Company weekend

Katy was supposed to have a five-day weekend this past weekend. The entire school district was to be off Friday and Monday and then her cluster (a cluster is one high school and all the schools that feed into it) had Thursday off so the teachers at those schools could have an extra training day. Well, the hurricane and December winter weather hit so I knew they would lose Friday, as it was designated as a bad-weather make-up day. Heath’s sister asked if there was a good time for them to come visit for a long weekend. So I suggested this weekend. Plans were made and tickets bought and then we had more bad weather and the school district decided to have Friday be a digital learning day (that was an interesting experiment) and Monday a regular school day. Well, I got Katy approved to miss school on Monday. I know a lot of families had plans for that long weekend so there were probably a lot of kids out on Monday. The digital assignments Friday could be done from anywhere and they have a few days to get it done.

So Lee and Chip came in Friday night and we picked them up from the airport. I had made homemade bread and put some chili in the crock pot for dinner. I also made a banana pudding from the recipe on the back of the box of Nilla Wafers (this is the only banana pudding recipe you need) and it was all good.

We got up early Saturday and I used the homemade bread to make French toast for breakfast. It was yummy. It was supposed to be a really nice day in the middle of a lot of rain so we decided to go to Lilburn, a suburb not far from us, and visit the Hindu temple there. It was just assembled eleven years ago. I say assembled because the whole structure was built from marble and stone carved in India, shipped to the US and then put together, “like a giant 3D puzzle” as the brochure said, by thousands of volunteers for a total of something like 1.7 million volunteer hours. It truly is beautiful.

But before we could really enjoy anything, we needed some lunch. There is a small vegetarian restaurant on the campus that serves wonderful food. Half was a food counter and seating and the other half was sort of a dry grocery set-up with lots of wonderful Indian snacks. They had a display of various hot “puffs” so Lee picked out several bags of those and I ordered some naan and tikki masala and we spread out everything in the middle of the table and snacked our way through. The nice young man at the counter also threw in some pieces of cake that he said were their best selling item. That was very nice of him.

Everything was wonderful, we were stuffed and ready to site-see.

We did the audio tour, so we stopped at all the stations and heard about the history of the temple and then inside the mandir we learned about each form of God.

This temple is dedicated to Shri Swaminarayan and there are six of these types of temples around the country (and Canada). If you live near one, I recommend going.

There was no photography allowed inside the mandir but it was unbelievably beautiful. I found a couple of photos online. The shrines are only open at specific times and not when were were there so we just looked at photos of the different statues.

One of the shrines:

We went into the visitors’ center and had a really nice chat with the man working there. Katy wanted an illustrated copy of the Ramayana. The man explained that it’s not the whole epic story, but it introduces who all the characters are. She didn’t realize that in the classic book A Little Princess the stories that Sarah tells the other girls are from the Ramayana. He also told us that there is a serialized version of it that comes on TV in India and while it’s on, the whole country comes to a halt to watch it.

We walked around the grounds some and talked to an Indian man who was there with his children. His little girl was really funny, she desperately wanted to get into the water.

At one pint, she was turned around on that ledge with her feet sticking out over the water.

A few photos of the outside:

Even the guard house was fancy!

After visiting the temple and eating all that Indian food, Lee mentioned she really wanted to buy some Indian-style clothes like she used to wear in Singapore. Katy knew of a place right across the street from her high school. We expected a boutique selling imported clothing in Johns Creek to be really expensive. We were really surprised to find it wasn’t and Lee came out with about four outfits that she wouldn’t model for us. We had a nice visit with the husband of the owner; she’s in India right now and he’s holding the fort down for her.

That evening we were tired and just stayed in for a sandwich dinner and movie, having gotten our Indian-food fix at lunch.

Sunday we got up early again. I made southern biscuits and gravy (OK, technically the Pillsbury doughboy made the biscuits but the frozen type taste just like Mamaw’s) and scrambled eggs. It was supposed to rain so we thought we’d do something indoors. We have a Center for Human and Civil Rights that opened in downtown Atlanta about two years ago and Katy has been wanting to go for about two years. So we did that Sunday.

It’s three floors and the second floor, where you come in, is all about the history of race relations, segregation and civil rights in the US. One feature that Katy really wanted to do was the Woolworth’s lunch counter. You sit down, put headphones on, put your hand the counter and activate a recording of all of the yelling (for serious lack of a better word) that happened and basically see how long you can stick it out. Katy made it over a minute, I didn’t even try.

I really liked this memorial to the little girls killed in Birmingham.

And Ruby Bridges was there.

They had information on so many people involved, some you’ve heard of, lots you haven’t. I remember one photo of a white woman who was just your average 1960s housewife and mom who decided she needed to step up and do something and was murdered at random by someone out looking for trouble.

The basement had a small collection on Martin Luther King Jr. on loan from Morehouse college. No photography allowed in there! The third floor was dedicated to human rights issues all over the world: religion, race and gender issues, education, child labor (particularly in the cocoa bean fields). There were mirrors you could stand in front of and select the word that applied to you and hear the story of a person just like you and what challenges, issues and discrimination they are facing. The whole thing was really interesting.

One thing Lee and Chip wanted to do while they were here was eat lots of different foods. We decided to go to our favorite Malay restaurant for dinner and then down the street for ice cream at a place that does Korean rolled ice cream and nitrogen ice cream. So as we’re planning this Lee says “So we’re going to go somewhere that has tons and tons of food and then out for ice cream”. I started to say something and she said “Oh, no, I’m totally fine with it, I just need to know how to pace myself”. She was just making sure she wasn’t too full for dessert.

So we had lots of good food at Penang:

So we gorged ourselves on roti canai and two kinds of satay, chicken curry, lamb rendang and some kind of noodles, I’ve forgotten. And rolled ice cream. Chip didn’t have any ice cream and I just had a couple of bites of everyone elses. Then since Sweet Hut was in the same shopping center, we had to walk over and pick out snacks for the next day. It was pretty late so they were out of curry puffs and I was kind of disappointed about that. But we got a few other items.

Sweet Hut is a pretty amazing place, it’s a bakery and you pick out the things you want and they have all kinds of bubble teas and other drinks as well. It’s also a full-service bakery and you can ordered all types of cakes and pies and things.

Inside of Sweet Hut
Heath and Katy waiting in the long line to check out.

All that and it was the first day of daylight saving time. So that evening I tried to teach Lee, Chip and Katy to play a domino game called 42. Katy never did get the hang of bidding but after we played three of seven “tricks” she knew exactly who was holding all the trumps and who was going to win. We’re taking that kid to Vegas. We played some more games and stuffed as we were, Lee asked where the chips were. Katy went out to the garage and came back with the chips and a box of  double-decker Moon Pies. That moon pie was as big as Katy’s face but she wouldn’t let me take a picture.

So we finally all crashed around midnight. Monday we didn’t have much on the schedule, slept late, had our Sweet Hut goodies and visited. Lee and Katy wanted to go see A Wrinkle in Time so we did that. Lee and Chip had never been to one of the fancy movie theaters with the recliners so we went to one of those. Lee and I worked our way through a large bucket of popcorn. I don’t know how Katy does it, she got a small bag of Cheetos popcorn (it’s pretty good), didn’t touch any of it until the movie started and then brought half home. She doesn’t get that self-control from me. So Katy pretty much missed a day of school to go see a movie.

One thing Chip always wants to do when he comes here is eat real Southern food and that’s not as easy as you’d think. There’s Mary Mac’s that’s downtown, expensive and requires a reservation. Most of the southern places around here are some kind of upscale, fancy kind of take on Southern food. Finding something Mamaw would serve is a little trickier. I found a restaurant in Alpharetta that we had heard of but never been to because we eat out on Sunday and they’re closed on Sunday. They had a buffet that sounded really good so we took a chance on that. I was surprised how busy they were on a Monday. They did commit the cardinal sin of putting sugar in the corn bread, the banana pudding was downright disgraceful and Chip said the collard greens could have used to some ham or bacon or something. But otherwise it was a good dinner. Chip ordered a Coke but I told him if he wanted a real Southern meal he had to have sweet  tea. Well, it’s included in the buffet price so he got that as well.

Chip and his real Southern dinner. Fried chicken, collard greens, fried okra, fried green tomatoes and candied yams.

If we ever go out to dinner on a not-Sunday, we need to remember this place. It really was good other than the few things I mentioned. They had really good peanut butter cookies for dessert.

We spent the evening relaxing and watching TV and hit the hay pretty early. Katy had to be up for school this morning and we needed to leave about nine for the airport.

It was a great weekend and the house has been really quiet today.

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