Thursday, September 28, 2006

New York, New York

New York certainly is a very busy city with people from every race and creed
living here.

We have done the Statue of Liberty thing, been up the top (as far as we were
allowed to go) of the Empire State building, seen Ground Zero, Times Square,
went to see Phantom of the Opera and shopped ‘til we dropped.

We found an altogether lovely costume jewellery store on 5th Avenue and I have added another watch to my collection. Don't ask me why, I have now bought four of them since I have been here.

Our hotel is in the midst of Broadway and not far from Times Square so there is activity, motion, horns tooting, people walking, street vendors, you name it they are there.

In the midst of all of this Linda spotted a sign – Unnecessary Noise Prohibited – oh really?

Central Park is just as lovely as anything you have ever seen in books or
movies and Linda and I went to a most wonderful restaurant there for lunch, Tavern on the Green. I had the most expensive BLT ever for lunch - about US$24 - so you can imagine what the other items on the menu were like.

This place was so lovely and fresh, bowls of fresh flowers on the tables, lots of windows and soft lighting with green outlooks towards Central Park. White d├ęcor with lots of floral paintings and an amazing array of coloured chandeliers and light fittings.

Linda and I also discovered a lovely Italian restaurant (Trattoria Daniella – 728 8th Avenue) close to our hotel and have given them quite a bit of our business. When you find a good restaurant, on your travels, it seems nice to be able to stick with it. It seemed easier than working our way through the myriads of eating houses that New York had to offer.

It would have been a crime to come to New York and be in the midst of Broadway and then not go to a show so we had to choose. Some shows were eliminated because they were not open on Monday nights and that was the only night we had available to go. Linda and I had never seen the Phantom of the Opera and it was right next door to our hotel so that is what we decided on and we did not regret our choice. It was a real treat for both of us.

A great way to get around New York, if you are there for a short time and want to get to see the inner city is to buy a pass for their double decker buses. These will take you on different loops around the city, commentators accompany the buses and add interesting detail of all the landmarks and activities going on around you. The roof has been removed from the top level so that you have open air views of the city as you move around. Most people sit up here and it is a great way to get an idea of what is going on. Be warned - it can be cold, so take a jacket at least, and be prepared to duck your head in relation to overhead traffic lights and branches of trees. You can freely pick up or get off the bus at regular intervals along the way.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

We have been fascinated with so many varied and different homes along the roadways between Dallas and Maryland.

When we arrived in Memphis we got a 'little bit lost' as we searched for the hotel we had pre booked and as a consequence saw a mix of housing in the suburbs.

We spotted a sign for a garage sale and stopped to see if there might be anything we would like to take home with us.

I came away with some jewellery - bargain priced at 50c per piece.

Across the road from the sale I spotted this home and it represented many that we had seen. Nestled amongst trees it typifies many of the homes here.

I had visited Dallas in December and it had been so brown and the trees were barren. It has been so nice to come back at a different time and with autumn approaching I am thoroughly enjoying the many trees of all shapes and sized in abundance.

Thankfully, I can add, that after quite a bit of suburban travel in Memphis, we did find our hotel.
Growing up in a very small town in New Zealand in the 50's and taking on the era of rock 'n' roll and Elvis Presley, I would never have dreamed that I would one day sit on the seat in the front of the house that Elvis Presley called home.

Linda and I enjoyed Elvis so much in those early years (not to mention our mother) and collected records, books and went to see as many of his movies as we could.

Initially we thought that the tours for Graceland had been booked out for the day we were going to be in Memphis, Tennessee but we decided to turn up before the booking office opened that day. We were second in the queue and we able to go through the building as members of the first tour of the day.

It was very satisfying to move on in our travels knowing that we had achieved what was a milestone to us.

The last few days have been very pleasant as we have worked our way east from Dallas and head towards Maryland.

Today we discovered a delightful little town called Parrottsville, Tennessee, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains and one of the earliest settlements in that area.

Although Halloween is still some weeks away we have noticed shops selling product already and some homes along the way have been decorated to varying degrees with halloween theme items.

The house in the above image is a bed and breakfast and had scarecrows and pumpkins out the front.

Just up the road from the house there was a general store totalled decked out with Halloween theme items and two benchs covered with all sorts of pumpkin and squash.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Babies are special and Moms are special too.

Feeding time between them is extra special and it has been our privilege to watch the bonding process between Lisa and Jackson at these times.

Lisa and David have taken time out to take us to a lot of eateries during our time in Dallas and this was one such occasion in an Ihop restaurant on a Saturday afternoon.

Jackson's needs are simple - at this stage he only needs his bottle and nothing off the menu.

We were told before Jackson was born that his nursery was to have a cowboy theme so appropriate fabric had to be found.

Down Under, in New Zealand, cowboy fabric is scarce and so we had to resort to sending to the United States for fabric to be sent to New Zealand so we could make up the quilt to bring it back to the States with us.

Linda was the brains behind the design of the quilt. I was happy to assist with cutting and pressing but Linda gets all the credit for putting this together and for quilting it so nicely.

The quilt looks great in his room and Mom and Dad were happy to receive this extra accessory for Jackson's room.

Of course we had to get the little man to try it out for us and we thought he looked pretty good lying on it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


A trip to the United States just had to include matters of quilting interest.

At first we looked for quilt shows but they were either before or after our scheduled visit dates.

Linda, however, spotted a Dallas Quilters Shop Hop for the time that we were going to be in Dallas and so we made enquiries about the possibility of joining a bus tour, resulting in us being able to join a lovely group of ladies for 2 days to visit quilt shops in north and south Dallas.

This proved to be an ideal way for us to meet some lovely people, get a great snapshot of the Dallas metroplex, as well as enabling us to see 13 different quilt shops.

You might think that to see one quilt shop you have seen them all but we found they each maintained individuality sufficient to keep our interest sharpened right to the end.

Our group photo was taken at the end of the second day outside Quilters' Dream the shop which hosted the bus tours and includes our delightful bus driver, Prentis.


Never let it be said that this quilt shop would like to miss an opportunity to promote for retail.

Not the only one we saw like this on our Quilt Shop Hop around Dallas.

Even the cutting room where staff were working behind the scenes preparing kits, etc., was not off limit to customers - might as well make the most of every little bit of bit of space available.
Our Claim to Fame

Some people say that everybody knows somebody who is famous.

Linda (left), Peggy (middle) and Royce (right).

We were participating in a quilt shop hop in Dallas and in one of the first stores there were fabric postcards, one with an image of Elvis Presley's face.

One of the ladies from our group looked at the postcard and said, "I know Elvis, I am from Memphis and I went to school with Elvis."

I immediately went over and stood next to her as my claim to fame that I have met somebody who knows somebody famous.

We got to talk some more with Royce during the day and she said that Elvis was very popular at school and regularly participated in the monthly school talent shows. She remembers Elvis being blonde and seemed disappointed that his publicists 'got to him' to change his hair colour.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It has been so nice for us to observe David's involvement in all facets of fatherhood, bathing Jackson as per image, babysitting, preparing baby's bottle, changing nappies and clothes and taking him out with us to shopping centres and restaurants.

Note - this lovely little baby's bath has legs, a mattress for baby to lie on, as well as an attachment at the bottom of the bath that allows you to shower the soap off baby after you have finished washing.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A trip to Dallas would not be complete without an update on our border collie, Ivey.

True to his nature, the excitement of our arrival caused young Ivey to make a little puddle on the floor.

He was so pleased to see us and there was no doubting that he remembered who we were.

The Texas summer has been so hot and so Ivey has had the shortest hair cut ever to help him to cope.

As lovable as ever, he seems to have come to terms with his lot in life here and he and Monet (the other family dog) are good companions.

Linda made a lovely meat pie last night for our dinner and Monet and Ivey just about had a fight over who might be recipient of the left overs, if there were going to be any!

David and I took the two of them for a walk in the neighbourhood last night after dark. They both still put great ghusto into their walking efforts as they both like to strain to take the lead. Ivey still manages to be the leader for the best part of journey.
We have arrived in Dallas and David was there at the airport to meet us with Jackson in tow.

Our journeying went well, in spite of conflicting and misinformation about what we were and weren't allowed to take on board our flights as carry on luggage.

We were both impressed with the refurbished Air New Zealand planes and enjoyed some of the best airline food in many a year.

Our brief sojourn in Los Angeles went well - going through customs was relatively easy and we had time to spare while we waited for our connecting flight to Dallas.

Linda commented that she felt that spending time at LA Airport showed just how much we have become a global village with so many similarities in the way people dressed. She did begin to wonder why there were so many coloured people around and then she reminded herself that she actually was in the United States of America and perhaps this may be the norm here.

Whilst I am enjoying revisiting memories of last December, it is lovely to see Linda's reaction as she makes observations on the American way of life for the first time.

Already we have had the opportunity to visit a couple of SUPERSIZE stores - Hobby Lobby and Walmart - and had a lovely lunch out at a local Thai restaurant.

Tonight Linda is introducing Lisa to the delights of a meat pie, down under style. We hope it will become another favourite, like the meat loaf from last visit.