Yes, I am brandishing a machine gun in the photo at left. And yes, I am against many of the gun laws which make them too available in this country. But I was in Mississippi, y'all! When in Rome and all that. Most of the time, when I tell another west coaster I'm traveling back to Dixie they give me the wide-eyed, non-verbal, really?? Many know my big honey has ties to Mississippi so a family wedding or beach trip does beckon from time to time. As it did this spring break.
University of Memphis is where she kicked some Lady TIger basketball butt, and since I'd never visited the city and there was a cool Aunt and Uncle halfway between Memphis and our ultimate destination, we flew in and out of this historically rich town. Sometimes I tell people the South can feel like another country where they speak the same language—the friendly, take your time language, where the food is much to my liking. While I'm glad I'm not tempted by this fried and sauced stuff regularly, it makes for a fun way to plan one's itinerary.
The first delicious stop was the famous Arcade Restaurant. Located in the historic south of main district, it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places and they tout their reputation as Memphis' oldest diner proudly.
The Arcade has been Food and Travel - TV'd for certain, and has a plaque out front claiming its place in Memphis movie making. Yes there are loads of still photos inside, but I was most impressed with the framed Mystery Train movie poster that's signed by Jim Jarmusch. Did Joe Strummer eat here too? Anyone would be happy with the sweet potato pancakes, sausage, biscuits, gravy, and grits that we devoured.
Across the street is Ernestine and Hazel's Soul Burger. Hard to describe a place that was once a sundry store downstairs and a brothel upstairs. They turn out food but really draws them in for music and the 12 odd rooms up the stairs where the fun really happens. The rooms seem endless, they're full of the old and the random, and I wish we could have seen the place thumping at 1 am. This write-up from Esquire Magazine paints a good picture.
The photo below is taken from the far corner room referred to in Esquire.
Our next stop wasn't far. The National Civil Rights Museum is located on the site of the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. Walking up to the building, which I've seen in photos so many times, gave me pause. Such an iconic image.
The museum is incredibly well done. Engaging, thorough, interactive. I will write more about it in another post but I wish every American could visit. It is serious and profound and worth the trip. I took a lot of photos inside the museum that turned out well; below are just a couple.
Gus' Fried Chicken. Gus' Fried Chicken. Gus' Fried Chicken! Did you get that? While my days as a vegetarian are years behind me and I don't recommend fried food to my clients, let's just say I'd have a hard time resisting Gus' if I lived in Memphis. In 2001, GQ magazine rated it 1 of 5 restaurants worth flying to eat in this country.
Plump, juicy and tender—did I get that from some chicken ad? We got our food to go for some al-fresco dining on the Mississippi river. Good thing, because I didn't have to worry about strangers watching me slobber over my food. Not greasy. Crispy outside. Perfect spice. Given a choice of sides we both went with cole slaw and baked beans. Both were down home fabulous and didn't disappoint. I look forward to the day when I return to Gus'.
So how do you work all those calories off? Singing Karaoke, of course. Our evening on Beale Street didn't disappoint. It also doesn't hurt when you've connected with the local friends and they squire you around, bypassing the lines and dodging the downstairs to get us up.
While I don't sing Karaoke regularly, it is a family favorite. We like the private booths in S.F.'s Japantown. And as a lesbian, it's easy to have fun with gender pronouns in songs. I've been wanting to sing this song for ages, and it's always good when you get the song host doing backup guitar during your performance. And I had fans; they were holding up lighters! "I got me a sweet, sweet lovin' woman, and she knows how to treat me righ!" Thank you Grand Funk Railroad.
And thank you, Cyn—we'd been in the place 5 minutes when she slipped the host $20 and I was magically next on stage.
The next day we were headed to the Mississippi Delta for a scenic drive to Grissom Farms. As in Uncle Terry and Aunt Barbara (call her Boo) Grissom and their 3000 acres in Minter, MS. We arrived late in the day (gotta sleep and eat, y'all), had amazing boiled shrimp and steak at Lusco's restaurant in Greenwood, MS (about 20 miles away), and had an amazing night of sleep in cousin Mimi's fluffy bed so we could be fresh and ready to go for our shooting party the next morning.
Simply put, nearly each one of the 10 in our party had to get their hand on that automatic weapon pictured below. For me, I needed a cool photo to show my boys, and I couldn't imagine when I'd get another opportunity. Uncle Terry, who re-loaded and safety-lessoned all the various firearms present like some kind of bartender, is my new favorite human. This is a guy who at 16 was flying himself around the Delta, and had a Daddy who could find him. He had a good chuckle over the females present (4 of us) who were the most enthusiastic shooters of this thing. Below is the profile shot, and I just may frame my target as I did darn well toting this 7-lb baby.
We were flying down Money Road (!) in the rental Mustang when brother Ches, who was hitching a ride with us from Grissom Farm to Greenwood for the wedding, yelled out: "This is where Emmit Till whistled at that woman!" Having just brushed up on my civil rights injustices at the museum in Memphis, it was incredible to simply drive past such a famous spot, located in Money, MS. We stopped to read and snap a few photos before we were back on our way.
We were happy to have nabbed one of the 6 shacks that comprise the dwellings at the Tallahatchie Flats, just outside the town of Greenwood. There are six re-purposed sharecropper homes that function as 2-room cabins with kitchens and bath, and there's also a converted commissary containing a bar on the grounds where the reception was to be held later. We were definitely primed for a fun evening. Greenwood was the shooting location for the movie The Help, and the cast held their wrap party at The Flats. A beautiful tent set for a band and dance floor was adjacent to the commissary and I applaud Molly, the bride, for her great taste in party venue.
This was our shack for an all-too brief stay, named Tush-Hog's. There's some local lore around this house, and Tush-Hog is the name of the man in whose home blues legend Robert Johnson died. I know I can tell you it's a 30-second walk from the Tallahatchie River, has a great back porch, and made a fine post-party location after the wedding reception.
My mother, who some know as a late-in-life-sculptor, is a retired florist and wedding planner. Working for her most of my middle and high-school years, I've been to a few weddings. Molly and her groom were married at 6pm at one of the loveliest churches I've ever had the pleasure to sit in, the Episcopol Church of the Nativity in downtown Greenwood. Some smart planners situated the front wall of the church facing west, to great effect for the beautiful stained glass windows. They were simply glowing during the ceremony as the sun set, and I couldn't resist re-enterting the church afterwards to snap the photo below.
After a fairly relaxed morning after breakfast with the family, we hit the road for our slightly over 2 hour trip back to Memphis. It was a lovely drive through the Delta, bypassing all the historic Blues Trail markers, and while most Americans may have higher priorities on their domestic travel itinerary, if you haven't had the pleasure of touring this country's Deep South -- you pick your destination -- I can wholeheartedly say I recommend it.
not looking psyched to change rooms
This time of year so many people are knee-deep in their March Madness. Brackets, betting, good-natured ribbing. . .it takes many forms and I've grown to love them all. March Madness makes me incredibly nostalgic, happy, and glad I'm not pregnant any more. You see, I never gave one thought to college basketball until I was stuck in the hospital on doctor-ordered bed rest for three weeks. Without a laptop, and having no cable or VCR, we're talking simply 2001 network TV for additional entertainment. And yes, I read a lot, and even managed a diy pedicure much to the dismay of one nurse.
I happen to be a proud mom of twins. And twins is your tip-off to the hospital bed rest. But as a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, expectations had been hight that I'd sail through my pregnancy relatively unscathed. Ha. What I tell all first-time pregnant women is that it's different for everyone. Some moms eat and sleep great and work out until the day before delivery. Some women puke for 11 weeks straight and struggle mightily with heartburn or low-back pain. I did pretty well until I reached full waddle status. But one morning, I woke up at 4:00 to pee and when I noticed something that seemed a little off, I phoned the hospital as I'd been instructed. All I had to do was say "Twin Mom" and how many weeks along I was to get firm instructions to drive on in.
PROM - premature rupture of the membranes, if you will, or when your water breaks and you don't go into labor. After a thorough Doctor's examination (requiring multiple Docs) I learned I'd be checking in (!) and that it was a waiting game. The average mother lasted 2 weeks in my condition, I was told, and the first hurdle was getting two rounds of steroid shots into my rump, which were for infant lung development. I was also put on an IV of antibiotics to prevent infection, although many people feel the chances of this are low. Fighting nerves, unprepared for a sudden stay and wanting my dog, I became the latest hospitalized twin mom with an IV sticking out of her hand and a Dr. approaching with a very large shot bound for my bum. But gosh darn it I beat those odds and didn't go into active labor until 3 weeks of bed rest and countless cheeseburger/fry/vanilla malt (Cable Car Hamburgers on Geary in S.F.) and Caesr Salad/Pepperoni Pizza dinners later (Chow, thank you so much you beautiful cooks). See evidence in the photo below.
So after three weeks of getting to know every Nurse and Doctor on the floor, the staff was rooting for me to tackle labor and delivery as the athletic champ they saw me as. Woop woop, here we go. And then came a reminder that much of life is out our hands. I labored for over 12 hours, I pushed on and off for over two, and then Mr. McGrufferstein was in my face plainly explaining that my uterus had lost its contractile abilities to push like a good muscle should and I needed a C-section. Umm, I'm knife phobic!! I explained it had to go down like a Discovery Channel episode: please give me the blow by blow so I know what's happening. He did, everything went fine, and I even got to hang out at the hospital some more because my baby boys—while well grown and generally fabulous at 34 weeks—were neurologically too young to suck, swallow and breathe at the same time. They had to remain in the continuing care nursery for development and feeding an additional 7 days, and leaving them behind when I was finally checked out was one of the hardest things I've done as a parent to date, still.
I don't look especially happy in the photos above. I'm preparing to leave my encampment, I mean room, and I didn't really want to. I was a bit nervous, I'm sure. "The O.R." sounds a lot better on a medical drama than in real life. Also, my grimace might've been related to my brother's famous comment: we'd just measured my belly and learned I had a new circumference of 46 inches. He wasted no time translating and blurted out: "That's almost four feet!!"
But this was the room where I learned to love my college basketball. My kids' dad and his best friend were happy to take their game viewing on the 8th floor with their attentive and stuck student. They yelled and I learned (Final: Duke over Arizona, 82-72). Fast forward 11 years and my attention has shifted more towards women's college ball—is this because my partner was a Division 1 basketball scholar for the Memphis Lady TIgers? I don't know, but the heart and soul and athleticism displayed by all the collegiate ballers is exciting and fun to watch.
As a fifth generation Californian I loudly root for the Baylor Lady Bears (another story). And 11 years in as a mother I will say and repeat and remind all mothers everywhere that while things might not always go like you thought or planned, you can and will prevail. You are a mom.
I struggle finding the right thing to eat in the morning, especially when I'm in a hurry. I'm full of good ideas and I have organic food and a well-stocked fridge, but my stomach can be finicky in the a.m. I've learned that too rich or too sweet foods don't work for me. I often eat half of something and finish the rest an hour or so later at work. For a time I ate wheat-free, and some of that habit remains. So when Honey came home with Galaxy Granola the first time I was excited to try it when I saw their tag line: "fruit not fat." It's not that I look for low or non-fat everything, but the level of fat in most store-bought granolas is what makes them too rich for my morning stomach.
Not Sweet Vanilla, the flavor pictured at left, is my flavor of choice. Easy to pack and transport, I add coconut milk later and yum yum thank you very much. Please note this particular product contains wheat.
The company is in San Rafael, California, practically next door to me, which somehow adds to the feel-good factor. You can check the product out yourself at galaxygranola.com. They also invite fans to check out recipes and ideas at fruitnotfat.com, where you can also submit your own tasty concoctions.
Steel cut oats with walnuts and golden raisins; one scrambled egg divided between two rolled-up corn tortillas with salsa and a sprinkle of cheese; wheat-free waffle with PB&J—so glad I've got my Galaxy Granola to add into the breakfast mix.
Yes, there is always something new to try. Yoga on a Yacht is here for you, Bay Area! Maybe you are intrigued by the yoga classes happening on stand-up paddleboards (SUP)—easy to access when Sausalito is your next-door town, thank you—but just aren't there yet. I love the water and will make any excuse to get in and on it. So. . . yoga with the fabulous Jane Gould on The Empress Yacht docked off Harbor Drive on Richardson Bay (yes, go to lunch at Fish afterwards) with the special addition of Aveda-provided aromatherapy chakra sprays to enhance an already fantastic experience? Brilliant, as the British-born Jane might say. Check the link HERE to get all the details and register. Class is this Monday, March 26th, at 9 am.
What do you think my morning clients will say when I want to skip work so I can go??
It's officially spring, and any self-respecting fashion follower knows it's all about color this season. Although I love my basic black (and standard grey) I've grown up loving color. Mom was a florist and she taught me well. I think because I sweat and stand in sneakers so much, I love my pedicures. Super love. So after a morning client on Saturday I walked up to my local OPI source and snagged the bottles below (Fly, Do It On Em, and That's Hot Pink, from left).
It works out nicely that they coordinate so well with my boys' favorite cutlery from IKEA. Not to mention the Barbie Ipod boom box I received for Christmas this year, pictured at left.
The next morning with my coffee in hand, I opened the Sunday New York Times Style Section to see the Thakoon for Nars polishes in the same shades. Hot. Oh man was I feeling good about my fashion sense at this point, not to mention my new acid green mani that I had DYI'd the night before in honor of St. Patty's Day.
However you wear your favorite shade, have fun with it, and remember your best color is that which comes from a brisk bout of exercise. . .in the spring air.
Smith Integrative Oncology. . .for the patients of this center the name inspires a lot of love and confidence. Garrett Smith, MD, is considered a rebel by some in the medical community. And I say good for him. Imagine receiving the highest standard of medical care for this ugly disease from a compassionate Doctor, and while at his office you have access to an Acupuncturist, Registered Dietician, Massage Therapist, and Exercise Specialist. . .in a beautiful space with a view of the City to boot.
I hope you don't have someone in your life who needs Cancer care, but if they do, at the very least check out their NEW WEBSITE. All the practitioners in his office are specialists in their respective fields, and are devoted to caring for Cancer patients.
Marion Nestle, NYU Professor, Nutrition and Public Policy Expert, Food Writer and Blogger (foodpolitics.com) is one of my personal heros. She is smart, and her message is no-nonsense and direct. So often people are looking for the next great diet secret, Paleo gluten free sugar busted Atkins fiber raw. . .it can be wise sometimes to notice what smart eating plans have in common rather than what makes them unique. And that's where Marion comes in. She is consistent in her recommendations that most people need to increase their fruit, vegetable, whole grain and fiber intake; reduce processed foods, sugars, and saturated fats; and get some exercise (!)
Nestle writes a monthly column for the San Francisco Chronicle, and she takes reader's questions. This past Sunday she clearly answers a reader's question about Type II diabetes, the disease Food Network personality Paula Dean recently announced she's had for a few years. Although the other day some co-workers and I were debating medical right to privacy issues vs. ethical responsibility -- considering the fat and cholesterol-laden food she prepares and pushes -- Nestle points out that Dean the diabetic has a recent endorsement deal with a drug company, while she has made no discussion of weight loss efforts.
Losing weight is the number one action a person can take to control and reverse diabetes. Read Nestle's article here and tell me what you think. It was published in the Food section, and I think it should have been on the front page.
Take a peek at my family's big, full year. Click on the link below to check out a slide show greeting I sent to clients and supporters.
During the last couple of weeks I've encouraged my clients to reflect on 2011 with a focus on their successes as they look to the new year and resolutions. What did you do well last year? What are you proud of? not just what do you want to change.
Here's to another big, fun-filled, healthy year for us all.
I received an email yesterday with the subject line: My New Years Eve. It was from C, a client and friend of mine, who happens to be an Occupational Therapist who works with children. Cool chick. Apparently she and a friend had plans for a couple of days in Tahoe. They took off in her Subaru wagon and in her words, had a "wild accident":
"A friend and I were on our way to Royal Gorge in the wagon and hit some black ice. The car skidded out of control and we took out a small tree, went off the road into a ditch, flipped over and landed on some boulders. It's a miracle we are alive. We came out with a few lumps and bumps, some emotional trauma, and a tremendous amount of gratitude for being alive.
B, my husband, ever the visual storyteller, made this video, which gives you an idea of what happened."
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. They are so lucky. And they were not speeding or driving recklessly. . .as so many of the drivers in the Bay Area and beyond seem to do with regularity these days. Do you need to slow down in the car? Go safely into the New Year friends, and hold onto gratitude whenever you can.
I help people all day long. I help them make lifestyle changes, I help them execute the perfect plank, and on some days I'm helping them stay sane. I help my kids proofread their homework and finesse their dance moves, and I help the dogs cuz they still can't feed themselves. I help my honey when it's time to grill the fish since she's daunted by this cooking task.
Do you need help? Do you know how to ask for it? A client of mine has been swimming in her life: single mom, full-time student pursuing a Doctorate, part-time worker. . .she realized she couldn't sustain her pace and took a meeting with her advisor to strategize for her next quarter. The advisor came up with a re-worked plan that provided instant relief for Ms. Client -- and they in fact could start this schedule now. She said her sigh of relief almost blew the advisor over.
What about offering to help someone? This time of year the donation baskets are filling, the needy are lining up for toys, but look around your close-in community. A mom with 2 and 3 year olds would appreciate a meal delivery the same as a mom with newborns. A friend who suffered a break-up needs movie and lunch dates. . .even if it's been a little while. Those who live alone appreciate visits and social interaction, and maybe some internet tutoring if you're with an older friend.
Giving money can make a profound difference. Giving time and love is priceless. Offer to help someone when you can, and maybe more importantly. . .ask for help. What you receive in return will fill you in ways that might surprise you.
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