Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tainted Turkey

Had a strange situation happen to me today ...

I was at supermarket whose name I shall not disclose.

I went up to the deli counter to purchase some turkey breast. The counter lady took a while to get to me but when she did, she didn't exactly sparkle with great customer service. She didn't smile and talked so softly it was difficult to hear.

After I put in my request, she proceeded to tell me how she was having gas pains. She said I needed to give her a minute while she went to the back. To do what, it was not clear. In my mind, I pictured a colonic blow-out.

She came back and told me that she had been throwing up all night and that didn't feel very well. She ate some bread that was hidden beneath the counter and then took out a hunk of turkey and sliced it up.

Gas, vomit and diarrhea was not going to stop this lady from doing her job. Hell no.

She handed the turkey to me.

What was I supposed to do at that point? Hand it back to her. Tell her I changed my mind? Drop the meat on the floor and stomp on it?

I told her that I hoped she felt better. And then left with my $10 worth of nasty turkey.

I'm sure it will be fine. My dog will never know the difference.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

If you take a ten minute drive outside of Savannah and cross the Talmadge Bridge, you will come to a large area of woodland marsh called The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. This was the site of rice plantations in the 1800s but now it is a protected area where you can find all sorts of beasties.

It was a sunny day when I went. This was a little unusual since it has rained here almost every day (at least it seems that way). There is something I really like about swamps. I guess I expect to find a witch or something. Or maybe a voodoo priestess. On both accounts, I was disappointed but the refuge overall was a great place.

Another reason why I like the southeast is the abundance of Spanish Moss. It hangs from the trees (especially the live oak and bald cypress) and gives a general creepy gothic appearance to roads, marshes and cemeteries. Spanish Moss is not a true moss; it is an air-plant, otherwise known as an epiphyte so it gets all its nutrients from the air or water. It hangs on the trees for company, I guess.

Of course, there were lots of insects. Dragonflies are cool, aren't they? Kinda like flying jewels.

I think this is a Blue Heron. Not sure though. I'm not a bird watcher and he was far away. He didn't come over and say hi, which was a sure sign that he was just visiting from the North. I'm sure a polite Southerner would have made my acquaintance.

I saw a couple of gators too. They weren't friendly either, which was fine with me.

Apparently you can eat gator. The meat is low in cholesterol and high in protein. I haven't tried it yet but I suppose if they served it in a won-ton, I would make an effort to ingest it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


This bike (if you can still call it that) has been chained to this sign for as long as I have been in Savannah, which is about two weeks.

I guess if I were the owner I would leave it there too. Not much good anymore.

Probably serves as a reminder to other people not to leave their bike out.

Or maybe it's an art sculpture. Savannah is home to a college of art and design.

Morning in Savannah

When Savannah was founded in 1733, General James Oglethorpe laid out the city around four open squares. With the population growth through the 18th and 19th centuries, an additional 20 squares were added. Although the squares were initially used for military exercises, they are now used as small parks and are one of the reasons why Savannah's historical district is such an urban jewel.

Three of the original parks were lost in the 20th century. One of these, Ellis Square, is currently being recovered. To me, it still looks like a mess however.

Most of the squares are tributes to war heroes or prominent politicians. Troup square is located about a minute from where I live. It was laid out in 1851 for Georgia Governor George Troup.

All the parks seem dog friendly and Troup Square even has its own dog fountain.

Madison Square. It memorializes Sgt. William Jasper who was a war hero in the Siege of Savannah. Some people call it Jasper Square which would make a lot more sense.

I'm not sure what square this actually is. I was walking around rather aimlessly and took a lot of pictures.

This is the Williams Mercer House, the site of the infamous murder as described in the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Pictures do not do this home justice. You'all just have to come down and see it for yerself.

This group of squares is the largest urban National Historic District in the country. For good reason, the architecture is stunning.

And finally, we come to Forsyth park, the largest park in the historical district. This is a great place to jog, walk your dog, daydream or just be homeless. Its centerpiece is a massive fountain at the end of a very long walkway.

I have been tempted to go swimming in the fountain but I'm sure that is frowned upon by the tourist board.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I fell in love with Savannah many years ago. I was working in Las Vegas and I had just found out that I couldn't get time off to see my parents at Christmas. The thought of staying in Las Vegas during the yuletide season depressed the hell out of me so I looked at other options. I had only four days but I wanted to go somewhere different that would put me in the holiday spirit.

I had just read John Berendt's book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It is part travelogue, part murder mystery, and part historical fact. There are many unusual characters but the center piece is the town of Savannah. If you've read the book, you'll understand why I made the trek that Christmas. I had to see this town for myself.

The town did not disappoint. Charming squares, friendly people (it is true what they say about southern hospitality), lots of shopping, great restaurants, amazing architecture and of course, a fabulous drag queen named Miss Chablis, one of the stars of the book as well as the movie by the same name. As an added bonus, the town was well decorated for Christmas and I even participated in a tour of some of the beautiful old homes.

I returned to Savannah a couple of years later, again during the Christmas season. Having more money than what I do now, I splurged and spent one night at the historical Kehoe House.


Yeah, it was pricey but well worth it, especially since the night concierge entertained us with ghost stories that actually happened within the guest rooms.

If you believe in those things.

You can check out the slideshow I made of this visit. Just click on the slideshow called Savannah. Turn up the volume and right click after the show has started to get the full view.


After I made the decision to take a sabbatical this year, I wanted to find a place where I could find inspiration for my writing. Where it would be quiet but not boring. Where I could eat well and hear good music. Where people wouldn't ignore me like they do in my Los Angeles apartment building. A place filled with history and ghosts and drag queens ...

Was it any wonder that I decided to take the trip back to Georgia?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Roadtrip across America

On July 2nd, 2008 I started my trip across the United States. Packed up my bags and loaded up my one-eyed Pekingese. We were headed to Savannah, Georgia to spend a month reading, writing, travelling, exploring, taking pictures, learning about life and forgetting about veterinary medicine. Every so often, I need to take a break or I'll go crazy.

Or more crazy than what I already am.

This is a picture of me looking somewhat sane. Looks can be deceiving.

Dusty was supposed to be the navigator. He fell asleep on the job many times.

Most of the driving was through long stretches of barren highway, especially in Arizona and New Mexico. Wide Open Spaces, just like that song from the Dixie Chicks.

Who doesn't know what I'm talking about

Who's never left home who's never struck out

To find a dream and a life of their own

A place in the clouds a foundation of stone

Many precede and many will follow

A young boy's dream no longer hollow

It takes the shape of a place out West

But what it holds for him he hasn't yet guessed

He needs wide open spaces

Room to make his big mistakes

He needs new faces

He knows the high stakes

He traveled this road as a child

Wide-eyed and grinning he never tired

With apologies to the Dixie Chicks, I changed the gender.

This was a strange sign in the middle of nowhere. Give me truth or consequences? I'd rather have the truth and not have to worry about the consequences. Consequences tend to suck. The truth sucks too but less so.

I had to stop by Winslow, Arizona. Not because it was a beautiful town (it has definitely seen better days) but because of the Eagles song, Take It Easy.

I'm sure you've heard it.

Well, I’m a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona

And such a fine sight to see

It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me

Come on, baby, don’t say maybe

I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me

We may lose and we may win though

We will never be here again

So open up, I’m climbin’ in, so take it easy

Dusty was very appreciative of the green grass by the Welcome to Winslow sign. He thought it was a great area to take a pee break.

Definitely NOT an Eagles fan! There is even a memorial to the song. This is the biggest tourist attraction in town and probably the only reason why anyone visits Winslow. Why would anyone live here? In the middle of nowhere and I didn't see any movie theaters.

Maybe they serve good chicken wings or something.

I really was standin' on the corner. Heck ya, I love being a tourist.

Welcome to the South. What in the hell is a Thump Queen? Apparently it has something to do with watermelons.

Good luck Ariel!

Finally made it to New Orleans. This is a great city if you like to party and puke in the streets.

It really is a beautiful and unique place. I wish I had more time to take photos.

This was just a funny face on a wall.

I like it when graffiti artists think outside the box.

Finally crossed into Georgia. It was hot and humid but I was very excited to be in a different state that I could call home for at least the next month.
There are two songs that make me think of Georgia.
Of course, there is Georgia on my Mind by Ray Charles.

Georgia, Georgia

The whole day through (the whole day through)

Just an old sweet song

Keeps Georgia on my mind (Georgia on my mind)

I said a Georgia, Georgia

A song of you (a song of you)

Comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines

But there's also Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight and the Pips.

This is a very sad song about giving up on your dreams.

He kept dreaming that some day he'd be a star

But he sure found out the hard way that dreams don't always come true

So he pawned all his hopes and even sold his old car

For a one way ticket back to the life he once knew

Oh yes he did, he said he would

He's leaving on that midnight train to Georgia

I'm not ready to take the midnight train quite yet.

Hmmmm, I better get to work.

To be continued ...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Four months OFF

Today is the official first day of my sabbatical.

I'm taking four months off to write, travel, spend time with my family and have as much fun as possible.

My first step is to take a cross country drive to Savannah, Georgia where I will be staying for the next month.

Why Savannah? Well, I"ll go into more details later but I have to finish packing and I"m already way behind.

Gotta run ....

Oh, but by the way, WANTED with Anglelina Jolie was awesome. Go see it. Hope you don't mind the sight of blood.