Since we wouldn't be paying daycare for the last two weeks of December, and with some monetary birthday gifts from his parents and mine, Noah and I took an overnight trip to Wilmington for his birthday (which was Sunday, when he turned the big 2-6).
And guess what children? We saw Santa on our way out of town.
Apparently he drives a GMC Envoy. Sorry about the poor photo quality. I don't have a camera phone, and our digital camera is ancient and the size of a brick, so it was difficult to be discreet. Especially with Noah laughing hysterically in the driver's seat.
We stayed at a little B&B in the historic neighborhood, and had a great time saying things like "did you just toot in the historical bed?" or "don't spill your drink in the historical bed" or "look at that historical digital alarm clock." I have to say, it was the same price as staying in a hotel and way better, including the three-course candlelight breakfast of fresh fruit; homemade, fresh-baked muffins; and french toast with cranberry maple syrup and sausages. (You may not care about the details of our breakfast, but I always enjoy a bit of culinary exposition in my literature, so I thought I'd include it, in case you're the same.)
Also, in a hotel we wouldn't have had the pleasure of meeting The World's Gayest Married Man, the innkeeper. Now in my life I've known some married men who have turned out to be gay. But this man, wedded to a very nice woman and with a teenage daughter, was truly courteous, lovely and delightful as only a gay man can be. He was also way more feminine than me. I can't imagine him ever finding toots in historical beds to be an overwhelmingly funny thing.
We walked around Airlie Gardens, which were decorated with Christmas lights. Though it was difficult to feel Capra-ishly Christmasey in the 70 degree weather, it was still rather charming. Plus, we saw a tree that we'd love to have in our yard, only to have our hopes dashed upon learning that particular tree is more than 400 years old. We were disappointed with our arboricultural ignorance.
Let me stop here for a brief restaurant review. Indochine in Wilmington: GO THERE. It's the best Vietnamese/Thai food you will. ever. have.
The non-cookery highlight of our trip was our Saturday morning visit to The Bali House. It's a Balinese guest house and garden built and owned by a retired doctor and his wife. It's in the middle of a regular (nice) neighborhood, but you have to drive down a little path to get to it. Once you enter, you are truly in a Balinese paradise.
The garden is filled with East Asian artifacts and was designed to be evergreen (though certainly more lush in the summer). The house is a reproduction of a one-room Balinese hut, with just a few added amenities, such as a tiled roof. Oh, and a projection movie screen, a retractable glass front wall, and a state-of-the-art sound system that pumps peaceful Asian music throughout the grounds.
The house's stone patio overlooks a koi pond, and I'm proud to say I got up-close and personal with those fish.
Sure they look benign in this photo, but what you aren't seeing is them wriggling up onto THE ROCKS over there behind me for stray bits of food. (P.S. check out my flickr account for more photos.)
I have to say, after a mere hour in the gardens, I'm hooked. I told Noah that every time we have to make a big decision, we need to go stay at The Bali House.
So if anyone is looking for a last-minute gift idea for me, there you go: a stay at The Bali House. Please and thank you.
Oh and by the way, Merry Christmas! I hope even those of you who aren't big into the whole "Christ was born so let's celebrate with lots of candy and automaton old men in red velvet suits" thing (ahem, LISA. and JEN.) still enjoy your holiday time off.
I'll catch your acts in the new year.