Tuesday at the Masters

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[Editor’s Note: Continuing to update the blog for our South Carolina trip earlier this month – a few days left and then we’re back to new trips!]

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Today was extra special – introducing Frank to a long-time Spring tradition of visiting the Augusta National Golf Club, home to the world famous Masters.

I grew up about 15 miles from Augusta, so this was just our local golf tournament.  Sure, we knew it was on TV and sometimes celebrities even came.  But to us, it was just the time of year when our local schools had Spring Break, men wore green jackets to church on Sunday, and we all piled in the car to go to the practice rounds.  I remember my sister and I following Seve Ballesteros (my all-time favorite) around hole after hole and even getting his autograph.

Nowadays, the Masters has grown to an international affair and tickets are super hard to come by.  My parents were lucky enough to 4 snag tickets to the Tuesday practice rounds and invited us down.

Skipping on the 16th Hole

Whether or not you are a golf fan, everyone agrees that the Augusta National is just beautiful.  When you step through the gates, you know you are somewhere special.  No cell phones are allowed at all – you have to check them at the gate if you bring one. And everyone talks in hushed tones.  This is where golf history is made.

We walked from hole to hole and finally parked ourselves on our favorite – Hole 16.  We love this hole because it has a long stretch of water between the tee and hole.  On practice round days, it is a tradition that the golfers “skip” the ball across.  The crowd roars if someone skips multiple times and the ball still makes it to the green.  One foursome even hit their balls all at the same time.  It is a fun hole.

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The 16th Hole Turtle

Another highlight on 16 is to watch the turtles.  Several live in the pond and sun themselves on the side, oblivious to the fact that an internationally famous tournament is going on around them.

This year, though, a little turtle decided to check things out.  He crawled up the embankment, seemed to look both ways, and then crept hesitantly toward the big (to him) white ball that had landed with a thud right beside him.  We all held our breath.

A few seconds later, a gallery guard approached.  The turtle took one look at the man, seemed to recognize him, abruptly turned around, and hightailed it back toward the water as the crowd cheered it on.  I have never seen a turtle move so fast!  He didn’t make it, and the guard picked him up and helped him back in the water. It looked like this “contest” between the two has happened before.

All afternoon, the talk was not of Jordan Speith, Phil Mickelson, or Bubba Watson – but the little turtle on the 16th Hole at Augusta.

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For the finale of our trip through the South – we are ending up in my hometown of Aiken, South Carolina.  Aiken is a perfect Southern town with wide streets, huge oak trees, and in the spring, blooming azaleas and dogwoods everywhere.

In the 1930s, wealthy Northerners brought their horses to Aiken for the good winter climate (we call them the “Winter Colony”), and Aiken is still a center of equestrian activities.  There is polo most Sunday afternoons, steeplechase a couple time a year, and daily training runs where bright-eyed young horses learn the ropes of how to race.   My high school mascot was the Thoroughbred.  (The pictures above were taken in downtown Aiken, where there are horse statues scattered around, like the New York “Cows on Parade” of a few years ago.)

We spent a wonderful few days with my parents, Sherman and Edith.  I feel so lucky that Frank and my parents get along so well.  We have all traveled together down the Scottish canals by barge, across the Atlantic Ocean on the Queen Mary 2, and through the South of France by train and bus.  We also have been through my breast cancer and related surgeries, so have all gotten really close.

My mom is an expert gardener and has turned our yard into a haven. She and Frank set out on a project to bring a rusty bench that had been relegated to the very back of the yard back to life.   Cindy and crew had helped with the scraping of the bench during their visit earlier, so this really was a family affair!   This bench was particularly special to my mom because one of her best friends and fellow teachers, Diane Shook, had given it to her years ago.  Mrs. Shook passed away in 2014 and I think probably loved looking down on everyone coming together to work on her bench.

It turned out beautiful thanks to everyone’s hard work!  And now that little bench will carry such fun and special memories of all of us.

We celebrated by bringing our lawn chairs out at dusk and toasting spring in Aiken.

And Next Up – Introducing Frank to our hometown golf tournament, one of the main reasons for our visit – THE MASTERS!

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Theta Ladies

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Author’s Note: We actually are home now, but we were so busy socializing in South Carolina that I am behind on blogs.  But don’t worry – I will spend the next several days updating all of our fun excursions.  We want to remember every moment.


When I left off, I was showing Frank around Columbia, SC, home of the University of South Carolina, my alma mater.  And I saved the best for last – tonight, he got to meet the ladies of Kappa Alpha Theta.

I had told Frank (before we got engaged) all about the Thetas and how, in college, when a girl got “pinned” to a fraternity man, we had a candle passing ceremony.  It had never happened to me.  So one night he surprised me and had a tiny present for me – his fraternity pin (Alpha Phi Delta).  Sigh.

Celebrating the Two Fools

Well, I didn’t have a candle passing, but I did get to introduce Frank to the South Carolina Thetas.  I had emailed some of them about getting together for dinner when we were in town and they surprised me by putting together a “Two Fools In Love Celebration” party- how fabulous!

My college roommate and her husband, Christi and Ray, hosted us in their beautiful new home.  I was in their wedding years ago, so was extra special that they were helping us celebrate our marriage.  Christi and Ray have three amazing kids, whom I have watched grow up, so I was so glad that they dropped in to meet Frank, too.  Graham and Mary Stewart are in 9th grade, and Ellis is in 5th grade.

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The other hosts for the evening were:

  • Debbie and Bruce (whose wedding I was in as well) – Debbie and I walked the Breast Cancer 3-Day together a few years ago (spending a very rainy couple of nights in a tent) and have had many other adventures.  She is always up for anything.  She and Bruce have visited me on both boats – we go way back.


  • Marcia and Brian – Marcia was Theta’s Financial Advisor when I was Treasurer.  She was a CPA and one of my mentors to help me decide on a major and to go into accounting and then eventually law.  She and Brian travel the world and always have good stories.  (Brian’s family is from Southern Italy, so he and Frank shared stories about that.)


  • Helen and Chuck – Helen was our Advisory Council Chairman and a lot of fun, while being the perfect Southern lady.  She and Marcia have even visited me in DC.  I babysat her kids during college – who are now grown-ups (and one is married!).  So I loved hearing where everyone ended up

These ladies did a super job and were able to round up a bunch of other Thetas (and a few non-Thetas) for an impromptu rendezvous.  Some I hadn’t seen since college!  It was so much fun  to catch up with everyone that I forgot to take pictures until the very end.  Thank you to everyone who came!

And especially thank you to Christi, Debbie, Marcia & Helen.  Now I am inspired to work on a Theta reunion!

Columbia, South Carolina

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Frank and I are on our swing through the South so that I can introduce my Brooklyn-born husband to family and friends back home. To get in the Southern spirit, I told him that I would first take him for the very best barbecue in the state (at least I think so).  He seemed a little doubtful as we drove and drove through one small town after another – definitely off the beaten path.


Finally, we turned the corner in Batesburg, SC to Shealy’s BBQ. While many in the Carolinas brag about vinegar-based barbecue, those of us in my neck of the woods know that mustard-based barbecue is the best, and I think Shealy’s has the best mustard sauce around.

We got there about 2 pm and the place was still packed with cars and a line almost out the door.  You go through the line – which includes a sink, so you can wash your hands before you eat – and pay up front – $10 per adult, including drinks.  They have an enormous buffet with pulled pork, ribs, fried chicken, and country vegetables, plus a salad and dessert bar (very good banana pudding).  Frank even ordered sweet tea.  He is now a big fan of South Carolina home cooking. (We waddled out and forgot to take any pictures – sorry!)

Carolina Gamecocks

I spent 8 years at the wonderful University of South Carolina – for undergrad, graduate school, and law school. I had so much fun driving around and showing Frank all the sights – my dorms, the historic Horseshoe, and the State House (where I clerked). We even swung by the stadium with its Cock-a-Booses (retired cabooses) for tailgating. We are the Carolina Gamecocks, and this genteel Southern town is adorned with more than a few innocent references to our mascot – the most Baptist, Junior League, Southern Belle down here doesn’t bat an eye to yelling out “Go Cocks!” when cheering on the team. Frank nearly fell on the floor the first time I did. : )

I also took Frank to two of my old favorite places – California Dreaming for lunch – the place my parents always took me when they visited. And Goatfeathers for drinks – although now it is just called “Goats.” Back in the day, it was the height of sophistication (at least in my eyes). Almost 20 years later, I had apparently forgotten the red lights strung up and the graffiti-covered wine bottles lining the wall. But it was as lively as ever and brought back lots of good memories.

Cola Goat

1425 Inn

We are staying at a charming B&B in downtown Columbia – the 1425 Inn (since it is at 1425 Richland Street). It is an old Victorian home and features local art on all the walls – so also a gallery of sorts.  Our room has a king bed, sitting area, and chandelier.  They have a cocktail hour each evening and delicious breakfast in the morning. I highly recommend if you venture this way.

And tonight – the best of all – my college roommate, Christi, is hosting us as I introduce Frank to the ladies of Kappa Alpha Theta! I hope he is ready for this!


Blue Ridge Parkway

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Easter Cone II

We have had a very relaxing stay at the mountain house.  Cindy and the girls returned to school in Ohio, so it has just been me, Frank, and my parents this week.

I am working from the road, so have set up an office in the basement, and we are all reading, working (me), fishing (Frank), and visiting.  We did a huge shopping trip our first day so mainly are cooking dinner at the house each night.  The view is incredible so most fun to just sit on the big porch, have a glass of wine, and talk.

There is even a media room so we watched basketball and Dancing With the Stars (my parent’s favorite) on a giant TV.  A perfect low-key week.

Easter porch

We did take a day off to sightsee.  Daddy took us on a side trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway – he knows these roads inside out from many prior trips.  We drove up, up, up and took in wonderful panoramic views.  We stopped at the Moses Cone House, which is a former mansion donated by the owner to the National Park Service and now houses a collection of shops of local artisans.

Then we continued to Blowing Rock, where we walked around and had lunch at spot overlooking a canyon that claims it used to be a speakeasy back in the day and when they were raided, patrons ran to the side of the building, slid down a pole and rolled down the ridge.

We have had a great week together.  But our trip is not over.  It is now time to take Frank on a tour of some of my favorite spots in South Carolina and introduce him around.  First stop – Columbia, home of my alma mater – the University of South Carolina.

Easter Fish

Easter at the Mountains

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We are having so much fun that I am a little behind on blogs, so bear with me . . . .

Holly and I had a grand “Ten-Year Old Trip” last week to Disney World.  But while we were away, her sisters were having fun, too.

Lacey (age 14) and Ashley (age 6) spent their Spring Break with my parents (AKA LaLa & PaPa), along with my sister, Cindy (their mom).  They kept sending Holly and me texts of the fun time they were having – see picture above.

Spring Break in Aiken

The whole group shopped, ate out, and visited.  They also saw the new Zootopia movie and had the entire theatre to themselves – a private showing.

The highlight was helping LaLa plant her spring garden.  LaLa and PaPa have a beautiful yard full of flowers, yard ornaments, birds, and squirrels.  LaLa works very hard on it.  She took the girls to the nursery to select flowers and design their own beds.  Then they went to work planting.  LaLa promises to send pictures as the garden grows.

Easter Garden all

To the Mountains

For Easter weekend, we all met up again – even Frank, who flew down from Annapolis – and headed out to the Blue Ridge Mountains.  We rented a lakehouse on Lake James, which had incredible views and even a fishing dock for our favorite fisherman (Frank).

Easter Lake

On Saturday night, we all gathered for a much anticipated event – The Birthday Party!  This is where we celebrate everyone’s birthday that has occurred since Christmas, complete with cake and gifts.

Talent Show

My favorite part of the weekend was a talent show performed by the girls.  The even had programs for us.

Lacey played several Disney numbers on her clarinet, with dance accompaniment by Ashley.

Lacey is a very good clarinetist and was invited to join the high school marching band even as an 8th grader – AND she is playing my old clarinet so is continuing the legacy.  She also is an excellent ice skater so the program included video clips of her recent performances – her synchro team is going to Nationals next month.  Wow!

Ashley takes ballet and also piano – she contends that piano is her main instrument but she hopes to pay clarinet one day, too.

Holly danced numbers for us from “The Nutcracker.”  She has performed in the holiday ballet the last two years and was recently promoted to be “en pointe” – she brought her new toe shoes for us to see.

Easter Holly

We are going to miss this crowd when they depart back to Ohio.  My parents, Frank, and I are sticking around, but the house will be awfully quiet.

Easter house