Sunday, February 16, 2014

The last day of the Savannah Book Festival.

We enjoyed hearing from 3 authors on Saturday. At 9:00 a.m. we had the pleasure of hearing from Dave DiBenedetto. He is the Vice President and Editor in Chief of Garden & Gun, where he oversees all print and digital platforms. Formerly the executive editor at the title, DiBenedetto was part of the team responsible for the magazine’s National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 2011. Previously he was the editor of SaltWater Sportsman, where, in addition to implementing a complete redesign of the 78-year-old magazine, he led the title to its first ever National Magazine Award nomination (General Excellence) in 2007.SaltWater Sportsman was the first, and is still the only, fishing publication to be nominated for such an honor. Prior to his time at SaltWater Sportsman, DiBenedetto was the deputy editor of Field & Stream. He began his career at Men’s Journal in 1995 as an editorial assistant just three days after graduating college and worked his way to senior editor in 2001.

Also an author, DiBenedetto wrote On the Run: An Angler’s Journey down the Striper Coast in 2003 for HarperCollins. The book received numerous accolades, including a coveted starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. DiBenedetto was born and raised in Savannah, GA and now resides in Charleston, SC with his wife, Jenny, and their Boykin spaniel, Pritchard. He was exactly what I expected from his articles in Garden & Gun. Witty, friendly, smart, a bit sassy and funny. He even told the packed room he appreciated us showing up so early. His Dad on the way over to the muesum had solemnly told him not to expect many people to get up so early! His parents raised him in Savannah even though they were originally New Yorkers and he clearly loves the south. His book on all things Southern is great. A collection of stories written by many of the Garden & Gun writers. The crowd loved him. He mentioned that one gentleman had complained that he should have included in the book how to crack a pecan with one hand. A fellow in the audience popped up and explained you just need a second pecan in your hand and then squeeze them hard together! Which duh certainly makes sense. He talked a bit about the important things that make Garden & Gun special. Everything from the amazing photography to the high end glossy paper stock and of course the stories which are the fabric of the magazine. He mentioned how readers love the Dog Stories and it was evident that the crowd find them to be a special and much loved part of the magazine. His talk ended too soon for the crowd. He was just excellent and such fun. And yes, I did buy his book! The Southern Handbook. A Guide to Living the Good Life.

Next up after a short walk to a different venue off of Wright Square was Mike Ritland. A former Navy Seal and expert K-9 trainer. Interesting guy. He saw how vaulable the K-9 Dogs were while he was in special ops. After his retirement he decided to start a company to train these special dogs for the military and others. He also started a project to establish a kind of retirement program for the dogs that  were wounded or just too old to continue. Mike bought his book as well. It should be an interesting read to see how he trains both the dogs and the trainers to do the amazing life saving work that these military K-9 dogs do.

I was excited to hear Nancy Horan since I had read Loving Frank ( Frank Loyd Wright) by her last year. After reading the book we were inspired to visit Fallingwater in PA. We toured the home with a small group of ten and ended with a grand brunch on one of the terraces overlooking the stream that the house was built around. A great experience. 

Nancy's new book is about Robert Louis Stevenson and his pursuit of a older married woman. He eventually persuaded Fannie to divorce the father of her children and marry him. She was a strong woman ten years his senior. Not all of his friends approved of her. Stevenson was sickly and she was devoted to him at any cost to herself. He always felt better when at sea. They spent nearly two years sailing. She was always sea sick. If you have ever been sea sick you know that was quite a sacrifice. Nancy was a compelling no nonsense speaker. She did an excellent job letting you into her writing world. She is at heart a researcher and delves into all the details no matter how small. Very intelligent and interesting lady.  I really enjoyed her presentation. 

We enjoyed the closing address by Dr. Eben Alexander from Lynchburg, Virginia. He is the author of Proof of  Heaven. I recently read the book. He is a neurosurgeon by training. A near death experience changed him forever. Prior to his near death experience he had lost his faith in God. Afterwards he is profoundly certain that when we die our soul lives on in a way that is difficult to explain. As he said it is all very good news. He spoke for over an hour. He was very passionate and spoke in a booming voice. He spoke as quickly as possible seeming to want to get the maximum number of words out to share with us in the hour that was allotted. He struggled at first to accept what happened to him. He researched everything from a medical perspective. He compared his experience to the tens of thousands of other people's experiences and he believes we are on the brink of gaining a better understanding of what comes after death. To understand it you need to read his book Proof of Heaven. I highly recommend it.

We also met Bobbie, Jamie, and Jack Deen sons and grandson of Paula. They were all nice and so polite. A lady asked to take their picture and it was so cute to see that the three of them including little Jack all switched on 100 watt smiles that looked exactly alike at exactly the same moment. It must be in the genes!  Yes, we did buy Bobby's new lower calorie cook book. It must work the boys were all super lean and quite handsome.

We both enjoyed the Book Festival which is held around the Presidents Day holiday each year. The temperatures improved as the week went on. Saturday & Sunday were perfect days, with lots of sun and clear blue skys. Even the cooler days were fine with a jacket and with the knowledge that we had escaped a 22 inch snow storm in Roanoke!

We enjoyed biking on the island this week and visting with Tybee friends. We did some inside Cottage fluffing and just enjoyed being in our sweet little Tybee Cottage. So light and bright here. It is a cheerful place to be.

We head back to the W tomorrow. Mike is planning a return trip here shortly to do some outdoor Cottage fluffing. Some cleaning and painting outside. The Cottage is booking up quickly for 2014 so I won't have a chance to get back until the end of April. Till then I will have to say goodbye to Paws & Paddles and Tybee Tyme.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Savannah Book Festival Opening on Feb. 13, 2014

The Festival officially started with the Opening address by author Scott Turdow. He was entertaining, informative, funny, and handed out some great advice. He spoke for about 45 minutes and then took questions for 15 minutes. Extremely enjoyable experience. His advice to would be writers. Put your butt in a chair and write. Just do it. Do the work. Practice your craft. 

The hall was full to capacity. Very glad we ordered tickets weeks ago. A keynote address will be held tomorrow and it was sold out so we will miss that one. The main event is Free and is located around TeleFair & Wright Squares in museums, and churches all day Saturday the 15th. There will be 36 bestselling authors to meet, chat with and of course sign their books should you purchase one. They were putting up large white tents in the Squares for the book sales yesterday. We enjoyed a long walk around the squares after a late lunch prior to hearing Scott at 6. Parking in the Whittaker Garage was close by and made for an easy walk to the theater.

We will spend most of Saturday meeting some of my favorite authors. Nancy Horan wrote Loving Frank. Which was about Frank Loyd Wright. I have always been interested in him and his design work. She inspired us to visit Frank's closest master piece to Virginia. Fallingwater which is in PA. We so enjoyed our visit and tour which was capped off with an amazing Brunch on one of the terraces over looking the stream that the house is built over. We went on July 21, 2013. It was intensely green and a misty rainy morning that just made the experience all the better. We opted for the smaller tour group of 10 and the brunch which I would recommend over the shorter tour with many more people. The rooms are small and the ceilings low so the small group was just the right number for the space. Great tour guide who knew everything about the house. She enjoyed brunch with us and we were able to ask even more questions.

Brunch was on the smaller terrace tucked close to the rock walls. The sound of the water was wonderful. I so wished I could have stretched out for a nice nap!

This window/wall opens to the stream below with steps from the great room. Never seen anything quite like it.

The dense green foliage and the sound of the water make you feel like you are living in a Tree House.

We are looking forward to also hearing from Eben Alexander who is from Lynchburg and wrote Proof of Heaven. The book is about his medical views on his end of life experience. He is a nerosurgeon and his experience changed everything he thought he knew about what lies beyond after death. I read the book a couple of weeks ago and will be interested to hear him in person. 

I am also hoping to meet the editor of Garden and Gun Magazine my favorite magazine. His new book is just out about all things Southern. Might be one I would purchase for the coffee table. I try to stick to Kindle ebooks to avoid all the clutter. I gave away at least 500 books over the last year or so when we were moving only keeping a precious few. I will post more about the Festival after Sunday. 

The sun is shining bright today. Beautiful sunrise with no clouds viewed at North Beach this morning. Most of the east coast is under 22 inches of snow. Cooler than normal here this week. Today expecting 60 or better! The weekend also looks sunny and clear. Next week in the low 70s. I need to return to Roanoke for work. Mike is hoping to return soon to spend some sunny days doing some outside Cottage Fluffing. Wish I could return with him but I can't. I am encouraging him to come and enjoy some of the warm sunny days before the Cottage is booked up. We already have bookings in March so he needs to come this month. He has some things he is needed for at home this coming week or he could just stay and I could come back for him on the following weekend. 

Hoping for a bike ride in a Laters!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

We Ran Away to Savannah/Tybee Island....

We ran away to Savannah/Tybee on Feb. 11th to out run the snow storm of the year! We just made it about 24 hours ahead of the storm that dumped snow and ice over much of the east coast. Over 12 inches so far in our hometown of Roanoke, Va.

We live at the W a renovated former Woolworth Store. Our view from the great room/terrace is the back side of the Wells tower which looks exactly the same as this shot. This is the snow storm we are thankfully missing.

We are in Savannah/Tybee for the Book and Author Festival that starts today. We decided to leave a day early to beat the snow storm. We used the extra day to continue our annual fluffing of our Tybee Cottage, Paws & Paddles. We replace things and add things each year to keep the Cottage looking great and to anticipate and special needs that our guests have. We have two dog beds since we are pet friendly, stainless large dog bowls and a fresh jar of homemade doggie treats for our pet guests.

We have replaced towels, the sea grass rug in the great room, china, place mats, dish towels, sheets, pillow cases, added a cute black stoneware platter for shrimp, or sushi, very small glass dishes for sauces, dressings, etc. Doing heavy cleaning...well Mike is doing that...wood floors, washing slip cover on the couch. A few pics.

New linen like dish towels...bought 8 to also use for napkins...those Shrimp Boils get messy! A local restaurant, SOHO, that we love does this so I stole their idea! Oyster Knives for opening those sharp difficult oyster shells!  Need to have some again soon. We have had friends who liked the oyster mirror that Mike made and want us to make them one. Love oysters so I can so do this!

Mike's Oyster Mirror.

New China...forgot to also put out the large square dinner plate...this is the salad plate and bowl. We typically only eat on the salad plates since I like to think it reduces the amount we eat...LOL!

Love this heavy black stoneware platter. If will cause those orangey fat Georgia Shrimp to pop with color on the black background. Thinking sushi would look great with a side of lavendar orchids...!

New place mats for the dining area and the sun porch table. So Tybee and mixed great with the Tybee Turquoise color on the Table!

Homemade Sour Dough Bread from our Tybee Friend John! He even brought me the starter so I can try my hand at making the bread. I have read that those of us who have problems with Gluten may be able to handle Sour Dough as long as it has been fermented! Excited.

Off to get ready to go in to Savannah for the Book Festival!  

Laters...looking for temps in the 60s+ tomorrow forward. Fingers crossed on that!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Heading to the Savannah Book Festival on Wednesday

Looking forward to heading to Savannah/Tybee for the Book Festival. Our first time attending. They are now suddenly calling for snow here maybe before we leave early Wednesday. Mike is going to be watching the weather tomorrow and if it will help we may have to leave a day early. We have tickets for two of the three events that require tickets. One on the opening day and one on the 15th which is the main deal. Most of the events are actually free! Savannah is expecting 10,000 for the festival. Hoping our expected temps in the sixities hold out and the snow doesn't dip all the way into Savannah. 

We always enjoy settling in on our big comfy king bed when we get to Paws & Paddles! Ahh...

Taking a new seagrass rug that we ordered back with us to replace the one ruined by guests. New towels added on our last trip. The Mermaids replaced two sets of sheets that also were damaged. Planning on some outdoor painting projects along with freshing up the paint on the sunporch table. If the weather permits. We  continue to replace and add things to make our guests stay as pleasant as possible. Looking at changing out the china this year if I can find something I like better than the current china and replacing some of the acylic Tybee Blue glasses that have disappeared.  We continue to get high ratings on the Cottage from guests and they frequently comment that we have thought of everything they need and then some. From a high powered blender to oyster knives! 

Thinking I like the plain white china...?

Looking forward to walking to the Lighthouse North Beach each morning to greet the sun! When we left last they were giving it a fresh new coat of paint. 

More later...