Come walking with me around Savannah

We booked into our hotel in Savannah, yesterday at about 4pm. Eliza Thompson House is a grand old home on historic Jones Street. It has been converted into a guest house, and has a reputation for being haunted. Confederate soldiers have been seen at upstairs windows, and a girl in a white dress, in the hallway. Lucky for me, I don’t believe in ghosts. 😕

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The porter who showed us to our room on the ground floor, had the most gorgeous Georgia accent. Our room was beautifully furnished, and very comfortable.

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There was this large bust of what looked to me, rather like Napoleon, right at the bottom of my bed in front of the window.

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I awoke in the middle of the night, and saw this guy looking right at me. The light from the street lamp was shining through the window, and he gave me quite a fright, until I woke up sufficiently enough to remember where I was. A few years ago, writers from The South Magazine, stayed here to get a first-hand reporter’s view of paranormal activity. They stayed awake throughout the night to study the creaks and nuances of this historic home, and using their own “Fright-O-Meter” scale to compare the various local houses researched, they concluded that The Eliza Thompson House was a 4.5 out of 5. Well, even though I’m not a believer, the fright I got was a 5 out of 5.  😯

Before dark, we went out for a walk around the historic district. There were many parks, all with their various monuments.

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I thought this one in honour of a fallen soldier, Sergeant William Jasper, was quite beautiful.

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Chippewa Square was of special interest, because it’s outside this park, that Forrest Gump sat on a bench, and the feather came floating down. The bench has been removed to a museum, but we worked out where it used to stand. There was supposed to be a plaque marking the spot, but although we looked everywhere, we couldn’t find one. Hubby thinks that it was right where the name plaque is. Just the other side of the wall was a group of people listening avidly to a sermon being preached at great length by a very enthusiastic preacher man. There was a table with a couple of cooler boxes underneath, and I wondered if maybe after they’d been sitting on the cold concrete bench for an hour’s preaching, they may get rewarded with something to eat and drink. I certainly hope so.

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There were many churches along our route, all architecturally beautiful.

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The Baptist one was the most stunning of them all.

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The shops were all decked out for Christmas, and their window displays looked quite tempting, but we didn’t venture inside as it was starting to get dark, and we still had a lot to see.

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We got quite a surprise when in the distance, we suddenly saw a South African flag blowing in the breeze. We walked across the street to see what it was all about, but the establishment was nothing but a ‘greasy spoon’  takeaway, which didn’t look any too appetising. There were also American, Italian, and Swiss flags, alongside our rather garish Y-Front one.

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Just a little bit farther along, we saw this gift bag hanging outside someone’s gate. The tag simply said, “For Fred,” and I couldn’t help marvelling that one could actually leave something like this out in the street, and know that no-one but Fred would take it. This certainly wouldn’t be the case in South Africa. It would be gone in no time, as would many of the lovely outdoor Christmas ribbons, flowers, and wreaths on display. 😦

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There were so many beautifully decorated houses, and they all looked so cosy and inviting.

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After a really good nose around the neighbourhood, we went back to our hotel, and sat in the lounge sipping wine, and eating cheese and crackers, delicious sandwiches and pesto bruschetta.

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There was a French couple from Paris who were touring around looking for a historic property to buy as a holiday home, a couple from Michigan who had just come from marrying off their daughter to an Englishman, and an elderly couple from the Gulf Coast of Florida, who seemed to know a lot about the political situation in South Africa.

Today we are headed for Fredericksburg, stopping off at Florence which is the closest Starbucks along the route. Clever hubby found an app for my iPhone which tells me all the Starbucks locations. 🙂 It’s nice and warm in the car, but the wind chill factor outside makes it feel like -1 C, and my hair flies around like silk butterflies.

If I don’t get to visit your blog, it’s not that I’m ignoring you. I had to wait for 3 hours to even post this. 4G seems to be a rare commodity on the I-95 through South and North Carolina. 😦 Just talk amongst yourselves until I’m in business again.

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Thoughts on Peace, and Christmas decorations.

“Peace on earth is rarer than an oyster’s pearl, as conflict around us continues to swirl.”  ~ Roger Hollander, human rights activist.

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Last night I was thinking about the message of Christmas supposedly being “Peace on earth, goodwill to all men.” This time last year, I wrote a blog on my old site, and part of it went like this,

“On Sky News this evening, I  saw the dreadful news coming out of Baghdad and Syria. So many people dead and injured in the latest terrorist attacks. Families devastated in Baghdad as a suicide bomber driving an explosives-laden vehicle, blew himself up outside the office of a government agency fighting corruption. Reports from a human rights group in Syria, tell us that more than 6 200 people including hundreds of children have died in Syria’s crackdown on an anti-government revolt. At least 40 people have been killed and 100 injured in two explosions at security bases in Damascus, which according to state TV, were the work of terrorists.”

I does seem to me that we don’t seem to have learned anything in the last year, because we still have the carnage going on in Syria, and families are still being torn apart by the ongoing war there. So many people throughout the world are suffering because of greedy men fighting for power. I believe that the concept “Peace on earth” is sadly as elusive as it ever was. My heart goes out to all the innocent people caught up in these terrible situations. Because of man’s inhumanity to his fellow-man, for many people, these last days of 2012 have been filled with shock, grief and trauma, instead of joy and celebration.

“We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.”  ~William Gladstone

For all of us who are fortunate enough to be spending this season with family and friends in a peaceful environment, it’s an opportunity for us to give thanks for our many blessings. I for one am so very grateful that I’m here, and not living in one of those strife-torn countries.

I would like to thank you all for all the congratulations and good wishes expressed on my last post. You are such a lovely bunch of bloggers, and I really appreciate this caring community. On Thursday we leave for our road trip up to New Jersey to spend Christmas with our dear son and his family. On Thursday, we’ll be staying overnight in Savannah, and on Friday, in Richmond Virginia. I’m so looking forward to the drive up there, and have so much present wrapping to do today, before I start packing. I hope I’ll be able to do a couple of blogs whilst we’re away.

Let me leave you with good wishes for the holiday season, and a few pics of some of the decorations I’ve seen around Florida in the past few days. I’m hoping to be able to go into NY city to see all the Christmas lights, especially the huge tree at the Rockefeller Centre.

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My son sent me this photo last year, from the Huffington Post. In New York, people try to outdo each other with their inventiveness for decorating their homes. This homeowner had to dismantle his efforts, after this scene almost caused road accidents, when people screeched to a halt to rush to this dummy’s assistance. He said, ” A 55-year-old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder and almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn’t realize it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of the many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn’t take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard.”

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“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
~ Mother Teresa

Thoughts on Christmas giving.

Yesterday we stopped off at Starbucks for my favourite chai latte, toasted panini with slow roasted tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil pesto. One of the Christmas carols which were playing, was Johnny Mathis singing that old song “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” It reminded me of a Maxine cartoon I once saw, and having seen the shopping frenzy at the Mall last weekend, it seems very appropriate.

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It seems to me, that with every passing year, Christmas is more and more about getting ‘stuff’, rather than the actual “good will to all men,” which it used to be. “What do you want for Christmas?” or “What presents are you getting?” are questions we’re often asked at this time of year. Adults are often worse than the children, and have their sights set on acquiring all the loot which has eluded them throughout the year, and they encourage their children to do the same. I was reading the other day that someone every year unashamedly makes a “Greed List!”  For myself, I would much rather have a small token gift, which is given with love, than something I’ve ‘ordered’. Santa is most welcome to bring unexpected little surprises for which I will be very grateful.

The subject of unexpected gifts got me thinking about “random acts of kindness,” which actually cost us very little, and sometimes absolutely nothing at all in monetary terms. Even here in Florida, I see homeless people, begging at the traffic lights. It’s such a sad sight, and I’m sure they get so used to people just ignoring them, as though they’re invisible. Have you ever given them something, and seen their face light up because your kindness and recognition was so unexpected? I remember once, many years ago when we were travelling from Johannesburg to Durban for our holidays, we stopped at a gas station, and I went to use the restroom. I’m usually highly irritated by the cleaners hanging around the wash basins hoping for a tip, but that day, a little voice in my head told me to be kind, and before I knew it, I’d pulled out a R20 note and wished her a happy Christmas. I think I was as surprised as she was, but we both felt really good about it.

The unexpected kindness,
From an unexpected place.
A hand outstretched in friendship,
A smile on someone’s face.

A word of understanding,
Spoken in an hour of trial.
Are unexpected miracles,
That make life more worthwhile. ~ Helen Steiner Rice

I’m not suggesting that we go around showering strangers with handouts, but perhaps we do need to think of others much more than we do. We all live in the same world and are all trying to get by the best way we can, so we need to show one another a little more respect and kindness; a bit more courtesy on the roads, not fighting someone for that coveted parking space, a smile to a stranger, making a long overdue phone call, saying you’re sorry even though you don’t think you were in the wrong, taking a friend a bunch of flowers. All these things can make an unexpected difference in our lives and the lives of those around us.

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Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. ~Mark Twain

(My header is the beautifully decorated reception area at our club.)