Scarlott Letters

Just some stuff I find funny…

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History High

I started the day thinking that, after yesterday, I won’t have to do a thing to make Mother’s trip a sucess. I figure she’s still on a geneological/historical high. I’ve hidden the Cortaid, so we should be good to go. Of course, brushing your teeth with hydrocortisone is something you probably only do once.

We are staying at Greensprings Vaction Resort and it couldn’t be nicer. I do, however, have a suggestion. The master bath is large and three walls are covered by mirrors, giving an illusion of an image that goes on forever. Now, if I looked like Kate Upton I might want to see an infinite number of my naked self upon stepping out of the shower, but I do not and I don’t, so dispense with all the mirrors, Greensprings.

Most of the day was spent at historical Jamestowne. The information desk recommended the archeological tour which proved to be spot on. The archeologist giving the tour obviously loved his job. He would make a great history teacher and made the story of Jamestowne come alive. I didn’t realize that the site is still being uncovered and part of an active dig. The actual site of the fort was just discovered for the first time in 1994 and so far they have discovered over 2,000,000 artifacts. Just in the past year, they uncovered a human female skull they call Jane. The recovery of Jane proved that written reports of canabalism during what they called the “starving time” we’re indeed true. It was a depressing, but fascinating, story.

We put thoughts of canabalism behind us and spent the evening chowing down at the Williamsburg Lodge for their Seafood Fest. We went a little early so that we could see the Williamsburg Inn, which is right across the street from where we were eating. Just by chance, we ran into the manager of the place who took us on a private tour of part of the Inn. There is a beautiful grand staircase called the Queen’s Staircase because Queen Elizabeth used it during both of her stays at the Williamsburg Inn, in 1957 and 50 years later in 2007. According to our guide, the Williamsburg Inn is the only hotel that the Queen has stayed in more than once. He let Mother and I have our picture made in the same spot as the Queen. Finally! Our royalty has been acknowledged.

The dinner that Julia treated us to was fantastic…all the shrimp, crab, salmon, oysters and prime rib you could eat. Add a great bottle of wine and a desert bar and we needed to be rolled back to the car. It will take a couple of weeks to undo my gastronomic sins this week.

I must say that the people of Virginia have been inordinately warm and exceedingly polite at every turn. Not a single person has been unpleasant, and that includes store clerks, security men, waiters and Inn managers. The ticks have been less pleasant as Julia found one of the little suckers on her back tonight. Eww… The vodka came in handy once again as we used it hoping the tick would want to come out for a drink. Baring that, it made a nice disinfectant. 

Ticks aside, we had a great time. Thanks to Julia for coming with us and for being our chauffeur. She did a fantastic job when she wasn’t almost running down pedestrians with baby carriages…but that was just that once. It was an honor to fulfill my Mother’s dream, but best of all it puts me way ahead of my brothers on the suck-up scale. They may never catch up.  It’s a win-win.



Surely, Shirley, I’m Almost a Princess

Imagine if you will, my Mother jumping up and down, clapping her hands and squealing “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh. My. God!” That was the gist of her reaction at seeing a road sign on the way to the Shirley Plantation this morning. The fact we were in the car on a narrow road with no shoulder, nor were expecting an outburst, didn’t deter her in the least. I’ll get back to the cause of the squealing in a moment.

The Shirley Plantation is on the James River and has been lived in by the same family since 1638. The eleventh generation is living in the second and third stories of the house now. It is also the only plantation in Virginia that was not burned during the Civil War because it was used as a hospital for Union troops. The house was almost as stunning as the 350 year old oak tree in the back. There were priceless family portraits on almost every wall, so imagine my surprise when we discovered that the portrait hanging over the dining room fireplace was that of Elizabeth Byrd, who married into the family about three generations into the story and is my great great great great great great grandmother. I am kind of bummed that I was not mentioned in the will.

I should back up a moment to explain that my Mother is heavily involved in geneology. She has tried to get one of her offspring to become interested and take over the research, to no avail. She had no idea before we saw the portrait in the dining hall that we had ties to the Shirley Plantation. What a surprise.

Now to the part about the squealing. I’d try to think of another word, but nothing else adequately describes it. A few miles before we reached the Shirley Plantation, there was a sign about the Westover Church and Plantation. Mother knew it was in Virginia but had no idea that it was in the immediate area, hence the squealing. The Westover Plantation plays heavily into the family lineage, which I would know if I was involved in the geneology stuff. It was owned by William Byrd, who was my great grandpappy several times removed. If you’re keeping up by flowchart or family tree, it was a Byrd girl who married the owner of the Shirley Plantation. My great grandmother’s maiden name was Byrd. Her middle name was Armenta. That’s not really germaine to the story, but Armenta? Really? Anyway, turns out I’m kind of a big deal. Who knew? 

The late afternoon and evening was spent in Newport News. One of my Mother’s great granddaughters, Bella, lives there now and it’s only about 20 miles from Williamsburg. We surprised her and picked her up after school. Mother spoiled her with a shopping trip and dinner. It was great getting to see her!

Now for one final story. Mother’s teeth must have been feeling a little itchy, so she decided to start her day by brushing her teeth with Cortaid. At least it wasn’t Preparation-H. I think it took about 30 minutes of rinsing her mouth with water to get rid of the taste when a bottle of Grey Goose was within easy reach. Her problem solving skills are sadly lacking.


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I’ve Got Friends in Old Places

You might think our first stop on our first morning in historic Williamsburg would be someplace, well, historic. Not so. Instead, we stopped by a Batteries Plus Bulbs store because Julia left the battery pack for her camera charging…in Wichita Falls. While she ran in to get a battery, I noticed that just down from us was a Medifast Clinic, which was right next to Duck Donuts. Talk about being conflicted, not to mention cruel. What in the hell are Duck Donuts anyway? Are they actually made from duck or simply sponsored by those guys from Duck Dynasty? I just don’t know.

Once Julia’s camera issue was resolved, we headed out to Colonial Williamsburg so that Mother could reconnect with old friends like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. And let me tell you, Jefferson is not very happy about what we’ve done lately to the Constitution. I must admit that I developed a liking for knee pants and stockings. I have a thing for men’s legs…and arms, and behinds, and…well, you get the picture. I don’t think that was what I was supposed to be getting from the whole colonial experience, but there you go. I’m a cretin. I’d like to find Joe a pair of knickers, but the closest I’ve come is a pair of yoga tights. Not the same thing at all.

We toured the Governor’s Palace and walked through a good deal of Colonial Williamsburg, stopping to eat fish and chips at Dog Street Pub. There was some shopping in the area, so of course, we had to browse for a while. One of the things you don’t expect to see in the marketplace at Colonial Williamsburg is Talbots. I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t filled with long aprons and bonnets, but alas, it was the same stuff I could find in Midland.

We spent a good deal of time at the Bruton Parrish Church, which is the second oldest church in the U.S. and has had uninterrupted services since it began back before the Revolutionary War. ¬†Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe were all members. There are still over 2000 members and they have four or five services every Sunday. I know all this because the docent that was talking to us was from Dallas and was glad to be talking to someone besides a “Yankee.”

Our favorite purchase of the day was from The Peanut Shop and came in the form of White Chocolate Cashew Toffee Brittle, or as we like to call it “crack.” We had to go to dinner just to quit eating it, which is pretty ironic if you think about it.

Mother has been a real trouper. I think we came close to wearing her butt out today, but she never threw in the towel and asked to go back to the condo. I am impressed. We’ll have to do see if we can do better tomorrow.


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Eastbound and Down

Mother was up at approximately 3 a.m. for our 10:45 flight to Dallas. I think she’s excited, or nervous, or both. ¬†Getting through security at an airport the size of Wichita Falls should have been a piece of cake. The metal detector turned out to be a little too complicated. Mother didn’t realize you were supposed to simply walk through. The first couple of times she stopped dead in the middle of it, which of course, set it off. The agent finally just waved her on through, deciding she wasn’t much of a threat if she had trouble getting through the metal detector. Once she made it through the first hurdle, she decided to chat it up with the TSA agents about how much things have changed since the last time she flew…while the line behind us got backed up. First rule, do not make eye contact with the TSA agents, unless you like the pat downs. Second rule, do not slow down the line unless you want to get on the plane with a bunch of disgruntled passengers.

Once on the flight to Richmond, Mother told Julia and I that she was buying us enough drinks to “make us feel good.” Apparently, she does not know my tolerance for alcohol. If she did, she would realize that she didn’t bring enough money. I forgot for a minute that I wasn’t in first class and asked the flight attendant if he could go the back and whip me up a strawberry daquiri. He declined. This is the reason I like sitting up front.

We found our condo without any problem. It’s in a nice gated community. The guy at the registration desk handed me and key cards, along with a map and then told me the building was “up the hill” and that we were on the third floor. What the hell? Luckily, once we caught our breath, it turned out the place was very nice. But when we leave, I’m tossing the bags off the balcony and they can roll down the hill to our car.

We ate at the Bonefish Grill and the lobster was excellent. Not as excellent at the pumkin creme brulee, but really, really good just the same. The top picture is of our creme brulee as delivered to our table. The second is about a half a minute later. I’ve been dieting and just hit my goal just last week. That didn’t last long.