August 31, 2004
savannah 2

I'm retrospectively writing the remaining entries--oddly enough, I had less access here in the Lower 48 than I did in Europe or Hawaii!

Obviously, much of Savannah's tourist traffic has been drawn by the gravitational pull of "The Book", i.e. Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil. This effect is only beginning to wear off now after its epic enlodgement in the New York Times Bestseller list. Surely if Clint Eastwood's film adaptation were as critically and popularly successful as Mystic River, we would have had to elbow out of the way some matron from Wisconsin for our bed & breakfast accomodations.

I think Savannah benefits from the presence of SCAD. It's students keep the town from feeling too staid, too complacent amidst its mossy genteel squares. Tidbits of conversations overheard at Gallery Espresso:

"I'm using Maya [a computer 3D rendering program] to render this scene in an airline graveyard"..."and his hands will be flamethrowers"..."every detail of the Royal Tennenbaums is just right. I especially like how Wes Anderson uses music"..."Have you seen Garden State yet? we're thinking about seeing it tonight. I think it's cool how he can be in a mainstream television show and make an independent movie like that"...And the conversations move rapidly between texturing scenes in a 3D animated movie, anime, a student's wicked stepmonster, and somebody's pet ferret.

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Thus in our peregrinations about the town, the "edginess" of the SCAD students' artistic explorations, to their shabby chic East Village-type accomodations inject a liveliness--yes, sometimes immature, even sophomoric, but bracing--to the humid, magnolia-stately environment.

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Our second day's walk took us again to River Street where Sharon had spied a Christmas Shop (it has come to my mild astonishment, that there are Christmas Shops everywhere at all times of the year!) where she found an ornament to appropriately commemorate our visit.

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I don't know why she needed to smell the ornament though!

Some scenes along our walk:

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By the way, the gamut of these JPEG image files washes much of the color out of them. The originals look much better. I promise.

Along our way, we explored the Colonial Cemetery. Its main entrance is marked by an arch erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution, and immediately within are the wafer-thin tombstones so common in old cemeteries in New England. The eastern brick wall of the cemetery is lined with headstones--presumably those that have fallen or displaced. The sky is overcast and we feel thin cold pinpricks of an occasional sprinkle. There's an occasional crepe myrtle with fuscia blossoms. Many long-dimmed lives from a harder era. Such-and-such killed in a duel. A child snuffed out after only 4 years.

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That night, for dinner, we tried something different. Our guidebook noted that a Moroccan restaurant located on the main shopping street was both quite authentic and featured...bellydancers. Their review was enthusiastic and thus we set off for the "Casbah", which is housed in what used to be a storefront, it's windows mysteriously shrouded in drapery. Within, was a dark, crimson velveted space well populated with mostly families. In the name of authenticity, a pitcher of water was poured over our hands once we were seated in order to clean them for the forthcoming meal, since they were to be our only utensils. I started with a Cornish Hen Bastila, a tasty dish of cornish hen mixed with onions, parsley, spiced eggs and toasted almonds, wrapped in a philo dough pastry, baked and garnished with cinnamon and powdered sugar. One thing I will say about eating with your hands is that Moroccans must get acclimatized to handling hot food in their fingers. Accompanying this, I had an iced mint tea.

We followed with marinated and grilled boneless butterflied chicken breast, dipped in a honey-nutmeg sauce, caramelized apricots, roasted almonds and sesame seeds for Sharon and a "Sultan's Kabob Feast" for me, including three skewers of chicken, lamb, and beef kabobs, all cooked perfectly; not the least bit dry or over rare. Sharon's chicken was flavorful and moist (an accomplishment with a boneless breast).

Oh, and the bellydancers...As I reclined on pillows, surrounded by the aromatic tobacco smoke of my hookah, the Sultan's favorite entered the tent, her waist engirdled in golden medallions, her smile demurely obscured by her veil...Actually, the dancing was pretty straightforward and tasteful; there were many families with small children, and two big blonde cornfed boys were egged on by their parents to have a picture taken with the dancer by their younger sister.

I would have liked to have Baclava for dessert, but both of us were too full to partake.

Posted by erich at 03:40 PM
August 22, 2004
savannah 1

Once a beach umbrella had found it's way into the back of the Allroad, Sharon and I were off for the 5.5 hour drive to Savannah. It's a straight shot down I-95 among the innumerable cars (many of the SUV and RV persuasion) with "New Jersey" and "New York" license plates. For the most part, an easy drive as long as you don't expose yourself too the panoply of speed ambushes that South Carolina hides behind every overpass and speck of median vegetation.

Our retreat is the Eliza Thompson house, built in 1847, it is now a bed and breakfast including both the main house and a carriage house surrounding a brick courtyard with koi nosing around a fountain and cafe umbrellas for the daily breakfasts.

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Soon after we had unpacked, we ventured down Bull Street to assimilate some of the flavor of the town. Savannah's residents are lucky to have a town of squares, leafy, be-statued respites from a typical grid. At one instance will be a square dedicated to a Polish count stricken by grapeshot attempting to take the town from the British during the Revolutionary War, to an Indian chief, who welcomed Savannah's first colonists with open arms.

Tomo Chi-Chi.

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In this late afternoon, the town was hushed and humid--not many tourists prowling the streets. We encountered a cool and airy cafe (from where I am typing this entry) known as "Gallery Espresso", a bohemian haunt for SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) students and locals that has become a daily stop for us in our short stay here. It is populated with comfortable, threadbare, and stained armchairs and couches, and an 3-gruppo (Faema E61's) espresso machine of a make I'm not familiar with.

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As expected, Savannah's streets are wide and lined with Spanish Moss-laden trees. We walk north towards the Savannah river and the rather touristy River Street, packed with restaurants and shops in what used to be Savannah's bustling cotton warehouses.

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Our first meal in Savannah was at the Olde Pink House, a classic Savannah location, one of the oldest buildings in town, its pink coloration originally coming from red clay bricks bleeding through white stucco. The meal (Sharon's being scallops with eggplant, mine being a simple strip steak) was well prepared, not lacking in flavor, but perhaps in fireworks or originality.

Posted by erich at 05:40 PM
August 19, 2004
relax.

According to the traditional Johns Hopkins terminology, I am now a "Junior Assistant Resident"; no longer directly in the line of fire for Tylenol and Sonata orders, no longer doing 25 post-op checks for the Ortho service, no longer the default victim of "make the Intern do it"-itis.

Just this level of removal from being the sealing compound in the cracks of modern healthcare permits a bit more consideration of what may be going on with a patient. Last month in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit was rewarding partly because working with such astute nurses is a joy, but working with sicker, more critically ill patients pumps a little more "juice" and thoughtfulness into the job.

And now, though my Intern-year vacation was April, I'm on vacation yet again. As my allocated two weeks for JAR-year, I may well not see another vacation for more than a year. Even so, I enjoy having this little bit of space in my life. I tore apart my espresso machine to identify a balky hot water valve, and gave it a particularly satisfying cleaning--I feel as if I'm recovering some dormant facets of my life. I'm enjoying my espresso, roasting my beans, perusing the active little Internet subculture of espresso-enthusiasts.

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Posted by erich at 09:12 AM