07 December 2008

A Holiday Weekend (and a LONG Post)

Friday seems a million hours away! We had a super-busy weekend, which unfortunately started out, for me, badly. I tried a new salad at Sweet Tomatoes and I liked it, but it didn't like me, so I was in the bathroom for about an hour at 2:30 a.m. By the time I got back to bed I was chilled and it took me ages to warm up and fall asleep.

Nevertheless, we had a full plate on Saturday. Before lunch, we had to go to the bank. I'd had a bland breakfast with a Pepto Bismol chaser, but James grabbed some lunch our and we went to BJs for a few groceries. James bought me a Christmas gift and we also purchased WALL-E, which we never saw in the theatre but everyone has raved about it. Then we had to go to Kroger for bananas and yogurt and other necessities.

I still wasn't feeling up to snuff, so James dropped me off at home and went to the hobby shop. I took some ibuprofin and then slowly proceeded to decorate. I put up the gingerbread things in the kitchen, the feather tree (it's on the little microwave cart this year) with its surrounding vintage-looking toys, the refurbished ceppo (on the curio cabinet), and little feather tree surrounded by my Santa collection (on the china cabinet). I also decorated the console and the secretary next to the birdcage. (Schuyler has the two musical things, natch: the silver-based Santa snowglobe and the Charlie Brown and tree Hallmark ornament). I also cleaned the hall bath and put all the blue decorations up: an angel, two Santas, a snowman, and the blue snowflake hand towels, plus the decorative soaps. I have the tree plugged in in the foyer, but never did get the ornaments on it.

James got home around three and I took some ibuprofin and lay down about four o'clock for a half hour. While I didn't feel like turning cartwheels, I was in "good stomach" enough that I asked James if, since we were going to be on that side of town anyway, he wanted to take me out for my birthday dinner. He said yes, so we left about five on our way to the annual Atlanta Radio Theatre Company performance of "An Atlanta Christmas," this year at the Alliance Theatre venue.

But first we were off for a treat: we went to dinner at the Colonnade. This restaurant has been open for about 80 years, originally on the corner of Piedmont and Lindbergh until they lost their lease in the 1960s. They moved to Cheshire Bridge Road in front of the Cheshire Motor Inn, which, back in those days, was a good neighborhood. It's a bit run-down now, with girlie bars and "adult novelty" stores, but the restaurant, in slang parlance, "still rocks." The food is so good that when the kitchen caught fire in the 1970s, evacuating diners walked out with their plates and forks so they could finish eating.

I understand the pork loin, beef short ribs, and fried chicken are all good, but I can't tell you, because I go there for the turkey dinner. I am really not a stuffing/dressing fan and usually only take a mouthful or two, but I slice up my turkey at the Colonnade and mix it with their absolutely fabulous celery dressing and eat it all tooth and toenail. I love their applesauce; it is not over-sugared. And the baked potato was delicious, too. I thought we might have to wait, as the place was about 3/4 full, but we got right in and were served right away—served so fast, in fact, that our dinners came before the rolls!

Pleasantly full, we returned to our route. We were a bit early, so we stopped at Book Nook. I discovered there was a third Nicholas Meyer Sherlock Holmes novel, after The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and The West End Horror, something called The Canary Trainer. I also found a really odd book (text printed on pink paper!) called Christmas in the World, which seems to be someone traveling around the world and meeting all the evil spirits of Christmas, like Krampus and Black Peter.

Finally arrived at the theatre; we hadn't been at this venue before. Boy, is it dark outside the building. Not a lot of signs that there is a theatre there at all!

Anyway, it was the usual enjoyable performance. There were two new skits this year, a news show spoof called "Rudolphium," about the discovery of the element that makes reindeer fly, and a rather silly skit about pirates and Christmas spoofing lame television holiday specials. Not sure what the latter had to do with Atlanta, though, but it had some very funny parts. The actress who portrayed Tiffany, the assistant to the mall Santa Claus in "Santa Claus Blues," was hysterical. Tiffany is always portrayed as being young and very earnest, but in this incarnation, she was also filled with wonder, as if this was the best job she ever had.

It was getting rather late, so we chatted only a bit after the performance, then headed home. I asked James if we could go past the place where my old apartment complex was, the place I lived when I first moved to Atlanta, which I always referred to as "the Cubbyhole" (it was a studio apartment). Last year when we drove past the location they had torn down the entire complex (Peachtree Garden Apartments), and when I went by a little later in the year it looked as if they were filling in the little "valley" the complex was in. Well, the area is still unfinished, but there are now two huge buildings there, complete with parking garages.

We came home via Mount Paran Road. This is one of those routes that is increasingly being taken over by McMansions of every stripe: there are "Italianate estates" and an "English hunting lodge" (complete with a waterfall and pond out front!) and many Classical-design homes. One we refer to as "Mr. Inflatable" because he has inflatable decorations (which I think look horribly tacky) outside the house for every holiday, even if it's only one or two. He had at least a dozen of the darn things in front of the house for Christmas, including a Tigger in a nightshirt.

Anyway, near "Mr. Inflatable" is a rather new development with these imposing Classical-style homes, and the two closest to the street seemed to be having a dueling lights contest. Every inch of both properties were covered in white lights: house, windows, trees, bushes, fenceline. It was bright!

We were up at nine this morning so we could have breakfast before the Marietta Tour of Homes. While yesterday was rather cloudy most of the day, today was sunny and clear—and only in the 40s. So much better than two years ago when it got up into the 70s and it was sweltering! The wind was quite keen, especially before noon, but it became more comfortable as the afternoon hours came on, but some people were bundled up like Eskimos!

We noticed something this year about all the tour homes: the decorations seemed to be the traditional greens—cedar and juniper as well as pine and holly—with red bows. One house did have fruit as part of the design, but with pine underpinnings. There were no "avant garde" type decorations like the people with the sofa frame two years ago.

The first house was the Hardage-Smith House, circa 1890. This had a very interesting shared fireplace system; the four main rooms shared the same flue in one corner of the room. The mantelpiece of the parlor was covered by little putz houses and bottle-brush trees from what looked like the 1950s, and the owners also had Santa collections like mine in several rooms, even the master bedroom, including a group of them which were two inches tall and shorter! As with most of these homes, they have had modern additions and this one is seamless, with the same molding and doorframes in the entire house. The bath had the same black-and-white tiles I remember from the old homes of my cousins.

Oh, one of the things on the wall was a framed report card of one of the owners' grand (or maybe great-grand) fathers, from 1920, complete with marks for deportment.

The next house was called "Oakmont" and had a varied history. It was originally "Kennesaw Hall," a small plantation home, originally with 800 acres. The property was burned by Sherman's troops and only the foundation and the granite slave cabin in the rear survived. It was rebuilt and made into quite a large Queen Anne type house in Victorian times. Over the years it was actually downsized to a small one-story house, although then a small half-story was added above. For a long time a piano teacher lived in the house, giving lessons in the cabin, and most Marietta children of the time would have had piano lessons with her.

The house is still small, but the owners have done marvelous things with the place. There is a new state-of-the-art kitchen (like all the houses), but the old one still stands used as a combination laundry, mudroom and craft room, with a floor made of reclaimed bricks. The upstairs is a marvel of all available space used: there are cubbies on the stairway and a cute little den in the main area at the top of the stairs. At either side of the den are the little girls' rooms. Each has a bed, plus spaces under each dormer where a friend could stay for a sleepover or they could just read. One little girl had a private space in what probably started out as a closet under an eave. It had a light inside, a little pallet and all sorts of little girl treasures. The kitchen had great drool factor. The big stove was flanked on either side by what looked like architectural wood decorations, but were really vertical spice drawers. You couldn't tell unless you pulled them out!

They also had cool antiques like a wind-up Victrola and railroad memorabilia and the last existing set of shelves from the larger house's library. When they started refurbishing the house, they discovered the rest of them rotting in the yard!

The former slave cabin has been turned into a guest house. It was completely made of stone and you can still see the burn marks on the inside wall of the bedroom portion, which has had the plaster stripped from it, from Sherman's march through the city.

The third house was of World War II vintage, the Wellons-Brackman-Gronewald House. The woman of the house is an interior designer and it showed, although it wasn't flashy. The house is dotted with beautiful antiques including a campaign desk. Like most homes of this era, the original part was very small, and in the rear the kitchen has been extended and a master suite added, and a screened porch on the side was turned into a compact library.

The High Cotton House was next. This was built in 1867 and the insulation in the walls, future remodelers discovered, was packed cotton! It used to have a complete wrap-around porch but part of it is now reclaimed by a nice comfy den. The parlor had a beautiful carved oak fireplace surround and mantel (originally from a brothel in Savannah!) with a peacock-shaped firescreen. The master bedroom was completely done in beautiful ice-blue paint with matching spread, curtains, etc, even a blue Persian rug, and a wonderful flocked Christmas tree with blue ornaments. The master bath had a gorgeous pink dogwood-theme stained glass window over the bathtub.

We had a bobble here. We took the opportunity to go upstairs and when we came down James slipped on the step nearest the landing. (Well, the people near us said he slipped on a tilted board, but when he stumbled there was a sharp crack, as if the step had given under his foot.) He caught himself, but his right knee is still hurting.

The fifth house is officially called the Orr-Johnson House, but the docent told us it was nicknamed "Mosley Hall," since the hallway was so wide it was "mos(t)ly hall." LOL. It was a large hall, filled with antique cabinets. One had a collection of statues of the various gift-bringers in different countries, like Santa Lucia and Grandfather Frost. The doors to each room had big adjustable transoms over them to regulate the cool and warm air circulation in those days before central air and heat. A beautiful stained-glass window was in the parlor and this also had the most unusual stool made of longhorn horns, dated 1915.

The owner obviously does cross stitch and many of her projects were dotted around the house. I was quite taken by a Christmasy one in the kitchen (another redone kitchen, of course!); I would love to have the pattern! It said "Christmas is holly with berries of red, and the heavenly fragrance of warm gingerbread."

The final house was a few steps away, the Cash-Cooney House from 1907. This is owned by a couple (the house originally belonged to the woman's grandfather) with four boys, all but one who are sports fans, so the bedrooms were quite heavily decorated with sports themes. They also had themed Christmas trees. The little movie-watching room had a tree hung with movie candy boxes, and dad, a baseball fan, had the neatest tree, which was covered with enlarged baseball cards and boxes of Cracker Jack! As with all the homes, the kitchen had been completely redone, this in a beautiful cherry finish, and we were directed to what looked like a corner cupboard at the rear. When you opened the doors, it turned out to be a pantry closet the size of a walk-in closet!

Our final stop was at the tea room, this year located at the Anderson Mansion, one of the big old Victorian houses on Whitlock Avenue. We each had a small treat, as we were intending to have lunch at home. This house put me in mind of my original allergist's office, which was on Waterman Street in Providence, once a toney neighborhood. Dr. Freedman used the first floor of a similar-type Victorian house and there were other medical offices upstairs. It was the same setup, parlors in the front and a kitchen in the back, the pocket-panel doors, etc., except when Dr. Freedman had it, the place was rather dark. When he retired and my next allergist, Dr. Sturam, took over, he had the place redone. It was much brighter, but he had a lot of the historical look removed from the place.

At home we had some lunch and James had some Aleve and rested his knee. We then spent about 90-minutes putting up the lights outside. We did the same setup as last year, with the lights around the columns and the purple stars "falling down." Then James got that "guy-look" that men get around Christmas lights and disappeared into the garage. We had bought about five boxes of blue miniature lights several years ago for a dollar a box and two sets of blue LED bulbs. We put the LED bulbs on the stair railings, then one set of miniature lights zigzagged on the railings, one set draped over the bushes in the front of the house, and one set draped over the bushes toward the side. So we're even more "bluetiful" than before. :-)

Seriously, I like the minis on the bushes especially; it looks like small blue stars have dropped on them.

We had turkey breast with salad for supper and worked through the rest of the backlogged What's My Line episodes. GSN's showings of The Name's the Same ended and we saw some of the early episodes of To Tell the Truth where Bud Collyer collected the "votes" from the panel rather than them putting up their choice and stating why they picked that person.

While we were doing this I was trying to catch up on things on my laptop. To my surprise it was running very slowly and oddly. Windows Update kept coming up and telling me my Windows Update was not on, and sure enough, when I went in, it had been disabled. How odd. Not only that, but when I went into Internet Explorer, something called "Antivirus 2009" kept popping up saying I was infected with at least three things including a two Trojans, one wich was showing up as "critical." For me to clear this problem, I had to install this "Antivirus 2009," which I didn't want to do, knowing nothing about it. But you could only run, save or cancel it. When you cancelled out of it, it didn't stop; you had to use Task Manager to get out of it. Well, when I did this I got a message saying "Are you sure? If you install, your PC will remain unsoiled." "Unsoiled?" I don't think Microslop uses words like "unsoiled."

So I ran AdAware and it was screaming about a Trojan called "Virisure" or something of that ilk. I removed it. I guess this "Virisure" encourages you to install this Antivirus thing to get rid of it, probably installing yet another Trojan in its place or not removing it in the first place. What a pain in the butt.

Sigh...still never got the tree in the foyer decorated!

No comments: