Beat the Heat

June was really hot here on Tybee. Like multiple-days-of-heat-advisories-in-a-row kind of hot. Like, Matthew Broderick in Biloxi Blues playing in my head saying:

Man it’s hot. It’s like Africa hot. Tarzan couldn’t take this kind of hot.

Hot enough to inspire funny videos about bank robbers in the south getting caught because their getaway car is too hot.

The kind of relentless heat and humidity where we spent our weekend daylight hours going from my parents’ (albeit tepid) pool to a dip in the (also warm) back river to the a/c-with-all-the-blinds-drawn-and-fans-on-to-boot.

So naturally it was too hot to cook or, God forbid, go outside and man the grill (ahem…I mean, keep Ty company outside while he melts and mans the grill). We were going out of town on Friday, so I only had to cover four dinners…how hard could it be?

Back in my museum-working days, we had a core group of ladies who lunched (and an occasional worthy male counterpart), with a monthly standing reservation at the Kemper Museum’s Cafe Sebastienne to catch-up. From seasonal menu launches to cutting edge art exhibitions to birthdays, babies, and divorces, it didn’t take much of a reason for us to get together and celebrate. On one such occasion, I had a summer salad so sublime that I was determined to re-create it. It was a puff pastry with pesto, heirloom tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese broiled to perfection. This Caprese-on-steroids was nestled on a bed of spring greens drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Simple and delicious with a beautiful presentation. Puff pastry might seem tricky if you’ve never used it, but it’s as easy as thaw, fill, bake, annnnd impress your guests. On the occasions that I made the above salad, I used Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Shells.

I mention all of this background by way of explaining that this recipe was one of several that were perfect for the June heat, so I stocked up on groceries that I knew could be thrown together in under 30 minutes, taste great, and not cause me to sweat any more than I already was. Hence, my fancy (but easy! and delicious!) salad was back. Except that I couldn’t find my beloved pastry shells, only pastry sheets, so I improvised (if you know me or have read any previous blog posts involving my ability to improvise, you know where this is headed).


I unfolded them and let them thaw a bit, then popped them in the over for about 5-7 minutes. They puffed up beautifully and I decided to just top them like a fancy pizza crust. I made one sample “plank” with a little olive oil, chopped rosemary, and leftover crumbled feta that was so good I forgot to even take a picture of it! I took the remainder of dough from the “appetizer” and made a white pizza for Jack with olive oil, shredded mozzarella, and a sprinkle of parmesan. He declared it delicious and was disappointed that I used the remaining pastry for Ty and my Caprese salad pizza creation.

I spread a little store-bought pesto on the dough, then topped it with the last of our Davis Produce’s famous killer tomatoes from the weekly Tybee Farmers’ Market, along with a generous sprinkling of coarse sea salt.20180626_185828

Next came sliced fresh mozzarella:


Then a quick spin under the broiler (since the dough was already cooked, I opted for less browning of the cheese so as to not burn the delicate pastry).


Sprinkled on a little fresh chopped basil from my herb garden, and voila! Dinner is served.


It was actually so filling, that we both were only able to eat one “plank” of the two. This is a great treat to make for a crowd and slice into bite-sized finger food. An easy step up from the usual hummus or cheese and crackers!

Other easy recipes that week were ones that I pretty much know the ingredients and recipe by heart: one pot cheesy sausage pasta skillet (I used Ro-tel and pepper jack cheese to amp up the heat profile), The Dinner Doctor’s recipe for impossibly easy ham and cheese pie (perfect for using up hodge podge of cold cuts and cheese in the fridge) with a side salad, and a Rachel Ray recipe for “gyros” that I tried years ago with sliced flank steak cooked with Cavender’s Greek Seasoning (tastes great on everything!), diced purple onion, sliced cukes, feta, and pita bread.

I hope you’re keeping cool this summer! Comment with your favorite summer recipes to beat the heat!


Sun’s Out, (Water) Guns Out

May 18 was the final day of school (a bit of a stretch to say “day” since Jack had his 6th grade awards ceremony from 8-9 am and then we signed him out), and as always here on Tybee, the last day of school in Chatham County, being the Friday before Memorial Day, ushers in the annual Beach Bum Water Fight Parade. It’s a fun way for everyone on the island to have some fun before the onslaught of summer tourists descends upon us.

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For 10 years, we’ve participated in this parade which has been going on for 32 years now. From our first, naive experience when Jack was a wee toddler and we didn’t think kids would deign to shoot water at strangers, much less adults (boy were we wrong!), to the year we were on the inside track of the parade, riding with Jack’s karate instructor, Master Jaime, on his pirate-themed Ultimate Martial Arts float (the same year the parade coincided with our anniversary), to the year it was so cold that the kids were crouching behind the exhaust of the running police car, to experiencing the water fight from various points along the parade route with various friends, it’s not my favorite parade (Wait, you don’t live somewhere that has parades so frequently that you have a preference? I prefer my parades in a chair, on the sidelines, preferably with a drink in my hand, not dodging doses of freezing cold water), but we continue to participate because Jack loves it.

We took our usual parade-watching spot (affectionately known as the “Marion corner” and left Jack to run in and out of the factions charging each other across the street as we waited for the real action to find its way to us towards the end of the parade route. Usually, by the time the floats approach us, we have been out of water for at least 30 minutes, and this year was no exception. There were two families next to us, parents and their teenage kids who were dressed hilariously, one dad wearing a plastic Afro and cape, while his son sported ski goggles and a plastic GI Joe helmet and his wife had a kids-sized plastic Viking helmet and shield. They deemed themselves mercenaries of whichever group had the most water and we watched, amused, as they made, and quickly broke, treaties with the groups around us. As I remained relatively dry, one guy crouched next to me, pretending to need cover to fire at someone, when instead he fired point blank at me. This video by the fabulous Wen McNally captures a blur of Jack as well as the fabulous caped Afro dad.

There were more floats this year that I recall in previous parades, and my favorites were the guys in tiny tanks from The Combat Zone. As we were walking back to the house, the parade participants all make their way down our street, so I got to stop and ask about their unique vehicles. Turns out, they’re new outside the Pooler area and you can rent the tanks and drive them around for a paint battle. That is definitely something that could get me to make the drive off island to brave I-95 traffic and check out this summer.

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As always, Beach Bum is a great way for kids to really blow off steam at the end of the school year. And the adults seem to enjoy it just a little as well.

Velociraptors, & Giraffes, & Dragons, Oh My!

Whether you’ve spent years living on Tybee time or this is your first visit to our little slice of heaven, one thing’s for certain: residents personalize their homes with yard art like nowhere else! Sure, you might expect to see some pink flamingoes staked about, and you’d be right. But a flock of pink flamingos pulling Santa’s sled? Now that’s definitely a Tybee-spin on a traditional, kitschy island staple!


Perhaps you’ve noticed a velociraptor looming to the right as you crossed the causeway onto Tybee. But, he (she?) isn’t the only one! The first one you encounter is frequently dressed up according to holidays and Chicago sports team victories, although is currently sporting swim floats (perhaps as a result of Hurricane Irma?!) 


The second dino can be spotted on 2nd Avenue. Were they separated at birth? We may never know!

Dave the dinosaur

You might be surprised as you round the corner of 19th and Butler by this shiny, orange dragon. Is he protecting the treasure of the vase next to him? 


Much to Jack’s delight, there is a replica of this same dragon at the Chromatic Dragon Guild Hall where he took Minecraft camp last summer.

Not sure how you’d access this double-decker mailbox, but I love the clever pun!

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As you mosey down Chatham Avenue en route from Alley 3 to AJs, don’t miss the friendly giraffe poking out of the bushes along the way.


Further along Chatham, from a giant, blue dragon boat to crazy, steampunk-inspired metal work creatures dotting the yard, this house on the corner of 15th and Chatham boasts a variety of sculptures to capture your interest (and make for fun souvenir photos from your trip!). Bonus points awarded if you noticed the creative mailbox art…you can find the same surfer dude at the offices of North Island Kayak

mailbox surfer  dragon boat  horse-drawn motorbike

preying mantis  wheelie goatgoat and doll house

This version of a Moai may be a bit smaller than the originals on Easter Island, but it still makes me smile whenever I pass it and think of the bubble gum-chewing CGI version in Night at the Museum!

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Tiki heads appear pretty widespread if you know where to look. Here are three you can make a scavenger hunt out of (comment below if you know where they are, or I can email you the locations).

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I don’t know if this “qualifies” as a tiki head, but I’m happy to add it to the mix based solely on their creative use of existing “flaws” to make the mouth and the additional jaunty touch of hat, painted eyes, and random single appendage.


And then there are the quirky scenes you come across and wish you knew the full story behind them, like who decided to attach this tiny gnome to a fire hydrant (and why!?).


Let me know if you have any fun yard art additions around your neighborhood that can be added to this post!


A “Quick” DIY Project 3+ Years in the Making

Several years ago, the big house on the corner across from us was sold furnished and the new owners had a yard sale. We hadn’t intended to buy anything, but as we happened by on a weekend walk, we were drawn in. Long story short, we ended up buying several basic black Ikea chairs (never enough seating for bacon club gatherings), a light wood armoire (also probably from Ikea, but having never been to one of their stores, I can’t say for sure), a really nice, wooden futon with a thick cushion and sturdy corduroy slip cover, and a solid pine coffee table. We scored all of this stuff for like $50 cash and only had to carry it across the street, so win-win.

I thought about painting the chairs a variety of bright colors, but since there are 3 ladder back chairs upstairs, 2 of which I have finished painting and all of which need the seats either re-caned or bases measured, cut, and upholstered, I figured my track record with completing “easy” chair projects isn’t too good. So I turned my attention to the proverbial blank canvas of the pine coffee table. First step? Pinterest research, of course. Should I paint it? Upholster it into a shabby chic ottoman/table? Mosaic tile it? Decoupage it? I pinned dozens of ideas, ruminated on them, consulted my mom for her thoughts, posed logistics questions about the project to Tyler, etc. Final verdict? Get the super cool nautical chart of Tybee and surrounding area and somehow affix it to the table top. There are tons of shops and restaurants around Tybee and Savannah who have this same map framed or made into throw pillows, and an acquaintance makes adorable frames, clocks, drink trays, Christmas ornaments, and more using a trove of leftover nautical maps printed for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics which hosted several of the yachting and sailing events in area waters.

Last December, I popped into West Marine Savannah to inquire about procuring said nautical chart and they had one left in stock. I threw in an octopus Tervis cup with lid and my Christmas to me/for me/from me shopping was complete.

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It’s #11512, Savannah River and Wassaw Sound, should you wish to purchase your very own copy.


The octopus is my spirit animal.

With the map in my possession, I attempted to pick out paint samples for the table legs and sides to tie everything together. I looked at various hues to complement the greens, blues, and yellows of the map, finally settling on a light yellow color called “Barely Yellow.”


Hint: It’s the top left color box

Side note: about 6 months ago we went to a friend’s catered bbq (he “won” it at one of Savannah’s numerous fundraisers’ silent auction opportunities) and we mixed and mingled with his eclectic bunch of hip, in-town friends (hip as evidenced by the fact that they all wore shoes whereas we Tybeeans are always in flip flops regardless of the occasion or weather). We ended up talking to a young couple who used to live on Tybee. Somehow, we connected the dots and figured out that they had been the owners of the house on the corner and we were now the owners of their previous furniture. It’s a small world alright, but, by golly, Savannah is even smaller!

Fast forward almost a year since last Christmas and the rolled up map has been moved from upstairs to downstairs to remind me of my procrastination, and my mom finally held me accountable by declaring that she was going to come over and help me start this project once and for all (notice, she said start, not finish!). She consulted a book on decoupage circa the 1950s (notable b/c it said to use glue, not Modge Podge, which, in retrospect, we figured out was probably because Modge Podge was invented after the initial printing of the book to which we were entrusting our project) and planned to gather all of the necessary supplies so I would have no excuse but to begin and we set a date for a Sunday afternoon DIY table transformation.

Side note: we also decided to test Jack’s science fair project the same weekend, and when he and I headed to the Dollar Store after school for 9 volt batteries, copper wire, and electrical tape, mom’s bright orange car was parked right in front of us, undoubtedly at Ace Hardware amassing the various sand paper grits, glues, varnishes, and other potions we might need for what I was now calling “operation-finish-the-damn-table-already.” So we popped in there first and, sure enough, she had gathered all of the supplies. No turning back now. 

Fast forward one more time (or maybe it should be rewind since I am writing this after the fact?) to a recent Sunday, and I prepped the table by sanding it with a medium grit paper and then rubbing it down with a damp and then dry cloth.

Supplies gathered and ready:

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Seems easy enough…



Ready for my transformation!

We rolled the map out to determine how to best space and cut it rather than overlap it down the edges of the table top lip.



I declined the proffered box cutter and used scissors to free-hand cut the edges. Not bad, but clearly done by an amateur with crappy, uneven cutting skills. We flipped the whole thing over and used paint brushes to coat the backside with heavy-duty glue (I would’ve spread the glue on the table and then affixed the map, but that’s not what our ancient text specified, so we dutifully followed their method). Once flipped over, we worked quickly, using rags to smooth it out, trying to avoid creases or tears, and pushing any air bubbles out the sides. Satisfied with our DIY cutting and gluing skills thus far, we took it outside to dry in the sunshine for a bit and then added our first coat of spray varnish. The book called for sanding and varnishing your project like 40 times, but I am going to commit to maybe 5. Basically, however many coats I can get out of the varnish spray can that I have on hand is how many it will get. However, because I can never leave well-enough alone, where we put extra glue under the edges is nice and shiny and the varnish is matte, so I may break down and cover the whole thing in Modge Podge after all. And I’m skipping painting the legs.


So I decided to cover the whole thing with glue after all. I started with about a 1/4 of it and the paper was buckling and bubbling and I was convinced that I had ruined everything so I quit while I was ahead, figuring that maybe I could sand the newly glued area down once it dried. However, by happy accident, when the glue section dried, the bubbles magically disappeared, which gave me courage to cover the remaining 3/4.


Argh! This looks terrible! Please oh please of please let the bubbles magically disappear again!

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Phew! It worked. Now onto some more light sanding and varnishing, and reminding myself that I suck at DIY projects and having the patience to complete them if it takes more than, say, 15 minutes.

Here is the finished project in situ (maybe I’ll get around to adding some more varnish one of these days).

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Me and Krypto, chilling and admiring my handiwork.


Blurry pic, but fully functioning table!

Big Apple Birthdays

If you ever have a lot of activities that you want to pack into an excursion, Tyler is the man to take along on your trip. When we originally talked about taking advantage of JetBlue’s inexpensive, direct flights to NYC to celebrate my and Jack’s birthdays, he suggested that we fly out Saturday at 6 am, stay the night, and return on the first flight Sunday morning. I thought about the idea for about a minute and decided that, in the interest of staying married (and out of jail for killing my husband), we needed to depart Friday night since getting up in the middle of the night two days in a row on a weekend is the last thing Jack or I would equate to birthday fun. 

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perfectly captures the sentiment on early rising…

With just a backpack per person, we departed Savannah around 7 pm and our direct flight whisked us to NYC in no time, all while the friendly crew provided “good” snacks (as determined by the junkfoodaterian snack king, Jack) and took the time to announce, and lead the passengers in a cheer for, a group of veterans on our flight. When we arrived at JFK, the first thing we saw outside of the jetway was Dylan’s Candy Bar, so of course we stopped to ooh and aah over the dazzling array of colorful confections and Jack managed the ultimate-level of restraint, purchasing a single lollipop. We asked a not-entirely friendly airline worker at the information counter for which subway we needed to take to get to mid-town and we were off.

Destination Subway

As we wandered the deserted underground platform from to the E train, a giant subway rat scurried past us into a trash can and then darted down onto the tracks (what could be MORE authentically subway!?). When we disembarked from the subway a few blocks from our hotel, despite it being almost 11 pm, we were all wide-eyed and energized by the adventure of travel. I hadn’t been to NYC since Jack was a baby (in the spring of 2006 when I went on an art-buying trip for Sprint), and Ty and I were both excited to share the wonders of New York City’s architecture, population density, culture, and more with Jack. There was a full moon shining above, and we pointed out the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Saint Bartholomew’s along the way.

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We were staying at a Marriott property on Lexington at 48th. When the front desk person was unable to find our reservation, she asked if we were staying at the Marriott Lexington, because we were mistakenly trying to check-in at a Marriott on Lexington which was literally across the street. Crises averted. We fell into bed, knowing that Ty would have us hitting the pavement before the sun rose on Saturday.

At about 5:30 am, Ty started trying to rouse us, despite our efforts to burrow under the covers and pillows and beg for 5 more minutes of sleep. In Marion-family record time, we were dressed and on the street by 6, in search of item 1 on my NYC to-do (more accurately, to-eat) list: authentic bagels. With a little help from Google maps, we headed off in the direction of a deli that seemed promising. As we stood on the sidewalk across the street from said deli, gaping confusedly as it was not yet open, an old man who seemed maybe to be a security detail in front of another (also not open at such an ungodly hour) restaurant asked if he could help us. We remarked that we were on a quest for bagels, to which he waxed poetic about “back in the 80s,” when you could get a good bagel, but now, alas, 90% of the delis all get their bagels from the same place in Brooklyn, so basically we should abandon all hope for our bagelicious quest. Sleepy and hungry, we settled on a bodega on the next corner which had an actual person cooking food on a grill. Jack and I happily ordered toasted everything bagels and Ty got some kind of breakfast sandwich. We grabbed drinks from the cooler and our total bill for breakfast was $11. The same, albeit vastly inferior, breakfast at Panera or even McDonald’s would be at least 2x as much–who said you can’t eat cheap in the big city?!

Appropriately fueled, we made our way to the day’s first stop: the Empire State Building, arriving before they actually opened but there were still about a dozen other early birds in line before us. At precisely 8 am, we were ushered in to the luxe Art Deco lobby and wound our way through a series of rooms which would no doubt be teeming with crowds later that day. We bought our tickets and hopped into the express elevator (operated remotely by the ESB staff to my delight), where we were treated to a cool video in the elevator’s ceiling panel showing the progression of the building’s construction.

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We wandered around the 86th floor, me sticking to the interior, nerdily reading all of the content that some curators and graphic designers spent endless hours on and therefore should be appreciated (and not at all avoiding my fear of heights). I eventually joined Ty and Jack and was delighted to discover the view finders were free (free being a relative term since tickets to the top were $100+ a pop). The view was indeed amazing and the quietness of being so far removed from the traffic and city noises below was equally zen.

ESB view.jpg Chrysler Building in the Clouds.jpgESB view.jpg

After taking in the view from all sides of the top, we headed back inside. Despite Jack wanting to drop another C-note in the gift shop on all things King Kong and Empire State Building-related, I limited him to a ‘fridge magnet and bottle of water (rookie move–I could’ve gotten a bottle of water on any street corner below for a third less than the gift shop price).

We wandered in the general direction of Times Square, stopping to admire the sheer size of Grand Central Station’s interior and trying to impress upon Jack the glitz and glamor of the lost era of train travel.

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Along the way, we passed another opportunity to teach Jack history. Very meta to take a picture of a phone with my phone, no? Ain’t no way I was gonna pick up the germy receiver just for the sake of a photo op, though.

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We took in all of sights and sounds of Times Square, and knew enough not to get scammed by the costumed weirdos wanting money to take your picture with them, although Ty did fall prey to the fake monks and made a donation in exchange for a beaded bracelet. Sidenote: Ty can be absolutely anywhere and someone will come out of nowhere to hit him up for something. Honestly, he could be wandering lost and alone in the Sahara Desert and someone would appear out of a cave to panhandle him for something.

Big Red Bus tours must be one of the bigger employers in the city–those hustlers were everywhere! Literally, one guy would try to give us a brochure, we’d demure, and then the next guy 1 foot away would try to give us one, like, well, we didn’t want his brochure, but we’ll take yours. Perhaps they spied Jack’s telltale Tibetan monk bracelet and thought we were suckers.

times square.jpg

We wandered around Rockefeller Center and took in the ice skaters, the amazing Lego store and its recreations of all things Rockefeller Center-related in brick, along with a host of fancy sports cars parked on a red carpet, because it’s NYC! We even stopped to get a hot dog from the street vendors. I prefer the Sabrett ones to Nathan’s, and, although Ty regretted his choice to add chili (always go with the nekkid dog, bro), Jack was pretty delighted with his soft pretzel that came with a squeeze of cheese from a bottle.

rockefeller center.jpg  rockefeller red carpet

We bought I ♥ NY t-shirts for Ty and Jack, not thinking to hold them up for a size check, so Ty’s XL became Jack’s shirt and Jack’s L will become Krypto’s.

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The one thing that Jack really wanted to do was check-out the flagship Nintendo store (something related to Pokemon). When Jack saw the line looping around the block, he was crushed knowing that Ty and I would not have the patience to wait, but since we were in “vacation mode” with no real agenda for the day, we humored him. Turns out, those suckers were all in line to play some new video game and since he just wanted to look at Pokemon stuff, we got to skip the line altogether. However, he was quickly disappointed again when we only agreed to buy $10 of the $100+ in stuff he wanted.

We took a little break near the public library at Bryant Parklibrary steps.jpg   library lion.jpg

We decided to head back to the hotel so Jack and Ty could change into shorts…as we turned onto Lexington, a huge street festival had popped up in the interim since our 6 am departure. Meats grilling al fresco is one way to Ty’s heart (bacon is another), so he wandered around like that cartoon dog from Quick Draw McGraw who floats when he gets a dog treat,vowing that lunch would be enjoyed on the street. Every culture and grilled meat you could think of was represented, from Jamaican jerk, Greek souvlaki and gyros, Mexican tacos and carnitas, savory or sweet French crepes, smoothies, goat, and more. What was truly amazing to me is the stark difference of when we bbq in the yard and every fly within a 50 mile radius seems to find us, but there was nary a fly anywhere in the blocks and blocks of grills, coal fires, and mounds of cooked meats on display.

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street festival

Apparently, overalls are a thing again?

In addition to being the best unpaid cruise director since Captain Stubing’s daughter Vicki, Ty is also our family’s official photographer. Which is why, as I pull this post together, I am laughing that there are 4x the amount of shots depicting the street food than anything else.

Jack and I opted for 99 cent slices of pizza, which were a total disappointment as far as tasting like “real” NY pizza (the poster in the window looked promising, but the product inside was a classic bait and switch); considering we were out like $5 total for lunch, I was willing to shrug it off. Ty finally decided on a grilled meat option for his lunch, and we were off in the direction of Central Park.

We entered the park adjacent to the Plaza Hotel. My mom had insisted we take a horse-drawn carriage, but as someone who rages every time I get stuck behind a trolley/pedi-cab/hearse tour/horse-drawn carriage ride when I am downtown Savannah, I simply couldn’t do it.

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I did, however, love the snatch of conversation we overheard between one of the drivers and a little girl marveling at his horse: My name is Vinnie, when I come back, you feed the horse a carrot, ok?!

Having been warned against interacting with street performers, we couldn’t pass up the allure of a gold robot man, complete with platform shoes, standing perfectly motionless. We gave Jack some money to put in his cup, and he immediately sprang to life with robotic precision and noises like the guy from Police Academy used to make.

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Then, because we’re great parents, we let Jack run wild and play on the rocks while we sat on a bench and lamented how we were too old to walk so much and how good it felt to sit down. I decided an Italian ice would be prefect, but every damn street cart we saw just had Good Humor ice cream (in retrospect, this would’ve been an easy task for Google to assist me with).

central park.jpg

We passed by the Metropolitan Club, where my dad had been a member and my brother JKB and I used to stay when we visited him in NYC. My brother and I were in high school, and we went to see Purple Rain in a 2-story grand theatre where we sat in the balcony and relished that we had managed to get into an R-rated movie sans ID. Since we obviously seemed so at home on the city streets, people frequently asked us for directions and my brother was the king of just making stuff up and sending them on their way. For my 21st birthday, we again stayed at the Metropolitan Club, as my dad had arranged for JKB and I and our 2 best friends to see SNL taped and eat dinner at the 21 Club. Even not caring a whit about professional basketball, you couldn’t be from Chicago (as we were) and not love Michael Jordan, who just happened to be the host that night. Still hands-down my best birthday ever.

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Nerdy high school kids impressed by flock of big city pigeons

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Goody bag from 21 Club in hand. Pretty sure that was a corduroy shirt from the Gap with a suede collar paired with a suede skirt-so fancy!

We decided to splurge on a cab (uptown? downtown?) so we could catch the Staten Island Ferry and see the Statue of Liberty. The SIF is free to ride and it passes right by the iconic landmark, and since we had no interest in walking around Liberty Island, we saved ourselves the $25 apiece tix, but the ticket hustlers for these “official” Statue of Liberty tours were every bit as pushy as those Big Red Bus tour people–do they get paid a commission based on people they convince to buy tickets? Bonus points awarded because the ferry had a snack bar, but bonus points quickly retracted because the drinks we got were room temperature.

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From there we headed to the World Trade Center and Freedom Tower. The memorial was beautifully executed and a visually stunning way to honor those killed in the tragedy of 9-11. We didn’t go into the museum but wandered somberly among the grounds and found ourselves drawn to what we learned was called the Oculus, a beautifully-rendered work of architecture that soared above us and reminded me of the flying buttress-esque forms of the Milwaukee Art Museum that was featured in one of the Transformers movies. (I was disappointed in myself for not knowing via some kind of internet-based osmosis that this amazing structure exists based on my previous life as an art historian).

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A clear example of how I can try to capture the same image as Ty but his will always be better (but at least he’s in one!).

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Tyler had wanted to get a reuben sandwich at Katz’s Deli, but I found something within walking distance on Google and we picked up crappy deli sandwiches for which they totally screwed up our order: Ty ordered a side of pasta salad which they forgot and I asked for a panini and got a cold sandwich. Jack loved the mac ‘n’ cheese, but I believe that we’ve established he’s the furthest thing from a food snob. As a bonus, they included somebody else’s order of pancakes (!?).

As we sat eating our poor excuse for dinner on some benches in front of a fancy condo building and enjoyed the incessant cacophony of honking taxi horns, a fancy Mercedes pulled up curbside and the woman in the passenger seat was yelling at us for directions to the Four Seasons. We laughed at the fact that they were driving a super expensive car en route to their super fancy hotel, but didn’t have Google maps or OnStar?

On Sunday, Ty had us up at 4 am to ensure that we’d get to the airport without incident for our 7 am departure. As I sleepily stepped into the elevator, I gasped from the amount of patchouli the previous elevator occupant had left lingering. I hate the smell of patchouli, so guess who I got to sit next to on the hotel airport shuttle in the last available seat? Mr. patchouli himself! I couldn’t get the smell out of my nose or clothes until I came home and showered and changed into clean clothes! Surprising (to me anyway) was the lack of bagel availability at our terminal in JFK. No Dunkin’ or Starbucks, nothing. I found a chocolate croissant for Jack and a blueberry muffin for me. So we had an action-packed trip but didn’t get to eat a good bagel, authentic pizza, or an Italian ice, but there’s always next time…

All good things must come to an end. Travel is a privilege and a pleasure, but it’s always great to come home.



Hurrication 2017

Growing up in the Midwest, aka “Tornado Alley,” we had annual school drills for what to do in case of a tornado, how to use the emergency exit door on the school bus, etc., but raising our son in the southeast, he has a whole different set of weather-related issues for which to be prepared. In 4th grade, he got a day off of school because the sole road onto our island was flooded out by the king tides. In 5th grade, he got 10 days off of school because of Hurricane Matthew. Today, he returned to 6th grade after 6 days of no school thanks to Hurricane Irma. Fortunately for us in all of these instances, our home remained water-free, although with Irma it came up about as close as it possibly could without actually doing any damage. For those of you who have never had to evacuate your home due to a pending hurricane, there is a myriad of factors that come into play before, during, and after the storm.

The first step is usually denial, best expressed with humor:



With hurricanes, you have the advantage of time and planning: because there can be literally weeks before a storm forms off the coast of Africa and approaches the US coast, there is time to prepare. When Matthew hit last year, it had been over a decade since the last storm found its way to our area and, despite the yearly doomsayers who predicted we were “due,” most residents became complacent and believed our little slice of coast to be more or less impervious, that Florida and the Carolinas would always bear the brunt of any storms for Georgia. That wake-up call, combined with the recent ravaging of the Gulf coast by Hurricane Harvey, had everyone here keeping one eye on the weather channel and mentally starting their hurricane prep to-do lists.


But all that lead time can also lead to a heightened sense of anxiety. Will it hit us? When? Where should we go? What should I pack? And we are lucky enough to have a portable home we could leave with–much cheaper than getting an inland hotel, many of which were already sold-out by Wednesday from Macon to Atlanta since a majority of Florida was already evacuating north trying to get ahead of the monstrous storm. So many people here without the means to evacuate had to be taken to shelters in Augusta, although fortunately the shelters also accepted pets. It’s a tremendously personal decision whether to stay or go and having lived through 2 hurricanes (and evacuated for both), I see both sides. Once an evacuation is deemed mandatory, there comes a point of no return after which if you need assistance, you will not receive it. Obviously by staying behind you aren’t any better able to protect your home from a falling tree or rising tide, but there is something to feeling like you are in charge by acting like a captain going down with his ship. Plus, evacuation is only the first part, there is still the re-entry protocol…it can take days for the all clear to return after the storm passes. We would have wifi, a tv and dvd player, games, books, plenty to eat and drink, power, water, and bathrooms (as long as the state park did anyway), so no complaints on our part to evacuate.

On Wednesday afternoon, I met my mom for lunch at the always-fabulous RAW Ingredients and was amazed to realize that she was still thinking that the Saturday night 70th birthday party she had planned for my stepdad was going to occur. I tried to dodge our evac plans by questioning that my stepbrother and his family were really coming from ATL to Tybee on the verge of a hurricane, but she was non-plussed. By the time we finished our sushi, we had hatched a plan to all get hotel rooms in town for Saturday night so we already off-island for a quicker escape on Sunday and that way we could continue the party at the Marriott post-dinner party. I picked up Jack and we headed into town to run hurricane-prep errands like getting prescriptions refilled, bank cash withdrawal, groceries, and gas. I had about 5 miles to empty by the time we got to the 4th gas station since all of the previous ones had lines around the block for each pump. At Kroger, we threw 3 cases of bottled water in our cart and I couldn’t help but recognize the blank stare on everyone else’s faces as we all walked around in a suspended haze of what-the-heck-should-I-buy-besides-water. I decided this was no time for my usual frugality and comparison shopping…we got a 12 pack of diet pepsi, dr. pepper, the “good” chips, crackers, chips, and granola bars vs. my usual cheapie brand selections, 3 bags of candy, a variety of cheese selections, and fruit that seemed pretty hearty (red and green grapes…guess what we actually forgot to take with us? The fruit!). By the time we left Kroger, my mom called to tell me that she got us hotel rooms but the venue for dinner party canceled. She was starting to realize this hurricane was a big deal.

On Thursday, September 7, the announcement came that Tybee would be under mandatory evacuation order starting at 8 am on Friday, September 8. I was confused as to whether that meant we had to leave the island by 8 am or just start prepping to leave at 8, but there was talk that the highway would flood with Friday’s high tide, so we finished doing all we could to help prepare our workplaces and home, and loaded up our hurricane provisions, hooked our 1963 Airstream up to my SUV, and got the heck out of Dodge. Ty drove my car and pulled the trailer with Jack while I drove Ty’s car with Krypto, aka, the most-neurotic dog on the planet, and we headed inland, away from the threat of a 10-15 storm surge that would likely wipe our island off the map if it came during high tide as predicted.


We got settled into our home-away-from-home around 1 pm on Friday in the Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park (side note, the GA State Parks website and reservation system could use a 20th-century refresh).  It was a beautiful day, our campsite was right on a lake, and apparently there is no bug control inland to compare to the coast, because the “love bugs” were literally everywhere (side note, apparently they are attracted to the color white b/c my car was covered with them while Ty’s black car, not so much). We created a drink we called Tattnall County Punch: one part rum, 2 parts Crystal Light cherry pomegranate, one part Sprite, garnish with a side of lovebugs.


Those bugs were literally everywhere, landing on our clothes, faces, food, even Krypto could not escape them. Our reservation was through Wednesday and most of the other campers seemed to be escaping Florida. One site even had a box truck filled with all of their stuff…not sure how they ran power to it though.

Tyler was forced to play Uno with us (I got our first per usual so it was up to 2nd place play-off between Ty and Jack). 20170908_192315.jpg

And Jack got to practice his boxing skills with our trash:



Saturday we drove around the area, taking in the beauty of the pecan tree groves, cotton fields, and small-town quaintness. Tattnall County is home to the Wiregrass Trail and there was a Miss Wiregrass Pageant scheduled for Saturday night along with a variety of other old-timey events later in the month. Vidalia, home to the best sweet onions you’ll ever taste, was much bigger than I expected, and we drove past the “world famous” fruitcake bakery in Claxton, GA, although we didn’t stop. We even had lunch at Dairy Queen!

By Sunday, the storm looked like it was going to come up the west coast of Florida and hit more inland Georgia than coastal, so we were again faced with another evacuation…better to ride out the storm with wind gusts and potential tornados in a tin can or head home? We opted for the latter and returned, settling back into our dark, boarded-up house by about noon. The storm hit in full on Monday and we lost power, so we went back out into the Airstream to at least have some natural light. Then the surge came and our street became a river. We unhooked the trailer in record time and drove through the knee-high water in our yard to higher ground. Side note, our yard is about 90% fire ants: did you know those suckers will bond together and make floating islands? Loads of fun to walk through knee-deep water AND get ant bites.


Although the water came up fast and high, it spared our home and trailer and we had power restored by Tuesday night, the boards were taken down by Wednesday, and even wi-fi was quickly restored, much to Jack’s relief. After a solid week+ of family time in close quarters, some of it without power, I was very happy for things to return to normal and purge my “hurricane brain” of not knowing what day it was. Here on Tybee once Labor Day passes, the IGA usually changes their sign to say “back to normal” with the r intentionally backward to represent the quirkiness that is Tybee without the tourists and I couldn’t agree more. Many islanders experienced devasting flooding to their homes so we were truly lucky to have dodged Irma’s wrath.

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Meeting a Legend

Last year during a looming hurricane, we spent a weekend on Daufuskie and discovered what a magical place it is. This year, we’ve had the opportunity to visit other, mostly uninhabited barrier islands, including Cumberland and Ossabaw. Even though each of these islands can only be accessed by boat, the main difference is that there are restaurants on Daufuskie, which is a lot easier than packing in your lunch (and packing out your trash).

Several years back, Tyler met an acquaintance who told him of a book, Reefer Moon, by Roger Pinckney. The book illuminates the drug-running by shrimpers in this area during the 1970s. After reading it, I tracked down everything else he had written, much of which focuses on his island home of Daufuskie. Before even stepping foot on the island, I felt like I knew all about its quirky, lovable, stoic inhabitants from his words.

So when friends invited us to boat over for lunch on a beautiful, 70 degree Saturday in February, we gladly accepted. We sat outside at Marshside Mama’s for lunch, enjoying ahi tuna, mahi, gumbo, and something called “the heart attack” (can you guess who ordered that? Hint: it was Tyler).


The sun shone bright and hot on us as we enjoyed a couple of cold beers in continued celebration of Tyler’s birthday and life in general. Even the yard dogs there are mellow.


From there, we headed back to the boat and went to the Old Daufuskie Crab Company at the Freeport Marina on the other side of the island. They had live music and a good crowd of people and dogs. We ordered their house drink, the Scrap Iron, which they have mixed up in a big glass dispenser on the bar. It tastes a little like a long island ice tea, but with a ginger ale kick…the actual recipe is top secret but they are really good. We swatted at the insatiable gnats and enjoyed our drinks while the guitarist sang Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd tunes. And then, across the bar from us, who sat down but the legendary author himself. Tyler and I flocked over to him to introduce ourselves and fawn over his genius. Next to him was a cute young couple in matching yellow Tour Daufuskie t-shirts. The man went to the restroom and the woman asked the random guy next to her if he wanted to do a shot. He politely demurred (who declines a free shot?), so I immediately volunteered Tyler to do it since we were celebrating his birthday and all. It turns out, Emily and her fiance, also name Tyler, are getting married on Daufuskie in April. We spent the rest of our time getting to know them and promising to come back for their ceremony. They even had one of those new-fangled Polaroid cameras and immortalized our time together with their no-shake-it technology. All in all, it was a day filled with randomonium and the kind of magic and new friends that can only happen on Daufuskie.