Time is Running out to see Winston Churchill Exhibit in Atlanta

Don’t miss the Winston Churchill exhibit at the Millennium Gate Museum located in Midtown Atlanta. The special exhibit, “The Art of Diplomacy – Winston Churchill and the Pursuit of Painting” will close on February 1.

Rodney Mims Cook, Jr., the internationally known designer and National Monuments Foundation founder, the organization that built the museum, spoke about the exhibit yesterday at the Sandy Springs DAR meeting. Cook said, “January 24 is the 50-year anniversary of Churchill’s death.” It’s exciting that we have this collection of over 30 Churchill paintings in an exhibit outside of the UK at this time.

If you can’t get there by February 1, about 25% of the exhibit will travel to Rome, Athens and Savannah before leaving the United States on July 26, 2015.

For more tickets, hours and more information, visit http://churchill-atlanta.com/exhibit.


Dia de los Reyes – Three Kings Day at the Atlanta History Center

On January 4, we attended Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day) at the Atlanta History Center. This annual event is sponsored by the Mexican Consulate and the Insituto de Mexico.



Besides the free admission to the museum and the grounds, a large celebration was held in the ballroom. Children were sporting royal crowns and they could get their picture taken with the three kings. There were live performances on the stage, as well as tamales for sale.


My favorite dance was the group of 7 or 8 boys who held canes and walked around the room. Each boy was shorter than the one before and they wore masks and straw hats. On their second lap around the room, they each shook hands with the ladies.



Other traditional dances followed.





For just $1, a large slice of king cake could be purchased. It wasn’t the traditional king cake that I’m used to. It was less of a pastry and more of a sweet bread – almost like Hawaiian bread with a few candied pieces on top. IMG_4103

Even Home Depot had a table where kids could build a wooden toy.



We walked around the museum and enjoyed the temporary exhibit called American Sabor: Latinos in Popular US Music. It was divided into five primary sections of the United States: Los Angelos, San Francisco, San Antonio, New York and Miami and discussed the music and artists that came from those regions.I always knew that Richie Valens,Gloria Estefan and Los Lobos were Latino, but I had no clue about Joan Baez and Freddie Fender. The exhibit mentioned some of the early trailblazers like Tito Puente and Ricky Ricardo. I found it interesting.

My husband toured another special exhibit on Confederate artifacts from the George W. Wray Jr. collection. Additonally, we walked the grounds outside and popped into McElreath Hall for an exhibit on Wilbur G. Kurtz, who was the official historian during the making of the movie, “Gone With the Wind.”




For more information, visit the website at http://www.atlantahistorycenter.com/program/three-kings-day-dia-de-los-reyes. To learn more about the American Sabor: Latinos in Popular US Music, visit https://americansabor.org/.

New Ice Rink Inside the Perimeter – Center Ice Arena, Sandy Springs, GA

“We’re going to be sore tomorrow!” my husband announced as we left Center Ice Arena this afternoon with our two children.

He is right, but the adventure was well worth it.

Seeing that this weekend’s weather was going to be cold, rainy and gray, we decided to try out the new ice skating rink that opened ITP – Inside the Perimeter (Atlanta speak for inside the I-285 loop). The facility opened just in time for the winter holidays.


My husband, who played hockey as a kid, was looking forward to skating on a “real” skating rink. In the past, we’ve skated at Centennial Olympic Park and Park Tavern, which offer smaller scale, temporary rinks during the holiday season. Not only was this a permanent, regulation size rink, but they offered a choice between regular skates and hockey skates.

The website shows the calendar for the public skate times. For a two hour session, the cost is $8 to skate and an additional $4 for skate rental.

Arriving for the 1:30 public slot, we entered a big room with large windows showing the rink. To the left was the line to purchase tickets and get armbands. On the other side of the food counter was the booth stocked by two attendants to get skates. In the middle of the room were three hexagon shaped tables and plenty of benches to change into the skates.


What I particularly liked was that there were benches in front of the glass windows where parents could sit and watch their children skate, without getting themselves on the ice. (We’re almost there as parents, but need a bit more practice before our offspring are ready to spread their wings that wide.)

To the right of the front door is a room that will soon house lockers to place valuables. Since the facility just opened, the lockers haven’t been installed yet. However, the manager let me put my purse behind the ticket counter.

Several entrances onto the rink help allay back-up jams. We went to the left of the plate glass windows through the two sets of glass double doors, down the ramp almost to the midway part of the rink to get on. Above us, bleachers (accessed by the staircase next to the locker rental area) gave spectators a better view.

The ice was smooth. But the reverie was soon broken by sounds of thud, bump and “waaah,” from kids learning to skate for the first time.

It took me a few laps to get my ice skating groove and then I could help with our kids. Even they improved and got more confident after a few minutes. On the other side of the rink, there were benches just off the rink on both sides of the penalty box – with additional exits off of the rink and back to the large room. A large set of speakers with a digital clock hung from the middle of the room.



“Just glide,” I heard a father tell his young son.

Another father was consoling his daughter, “Everybody hates to fall, but it happens.”


After about an hour, we noticed most of the young kids wore out and went home. More adults and older kids came out onto the rink. We stopped to grab some refreshments – hot dogs, Powerade and pocorn – which were reasonably priced.

Another 30 minutes back on the rink and we were tired.

Center Ice Arena is located on Roswell Road just north of the Prado shopping center. They offer lessons for learning how to ice skate and how to play hockey. For more information, visit their website at www.centericearena.org.




Christmas Festival of Lights – Natchitoches, LA

Natchitoches is the oldest town in Louisiana, the Bed & Breakfast Capital of Louisiana and home of the famous Natchitoches Meat Pie. On our way back from Houston, we decided to make a detour through Natchitoches (pronounced Nack-Uh-Tish) to catch the Christmas Festival of Lights before it ended on January 4. Although this is the 88th year of the festival, I’ve only been to see the lights once before – suprising considering I grew up only 60 miles away in Shreveport.

However, it wasn’t until the Christmas lights were featured in the 1989 blockbuster movie “Steel Magnolias,” starring Sally Field and Julia Roberts, that people in Shreveport started paying attention to Natchitoches – the sleepy (yet Lousiana’a oldest) town situated on the Cane River. Although I enjoyed the lights when I saw them for the first time in 1991,  things can change in 23 years. Would the lights be worth this crazy jaunt?

We exited the main highway at Livingston, Texas and meandered on two-lane roads through Woodville, Dolan and Zavalla. The drive proved scenic over the Sam Rayburn Reservoir and Toldedo Bend at dusk. It was definitely a part of Texas, none of us had seen before. Sign posts informed us that we were traveling on part of the El Camino Real de los Tejas.

Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Crossing into Louisiana, things were familiar:

the town of Many which I hadn’t been to since the mid 1970’s,

Highway 171 which leads to Zwolle – the home of the Zwolle Tamale Festival,

and the interchange at I-49, the only north/south interstate in Louisiana.

We  knew we were in Natchitoches when we passed the Northwestern State University campus (formerly Lousiana State Normal School)- where both my grandparents graduated. In fact, my grandfather was one of the first graduates of the newly offered four-year program in 1921.

Once we got downtown to Front Street, lights were everywhere – over 300,000 of them! They dotted the downtown street which “fronted” the Cane River.DSC_0117




Parking was easy along the street – probably since it was a Monday night and after Christmas. There was a walkway along the river so we took it. Alas – there were the lights I remembered on my first visit. Over 100 riverfront set pieces graced the Cane River and were fabulous!




Even the bridge across the river was lit with dancing lights.





Along the path, there were festival booths that offered the famous Natchitoches Meat Pies, funnel cakes and hot dogs. However, our eyes were peeled on the lights and how they reflected on the river.





At the end of the walk, we headed back up to the downtown street and window shopped. My spouse jokingly said he wanted the large gumbo pot for next Christmas while one of my daughters asked me to pronounce items on the street sign.



During the festival which runs for about six weeks, there is a parade, fireworks, a tour of homes and many other events. For more information, visit the website at http://www.christmasfestival.com/.