Monday, February 02, 2009


With my birthday week celebration winding down--who am I kidding, I am not a big celebrator of my birthday. To me it's just another day. But still, it gave us the excuse to take a day off from work and get out of the house.
Carlos and I headed back down to Aiken this weekend. Some friends, Roger and Thomas, were part of an antique show down there. It's little more than an hour drive down there, and we made it without anyone getting killed--Carlos obeyed the speed limit--and anyone going crazy--I napped a bit.
Aiken is a cute little Southern town, full of charm, and not quite as many rednecks as Smallville. It's kind of artsy--code for 'gay-friendly'--and it's horse country, so there were a lot of people at the show in riding attire--apparently they had just finished a race and didn't have time to change before coming into town, or they want everyone to know that they own horses.
I'll pick 'B.'
We stopped in to visit Roger and Thomas at their booth, and then decided to walk around the show a bit. It was being held in the Aiken Fine Arts Center, a tiny building, and jam-packed full of people, so it was hard to get into some of the booths. I seemed to spend most of my time apologizing to the people I shoved to the ground so I good get a better look at a some bauble, curio, curiosity, gewgaw, novelty, or ornamental trinket. But still I saw several cool things.
As the crowds swelled, and security was called about the guy pushing old ladies in the antique doll booth, Carlos and I decided to make a break for it--to go outside and walk around town.
Right out the door, we stumbled into these two:

Who knew Dixie Carter and Helen Gurly Brown would be at the show? And made entirely of plastic, at that?
Anyhooo....we walked into a kitchen store, with all the gadgets and gizmos and spices, saucepans, meat tenderizers, and I saw this martini glass I simply had to have. It was about three feet tall, and about a foot-and-a-half across. I grabbed Carlos and showed it to him.
I need this.
For what?
Whaddya mean, for what? It's a martini glass.
But what would you use it for? A vase?
No. It's.A.Martini.Glass. I'd have a martini.
Carlos hustled me outta that store but quick, because just down the aisle from that perfect martini glass was a four-foot-tall margarita glass. I was in heaven!
The thought of martinis and margaritas instantly turned to thoughts of food, and, back onto the sidewalk, we began looking for a bite to eat. There was an Italian place, a Chinese spot, some kind of Southern cooking diner, and then we saw a mirage of some sort.
The Cafe Rio Blanco.
A Cuban restaurant in Aiken?
A Cuban restaurant in South Carolina?
I didn't think it was possible.
Inside we saw the tostones and plantains and Cuban sandwiches we'd missed since moving from Miami; and a Frita burger--ground beef, ground ham, ground chorizo. I needed a napkin to wipe the drool from my chin, my shirt, the floor.
We grabbed a table and ordered two Cuban sandwiches and a pitcher of Sangria. There were old photos of Cuba on the walls, and Spanish music playing all around. It was like being in South Florida again, without the humidity and the hurricanes! The owner came by to chat and we spent a good deal of time asking why they chose Aiken to open a Cuban place.
Because there wasn't one here.
Good answer. Good answer.
Then she offered us cortadito's. Sweetened espresso shots. It was heaven. There isn't much I miss about Miami, but a good Cuban sandwich and a cortadito are high on the list. So, if you're ever travelling through this red state and come upon Aiken, stop in at the Rio Blanco Cafe, and say Hola!
Back at the antique show after lunch, the crowds were a bit smaller, so we got to see some things: a nice print--not an original--of a bird for $1200. Rip. Off. A horse blanket for a grand. No. No. Silver ice tongs for 750. Honestly. But there at the end of the aisle, just across from Roger and Thomas' booth, was Susan C. Frankenburg, of Hillsborough, NC. Susan didn't sell the usual early American furniture, or doll clothes, or outrageously priced prints. She had more rustic things, more ethnic things. A silver mirror from Mexico; a transom from Bali; doors from Indonesia; Indian tables and benches, and....and....a clay pot from Africa.
I've said before that I believe in reincarnation. I believe I've been here before and believe I'll be here again. So I am attracted to certain cultures and not to others; certain places and not others. China? Yes. Japan? Not so much. India? Of course. Egypt? You bet. England? Sorry.
But Africa? She holds a special place in my heart. I am intrigued by African countries and cultures, artifacts and treasures. And so, seeing this clay pot on it's wooden stand, I could only stand and stare.
And it wasn't that expensive. Except that the stand wasn't part of the deal. It, too, was African, but Ms. Frankenberg put the two together because she thought they looked nice. I did, too. So we brought both home with us, after bargaining her down a bit on price.
So here are my two new goodies. The pot comes with a rope ring because the women would carry the pots to and from the wells or streams filled with water, and the pots would sit in the rings on their heads.
I'll just keep it in the house, on the floor.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot this story.
While we were talking to Ms. Frankenberg about the pot, and she loved to talk, she looked at Carlos and said, Where did you get your wonderful accent?
Me? he said.
No me. I said.


Beth said...

what a wonderful birthday! and the photos!!!! OMG! love the pot.

David Dust said...

That pot/stand is really cool. Good purchase.

It sounds like you had a lovely weekend.


Berry Blog said...

What a delightful post. Maybe you guys should be making a living doing travelog shows. but if the shops were too small for you two to fit in, what about the cameraman too?
That pot is so abasolutely useless now, I love it. You guys are truly becoming affluent.

xoxo charlie

Bob said...

The pot and stand just grabbed me the second I saw them, and we kept coming back to it.
It just feels like it belonged to us, so we got it.
Charlie: Carlos mentioned something about doing these shows, until I told him that we would have to buy a truckload of things to sell, and haul them place to place, set them up, sell them, take them down, and move on.
Roger and Thomas reinforced the idea to him.
We'll see.