August 16, 2011 Suffolk, VA to Statesville, NC

Mary: Oh, the nostalgia! Today John and I head into North Carolina and back to where we spent almost nine years in the late 70’s and 80’s. They were such good years and as I see the rolling hills of the Piedmont, I am carried back to an earlier time.

But first things first. John and I get up early in Suffolk and find the tennis center which has 10 very nice courts. We are the only ones out at 7 AM. We’ve decided to try to play every morning before we start off for the day. It helps with the diet and is a good addition to sitting in the car all day.

Then on to North Carolina. Our first stop is at Duke University’s Nasher Museum. It’s fairly small which gives us a chance to spend more time looking at art that we often bypass. For instance, we look at the Greek pottery, the red pottery with black figures. The ones they have are from the fourth century B.C.E. and I am taken by the detail in the designs. These are everyday objects and yet these ancient people cared enough to decorate them elaborately. We also see modern works by Picasso and others.

Picasso portrait of a woman

It’s pretty much a jumble of things. There’s also an exhibition called the Body of Christ, some gory, some poignant. And a photography display of African people as they have become dispersed around the world. In a more prosaic vein, I buy an especially cute purse at the gift shop.
From the Body of Christ exhibit, a sculpture by Javier Perez. Is it man becoming a tree or a tree becoming a man?

John: After the art museum, we visit my old stomping ground, the EMC (originally Data General) R&D center in Research Triangle Park, NC. We moved to North Carolina from Massachusetts to be one of the founders of that facility in 1977, and did another tour there in the early 1990s. Many of my former colleagues are still working there. It’s great to see them. It has been nearly 9 years since our last visit in 2002.

John out front of EMC

L to R: Dennis Duprey, Andy Huber, John Pilat, Tom Sheffield and Dan Oldman

We head west on I-40, past Chapel Hill, past Greensboro and Winston-Salem, and arrive in Statesville NC just after 6pm. In planning dinner, we decide to be brave and find some local Italian restaurant. We are craving red. Mary and John do not live by shrimp alone! We decide to try Mezzaluna II downtown.

It appears as if Statesville is getting a downtown makeover. We think it will be very nice when it’s done. There are some great old buildings in multiple styles, just the kind of urban landscape we enjoy. But we cannot tarry; we are hungry!

In short, dinner is great. We start with a sauteed mushroom and spinach appetizer, and have chicken arrabiata for entrees. It’s all good, fresh ingredients, nicely cooked. Even the spinach salad is spot-on. We choose a red wine from Puglia that’s a blend of Nero Amaro, Primitivo and Cabernet grapes. It goes beautifully with everything. Happiness reigns, especially given some of our less-than-perfect experiments on this trip. Clark and Lewis concur.

Clark and Lewis consider licking the plate

As we’re getting ready to leave, we compliment the chef/owner on the dinner. He asks us if we’re from Statesville. We say no, we’re from California. He beams and remarks: “You know food.” Gotta confess, we feel smug.

Tomorrow we hope to play some more tennis early and then see our dear friends Sophie and Al in the North Carolina mountains.

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