Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Birthday, Derby Day and Something That Didn’t Work Out but Did

Got my husband off on his golf trip yesterday morning (phew!).  We weren’t sure if he would make it (will fill you in on that later), but he did.  What a relief!

Miss Kiri Kat Ready for a Trip with Daddy

Of course, it’s a good thing he checked his golf bag before he left or he would have discovered a furry white stowaway when he arrived, which could have been “cat”astrophic given the careless way airline companies have been handling pets these days; but I digress. 

Anyway, I finally have time to sit down and catch you all up on a few things – a birthday, Derby Day and something that didn’t work out but did.  Does that make sense? 

Our Birthday Group celebrated another birthday in April.  This time it was Linda’s.  The weather had been so nasty that we were really looking forward to spring.  And since Linda has a beautiful garden, it seemed only natural that the theme of the birthday party should be “A Garden Party.”  If you look closely you will see my handwritten green note (in my quirky handwriting) saying “Welcome to my Garden Party.”  Pier 1 Imports had the most delightful selection of spring/summer garden decorations, and I give them full credit for the seasonal inspiration. 

The 144th Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, saw winning horse Justify crossing the finishing line on a wet and sloppy track.  While we did not make it to Kentucky for the event, we had a fabulous time at Tavistock Country Club’s annual Derby Day Fête, complete with Mint Juleps, Derby Coolers, a Dixie Land Band and ladies in extravagant hats. 

Here I am (on the left) with Birthday Girl Linda.  You will notice I am holding a glass of rosé, as I am not a fan of Bourbon, the main ingredient in Mint Juleps and the Derby Cooler.  My entire outfit was put together with some of my favorite pieces that I have been mixing and matching for years.  You may recognize the dress from our trip to Bayreuth last year. 

This blue straw hat that I’ve had for more than 25 years started out perfectly plain until I ransacked the house grabbing things from my dresser drawers and snipping bits of dried flower arrangements. 

I did not win the hat contest this year, as I had five years ago with this dramatic black hat I had decorated with feathers, flowers and pins, but I was very pleased with the results and got lots of compliments on my ensemble. 

To my left is Anna, my elegant Hungarian friend.  Anna is part of a group of friends I call the Culture Vultures.  We go anywhere and everywhere for operas, musical events, lectures, art exhibits, etc.  To my right is Anna’s friend Sally, whom I’ve been dying to meet for some time. 

Sally is one amazing lady!  While still in college, she was bitten by the travel bug, which in Sally’s case resulted in an incurable disease. She spent ten years as an overseas Flight Attendant (called Stewardesses in those days) for Pan Am based out of Miami and New York.  When her husband was transferred to Philadelphia, she opened her own Travel Agency, Travel Anywhere, at 111 South Independence Mall East in Philadelphia. 

At an age when most people are slowing down and thinking about moving to retirement communities, Sally is NOT slowing down and is moving all over the world as she arranges tours for her clients and takes groups on guided tours giving them the benefit of her 50 plus years of travel expertise as she introduces them to some of her favorite spots.  Along the way, Sally found time to have five children who have given her 15 grandchildren all of whom find it difficult to keep up with this diminutive dynamo. 

As Sally puts it, “HERE I AM…50 years later…living travel, loving travel and enjoying a lovely, lively life.”  And so she does!!!  And, boy, does she have some fabulous stories!! 

Bar Room at the Modern --  Photo by Robert Wright for The New York Times
The following weekend we were to be in New York.  Dan’s birthday was actually in late April, but he wanted to celebrate in New York, so I made dinner reservations in The Bar Room at the Modern, the restaurant attached to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Diana Damrau and Vittorio Grigolo as Roméo and Juliette
The next day we were scheduled to see Roméo et Juliette (by Gounod) at the Metropolitan Opera.  It would be our last opera of the Season and we were looking forward to going out on a high note.  It didn’t quite work out as planned. 

On Thursday morning, the day before we were to leave, Dan woke up with a violent attack of Vertigo.  This was not the first time he’s been through this, but it was by far the worst episode to date.  I won’t go into the unpleasant details, but by that night he was still unable to raise his head without getting dizzy and having to bolt to the bathroom. 

By 10:30 that night I knew that New York was not in the cards for us, so I called my friend Earline.  Earline is one busy lady with an active immediate family and a huge extended family.  There are, to say the least, lots of comings and goings in her life on a daily basis.  In addition, her husband, Bill, is a Pediatric Cardiologist who, when he’s not seeing patients, is either on call or involved in consultations.  Clearly it was a last minute long shot, but the thought of those tickets going to waste would have made a bad situation even worse.  

Could they use the tickets?  “Oh, and one more thing,” I said, “if you can make it to New York tomorrow, Friday, you can use our room at The Manhattan Club.  It’s already reserved and paid for and if we don’t use it, it will go to waste.”  (I hate it when things do that!)  I knew this was REALLY a long shot, even longer than the horse I bet on in the Derby that came in dead last.  I think he’s still running! 

There was silence for a moment or two and then Earline said, “I’ll call Bill at the office and get back to you.”  A few minutes later she called.  Yes, they could use the tickets and the room. 

Bill and Earline in front of Roméo et Juliettte Billboard at Lincoln Center
So, after scrambling to get things done ahead of time, Bill and Earline left the next day for an unexpected weekend in New York, the City where they had met, fallen in love, married and had their first child.  And in a beautiful twist of fate, it was also their anniversary weekend. 

Bill Checking in to The Manhattan Club

I guess you could say that it was something that didn’t work out for us but did for them.  Life’s funny and wonderful that way. 

For more information on Sally Sells’ Travel Agency, Travel Anywhere, check out her website or contact her at (215) 923-4300 x232. 


  1. Love your blog and so happy that the tickets and room were used in your absence. I loved how that worked out for all!

    1. Dan and I were so happy that they not only did not go to waste, but that our dear friends were able to enjoy them. That's what I call making a delicious lemonade out of sour lemons. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

      Cheers, M-T

  2. That would have been such a wonderful trip. So sorry that you missed it, but how very delightful for Bill and Earline. I have been lucky enough to get to the Met Opera a couple of times and it always delights. They respect their audience and put on a wonderful piece of extravagant theatre. We most recently saw Turandot and it was superlative. So nice that it doesn't follow the appalling trend of putting on ugly and disrespectful productions that some opera directors delight in, trying to 'shock' their audience.

    1. It would have been a terrific weekend for us, Melissa, but it wasn't in the cards and there's always next season. I already have my tickets in hand for the 2018-19 season and it looks very good.

      That Turandot is, indeed, fantastic. I never tire of seeing it and the audience absolutely ooohs and aaaahs when the curtain goes up on that palace scene. Wow!!

      The Met periodically tries to shove those dreadful productions down its audience's collective throat, but half empty houses have made management rethink some of the most egregious offenders. Still, we ended up w/a really pointless, annoying and downright silly new production of "Cosi fan Tutte" this year that even the critics panned. Bet they'll rethink that one, too, eventually; but, by and large, we have been blessedly free of the worst of Eurotrash at the Met. Remember my blog post on the "Ring Cycle" at Bayreuth that we saw last year? Beyond disgustingly dreadful!!!!!

      As always, love hearing from you.

      Cheers, M-T

  3. A lovely gesture for your friends. I LOVE your outfit!!! I have outfit envy looking at you. Very lovely

    1. They were thrilled, and I was so happy to be able to offer it to them. That's so funny -- outfit envy!! I love it. Sometimes everything just comes together the way you envision it. Don't you just love that?

      I did not win the hat contest this year, but maybe I should have one the "Ensemble" contest, if they had had one. (LOL).

      As always, thank so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

      Cheers, M-T

  4. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Wow, that sure worked out for your dear friends and it was meaningful in many ways!
    Oh, Vertigo I've had badly in 2007 and it is awful for getting so dizzy by moving your head. Glad it never came back in that severity. We do have a good friend here who suffers from it, he even had surgery done to his ear and got a Cochlear implant but all that did not make it go away...
    Love your elegant hat, beautiful outfit all together but of course, that's you at your very best!
    Sending you hugs,

  5. Dearest Mariette,

    There is something about an elegant hat that absolutely makes an outfit, don't you think? I love wearing them.

    So sorry to hear you, too, suffered an attack of vertigo. It's truly awful. Glad it has not returned. Sad about your friend who went to the extreme of getting a Cochlear implant to no avail.

    Hope your health is back to normal by now. I know you have had a rocky road lately.

    Bises, M-T

    1. Thanks dearest Marie-Thérèse and on top of it all I had a severe gout attack and a lot of pain... had to tough it out, cannot take painkillers due to my kidneys; which had gone down 3% also! But I'm very well on the mend and learned a lot about the correct diet for deacidification.

  6. How lovely that your tickets gave friends a memorable night out on their wedding anniversary. That part couldn't have worked out any better.

    The Kentucky Derby is a topic close to my heart. I love watching it and being part of a Derby party. I did select the winning horse. I'm sure it's because I didn't have any money riding on my pick.

    My mother lost the hearing in one eye. It happened suddenly and doctors couldn't determine why, but it was paired with Vertigo. Until she experienced it, I didn't know much about it. How incapacitating the condition is. She was afraid to make before noon appointments, even for the purpose of going to the doctor for checkups for fear she couldn't go. I hope your Dan is fully recovered from his attack.

    Enjoy the weekend, M-T,


    1. Dear Debbie, I am so sorry to hear about your mother's hearing loss. Vertigo is brutal and unpredictable. Dan has not had an attack since the last one, but he lives in constant fear that the next one is around the corner. His first major attack was about a month before we left for the Wagner Opera Festival in Bayreuth last summer. Everything had been arranged and paid for and we were afraid we wouldn't make it, but we did. This attack was even worse.

      I got some great feedback and medical suggestions from my wonderful readers who contacted me privately to let me know that they or someone close to them had gone through this. I am so grateful to have that information.

      The next step is getting a stubborn husband to go back to the doctor for follow-up, which usually means I will make the appointment and he will show up whether he likes it or not (LOL).

      Always enjoy your comments, Debbie.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

  7. Hats are such a beautiful and lovely tradition. You look lovely in yours. xo

    1. I am definitely a lover of tradition, Deborah. The truth is that we ladies always look great in hats, as we have for centuries. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

      Cheers, M-T

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