"I would not like nights so bright you could not see the stars." -- Akira Kurosawa

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Atlanta
I grew up in a family of Southern storytellers. Back in 2004, I started Whole Bean to continue the tradition in a new medium. Over the years, I've written about families and friends, peculiar situations, extended road trips, recalcitrant home appliances, and many things for which I'm truly grateful. I hope you enjoy your time here.
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It's a bright, beautiful morning in Asheville, North Carolina. SpringHill Suites has internet access, and I seem to have found a choice time to post an entry. A crowd of Girl Scouts has taken over the cafe area, but not so much that I could not enjoy a light breakfast. Their endless chatter reminds me of those days when our girls were just getting their feet wet in the social graces...a sweet time, a good time to remember.

Yesterday was our first trip to the Biltmore Estate in the evening, and the first time that we've ever taken a "candlelight" tour. The mansion was as awesome of proportion and beauty as I ever remember seeing it, perhaps even more so. Additional areas on the third and fourth floors have been renovated and opened since I last visited here, some six years ago.

Today we're off to see our good friends the Ivorys, who recently moved from Atlanta to Johnson City, Tennessee. We understand that all is going well with them, but we miss them ferociously, plus I never pass up an opportunity to re-enter Tennessee, the land of my upbringing (yes, that's the state you can blame). I'm looking out the window, and I don't see any snow, so I think we can make it up over the mountains to their new abode.

Take care, and have a wonderful weekend... =:)


Another successful trip to Pill Hill!

If you have ever been to Atlanta, you have probably been impressed, awed, and perhaps even frightened by our maze of surface streets. Unlike in many cities of the American Midwest and West, the streets of our fair city are not laid out on anything even remotely resembling a grid pattern. In fact, we are told that the major streets (many of which contain Peachtree in their names) actually follow ancient Indian trails. I believe it.

One such trail must surely have led to our northside medical center, affectionately referred to by locals as "Pill Hill", owing to its auspicious setting on a leafy hill adjacent to the I-285 Perimeter expressway. I-285 is in and of itself a work of art; labeled on incoming expressways as a "by-pass", it actually is a main artery connecting several very densely populated suburbs, and the traffic on 285 can be truly overwhelming at times, merely humorous at others. It bypasses nothing, indeed.

Pill Hill, on the other hand, is a cluster of three large metroplitan hospitals and a whole slew of doctor's office buildings connected (somewhat) by a loosely defined network of "roads" on which lanes mysteriously appear, then disappear without warning, much to the delight of visitors and locals alike. (MARTA trains run right through the complex as well.) Basically, if you have to get to one of these hospitals in a hurry, including the "Baby Factory" Northside Hospital, you will need to be blessed by some almighty being to avoid becoming hopelessly lost and/or having your car locked or "booted" in such a way that it cannot be moved without dispersal of enough money from your wallet to buy dinner for two at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.

Now, that said, once you get to your destination at Pill Hill, you will find that the care is quite good, the people are attentive and friendly, and you even begin to feel that you are in your own insulated little piece of the world, that is, until you try to leave. Leaving can be just as confusing as getting there. Without the proper preparation and arduous study of a map beforehand, you can easily leave your hospital premises and within two hours unexpectedly find yourself in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Columbia, South Carolina, or Dahlonega, Georgia (a nice little mountain town which is great to visit when you're feeling up to par).

All in all, I guess we can't complain -- the places are there when you need them, and the care is great. It's a lot better than trying to get your tonsils removed in Bangladesh, and with a little looking, you can even find some excellent coffee and above average biscuits. But you may want to let someone else drive...someone who has a good sense of direc -- oh, never mind about that.

Have a nice weekend! =:)