San Antonio Sabbatical

Socializing and Relaxing

Posted on: October 10, 2010

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This past week I attended a couple of social gatherings.  As luck would have it, they were held in new-to-me venues so I got to move further along in my quest to explore many of San Antonio‘s restaurants.

On Thursday I attended my first Newcomers of San Antonio activity, their monthly luncheon.  The social hour started at 11:00 a.m. and was followed by a 12:00 p.m. lunch at Barbaresco Tuscan Grill & Enoteca.  Although the Newcomers group has over 200 members, only 55 or 60 people (all women) were at this luncheon.  We mingled and chatted and ate a delicious pre-ordered and pre-paid meal.  There were three entrees from which each person in our group could choose.  I selected the Fettuccini Alfredo Grilled Chicken Breast, a pasta dish for which I substituted marinara sauce for the creamy alfredo sauce.  The meal came with salad, bread, iced tea, and dessert (cheesecake, which I don’t like and didn’t eat).  The restaurant was noisy with lunchtime chatter and the section we were sitting in was cramped.  Prior to eating lunch, the organizers conducted a raffle, made announcements, and introduced guests/potential members.  I was asked to say a few words and so was a woman sitting near me at the table.  It turns out that she moved here about a year ago from Mexico City and is trying to learn English (which she speaks fairly well) and I am trying to learn Spanish (which is not as good as her English).  We may get together and practice with each other.  Towards the end of lunch, we listened to a speaker discuss the benefits of positive thinking.  Potential members are allowed to attend two Newcomers events before having to officially join the group (dues are $30 per year).  Even though I will be here only through December, I will be joining so that I can attend additional luncheons as well as the monthly coffees/teas and other activities and trips.  There is a wide selection of things offered that reflect the diverse interests of the group and a nice monthly newsletter and membership directory for members only.  I enjoyed my first contact with Newcomers of San Antonio, but the large crowd was overwhelming.  I’m an introvert and prefer one-on-one meetings or small groups.  After spending three hours at the social hour and luncheon, I was drained and came home and took a nap.  I do like the group and look forward to participating in some of their other activities.

Yesterday (Saturday) I attended my second San Antonio Book Lovers Meetup Group.  We were scheduled to meet at 2:00 p.m.; I got lost (missed my exit and had trouble correcting my mistake) and didn’t arrive until around 2:30 p.m., which was the time the main portion of the meeting got started.  So I didn’t miss much.  We met at La Madeleine Country French Cafe (the Park North location at NW Loop 410 & Blanco).  Nineteen members attended this “Book Swap and Gab” session.  We discussed and exchanged recently-read books.  A couple of door prizes were given away and I was the lucky winner of a $10.00 Borders gift certificate.  I really enjoy being in the company of others who like to read too, and the group’s open-ended structure (i.e., no common reading selection) allows me to learn about lots of interesting books and authors.  When the meeting concluded around 4:00 p.m., I ordered a to-go dinner because their menu is so tempting and I couldn’t resist.  I had one of their signature items, a “savoury entrée” of Rosemary Rotisserie Chicken Dinner – Half with Rice Provençal and steamed broccoli, a baguette (I love bread), and a mini fruit tart and a slice of Sacher torte, a rich chocolate layer cake (I love chocolate).  Yum!

While I’m on the topic of food, I should mention that I recently returned to Mencius’ Gourmet Hunan Restaurant and got Chinese takeout.  This time I ordered a different lunch special, #10 Chicken with Vegetables (which came with fried rice and a fried wonton wrapper).  This meal was very good.

Reading is one of my favorite ways of relaxing.  I’m trying to use my extra free time during this sabbatical semester to catch up on some pleasure reading.  This week I read two books.  Love Story (1970) by Erich Segal is the popular novel that was turned into a movie starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal.  Friendship for Grown-Ups: What I Missed & Learned Along the Way (2010) by Lisa Whelchel is a true account of her friendship struggles.  I remember watching Lisa Whelchel play the snobbish Blair Warner on The Facts of Life, one of my favorite television shows from the 1980s.

I’m a low-maintenance hair person, but every six-to-eight weeks I need to get my hair “relaxed”, or straightened, as is common for black folks.  I have a great hair stylist (Cynthia) in Pennsylvania.  However, since I’m new to San Antonio, I don’t know any of the hair stylists and beauty shops here.  The telephone directory has an alphabetical listing but I would prefer a personal recommendation.  So, I contacted the Black Chamber of Commerce (which I found online) and requested some names.  I was given the name and phone number for Lottie, a friendly and skilled woman who has been doing hair for over 20 years.  My Friday hair relaxer touch-up appointment went well.  Lottie (who reminds me of my cousin and aunt) greeted me at the door and took a quick look and feel of my hair and gave her opinion of the problem and what needed to be done prior to having me wait my turn in the waiting room (where I watched TV and flipped through an Essence magazine).  The atmosphere was comfortable and I chatted with another customer for a while.  When Lottie got to me, she worked quickly (which is important for avoiding scalp burns) yet thoroughly while applying the relaxer, and we talked.  She washed, dried, trimmed, and styled my hair.  I loved the end result and plan to visit her salon again.  She doesn’t yet have a website, but you can contact Lottie Henderson (owner of Lottie & Co.) at (210) 354-7050 (office) or (210) 748-7320 (cell).  This information comes from her business card.  I mention this hair story as a way of encouraging you to contact your local chamber of commerce if you are new to a city and need contacts and recommendations for service providers in your area.

One final thing:  I now have my OLLU student ID card.  I’m on campus only on Mondays and when I tried to get my ID card a few weeks ago, I was told that the machine was out of ink.  I finally got my card this past Monday.  I love being a student!

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