Sunday, April 10, 2016

Backwoods Barbie Cercie

I just booked tickets to Dolly Parton LIVE on June 4th in Duluth, Georgia. My little Backwoods Barbie Cercie to Self.

This will be my first Dolly Parton LIVE experience. Thank stars she released a new album and launched a tour at age 70, because I've missed every other opportunity up to now. 

As y'all know, my beloved dog's namesake is Dolly Parton. If I could have dinner with a famous person, I would pick Dolly Parton. I've often asked myself, "WWDD - What Would Dolly Do"? 

Here's why:

Better Get To Livin' 

If you know the Backwoods Barbie album, there's a song on it called "Better Get To Livin'." It's her Leadership Song. She's addressing the big question: "'Dolly, what's your secret?'" Well, she's not shy to tell you. It's how she lives her life.

- Be willing and forgiven' cause all healing has to start with you

- You better stop whining, pining
- Get your dreams in line
- And then just shine, design, refine

Well, I'm inspired! 

Why'd You Come in Here Lookin' Like That
Speaking of shining and refining, Dolly Parton mastered the "personal brand" long before social media determined this was the trend of the century. And she did it from the inside out, contrary to what might seem obvious. How? I think it's by being vulnerable: "I'm just a backwoods Barbie in a push-up bra and heels. I might look artificial, but where it counts I'm real. And I'm all dolled up and hoping' for a chance to prove my worth, And even backwoods Barbie's get their feelings hurt." 

They just use your mind and you never get the credit
think it's safe to say that Dolly Parton works WAY more than "9 to 5". Her commitment to the dream, and her prolific creativity and output continue to blow me away. She's 70 and just released a TV show, a new album, performed live with Katie Perry at the CMAs (did y'all see her platform shoes?!) and is going on tour. This savvy business woman isn't taking anyone's crap, either. She's got a theme park and a resort hotel named after her. It's a rich WOMAN's game and Dolly is putting money in HER wallet. She's worth $500 million. 

Pure and Simple
Is the new album even out? I don't have it, yet. I did read that Dolly Parton just wanted to get back to "pure and simple." I think about how the music industry press go on about Adele and her revolutionary approach to songwriting, putting the simplest concept into lyrics that resonate with so many people. Well, Dolly's been doing that since Coat of Many Colors. Hello, Adele!! 

I Will Always Love You
This song was written for Dolly's business and creative partner Porter Wagoner. She was making the solo leap in her career, and this incredible piece of songwriting genius was about the business relationship that must come to an end. It made Dolly Parton the only artist to record a #1 album twice with the same song. She had appeal with pop music, too, as we all know. Whitney Houston picked it up. But here is where the story is so cool to me: Did you know that Elvis Presley wanted to cover the song, but Parton wouldn't sign over half her publishing rights to Presley, per the contract? This decision allowed her to keep the rights, and has made her millions $$$ in royalties from the song over the years. BOOM.  

I Believe in You
Dolly Parton never had children. She said she and Carl contemplated it, but God didn't want that for her. She said it has meant she can be "everybody's mamma" and there is more of her to go around. I love that. She writes and sings children's songs, and donates hundreds of thousands of books every year to children around the world through Imagination Library, which she started when I was graduating college.

See why I ask myself WWDD? 

Here's to shining and refining, y'all !

**Bonus Video from Dolly.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Pacific Northwest Cercie


There is something about boutique hotels. They are quaint and have personality. I started my most recent vacation in one in Seattle. A Kimpton --  lavish and quirky. My friend Meg first introduced me to the Kimpton experience. We stayed in one in San Francisco back in 2011. Thank you, Meg.

Kimpton's are full of cercies. The one in Seattle was new and called the Palladian in Belltown. My longtime friend (of 29 years!) Laura and I stayed there for a night. The Palladian was decorated in what I would call 18th century with a modern twist. Lots of portraits of people like Neil Patrick Harris and Billy Idol, dressed in what looked to be French military uniforms or the like; plush couches with puckered, deep blue velvet fabric; a library with books stacked inside the fire place; a traditional, ticking clock in the bedroom, a flat screen TV propped on a painting easel; and eco-friendly amenities like a wall card reader that would turn off all electricity in the room as you left it.

Laura picked me up from SEA-TAC airport and we drove straight to the Palladian for girl's night out in the city. Luckily, we didn't have to go far to be out, as I'd booked a reservation at the new Kimpton restaurant called Shaker and Spear, adjacent to the hotel. We dropped our bags, walked downstairs, and ordered fun cocktails at the bar with names like "My name is Inigo Montoya" and "Inconceivable." Dinner was served with style. Wait staff very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. I think the muscles with duck sauce were my favorites, but the locally-sourced cheeses were amazing, too. Most of all, the company was delightful. Laura is a friend with a big family and a full-time job who lives many miles away. What a time cercie to get to be with her one-on-one!

The next morning we had breakfast at the Biscuit Bitch just blocks from the Palladian. We shared an order of the Canadian Bitch - biscuit with bacon and maple peanut butter ... yes, maple peanut butter. We then walked that off with a stroll a few blocks toward the waterfront to Pike's Market. Such abundance there. Bouquets of flowers, seafood, and vegetables.

At the market, we taste-tested some Chukar Cherries and put down a few dollars for the Cabernet Chocolate ones. You can order these online, people. You won't be sorry.

A stroll along the water to Olympic Park led us, accompanied by a light, cool breeze, to some sculpture cercies. My favorite was the ampersand-in-the-sky. It is an apt symbol of the entire vacation ... & & & then some.

Good thing we wore comfortable shoes, because we did some more walking up hills (with amazing views of the harbor), and finally made it to the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition. This was the most inspiring part of my vacation. Laura and I listened to the nifty audio tour available for download on mobile devices. It added even more color to the already-fabulous display in the halls. Many of the pieces were Chihuly's glass sculptures on black plexiglass, which accentuated the reflections of each installation. To me, Chihuly embodies the idea of surprise. He's the ultimate cercie-maker. I felt nothing but serendipitous joy throughout the exhibit. Garden and Glass ended with the glass house constructed especially for this exhibit, and a garden designed around the glass pieces, which featured spectacular views of the iconic Space Needle.

After such an adventure in color and light and design, one must eat, and eat well. So that we did. Thanks to my friend Susie's nifty "activity sheet" for Seattle, Laura and I made our way to The Green Leaf Vietnamese Restaurant. We went down some steps at a non descript entrance, not sure what we were getting into. It was a period bar/restaurant with authentic Vietnamese flair, and it was packed. We ordered the delicious spring rolls, and I tried the shrimp skewer and signature vermicelli dish. Two thumbs up.

Look what one can experience in fewer than 24 hours in Seattle! 

Laura and I made the gorgeous drive out of the city toward her home in Blaine, passing the Boeing complex, Washington University (40,000+ students go there!) and many an awe-inspiring view of Mt. Ranier, waterways, stadiums, bridges and the rural life of Washington. 

A freeway ride in Washington state is not dull. Freeway. Do we use that term down South? Laura and I were zooming down the road with all of our expensive and treasured memories floating around in our heads. I was thinking of the fortune of it all; perhaps of the excess. I kept wanting to cling to the feeling of freedom that a lavish vacation affords. But an Aimee Mann "ear worm" kept eking into my mind ...  "You got a lot of money, but you can't afford the Freeway."


Children are full of cercie love. I so enjoyed spending time with Laura and her family in Blaine. Children notice so many things adults long forget to appreciate. And they have such cleverness. I was high on the kid-banter the entire weekend with them.

We started Blaine with a sunset at Semiahmoo Resort. Breathtaking. I love how Laura's husband rushed to drive us there in time to see it. Such sweet memories of friends eager to share their world with me.

One spectacular (75 degree) day, we drove to Bellewood Acres, and had dinner on an apple orchard, with a view of Mt. Baker in the distance. We got the added bonus of showing up on the same day as the Canadian Car Club. Posh car cercie on the farm!

Laura, her daughter and I took a hike to Semiahmoo Marina one day. Just look at these views. Seal cercies, to boot!


Blaine, if you didn't know this, lies right between Seattle and Vancouver, Canada. So I got to drive Laura's car to the Canadian boarder from Blaine and flash my passport! You'd think this would be easy. A single woman with a car full of luggage from South Carolina is verrrry suspicious, apparently. "Let's start with where you're from." I made it through after a short dialogue with border patrol. One hour and I was in the fabulous, incredible, wonderful, international city of Vancouver.

I parked to check in at yet another boutique hotel, which I mistakenly booked for October. Alas, you pay for what you get, as they say, so I got a room in central, downtown Van at the only Canadian boutique called St. Regis. And I'm still paying for it. Everything smelled really nice there. At least I felt like I wasn't really in a hotel.

The darling concierge directed me to the sea wall, and recommended I have lunch at Cardero's on the marina. Patio seating, seafood chowder, a fish taco, and raspberry lemonade made for a very satisfying lunch.

Lunch was followed by many shopping cercies. As a genuine barre3 addict, I would have been remiss to not stop at Lululemon, which was founded in Vancouver. What a lot of very perky young people selling the hell out of some synthetic yoga wear! I've never been swarmed so enthusiastically while looking for a sports bra. But that was the sentiment of the city, really. Eager, friendly, service-oriented people from all around the world -- swarming.

The Vancouer Art Gallery was the real cercie, though. I stumbled upon it with no map (because I didn't use GPS roaming since I don't have an international phone plan). Vancouver native Geoffrey Farmer's exhibit "How Do I Fit this Ghost in My Mouth?" was particularly strange and magnificent. He crafted an incredible history of the world with tiny little cut-outs from what I think was a National Geographic book, with no apparent chronology to the way they were staged. A Queen Elizabeth, a small Moses and his tablets. It was stunning and intricate. But my favorite were the wood, fabric, and paper cuttings turned "puppets" he made for "The Surgeon and the Photographer" aspect of the exhibit. Hundreds of these puppets on stands in a large white room. I navigated around them, inspecting all angles of each puppet. They were clever. Farmer has been recognized internationally, at Kassel's dOCUMENTA, an art exhibition I wish I had visited when I lived in Germany. No pics, so you'll have to go to Van yourself to get the Farmer cercie!


Thanks to a friend from Columbia who now lives in Vancouver, I had a spectacular night on the town. I met Ricardo for dinner in Gastown at a Latin American place called Cuchillo. We ordered roasted baby corn on the cobs with the husks, fish tacos and ceviche. Amazing. And ain't it nice to have a walking tour of a beautiful city at night? Ricardo took me through Gastown and Chinatown, with a stop at The Keefer Bar, where I ordered specialty gin cocktails (just two!) -- The Dragon Fly and Ain't Got No Thyme. Too bad it wasn't Thursday night; we missed the Sweet Soul Burlesque show.

I spent the last day in Vancouver with a delicious St. Regis "complimentary" breakfast, and a walk to the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. It was a very ying-yang experience filled with cercies. An oasis of natural beauty in the middle of the city. If pictures say a thousand words ...

Final stop before heading home ... Bella Gelateria! I ordered, upon Ricardo's suggestion, chocolate lavender in a cone. Amazing combination of flavors. It was a sensual delight just watching the young lady swirl and sculpt the gelato, melding the two flavors into one on the cone. It wasn't just a scoop and dump operation. This was art. I wish I could order the gelato and the presentation of it online and have it delivered!


Back to Blaine, with one very important stop before I crossed the border: Laura's children love Papa John's pizza. The closest location is just across the line in Canada. So Laura called in the order, and I picked it up on my way back from Vancouver. Imagine the look on the border patrol's face when I said the only thing I bought in Canada was pizza ... I think he thought I was smoking something. Literally. Pot is legal in Washington!

A quick pizza delivery in Blaine, a shuttle ride to SEA-TAC and a long wait for the red eye back to CLT, another shuttle to Columbia ... and it's a wrap!

Dolly was such a "doll" when I arrived home (at 8:30 a.m.) I missed my little fluff! Next time, she travels with. She would like the temps in the Pacific Northwest.

Bon adventure!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Jens Cercie

Pix message from my friend Angie last month of her newborn's gorgeous face ... little Jens. He has been making appearances on FaceBook ever since. And he's been on my mind: "I need to see that baby." 

I thought of him again today while I was in Greenville for work. At a stoplight. "I could get a quick peek of little Jens after my meeting before heading back to Columbia!" 

Dig for phone in purse. Glance at stoplight. Search for Angie's info. Glance at stoplight (still red). Quick text. SEND. Light turns green. HONK! Throw phone in purse. Off to find a parking spot near Coffee Underground. 

You know you have a fun job when you have meetings at coffee shops called Coffee Underground. I'm early for this one, too. Rare. I walk leisurely, take the steps to the "underground." Open the door. Approach the counter. Scan the shop in search of the people I'm meeting. 

"I'll have a smoothie with a shot of soy protein, please." Glance again at the scene. 


Am I seeing things? Can it be? 

Angie is sitting in one of the lounge chairs feeding little Jens! 

I sneak over. "I bet you weren't expecting to see me here!" They didn't look surprised. 

Angie: "Did you get my text?" 
Amy: "No! I haven't checked my phone, yet." 
Angie: "I just sent you a note that we are at Coffee Underground."

I don't know what's my most favorite: That they were already at Coffee Underground and I was headed there anyway, that I was pleasantly surprised by a real-world "collision" vs. a preparatory "we are here" text message or that I got to see the baby and his mamma!

The little serendipitous moments of life that make you feel connected to everything. That make it all seem worthwhile. That bring such joy. The Jens Cercies.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Bringing CERCIE Back

Let's not dwell on the fact that I have abandoned this blog for nearly four years ... !

Let's dwell on the Cercie moment of the day: The Intern Cercie.

It's Monday. It's raining. It's dreary. We file into staff meeting, go around the table detailing our busy calendars for the week. As I walk out of the board room and pass Ms. Yvonne's receptionist desk, she calls me aside. "Amy, I have something for you." She pulls out a pretty package with a card. "The intern that worked for you last year came by last week and left this for you," she said. I snatched it up with glee, like a little dog grabbing a bone and running off to enjoy it in private. I snuck off to my office and set it on my desk, admiring it, savoring the moment of anticipation before opening it.

The card was dear. The kindest, most endearing words. Taylor the Intern is on her way to working a job at Teach for America in South Carolina, thanks to my guidance and recommendations and so on. I thought to myself, "You did all that on your own, girl. I was just cheerleading." But it really touched me. I thought about the little encouragements we give and get throughout the day, throughout our lives. They matter, and they mattered to my former intern so much that she went out of her way to thank me.

She remembered how I always had a Tervis tumbler full of coffee, and that I'm a Furman grad, so I was thrilled when I pulled the purple and white curly ribbon off the package to pull out a new tumbler with a Furman logo on it! I read and reread Taylor's note. She is a lovely writer.

I can't think of a better person to be going into schools in distressed areas of the state to help transform the lives of young people who rarely get those little encouragements in life, the young people who rarely get to feel the Cercie Joy that I did today.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spring is for Cercies

Serendipitous joy when my beloveds and I got together for four days of mountain music fun at Merlefest in North Carolina. A High Country Cercie. Photographer extraordinaire Robert McCartney not pictured.

Pride Cercie, when my brother Billy Love decided to host an art show of his recent works, AND entered the Columbia Museum's Young Artist of the Year show, winning the People's Choice award!

Mittagessen Cercie
My German friend Claudia set up a lunch date for me and all my cohorts from the days at Deutsche Telekom in Germany. While I'm in Germany this summer, we will get to have a little reunion. Her email invitation and all the kind responses popped into my inbox last week and made my day. We love Claudia.

We also love when the little people show up at the pool in the summer. Children are naturals - you just never know what Soul Cercies of joy they will bring just by being themselves. One of my friends brings the kids out to the pool, and they just learned to swim. I get to help them practice. The four-year-old whispered to me today before she took off like a little fish, "You are my coach."

I think my friend Brooke is fantastic. I think she is even more fantastic now that she has sent me a real live Power Frau Cercie in the mail. No occasion; just her infinite niceness. She sent a note and a magnet that I immediately stuck on my fridge. It says:
"I'm fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ornament. Fruit basket. Bombshell. Hike.

Holiday Serendipity. LOVE it.

Authentic Trick Cercie
(Do not try this one at home, unless you're a natural). My friend Craig showed up at my house before Christmas and pulled an ornament out of his pocket. It was for my tree! Come on, people.

Fruit Basket Cercie
Tonya the Christmas Fairy left me a fruit basket: pears, apples, cherries! We like healthy cercies.

Bombshell Cercie
Meg the Christmas Bombshell mailed me a cercie from the ATL. Big box stashed under the door mat on my front porch (because the big box is always stashed under the door mat on the front porch). I took said box into the house, set it on my kitchen table, cut away the tape and pulled out the package. It was wrapped in bright blue and turquoise tissue tied with a fantastic purple tinsel knot. And a note:
"I can't tell if this gift is hideous or fabulous, but it's definitely "hellooo, bombshell."
What could it be?! Oh! A headless Maharaja Medussa Hoola Dancing Goddess that holds jewelry. Of course! It is fabulous, and even more so now that it's adorned with my jewelry.

Hiking Cercie
Sunday was road trip to Ceasar's Head in Upstate, South Carolina. Jordan drove us in his new Jeep. Georgie the Traveling Giraffe was along for the ride - his first excursion into the mountains. Little did he know he'd also see his first snow! Though he didn't hike Raven Cliff Trail with us - nor did he get to meet the Germans who were also hiking the trail (ja wohl!) - Georgie did get a view of Table Rock. He was so ecstatic about this that he kissed me right on my wind-chapped cheek. Danke, Georgie!

One last stop in Taylors, South Carolina after the hike, to visit meine Freunde The Starkers. Georgie was given a hearty welcome by Noah and Liam. He has never stayed with two young boys before and is in for 100% action-filled adventure. Have fun, Georgie! Don't forget to report from the field.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Just because I haven't posted in nearly half a year (what?!), doesn't mean the Cercie Love has run out. In fact, there has been so much of it that I cannot-cannot contain it all.

But my favorite and immediate Cercies ...

this weekend:

I went to a christmas concert in Red Bank, South Carolina, and Johnny Irion and Sarah Lee Guthrie showed up.


I had my first Instant Cercie.

I got a two-in-one g-chat cercie from Seven and Thirty-Seven (see "Blogs I like")

That means I got to chat with my friend Jen (37) and her daughter (7)- at the same time! Seven and Thirty-Seven are new wave mother-daughter bloggers. Only such duo I know about. They rock it. And tonight on g-chat, I got to waste a full 30 minutes chatting online with them. About WHAT, you ask? You won't believe it.


Yes, HAM.

'Tis the season for HAM, right? HAM bones. HAM hocks. HAM lettes ... So c'mon, HAM it up!