Friday, December 14, 2012

Meditating Mantis

 It is  once gain time to take the camera and shoot the pictures that feed our hungry website,; the topic is Meditating Mantis in downtown Roswell. 

 At one of my book club meetings, I mentioned Meditating Mantis and to my complete surprise, the response was:  “?”. I took that question mark to heart all the way to 1025 Canton Street  where a small dreamy shop with the soothing name Meditating Mantis specializes in restoring the idea that feeling happy in one’s own skin comforts the Universe. 
Years ago, Connie Taylor, owner of Meditating Mantis, had a boxer, Gracie, with severe medical issues. When Gracie could not be left alone at home anymore, Connie started thinking of a job where she and Gracie could be together throughout the day. Soon she took out all her savings and opened Meditating Mantis. For a month and a half after that, she and Gracie were inseparable; then Gracie passed away.

Now, there is Xander, the Velcro dog as Connie refers to him, who is always a foot away from her

and Mojo, who lies in the hallway and amicably sniffs out the mood of visitors.

The name, Meditating Mantis, goes back to Connie’s childhood.
“Whenever I walked outside the house, Praying Mantises would perch on my hair, shoulders, arms, hands,” Connie recalls.  “So when I opened the shop, the name was a no brainer, the praying mantis turned into a meditating one. The line between prayer and meditation is a thin one. You know, I haven’t seen a Praying Mantis since I opened the shop. A dove perched on a chair on the front porch the other day, and left me a few feathers to give to my staff, but not a meditating mantis. ”
“When did you learn how to use energy to heal?”

“I never not knew how to do it. It’s in my blood. Great grandpa was a medicine man, or a botanist as grandma called him. I never met him, but grandma passed down to me all she had learned from great grandfather, so I got to learn early on the healing power of plants and positive energy.

Connie is a descendant of Chidcha, the largest Indian tribe in Columbia.
 Her mom passed away when Connie was seven, so either grandma flew in from Columbia to help with the upbringing of the kids, or dad flew them to grandma.
“For years, I was an X-ray technician and a closeted energy healer. I was afraid people would stone me if they found out. I still get disturbing little notes in the mailbox accusing me of doing the devil’s work, but I have helped many people.  I try to educate people of the delicate balance in nature. I try to show them that the spirit resides everywhere.”

Ah, the spirit--that mysterious elusive which colors the aura and, as is often the case in nature, paradoxically delineates and unites us. 

“My grandma used to ask, if you could unzip your skin from head to toe and step out of it, who would you introduce your inner self to?”
A good question stops my heartbeat. I need to get out and think.  If I could unzip my skin from head to toe and step out of it, who would I introduce my inner self to?

I hug Connie, thank her for her time and kindness, skirt around Mojo in the hallway and step out of the shop. For months, no matter what I do, I ask myself, if I could unzip my skin from head to toe and step out of it, who would I introduce my inner self to?

It wasn’t just that real estate was hectic in August, and September was travel time, and October and November just couldn't wait to be over that I couldn’t write this post. I had a question to answer first.
Last week, my friend’s car broke down and I drove her to work early in the morning. On the way back I had the sudden urge to go back to Meditating Mantis. I had been thinking about Gracie, wondering if she was a white boxer, as if it really mattered. I exited 285 to north on Roswell Rd and 15 minutes later pulled in the back of the shop. It was early and quiet. I walked to the meditating garden and sat down.

I took off my shoes and walked around; at Meditating Mantis, it’s okay to walk barefoot and leave footprints. At Meditating Mantis, inner space is abundant.
You can wiggle your aura, and let your energy travel unobstructed.

I must have been there for some time when a car pulled next to mine. It was Connie, Xander and Mojo, coming to work.
“The blog lady,” Connie smiled.
“Yes. I had to come back.”

I watched Xander and Mojo.

“Was Gracie white?”
“Yes, funny that you would ask that.”
“She’s been around lately?”
“Yes, yes.” Connie was quiet for a few seconds.
“I have to go now,” I said, “back to my daytime job in real estate.”

We hugged.  I had found my answer.

 If I could unzip my skin from head to toe and step out of it, I would reintroduce my inner self to MY dog, Luke SkyWalker.
I have to drive to Meditating Mantis, but if you would rather walk to it, here are the three most and least expensive homes within a mile of the shop.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sozopol, The City of Salvation

Vacation on my mind

After long months of work and no play, I turned off all phone and computer devices, threw my camera over my shoulder and boarded a flight to Bulgaria, the country where I was born and raised, for a three week vacation and pictures for our hungry website, .

The flight was long—as long as a Delta Skyline account can take you on--Atlanta to Montreal, Montreal to Paris and Paris to Sofia. The highlights of this 24 hour ordeal were a delicious dinner with wine at Cabine M restaurant in the Montreal Airport, a visit to the forever mind blowing Notre-Dame De Paris and a lousy lunch at a nearby bistro in Paris, the loss of our entire luggage upon arriving in Sofia.

My grandparents house in Lozarevo
Not to be discouraged, we had light meal and drinks with relatives that night, a short night sleep, a do-nothing-think-nothing following day. On day two, while our lost luggage was  being mercilessly tossed from plane to plane in search for us, we went shopping for essential clothing, footwear and toiletries and packed our newly borrowed backpacks for a trip to Sozopol. Then, a brief stop at my grandparents' house in the village of Lozarevo where my mom spends her summers now; the name Lozarevo is a derivation of the Bulgarian word for vineyards. This summer has been extremely hot and dry and the grapes have high sugar contents; the wine is expected to be exceptionally divine. With my mother in the car, we drove to Sozopol where we had rented a house on the beach.
Sozopol is located on the south east coast of the Black Sea. It is the oldest city in Bulgaria. It was founded around 7th century B.C. by a Milesian colony led by the Greek philosopher Anaximander. They named it Apollonia for the Greek god Apollo. Under the Byzantine Empire, the town was renamed to Sozopolis--The City of Salavation.
Old Sozopol-Traditional wood house
Old Sozopol
Old Sozopol

Bulgaria abounds in remains of ancient civilizations, but here in Sozopol you literally have to dig a few inches into the dirt to start excavating. In June of this year, in the graveyard of a monastery in Sozopol, archeologists unearthed the skeletons of two 800 year old “vampires” whose chests were pierced with iron rods, so they would not able to rise from dead and terrorize the living. For all of you Hollywood location hunters, Sozopol may be your best bet for authentic zombie filming at very reasonable prices.  If on the other hand, you are looking to invest in a dramatic piece of land on the top of a cliff hanging over the Black Sea, do your research properly before you purchase because the city council will take the land from you for as little as a fraction of an ancient bone you may find in the dirt, which brings me to the church of St George where in a gold and silver casket lie relics of St John the Baptist. Close your eyes, say a prayer and make a wish.
The Church of St George which houses remains of St John The Baptist

The food is fresh and delicious, but, as in Paris, you need to know your restaurants. The wine is divine. If you are as lucky as I am to have a mother who at the age of 83 still produces her own, you have tasted ambrosia. The wine is of such fine quality that conversion to hydrophobia is quick and painless. Bulgaria has a great variety of grapes—Muscat Ottonel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Aligote, Pamid, Gamza, Binyat, Riesling, Ugni blanc, Traminer, Rkatziteli, Red Misket, to name a few. A word of caution: know your cellars before you commit to convert or ask me for more information on the subject.

The view of the Black Sea from our window
In the month of September the sun is still hot, the beach is full of vacationers, but not as overcrowded as it is during the summer months, and the air is filled with the scent and color of grapes and the throbbing anticipation of the grape harvest and the making of wine.
After ten days on this tiny heavenly place, I took one long last look at the Black Sea from our window and left for Sofia.

I was literally born and raised on “Main Street” in Sofia and some day will tell about it.
Right now, as I am back to Atlanta and back to work, I like to fill my thoughts with images of Sozopol; a comforting small town of salvation.

If you are looking for the three most and least expensive listings in Sozopol, send me a note. There is real estate for every budget.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It’s A Birthday Party and You Are Invited to the Celebration

Two weeks ago, a dear friend of mine, Bill Balzer, sent me and my husband an invitation to the 35th birthday party celebration of Theatrical Outfit—one of the three oldest theater groups in Atlanta.

I stared at the invitation like a deer caught in headlights.  I had not been to the theater in almost two years. Was it the economy, the aversion to fighting traffic downtown, too much work, or all three and some more? I slumped. Years back I was a theater nut. In 2004, under the penname L.V.Rosh, I even wrote an article for the now defunct Artlanta Magazine, titled "A Dream Develops Downtown," based on an interview I took with the Balzers. This is how I met Peg and Bill in the first place.
They are the tiny figures in this picture, as Bill put it: “Peg and me in front of the theater from afar”. In 2004, their generous donation of 1.5 million dollars and resilient, around-the-clock legwork, gave Theatrical Outfit its own home--The Balzer Theater at Herren’s, at 88 Lucky Street in Atlanta, Georgia.  With sponsors like the Balzers, who wouldn’t want to park their dream on Lucky Street?

In my mind, I picked up the phone,
“Hi Bill, thank you for bursting my day-to-day, humdrum, deflated grey bubble.”
In reality, I shot him an email,
“Would you mind if I blogged about the birthday party?”
He didn’t.

We met a few days later at a Starbucks coffee shop in Roswell and had a long conversation about kids, spouses and of course the theater. Bill was up to speed in that last department, but I had a lot of catching up to do and was itching to make up for time lost; I even volunteered to help with the liaison between the theater and schools throughout Atlanta.

That night I bought tickets to The Adventures of High John the Conqueror, My name is Asher Lev and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, a production of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theater Company staring Tom Key, the artistic director of Theatrical Outfit which premiered last Friday at the Rialto Center for the Arts. And, of course, I bought Theatrical Outfit a gift— 2 tickets to their 35th birthday party, and a rim of standard white paper, an item I picked from their website wish list.

As always, to feed our hungry website,, my camera will be memorizing the grandeur and flair of the old Macy’s Building in downtown Atlanta, at 200 Peachtree Street, where the birthday bash will take place on August 4. 

If you haven’t been there yet, get ready to be blown away.

The Balzers will be displaying pieces of their private art collection: 

Red Photography Faces by Amalia Amaki, an artist and educator who received her BA in photography and painting from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and her MA and PhD from Emory University. Says Amaki: “My work capitalizes on a long time interest in film and advertising and its impact on self-perception and notions about others”.

The Market, by Geoffrey Johnson, born in 1965 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Geoffrey Johnson is a contemporary impressionist who, in his own words, allows his paintings to “almost dance on the water of abstraction or of just being.” 

Frog Playing Guitar, by Beau Smith, a “Renaissance” artist—sculptor, writer, singer/songwriter, and painter with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design where he studied film animation and illustration. He has exhibited his sculptures at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and in many galleries across the country as well as abroad.

These are just a few of what will be on exhibit.

Theatrical Outfit actors will be mingling with guests, so you can wish them a Happy Birthday in person and toast to their achievements.

I hope to see you there. If you are serious about your intellectual and artistic sanity, go to, and purchase your $25 birthday gift to Theatrical Outfit. Who knows, you may show up in my next blog rubbing shoulders with a celebrity.
And if like Peg and Bill, you would rather walk to the old Macy’s than sweat the traffic in your business casual apparel, here are the three most and three least expensive condos up for grabs within a mile of 200 Peachtree Street (click image for details).

Ask me questions—I have answers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

You Can Have Your Three-Course Lunch and Eat It Too

I was talking to Lisa, a book club buddy of mine, about landmark places in Roswell and she said:
“Anna Lee’s.”
“Hm. What is it?”
“A restaurant; you don’t mean to say you haven’t heard of Anna Lee’s?”
“Well, with all due respect, I am ignorant of Anna Lee’s,” I fessed up mumbling. “But you know I am always open to learning.”
So, being constantly on the hunt for informative pictures for our website,, I threw the camera over my shoulder a few mornings later and headed up to Anna Lee’s.
It turns out, one either knows Anna Lee’s Restaurant in Roswell, Georgia, or like me raises the eyebrows in question:
“Anna Lee’s? Where is it?”
It is off the beaten path, at 425 Market Place, an intersection of Grimes Bridge Rd. It’s been there since 1982 and, if you were an insider, you would know that the name of the restaurant is a phonetic offspring of Annelies, the name of the owner.  

Anna Lee’s  is open for lunch weekdays from 11:30 to 2:00. Your best bet to get a table is 11:30, even though the early birds perch in waiting about 11:00. At 11:30, you still have a chance; after 12:00, you begin to understand why the regular customers guard it as a secret. The place is packed, and don’t hope that the service personnel will rush a sitting customer to make room for you. Be there on time the following day.

The daily special menu is wholesomely delicious.

Annelies is originally from The Netherlands and it shows.  The portions are of European size; so you can have your three course lunch, eat it, and still leave happy and unstuffed – just as the French preach, when you are done eating your meal, you should always feel a bit hungry.  I almost forgot an important piece of information—no credit cards, please;  the bill is so affordable that you should be able to fish some of that good old cash in your purse or pockets to cover it.
Before you go, don’t forget to leave your email address in the book by the register;  Anneleis will email you the date and topic for the next cooking class — sorry, no classes during the summer-- or the date for the next themed wine, dinner and music event.  It fills up quickly.

Loyal customers drive to Anna Lee’s from all over the place, but if you want to make sure, traffic won’t prevent you from being there on time here are pictures of the three most and three least expensive residential properties currently on the market within a mile of Anna Lee’s.

Ask me questions—I have the answers.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Color Is Under the Wing

Recently I found out that, my friend Jackie and her sister Judy opened the Teal Gallery & Events at 42 Oak Street in Roswell, Georgia.

A few days ago,  on a hunt for informative photographs for our website,, I pulled up by the gallery and almost fell looking through what I thought was a window, but turned out to be a fully opened garage door.
Jackie and Judie were on a ladder propped by the wall hanging up paintings.
“Look who’s here!” we hugged.
“Teal Art Gallery?”
“Can you believe it?” Jackie made a circle with an outstretched arm.
“May I ask? Why Teal Gallery?”
“Remember The Blue-Winged Teal?”
I didn’t.
“The color under the wing.” Jackie added.
I walked around, snapped pictures of paintings, asked questions about the artists, wondered about the origins of the carved red coral adorning the encased jewelry,  and pretended that no worm is screwing holes in my brain.
The Blue Winged Teal. Must be a short story.
Soon I had photographed every painting, but could not focus on the art, other than of course Melvin Toledo’s still life.

I am a sucker for still life.
I praised the gallery vaguely, and left--my mind was preoccupied with the Blue-Winged Teal. On my way back to the office, I stopped by the Roswell library and picked a copy of Wallace Stegner’s short story collection, The City of the Living and read the Blue-Winged Teal quickly in the car. I remembered now. The cobalt blue tucked under the wing, shielded from the unobservant, inexperienced, uninitiated. The image of the wing itself, packed with memories, love, beauty and sadness.  I needed to go back to the gallery and search for my blue-wing teal wing.

A few days later, back at the Teal, I lingered by the sensuous sadness of Tom Potocki’s Marilyn Monroe.


Paused by David Ryden’s wide eyed Giraffe, and wondered, if after James, Kevin Bate’s next project would be a portrait of Steve Jobs.

I reminisced about my short infatuation with pottery, and then suddenly stopped speechless.
“I found it; it is Somewhere Else. It is Gilleland.”

“You found what?” Jackie stared.
“My blue-winged teal wing.”  
Now we, Roswellians, have an Art Gallery with strong literary overtones and I love it. 
If you would rather walk to the Teal Gallery to enjoy all it has to offer, here are the three most and least expensive homes within one mile of the gallery which are currently up for grabs:

Ask me questions—I have the answers.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In the Year of the Dragon

Two Sundays ago I was getting ready to get out and take a few pictures of Atlanta for our website,  I was sitting in the living room of our home planning my route when a tiny little sound and a shadow dashed across the window facing the front yard. I looked up. A little green lizard was pinned to the window, ogling inside. Quietly, I reached for the camera, snapped a photo and then waited.

The lizard darted diagonally.

I snapped another one and waited; it shot back.

We played back and forth—the lizard moving across the window, straining to see what’s inside, me tiptoeing around it with the camera vying to capture what’s outside. The two of us looking through the window.
The idea to start a blog: Atlanta: Looking Through the Window was born a few days later. In the Year of The Dragon, every lizard counts. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
I hope you enjoy it and participate in it.