Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Babies are such a nice way to start people." ~Don Herrold

I would like to share some lovely news with you, dear followers. You may have noticed my hiatus from blogging (not that I was very regular at it). Considering how hectic my fall months had been, I needed a break from pretty much everything. There were nights I was too tired to do anything except sit on the couch and stare at the TV. Me, the Queen of over-committing but still getting it all done, did nothing. It still sounds like a joke to me!

The reason for all of this? Hubby and I are expecting our first child next June! It's been a tiring and nauseating few months, but now that I've hit the 4 month mark, I seem to be feeling a little more like my old self. I don't know that I will be doing as much crafting as I'd like (even for an adorable nursery), but I'll certainly share as much as I can over the next few months!

We do hope to find out the sex of Baby Pickles in January (we nicknamed it pickles because it looked like one on the ultrasound pic and I kept eating pickles like they were salvation in a jar) and our nursery decision will be based on that.

So happy holidays to my wonderful readers! I hope 2011 has been a great year for you and that 2012 will be even better!

Monday, October 31, 2011

"'Tis now the very witching time of night, When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out Contagion to this world." ~William Shakespeare

Oh, dear. How I have neglected you, dear reader(s). It's been over a month and again, I have no excuse but that I've had a lot on my plate. Since Sept. 26th (my last post), I've celebrated my 28th birthday, moved into my new office and responsibilities, took my first trip to Tennessee to visit a friend, lost a fish, lost a guinea pig (very upsetting), had another fish get sick and get better (though he may be blind in one eye now), got a new niece, visited festivals, planned (and survived) a museum fair, had crazy storms destroy many of our Halloween decorations, taught 3 workshops, saw a coworker retire, celebrated my 5 year wedding anniversary, had weekend guests, received snow before Halloween, got lazy with my Halloween costume, and still have yet to carve my pumpkins. Whew. Happy Halloween!

November should be a trifle better. At least I hope so. I'm only doing 4 workshops, after all. :)

As mentioned, (unless you skimmed over it), many of our Halloween decorations were destroyed by storms this year. I have some lovely metal fencing, an arch, and a twisted lamp post that got blown over numerous times. The arch's lights aren't working and I'm hoping nothing snapped. The lamp post isn't working at the moment but I'll try putting another light bulb in before trick-or-treating tonight. I had two creepy gargoyles that sat on the railing at the top of the steps on either side. They also blew over (which NEVER happens). One lost an ear and the other one shattered almost the entire head. I was going to try gluing it back together but just didn't get to it yet. Many of my light strings didn't work this year, including a spider web that I just bought last year and hung on our new fence. I was very disappointed with that.

Needless to say, I'm not feeling very Halloween-ish this year. We have yet to carve pumpkins and since our snowstorm this past weekend, it feels as though it's nearly Thanksgiving! I did manage to create an adorable little crafty project for my Tennessee friend's kids. I wanted to make something that they could hang up year after year that was also personalized. An idea for a felt jack-o-lantern with each child's name "carved" into it popped right into my head!

I sketched it up on tracing paper a few times to get the sizing and letters right before I cut my pattern.

Then, I started putting layers together. A full orange felt layer was the back and I decided to use scraps of yellow fleece (from my Peep creations which I realize I never shared with you all) as the lit insides of the pumpkin. I cut the individual layers out of the top layer of orange so that it would look carved. I used fabric glue all around the edges to keep it all together.

I added light yellow bits of felt to give dimension to the carved letters, again just using fabric glue. Then I sewed the decorative lines of the curved pumpkin shape. Finally, I connected all the pieces with a blanket stitch around the edges, leaving a space for the stem. I decided to do a looped piece of felt so that it could be hung on a doorknob, hook, or wherever you may want to attach it.

I chose a different shape for the second pumpkin just to make each more unique. I think they both enjoyed their gifts and I greatly enjoyed my visit!

Happy Halloween!

Monday, September 26, 2011

"A positive attitude is not going to save you..."

"...What it's going to do is, everyday, between now and the day you die, whether that's a short time from now or a long time from now, that every day, you're going to actually live." ~ Elizabeth Edwards 

I finally found my camera cord! Unbeknownst to my handful of readers, I couldn't find my camera charging cord after the trip to Philly. My battery survived for a few weeks after, but died during our WV trip. Luckily, my iPhone takes photos that aren't completely horrid, so that saved the trip. But that just wasn't going to cut it for me for long. And it's inhibited my picture-snapping tendencies, which impacts my blog posting. I really dislike posting without photos.

Finally, however, I found it in the trunk of the car, buried under blankets and jumper cables. Not quite sure how it got there but I was thrilled to find it. (Clearly, I should have indulged in those moments when I wanted to desperately clean the car over the last few weeks). This photo here (taken with the iPhone) is not very good. But you get the gist. It's a beat-up frame, chipped in places, but mostly solid wood. It was getting tossed at work and I just know I can do something interesting with it.

I began painting it over the weekend (since I was already painting the porches) and I was going to share a finished picture, but I think I'll wait. I'm not happy with how my "antique" look turned out so I need to repaint it. I still need to snap a picture (since the camera is finally charged!) of it's icky look (I will share).

Anyway, I also have another little tiny project in mind that I've sketched up--autumn/Halloween related for a friend's children. I'll be visiting them soon (my first trip to Tennessee!) so I must also work on that this week. And if any of you remember my baby shower project, don't worry....I'm still plodding away at it. Never again will I estimate such a short amount of time for such an involved project. I mean, I can pull some crazy projects out in not-a-lot of time, but this was beyond that. I must have been delusional. But progress is being made and I hope to share pictures...eventually.  I might need a positive attitude just to get all this done!


"West Virginia....Take me home, country roads." ~ John Denver song

I thought I'd finally share a few more snapshots of our WV camping trip. Rather than a long post, you can just read the captions.
Glimpses of the closed coal mines at the New River Gorge in Fayetteville, WV

Old Safety Board at the coal mine site
Remains of a structure that once scaled the side of the gorge

800 steps take you all the way to the bottom of the gorge. We challenged each other to a 15 minute all-the-way-down-and-back-up-again-race but no one was willing. If we weren't heading off to rock climb, we would've explored further.

Readying the snacks for hiking that morning (clearly these pictures are not in any order)

View of the gorge from the Visitors' Center

Nifty vintage backpack and camera at the Visitors' Center exhibit

They had so many adorable animal hand puppets! (well, except for the praying mantis--he looked creepy) This groundhog looked a little rabid!

The bridge, of course

We climbed down into parts of the stream to get better views of the waterfalls.

Our friend climbed way down there and looked tiny.

A waterfall pours right into this trough (which is open on the end to allow the waterfall to keep going across the trail). The water was delicious and clear so we filled out water bottles up a few times.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Never noticed a female monkey not climbing as well as a male, have you?" ~Don Whillans

This weekend hubby and I and some friends went cabin camping at the New River Gorge in WV. Beautiful place! I just wish it didn't take 3+ hours to drive there because there was so much of it we didn't get to see. Our rustic cabin was a perfect way to end the camping season--no bothering to set up tents and air mattresses. Just roll into bed! And after the exhausting yet exhilarating weekend, it was heaven to pass out on a real bed, no matter how squeaky the mattress. 

One of the reasons we visited the New was for an introductory rock climbing/rappelling class that we were taking with a few of the group. I've had experience climbing and still have all my gear, but it had been more than 6 years since my last climb. But it all came back as soon as I had the gear on!

After an afternoon of hiking (more pics tomorrow), four of us headed to the outdoor gear/tours place to meet up with our tour guides. We were fitted with shoes and helmets, grabbed harnesses, and off we went! Rappelling is a little dull for me, compared to climbing anyway, but it was still exciting and comforting to be back in a sport I missed. 

And then the climbing. Most of my climbs were done indoors, even for the class I took (yay, Ohio University!) so I was thrilled to do some climbing. And at the New, no less! Our guide was great about giving advice and pointing out where to move to, what rock to grab, etc. But mostly it just takes grit and determination. Something must've gone right for me because, after a number of difficult spots, I wasn't willing to give up. I pushed all the way to the top. I need to find out which specific climb we did to see how difficult it's rated. I know most of the climbs at the New are not beginners but I'm curious to know how hard the climb actually was. 

By the end, I was exhausted and my forearms, upper arms, upper back, and very bruised knee were just screaming at me. But I haven't been that satisfied in 6 years. I was, however, absolutely starving and extremely thankful to find a buffet to stuff my face. I calmed down considerably afterward! It was a nice mellow evening around the fire, punctuated by passing out cold in the cabin.

To make the weekend even better (!), we went horseback riding on Sunday morning through our campground area. The horses were fairly calm and my horse, Lena, was a dear. She and Archie are totally enamored of each other and constantly nuzzled. So adorable it's nearly nauseating. 

If only we'd had one more day in WV!

Maneuvering over the first tough spot--big stretch to the left.
Adding more chalk to my hands before tackling the next section.

There are a good number of pictures in between, but I finally made it to the top!

Rappelling down the same cliff face before our climb.
Our horses all saddled up and waiting.
Archie (right) was just nuzzling Lena. She must've been shy for the camera. :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Leaders need to be optimists. Their vision is beyond the present. ~ Rudy Giuliani

Ok, so that didn't last long. I didn't manage to post yesterday BUT in my defense, I essentially work two jobs on Thursdays (my full-time job 7-3:30 and I volunteer at my public library 4-8) and I had out-of-town guests. We went to dinner and chatted until bedtime. It was lovely and I am unapologetic for not writing to you during our gabfest. It's ok, you'll get over it. :)

On to the big news! After a very long push and a sudden need for restructuring, I am now *drumroll* the new Preservation Coordinator for Pitt! My job duties will change slightly, but I was already doing much of the work and will now have more authority to carry it out. And, of course, I do get a nicer office. :) I'm incredibly excited even though the next few weeks are going to be tiring.

I've also been thinking ahead to October (since it's going to be an INSANE month) and I chose my Halloween costume idea yesterday, given that I need to start on it soon. Once I start working on it, I'll post some pictures with hints. For now, all I will say is that it is another recognizable male character (last year, I was the Mad Hatter--Johnny Depp version).

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"He that communicates his secret to another makes himself that other's slave." ~Baltasar Gracian

September seems to be a big, crazy month for me and my calendar indicates that October will be much the same. I'm trying to hold onto a few weekends for yard work and outdoor projects that need to be completed before the cold weather hits. Unfortunately, Mother Nature seems to have decided fall should arrive early, judging by the high of mid 60s tomorrow. I do love fall, it's my absolute favorite season. But I'm just not quite ready to move the plants indoors, cut down a few in my yard, and re-mulch some areas. Just not feeling it.

What I AM excited about is a tidbit of good news that has come my way. Now, don't be angry, but I can't share it with you just yet (I'm hoping it's soon); so for now, you just get a tease. I promise I will share as soon as I'm allowed. *squee*

I've also decided that my blog needs a quick ramp-up (and by blog, I mean me) and so I'm determined to post everyday for a week, starting today. My weekend may get a bit complicated considering that I'm traveling out-of-state for a camping/climbing trip during which I may have no cell service for my smartphone. But I'll make do (I could always work ahead and have Blogger post it at the stroke of midnight!).

For today, I'll leave you with a teaser of my news and these gorgeous images below. Since fall is approaching, I was reminded of these pictures I took in late spring very early in the morning. Hubby and I got up early for a trip and I stepped outside to get the paper. Lo and behold, spiders had enchanted nearly every surface of my front porch on this foggy morning. Too bad they can't come back and do it for Halloween!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

True love stories never have endings. ~Richard Bach

Two of my very dear friends were married this past weekend and it couldn't have been more beautiful, more breathtaking, or more filled with love. Both sets of families and friends came together seamlessly for a grand reception to celebrate the lovely couple. And not going to lie, I cried a little. During my reading. But I couldn't help it!

I was captivated by the wedding/reception site (the doors above led out to the patio) and I took a plethora of photos (the Merion Tribute House). It reminded me very much of our own reception site, Green Gables. (Wow, that's been 5 years) The hydrangeas were a perfect cottage touch and there were multicolored blooms of them everywhere.

One of the lounge rooms where the groom's family waited and later, appetizers and drinks were served, was stunning in its simplicity. I loved the over-sized windows, the comfortable couches, and (even though the walls were ivory) the simple colors combined with the exposed wooden beams. I was practically drooling. Hubby and I took our cake to this room for some quiet later in the evening and I ruminated on how to recreate this room in our house. If only we had the space! Especially for those windows. It really is the perfect place to curl up with a book. Even in overcast weather, the windows let in enough light to still seem cozy and comfy. I'm tempted to, at the very least, have some exposed beams in our house. Perhaps in the foyer. Once we get to it, I'll have to share. Happy September!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ~C.S. Lewis

Flickr user ScribbleTaylor

It's been a tough month for blogging, although I've had many projects I'm working on and my digital camera is loaded with pictures I'm itching to share. I just wish I didn't have to have my laptop with me to share them! It always happens that when I get a spare minute or snapped a great picture, I don't have the laptop with me to put my SD card in. But I'm working on it, I swear. :)

We've moved my brother into college (and he's doing swell) and this week is the "let's all adjust to not having him, even the poor cats" week. We all miss him but fall is chugging along and it's the last day in August! My fall plans are arriving quickly (many trips and activities that I will indeed share with you). I've also been working on a preservation project but again, can't upload photos this minute so maybe later in the week. :D AND (I'm so excited) we're going to Philly this weekend for the wedding of two of the most wonderful people in the world. I'm totally going to sob. But hopefully not during my Irish blessing reading. :D

And Starbucks has been taunting me with their advertisements for the upcoming pumpkin spice latte. Which just puts food on the brain and so this week I have the urge to make cinnamon scones from this recipe, accompanied by pumpkin butter from this recipe. Yum! I know I won't have time, but it's so tempting...

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." ~Frederick Buechner

The little bro (sibling #2) is heading off to college this week. It's been fun having him live with us this summer and we will miss him dearly. The house is certainly going to get a good deal quieter, my hubby will miss the games of Halo, and the cats will miss their daytime snuggle buddy.

School shopping has been going on in earnest and it's going to be a rough week for packing. But I hope he's excited to start a new part of his life. Now on to sibling #3...she just turned 17 and her turn is coming. They grow up so fast! Sibling #4 is right behind her.

Monday, August 8, 2011

"The world is your kaleidoscope..." ~James Allen

As always, I feel as though I'm perpetually in a period of transition. Right now, my house is feeling that transition, especially the exterior. Little by little, starting last year, I'm trying to update and beautify the exterior landscaping, house details, and paint colors. My project for this year WAS to strip the paint from the porch ceilings (detailed looking bead board), sand it, and then stain it a natural-looking color (i.e. no more paint since it's an awful dark brown color at the moment). I also wanted to continue painting the porches from what we had started last year (new fence was painted and exterior foundation was painted). And while inspecting some of the porches' details, I noticed that the previous homeowners covered up some of the woodwork with painted aluminum sheets to make it easy on themselves. I would like to remove them to 1) make sure the wood isn't rotting underneath and 2) strip it, sand it, and make it look as beautiful as the rest. I had also planned on constructing another mini-wall to level out a portion of our backyard and divide some of the plants that are taking over sections of the yard. All while fighting the war against the ever-encroaching pokeweed *shakes fist angrily*.

Needless to say, these goals aren't happening. I must be crazy to think I could accomplish this. I started stripping one corner of the back porch ceiling and realized that it would take me all summer just to do the stripping. Of only the back porch ceiling. So I've temporarily abandoned this project in the hopes that I can afford to hire someone to do the stripping and sanding eventually. If it weren't on the ceiling it wouldn't be such a bother (I'm imaging a Winnie-the-Pooh voice saying this. Those of you unfamiliar with his movies, well, too bad).

Luckily, my brother is living with us currently and he graciously started constructing the wall in the back yard. After only a couple days of digging, I think we are almost ready to start building. Progress! 

I was also determined not to abandon painting the porches and therefore, I now have a (mostly) painted back porch which doesn't match the rest of the house. I probably won't get to the front porch before winter but I'm using the back porch as a sort of test run. Fewer people see it and that way, I'll have the colors perfected for the front and sides of the house. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself. The legion peeps will be very confused for a while about what's going on at my house. Tell me what you think of the colors! I had to work with the brown siding, which will not be going away anytime soon (it's not in the pictures, though).

These are the colors of the porches now. The walls are fake stucco painted white *shudder*, with a dark brown window trim and brown sash trim. You can also see a glimpse of the ceiling. The carpet is also dark brown. I plan to rip that up at some point, especially since I can feel the wood planks splintering in some spots. The front door (set of French doors) were white with the brown trim around them. I recently painted them the blue that you will see.

Ta da! These will be the new colors. I have this very dark teal that I'm painting the doors/inner window trims (so no more brown!). And then the outside trim is a soft off-white called parchment paper. The faux stucco walls are painted a tan called Gobi Desert. I tried to get it relatively close to the color of the siding but it's still lighter than it in a flattering way. It just looked so odd having the siding be brown and then the porches stark white.

I also have a couple lighter shades of blue and a cranberry red that I planned on using for accent colors or to paint a few designs here and there (like maybe above the door, over a window, or on some of the fence slats). I haven't gotten that far though.The colors are a great improvement to me and the house already looks bigger, brighter, and cleaner. Now if only I could get those porch ceilings to look nicer!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

The end of bookshelves? My furious response.

The horror! People can see me...on the shelf! (*no books were harmed in the making of this photo. This book is one used for exhibits*)

Are people ashamed of their books?

Not me! I'm proud to show that I'm literate, that I love reading, and it prompts great conversations as well as requests. I will gladly share them with you (as long as you will care for them as if they were your children/pet/high-end Mercedes). I don't just have a coffee table stack of books for show. I *gasp* have bookshelves that are meant to be used. How novel.

According to this article in the Chicago Business, people are getting more and more boring in their home spaces. Built-in bookshelves are being removed or walled in to allow space for big screen TVs, wet bars, and other media paraphernalia. This article made me instantly furious and only partly because people seem to think it's a good idea to rip out bookshelves (hello, storage!). It's poorly written to the point that this author must've needed SOMETHING to write about that day. Anything will do.

First, we will address the problem of removing the bookshelves. I can't understand this supposed "trend" (where are the numbers to back this up? I know, I know, jumping ahead) but the arguments that the supporting side gave seem ridiculous. To the woman who "updated" her room with a wine fridge, a wet bar, and a CD cabinet: I'll only give you points for the wine fridge. Nothing else on that list can be considered an "update". This is not 1989. The same woman (a real estate agent) also pointed out that she never sees books on bookshelves anymore, just knick knacks. I'm at least OK with the knick knacks--you're preserving the shelves for future homeowners who may want to use them. Especially if they are original to the house. Don't tear those babies out!

Meanwhile, the president of a construction company said that most bookshelves his company builds are not intended to store books. They have a "decorative purpose" as opposed to a utilitarian one. Um, I'm not sure I understand that argument. Unless they are completely empty, they are utilitarian. Whether it's books, photos, trophies, or knick knacks, something is being stored on them.

As for the actual article, I want to shred it into tiny pieces. Who let this article get published? It's just a couple of people giving their opinions, with no numbers or facts to back it up. First, the title implies that this decline in bookshelves is directly related to e-books and their increasing market share. The article states that e-book sales are surpassing that of traditional paper volumes. Again, where are the numbers to back this up? This is the only statement to mention e-books as no one listed them as a personal reason for covering up/destroying their bookshelves.

We are then introduced to the real estate agent whose personal experience is that home sellers only put knick knacks on shelves, not books. Again, this is one woman's experience. In one city in America. Well, in reality, it's probably only one neighborhood of this city. And of how many houses she has been through in her entire career, she must have an excellent memory in order to state that the majority do not use bookshelves in a traditional way. However, she then shares that she completely removed the bookshelves in her own home. Hm, doesn't this smack of a personal bias? If you don't value books yourself, aren't you less likely to notice them? I'd certainly pay more attention to homes that fit my style and interests because I find them more pleasing. I should know--I searched for my house for a year before finding the right one and I can't even remember all of the houses I looked at. Only the really good ones and the really bad ones. And that was only a year!

Moving along, (and skipping the construction company president's ridiculous statement that has no supporting numbers) we encounter an architect who points out that most smaller homes do not ask for built-in bookshelves because they need the extra space for a pantry. This sounds reasonable. Indicating a trend that bookshelves are obsolete? I don't think so. What this doesn't take into account is the fact that bookshelves are fairly easy to construct and aren't that expensive (Walmart has decent ones--I know, I have two). They can also be moved to a different space very easily and more can be purchased if a personal library has grown too large. This flexibility cannot be overlooked. This article is not accounting for the number of people who do not have built-in bookshelves or request them, but instead prefer to buy them after having their home built. Where are the numbers that show the number of homes that did NOT request bookshelves but do OWN bookshelves after they've moved in? I'd bet that there are some.

And finally, we finish with Ms. Dedominicis, who prefers to keep any books she owns hidden away. I wonder if she owns any books at all? Where could you possibly be hiding them if you have any? Why are you so ashamed? I'm most upset with her opinion finishing this article because where is the opposing side? If, as a writer, you are really confident that your piece holds water, you should be able to explore the other side because it helps prove your point. Readers should hear from those that still love and use their bookshelves but who admit it is getting difficult to find homes that have them. And not just in Chicago. Everywhere. Where are these people? Oh, that's right. H. Lee Murphy couldn't put them in the article because then he/she would have a useless piece of crap writing with no supported argument (although I'm not seeing much of a difference here). It's utterly ridiculous that this was published.

Overall, I understand not making bookshelves the reason to buy a house you are looking at (hey, it's great if they come with it!), and for smaller homes, it does make more sense to have a pantry because you can buy bookcases. But to hide or remove the ones you have? What a waste. And they're utilitarian! At least the person putting knick knacks on it is using the space. I hate objects/spaces that are useless. A large blank wall that only serves to hang a monstrous big-screen TV (which I have! next to my built-in bookcase!) is ridiculous. At least maybe someday a new owner will discover the ones hidden behind drywall with glee.

For those of you unable to access the article, I have it copied below. It was written in May and at that time, there were no issues accessing it freely. I had trouble with Blogger being down at that point and forgot about the post. Once I returned to it, I realized you  had to sign in to read it. Now you don't have to. :D

"Built-in Bookshelves Take A Hit As E-books Win The Market" (May 9th, 2011) by H. Lee Murphy

"Built-in bookshelves were once the mark of a gracious home—but with sales of e-book titles surpassing those of paper-and-ink volumes, homeowners are moving on. Lynn Fairfield, a broker associate at Re/Max Suburban in Libertyville, says clients are drywalling over bookcases to make room for flat-screen televisions and other entertainment paraphernalia. “When I show houses, I never see books lined up on shelves anymore. If there are shelves, they're usually filled with sports trophies or photos or knickknacks,” she says. In her house in Hawthorn Woods, she replaced book cases in her family room with a wine refrigerator, wet bar and CD cabinet. “It updated the room completely,” she says. “I don't miss the bookcases.”

Court Airhart, president of Airhart Construction Inc. in West Chicago, says clients often bypass bookcases even in home offices, opting instead for shelving inside closets. “The bookcases we do build usually don't hold books. They serve a decorative purpose, not a utilitarian purpose,” Mr. Airhart says.

In smaller homes, says Bret Richter, a Lisle architect, people almost never ask for bookcases. “They'd rather devote extra space to a walk-in pantry off the kitchen,” he says. He's designing a 6,500-square-foot home with a sprawling family room highlighted by a big entertainment center: “The room won't have any books at all.”

Regina Dedominicis, 40, has listed her four-bedroom home in Grayslake for sale and recently knocked out some bookshelves surrounding a fireplace. She is searching for a house in Dallas, where her husband has taken a new job. “Bookcases will be a moot point in any house we look at,” she says. “We really prefer to keep any books we have hidden away.”"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Library Day in the Life, Round 7

Denver Public Library
On a red eye flight from Denver to Charlotte to Pittsburgh, what else would I be doing except writing/reading? It’s too dark for me to read the cataloging book I brought (nor do I wish to subject my sleepy neighbors with the exceedingly bright “personal” lights). And frankly, I can’t get comfortable enough to sleep for more than 5 minutes at a time. I love flying at night when most passengers are asleep, the cabin is dim, and the hum of the plane resembles white noise, lulling me into a relaxing semi-coma. Perfect time to write, eh?

This day and a half trip for a disaster response conference (Denver Leadership Institute for Alliance for Response) was certainly filled to the brim with an incredible amount of knowledge. My brain is still processing it all and I’m not quite ready to type up all my notes (thus the blogging). A full night of sleep will have to happen first! 

Though exceedingly short, my first trip to Denver has left me eager to return. My views of the Rockies were limited to the Capitol steps instead of a much-desired hike. The neighborhoods were a unique mix of architecture, young hipsters on bicycles frequenting vegan cafes, well-dressed businessmen on mopeds, and cowboys flying by in pick-up trucks. Though I was initially surprised by the high number of homeless people (forgive me if there is a more PC term for them), I found Denver to be friendly with few concerns for personal safety.

Don't you want to feed a book into it?
Our conference venue was the Denver Public Library, one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. The architecture stuns from the outside AND inside, with grand entryways and lovely woodwork throughout. The dedicated spaces to specific collection materials were each impressive for their unique designs. I particularly enjoyed their return system! My colleague and I were tempted to pick up a book just to try it out. 

Mural in conference room
The conference facilities were neither overwhelming nor claustrophobic, with convenient kitchen amenities attached for food services. The mural in our particular room was stunning with a touch of Denver’s history and culture. Indeed, the public art displays throughout the city were like pieces of Denver’s history, scattered about for each visitor to collect. A shame that we didn’t have more time to explore them. 

When our meetings ended late afternoon, we managed to catch a view of the mountains from the Capitol steps and, of course, stand at the Mile High Marker (both the old and scientifically-correct new ones). Dinner at a trendy vegetarian cafĂ© was excellent and no trip for librarians could be complete without a trip to a bookstore! 

Mile High Marker (correct one)
View from Capitol steps

Wall art at Watercourse Foods

Tattered Cover Bookstore, Colfax Ave.

Thanks for hosting us, Denver! I hope to return soon.

Friday, July 8, 2011

"For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail?" ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I hope everyone enjoyed their 4th of July holiday, celebrating the USA's independence in unique ways. We had a lovely visit with relatives, popping into downtown Baltimore and Rehoboth Beach for a couple days; then shopping at the mall in lieu of DC sites! Walking with AC is a little better than 95 degree muggy weather. At a cute little snowcone/ice cream stand on a rural road, this immense solid tree was decorated simply for the 4th. I couldn't resist snapping a few shots. I've been coveting a string of garden lights like these, but I haven't yet decided on the best place to hang them.

I'm not an overly patriotic person but it doesn't mean I'm un-American. I'd like to think I'm just not showy about it. Having visited the National Archives last year and surprisingly teary-eyed when viewing the Declaration of Independence, it's overwhelming to think of how courageous one must be to separate from a governing power that gives you so much but also withholds. It takes sacrifices, many of which can be physically and psychologically crippling, or even fatal. But I'd like to think it's that courageous first step, that line you must cross to decide you are in the "against" category. I celebrate what our ancestors have done, what our current Americans do everyday to maintain it, and I sympathize with those that are making their first attempts at independence (I'm looking at you, Middle Eastern countries). Stand up for what you believe in. 

As usual, we have another busy weekend ahead of us, much to my cats' dismay (especially the one peeing on the floor!). Little bro gets to go to his college orientation before starting in the fall. I'll be sure to take pictures to share. Hubby and I will be camping at a nearby park --who knows, maybe I'll have time to sketch!