Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's Savannah, Ya'll!

Wednesday started out as a trying yet good day, made up of 7 hours of 4th graders followed immediately by 3 hours of 3, 4, and 5 year olds. Overall, it was a pretty good work day when 6:00 finally rolled around and I breathed a big sigh relief on the way home.

The only thing putting a damper on my evening was that Gearry would be spending the evening attending the Extreme party fundraiser at Grayson Stadium while I hung out by myself at home. I was originally supposed to go with him, but he found out at the last minute that I could not attend on his college's sponsorship ticket because of how it was funded. Which I was disappointed by, since his chef had asked me to go in his place, but I totally understood. Makes sense.

Gearry was just heading out the door when I got home from work. I told him to have fun and settled down in front of the television with a sandwich and a bowl of soup. No more than I had slurped the last slurp and taken the last bite, the phone rang. To my surprise, it was Gearry, who had just arrived at the extravaganza a few minutes before to find that a couple of people who were supposed to attend could not and had called me upon the suggestion of the president of his college to see if I would like to come. Of course, being ever-so-cautious, I asked him, "Couldn't you get in trouble?" To which he replied, "Umm, Stace, the president told me to call and ask you. I don't think I'm going to get in trouble."

Well, duh.

Cue the quickest shower-dress-makeup-hair job of my life and zooming to the stadium in my little yellow car, arriving just in time for everything to get started. What followed was one of the best nights of my life. So. Much. Fun. The group from Gearry's college were absolutely hilarious. I haven't laughed that long and that hard in a really long time, if ever. It was wonderful getting to know his president and other members of the faculty and staff. We spent the night eating and drinking and mingling, and it was wonderful to feel so much like a member of the Savannah community -- I'm even starting to recognize people that I have seen at other events or around town. As there was lots of filming going on for Extreme Makeover, we also spent a lot of time filming.

It was a very neat, up-close perspective on "reality TV." For those of you who really know me, you know how much I love my reality television! But I always take it with a grain of salt in assuming that parts of it are probably real, parts of it pseudo-real, and many parts of it completely constructed for the camera. Filming for Extreme Makeover is much the same way. The event we were at was real -- all of the people there had paid $100 or more a ticket to be there to support the endeavor -- but very little of the filming was spontaneous. To get what they needed for telivision, scenes had to be set up, of course. For instance, while Paul filmed one of his hand-held camera message-to-the-family-on-vacation scenes, we all crowded around him and cheered on command. Over. And over. And over. With breaks for him to check the script. And to adjust cameras. We also took part in filming a scene just outside the stadium, where Paula Deen, her husband, her two sons, and her brother talked with one of the Extreme designers and told everyone of a very large food donation to Savannah food pantrys, capped off by Paula tossing a ham football-style to the designer.

Together with the president, Gearry talked to Paula for a moment -- basic introductions -- and later to her son Jamie for a little bit.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the evening was after filming this scene. Our little group stood around and talked and laughed for so long that it was just us and the crew standing in the stadium parking lot, as the crew dismantled lights and cords and cameras and such around us. Paula's husband came out and told us goodnight and got into his Jeep next to us to leave. We were just wondering where Paula was -- and joking that she was probably in a chauffered car while he drove himself -- when an SUV drove by, the back window rolled down just enough to reveal a poofy head of white hair. We waved and received back a festive, "Goodnight, ya'll!" as the SUV rolled away.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Trolleys Go Round and Round.

I took the puppies downtown this morning for a walk around Forsyth Park. Other than our typical twice-daily walks around the block, they hadn't been anywhere in awhile and I was sensing their boredom (although, really, dogs must either not know any different or just be bored almost all of the time). I guess it's nice to have new trees to pee on and new other dogs to smell from time to time.

But this typical walk around the park ended up being one of those life moments for me -- a moment of realization that this is all real, that this is my life, that this is normal. 75 degrees and sunny in mid-November is normal. Hoards of tourists -- on foot, in tour buses, on trolleys -- pointing and clicking and aw-ing at all the things around you when you're just walking your dogs is normal. Breath-taking architecture and a strange feeling of incredibly fascinating and yet often incredibly tragic history around every block is normal.

I've had a few of those moments -- Oprah calls them "a-ha moments," I believe -- since I moved here three and a half months ago, but something about today's perfect weather and the realization that it's not going to disappear and start snowing in a few weeks and my good mood after a great weekend outdoors with Gearry and my anticipation of getting to see family next week when we return to Indiana for Thanksgiving and the sun coming through the live oaks with all of their Spanish moss and kids and dogs playing in the park and a hot cup of coffee all added up for a massive "a-ha." This is where I live. Not temporarily, but likely for a long time.

Despite the surroundings, life is not all rainbows and butterflies -- the stresses of work, financial goals, trying desperately to sell our condo, "meaning of life" type stuff is still here -- but I never expected any different. What I didn't expect was feeling so satisfied with a decision that was so hard to make.

I miss family and friends more than I can attempt to put into words here, but every time Gearry and I are able to do something we love together, I remember why we made this decision, and I am thankful.

On Friday, Gearry and I had had a couple of neat experiences. Extreme Makeover Home Edition is here building and filming in town and the Culinary Institute elected to make and donate food for the crew and volunteers on Friday evening. Gearry worked hard all day Thursday making the food, finished it up on Friday, and was nice enough to let me tag along for the delivery on Friday night. It only took us about five minutes to drop everything off and since it was already dark we didn't see much other than lots of volunteers, tents, and production equipment -- in other words, no Ty Pennington sightings -- but it was kind of a cool experience nonetheless.

After the drop-off, we had to swing by the Telfair Museum "Arty Party" fundraiser on Telfair Square. Now, originally before the Extreme Makeover thing got scheduled, we were supposed to attend the Arty Party (courtesy of Gearry's school, at $100 a ticket) but instead we just had to swing by to help Chef Jean move a sugar sculpture he created for the event from one of the tents to inside the museum. However, when we arrived Chef Jean had decided to keep the sculpture where it was in the main tent and so we just ended up socializing for a bit. Since we technically didn't have tickets -- we never actually received them since Gearry got re-assigned to the Extreme Makeover delivery duty instead -- I didn't feel comfortable sticking around for long. Although we blended right in, the guilty conscious part of me was waiting for a security guard to ask to see our tickets the whole time. Nevertheless, it was a neat experience being part of the sights and sounds of the festival, if only for 30 minutes.

On Saturday, there were more "neat" things to be enjoyed. Breakfast at Sunrise on Tybee was delicious (our first time out to breakfast since the move... We used to go out to breakfast in Bloomington at least every other week) and was followed by a walk on the beach, during which we happened upon a little surfing competition hosted by an area surf club. The waves are pretty decent right now for the east coast (nothing like west coast, of course) and it was especially neat seeing the younger kids go at it, so we nestled ourselves in the sand with our cups of coffee and watched for awhile. It re-inspired me to want to learn to surf (watching "Blue Crush" for the thousandth time also does the trick). Later in the afternoon, we took a bike ride around Wilmington Island just to explore some neighborhoods we hadn't been in and check out some houses for sale. We found a couple in our price range that we are currently salivating over, but we can't do anything until our condo sells, so it was a fun and yet incredibly frustrating venture. Incredibly. Frustrating.

On Sunday, it was another perfect weather day with flat water conditions, which meant kayaking was in order. We rode our bikes to my school head's house, where our kayaks are kept, and enjoyed a few hours of paddling around, with more salivating over all of the houses and intricate private docks and boats -- and a couple of "alligator" scares, of course, also known as marsh reeds and/or wood floating in the water.

Weekends rock, but throughout the week we are generally quite boring -- work is taxing and it gets dark really early, so other than a short run or bike ride or a walk around the neighborhood in the evenings, most of our time is spent making dinner, watching a bit of television, and then turning in early. This week, however, I am looking forward to Wednesday, on which we're attending the Extreme Extravaganza at Grayson Stadium, a fundaiser to pay off the mortgage of the Extreme Makeover family. Gearry's school is a sponsor, so they invited us to attend (another $100 a person event free of charge). It will be my first in-person Paula Deen sighting, as she is scheduled to be there, and should be a good time with live and silent auctions, live entertainment, and lots of food, including ice cream from Leopolds... yum!

And then, a week from Wednesday... INDIANA! Can't wait.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Whew! I'm tired. Having family in to visit is WONDERFUL (you're all welcome, anytime) but the change in usual schedule can definitely be taxing. Although I am glad to get back to a more "normal" schedule, I would love for them to have stayed longer if they could. We got to do a lot of fun stuff and showing them around to our favorite spots and restaurants and knowing which streets to tell them to turn on (some of the time) and little things like that made Savannah feel much more like home. Here's a little rundown of our four days of fun...


When I left for work on Thursday afternoon, Mom & Dad were only 25 miles outside of Savannah, but I couldn't wait around any longer without being late, so I had to head in and know that when I returned home they would be here. Gearry had also arrived home by the time I did, and Bailey and Zoey were already being fully spoiled, chewing on new rawhide bones when I walked in the door. It was so great to see Mom & Dad! I couldn't believe it had been almost three months. They also brought with them a huge pan of persimmon pudding courtesy of my fabulous Aunt Cheryl :)

After a quick shower, we jumped in the car and headed to Tybee for a sunset beach walk and dinner at North Beach Grill. Dinner happened -- and was fabulous -- but the beach walk was short-lived thanks to the ridiculous number of sand gnats that had randomly decided to show up in the last day or two. The gnats down here are legendary, but they really hadn't been bad until the day before my parents arrived. They were so thick on the North Beach that our beach walk lasted maybe a whole 10 minutes before we gave up, in spite of the amazing show that a pod of dolphins was putting on for us not 20 yards off the shore.

Fortunately, the screened walls at North Beach Grill, along with a fan our server brought us to circulate the air by our table, kept 95% of the gnats at bay and we enjoyed a delicious dinner. Everyone enjoyed their meals, and Gearry and I enjoyed being able to toss back an extra cold one since Dad was driving.

On our way home, we decided to cruise down to the south side of the island and visit the pier. With the full moon, it provded some amazing views.


On Friday morning, Gearry headed into work and Dad spent some quality time with the dogs while Mom and I headed to the McQueen's Island trail to run. It was a gorgeous morning, sunny and perfect 70's running temps. We did some run-walk intervals and happened to run into my co-Sundowner's teacher at St. Andrew's, who was there getting in her morning run, so it was nice to be able to introduce my mom.

Gearry got held up a little later at work than expected (he is usually off around 11:00 a.m. on Fridays) and I had to go to work for a few hours, so Mom & Dad took off for some solo-exploring on Friday afternoon. That evening, I arrived home from work to some of the best smells you can ever imagine coming out of the kitchen. Gearry had been hard to work creating a masterpiece of a dinner. For me, there was eggplant parmesan (amazing) and for everyone else there was an organic roasted chicken with fresh thyme, olive oil, and honey. Mom and Dad raved about the chicken and Gearry said it was the best he ever made, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say it probably tasted pretty good. We also enjoyed a sauteed medley of squash, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, and garlic, as well as some really good homemade sweet potato mash. Yum, yum, yum.

After cleaning up from dinner, we drove downtown for our much anticipated Blue Orb Ghost Tour. The 9:00 p.m. walking tour started in Calhoun Square and took us to five different locations within that 4-5 block apparently very haunted section of the city (although apparently all of Savannah qualifies as very haunted). We saw and got to hear some interesting stories about 432 Abercorn (a mansion on Calhoun Square that hasn't been lived in for over 30 years), the Espy House (on the other side of Calhoun Square, also not lived in for quite some time), Calhoun Square itself (the documented site of the buried bodies of nearly 1,000 slaves), the Mercer-Williams House (made especially famous by "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"), and the old Candler Hospital (where we learned there is a morgue tunnel that was used during the horrible yellow fever epidemic that stretches all the way underground to the other side of Forsyth Park). I didn't find anything on the tour particularly scary, but that kind of stuff generally doesn't scare me. It was more interesting than scary and a neat way to see a gorgeous part of the city, walking around under the full moon.


Saturday started with a delicious, traditional Gearry-and-Stacey Saturday morning breakfast, including pancakes and scrambled eggs with onions, mushroom, and garlic. We had to pack in enough calories for an action-packed day of playing tourists ;)

Our day started at Ft. Pulaski, which is a five minute drive from our house, about halfway between here and Tybee Island. The fort is a national monument, as well as a mini-national park, with lots of hiking trails, a museum, the fort itself, and tons of history. Since Ft. Pulaski prides itself on being dog-friendly (they are allowed everywhere except in the museum), we took Bailey and Zoey along for the excursion. We had a blast exploring the fort, which was extremely well-kept and impressive for a number of reasons, from the number of cannons to the ocean and river views from the top. When we had fully exhausted the inside of the fort, we hiked the Cockspur Lighthouse Trail, a 1.5 mile out-and-back trail around the north and east sides of the fort all the way to, of course, Cockspur Lighthouse.

The weather could not have been more perfect on Saturday and we sat on a bench for a long time by the lighthouse, just soaking up the breeze and the sun. Finally, though, we decided to get going so that we would have time to take a little break before continuing our day of exploration in town that evening.

After some light lunch at home and a little college football, it was nearly evening and time to head downtown. We made a quick jaunt to River Street to pick up a bag for Aunt Veneita, then climbed back up those infamous stairs and visited Moon River Brewing Company for dinner. I've heard lots of good things about Moon River and even though it's located right on the tourist stretch of Bay Street, it's pretty popular with locals, which always bodes well. It did not disappoint. I was OK with the 45 minute wait, as it meant 45 minutes of sitting outside, watching the day turn into night, drinking their delicious hand-crafted wheat. Dinner was really good, trumped only by the amazing brews. Gearry and I both agree that their sweet potato wheat, which had just finished brewing the day before, was by the far the best beer we've ever had, period. It kicked the butts of all other really good beer I've had before (sorry, Upland). It is, of course, seasonal, so we're probably going to be frequent fliers at Moon River for the next couple of months to take advantage!

After dinner, we took the ferry across the Savannah River to the Westin on Hutchinson Island, where we literally just sat on an outdoor sofa, feet propped up, and watched the lights of River Street and beyond on the other side of the river, before heading back to Talahi.


We had planned for Sunday to be a "beach day," so wouldn't you know it that it was the one day the whole weekend that was cloudy, with a storm front rolling through, and -- dare I say it -- a bit chilly (really it was still in the upper 70s, but that storm changed things a bit!). It ended up being a different kind of beach day, with sweatshirts rather than bikinis, but it was beautiful nonetheless. We spent a few hours holding down our chairs, walking way out into the inlet since it was low-tide, reading, amd just staring off into the distance.

On Sunday evening, we got to watch the Packers kick Favre and the Vikings' butt (yay!) and make homemade BBQ pizza. Gearry had to get up early Monday morning for work, so he had to say goodbye to Mom and Dad when he went to bed. I know he was sad, but for both of us saying goodbye was made a lot easier because we know that we'll see them again in less than a month for Thanksgiving and for almost two weeks in December.


On Monday, Mom, Dad, and I made one last quick trip into town to eat lunch by the river, take a couple of daytime pictures of some houses from the ghost tour, and just spend our last couple of hours together. They got on the road around 2:30.

Who's next for a visit? :)

Monday, October 18, 2010


The above picture was just too adorable not to put it front and center of this post. I snapped it shortly after sunrise, as Gearry and the dogs and I sat on the beach on Jekyll Island watching the world wake up for the day. This weekend's camping trip to Jekyll Island was MUCH better than the first, since I did not feel like I was going to keel over this time around. We enjoyed lots of beach-sitting-beer-drinking-open-fire-cooking-exploring-picture-taking-book-reading fun, and the experience reminded me how much things have changed in a good way -- This time last year, Gearry was still putting in 90+ hour weeks, with no hope of a weekend off, and we were lucky to see each other a day or maybe two a week.

The weekend was very bittersweet however, as on Saturday afternoon while eating lunch around the campfire I got a call from Josh, who wanted to talk about some awful news he'd just gotten, that one of his best friends from high school had passed away. It was a shocking and tragic death, and it was hard to hear how much pain my brother was in, and then imagine if he was hurting that much, how much were his friend's parents and brother and other family hurting? He hadn't spoken much to the friend in a couple of years, but in high school they were inseparable, and it's just an all-around horrible situation. Events like this make me question a lot of things, yet make me grateful for my own family and friends.

Thankfully, the end of this week brings an opportunity to spend some much-needed time with family, as Mom and Dad are spending their fall break here with us in Savannah. They are set to arrive on Thursday evening and stay through Monday afternoon. I have to work on Friday from 3:00-6:00 p.m., and Gearry on Friday from 8:00-11:00 a.m.,  but other than that we should be able to spend the whole time with them. We're looking forward to showing them around our new homebase, eating at North Beach Grill, enjoying some beach time, visiting Ft. Pulaski, and going on a night time walking ghost tour, among other things. It makes me happy to know that even though they'll only be staying for a few days, I will get to see them in less than a month after that for Thanksgiving (4 days in Indiana) and then less than a month after that for Christmas (10-12 days in Indiana).

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I have tried to not get too excited about this upcoming weekend's camping excursion to Jekyll Island because, well, last time I got excited and that didn't turn out so great (unless YOU like camping with a fever, cold chills, sore throat, and headache). I realize getting sick had nothing to do with being excited about the trip, but somehow I keep telling myself if I pretend to be a little indifferent, my body will not decide to revolt on me and ruin another fun weekend.

Realizing that is pretty silly, I guess I'll break my "no excitement" rule for a few minutes to say: I'm so excited for this weekend! As luck would have it, the forecast is looking great (and the coolest it has been here so far this fall) at highs of mid-to-upper 70s and lots of sunshine, with no rain in sight. It will be nice to have a chance to re-do our trip from a couple of weeks ago, experiencing more of the eating-and-drinking-around-a-campfire-and-playing-on-the-beach that I had envisioned and less of feverish-half-sleeping-feeling-all-around-crappy that I experienced. We reserved the campsite that was right next to the one we had last time, as it provided everything the one we had did (privacy, space, etc.) but also had a little bit less canopy cover to let the sunshine in (it gets cold on those early mornings before you get a fire going!).

It's Thursday afternoon and I'm getting ready to begin the arduous packing process. Growing up camping in a camper, you don't realize how "spoiled" a version of camping it is until you go back to primitive tent camping. You have to bring along every single thing you think you might want (it's not going to be conveniently waiting in your camper for you) or you just have to do without it. We're pretty low maintenance, but even just for the two of us and the two dogs, our little car will be packed to the top! Tent, blankets, sleeping bags, pillows, tarps, firewood, cooler with food, cooler with drinks, lantern, clothes, dog crate, dog supplies, chairs, various tools, cooking supplies, toiletries, etc., etc. I guess if we were true hardcore campers, we'd fit everything we needed in a backpack and say to heck with the rest. But we're not, and I'm OK with that. I prefer to eat eggs and soy bacon cooked over the fire than MREs and freeze-dried food, and I don't mind lugging in a huge, heavy cooler if it is full of frosty libations. And the going more than one day without a shower thing is definitely not for me.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I can cautiously (very cautiously), sort of, kind of, with much hope and fingers crossed say that after being sick since the last couple days of September and all of October thus far, yesterday saw me back to something resembling my normal self, thanks to some encouragement from co-workers to go see a doctor. I am not the type of person that goes to the doctor for a cold, but after 10+ days of dealing with the sore throat, headache, body aches, sweating, etc., I was not about to let one more weekend get away from me. As I assumed, I had developed a secondary bacterial infection from whatever virus I started out with, which needed the aid of some trusty antibiotics to be banished. I visited a walk-in clinic on Friday (haven't picked out a doctor or dentist yet in Savannah), started a round of antibiotics, and was already feeling better by Saturday evening, and much better by yesterday. I've still got some conjestion/yucky feeling stuff going on, but I think I am finally on the up-and-up and was able to mostly enjoy the weekend.

Still not feeling well on Friday, we canned our plans for a sunset walk & dinner on Tybee and instead made pizza & watched a movie at home, in hopes that the extra rest would keep me going for Saturday. I woke up on Saturday feeling better -- not great, but better -- which was a good thing since it was finally time for Pirate Fest! Gearry and I put our two fabulous brains together and decided to cart our bikes out to Tybee for the afternoon parade so that we could park at the less-busy far north end of the island and then ride our bikes down to the more-crowded south end where the parade was. This proved to be a great idea. We enjoyed a little ride through the island, found a good viewing spot just across from Sting Ray's and Social, and enjoyed watching the various pirate ships and pirate-themed floats come by. (Although the experience was somewhat dampered by the hoard of bead-and-candy-hungry children who had no concept of personal space and no parents apparently willing to correct them who kept standing in front of us and running in the street in front of vehicles to procure the items of their fancy... I was truly afraid that if a piece of candy inadvertantly landed on my shoe, my foot would have been plucked clean off before I could react.) Afterwards, we hopped on our bikes and rode the parade route backwards, since it was still closed to regular traffic, making it all the way back to our car on the north end in five minutes flat. Biking is the way to go, man.

Some lunch at home, some college football, and a short nap provided the fuel to head back out to the island in the evening for round two. We visited the Tybee Island Social Club (just "Social" to most) for dinner for the first time and were pretty impressed. The vibe itself is awesome... We sat outdoors under an open-beamed porch roof laced with white lights, listening to a great live band (reminded us a lot of a grittier Eric Clapton, ala Sessions for Robert J) and watching college football on the giant projection screen. The food was also pretty good. The concept is a little unique in that you order at a counter and then select a table, and the food is then delivered to you. You can leave an open tab at the counter so that subsequent drinks or desserts and such can be added. We started with some really good homemade tortilla chips and queso, followed by a duck taco for Gearry and a veggie taco for me (not really tacos in the traditional sense... they are served in thick, handmade shells more like a pita) and sides of sweet potato fries. The best part of the meal, however, was undoubtedly the $2 Red Stripe tall boys.

After dinner, we walked down to Strand, where the tents had been erected for the Pirate Fest activities. Just moments after we started walking through the crowds, checking everything out, a random (obviously very drunk and probably hopped up on other things) guy ran up and punched this other guy in the face hard enough to send him flying to the sidewalk (and into Gearry, who smashed his beer all over my legs). As far as I can tell, it was completely random and we tried to stay out of it and let the guy and the friends with him work it out, but I have to say it definitely put a little damper on the rest of the evening. Angry drunk people are the absolute worst. If drinking makes you feel like you need to punch people in the face, uhhhh, you probably shouldn't drink?? We were a little weirded out and decided to get out of there for a bit, walking up to the pier to enjoy a quiet moment away.

Our intention for coming that evening, a concert by Eddie Money, began at 9:00 and we found a prime spot on the beach to enjoy the show. Wearing only a dress and still not 100%, I started getting really chilly as the night wore on, so we only made it to 10:00 before we headed home, but I did get to hear him perform one of my favorite songs, "Take Me Home Tonight," before we left, so I was satisfied with the day.

Sunday was a day of relaxation on the beach, grateful for the mid-80s temperatures and perfectly sunny skies. I read about 150 pages of my new book, so I'll call that a success. Today, Monday, is Columbus Day, which I have off but Gearry does not. I'm trying to get some work done (transcription for the IU researcher I work for, plans for my master's thesis/final project) and have successfully procrastinated for over half an hour by writing this blog entry ;) It's so gorgeous out, I'm tempted to take the puppies to Forsyth Park and do a little reading, but I'm conflicted in my need to be productive and yet enjoy the holiday off. Looking forward to a bike ride with Gearry this evening and to a busy week ahead preparing for another camping trip to Jekyll Island this coming weekend AND... Mom & Dad visiting the following weekend!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010


 I had been looking forward to our camping trip to Jeyll Island -- our first camping trip together in a couple of years other than the couple of nights here and there we've stayed in the camper with Mom & Dad -- for a couple of weeks and when the Friday we were set to leave finally rolled around I found myself... sick. Ugg. That kind of irony is just beyond annoying.

Trying to maintain a positive attitude, I hoped that the cold (sore throat, body aches, runny nose, all that fun stuff) would be short-lived and I spent all day Friday at work taking zinc tablets, drinking OJ and green tea, anything else I thought might help. I even came home on a two-hour break and took a short nap. Alas, short-lived it was not and by the end of the workday on Friday I was feeling less than sassy and up for a weekend of camping. However, I wanted to give it a shot so we finished packing the car when I returned home from work and set off for Jekyll (about an hour and a half), racing to get there before sunset so that we wouldn't have to set up our campsite in the dark.

We didn't make it before dark (of course, because that's how my luck was working that day) but thanks to the headlights from Gearry's car we were able to at least assemble the tent with a somewhat comfortable level of satisfaction that we had not done so in a nest of baby snakes or something equally as freaky. We hadn't yet bought wood to start a fire, so we just sat around in the lantern light for a little while before deciding to hit the sack. The following hours were some of the longest of my life. Between Gearry's indescribably loud snoring (I had forgotten my earplugs that I usually sleep with) and the fact that I could not breathe and felt, frankly, like a pile of poo, sleeping was nearly impossible. Gearry ended up heading to the car to sleep sometime during the middle of the night, but it didn't help much. I "awoke" with the sun, not sure that I had ever even fallen asleep.

Luckily, even after an awful night and even still feeling crummy, the beauty of the island and the excitement of the camping trip kept me going for most of Saturday. We took the dogs on a hike to Driftwood Beach --

-- and spent a couple of hours letting the dogs play on the beach, reading, and otherwise chilling. Zoey was adorable chasing any bird that dared cross her path. I have never seen her run so fast! The best was when she was concentrating so hard on chasing a flock that she didn't notice they had flown over the water and -- SPLASH! -- she crashed right into an oncoming wave, not even realizing she had run into the water.

After hiking back to the campground, I was absolutely exhausted from the combo of cold and no sleep, so we cooked some veggie hot dogs over the fire for lunch and then the puppies and I settled down for a nap while Gearry took a bike ride to the historic district to check out the Jekyll Island Club Hotel (originally built for the Pulitzers, Rockefellers, etc. and once the most exclusive social club in the U.S.) and the collection of late 1800s/early 1900s "cottages" (actually mansions) around it, built by some of the biggest names in our country's history (the previously listed Pulitzers, Rockefellers, as well as the Vanderbilts, J.P. Morgan, Henry Hyde, etc.). Later, when Gearry decided maybe he too would like a short nap, I took a bike ride as well and checked out some of the sights. Even though I brought three sets of rechargeable batteries for our digital camera, they all turned to be not-charged (duh) and so I only managed to get a few pictures of the trip and none of much else than our campsite and the beach. Next time we go, I'll try to get some of the historic district, as it's simple grandeur is hard to describe and better seen.

I thought the bike ride might help me sweat out some of the nastiness, but that was a big misconception. I felt way worse when I returned. We played it super low-key for the rest of the day, picking up a pizza and taking it, along with a cooler of refreshing beverages (that I am sure did nothing to help me feeling better in the long-term but seemed to help momentarily, if nothing else than to help me sleep) with us to the Clam Creek picnic area to watch the sunset. Afterward it was back to the site to build a fire, which we sat around for a couple of hours, enjoying some more beverages and listening to country music (because I think it's a law that you have to listen to country music while camping).

I slept slightly better on Saturday night. On Sunday morning we took the dogs for a long walk on the beach before coming back to the site to make a quick lunch and hop on the road to home.

All in all, I'm glad we went (the dogs had a blast, the island is amazing), but I'm hopping mad that I had to get sick and couldn't enjoy most of it. Gearry just felt bad for me all weekend and I could tell he was disappointed that I didn't feel up for much. We decided before we even left that we're going to try it again in a couple of weeks, hopefully healthy this time.

It's Monday night now and I'm starting to feel better. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it stays that way since this coming weekend is the long-anticipated PIRATE FEST on Tybee! We are so not into dressing up like pirates and stuff, but we are totally into watching other people dress like pirates, concerts on the beach, and a healthy dose of drunken island revelry.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


The picture above is of the sun rising over Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, where I am excited to say Gearry, the puppies, and I will be camping next weekend. We haven't been tent camping in a couple of years and I haven't been to Jekyll Island in at least 10 years, if not more, so I'm excited for both reasons. It will be our first little weekend getaway since the move and, as Jekyll Island is super dog-friendly (they consistently rank as one of the top 10 most dog-friendly beach destinations in the U.S.), Bailey and Zoey get to tag along. I'm excited for Zoey to finally get some time to run and play on the beach, as dogs aren't allowed on the beaches at Tybee. The thought of watching the sun rise on the east side of the island, spending the day with the dogs on the beach, riding our bikes everywhere (20 miles of paved bike paths), watching the sun set on the west side of the island, and basking in the moonlight around a campfire with a cooler full of cold drinks has me wishing this work week away.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Familiar Faces.

On Thursday and Friday, Gearry and I were treated to our first guests from home since our arrival. (We met friends who were vacationing on Hilton Head for dinner one evening last month, but these were our first visitors actually in Savannah). It was beyond fantastic to see familiar faces: Veneita, Gary, Chris & Michelle! They were down this way for Chris's half-Ironman race in Augusta (today) and decided they would make a mini-vacay of it, scheduling a couple of days in Savannah for some sight-seeing and hanging out time.

On Thursday evening after I got off of work, Gearry and I met the Apples at their riverfront hotel in the historic district, The Bohemian, which I must say is one of the most uniquely beautiful hotels I have ever been in -- absolutely no expense or detail spared, from the lampshades to the drawer pulls. It was so great to see family! We made the long trek to Cilantro's (literally a one-minute walk across Bay Street) where we ate some delicious Mexican food outside by the fountain, took advantage of 2-for-1 margarita Happy Hour, and laughed long and hard. After dinner, we took a short walk through City Market to stretch our legs and then made our way back to The Bohemian's rooftop and riverfront bar, Rocks on the Roof. It was a full moon and the views of the river and the Talmadge Bridge were breathtaking. We enjoyed a few more drinks and shared lots of stories and memories from growing up. Unfortunately, I had to work bright and early the next morning, so we had to call it a night around 10:00. But, after a long day of traveling (for them) and working (for me and Gearry), a reasonable bedtime didn't sound too bad.

Gearry amazingly had the day off on Friday (he's in between quarters right now, the fall quarter beginning this coming Wednesday) and so even though I had to work all day (not an option to take off since I had just started my long-term sub job a couple days before) he was able to play tourist on Friday and spend the whole day with the Apples. They took a trolley tour of the historic district, checked out some of the historic sites, like the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (gorgeous!), and had lunch at Tubby's Tankhouse on River Street. Later in the day, they headed out to Tybee and checked out the view from the pier. Shortly afterward, I finally finished up at work, did a super quick shower & clothes change routine, and met them for dinner at Marlin Monroe's. We sat outside on the beach deck with a spectacular view of the ocean. In preparation for leaving for Augusta in the morning and after a long day of sight-seeing, everyone was ready to turn in relatively early, so we said goodbye at the restaurant and Gearry and I headed home while the Apples headed back to the Bohemian, where they were treated to an awesome fireworks show over the river before turning in for the night.

Chris took some neat pictures, so hopefully I'll be able to put a few of them up in the near future. It was hard to say goodbye to everyone, but it's nice knowing that Thanksgiving is so close and we'll have four days in Indiana to spend time with everyone, and then another 7-10 days at Christmas. LOVE Savannah and we know we made the right decision, but definitely can't wait to see everyone again!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Morning Glory.

Today has been one of those days where Travis Tritt's "It's a Great Day to Be Alive" just keeps playing over and over in my mind. (If you're not a country fan, think of some other song that speaks to the magic of finding joy in the simple pleasures of life, despite the rough spots that will always be there.) Of course, it's still early in the day and lots can happen, but there's something to be said (and posted) about a morning where you wake up and start thinking right away about the fact that life is not perfect and it's not going to be today, but yet are able to embrace the happy energy that comes from the little things: a hot cup of locally roasted coffee, a bowl of cereal you haven't had in years, a light, salty-scented breeze while walking the dogs, and a great (albeit toasty) trail run along the water.

We all know by now that if I could spend every waking moment within sight of a body of water, I would be one extremely happy girl. Brad Paisley's song "Water" is my life theme song. So, it should be no surprise that I decided to abandon my typical 3-mile run around our neighborhood this morning so that I could finally check out the McQueen's Island Historic Trail. It's only a hop, skip, and a jump away from our house (less than five minutes) and I've been meaning to make my way over there for some time now. It did not disappoint and will likely become my new running spot of choice when I have the time to actually go somewhere for a run, rather than just running around my neighborhood. The crushed gravel surface is a lot more gentle on the body than road surface and the view cannot be beat. The trail is located on a very narrow strip of land (i.e. McQueen's Island) between the river and marsh. By very narrow I mean not much wider than the trail itself! The trail runs six miles in length from the west just over Bull River bridge to the east at the entrance to Ft. Pulaski, about 3/4 of the way out to Tybee. I saw lots of animals on my run (and heard lots of other not-so-interesting-and-more-like-scary ones rumbling around in the thick marsh grass as I passed), including a plethora of birds (if I knew anything about birds, I would tell you which ones), fish, butterflies, something that looked from a distance sort of like a raccoon (but I can't be certain since I immediately ran away from it), and, of course, tons and tons of tiny crabs. They are all over the path and scatter just before you smoosh them. There were a few smooshed ones, as well, that apparently didn't have a quick enough reaction time to escape from runners before me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

45 Days Without a Microwave

This post could have been titled "45 Days in Georgia," but as I really have been living here the entire 45 days without a microwave, I thought this title would present a nice opportunity to brag about such an exploit (I've been wanting to go sans-microwave for a long time) and a change of pace from the very-much expected "45 days in Georgia" or "45 Days in Savannah" or perhaps even "45 Days of Surviving Mosquitoes the Size of My Hand." Our microwave in Indiana was built into our kitchen and so we had to leave it. We could have simply bought one here for the guest house, but what a perfect opportunity to see if we could do without it. And we have. It really makes you think about what you're eating when you can't just toss it in the microwave and nuke it.

Almost all my complaints about Savannah in these first 45 days are bug-related. For instance, the GIANT palmetto bugs (i.e. coastal cockroaches) that somehow find their way into the tiniest nooks and crannies and into your house They are pretty much unavoidable and everyone finds them in their houses here from time to time, no matter how nice. But I am not exaggerating when I say some of them are the size of my middle finger and I've let out a few screams when I have walked into the kitchen in the middle of the night to get a drink of water and HELLO, CREEPY LITTLE FRIEND! I think I have already complained in at least one post on here about the mosquitoes (I found some organic bug lotion that is working pretty well, but it stinks SO bad that I can't put it on unless I have time to shower before going somewhere... It really turns me into a walking citronella candle). They are insatiably hungry little suckers! And, last but not least of the unholy trio, are the red ants! They are everywhere... You really can't walk in the grass without stepping into a pile of the little punks and suffering some painful bites up and down your feet and ankles. While the palmetto bugs are inevitable no matter what, my hope is that with the slightly cooler weather that is coming soon the mosquitoes and ants may back off. I have my doubts.

But enough about bugs, insects, and such. How bout these cute seagulls? A group of them wouldn't leave us alone at the beach on Saturday (that's what I get for dropping a single lime tortilla chip) and I used the opportunity to get some cool close-up shots. "The beach" has pretty much become our home away from home, which was only to be expected. We spend at least one day of the weekend there, sometimes two, mostly reading, lounging, napping, doing a little boogie boarding, and taking long walks. There is something so naturally soothing about being by the water, listening to those crashing waves that have been crashing since who knows when and will continue to crash until who knows when. Sitting there in our beach chairs with Gearry, with a cold drink and a good book, I want for absolutely nothing in the world. Even though we both have crazy work weeks, when the weekend rolls around it still feels very much like vacation.

My work at St. Andrews is still going great. I have been subbing a LOT in addition to my regular daily Sundowners hours, every day but one in the past two weeks. I'm still so happy that I was able to carve out a little space of my own in such a school and hope that it will become bigger as time goes on. I will be teaching P.E. for all grades in the lower school (3 years old through 4th grade) from Sept. 22nd through Oct. 12th and met with the current teacher today to go over plans and ideas for the stint, so I'm pumped for that experience.

Gearry is wrapping up his first quarter at the Culinary Institute this week. He is ready for a much lighter fall-quarter schedule, including every evening at home for the first time in our marriage. We've both decided we're probably going to get sick of each other, but we're OK with that. It's the little things that excite us.

Another thing that's exciting us is that we have visitors coming in a few weeks! Aunt Veneita, Uncle Gary, and Chris and Michelle will be in town the weekend after next for a couple of days preceding Chris's Half-Ironman in Augusta, and we can't wait to spend time with them!

Friday, August 27, 2010


I've tried to post a few times over the last couple of days but a couple of sentences in I find myself stopping and saying to myself, "There really isn't anything that interesting to write about." Then I delete, delete, delete, close the page, and think I'll give it a shot in another day or two.

Well, life isn't always interesting (not boring, just not so interesting), so if I let that stop me, I will very rarely post. So, here is a relatively short post on some relatively uninteresting tidbits and some somewhat more interesting things to come.

Today marks the end of my second school week at school and -- other than already having picked up some sort of cold that the 3K class is passing around -- things have been going very well. If I had my way, of course, I would have my own classroom and be neck-deep in lesson-planning, grading, etc., etc. But obviously that's not the case and since I tried to make it the case, apparently it was not meant to be this year, so I am very grateful to have what I do: a small but steady stream of hours in a great school with some great people. My 3, 4, & 5 year olds are pretty darn cute, although as much as they tire me out in the 3 hours that I am with them each day, I can't imagine having them all day like the 3K, 4K, and kindergarten teachers! My favorite (I know, I know, you're not supposed to have favorites, but come on, everyone does) is a 3 year-old who couldn't quite pronounce "Ms. Stacey" the first few times she tried, so it came out, "Ms. Tasty" and she got such a kick out of that that I have now become "Ms. Tasty" in her eyes. Three year-old humor amazes me. Especially with this little one... What a smarty! She's fluent in two languages and can switch back and forth in them with ease.

And, as promised when I took the afterschool program job, the sub jobs are already being lined up for me, which makes me happy. I have a couple of days lined up in early September and then a stint from Sept. 22nd through Oct. 12th teaching P.E. at the lower school while the teacher is out for surgery.

Things are going well for Gearry at work, although he is very ready for this quarter to be over (mid-Sept.) as picking up those extra two classes has been quite a bit to handle. There's a big difference in 9 am -6 pm each day versus 9 am - 10 pm. Even though it's only technically four extra hours a day, it means no evenings at home, additional hours of planning and grading, and having to teach two five-hour labs back-to-back. That would be a lot for anybody and so, as amazing as Gearry is, mid-September will be a big relief. We just keep reminding ourselves that it's giving us a bunch of extra money to stick in the bank toward our future house.

Speaking of house, Gearry and I sat down last weekend, went over our budget, talked for a long time about what we want, what we need, etc., etc., and finally came to the decision to extend our lease here in the guest house for a year total from when Gearry moved in, so until July 1st, 2011. Initially we signed our lease only through the end of October, hoping that our condo in Indiana would sell and we would be able to buy a home here. However, the condo has still not moved and with paying expenses for two residences, it would be a stretch to buy the kind of house that we want right now (not to mention a little scary carrying two mortgages). So, we decided to definitely hold off on buying for a little while until the condo sells and we can get our usual stream of money flowing into savings for a down-payment. We also decided after visiting some nice apartment complexes and going back and forth on signing a year lease for an apartment versus staying here that it made way much more sense to stay here. Although we could afford a pretty nice apartment on the island, why not stay here and be able to put a little bit extra in the bank each month, as well as avoid having to endure the physical and monetary aspects of moving? The downside, of course, is only having one bedroom, so there will likely be a couch or air mattress involved for visitors before July of 2011. But we love this neighborhood (gorgeous, waterfront, safe) and the space works fine for the two of us (with the help of a storage unit across town, of course) so we'll make it work. It will all be worth it when our condo hopefully sells and we find ourselves in our very own home next year.

Gearry is determined to start biking with me, so we ordered a road bike him a couple of weeks ago. It arrived just as promised, but the shifting system was not at all what we had wanted, with shifters on the tube instead of on the handle bars (I knew there had to be a catch for only $300), so we sent it back (losing $80 in shipping costs in the process... ugg) and ponied up a bit (lot) more for a different bike that we made sure had the right shifters beforehand. It was shipped out yesterday and is on its way, set to arrive at the beginning of next week. We're keeping our fingers crossed that it makes it on time because next weekend we are set to do the Savannah Bicycle Campaign's Midnight Garden Ride in the historic district. Despite the name, the ride actually begins at 8:00 p.m., and is a relaxed, family-friendly, nighttime 12-mile jaunt through historic downtown. It should be a really interesting way to see the sights in a different way.

The next morning is the Savannah Century, which, also despite it's name, can be of length anywhere from 25 to 103 miles. I think I am going to do somewhere in the 40-50 mile range, as I haven't been riding a ton and as I'm doing it by myself (I can only entertain myself for so long). That day is also the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, so after the ride in the morning, we're planning to spend the afternoon and evening out at Tybee, where the Landsharks (a fun band that does a lot of Jimmy Buffet-style stuff) are playing at the beach pavillion in the evening. A little seaside music and dancing sounds like a great way to send off the summer.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Sometimes it is amazing what can happen when you step out of your comfort zone. My comfort zone is a very comfy place indeed and I am totally fine there 99.9% of the time. But in such a comfy place it's easy to forget that sometimes stepping out just a little bit can produce great results. Hence this past Thursday when I decided to stop being a big baby and do something I NEVER like to do... ASK people for something. In this case, for a job. Tired of sending 5 million electronic (how everything is done now) applications for teaching jobs to no avail, I put on a nice outfit, did my hair and make-up, grabbed my stack of freshly-printed resumes, and headed out the door, bound for the list of private schools in the area that I had researched. My research had turned up the fact that there were NO JOBS AVAILABLE (ugh, economy, I hate you) but I decided that it would never hurt to ask... For subbing, for an assistant position, for anything. First stop was St. Andrew's School, a very prestigious private Pre-K to 12 school here on Wilmington Island. It was also my last stop, as they were impressed with my resume and definitely wanted me to substitute as much as possible and, amazingly, I ran into the headmaster in the office and she wanted to interview me for an after school teaching position. It's not exactly what I was looking for, but it was an excellent opportunity to get a foot in the door, and I was a little surprised that it had taken so little effort to get things rolling. I interviewed on Friday and was still a little unsure about the position, as it involves working with much younger kids than I am used to (3, 4, & 5 year olds) and more care than actual teaching (their poor little brains are pretty much fried by the time 3:00 rolls around) and you don't even teach a teaching license for the position, but I thought long and hard about it over the weekend and realized that you can't have it all, all of the time. That would be nice, but sometimes we need to take the little opportunities that present themselves as doorways to bigger opportunities. Or maybe not so much doorways as cracked windows.

I have been dealing with a feeling of purposelessness throughout this moving-and-job-hunting process, knowing that subbing was not going to help much with that because of its infrequency and unpredictable nature. I really needed, for my own mental well-being, something guaranteed every day; something to look forward to (or even perhaps not look forward to on some days). And I wanted to be a part of a great school. So, therefore, I decided to accept the position when the headmaster called yesterday to offer it to me. It's only three hours a day (3:00 to 6:00), but will be supplemented with subbing whenever possible, and, like I said, will give me that "something" each day that I need.

In other news, life is generally good. Our only disappointment so far in the whole starting-a-new-chapter-of-our-lives thing is that due to an emergency surgery for one of their adjunct instructors in the Culinary Institute, Gearry ended up picking up two extra classes this quarter. So, instead of getting off at 6:00 p.m. every night as originally planned, he now gets home somewhere between 9:00 and 10:30. Unlike when he was at the resort, however, he actually gets paid (and paid well) for this extra time, even though he is salaried. He has *gasp* a good employer -- the State of Georgia. So, it kind of stinks that we are not getting to see each other as much as expected but it's giving us the opportunity to put a bunch of extra money back toward our house down-payment fund and it's only for another month. When the next quarter starts in mid-September, he'll be done at 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11:00 a.m. on Friday.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Things I Learned on My First Low Country Bike Ride

I've been a Georgia resident for a little over a week now and while that is not much time in the whole scheme of life, I decided it was enough time to consider myself somewhat "settled" and therefore time to start to get back to some of my regular routines, including training.  I had been itching to get out on the Blue Beast (my bike) and explore a little bit, so I actually managed to drag myself out of bed bright and early, slap on some spandex, and take a little 15-mile jaunt around the islands. Like everything when you move to a completely new place, it was a learning experience. Here, in no particular order of importance, is what I learned on my bike ride:

1. LOW COUNTRY MEANS FLAT COUNTRY. I mean, looking around it is very obvious that the terrain is super flat here, but you don't really realize how much so until you go for a ride, especially if you're used to riding in a place like Southern Indiana, where there is pretty much no such thing as flat terrain. I literally encountered three hills today on my ride, and they were all going up man-made bridges over the intracoastal waterway, rivers, and marshland. It's kind of fun because you can ride a lot faster with a lot less effort than it takes in hilly terrain, but if I ever go for a ride back up north it is going to kick my butt!

2. THIS PLACE IS GORGEOUS. I already knew that. Duh. But seeing some of the backroads today on the islands with all the huge, waterfront homes and the intricate maze of docks stretching out through the marsh into the water and the mossy oaks that drape so far over the roads that they create a tunnel-like effect was impressive. For a water person like myself, there is something very peaceful and awe-inspiring about not being able to ride more than a couple minutes in any direction and not run into some sort of body of water.

3. BIKE PATHS MAY END SUDDENLY. While the bike path on the islands is fantastically convenient, especially the one that follows along the Islands Expressway all the way through Wilmington and Whitemarsh Islands, it has a tendency to stop  and merge onto the highway without warning. Therefore, if you don't keep your eyes open, you may suddenly find yourself biking directly ON the Islands Expressway with all the cars headed out to Tybee. Not that I did that or anything... Whoops...

4. I NEED TO KEEP DOING TRIATHLONS. Or half marathons. Or something that involves trying to meet physical challenges. I have to feed the competitive beast that lives inside of me, or I do crazy things. For instance, as I was prepared to turn onto our road to go home at the end of my ride today, I saw another biker further down the path in front of me. What do I do? Well, obviously, I change my plans and high tail it after the biker, determined to catch up with him just to know/show that I could. I got close, but he was hauling it and, after he turned into a neighborhood, I lost him. Next time, mystery biker, next time.

5. NOT EVERY STICK IN THE WATER IS AN ALLIGATOR. Although thinking every stick in the water is an alligator is great motivation to ride fast.

There will be many more bike rides and, therefore, many more lessons in the near future, I'm sure. It hit me yesterday pretty hard that I have NO FRIENDS here other than Gearry, and without a job it's hard to meet people. Gearry has been encouraging me to join the local bicycle club (Coastal Touring Bicycle Club) as a way to get to bike with others and meet other like-minded folks, which is a great idea. They do group rides every week. A local bicycle shop also hosts 30-mile group rides every Saturday starting at Chippewa Square in the historic district, so I just may hook up with one of the groups this weekend and give it a try.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

8 Things I Have Learned

Just got back from driving my parents to the Savannah-Hilton Head Airport for their flight home. It seems a little surreal that they'll be 750 miles away, for more than a week, for the first time in my life. Then again, there isn't a lot about the last couple of months that doesn't seem a little surreal. Gearry landing this amazing and coveted position, in one of the few places that we always said we'd move if we got the chance. The two of us feeling confident enough to say "yes" to it. A month-long separation. Physically moving all of our belongings halfway across the country. Walking around this beautiful historic city and meandering along the beach and reminding yourself/realizing, "Crap... We're not on vacation."

I've been in Savannah for about 3.5 days and much of it has been spent organizing our house (still not done), so I have a ton to learn about this city. However, there are a few things that I have learned so far:

1. The island we are living on -- Talahi Island -- is pronounced TA-LAY-HE, not TAL-A-HI or TAL-AH-HE or any of the other ways we pronounced it in the months before our move. Gearry's students helped him out with some of the local pronounciations ;) In similar news, the island next door -- Whitemarsh Island -- where we do a lot of our shopping is pronounced WHIT-MARSH, like "whit" instead of the color "white."

2. Savannah has only one full-fledged, all-out vegetarian restaurant, but it is so, so good. The Sentient Bean, located on the south boundary of Forsyth Park (think a slightly smaller version of New York's Central Park) downtown reminds me a lot of Soma or Roots or Laughing Planet or some other equally kitschy place in Bloomington. It feeds my preppy-hippie soul (and tummy). Yesterday I had a panini made with BBQ tofu, cheddar, coleslaw, and carmelized onions. SO good. They have tables outside overlooking the park and I am looking forward to spending some long afternoons there with a book and/or my laptop. While The Bean is the only full-vegetarian restaurant that I am aware of, a lot of the restaurants downtown have a variety of vegetarian options since there is a large vegetarian population within the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) population.

3. We are in jellyfish season because of the hot water. Standing on the pier looking down into the ocean, you can see jellyfish, jellyfish, jellyfish, everywhere you look. Not just one or two, but dozens within immediate eyesight, flitting about creepily. The beach patrol has warning flags out for dangerous marine life. There were plenty of people still in the water, but that's because they probably hadn't walked out to the pier first. They're having a lot of stinging incidents and so, as much as I LOVE the water, we'll see if I talk myself into getting in anytime soon ;) My sweet boogie board is calling my name though...

4. Not everyone sounds like Paula Deen. In fact, very few do in the city, thank goodness. I thought the accents were going to be overbearing, but in most people they are only slightly detectable.

5. Like Bloomington, biking is encouraged here. There is a really nice bike trail that follows the Islands Expressway all the way through Whitemarsh, Talahi, and Wilmington Islands, almost all the way out to Tybee Island. There are lots of bike paths downtown as well. I'm looking forward to hopping back in the saddle once I've got things settled here and doing some two-wheeled exploring.

6. There is only one Jimmy John's in the entirety of Savannah. For those of you who know about my addiction, this makes me a little sad. However, the one location is only about 15 min. from my house, in the heart of the historic district on one of the little square parks, so it will make a nice little excursion from time to time when I need my fix.

7. A shopping cart is called a buggy?? I'm not sure if everyone says this, but I've heard it twice already since I've been here, so I'm curious.

8. Lifeguarding this summer should have been called Introduction to Georgia Heat 101, because -- really -- the heat and humidity here hasn't been much different. It's HOT and HUMID, but not any different than what I dealt with for several weeks this summer at camp.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Your Life Can't Fit Inside Boxes

There is something about moving that casts light on the curious balance between material goods serving to make our life better and materials good serving as our life. The hours and hours of sweat that it takes to put all of our things into boxes makes you ask practical questions like "Do I really need this?" while at the same causing you think about all the memories attached to these objects; all the moments in life that they represent and that they may represent one day. Yep, it's a curious balance indeed, but if there is anything that packing our things has caused me to realize over the last couple of days, it is that your life can't fit inside a bunch of cardboard boxes and be hauled on a truck across the country. Life is about the people and the places and the experiences and the love and the faith in something bigger than us. The "stuff" can play an important role, but it's not life itself. I would gladly leave all these boxes of stuff behind and start completely anew if that's what I had to do to get to Gearry and the puppies. My life is not in these boxes... It's already waiting for me in Georgia.

Yesterday, my friend Katie, who was in visiting from Chicago, helped me with the arduous task of wrapping every single piece of glass we own (and we have a LOT of stemware) and packing various other things. This morning, an hour after Katie left, Mom arrived to pick up where we'd left off. If I had to guess, I would say I'm about 90% packed. Mom and Dad are coming up tomorrow to pick up the moving truck and to help me finish the packing. Then -- Friday -- comes the incredibly not-so-fun part: loading the moving truck. Thankfully, I am blessed to once again have friends who jump in and say, "Let us help!" Who actually likes to pack/unpack? No one! That means friends that volunteer to help with enthusiasm as though it would be their pleasure are 1) Really good at acting and 2) Really good in general. Between myself, Mom, Dad, Gearry's parents, and a couple guys from camp, I hope we can knock it out relatively efficiently.

Friday, July 23, 2010

One week til departure!

7 more days of Bloomington... 7 more days until Gearry, Bailey, & Zoey. It feels good to finally see the light.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bloomington Days

Gearry has been promising for a week now that he would update the blog with his account of his time so far in Savannah, but he keeps "forgetting" and so I am finally giving in and posting because I am spending this Saturday morning/early afternoon sitting outside at Bakehouse, drinking coffee, watching all the people walk by from the farmer's market with fresh baguettes and bags of produce, cyclists zoom by in their spandex-clad packs, runners huffing through today's insane humidity, moms and dads pushing strollers, and other people-watching, coffee-drinking B-Towners like myself. It's just the kind of moment that makes you think, hey, I should share this with everyone because it's so simple yet too good to keep to myself.

Let's see, where are we on July 17th, 2010?

Mom and Dad are currently at Yellowstone National Park. They left Indiana on July 5th and have spent the time since traversing Illinois, Iowa, the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Montana, most of their time spent in the latter. Mom and I speak pretty regularly lon the phone and she's great about texting me pictures of some of the cool things they're seeing, so I know they're having a great time. Their approximate arrival date back in the Hoosier state is July 26th, so I believe they are spending a few more days hanging around the Yellowstone area and then will slowly make their way back.

Gearry is settled in down in Savannah and is loving his new job. I will refrain from sharing too much because I am convinced that I will actually get him to update the blog soon and I would love for everyone to hear about his experiences through his own voice. The guest house we are temporarily renting is in a great neighborhood and he loves the closeness to work (20 min.), downtown (15 min.) and -- most importantly -- the beach (10 min.). He's headed to the beach again as I write to get a little sun, do a little boogie-boarding, and otherwise enjoy life. We're both a little down in the dumps without each other, but reminding each other that the countdown gets smaller and smaller each day. Today? 13 or 14 days, depending on if I decide to hop in my car after we finishing packing the moving truck on the 30th, or be logical and wait until bright and early the next morning, the 31st.

You already know where I am physically -- Bakehouse -- but where I am emotionally is hard to figure out. I never thought I'd miss Gearry and the puppies so much, so it really feels like part of me is with them, and I won't be exactly myself until I join them. I am exhausted from working so many crazy hours at camp, and I am stressed by the fact that within the next two weeks I need to do so much -- like packing the house, which I have still not started since we've been having so many showings -- but there is some joy in my heart for these beautiful Bloomington days and for the adventure I have ahead.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Last Things.

Gearry and I got up at a reasonable hour this morning so that we could enjoy breakfast at his favorite Bloomington haunt, The Runcible Spoon, one last time before he heads out bright and early on Monday. We have a wedding to attend in South Bend on Saturday and won't be home until Sunday, so this morning was kind of our last chance. The weather was gorgeous, warm with a light breeze, perfectly comfortable for sitting outside and drinking coffee and chatting and eating way too much yummy food. Unfortunately, the owner, Matt, who Gearry is good friends with, is in Ireland at the moment, so he didn't get to tell him "bye" which was a little disappointing, but that just means we'll have to come back and eat again on one of our visits back to Indiana :)

Gearry finished packing today, minus his clothes, and we'll be loading his car down on Sunday evening. It's going to be quite a puzzle... A clown car would come in handy about now. We've had a good but busy day. We dropped the dogs off at Mom & Dad's today since we're headed out of town tomorrow morning for the wedding, conveniently detailing the inside of Gearry's car while we were there, and tonight we're meeting Gearry's parents for dinner in B-Town.

I have lots of mixed feelings about everything.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Went out on the boat with Mom & Dad for the last time (at least this summer) and had an incredible day. I think some pictures will sum it up nicely.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Gearry's last couple of weeks here in Indiana are flying by in a whirlwind of activities, events, get-togethers, and must-do's that has me in disbelief that it is already June 21st. A few brief updates:

- On Saturday, June 12th, we had a going-away cookout for Gearry at Lake Monroe. It was so wonderful to have almost all of my loved ones in the same place at the same time and made us feel very good to know how much we are loved. Thanks to my mom and Gearry's mom, we had tons of delicious food and a very great -- albeit very hot -- evening.

- The next day, on Sunday, June 13th, I participated in my second Hoosierman, a triathlon that takes place at Fairfax Beach at Lake Monroe. I definitely had not trained as hard as I did last year, between working at school and some knee issues that had my doctor telling me not run for two weeks before the triathlon, so I was a little apprehensive, but it was definitely a fun time. I had barely trained on the swimming leg, so I was super slow, but I had a pretty decent bike and I just tried to hang in there for the run. It definitely didn't take me as long to recover as it has from triathlons in the past, so I think I have done a good job of building a pretty solid endurance base with things like the half-marathon. I am looking forward to doing some new triathlons in the Savannah area, including one that I am aiming for on Jekyll Island in October. A whole album of pictures from the Hoosierman is posted on my facebook, but here are a couple of them:

- On Saturday evening, June 19th, as Gearry and I were getting ready for a double date with our friends Catherine and Brian at the Taste of Bloomington event, Bailey gave us quite a scare. He started throwing up, which wasn't a big deal, but he proceeded to throw up 6 or 7 times within a 15 minute period. We had him sitting in the bathtub because he was throwing up so much. We were trying to comfort him when he started shaking violently. He tried to climb out of the bathtub and collapsed. As he tried to get up and make his way to the door, his eyes were very glassy and his limbs kept collapsing underneath him. If you've ever seen someone who's body is shutting down at the end of an Ironman or a marathon, that's exactly what he looked like. It was terrifying and, later, as Gearry and I discussed it, we both admitted that we thought he was going to die right there on our bedroom floor. Needless to say, my puppy-mommy-instincts kicked in and I grabbed him and we ran for the car. Because it was Saturday, no vets in Bloomington were open, so we had to hightail it to the emergency vet in Indianapolis. That was a very scary hour in the car, followed by a very scary hour and a half waiting to find out what was wrong. Thankfully, the vet had good news. The "seizing" and passing out was a side effect from the throwing up. When you throw up that many times, it can activate a nerve in the body that causes you to lose consciousness. The cause of throwing up that much is still a mystery, but he was a little dehydrated and had not eaten all day, so they think that played a part. He had every diagnostic test you can imagine run on him (seriously, $800 worth) and he is perfectly healthy. They wanted to keep him for 24 hours to keep an eye on him, make sure he was eating and drinking, give him some IV fluids, etc., so we finally got him back around 11:00 p.m. on Sunday evening. I've never been more happy to cuddle with my little guy last night.

- In other puppy related news, after much debate, we have decided that Gearry is going to take the puppies with him next Monday when he moves to Savannah. Originally the plan was for them to stay and move with me at the end of July/beginning of August, but because my job at camp is requiring many, many more hours than we had anticipated and I would be home far less each day than Gearry will be, we decided it was best for the dogs if they went with him. It's not fair to them to be stuck in a crate for 14 hours a day with only a couple of quick walks from the dog walker. I'm very sad at the prospect of not only not having Gearry for a month but also Bailey and Zoey, but I know it is what is best for them, and I know they will also help keep Gearry company while he is alone for that month. So, we ordered a travel crate and I'm doing lots of petting and hugging and spoiling while I can.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Started my summer job at camp this week. Let's just say it is not exactly what I expected, but I'm going to try to make the best of it. Totally and utterly exhausted. Fortunately, we do not have a camp next week and it will be Gearry's last week in Indiana as well, so at least that works out as far as spending some quality time together before the month apart.

Bed. Now.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Life seems like one big change right now, which is a little exhilirating and a little scary at the same time. Even just sitting in my living room today, doing absolutely nothing except watching "Family Guy" and cuddling with the puppies, I realized that in just a couple of months I won't be able to ever do that again. I mean, there will be tons more "Family Guy" and puppy cuddling sessions, but they won't be in this living room, because it will no longer be our living room. Those times will be 700 miles away. I keep going back and forth between wanting to enjoy every last minute here and feeling uncomfortable being here now all seems so temporary, so unsettled. I think I liked settled. Then again, it seems every time "settled" comes around we get the urge to make a change, so perhaps I'm not as much of a "settled" person as I think.

Either way, I'm committed to eeking out every ounce of fun, relaxation, and good times that this summer can bring and have one last fantastic Indiana summer to remember (for now, as we never know what the future holds). The summer is looking a whole lot brighter after Gearry found out yesterday that instead of starting at CIS on June 18th, his new start date is July 1st (to coincide with the start of the school's fiscal year). Therefore, since today is his last day at the resort, that means three whole weeks of Gearry! It will be the most I've seen him... probably ever. We already have a list of all the things we want to do before he goes... Drive-in theatre, lots of lake & boating time, lazy days at the clubhouse cabana bar, dinner at Story Inn, etc., etc. I hope that three weeks together will make the month we'll be apart a little easier to handle. I start my summer job at camp on Monday, so I'm going to be working quite a bit these next few weeks, but it's nice to know that when I come home at the end of the day he'll actually be here.

A lot of people keep asking me what my plans are for Savannah. I am hoping, praying, and keeping my fingers crossed for a teaching or teaching assistant position and have started sending out some resumes. Like the public school system here, the Savannah-Chatham system is in dire financial trouble, with something crazy like a $35 million budget cut. That makes things a little challenging, but since it is such a big system, they are still hiring a few positions and I have applied for those. There is also a HUGE private school system (one of the largest numbers of private schools in a city that size in the U.S.) and they hire a position here and there, so I'm keeping my eyes peeled. Most hiring will likely be done in the couple of weeks (or even couple of days) leading up to the start of the school year, so I unfortunately have to be very patient. If the beginning of the school year comes and goes and I am still jobless, then I will subsitute or tutor or both, whatever I need to do to get my name out there. I would be completely fine with serving for another year as a teaching assistant, so I'm hoping that if a full-classroom job doesn't pan out, a paraprofessional or some sort of assistant job will. I just want to be in a school, doing what I love.

I'm learning more and more about the area we're going to be living in through internet research, talking to people who live there, travel forums, etc. Our neighborhood, Talahi Island, is a small island between two larger islands, Whitemarsh Island and Wilmington Island. This world of "island suburbia" is halfway between downtown Savannah and the beach. The islands are highly residential, although they do have their own restaurants, shops, etc. From where we are living on Talahi Island, we can access an 8-mile bike path that leads all the way out to Tybee Island and beach life, which is pretty cool. I should have no problem staying in shape there! We also learned that Tybee has a very strict no-dogs-on-the-beach policy, so if we want to take Bailey and Zoey for some beach strolls we'll have to do it at Hilton Head (just to the north) or one of the several beach areas to the south. We also learned a little bit more about our "duplex" we are renting for four months. Actually, it's not a duplex at all. It's an attached guest house/mother-in-law-suite of a large home on the island. So I guess technically it really is a duplex, but not in the traditional sense. The house looks really nice and we're happy to have found a place in what seems to be such a nice neighborhood.

Let's see, what else have we learned? Oh yes, I discovered today that even though it is the south and when I think of southern cooking I think of meat, meat grease, and gravy, Savannah has quite a few restaurants downtown with vegetarian options, mostly because it is home to SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) and you gotta cater to those hippie vegetarian art students :)

A woman who I have been communicating with via e-mail who is from Boston but owns a home in Savannah and spends as much of her time there as possible, with intentions to retire there in the next few years, has been giving me lots of wonderful insights on the culture of the place. I asked her about the attitude toward northerners who move in there and she offered this: "It is quite a cosmopolitan small city. So many 'Yankees' have moved in that a lot of the 'old south' of the place is gone. We are ALL over the place so its not a novelty being a Yankee. There are great people and there are jerks everywhere, so once you ignore the accents, we are all the same."

Alright, so if I can only get past the accents...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bound for the Coast!

If you haven't heard the news, I am happy to tell you that Gearry recently accepted a full-time faculty position at the Culinary Institute of Savannah and, therefore, we're of course moving to Savannah, Georgia! Happiness is the main emotion surrounding this big change in our lives, with a little bit of sadness and anxiety thrown in for good measure. OK, a lot of anxiety on my part, not so much on Gearry's part ;) While we are very sad to leave behind family and friends here in Indiana, we feel incredibly blessed that Gearry happened to find his dream job in an area of the country that we happen to love.

Gearry has been wanting to make the move to teaching culinary arts full-time for some time now. He's been teaching a class each semester at Ivy Tech, as well as recently taking on the role of Progam Coordinator for their culinary arts program, for the last couple years and quickly realized he had both a passion and talent for instruction. Not only is it a field that he loves, but it is also so much more conducive to family life (i.e. actually getting to see each other) than the restaurant/resort field. He'll be making more money while working less than half the hours a week that he works now, and he will have weekends, evenings, and holidays off, as well as fall, spring, winter, & summer breaks... Hard to beat that!

We randomly came across the job opening way back in early March and, seeing that it was in an area that we both love, Gearry applied. We thought it was probably a long-shot, as the position was bound to be very competitive. However, a few weeks later in April we were happily surprised when Gearry received a call inviting him to interview. He flew down in mid-April to interview and teach a demo class, and he thought it went really well. However, days began to pass, then weeks, and still no word. We kind of resigned ourselves to the fact that it wasn't going to happen. Then, suddenly, while Gearry happened to be on a business trip to Chicago for the resort just last week, he got the call from the Dean that they wanted him. It was kind of a no-brainer.

We just listed our condo on the market and are in the process of hammering out all the many, many details that come with a big move. We know a few things... After many stressful hours on the telephone and internet, we finally found a temporary lease today. We wanted to rent a place for a few months so that we can house hunt (or long-term lease hunt, if we don't find anything we want to buy right away) and it proved very difficult to find a short-term lease, let alone a short-term lease within our budget, as we wanted to take on a lease with the idea that we will also still be carrying our mortgage (although we are hoping our condo sells quickly and that won't be the case!).  We happened upon a little duplex in a nice part of the city, on Talahi Island, about 10 min. from the beach and 20 min. from Gearry's job. Our little temporary (4 months) home is indicated on the map below with the red dot:

It's just a one-bedroom, so we'll have to keep a lot of stuff in storage while we house hunt -- assuming that we sell our condo. We don't want to carry two mortgages, so we'll rent as long as we need to, but we both enjoy owning our own place and are looking forward to the house-hunting process.

Let's see, what other details should I share? I have begun the teaching job hunting process, e-mailing various people, sending resumes and such. The public school system there is in sorry financial shape, just like those here in Indiana, but they are still doing some hiring and there is a very large number of private schools, several of which also currently have jobs posted. I'm hoping to get either a teaching or asssitant teaching position lined up this summer, but as a lot of hiring happens in the couple of weeks before school starts in August, I may have to be patient and hoof it out on foot, resumes in hand, in those days just before school begins. Everything else has seemed to work out for us so far, so hopefully this will too.

Gearry is moving down on June 14th, beginning his job on June 16th. However, I have a summer job commitment that I don't feel right backing out on and I would like to be here to try to get the house sold anyway, so the dogs and I won't be moving down until August 2nd. It's going to be a long month and a half apart, but we'll make it work.

Okay, tired of typing for the moment, but I'm sure you're also probably tired of reading ;)