga whales, dolphins, and jellyfish, there’s a beautiful view of the city from the balcony.

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I attended 3 ghost tours this year: Kissimme, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  They were all different and enjoyable in their own way. I had a “ghostly encounter in Kissimmee” and pictures of orbs in Gatlinburg. The Alamo at night is surreal especially if you think about what happened there in 1836. I’m looking forward to doing more tours in 2013.

Kissimmee Welcome Mural      IMG_1886   Gatlinburg Cemetary - The last stop on the tour

My husband had a first this year — we went on a cruise.  He didn’t like it much so I guess the Alaskan cruise is out.  So glad we did a trial run – a short cruise from Galveston to Cozumel.  We did enjoy the fishing trip in Cozumel. It was a great day for a boat ride though the only thing we caught was a sunburn. I’m hoping that I will eventually be able to talk him into the Alaska trip.

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One of my favorite hotels this year was the Hotel Galvez in Galveston, Texas.  It is a beautifully restored magestic old hotel.

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I had a first — I won a $90 cash out in Las Vegas on the Sex and the City slot machine. I even took a picture to mark the occasion.  I know that is probably small potatoes to most of you big rollers but it was a big exciting deal to me. Thanks to my friend Kathy Adams for filling me in on her gambling tips.

I enjoyed trips with my family.  Living in Florida, we made a few trips to Orlando.  One such trip was with my 3 of my favorite Harry Potter fans.  I also went to Epcot for the Food and Wine Festival

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In August, we went to visit our family in New Orleans and enjoyed a tour of the Laura Plantation. It was a beautiful day. We also went to the W.W. II Museum.  Both were well worth the price of entry.

Laura

In 2012, we lost 2 people who were very important to our family. My husband’s mother, Betty Michael, went to be with her husband, Mose, in July.  My good friend for 35 years, Dorothy Meyers Wray was taken much too soon the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  They are both sorely missed.  I am dedicating this entry to them.

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Stay tuned for more adventures in 2013.  Larry and I are headed to Italy.

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The Twilight Tour of 2011

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I recently went to see “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II,” the conclusion of Stephanie Meyer’s epic love triangle between Edward Cullen, Bella Swan, and Jacob Black. My friend Lory is a die hard Twilight fan and a card carrying member of Team Jacob. Last year, Lory and I went on the ultimate Twilight Tour to Forks, WA, the town where the Twilight stories are set. Ever since I saw the movie, I’ve been thinking about our trip.  http://forkswa.com/

Here are a few highlights from the tour:

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Bella’s truck is at the Forks Logger Memorial.  There is a parking spot for Dr. Cullen at the local clinic. The tour also included Jacob Black’s house as well as Bella and Edward’s homes. We traveled in a nice bus and Travis was an excellent tour guide.

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We stayed at the Oceanside Resort on the Quileute Reservation.  The beach was a short walk from our hotel room. There’s a warning to all vampires at the reservation line.

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It was quite sunny on the day of our tour, so there was little threat of vampires. Lory was correcting the warning sign.

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Beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean

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We also visited Port Angeles and the restaurant where Edward and Bella had their first date and the book store where Bella bought the books about vampires.

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When you are in Port Angeles, take the time to drive up Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains or take the ferry to Victoria British Columbia, a gorgeous place to visit.  http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-hurricane-ridge.htm     http://www.ferrytravel.com/portangeles.htm

The Hoh rain forest is also nearby. Don’t forget your raincoat or umbrella.  http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/visiting-the-hoh.htm

The Olympic Peninsula is a beautiful place to visit but on the cloudy days, watch out for vampires.  You never know who or what might be lurking in the forest.

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Laura Plantation – New Orleans, LA

On a recent trip to New Orleans, we decided to take a break from the excitement of the French Quarter and visit plantation country.  Just 35 miles west of New Orleans in Vacherie, Louisiana is the Laura Plantation, a Creole plantation.  The guided tour, included in the ticket price,  is based on the Laura Locoul’s memoir of her life on the sugar plantation, Memories of the Old Plantation Home, which is sold in the gift shop (in English and French) along with many other interesting books and souvenirs of plantation country.

While waiting for your tour to start, explore the gift shop or wait on the wide porch. Maybe you’ll meet the plantation cat lounging on the porch on a hot summer afternoon.

Stephen, our young tour guide, led us through the restored home, gardens, and slave quarters.  His tour was informative and historic as he told us about the home, the architecture, and the people who lived and worked the plantation. His soft Louisiana accent gave an added bit of atmosphere and authenticity.

The table was set for Sunday supper in the dining room and it looked as though the baby had just gotten up from a nap.

                

An engagement fan adorned the gallery wall.

The back of the house opens into the gardens. The 1840’s era slave quarters where Stephen, the tour guide, relayed the story of how the old west-African tales of Campair Lapin or Br’er Rabbit were first told.

     

Banana trees  and the dinner bell in the garden

If you have the time, continue your plantation country tour to other local plantations.  There’s plenty to see in New Orleans beyond Bourbon Street.

       

www.lauraplantation.com

Trip Details:

Where we stayed: We stayed at the Wyndham La Belle Maison on Magazine Street. It is a beautifully restored historic building that was originally a printing press.

               

Where we ate: The Ruby Slipper is conveniently located across the street from the hotel.  Their breakfasts are wonderful.  The weekend special was a Crab Cake Benedict which was fresh and delicious and the pancakes are fluffy.  The Bloody Marys and Mimosas were a great start to a rainy Saturday.  It was also the morning of the Red Dress Run and a number of scarlet clad participants were getting an early start and a hearty breakfast.

What else we did:  We went to the World War II Museum, a fascinating place that makes you proud to be an American.  If you are hungry or thirsty after your tour through the museum, stop by The American Sector. They have a nice selection of draft beers and signature cocktails.  The fries were tasty and the sliders at the next table looked great.

http://www.nationalww2museum.org/

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