Summertime in the Days of Covid

These are strange times indeed, and strange times sometimes call for strange measures. Here’s a look at our socially-distant summer adventures in the days of COVID-19.
social distancing

Carol Anne wields her social distancing aid, the pool noodle.

mother and child with mask

A.’s first Mother’s Day.

paparussandgrandbaby

Papa Russ loves his buddy.

summertime in covid
family covid times
outdoors is safer than indoors
broken tent

Broken tent, still safe.

outdoors
roses

Pharoah’s Roses

puppy drinking water

Otis getting a drink.

grandmama and baby C.
josh outside in summertime
raven the dog
little girl shooting

Bella girl learning to shoot.

baby boy outside with grandmama
kilgore fam
instant memories

Instant memories of a memorable summer.

polaroid photos mother and child
outside during the summer
    Imagine you get a call three days from now. It’s a family member who woke up with a cough and fever. With your heart in your throat, you think back to the event over the weekend — was everyone exposed? What about the one with asthma, was he exposed? What about our father, was he exposed? Did we make a choice that may cost us big time?
 
   …These are the thoughts I don’t want to think. If someone comes down sick, I want to feel confident that we took appropriate precautions to make sure there was no spread within the family. I want to be confident that we didn’t stick our toe over that line.
Our system may not be what you need and that’s ok. But I’m glad we have a system. We have a plan. And if that phone call comes in 3 days I won’t have to worry about the rest of us, just the one that is sick.
 
“POOL NOODLE RULES”
 
All visiting occurs outside. Every family member has a mask and a pool noodle. If you get any closer than pool noodle length to another family member (outside your immediate unit) without a mask, you get whacked with the pool noodle. Masks may be removed (for eating, drinking, etc) as long as you are >1 pool noodle away from anyone outside your immediate unit.
 
Additional stipulations:
Handwashing and masks are required at the food table. Please wipe designated bathroom with Clorox wipes if used.
Stay safe in these crazy days, friends! 

Keepin’ Bees in the summer of ‘20

Some things don’t change, even in pandemics. Like the way beekeeping makes me smile. 

beekeeping in masks for covid 19 times
beekeeping summer 2020
beekeeping 2.0
happy bees
dads top bar hive
queen cells

Queen cells!

boxing up bees

Boxing up a frame with the queen cells to send to Carol Anne’s hive.

box of bees

Packed and ready to go to a new home!

beekeeping

A box of bees with their new Keeper.

A hive check in May 2020 revealed some queen cells on 2 of my frames. Carol Anne’s bees recently swarmed, so we packed up one of the frames to send to her house to live in her Langstroth hive. Hopefully they can create a healthy new hive! 

a BuHi V-Day

For Valentine’s Day 2020, Scott and I took the day off work and headed to Buford Highway.  In case you didn’t know, this ~6 mile stretch of highway in Doraville is considered to be THE place to go for international food and culinary diversity in Atlanta. You can find everything from Szechuan mapo tofu to Bangladeshi shawarma. Ever wanted to try Malaysian food? Buford Highway has got you covered.

We started our day at Paris Baguette for coffee and pastries.

Next stop (and a MUST DO whenever you’re on that side of town): the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market [5600 Buford Highway]. The first thing to know about the farmer’s market is that it’s not actually a farmer’s market. It’s a supermarket. An amazing 100,000 square foot supermarket with fruits you’ve never seen in person before…

You can find dragon fruit.

All the peppers in the world.

Raw cacao.

Amazing cheeses (for really amazing prices).

A jug of chili sauce the size of your head.

“Chinese spaghetti sauce” (an interesting cultural mash-up if ever there was one).

And even peanut gluten. Although why in the world you need peanut gluten (and wtf that actually is), I have no idea.

Oh and I forgot to mention chocolate. Belgian chocolate! (Isn’t she lovely?)

Next up it was time for the best drive-through taco I’ve ever been handed [5084 Buford Highway].

Then onto the Food Terminal [5000 Buford Highway], where the menu is designed to look like a magazine.

This hip slightly-industrial modern restaurant has tons of Malaysian options and a perky playlist.

Next stop: Sweet Hut Bakery & Cafe [5150 Buford Highway] where they have chocolate domes and all sorts of pastries. We picked up a few pastries for friends who just had their second baby, and some for us too.

Then we took a short jaunt over to Atlanta Vintage Books [3660 Clairmont Road]. We love bookstores, period – but this one is something special with it’s signed copy of Julia Child’s Joy of Cooking, extensive Jewish/Israeli section, and free-roaming TNR’d cat colony. We think it might also be subject to some sort of time warp, since we easily spent 2 hours pouring over bookshelves and it only felt like 15minutes. Fair warning: probably not the spot for you if you have cat allergies.

Final stop of the day: Matcha Cafe Maiko. I looooove matcha and this is the perfect stop for a matcha enthusiast. Scott went with a Matcha/Hojicha swirl softserve and I picked the ‘Matcha Kokuto Gelatin Float’ (an iced matcha latte with a rich brown sugar jelly on the bottom and matcha icecream on top).

I just spent a whole afternoon on Buford Highway and I’m already wondering how soon I can go back. There are simply so many things to try! If you need help planning your own trip down this international corridor, this article has some great ideas. So does this one.

Things I’d like to try next:

New Orleans, 2020

“Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?”

  – Louis Armstrong

new orleans mardi gras mask

I didn’t know what it meant to miss New Orleans until this January.  I’d been to the zoo there as a child, but had little to no memory of it — and Scott had never visited.  Despite this, I had a fondness for NOLA already due to growing up in Mobile, AL, the only other city that respects Mardi Gras as much as New Orleans. I figured it would be love at first sight, and it was.

afterlightimage-2

We stumbled across these (real) mid-century lamps in a shop on Conti Street.

olde pharmacy bottles new orleans

And I adored pouring over the bottles in an 1800s pharmacy.

afterlightimage-12afterlightimage-15afterlightimage-7afterlightimage-17

A medallion from the first Mardi Gras celebrated in Mobile, AL in 1703. Hello, my childhood home town! You’ll always be the original Mardi Gras.

afterlightimage-1

This is the house that some claim inspired the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland, except that it didn’t really. That house is actually in Baltimore. But the resemblance is notable! For an excellent walking architecture tour of New Orleans, we HIGHLY recommend New Orleans Architecture Tours. We took the Garden District tour with Katrina and can’t praise her enough – very knowledgeable guide, educational info and no silly ghost business. If we’d had another day in the city, we would have taken another tour with her!

afterlightimage-8

If you don’t get beignets and chicory coffee at Cafe du Monde, I don’t think the trip hardly counts… we had beignets at least 5 times!

img_7454

We also very much enjoyed seeing the floats at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World.  Not only is this where many of the floats are created, but it’s the birthplace of the Chik Fil A billboard cows. These flowers are from the Krewe of Orpheus floats.

afterlightimage-21afterlightimage-22mardi gras worldafterlightimage-19afterlightimage-23afterlightimage-20afterlightimage-24papier mache bees

Papier-mâché flowers need papier-mâché bees!

afterlightimage-26

Not sure what this gorgeous Star of David piece is for, but I’d love to know.

afterlightimage-16

We also really liked seeing the costumes at this museum. (Again, I’m drawn to the bee theme!)

afterlightimage-13

Happy faces on Frenchman St., which is where you want to go for good jazz, fyi. We caught a show at Snug Harbor and loved it!

afterlightimage-14

If this isn’t the most perfect crossover, I don’t know what is… and yes, I definitely got a copy for my creole-cookin’ Mama (whoever knew she’d end up with kosher kids?).

beignets

I wasn’t kidding about how many times we ate beignets. So many beignets…

afterlightimage-2

This drink is a Vieux Carré, invented in 1938 by the head bartender at the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone.  According to the Hotel Monteleone website, the drink “consists of Cognac, Benedictine, Rye Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, Angostura, and Peychaud’s Bitters. The recipe was inspired by the diverse cultures of the French Quarter. The Cognac and Bendictine pay homage to the French, the Sweet Vermouth to the Italian, the Rye Whiskey to the Americans, and the Bitters to the Islanders of the Caribbean.” [https://hotelmonteleone.com/blog/a-drinkable-history-of-the-carousel-bar/]

carousel bar hotel monteleone

The Carousel Bar itself is not to be missed. First of all, the bar — which looks like a carousel, hence the name — actually spins. The seats rotate around the central bar at a rate of 1 rotation every 15 minutes. Secondly, Ernest Hemingway drank here. Need I say more?

st louis cathedral new orleans

Another touristy stop is the St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square. This is the oldest cathedral in the U.S. and worthy of a stop for that distinction alone. There’s been a church on this site since before the revolutionary war, although the building standing now was completed in the 1850s (the original structure burned down).

It is dedicated to King Louis IX of France who launched the disastrous 7th crusade in 1248, and was later canonized by the Catholic church for his crusadering acts and supposedly perfect Christian leadership. He was the quintessential medieval king; chivalrous, religious, ascetic, and hostile to Jews. The lovely stained glass walls inside the cathedral depict a very glorious looking Crusader, but leave out the part where he got his royal ass handed to him on the battle field against the Egyptians.  The windows also venerate his habit of collecting of holy relics, but don’t mention that many of these were of a dubious historical nature.

King Louis IX was well-known to be incredibly antisemitic. He sanctioned laws against the French Jews, forbade them from engaging in business, forced them to wear a badge (where have we heard that move before?), burned cartloads full of Talmuds and other literature, and forced French Jews to listen to missionary speeches meant to “convert” them. All this culminated when he ordered the seizure of Jewish property and the expulsion of Jews from France (although it seems this expulsion was never carried out).

As a Zionist / pro-Israel / pro-Jewish believer, to see gorgeous stained-glass windows and beautiful (and historical) murals promoting and heroizing a man who treated G-d’s chosen people with such contempt and outright persecution is a hard pill to swallow. But an ostrich with it’s head in the sand is no witness to history. I’d rather know what I know and see what I see, than accept in blindness the beauty of the story of the stained-glass.

I also acknowledge and honor those that have been brought near to G-d through the catholic church, be she ever so flawed. For this reason, I was glad we attended the 12:05pm Mass at this cathedral, and would recommend if you plan to stop to schedule your visit accordingly. Mass is held every day at 12:05pm. Note: If you are not Catholic, you should not take part in communion. Options include staying in your pew at during communion, or you may approach the priest along with others with your arms crossed across your chest (indicating you are not partaking of the Eucharist), most priests will then dispense a blessing (although some churches discourage this, so check ahead of time if this is acceptable, if possible).

scott and kelli

In conclusion, “Let me explain… No! There is too much. Let me sum up.” New Orleans is too great and complex a city to be explained in a short blog post with a few photos, but to sum up:  We loved it.  We’ll be back.  We miss you already, New Orleans.

————————————————————————————————

Recommendations:

Hot Chocolate Race Review

What can I tell you about the Allstate Chocolate 15k/5k race? For starters, they’ve got the best race swag in town! Check out the jackets, you guys.  I will run this race JUST for that jacket…

This a national race series with events in several major cities. Each Hot Chocolate race features both a 15k (9.3miles) and 5k (3.1miles). You get the jacket / chocolate snacks either way (along with your entry fee). The medals vary based on which distance you complete. The race benefits the Make A Wish Foundation.

The snacks at the end of the race are hard to beat. We’re talking real melted chocolate, hot cocoa, a banana, a rice krispy treat, a marshmellow, a cookie straw, a nuun wafer… they also recently upgraded from a plastic mug to a biodegradable one. Bravo!

This is a Peachtree Road Race qualifier, so it attracts a lot of the ‘serious’ running crowd in Atlanta.  This is probably NOT the race to bring a tutu or your dog, just FYI.  You might get run over by Jerry who is going for a PR and ain’t got no time for anybody’s fun-having… But hey, we can blend in with the serious runners when necessary!  Tips to blend in with the serious crowd: wear leggings (it’s cold!) and your new jacket, and break out that fancy running belt that you got in your stocking last year. They’ll never know you’re in it for fun, and not a very serious goal-crushing time of living out all your unfulfilled highschool track dreams.

strava map hot chocolate race

Here’s our Strava map of the 5k course (2020)

________________________________________________________________________

I can’t finish this post without mentioning that this isn’t our first Hot Chocolate race. Back in 2017 Carol Anne, Scott and I signed up for the Hot Chocolate 5k… but I never made it to the start line. Instead, a complication of my chronic illness (Addison’s Disease) landed me in Adrenal Crisis and in the Emergency Dept at the hospital only 2 nights before the race. Adrenal Crisis is life-threatening, and I was far too sick to get out of bed, much less walk or run.  Josh, being one of the best brothers in the entire world, took my bib and ran in my place with Carol Anne. He wasn’t even really into running at the time, but he didn’t want her to run alone or miss out. Few things have ever made my big sister heart so proud as tracking the two of them on the live course map. I swore I’d come back and finish the race the next year… and not only the 5k, but the 15k. This race had become my white whale. The one I had to conquer. Come rain, frost, 36 degree weather, puddles, and numb fingers…

img_7708

So in 2018, we completed the 15k.

Did I mention it was pouring rain and 36 degrees outside??

This was the hardest, wettest, coldest race of our lives. But we were determined to finish it — and we did! When we took this photo at the end of the race we were so cold and so soaked with rain that we could barely smile. This run has gone down in history as our worst race experience ever, and we will never ever run in such bad conditions ever again.

But if we are honest, we are very proud of that race. Because of that race, we feel we can do anything. 

_____________________________________________________________________

Photos below are from the 2017 Hot Chocolate 5k, the one I missed. These pictures still make me so very proud!

_________________________________________________________________

To sum up: Do we recommend this race?

YES, just be aware that it’s cold in January / February (check the race schedule for Atlanta) and dress appropriately.  Stay home if pouring rain (because that one time was the absolute worst).  Expect serious runners, not tutu-wearing fun-runners. The course is well-organized, the end of race snacks are awesome, and I don’t know of any other races that can beat the swag.  Also, shout out to Nuun for sponsoring and giving out lots of freebies!

Sad you missed this one this year? How about signing up for this race instead?

1SE 2019

A glimpse at our lives, one second at a time…

2019 Highlights:

Mr. Bob passed in February

C.A. & K Wedding

J.R. & A. Expecting

Israel Trip (our first!)

J.S. & M. Wedding

Caleb’s Arrival

This video was created using the 1SE app (paid version) and music from EpidemicSound.com

Gratitude Lately

Lately I’ve been grateful for…

Sweet meetings, and instant love.

And cousins who are so much more than cousins.

For purple peppers.

For football fans,

beignets with wings

And beignets with wings.

moving josh in

I’m grateful for moving days and fresh starts,

out first date restaurant

For old memories of our first date (12 years ago!),

uncle scott

And for this man who will always be the uncle to my nephew.

sweet baby

Here’s to gratitude

   and how it changes everything.

The waiting…

A Saturday, in October 2019…

Today is an important day.  A day of labor, and a day of dis-comfort.  A day of faith, hope, trust, and love.  A day of waiting and perfect timing.  A day before the day, when it’s not quite time for the birth day – no, not just yet.  We’ve waited for this day.  And we are ready for tomorrow.

A, you are so strong and so loved.