In the morning of day two, I woke up at 8:00 Texas time, and no matter how sternly I tried to explain to my body that it was only 7:00 in Athens, I could not coax myself back to sleep. So I made myself a cup of coffee, and went out the back door to sit in a lawn chair to read. (It might have been a little wet, but oh well). Once my hosts began to stir, we got our showers and dressed, and went to The Grit for breakfast. This is a vegetarian restaurant at which you will not be asking, “Where’s the beef?” because you will not miss it. I had the omelet special of the day, which was of Mediterranean ilk, with lemon goat cheese. Jenny ordered their french toast made with homemade whole wheat bread, and Caleb ordered a side of whole wheat biscuits to go with his omelet. We shared. :).Now, anyone who knows me, knows I am pretty proud of my biscuits. I can make a biscuit, I tell you. Well, The Grit chef can also make a biscuit. All the food was great, but the cherry on the top of the proverbial whipped cream was the discovery that they serve a very fine black tea; PG Tips to be exact. If you are happy with any old Lipton teabag, then this will mean nothing to you. But if you are a tea drinker of discerning taste, you know how hard it is to find a restaurant that understands what it takes to make a tea drinker happy. It starts with a good tea bag, followed by a real milk product (no powder, please!) The only preference they missed for me was to serve it in a mug instead of a wide mouth cup that allows the tea to cool too quickly. I want it to scald on the way down. I was thrilled with this establishment’s commitment to fresh local ingredients of the highest quality. They taste better, and they are better for you. This practice seems to be a trend in many Athens restaurants.
Once we had finished breakfast (brunch is more like it), we went and toured University of Georgia. I got to see Jenny’s new office and the classrooms where she teaches. As we looked around and I heard her talk about her students and the other faculty members, I couldn’t help but think of all the difficulties she had fought through to earn her doctorate. I was reminded of the job search that was full of anticipations, disappointments, confusions, and frustrations. It was here that the beginnings of my post on Ebenezers had its conception. How thankful I was to see where the Lord had brought Caleb and Jenny thus far. Here, where Jenny is finally seeing her dreams materialize. Here, where Caleb already had connections with the financial planning department at the University. Here, in a town that has so much to offer in terms of just being a neat place to live. Here, where they have such a beautiful house and good friends and a good church family. My heart was full of thanksgiving.
After taking a driving tour of the rest of campus, we stopped at Georgia Museum of Art. The featured display that day was on Ann Taylor, the clothing designer. Having spent the two years prior to the stroke working at a consignment shop that dealt with women’s designer clothing, and wishing I had the money to dress exclusively in Ann Taylor creations, I was quite excited about the prospect of learning more about the lady behind the clothes. She was a strong woman who seemed to have a zest for life. She never considered her age or her gender as deterrents to learning something new. That is the kind of woman I want to be (and if I can do it in pretty clothes and shoes, all the better). There was a display of much of her wardrobe (so many pairs of boots!). Jenny kept having to remind me we were not supposed to touch the displays.
The rest of the museum was filled with a variety of modern and classic art pieces. Some of it was beautiful, some fascinating, some funny, and some just confusing. I learned that oil paintings are better viewed from a distance. Up close, I am distracted by the brushstrokes and lack of definition. But if I step back from it a ways, the layers of paint take on a third dimension. I have never been a very big fan of this type of art, but I think I will appreciate it more, now that I know to take a step back.
From the museum we made our way to the State Botanical Garden. I was so thankful that the rain that had been forecast for the entire weekend decided to hold back for us. We enjoyed walking around among the plants, continuing to visit and just enjoy a relaxing time together. I was gratified to find a sign that spoke of plants with healing properties – a term I have been ridiculed for using a bit too often. It was good to just be out in the sunshine enjoying the beauty of creation.
Back at the house, we put our feet up napped a little, snacked a little, and visited. This time the conversation was mostly about Caleb’s business. I am so impressed with the way he has developed his own business (with the help of a great partner), and the hard work he is putting into making it thrive. Once again I found myself thinking along the lines of Ebenezers. I remembered a year early on in Caleb’s college career when he had no idea what he wanted to do or how he was going to get there. Then a professor came into Caleb’s place of employment for help with a home improvement project and proceeded to recruit him for the Family Financial Planning program at Texas Tech. From that time forward, a series of contacts and opportunities that resulted from Caleb’s hard work and God’s grace brought him to see a niche that needed filling by him. Thus New Planner Recruiting was born.
As we visited, we noticed that a very quiet Jenny had a look of disappointment on her face as she read an email off her phone. She shared with us a bit of what she read, and I could see that she was experiencing that, “this is bad and I don’t know how to fix it” feeling. I wanted to share with her all that was germinating and taking root in my thinking about how the Lord had been faithful to bring them to this place. I wanted to encourage her that this new thing was not too big for God. But the seed was still too immature to be expressed, and I ended up spouting some trite platitude. Some day I hope to learn to be quiet until I know what I want to say, but it didn’t happen that day.
Sweet Jenny was able to take a few moments to gather herself, and then put on a good face of joining in the fun once again. We set off for supper, which was to take place at one of a couple of options, depending on the crowds. We ended up at Trappeze Pub, known for its large variety of good beers. As an example of how seriously they take their beers, I will tell you that our waitress stumbled a bit on the day’s food specials that she was reading off her ticket pad. But when asked about a couple of the beers on their list that changes daily, she spoke as if she had spent years becoming the expert on every option. I opted for the quinoa salad, and a cocktail made with grapefruit juice ( a sea breeze, perhaps? Can’t remember the name for sure). We also ordered sweet potato fries with garlic aioli. I watch a lot of cooking shows, and have often heard of aioli. It is quite wonderful, I must say, on fries, and on the tip of my little finger. The salad was good, although I do wish I had asked for the dressing on the side. But if the worst thing I can say about my trip to Athens is that there was too much dressing on my salad, I would say that is pretty good. I enjoyed the cocktail, but wished I could appreciate beer enough to have sampled something off their extensive menu.
At the end of a very full day, we went home, had a bowl of chocolate ice-cream, and went to bed. Sadly, I did not sleep as well that night, but it was nice to know that when I did get to sleep I would not be woken by anyone else. Another good day away.
Moments to remember.